Sen. John McCain's campaign is fighting back against questions about his house holdings by opening a website focusing on past questions about Sen. Barack Obama's dealings with controversial Chicago businesssman Tony Rezko.
The campaign was getting the site ready Thursday afternoon. McCain surrogates on television were being armed with facts about Rezko's relationship to Obama's purchase of his Chicago home in 2005.
Previewing the message the campaign will seek to drive, a McCain spokesman said: "In an attempt to make something stick, Barack Obama has re-aired his dirty laundry with convicted felon Tony Rezko that led to a highly questionable land deal. Rezko’s dirty dealings are well-documented and his relationship with Barack Obama goes back 20 years."
A new conservative group has produced a television ad attacking Barack Obama for his relationship with former Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers.
"How much do your really know about Barack Obama? What does he really believe?" asks the ad, which then cites the failed attack on the Capitol on 9/11, and links it to the Weather Underground attack on the Capitol decades earlier.
The group says it will spend $2.8 million airing the ad in Ohio and Michigan -- which would be the largest single third-party expenditure this cycle.
"Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it?" asks the narrator. "Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?"
The group, the American Issues Project, is a 501(c)4 -- which means it isn't required to disclose its donors. According to a press release set to go out shortly, it's the product of a coalition of conservative groups (Failor said his Iowans for Tax Relief is not among them). Its president is Ed Martin, a Missouri conservative. Another official, Ed Failor, Jr., is a former McCain aide in Iowa who left after the campaign's shakeup last summer.
The substance of the ad matches a recent upswing in the McCain campaign's references to Ayers. The use of 9/11 imagery links Ayers, and Obama, to the American conflict Islamic terror, which is the subject of many viral emails attacking Obama.
You knew this was coming folks. Batten down the hatches ... and get Barack a freaking 527 already! Yes, yes, there's this voter registration group, and there's America Votes, but what Obama needs, and needs now, is a bona fide attack group with no links to him. Stat.
There's so much McCain material out there to plunder, from the 4>6 7 homes he can't remember, to his $500 shoes, to his dirty deals with Mr. Keating to his wife's pill problem... I say it's all on the table, if the other side is allowed to call Obama a crook and a terrorist.
Tom Mazzie's new organization sends a warning shot across the bow of Republican donors: if you fund a 527 that attacks Barack Obama, we're coming after you:
... the newly formed nonprofit group, Accountable America, is planning to confront donors to conservative groups, hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.
“We want to stop the Swift Boating before it gets off the ground,” said Mr. Matzzie, who described his effort as “going for the jugular.”
The warning letter is intended as a first step, alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.
... mega-developer Mel Sembler, one of the group's top funders to the tune of at least $3 million, might have missed the memo. The Palm Beach Post recently reported that Mr. Sembler and his company are under federal investigation for a $100,000 payment allegedly used to grease the wheels of local government in Florida:
A developer paid a $100,000 fee to lobbyist Hugo Unruh after being told it would be hard to win county approval for a traffic-throttling shopping center without him.
The message came from Boynton Beach Mayor Jerry Taylor, who at the time was a trusted aide to Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty.
Now the fee and Taylor's role have drawn the attention of federal investigators.
...St. Petersburg-based Sembler is a national developer of shopping centers and residential communities. It was founded by Mel Sembler, a major state and national Republican Party fund-raiser who is especially friendly with the Bush presidential family.
McCarty said Sembler is a political acquaintance whom she bumped into recently at a White House affair.
Candidates never welcome outside groups. John Kerry's campaign probably couldn't stand America Coming Together (which I worked for in 2004), and George W. Bush probably didn't appreciate the Swift Boat Veterans for ... ok, scratch that last one. The problem: outside groups, or 527s, are free to craft their own message and spend lots of money promoting it, even if that message conflicts with the strategy of the campaign. Of course, 527s can be hellafied useful, especially in doing the nasty work of negative advertising that sometimes candidates are loathe to do.
That said, I would be surprised if Barack Obama didn't face a head-on assault from right wing 527s this fall, particularly since all the big money on the GOP side appears to be holding back, not pouring into John McCain's or the House and Senate campaign committee's coffers. And yet, Obama has succeeded, at least so far, in crushing outside group efforts, directly telling his top donors, and small potential ones, too, I can tell you from direct experience, not to fund anything outside the main campaign. So far, his effort appears to have choked off the David Brock-led nascent effort, and expect others to have a hard time raising money too. Besides, the main engines behind Democratic 527s are Clintonites -- people like Emily's List founder Ellen Malcolm (who also ran ACT), Harold Ickes (our then money man). They are highly unlikely to mount a serious effort on Obama's behalf, particularly if he is already discouraging it.
Meanwhile, women's groups are staging a mass tantrum over NARAL's decision to endorse Barack. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others are calling the national organization's decision to endorse before the end of the primary season a "betrayal." And a new group has emerged that could become a thorn in Barack's side this summer:
An Ohio-based group of Democratic Hillary Clinton supporters say they’ll work actively against Sen. Barack Obama if he becomes the nominee, arguing that Clinton has been the subject of “intense sexism” by party leaders and the media.
Led by Boomer-aged women, the group, Clinton Supporters Count Too, is holding a press conference in Columbus at noon to release this statement.
Organizers Cynthia Ruccia, 55, and Jamie Dixey, 57, both from the Columbus area, say they’re coordinating women, men, minorities, union members and others in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan – all important swing states next November – to impress upon Democratic party leaders what they think has been outright discrimination – and not of the racial kind.
“We have been vigilant against expressions of racism, and we are thrilled that the society has advanced that way” in accepting Obama as a serious candidate,” Ruccia said. “But it’s been open season on women, and we feel we need to stand up and make a statement about that, because it’s wrong.”
With growing calls for Clinton to leave the race, she said, women feel like “we’re being told to sit down, shut up, and get with the program.”
They're doing O'Reiily's show tonight, according to Ben Smith at Politico.
And meanwhile again, at least one observer is betting that the only way to appease Hillary's angry hoarde of white women over 50, will be to put her on the ticket, whether Barack Obama likes it or not... the premise: at the end of the race, Hillary will need only 19% of superdelegates to go her way at the convention, to get her way at the convention...
Can you imagine how hard it was for most of these super delegates to turn down the former president of the United States? It was tough enough turning Hillary down, but their former boss, political godfather, and personal friend? I've talked to many of them; trust me it was for most the hardest thing they have ever had to do in their political lives.
Just consider for a moment the final phone call with Bill Clinton when the super delegate had to tell him he or she had decided to go with Obama. Clinton," It's time to make a decision. Hillary needs you and I need you. We've been through a lot together. When you needed me I was there, now we need you".
Super delegate, "Mr. President, this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I'm going with Obama because (whatever). Ask me for anything else Mr. President, but I've got to do this". Clinton, "I'm very disappointed and personally hurt, but do what you think you have to do. So long."
Now imagine its June 4th and Clinton calls again. Clinton, "I know Obama has enough votes to win, but I wanted you to know Hillary has decided to run for vice president at the convention. You know there are two roll call votes at the convention: first president then for vice president. I know you are voting for Obama for president. Fine, but I want your commitment to vote for Hillary for vice president."
You imagine being on the floor in Denver. Hillary's delegates, NEARLY HALF THE DELEGATES, are demanding she be on the ticket. These are true believers who have stuck with Clinton through thick and thin. To them, putting Hillary on the ticket is a crusade.
Most Clinton delegates are women, most Democratic voters are women, and they're going to just accept some middle aged white governor that Obama is rumored to want? No way. They are in your face. Hillary supporters from back home are jamming your Blackberry. This and more horror scenes flash through your mind in a nano second.
Then it occurs to you; if the roles were reversed and Obama came close to winning and wanted to be the vice presidential candidate, could you imagine the convention saying no?
Clinton," If we get your commitment now (we've already got a bunch of Obama super delegates to support her) we don't have to take a vote or fight in Denver. With Hillary's pledged delegates and a hundred or so super delegates we'll be over 2026 before the end of June. Saves Barack the hassle of picking a running mate and we can be united against McCain on day one."
Are you going to tell the former president of the United States no again? Anyway you convince yourself it's a great ticket and will help Obama in those big swing states. "I'm with you Mr. President". Clinton," I knew I could count on you". You want to bet there aren't 20% of the super delegates who would buy this deal? We're talking super delegates here, not profiles in courage.
If Hillary Clinton wants the vice presidential nomination, and her loyal delegates demand it, and the Clinton machine puts its full weight behind it, she will be on the
This could all mean nothing if Obama is determined enough not to pick her, and cuts a deal before Denver that gives her something she wants, in exchange for her standing down on both the nomination and the vice presidency. And it assumes she wants the vice presidency (which I think she does at this point ... and badly.)
Still, odds are he picks "some middle aged white man," and white women are left steaming.
Then, it's on Barack and Barack alone -- no 527s, remember -- to win them back.