Obama Making 2012 About Social Issues

Recent WH moves in contraception and religion give advantage to surging Rick Santorum, activists say.

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For voters casting ballots in the 2012 election, their decision will no doubt come down to the state of the economy. But the sudden focus on social issues by the Obama campaign was all the buzz at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington today.

During the "All-Star" panel, Jonah Goldberg, Editor-at-large of the National Review Online said Obama is trying to distract voters by prioritizing social issues including gay marriage and a new rule requiring religious organizations to provide birth control coverage for their employees. Goldberg says the new focus is a ploy to mobilize Democratic supporters who might be less than thrilled with the president's economic performance.

"What they have to do is that they have to scare the bajesus out of their base," Goldberg told a panel Thursday at CPAC. "The whole kind of crazy clansmen are coming for your birth control kind of thing, otherwise their guys are just going to stay home." [GOP Likes Thune, Rubio, Rice as Mitt Romney VP.]

John Gizzi, the political editor at Human Events told the CPAC audience that the Republicans never intended for the 2012 presidential campaign to be focused on hot-button issues like abortion or gay marriage, but that the president made a pointed effort to discuss the issues.

"I have been to several political conferences in California, Iowa, New Hampshire and most recently Florida," he said. "The social issues were almost never brought up. They have been injected into the political debate by President Barack Obama." [Friendly Fire Coming in House Re-Elections?]

Gizzi says the president made the decision to make social issues a significant issue in 2012 against the advice of former Chief of Staff William Daley and Vice President Joe Biden.

Gizzi argued that if this becomes an election about social issues, Rick Santorum will be best equipped to defend conservative values.

"That was his agenda even 22 years ago," Gizzi says.

Goldberg agreed adding "Some of the candidates have some catch up to do."

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