Tough Choices Loom for Obama
Clinton precedent may not help with midterm dilemmas
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2010 5:52 AM CDT
Updated Nov 3, 2010 7:35 AM CDT
President Obama makes an election night phone call to Rep. John Boehner,   (AP Photo/The White House, Pete Souza)

(Newser) – President Obama is far from the first president to see his party humbled in midterm elections, but precedent may not be much help as he wrestles with tough choices in the wake of yesterday's drubbing. Obama—who plans a press conference today and has already spoken to House speaker-in-waiting John Boehner—must now decide whether to move to the center and reach out to victorious Republicans or steer left to reach out to liberal voters, the Wall Street Journal finds.

Bipartisanship helped Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton recover after heavy midterm losses, while Harry Truman won re-election after blaming Republicans for the "do-nothing Congress" installed two years earlier. All three, however, benefited from a recovering economy. "There is a lot of looking back to see what Obama can pull from the Clinton bag of tricks, but it is not the best comparison," Clinton-era White House spokesman Joe Lockhart says. "Until Obama sees the economy begin to turn, he has a much tougher nut to crack."