Team O to donors: Where are you when we need you?

Not all that long ago, the Barack Obama campaign bragged about its fundraising prowess and promised to dominate the airwaves with a record-breaking war chest.  Today, as The Hill reports, the campaign has begun to panic over lackluster fundraising and a massive opposition effort to beat them at their own game.  Team O has begun signaling SOS, but donors so far aren’t coming to their rescue:


The deluge of cash from outside groups backing Republican Mitt Romney has prompted a sense of urgency among Obama’s supporters. Their message to donors is simple: send money now.

“The urgency is now, it’s not September 30th,” said one Democratic source who is working alongside the Democratic super-PAC group Priorities USA.

“It’s go-time. It’s time to step it up,” added a top Democrat involved in one of the outside groups working to reelect the president, who said the rallying cry wasn’t a “sense of defeat or a sense of demoralization. It’s just the reality.”

Obama’s campaign has worried for months about going up against groups affiliated with GOP operative Karl Rove and billionaires David and Charles Koch. They’re desperate to avoid falling far behind in a campaign cash arms race expected to shatter old fundraising records.

“It makes us nauseous just thinking about all that money,” the Democrat added. “We won’t get to a billion dollars but we’ve got to keep it somewhat competitive.”

Politico reports that Republicans might end up surpassing Democrats — and could get to the billion-dollar figure that the media glibly bandied about early last year in reference to Obama’s campaign:

Republican super PACs and other outside groups shaped by a loose network of prominent conservatives – including Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – plan to spend roughly $1 billion on November’s elections for the White House and control of Congress, according to officials familiar with the groups’ internal operations. …

That total includes previously undisclosed plans for newly aggressive spending by the Koch brothers, who are steering funding to build sophisticated, county-by-county operations in key states. POLITICO has learned that Koch-related organizations plan to spend about $400 million ahead of the 2012 elections – twice what they had been expected to commit.

Just the spending linked to the Koch network is more than the $370 million that John McCain raised for his entire presidential campaign four years ago.


John Hinderaker finds the panic both ironic and delicious:

Excuse me while I go light a cigar. The Koch brothers are principled libertarians who have been active in politics, as well as other sorts of philanthropy–to which, in fact, they have given quite a bit more money than to political causes–for decades. For some reason, liberals decided to go after the Koch brothers a year or two ago, launching one bizarre attack after another in hopes, apparently, of driving them out of public life. But it doesn’t seem to have worked. Rather, the brothers have doubled down on freedom.

I am slightly acquainted with Charles and David Koch, but I have no idea whether the numbers Politico quotes are correct. But I hope so: it would be a great thing if the Kochs’ response to the outrageous abuse they have taken for the last year or two is to devote a half billion dollars to defeat the Obama administration. The Left’s viciousness must be met with steely determination. News reports suggest that this may be exactly what is happening.

They’re not the only people that Obama and the Left have alienated.  We’re a month into the official general election fight, and so far Barack Obama is losing the battle on points.  His campaign’s knockout punch on “vampire capitalism” has backfired due to a combination of incompetence on Team O, hypocrisy from Obama himself, an effective rapid-response team in the Romney campaign, and a stagnating economy.  The “Life of Julia” appears to have backfired among the single women Team O needed to attract.  It’s looking very much like Obama could lose this election, and it might not even be as close as some of us imagined.


Can Obama turn it around?  There is still plenty of time for Obama to recover, but in order to do so — and to restore some of his donor base — he’s going to have to stop stumbling into five significant pitfalls, as I write in The Fiscal Times today.  Here are three of the big mistakes that Obama needs to reverse:

2 – Stop debating over private and public equity track records.  Seriously, who on Obama’s team thought the “vampire capitalist” attack would work?  A similar effort by Newt Gingrich flopped spectacularly a few months ago.  Romney’s team clearly prepared for the attack, however, because they immediately pointed out that Obama’s claim to economic brilliance by saving the auto industry came through forced closings of hundreds of GM and Chrysler dealerships, with job losses in the tens of thousands. Furthermore, the debate over investment strategies put Obama’s loss of over a half-billion dollars in the Solyndra collapse and other green-sector bankruptcies back on the table.  Not only did the attack on Bain come across as anti-investment, exacerbating Obama’s issues with the investor class, it also highlighted Romney’s success and Obama’s failures in equity investment.

3 – Embrace the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan.  It probably won’t pass, but at least adopting it as a deficit reduction plan will make Obama look serious about budgets. Obama created the deficit-reform commission himself, and has ignored their recommendations ever since.  He raised expectations only to casually disappoint voters almost as soon as the ink was dry on the proposal.  Obama’s budget proposals for the last two fiscal years lacked seriousness to such a degree that they received zero votes in three tries in Congress – not even a single vote from a member of his own party.

4 – Reconnect with struggling working-class voters. This sounds easier than it will be in practice, and not just because of Obama’s tone when dealing with rural and suburban families.  A new Washington Post analysis of unemployment data shows that the employment level in “prime age” males, roughly 25-54 years of age, is the worst since 1948.  As Reuters noted yesterday, the problem is particularly concentrated in the Rust Belt in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Wisconsin, all states Obama won in 2008.  The moribund economy has done more damage here than almost anywhere else.  Republicans won big in all four states in the 2010 midterms, and unless Obama finds a way to win them back over the summer, these states could give the election to Romney.


But by far the most effective way Obama could reverse his fortunes, at least in part, is the fifth item on the list: End the battle with the Catholic Church.  You’ll have to read the column to get my explanation of why this was the most ill-advised and unnecessary of the stumbles, and why it has so much impact.  I’ll add here that I think it’s also the most likely point Obama will address, especially since yesterday’s data from the WaPo/ABC poll shows that it’s not helping among single women anyway.  If the Supreme Court doesn’t make the entire argument moot by overturning ObamaCare in its entirety, I’d expect that HHS will expand the religious exemption to include hospitals, schools, and charities.  It might be too late to claw back a significant number of the voters Obama has already alienated in this demographic, but it would at least get the bishops to stop talking about it every week to parishioners and save more lost votes down the road.

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