White House Cheat Sheet: Organizing for America Ramps Up
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.
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