The Washington Post headlines its story about Team Obama’s new campaign ad with “Obama goes negative on Mitt Romney’s wealth with ‘Swiss Bank Account’.” A better headline would have been, “Got desperation?” The ad itself is not unexpected, and hits all of the class-warfare buttons one imagines:
Chris Cillizza gives this a straightforward look on the ad, which will air in Iowa, Ohio, and Virginia, three key battleground states this fall. The attack is also straightforward, of course. Romney is rich enough to have a Swiss bank account, a subject that came up briefly in the Republican primary, so we knew it would be the subject of an Obama attack in the general election, too. The Obama campaign has to hope that it will resonate most in Ohio, a state Republicans desperately need to win back this cycle and where unemployment remains stubbornly high. Obama wants to build resentment towards Romney as a means to distract people from his own failure to put Ohio voters back to work, and this is perhaps the best arrow in his quiver.
So … why shoot it now? This is the kind of attack ad one drops on an opponent six days before the election, not six months before the election. I’m sure they have other material to use to point out Romney’s richie-rich status, but the Swiss bank account would normally be golden. Note too that the ad starts off defensively, answering an attack ad not from the Romney campaign but from an independent group over energy policy. It shifts abruptly to an attack on Romney in the second half, making it all but incoherent, especially in a 30-second spot. They manage to partially distract from their theme, while making it look like the incumbent is worried about what the third-party groups are saying — effectively elevating them to the same level as the President.
It’s a disaster. The immediate turn to the negative by Obama when he should be highlighting his accomplishments and letting surrogates attack other surrogates shows that this campaign is already rattled, and perhaps unprepared to deal with a situation where Obama is no longer considered The Lightbringer.
Dana Milbank is less than impressed with what he’s seen so far, too:
The preezy of the United Steezy is making me queasy.
I’m not troubled by President Obama’s slow jam with Jimmy Fallon, who dubbed the commander in chief “preezy” during Obama’s appearance on late-night TV. No, preezy is making me queasy because his nonstop campaigning is looking, well, sleazy — and his ad suggesting that Mitt Romney wouldn’t have killed Osama bin Laden is just the beginning of it.
In a political culture that long ago surrendered to the permanent campaign, Obama has managed to take things to a whole new level. According to statistics compiled for a book to be published this summer, the president has already set a record for total first-term fundraisers — 191 — and that’s only through March 6. Measured in terms of events that benefit his reelection bid, Obama’s total (inflated in part by relaxed fundraising rules) exceeds the combined total of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.
It’s not just the gatherings officially categorized as campaign events. To a greater extent than his predecessors, Obama has used the trappings of his office to promote his reelection prospects even while handling taxpayer-funded business.
It’s gonna be a long summer, folks, but there is one bright spot. If Obama is making Dana Milbank queasy with his over-the-top campaigning, he’s probably turning off a lot more independents and moderate Democrats to an even greater degree.