The White House and congressional Democrats are looking at an unorthodox model to fashion their strategies for the upcoming midterm elections and President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Remember when Ronald Reagan, up for re-election in 1984, repeated his winning 1980 campaign question “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” while warning that Democrats would return the nation to Jimmy Carter’s disastrous economic days? Well, get ready for top Democrats and the president to pick up that theme as they fight to keep the Republicans at the door.
“In 1984, Reagan was still blaming Jimmy Carter and it worked,” says a Democratic leadership aide. “We’ll not just blame [Bush] but point out that the best indication of what they’ll do is what they’ve done.”
It’s already started. In campaign speeches, Obama has picked up Reagan’s theme of warning voters that Republicans would resume policies that led to the recession. Campaigning recently for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Obama sounded Reagan’s call: “This is a choice between the policies that led us into the mess, or the policies that are leading out of the mess,” he said. “America doesn’t go backwards, we go forwards.”