Barack Obama's Failed Campaign Strategy

It was all going so perfectly for President Barack Obama.

He had painted his opponent, former Gov. Mitt Romney, as an out-of-touch rich guy with elevators for his wife's multiple Cadillacs and bank accounts throughout the Caribbean. Romney had no plan—or at least none he was willing to discuss with voters. He was bellicose and callow on foreign policy. And The Groups—women, Hispanics, African-Americans, union members, public employees— were lined up so solidly behind the president he absolutely could not lose.

And then, on October 3 at about 9:04 p.m., Romney took to the stage in Denver and reset the campaign. He was not out of touch at all. He made sense. He had solid ideas, a sense of hope. He connected. He laughed. He seemed confident. The president looked down at his notes. He came across as not wanting to be there. He offered little reason to give him another term.

Mr. Gaffe went from stepping on rakes to stepping up his attacks, and America seemed to fall in line. Now, we're seeing the end games, and they look quite different from what President Obama expected a month ago.

It's so different he felt compelled to put out his own plan—a 20-page coloring book full of warmed-over proposals and ideas with no chance of passage. Who does this? Who interjects this into the conversation now, in the closing days of a campaign when it can't possibly be received positively by any but the most hard-core supporters? Not a confident candidate; that much is certain.

It all turned the night of the debate. But as Fox News' Chris Stirewalt notes, it took more than that phenomenal debate performance in Denver to bring the race to even. In fact, it took a flawed campaign strategy on the part of Team Obama. The Chicago strategy—bury the opponent in negative ads and character assassination, then come on all nice at the end—was found wanting.

If Romney ultimately becomes the 45th president of the United States, the political set will be talking about Obama's flawed campaign strategy for decades. He had a disastrous Plan A—and no Plan B.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Analysis & Political Strategy