* Obama strategist Axelrod: "I believe we're going to win"
* Axelrod says Republican are looking "back to the future"
By Ros Krasny
MANCHESTER, N.H., Sept 27 President Barack
Obama faces a "titanic" struggle to win re-election in 2012
given the persistently high U.S. unemployment and bitter
partisan battles in Washington, his senior campaign advisor
said on Tuesday.
Strategist David Axelrod also warned of a new "Gilded Age"
in the United States in which special interests can use massive
campaign donations to "buy" politicians.
"We have the wind in our face because the American people
have the wind in their faces. This is going to be a titanic
struggle," Axelrod said, referring to Obama's bid to win
re-election in November 2012 against the eventual Republican
White House nominee.
Obama's job approval ratings in New Hampshire and elsewhere
in the country have slumped this year, bruised by a weak
economy and high unemployment.
New Hampshire, a small northeastern state, is due to hold
its presidential primary election in February, a key milestone
on the road to the election in which Obama is seeking a second
four-year term as president. (For a factbox on key dates in the
2012 campaign, click on [ID:nN1E7780IF])
"No doubt there is some strong headwinds facing us, but
we're on the right side of the fight and I believe we're going
to win that fight," Axelrod said at a "Politics and Eggs" event
at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.
"And the more I watch the Republicans, the more I believe
that," he added.
He said the Republican candidates seeking their party's
nomination to face Obama next year are "clinging closely to the
Tea Party line" -- referring to the conservative U.S. political
movement -- and offering "back to the future bromides" that led
to the U.S. economic downturn of recent years.
Obama, a Democrat, plans to remain focused on "the
embattled middle class and the sense that in America if you
work hard you can get ahead," Axelrod said. (For a factbox on
key players in Obama's re-election campaign, click on
Obama has been battling with congressional Republicans over
their demand for deep federal spending cuts and his contention
that the richest Americans should pay higher taxes.
Axelrod checked off various ways in which the United States
could "mortgage its future" with deep spending cuts.
"If you cut education by 25 percent, as has been proposed,
you are mortgaging the future. ... If you cut research funds by
70 percent, as has been proposed, you are mortgaging the
future," he said.
Axelrod said the electoral landscape in 2012 could be
shaped by so-called Super PACS (political action committees) --
fundraising organizations that can pour money into U.S.
elections -- creating a "menacing kind of war game."
Super PACS were made possible by a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court
decision that lifted many spending and contribution limits for
political donors, including corporations and labor unions.
"I've been concerned about money and politics for a long
time. ... The risk is to return to a sort of Gilded Age where
special interests can buy a congressman or even a president.
It's not healthy," he said.
Obama's team will have the resources to combat an
anticipated barrage of Super PAC spending in 2012, Axelrod
said. "They may not be equal resources to what is arrayed
against us, but they will be adequate."
(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Will Dunham)