Obama References Rove, Chamber in Effort to Rile Democrats to Action
With the election drawing near, President Obama is drawing on the concerns of campaign finance reformers in hopes of riling the Democratic base. Last night at a Chicago fundraiser for Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias (D), Obama twice name-checked Karl Rove and the strategist’s relationship with the political organizations American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS:
Right here in Illinois, in this Senate race, two groups funded and advised by Karl Rove have outspent the Democratic Party two to one in an attempt to beat Alexi — two to one. Funded and advised by Karl Rove. Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign sources. So the question for the people of Illinois is, are you going to let special interests from Wall Street and Washington and maybe places beyond our shores come to this state and tell us who our senator should be?
One small quibble sure to be noted: Karl Rove has certainly been doing a lot of fundraising for both groups, but there’s no evidence that he actually funds them himself. As for his remark about foreign funding, it wasn’t the first time the president has taken an oblique shot at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its acceptance of foreign funds. At a rally earlier in the day for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) at Bowie State University, Obama said:
Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations. … So this isn’t just a threat to Democrats. All Republicans should be concerned. Independents should be concerned. This is a threat to our democracy. The American people deserve to know who’s trying to sway their elections.
Clearly someone in the Obama administration thinks harping on the shadowy funding networks of conservative-leaning outside groups is a winning strategy, but it’s not immediately clear why. A solid majority of Americans appear to dislike the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and believe that the role of special interests in politics should be reduced — so in that sense it’s a winning issue — but voters have also traditionally shown little interest in the sources of campaign spending during elections.
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza thinks these appeals are meant less for the general electorate and more to energize the Democratic base:
Democratic leaders are trying anything and everything to ensure that the party’s most reliable voters turn out this fall. Raising the image of Rove — a hated figure in the Democratic party — in the context of outside money being spent to influence elections could well help set the stakes for the party base.
But, it’s a message almost certainly lost on — and ignored by — independents looking for answers on the economy.