As Barack Obama prepares to confront a strengthened Republican opposition to his tax, spending and immigration priorities when Congress convenes this week, his advisers are comparing him to another president who faced similar circumstances: Ronald Reagan.
Like Reagan and Bill Clinton, Obama must spend the next two years of his presidency navigating a new balance of power after midterm election losses. Before leaving for a year-end vacation, Obama sought advice from Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein and David Gergen, an image adviser to both Reagan and Clinton, said an Obama aide. On his Hawaii trip, Obama brought along journalist Lou Cannon’s Reagan biography, “The Role of a Lifetime,” a selection his press secretary announced over Twitter.
Obama “has the bully pulpit and he’s demonstrated in the clutch that he knows how to use it,” said Patrick Griffin, who was Clinton’s legislative affairs director from 1994 to 1996. “He is going to be a formidable player in defining who did the right thing for the American people, whether the result is legislation or stalemate.”