May 18th, 2010
08:11 PM ET
13 years ago

Dem strategist gives Obama's rhetoric a 'C+'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Democrat Paul Begala called on the president to elevate his rhetoric and hit back harder against Republicans."]
Washington (CNN) – Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala gave President Obama’s appearance in Youngstown, Ohio Tuesday a “C+” on the partisanship scale.

Earlier: Obama rips stimulus opponents

Speaking on CNN’s John King, USA, Begala called on the president to elevate his rhetoric and hit back harder against Republicans or else the Democrats run the risk of losing big in the midterm elections this November.

While discussing how presidential approval ratings can affect a party’s midterm electoral success, Begala explained how former President Ronald Reagan set the standard for the modern era by losing only 28 congressional seats despite sporting a 42 percent approval rating in the 1982 midterms.

“As unemployment went up and Reagan’s approval rating went down, he kept saying liberal economic policies have ruined this country,” Begala said. “And he explained, I’m against taxation and litigation and regulation and I’m for tax cuts and deregulation. He made his case on a philosophical level.

“[President Obama] is uniquely able to do that and so I don’t want him down there at the operational level. I want him to frame up the philosophy that the Democrats and most independents think ruined the country in the eight years the Republicans had the House, the Senate and the White House.”

Filed under: 2010 • JKUSA • John King USA • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Bill

    Any endorsment by Obama is the kiss of death for a candidate. No candidate should welcome Obama's support if he expects to win. Obama is political poison.

    May 18, 2010 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  2. Liberalism is a mental disorder

    hahahahahaha – BHO is doing a great he supported spector and he lost also....bwahahahahhahahaha.....

    I hope BHO keeps showing up to support as many dems as possible!!!!

    May 18, 2010 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  3. jean

    The tea party should be called the "Media party" because the media excel in promoting the bigot tea party...selling the negative for postive. Congralations to CNN, for the good brain washing job, on how many people attended the the bigot tea party affair in Hawai, lets see....was it 600 or 6000...? perhaps someone will read this comment, I know it will not be posted.

    May 18, 2010 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  4. Liz the First

    Obama is trying not to sink to the republican't's level. he's trying to keep civil discourse. he's bent over bacward trying to bring the party of NO into the process and they've spit in his face every time, then screamed that he's the one killing bipartisanship. what Bizarro world do these people live in? The American people need to pay attention to what's going on. this lack of interest in the political process gave us Bush and eight years of disastrous policies. elections matter, at all levels. government isn't some faraway evil force, as the teabaggers would have us believe. it's US working together to make our lives and our neighbors' lives better through cooperation. this is what the Democrats are trying to do over the strident objection and obstruction of the Party of NO. we need to get every single republican't out of office and put in people who care about this country and ALL its people, not just the super-rich ones!

    May 18, 2010 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  5. Joseph

    Definitely Obama deserves a "F" for every categories including economy, education, national debts and deficits, unemployment, business environment, fighting terrorism, and preventing Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.

    May 18, 2010 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  6. Nowetback

    "Eight years that the Republicans had the House, the Senate, and the White House." When was that? It certainly wasn't true for the entire eight years during the Bush Presidency. As a Democrat, does he make up history to suit his client and CNN publishes it?

    May 18, 2010 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  7. AqChicago

    Democrats currently come across to me as foolish politicians as it is unbelievable that they are missing big opportunities to shine and letting the outdated so-called conservatives (aka fundamentalists) take things away from them.
    Paul is right in this article. Our Pres. needs to get out (not in excess) and hammer home the key messages for Health care reform, Financial reform, stimulus as other things. Avg. americans are not going to get the specifics as they either don't have the aptitude or their so called logical reasoning have been muddled by foxnews and co. Key is for Obama to drive the broad msg. It has only been a yr and he has done enough work vs. the previous goofballs who fought a wrong war spending > trillion dollars and still feel right in preaching fiscal responsibility.

    May 18, 2010 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  8. Fed Up

    Who is he kidding? The incumbents will be gone, regardless of party. If there are more Democrats in power now, there will be more Republicans in power in November. Do the math. Rhetoric is the problem, not the solution. Where is the brain power in DC? There must be a brain sucker there somewhere. Vote 'em in. Vote 'em out.

    May 18, 2010 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  9. vwrtb

    That's just fact backed up by imperial data... Republicans deal only in ideology... Vote no to the party of no in November!

    May 18, 2010 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  10. JES

    Why doesn't Obama get it we are tired of going deeper in debt, spending like there is no tomorrow, health care bill a big lie, and we are still yrying to understand how he got elected.

    What a waste to have a person like him running our country into the ground and the press loves him.

    Mr Rock Star at his best.

    May 18, 2010 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  11. DC Johnny

    Hit back harder? Are you kidding?

    This president has succeeded if his oath was taken to swear to divide the country as much as possible. Blame it all you want on the GOP, but this president is the one who promised moderation and brought such far left policy that independents are jumping ship. The indies are the smart ones, allegiant to nobody, and they see the fine print.

    Obama has essentially revived the Civil War in America. For decades you will see elections go 51-49 with no moderation and no bipartisan support on anything.

    Congratulations, Obama. Well done. We thought W would go down in history as the worst president ever. That record didn't last very long, now did it?

    May 18, 2010 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  12. Peace

    Hitting harder the Repubs is quite an easy work for the President. The time he has given them to see their decency is more than enough. We are about to be back to our good mood my fellow Dems!

    May 18, 2010 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  13. Liban

    Paul "you absolutely right"!!!!

    May 18, 2010 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  14. Brain

    Interesting bit of math.
    8.5 million jobs lost since 2008
    850 billion dollars in stimulus spending.
    We could have just given each of those 8.5 million people $100,000 and called it a recession.

    May 18, 2010 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  15. Larry

    I agree totally, he tends to get too wonkish when he should be carrying on a crusade. My grandfather, a wealthy old man who lived a large portion of his life in the 1800's, used to say 'if you want to live like a Republican you should vote Democratic'. Truer words were never spoken. Tantamount to the old saw 'everybody does better when everybody does better'. Obama needs to connect on that gutteral, philosophical level and keep hammerin' it home. People have shown they will relate to it.

    May 18, 2010 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  16. Obamunist$Party

    I never listen to what this psychopath narcissist says. Watch what he does instead. Although I understand he said that Daniel Pearl's beheading "captured the world's imagination". Maybe he meant his Muslim world's imagination; it only captured the revulsion and outrage of civilized people. Maybe Youngstown isn't the place to tell lies about the economy, I am sure they've heard it before. Environmental fraud destroyed the Rust Belt's vibrant industrial economy. The only way it will ever come back is to destroy liberal fascism.

    May 18, 2010 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  17. Trudy

    Um, how about a big fat "F".

    May 18, 2010 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  18. Marcus McEllistrem

    This is a very good comment and excellent recommendation from
    a well informed commentator. President Obama would be well
    advised to consider these points carefully. He won initially with
    that approach - now he's been bogged down in details that his
    administration should handle. He should hit the 'high' road.

    May 18, 2010 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  19. Molly Weasley

    Poor Paul Begala. You never got over Hillary losing, did you?

    May 18, 2010 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  20. debbie

    He was a Hillary supporter.
    Plus Paul Begala has never been a Democrat in my eyes!!
    From a real UNION DEMOCRAT!

    May 18, 2010 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  21. Rita

    What would you have Obama say "philosophically"? Maybe....I am for marxism in America, for breaking the country as fast as I can, spending the US economy into the ditch, forcing health care costs on the masses while running physicians out of their field, and eventually trying to turn the military against the people in order to get my way and do away with these foolish elections.

    May 18, 2010 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
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