Anderson Cooper interviewed Obama super-PAC chief Ben LaBolt on the new Bain Capital attack strategy, and the only enlightenment that results from the exchange is an understanding of why LaBolt no longer works in the White House media room. LaBolt refused to even acknowledge Cooper’s repeated questions of how Barack Obama and his team can justify attacks on Mitt Romney’s work at Bain while holding fundraisers with Blackstone and other private-equity firms that do the exact same work as Bain. Instead, LaBolt just keeps repeated campaign talking points ad infinitum, making it clear he and the campaign have no idea how to answer accusations of laughable hypocrisy:
Tommy Christopher notices a “stark contrast” in competence from 2008:
Now, LaBolt’s performance was no worse than dozens I’ve seen from other campaigns, and one appearance by one spokesman on AC360 isn’t going to ruin all of the Obama campaign’s work, but it does illustrate a possible weakness for them going forward.
The general election is still in its infancy, but this is a stark contrast from 2008. The campaign had problems with surrogates then, as well, but they had an incredibly deep bench of spokespeople who were not just studied, but knowledgeable. Some of them are working outside the campaign now, like Bill Burton, or keeping a low profile, like Robert Gibbs, and many of them have remained in the White House.
They all knew the talking points, for sure, but they also knew the gears and servos, the guts of those talking points, they knew the policies inside and out, and they knew their opponents back, forth, and sideways. I can’t imagine any of them being caught this flat-footed by such an obvious question. Maybe there’s a bit of a Rocky III effect happening here, and the Obama campaign needs to get some of that Eye of the Tiger back.
Well, maybe. It may just be that Team Obama never really got pressed too hard on its messaging in 2008, either, which they kept simple: Hope and Change. This time around, they have to defend Obama’s record and make a real sales pitch after a lousy first term, and they clearly aren’t up to the task.