domingo, 29 de julio de 2012

En Chicago no lamentan haber apostado por una campaña negativa


With 100 days remaining before Election Day, there is an air of apprehension around the Obama campaign headquarters here. Yet there are few regrets about the tone of the race, only a conviction that the circumstances — a frail economy, intense Republican opposition and a well-financed negative campaign from Mr. Romney and his allies — left Mr. Obama no option but to fight back even if it sullies his image as a candidate of hope and change.

“Is it a different kind of race than 2008? Of course,” said David Axelrod, a senior campaign strategist. “If we were passive in the face of this onslaught we are facing, our folks would be unhappy. There are few on our side who are counseling us to sit idly by.”

(...) Polls suggest that voters might be starting to view Mr. Obama less favorably even as the race remains tight. And while it is hard to know whether the shift is related to the tone of his campaign, his advisers are acutely mindful that one of Mr. Obama’s key attributes, that voters generally like him, must be preserved to win over the undecided voters who will determine the race.

But if Mr. Obama prevails, it will almost certainly be because his team executed a plan to try to win the race in the summer to make Mr. Romney unacceptable to voters by the fall. It is a page from the 2004 playbook of President George W. Bush, whose campaign spent the same period relentlessly defining Senator John Kerry as unreliable.

Matthew Dowd, a former Republican strategist who was a top adviser on the Bush re-election campaign, refers to it as “poisoning the water table.” The parallels between 2004 and 2012 are striking, he said, with the Obama campaign putting its stamp on Mr. Romney before he introduces himself to voters.

“President Obama and his campaign have made the determination that the only way they can win this race is to create a negative impression of Mitt Romney,” said Mr. Dowd, now an independent analyst. “When people go to vote, even if they don’t like the direction of the country, they may not trust Mitt Romney.”

(...) While Mr. Obama rose through the ranks with a clarion call for a new kind of politics, there is little noticeable criticism about the tenor of the race from longtime supporters.

“There is no question the atmosphere is different than the last campaign. It has to be,” said Judd Miner, a Chicago lawyer who has known the president for two decades and still refers to him by his first name. “We learned the hard way with Kerry. It matters that Barack wins.”