Conservatives, Especially Those Who Don't like Romney, Can Rejoice in Becoming Victims of Their Own Propaganda
"This is politics," Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared Dec. 21, dismissing calls for him to condemn ads attacking former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that were run by an independent group supporting Romney's candidacy.
The ads were part of an unprecedented $3.3 million negative campaign of television spots and direct mail by Restore Our Future, an independent expenditure-only committee or super PAC, which blunted Gingrich's rise and may very well be the main ingredient in an Iowa victory for Romney next Tuesday.
Never before have the Iowa caucuses seen such a campaign by any group other than a candidate committee. And with days to go before Iowans cast their votes, the new political landscape is coming into sharper focus.
Fully aware of the bazooka he had in his back pocket, Romney on Friday jetted off to New Hampshire to campaign for the primary election there, casually planning a return to the Hawkeye State on Saturday afternoon. Calm and assured that his campaign would keep on going past Iowa, he put an op-ed in the State newspaper in South Carolina and spent the morning taking shots at President Barack Obama in a variety of interviews. Opponents were left grappling for third place in Tuesday night's vote.
Gingrich, the target of the pro-Romney super PAC's ammo, was left in a more fetal state. "I can't do modern politics," the former speaker said at one campaign stop. At another, he broke down in tears, as he described memories of his mother.
The 2012 Iowa caucus is, increasingly, not about the individuals running. Campaign finance observers have warned repeatedly that independent groups, enabled by the Supreme Court's January 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to raise and spend unlimited sums, would alter the balance of campaigns, once run primarily by candidate committees and party organizations. So far, those warnings are looking prescient.
As evidenced in Iowa, campaigns now operate as political parties of one. Candidates with enough financing can lay their own groundwork for voter mobilization efforts and remain positive, while a supportive super PAC runs negative ads beating off opponents. Voter mobilization and opponent attacks were roles traditionally reserved for the party organizations in the general election, but thanks to Citizens United and the birth of super PACs, each individual candidate can now operate in this fashion.
Conservatives who support Santorum, Gingrich, Huntsman or Paul don't really stand a chance because Romney and his "friends" can out spend everyone. I can't say that i have too much sympathy since the right-wing judicial activists on the Supreme Court made this all possible with the Citizens Untied decision. Conservatives are reaping what they sow.