Messina Gives ‘Sneak Peek’ at Obama’s 2012 Re-Election Strategy

Jim Messina, who is running Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, told supporters in an Internet video released yesterday that they will have to “scratch and claw” to get the U.S. president re-elected.

“We have to act like an insurgent campaign that wakes up every single day trying to get every single vote we can,” Messina said in the video, which was described as a “sneak peek at 2012 strategy.”

Messina, who earlier this year resigned his position as deputy White House chief of staff to manage the campaign, laid out tactics that he said had worked in 2008, including expanding the electorate to register more voters than Republicans. He said campaign workers should reconnect with past supporters through social media sites, along with using more traditional methods such as calling voters on the telephone and knocking on their doors.

“We’ve got to assume every single day that we need to build something new, better, faster and sleeker,” he said in the video message e-mailed to supporters and posted on Obama’s campaign website. “Republicans are going to be fired up to take on President Obama.”

In the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans won control of the House and gained seats in the Senate. Responding yesterday to Messina’s video, Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in an e-mailed statement that “it’s no surprise” Obama’s campaign is “desperately seeking something new, because the American people simply can’t afford four more years of the status quo.” She cited rising gasoline prices as one of the failures of Obama’s first term.

Citizens United Decision

Messina said the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case, which gave corporations the ability to use their treasuries to fund political ads through Election Day, has “fundamentally changed the way campaigns are funded.” Republican groups have set a goal of raising $120 million to defeat Obama in 2012, Messina said -- something they could not have legally done before the high court’s ruling.

“We have to compete with that,” he said in the video, sitting in front of a map of the U.S. “What you all are going to build will be even stronger than that.”

Democrats are setting up organizations to counter outside Republican groups such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads Global Policy Strategies. Former White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, a former top aide to then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, are forming a group with a goal of raising $100 million on behalf of Obama for his re-election.

Messina asked supporters to summon the level of enthusiasm they had for Obama in 2008, sign up on the campaign’s website and Facebook page, and donate “five or 10 dollars to help us get started.”

Campaign Papers Filed

On April 4 the president filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to begin his bid for re-election. Since then he has traveled across the country in an effort to make the case for a second term by listing the accomplishments of his first, such as overhauling the U.S. health-care system and imposing new regulations on the financial industry while balancing two wars and dealing with an unemployment rate that reached a 26-year high of 10.2 percent nine months after he took office and is now 8.8 percent.

Messina has asked the top fundraisers to each collect at least $350,000 this year alone -- a significant increase over Obama’s first presidential campaign, for which members of the candidate’s national finance committee were each asked to raise $250,000 in the two-year 2007-08 election cycle.

Fund Raising

Last week Obama attended events in San Francisco and Los Angeles that were expected to bring in between $4 million and $5 million, according to a Democratic official who was not authorized to publicly discuss the party’s fundraising. The price of individual admission ranged from $25 for parties for younger voters to $35,800 for exclusive dinners.

The president and his wife, Michelle, will travel to Chicago tomorrow to tape “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Later in the day they will attend fundraisers in New York City.

Analysts say they expect the 2012 presidential election to cost $3 billion, about 50 percent more than the $2 billion the Federal Election Commission said was spent in 2008 by candidates, the political parties and outside groups.

Obama raised a record $745 million in 2007-08, and he was the first major-party nominee to reject public financing for the general election.

Republican Candidates

So far no clear Republican frontrunner has emerged. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said yesterday that he will not seek the White House in 2012. Former Governors Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts have established presidential exploratory committees, taking the first official step toward bids for the White House.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia on March 3 announced the establishment of a website to enable him to raise money and possibly run for president. Other prospective 2012 Republican candidates include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee; former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee; Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget; and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who is stepping down as U.S. ambassador to China this month.

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