Republicans Fret Over Obama Tape Resurrection
A video lights up the conservative media. An effective hit, or a distraction for the GOP nominee on his big night?
DENVER — Tuesday night’s Drudge-led revival of a 2007 Barack Obama speech offered satisfaction to a core of conservatives who believe it exposed Obama’s secret radicalism and racial politics — but that view was far from universal among Republican strategists, many of whom wrung their hands over the high-profile video, which also ran on Fox News and The Daily Caller.
“This hurts Mitt,” said 2008 Romney consultant Alex Castellanos, who has at times been a harsh critic of his current campaign. “Mitt's window to turn the economic debate around is [Wednesday.] And his alleged supporters just shit on it. An abysmally selfish and stupid event.”
Castellanos wasn’t the only one to break ranks Tuesday.
“I [don’t] think this tape will persuade anyone. A cover up in Libya, a failing economy, and $16 trillion in debt are persuasive,” RedState Editor in Chief Erick Erickson tweeted late Tuesday.
“So, what new information do we have? That Obama's "I barely knew Rev Wright" was a lie? Sorry, already knew that,” tweeted Florida GOP consultant Rick Wilson.
Former McCain and Huntsman campaign manager John Weaver said attempts to use the video to energize the base are just another missed opportunity.
“Is the base Romney's problem?” he asked late Tuesday night. “I would hope he would, at least, ignore this. Instead, how about a detailed, believable economic plan focused on job creation? We're running against a guy with more than eight percent unemployed, etc. and instead of offering a counter plan for consumers to chose between, some are focused on the President being Black and liberal.”
Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades’ reported longstanding relationship to the Drudge Report prompted an almost universal early assumption that the campaign had been the video’s source, but Romney aides quickly denied involvement in seeding the video last night. They would not, however, publically distance themselves from it either.
“Voters have to make that up,” Romney senior adviser Kevin Madden said on CBS This Morning. “They have to look at that video and have to make up their mind on that individually. I think what’s much more important to this debate right now are the president’s policies — the president’s record over the last four years.”
Other Republican strategists, though, saw an opening.
“These bizarre comments came from Barack Obama, he will have to respond to them,” said former Rick Perry strategist Rob Johnson.