‘Can You Imagine Bush Talking about Shrum?’

by Robert Costa

Washington — Ed Gillespie tells National Review Online that President Obama’s demonization of political operatives reeks of desperation. “Can you imagine former president Bush talking about Bob Shrum?” he laughs. “It is just remarkable that he is so willing to diminish the office. It’s starting to look like the Oval Office is swallowing him up.”

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, singled out Gillespie, the longtime Republican strategist and former counselor to Pres. George W. Bush, by name on Wednesday. At an afternoon press briefing, Gibbs cited Gillespie, along with fellow former Bush adviser Karl Rove, as a Republican leader involved with fundraising groups that “hide behind the shroud of secrecy and anonymity.”

Gillespie and Rove are associated with American Crossroads, a 527 political organization. The group, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has been targeted by Democrats in recent days. A new Democratic National Committee ad, for example, raises questions about GOP funding sources, and accuses Gillespie and Rove of “stealing our democracy.”

Gillespie finds the White House’s attacks on the Chamber of Commerce curious. “Most people in the real world don’t think of the Chamber of Commerce as a big building on H Street in Washington, D.C. They think of it as a storefront on Main Street in their hometown. They don’t see the dry cleaners, and the pet-shop owners, and the grocery-store owners who are members of the chamber as villains. They see them as people who try to create jobs.”

“This kind of rhetoric and behavior only reinforces the idea that [Obama] is not up for the office,” Gillespie says. “It’s just the latest in a long litany of demons that they’ve tried to attack, going all the way back to Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell . . . it’s what they do.”