David Axelrod, Stephanie Cutter, And How the Obama 2012 Team is Its Own Worst Enemy
President Obama has a problem on his hands. More serious than the fact that Mitt Romney has caught up with him in quite a few polls, more immediate than the edge Paul Ryan surprisingly has with seniors, and more disheartening than the fact that many experts are now predicting that he very well could lose in November.
That problem is his own team. What was once a highly efficient and well-organized campaign that led to an electoral landslide in 2008 has become a sputtering and conflicted mix of egotistical staffers and arguing advisors.
Of course, people can argue that the Romney campaign has had its own mix-ups. However, aside from the "Etch-a-sketch" and Andrea Saul gaffes, Romney’s campaign has run like a well-oiled machine. Over the past three months Romney and the RNC have completely devastated their opponents in fundraising. To add insult to injury, Romney’s campaign and its surrogates have shown immense uniformity, proving much more capable than the bumbling McCain campaign of 2008.
Obama’s campaign advisers and surrogates have been a complete disaster. Deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter was busted two weeks ago lying about who and what she knew regarding a factually incorrect ad from Priorities USA, an Obama Super PAC. What was supposed to be a knockout punch to Mitt Romney completely blew up in Cutters face.
Senior campaign strategist David Axelrod has become an immense liability as well. Several of his morning-show appearances have become quite contentious, with Axelrod often taking a harsh tone with people who challenge him on things.
A rumored argument between Axelrod and Cutter spawned a weeks long conflict that left the two top aides divided and angry. Axelrod had come to believe that Cutter had taken a network television appearance that he’d been asked to do. It has since been reported that the two were barely on speaking terms for weeks, which is never good for a campaign.
Vice President Joe Biden has had his own series of gaffes lately that even the writers on SNL couldn’t have penned. Long before he made comments of a suggestive or racial nature, Biden let his views on gay marriage slip, which forced Obama to do the same much sooner than he would have preferred.
Biden claimed that Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina, saying that Messina “threw him under the bus.” Biden apologized to Obama in a private meeting after informing the president that he believed some of the top campaign aides had betrayed him.
Florida Congresswoman and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has been nothing short of a train wreck as an Obama surrogate. The Obama team has criticized her for coming across as too partisan during interviews in a time where securing the support of independents is everything.
Wasserman-Schultz has also proven an extremely difficult person to interview, bickering with Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper on CNN, both of whom called her out for falsely representing everything from Mitt Romney’s views on abortion to Paul Ryan’s infamous budget.
A successful campaign is like any other kind of structure in the sense that a solid foundation is needed above all else. A presidential campaign's foundation is made up of its top advisers. When that house of cards crumbles, the campaigns messaging and attack soon follow.
The campaign that easily defeated McCain while running on "Hope and Change" now finds itself against a much more formidable opponent with a highly efficient campaign. Their sunny, optimistic outlook has turned in "Kill Romney." Perhaps it’s because Team Obama has never really had to fight for it before, or it could be that they simply don’t know how to respond to a public that doesn’t seem happy with the outcome of the presidents first term.
Either way, Romney ought to send flowers to David Axelrod, Stephanie Cutter and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. They may just end up being the best players on his team.