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- 05-17-2012, 01:23 PM #1
G.O.P. ‘Super PAC’ Weighs Hard-Line Attack on Obama
G.O.P. ‘Super PAC’ Weighs Hard-Line Attack on Obama
A campaign playbook by high-profile Republican strategists.
By JEFF ZELENY and JIM RUTENBERG
Published: May 17, 2012 963 Comments
WASHINGTON — A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the “super PAC” era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from.
Timed to upend the Democratic National Convention in September, the plan would “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do,” the strategists wrote.
The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.
“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics.
The $10 million plan, one of several being studied by Mr. Ricketts, includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright, who espouses what is known as “black liberation theology.”
The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”
A copy of a detailed advertising plan was obtained by The New York Times through a person not connected to the proposal who was alarmed by its tone. It is titled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good.”
The proposal was presented last week in Chicago to associates and family members of Mr. Ricketts, who is also the patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs.
Brian Baker, president and general counsel of a super PAC called the Ending Spending Action Fund, said Mr. Ricketts had studied several advertising proposals in recent months and had not signed off on a specific approach to taking on Mr. Obama.
“Joe Ricketts is prepared to spend significant resources in the 2012 election in both the presidential race and Congressional races,” Mr. Baker said in an interview Wednesday. “He is very concerned about the future direction of the country and plans to take a stand.”
The document makes clear that the effort is only in the planning stages and awaiting full approval from Mr. Ricketts. People involved in the planning said the publicity now certain to surround it could send the strategists back to the drawing board.
But it serves as a rare, detailed look at the birth of the sort of political sneak attack that has traditionally been hatched in the shadows and has become a staple of presidential politics.
It also shows how a single individual can create his own movement and spend unlimited sums to have major influence on a presidential election in a campaign finance environment in which groups operating independently of candidates are flourishing.
Should the plan proceed, it would run counter to the strategy being employed by Mitt Romney’s team, which has so far avoided such attacks. The Romney campaign has sought to focus attention on the economy, and has concluded that personal attacks on Mr. Obama, who is still well liked personally by most independent voters surveyed for polls, could backfire.
Mr. Ricketts has become an increasingly active player in Republican politics through several political action committees, including Ending Spending. He has a son, Pete, who is a member of the Republican National Committee from Nebraska and a daughter, Laura, who is a top contributor to Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign. She has not been involved in her father’s political efforts.
The 54-page proposal was professionally bound and illustrated with color photographs, indicating that it is far beyond a mere discussion. The strategists have already contacted Larry Elder, a black conservative radio host in Los Angeles, about serving as a spokesman, and the plan calls for a group of black business leaders to endorse the effort. The strategists have also registered a domain name, Character Matters.
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/...ticleLarge.jpgThe price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men. Plato
- 05-17-2012, 02:31 PM #2
Billionaire won't air Obama-Wright campaign ads
By Beth Fouhy May 17, 2012 12:47 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The billionaire said to be weighing a proposal to resurrect incendiary comments by President Barack Obama's former pastor shelved the idea Thursday after Obama and Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney denounced the tactic.
An aide to Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade, said the proposal to draw the Rev. Jeremiah Wright into the presidential campaign—and the issue of race, by extension—went too far.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Ricketts' Ending Spending Action Fund, a conservative super PAC, was considering a proposal for a $10 million TV ad campaign highlighting Wright's sermons.
The blueprint, titled "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: the Ricketts Plan to End His Spending For Good," was devised by a group of Republican strategists, one of whom confirmed its contents for The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss private working sessions.
Brian Baker, president of the super PAC, said Ricketts was not the author of the 54-page plan. Baker blamed consultants.
"Not only was this plan merely a proposal—one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors—but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take," Baker said in a written statement.
Romney had urged the independent group, which favors his candidacy, to abandon the Wright strategy and to focus instead on his bedrock issue, the economy.
"I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they've described," Romney told the conservative website Townhall.com. "I would like to see this campaign focus on the economy, on getting people back to work, on seeing rising incomes and growing prosperity—particularly for those in the middle class of America."
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina criticized the plan as a "campaign of character assassination" and accused Romney "reacting tepidly in a moment that required moral leadership in standing up to the very extreme wing of his own party."
Messina noted that Republican Sen. John McCain, Obama's opponent in the 2008 presidential race, had rejected using Wright and Wright's sermons against Obama.
Messina commented before Romney's interview with Townhall.com, and issued no comment after Romney urged Ricketts' group to abandon the effort.
McCain made clear four years ago that he wanted to challenge Obama on his record, not on the words or deeds of those around him, and forbade adviser Fred Davis from incorporating Wright into their advertising plans.
But Davis, a colorful Hollywood consultant, clearly wanted another chance to go use the strategy against Obama.
"Our plan is to do exactly what John McCain would not let us do: Show the world how Barack Obama's opinions of America and the world were formed," Davis' proposal said. "And why the influence of that misguided mentor and our president's formative years among left-wing intellectuals has brought our country to its knees."
Davis' firm said in a statement Thursday that the document—which called for "hitting Barack right between the eyes"—was only a proposal and did not win Ricketts' approval.
Wright became a problem for Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign when videos of the pastor's sermons surfaced. In a 2003 sermon, Wright said black people should condemn the United States.
"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," Wright said at the time. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."
Wright, who preached at the Chicago church Obama once attended, became such a distraction for Obama that he ended up delivering a major speech on race relations to try to quell the controversy. He also severed his ties to Wright.
For his part, Arizona Sen. McCain said he had no regrets over his handling of the Wright issue.
"I remain proud of our campaign and proud of what we were able to accomplish, and I would do it over again," McCain told reporters Thursday at the Capitol. He said the matter seemed dead after Romney repudiated the proposal.
He shrugged when asked whether independent groups should take up matters such as Wright's remarks.
"It's a way for political operatives to continue to make money," McCain said.
Another top Republican, House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, declined to be drawn into the debate.
"This election is going to be about the economy," he said when reporters asked him to react to the proposed ad campaign. "I don't know what these other people do or why they do it."
Ricketts is the founder of Nebraska-based TD Ameritrade Securities and owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. He has been active in conservative politics for years, most recently in Republican Deb Fischer's upset win this week in the Republican Senate primary in Nebraska.
Fouhy reported from New York. Associated Press writer Charles Babington in Washington contributed to this report.
----http://www.gopusa.com/news/2012/05/17/billionaire-wont-air-obama-wright-campaign-ads/?subscriber=1The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men. Plato