Campaign committees

Campaign committees

Blue Dogs hire Whalen to beef up operations

The Blue Dog PAC has tapped Andrew Whalen, a former top adviser to Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), to head its political operations heading into the 2012 cycle, and charged him with expanding the coalitions grassroots and new media efforts.

Republicans picked off many centrist and conservative Democrats — called "Blue Dogs" — when they took control of the House in 2010, leaving a smaller contingent of more liberal Democrats in office. Aggressive campaigning in centrist districts is a key component of the Democratic playbook to flip the 25 seats they need to take back control of the lower chamber.

“As the extremes on the right and the left fight for their own interests, the interests of the American people are being left behind, said Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), co-chairman of the Blue Dog PAC. “With this expanded operation, Blue Dogs will be better equipped to recruit, endorse and support candidates in the 2012 election who are committed to fiscal responsibility, everyday American values and commonsense measures that help businesses grow.”

Whalen, a campaign veteran, has also served as executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party.


RNC pulls in $8.2 million in August, surpassing DNC

The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised $8.17 million in August, its highest ever for an off-year August and almost $3 million more than its Democratic counterpart pulled in for the same period.

That brought the total raised by the group this year to $52 million. RNC officials reported having more than $9 million cash on hand and almost $16 million in debt, putting them in much better shape than at the start of the year, when they had less than half a million in cash and $24 million in debt.

The DNC raised $5.5 million, Reuters reported — almost a million less than it did the month before. But its fundraising numbers for 2011 so far, when added to the money raised for Obama's reelection campaign, reached $118 million, far surpassing the Republican figures.

Off-year summers and August in particular are typically slow fundraising periods for both parties.


RNC chairman: Obama itinerary proves he’s playing politics with job plan

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus lashed out Tuesday at President Obama’s road trip to key swing states to build support for his jobs proposal, drawing a contrast between Obama’s pledge to take his plan to people all across the country and his actual itinerary. 

“It turns out he’s using it for political purposes,” Priebus said on a conference call with reporters. “We all get the joke.” 

{mosads}Obama traveled on Friday to Virginia — home of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) — and on Tuesday is in Ohio — home of Speaker John Boehner (R) — to rally support for the jobs creation package he pitched to Congress last week. He will make another stop at North Carolina State University on Wednesday. 

All three are swing states Obama won in 2008 and all are important to his reelection. 

“I don't think anybody should be surprised he's not stopping in North Dakota and Montana and Alaska to sell his ‘Stimulus 2’ package,” Priebus said. 

Ohio GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine said Obama’s plan should get proper consideration, but that if he’s serious about bipartisanship, he should give equal consideration to Republican ideas on how to spur economic growth. 

“He has a very steep hill to climb when it comes to redeeming his credibility on job creation,” DeWine said. 

Obama’s job plan occupies the delicate and muddled space between a policy issue and a campaign issue. Although the election is more than a year away and Republicans haven’t yet picked their candidate to run against Obama, the election is already poised to be at least in part a referendum on the economy and on Obama’s efforts to dig the country out of recession. 

The Democratic National Committee has already launched an ad campaign promoting the $447 billion jobs package, using clips of Obama’s speech to Congress. Meanwhile, Republican campaign groups have been pushing the message that the plan represents another attempt by Obama to spend on government programs without paying for it.


DNC touts Obama jobs plan on new website

The Democratic National Committee has come out with a new website touting President Obama's American Jobs Act, underscoring the degree to which Democrats plan to use the proposal to drive their message, during the 2012 cycle, that Obama and Democrats are working to right the economy while Republicans and congressional inaction are stalling progress.

It also represents an unusual move by a campaign organization to try to reap the benefits of legislation that not only hasn't passed yet, but hasn't even arrived on lawmakers' desks.


RNC chairman calls Obama jobs plan a 'big fraud'

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called much of President Obama's $447 billion jobs plan a "big fraud" Friday, dismissing Obama's claim that the plan is paid for but also acknowledging that Republicans might be able to stomach parts of the proposal. 

"The reality is we're facing a monstrosity of a problem, and the reality is the president is playing with Chinese checkers here," Priebus said on MSNBC. "I tended to believe a lot of what the president had to say was a big fraud last night." 

Priebus said after the plan was evaluated, it became clear it was not actually paid for, and that Obama shouldn't be touting trade agreements that have been awaiting presidential action for years. 

But asked if the House GOP leadership's decision not to totally denounce Obama's plan was a sign of some consensus, he pointed to an extension of payroll tax cuts as one of a few areas where he thought Republicans and Democrats could work together. 

"There are some things I think both parties can agree to," said Priebus, who heads the fundraising and campaign arm of the Republican party. "That's the common ground we're looking for."

In interviews and statements since Obama's Thursday night address to Congress, where he laid out a plan he said would immediately put Americans back to work, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have been quick to highlight their own plan. They have cautiously avoided dismissing Obama's, however, wary of appearing to be standing in the way of ideas they had earlier embraced.

Cantor said tax relief for small businesses, unemployment compensation reform and trade agreements were all items he thought could pass the Republican-controlled House.


RNC goes after Obama with TV spot in four swing states

The Republican National Committee (RNC) launched a second phase of its TV ads Wednesday, targeting President Obama in four key swing states.

The ads go after Obama and his management of the economy, offering a preview of the messaging Republicans will be using against the president in 2012.

This spot uses Obama's words during 2008's campaign, in which he talks about the need for change, and contrasts them with his economic record. The ad is airing in Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — four states Obama won in 2008, and four states in which Republicans hope to mount an offensive in 2012.

"President Obama won in 2008 by winning nine states President Bush carried in 2004. These states will undoubtedly be battlegrounds again in 2012 and Obama’s surrogates have also talked about widening the 2012 electoral map and playing in other states he failed to carry in 2008, like Arizona and Georgia," RNC political director Rick Wiley wrote in a memo. "This seems a curious strategy given the trouble he has closer to home."

The ad is the second in a series of new, weekly ads the RNC intends to release this month. They have limited television ad buys.


NRCC has twice as much cash on hand as Dems

The National Republican Congressional Committee outraised the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in May.  While the DCCC ended the month with less debt, the NRCC has double the amount of cash on hand.

On Monday, the NRCC said it brought in $4.6 million in May and ended with $10.6 million cash on hand. The NRCC finished May with $7 million in debt. The month’s numbers brought the NRCC's overall fundraising numbers for the year to $26.8 million.

Meanwhile, the DCCC said on Monday that it raised $3.8 million in May and had $5.34 million cash on hand. The May numbers bring the DCCC's total funds raised for the year to $27.45 million, with $6.6 million in debt.

The May numbers are something of a shift from this year's first-quarter fundraising figures. In the first quarter of 2011, the DCCC reported raising $19.6 million while cutting down its debt to $8 million. Meanwhile, the NRCC raised $18.1 million with a debt of about $8 million. The NRCC reported having roughly double the cash on hand that the DCCC did for the first quarter. The NRCC reported $9 million cash on hand, while the DCCC had $4.6 million.


Wasserman Schultz formally elected as DNC chief

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) was officially elected Wednesday as the new chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Wasserman Schultz, known as a partisan warrior and a fixture on the cable news circuit, replaces Tim Kaine, who is running for the seat of retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.).

DNC members gave Wasserman Schultz a standing ovation as she entered the meeting room, chanting, "Debbie, Debbie." She was elected by acclamation.

Immediately after her election, President Obama joined the gathering by phone to congratulate Wasserman Schultz on assuming the leadership of the committee.


RNC eyeing sponsored debates beginning this summer

The Republican National Committee (RNC) might sponsor a series of officially sanctioned debates for the party's 2012 presidential candidates, Chairman Reince Priebus said Tuesday.

Preibus acknowledged that the RNC remains in the process of contemplating sponsoring a series of official debates, which earlier reports had indicated the party was considering.

"The RNC is seeking to either sponsor, sanction, or put a Republican stamp on a limited number of debates," Priebus said at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.

Priebus said he could envision a series of monthly debates, beginning in the summer, for candidates who have entered the presidential race. These official forums wouldn't limit candidates from participating in any other debates.

The newly installed RNC chairman likened the party's plans to the officially sanctioned debates the Democratic National Committee (DNC) approved during the 2008 cycle.

"There isn't really anything more than that," he said.

But Priebus didn't address concerns about the debates and their format, namely whether the moderators would be selected by GOP officials or whether media outlets would have to pay for access to the debates.

Priebus did express concern that too many debates could erupt, as he said had happened in the 2008 campaign, leading to fatigue among voters by the time the early 2012 primaries arrive. The RNC-sanctioned debates, he said, would allow for a more organized pace to public candidate opportunities.