Monday, July 9, 2012
Obama’s campaign spending mythology
By: John Hayward
7/9/2012 10:20 AM
Print Political candidates often make pronouncements that become matters of interpretation, as allies and surrogates scramble to explain what the candidate really meant, or how inaccurate statements can be interpreted in such a way that the point raised is defensible.
And then you’ve got outright, bald-faced, demonstrable lies, like the one Barack Obama has been telling about campaign spending in his 2004 and 2008 races. Obama’s statements are absolutely false, and cannot be “spun” in any charitable manner that would get them dismissed as slight exaggerations.
Bizarrely, even though Obama was noted for pulling in a flood of campaign cash in his previous races – much of it from suspicious, unverified sources – his new campaign strategy involves whining about how Mitt Romney and allied independent groups are outspending him. Because the media was completely uninterested in harping upon the point in 2008, and certainly isn’t going to bring it up now, you might not recall that Obama actually broke a high-profile promise to abide by public campaign financing rules in 2008, because he was hauling in so much money from donors.
The often-repeated Obama lie about being outspent by Romney-aligned Super PACs was debunked last week. Obama Super PACs have spent more than Romney Super PACs, and the Obama groups have been far more negative. Perhaps the Romney groups will spend more during the heated final months of the campaign, but as things stand right now, the Obama narrative about evil Republican Super PACs burying him under negative ads, which his allies can’t afford to respond to, is simply false.
As for the campaigns themselves, Obama began with a $100 million cash advantage, and still has nearly $100 million more in cash on hand. Romney has been doing much better than Obama at fundraising lately, but he had to spend a great deal on the primary campaign, while Obama faced no serious primary opposition. Since the primary season concluded and Romney officially became the nominee, the Obama campaign has outspent Romney 3-to-1, and the Obama ads have been over 75 percent negative.
This spending imbalance will surely correct itself as the campaign heats up, but it’s unlikely Romney will be outspending Obama by 3-to-1 at any point in the months to come. A candidate coming out of a tough primary will probably always face a couple of tough months against an incumbent with a huge war chest. Obama’s weird effort to twist his current fundraising deficiencies into a narrative in which he has always been a plucky underdog fighting the mighty GOP campaign machine is completely fraudulent.
The President is apparently desperate to keep this mythology floating, because now he’s lying about past campaigns, to imply that he’s always been an underdog. As reported by the Daily Caller, Obama claimed last week, during a campaign speech in Ohio, that “I got outspent when I ran [the] first tiem for Senate.”
This is, to put it charitably, deeply misleading. Anyone in the audience who actually remembered that 2004 Senate race would have done an immediate spit-take. Obama’s opponent for that Illinois Senate seat, after his hatchet men got finished disposing of more formidable opponents using dirty tricks, was Alan Keyes. Obama collected close to $15 million in donations for that race, while Keyes had only $2.5 million. In fact, it was the largest single financial imbalance in any Senate race that year.
Now, Obama’s original opponent in the Democrat primary, investor Blair Hull, outspent him, but he and his hefty war chest were eliminated by scandal. Obama had far more money than any of his remaining rivals, or poor doomed Alan Keyes.
NewsBusters picked up another whopper from Obama’s Ohio speeches: his claim that he was an outgunned come-from-behind dark horse during his first state Senate race. ”That first race that I ran as a state senator, Michelle and I, we were going around knocking on doors, passing out leaflets,” Obama recalled. ”Nobody gave us a shot. Everybody said, ‘Nobody can pronounce your name, how are you going to win?’ You don’t come from a famous family. We couldn’t afford to advertise on TV.”
At least the Prevaricator-In-Chief showed a little creativity by mixing his obnoxious “tough for a guy named ‘Obama’ to win elections” meme into this fairy tale. As Tim Graham of NewsBusters points out, big-bucks TV ad campaigns for state Senate races are highly unusual, so it’s not as if Obama was making history by running without one. More pertinently, he ran unopposed in that election. He kept all the other candidates off the ballot by successfully challenging their petition signatures.
Amazingly, Obama has even been lying about the 2008 campaign, in which is fundraising prowess was a matter of legend (and, until now, a source of considerable pride.) “The thing that I want everybody here to understand – each of you personally – is that back in 2008, everybody said we couldn’t do it because we were outspent,” Obama claimed in another Ohio speech last Thursday.
No amount of charitable interpretation could possibly decode that statement as anything but an abject lie. Obama’s fundraising outdid his Republican opponent, John McCain, by more than double - $779 million to $347 million. He also raised more money than his Democrat primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, by $237 million to $229 million.
Obama is so deeply invested in this ridiculous “underdog” narrative that he’s getting sloppy, and he’s clearly relying heavily upon the media’s reluctance to call him out for fibbing on the campaign trail. Democrats have always blamed their political reversals on some sort of “messaging” problem – it’s always the advertising that robs them of electoral victory, never the defective product they’re selling.
In this day and age, it’s a stretch for any incumbent to claim underdog status, given the political advantages of office. It’s even more ludicrous to dismiss the media access and executive powers of the presidency as without campaign value, and downright laughable in the case of Barack “We Can’t Wait” Obama. But even when only campaign dollars are considered, there is no way Obama should be allowed to portray himself as hopelessly outgunned. He’s not flying some piddly little under-funded campaign X-wing down the trenches of Mitt Romney’s financial Death Star. It would be nice to see some mainstream media outrage over this phony narrative, since they usually claim to be deeply concerned about the role of money in politics.
To read another article by John Hayward, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:27 PM