Obama retools for 2nd term reset

Jan 11, 2013, 1:18 PM EST
Afghan President Hamid Karzai gestures as he speaks with President Barack Obama during their bilateral meeting in the Oval Offic
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Mitt Romney was going to "Etch A Sketch" his way to the White House. We saw how that worked out.

But President Obama had some sound bites to regret, too, during the campaign year. One of them was: "This is my last election. After my election, I'll have more flexibility."

The president didn't particularly want those remarks — caught on a live microphone as he chatted in South Korea last March with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev — to be overheard. Unsurprisingly, Romney and other Republicans took him to task.

However, Obama had a point. His re-election did increase his flexibility.

His conversation with Medvedev centered on foreign policy and missile defense. But without the pressures of having to run again, Obama clearly has more leeway now to act on many fronts that would have been difficult politically for him last year.

Gun control for instance.

He moved carefully during the campaign. But now, seeking to harness public outrage over last month's school killings in Newtown, Conn., he's planning a broad package of legislation and executive orders to stem gun violence.

Vice President Joe Biden has been meeting all week with interested parties, including the video game industry on Friday, and earlier with gun-control advocates and the National Rifle Association. Biden says his task force will have recommendations ready by Tuesday.

They're likely to include a proposed new ban on military-style assault weapons even though that would face formidable congressional opposition.

Obama also is able to act more forcefully now on cutting defense spending and reducing the U.S. military footprint abroad.

He met Friday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to talk about trimming the American presence in Afghanistan after 2014 and about future U.S. military aid.

The Etch A Sketch reference came from a senior Romney campaign aide to suggest the candidate would rework his message after winning the GOP nomination to make himself more palatable to general election voters.

But Obama is the one now able to fine-tune his agenda.


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