Entries in Campaigns (20)


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


Obama and Romney Resume Campaigning, No More Mr. Nice Guy

JEWEL SAMAD/FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and Mitt Romney Thursday ended a brief truce for Superstorm Sandy, and made it clear as they returned to the campaign trail that there would be no more Mr. Nice Guy.

Romney stumped in Virginia, hoping to lock up the battleground state in the waning days of the campaign.

Obama began his day in Wisconsin, another key state where a Marist poll released Thursday indicated he had a 49-46 lead on Romney.

In his first campaign event since Saturday, Obama launched a three-state swing across the country in Green Bay, a battleground where he and Romney have been separated by only a few points in recent polls.

Before easing back into his usual stump speech, the president evoked the superstorm's devastating impact on parts of the East Coast.

"We've also been inspired these past few days because when disaster strikes, we see America at its best. All the petty differences that consume us in normal times all seem to melt away," Obama said. "There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm, there are just fellow Americans."

It wasn't long, however, before Obama revisited familiar lines of attack against Romney.

"You'll be making a choice between two fundamentally different visions of America—one where we return to the top-down policies that crashed our economy," Obama said before being interrupted by boos from the audience, "or a future that's built on a strong and growing middle class."

"Don't boo, Wisconsin—vote," he added.

Romney, who just a day before campaigned in Florida without doling out his usual barbs directed at the Obama campaign, spent Thursday in Virginia where he launched a new line of attack against Obama focused on Obama's suggestion that he would create a secretary of business.

"We don't need a secretary of business to understand business. We need a president who understands business and I do," Romney said.

The Romney campaign also launched a new ad Thursday morning, which lampooned Obama for wanting to "add another bureaucrat" in response to any problem.

Virginia is considered a "toss up" state in the ABC News political map.

Obama has events planned in Nevada and Colorado Thursday, and Romney has two additional events in Virginia.

This final frenetic stage in the campaign comes after an unusual storm-induced hiatus from the most vitriolic political attacks. During that time, Obama has been off the trail and focused on storm relief, while Romney and his surrogates have focused on striking the right balance between stumping for votes and being circumspect in the face of a devastating natural disaster.

Obama got high marks from likely voters for his handling of the storm response with 78 percent rating his performance positively, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll. Only eight percent rated it negatively.

And most voters gave Romney positive marks for his handling of the storm.

The two candidates, however, remain virtually tied in most polls, including the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll.

The ad wars also heated up significantly Thursday, with both campaigns releasing new spots.

The Romney campaign pushed out the "Secretary of Business" and a web video called "Bill's Barbecue" which pinned Obama with the blame for the shuttering of an 82 year-old business. Romney visited the Bills Barbecue business owners Thursday during his campaigning.

The Obama campaign released a new spot, "Solid," touting the endorsement of Republican and former Defense Secretary Colin Powell. The ad will air in 10 states including New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Virginia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Surge in Donations Lifts Obama Over Romney in August

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and Democrats report raising more than $114 million for the 2012 campaign in August, marking their best fundraising month of the election cycle and outpacing rival Mitt Romney for the first time in three months.

The Obama campaign announced the figure on Twitter ahead of formally filing financial reports with the Federal Election Commission by Sept. 20.

The August total, which includes funds collected by the president’s campaign committee, Democratic National Committee and joint fundraising accounts, is a significant increase over the $75 million raised by the groups in July. Romney reported raising $111 million in August.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina credited a surge in grassroots donations for the strong showing.

The Obama campaign said last week that more than 3.1 million Americans have donated to the president’s re-election effort, surpassing the total of four years ago.

The average donation last month was $58, the campaign said. Ninety-eight percent of donations were $250 or less.

“No celebrating,” tweeted @BarackObama in response to the numbers, “because they’re going to have an even bigger September. But now we know we can match them, doing this our way.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Says His Campaign Spending ‘a Little Wiser’ Than Obama’s

Alex Wong/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- At a private fundraiser in Texas Tuesday, Mitt Romney took a swipe at President Obama’s campaign spending habits, remarking that his own campaign has been “a little wiser” in how they’ve spent their money.

“I’d like you to commit to find a few people that voted for Barack Obama to vote for me,” said Romney at a fundraiser held at The Houstonian Hotel in downtown Houston, the former residence of President George H. W. Bush. “And by the way, continue to help out with your dollars. It means a great deal to me.”

“You’ve perhaps noticed in the paper, we’re a little wiser in our spending of dollars than the other side, apparently,” said Romney. “I’m not managing their campaign for them, but we’re going to spend our money wisely, we’re going to spend it to win.”

Romney’s remark comes after financial documents filed Monday by the two campaigns showed that for the third straight month, Obama’s campaign has spent more than he brought in. In July, for example, Obama’s campaign raised $49.1 million but spent $58.8 million. The Obama campaign also has $2.8 million in debt.

Romney’s campaign remains debt-free, raising $40.3 million in July and spending $32.6 million.

Romney’s campaign, joined with the Victory Fund and the Republican National Committee, had $185.9 million in cash on hand at the end of July, beating out Obama by $60 million, who had $126.7 million on hand between its various fundraising arms.

Romney’s fundraising swing Tuesday in Texas -- which includes three finance events in Houston and Midland -- are expected to raise between $6 and $7 million, according to a campaign aide.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Responds to Romney Attacks: No One Would Say ‘We Have Tried to Divide the Country’

JEWEL SAMAD/FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Image(NEW YORK) -- President Obama is pushing back against Mitt Romney’s latest attack, claiming his campaign has not in any way “tried to divide the country.”

Mitt Romney accused the president earlier this week of running a “campaign of division and anger and hate.”

In response, the president told Entertainment Tonight, "I don’t think you or anybody who’s been watching the campaign would say, yes, that in any way we have tried to divide the country.”

The president’s comments follow a period of escalated mudslinging between the two campaigns.

In recent weeks, the Obama campaign -- and groups that support it -- have accused Romney of being a felon, linked him to a woman’s death and mocked him for once strapping the family dog in his carrier to the roof of the family car on a drive to Canada.

“His campaign has resorted to diversions and distractions, to demagoguing and defaming others,” Romney said.  "It’s an old game in politics. What’s different this year is that the president is taking things to a new low.”

The presumptive GOP nominee has also participated in the war of words, blasting the president for cutting funding for Medicare and accusing him of removing the work requirements from welfare by undoing reforms put in place by President Clinton, and most recently blasting Vice President Biden for his comments to a mostly African American audience that Republicans, "want to put y'all back in chains."

“Gov. Romney, I think, has had very sharp critiques of me and my policies, and that’s how it should be,” Obama told Entertainment Tonight. “That’s the nature of democracy. And I’ve got some sharp disagreements with him in terms of where he would take the country.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Move Over Super PACs, Minors Want to Contribute, Too

Comstock/Thinkstock(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Think politics are only for grownups? Don’t tell that to Julie Towbin, a feisty 17-year-old Floridian who is not afraid to put her money where her mouth is when it comes to political campaigns. A federal judge Monday ruled in favor of Towbin’s suit to block a state law that would prohibit minors from contributing more than $100 to a political campaign.

U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams issued a temporary injunction blocking the enforcement of Florida’s political-contribution cap in response to Towbin’s suit. Williams said the law, "had a chilling effect on the free speech and associational rights."

The Florida branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has helped the tenacious teen by suing on her behalf. The suit was filed when the teen was unable to attend an invitation-only dinner for the Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee. Towbin, who sits on the committee, hoped to buy the $150 ticket but was unable to when she found out that paying the price of the ticket could violate the state’s campaign finance law.

When asked how, as a minor, she could sit on the Democratic Executive Committee, Towbin explained to ABC News that the only requirement is to be a registered or preregistered voter. Towbin, who preregistered at age 16, is eligible to be a committee member and therefore invited to the annual dinner.

But because she is a minor and 100 percent of the ticket profit is considered to be a contribution to the Democratic Executive Committee, Towbin could not attend. If she had been born a few months earlier, she would have been able not only to attend but also have a $350 cushion to donate because Florida finance laws allow adults to contribute up to $500 per election.

“Under the former law,” Towbin said, “my contribution is only a fifth of an impact compared to an adult because they can contribute $500 to my $100.”

Towbin doesn’t think that is fair because she pays for the contributions herself. “My parents support my case but don’t give me money to contribute,” Towbin admits.

When asked how she gets the money to support her local politicians, she says she, “worked as a cashier at a local family business and also had money left over from being a page” last year.

An ACLU spokesman said that although the blocked law is technically still on the books, the state can’t enforce if because of its “chilling effect” on the First Amendment, as the judge noted.

The young woman, whose parents are “not big contributors,” already has plans to exercise her new-found rights by donating upwards of $500. According to the coy teen who would not disclose any names, “I plan on contributing to the campaigns of a School Board candidate and one of my state representatives.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Camp Beats Romney's in June Fundraising

William Thomas Cain/Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s re-election campaign, Obama For America, outraised Mitt Romney’s campaign, Romney For President, in the month of June, according to the two groups' FEC disclosures submitted Friday.

The Romney campaign, along with the Republican National Committee and Romney Victory Fund, the joint fundraising account shared by Romney and the RNC, announced earlier this month that they had raised a total overall of $106 million -- outpacing their Democratic counterparts who took in a total of $71 million.

However, Friday’s disclosures for the individual campaigns show that Obama For America raised a total of $45.9 million alone in the month of June while Romney For President raised a total of $33 million.

Obama For America reports having a much larger financial war chest than the Romney campaign; OFA ended the month with $97.5 million cash on hand, while Romney For President ended the month with $22.5 million.

It is important to point out that the individual campaigns’ fundraising numbers do not undercut the strong numbers announced by Republicans for the month of June. It is likely that donors to the RNC or the Romney Victory Fund are very excited to go out and cast their votes for the former Massachusetts governor this fall.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


In Swing States, Obama and Romney Campaigns Unleash Negative Ads

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- To most of us, the country looks like 50 states. But to the Obama and Romney campaigns, it looks like just a dozen hotly contested states in which almost all of their campaigning has been.

And, if you follow the money, it really comes down to just Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada and Colorado, where the two sides have already spent more than $110 million on the presidential election. Turn on the TV in one of these states and you’d think the election was next week. A vast majority of the political ad tsunami is brutally negative.

In Ohio, for example, ads from both sides have cost more than $38 million.

“Most of the ads are negative and at a certain point people get discouraged and start feeling like nobody in Washington is listening,” President Obama has said.

Consider President Obama’s own campaign: Over the last month, the Obama campaign has run some 68,000 ads -- more than 52,000 of them attacking Mitt Romney.

Romney and his supporters have their share of negative ads, too.

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But ads from both sides are not just negative -- they're also loose with the facts. In one Obama ad, a narrator says: “Romney’s never stood up to China. All he has ever done is ship them our jobs.”

Watch the anti-Romney ad here:

Romney’s former company, Bain Capital, may have invested in companies with operations in China, but there is no evidence that it shipped any U.S. jobs there under Romney’s leadership.

And this, from the Romney campaign: "Mitt Romney has a plan to get America working. Barack Obama? Worst job record since the Depression.”

That line could be seen as misleading. It’s true that on Obama’s watch there have been more jobs lost than created -- something no president has done since the Depression. But in George W. Bush’s first term, the net job loss was actually higher. And the biggest job losses came in the months after Obama became president, a trend that started under Bush.

Watch the anti-Obama ad  here:

All this is a sign of things to come -- over just the past month, the Romney campaign raised $109 million -- shattering all of his previous records.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Backer Says Campaign Money a ‘National Scandal’

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With the rise of super PACs, big-dollar donors and celebrity and Wall Street fundraisers, the 2012 presidential campaign is the most cash-driven in history.  On Wednesday, Hank Brown, a former U.S. senator from Colorado and a Romney backer, called the amount of money in politics a “national scandal.”

On a conference call sponsored by the Republican National Committee,  Brown at first criticized President Obama for attending a fundraiser in Denver, but when asked about team Romney’s fundraising in his state, including a $500 a plate event  that Ann Romney held last Friday, also  in Denver, Brown said the “explosion in campaign donations was a tragedy.”

Mitt Romney spent the past three days raising money in Connecticut and New York, and according to his National Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick, the campaign was expected to bring in $15 million, up from the original estimate of $10 million. The campaign earned $5 million at a Tuesday evening fundraiser in New York City alone, and at least $3 million in one day in Connecticut.

“If you look at historic records, the amount of money we’re looking at is astronomical,” Brown told reporters on the call. “And I think part of the reason is not that political leaders are that much more charming these days than they used to be. The reason is government has expanded so much that many people have come to believe their economic success in this world is dependent on government. … But the explosion in campaign donations is a tragedy because it reflects the fact that people feel they have to donate to survive economically. That’s really not what you want America to be all about. ”

The conference call was intended to focus on education, not campaign fundraising, to coincide with Obama’s commencement address at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs Wednesday. Brown took the opportunity to blast the president for rising college tuition costs, and the college graduates now struggling to find jobs in the current economy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Out-Raised Romney in April

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama more than doubled Mitt Romney’s take for the month of April, according to the latest fundraising data filed Sunday night by both of the candidates' campaigns.

Last month, Obama for America raked in $25.7 million compared to Romney for President’s $11.7 million.  Romney’s haul decreased from the $13 million he raised in March.

Here's a closer look at how each campaign and their supportive political action committees (PACs), which also filed Sunday night, did:

Romney for President
Raised in April: $11.7 million
Spent in April: $12.6 million
Cash on hand as of April 30: $9.2 million

Restore Our Future (Pro-Romney)

Raised in April: $4.6 million
Spent in April: $2.9 million
Cash on hand as of April 30: $8.2 million

American Crossroads (Pro-Romney)

Raised in April: $1.8 million
Spent in April: $697,000
Cash on hand as of April 30: $25.5 million

Obama for America

Raised in April: $25.7 million
Spent in April: $14.6 million
Cash on hand as of April 30: $115.2 million

Priorities USA (Pro-Obama)

Raised in April: $1.6 million
Spent in April: $1.9 million
Cash on hand as of April 30: $4.7 million

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio