Thursday, 20 October 2011

Key message: POTUS is an anti-capitalist

It may seem strange that the 'leader of the free world' is also an opponent of capitalism - surely one of the foundations of the free world - but that is the position President Obama's reelection campaign is currently taking.

With the US economy failing to ignite despite rafts of Keynesian interventions being thrown at it by the White House, protesters 'occupying' Wall Street having now camped out in New York's financial district for over a month, while American voters blame politicians almost as much as bankers for the current economic misery, Obama's strategists saw an opportunity.

President Obama may be a politician but he isn't a banker. Prominent Republican challenger Mitt Romney however has got a background in finance having started and built a successful private equity company before moving into politics. This easily becomes a point of difference between the two.

While in previous presidential elections having built a successful business worth hundreds of millions would have been seen as a great asset - the American dream in practice - in these strange times a previous career in finance can be used against an individual.

It is a delicate balance for Obama's strategy team. He needs to be seen to be on the side of ordinary hard working American families, and against what are seen as the excesses of Wall Street, without undermining his credibility with those who understand the financial system. Watching how Obama's message develops over the coming months will be interesting and may have significant lessons for politicians in the UK.    

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