Similar conclusions emerged from months of focus groups and polling conducted by American Crossroads, the pro-GOP group that along with its affiliate, Crossroads GPS, expects to have raised $240 million during the 2011-12 cycle. A recent ad by the group featured a mom lying awake at night recalling that she backed Obama because he “spoke so beautifully” and promised recovery but now worrying that his policies were costly and ineffective.
“We don’t bang voters upside the head with an anti-Obama message, but we appeal to their sensibility that maybe they supported him in the past, and we make it okay for them to not support him now,” said Jonathan Collegio, a Crossroads spokesman.
The RNC’s Obama book reflects a number of technology developments since the last campaign, such as video archives that are searchable by keyword. It has been collected in part by a team of staff members and interns who spend each day in a windowless room on the RNC’s ground floor, staring at a dozen flat-screen TVs and monitoring the Web.
In the past, opposition research books took the form of three-ring binders. Many of those binders, dating to the 1976 race against President Jimmy Carter and spanning to the admittedly thin 2008 text on Obama, now sit on a bookshelf in the office of Pounder, the RNC research chief writing the 2012 book. This time, the document will exist only online, complete with links to videos, government reports, transcripts and other background material.
The new book contains more than a dozen chapters, including a 73-page section titled “The Obama Economy,” and has separate chapters logging local-level campaign promises delivered during stops in places such as Cleveland, Denver and Scranton, Pa.
When Obama heads out on the campaign trail, officials will use the newly compiled quotes and data to put in place a full-scale mobilization, including videos, op-eds in local papers, calls with local media outlets and appearances by local GOP supporters, all designed to highlight the president’s past statements in each locale, said Sean Spicer, the RNC’s spokesman. Promises relating to the Hispanic community will be fed to Hispanic bloggers and media.
“He made so many promises in so many places,” Spicer said. “The goal is whenever he does an interview in Scranton, Columbus, Ames, Cleveland or wherever, that every local reporter, blogger and concerned citizen says, ‘Hey, we’re armed here with information about the last time you were here, and we want you to answer to yourself.’ ”
The strategy can be seen in several Internet ads produced by the party in recent weeks.
A video titled “Failed Promises: Scranton” was released in November to coincide with an Obama visit to the northeastern Pennsylvania city. It shows Obama speaking about jobs and the economy, his face depicted through shattered windows of an abandoned factory as job-loss stats flash across the screen.
Another RNC ad, “It’s Been Three Years,” shows Obama as a candidate saying the “real question” is whether Americans would be better off in four years. Then it shows a clip from an October ABC interview when he tells George Stephanopoulos that “I don’t think they’re better off than they were four years ago.”
The spot ends with Obama the 2008 candidate drawing roaring applause when he proclaims: “This country can’t take four more years of the same failed policies. It’s time to try something new.”
Polling analyst Scott Clement contributed to this report.