"[I]f you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from." That is what Barack Obama said when he accepted his party's presidential nomination in 2008. Four years later, it reads like a prophetic description of his re-election campaign.
President Obama's two biggest legislative accomplishments were the passage of his $831 billion economic stimulus package and his $1.8 trillion health care law. How's that working out? Last month's Washington Post-ABC News poll found that a mere 31 percent of Americans believe his "economic program" made things better, compared with 67 percent who said it had "no real effect" or even made conditions worse.
As the Supreme Court weighs whether Obamacare is even constitutionally permissible, support for the law is down to 39 percent, which is even lower than it was at the time of passage, according to an average of surveys compiled by the Huffington Post's Pollster.com. Although Obama promised to cut the deficit in half in his first term, it's now projected to be $1.25 trillion in 2012 -- the fourth straight year it will exceed a trillion dollars. With gas prices rising, unemployment still at a stubbornly high 8.2 percent and economic growth sluggish, Obama cannot win if he runs on his record.
So it's no surprise Obama has launched a scorched earth campaign to scare voters away from presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. So far, this assault has been based around three themes. First, Obama has manufactured the idea that the Republican Party and Romney have launched a "War on Women" -- all because they oppose federal funding for abortions and don't think the government should be able to force religious institutions to violate their consciences when providing employee benefits. Second, he is scaring seniors into believing that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and by extension Romney, is going to take away their Medicare benefits.
Third, Obama has launched a class warfare campaign based on misleading voters into believing that our fiscal and economic problems stem from income inequality. The best example of this is his tireless promotion of the so-called Buffett Rule surtax on millionaires, a political gimmick that would improve neither the nation's economy nor the government's fiscal outlook.
These are all examples of "recycling stale scare tactics" in the absence of "any fresh ideas."
If Romney is going to win in November, he cannot fall into Obama's trap. When he argues that Obama is the one who is bad for women, or that Obama slashed Medicare benefits in his health care law, Romney is fighting on Obama's turf. Instead, at every opportunity, Romney should remind Americans that Obama's entire campaign is one endless attempt to distract voters from his disastrous record and lack of a real plan to address the nation's most pressing problems.