The headlines lately are all about President Obama's very bad summer, but his supporters argue that this past week was a good one for the White House.
On Thursday, Obama's campaign arm, Organizing for America hosted an open strategy session with the president that was designed to change the tenor of the health care debate. The event generated mostly positive coverage -- and a huge swath of viewers. Officials at OFA say more than 270,000 people tuned in to listen to the president. Of that total, "thousands" signed up at barackobama.com to host or attend health care related events, one aide said.
Recruiting like-minded supporters to the health care cause may not seem like a major political step forward. But with the debate literally being waged in local town halls, having a mobilized grassroots campaign is critical. Already, proponents of the president's agenda have begun outnumbering critics at several of these events.
It was also a successful week on the financial front. The Democratic National Committee raised $9.1 million in July compared to the Republican National Committee's $6 million. The cash is at once a tool to keep advocating for health care reform and a reflection of grassroots support for reform.
Finally, in the gubernatorial contest in New Jersey -- one of the two major elections battles of this cycle -- Democrats have watched as Republican Chris Christie has been beset by a host of ethical and legal questions.
"We saw the tide turn on several fronts this week -- from the race in New Jersey to those supporting health insurance reform out numbering opponents at town halls across the country," said DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse.
Overall, however, the political landscape for the White House is far worse in mid-August than it was just a few months ago. According to a new ABC News-Washington Post Poll, the president's approval rating for handling health care has fallen steadily from 57 percent in April to 46 percent today. The dynamics, the pollsters concluded, look much the same as those which confronted Bill Clinton when he tried and failed to reform health care in the early 1990s.
Meanwhile, the clock for passing reform is ticking and the window for maneuvering has narrowed. The president stands no closer to getting a single Republican lawmaker to support his agenda, not to mention a slew of them.
But what the OFA's strategy session and the DNC's fundraising haul do to serve is serve as a reminder that the political tide is still largely with the White House.
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