Can Mitt Control His Campaign?

The front-page NYT story about the proposed pro-Mitt Super PAC ad campaign focused on Reverend Wright raises more questions that it answers.

1.  Who gave the NYT a copy of the 54-page bound proposal from bizarre adman Fred Davis titled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama — The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good”?  The Times says it got the document “through a person not connected to the proposal who was alarmed by its tone.”  Was it someone from the Romney campaign?  There may be issues of  illegal coordination here, since the campaign is not supposed to coordinate with Super PACs.

2.  Will Mitt be able to control the message of his campaign?  Mitt — so far, anyway — says he wants to focus on the economy.  Is he going to rely on the NYT revealing Super PAC plans that diverge from his campaign strategy, plans that his advisers may believe would do more harm than good among independents and swing voters?  Of course, you want Super PACs to do your dirty work, to run ads you can’t end with, “I’m Mitt Romney, and I approve this message.”  But what about when those ads cross a line and go too far?

3.  Is the GOP so determined to fight the last campaign that they will mess up this one?  Back in 2008, Fred Davis’ shop produced a Rev. Wright ad that wasn’t used.  The 2012 Davis proposal contains a quote from Joe Ricketts, the billionaire who would be funding the new Wright ads:  “If the nation had seen that ad, they’d never have elected Barack Obama.”  The Davis proposal, written by alumni of the 2008 McCain campaign, also attacks their former boss directly as “a crusty old politician who often seemed confused, burdened with a campaign just as confused.”  But running against President Obama in 2012 is very different from running against candidate Obama in 2008.  Fred Davis’ old grudges and resentments against McCain have nothing to do with getting Mitt elected this time around.  Which is why someone who supports Mitt went running to the NYT.

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