Obama Cultivates Dissident GOP Members


Hagel Steve Clemons Hauser.JPG
(Senator Chuck Hagel, Steve Clemons, and International Peace Institute Chair Rita Hauser)
In the next day or two, the Obama campaign will unveil a new web site as part of its BarackObama.com franchise to lure in dissident members or former members of the GOP.
Although I contacted the campaign’s communications office to get the exact web address of the new site, TWN has not yet received a response. We have been told by one source that the site will be (and will modify later if incorrect):


This site, at the moment, still seems unloaded or is not yet live.
The new campaign to sign up Republicans for Obama hopes to get 250,000 people to register their names on the site.
Philanthropist and former NY co-chair for the George W. Bush campaign in 2000 Rita Hauser and former Senator Lincoln Chafee are both part of the leadership committee of the group. Former Republican Congressman Jim Leach, a long-time member of the House International Relations Committee, is also part of the founding leadership group.
It should be noted that in September 2006, a different Republican grassroots effort was launched to support Obama titled “Republicans for Obama.” This group states that it has mobilized several thousand voters — but the Hauser/Chafee initiative has goals of attracting GOP members in numbers a couple of magnitudes greater.
— Steve Clemons


28 comments on “Obama Cultivates Dissident GOP Members

  1. Kathleen says:

    Wigwag..P.S. why would there be a roll call if Hillary’s name were not placed in nomination? That doesn’t make sense…without her being nominated, Obama would be nominated and chosen by acclaimation…in any case that question hs been answered… she will be nominated, there will be a roll call., unless they announce her choice as VEEP…in which case, I’d guess they would chose the ticket by acclaimation.


  2. Kathleen says:

    Wigwag.. I don’t think being VEEP is a subservient role, necessarilly…in any case, the usual process is that the VEEP is always the next candidate for Prez, so I see that as a positive for shattering glass ceilings. I think Hillary lost the lead when she voted yes on Kyl-Lieberman… people were beginning to get over her supoort for the war in Iraq as she became more certain of the need to withdraw, but when she voted yes on K-L. it was as if she hadn’t learned a thing…Similarly, Obamas lead is dwindling because of his FISA vote. The extreme left may not be big enough to elect a candidate, but they sure are strong enough to make the dfference between razor thin majority and landslide….
    In any case, we’ll soon know….


  3. WigWag says:

    To Will Bower (if you’re still here), you were great on FOX today and you and Darragh Murphy were great on Hardball.
    David Shuster was a schmuck! You and Darragh parried him with ease.
    Blog radio is one thing, but once this is over you need a real radio show!


  4. WigWag says:

    Ken Lerer, Ariana Huffington and the Huffington Post are amoral. I hope Steve and Will won’t think it undelicate of me to point this out.
    The Huffington Post was started as a progressive answer to the Drudge Report which had proven that web based news aggregation could be a successful format that attracts lots of readers. But unlike Drudge who was nothing but an amateur, the founders of the Huffington Post established the venture to make money, lots of money.
    Everyone associates the Huffington Post with the person whose name adorns its mast head, Ariana Huffington. But the real brains behind the Huffington Post (and the man who provided most of the financial backing to start it) is Huffington’s business partner, Ken Lerer.
    Ken Lerer is a marketing and public relations genius. He got his start early in life working for the Six Flags amusement park (which at the time was owned by Time Warner). Lerer learned the art of crisis management, dealing with minor amusement part disasters like people getting injured on the roller coasters. When Time Warner sold Six Flags, Lerer moved onto other public relations endeavors and eventually teamed up with Linda Robinson (who was married to the CEO of American Express)to form one of the most successful public relations firms in New York, with an A list group of clients.
    After a falling out with Robinson, Lerer moved on to a senior level public relations job with AOL, which at the time was growing like gang busters. When AOL merged with Time Warner, Lerer found himself as the Executive Vice President of the media giant in charge of marketing and crisis management. The merger never worked because the cultures of Time Warner and AOL never clicked. When Dick Parson (who was from the Time Warner side) was selected to replace Gerry Levin as CEO, all of the AOL people on the Board and in senior management began to leave, including Lerer.
    It was then that Lerer hooked up with Ariana Huffington and took his golden parachute money from AOL-Time Warner and used some of it to start the Huffington Post (along with some other new media venture he is working on).
    So why does any of this matter? What makes the Huffington Post amoral? Well everyone already knows that the chameleon like Ariana Huffington is an opportunist of the first order. Her politics turned on a dime from conservative to progressive as soon as she concluded that a more liberal persona would make her more marketable. But the real question is why the Huffington Post turned pro-Obama and vitriolically anti Clinton. The answer can be traced directly to Ken Lerer.
    Lerer’s skill is marketing and his ambition was for the Huffington Post to be a highly profitable new media venture. In fact, he has turned it into one of the most financially successful new media ventures on the internet in a very short period of time. The Huffington Post has been much more successful in attracting advertisers than most other similar sites.
    The demographic group that advertisers crave is 18-45 year old men. This is precisely the group that was most supportive of Obama and least supportive of Clinton. Obama supporters were upscale and Clinton supporters were more working class. Advertisers obviously prefer the upscale groups with purchasing power.
    It was to attract the audience that his advertisers craved that led Lerer to turn his publication aggressively towards Obama and aggressively against Clinton.
    It wasn’t about conviction, it wasn’t about politics, it was just about money. That’s why it was amoral.
    By the way, Lerer, who is reputed to be a great guy and has been very charitable (especially in the area of the arts), has given over $172 thousand to political candidates and organizations since 1992 almost all of it to Democrats. He maxed out on contributions to both Senators Biden and Obama ($2,300 each) in this presidential election cycle. Presumably Biden is the candidate he really supported and Obama is the candidate whose victory would help make the Huffington Post the most money in advertising.
    New media, old media, it’s all the same. Or as the Who said; “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”


  5. WigWag says:

    Will, alas I will not be in Denver. I had hoped to come to Washington, D.C. because I am so impressed with what you and the other PUMAs are doing. Unfortunately, I am one of those older people that the Democratic Party is no longer interested in, and with age comes declining health. As a result, I was not able to come to Washington and I regret that I won’t be able to be in Denver either. But I will be there in spirit, cheering you on and cheering on all the others who have bravely decided to make a stand. My guess is that it won’t be easy for you. Obama and the Democrats plan to implement those same draconian rules that the Republicans used at the New York Convention four years ago. My guess is that you and your PUMA colleagues will be harassed by Obama supporters, Democratic Party apparatchiks and the Denver police every step of the way.
    You may be aware that Riverdaughter is raising money to underwrite the travel to Denver for PUMAs who want to go but can’t afford to. I plan to give generously to her campaign. At least that way I will feel that I am doing something to help. I have also supported the Denver Group as generously as I can.
    By the way, Will, I have heard you on the radio. You’re great. When all this is over, you should have your own show!
    Keep up the great work!
    Kathleen, there will definitely be a roll call vote at the convention, but that doesn’t mean Hillary Clinton’s name will be placed in nomination. If her name is not placed into nomination then the roll call vote is all for show and doesn’t mean anything. Only a nominated candidate can win.
    The Obama campaign and Howard Dean are doing everything the can to prevent her name from being placed in nomination. Despite this, if 300 delegates to the convention sign a petition demanding Clinton’s name be placed in nomination and if Clinton signs an affidavit saying she wishes her name be placed in nomination, then the rules require that it is.
    There is a movement going on right now to collect the requisite signatures. The National Democratic Party and State Democratic Parties are following the lead of the Obama campaign and doing everything they can to make sure 300 signatures are not collected. They have threatened to revoke the convention credentials of those who sign the petition and they have even revoked credentials of Clinton supporters who have not signed the petition but have criticized Obama.
    Why is the Obama campaign afraid of Clinton’s name being placed in nomination? They are afraid that she might actually win. The chances are small, but it is not impossible. You are right; neither candidate has enough pledged delegates. The Super Delegates will provide the margin of victory to either candidate. The Super delegates are not pledged to anyone and can change their minds right up to the time they cast their votes. Obama is sinking in the polls and the Super Delegates know that Clinton won the popular vote. If her name is placed in nomination, she might actually prevail. By the way, if the Super Delegates merely voted for the candidate who won the caucus or primary in the state that they represent, Clinton would have enough delegate votes to win on the first ballot.
    Even if Clinton does not get enough delegates to win, if Clinton’s name is placed in nomination, Obama will likely win by at most 200-300 delegates out of a total of over 4,00 delegates. It’s a margin he considers embarrassingly thin and it is exemplifies a profoundly divided Democratic Party.
    By the way, the reason Senator Obama decided to give his acceptance speech at Invesco Field instead of the Convention Hall is they he doesn’t want to give his acceptance speech in front of a crowd where practically 50 percent of the delegates in attendance didn’t vote for him.
    Kathleen, Will Bower (and just one or two others) single handedly created a campaign to redress these inequities. His actions have been heroic.
    And one more thing, Kathleen, I’m with you, despite all the chatter, I think Obama will select Clinton as VP. To me, this would be the ultimate disaster. Just one more in a long line of cases where a competent woman is subservient to a less competent man.


  6. Kathleen says:

    I’m neither an Obama supporter or a Hillary supporter, being at the Kucinich/Nader end of the political spectrum… but I will say there is nothing in the Democratic party rules to preclude someone being nominated from the floor of the convention, even if they didn’t enter the race before…. neither candidate won a “majority” of the delegates, something that is necessary to win the nomination.. so even if Obama has more “voted” delegates, both will require the votes of unelected superdelegates to win the nomination…why not avoid the appearance of impropriety by having as roll call… what”s to be gained by that? It’s always much easier for the losers to be good sports and support the victor if they feel it was a fair fight… Psychology 101 folks..
    Obama says he doesn;’t need catharsis.. well duuuh, he won..it’s the others who need it…the whole veep choice thing drives me up a wall and just confirms that Demz are best at shooting themsleves in the foot…Hillary has an army of supporters ready to work for the ticket… why turn that off? Why do electoral calculus when simple math will get you there?
    At this point I’m starting to feel like Gallileo in my contention that Obama has already chosen Hillary for Veep but is playing the press…but I’m sticking to my guns on this one.
    Steve, you may be interested to know one of my bets is with our mutual friend.


  7. Tahoe Editor says:

    Publicity Effort: Chasing the Mythical ‘Obamacan’ Masses
    Barack Obama is no Chris Rock, but there’s one story he likes to tell on the trail that always makes me laugh. According to the Democratic nominee, there’s a particular breed of Obamaniacs who approach him after events to confess their Obamania — sotto voce. “They whisper to me,” he says. “They say, ‘Barack, I’m a Republican, but I support you.’ And I say, ‘Thank you.'” Pause. Blink. Blink again. And then: “‘Why are we whispering?'” It’s all in the delivery.
    But John McCain’s share of the Democratic vote has typically — and surprisingly — been larger than Obama’s share of the Republican vote.
    It’s not that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright scared the Obamacan masses off, as some pundits have theorized–it’s that they never existed (in any unprecedented way) to begin with.
    “Republicans for Obama” is today’s solution — a convenient way to repackage a handful of well-timed GOP endorsements and reinforce the senator’s “post-partisan” brand in the process. Whether it reflects reality, or has any electoral impact, is probably irrelevant — as long as it transforms a few whispers into a day’s worth of headlines.


  8. Will Bower says:

    Thank you for keeping the conversation alive here, WigWag!
    Yes, it’s true that I am indeed both a friend of Steve’s and a
    reader of his work. I haven’t been able to pop in much these last
    few months, but I look forward to coming back more often, once
    things settle down a bit… *If* they ever settle down a bit!
    Will you be in Denver, WigWag? I know Steve will be. Perhaps
    we can all meet up at the PUMA Den!
    Oh, and Ps, just so that the other readers here are in-the-know:
    Although the press originally announced me as having endorsed
    McCain, the truth is that I have always said that if I’m forced to
    choose between McCain and Obama in November, that I will be
    voting for McCain.
    My current efforts are all about helping to get Hillary’s name
    placed into nomination at the convention… and encouraging
    delegates to then vote for her. I still see a path to victory for
    her, so I’ll hold off on any official endorsements until I know for
    sure who the Democratic nominee will be!
    Thanks again, WigWag and Steve!


  9. WigWag says:

    Will Bower, a reader of the Washington Note? Wow!
    Will, if you are out there reading this thread, thank you for your great work. You bravery and eloquence are admired by alot of people. So is the indefatigable spirit you bring to your efforts.
    You speak for millions of people.


  10. Kevin says:

    The site is up but without content.


  11. Tahoe Editor says:

    “Spammers & bashers” see their comments deleted from TWN.
    Your talent for conversing with yourself is just the others side of the “don’t wanna hear it” coin.
    RE: “It’s still doubtful that Obama will actually lose.”
    I disagree.


  12. Mr.Murder says:

    Hagel got this country to where it is today with ES&S.
    He cannot remove history’s perspective.
    The moral arc of the universe is long, and bends towards justice.


  13. Steve Clemons says:

    WigWag — Will Bower is one of my very close friends who has built a movement and franchise of his own that is extremely impressive. He has long been a reader of TWN and I helped along with Scott Shrake to get him on to HuffPost. I will be doing some coverage of his PUMA work and activities in Colorado — but that said, I don’t impose my political views on my friends and Will and my friends don’t impose them on me. You’d be surprised to know the diversity and breadth of some of the greatest activists and bloggers in new media and the blogosphere who hang out in my living room – and their views and activities are incredibly diverse. So, Will Bower knows my policies at TWN that he and his people are welcome any time — but never just cutting and pasting spam. But he’s not the one who was doing that… Thanks for the note,
    Steve Clemons


  14. Paul Norheim says:

    “I am glad that you welcome diverse opinions at the Washington
    With commentators ranging from POA to cotzabasis, from Carroll
    to Sweetness, or from Kathleen to Zathras – have you ever been in
    doubt about that? Steve have repeatedly expressed clearly that
    he`s against spam and ad hominem attacks, not opinions.


  15. WigWag says:

    “I don’t mind the PUMA crowd engaging in normal discussion and discourse — and you are right, the founder is someone I know quite well…”
    Well it’s good to know that mentioning PUMA isn’t out of bounds.
    There are a few founders of the PUMA movement. If the friend that you are referring to is Will Bower,(he is widely credited as being the first PUMA) he is an amazing person who is looked up to by thousands of people. His organizing skills are extraordinary and his media skills are also quite impressive (he’s everywhere).
    He chaired the PUMA convention last week and within the movement, he is viewed like a rock star (not as much of a rock star as Obama).
    Referring to Bower, Time Magazine recently said
    “The 36 year-old Washington resident said his anger is not just directed at Obama, but the party as a whole.
    “[The] Democratic Party has thrown away democratic principles through this primary season,” charged Bower, who pointed to the delegate sanctions levied by the DNC against Michigan and Florida. “If parties won’t uphold democratic principles; who will?”
    The group is predominantly comprised of female Clinton supporters, said Bower. The Clinton-turned-McCain supporter said he has also helped launch the “Just Say No Deal,” a nationwide coalition he estimated has two million voters who are also vowing to ‘say no’ to the Illinois senator come November.
    Bower acknowledged Obama will be crowned the Democratic nominee at the party’s August convention, but said he holds out hope that the GOP will uncover potentially harmful information between now and then. At that time, “the party might be desperate for another candidate,” he said.”
    I don’t know who mentored this guy, but whoever did is to be congratulated for doing an amazing job!
    It’s still doubtful that Obama will actually lose. But if he does, Steve, Will Bower might very well be the person in the United States most responsible for that defeat.
    I am glad that you welcome diverse opinions at the Washington Note.


  16. Paul Norheim says:

    Steve, I`m glad you clarified this for WigWag and TahoeEditor (a
    spammer & basher if there ever was one). Most people have no
    problem distinguishing between spam and constructive
    contributions. But some people act as if they have problems
    understanding what it`s about, treating TWN as a place to
    depose their garbage. This shows disrespect for the blog, it`s
    host, other commentators and the readers.


  17. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks for your note WigWag — but your memory of what I wrote about PUMA is mistaken. I forbade any more 527 spam posting — and forbade the kind of ad hominem attacks that a poster was making. The spam was what bothered me – and I classify spam as the same posting over and over again with no regard for the conversation or interaction with others. It was a 527 posting, cutting, repasting action that I would not allow. I don’t mind the PUMA crowd engaging in normal discussion and discourse — and you are right, the founder is someone I know quite well. So even friends are not allowed to have spam affairs, as I consider spam.
    I get that you aren’t into Republicans for Obama — but I really like these folks, and none of them are spamming my site….and yes, it’s my site. 😉
    best, steve


  18. WigWag says:

    Sen. Hagel won’t be endorsing a presidential candidate
    USA Today, August 12, 2008
    By: Mark Memmott and Jill Lawrence
    “Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican who is one of John McCain’s closest friends — but who has been mentioned as a potential running mate for Democrat Barack Obama — is sitting out the presidential contest, according to his spokesman, Jordan Stark. (USA TODAY’s Kathy Kiely reporting and writing.)
    “Senator Hagel has no intention of getting involved in any of the campaigns and is not planning to endorse either candidate,” Stark said in a statement to USA TODAY.
    Stark issued the statement after Hagel’s name came up during a conference call Tuesday in which two former Republican officeholders announced their support for Obama. Jim Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa, said on the call that he hoped Obama is considering Hagel for the vice presidential slot. The other Republican on the call was Lincoln Chafee, a former senator from Rhode Island.”


  19. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag, you are contributing with opinions and reflections on
    several issues (your recent informed and interesting perspectives
    on Georgia/Russia is just one example). But If you had restricted
    yourself to promoting Puma (combined with some ad hominem
    attacks) and nothing else (like a certain woman did recently), I
    guess you`d be considered a less welcome contributor.
    But let`s see if Steve wish to comment on this.


  20. WigWag says:

    Sorry, Paul. I don’t understand your point.


  21. Tahoe Editor says:

    Clearly, Steve doesn’t agree with you, Mr. “I Don’t Wanna Hear It.”


  22. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag, I`m sure it`s ok that you`re mentioning PUMA above.
    But if I called myself, let`s say IronEditor or TahoeLaBelle, and
    started posting two or three comments a day promoting this new
    Republicans for Obama site, Steve should delete my comments,
    because it`s spam. That`s the difference.


  23. WigWag says:

    This is one of the most hypocritical posts that I’ve seen on the Washington Note (and one of the most puzzling). It was just a few short weeks ago that Steve Clemons announced to his readers that he didn’t want to here anything more about the PUMA movement.
    For those who don’t know it, Steve mentioned that this movement was started by one of his friends. PUMA stands for Party Unity My Ass and it represents tens of thousands of former Hillary Clinton supporters who say they will not vote for Obama. Some are planning to vote for McCain, some are planning to vote for third party candidates, some are planning to write in Hillary’s name and some are planning not to vote up-ticket at all.
    There are literally hundreds of PUMA websites with millions of hits. The movement is widely talked about on cable news shows, referred to in newspaper columns and attacked in sneering ways by people who post at sites like the Daily Kos.
    This movement is having an effect. Many credit it with Obama’s declining poll numbers. And it is widely credited with the fact that Obama has fewer Democrats saying they will vote for him than McCain has Republicans.
    The group just held a convention in Washington, D.C.; they are planning to demonstrate at the Democratic Convention in Denver and they have already run newspapers advertisements demanding that Hillary Clinton’s name be placed in nomination (which Obama doesn’t want because he will be embarrassed by winning the nomination by just a few hundred delegate votes at most). The PUMA advertisements also point out that Clinton won more votes (primary and caucuses) than Obama, which means that Obama is winning the Democratic nomination in a way analogous to the Bush victory over Al Gore.
    But despite this extraordinary phenomenon, Steve has asked us not to mention it (at least too often) on his site.
    But then we see his post to a link (that is not even operative yet) to a site for Republicans who plan to support Obama. As far as I can tell, all this site has going for it, is the financial backing of an extraordinarily wealthy and somewhat strange philanthropist from New York who has supported the campaigns of some of the most reactionary Republicans in the House and Senate.
    So Steve is happy to talk about a movement that no one has heard of (Republicans for Obama) and has had no influence so far, but he doesn’t want anyone to even mention a movement of millions of Democrats who won’t support the very junior senator from Illinois.
    It’s Steve’s site. He can make any rules he likes. But the only word I can think of to describe his position on all of this is hypocrisy. The PUMA movement and the organization started by Rita Hauser are exactly equivalent. They are two sides of the same coin. This is all made even more ironic by the fact that Steve is accepting paid advertising from the McCain campaign on his site.
    The only word for all of this is perplexing.


  24. Tahoe Editor says:

    Too late for that. Obama broke his pledge to fight for public financing once his coffers started to overflow — oops, I mean once he decided the system was “broken.”


  25. Carroll says:

    Priority Number One..or two
    The Harvard Political Review recently quoting Walt (the W&M Walt) re lobbyists:
    “Yet to ban the social gatherings that permit lobbyists and elected officials to mingle would be ineffective for the same reason that the Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act failed to produce meaningful reform.
    The law failed because it did not address the two sources from which lobbyists derive their disproportionate influence: money and personal relationships.
    Professor Stephen Walt of the Harvard Kennedy School explained that the biggest obstacle in overcoming the influence of lobbyists “is the well-entrenched role that money plays in U.S. elections, which gives various interest groups an easy way to influence the behavior of politicians.
    This will not change until there is serious campaign finance reform, such as a complete federal funding of elections.” Complete federal funding would certainly signal a death knell to the lobbying industry, but it is highly unlikely that it could muster sufficient support to pass Congress.”>>>>>>>>
    I think congress could be forced to pass it if a big enough, smart enough campaign to reveal the obscene “results” and obscene amounts of influence money was launched on the public. Both dems and repubs would be replused if they understood the dirty facts.
    Or if we had a President who would use his office and air time to lay it out for the public with all the dirty examples.
    It would also help get rid of the most gulity congresspeople.


  26. Carroll says:

    I don’t think Steve is necessarily being an operative for anyone, I hope not…more like just putting everything out there for all to see.
    But let me say if Obama were to pick Hagel or even Chafee for VP I could get excited about this election again.
    If Obama plays it safe I won’t be too impressed. McCain and Obama are waiting each out I think to see who the other one picks. If McCain picks someone like Lieberman and Obama sticks with a typical dem…I don’t know how well that will come out.


  27. Pending Commenter says:

    Thanks for news of this new group. I hope that the Obama operatives know how valuable your work is. Your getting this group of Republicans out into the blogosphere is excellent and shows how many interesting tentacles your operation has.
    I like Rita Hauser and heard her speak at your September 2005 conference on terrorism. She frankly was the best speaker that day and is tough as nails smart.
    The picture of you with Rita Hauser and Senator Hagel is a classic and says a million words.


Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *