Thursday, May 17, 2012

Anti-Obama aerial banners to fly over DNC site?

A GOP Super PAC is working on a plan to "jolt" the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte by waging an attack campaign that week linking President Barack Obama to his controversial ex-pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Among other things, the group envisions anti-Obama aerial banners of up to 8,500 square feet flying over the convention site for four hours one day, according to a front-page report in Thursday's New York Times.

The proposed advertising campaign would also include hard-line TV ads and billboards, the newspaper said.

The Times said the $10 million plan was commissioned by conservative billionaire Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade. Working out the details are "a group of high-profile Republican strategists."

"Timed to upend the Democratic National Convention in September," reported the Times, which obtained a copy, "the plan would do 'exactly what John McCain would not let us do (in 2008),' a written proposal explains. The proposal, which is awaiting approval (by Ricketts), calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by . .  . (Wright), whose race-related sermons made him a highly-charged figure in the 2008 campaign."

In that campaign, Obama repudiated those comments by Wright.

The so-called "Ricketts Plan" also proposes defusing anticipated charges of race-baiting by hiring as the group's spokesman an "extremely literate conservative African American," the Times reported. This spokesman would argue that Obama misled the country by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a "metrosexual black Abraham Lincoln."

The plan flies in the face of the strategy adopted so far by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. He and his campaign have tried to keep the focus on the economy and the president's record.

UPDATE at 1:12 p.m. Thursday: After widespread criticism of the "Ricketts plan," POLITICO is reporting that a spokesman for Rickett said that the plan has been rejected.

Brian Baker, who heads the Ricketts-backed Ending Spending Super PAC, called the proposal to tar Obama with Wright-themed ads "an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects," POLITICO said.

Tim Funk

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

'$uper-O-Rama' planned for DNC week

Democratic super PACs are gearing up for an epic fundraising campaign during the party's national convention in Charlotte.

They're calling the money grab "the Super-O-Rama," according to a Wednesday report by POLITICO.

"The kitschy name is for a massive fundraising push at the national convention in Charlotte," the political news Web site said, "where Democrats aim to woo elusive big donors with parties featuring live music, open bars and mingling with 'senior Democratic policy leaders,' according to a fundraising appeal."

There's some urgency to their plan: Democratic super PACs like the pro-President Barack Obama Priorities USA Action are strapped for cash, POLITICO said.And they are anticipating "a tidal wave of attack ads" from better-funded GOP super PACs such as Crossroads (affiliated with Karl Rove) and Americans for Prosperity (backed by the Koch brothers).

In its report, POLITICO sounded a skeptical note about the "Super" fundraising plan for convention week:

"But the plan isn't perfect. The Democratic National Convention is just two months before the general election -- too late to spend any money raised there on ads, some Democrats worry. Plus, conventions do not typically lend themselves to the type of one-on-one meetings where mega donors usually sign six- and seven-figure checks."

Super PACs are private groups that can spend unlimited amounts of cash without having to disclose who their donors are. They are also supposedly independent, though most are headed by friends or former staffers of the candidates they're promoting. For example, former Obama aide Bill Burton co-founded Priorities USA.

It was a landmark 2010 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court's that paved the way for these free-spending Super PACs, which specialize in attack ads. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court effectively prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions.

Tim Funk

Monday, May 7, 2012

What's in a name? Ask these protesters

Some of those protesters planning to demonstrate in Charlotte during the big convention have decided to march under a different banner.

Instead of calling themselves the "Coalition to Protest at the DNC," they’ll call themselves the "Coalition to March on Wall Street South -- Building People’s Power During the DNC."

Not sure they’ll be able to get all of that on one sign, but the New York Times reported recently that "organizers said they hoped the new name would capture the energy and enthusiasm of the Occupy Wall Street movement and highlight the fact that the convention was being held in a financial capital that is home to Bank of America."
But the name change has spurred some protest within the protest movement.

"Some activists feared that by shifting the emphasis away from the Democrats, the new name would give the party a pass," the Times reported.

Among the activists upset: Cindy Sheehan, the well-known anti-war protester whose son, Casey, was killed in Iraq.

"It shows a real lack of integrity, I think, to let the Democrats off the hook," Sheehan said.

Tim Funk