Posts Tagged ‘Carl Levin’

Team eMeg: Dem Ad is a Plot to Pick a GOP Loser

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Meg Whitman’s campaign pushed back on a new $800K Democratic TV attack buy Friday, charging that the state party’s new ad is a cynical,  underhanded, union-financed effort to help Steve Poizner win the Republican nomination for governor.

And anyway, they insisted, it’s not an effective spot. All righty then: the food’s awful and the portions are too small.

Twelve hours after Calbuzz first reported that Jerry Brown’s campaign and the CDP had collaborated on the new hit, whacking eMeg as a sleazy Wall Street insider,  two of her strategists launched a two-track counter-attack on the effort:

They said it was not only “proof positive that the unions are trying to influence the Republican primary,” because they fear Whitman’s campaign promises to dump 40,000 state workers and cut public employee pension benefits, but also evidence that Poizner is a useful idiot who is the Democrat’s “clearly preferred candidate…. (because) they know he’s unelectable and they can beat him.”

Whitman communications director Tucker Bounds and senior adviser Rob Stutzman told political writers that their information, based on checks with TV stations around the state, was that the Dems were spending $800,000 on a buy that would run at least over the next four days.  Tenoch Flores, the CDP’s communications director, said the buy was “over $800,000” and would run for five days; the spot, among other things, hits eMeg for evading taxes through “an offshore shell game.”

On one level, the new CDP ad — authoritatively narrated by Peter Coyote — seeks support for legislation sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich) that aims to recover an estimated $100 billion in tax revenues lost by the United States each year as a result of corporations and citizens who dodge taxes by holding funds in offshore accounts in places like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. But that’s just in the last six seconds of a 30-second commercial. The first 24 seconds are used to attack eMeg, mostly for her connections to Goldman Sachs.

So any fair minded person viewing this ad would see it as an assault on Whitman, who is Exhibit A for “wealthy Wall Street insiders.” Calbuzz wanted to discuss the strategic political purpose of the ad, so we rang up CDP Chairman John Burton. He insisted the purpose of the ad is to support Levin’s anti-tax haven legislation (as if this were the No. 1 priority for the California Democratic Party).  When we said we were hoping to have an honest discussion about the political strategy of the ad, Burton exploded: “Are you calling me a liar? Fuck you!” And he hung up the phone. Hey Burton! Thanks for nothing, you jackass.

Brown’s spokesman Sterling Clifford (or Clifford Sterling, as our Department of Dyslexic Proper Names knows him) dismissed the notion that the Democrats want to help Poizner at Whitman’s expense. “The Republican party has two candidates who have rushed to embrace the extreme wing of their party,” he said. “Whichever one eventually gets the Republican nomination, we’re confident the people of California will choose Jerry Brown in November.”

BTW: Calbuzz predicts the CDP’s initial air time buy is just rope-a-dope (trying to avoid a Whitman counter assault) and that they’ll keep up the buy for a few more weeks.

What it all means: Poizner’s camp, basking in a momentum shift in the GOP race, dismissed the Whitman spin with its own, disdainful spin: “The Whitman Campaign has become a very expensive Humpty Dumpty,” said communications director Jarrod Agen, “and all of the Goldman Sachs money and all the hacks in Sacramento can’t put Meg’s campaign back together again.”

In a week when the Republican campaign was finally joined, after months in which Her Megness had the field to herself, the latest three-way exchange  makes clear that Whitman:

1-Will be forced to fight a two-front war over the next four weeks.

She’s now being whipsawed in an intriguing political dynamic, getting whacked from the right and left simultaneously on the very same issue – her close ties to Goldman Sachs.

Whistling past the graveyard, Bounds and Stutzman insisted that the Goldman-Sachs attack line is “not terribly effective” – while taking pains to point out Poizner’s own ties to the scandal-tainted investment bank (which Calbuzz reported on earlier this week), challenging reporters to put “sunlight on his investments” and point out his “hypocritical” stance on the issue.

No one has yet challenged the validity of the  extremely scientific Calbuzz calculation that Whitman scores 80% on the Goldman Sachs Taint of Scandal chart compared to just 15%  GSTS for Poizner and 5% for Brown.

2-Has lost control of the campaign narrative.

After months of stiffing the press – when a Wall Street Journal reporter asked eMeg a few months ago about her aversion to reporters, she answered that Some of these newspapers, as you know better than I, will not be around in the near termTeam Whitman has now convened two conference calls in three days in an effort to shape reporters’ stories, an attempt to redirect the emerging campaign meme that her once-big lead was based on soft support that’s quickly eroding.

3-Is being pushed hard to the right.

For much of the campaign to date, Whitman has been trying to position herself for a general election race. But with Poizner pressuring her hard on issues like immigration and his sweeping tax cut proposal, Bounds acknowledged Friday that eMeg will be more aggressive in efforts to portray her GOP rival as a demon sheep liberal and herself as “truly the most conservative candidate.” (HT to Steve Harmon of the Coco Times for raising the issue.) The negative comparative is  the point of her new spot ripping Poizner as a Prop. 13 supporter out to harm senior citizens.

Final word to Bounds: “There is plenty of evidence to suggest that…(Poizner)  is part of the Sacramento problem.”  Watch for more of this.

Press clip: Belated kudos to John Myers of KQED radio, who did a superb job of moderating the eMeg-Poizner smackdown the other night at San Jose’s Tech Museum.

Myers was firm but not overbearing in keeping control of the event throughout, did nice work in following up and forcing answers to questions from the panel the candidates ignored  – especially when he pressed eMeg to say whether  she did anything wrong on stock spinning (surprise, surprise, she said she didn’t) and tossed a gotcha question that put both candidates in Bambi-in-the-headlights mode. All this, plus he had the best tailored suit and crispest tie knot on the stage.

Just because: The slide show with this NYT piece is a riot.

Taxes and Torture: Boxer’s Profiles in Courage (and Cowardice)

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer made sure everyone at the Democratic state convention boxer1understood that she’s really, really pleased about her own special brand of political courage.

“Time after time I had to face down the defenders of the status quo,” she told delegates, in a Saturday speech that formally announced her re-election bid without a hint of humility.

“I have never been afraid to stand up to anyone,” she further assured delegates and the media. “I have never been afraid to stand alone,” she added, lest we miss the message.

But just when the Calbuzz Medical Team went on high alert, concerned that California’s junior senator might dislocate a limb, patting herself on the back, she suddenly encountered something she was afraid to take a stand on: the propositions on the May 19 ballot.

Questioned by John Wildermuth of the Chronicle at a press avail, Boxer took a total duck on the props, only the most controversial issue at the convention, insisting that she and Sen. Dianne Feinstein were about to launch a major investigation to plumb the depths and detail of Props. 1A-1F:

“I don’t know yet. I’m studying them. Sen. Feinstein and I were just talking about that. Our plate’s been so full we haven’t looked at it,” she said.

“Senator Feinstein and I decided we were going to work together on this, and we will have a statement coming on this,” she added with a straight face.

Scene: Exterior Hart Senate Building. Tracking shot moves in on and through a blue-curtained window to interior of well-appointed private United States Senate office.

Sen. Boxer (Sally Field) is stretched out on brown leather couch under an American flag comforter, wearing a house coat and twirling a lock of blonde hair with one finger, peering over Bulgari designer frames, lost in concentration reading the Ballot Handbook.

Sen. Feinstein (Cloris Leachman) is seated at FDR’s old desk, in flannel jammies and fluffy slippers, hair in curlers, tapping at a calculator as she checks columns of figures on a legal pad.

Boxer: “Dammit, Di, these ballot props are so complicated – this is our third all-nighter in a row. I hope we can work through them together in time to get a statement out before May 19.”

Feinstein: “Now Babs, unlike you, I’ve been a chief executive and I know what matters to the people of California is that we get it right, even if it is a few days after the election. You know, like my decision about whether to run for governor.”

Fade to black.

When Wildermuth’s Chronicle partner, Carla Marinucci, pressed Boxer about why she had no point of view on the props, Senator Standalone got downright huffy, explaining that she’s been Terribly Busy with Really Important Things, all, no doubt, of greater moment than a $40 billion bagatelle budget deficit for the state she represents:

“You may have noticed that we’ve been a little hectic and very involved in our work in Washington,” she snipped.

Well, excuuuuse us for bothering you. Sheesh. We’re just sayin’.

While Boxer could not abide taking a position on the props without Difi signing off, she showed no such reluctance on the issue of a truth commission about torture, an issue on which she and Feinstein have very different views.

“I believe in openness and democracy and the truth and getting the facts to the people,” Boxer said, explaining her support for an independent commission with subpoena power. “I also believe that this is something you can’t just walk away from. You can’t just suddenly say, when it’s inconvenient, you know we’re not going to pursue the law. You have to always follow the law.”

Boxer’s view aligns her with Senators Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Carl Levin, D-Mich., among others, and contrasts with that of Feinstein, who wants the whole messy torture inconvenience handled quietly by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which she chairs.

On Saturday, Boxer sidestepped when asked if she was happy with the way the Obama White House rolled out its position on whether to seek prosecution of Bush administration officials – with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel and Obama himself all expressive conflicting views.

“I don’t think there was any quote unquote good way to roll this out. This isn’t a good news story and a lot of times we feel ‘Oh my gosh we have to deal with this too,’ and I think there was some of that, so I’m not going to be critical,” she said.

“I just know that he’s doing the right thing to release these memos . . . and I hope he’ll come down on the side of an independent commission.”

Now, there’s a clarion call.