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2461DNC shares oppo game plan with Netroots

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  • Greg Cannon
    Aug 3, 2007

      DNC shares oppo game plan with Netroots

      By: Roger Simon
      August 3, 2007 06:19 AM EST

      CHICAGO -- It is not true that Democrats don’t listen
      to Republicans. They do.

      The Democrats are listening to every word the
      Republican presidential candidates say, writing it
      down and even videotaping them whenever possible.

      Once upon a time, this used to be called oppo (for
      opposition) research and was rarely talked about

      Today, it is such standard procedure it is just called
      research. And two top Democratic practitioners of that
      research came here to the YearlyKos convention to tell
      liberal online activists exactly what they were doing.

      The Democratic National Committee is openly courting
      the “Netroots” community, and Mike Gehrke, the DNC
      research director, and Parag Mehta, the DNC director
      of training, were only too happy to pull back the
      curtain a little and tell these activists how they
      intended to help destroy the Republicans next year.

      Gehrke went through the Republican top tier with a
      PowerPoint presentation, and here is my summary of the
      DNC game plan for each:

      What he thinks he has going for him: Competence and
      his record as mayor of New York City. Also, he
      contrasts well with President Bush and with the
      Democratic front-runners.

      He will sell his electability and the fact that if he
      is the nominee he can win Florida and Ohio. Final
      point he will stress: Sept. 11, Sept. 11, Sept. 11.

      What the Democrats will say about him: His
      accomplishments in New York are exaggerated. He can
      get nominated only by abandoning his centrist image.
      He has flip-flopped on choice, immigration and
      bipartisanship. Firefighters and survivor families
      have a different story to tell about Giuliani and
      Sept. 11.

      There is also the question of how well he had prepared
      the city for a major disaster. Further, his
      post-mayoral record is open to attack regarding his
      lobbying, his advancement of Bernie Kerik and his
      foreign clients.

      What he thinks he has going for him: competence,
      success in business, the Olympics and the fact that he
      was governor of a “blue” state, Massachusetts.

      He will stress his conservatism, his "pro-life" views
      and that he is a Mormon who believes in strong family
      values. He, too, will stress electability. He has
      demonstrated a good ground game so far and is showing
      strength in early-primary states. He is also wealthy
      enough to contribute millions to his own campaign.

      (At this point, an audience member raised her hand and
      said: “You have to put down also that he ‘looks
      presidential.’” People murmured their assent from
      around the room.)

      What the Democrats will say about him: He is a recent
      convert to conservatism with many flip-flops and has
      made some “weird” statements. Everything he does looks
      political. He is still largely unknown after running
      for years.

      What he thinks he has going for him: He is still
      breathing. His campaign has time to smooth rough
      waters. He has been in tough times before: In 2000, he
      was lower in the polls with less money than he has

      What the Democrats will say about him: He is no longer
      a maverick. His “base” -- i.e., the media -- no longer
      loves him. His money situation is very bad.

      What he thinks he has going for him: Gehrke put up a
      big question mark on the screen next to Thompson’s
      picture. “Can somebody tell me why this guy is
      running?” Gehrke asked the group.

      And though it was a rhetorical question, people began
      shouting out: “He’s an actor.” “He has a great voice
      and great gravitas.” “He’s tall.”

      What the Democrats will say about him: He passed only
      five bills in the Senate while he was there, and four
      were ceremonial. His non-campaign/campaign so far has
      been a “train wreck.” He was a corporate lobbyist and
      Washington insider. He has a thin record of public

      Gehrke assured the group that the DNC was also
      gathering information on the other Republicans,
      including Michael Bloomberg and Newt Gingrich.

      “We’re going to New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa
      and getting them all on videotape,” he said.
      Afterward, I asked Gehrke about the Netroots. “These
      guys have changed what I do,” he said. “Blogs are much
      more sophisticated and much more based in research and
      facts today. A lot of stuff that is discovered is
      discovered by people in their world.”

      Not that there aren’t limits.

      After Gehrke and Mehta were finished, a man raised his
      hand and said that John McCain was a POW but that he
      never had psychological counseling to deal with
      post-traumatic stress syndrome, and this could be used
      against him.

      The people in the room reacted to this with silence.
      Some shook their heads.

      “Let’s be very, very careful,” Mehta said. “Some
      people say, ‘Romney is a Mormon and McCain was a POW.’
      But let’s remember that [Senate Majority Leader] Harry
      Reid is a Mormon, too. We are the party of religious
      tolerance. Other people say, ‘Rudy Giuliani lived with
      a gay couple.’ Great, but we don’t think there is
      anything wrong with that. So let’s use things in the
      right way.”