Senator Barack Obama is capitalizing on his political opponent's attacks by using them as a cash cow. In an email yesterday and today to his supporters, the Illinois Democrat asked for donations to help respond to criticisms lobbed his way by primary opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY.
"I want to be able to say that 10,000 people responded with me in the first 48 hours," the email read. "Respond now with your donation of $25, and show our opponents that this kind of negativity will only make us stronger." "It's his presumptuousness," this operative says. "That he thinks he can deny her the nomination. Who is he to try to do that?" You mean, he's, uh, uppity? "Yes." A senior House Democratic aide notes, "The Clinton people are going nuts in how much they hate him. But the problem is their narrative has gone beyond the plausible."
By 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon the Obama campaign had passed its stated goal; 10,327 people had signed up to the "rapid response" promo, though the campaign declined to estimate the amount contributed.
"Several weeks ago, Senator Clinton said she wasn't going to attack fellow Democrats," Ben Labolt, an Obama spokesman told the Huffington Post, "but as the polls have shifted, that has changed. While Senator Clinton said attacking other Democrats is the 'fun part' of the campaign, we think this campaign must be centered around uniting the country and solving people's problems. As we said at the outset, we plan to respond forcefully with the truth when we are attacked."
As Arianna noted way back in August, presidential campaigns are making a habit out of raising money by being insulted.
During the past week, Clinton has accused Obama of, among other things, being inexperienced in foreign affairs and overly-ambitious politically. The attacks, however, ventured towards the absurd when the Clinton campaign accused Obama of being a careerist by citing, among other things, a report written by his kindergarten teacher saying that Obama wanted to be president. Two days after that attack was leveled, Mark Penn, Clinton's chief strategist, said the early schooling reference was meant to be a joke.
On Tuesday morning, the sides switched when Clinton's campaign manager, Patti Sollis Doyle sent out an email to the Senator's supporters, highlighting what she said were dirty tricks by the Obama campaign.
"In both Iowa and New Hampshire, we have heard that Obama staffers are berating Hillary supporters on the phone with negative attacks against her," Doyle wrote.
The back-and-forth reflects what political observers say is a growing acrimony between the candidates. Indeed, as the primary election approaches and the race tightens, the campaign has grown increasingly nasty. As reporter David Corn highlighted in a recent blog post, members of Clinton's campaign have come to "despise" Obama for being, what they deem to be, a "dishonest poser."
"They truly believe it," Corn writes. "And other Democrats in Washington report encountering the same when speaking with Clinton campaign people. "They really, really hate Obama," one Democratic operative unaffiliated with any campaign, tells me. "They can't stand him. They talk about him as if he's worse than Bush." What do they hate about him? After all, there aren't a lot of deep policy differences between the two, and he hasn't gone for the jugular during the campaign.