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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1590

First salvo in US re-election battle fired by Joe Biden

By Philip Fernando
Los Angeles, 19 March, (

The first salvo fired in the long and harsh US re-election campaign came from Vice President Joe Biden, President’s go-to emissary-in-chief. Visiting Toledo in Ohio, the heart of the Rust Belt, Biden let go of a scathing retort to critics that pooh-poohed “the much touted US auto industry revival.”

He said “others paid lip service to worker benefits and it was all about protecting the privileged sector.”

Republicans would no doubt go hammer and tongs once they pick their nominee--now being fiercely sought.

We would hear the repetition of Bidden's refrain made before a supportive blue collar crowd in Toledo--“I am laying out a clear and stark difference between us and our opponents,” Biden said. Ohio would be a vital state for Obama re-election. Meanwhile President Obama was speaking in Maryland, a Democratic pocket borough touting his credentials in foreign affairs...

The two campaigns outing had all the frills – --campaign buttons, cheering local supporters, a flag-decked lecterns and placards and screaming Obama slogan--“economy built to last” at the dais.

Biden’s rhetoric was also more nakedly campaign-oriented due to the vigorous nomination battle now being waged among three Republican contenders. It included explicit denunciations of some of the remaining Republican candidates, Rick Santorum, the former senator of Pennsylvania, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, and – particularly – Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who got the brunt of the attack probably due to him being viewed as the ultimate nominee even though Santorum has an outside chance of coming on top.

Bailouts, handouts and entitlements

For months, Republicans have relentlessly portrayed Obama as a Big Daddy of bailouts, handouts and entitlements. So, Biden stuck to his theme that the administration’s decision to support the embattled American auto industry in 2009 was correct, despite hard opposition from many Republicans – namely Romney, who suggested that Detroit might have been better off had it been left alone, a position Mr. Biden was quick to remind everyone. The comment by Romney that help from the federal government would be worse than bankruptcy for General Motors, that it would turn the company into the living dead, would be repeated ad nauseam, no doubt.

He continued, deriding Republicans as not only being wrong but way off in 2009, because “nobody was lining up to lend money to General Motors, or lend money to anyone. “That included Bain Capital,” he added, a crack at the private equity firm where Romney spent his formative professional years.

We would see Biden visiting Florida that has a sizeable Jewish vote. Biden’s speech represented a straight-ahead campaign rebuttal to the barrage of attacks that the president had faced from Republican presidential candidates in a primary campaign that shows no sign of abating.

The Optimism Strategy

Optimism seemed the corner stone of the Obama strategy. America has gotten its groove back—he stated in Maryland. The Democrats are hoping that it would be productive to grab the narrative of national optimism offering a portrait of a country that returning to sunnier days powered by the American worker, would prove a magical stance for the re-election. It is a narrative with strong echoes of President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign theme of morning in America and one that is intended to provide a contrast with the dour Republican candidates.

For Mr. Obama, the theme is intended to flash the spotlight to Romney, the Republican front-runner, often-unnamed foil in the president’s speeches. Romney had ceaselessly hammered that the country has lost some of its global power and economic might. Obama is harking back to the exuberance of optimism that characterized his 2008 campaign. Campaign.

The flip side to that is despite the improved poll numbers of the President and the slightly better economic forecasts, the path may be strewn with unexpected turns for the worse. Sounding out of touch would be disastrous for any candidate. The spiraling gas prices and the foreign policy crises looming in Iran and Afghanistan coupled with European debt were matters beyond easy diagnosis or prediction. Many have argued that sticking to the differences in policy matters with Republicans on economic issues may offer more promise.

We would be changing into the harsh campaign mode and the pointers indicated a replay of the 2008 issues surfacing—the George W Bush economic and foreign policy blunders. The slogan would most likely be “we cannot return to those policies again. The Republicans would place the blame on economic woes squarely on Obama.

- Asian Tribune –

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