Top Democrat: Obama's critics 'have been silenced'

President Obama's critics "have been silenced," a top Senate Democrat and Obama ally said Friday.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the majority whip, claimed a political rebound for the president that could propel him to a second term.

"The president, if you'll notice, since the election when he got 'shellacked,' in his own words, or he did, has really been coming up in the polls, the approval ratings. People like what they hear," Durbin told Chicago's NBC affiliate. "He's working with the other party, he's addressing the most important issues. And a lot of critics have been silenced, because this president really has some basic talents that really served him well."

Democrats were feeling good about a political rebound for the president in the wake of a lame-duck Congress that saw the ratification of the New START treaty, a repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" and a successful negotiation of a tax deal with Republicans to extending expiring tax cuts for another two years.

A variety of polls in January saw Obama's numbers climbing into the low to mid-50 percent range, though that figure has ticked down slightly, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls. In the latest edition of Gallup's daily tracking poll of Obama's popularity, 48 percent of U.S. adults said they approve of the way Obama is handling his job, while 44 percent disapprove.

And while Republicans have been more muted on Obama's leadership on issues like Egypt and his handling of the shootings in Tucson, Ariz., Republicans have been far from shy about criticizing the administration. That rhetoric could only ramp up, too, as Obama prepares to unveil his budget and Republicans in Congress prepare their alternative, setting up a long battle this spring over spending.

But Durbin acknowledged that it could ultimately come down to employment figures when it comes to determining Obama's reelection prospects in 2012. Durbin called jobs "the number one issue," a line of thinking echoed by the administration and many other Democrats.



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