Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf says there is one issue — and one issue alone — that voters care most about as we head into the 2012 election cycle: This country's mounting debt.
"Americans understand debt very well….because they get a credit card bill at the end of the month, their houses are being taken, [and] because they are living in very difficult times where they are having to use debt," says Sheinkopf. "When [voters] hear about government debt, they know they have to pay it."
On Wednesday, President Obama laid out his plans for dealing with the nation's deficit, which is expected to top $1.5 trillion this year and exceed $1 trillion annually for the next decade. The deficit is a function of government spending minus tax revenues plus interest payments on America's huge debt burden, which currently stands at around $14.2 trillion.
Ahead of the speech, many have questioned Obama's leadership on this issue...and others. "Letting others take the lead on complex problems has become a hallmark of the Obama presidency," The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery writes. (See also: Christina Romer's Memo to Obama: "It Takes a Plan to Beat a Plan")
But this is not such a problem for Obama, says Sheinkopf, who has advised the likes of President Bill Clinton and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Obama "wants his legacy to be that he gets re-elected first," he tells Aaron and Dan in the accompanying clip. "Taking the lead is great, but I was always taught that they guy who stands up gets tomatoes thrown at him. So when you are in a position where your poll numbers are falling, let the other guy make an error and sprint to victory on his back."
Sheinkopf is of the mindset that anything is possible when it comes to the outcome of the 2012 election. There is no question in his mind that Obama could be beaten tomorrow; but there is also the possibility that we all could fly to the moon tomorrow, too.
So, how can Obama still come out on top?
Sheinkopf says the President needs to talk more about his efforts to improve the economy (i.e. the stimulus and bailout programs), lower the country's debt, and improve the jobs market while continuing to show the public that he is trying to compromise with Republicans on the other side of the aisle.
Tells us what matters most for you in 2012!