Karl Rove seems determined to make a mockery of the notion that nominally independent political organizations raising unlimited funds are not really just adjuncts of the major presidential campaigns. His two groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, have already raised and spent tens of millions of dollars on misleading ads  that inaccurately attack President Obama’s record.
Now they are going a step further, by cutting a commercial that actually gets involved in a spat between Obama and Mitt Romney. As the Tribune Washington Bureau reports :
After getting pounded by President Barack Obama’s campaign with slashing ads about his business record and finances, Mitt Romney is getting some back-up support on the airwaves.
The conservative super PAC American Crossroads is weighing in with a new $9.3 million television buy in nine states accusing Obama of lobbing unfair attacks to distract from his economic record.
“What happened to Barack Obama?” asks a female narrator, as ominous music plays over still frames of Obama’s anti-Romney ads. “The press and even Democrats say his attacks on Mitt Romney’s business record are misleading, unfair and untrue…. So why is Obama attacking? He’s added $4 billion in new debt every single day. Unemployment’s [sic] stuck above 8 percent. Family incomes—falling. Barack Obama can’t run on that record.” The ad is schedule[d] to air for 11 days on broadcast television in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.
This is a major shift. Until now Super PAC’s and 501(c)4 organizations have tried to maintain the fiction that they are promoting a policy agenda, and merely doing so by criticizing Obama’s record. The new ad, though, has no pretense of being anything other than a commercial for the Romney campaign with money he could not raise himself due to individual donation limits. As Nicholas Confessore explains in the New York Times, this ad demonstrates, “how super PACs and outside groups can synchronize with the candidates they support without violating federal rules that prohibit direct coordination.”
This synchronized Romney campaign spending will bolster Republicans’ dramatic spending advantage in this cycle. As the Washington Post reports , the Romney campaign itself has just passed the Obama campaign in cash on hand. The Wall Street Journal attributes this to Obama’s higher burn rate and suggests the result may be that Romney will outspend Obama in September and October, when low information swing voters finally start paying attention. The Journal reports , “Henry Barbour, a Romney fundraiser and Republican National Committee member from Mississippi, said: ‘Given my druthers, I’d rather outspend someone in September and October than June and July. I think they [the Romney campaign] are putting themselves in a strong position to outspend Obama in the fall.’ ” All of that will come on top of the $300 million that Rove’s twin groups are expected to spend by Election Day.
Naturally, the Romney campaign commercials are just as disingenuous as those produced by Rove’s groups. He just released one called “These Hands” that distorts Obama’s recent, self-evidently true, comments that even successful entrepreneurs could succeed only in a functioning democracy with basic social investments (public schools, public roads etc) such as ours. The Washington Post writes:
These Hands” is now a 30-second ad going after President Obama for telling small business owners to remember the government and community that helped them get where they are.
Like the Web video, Romney’s ad truncates Obama’s words to make them more damaging.
“In the ad, the video jumps from the president saying ‘If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own’ to ‘If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.’ In his speech, Obama spoke in between about the infrastructure and education that help, making it more clear that he was saying individuals didn’t build that system, not that individuals don’t build their own businesses.
Romney and Rove are assisted by the conservative media, much of which acts as a purely partisan campaign adjunct rather than journalists with an ideological perspective. Within two days of Obama’s speech last week, Media Matters noted , Fox News had aired forty-two segments, adding up to nearly two hours of airtime, distorting Obama’s comments. The Republican and conservative propaganda complex will do everything it can to defeat Obama, and it appears that they can do quite a lot.