Amid dismal approval ratings and slipping support for his reelection, President Obama will witness a rare occasion today: celebrations around the country in support for one of his accomplishments as president.
The repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell,” one of Obama’s 2008 campaign promises, will be commemorated at more than 100 events across all 50 states, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group that credits Obama for helping change the policy.
“The president’s leadership was critical to passage of repeal, and he is rightly being celebrated on this historic day,” said Human Rights Campaign spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz. “From kick-starting the process in the State of the Union to propelling repeal over the finish line last year, this is a big win for the president.”
Obama’s reelection campaign, eager to capitalize on anything his supporters consider a “win,” is trumpeting the end of the 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops as a rallying point for support.
Aides and surrogates have put out a cascade of statements, Tweets and Facebook posts on the repeal, calling it a testament to Obama’s leadership and perseverance.
“Today’s news isn’t just a policy promise kept, it’s a personal promise kept to the thousands of real people who needed and deserved this change,” wrote Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina in a blog post.
“It’s a reminder that as broken as Washington is and as long as change can take, people and organizations can do amazing things when they work together and never waver from the vision that unites them,” he said.
In an email blast to supporters, the campaign shared a new web video that features the personal stories of four gay and lesbian service members who served under “don’t ask don’t tell.” They also launched a social media message board – “It’s Officially Over” – for supporters to share what the repeal means to them.
But the emphasis on Obama’s role in overturning the discriminatory law is not solely directed at his base. The president’s campaign strategists believe the accomplishment will resonate with independent voters and the broader electorate, a majority of whom favor repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.”
Seventy-seven percent of Americans said they favored ending the policy, according to the most recent ABC News poll.
Meanwhile, most of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates have opposed lifting the ban on openly gay troops.