and, the propagandist, Peter Baker of the New York Tmes, suggests an Obama early leap:
“Obama Takes Early Leap Into Campaign Fray”
By PETER BAKER
DES MOINES — With the general election campaign now under way, one thing has become clear: There will be no Rose Garden strategy for President Obama.
President Obama, who was in Des Moines on Thursday, has not had the usual presidential reserve when mentioning his opponent.
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On Thursday, Mitt Romney took his campaign to Philadelphia.
If past incumbents have been reluctant to directly engage opponents this early in an election year for fear of looking like a candidate rather than a president, Mr. Obama has tossed aside convention. No simply leaving it to the vice president or the campaign staff, no waiting until summer, no dancing around with oblique phrases like “my opponent.”
Instead, with Mitt Romney now the nominal Republican nominee, Mr. Obama has shown a willingness to confront him aggressively by name more than five months before the election. In a succession of speeches on the road over the last two days, the president attacked Mr. Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat whose prescriptions for the economy would reverse the fragile gains of the last couple of years.
“There may be value in that kind of experience, but it’s not in the White House,” Mr. Obama told supporters at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Thursday night. He used the setting to needle Mr. Romney about a controversial comment he made here during the primaries. “The world view that Governor Romney gained” in private finance, he said, “explains why the last time he visited these very same fairgrounds he famously declared that corporations are people.”
Encouraged by the partisan audience, Mr. Obama then mimicked Mr. Romney. “ ‘Human beings, my friend’ — that’s what he called them.”
Then, he called Mr. Romney’s speech here last week warning of a “prairie fire of debt” more like “a cow pie of distortion.” He added, “I don’t know whose record he twisted the most, mine or his.”
Mr. Romney’s camp said the attacks signal desperation. “All he has to offer now are tired political attacks,” said Amanda Henneberg, a spokeswoman. “With no record to run on, no new ideas and flailing attacks like these, it’s no surprise the Obama campaign has had such a tough week.”
The early engagement reflects the acceleration of politics in the age of Twitter, when every attack must be countered in real time. Obama strategists calculate that if previous presidents could afford to be more genteel until later in the year and leave the back-and-forth to surrogates until then, such an approach is no longer realistic. After all, no challenger waits to attack the president by name.
“There’s no point in being coy,” said David Axelrod, the president’s adviser. “Governor Romney is the nominee. He’s been directing his comments to, and about, the president for a year. The debate has been joined.”
But some veterans of past campaigns, particularly Republicans, questioned whether it would take some of the sheen off Mr. Obama’s stature as president. Rather than appearing above the fray, Mr. Obama may look like just another officeseeker.
Sara Fagen, an adviser to President George W. Bush during his 2004 campaign against Senator John Kerry, and later the White House political director, said the campaign was conscious to avoid that. “He almost never mentioned him and certainly not this early,” she said. “President Bush understood it diminished the office by going after his opponent directly.”
That does not mean Mr. Bush’s campaign went soft on Mr. Kerry. But the president largely left it to others to be so direct until summer. Vice President Dick Cheney opened the debate with a sharp speech criticizing Mr. Kerry in March 2004 at the same time the campaign began airing its first negative advertisements. When Mr. Bush criticized Mr. Kerry, he generally used phrases like “my opponent.” Only in July did he start naming him regularly.
That was the case for previous presidents like Ronald Reagan in 1984 and Bill Clinton in 1996. Of course, Mr. Clinton was in far better shape at this point than Mr. Obama is; he led by 15 percentage points in a Gallup survey in May and could afford to dismiss Senator Bob Dole. Mr. Reagan was ahead by just 4 points at this stage. Mr. Obama is essentially tied with Mr. Romney, according to a succession of polls.
Mr. Romney sought on Thursday to change the subject from his time at Bain Capital, traveling to a mostly black elementary school in West Philadelphia to promote his plan for reducing the role of the federal government in education.
“Our failure to provide kids with the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow is a crisis,” Mr. Romney said. “We have an education, an American education crisis, and we keep talking through the same things expecting somehow things to get better. It’s like, you guys we’ve got to try some new things, we’ve got to be bold.”
But during a panel discussion in the school’s library, he faced skepticism from faculty members and local education leaders, who challenged his argument that small class sizes play little role in improving performance. And outside were reminders of Mr. Romney’s time in private equity. Protesters held up signs declaring, “We are the 99 percent.”
Mr. Romney arrived at his campaign headquarters in Boston shortly after lunchtime to meet with advisers.
Before taking a brief reprieve from campaigning over the holiday weekend, he is wrapping up an extensive week of fund-raising at an evening event in Chestnut Hill, Mass., which donors said is expected to raise more than $6 million for his campaign and the Republican National Committee.
Then he and the president will renew a political battle that increasingly sounds more like Labor Day than Memorial Day.
Michael Barbaro contributed reporting from Philadelphia, Ashley Parker from Washington, and Jeff Zeleny from Boston.
Comment: The petulant Marxist Obama speaks small in a common manner. He is remarkably skilled con-artist.