A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the “super PAC” era and attackPresident Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from.
Timed to upend the Democratic National Convention in September, the plan would “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do,” the strategists wrote.
The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.
“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics.
The $10 million plan, one of several being studied by Mr. Ricketts, includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright, who espouses what is known as “black liberation theology.”
The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”
A copy of a detailed advertising plan was obtained by The New York Times through a person not connected to the proposal who was alarmed by its tone. It is titled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good.”
The proposal was presented last week in Chicago to associates and family members of Mr. Ricketts, who is also the patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs.
Brian Baker, president and general counsel of a super PAC called the Ending Spending Action Fund, said Mr. Ricketts had studied several advertising proposals in recent months and had not signed off on a specific approach to taking on Mr. Obama.
The rap mogul with a history of anti-gay lyrics does a 180 — a turnaround that may prove more meaningful to black voters than the president’s years-long evolution
The president isn’t the only world-famous person whose stance on gay marriage has evolved. Hip-hop king Jay-Z also just publicly announced his support of same-sex marriage: “I’ve always thought [of] it as something that’s still holding the country back,” the rapper told CNN. “It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.” The remarks come as pundits weigh whether President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality will hurt him with black voters. Obama won 95 percent of the black vote in 2008, but only 39 percent of black voters support gay marriage,according to an April poll. Could a supremely influential rapper whose past lyrics have been tinged with homophobia have more of an impact on black voters than Obama?
Yes. This is a huge deal: Jay-Z’s endorsement is “as big a cultural step forward as the leader of the free world making the same claim,” says Clinton Yates at The Washington Post. Jay-Z isn’t a politician, and he’s not supporting gay-marriage to get re-elected — it’s because he feels it’s right. Jay-Z is a leader in the massively influential hip-hop community, and this could “lead generations of music fans out of the fog,” changing their attitudes toward homosexuals and same-sex marriage.
And it’s much more drastic than Obama’s evolution: Jay-Z’s remarks represent a 180-turn from the homophobic and even gay-hating lyrics of his past songs, says Marc Hogan at Spin. On 2001’s “Takeover,” for example, he called rival rapper Nas a “fag model” after Nas insinuated that Jay was homosexual. If the president’s gradual evolution failed to change minds in the African-American community, then perhaps Jay’s dramatic turnaround (the rapper is called “the hood’s Barack”) will lead to some true soul-searching.
But Obama’s stance isn’t hurting him with black voters:The conventional wisdom was that “black voters will freak” when Obama backed same-sex marriage, says John Aravosis at The Daily Beast. But that’s simply not the case. Instead, they “gave a collective shrug.” A new Pew Research Poll reveals that 68 percent of African-Americans say Obama’s embrace of gay marriage didn’t change their opinion of him, even if they disagreed with the stance, while 16 percent said it actually made them view Obamamore favorably. And for other voters disillusioned with Obama, the move showed courage that will bring the president “closer to winning in November.”
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is back to claiming that his former private equity firm, Bain Capital, helped create at least 100,000 jobs, telling conservative radio host Ed Morrisey that “we were able to help create over 100,000 jobs.”
The Romney campaign used the 100,000 number at the outset of the campaign, then admitted it was bogus, started using it again, couldn’t answer challenges from reporters, and finally gave the number a massive downgrade to a mere “thousands” earlier this week.
There’s still no evidence backing up the claim, other than a right-wing editorial endorsing Romney. An ad from Romney’s 1994 Senate campaign, meanwhile, claimed that the firm created 10,000 jobs — though there’s little evidence to support that either.