Third Party Groups Could Make It Hard For Presidential Candidates To Stay On Message

The winner of the 2012 battle for the White House will likely be the candidate who best stays on message and wins the messaging war, but that could be an extremely difficult task in the super PAC era (Think, Gingrich - 2012 Florida Republican presidential primary). Politico's Alexander Burns has more:

The risk from rogue third-party groups is a potential menace to both Republicans and Democrats. The GOP has seen more super PACs and 501(c)(4) groups form to support its candidates, but there’s nothing to stop an individual liberal gazillionaire from commissioning ads on a subject the Obama campaign doesn’t want to talk about — say, Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith. And rogue ads could create friendly fire as much as score points against the opposition, as the official GOP’s repudiation of the Ending Spending plan showed.

In fact, it was partly Obama’s wariness about losing control of Democratic messaging that led him to discourage independent efforts supporting his 2008 and 2012 campaigns. He has more recently given his blessing to a single super PAC, Priorities USA, in an attempt to counter deep-pocketed GOP groups such as American Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity.

Paul Begala, the veteran Democratic operative working with Priorities USA, said the simple reality is “candidates and campaigns are no longer masters of their own fate — even their own messaging, on their own side of the fight.”

“There is not the slightest reason to believe Romney wants to inject race into the campaign. And yet, if that ad were to have run, a lot of fair-minded people would have said, look, that’s coming from your side,” Begala said. “You take one crackpot comment and multiply it by $10 million. … I get tired of everybody having to account for what everybody else says, but that’s the new normal.”

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published this page in In The News 2012-05-21 12:40:46 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy