Obama Speech Will Meld Aspiration With Pragmatism: Aides

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama’s speech accepting his party’s nomination for re-election this week will be more specific than Republican Mitt Romney’s in detailing a path forward on deficit reduction and will emphasize tax fairness over Medicare, top aides said.

Obama’s speech on Sept. 6 to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, will tell Americans “where we’ve been and where we need to take this country,” campaign manager Jim Messina said at a Bloomberg Breakfast in Charlotte today.

Deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said the speech will be “aspirational” and “pragmatic” and “lay out a tangible path forward” with “a pretty clear sense of what the second term will be about.” Cutter and Messina declined to preview specifics of the president’s convention address.

The campaign aides, joined by Larry Grisolano, director of paid media, said they will emphasize tax fairness over Medicare from now until the Nov. 6 election because it has been a more compelling issue with voters.

Messina said the contest has remained stable, with Obama leading or running even with Romney in public opinion polling in battleground states. Grisolano said Republicans had run a “suspended reality” convention in Tampa, Florida.

Ground Game

The Obama campaign maintains a superior ground game in states, including North Carolina and Ohio, that will give it an advantage over Romney in the final stretch of the race, Messina said. While Messina expressed confidence that Democrats have secured Michigan and Pennsylvania, he was more guarded in his assessment of the contest in Wisconsin, home to Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul Ryan.

Messina said he is confident minority turnout will be equal to or more than 2008, in terms of the percentage of the total vote.

Cutter defended Obama’s record when asked whether the country is better off now than four years ago. She said, even if Americans may not feel so individually, “The country is stronger” for Obama’s success against al-Qaeda, for his domestic policies, including expansion of health-care coverage and insurance protections, and for ending the war in Iraq and winding down the war in Afghanistan.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama, said in a separate interview today that the president will work with the business community to reform the tax code in his second term.

“Let’s broaden the base and increase the base,” Jarrett said at a second Bloomberg Breakfast in Charlotte. “That’s going to benefit the broader business community.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Talev in Charlotte at mtalev@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net