While his Republican rivals battle it out for their party's presidential nomination, Barack Obama is showing why he will be such a formidable candidate for re-election this fall.
Deftly using the advantages of incumbency, he came across as a statesman at his news conference yesterday while his GOP rivals were squabbling and fighting for delegates in the nominating contests of 10 states. Obama charged that his GOP critics were making irresponsibly belligerent comments about Iran's nuclear program and "beating the drums of war" but not giving diplomacy and sanctions enough of a chance to work. "Some of these folks have a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk," he said sternly, adding: "This is not a game." He underscored the fact that he is commander in chief while his rivals don't have any responsibilities to protect the country so they take rash positions about sending young men and women into harm's way.
Obama was active on other fronts. He declared Kentucky a disaster area because of recent storms, tornadoes and flooding, providing federal assistance for the victims. Also yesterday, he told the Business Roundtable that the economy is improving as his policies take hold and called for reforms in the nation's tax system.
Today, he is planning to visit Charlotte in the battleground state of North Carolina, where he is scheduled to tour a Daimler Trucks North America manufacturing plant and underscore again that the economy is strengthening.
What Obama is trying to do is cast himself as both the man in charge and a reasonable policymaker who won't go to extremes while he bills his Republican challengers as trigger-happy, ideological zealots. This contrast, if voters accept it, would help Obama with the all-important independents and swing voters in the general election.