White House Correspondent
On Sunday evening, the New York Times reported
that the White House is considering launching a national ad campaign ahead of the midterm elections to portray the Republican Party as being taken over by extremist elements in the Tea Party movement. Almost as quickly as the story was posted, the White House denied any intentions to launch such a campaign, with officials sharply denying
the story as "simply not true."
According to the Times, a democratic strategist, speaking anonymously, offered insight into the administration's planning process, saying, "We need to get out the message that it's now really dangerous to re-empower the Republican Party." Democrats in large part believe something is needed to close the so-called enthusiasm gap
that exists between an energized Republican base and seemingly unengaged -- and even apathetic -- Democratic voters before the November elections.
Among the extremist positions held by Tea Party candidates and cited for possible inclusion in any White House campaign were: "shutting down the government [so the Tea Party could get its way], privatizing Social Security and Medicare and ending unemployment insurance."
Alongside any (possible) ad campaign, the Times cites other strategies presently being employed by the White House to engage its base, including young voters -- who played a key role in electing Barack Obama president. These measures include "big campaign-style rallies" -- the first of which will take place on Sept. 28 at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Later rallies will be held in Ohio, Philadelphia and Las Vegas. The president will also send e-mails, record robo-calls, and conduct a national town hall webcast next month.
Regardless of whether the White House actually embarks on the ad campaign, it seems that strategists are already testing out the efficacy of using Tea Party rhetoric to fire up the left-wing base. At the Democratic National Committee, according to the Times, "aides already have started work on a database to link the most controversial statements of the Tea Party-backed candidates to possible Republican presidential aspirants."