Commentary Magazine


Topic: 2012 presidential campaign

Minority Voter Registration Drops

There was a story in Saturday’s Washington Post that could have significant bearing on the 2012 presidential race. According to the Post, “The number of black and Hispanic registered voters has fallen sharply since 2008, posing a serious challenge to the Obama campaign in an election that could turn on the participation of minority voters.”

The story goes on to say that according to the Census Bureau, for the first time in nearly four decades, the number of registered Hispanics has dropped significantly. “But in some politically important swing states, the decline among Hispanics, who are considered critical in the 2012 presidential contest, is much higher,” reporter Krissah Thompson said. “Just over 28 percent in New Mexico, for example, and about 10 percent in Florida… Among Latinos, the decline has altered a trend of steady growth. Given that 12 million Latinos were registered to vote in 2008, some analysts had projected the number would grow to 13 million in 2010 and 14 million this election cycle. Instead, it fell in 2010 to 11 million.”

“Everyone is saying the Latino vote is rocketing to the moon,” said Antonio Gonzalez of the Velasquez Institute. “It has been growing, but it stopped.”

For blacks, registration numbers are down 7 percent nationwide.

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There was a story in Saturday’s Washington Post that could have significant bearing on the 2012 presidential race. According to the Post, “The number of black and Hispanic registered voters has fallen sharply since 2008, posing a serious challenge to the Obama campaign in an election that could turn on the participation of minority voters.”

The story goes on to say that according to the Census Bureau, for the first time in nearly four decades, the number of registered Hispanics has dropped significantly. “But in some politically important swing states, the decline among Hispanics, who are considered critical in the 2012 presidential contest, is much higher,” reporter Krissah Thompson said. “Just over 28 percent in New Mexico, for example, and about 10 percent in Florida… Among Latinos, the decline has altered a trend of steady growth. Given that 12 million Latinos were registered to vote in 2008, some analysts had projected the number would grow to 13 million in 2010 and 14 million this election cycle. Instead, it fell in 2010 to 11 million.”

“Everyone is saying the Latino vote is rocketing to the moon,” said Antonio Gonzalez of the Velasquez Institute. “It has been growing, but it stopped.”

For blacks, registration numbers are down 7 percent nationwide.

The decline in minority registration “is obviously an area of concern,” said Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a left-leaning think tank.

Whether the Obama campaign can turn this around is impossible to know. But if it cannot, the chances for Obama to win re-election, which are already probably less than even, will dramatically decrease. If Obama wins less than 80 percent of the minority vote against Romney (as he did against John McCain), and/or if minority voters comprise 26 percent of all voters (as they did in 2008) or less, then it’s difficult to see how Obama wins a second term.

My own hope is that minority registration increases, that Mitt Romney makes a genuine appeal for their votes, and that in doing so he wins a larger-than-expected percentage. The increasing minority-white split in America is troublesome for all the obvious reasons.

 

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Obama’s Boring Stories of Glory Days

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” Dorothy says in “The Wizard of Oz.” Barack Obama might have had the same sensation this weekend when, in his first official campaign event at the Schottenstein Center at Ohio State, Obama spoke to a crowd of 14,000 in a center that fits 20,000. “There were,” according to the Toledo Blade, “a lot of empty seats.” This happened despite the fact that Obama volunteers worked feverishly to gin up a crowd.

“Axelrod, I have a feeling we’re not in 2008 anymore,” Obama might have thought.

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“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” Dorothy says in “The Wizard of Oz.” Barack Obama might have had the same sensation this weekend when, in his first official campaign event at the Schottenstein Center at Ohio State, Obama spoke to a crowd of 14,000 in a center that fits 20,000. “There were,” according to the Toledo Blade, “a lot of empty seats.” This happened despite the fact that Obama volunteers worked feverishly to gin up a crowd.

“Axelrod, I have a feeling we’re not in 2008 anymore,” Obama might have thought.

To add insult to injury, the New York Times (as Jonathan points out here) reported on the opening event for Obama this way: “At times, the rallies had the feeling of a concert by an aging rock star: a few supporters were wearing faded ‘Hope’ and Obama 2008 T-shirts, and cheers went up when the president told people to tell their friends that this campaign was ‘still about hope’ and ‘still about change.'”

For a president whose only selling point these days is “cool” — and who is used to campaigning surrounded by faux Greek columns and adoring fans and cult-like music videos– this must come as quite a shock to the system. Perhaps the president, desperate to recapture a moment that is forever gone, can relate to the lyrics of a genuine aging rock star, Bruce Springsteen:

Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight

and I’m going to drink till I get my fill

And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it

but I probably will

Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture

a little of the glory of, well time slips away

and leaves you with nothing mister but

boring stories of glory days.

Barack Obama — with no record he can defend and no governing vision he can describe — may soon be left with nothing but boring stories of glory days.

 

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Gingrich Now on Board With Romney

That was fast. Newt Gingrich will formally end his campaign in Virginia this afternoon, and he’s reportedly already getting on board with bitter rival Mitt Romney. The Republican National Committee says it’s going to help Gingrich pay down debt, a nice gesture that may at least help keep him in line for the rest of the campaign season:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, on the eve of suspending his roller coaster presidential bid, said in an interview with USA TODAY that he will embrace Mitt Romney‘s candidacy Wednesday and is ready to campaign for his former rival.

The two men will make a joint appearance in a few weeks, when Gingrich will make an official endorsement. The Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee have offered to be helpful as Gingrich works to retire his campaign debt.

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That was fast. Newt Gingrich will formally end his campaign in Virginia this afternoon, and he’s reportedly already getting on board with bitter rival Mitt Romney. The Republican National Committee says it’s going to help Gingrich pay down debt, a nice gesture that may at least help keep him in line for the rest of the campaign season:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, on the eve of suspending his roller coaster presidential bid, said in an interview with USA TODAY that he will embrace Mitt Romney‘s candidacy Wednesday and is ready to campaign for his former rival.

The two men will make a joint appearance in a few weeks, when Gingrich will make an official endorsement. The Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee have offered to be helpful as Gingrich works to retire his campaign debt.

Gingrich had these gracious words for his former opponent in an interview with USA TODAY:

“Mitt Romney met the first criteria of being a good candidate: He won,” Gingrich said. “Now you have to respect that.” He added, “We sure didn’t give it to him. We did everything we could to slug it out with him, and he ended up being tough enough and being good enough at raising money” to prevail.

Ha! Did you see how he masterfully slipped those jabs into a statement that’s framed as a compliment? Romney was a good candidate…because he won. And he won because…he was just too good at raising money. Classic diva concession speech.

Today there will be a big show of unity as Gingrich steps aside and backs Romney, and this is just a hunch, but I can’t imagine we’ll be seeing much of the former Speaker on the trail. Romney doesn’t need a frenemy spouting out backhanded compliments during campaign events, which is obviously what Gingrich would end up doing. Plus, why would Romney want to lend any credibility to Newt, when the Obama campaign has already started using the former Speaker’s own words in its anti-Romney attack ads? It’s probably best for the GOP if Gingrich sits the rest of this game out.

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Romney Spokesman Resigns

Mitt Romney’s national security spokesman Richard Grenell, who has been attacked by some social conservatives because he is openly gay, has resigned. Jen Rubin has Grenell’s statement:

I have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the foreign policy and national security spokesman. While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign. I want to thank Governor Romney for his belief in me and my abilities and his clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.

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Mitt Romney’s national security spokesman Richard Grenell, who has been attacked by some social conservatives because he is openly gay, has resigned. Jen Rubin has Grenell’s statement:

I have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the foreign policy and national security spokesman. While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign. I want to thank Governor Romney for his belief in me and my abilities and his clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.

There is not much to say about this, other than it’s a shame. Grenell was also criticized by the left for candid comments he made awhile back on Twitter, but his statement seems to imply that the uproar about his personal life was the main reason for his resignation.

If Grenell actually felt the controversy made it difficult for Romney to respond to Obama on national security, then it’s hard to fault the campaign. If there was ever a time that Romney needed a clear message on national security, it’s now. Unfortunately, this will probably be seen as a victory by the vocal group of fringe figures who protested Grenell’s hire, and sadly, it might actually end up encouraging them.

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SEALs Criticize Obama’s Grandstanding

Listening to the Obama campaign gush about the president’s courageous decision regarding the Osama bin Laden raid, you might think he was the one who piloted the helicopter, raided the compound, and fired the legendary shot. But what do the actual American heroes who risk their lives in these types of missions think? The Daily Mail spoke to several Navy SEALs who are mystified by the argument that President Obama’s decision was uniquely heroic:

A serving SEAL Team member said: ‘Obama wasn’t in the field, at risk, carrying a gun. As president, at every turn he should be thanking the guys who put their lives on the line to do this. He does so in his official speeches because the speechwriters are smart.

“But the more he tries to take the credit for it, the more the ground operators are saying, ‘Come on, man!’ It really didn’t matter who was president. At the end of the day, they were going to go.”

Chris Kyle, a former SEAL sniper with 160 confirmed and another 95 unconfirmed kills to his credit, said: ‘The operation itself was great and the nation felt immense pride. It was great that we did it.

“But bin Laden was just a figurehead. The war on terror continues. Taking him out didn’t really change anything as far as the war on terror is concerned and using it as a political attack is a cheap shot.”

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Listening to the Obama campaign gush about the president’s courageous decision regarding the Osama bin Laden raid, you might think he was the one who piloted the helicopter, raided the compound, and fired the legendary shot. But what do the actual American heroes who risk their lives in these types of missions think? The Daily Mail spoke to several Navy SEALs who are mystified by the argument that President Obama’s decision was uniquely heroic:

A serving SEAL Team member said: ‘Obama wasn’t in the field, at risk, carrying a gun. As president, at every turn he should be thanking the guys who put their lives on the line to do this. He does so in his official speeches because the speechwriters are smart.

“But the more he tries to take the credit for it, the more the ground operators are saying, ‘Come on, man!’ It really didn’t matter who was president. At the end of the day, they were going to go.”

Chris Kyle, a former SEAL sniper with 160 confirmed and another 95 unconfirmed kills to his credit, said: ‘The operation itself was great and the nation felt immense pride. It was great that we did it.

“But bin Laden was just a figurehead. The war on terror continues. Taking him out didn’t really change anything as far as the war on terror is concerned and using it as a political attack is a cheap shot.”

Exactly. Every American will cheer on the bin Laden raid, and Obama’s gutsy decision to go ahead with it. Killing bin Laden was a wildly popular move – there has never been any serious debate in this country about whether or not to do it. The real debate has been about the less-popular steps that need to be taken to keep America safe in the War on Terror. Vice President Biden likes to say that Obama has a backbone “like a ramrod,” but where has that backbone been when it comes to the unpopular decisions during wartime? Obama is cutting out early in Afghanistan, quietly blasting away al-Qaeda leaders with drones instead of capturing them for intelligence, and hoping that tensions in Iraq don’t boil over before the November election, as not to mar his claim the was is over.

When you think of all the complex, critical, gut-wrenching decisions a commander-in-chief has to make during times of war, the decision to send in SEALs to bump off the world’s most hated terrorist leader and mass murderer of thousands of Americans is pretty cut-and-dry in the scheme of things.

Sen. John McCain made a similar point on Fox News yesterday:

“I say any president, Jimmy Carter, anybody, any president would have, obviously, under those circumstances, done the same thing. And to now take credit for something that any president would do is indicative of the kind of campaign we’re under — we’re — we’re seeing…So all I can say is that this is going to be a very rough campaign,” McCain told Fox News in an interview… “And I’ve had the great honor of serving in the company of heroes. And, you know the thing about heroes, they don’t brag.”

A lesson about how heroes don’t brag, from someone who would know. In fact, some would say McCain’s own modesty hurt him in 2008, because he was reluctant to make his time as a POW a focus of his campaign.

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Obama Campaign Doubles Down on the Dog

Two weeks ago, I wondered whether the “Dog War” between the Obama and Romney campaigns was over. Once the story about the president eating dog meat as a boy came out, I thought that had to be the end of the endless columns by liberal pundits resurrecting the story of the Republican nominee’s dog Seamus riding to Canada on the roof of the family car. And when that was followed by the story about Romney saving a drowning dog (and a family of six, but apparently most Americans are just interested in the dog), I was sure that Democrats would decide to simply let the pet angle go and concentrate on more substantive criticisms of the GOP candidate. But I was wrong. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, the Obama campaign is apparently committed to the idea that there is a canine path to victory. According to the Post, the president is using the family dog Bo to front an Internet fundraising appeal pitched to pet lovers:

One Internet ad starts with a two-toned blue background, like dozens of other pro-Obama spots. Then the furry star pops into the frame, tongue out and ready to frolic. “Join Pet Lovers for Obama,” the ad implores.

The unlikely pitchman is Bo, the White House family pet, who may well be the first “first dog” to emerge as a central player in a presidential reelection campaign.

So while President Obama got some laughs at the White House Correspondents Dinner joking that “My stepfather always told me, ‘It’s a boy-eat-dog world out there,’” his strategists really still seem to think the dog issue works for him.

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Two weeks ago, I wondered whether the “Dog War” between the Obama and Romney campaigns was over. Once the story about the president eating dog meat as a boy came out, I thought that had to be the end of the endless columns by liberal pundits resurrecting the story of the Republican nominee’s dog Seamus riding to Canada on the roof of the family car. And when that was followed by the story about Romney saving a drowning dog (and a family of six, but apparently most Americans are just interested in the dog), I was sure that Democrats would decide to simply let the pet angle go and concentrate on more substantive criticisms of the GOP candidate. But I was wrong. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, the Obama campaign is apparently committed to the idea that there is a canine path to victory. According to the Post, the president is using the family dog Bo to front an Internet fundraising appeal pitched to pet lovers:

One Internet ad starts with a two-toned blue background, like dozens of other pro-Obama spots. Then the furry star pops into the frame, tongue out and ready to frolic. “Join Pet Lovers for Obama,” the ad implores.

The unlikely pitchman is Bo, the White House family pet, who may well be the first “first dog” to emerge as a central player in a presidential reelection campaign.

So while President Obama got some laughs at the White House Correspondents Dinner joking that “My stepfather always told me, ‘It’s a boy-eat-dog world out there,’” his strategists really still seem to think the dog issue works for him.

Bo is one of a long line of famous presidential pets. But though these dogs, cats and other critters (Theodore Roosevelt’s large young family had a veritable menagerie) have gotten a lot of attention from the press and in one case — Franklin Roosevelt’s dog Fala —a mention in a famous campaign speech, none were ever the focus of fundraising appeals.

As the Post explains, it’s all part of a crafty marketing plan that employs micro-targeting tactics that hone in on very specific demographic slices of the electorate. That means the president’s Portuguese water dog is fronting for not only fundraising efforts aimed at liberal dog owners but is also the face of a merchandising line that will sell Bo stuff like dog sweaters to Democratic consumers.

Viewed in isolation, it all seems harmless enough. If those who idolize the president are so besotted with him that they feel the need to purchase merchandise featuring his dog, so be it. But there are two problems with the amount of effort the Obama re-election team has devoted to this tactic.

First, there is the danger, articulated by at least one strategist quoted in the Post article, that the Obama campaign is so caught up in the details of its various clever strategems that they lose sight of the big picture. Even if one buys into the concept that there is a rationale for specifically organizing pet lovers to vote for Obama, and count me among the skeptics on this point, at best, there is an extremely marginal audience probably not worth the expenditure of valuable resources even for a campaign as loaded with loose cash as that of the president.

Second, one can’t help but feel that the decision to feature Bo was motivated by the belief that Romney was actually vulnerable to charges of pet cruelty and that it was to the president’s political advantage to put his own family dog in the spotlight. Apparently, his staff took all those columns written by Gail Collins about the sufferings of Seamus a little too much to heart. In this case, life in the liberal echo chamber has consequences and has led to a misguided decision to try to make hay out of an issue that has no traction for the president.

None of this will decide the election, but if I were Bo, I’d be worried. Contrary to all those jokes on Twitter, I don’t think he’s in any danger of being eaten by his owner. But pets that are kept principally for their political appeal are likely to be cruelly discarded when they no longer serve that purpose. Socks the cat was a major figure in the Clinton White House though not part of the 42nd president’s re-election campaign (and to his credit he also didn’t figure in any of Clinton’s personal scandals). However, when the Clintons left the White House they dumped Socks, giving him away to a secretary. But better that than ending up as an Indonesian snack.

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Huffington Slams Obama’s Osama Ad

Via Beltway Confidential: When even Ariana Huffington isn’t buying the premise of Obama’s campaign ad suggesting that Mitt Romney wouldn’t have ordered the Osama bin Laden raid, it’s probably time to re-evaluate that message:

“I agree with the Romney campaign, that using the Osama bin Laden assassination killing the great news that we had a year ago, in order to say basically that Obama did it and Romney may not have done it,” said Huffington. “It is one thing to celebrate the fact that they did such a great job…but to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do.”

If the message is so tasteless that it’s even offending Obama’s strident defenders, why did the campaign go ahead with it in the first place? Remember, this wasn’t just one commercial. Vice President Biden also brought up something similar in his foreign policy speech last week when he declared that “bin Laden is dead and GE is alive…If Romney was president, could we have used that same slogan in reverse?”

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Via Beltway Confidential: When even Ariana Huffington isn’t buying the premise of Obama’s campaign ad suggesting that Mitt Romney wouldn’t have ordered the Osama bin Laden raid, it’s probably time to re-evaluate that message:

“I agree with the Romney campaign, that using the Osama bin Laden assassination killing the great news that we had a year ago, in order to say basically that Obama did it and Romney may not have done it,” said Huffington. “It is one thing to celebrate the fact that they did such a great job…but to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do.”

If the message is so tasteless that it’s even offending Obama’s strident defenders, why did the campaign go ahead with it in the first place? Remember, this wasn’t just one commercial. Vice President Biden also brought up something similar in his foreign policy speech last week when he declared that “bin Laden is dead and GE is alive…If Romney was president, could we have used that same slogan in reverse?”

The way the Obama campaign has handled the bin Laden killing has been odd since the beginning. Sure, there were a few conservative detractors who tried to downplay Obama’s role, but for the most part the president was praised across the political spectrum for green-lighting the raid. He’s certainly received his fair share of credit.

But for some reason, the Obama campaign has needlessly tried to puff up the already-impressive mission, calling it the most “audacious plan” in “500 years” and overselling the risks of the president’s decision. Now they’re claiming that Romney wouldn’t have made the same call had he been president.

Why? Is Obama concerned that the raid itself isn’t extraordinary enough on its own? If that’s the case, ads like this certainly won’t help. Beyond the conceit contained in the anti-Romney message, the campaign calculation couldn’t be more transparent. The Obama campaign could have released an ad highlighting why the bin Laden raid was so momentous and what it meant for Americans in general and particularly 9/11 family members. Instead, it decided to go for a cheap and unsubstantiated attack on Romney. Huffington is right to call that despicable.

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Obama Plays Up “Achievements” in New Ad

Obama’s critics have said that he can’t run a campaign based on his achievements, and he proved them right today with a new video ad. Entitled “Forward” – which is also the latest in a string of Obama campaign slogans – the ad’s basic message is “things aren’t great, but they could be worse, so let’s stop focusing on the past.” At the end, there’s an unimpressive scrolling list of Obama’s supposed presidential accomplishments:

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Obama’s critics have said that he can’t run a campaign based on his achievements, and he proved them right today with a new video ad. Entitled “Forward” – which is also the latest in a string of Obama campaign slogans – the ad’s basic message is “things aren’t great, but they could be worse, so let’s stop focusing on the past.” At the end, there’s an unimpressive scrolling list of Obama’s supposed presidential accomplishments:

Don’t get me wrong, the video is well done, and will probably be convincing to certain people who badly want to believe their 2008 vote didn’t go to waste. But the list of achievements is comically weak, mixing a sparse number of actual accomplishments (killing Osama bin Laden, ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) with vague or insignificant ones (“protected reproductive rights,” “fuel efficiency standards doubling” by 2025).

In the ad, Obama boasts that 4.2 million jobs have been saved, despite the 4.4 million jobs lost under President Bush. But he fails to mention that 4.3 million jobs were also lost during his first 13 months in office, and the unemployment rate is higher now than it was when he was inaugurated. Even the tax cuts for 160 million Americans that he mentions in the ad are really short-term payroll tax cut extensions that evade necessary long-term tax reform. And the U.S. oil production that’s at an “8-year high” is due in no part to Obama’s policies, which have been to impede domestic oil production whenever possible.

Some of his supposed accomplishments include a hodgepodge of random, low-impact measures he frantically instituted during the last six months or so (i.e., “incentives to hire unemployed veterans” and “guaranteed coverage for contraception”). The list reads as if the campaign was scraping bottom to dig up anything they could tout as a success. Those who want to believe Obama has had a triumphant first term probably will do so. But others aren’t likely to walk away convinced.

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Obama’s Super PAC Problems

President Obama has a huge lead on Mitt Romney when it comes to campaign fundraising, but that margin shrinks significantly when Super PACs are added into the pictures. Pro-Romney Super PACs have been raising cash steadily, but the pro-Obama Priorities USA group has had trouble bringing in donors, Bloomberg reports:

Through March, only 12 of Obama’s 532 top fundraisers had donated to Priorities USA Action, a super political action committee created to support his re-election. Priorities has only raised about $9 million compared to a combined $80 million brought in by the two main super-PACs dedicated to defeating Obama: American Crossroads, formed by Karl Rove, and Restore Our Future, a group backing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The leaders of Priorities have asked former President Bill Clinton to tap the pool of donors who helped fund his campaign and Hillary Clinton’s White House run. Yet Priorities lacks on its donor list most of the core group of Chicagoans who backed Obama’s presidential ambitions four years ago.

One government professor quoted in the story speculated that Democrats are wary about giving money to Priorities USA because they feel that negative advertising is unseemly. That’s absurd. Democrats are just as ruthless when it comes to negative ads as Republicans are. But there are other political reasons these Democrats might be hesitant about donating to Super PACs. Liberals almost universally condemn the Citizens United ruling. People give to politicians in part because it makes them feel good, like they’re behind a worthy cause. But many liberals would probably feel like hypocrites – like they’re betraying their ideals – if they give through a fundraising channel they’ve claimed is corrupting politics.

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President Obama has a huge lead on Mitt Romney when it comes to campaign fundraising, but that margin shrinks significantly when Super PACs are added into the pictures. Pro-Romney Super PACs have been raising cash steadily, but the pro-Obama Priorities USA group has had trouble bringing in donors, Bloomberg reports:

Through March, only 12 of Obama’s 532 top fundraisers had donated to Priorities USA Action, a super political action committee created to support his re-election. Priorities has only raised about $9 million compared to a combined $80 million brought in by the two main super-PACs dedicated to defeating Obama: American Crossroads, formed by Karl Rove, and Restore Our Future, a group backing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The leaders of Priorities have asked former President Bill Clinton to tap the pool of donors who helped fund his campaign and Hillary Clinton’s White House run. Yet Priorities lacks on its donor list most of the core group of Chicagoans who backed Obama’s presidential ambitions four years ago.

One government professor quoted in the story speculated that Democrats are wary about giving money to Priorities USA because they feel that negative advertising is unseemly. That’s absurd. Democrats are just as ruthless when it comes to negative ads as Republicans are. But there are other political reasons these Democrats might be hesitant about donating to Super PACs. Liberals almost universally condemn the Citizens United ruling. People give to politicians in part because it makes them feel good, like they’re behind a worthy cause. But many liberals would probably feel like hypocrites – like they’re betraying their ideals – if they give through a fundraising channel they’ve claimed is corrupting politics.

Some may also be nervously eyeing the attacks the Obama campaign has launched against top pro-Romney donors. Kimberly Strassel reports that the campaign is targeting these donors on its website, criticizing their businesses and work histories:

Save Mr. Obama, who acknowledges no rules. This past week, one of his campaign websites posted an item entitled “Behind the curtain: A brief history of Romney’s donors.” In the post, the Obama campaign named and shamed eight private citizens who had donated to his opponent. Describing the givers as all having “less-than-reputable records,” the post went on to make the extraordinary accusations that “quite a few” have also been “on the wrong side of the law” and profiting at “the expense of so many Americans.”

These are people like Paul Schorr and Sam and Jeffrey Fox, investors who the site outed for the crime of having “outsourced” jobs. T. Martin Fiorentino is scored for his work for a firm that forecloses on homes. Louis Bacon (a hedge-fund manager), Kent Burton (a “lobbyist”) and Thomas O’Malley (an energy CEO) stand accused of profiting from oil. Frank VanderSloot, the CEO of a home-products firm, is slimed as a “bitter foe of the gay rights movement.”

These are wealthy individuals, to be sure, but private citizens nonetheless. Not one holds elected office. Not one is a criminal. Not one has the barest fraction of the position or the power of the U.S. leader who is publicly assaulting them.

Donors to political campaigns and Super PACs are required to disclose for a reason. Journalists, watchdog groups, and opposing campaigns are certainly within their rights to report on conflicts of interest, ethics issues, or the backgrounds of these donors. But the Obama campaign goes too far with this. Claiming someone is “less-than-reputable” or “on the wrong side of the law” when he has committed no crime – outside of the offense of giving large sums of money to a political opponent – is not appropriate behavior by a political campaign. If Obama is setting this precedent, it’s no wonder Democrats are reluctant to cut large checks to his supporting Super PAC.

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Obama’s Bin Laden Pitch Jumps the Shark

A year ago even as relentlessly positive a chronicler of the Obama administration as the New York Times noted that the president had begun to use the killing of Osama bin Laden as an integral part of his standard political stump speech. Since then, the president and even Vice President Biden have rarely disappointed listeners waiting for the obligatory bin Laden reference. While President Obama deserves credit for ordering the operation and he was entitled to spike the ball over this a few times, the transformation of the tracking down of the arch terrorist into the central achievement of their years in power says a lot about just how thin their list of victories has turned out to be.

Indeed, as I first noted last May, it should be remembered that Biden made one of the few genuinely witty remarks in the 2008 campaign when he noted that a Rudy Giuliani campaign speech consisted solely of, “a noun, a verb and 9/11,” but in the last year the addresses of Obama and Biden have rarely omitted “a noun, a verb and bin Laden.” Yet as tiresome as the president’s attempt to drape himself in the heroism of the Navy Seals has been up until now, it just got a lot worse. The Obama campaign is not only highlighting the bin Laden killing but it is now, believe it or not, actually putting forward a counter-factual video asserting that a President Mitt Romney would never have tried to take out the al Qaeda leader.

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A year ago even as relentlessly positive a chronicler of the Obama administration as the New York Times noted that the president had begun to use the killing of Osama bin Laden as an integral part of his standard political stump speech. Since then, the president and even Vice President Biden have rarely disappointed listeners waiting for the obligatory bin Laden reference. While President Obama deserves credit for ordering the operation and he was entitled to spike the ball over this a few times, the transformation of the tracking down of the arch terrorist into the central achievement of their years in power says a lot about just how thin their list of victories has turned out to be.

Indeed, as I first noted last May, it should be remembered that Biden made one of the few genuinely witty remarks in the 2008 campaign when he noted that a Rudy Giuliani campaign speech consisted solely of, “a noun, a verb and 9/11,” but in the last year the addresses of Obama and Biden have rarely omitted “a noun, a verb and bin Laden.” Yet as tiresome as the president’s attempt to drape himself in the heroism of the Navy Seals has been up until now, it just got a lot worse. The Obama campaign is not only highlighting the bin Laden killing but it is now, believe it or not, actually putting forward a counter-factual video asserting that a President Mitt Romney would never have tried to take out the al Qaeda leader.

 As Politico reports, a new Obama campaign video not only lavishes the president with extravagant praise for ordering the operation against bin Laden but also attempts to claim that Romney wouldn’t have done the same. The basis for this assertion is the fact that in 2007 Romney questioned whether the United States should be attacking targets in Pakistan and an out-of-context quote from that year in which the GOP nominee said, “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”

That doesn’t sound very good in retrospect but it reflected two sound positions. One was that the U.S. needed Pakistan if it was going to effectively fight the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The other was that the priority in the war on terror needed to be on ensuring that al Qaeda did have the capability to launch more terror attacks rather than merely getting bin Laden. While it can be construed as being one of many Romney verbal gaffes, it did not mean he was opposed to tracking down bin Laden if he could be found.

U.S. forces had been actively hunting Osama bin Laden for years. It was Barack Obama’s good fortune that, thanks to the Bush administration’s decision to conduct a war on terror and to use tactics that he largely opposed before entering the White House that the terrorist was found on his watch. The idea, put forward by former President Clinton (who did little to stop al Qaeda in the years after the first bombing of the World Trade Center and whose negligence materially contributed to the 9/11 disaster) in the campaign video, that there was a down side for Obama in ordering the mission is also, at best, an exaggeration. Though there were risks attached to the operation, the idea that Obama would have been lambasted for ordering an attack aimed at getting bin Laden is unfounded. Few Americans would have faulted him for trying, even if bin Laden had escaped again.

While it is to be expected that any president will take credit for the actions of the armed forces of which he is the commander-in-chief, it appears that in trying to make Romney look as if he was soft on al Qaeda, the president’s henchmen appear to have jumped the shark in a way that will do him little good. Such excesses serve only to diminish what may well be the one real foreign policy victory of his four years in office.

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