An article published in the New York Times Wednesday outlines how President Obama is using the advantages of his office to aid his reelection campaign, coordinating campaign pitches and policy announcements to woo key voter blocs.
Locked in a tight race with Mitt Romney, Mr. Obama and his team have been pulling every lever of the federal government within reach, announcing initiatives aimed at critical constituencies, dispatching cabinet secretaries to competitive areas, coordinating campaign events to match popular government actions and forestalling or even reversing other government decisions that could hurt the president’s chances of a second term.
The Times noted the convenient timing of announcing a trade charge against China during a campaign stop in Ohio, a state which could benefit from stopping China’s protectionist trade policies. But this announcement is not the only example of Obama exploiting his office for political gain.
The Times lists multiple incidents of politically expeditious policy announcements. Obama will designate a Colorado landmark a national monument on Friday. He announced support for gay marriage before heading to a fundraiser with gay rights leaders. He announced federal drought relief and wind energy initiatives while heading to Iowa. And he announced a program to aid illegal aliens right before speaking to a Latino group.
The White House admits that the announcements are meant to help the incumbent, reported the Times, but argues that the policies are decided on substance, not calibrated for political gain.
The Times seems incredulous, however: "After critics attacked him for inhibiting oil and gas production by considering an obscure lizard for the endangered species list, the administration decided it wasn’t so endangered after all."
The Times also notes that administration officials have been skirting election law. Cabinet officials have been traveling extensively, and HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act.
The Times listed further non-campaign events in key election states:
[Interior Secretary Ken] Salazar took an airboat tour of the Everglades in Florida days after Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited to announce $80 million for an Everglades protection program. Mr. Vilsack hinted at why that small chunk of Florida had received so much attention when he appeared at the opening of Mr. Obama’s campaign office in Port St. Lucie. "You win Florida and you win the presidency," Mr. Vilsack said at the event. "And I have been told you win this region, you win Florida."