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As the 2012 presidential campaign heats up, President Obama’s campaign team has set up a new Web site, AttackWatch.com, to challenge negative statements about the president made by Republican presidential candidates and conservatives.
Obama for America national field director Jeremy Bird told ABC News that the site’s goal is to offer “resources to fight back” against attacks. Mostly, that means fact checking statements from the likes of GOP presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and conservative commentator Glenn Beck and offering evidence to the contrary. The site is designed in bold red and black colors, and uses statements like “support the truth” and “fight the smears.”
The response to the site has been less than stellar.
On Twitter, where the Web site has an account to help Obama supporters submit evidence of “attacks” on the president using the hashtag #attackwatch, nearly every tweet about the site — mostly from conservatives — has ridiculed it.
“There's a new Twitter account making President Obama look like a creepy, authoritarian nutjob,” an Arizonan tweeted. “In less than 24 hours, Attack Watch has become the biggest campaign joke in modern history,” a contributor to conservative blog The Right Sphere wrote. The contributor linked to the following parody commercial for Attack Watch:
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite noted sarcastically of the site, “Great. Sounds like a terrific content-generating resource for right-wing bloggers, too. Everybody wins!”
While the initiative is reminiscent of a similar online effort launched during the 2008 campaign, called Fight the Smears, the intimidating design and language of the new site seems to be what’s causing a bigger ruckus.
Fight the Smears looked and felt far less scary, quoting Obama at the top of its page in a classic hope-change statement: “What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon — that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge but enemies to demonize.”
Attack Watch, on the other hand, uses the shorter tagline, “Get the Truth. Fight the Smears.”
It’s safe to say that in its 24 hours of existence, Attack Watch has already backfired, becoming a tool for conservatives to use against Obama 2012. A tweet by conservative author Brad Thor summed up the critics’s argument: “Wow, not only are Obama & Co. incredibly thin-skinned, they're paranoid.”
Update, Wednesday, 5:11 p.m.
Obama 2012’s press office just returned an earlier request for comment. According to deputy press secretary Katie Hogan, 100,000 people signed up for the site in the first 24 hours.
“This site is a tool providing our supporters with the facts they need to fight back against lies and distortions about the President’s record,” Hogan said.
Read responses from readers here.
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