Obama alumni launch new outside group to boost reelection

Former White House officials launched a new group on Friday intended to fend off conservative attacks on President Obama's reelection with unlimited campaign cash.

Former Obama deputy press secretary Bill Burton announced the long-expected formation of Priorities USA and Priorities USA Action, twin groups that will take advantage of campaign finance loopholes President Obama had previously decried.

The groups opened up shop on Friday with a website and video attacking the "extreme right," showcasing examples of some Republican presidential candidates' harsh rhetoric toward Obama, as well as the deep-pocketed conservatives who support them.

The groups in many ways mirror their counterparts on the right, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, the two GOP-boosting groups founded by Bush political guru Karl Rove and another senior Bush aide and longtime Republican figure, Ed Gillespie.

Crossroads GPS took advantage of elements of the tax code to collect unlimited donations from individuals and corporations to spend tens of millions of dollars against Democratic candidates in the 2010 election.

"Last year, Obama’s White House and hard left allies launched a coordinated PR and legal assault on non-disclosing conservative groups – and now, just six months later, Obama’s own political operatives are launching the very type of groups they demagogued as 'shadowy threats to democracy,'" said Jonathan Collegio, Crossroads's communications director. "Obama’s brazen hypocrisy, in encouraging his own operatives to start groups exactly like the ones he demagogued last year, shows how cynical this President can be when it comes to perpetuating his own power."

Priorities USA Action will take advantage of the same part of election law, opened by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, to raise and spend millions in similar unlimited donations, to defend Obama and go on the attack against the GOP.

The group's opening salvo, posted to YouTube, takes on a number of Republican presidential candidates; it features clips of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (implying she's "ill-informed"), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Donald Trump.

The launch of the group is also tinged with the notion, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Obama and many of his top White House officials (including Burton, who left the administration to co-found Priorities USA), had decried the unchecked spending by conservative groups in the 2010 election, using the closing weeks of the campaign to launch high-profile attacks against Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in particular.

Priorities USA won't be the only group established by Democrats this cycle, either. Liberal activist David Brock has sought out donors for a similar group, American Bridge 21st Century, and alumni of the House and Senate have established efforts to help Democrats running for those bodies in the next election.

Updated at 9:54 a.m.