Obama must corner labor vote for reelection

April 4, 2011 7:38:43 PM PDT
On Monday, President Barack Obama officially announced his intention to run for reelection in 2012. No longer the outsider, this time he's hoping to raise nearly $1 billion.

Last time around, Obama has huge support from unions and the young. The youth folk didn't turn out in 2010, at least not as much as the president would have hoped, and now he's got his work cut out for him with labor -- and he must have labor if he wants to win reelection.

In a video released announcing his candidacy, there isn't one frame Obama, just images of middle America and middle class Americans talking about why they support him.

Rather than a statement from the White House, the president is opting for the outsider approach by using emails and text messages, but this time he's running on more than hope. He has a record. And at a union rally in Oakland Monday afternoon, it was his record that was causing members to take a wait and see approach.

"We are going to weigh all our options and see if he's really supporting what we are fighting for," said Karen Hearne from Oakland.

"Well I think a lot of is going to depend on how he unfolds his campaign and how he's going to deal with the union issues," said Chris Candell from Oakland.

"I think we'll have to take stock of what the record is and what the consequences are of not possibly supporting Obama," said Di Rosario from Oakland.

Is this a problem for the president's reelection campaign? The chair of the California Republican Party, Tom Del Beccaro, thinks it is.

"I think Obama is going to have trouble with the left 20 percent of his party because they don't think he's delivered. So I think you're going to see an enthusiasm gap," said Del Beccaro.

Del Beccaro expects a significant part of that enthusiasm gap to be among union members. But the rally in Oakland was in support of workers in Wisconsin, who have been battling a Republican governor.

The tea party is taking an anti-union stance in several states, producing a video in Wisconsin where voters are selecting a Supreme Court judge that could turn the tide in that state's battle over collective bargaining and our political analyst says if unions feel threatened particularly in the middle of America, that's good news for the president.

"Often interest groups are more active when they're threatened than when they're not. Nothing mobilizes people like the fear or the understanding that if they don't win they're going to suffer badly," said ABC7 political analyst Prof. Bruce Cain.

Cain says the fact that some of these union struggles are occurring in swing states is particularly significant.

In a conference call with supporters over the Internet Monday evening, the president urged followers to get involved saying this time around he can't spend as much time campaigning, he has another job to attend to.

Lots of people are preparing to run for the Republicans, but no one has officially announced their candidacy yet.

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