Suburban Women Will Save Us

From “Romney RIP — not so fast,” Glenn Thrush and Byron Tau, Politico:

Mitt Romney’s campaign seems to be collapsing like a cheap card table, but one top Democrat close to President Barack Obama had a curt warning for allies who were declaring the election all but over on Tuesday.

It ain’t over, he said, until Karl Rove sings.

“I’ll relax when Karl Rove wakes up one morning and realizes that Mitt Romney can’t win the White House, and he needs to throw all his money at other races,” the adviser told POLITICO….

“Until Rove does that, we are going to get outpaced by two to one, at least, by these super PACs. Add a couple of good debates for Romney, and the fact that he’s doing well in North Carolina, and [Paul] Ryan’s put Wisconsin in play — there’s your tight race.”

“Everybody always wonders what famous people are like behind closed doors. They wonder about Mitt Romney more than most,” said Democratic strategist Paul Begala, who said the Romney campaign has worked hard to “humanize” the candidate.

“This destroys all that,” Begala said.  “he comes across as what he is: an arrogant elitist.”

Focus groups conducted by the Obama campaign and allied groups are showing a growing movement away from Romney among suburban women, the key swing demographic in battleground states, such as Ohio, Florida and Virginia.  The words that keep cropping up…are “not sympathetic” and “doesn’t care” — a damaging tend for a Republican who needs to win over economically strapped independents.

Emphasis added.

White Flag in Michigan and Pennsylvania

Both the Romney campaign and GOP super PACs like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS appear to be conceding both Michigan and Pennsylvania to President Obama.  They’re not running any ads there.

This saves the Obama campaign some money.  Often the other side spends money in a state they expect to lose just to force you to spend money there and have less to spend in the real battlegrounds.

Although Michigan is Mitt’s home state, I never saw it as a swing state, given his opposition to the auto bailout, but I did see Pennsylvania.

If they change their minds and begin advertising in one or both states, it means they see the race tightening.  This would be an interesting development.

OK, Now I’m Shocked

This will turn your stomach.

Haley Barbour met with a small group of top donors to Karl Rove’s Super PAC last week in Tampa and told them he was sorry that Chris Christie didn’t “put a hot poker to Obama’s butt” in his keynote address.

Doesn’t the former governor of Mississippi know that some slaves were branded like animals?

Barbour thought it was a private meeting (as did Rove himself when he made his joke about Todd Akin getting murdered), but Bloomberg Businessweek is reporting the comments.

UPDATE:  Barbour has apologized.

Inside the Obama Campaign

From “POLITICO e-book:  Obama campaign roiled by conflict,” Glenn Thrush, Politico:

“Second-guessing about personnel, strategy and tactics has been a dominant theme of the reelection effort, according to numerous current and former Obama advisers who were interviewed for ‘Obama’s Last Stand,’ an e-book out Monday published in a collaboration between POLITICO and Random House.

“The discord, these sources said, has on occasion flowed from Obama himself, who at repeated turns has made vocal his dissatisfaction with decisions made by his campaign team, with its messaging, with Vice President Biden and with what Obama feared was clumsy coordination between his West Wing and reelection headquarters in Chicago.

“The effort in Chicago, meanwhile, has been bedeviled by some of the drama Obama so deftly dodged in 2008 — including, at a critical point earlier this year, a spat that left senior operatives David Axelrod and Stephanie Cutter barely on speaking terms — and growing doubts about the effectiveness of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“Many of Obama’s advisers have quietly begun questioning whether they should have picked Wasserman Schultz, an outspoken Florida congresswoman, as his DNC chairwoman.  She has clashed with Chicago over her choice of staff and air-time on national TV shows — and they think she comes across as too partisan over the airwaves.

“Obama really doesn’t like, admire or even grudgingly respect Romney.  It’s a level of contempt, say aides, he doesn’t even feel for the conservative, combative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Hill Republican he disliked the most.

“The two thing Obama fears most about a Romney victory:  A 7-to-2 conservative Supreme Court within a few years.  And the equally unbearable possibility, in his mind, that Romney will get to take a victory lap on an economic rebound Obama sees as just around the corner.  ‘I’m not going to let him win…so that he can take credit when the economy turns around,’ Obama said, according to an aide.

“Obama has himself to blame for what has, arguably, been the greatest unforced error of his political career:  his team’s failure to adequately form a strategy to deal with the avalanche of unregulated cash crashing down on him from GOP and Romney-allied super PAC’s.

“Many on his team now regret not dispatching an aide of Plouffe’s stature to the cause in 2011, someone better equipped to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Karl Rove.

“Axelrod…believed trashing the super PACs was a messaging winner for Obama – a stance vehemently opposed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Messina.  ‘We’re going to lose this [f-ing] thing.  Why don’t they get it?’ Messina said of Axelrod and Obama.

“By early 2012, the GOP super PAC floodgates had opened, and Obama reluctantly agreed to endorse a group friendly to his cause, Priorities USA Action.”
Read more:

I think Wasserman Schultz has been a disaster as head of the DNC.  She’s a caricature of a liberal Dem, a South Park figure.  It should be a moderate, someone like Evan Bayh or Jon Tester.

I agree with the President that the economy will get better soon (you can’t keep a good business cycle down), and I’d hate to see Mitt get the credit.

Sheldon Adelson Has a Super PAC

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s YG Action Super PAC raised $5.3 million last quarter.  YG stands for “Young Guns,” but $5 million of that came from a rather Old Gun, Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino billionaire who financed Newtie’s presidential run.

Doesn’t that really make it Adelson’s Super PAC rather than Cantor’s?

If you look in the dictionary under “lean and hungry look,” there’s a grinning picture of Cantor.  I bet John Boehner has a food taster.



Thanks a Lot, Citizens United

The NYT is reporting* that more than 500 Super PACs have registered with the Federal Election Commission.

Very rich people used to show off with their Gulfstreams and Ferraris — a Super PAC is the new status symbol.

So now the whole point of limiting the dollar amount of campaign contributions, such as $2500 per person for a presidential campaign, is meaningless.  You just shift your money away from the campaign to its Super PAC.

That’s why Mitt’s Super PAC, Restore Our Future, has spent twice as much on ads so far, about $45 million, as Mitt’s campaign.  And those ads don’t have the tempering effect that the words “I’m Mitt Romney, and I approve this message,” should have.  A candidate can be more shameless and outrageous when he doesn’t have his name on the thing.

If Citizens United protects “speech,” it’s pretty obscene speech.

Between the lobbyists and the campaign finance laws, We the People really don’t have a chance.

“Super PACs Let Strategists Off the Leash,” Nicholas Confessore

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.

Update on GOP and Rev. Wright Ad Campaign

Perhaps in response to the NYT‘s front-page story based on their leaked copy of Fred Davis’ proposed ad campaign, Davis’ company, Strategic Perceptions, has announced that the plan to attack President Obama based on Rev. Wright has not been approved by Joe Ricketts, whose Super PAC would be paying for it.

But the NYT was careful to call it a “proposal” and said that the ad campaign “is awaiting approval.”

The GOP’s L’Esprit D’Escalier

The French have an expression for it (don’t they always?) — l’esprit d’escalier — for when you think of the perfect thing to say (witty, caustic, brilliant), but too late, after the moment has passed.  Hence, the reference to “escalier” or staircase, suggesting you’re on your way out.

So it is with the GOP’s planned $10 million worth of Super PAC attack ads against President Obama based on Rev. Wright’s inflammatory sermons.*  You either did those ads in 2008 or you fugeddaboudit.  Obama is president now, and unless you come up with evidence that he was a murderer or a child molester, old stuff doesn’t matter.

And who’s doing these ads?  None other than Fred Davis, the guy I can’t figure out why anyone  hires because his work is so appallingly awful.  He did the “Demon Sheep” ad for Carly Fiorina that garnered snickers, not votes.  He did the “I Am Not a Witch Ad” for Christine O’Donnell that garnered incredulity, not votes.  He did the bizarre series of Jon Huntsman (remember him?) Zen ads with a figure on a motorcycle and a one-word tag line that garnered bewilderment, not votes.

The money is coming from Joe Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade.

Davis’ pitch is that he seeks to do “exactly what John McCain would not let us do.”  If McCain wouldn’t do it, you can’t do it four years later.   Obama is running as POTUS, not as Wright’s parishioner.

*  “G.O.P. ‘Super PAC’ Weighing A Hard-Line Attack on Obama,” Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, NYT

Don’t Be Fooled By “Moderate Mitt”

From “The Sweet Spot,” Bill Keller, NYT:

“My hunch is that Romney will manage to shake off most of his extremist accouterments, because they never seemed to fit him.  It is true that if elected…Romney would be obliged to tithe generously to the right, by choosing Supreme Court nominees of the Scalia/Thomas persuasion, for example, and by populating regulatory agencies with polluters and plunderers.  But those concerns tend not to alter election outcomes.  Even with pro-Obama super PACs painting him as a mean-spirited zealot, Romney should be able to recapture the old campaign aura of a moderate Mr. Fixit.”

I agree with Keller that “those concerns” don’t affect elections, but they should!

So Mitt is re-setting the Etch a Sketch for the general to run from the base and then will re-set it again if elected to embrace them.  They’ll keep him on a short leash under the threat of getting primaried for 2016.  They already don’t like or trust him, so he’d better behave.