Democratic strategist Paul Begala and Republican commentator Bill Kristol were in Louisville on Tuesday evening to discuss the ongoing presidential campaign at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s annual business summit.
Polling numbers shows President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are locked in a tight race this fall with a small margin of undecided voters. The negative attacks are beginning to escalate with both campaigns accusing the other of misleading voters.
Political observers note that Mr. Obama has run harsh ads against his GOP challenger on television, which is unusual for an incumbent president seeking re-election.
Begala a CNN analyst and an adviser for Priorities USA, a super PAC supporting the president. He says Mr. Obama needs to run as a challenger who will outline what the next four years will hold if he is re-elected.
“When times are tough and the president tells you, ‘I’ve done a great job’ people get resentful. They say ‘really, cause I’m still hurting out here.’ What I would do instead is lay out my agenda for a second-term and run as if he were a challenger,” he says. “I’m all for attacking Romney and I’m doing it full-time. But he’s also got to say what I can’t do, which is here’s what I will do if you give me this job for the next four years.”
Kristol is a Fox News contributor and editor of The Weekly Standard magazine. He says President Obama is running a very different campaign than he did in 2008, but that four years ago was a remarkable contest.
He says the president has to be concerned about disappointed supporters who are deflated with his broken promises.
“There are actual moderate Obama supporters and certainly a lot of young people who are disappointed and I would say they’re right to be disappointed. Because he hasn’t been as good a president as he said he was going to be and promised he would be and his policies haven’t worked as well as they should have in my opinion. And that’s a legitimate policy debate,” he says.
But Kristol was also critical of the Romney campaign, saying the former Massachusetts governor has not outlined what the country will look like under his administration. Earlier this week, Kristol advised that Romney immediately release his tax returns beyonds two years worth.
The two pundits didn’t agree on much, but both believe a relatively small handful of voters will decide the fall election’s outcome. Kentucky is considered a safe Republican state althought the Obama campaign has opened a headquarters in Louisville and held a fundraisers in the city.
Begala says the electoral map cuts off the majority of Americans from the presidential race, which he believes should be decided by a popular vote.
“(Obama) ought to be coming to Louisville, but when the map is as it is and it looks like you’re way behind in a state cutting the margin there doesn’t do you any good. I think that’s a shame,” he says.