While no one expects them to be best of friends, at the very least, Americans like to feel as though political opponents like Mitt Romney and Barack Obama can disagree while maintaining a level respect and decorum. This election, however, is different.
In his new e-book, Obama's Last Stand, POLITICO reporter Glenn Thrush examines the president's competitive nature and divulges that his personal feelings about past GOP candidates were nothing compared to the hatred he apparently harbors for Mitt Romney.
“One factor made the 2012 grind bearable and at times even fun for Obama: he began campaign preparations feeling neutral about Romney, but like the former governor’s GOP opponents in 2008 and 2012, he quickly developed a genuine disdain for the main. That scorn stoked Obama’s competitive fire, got his head in the game, which came as a relief to some Obama aides who had seen his interest flag when he didn’t feel motivated to crush the opposition. Obama, a person close to him told me, didn’t even feel this strongly about conservative, combative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Hill Republican he disliked the most. At least Cantor stood for something, he’d say.
“When he talked about Romney, aides picked up a level of anger he never had for Clinton or McCain, even after Sarah Palin was picked as his running mate. ‘There was a baseline of respect for John McCain. The president always thought he was an honorable man and a war hero,’ said a longtime Obama adviser. ‘That doesn’t hold true for Romney. He was no g--d----- war hero.’”
Intense anger toward Romney might explain some of Obama's recent missteps, such as the "You didn't built that" flap. Perhaps, as Thrush seems to indicate, Obama's strong feelings could drive him to compete hard enough for victory -- or perhaps they'll instead force his hand, causing him to damage his own bid for reelection even more.