Barack Obama’s enthusiasm gap began at home.
There is a surprisingly simple explanation for Obama’s up-and-down performance as a candidate during his reelection grind in 2012, for those lackluster TV appearances, for that epic flop Oct. 3 on the Denver debate stage that might yet cost him his presidency on Tuesday.
Until the final sprint, he just wasn’t that into it.
The key to understanding the Obama enigma of 2012, according to more than a dozen Obama associates interviewed by POLITICO during the campaign, is that the president enthusiastically approved the message of relentless attacks against Mitt Romney. But until the last week of the campaign — when optimism made a major comeback — Obama executed it mirthlessly and mechanically, at times reinforcing the “meh” vibe of his supportive but uninspired base.