On Monday, the president’s reelection team will unveil a trio of Web sites dedicated to providing supporters with information on the president’s record — and more than a little dirt on his Republican rivals. The campaign has named it Obama’s “Truth Team,” and the goal is to arm millions of surrogates with the facts, figures and talking points they need to engage in ground-level political combat — on their Twitter and Facebook feeds and in old-fashioned conversations with friends and neighbors.
“We believe that our grass-roots supporters persuading their networks to support the president will provide us with the decisive edge in November,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “We’re providing them with the tools they need to amplify the president’s record, fact-check the Republicans’ attacks and prevent the Republicans from rewriting the history of their records.”
The strategy is a modern adaptation of the rapid-response teams that Bill Clinton pioneered in his 1992 war room, where aides monitored multiple televisions to respond as quickly as possible to GOP attacks. But it also reflects a dispiriting acknowledgment by the Obama campaign that his 2012 reelection bid promises to be as ugly and bruising as his 2008 insurgent effort was uplifting — and the war must be waged at even the day-to-day micro level.
“As technology has developed, this process has developed,” said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman. “I remember some years ago when it was avant-garde to fax talking points to a list of party people who had given you their fax numbers. Now, it’s much faster, but it’s the same basic principle.”
LaBolt cast the approach as a way for ordinary Americans to level the playing field in the face of the glossy television ads funded by super PACs that are raising tens of millions for Republican candidates, including Restore Our Future, backing former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and Winning Our Future, supporting former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
More likely, however, the Web sites are more likely to accelerate the already bitter, ideological migration of the fight for the White House on the Web.
Of the three Truth Team portals, just one, KeepingHisWord.com, could be described as positive in tone, listing Obama’s accomplishments. A sample page provided by the campaign has the headline “Fighting for the U.S. Auto Industry” and explains that Obama extended “emergency loans” to Chrysler and GM in 2009. Now, the Detroit auto companies “are creating jobs.”
The other two sites are far more negative. AttackWatch.com aims to rebut political attacks against Obama. A sample page deconstructs Romney’s contention that January’s upbeat jobs report was a byproduct of private-sector innovation, not Obama’s policies.