With the closing of U.S. embassies in Muslim countries around the world, the White House is putting out word that while it has claimed al Qaeda’s “core” in Pakistan is on the ropes, it has acknowledged that al Qaeda’s affiliates elsewhere are not.
But President Obama was not so keen on making such subtle distinctions during the campaign. The gist of his reelection message was that al Qaeda itself was headed on a fast track for the dustbin of history. Less than a year ago, Obama himself was suggesting all of al Qaeda was on the road to extinction.
“The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Al Qaeda has been decimated,” Obama said during a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin November 1, 2012. “Osama bin Laden is dead. So we’ve made real progress these past four years.”
“Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat,” Obama declared during remarks in Columbus, Ohio on the final day of the campaign.
That phrase, it would appear, is no longer operative.
A campaign organization is a terrible thing to waste.
So the Obama campaign CONTINUES TO OPERATE, summoning the millions on its campaign email list to badger their representatives to support President Obama’s position on the fiscal cliff.
Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter is apparently still milling around campaign headquarters. She sent me – I’m on their list – a message telling me to call my member of Congress right away.
Here’s a suggestion on what to say — feel free to improvise and let your representative’s office know why you’re personally supporting the President’s plan:
“Hi, I’m Keith. As a voter from your district, I support the President’s plan to extend tax cuts for 98 percent of American families — $2,000 a year means a lot to me and to middle-class families here in Pennsylvania. I urge Representative Thompson to sign the petition forcing the House to vote on the Senate-passed bill, and to vote “yes” if it reaches the floor.”
Once you’ve called your representative’s office, please report back and let us know how it went:
Well, the vaunted Obama campaign machine thinks I live in Pennsylvania – I live in Virginia – and told me to call the wrong representative. But I assume they’re getting most of these right.
Poor interns working in these offices getting caller after caller numbly repeating the same line.
I have to hand it to the Obama people. One thing I can be pretty sure of – the Republicans aren’t doing anything similar.
Did you view President Obama’s website? Well, now President Obama’s website is viewing you.
That’s right, the Obama 2012 campaign site deposited “cookies” on your computer that track your movements across the web.
Now, this is fairly standard stuff. The Romney website surely did the same thing, although not nearly as well.
But according to a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal by L.Gordon Crovitz, the Obama team was “even more assiduous than online retailers like Best Buy” at dropping cookies onto your computer. It did this, of course, to find out what messages would work best with you to obtain your vote and your money.
From the piece:
Big data give incumbents a big advantage, which seems to have surprised the Romney team. The Obama campaign has used cookies to track its supporters online since the 2008 election. It spent the past 18 months creating a new, unified database, factoring in some 80 pieces of information about each person, from age, race and sex to voting history. (The campaign denied reports that it tracked visits to pornography sites in its outreach algorithms.)
The Romney campaign says it tried to match the Obama campaign’s collection and analysis of data but had to start from scratch and had just seven months after the primaries.
But what really creeps one out about all this is that these people are working for the President of the United States and routinely push a revolving door between the campaign and the White House, where some worked before and where some will surely be getting jobs.
Of course, the campaign and the White House are not permitted to share information.
This is yet another terrain on which the Obamaites out-sophisticated the politically pre-Cro-Magnon Romneyites. If Republicans want to play on the same turf as the Dems, they’d better get their cookies together fast.
President Obama plans to use his massive campaign organization to assist him in his battles with Republicans as he seeks to drive forward his second term agenda.
In an email Thursday to the Obama 2012 campaign’s massive list, Campaign Chairman Jim Messina indicated the organization’s role will shift from advocating Obama’s candidacy to using mass action to press for his policies.
How we got here must guide where we go. If we’re going to accomplish the things America voted for on Tuesday, you’ve got to be even more involved in getting them done than you were in giving us all the chance.
We’ll be in touch soon about how we can get started on some of the President’s top priorities in his second term.
Obama used his 2008 campaign infrastructure during his first term to try to further his objectives. But the apparatus today is far larger and much better organized than in 2009 and 2010, when it helped the president barely tug Obamacare over the finish line in Congress.
The campaign has developed detailed profiles of its supporters and has an excellent idea about who it can tap to participate in rallies, contact lawmakers, and organize others in support of Obama initiatives.
Messina’s decision to immediately let supporters know they will be enlisted for further action suggests that the first order of business for them could be the looming battle over tax increases and spending cuts needed to avert the “fiscal cliff.”
But the organization could have an even more powerful impact during what is expected to be an emotional 2013 battle over immigration reform. Obama’s massive Election Day support from Latinos and backers of his immigration stance will no doubt be translated into direct, populist action next year.
President Obama went all Boehner on everyone while thanking his staff at campaign headquarters in Chicago Wednesday.
The president wept while telling the assembled authors of the nastiest campaign in history how proud he was of them.
Campaign Manager Jim Messina sent the video out to supporters Thursday evening because, he said, “It’s a message every single person who helped build this campaign deserves to see. He wasn’t just talking to those of us in the office — he was talking to all of you.”
If you’re having trouble getting through it, the weepiness begins at 3:25.
One intriguing note – the Obama campaign is apparently still collecting email addresses. The link provided by Messina in his email takes you to a page with the video on it that asks you to provide your name and email address, as well as the email addresses of up to ten people you want to share the video with.
President Obama’s campaign organization is the greatest political machine in modern history.
How it was possible to take a moribund economy, high unemployment, and no detectable foreign policy and turn it into a sweeping electoral victory over a credible opponent is one of the great political stories of our time.
Plouffe, Messina, Axelrod. Political geniuses who wiped away forever the Clinton campaign axiom, “It’s the economy, stupid,” and replaced it with, “It’s the Community Organizing, Stupid.”
A few years ago, I was talking to a Democratic member of Congress who is close to Obama. She who told me of seeing him on the podium as Obama was trumpeting his victory in the 2008 Iowa Caucuses over Hillary Clinton, the win that propelled him to the Democratic nomination and, ultimately, the presidency.
“Nothing like a little community organizing,” Obama told her.
More than anything – more than changing demographics, Hurricane Sandy, the Romney campaign’s mistakes – or anything else – it was the Obama campaign’s relentless organization and prodding of its supporters and independents that made Obama’s success a reality.
The campaign collected peoples emails and addresses anyplace they could find them – from beauty salons to campaign rallies. They used them effectively, asking repeatedly through personalized messages for people’s money or their time.
I was signed up for the Obama campaign’s emails. They each began, “Keith.” I was signed up for the Romney campaign emails. They each began, “Friend.”
I’m not any campaign’s friend. I am Keith.
And on Election Day, Obama’s vast organization got everyone to the polls.
It is estimated that more black people, not fewer, voted in 2012 than 2008. More Latinos voted, not fewer, and an even greater percentage of them supported Obama this time. The youth vote did not decline from 2008. All this despite flagging enthusiasm for the president.
Here’s a telling anecdote related by a senior Obama aide to the press pool on Wednesday’s flight from Chicago back to Washington.
During flight, a campaign official talked about the ground game on background . . .
In describing the ground game, the official told of a conversation he had with a top field director on Monday. The GOP had tweeted that they had knocked on 75,000 doors in Ohio the day prior. Not to worry, the director said, “we knocked on 376,000.”
Then the president came in, and this aide said, “Tell him the door thing.” So he did. And the president responded, “That’s my team.”
That was not Romney’s team. Romney’s team was back in Boston Tuesday night, watching in awe:
In Chicago, the campaign recruited a team of behavioral scientists to build an extraordinarily sophisticated database packed with names of millions of undecided voters and potential supporters. The ever-expanding list let the campaign find and register new voters who fit the demographic pattern of Obama backers and methodically track their views through thousands of telephone calls every night.
That allowed the Obama campaign not only to alter the very nature of the electorate, making it younger and less white, but also to create a portrait of shifting voter allegiances. The power of this operation stunned Mr. Romney’s aides on election night, as they saw voters they never even knew existed turn out in places like Osceola County, Fla. “It’s one thing to say you are going to do it; it’s another thing to actually get out there and do it,” said Brian Jones, a senior adviser.
Brian Jones and company didn’t do it. According to a fascinating piece by Sean Trende at RealClearPolitics, turnout, far more than the “changing demographics” everyone is talking about, was the key to Obama’s victory.
And who didn’t turn out? White people, who overwhelmingly backed Romney when they did make it to the polls. Republicans need to attract more minority voters. But if white voters don’t show up, they still won’t win.
According to Trende, about 6.7 million fewer whites voted on Election Day 2012 than in 2008. A critical statistic in a race Obama won by only about 3 million votes.
Part of the reason they stayed home, Trende says, might be that these voters didn’t like Obama but had fallen sway to the Obama campaign’s negative emphasis on Romney’s wealth, as well as Romney’s own failure to articulate a message.
But Obama’s base wasn’t particularly excited either. And they showed up.
There are two lessons for Republicans in this. The first is obvious: Run a better campaign.
But the second, which flows from the first, is less obvious. Some Republicans are already talking about the need to “moderate” the Republican message.
But campaign workers won’t spend 20 hours a day at the office working for nothing to elect someone without a clear philosophy they can wrap their arms around. And voters won’t turn out unless they can understand a candidate’s views and be enthusiastic about it.
Romney failed to aggressively embrace a philosophy of any sort. If he had run as a true conservative and explained relentlessly why conservative policies are needed, he might have attracted the right people to his organization and put them in a position to bring motivated voters to the polls.
Bruce Springsteen is a legendary rock star who has thoughtfully portrayed the struggles of average Americans.
But some may wonder at the meaning of – and take exception to – the President of the United States spending his last day on the campaign trail, as President Obama did Monday, with a man who is so harshly critical of this country.
Some say there is a certain “patriotism” in depicting the United States as an evil and unjust place, the argument being that this is merely an attempt to improve it. Others might argue such an attitude reflects concern for individuals rather than any fondness or hope for the country.
But either way, for a president to associate himself with such passionate vitriol toward the country raises questions about what Obama himself thinks.
After all, Mrs. Obama, at one point in the 2008 campaign, suggested she had never really been proud of her country.
Most people are aware of the corrosively biting lyrics of Springsteen’s 1984 song, “Born in the USA.” Not, in Springsteen’s view, an lucky place to start out life.
Born down in a dead man town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up
Born in the USA, I was born in the USA.
I was born in the USA, born in the USA.
In one of the great ironies of modern politics, Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign excised the “Born in the USA” portion of the song and used it as a patriotic campaign theme.
A more recent example comes from Springsteen’s 2012 album, Wrecking Ball, which includes the song “American Land” that portrays the United States as a false beacon that lures immigrants into a Hellish, oppressive existence.
What is this land America, so many travel there
I’m going now while I’m still young, my darling meet me there
Wish me luck my lovely, I’ll send for you when I can
And we’ll make our home in the American land . . .
There’s diamonds in the sidewalk, the gutters lined in song
Dear, I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There’s treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who’ll make his home in the American land . . .
The McNicholas, the Posalskis, the Smiths, Zerillis too
The Blacks, the Irish, Italians, the Germans and the Jews
They come across the water a thousand miles from home
With nothing in their bellies but the fire down below
They died building the railroads, they worked to bones and skin
They died in the fields and factories, names scattered in the wind
They died to get here a hundred years ago, they’re still dying now
Their hands that built the country we’re always trying to keep out
Springsteen is a great artist who tackles serious issues. But why a candidate for president would want to campaign with some who harbors so much anger for America is something of a mystery. Or maybe, it’s not.
Pool is hustled to motorcade, and there’s the Boss, with Patti, getting into a black SUV marked “guest.” Bruce is laughing and looks excited. It looks to be the 6th vehicle in the motorcade. In the background, back at the event, “We take care of our own” is playing.
Can the Situation Room be far behind?
UPDATE: Hitched a ride on Air Force One as well. “It was pretty cool,” he said. And of course, he said he chatted with the president during the flight about the effect of Hurricane Sandy on New Jersey, according to the pool report.
Bill Clinton, the Obama campaign’s top surrogate, is being dispatched to Minnesota and Pennsylvania, suggesting the campaign is more worried about those states than it is letting on. Just Friday, Obama campaign Press Secretary Jen Psaki dismissed Romney campaign efforts in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, as well as Michigan, as “mind games:” If you look at… Continue Reading
Um, I’m sorry, I said below that President Obama’s campaigning would resume Thursday. It actually resumed this morning. Obama today suddenly materialized at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, where he interfered with everyone’s work received an update on progress addressing the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. What is there he will do at… Continue Reading
President Obama will remain in Washington Wednesday, canceling a scheduled campaign trip to Ohio, the White House announced today. From a statement by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: The President will remain in Washington, DC on Wednesday to monitor the response to Hurricane Sandy and ensure that all available federal resources continue to be… Continue Reading
Waging a desperate campaign to maintain the presidency, President Obama has completed his project of diminishing it to nothing. The presidency, an ailing patient for much of Obama’s term, was finally disconnected from life support with the release by the Obama campaign last week of a video comparing a vote for the president with premarital… Continue Reading