I missed Barack Obama's appearance on Fox News Sunday this morning, but Ryan Grim at Politico describes Obama's attempt to highlight his centrist credentials:
Obama pushed back against “top-down, command-and-control” regulation that was popular with the left in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He credited the GOP with pushing market-oriented solutions and cited his support of a cap-and-trade system for controlling carbon emissions.
“I think that the Republican Party and people who thought about the markets came up with the notion that, you know, what if you simply set some guidelines, some rules and incentives for businesses, let them figure out how they're going to, for example, reduce pollution. It's a smarter way of doing it,” he said.
On education, Obama said “we should be experimenting with charter schools” and “should be experimenting with different ways of compensating teachers.” Both positions run counter to those strongly backed by teachers unions, a core segment of the Democratic Party base.
As I noted in an article last month, education is one area where Obama's record and proposals distinguish him somewhat from the traditional Democratic line, and the education-reform community views him more favorably than it does Hillary Clinton. So far, though, he hasn't gone out of his way to emphasize that heterodoxy on the stump--mostly, one suspects, because he still can't afford to alienate rank-and-file Democratic activists. That he's apparently beginning to do so could be a sign he's ready to enter general-election mode and pivot back to the center. Certainly there aren't very many people out there who are going to pull the level for Obama because he's for performance-pay for teachers, but the policy specifics matter less than combating the perception among swing voters that Obama's a down-the-line Great Society liberal.