POLITICS: White House

President Obama launches campaign blitz for State of the Union ideas

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Photo - ARDEN, NC  - FEBRUARY 13:  U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy at Linamar Corporation on February 13, 2013 in Arden, North Carolina.  President Obama delivered the remarks at the North Carolina auto components manufacturing plant following his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.  (Photo by John W. Adkisson/Getty Images)
ARDEN, NC - FEBRUARY 13: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy at Linamar Corporation on February 13, 2013 in Arden, North Carolina. President Obama delivered the remarks at the North Carolina auto components manufacturing plant following his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. (Photo by John W. Adkisson/Getty Images)
Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Campaign 2012,Politics Digest

President Obama kicked off a road tour Wednesday to build support for his State of the Union proposals, unleashing a campaign-style message meant to undermine Republican opposition to a slate of progressive policies facing long odds on Capitol Hill.

The three-day blitz, which began at a manufacturing plant in Asheville, N.C., on Wednesday and will continue with stops in Atlanta and Chicago later this week, resembles stump speeches Obama made during his re-election campaign.

With the resurrection this week of stalled policy proposals from his first term -- a rise in the minimum wage, climate change legislation, and new gun and immigration laws -- Obama made clear he would approach his second-term agenda much like his bid to retain the White House.

"Make no mistake: Most of the State of the Union proposals are already DOA," conceded a veteran Democratic strategist. "It's about the broader message. He's trying to break the GOP -- get on board or get out of the way."

Obama is also looking to improve the Democrats' chances of taking back the House in 2014, a prospect that would make his legislative agenda infinitely easier. However, incumbent presidents traditionally struggle with midterm elections.

Senior administration officials acknowledge that many of Obama's proposals won't go anywhere on Capitol Hill. Yet, they point to the recent Republican concession on higher income taxes for the wealthiest Americans as proof that the presidential bully pulpit can create fissures in the Republican ranks.

But some analysts said the strategy could backfire with Republicans wary of the president's second-term agenda.

"Obama doesn't really like governing. What he likes to do is campaign, create the perception that all the bad stuff going on is somebody else's fault," said Republican strategist Mark Corallo. "There is no getting anything done -- and there won't be -- unless Republicans roll over, cave and give in."

A day after Obama evoked the name of Mitt Romney in a call for bipartisanship, White House aides were quick to link the GOP response to the State of the Union address to Obama's vanquished foe.

Highlighting the rebuttal from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., White House press secretary Jay Carney said the speech was "entirely consistent with the policy ideas that Mitt Romney campaigned on last year and that the American people did not support."

Underneath his appeals for finding common ground, Obama used his State of the Union speech to put Republicans on notice. Seeking to move the needle on a slate of domestic proposals, Obama said he would continue to take his case to the public until his detractors budged.

In North Carolina on Wednesday, Obama focused on his call for more government investments in manufacturing. But his appeal sounded similar to arguments he's making on issues ranging from immigration reform to climate change legislation.

"I'm doing what I can just through administrative action," he said. "I need Congress to take up these initiatives, because we've come too far and we've worked too hard to turn back now."

For their part, Republicans were not swayed, setting the stage for the same contentious battles that have defined the last four years.

"Everyone recognizes the president's a good campaigner," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "Will he lead? Or will he continue his endless campaign?"

bhughes@washingtonexaminer.com

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