1) Lead with your strengths. Obama opened and closed with references to military successes ranging from the killing of bin Laden and Qadhafi, and emphasizing the nonpartisan cooperation of the armed forces as a model for bipartisan cooperation — so lacking in Washington. Notable that the opening drew unusual applause from the Joint Chiefs. Still, the electorate is more concerned about jobs than foreign policy. As Mitch Daniels said in his response, this is what people are thinking about.
2) Speed and delivery. This was a campaign speech, delivered with almost rambunctious energy and darting from topic to topic. The president didn’t garner particularly large applause lines, but kept ploughing through his lists of accomplishments…and demands. He is playing the fighter, much as Newt is on the other side. This election is gearing up to be a fight.
3) Co-opt the enemies’ arguments. On multiple key points, Pres. Obama tried to make claims that he was in fact trying to make reasonable progress on the specific areas that the GOP says he’s failing on — rebutting the caricature they use of him as a “socialist” and such. Examples: Cutting taxes, eliminating regulations, drilling for oil, and boosting the military.
4) North Carolina matters. I’m biased, as this is my home, but it wasn’t coincidence that the Pres. made repeated references to us in the Tar Heel State. We are a battleground — home to high tech manufacturing but also diverse rural populations that confound political conventional wisdom. Heath Shuler’s constituency still matters here.