Internal Strife Enervates Obama Campaign

Monday, 20 Aug 2012 10:34 AM

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A blockbuster new book about President Obama’s re-election efforts reveals that his campaign is being ravaged by internal conflicts on all sides.

According to “Obama’s Last Stand,” a new e-book published by Politico and Random House, numerous Obama advisers say disagreement over strategy and personnel have occupied center stage during Obama’s re-election quest.

This is particularly troublesome for Obama given that the smooth operation of his 2008 campaign received much of the credit for his victory.

At times the conflict has flowed down from the top, as Obama has protested the inability of the White House and his campaign staff to get on the same page, and he has criticized Vice President Joe Biden for his loose lips.

Campaign personnel in Chicago can’t even get along with each other. After a spat earlier this year, two top members of the staff — David Axelrod and Stephanie Cutter — barely spoke to each other. Many Obamaites also view Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz as ineffective.

The idea of “hope and change,” Obama’s rallying cry in 2008, is gone, as many Republicans have pointed out. What remains is Obama’s intense desire to beat Republican candidate Mitt Romney and stay in the White House. Politico calls it a “mostly joyless campaign.”

Obama doesn’t even have professional respect for Romney, the president’s current and former advisers say. “There was a baseline of respect for John McCain. The president always thought he was an honorable man and a war hero,” an Obama adviser said. “That doesn’t hold true for Romney. He was no war hero.”

The e-book features a series of anecdotes detailing the Obama campaigns’ stumbles, including several that involve Biden.

The vice president is taking heat now for his comments last week to an audience of largely African-Americans that Republicans want to “put y’all back in chains.” But he likely caused Obama more consternation in May, when he went off script in announcing his support for gay marriage.

That move pushed Obama to make the same pronouncement before he had planned. And the contentiousness among Obama staff members was stronger than what the media then reported.

Biden put the onus on his campaign manager, Jim Messina, for “throwing him under the bus” in the media. But that accusation proved to be false, sources say. It had to be settled in a tete-a-tete between the president and vice president in which Biden apologized profusely and said Obama’s aides stabbed him in the back.

Obama’s response: “Look, Joe, there are people who want to divide us. You and I have to be on the same page from now on. You and I have to make sure that we don’t get divided.”

In another incident, the president had to personally send senior White House aides David Plouffe and Pete Rouse to Chicago to instill some kind of harmony between the White House and Chicago.

Obama was particularly upset by campaign aides trying to gain publicity for themselves. He didn’t like seeing ad consultant Jim Margolis’ name in a New York Times profile concerning Obama’s negative ad efforts, and Margolis’ subsequent apology didn’t satisfy the president.


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