Monday, April 04, 2011

The Washington Post Morning Fix: Obama’s targeted reelection launch

Obama’s targeted reelection launch

By Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake

President Obama entered his 2012 reelection race via a two-minute web video released to supporters this morning, a video that provides a telling window into how – and where – the campaign will focus in the coming months.

The video features five average people advocating for Obama and, as importantly, his style of politics.

Let’s look at the people first.

The first three voices come from three swing states: “Ed”, a white man from North Carolina, “Gladys”, a Hispanic woman from Nevada and “Katherine”, a white woman from Colorado.

The other two – “Mike” and “Alice” – are, respectively, a college-aged white male and a middle-aged African-American woman.

That, in a nutshell, is the Obama electoral coalition (or the one his team hopes to create in 2012): base voters in the Hispanic and black community, energized younger people and the classic swing voter in the new south (North Carolina) and west (Colorado).

And, it’s not surprising. It’s an attempt to replicate Obama’s electoral success in 2008 when he won every swing state but Missouri and put places like Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia, which hadn’t voted for a Democrat in decades, in his camp.

What’s more telling is what each of the five people say in the video, as it provides a glimpse into how a candidate who ran on changing Washington will position himself running four years later as the incumbent.

“I don’t agree with Obama on everything,” says Ed. “But I respect him and I trust him.”

That idea will be at the core of the Obama reelection message. Put simply: ‘You may not agree with me on everything but you know I always have your best interests at heart.’

It’s a message aimed directly at independent voters who resist what they view as overly partisan governance and tend to be attracted by politicians who think they are doing what’s right no matter the political consequences.

That’s the group Obama must win back – independents went for Republican candidates by 19 points in 2010 – to claim a second term. And, judging from his announcement video, that’s the group he is talking to first and foremost in this campaign.

David Brock super PAC staffs up: Rodell Mollineau, a former communications aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has signed on as president of American Bridge 21st Century, a so-called super PAC with ties to liberal operative David Brock that aims to play a major role in the 2012 elections.

Mollineau, who spent the last four years overseeing the Senate Democratic Communications Center, will be joined by Bradley Beychok, who will serve as the group’s campaign director. Beychok managed Louisiana Rep. Charlie Melancon’s (D) unsuccessful 2010 Senate campaign.

The goal of American Bridge is to build an outside infrastructure to rival that of American Crossroads, the very successful conservative-aligned group that spent tens of millions of dollars on the 2010 election. Like Crossroads, the new group has both a super PAC, which can accept unlimited contributions and spend on direct advocacy for or against candidates, and a 501(c)(4) non-profit.

Brock, a former Republican, has become a force on the left — first by starting the media watchdog Media Matters for America and now with the Super PAC.

It’s not clear whether American Bridge will grow into the dominant outside organization among liberals, though. Two former White House aides, Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, are expected to start an outside vehicle of their own that would almost certainly compete with American Bridge for donations.

Lewis gets in NM-01 race: With Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich running for Senate in New Mexico, the race to take his 1st district House seat is on.

After Democratic state Sen. Eric Griego announced Friday (before Heinrich even made his Senate run official) that he’s forming an exploratory committee, Albuquerque City Councilman Dan Lewis on Sunday became the first Republican in the race. Lewis was a pastor and a businessman before winning his city council seat two years ago.

New Mexico’s 1st is a swing district that Democrats took in 2008 for the first time since its creation 40 years earlier. But it has drifted towards Democrats in recent years, including going 60 percent for President Obama in 2008, so Democrats should have the early edge.

Hahn falls shy of party endorsement: A majority of California Democratic Party delegates backed Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn for the 36th congressional district special election on Saturday. But she fell just shy of the 60 percent she needed to get the party’s official endorsement in the race to replace ex-Rep. Jane Harman (D).

Hahn took 57 percent of the delegates’ votes, while California Secretary of State Debra Bowen got 39 percent.

Under California’s new “top two” election rules, which are being tested for the first time in this election, the two candidates with the most votes in an open primary advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. Democrats already had a system for endorsing candidates by local delegates’ vote at a pre-primary summit.

In a statement, Hahn called the vote “a game-changer in this campaign, and it sends a strong message that I am the choice for Democrats in California’s 36th congressional district.” Bowen argued in her own statement that the results show the party was “clearly divided.”

Harpootlian to run for S.C. Dem chair: Former South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian will attempt to reclaim his old post.

The very quotable and often politically incorrect Harpootlian earned 15 minutes of fame in early 2008 for accusing Hillary Clinton of using reprehensible tactics that he compared to something infamous GOP strategist Lee Atwater would use. Bill Clinton responded with an impromptu five-minute rant when asked about the quote.

Harpootlian will face two other candidates at the state party convention on April 30.


  • Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has hired Wes Enos, who was former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s 2008 Iowa political director. Enos will advise Bachmann’s PAC, though the hiring is geared toward when Bachmann launches her presidential campaign.

  • Former senator John Sununu goes after Sarah Palin and Donald Trump in the Boston Globe: “For the record, I do not view Palin or Trump as a threat to the republic. But like the framers, I have always felt ill at ease with officeholders or candidates who are too enamored with the idea of holding a particular office.”


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