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video: Is Warren Crying Wolf on Karl Rove?

Saturday, September 01, 2012

 

The campaign for Democratic Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren issued a press release on Friday calling on Republican Senator Scott Brown to tell Karl Rove and the SuperPAC Crossroads GPS to keep out of the Massachusetts race.

The release came after a story in Friday's edition of the Boston Globe reported a meeting between Brown and the Bush-era advisor in Tampa on Thursday.

According to another report in BusinessWeek, Rove met with high-level Republican donors earlier that same day for a screening of television ads produced by Crossroads GPS.

“Massachusetts voters don’t need Karl Rove coming into our state," said Warren Campaign Manager Mindy Myers.

"In too many races across the nation, Karl Rove and Crossroads GPS have spent millions airing false, negative ads to help Republican candidates. These attacks – funded by secret donors – do a disservice to voters."

Attached was a copy of a letter written by Warren and addressed to Rove, wherein the candidate requested Rove and Crossroads GPS respect the People's Pledge signed by the two candidates and refrain from running attack ads in the Bay State.

Same Tactic, Different Target

The Warren campaign released a similar statement less than a week earlier after comments from the head of the banking SuperPAC Friends of Traditional Banking surfaced in a National Mortgage News article.

Under the People's Pledge, if an outside group buys television ads in Massachusetts to help either Warren or Brown, the benefiting candidate must then make a donation equal to half the amount spent on the ads to a charity of his or her opponent's choice.

Brown has already made contributions in excess of $35,000 to the Autism Consortium thanks to the agreement.

The difference this time around: the group soliciting donations is the Warren campaign itself.

Within hours of the initial press release, the Warren campaign had sent an email to supporters entitled "Karl Rove's back" seeking $5.00 contributions "to help Elizabeth fight back against Karl Rove and his Republican friends."

Scant Evidence for Claims Against Crossroads

Yet even as the Warren camp sounded the rallying cry, the evidence backing its claims against Crossroads GPS and Rove was beginning to crumble.

Globe Politics Editor Glen Johnson backpedaled on the alleged meeting between Brown and Rove, admitting that though the two were together in the Tampa Marriott when he observed them, they also had separate tables in the restaurant.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts-related ad screened during the Crossroads presentation was revealed to be one of two ads the group produced and ran in the Bay State in late 2011, prior to the candidates signing the People's Pledge in January of this year.

In addition, Crossroads GPS has given no indication that it intends to make any further expenditures in Massachusetts, according to an individual close to the organization.

There have been no SuperPAC ad purchases from Boston-based television stations.

For Warren, A Risky Play

Expert observers say the Warren campaign's effort to advance the anti-Rove narrative shows the Democrat, trailing Brown by 5 points in the latest Public Policy Polling data, backed into a corner.

"Karl Rove is such an attractive target for Democrats that it is no surprise Warren went after him," said the Brookings Institute's Darrell West.

"Waving the Rove towel is a great way to mobilize the base."

Still, said Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report, the charges lack substance.

"This has more to do with fundraising than anything else," she said.

"Warren gets to invoke Rove's name, which is a hot button for donors, and suggest that Crossroads is suddenly a threat. Everyone gets the joke, except the donors."

While the potential surge of support may bolster Warren's campaign--and its bank account--the move is not without its risks, said UMass-Lowell's Dennis "DJ" Deeb.

Poll numbers aside, Warren has an advantage in sharing a party with President Barack Obama, who is predicted to win Massachusetts by a reasonably wide margin.

But her recent attempts to paint Brown the same shade of red as the rest of the GOP could backfire if she's perceived as a negative campaigner.

"If she comes off completely as a naysayer it negates any advantage she has as a Democrat in this race," Deeb said.

Casting Rove as the antagonist in the Senate race means campaigning against a shadow opponent at the cost of promoting her own positive image.

"Karl Rove and his machine are much more focused on the presidential election," said Deeb.

 

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