When Barack Obama last ran for president, he didn’t have much of a paper trail. He’d only been a state senator and U.S. senator for a few years, and had done a pretty good job of keeping his head down. Obama had not published much and had hardly been quoted. Now, however, there’s a large trove of promises and statements, dating back four years (the first year running for president, and the last three since taking office).

That record is what the Republican National Committee will be using to try to defeat Obama this time around. The Washington Post reports:

With Republican voters in Iowa set to finally begin picking a nominee to challenge President Obama, GOP officials in Washington are quietly and methodically finishing what operatives are calling “the book” — 500 pages of Obama quotes and video links that will form the backbone of the party’s attack strategy against the president leading up to Election Day 2012.

The document, portions of which were reviewed by The Washington Post, lays out how GOP officials plan to use Obama’s words and voice as they build an argument for his defeat: that he made specific promises and entered office with lofty expectations and has failed to deliver on both.

Republican officials say they will leverage the party’s newly catalogued video library containing every publicly available utterance from Obama since his 2008 campaign. Television and Internet ads will juxtapose specific Obama promises of job gains, homeowner assistance, help for people in poverty, lower health insurance premiums and stricter White House ethics standards against government data and news clippings that paint a different reality.

The decision by GOP officials to finalize a strategy at this stage underscores the view, in both parties, that the general-election campaign has begun — even if an official Republican nominee has not been selected.

The new GOP playbook is designed to take one of Obama’s great assets — the power of his oratory — and turn it into a liability.

Of course, now that the Republicans have a strategy, all they need is a candidate.

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