Checking in on Campaign Promises
By Karen Travers
(ABCNews.com) - As a candidate, Barack Obama spent two years on the campaign trail promising to bring change and an end to business as usual in Washington.
The 100th day of his administration provides an opportunity to take stock of what he has done to make good on those campaign pledges.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs modestly gave the administration a "B+" for its first 100 days.
"I think there's always room for improvement. But I think, largely, I think the president and the administration are pleased with what has been done in the first 100 days," he said, citing efforts on the economy, like the stimulus package.
Gibbs said the White House is "playing along" with the media's focus on sizing up the administration at this juncture, calling it "an arbitrary day in which presidents are measured."
The president has done "each and every day exactly what he promised he would do each and every day of the campaign. The president isn't focused on any one day," he said.
So, just how many items on his to-do list can President Obama check off?
Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Web site from the St. Petersburg Times, added up all of the campaign promises Obama made over the last two years and came up with more than 500. Their analysis determined that he has already fulfilled 27 and is working on another 61.
Many of the Obama administration's key accomplishments thus far have been done by the stroke of a pen -- executive orders reversing Bush policies, like the closing of Guantanamo Bay; executive orders that made stricter ethics rules for administration staff, including a lobbyist gift ban; and an executive order reversing the Bush ban on embryonic stem cell research.
Obama did not set a 100-day deadline for his key agenda items -- no candidate wants to back themselves into a corner like that.
But because of the economic crisis, and his belief that the best way to get the economy back on track was through government action, Obama had a sense of urgency at the start of his administration and pushed to quickly implement many of his campaign pledges.
Below is a look at where Obama stands on several of the key promises he made while campaigning for president.
"Today does not mark the end of our economic troubles. Nor does it constitute all of what we must do to turn our economy around. But it does mark the beginning of the end," Obama said.
Obama aggressively pushed for this legislation as president-elect and after he took office in January. He traveled around the country and held town meetings to talk directly to the American people about the economy and stressed the urgent need for this bill to get the economy back on track.
Detention and Interrogation Executive Orders
As a candidate, Obama said that within his first 100 days he would task his attorney general with reviewing all the executive orders signed by former President George W. Bush in order to "see if it subverts our civil liberties and to see if it unnecessarily expands federal power.
"And with a stroke of a pen, without having to send any legislation, we are going to reverse all those executive orders that initiated that kind of stuff," Obama said.
Obama said as president he would reject torture, close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and abolish the practice of renditions.
On his second day in office, Obama issued executive orders that did just that, bringing about the most sweeping changes to the nation's security policy since the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Obama's orders would close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within one year; establish a task force to review the cases of the more than 200 detainees held there and close CIA interrogation facilities around the world.
That pledge to end harsh interrogation practices continues to cause headaches for the Obama White House as the issue has shifted to what should be done, if anything, to former Bush officials who developed the policies that allowed these techniques.
Ending the War in Iraq, Shifting Resources to Afghanistan
As a candidate, Obama said his top priority at the start of his administration would be to assemble the joint chiefs of staff and give them new marching orders on developing a withdrawal plan for Iraq.
On his first full day as president, Obama met with the military commanders in charge of Iraq to talk about a plan to end the war. On Feb. 27, Obama announced an 18-month drawdown plan that would end the mission in Iraq on Aug. 31, 2010, but keep 35,000 to 50,000 troops there.
This does not quite fulfill Obama's campaign promise to withdraw all American combat troops within 16 months of taking office.
On March 27, Obama announced his plan to send 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and add civilian aid to improve development efforts there and in Pakistan as well.
Obama said that for six years, Afghanistan has been "denied the resources that it demands" because of the focus on the war in Iraq.
Obama wasted no time getting down to business on his pledge to institute tougher policies on ethics and transparency issues for the federal government, signing two executive orders and three presidential memoranda Jan. 21.
With his signature, Obama put in place new rules on openness and transparency for his administration and futures ones, including efforts to shut the revolving door between the lobbying world and the federal government.
Under Obama's rules, lobbyists who become members of the administration will not be able to work on matters they lobbied on for two years, or in the agencies they lobbied during the previous two years.
After a staffer leaves the Obama administration, they cannot lobby the administration. The president also instituted a ban on gifts from lobbyists to members of the administration.
There were exceptions to the lobbying rule, however, most notably Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, who was a registered lobbyist before being appointed to his Pentagon post. The White House said he was granted a waiver that would allow him to serve and still meet the president's standards.
Health Care Summit
During the campaign, Obama said he would convene a health care summit and put all the deliberations out in the open.
"I'm going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We'll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies -- they'll get a seat at the table, they just won't be able to buy every chair," he said Oct. 26, 2008. "But what we'll do is we'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of drug companies or the insurance companies."
Obama kicked off his health care effort with a summit at the White House March 5.
The goal of the day was not to develop a concrete proposal, but rather bring all of the key players on this issue together in one room. Obama addressed an audience of 150 participants, including Democrats, Republicans and advocates for doctors, nurses, patients, labor unions and business groups.
Obama pledged to get a health care bill signed during his first year in office in order to implement the plan before the end of his term. At the White House summit, he dismissed criticism that his administration is taking on too much at once and that now is not the time to tackle health care reform, because of the nation's struggling economy.
"There is always a reason not to do it. And it strikes me that now is exactly the time for us to deal with this problem," he said.
Speech in an Islamic Capital
The Obama campaign's Web site said that he would give a speech "at a major Islamic forum in the first 100 days of his administration."
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Obama would not be pinned down on the time frame for the speech but said he had a "unique opportunity to reboot America's image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular."
Earlier this month, Obama delivered a speech before the Turkish Parliament and told its members that the United States "is not at war with Islam," as his campaign said he would.
He called for a stronger relationship between the United States and the Muslim world that goes beyond the fight against al Qaeda.
Turkey was the last stop on Obama's European swing, and his first visit to a Muslim nation as president. There he sought to repair relations with the Muslim world that were damaged after the attacks of Sept. 11 and the war in Iraq. The president said his administration seeks "broad engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect."
On March 9, Obama signed an executive order reversing President Bush's 2001 order banning the use of federal funding for research on new embryonic stem cell lines.
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
The first piece of legislation Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which changed the law to make it easier for those suing employers because of alleged pay discrimination.
"Now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons," Obama said in his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver Aug. 28, 2008.
Ledbetter was featured in an Obama campaign ad and the issue of fair pay became a hot topic on the campaign trail after Republican nominee Sen. John McCain voted against the legislation.
State Children's Health Insurance Program
On Feb. 4, Obama signed the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), keeping a campaign pledge but breaking another one at the same time.
Bush vetoed the same legislation and Obama said frequently on the campaign trail that he would sign it.
But by signing the bill just a few hours after it passed the House of Representatives, Obama broke a campaign promise to allow a five-day period for the American public to review and comment on legislation passed by Congress.
"Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them," the campaign Web site said. "As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House Web site for five days."
In a memo to the heads of all executive branch departments and agencies March 9, Obama said he will continue the use of presidential signing statements, but will do so more sparingly than the Bush administration.
"I will issue signing statements to address constitutional concerns only when it is appropriate to do so as a means of discharging my constitutional responsibilities," he wrote, without providing specific details on what would fall under that definition.
These signing statements are legal documents that presidents can release after signing legislation into law if they want to outline their own interpretation of how the law should be implemented.
The Bush administration came under fire for using hundreds of these statements to tell government officials to ignore parts of the law that it believed were unconstitutional restrictions on the president's executive power, most notably on national security issues. Obama was critical of Bush's use of these statements and said that as president he would employ them differently.