Obama team defends speech

2012-09-08 09:17

Iowa City - Barack Obama's campaign repudiated pundits who found his big convention speech flat, boring and stripped of inspiration, insisting the president achieved exactly what he set out to do.

Obama Friday found himself in the odd position of leaving a major political event unable to bask in acclaim for his stellar rhetoric.

Instead ex-president Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama stole hearts at the Democratic National Convention.

Gone is the urgent poetry of the young political pretender of 2004 and 2008. Obama, now a worn president weighed down by incumbency, has tempered his style to reflect times in which the hope he promised is in short supply.

Initial reaction to Obama's speech on Thursday night was that it underwhelmed and that the president missed a chance to cap a celebratory convention by twisting the knife into Republican Mitt Romney.

Jobs numbers

"Barack Obama is deeply over exposed and often boring," wrote columnist Peggy Noonan, who has praised some previous Obama speeches despite being a star of the conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

"His speech Thursday was weirdly anti-climactic. There's too much build-up, the crowd was tired, it all felt flat," said Noonan who used to pen speeches for the Great Communicator Ronald Reagan.

Tepid reviews combined with bad jobs numbers made for a bad news day for Obama, so a senior aide took an unusual stroll to the press cabin on Air Force One to share the results of focus group data.

The official suggested that the pundits had missed the point.

"I think the American people responded very well to the president's speech," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"They first of all found it to be optimistic, they found it to be credible in terms of his ideas and goals that would help the economy," the official said, adding that the data showed the electorate also warmed to Obama's portrayal of Romney as a blundering novice on foreign affairs.

"We think that swing voters in this election responded well to the president's speech. Our sense is that they responded better than to his speech in 2008 in terms of its impact."

Financial meltdown

Obama set out to cast a stark choice between policies he sees as lifting the middle class, and Romney's which he believes would threaten another financial meltdown.

The official also took a swipe at the Republican's keynote the week before, which appeared to fail to clear a much lower bar.

"Mitt Romney's speech for a convention speech was mediocre. I don't think he advanced the ball in terms of those voters who are saying, 'okay does this guy have the answers?'"

Obama campaign aides always painted their convention in Charlotte as a three-day effort to build a multi-dimensional picture of Obama and his presidency.

After Clinton and the First Lady offered the flourish, the president swung into provide the meat, promising policies to create jobs, cut the deficit, lift the middle class, hike taxes on the rich and keep America safe in the world.

But commentators conditioned to expect a soaring stemwinder from Obama were disappointed.

"This was the rhetorical equivalent, forgive the football metaphor, of running out the clock," wrote Michael Tomasky, a political correspondent for the Daily Beast news website and British daily The Guardian.

"Obama clearly thinks he's ahead and just doesn't need to make mistakes," he surmised. But he extended the metaphor, warning: "But when football teams do that, it often turns out to be the biggest mistake of all, and they lose."

Molly Ball, staff writer of The Atlantic said Obama was on the defensive: "The speech was so befuddlingly flat as to make you wonder whether its lameness was intentional," she wrote.

Obama gave a curtailed version of the stump speech on Friday at several campaign stops in swing states Iowa and New Hampshire and was setting out on a bus tour of the largest swing state Florida on Saturday.

Victory in all three battlegrounds in November would almost certainly assure him a second White House term.

  • justin.frittelli - 2012-09-08 09:27

    I thought it was a great speech, in difficult times a more somber reflection and honest account of the situation at hand is more believable than some over the top showman performance! Go Obama go! The world does not need another right wing Rebuplican minded presidency in the oval office any time soon.

      hassan.vincent.9 - 2012-09-10 01:12

      "This president can ask us to be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else's fault. This president can tell us that the next four years will get it right. But this president cannot tell us that you're better off today than when he took office." (Mitt Romney) THAT was a great speech.

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-09-08 09:54

    ... same policies and promises that he didn't keep the first time around.

      cheslin.white.7 - 2012-09-08 11:54

      Are you sure? Have you done the homework in order to substantiate such a misguided and short-sighted comment like the one you just made.

      mark.p.oberholzer - 2012-09-08 14:10

      @Cheslin, uhm... he has admited it himself. what further homework do you require?

  • lodewyk.fred - 2012-09-08 09:55

    I just get the feeling this clown is not going to see a second term. He did his job, being a token and all, showing the world Americans aren't racist. Next will be to have a woman president (Clinton) to keep the feminists happy, then the men can go on with the job.

      cheslin.white.7 - 2012-09-08 11:51

      Clown? Really?

      claudia.meads - 2012-09-08 16:29

      cheslin.white.7 - you are right, he is not a clown, he is a slow thinking, cheap talking, lying, charlatan, in need of serious otoplasty. A clown would have been entertaining...

      tobydt - 2012-09-08 17:55

      Of course Obama is going to get a second term. Romney is a tool. And I cant believe out of all the rep's, he's the best choice. If you want to know if Americans lifes have improved in the past 4 years, just ask for Romney's tax returns.

  • brendon.nel.7 - 2012-09-08 10:16

    Yawn.... Oblabla

  • eric.venter - 2012-09-08 10:27

    I found the Romney Clan to be Super Capitalists that aim to secure wealth of the Super Rich at the expense of the Middle Class and the Poor. It is my belief that that is quite an immoral and self centred approach. The sincerity of Obama and his Super team of Democrats in bettering the lives of All Americans,( and in doing so, maintain a leading role internationally), seems to me like a much more realistic and honourable path to follow. I am South African and my point of view reflects and outsiders angle on the election.

      john.bucknall.1 - 2012-09-09 02:58

      So that means the super capitalists have all the jobs? You're starting to sound like JuJu now.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-09 03:21

      The rhetoric of both the Democrats and the Republicans sustains the illusion of participatory democracy. They both offer minor palliatives and a feel-your-pain language to mask the cruelty and goals of the corporate state. The Republicans are liars! The Democrats are deceivers!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-09 08:19

      Putting a prefix in front of someone's name is not a sign of great wit but that of a halfwit!

  • boltonbarry - 2012-09-08 10:28

    OOHH so his goal of destroying America was part of his plans from the start..

      john.bucknall.1 - 2012-09-09 02:50

      Just check the deficit and rising by the minute!

      john.bucknall.1 - 2012-09-09 02:54

      He's doing to the US what zipper is doing to SA, only zipper and his cronies are stealing it.

  • louis.langenhoven - 2012-09-08 11:24

    "pundits who found his big convention speech flat, boring and stripped of inspiration, insisting the president achieved exactly what he set out to do". uhmm so he set out to be flat boring and stripped of inspiration? Well I must say that's how I mainly saw him myself for the most part of his reign...

      cheslin.white.7 - 2012-09-08 11:49

      Really? Good thing nobody cares what you think of the POTUS.

      lodewyk.fred - 2012-09-08 13:17

      @cheslin Why the big admiration for the man? Defending him against just about any bad comment over here?

  • tobydt - 2012-09-08 17:56

    Haters will hate, economy was f***ed up under the GOP's watch. 4 more years for Obama.

  • zaks2217 - 2012-09-08 18:56

    Wtf. You guys carry on like u staying in America. Screw obama, romney and whoever else. Malemas speech was inspiring lol

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-09 03:18

    It's a bit of an indictment of Obomber too that he appears to be stronger on rhetoric and eye-catching gestures than on effective (but unflashy) action.

  • morgaenart.farto - 2012-09-09 09:24

    I can't wait for the day very soon when the White House will be White again...

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-09 09:37

      The future of the US is Hispanic, returning to its roots!

  • johan.jacobs.5680 - 2012-09-09 09:38

    Obama's Democrats must have some friends in the RSA,my comment on his mentallity was removed,if you only tolerate flattering comments,please let us know.If facts are prohibited do likewise please.Comments need not necessarily be flattering. The truth sometimes tends to be cruel.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-09 12:30

      If you think what you are posting is truth, as opposed to opinion, I suggest that you contact a reputable publisher straightaway!

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