Coming Soon to an Obama Campaign Ad Near You

“I’m actually — I’m not familiar with precisely, exactly what I said. But I stand by what I said, whatever it was.”

This was Mitt’s flustered response yesterday when, having just said that Rev. Wright shouldn’t be an issue in the campaign, he was reminded that he had brought up Rev. Wright when he was on Sean Hannity’s radio show last February.

No one’s going to confuse Mitt with Demosthenes anytime soon.

I stand by what I’ve written about the hapless Mittens, whatever it was.


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.

Quote of the Day

In response to the furor around Fred Davis’ proposed ads against President Obama using Rev. Wright, Mark Salter, long-time McCain adviser, said this:

“Fred is a creative guy, but he requires round-the-clock adult supervision.  If you take your eyes off him for a moment, you’re chasing demon sheep, witches and the yellow peril.”

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