′Forward′-looking Obama hopes for second term | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 03.09.2012
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'Forward'-looking Obama hopes for second term

Democrats will once again nominate Barack Obama at their party convention. But the president's reelection is anything but certain. Obama has disappointed many of his supporters.

The enthusiasm knew no limits - back then, in 2008. As a charismatic campaigner Barack Obama was able to motivate his supporters with his slogan "Yes we can." His promise was "Hope and Change."

"I know that I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington," Obama said at the time. "But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change."

Four years later, this optimism has given way to disillusionment. Obama has had to admit: "We've got a lot of unfinished business."

And that means he traveling incessantly from state to state, campaigning for a second term. Iowa, where he surprisingly won the Democratic primaries last time and also pocketed a victory against the Republican candidate John McCain in the presidential elections, has become a so-called battleground state. The president and his current Republican contender Mitt Romney are fighting a neck-and-neck race there.

No perfect president

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event at the Nelson Pioneer Farm and Museum in Oskaloosa, Iowa

Obama is out on the campaign trail

Obama makes every effort to appear humble at a campaign rally in the small town of Marshalltown in the middle of Iowa.

"Back in 2008, I used to say to folks: look, I'm not a perfect man - you can ask Michelle," he told supporters. "And I tell folks, I won't be a perfect president. Nobody is."

But, the 51-year-old president added, he would fight every day for voters' interests. "We've got more schools to build, we've got more teachers to hire, we've got more troops to bring home, and we've got more roads to build," he said.

The list of things that the president would have liked to have achieved can be extended. Foremost is his promise to lead the country out of the economic crisis. An unemployment rate of over eight percent is alarming for US standards. The American economy is only recovering slowly, despite the injection of billions of dollars in government aid which Obama pushed through at the beginning of 2009. Other legislative initiatives, such as immigration reform, have fallen by the wayside or were only implemented halfheartedly, like the Wall Street reform.

Power struggle with the Republicans

At least the healthcare reform, which the Obama administration mainly concentrated on, took effect in March 2010. But it proved to be very difficult to get this reform through Congress. First, the Democrats surprisingly lost the Senate seat of the deceased Ted Kennedy to the Republican Scott Brown in January 2010. Then in November that year, the party lost its majority in the House of Representatives following congressional elections. From then on, the president and Congress cultivated a power struggle which crippled the legislative process and brought the country to the edge of financial ruin in 2011.

U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivers foreign policy remarks at the University of Warsaw, July 31, 2012.

Mitt Romney lags behind Obama in likeability

Obama's approval levels fell. While Gallup polls showed that 68 percent of Americans were satisfied with the president after his election, that figure has now dropped to 45 percent. In comparison: in the same time period of his term in office, Democrat Bill Clinton was at 52 percent and the Republican George W. Bush at 49 percent.

However Obama can point to some successes in addition to healthcare reform and the rescue of the US automobile industry. The president has for example pulled US troops out of Iraq, as promised.

Moving forward

Obama's biggest headline-grabbing coup was without a doubt the killing of Osama bin Laden. He emphasized this in his State of the Union Address this year.

"For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country," he told Congress on January 24, 2012. That would explain why Obama's high popularity levels are unbroken. A Gallup poll from June showed that 81 percent of those surveyed said Obama was "likeable" compared to a mere 64 percent for Romney.

The former senator from Illinois still hopes to profit from his popularity. At the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, which starts on Tuesday, his party will officially send him into the reelection race. But the glow which surrounded Obama four years ago at the convention in Denver, Colorado is no longer there. And his campaign slogan is somewhat less charismatic. Instead of "hope and change," it's now merely "forward."

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