'Change' and 'Hope' make a comeback for Obama

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

President Obama’s faded 2008 cheer of “change” and “hope” are making a comeback on the campaign trail even as the Obama-Biden reelection campaign is desperately seeking a new political slogan.

Over the past week both Vice President Biden and first lady Michelle Obama have resurrected the 2008 campaign rallying cry, though in muted tones to suggest that given another four years in office the president’s promise will belatedly come true.

It’s part of an Obama-Biden bid to piggyback off the slowly improving economy with a campaign story line that while the president’s earlier stimulus and other spending didn’t immediately improve the lives of Americans, it appears to be taking root now. “Now that the economy is starting to improve, they can take credit for at least getting it going,” said an advisor.

That’s exactly what Obama’s surrogates are doing. “What we did actually is working; not enough, but a very, very significant march to total recovery,” Biden told Democratic activists in New Hampshire. He then delivered the 2008 kicker: “We’re beginning to restore hope.”

Change was handled by the first lady. Discussing her husband’s vision for a second term while in Ohio last week, she said, “this journey is going to be long, and there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way.” Then she raised the 2008 campaign catchword. “The reality is that change is slow. Real change never happens all at once.”

Obama also used the “change we can believe in” mantra in heralding her husband’s successes, such as on health care, naming two liberal judges to the Supreme Court and lifting “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Asked the first lady, “Will we continue all the change we’ve begun and the progress we’ve made, or will we allow everything we’ve fought for to just slip away?”

The use of “hope” and “change” by Biden and Obama comes as the campaign is looking for a new slogan to roll out once the Republicans settle on a fall presidential candidate. But as that wait lengthens outside advisors say the improving economy is giving the president’s team time to text revised themes that might end up sounding very 2008-ish.

The GOP, however, is ready to strike back at the old theme. “When Obama told us that he was bringing change, nobody thought he meant that’s all we’d have left in our pockets,” said Sean Spicer, communications director of the Republican National Committee.