ABC News' Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) reports:
TEST DRIVE: President Obama kicked his reelection message into gear this week. He's casting himself as a fierce champion of ordinary folks, against an intransigent Congress and Republican (Tea) Party that block his every move.
His advisers hope the "us verses the uncompromising" duality will define the early campaign, channeling 'Hope and Change' of 2008, while stirring a new enthusiasm for 2012. Obama says he wants to "enlist" supporters in the "fight," and signaled his new jobs plan, due next month, will be one of the next battlegrounds.
Will the new narrative help key voters forget some of their frustrations with president’s first term, or deflect them elsewhere, as the election approaches? We shall see.
WARNING SIGN: A new high of 71 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama on the economy, per Gallup. Just 26 percent approve, a new low.
PILING ON PERRY: The flurry of attacks Team Obama for America and its surrogates have leveled against Texas Gov. Rick Perry in his first week on the trail reflects how serious a contender they think he could be. All together now:
— Robert Gibbs: "Just two years ago [Perry] openly talked about leading Texas out of the United States of America."
— Arne Duncan: "I feel very, very badly for the children" in his Texas schools.
— Debbie Wasserman Schultz: "He's all hat and no cattle."
— David Axelrod: His is a "record of decimation, not of progress."
— Bill Clinton: "He's a good-looking rascal."
— President Obama: "You've got to be a little more careful about what you say. But I'll cut him some slack. He's only been at it for a few days now."
TOUGH LOVE: Some supporters of the president who have felt slighted during the first term are increasingly restless, and unabashed about making it known.
“The Congressional Black Caucus loves the president, too. We're supportive of the president, but we're getting tired. We're getting tired,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., at a Detroit job fair Tuesday. “The unemployment is unconscionable. We don't know what the strategy is. We don't know why on this trip that he's in the United States now, he's not in any black community.”
Meanwhile, Progressives’ angst over the president’s debt ceiling deal continues to flare, exacerbated by an Obama campaign email in New Mexico that appeared to endorse criticism of popular liberal economist Paul Krugman and the lefty blogosphere.
“What exactly does OFA [Obama for America] think they stand to gain by ridiculing Krugman as a ‘political rookie,’ a hysterical ‘fanatic’ and an ‘ideologue’?,” blasted Jane Hamsher, author of the popular liberal blog FireDogLake.
Liberals will have few, if any, real alternatives to look to on Election Day. But will they turn out with gusto?
IMMIGRATION PLAY: Some immigrant communities and their advocates had also complained loudly about the president, some staging protests and threatening to stay home in 2012. But a bold policy move this week — curtailing deportations of illegal immigrants without criminal records — could go a long way towards keeping their disillusionment at bay.
"The Republican presidential candidates are carbon copies of the congressional Republicans who have blocked common-sense change [i.e. immigration reform] at every turn,” OFA political director Katherine Archuleta reminded supporters. The “announcement represents important progress that the president can make right now. Show you stand with him by passing on this good news to your friends."
In other words, quit agitating for awhile and join the fight to help Obama win a second term.
FUNDRAISING FACT: Obama has headlined 127 fundraisers so far in his first term, according to research obtained by USA Today. At the same point in their presidencies, George W. Bush did 88, while Bill Clinton did 76.
QUOTED & NOTED: "What I continue to believe is that ultimately the buck stops with me. I'm going to be accountable," Obama told Wolf Blitzer. "But, ultimately, they say, look, he's the president, we think he has good intentions, but we're impatient and we want to see things move faster."