The conservative Drudge Report announced the news by posting a huge banner in capital letters atop the site: “OBAMA PLAYS RACE CARD: RALLIES BLACKS, LATINOS FOR Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ10 UPSET.”
Democrats fear heavy losses in the election, which could even put their control of Congress in doubt, as polls show that Obama, despite several big political victories, still has lagging approval ratings countrywide.
In a YouTube video, Obama made the case that his presidency had delivered on historic health care reform and staved off an economic meltdown, but warned that his foes hoped to slow his “incredible journey” of political change.
He pledged to heed advice from grass-roots members who had contacted party leaders and to “make sure the same people who were inspired to vote for the first time in 2008 go back to the polls in 2010.”
“It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African Americans, Latinos, and women, who powered our victory in 2008, stand together once again,” he said in the video mailed to Democratic activists.
“If you help us make sure that first-time voters in 2008 make their voices heard again in November — then together we will deliver on the promise of change, and hope, and prosperity for generations to come.”
The 2010 mid-term campaign has been impacting political calculations and perceptions of Obama’s presidency since late last year, but Obama’s video and rhetoric signaled a more formal switch to campaign mode.
Democrats must mount their campaign in a highly polarized political environment, with unemployment at 9.7 percent, and many voters yet to feel the benefits of the nascent economic recovery.
Republicans meanwhile are lambasting Obama for “job killing” policies, and claim his economic and health care policies add up to a big government takeover incompatible with the political sensibilities of average Americans.
Obama’s tactics reflect the fears of some Democratic strategists that the massive grass-roots coalition which powered his 2008 presidential race will not show up for mid-term polls without Obama on the ballot.
First-term presidents often take a pummeling in the first congressional elections of their administration, but Democrats hope a list of accomplishments and a recovering economy will curtail the losses.
“We are making the change that our nation so desperately needs,” Obama argued.
“We have passed historic health reform legislation. We have put our nation back on the path to prosperity with the Recovery Act. And we are moving America forward, one step at a time.
“But despite everything we?ve done, our work isn?t finished.
“Today, the health insurance companies, the Wall Street banks, and the special interests who have ruled Washington for too long are already focused on November?s congressional elections.”
The Democratic offensive will also likely target crucial independent voters, who flocked to Obama in 2008, but who some polls suggest are now drifting away from Democrats.
Obama will step up his political effort on Tuesday, with a multi-stop campaign-style swing through key states Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.
The president admitted in an CNBC interview last week he had not done enough to explain some of the crisis-induced measures he had been forced to take — though opponents charge he has simply embraced policies voters don’t want.
“What I have not done as well as I would have liked is to consistently communicate to the general public while we are making some of the decisions,” Obama said.
“Because we’ve been so rushed over the course of the last year and a half, just issue after issue, and crisis after crisis, we haven’t been effective.”
Most opinion polls show Obama’s approval rating at or just below 50 percent. Historically, presidents who enjoy the support of more than half of US voters have been able to mitigate losses in mid-term elections.
A generic average of party support nationwide ahead of the mid-term congressional elections, compiled by the RealClearPolitics website shows Republicans ahead of Democrats by 45 to 42 percent.
Democrats have a list of tough-to-defend seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and a loss of control of Capitol Hill could severely impede Obama’s hopes of enacting top agenda items before his re-election push in 2012.
A third of the 100 Senate seats and all of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs in November.
Drudge’s ‘race card’ definition slammed
Regarding the Drudge Report banner, Plumline’s Greg Sargent writes, “Matt Drudge has just done us all the favor of confirming what many on the left have long argued: That some the on right see any effort by Dems at all to win minority votes as unacceptable race-mongering.”
Sargent blogs that, “in DrudgeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lexicon, urging supporters to get multiple demographic groups, including two racial constituencies, to exercise their right to vote constitutes playing the ‘race card.’”
Even Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey agrees, “ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not exactly playing a ‘race card,’ which usually means some claim of either victimization or super-credibility for a particular argument, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a little more frank than usual about the motives of political organizations. No one doubts that both parties approach electoral politics on the basis of demographics; both Democrats and Republicans make quite a show of it, especially when talking to groups that find their basis on ethnicity or religion. What they normally donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do is frame it in such an exclusionary way as Obama does in this video. Is this election really dependent on overwhelming the demographics that he leaves out of his appeal?”
Another conservative, the Daily Mail’s Don Surber appears to criticize Drudge for the banner, as well. However, it’s sort of hard to tell.
Matt Drudge called it racist: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Obama plays race card: rallies blacks, latinos for Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ10 upset.Ã¢â‚¬Â
While I will grant you no politician could get away with exhorting white voters to vote, I give the prez a pass on this.
Otherwise, I will be called a racist.
This video is from BarackObama.com, uploaded to YouTube April 23, 2010.
(with AFP report)