Tags: David Axelrod

Obama Staffer: Before Jarrett, Our Campaign Ignored Minority Staffers


Joshua DuBois, former head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships under President Obama, writes in the Daily Beast that Valerie Jarrett “saved the Obama campaign” and is “indispensable.” He paints an ugly picture of Obama’s presidential campaign before her arrival:

Our young, diverse campaign staff didn’t always feel heard by the powers that be. There were strategic recommendations, views on where the candidate should go, and political intelligence among these lower and middle ranks of staffers, but few places to send them. This resulted in missed opportunities, depressed morale — and declining poll numbers in states where the support of young people, African Americans, Latinos, and other minorities was key.

That’s when Valerie stepped in. She had functionally been a volunteer and an occasional advisor up to that point, but after the Lewis disaster it was clear she needed to take a larger role. So she more formally joined the ranks of the campaign’s senior leadership. And as soon as she became a regular presence at our Michigan Avenue headquarters, things started to change.

Young, black, Latino, women, and gay staffers felt like they had a listening ear and advocate in the upper tiers of the campaign — at times after making a quiet trip to Valerie’s office . . . 

Valerie brought a level of empathy and spirit to the hardened machinery of elections that we sorely needed in order to match our hopeful rhetoric with the reality of the campaign. Perhaps more importantly, she protected and elevated causes and voices — diverse voices — that would have otherwise never been heard.

Does he realize what he’s saying? That without the presence of Valerie Jarrett, the Barack Obama for President campaign would have excluded, ignored, or taken for granted young, black, Latino, women, and gay staffers and, by extension, voters with the same characteristics? That the only thing that kept the black, relatively young candidate in touch with these staffers, and treating them with appropriate respect and appreciation was Jarrett?

How do you feel about that characterization, David Axelrod? How about you, Robert Gibbs? David Plouffe? Penny Pritzker? Jon Favreau?

Tags: Valerie Jarrett , Barack Obama , David Axelrod

This Administration Thinks It’s Handling Putin Well


Another piece of evidence to support the theory that this administration thinks it’s doing a terrific job, on every front, all the time:

First, it’s spelled ”moxie.”

Second, Obama and his fans love to blur the lines between acknowledging Putin’s ruthlessness and willingness to act, with little fear of consequence, with some sort of admiration for him. Remember when this crew used to sneer at the Bush administration for its bluster and overconfidence? Remember when they insisted the preceding administration wasn’t part of the “reality-based community”?

Third, even if Putin isn’t looking so swift now — not that the Russian people will ever hear of it — this administration is high-fiving itself over public relations while Vladimir Putin and his allies gain territory, power, and influence. Sure, handing top-of-the-line anti-aircraft missiles to the separatists in Eastern Ukraine makes Putin look wildly reckless to the point of foolishness. But how much does that really matter when Putin still has so many other levers of power? A military that dwarfs Russia’s neighbors, Middle Eastern client states, enormous intelligence agencies, leverage from gas and oil exports, a stranglehold on domestic media and public opinion…

Putin is demonstrating that his allies increasingly control what happens on the ground at the crash site, and that international condemnation means nothing to the separatists. His actions in Crimea indicate that international public opinion doesn’t matter much to him, either.

If there’s no serious consequence to Russia, beyond another series of financial sanctions that Putin’s regime clearly doesn’t sweat, who really doesn’t look so slick?

Does this look like a man who worries about sanctions? 

Tags: Barack Obama , Vladimir Putin , David Axelrod

Democrats Can Save Their Policy, or Save Their Party. But Not Both.


From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

The Upton Plan Will Never Get Enacted, but It’s Beautiful Anyway

We don’t know precisely how the rest of this month will play out. But we know it will include an excruciating amount of political pain for President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

First, understand what we’re talking about when we discuss the Upton plan. Erick Erickson worries that a bill offered by Representative Fred Upton (R., Mich.) represents a trap for Republicans and opponents of Obamacare. He concludes, “the Republicans should not be helping Democrats with their re-election plans, which is all [they] are doing with Upton/Landrieu.”

The concern has some validity, as is Ben Howe’s worry that passage any bipartisan bill would transform Obamacare into a disaster enacted by Democrats to a only slightly less bad disaster enacted by both parties. But the Upton and Landrieu proposals do a heck of a lot more than just help Democrats insist they’re trying to do something to help those losing their plans.

Jeffrey Anderson:

Moreover — and important — the Upton bill would not help fix Obamacare. To the contrary, if it were to become law, it would badly undermine Obamacare’s exchanges, which would then be drained of millions of (previously insured and hence generally healthier) people whom Obama wanted to compel to buy exchange-based plans by banning their preferred plans. In short, Upton would hurt Obamacare, not fix it — which is why Obama opposes it.

James Capretta, a.k.a. “the health-care guy” at Heritage, AEI, and most other conservative organizations:

The defenders of Obamacare know full well that the Upton legislation represents a serious threat to the viability of the law. It would provide a lifeline for a viable insurance market outside of Obamacare’s rules and suffocating structure. Millions of Americans would flock to a revitalized insurance marketplace that offered lower premium products with better coverage. The end result would be one more step toward fully reversing the catastrophic mistake of Obamacare.

Who else just called the Upton bill as a tool to “subvert” Obamacare? David Axelrod.

Put another way, if the Upton bill’s primary impact really was just to provide cover for Democrats, why would Obama and his closest allies be fighting it tooth and nail? Why are they arm-twisting their own members to not vote for something that could provide them some political cover?

House Democratic leaders are doubling down in their opposition to GOP legislation that would allow Americans to keep their healthcare plans, even as the party is taking a political drubbing over the contentious issue.

Think about it. Nancy Pelosi & Company are insisting to their rank-and-file — approaching reelection less than twelve months from now — that stopping the Upton bill is worth taking a beating in the polls and coverage right now. The only way this stance makes sense is if the Upton bill represents a metaphorical bullet to the gut of Obamacare. It may not kill it immediately, but it will kill it eventually.

With one simple bill, designed to honor a promise the president repeated for five years, Fred Upton and his allies have built a nice little Trojan horse that implodes Obamacare within a year or two.

Right now, the congressman is now competing for the title of your favorite member of the Upton family against his perennial favorite niece.

You’ll always be special to us, Kate.

The House is going to take up the Upton bill. It’s going to pass. It’s going to pass with just about every Republican vote, and in all likelihood, a heck of a lot of Democratic votes.

Then it goes to the Senate, where three things can happen.

First, Harry Reid could treat it the way he treats most bills that pass the House, by refusing to bring it to the floor for a vote.

You’re already smiling, aren’t you? You’re already picturing the ad:

“A bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives passed the Keep Your Plan Bill. But Harry Reid is playing politics, not even allowing the Senate to vote on it.”

Ouch. Every Senate Democrat will be asked, on the record, if they agree with Reid’s decision. They’ll have to denounce him. The infighting and recriminations will be delicious.

The second possibility is that Harry Reid allows the bill to go to the floor, and the Senate rejects it.

Picture the ad, coming from the NRSC and various conservative groups.

“A bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives passed the Keep Your Plan Bill. But after voting for the Obamacare bill that canceled your health insurance, [insert Democratic incumbent here] voted NO — leaving you and your family without insurance.”

Brutal, just brutal. Under that scenario, the 2014 midterms turn into a Democratic bloodbath that makes the 2010 midterms look like the good old days.

Then there’s the third possibility . . . the Senate passes it . . . and it goes before Obama.

And then Obama can either sign the metaphorical gut-shot into law, or he can veto it.

He’s not going to sign it. Instead President Obama will provide the most excruciatingly painful veto in recent memory, as he becomes the president who assured the American people dozens of times they could keep their plan, broke his promise, and then shot down the bipartisan legislation to keep his promise after he broke it. You think his approval rating is low now? He’ll make Bush’s second term look like a joyous series of unhindered triumphs.

Nobody knows what Democrats are going to do. Because they themselves don’t know what they’re going to do:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday will convene a special meeting of the Senate Democratic caucus and senior White Officials to discuss the troubled rollout of ObamaCare.

Reid on Wednesday told reporters he would not answer questions about the hundreds of thousands of insurance policy cancellations or other issues until he has further discussions with the White House.

Very soon, the question is going to be put before Obama, Reid, and the rest: Save the policy or save the party. Pick one.

Tags: Fred Upton , Obamacare , Harry Reid , Nancy Pelosi , Barack Obama , David Axelrod

The Democrats’ Silly, Dishonest Excuse of ‘Voter Suppression’ in Colorado


David Axelrod joined DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and former state senator Angela Giron in blaming “voter suppression” for Tuesday’s successful recall election against Giron and state senator John Morse.

The term “voter suppression” implies someone making an effort to prevent people from voting, which is not what happened here, where the elections were amply covered in local, state, and national media and all of the usual polling places were open for all of the usual hours, with no intimidation or other obstacles. The core of the Democrats’ argument is that because voting by mail was limited, some sort of nefarious authorities have prevented Coloradans from casting votes.

The lack of voting by mail stems from a lawsuit by the state’s Libertarian party, contending that the Colorado secretary of state’s office and county clerks did not give them the legally required amount of time to gather signatures to get their candidates on the ballot. On August 12, district-court judge Robert McGahey ruled the party had ntil August 26 to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot — meaning the county clerks wouldn’t have enough time to print and mail ballots to voters for the September 10 election.

The confusion stems in part from House Bill 1303, a sweeping elections bill passed by Colorado Democrats this year (including Giron and Morse) that requires all mail-in elections. McGahey called that new law “flawed” in his decision, declaring that its deadlines conflict with deadlines specified in the state constitution.

Democrats have yet to spotlight a Coloradan who wanted to cast a ballot but could not. And there’s simply no evidence that Tuesday’s results were a fluke result from some minuscule group of voters.

Turnout for the 2010 Colorado State Senate election in the state’s third state-senate district, electing Angela Giron to a four-year term, was 45,140.

Turnout in Tuesday’s recall election was 34,556.

In other words, turnout for the recall was about 76 percent of the most recent “normal” Election Day turnout — when voters are coming out to vote in the governor’s race, the U.S. Senate race, House races, etc.

Turnout for the 2010 Colorado State Senate election in the state’s eleventh state-senate district, electing John Morse to a four-year term, was 28,712.

Turnout in Tuesday’s recall election was 17,485 — about 60 percent of the “normal” turnout.

That’s pretty good for a special election for one state-level district office in early September. For comparison, when a special U.S. House election was held in Chicago earlier this year, 81,819 votes were cast, which was 43 percent of the 2010 turnout.

Democrats like to throw around the figure of what percentage of registered voters voted, but turnout is always significantly below 100 percent. Colorado’s statewide turnout was 48.4 percent in 2010; in the much-hyped presidential year of 2012, it was 67 percent.

The claim of “voter suppression” has a clear subtext: It’s not our fault, the voters really love our positions. It’s probably easier to lie to the electorate if you begin by lying to yourself.

Tags: Colorado Recalls , David Axelrod , Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Beneficiaries of Partisan Redistricting Lament Partisan Redistricting


This morning:

Here’s how Axelrod’s most famous client approached the issue of drawing district lines back in 2001:

One day in the spring of 2001, about a year after the loss to Rush, Obama walked into the Stratton Office Building, in Springfield, a shabby nineteen-fifties government workspace for state officials next to the regal state capitol. He went upstairs to a room that Democrats in Springfield called “the inner sanctum.” Only about ten Democratic staffers had access; entry required an elaborate ritual—fingerprint scanners and codes punched into a keypad. The room was large, and unremarkable except for an enormous printer and an array of computers with big double monitors. On the screens that spring day were detailed maps of Chicago, and Obama and a Democratic consultant named John Corrigan sat in front of a terminal to draw Obama a new district. Corrigan was the Democrat in charge of drawing all Chicago districts, and he also happened to have volunteered for Obama in the campaign against Rush.

Like every other Democratic legislator who entered the inner sanctum, Obama began working on his “ideal map.” Corrigan remembers two things about the district that he and Obama drew. First, it retained Obama’s Hyde Park base—he had managed to beat Rush in Hyde Park—then swooped upward along the lakefront and toward downtown. By the end of the final redistricting process, his new district bore little resemblance to his old one. Rather than jutting far to the west, like a long thin dagger, into a swath of poor black neighborhoods of bungalow homes, Obama’s map now shot north, encompassing about half of the Loop, whose southern portion was beginning to be transformed by developers like Tony Rezko, and stretched far up Michigan Avenue and into the Gold Coast, covering much of the city’s economic heart, its main retail thoroughfares, and its finest museums, parks, skyscrapers, and lakefront apartment buildings. African-Americans still were a majority, and the map contained some of the poorest sections of Chicago, but Obama’s new district was wealthier, whiter, more Jewish, less blue-collar, and better educated. It also included one of the highest concentrations of Republicans in Chicago.

“It was a radical change,” Corrigan said. The new district was a natural fit for the candidate that Obama was in the process of becoming. “He saw that when we were doing fund-raisers in the Rush campaign his appeal to, quite frankly, young white professionals was dramatic.”

In the end, Obama’s North Side fund-raising base and his South Side political base were united in one district. He now represented Hyde Park operators like Lois Friedberg-Dobry as well as Gold Coast doyennes like Bettylu Saltzman, and his old South Side street operative Al Kindle as well as his future consultant David Axelrod. In an article in the Hyde Park Herald about how “partisan” and “undemocratic” Illinois redistricting had become, Obama was asked for his views. As usual, he was candid. “There is a conflict of interest built into the process,” he said. “Incumbents drawing their own maps will inevitably try to advantage themselves.”

That Ryan Lizza article concludes, “The partisan redistricting of Illinois may have been the most important event in Obama’s early political life. It immediately gave him the two things he needed to run for the Senate in 2004: money and power.”

I guess what Axelrod means is that drawing district lines to maximize political advantage is wrong and harmful to democracy when the other guys do it.

Tags: David Axelrod , Barack Obama , Redistricting

Why Can’t We Create Our Own Narratives?


Also in today’s Morning Jolt . . .

Stealing From the Obama-Axelrod Narrative Management Playbook

So, a few quick thoughts on the “reinvention of the GOP” topic . . .

One of the things the Democrats do well is identify something that a wide swath of people think is a problem — some nut job shot up a kindergarten class! — and then quickly propose some legislation to “do something about it.” Now, we’re left to point out that the legislation in question won’t really solve the problem it’s supposed to, and it will create its own problems, but by that point we’re following a familiar media playbook; they’re the ones who care and who are trying to DO SOMETHING and we’re the carping obstructionists who get all wrapped up in the details.

The upside of our annoying focus on details and pesky wariness about unforeseen consequences is that we’re much less likely to end up passing legislation that accidentally bans police officers from carrying guns with more than seven rounds, as Democrats in New York recently did.

So, why can’t we find something broadly recognized as a problem and offer our own this-must-pass-immediately-or-you-don’t-care-about-the-problem ultimatum?

Here’s one of the first examples that comes to mind: What is the single least popular bit of federal spending? Whatever it is, introduce and vote on a bill to zero it out immediately.

Alternatively, what is the federal agency with the single worst rate of waste and inefficiency? Introduce and pass a bill to cut its budget in half. Turn those into crusades, hold press conferences, get the lawmakers out on the Sunday shows to invoke it as a “basic first step to getting our fiscal house in order”, and so on. It doesn’t matter if the actual dollar amount involved is minuscule in comparison to the debt and this year’s deficit; the point is to A) get Americans used to the idea that government spending can be cut, B) persuade Americans that cracking down on wasteful spending is worthwhile, and C) test the Democrats to see if they’re dumb enough to go out and defend the worst offenders.

The worst-case scenario is that the Democrats go along with it, like when they quickly capitulated over ACORN funding. But in that case, we’ve managed to actually cut a little government waste — not such a bad outcome.

Let the Democrats dismiss this maneuver as a stunt; what exactly would we call Dianne Feinstein displaying 10 assault rifles during her press conference on the assault-weapons ban?

My nomination? All of the U.S. Department of Agriculture grants to various industries to promote American products. Looking at examples like this one . . .

Leo Ray, owner of Fish Processors of Idaho, learned Friday that his business won a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to promote his caviar nationwide. Ray received a Value-Added Producer Grant, designed to help farmers advertise new products and build economies in rural communities.

Various industries can promote their own darn products; there’s no reason for U.S. taxpayers to pick up the tab.

Looking through Tom Coburn’s catalogue of wasteful spending . . . Okay, Democrats, we will raise taxes. Let’s declare that professional sports leagues do not qualify as “nonprofits.” That’s $91 million in new tax revenue right there.

Could you imagine if GOP lawmakers in Congress suddenly started pounding the table and insisting that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell* and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman pay their fair share? You would see the GOP suddenly the hero of the world of sports talk radio, that’s for sure.

Keep in mind, the Obama agenda for the coming year is to bring up issue after issue that either divides Republicans or leaves them defending an unpopular position: on all the spending fights, he’s going to paint the opposition as misers who want to toss old people into the cold and cut off help for families with disabled children. On climate change, we’re flat-earth types who defend polluters and don’t want to stop natural disasters. On immigration, we’ll be painted as xenophobic racists who fly into paranoid rages when Mexican restaurants don’t immediately offer us the mild salsa with our chips. On every issue, the theme is the same: “We all agree that X is a problem [even though not all of us really do], and we have a solution, and the GOP is being obstructionist.”

Wouldn’t it be nice to interrupt this parade of Axelrod focus-group-tested wedge issues with some issues of our own? Kurt Schlichter had the right approach:

Obama is now talking about taxing the successful even more by eliminating deductions. Hand him another big goose egg. He got his tax increases — you need to be out of the revenue increase business. How about the House pass a payroll tax cut, paid for by slashing corporate welfare to Obama’s Hollywood buddies and his green energy scam cronies?

Spending cuts? Obama doesn’t get a say. Sequestration is going to happen unless the GOP agrees to change it. That’s a $1.2 trillion cut. Let it happen, and let Secretary Hagel deal with the defense cuts. Obama loses again unless you save him.

And guns — talk about a golden opportunity to defeat Obama while also helping set the stage for a Democrat wipe-out in 2014! Obama and his progressive pals are giddy with the idea that Newtown will let them jam through a whole slew of Second Amendment-trashing measures before everyone starts thinking again. If Obama’s actually foolish enough to proceed — and I am not sure he is — he’s setting himself up for a huge loss.

GOP, remember Napoleon’s admonition to never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. Let Obama try and force the red state Democrat senators to come out against guns. Let the Democrats tear themselves up while we watch and gobble popcorn.

UPDATE: In the original version, I stepped into the time machine and referred to “NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.” Hey, be glad I didn’t say “Pete Rozelle”!

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Government

The Video Game Scapegoat Reappears


Hey, young voters. This is David Axelrod, the chief strategist of the president you voted for, 60 percent to 37 percent: “In NFL post-game: an ad for shoot ‘em up video game. All for curbing weapons of war. But shouldn’t we also quit marketing murder as a game?”

“Shoot ‘em up video games” are played by millions of people, selling millions of copies. There have been 62 mass shootings since 1982, according to one count. So we have an activity that is not proven to stir a murderous impulse in its users (certainly some mass killers did not play video games, i.e, Nidal Hassan); roughly one million “shoot ‘em up video games” are sold for each mass shooter.

What’s more, it appears what is really irking Axelrod is the television commercial for the shoot ‘em up video game.

Now, one could argue that after an event as horrific as Newtown, companies should refrain from airing ads that depict violence – less out of a fear of triggering copycats or encouraging violence than simple sensitivity to the mood of the viewing public.

But what appears to be bothering Axelrod is the act of shooting one’s opponent in a video game, and the notion that the video-game version of that act that could somehow stir a desire to do the same in real life. But for 99.999 percent of the population, games are games – otherwise players of the “Sim” series would be filled with delusions of all-encompassing divine power, Super Mario players would jump atop mushrooms, players of the “Risk” board game would conquer nations, and those who play “Monopoly” would become corporate raiders.

Tags: David Axelrod , Video Games

The Time Obama Made Political Attacks Hours After Islamist Violence


President Obama and his team would never seize upon the news of a deadly attack in the Muslim world to attack a political opponent, right?

Eh, let’s look back to December 2007, when Benazir Bhutto’s assassination became a big topic in the Democratic presidential primary, just days before the Iowa caucus: “Three hours after news of Bhutto’s slaying broke, Obama delivered a withering rebuke of Clinton’s experience, depicting her lengthy political resume as a hindrance to solving big problems, including crises abroad.”

Then there was the comment from David Axelrod:

Axelrod, a senior Obama strategist, was more direct, linking the Pakistani crisis to the different positions that Clinton and Obama took on the Iraq war in 2002, when Clinton voted to authorize it in the U.S. Senate, and Obama, then an Illinois state senator, spoke out against it.

“Obama opposed the war in Iraq explicitly because he feared it would divert our attention from al-Qaeda, Pakistan, the whole region,” Axelrod said. “It underscores the fact that you have to have a president who understands the world, who is going to analyze these events, and who will chart the right course, counter to the conventional thinking.”

Surely Obama would rebuke his longtime aide, arguing that the killing of an anti-Taliban Pakistan leader by extremists shouldn’t be used as a political cudgel, and that hours after such an atrocity is an inappropriate time to make such heated political charges, right? Of course not.

OBAMA: : He was asked — he was asked very specifically about the argument that the Clinton folks were making that somehow this was going to change the dynamic of politics in Iowa. First of all, that shouldn’t have been the question. The question should be, how is this going to impact the safety and security of the United States, not how is it going to affect a political campaign in Iowa. His response was simply to say that if we are going to talk politics, then the question has to be, who has exercised the kind of judgment that would be more likely to lead to better outcomes in the Middle East and better outcomes in Pakistan. His argument was simply that Iraq has fanned anti-American sentiment and it took our eye off the ball, to the extent that there are those who are claiming now that their experience somehow makes them superior to deal with these issues. I think it’s important for the Americans people to look at the judgments they made in the past. And the experienced hands in Washington have not made particularly good judgments when it comes to dealing with these problems. That’s part of the reason we’re in this circumstance.

Obama was actually right then, and the griping about Romney now is wrong. If you believe that different parties and different leaders will give you different policies, and that different policies will give you different results, then these sorts of things have to be discussed.

If a presidential candidate thinks that embassy statements “condemn[ing] the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims” suggest weakness, or that the United States believes that we believe that outraged protesters have legitimate reasons for their rage, or imply that the U.S. government has some sort of legal or censoring authority in these matters, he should say so. If he thinks that a too-optimistic view of the “Arab Spring” has left the administration to underestimate anti-American attitudes and threats to Americans overseas, he should say so. If he thinks that roughly $1 billion per year in foreign aid, and a proposed additional $1 billion in debt forgiveness for Egypt are bad ideas, he should say so.

Who knows, maybe President Obama will discuss these issues at tonight’s fundraiser at a private residence in Washington, D.C., the one that is closed to the press.

Or maybe he’ll discuss his thoughts on the news that “Muslim Brotherhood secretary general Mahmoud Hussein called for protests ‘in front of the mosques of the whole country … to show the whole Egyptian people’s anger.’”

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Hillary Clinton , Pakistan

Pro-Romney SuperPAC Barely Outspending
Pro-Obama One


David Axelrod, two weeks ago:

“It’s a great concern,” Axelrod said in an interview with WJLA ABC 7, a station owned by POLITICO’s corporate parent. “People are writing $10 million checks in one fell swoop to these super PACs — in many cases, they’re undisclosed.”

Yesterday, the pro-Obama SuperPAC “Priorities USA Action” filed a report saying they were spending $3.3 million, the third-largest sum of the entire campaign cycle, on television advertising. Much of it will be to fund the airing of this ad:

The fourth- and fifth-highest sums of this cycle also come from Priorities USA Action; $3.1 million spent in a report filed June 5 and $2.24 million spent in a report filed mid-May.

Of course, the two highest expenditures of the cycle were from the pro-Romney SuperPAC, Restore Our Future, Inc., which spent $4.9 million on ads hitting Newt Gingrich back in late January. The single largest expenditure of any SuperPAC in the cycle came about ten days ago, when Restore Our Future committed $7.1 million for television advertising, much of it on this ad:

In short, even though Obama’s SuperPAC ally is spending less than Romney’s allies, in the month of June the margin is pretty close — $6.4 million for anti-Romney ads to $7.1 million for anti-Obama ads.

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Mitt Romney , SuperPACs

How the Obama Campaign Spends Its Money


Over on the home page, I dive into the spreadsheets to look at how the Obama campaign has spent $148.7 million so far. One of the fun sections was the food:

FOOD: It is claimed that Napoleon said that “armies march on their stomachs,” and the same is true for campaigns. The Obama campaign spent $96,389.41 on catering/facilities. The largest single expenditure in that category was $13,128.72 to Big Delicious Planet catering in Chicago. The campaign also spent $2,571.27 at a Subway sandwich shop in Columbus, Ind.

Nationwide, the Obama campaign has clear preferences for coffee; it spent $552.67 at Dunkin’ Donuts, $389.85 at Einstein Bros. Bagels, $229.22 at Starbucks, and only $183.15 at Caribou Coffee. The campaign has spent $239.38 at 7-Eleven.

The Obama campaign appears to run on pizza: $2,084.37 went to Domino’s Pizza, $1,774.78 went to Pizzanno’s Pizza, $1,167.45 went to Papa John’s, $834.03 went to Pizza Hut, and $362 went to Little Caesars.

(One hopes Michelle Obama won’t find out that some Obama campaign staffer in Winston-Salem, N.C., spent $239.39 at Krispy Kreme.)

That’s right, the Obama campaign has spent $6,222 on pizza so far.

And if you have ever wondered how much David Axelrod charges the Obama campaign:

The man most publicly associated with the Obama campaign, the president’s longtime strategist David Axelrod, is not directly paid by the campaign. Instead, his firm, Axelrod Strategies LLC, is listed as receiving 24 payments totaling $181,582, with most months including a $15,000 payment for “consulting/professional services/media” and then a separate payment of a three- or four-digit sum to cover travel and lodging costs.

UPDATE: A Republican chuckles that the Obama campaign is spending a lot of money at Dunkin’ Donuts, owned in part by . . . Mitt Romney’s old firm, Bain Capital.

Tags: Barack Obama , Campaign Fundraising , David Axelrod

Is Obama Blowing This Election Before Our Eyes?


I’ll be on Chuck Todd’s Daily Rundown on MSNBC this morning, towards the end of the show on the roundtable. Topics to be determined . . .

From the final Morning Jolt until June 25:

Is Obama Blowing This Election Before Our Eyes?

There will inevitably be twists and turns in the coming months, but . . . is this thing starting to feel like a foregone conclusion to anybody else? I just keep waiting for some other shoe to drop, some much better line of argument from Obama, some genuinely devastating ad, some new bit of evidence that the Obama policies are working, and it feels like . . . fffft . . . One wet noodle after another.

Here’s a good question: When’s the last time President Obama came back from any point in his presidency? Probably the bin Laden kill, right? I look at the Gallup approval rating since the beginning, and it seems like Obama has been in the 40s since about April 2010 or so. Sometimes he’s in the high 40s, sometimes it’s in the low 40s. He’s at 46 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval right now. That disapproval rating has been in the 40s since late 2009 and hit 50-51 percent a few times last year.

Mind you, I don’t want to get overconfident, and after watching five straight presidential elections either go badly for Republicans or go down to the wire, the notion of a solid, strengthening GOP wave through the summer and autumn seems . . . odd and hard to process.

Bryan Preston:

There’s a zeitgeist in the air over the last few weeks, and the polls confirm it: President Obama is flailing as he comes to grips with campaigning to keep his job. Several of his 2008 states are now in play, including Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada, Virginia and North Carolina. While he flails, he sinks, and Mitt Romney has emerged from a bruising primary battle looking like he could win.

The shift in the campaign is not happening by accident. The fact is, the RNC and the Romney campaign have come into the general election swinging, and swinging with great effect..

It has been less than a month since Mitt Romney officially clinched the GOP nomination by winning the Texas primary on May 29. But in the weeks since then, Obama has not had one single good day. From awful jobs numbers to the “private sector is doing fine” to the debacle in Wisconsin and the raw exposed divisions within the Democratic Party over his tactics and rhetoric, Obama has been suffering a flurry of terrors. He is looking like a loser for the first time in his career, and neither he nor David Axelrod seems to know what to do about it. The June 8 press conference was supposed to right their ship, but Obama’s private sector comment just made things worse, so less than a week later the nation gets treated to . . . yet another speech. We’ve seen this about as often as we’ve watch[ed] Gilligan’s Island re-runs in syndication. It won’t move the needle unless Obama does something dramatic, but that would cut into his “no drama Obama” schtick and might look desperate. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, looks relaxed on the campaign trail while his message is fostering zero friction among the GOP. Romney has not made the sale yet, but no one should expect him to this early. He just has to stay on message and stay on offense through the conventions, and then come out from there looking like a plausible president with ideas for fixing the economy.

Anyway, here’s how David Axelrod began his fundraising e-mail of last night:

This is a make-or-break moment for middle-class Americans — and anyone who cares needs to watch the speech President Obama made in Cleveland today.

Make-or-break moment? Dude, the middle-class Americans are like the Costa Concordia right now. Already broken. That moment passed. Now we’re looking at the rebuilding stage. The message from the Obama team is, ‘Careful, Mitt Romney would louse up this fantastic recovery we’re enjoying.’

So how was Obama’s big speech in Ohio greeted? Mediaite, bring us up to speed!

“I thought this, honestly, was one of the least successful speeches I’ve seen Barack Obama give in several years,” said Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter. “It was long winded. He had a good argument to make, and at the beginning of the speech he seemed to be making it in a fairly compelling way but then he lost the thread.”

Alter said he thought the speech was “way too long” and Obama had “lost the audience by the end.”

Daily Beast columnist and economist Zachary Karabell agreed with Alter, saying that the President opened the speech well, but quickly lost the plot.

When he went, sort of, away from offense and on to defense, ‘what we’ve done and what we’re going to do,’ it became unbelievably diffuse and, in some sense purely as a political phenomenon it was very ineffective in that respect because it very well characterized the opponents as ‘this is not going to work’ but it didn’t really give you the sense of what will.

MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall attempted to clarify the President’s points for her panelists, seeing that the conversation was rapidly spiraling into pointedly off-message territory. Hall said that Obama made a key point that a Romney administration will rely on a more laissez faire approach to tax policy which, in her opinion, would hurt the middle class.

Relax, Mr. President. You’ll always have Tamron.

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Mitt Romney

Not Even Young Axelrod Is a Reliable Surrogate for Obama!


The Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt looks at the parts of the Democratic party that aren’t as interested in adapting their agenda and worldview in order to win elections, some revealing comments in focus groups of frustrated former Obama voters, and then . . .

We Would Have Liked David Axelrod Eighteen Years Ago

Back in 1994, David Axelrod sounded like a really smart guy:

In 1994, Democrats faced a similar challenge, and a C-SPAN roundtable mulled the issue.

One of its members, Democratic consultant David Axelrod, sounded then a bit like the Clintonites do today.

“One of the interesting things about this is that as you cite these statistics that say the economy is improving, you almost do political damage to yourself. If you stand up and claim great progress you’re only frustrating this alienated middle class more,” Axelrod said.

The moderator, John Callaway, noted that Ronald Reagan had been able to talk up the economy in 1984, while George H. W. Bush had been unable to in 1992.

“Bush tastelessly did it often from the ninth hole and from the cigar boat and other places. And the impression you got was that he was out of touch,” Axelrod said.

“You still like to beat up on Bush?” Callaway asked.

“It’s the only thing we have left,” Axelrod responded.

Man, not even Young Axelrod’s a reliable surrogate for the Obama campaign.

Allahpundit savors this: “Enjoy as one of the masterminds of Hopenchange kneecaps his future self not once but twice in a 61-second span. Turns out it’s a bad idea to try to B.S. the public with economic optimism when they’re not feeling optimistic, and it’s a really bad idea to try to do it when you’re known for spending your leisure time engaged in the ultimate stereotypical rich-guy pastime. Eighteen years, a catastrophic global recession, and 100 rounds of golf later, here we are.”

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod

Romney Video Hits Obama on ‘Doing Fine’


I’m starting to wonder if the story of the 2012 campaign will be unforced errors. The Romney campaign takes Obama’s “doing fine” comment and turns it into a slam-dunk web video:

How long until the 30-second ads with this message?

Meanwhile, David Axelrod had a . . . challenging time with a yes-or-no question this morning on the Sunday shows:

Notice that Axelrod always says “we created 4.3 million private-sector jobs” instead of “the private sector created 4.3 million jobs.”

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Mitt Romney

After Long Days of Fundraising, Obama Returns to Fundraising


The optics of the day:

David Axelrod is insisting that results showing a 7-point Scott Walker win last night is bad news for Mitt Romney.

Bill Clinton said in a CNBC interview, “there’s a recession,” and his spokesman had to issue a statement explaining he didn’t really mean it.

The Greek government is declaring “government coffers could be empty as soon as July, shortly after this month’s pivotal elections. In the worst case, Athens might have to temporarily stop paying for salaries and pensions, along with imports of fuel, food and pharmaceuticals.”

Obama will spend today and tomorrow doing fundraisers in California.

And the RNC is showcasing Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s declaration that the Wisconsin recall would be a “dry run” of the Democrats get-out-the-vote operations.

It’s not that surprising that Obama and the Democrats are in trouble. What is surprising is that he and his fellow party leaders are absolutely convinced that they’re not in trouble.

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Democrats , Wisconsin

David Axelrod Reaches New Depth of Desperation in Spin


David Axelrod just Tweeted: “Bad night in Boston…WI raises big questions for Mitt.”

He points to this article: “According to early, partial exit poll results, voters on Tuesday said by 51 percent to 45 percent that they would vote for Obama if the presidential election were being held today.”

So, he’s pointing to exit polls that had it “too close to call”; at this hour, Walker is ahead by nine percentage points.

9 – 6 = 3.

Remember, this is a state that Obama won by 14 percentage points in 2008.

Tags: David Axelrod , Wisconson

The Dueling Themes of the Day


For the Obama campaign and Democrats, it’s “Spotlight Romney as Governor” Day.

David Axelrod — you know, the political strategist who routinely attends national-security meetings — will be in Boston, to hold a press conference in front of the State House in Boston to discuss “Mitt Romney’s economic philosophy and his failed economic record in Massachusetts.” Axelrod will warn that under Romney, Massachusetts’s unemployment rate changed from 5.6 percent to 4.7 percent, and that if elected, Romney would inflict the same pain and suffering to all of America.

For the Romney campaign and Republicans, it’s “Spotlight Solyndra Day.” They’ve unveiled a 22-page briefing on the Solyndra scandal.

And, of course, a video:

Tags: David Axelrod , Massachusetts , Solyndra

Cory Booker’s Conscience Held Hostage, Day One


On Morning Joe, Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s subsequent video explaining that he has no real quarrel with the tactics and methods of the Obama campaign is compared to a “hostage tape.”

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On Twitter this morning, I’ve been… extending the metaphor.

“One image says it all: The flag of the seal of Newark, being burned by angry crowd of Obama staffers outside Booker’s embassy gates…  Ever since Shah Daley left the Obama camp, there has been fear that the radical young students had taken over the movement… Analysts note that in his hostage tape, Booker blinks in Morse code, ‘MY CITY STILL NEEDS A THRIVING FINANCIAL SECTOR.’ … A figure with ties to both the Obama camp and high finance, like Jon Corzine, may be permitted to visit Booker’s conscience in captivity…. The angry mob of Obama staffers is now chanting, “DOWN WITH THE GREAT LIEBERMAN,” an ancient figure associated with betrayal in their faith… In an ominous development for the fate of Booker’s conscience, Ayatollah Axelrod has declared it guilty of “apostasy against our deity.” When Booker’s conscience called the Bain attacks “crap” and “nauseating”, he committed blasphemy under the strict orthodoxy of Obamism… All across the country, candlelight vigils are beginning, with millions praying for the safe release of Cory Booker’s conscience.”

It’s best enjoyed while listening to the classic Nightline themes, found here.

Tags: Barack Obama , Cory Booker , David Axelrod

Now Axelrod Is Fuming, ‘Booker!’


In the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Suddenly David Axelrod Is Fuming a Christie-Esque ‘Booker!’

Newark Mayor Cory Booker… not only does he save people from burning buildings, not only does he shovel sidewalks, not only does he do hilarious videos with Chris Christie… he even calls them as he sees them, even if it really, really complicates life for the president of his party:

Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark, a prominent Democrat enlisted as a surrogate for President Obama’s campaign, sharply criticized it on Sunday for attacking Mitt Romney’s work at the private equity firm Bain Capital.

Mr. Booker, speaking on the NBC program “Meet the Press,” made his comments in response to a television advertisement the president’s campaign unveiled last week. It portrays Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, as someone who eliminated jobs for the sake of profits during his years running Bain Capital.

“I have to just say, from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity,” Mr. Booker said. “To me, it’s just we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America, especially that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.”

“The last point I’ll make is this kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides,” Mr. Booker continued. “It’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright.”

Did you see what he just did there? He just put attacks on Romney’s years at Bain Capital up there with what the MSM deems the gold standard of unfair attacks, Jeremiah Wright. (Never-mind that a presidential candidate’s mentor being coo coo for cocoa puffs might be relevant to some voters. For that matter, Romney’s management style and judgment at Bain probably ought to be worth a look. But to blame him for every job lost from an investment that failed without crediting him for every job created from an investment that worked is an inane standard, and the vast majority of voters know this.)

And the angry lefties know that Booker just blew up one of their main attacks on Romney for the rest of the year. Whenever anyone in Obama-world mentions Bain between now and November, expect to hear a lot of, “Oh, this is a silly smear and everyone knows it, even Cory Booker wants the Obama campaign to drop these tired, baseless attacks…”

Brett LoGiurato tours the Left’s outrage and betrayal to Booker Sunday:

Cory Booker seemed to shock the left this morning on “Meet the Press.” Calling himself an “Obama surrogate,” he said this when asked about the Obama campaign’s attack ads this week on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital:

“I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America.

“Especially that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people invest in companies like Bain CapitalIf you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this, to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.”

Heads started to roll. Keith Olbermann tweeted that Booker “may have done progressive things, but he believes in nothing but Cory Booker.“ The left-heavy Think Progress went with an unflattering “Booker attacks Obama” headline for the “popular, progressive mayor” from Newark. 

Truth is, though, that Booker has always been thought of as something of a “moderate” or “centrist” Democrat, despite being perhaps their favorite rising star. (He’s going to either run to be New Jersey’s governor in 2013 or for one of its Senate seats in 2014.)

Here’s Cory Booker talking about the labels of Republican and Democrat, and how he wants neither to fully apply to him. 

Over at Salon, Steve Kornacki writes why this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise

Financial support from Wall Street and, more broadly speaking, the investor class has been key to Booker’s rise, and remains key to his future dreams.

That’s because Cory Booker was originally elected to the Newark mayor’s office on the strength of the private-equity types. In 2002, when he narrowly lost his first bid, nearly a quarter of donations to his campaign came from Wall Street. Pretty much all of it, Kornacki writes, was from outside Newark. 

Dylan Byers of Politico notices the Obama campaign is distributing an edited version of Booker’s subsequent remarks:

In an almost four-minute follow up video for his social media followers, Booker explained that Romney’s business record was fair game, and that he was simply frustrated by negative campaigning.

The Obama campaign, however, sent out a different video on Sunday night. On Twitter, Obama campaign press secretary Ben La Bolt tweeted out a 35-second version of the video, which was very likely cut by the Obama campaign (because, when I clicked on La Bolt’s link, it had just 8 views).

What gets lost in the edit is the nuance of Booker’s argument. Watching the 35-second video, you would believe that Booker was flip-flopping from his comments on Meet The Press and going on an all-out assault on Romney. In the four-minute video, Booker stands by his comments — including “nauseating” — and explains that while he does think Romney’s record is fair game, he remains “frustrated” by the Obama campaign’s negative attacks.

In other words, the 35-second video is a reverse of position. The four-minute video is an extenstion of the original argument.

Asked for his response to the ad, RNC spokesman Tim Miller, who has been attacking the ad on Twitter, emailed:

It’s clear this video was orchestrated by the Obama campaign, and as long as he is President any defense of the free market/private sector by members of his party must be silenced and apologized for.

The Obama camp’s Michael-Bay-style editing with a blender set for “puree” screams confidence, doesn’t it?

UPDATE: I’m told that this morning, Joe Scarborough joked that Booker’s follow-up message “clarifying” his remarks “looked like a hostage video.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Cory Booker , David Axelrod , Mitt Romney

David Axelrod, Already Spiking the Football on Gas Prices


David Axelrod, this morning: “Gas prices have been going down for the past six weeks. You think the GOP will blame the President?”

The actual national average gas price in the United States this morning: $3.73. It peaked at a bit above $3.90 earlier this year.

The price of gas, in perspective, over the past five years, according to

As you can see, $3.70 per gallon is still pretty darn high… and for most Americans, slightly less brutally expensive is not really cause for celebration.

As a man who used to driveroughly 20-miles-per-gallon Dodge Caravan, you would think that Axelrod would be more sensitive about the cost of gas.

Tags: David Axelrod

Is Obama Getting His Money’s Worth Out of His Campaign?


In the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt, a lot of Wisconsin talk, and a quick look at gay-marriage laws in the swing states, but notably a question that borders on blasphemous inside the Beltway: For all of their money and incumbency advantages, is the Obama campaign really that good?

Is Obama’s Campaign . . . Really That Good?

In response to some election analysts’ sudden realization that President Obama could very well be the underdog in his matchup with Mitt Romney, Ace writes at the Ace of Spades:

And speaking of events — there are, of course, a lot of unknowns lurking out there, ready to become known at any moment; and one strains one’s imagination trying to think of unknowns which could suddenly spring up which help Barack Obama.

Whereas one has little difficulty thinking of Sudden Events which would damage him further — France and Greece, for example, imploding, while following policies which seem an awful lot closer to Obama’s program than to Mitt Romney’s.

And why even go abroad searching for monsters? What if California or Illinois melts down? What if they default, and/or their bonds stop selling?

The economy seems unlikely to improve dramatically — indeed, it seems softening, worsening, deteriorating. It seems far more likely that, if the economy were to suddenly move from a slowly-degrading flatline, it would deteriorate precipitously, rather than suddenly improve markedly.

A sudden 6% jump in GDP would help Obama . . . but that seems less likely than a -2% double dip of the recession. Neither are very likely at the moment, but the former seems fanciful while the latter seems like a genuine possibility.

Even to the extent that election campaigns matter — Is Obama’s campaign a strong one? . . . Obama’s ads must, due to facts, remain a muddle — it’s bad, but it’s getting better, not quite as bad as it could be. We must do better, because we cannot be satisfied with the horrible economy as it is, but who knows, it could be worse.

The folks in Romney-world would never, in a million years, want to be quoted in a manner that suggests they’re underestimating the competition. They know Obama will have an enormous fundraising advantage, a bully pulpit and megaphone that are simply unparalleled in American life; taxpayers will pick up the tab for untold sums in “official” trips that look and sound like campaign swings, and of course, the media will be much, much tougher on Romney than Obama.

But . . . periodically, when talking to Romney folks, they point out their rivals’ alleged billion-dollar fundraising goal, the 700 full-time staffers, the super-duper high-tech gadgets they have in their Chicago headquarters, and . . . you get the sense that they’re still waiting for the Obama campaign’s much-hyped A-game. This is it? This is what all of those resources and advantages have produced for Obama? “Forward”? The life of Julia? Bill Clinton talking about how terrible a botched SEAL mission would have been for Obama?

Just how great a strategist is David Axelrod? The conventional wisdom inside the Beltway is that he’s a rumpled genius, who saw the enormous potential in a little-known state senator and helped steer Obama’s ambitions all the way to the Oval Office.

Except Barack Obama may have been the luckiest man in American politics from 2004 to 2008. If Jack Ryan’s marriage hadn’t ended the way it had, or if his divorce records had remained sealed, Obama’s Senate race proceeds quite differently. If Illinois Republicans had any kind of a bench in 2004, Obama would not have had the easy lay-up of running against Alan Keyes. (Remember, for about two days, there was talk about the state GOP recruiting Mike Ditka. Ask Gray Davis, Steve Clute, or Norm Coleman what it’s like to run against a local celebrity.)

Then Obama runs for president, and a vote for the Iraq War that was only a minor issue for John Kerry and John Edwards in 2004 is suddenly a very big deal in 2008. Hillary Clinton turns out to be a lot more brittle on the campaign trail than anyone expected — remember driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants — and Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist completely misunderstands how his party allocates delegates.

Then in the general election, Obama is on the verge of blowing it heading into the autumn, even as he’s going up against a Republican who refuses to make an issue of his pastor and mentor, who has since presented himself to the American public as a raving lunatic at the National Press Club. Then Lehman collapses, the economy tanks, and whatever hope McCain and Palin had of swimming against the anti-incumbent, Bush fatigue undertow fades away.

David Axelrod didn’t make any of those things happen. Barack Obama didn’t make any of those things happen. You can argue they responded well, and indeed, that is a big part of politics.

But the Barack Obama of 2009 to 2012 hasn’t responded to events nearly as well as the Obama of 2004 to 2008. Obama has acknowledged this, in a way, when he told disappointed donors last year, “I’m running against the Barack Obama of 2008.”

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod


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