In this era of soundbite and bumper sticker politicking, when it becomes increasingly necessary to boil the entirety of your political campaign down to a couple of words, President Obama said his campaign is not abandoning what worked the last time: “hope” and “change.”
This time, however, they have added a third word: Forward. So the 2012 version of the Obama campaign is officially, “hope change forward.” Or maybe “forward change hope.”
“If people ask you what’s this campaign about, you tell them it’s still about hope. It’s still about change,” Obama said.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney is going with three words of his own: Fight for America. This is a much more aggressive approach than Obama—almost a call to violence for Romney’s Republican base incensed by the presence of the dark man in the White House.
At any rate, whatever the words, the result will come down to whether voters feel like they will be better off keeping Obama in the White House, rather than trying out the new guy, and whether they feel like he cares more about them than the new guy. Words like “hope” and “change” and “forward” and “fight for America” work primarily as something for the bumper stickers and yard signs—or a target for the opposition to ridicule (Republicans have bumper stickers emblazoned with the words “hype” and “blame.”) It’s unlikely that even one voter will walk into a voting booth in November and pull a lever because they were swayed by either campaign’s slogan.
This weekend was the start of the Obama campaign’s efforts to revive excitement and the thrill of the big crowds. A college campus is always the best place to do that—not much required to lure a big crowd, the level of excitement is always going to be higher than a crowd of adults, and an atmosphere of fun and levity is much easier to generate. Barack and Michelle went to Ohio State University and then to Virginia Commonwealth University, two big schools in two big states that will be crucial on election day. Vice President Joseph Biden did his own college swing this past week, speaking before a big crowd at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania—another big election state.
“We have come too far to abandon the change we fought for these last four years. We have to move forward,” President Obama said, invoking his new catch word to the lusty cheers of the college crowd in Ohio. “That’s why I’m running for a second term to be president of the United States.”