With Republican voters in Iowa set to finally begin picking a nominee to challenge President Obama, GOP officials in Washington are quietly and methodically finishing what operatives are calling “the book” — 500 pages of Obama quotes and video links that will form the backbone of the party’s attack strategy against the president leading up to Election Day 2012.
The document, portions of which were reviewed by The Washington Post, lays out how GOP officials plan to use Obama’s words and voice as they build an argument for his defeat: that he made specific promises and entered office with lofty expectations and has failed to deliver on both.
Throughout his campaign, Mitt Romney has made the case that he can beat President Obama. The Republican presidential candidate is showing a new found confidence in Iowa, less than a week away from the Iowa caucuses. (Dec. 28)
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Republican officials say they will leverage the party’s newly catalogued video library containing every publicly available utterance from Obama since his 2008 campaign. Television and Internet ads will juxtapose specific Obama promises of job gains, homeowner assistance, help for people in poverty, lower health insurance premiums and stricter White House ethics standards against government data and news clippings that paint a different reality.
The decision by GOP officials to finalize a strategy at this stage underscores the view, in both parties, that the general-election campaign has begun — even if an official Republican nominee has not been selected.
The new GOP playbook is designed to take one of Obama’s great assets — the power of his oratory — and turn it into a liability. It details hundreds of potential targets, partially a result of a president who Republican strategists say is unusually prone to making detailed promises.
A 2009 Obama statement that his stimulus bill would lift 2 million Americans out of poverty, for example, is paired against census data showing that more than 6 million Americans have fallen into poverty since he took office. A pledge that an administration housing plan would “help between 7 and 9 million families restructure or refinance their mortgages” is paired against news reports showing the government spent far less than promised and aided fewer than 2 million.
And his 2008 Democratic nomination acceptance speech vow that a green jobs initiative would create 5 million jobs is matched up against news reports from this year depicting lackluster results and headlines about Solyndra, the failed maker of solar panels that received hundreds of millions in federal loan guarantees.
One Obama quote will be featured prominently: In 2009 he said on NBC’s “Today” show that if he could not fix the economy in three years, “then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
“That’s a clip the American people will hear and see over and over and over again throughout the next year,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. “The nice thing about Barack Obama is that he’s given us plenty of material. The one thing he loves to do is give speeches.”
A similar in-his-own-words strategy has already been adopted by Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee designed to portray GOP front-runner Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper.