Officials said they settled on the plan to use the president’s own words after examining private and public polls showing that the approach resonated with swing voters nationally and in key battlegrounds.
“Because the president remains personally well liked, [the GOP strategy] is a good way to not have to swim against that tide,” said Ed Gillespie, a former RNC chairman who is in regular contact with senior party officials. “It’s his own words.”
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 [Joe] 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.