"Correct The Record" Doesn't Want to Be Quoted When Offering Anti-Sanders Oppo Research
by Gaius Publius
A small thing perhaps, but I found it noteworthy. I also think this points to something considerably larger. It seems the David Brock-led Clinton-allied Super PAC Correct the Record (CTR) does oppo research for the Clinton campaign. Normal enough in politics. And CTR offers oppo-generated "tips" to news outlets and other media. Again, normal enough in politics.
It also seems that if the "tips" involve Republicans, CTR is happy to be named as the source, yet if the "tips" involve, say, Bernie Sanders, CTR wants to hide its hand and remain unnamed.
This almost accidental revelation turned up in a Burlington Free Press story:
Clinton super PAC offers ‘off the record’ news tipsThe Free Press did not receive a response from CTR, but later Mr. Wessel contacted the Free Press with an oppo "tip" about Sanders and guns. When CTR indicated it wanted not to be named as the source of the story, the Free Press asked Wessel for an explanation. Here's the reply, according to the Free Press (my emphasis):
Hillary Clinton’s super PAC has tried to “flag” stories about Bernie Sanders, but the group does not want its name attached.
Daniel Wessel, Correct the Record press secretary, contacted the Burlington Free Press by email and phone to offer "off the record" story pitches.
The Free Press first attempted to contact Correct the Record officials while writing about the super PAC paying for a poll that named Clinton winner of the Nov. 14 Democratic debate in Des Moines, Iowa.
Wessel said that his organization prefers to be named only when speaking about Republican candidates. He offered to have his organization named in certain cases if the Free Press requested permission. The Free Press declined to agree to Wessel's terms.Shorter CTR: "Don't name us as a source for anti-Democratic oppo unless you get permission first. (And who knows, in 'certain cases' you may get it.)"
What to make of this? That the Clinton campaign wants to play rough is not news. But that the campaign wants to rough up its Democratic opposition and not be seen to — I think that's interesting, noteworthy. First, because they're walking a line that's very narrow, razor-thin. If they look like they're roughing up Sanders in the primary, especially unfairly, they risk losing Sanders voters in November, should Clinton advance to the general election. How do Democrats win with Clinton but without substantial numbers of Sanders voters?
Second, they've taken on an impossible job; frankly, that ship has sailed. The surge of Sanders money stimulated by the week of roughing up that Sanders took leading up to the recent debate — the week, remember, when Chelsea Clinton made this accusation (quoted and discussed here)...
“Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance,” she said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. “I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we’ll go back to an era – before we had the Affordable Care Act – that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.”...that surge in contributions means the Sanders crowd has already noticed. About that surge in contributions, The Hill reported (my emphasis):
“Thanks, Team Clinton,” Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.See what I mean? When I say "they've taken on an impossible job," I mean it literally. The Clinton camp already played a little rough and loose with the facts, and they've already been seen to. If they continue this — and I can't imagine they play this game any other way — what are their choices?
“As of now, we are at about $1.4 million raised since yesterday when the panic attacks by the Clinton campaign began,” he continued.
To have their oppo team work over Sanders' statements, not take credit and be thought responsible anyway — then watch the Sanders cash roll in each time? Or to have their oppo team work over Sanders' statements, take public credit — then watch the Sanders cash roll in each time?
An impossible job — damned if they do and damned if they do without seeming to. There's not a good choice in the set. Given that, if I were the Clinton campaign, what would I do? I'd probably not-do, but I don't think that's where their instincts are.
Which means that even anti-Sanders oppo work stimulates Sanders support. As I said before, this is a fascinating year.
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