Obama’s Current Campaign: Running Backward
Is the Obama campaign coming unglued? It would seem that is a distinct possibility based on recent events and the questionable handling of several notable issues by senior advisors to the President.
Three weeks ago Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker appeared on Meet the Press and made a couple personal observations about the acrimonious nature of some recent ads and private equity firms.
“Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright,” Booker said on the show.
On Romney’s work at Bain Capital, Booker said: “As far as that stuff, I have to just say from a very personal level I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity … 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 invest in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses [and] to grow businesses. And this, to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.”
The Romney campaign was quick to pounce incorporating his remarks into various ads, and Booker tried to walk back his statements on The Rachel Maddow Show the following night, saying in part:
“Anybody who watched the entire Meet the Press, not only was I defending Obama’s positions on numerous issues, but I also talked about super PAC money and the negative campaigning and my outrage and really my frustration was about the cynical negative campaigning, the manipulating of the truth and so here they are plucking sound bites out of that interview, to manipulate them in a cynical manner to use them for their own purposes, and that slogan is really what had me, and basically my entire staff, really fit to be tied.”
The Obama campaign was not impressed by the remarks or Mayor Booker’s earlier attempts on Sunday afternoon to clarify his statements. In fact they adopted an extreme position and ostracized him.
“He’s dead to us,” one ranking administration official said of the prevailing feelings at the White House and Obama headquarters in Chicago.
Subsequently both former President Bill Clinton and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick have similarly gone off the campaigns message.
Clinton said that Mitt Romney had a “sterling business career” as chief executive of Bain Capital, and Patrick stated “Bain is a perfectly fine company. They have a role in the private economy, and I’ve got a lot of friends there. I think the Bain strategy has been distorted in some of the public discussions.”
The former President also flew in the face of the campaign by stating his support of maintaining all current income tax levels into 2013 and opining that the US economy was still in a recession.
Again both men had to clarify (read that spin) their comments to reduce the contrast with Obama’s current message and to reduce the fodder they had put in the GOP and Romney cannons. Clearly the campaign was annoyed but did not assail a sitting Governor or a former President with the same ferocity directed at a lowly, relatively speaking, New Jersey mayor.
You would think by now the campaign would have “gaffe proofed” itself but Jim Messina, David Axelrod and team were tagged yet again on Friday but this time by the candidate himself.
Having already suffered a bad week with Gov. Scott Walker winning the recall election in Wisconsin by a larger margin than he won the election in 2010, and acknowledging they were beat in the May fund-raising race by more than $16 million, Obama’s advisors made a fatal political mistake by hastily calling a press conference on Friday morning.
In that presser, Obama said “The truth of the matter is we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine.”
One more time Gov. Romney and the GOP were quick to respond, and now it was the President himself who had to walk back his remarks on Friday afternoon.
“Listen, it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. If you look at what I said both this morning and over the past year we’ve actually seen some good momentum in the private sector.”
It seems the newest pastime for the Obama campaign, and their surrogates, is clarifying previous remarks while trying to reduce the ammunition they’re providing their opponent, and from a politicking perspective it’s clear that is not what an incumbent should be doing on a regular basis.
While the electoral math is, for the moment, still very tight and it’s difficult to see either candidate winning by a large margin in November, the Obama campaign has certainly been on a path of self-destruction for the last several weeks. Polling is slowly but steadily showing states that were previously considered a lock for the President may be back in play, something even Obama’s senior advisors admit.
It’s tough to operate a reelection campaign when you have little or no record to run on but the Obama campaign cannot afford to continue down their current path without consequence. While the Romney campaign has had its own moments to cope with they have been minor compared to their opponent.
Right now Obama’s current campaign is “Running Backward” while Romney is moving “Forward”.