The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Obama Campaign Plans ‘Assault’ During GOP Convention


The final Morning Jolt before a (potentially quite soggy) Republican convention week includes a look at the Democrats’ counter-programming:

Obama: We Cannot Let Republicans Communicate Their Message for a Week!

Yeah, this screams confidence:

Bucking protocol, President Obama and the Democrats are planning a full-scale assault on Republicans next week during their convention.

Presidential candidates have traditionally kept a low profile during their opponent’s nominating celebration, but Democrats are throwing those rules out the window in an attempt to spoil Mitt Romney’s coronation as the GOP nominee.

President Obama, Vice President Biden and leading congressional Democrats have all scheduled high-profile events next week to counter-program the Republican gathering in Tampa, Fla.

Even first lady Michelle Obama is in on the act, scheduling an appearance on the “David Letterman Show” smack in the middle of Romney’s nominating bash.

Political historians say the high stakes of this year’s elections — combined with the rise of today’s 24/7 media culture — have forced leaders on both sides of the aisle to get more aggressive.

“Traditionally, there was a kind of courtesy extended to the party having the convention — the [other] party would basically stay out of the public eye,” said Ross Baker, political scientist at Rutgers University.

But that “gentlemen’s agreement,” Baker said, has been largely abandoned as “a consequence of the polarization of American politics.” He characterized the old tradition as a “quaint code of etiquette” destined to become a “remnant of the 20th century.”

Or, you know, this is who they are. This is the way they see the world. It may be that they fear Republicans laying out their views and ideas for four nights, unimpeded . . . or it may merely offend them that someone dares disagree with them.

Our old friend Mark Hemingway sees trouble for the Democrats, although they’re unlikely to heed his warnings:

Let’s look at the calendar. The Democratic convention is being held in Charlotte, September 3 through September 6, with Obama accepting the nomination that final night. Unemployment reports are released the first Friday of every month, so next unemployment report comes out . . . the morning of September 7. If it’s another dismal report—and again, the odds are that it will be nothing to celebrate—it could step all over the news coming out of the convention.

This could be particularly bad if the Democrats spend the entire week tearing down Mitt Romney and talking about abortion. Since Paul Ryan has been added to the GOP ticket, there’s little question that the Romney-Ryan ticket had shifted their campaign theme to a big picture economic debate. Thus far, the Obama and Democrats haven’t been terribly willing to engage the issue beyond Mediscare attacks on Paul Ryan. And the recent news that the DNC is reshuffling the speakers at the convention to highlight pro-abortion activists following the controversy over Missouri GOP Senate Candidate Todd Akin doesn’t suggest that they’re going to have a substantive discussion of what they plan to do about the economy at the convention, either.

I remember the Bush campaign having a small but noticeable communications presence in Boston in 2004. I also remember John Kerry giving a speech either immediately before, or immediately after, Bush’s convention address that had little impact. McCain was quiet during Obama’s week in Denver, but he also had his Sarah Palin unveiling ready to go the following morning, a strategy to nullify Obama’s convention bump that worked well at the time.

I’m not so sure many of these counter-programming efforts make much of a difference, once we look back on the election . . .

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Republican National Convention


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