Four years on, “Hope and Change” has become “Forward” as President Barack Obama road tests a new campaign slogan to encapsulate his reelection bid.
Matching the powerful simplicity of his 2008 theme was always going to be tough — especially after Obama’s three-and-a-half years stuck in the grind of governing a divided nation recovering from the deepest recession in decades.
But “Forward” appears to be an attempt to focus the minds of voters on Obama’s argument that his administration made important gains and Republicans want to turn back the clock to failed economic policies.
The slogan was previewed at the end of a new seven minute campaign video released five days before Obama holds the first official rallies of his campaign in the vital swing state territory of Ohio and Virginia.
The ad unloads on key Republican leaders like House speaker John Boehner, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
But it only briefly shows Obama’s presumptive Republican opponent in November’s election Mitt Romney, and appears mostly aimed at cranking up enthusiasm among his core Democratic supporters.
The spot featured a long list of Obama’s achievements, including Wall Street reform, health care reform, reining in credit card giants, ending the Iraq war, the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military.
“I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot… I believe America is on the way up,” Obama is shown telling a crowd at the end of the video, before the new “Forward” slogan flashes across the screen.
One of the most intriguing mysteries of the Obama administration is how a communications team that defined their candidate so expertly four years ago has failed to come up with a snappy new shorthand to describe his presidency.
The Obama press shop has come up with a number of terms, including “Recovery Summer” “We Can’t Wait” and “An America built to last” but none has really stuck, reflecting the thematic differences between campaigns and governance.
Republicans Monday immediately accused Obama of trying to deflect attention from an economy which is still struggling to recover, amid 8.2 percent unemployment.
In a research document, the Republican National Committee said that Obama was trying to sell “a promise of a better tomorrow based on the policies failing us today.”
Republican operatives also unleashed a volley of mocking attacks on Twitter.
“Under Obama’s budget, Americans can look #FORWARD to a projected debt of $25.9 trillion by 2022,” said one RNC tweet.
“Time for some real #Change, — “Let’s move #forward by making #PresidentObama a #onetermpresident,” said a tweet sent by College Republicans.
The Romney campaign meanwhile launched its own advertisement, accusing Obama of breaking his promises and squandering US taxpayer resources and presiding over huge budget deficits and record-breaking national debt.
[President Barack Obama on the campaign trail in 2008 via Walter G Arce / Shutterstock.com]