President Barack Obama intends to turn the anti-Wall Street fervor currently gripping much of the nation into a major part of his re-election strategy, according to a new report in Washington Post.
As Occupy Wall Street protests enter their fifth week in New York and take hold around the rest of country, Obama strategists are reportedly seeking to peg the GOP -- and particularly Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, a former investment executive -- as Wall Street sympathizers.
The Post reported:
In recent days, Obama has ramped up his rhetoric. He took the unusual step of targeting an individual company when he attacked Bank of America for its new $5 monthly debit-card fee, calling it “exactly the sort of stuff that folks are frustrated by.” And his campaign and the White House have distributed messages blasting GOP candidates and lawmakers for wanting to repeal Wall Street regulations pushed by Obama and opposing the confirmation of a leader for the consumer protection bureau created as part of the overhaul.
“We intend to make it one of the central elements of the campaign next year,” Obama senior adviser David Plouffe said in an interview. “One of the main elements of the contrast will be that the president passed Wall Street reform and our opponent and the other party want to repeal it.”
“I’m pretty confident 12 months from now, as people make the decision about who to go vote for, the gut check is going to be about, ‘Who would make decisions more about helping my life than Wall Street?’ ” Plouffe added.
According to the Post, the strategy is not without its risks, especially given some of the close ties Obama's own advisers have to the financial industry. Many Occupy protesters have also expressed their suspicion of Democratic lawmakers, including Obama, in addition to Republicans.
During the most recent GOP debate, Romney attempted to head off some of the forthcoming attacks, aligning himself with the demonstrators and trying to present himself as a champion of the middle class -- a mantle Obama has always sought to take up.
“The reason you’re seeing protests...is middle-income Americans are having a hard time making ends meet," Romney said.
Obama has praised the Occupy movement, saying earlier this month it "expresses the frustrations the American people feel."
"We had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression. Huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street. And yet, you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us in this problem in the first place," Obama said.
According to the Post, polls suggest that going after financial institutions could be a winning campaign strategy, though continuing to knock Bank of America could get uncomfortable: The 2012 Democratic National Convention will be held in Charlotte, N.C. -- the bank's corporate headquarters.
(h/t Huffington Post)