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Entries in 2012 Election (160)

Monday
Dec032012

Obama, Romney Insiders Look Back on 2012 Campaign

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages(BOSTON) -- The 2012 election cycle came full circle last week when representatives from the Obama and Romney campaigns, as well as top advisors to many of the GOP primary candidates and several influential outside groups, gathered at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government for a 2012 debrief -- finally answering some of the lingering questions about the race.

On neutral ground in Cambridge, Mass., fierce rivals (think Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades and strategist Stuart Stevens and Obama campaign manager Jim Messina and strategist David Axelrod) met for the first time since the election -- and many for the first time ever.

The conference, organized by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, featured a who’s who of political bold-faced names from campaign 2012, including senior campaign aides like Romney political director Rich Beeson and pollster Neil Newhouse, Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter and digital director Teddy Goff, Rick Santorum adviser John Brabender, former Rick Perry campaign operatives Rob Johnson and Dave Carney and even Mark Block, who ran Herman Cain’s short-lived but much-talked-about presidential bid.

Representatives from the outside groups that had so much influence -- and spent so much money -- on the election were also on hand, including Bill Burton, senior strategist for the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action; Steven Law, head of the pro-Republican group American Crossroads; and Tim Phillips, president of the conservative Americans for Prosperity.

Dozens of campaign 2012 veterans and journalists were on hand for the sessions, which covered the GOP primary, the general election, campaign strategy, the debates, conventions and the emerging power of the super PACS.

Here are some of the highlights from the conference:

Romney’s Campaign Concedes Immigration Position in Primary Was a Mistake


Mitt Romney’s decision to take a hard-line stance on immigration during the GOP primary was considered a big reason for his paltry 27 percent showing among Latino voters. But, the conventional wisdom has suggested that Romney couldn’t have won the primary without drawing a strong contrast with Texas Gov. Rick Perry on this hot-button issue.

Romney campaign manager Matt Rhodes, however, says that his candidate could have won the primary without attacking Perry’s support for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.  When asked by panel moderator Jonathan Martin of Politico whether he “regret[s] trying to outflank Perry on the right on immigration,” Rhoades took a long pause, and then shifted the conversation to Perry’s controversial statements about Social Security. Romney had attacked the Texas governor for calling the popular entitlement program a “Ponzi scheme” and a “failure.”

“In retrospect,” Rhoades said. “I believe we probably could have just beaten Perry with the Social Security hit.”

So while Rhoades never said he wished that Romney had never uttered the words, “self-deportation” he essentially conceded that he regrets the immigration position the governor took in the primary.

The Obama Campaign Only Fully Committed to Florida in Mid-September

If there was one state that the Romney campaign felt confident they were going to win it was Florida. And, until mid-September, the Obama campaign wasn’t convinced that they were going to contest the state. That changed in the aftermath of the strong convention in Charlotte, however, and the Obama campaign decided that they were going to go “full out” to win there.

Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod:

“One of the things that we had discussed internally was the state of Florida and how we were going to treat Florida. We had made a decision that we were going to wait until mid September and after the conventions to see where we were in Florida before we fully committed. We were in, we had invested a lot, but we hadn’t been in the Miami media market. When we emerged from conventions not only had we gotten a little bump, but we saw Florida remained very competitive and made the decision to go full out in Florida.”

Team Romney Never Read Clint Eastwood Speech


Romney strategist and convention director Russ Schrieffer was asked by panel moderator Ron Brownstein of National Journal if anyone actually read a copy of Eastwood’s speech. The answer: not so much.

Russ Schrieffer: “I said [to Eastwood] are you going to do what we talked about, are you going to talk about what you talked about at these fundraisers. And he looked at me and said ... ‘Yep.’”

Laughter followed Schrieffer’s comments to which he replied:

“It’s Clint Eastwood, you [can't] argue with him.”

Republicans Are Worried About the Technology Gap With Democrats


Jon Huntsman’s campaign manager Matt David noted that, "one area we should freak out about is technology. The GOP is far behind there."

The Obama campaign used social media as a means to an end: using technology as a way to recruit, persuade, target and turn out voters.  Obama’s digital campaign guru Teddy Goff pointed to the power of Facebook in helping to find a previously unreachable group of potential voters: the friends of those who were already voting for the President.

In 2008, said Goff, they found that “99 percent of our email list voted.” As such, Goff said, “We entered into this election, with an understanding that anyone we were talking to directly, the vast majority were voting for us. So the question was … how can we serve them with stuff that will make them go out and get their friends.” And, Obama’s Facebook fans were a great place to start. Obama’s 33 million Facebook fans globally are friends with 98 percent of the U.S. Facebook population, Goff said.

Facebook also helped the campaign track down their coveted 18-to-29-year-old cohort. Goff explained that they were unable to reach half of their 18-to-29 GOTV targets by phone because they didn’t have a phone number for them. But, he said, they could reach 85 percent of that group via a Friend of Barack Obama on Facebook. “We had an ability to reach those people who simply otherwise couldn’t be reached,” Goff said.

Was the Romney High Command Really and Truly Shocked on Election Night?


Neil Newhouse, Romney pollster:

“Here’s what we saw in the data: you have to give credit to the Obama campaign for undercutting it. We saw in the last two weeks, an intensity advantage, a campaign interest advantage, an enthusiasm advantage for Republicans and Mitt Romney. … Just the same as we saw four years ago on behalf of Barack Obama. We thought it would tilt the partisan make-up of the electorate a couple points in our direction.

“We weren’t surprised by racial composition; we were surprised by the partisan composition. … The real hidden story here on our side, the number of white men who didn’t vote in this election compared to four years ago was extraordinary. And these white men were replaced by white women. We were taking a group we won by 27 points and replacing them with a group we won by 12-14 points.”

Perry Should Have Waited Until Late Fall, Not Summer, to Jump In


Perry strategist Dave Carney said the biggest tactical mistake made by Perry was that “we should have started years ago.” Perry, as governor in a state with a part-time legislature, “had a lot of time on his hands” — he should have used that time, and his role as RGA chair, to meet donors and travel the country before 2011. Once Perry decided to get in, however, Carney argues the Perry should have waited until mid-October or November to get into the race. That extra few months, said Carney, “would have given us more time to be prepared and do the groundwork that was necessary on the issues.”

What Role Did Karl Rove Play With Republican Outside Groups Like American Crossroads, Which He Co-founded?


Steven Law, president and CEO of American Crossroads and president CrossroadsGPS:

“Karl … recognized it was really important to not simply have an organization exist in a particular cycle for a tactical use but to … start to build enduring institutional strength on the right the way that we saw the unions providing that for the Democrats. … And then there were certain other parts that I think Karl really gets credit for. The first is encouraging us to reach out to other center-right groups and to try to start to collaborate where we were legally permitted to do so to share information and encourage people to pull the oars in the same direction. On the fundraising side both he and Ed [Gillespie] and then later on Haley Barbour were all tremendously instrumental in harvesting their Rolodexes and relationships. Karl is a guy that’s got tremendously good ideas, and again, not so much on the tactical side but more kind of broad strategic moments and was a tremendously useful and valuable source of ideas along the way.”

Bill Burton, senior adviser, Priorities USA Action:

“He also helped us raise money. I probably e-mailed out every one of his columns to our donors -- our high-dollar list -- to point out what they were saying on the Republican side and how confident Rove was. … When he would go on TV bursting with confidence about Romney winning, that little click went around every single time. Karl Rove is an enduring figure for both sides.”

After Rove’s Appearance on Fox News on Election Night, Is He Discredited Within the Republican Party?


Steven Law:

“Absolutely not. We all get our turn in the barrel.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov112012

The Long Line Outside Romney's Door and His New Message to Supporters

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- On Friday morning, Mitt Romney and his wife Ann drove themselves to campaign headquarters in Boston. Gone were the secret service detail and the motorcade that had trailed them in the final months of the campaign. Instead of the long lines of supporters waiting to see them, there was now a line of dozens of staffers outside Romney's office door; some waiting to shake his hand, others looking for a quiet moment with the Governor after a loss that stunned a confident campaign Tuesday night.

One Romney staffer said the line easily reached a hundred employees Friday as the former presidential candidate ate pizza out of the box in his office. Mrs. Romney wore jeans and a sweater. The Romneys came to headquarters every day after the election after telling staffers they would do anything they could to help them find their next job.

Their pledge to help came just hours after the loss Tuesday night. Romney called a staff meeting at headquarters the next morning. With emotions still raw from the night before, Romney and his wife arrived to deafening applause and chants of "Mitt, Mitt, Mitt." As workers wiped away their tears, one staffer said Romney was clearly moved and that Mrs. Romney cried as they stood before the team.

Campaign manager Matt Rhoades told the Governor and his wife, "We would rather lose with you than win with anyone else," sources said.

Romney's top advisers were convinced they had a solid shot at the presidency right until the end. Pointing to their internal data and their swelling crowds, Romney and his team believed the state polls were overestimating President Obama's standing given Romney's support among independents and what they believed was an enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans.

In the days after defeat, a source close to Mrs. Romney said she described the moment she walked onto that stage on election night as 'surreal.' The source added Mrs. Romney wondered to herself, 'Are we really conceding?' In fact, it was Mrs. Romney who remained most optimistic as returns started pouring in. She was playing with her grandchildren and received updates from others whose eyes were trained on the television screen.

In the hours after his concession speech, Mitt Romney offered praise for his top advisers and donors who gathered at breakfast. According to a source at the breakfast, there was a standing ovation for Rhoades and applause for Mitt's 'Body Man,' Garrett Jackson, who was by Romney's side throughout the campaign. Jackson often captured and tweeted images of the Governor during private moments that spread at lightning speed among Romney's supporters. Among the images was a smiling Romney backstage watching his wife address millions of Americans from the Republican National Convention.

Romney also thanked top strategists Stuart Stevens, Russ Schriefer, Eric Fehrnstrom, and Beth Myers who led the effort to select a vice-presidential candidate. Donor Sheldon Adelson was also cheered, as was Romney's National Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick.

When asked about the President's overture to Mitt Romney during his victory speech on election night, a source close to Romney was unsure if Romney would accept the President's invitation adding Romney is still 'tender,' and bruised by the Obama campaign's portrayal of him, particularly his tenure at Bain Capital.

Even many of those closest to Romney don't know what he'll do next. The Romneys are expected to travel to their San Diego home to spend time with family. Many expect Romney's focus to include board work and the Mormon Church.

On Saturday, Romney sent a note thanking campaign supporters, "This was more than just a campaign, this was a national movement," he wrote. Romney did not specifically reference his loss to President Obama. "We still believe that better days are ahead," Romney wrote.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov072012

Biden Sees ‘Clear Sort Of Mandate’ on Taxes

ABC News(CHICAGO) -- During a flight Wednesday between Chicago and New Castle, Del., Vice President Joe Biden told reporters that the election provided a “clear sort of mandate” on the issue of taxes as he and the president prepare to handle the fiscal cliff.

“On the tax issue there was a clear, a clear sort of mandate about people coming much closer to our view about how to deal with tax policy,” Biden told reporters during a question-and-answer session on Air Force Two.

Biden added that he hopes there’ll be “some real soul searching” in the Republican party “about what they’re willing to cooperate on.”

And cooperation is key if the administration plans to address the fiscal cliff with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives.  Biden said he did not want to speculate on any deal to avoid the automatic tax increases and spending cuts.

But he did say, “We are prepared to work with Republican leadership to actually deal with two overarching problems right now – one is the whole sequester piece and the other is the tax piece. It’s possible you could bifurcate them, it’s possible, there’s all kinds of potential to be able to reach a rational principle compromise…. I think the most interesting caucus is going to be the Republican.”

Biden said he and President Obama are “anxious” to get to work, specifically on dealing with the fiscal cliff. He said the real “takeaway” is how “Republican colleagues” are going to react, "what judgment are they going to make, and having been a Democrat elected in 1972 by 3,200 votes, I know it takes a little time to kind of digest what’s going on.”

As far as his role in a second term, Biden said he expects it to be the same, that he will play a role in debt issue, but also joked that he told the president he only wants assignments that have a “sell by date” on them.

“I think I’ll probably be asked to play a similar role on the debt issue that we did last time,” he said. “I think my reaching out to the Congress, the Senate, but I also know I’ll be doing a lot of foreign policy, so it will be whatever the issue of the day is.”

On Monday, Biden predicted to reporters that the margin in Pennsylvania would favor President Obama by five points, a prediction he was eager to point out to reporters the afternoon after the election.

“Wasn’t I right about Pennsylvania?” Biden asked.  “There’s only two states I know – Delaware and Pennsylvania.  Though I should know Ohio.”

Obama’s victory is partially attributed to the growing Hispanic population, which turned out overwhelmingly for the president. Biden said that those changing demographics had to be a “wake-up” call for Republicans.

But while he was right about the margin in Pennsylvania, one thing on Election Night did turn out differently than the vice president expected – how early the election was called for President Obama.

“It was a late night, but it was much earlier than at least I thought we’d know what the outcome was,” Biden said, before walking back to the front of Air Force Two.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov062012

President Barack Obama the Projected Winner, Earns Second Term

(NEW YORK) -- President Obama won a second term Tuesday night as ABC News projects he will be re-elected, emerging victorious in what had been a deadlocked race into the final hours of the campaign.

Obama's lease on the White House was renewed with a crucial victory in Ohio. The president has so far collected 281 electoral votes to Mitt Romney's 203. The candidates needed 270 to win the presidency.

Celebrations erupted in Obama's hometown of Chicago, while Romney's Boston headquarters went mournfully quiet.

At 11:14 p.m. ET, @BarackObama tweeted, “This happened because of you. Thank you.”

A few minutes later: “We’re all in this together. That’s how we campaigned, and that’s who we are. Thank you. – bo.”

And finally along with a photo of him and Michelle Obama: “Four more years.” That last tweet is now his most retweeted tweet and one of the most retweeted tweets ever. Just 40 minutes after posting it, it had 308,705 retweets.

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov042012

President Obama, Bill Clinton Unite On 2012 Trail For First Time

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Barack Obama-Bill Clinton “bromance” was on full display Saturday night in battleground Virginia as both men united in public for the first time on the 2012 campaign trail.

Clinton, who has been barnstorming the country for Obama and audibly hoarse, appeared to captivate the Democratic crowd with his vigorous endorsement of President 44 while making a hard final pitch to undecided or wavering voters.

“As you can see, I’ve given my voice in the service of my president,” Clinton told the crowd of 24,000 at Jiffy Lube Live, a large outdoor concert venue just outside suburban Washington, D.C. “I want to tell you, four years ago when he ran, both Hillary and I worked very hard, we did together over a hundred appearances. But I am much more enthusiastic about Barack Obama’s election tonight that I was even four years ago.”

“He knows that a budget based on arithmetic is a lot better than one based on illusion,” he said taking a swipe at Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Touting Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy, Clinton said, “He knows that practical cooperation is better than all this constant ideological conflict. And we saw it didn’t we:  We saw it how the president got off the campaign trail and responded to Sandy. And all over America people were thrilled to see him work with the Republican governor of New Jersey and mayor of New York who is an independent.”

“Barack Obama is a proven cooperator,” he declared.

President Clinton attacked Romney as a dishonest political opportunist who has shifted positions on key issues and now resorted to what he described as desperate tactics to win the White House.

“He’s tied himself in so many knots,” Clinton said of Romney’s position on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, as one example, “he could be hired as the chief contortionist for Cirque de Soleil.”

On the controversial Romney ad running in Ohio that suggests Jeep production may be moving to China, he offered this admonishment:  “Chrysler said Mitt Romney was wrong. Then GM rebuked him…You know, when I was a kid and I got my hand stuck in the cookie jar, my face sort of turned red and I took my hand out of the cookie jar. Not governor Romney. He kept digging for more cookies.”

They engaged in a bear hug embrace on stage, reminiscent of the moment at the Democratic National Convention after Clinton’s speech Sept. 5.

Obama reciprocated with the accolades, heaping praise on the man who was famously once a fierce rival and whose economic record he now regularly invokes on the stump. “The only Clinton working harder than him is our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I’m so grateful to both of them,” Obama said.

“I was in the back enjoying listening to Clinton so much that I had to run out; I was late to my cue,” he joked. “I was just sitting there soaking it all up. He was a great president and is a great friend.”

With just three days to go before Virginians head to the polls, Obama urged his supporters to mobilize to turn out the vote.

“Now it’s all up to you,” he said. “It’s up to the volunteers. It’s up to somebody knocking on a door. It’s up to somebody making a phone call. It’s up to somebody talking to their mom… It’s up to you. You’ve got the power. And that’s why I need you Virginia. Don’t get tired! Don’t get weary! If you’re willing to knock on some doors for me, make some calls for me, grab some friends for me… we’ll win Virginia and we’ll win this election.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct082012

NRA Jumps Into 2012 Race, Attacking Obama in TV Ads

NRA Political Victory Fund(FAIRFAX, Va.) -- After the National Rifle Association endorsed Mitt Romney for president last Thursday, the group aired its first TV ad of the 2012 election season attacking President Obama.

The new ad accuses Obama of “chipping away at your rights, chipping away at your freedom.” The NRA’s political arm, NRA Political Victory Fund, said it would spend about $1.5 million this week to air the ad in Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Wisconsin, all critical battlegrounds. The group said it planned to air TV ads in swing states through Election Day.

When asked for the grand total the NRA-PVF planned to spend on ads, NRA-PVF spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said, “as much money as our members send us.” The group said it would focus on targeted online advertising, in addition to television. NRA-PVF previously aired ads in January and February that attacked Obama for the Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation, Arulanandam said.

In the new TV ad, a narrator says:  “Mountains of debt, threats to our sovereignty, chipping away at your rights, chipping away at your freedom. And now, they’re attacking our Second Amendment rights, but you can stop them right now. Defend freedom, defeat Obama.”

The mention of “sovereignty” refers to a proposed United Nations arms treaty the NRA fears will impose “burdensome” reporting requirements on civilian sales and gifts of guns. The Obama administration had entered into talks on the treaty, but those talks broke down in July, with the U.S. and other weapons-exporting nations saying more time was needed to reach agreement.

The ad could be seen on YouTube last Thursday, but NRA-PVF had not announced its plans to air it on TV. It began airing in Ohio Monday morning, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political advertising.

As for Romney, he has said he does not support any new gun laws.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May072012

John McCain Bets Charles Barkley via Twitter on 2012 Election Winner

Leon Bennett/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Sen. John McCain asked former pro basketball player and TNT analyst Charles Barkley to join him in a bet via Twitter on Monday.

@SenJohnMcCain tweeted, “Dear Charles Barkley, ‘don’t take it personally, you seem like a nice guy,’ but you’re clueless -- @MittRomney wins. Wanna bet?”

The suggested bet appears to be in response to comments Barkley made during a broadcast Sunday night, when he saw Mitt Romney in the crowd at a Boston Celtics game. The Celtics beat the Atlanta Hawks.

“We’re going to beat you like a drum in November. Don’t take it personally. I like you. You seem like a nice guy, but you’re going down, bro,” said Barkley on the air when Romney turned up on camera.

Barkley has not publicly responded to McCain’s invitation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May062012

Marco Rubio Avoids VP Questions, Hammers Obama for Losing his Spark

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), deflected questions about the vice presidency in an interview Sunday morning and instead zeroed in on the failings of President Obama and the spark he’s lost since 2008.

“All the things that made him different and special four years ago are gone,” Rubio said of Obama during an interview with Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday.

“Things keep getting worse under his watch. He’s accountable for that and so obviously he doesn’t want to run on that record so he wants this campaign to be about anything but his record on the economy,” Rubio said.

Criticizing Obama for turning the raid on Osama Bin Laden into a campaign issue, Rubio argued the president is consumed by winning re-election, causing him to lose the qualities that set him apart in 2008.

“In his obsessive effort to get his win, his re-election, he has lost himself and he has lost what makes him different,” he said.

Rubio, who is widely considered a lead contender for the Republican VP spot and sits on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, criticized Vice President Joe Biden’s foreign policy decisions and also poked at him for some of his verbal mishaps.

“Joe Biden’s record on foreign policy is one of being wrong on virtually everything he’s ever advised or anything he’s ever asked for,” Rubio said. “He’s a very nice person but Vice President Biden has a tendency to say some interesting things to say the least.”

Rubio, who is of Cuban descent, said the Hispanic vote, which is currently polling in large favor of Obama, is not settled and voiced his belief that Romney could carry Hispanics in Florida.

“He’s not going to lose Hispanics 2 to 1 in Florida. In fact, I think he has the opportunity to win Hispanics in Florida,” Rubio said.

Asked if Romney had overreacted earlier in the week to the Obama administration’s handling of the Chen Guangcheng case, Rubio said he did not think so and argued that the incident shows the administration’s “unwillingness to forcefully assert America’s values.”

“This crisis is a reminder of what we’re dealing with in China, and we hope that there are reformers in that government that are pushing for a more open system, but what we know for a fact we’re dealing with now are people who are paranoid and are control freaks in a totalitarian system,” he said.

Rubio discussed his support of foreign aid, a position on which he differs from Romney, who wants to see foreign aid cut by $100 million dollars.

Rubio said Romney crafted his position on the issue from a budgetary standpoint and said he would argue to Romney that foreign aid gives the United States “leverage” abroad.

While he was quick to praise Romney and criticize the president, Rubio refused to answer any questions about the vice presidency.

Asked if he would say yes to anything Romney asked him to do to help win against Obama in the fall, Rubio skirted around the question, saying he wouldn’t discuss the position of the vice presidency, noting only, “There are multiple ways that someone can help our nominee, and I look forward to doing that.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May062012

Thousands Turn Out for Obama, But Ohio Arena Goes Unfilled

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)(RICHMOND, Va.) — Thousands turned out for President Obama on Saturday at his first re-election campaign rallies in Ohio and Virginia but there were no overflowing crowds — a distinct contrast from the scenes in the 2008 campaign, which Republicans are gleeful to point out.

In Ohio, Obama wasn’t able to fill the stands at the 18,300-seat Schottenstein Center (about 4,300 seats were empty). His rally at the Siegel Center at Virginia Commonwealth University was at its 8,000-person capacity.


“Not the ‘overflow’ crowd he promised,” tweeted Ryan Williams, a spokesman for Mitt Romney who had found his way inside the Ohio State University event and snapped this  photo.

The image later appeared atop conservative blogs, including one with the banner, “Obama Launches Campaign in Half Empty Stadium.”

Obama campaign aides privately suggested the OSU venue might have been a bit outsized, while citing the weather (thunderstorms) in Richmond for dispersing the extra crowds expected there. That so many turned out and in numbers bigger than Romney ever draws is an unqualified victory, they say.

“The difference between our events today and Governor Romney’s is that people came,” tweeted Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. He was referring to Romney’s invitation-only event in February at Ford Field, when the governor spoke to Detroit business leaders surrounded by hundreds of empty seats.

An estimated 14,000 supporters turned out for Obama in Columbus, according to the city fire marshal, and 8,000 filled the stands in Richmond. Not a small turnout by any means, and hardly “half empty.”

But there would not arguably have been any open seats four years ago, or perhaps if Obama were more popular now.

Still, in more than two dozen interviews at both venues, supporters offered up genuine enthusiasm for the president, as well as honest and open assessments of his first term.

Most blamed what they described as Republican obstructionism for Obama’s legislative shortcomings. There was also a significant amount of concern about Romney as a threat to women and the middle class. Both are themes the White House and Obama campaign have spent months cultivating.

“I’m not satisfied with his four years,” said Anita Bixenstine, 68, of Kent, Ohio. “But I think he’s been fighting a do-nothing Congress and some bad public opinion.”

“I have tremendous fear of the opposition,” added husband Ed Bixenstine, referring to Romney.

“We realize that the president did not do much of what he promised four years ago, we realize that. But you also realize the influence of the Republicans on his efforts — they have been a roadblock at every corner,” said Delia Alkhatib, 29, of Columbus. “So we’re keeping that in mind, and hoping that he’ll be more aggressive and more of who we voted for in ’08 in a second term, because practically he’ll have nothing to lose.”

“It’s been a tough four years, won’t lie,” said Brandon Toyer, a 34-year-old software engineer, from Richmond. “But things are looking up now. If we give him a little more time, we’ll see things through.”

Wendy Stewart, a retired social worker, said she turned out for the rally because “there’s a war on women.”

“I want to support Obama’s goal of helping women, you know, with birth control,” she said.  ”If Romney would get in, he would take us, especially the women, back to the 1930s or 50s.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr262012

Forget Super PAC’s, Outside Spending By Non-Profits, Businesses, Is Way More Secretive

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Super PACs aren’t the only deep-pocketed participants in this year’s elections.

Activity by independent expenditure committees, more commonly referred to as “Super PAC’s,” has dominated the political discourse since 2010, when a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission determined that corporations and unions could spend unlimited amounts of money on independent political expenditures.

Enter the Super PAC phenomenon. In 2012, these groups have been ubiquitous. Every major GOP candidate has had at least one Super PAC dedicated to his or her campaign, the majority of which were largely funded not by corporations, but rather by a handful of very wealthy and very generous donors.

However, there is another group of spenders who have been actively participating in the campaign cycle: non-profit groups and other businesses.  According to figures from the Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), nonprofits and business groups have spent roughly $28 million on general-election related advertising so far. And these groups are much more secretive than Super PAC’s.

Super PAC’s have been heavily criticized for being “shadow campaigns” of the candidates they’re supporting. The groups typically spend money on the same types of political advertising as campaigns: mailers, voter contact sheets, and of course, TV ad buys. Additionally, the groups are frequently headed up by former employees of said candidate.

Restore Our Future, the Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, was launched by Romney’s national policy director from his 2008 campaign, Carl Forti. The group’s treasurer, Charlie Spies, is also an alum of Romney’s 2008 campaign.

Priorities USA, the Super PAC supporting Barack Obama, was co-founded by two former Obama administration staffers, Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney.

However, for all the criticism they’ve received, these groups are relatively transparent. The FEC requires that Super PAC’s disclose their donors either once a month or once a quarter. Their disclosure schedule is up to the group, but each organization must submit the names of every donor, and the amount given by said donor.

The groups also notify the FEC of their expenditures within a 24- to-48 hour window, meaning that anyone can follow their activity in real (or at least slightly delayed) time.

The non-profit and other business groups however, are a different story. These groups take a variety of forms; they may be a not-for-profit organization that focuses on a particular issue, such as the environment, but also gives some of their money to specific campaigns. They may be even vaguer, their primary purpose may be to serve as a grassroots organization.

Because the primary purpose of these organizations is not listed as political activity, they are not subject to the same regulations as Super PAC’s and other political organizations. They are not required to disclose their donors; they do not submit monthly or quarterly financial reports; they do not file their expenditures with the FEC in real time or in any time for that matter. In short, their transparency level is akin to a heavy fog.

“In terms of organized groups, what we now have is essentially a voluntary system of disclosure in that donors are given the option of whether to give to an entity that discloses or one that does not,” explains Anthony Corrado, professor of government at Colby College.

“The fact that there is the opportunity to give contributions that are not disclosed strengthens the fundraising, and it allows you to receive contributions from those who might otherwise be hesitant to give because they don’t want their donation to be made public.”

Further complicating the already intricate world of these outside spending groups, the law is hazy at best when it comes to defining a group whose main purpose is to influence elections, such as an independent expenditure committee, versus a not-for-profit organization that just happens to spend some of its money on politically related activity.

“If your principle purpose is not to influence elections, then you have to file your form 990′s but you don’t have to give any details on where your money comes from,” Corrado notes. “The controversy is that there is no clear indicator of what fulfills that standard. There’s been no clear guidance by the IRS.”

As a result, these outside spending groups can be heavily involved in elections without ever having to disclose the source of their funds, so long as a sizable portion of said total funds is spent on non-political activity.

As the general election heats up, it’s likely that these groups will continue to spend heavily –- meaning that we may never actually know where a large portion of the money spent in 2012 actually came from.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio