Programming Note: Have the last 100 days of the Obama administration been days of change or days of frustration? Get the results from YOUR vote. Tonight 8 p.m. ET on CNN.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/06/art.obama.afp.gi.jpg caption="President Obama still enjoys broad support, but his approval rating has dropped some."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - If the White House was downplaying President Obama's first 100 days, it's downright ignoring the second hundred.
"It's the second hundred days?" quipped a senior administration official when told about the approaching date.
On reflection, the official was only too willing to take us behind the scenes as he settled back into his desk chair.
Two hundred days in, "the incline on the treadmill is not as steep," the official said, but added, "it's still moving very fast."
Obama has not slowed since coming into office. Restructuring the auto industry, a speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt, and his big push to get health care reform are just a few of the president's ambitious efforts since the last "Hallmark holiday."
Health care reform has proved to be especially difficult, because the White House isn't just battling Republicans but also fiscally conservative Democrats who are concerned about how to pay for it.
And then there are critics who say Obama should have gotten more involved earlier in the nitty-gritty, instead of relying on Congress to condense several plans into something he could support.
From Bob Ruff, CNN
As the nation focuses this week on the president’s record during his first 100 days in office, Obama’s out-of-the-gate performance seemingly is being analyzed by every major media outlet in the nation. He’s even being compared to the man who virtually invented 100 days, Franklin Roosevelt.
But what about the Republicans? How’ve they done and what have they done since Barack Obama became president on January 20th?
Despite their minority status, they’ve certainly tried to be pro-active.
–In January House Republicans united to vote unanimously against the president’s stimulus package. But it didn’t work. Democrats passed the legislation anyway.
–That next month Rush Limbaugh, the radio host widely popular with conservatives, energized a Republican conference by saying he hopes “Obama fails.” Even some Republicans thought that was over the top.
–Dick Cheney on March 19th appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union”, launching a series of TV appearances that defended former President Bush’s eight years while criticizing President Obama’s performance. At one point he told CNN’s John King that the nation is less safe under the Obama administration. Some critics wondered why Cheney hadn’t been more visible when he was vice president.
–Later in March House Republicans led by Minority Leader John Boehner offered up “The Republican Road to Recovery” as an alternative to the president’s recovery plan. It went no where.
–And on April 15 a series of anti-tax rallies, advertised as non-partisan but attended overwhelmingly by conservatives, fizzled after just one day.
We decided to ask GOP pollster, Whit Ayres, why Republicans are reeling. “This is a center right country,” says Ayres, “and remains so despite President Obama’s election.”
But if that’s the case, what explains low support for Republicans in public opinion polls? And what about the announcement just this week by veteran Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter that he has defected to the Democratic party?
Ayers says Republican woes can be explained by a party leadership that has veered too far to the political right. To get back on track they have to “be a center right party, not just a right party.” They need to adopt Ronald Reagan’s approach, says Ayers, by appealing to groups not currently on the GOP’s radar.
Will it work? Ayres says eventually it will because public support for the parties ebbs and flows over time. He reminds people that Republicans were in the dumps after Watergate, and that the party rebounded nicely to elect Ronald Reagan and eventually majorities in the House and the Senate.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has called the 100 day mark a "Hallmark holiday."
And Democrats are practically asking the question: Are you better off now than you were a hundred days ago?
But historians say hold on. The president still has one thousand, three hundred and sixty one days to go.