By Niall Stanage - 12/19/11 10:15 AM EST
OBAMA: MAN IN SEARCH OF A MESSAGE
Then-Sen. Barack ObamaBarack ObamaState Dept. insists Brexit won't hurt relations with UK, EU WATCH LIVE: Obama speaks at roundtable with Zuckerberg Obama tells NBA star JR Smith to put a shirt on MORE pulled off a sizable feat during this 2008 campaign: he presented himself, simultaneously, as a more passionate pursuer of traditional Democratic objectives than Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonEmail story won’t end for Clinton 'Feel Bern' PAC comes under scrutiny Trump warns against Syrian refugees: 'A lot of those people are ISIS' MORE, and as a candidate capable of reaching beyond the partisan divide to unite Democrat and Republicans.
The tension between these two ideas has been one of the running themes of his presidency, never more so than this year.
At other times, the president has sought to fire up his base with an appeal centered upon an orthodox liberal view of issues like income inequality and the dangers of untrammeled corporate power.
The quest for a clear crystallization of his reelection message has so far borne little fruit.
His recent speech in Kansas, in which he invoked President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 call for a “New Nationalism” looked like an attempt to build a more populist platform.
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