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White House Cheat Sheet: Organizing for America Ramps Up



The White House. Photo by Brendan Hoffman -- Getty Images Photo

In today's paper, we report that President Obama and his allies at the Democratic National Committee are ramping up their efforts to convince wavering lawmakers to support his budget proposal using -- for the first time -- the massive organization built during his successful campaign last year.

The effort, which will be led by Organizing for America, will feature a series of emails this week urging people to canvas their neighborhoods for support this coming Saturday and to call their individual members of Congress urging a "yes" vote on Obama's spending plan.

This is a critically important moment politically not just for Obama and Democrats in Congress but for a Republican party still scrambling to define itself. Here's why:

13 Million (Still) Strong?: During the 2008 campaign, Obama's greatest advantage over Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) was the broad base of volunteers and donors -- organized via the Internet -- that he could call on for just about any task and know they would deliver. Take Georgia, for example, where Obama formally scaled back his efforts in the early fall but stayed surprisingly competitive until the end thanks to an active volunteer base. How loyal is that 13 million? Early test runs provided mixed results.

Republican Response: To date, congressional Republicans -- and a handful of leading governors -- haven't fared as badly as some expected in the daily message fight with the White House. Can they withstand the full force of the Obama political operation? McCain struggled mightily to effectively counter the Obama message machine when it was cranked to full power. This will be an early test of whether Republicans will unite and rally or splinter and scamper for political cover.

Results Matter: Expect to hear a lot from the DNC/OFA about the number of emails, phone calls etc. that are being made as part of this budget campaign. That's all well and good but in the end the only thing that matters is whether you see any lawmakers switch their votes as a result of the lobbying campaign. The White House has been open about the importance of passing this budget as it lays out the essentials to a new progressive blueprint for governance. Obama is placing a big bet that he can use his campaign machine to change hearts and minds. It'll either pay off huge or bust him (at least temporarily).

Sked Stuff: Fresh off a trip to London for a meeting of the G20, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will appear with President Obama at the White House for a gathering of small business owners, lenders and members of Congress this morning. On the agenda: making the case for the administration's economic approach. After a rocky start, Geithner has emerged as a slightly more effective (if no less wonky) economic spokesman for the administration. Watch to see how the markets react to his latest appearance.

Monday Must-Reads: Since we worked on Sunday, today is like our Tuesday.

1. Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council, predicts the economy may get worse before it gets better during an appearance on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."
2. Former Vice President Dick Cheney argues that President Barack Obama's policies are endangering Americans' safety in an interview with CNN's John King.
3. The Post's Michael Fletcher profiles Valerie Jarrett, the woman -- other than First Lady Michelle Obama -- closest to the president.
4. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd (D) sits down with the Hartford Courant to try to squelch questions surrounding the purchase of cottage in Ireland.
5. Rep. Ben Chandler, who would be Democrats' strongest candidate, opens the door to a challenge to embattled Sen. Jim Bunning (R).

2012 Like It's Tomorrow: The Democratic National Committee begins an ad campaign today in the Columbia (S.C.) media market that attacks South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) for his rejection of some of the funds allocated to the state in President Obama's economic stimulus package. "South Carolina is facing tough times - but Governor Sanford is playing politics instead of doing what's right," says the ad's narrator. While Democrats may tout the ads as a sign of their aggressiveness against those who block Obama's agenda, Sanford has to be thrilled at being attacked by the national Democratic party. "It's time to put the partisan politics aside and for people who supported this stimulus legislation to start shooting straight with taxpayers on who is paying the bill for all of this spending," said Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer. Any Republican activist looking for a 2012 horse is likely to find the DNC attacks on Sanford to be convincing evidence of his conservative credentials.

Bopp Forms Conservative Group: Jim Bopp, a leading pro-life activist, has formed the Republican National Conservative Caucus -- an organization designed to "promote conservative Republican principles, policies, and politics, and to educate the public about their importance to liberty," according to a release announcing the RNCC's founding. Expect Bopp -- and his RNCC -- to be a highly coveted endorsement when the 2012 GOP presidential sweepstakes begin in earnest.

Must-See TV: Tucker Carlson rips Jon Stewart for ripping Jim Cramer. Who other than Carlson can use the words "huevos" and "stones" in the same interview? Don't forget the famous/infamous Carlson/Stewart showdown on "Crossfire" a few years ago.

National Republican Trust PAC Hits NY-20 Airwaves: In a sign of the importance of the March 31 special election in New York's 20th district, the National Republican Trust PAC, an outside conservative organization that spent more than $7 million on ads during the 2008 election, is up with a commercial that attacks businessman Scott Murphy's (D) job-creation record and support for "a radical agenda" including "trillions" in new spending. State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco said late last week he was retaking control of his own campaign and eschewed the involvement of the National Republican Congressional Committee. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee meanwhile continues to hammer away at Tedisco; the latest ad paid for by the DCCC says that "politician Jim Tedisco has taken taxpayers for quite a ride."

Say What?: ".....[cricket sounds]" -- The "details" of Republicans' alternative budget proposal, according to a new ad paid for by the liberal outside group Americans United for Change.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 15, 2009; 12:21 PM ET
Categories:  Cheat Sheet Share This:  E-Mail | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Digg | Stumble Previous: Friday Governors Line
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Comments

A vote for Jim is a vote for ethical strong leadership
Get involved – read more, volunteer or donate - http://www.jimtedisco.com

Posted by: andy5925 | March 17, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

The problem with being a rock star is the One Hit Wonder syndrome...we are anxiously awaiting Obama's sophomore album.

Posted by: newbeeboy | March 17, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

That "handful of republican governors" you are talking about are willing to play politics with the unemployment payments their mostly poor constituents are to receive when the regular payments are finished.How low can you sink? They themselves live in a nice mansions and have nothing to worry about as far as unemployment is concerned. Even if they were to lose the next election, they can always get a job with good pay as a lobbyist! I hope the Federal Government sets up offices in their states to hand out payments to those people who have nobody to lobby for them. Of course these guys realize that even if they do not get the benefits, they can not opt out from eventually paying for this stimulus bill with their taxes. They just don't care. Typical republican.

Posted by: Opa2 | March 17, 2009 2:10 AM | Report abuse

"Since I have nothing to do with the GOP that would be your job."

I understand your reluctance to admit a connection.

Me, I'm happy to watch the GOP implode. I'm not going to go out of my way to point out the obvious to the oblivious. Yourself excepted, of course, my dear leapin.

Posted by: nodebris | March 17, 2009 1:53 AM | Report abuse

nodebris |-

Since I have nothing to do with the GOP that would be your job.

P.S. I think Obama may be the greatest entertainer of all time.

Posted by: leapin | March 16, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

"Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Suggesting that he is the leader of, and somehow emblematic, of the conservative movement is like suggesting that Al Franken is someone who should be elected to important public office. Who would buy that?"

Minnesota.

Oh, and I don't think that's a very promising line of attack from the party that elected Ronald Reagan, Sonny Bono, Clint Eastwood, Gopher from the Love Boat, Fred Thompson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger to high public office. Are you trying to say that the GOP would never follow an entertainer? Because it looks like a pretty common thin in the GOP.

At any rate, the GOP's elected leaders are certainly getting a nasty and somewhat embarrassing case of rash burn on the forehead from ceaselessly bowing before Rush's imposing bulk. Maybe you ought to tip *them* off that he's just an entertainer.

Posted by: nodebris | March 16, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse


"One of the most common topics amongst conservatives these days is who will be their “savior.” Names often tossed around include Bobby Jindal, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh. However, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) tells the Hill that he’s not sure if anyone is needed:

“I don’t know if we need to have a person who epitomizes the Republican Party right now,” said Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., who served under DeLay and Gingrich. “But the advantage is when you don’t have the prima donnas, you’ve got more teamwork."

Posted by: drindl | March 16, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"For Carlson to say Stewart is just a partisan attack dog is laughable."

Particularly when that's exactly what Carlson is. He's just a wee bit jealous because his crappy show was cancelled for low ratings and Stewart is wildly popular.

Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh. Aren't they the same scumbag?

Posted by: drindl | March 16, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Sen-elect Franken, former Sen Coleman is being touted as a potential replacement for Mr Steele:

http://www.politico.com/playbook/0309/playbook618.html

Posted by: bsimon1 | March 16, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

" To date, congressional Republicans -- and a handful of leading governors -- haven't fared as badly as some expected in the daily message fight with the White House."

yeah, Mr. Cilizza. Having you and the rest of the corporate media on their side really helps.

Posted by: drindl | March 16, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Suggesting that he is the leader of, and somehow emblematic, of the conservative movement is like suggesting that Al Franken is someone who should be elected to important public office. Who would buy that?

Posted by: leapin | March 16, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm tired of listening to Cheney's fear tactics. Their administration was focused on raising the fear of Americans to justify their going into Iran to enhance his and the Bush family's oil based wealth. They still don't get the need for alternative energy sources because it would take away from the dividends they get from their oil stocks. With all their money, they could get in on the ground floor of building alternative energy sources and create a new found source of wealth for themselves and their families. Just shows how backward thinking they are. They just want to hold onto the status quo because its good for them but not good for the rest of America.

Cheney and Bush have zero credibility.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | March 16, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

While it is true that Obama had an advantage from his broad base of volunteers and donor organized via the Internet, it was not Obama's greatest advantage over Sen. John McCain (R). Obama's greatest advantage over John McCain was the in-the-tank-for-Obama Main Stream Media. While John McCain and the Republican Party had to pay for all their campaigning expenses, Barack Obama and the Democrat Socialist Party were getting a billion dollars worth of free publicity by their tacid propaganda arm, who acted as gatekeepers for any and all news. It was the reason we the public knew everything that ever happened in the lives of John McCain and Sarah Palin going back to their teenage years, while all of Barack Obama's was censored, kept hidden, and was suppressed. We never heard that Obama was tied in and was assocciated with Communists and Black Liberationists in his early years. We heard nothing from the MSM about Obama's 20+ year membership and support of that vile racist white--hating and America--hating black--version of the KKK-like Church he belonged to Trinity UFC. We heard nothing about his links to American terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorhn, nor about his close ties to white--hating Anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam hate-group. All of these sordit Obama ties and more were censored and suppressed by a fawning MSM that was working in his behalf, while that same MSM dug up things like a DUI arrest of Sarah Palins husband while he was a teenager and before they met and got married. The biggest advantage by far Barack Obama and the Democrat Socialist Party had, AND STILL HAS, is the in-the-tank Main Stream Media.

Posted by: armpeg | March 16, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

According to you, "• Republican Response: To date, congressional Republicans -- and a handful of leading governors -- haven't fared as badly as some expected in the daily message fight with the White House. ".
My Lord, how bad did you expect them to be?
Losing the stimulus vote after announcing Republican discipline? Bobby Jindal's response? Apologizing to Limbaugh? Job approval rating in the teens?
Where you expecting worse?

Posted by: MikeKelly45 | March 16, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

SEYMOUR HERSH'S 'EXECUTIVE ASSASSINATION RING' BOMBSHELL IS JUST ONE ELEMENT OF A HORRIFIC 'EXTRAJUDICIAL PUNISHMENT NETWORK' THAT VICTIMS REFER TO AS...


http://www.nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america


OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

http://My.NowPublic.com/scrivener


Will the national press corps start doing some serious reporting on this...

...or at least ask Robert Gibbs about Sy Hersh's contention that U.S. government "black ops" against American citizens are still ongoing?

Is such authority still vested in the VP's office? If not, when was such authority rescinded, and by whom?

That is a question that needs answering.

***

And John King: How could you NOT ask Cheney about this?

A true sin of omission that cannot be dismissed as inadvertent.

Was there a "deal" struck?

What would Wolf Blitzer have done?

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 16, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Dick Cheney? Same guy who says that the leader of the free world should "debate" a radio blowhard? Hilarious!

Posted by: mattintx | March 16, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Tucker Carlson hates Jon Stewart for the way Stewart ripped him up during that long-ago Crossfire segment. Stewart isn't carrying water for Obama; he's been plenty hard on the new President, particularly the things Obama has said he would do that he hasn't yet done.

For Carlson to say Stewart is just a partisan attack dog is laughable.

Posted by: dbitt | March 16, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

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