The 2012 campaign will feature a specialized attack strategy that both sides believe will be devastating: electronic stockpiling of past comments by the major-party nominees to be used against them in the general election race.
Both the Democrats and the Republicans are compiling candidates' videos, quotes, tape recordings, interviews, speeches and other pieces of information that could be used against the other side. The goal is to find examples of hypocrisy, broken promises, extremism, ignorance, or plain foolishness--and to, in effect, make the candidates run against their past selves. [See photos of 2012 GOP candidates.]
The Republican National Committee is touting its large video database that will be used against Obama and which RNC insiders call "The Book." It's designed to be a searchable collection of Obama comments throughout his three years in office and during his 2008 campaign, all catalogued and ready to be called up immediately. The emphasis is on promises that Obama made but that RNC officials say he broke.
A web ad using portions of the video archive was released by the RNC in Iowa this morning. The ad quotes Obama making various promises four years ago and points out that the country is not better off today, with high unemployment, rising health-care costs, and record spending. The ads urges Iowa Republicans, who are attending nominating caucuses tonight, to send Obama a message that "his time is up."
Reince Priebus, the chairman of the RNC, says Republicans will use Obama's words against him to show how many promises he has broken, such as his pledges to substantially lower unemployment and to reduce health-care costs. "The nice thing about Barack Obama is that he's given us plenty of material," Priebus says.
Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee has been accumulating a parallel archive to use against the Republican nominee, which DNC insiders presume will be former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.
The DNC has spent months compiling examples of Romney's flip-flops on issues ranging from abortion to health care. The Democratic goal is to run a barrage of ads known at the DNC as "Mitt vs. Mitt" to show that Romney has "been on both sides of every key issue," says a spokesman for Obama's re-election campaign.
The DNC has just released a new web video of the top five "Mitt Fits of 2011," using its archive of footage to embarrass Romney. The clips include Romney shouting at a questioner during a campaign forum and jousting with a Fox News anchor over the flip-flop issue.