DNC presses Pentagon for records on potential 2012 GOP presidential contenders

It’s never too early to do oppo research, apparently.  Even before the conclusion of the midterm elections, the DNC has filed FOIA requests for official correspondence between the Pentagon and a raft of potential GOP challengers, including Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and even Bobby Jindal.  While it’s not illegal to seek these records — indeed, the FOIA mechanism exists to protect government transparency — the move has certainly raised eyebrows:

The Democratic National Committee formally has asked the Pentagon for reams of correspondence between military agencies and nine potential Republican presidential candidates, a clear indication that Democrats are building opposition-research files on specific 2012 contenders even before the midterm elections.

An internal Army e-mail obtained by ABC News indicates that the DNC has filed Freedom of Information Act requests for “any and all records of communication” between Army departments and agencies and each of the nine Republicans — all of whom are widely mentioned as possible challengers to President Obama.

The agencies are asked to respond to the request by this Friday, just four days before Election Day.

The nine Republicans that Democrats are seeking information on are former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska; former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass.; Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Miss.; Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn.; former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.; Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Ind.; Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La.

Putting aside for the moment the creepy factor in doing this, shouldn’t the DNC be concerned with more immediate priorities?  Perhaps they have written off the midterm elections, too.  The race for the Republican nomination will probably not start in earnest until next summer, and FOIA requests usually have to get a response within 30 days, at least an initial response.  What’s the rush?  Is the DNC staff that bored with just four days to go before Election Day?

Also, the shotgun approach seems a little inefficient, doesn’t it?  The DNC will have plenty of time to discern which candidates have momentum in December 2011 and January 2012.  They can always keep the records on hand for other re-election efforts, but the volume will keep oppo researchers busy for quite some time.  The DNC, for instance, requested data on Gingrich going back to 1979 — and he’s a man who hasn’t run for office in almost 15 years.  Bobby Jindal doesn’t appear to be doing any fundraising for a 2012 campaign, but they want records going back to 1996, when he became the head of Louisiana’s Health and Human Services administration.  Why not just wait until the race narrows down to three or four serious contenders?

In 2012, the election will hinge on Barack Obama’s performance in office and the state of the economy.  It seems that the DNC has already started on their strategy to distract from both.  Voters can reach the obvious conclusions.