(LIN) – President Barack Obama is planning his re-election bid at a time when the nation is mired in an 8.3 percent unemployment rate.
The most recent president to be re-elected with a high unemployment rate ( 7.2 percent ) was President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
So will it be a second term or another job for Obama?
Democrats are sticking to the argument that measures like Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were necessary to ease out of the faltering economy he inherited from President George W. Bush.
"The recession got worse before it got better when this president took office," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "We were hemorrhaging jobs at a rate of 600,000 to 700,000 a month."
On the other hand, Republicans are blaming Obama's policies for stunting any economic progress.
"I do not blame the president for the economic difficulties he inherited," wrote Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. "But I do hold him accountable for the ineffective, expensive, job-killing policies he has forced onto the American people over the last three years."
Obama aims to campaign in the coming months on what little good economic news came in 2012. For example, January's unemployment numbers were the lowest in three years.
"Manufacturing is coming back," Obama said at a visit to Master Lock in Wisconsin. "The economy is getting stronger."
Republican presidential candidates challenge voters to look at the entire statistics.
"One of the reasons you see the unemployment rate go down is because the labor participation rate is not going up…which means that people are not as hopeful as we'd like them to be in engaging in the workforce," said presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum , R-Pa.
The president also has to juggle how he will handle what looks to be an impending oil crisis.
Since December, the average price of gasoline has risen 30 cents and now continues to hover around $3.53 per gallon. Analysts predict gasoline may rise over $4 per gallon by May. With travel expected to increase during the summer, almost 40 percent of voters view gas prices as "extremely important."
It has already become an issue on the campaign trail.
"The high gas prices are a direct result of Obama," said presidential candidate and former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich , R-Ga. "His policy has been outrageously anti-American [toward] energy."
The president tries to paint the Republicans into the "drill, baby, drill" group.
"You can bet that since it's an election year, they're already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas. I'll save you the suspense: Step one is to drill, step two is to drill, and step three is to keep drilling," he said in a speech.
Obama has one thing going for him – it looks to be a long and poisonous Republican presidential campaign. While the four presidential candidates assail each other in the public eye, Obama is sitting back, watching their negative numbers rise.
So far, Obama's favorability rating is the highest among any of the GOP candidates.
He's also been fundraising and barely spending any campaign money. Consultants estimate that Obama's re-election campaign war chest may exceed $1 billion.
Expect him to dip into it early if unemployment and gas prices change for the worse.
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