Unsurprisingly, Obama makes precious little mention of promises broken, such as his failure to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Other failures, such as his inability to repeal the Bush tax cuts for higher-income Americans, are brought up to paint Republicans as obstructionists.
"Time after time, the Republicans have gotten together and they've said no," Obama told construction workers last week.
What new promises Obama adds to his list in 2012 will depend on the arc of the campaign.
An incumbent who's cruising to re-election doesn't need to sweeten the pot much.
Ronald Reagan's re-election race against Democrat Walter Mondale, says Buchanan, was easy enough that "there was no need to make promises that might be uncomfortable to keep." Bill Clinton, in his smooth re-election race against Republican Bob Dole, dangled a string of small-bore proposals such as school uniforms and extended school days.
As for Obama, says Buchanan, "They have stuff to wheel out. They'll do so if they need to."
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EDITOR'S NOTE _ A closer look at the promises made by political figures.
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