GOP's economic focus may make Obama vulnerable

Weak economy means trouble for Obama
President Obama may pay for a still-weak economy with the loss of a second term, and Republicans are trying to keep it that way by reminding voters.

On the eve of the second Republican presidential debate of the season, President Barack Obama continues to see his poll numbers on the economy slipping, and those Republicans who want to be president are on the attack this weekend.

CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford reports from Washington that the president speeches reflect a new sense of urgency.

"We've got to do everything we can, everything in our power to strengthen and rebuild the middle class," Mr. Obama said recently.

As he seeks a second term, Mr. Obama sees the polls; Voters don't approve of the job he's doing on the most important issue, the economy.

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On Sunday, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbire Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fl., tried to paint a good picture and downplay the nation's economic woes.

"We were able to, under president Obama's leadership, turn this economy around," Wasserman-Schultz said.

That may come as news to voters. In a recent CBS News poll, 79 percent said they thought the economy was bad, and isn't going to get better anytime soon. Only 37 percent approve of how the President is handling it.

Those numbers mean President Obama is vulnerable in his bid for reelection, and Republicans are not letting up.

"Barack Obama doesn't have an economic plan. He just has a campaign plan," said GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty recently.

"The president seems to be out of touch with what's happening in his own economy," said another GOP candidate, Mitt Romney.

"(On the) economic side, there are no signs of success," said yet another GOP candidate, Jon Huntsman.

To counter the campaign attacks, Obama plans on weekly trips outside Washington to highlight his economic accomplishments. Last week he visited Northern Virginia. On Monday, he's off to North Carolina.

Republicans are already there, however, with an aggressive anti-Obama campaign ad, that says: "Thanks to Obama's deficits, we face high unemployment and an uncertain future, and now he's back asking us to believe him again."

All of this is a sign that the upcoming presidential election may, for Republicans, be about one thing, and one thing only: the economy.

  • Jan Crawford
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    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.