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(CNN) - President Obama is facing criticism that his message has gone off track at a crucial time for his party and administration. With the midterm elections just 10 weeks away, the president's approval ratings are at their lowest. Analysts are predicting big wins for Republicans in November.
Ten weeks is an eternity in politics, and Republican and Democratic strategists say there are some key things Obama can do in the final stretch to restore the confidence of the American people and minimize expected losses for his party.
1. Simplify the message
Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama is scheduled to visit New Orleans to mark the 5th anniversary of Katrina. I didn’t get him a card, but I am marking the occasion with yet another letter to the White House.
Dear Mr. President,
Went for a boat ride out in the eastern part of New Orleans today and saw an impressive sight: a two mile long dam being built across a lake to stop the surge of water that can come with a hurricane. Really a grand bit of architecture from your pals in the Army Corps of Engineers, and along with improvements to levees, floodwalls, and pumping stations, I hope it will be an encouraging sign for many folks here in the neighborhoods that suffered the worst flooding.
As we walked on top of this monolith, I talked with Corps officials and they clearly feel not only proud of having made real progress in a short time (well, short in terms of projects like this, which are a bit more involved than Flip This House,) but also confident that this will make a difference. You can hear it in their voices and see it in their faces as they point to all the other improvements they are making to the city’s hurricane protection system: Barriers that have been raised much higher, braced to be much stronger, and overall made into much more formidable walls against disaster.
Still, I know there are people here who have doubts. Big ones. And it comes down to one thing: The Corps told them for years that the levees and floodwalls were solid, and when the big storm came, some of those barriers folded like tissue. (Well, not exactly like tissue, but they certainly didn’t hold up.) So what the Corps has to rebuild here is not only physical, but also mental. They have to make people believe once more that the government can be trusted in this matter. As you know, in this day and time, that can be a real challenge.
CNN Wire Staff
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/08/24/sherrod.agriculture.job/story.sherrod.cnn.jpg caption="Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign from her Agriculture Department job last month." width=300 height=169]
Washington (CNN) - Shirley Sherrod, who received an apology after being forced to resign from the Agriculture Department, declined an offer Tuesday to serve as the agency's deputy director of the Office of Advocacy and Outreach.
The position includes administration and outreach to improve the Agriculture Department's civil rights efforts and image nationwide.
Sherrod met Tuesday morning with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to discuss the job offer.
It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two since a controversial sequence of events last month culminated in Sherrod's stepping down.
Updated: 10:56 a.m.
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