President Barack Obama's embrace of gay marriage is a political gamble that seeks to fire up young and liberal voters at the possible expense of alienating undecided voters in swing states such as North Carolina and Florida. (May 9)
[SOT/]Charles Babington Associated PressWashington"Certainly President Obama has been sending signals for some time that he wasn't averse to endorsing gay marriage so there's been a big debate within the WH and within his political circles about what to do and when to do it. And a number of the liberal activists and advisers say he had more to gain than to lose because his liberal base has wanted something to cling to and he needs to fire up young voters who were really excited about 2008 are less excited now, and they felt they needed some type of cause. They felt endorsing gay marriage could be that type of cause and these advisers argued that he really didn't have that much to lose because people who are really upset with this and really unhappy probably would not be for him anyway.Bigger risk for Obama in some swing states such as NC...just yesterday North Carolinians by a large margin approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Will those voters also come out in November and vote heavily against Obama-- that's one question. The second question is, "were they already going to come out and vote against Obama anyway?" Obama narrowly carried NC last time. He doesn't really need to have NC. He could lose it and a handful of other states and still win a second term.Republicans actually have to be kind of careful because public views on gay rights have been changing so rapidly, and Republicans kind of sensed that some time ago. For example when the DADT provision for the military was repealed there was very little Republican push back on that. This has really become an issue that is more and more, a hot issue in relatively small, conservative circles. So, I think a lot of mainstream Republicans are somewhat wary about this. That's why think today so far what you're hearing is the criticism is not so much that Obama is wrong on the policy but that it's a political move and that's a different kind of argument to make.