“Governor Romney implies that his job creation record in Massachusetts is something to brag about,” the text reads. “In fact, the state ranked a dismal 47th out of 50 in job creation during his tenure.”
The third Web site, KeepingGOPHonest.com, allows Obama supporters to play offense, providing damaging material about his rivals. A sample page ridicules Romney’s comment during a Republican primary debate in South Carolinathat he has lived on the “real streets of America” and lists his connections to Washington lobbyists.
(Courtesy of the Obama Campaign) - A sample web page for new Internet sites the Obama campaign is rolling out Monday
Asked about the approach, Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney, accused the president’s campaign of practicing a politics of “personal destruction.”
The Obama campaign has arranged for surrogates — including members of Congress and state politicians — to lead the Truth Teams in battleground states. In Arizona, which Obama lost in 2008 but the campaign eyes as a potential win because of the growing Hispanic population, state Rep. Ruben Gallego (D) said that he fights back when he hears people say that Obama caused the mortgage meltdown and that his administration lost more jobs than any in history.
“On the loonier side, when I talk to Republicans in the state legislature I have to remind them he’s an American citizen,” Gallego said. “We have to be prepared for the dirtiness coming from the other side. They’re desperate.”
In 2008, Obama’s campaign produced a Web site called “Fight the Smears” to counter rumors that Obama was a Muslim and born in Indonesia.
But the approach can backfire, as the Obama team learned last fall when it debuted AttackWatch.com and the site was ridiculed by conservatives for the over-the-top, alarmist design — red lettering on a black background. The Obama campaign said 1 million supporters signed up on the site, but it has since been redesigned.for the re-launch Monday.
Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg, who is analyzing the effect of social media on politics, said television ads remain the dominant form of broad-based communications for the campaigns. But she pointed to the power of the Web in fomenting political backlash.
“It makes a lot of sense that in 2012 you have to think of rapid response differently because of the proliferation of outlets,” Greenberg said. “This is very much like efforts of the past, but recognizing there are lots of ways people get information and covering all of those bases.”