Debate Club

Barack Obama's Negative Strategy is Backfiring


One of the most overused phrases in political commentary is that someone is running a "negative" campaign filled with "attack" ads. Which campaigns are truly negative and which ones just provide contrast? President Obama's re-election campaign has given us a clear example of what a rudderless, negative campaign is all about.

President Obama has shifted his slogan from "hope and change" to "seek and destroy." His campaign borrowed a page from Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who started off attacking former Gov. Mitt Romney's business success in an attempt to turn him into the Gordon Gecko of GOP politics. However, going too negative too soon and with the wrong message is backfiring, especially as prominent Obama surrogates back away.

These attacks on Governor Romney's time at Bain Capital remind voters that the president fails to understand how markets actually work. It also exposes his own weakness and insecurity of being a failed economic policymaker and leader.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

We know that negative ads are just part of every campaign season and now with super PACs, we can be certain that a lot more negative ads will air this year. Even though voters overwhelmingly dislike negative ads, they do influence voters' opinions about a candidate. However, President Obama's aggressive approach toward Governor Romney lacks the right presidential tone, and it also clearly emanates from the president and his henchmen.

Even former President Bill Clinton criticized President Obama's negative attacks on Romney and praised Romney for his "sterling" business career. But why is the campaign insistent on continuing to go down the Bain path?

President Obama hopes that the voter focuses on Governor Romney and not on him. The president knows that he is in trouble. With the poll numbers tightening in battleground states and more dismal economic reports, the Obama campaign should be very nervous that they are in a weakened state. Despite his likeability ratings, President Obama is facing a growing number of voters who are discouraged, disgruntled, and panicked about the direction of our country under his leadership.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

President Obama and his campaign lack political finesse. Having his own campaign strategist David Axelrod spearhead an anti-Romney event in Massachusetts is just one example of how his campaign team acts in an unsophisticated manner with the goal of distracting voters from the important issues that our country faces.

President Obama spends so much time as campaigner-in-chief that he has forgotten his role as president: to unite the country when we are in crisis. The president is failing that challenge as well as the underlying economic struggle.

Mercedes Schlapp

About Mercedes Schlapp Cofounder of Cove Strategies

2012 presidential election
Obama, Barack
Romney, Mitt

Other Arguments

83 Pts
Negative Attacks a Risky Strategy for Barack Obama

Yes – Negative Attacks a Risky Strategy for Barack Obama

Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst

51 Pts
Reince Priebus: Obama's Attacks Are An Excuse for His Poor Record

Yes – Reince Priebus: Obama's Attacks Are An Excuse for His Poor Record

Reince Priebus Chairman of the Republican National Committee

-25 Pts
The More Obama Focuses in on Romney, the Better It Is for Voters

No – The More Obama Focuses in on Romney, the Better It Is for Voters

Peter Fenn Democratic Political Strategist and Head of Fenn Communications

-26 Pts
Mitt Romney's Record Justifies Barack Obama's Attacks

No – Mitt Romney's Record Justifies Barack Obama's Attacks

Brad Bannon President of Bannon Communications Research

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