Thursday, October 29, 2009

White House Fingerprints All Over Corzine Campaign

If there's one thing that the Obama Administration is good at, it's winning an election and they see the flailing incompetence of close ally Jon Corzine as a severe liability going into the 2010 midterm elections. They are pulling out all the stops to prevent Republican Chris Christie from winning this tight election. One of President Obama's top advisers is now heading the Corzine campaign efforts.
Both Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden have campaigned for Corzine in the state, and Obama has cut television and radio ads for the governor. This Sunday, on the final weekend of the campaign, the president is returning to New Jersey for two events to try to pull Corzine over the finish line.

Benenson, the chief pollster in Obama’s 2008 campaign, along with David Plouffe, his former campaign manager, and a handful of others, make up a political inner circle that still meets regularly with White House senior advisor David Axelrod. Just as Bill Clinton once dispatched his political team to take over troubled campaigns from New York to Israel, Benenson’s arrival in New Jersey has stirred perceptions of a White House takeover – something he flatly denied.

“I’m known as a pretty strong New Jersey pollster and all [his hiring] says is that the campaign thought that I could add some value at a time when they felt they needed to make a move,” Berenson said.

Corzine trailed Christie badly in the polls throughout the summer, and according to three aides, began to suspect that the White House was considering pushing him to step aside for another candidate – a tactic the White House unsuccessfully tried against another northeastern Democrat in similar trouble – New York Gov. David Paterson.
The one (and perhaps only) thing that Corzine and his political advisers have going for them is that Corzine can outspend his opponents by a wide margin. That means lots more negative ads against Christie. That's eaten into Christie's polling significantly and made this a very tight race.

If Corzine goes down to defeat, it will definitely show the limits to Obama's coattails, and raise new questions about Democratic party strategy going into 2010. In fact, it should also raise questions about GOP tactics, and the need to put together candidates that appeal to moderates and independents, particularly in the Northeast, where the GOP is a dying breed. The GOP can't win national elections unless they put forth viable candidates across the nation, not just those that are acceptable to the right wing. Unless they can do so, the GOP will find itself increasingly marginalized on the national stage as a regional party.

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