Republicans continue to campaign on the theme that electing Hillary Clinton would be like electing Barack Obama to a third term as president. It’s a message that no doubt resonates with the GOP base, which has been taught to believe that Obama is an undercover agent sent to undermine the country from within, and Republican politicians and media have preached some variation of the “Obama is America’s Doom” sermon so often that they now recite it by rote.
Overall, though, I’m not sure it’s a wise strategy.
Most polls now show that a majority of Americans believe Obama is doing a good job as president, with Gallup reporting that Obama is rated higher at this late point in his presidency than Ronald Reagan was. That’s particularly striking given how low other American political institutions are rated. The Republican-run Congress has a job approval of less than 15 percent in most polls, for example, and the Republican Party itself has an approval rating of roughly 30 percent, the lowest in a quarter century.
Furthermore, if the GOP wants to cast her as Obama’s heir, Clinton herself seems eager to play the part. During the Democratic primaries, she was far from shy about associating herself with Obama, and she is carrying that theme right into the general election as well. She and the president will be campaigning together today in North Carolina, a state that they both hope to put back in the Democratic column come November.
And from Obama’s point of view, he too wants this election to be seen as a referendum on his tenure in the White House. Nothing will cement his legacy better than Clinton’s election, both in policy terms and in terms of history. Conversely, he knows that a Donald Trump victory would undo much of what he has accomplished, and would be seen by historians as evidence of his own failure as president.
He’s not about to sit back and watch that happen.