NOW with Alex Wagner | July 02, 2012
>>> president obama spoke directly to top supporters on a conference call the day after his health care law was upheld by the supreme court . but instead of celebrating that ruling, this was his message. the majority on this call maxed out to my campaign last time. i really need you to do the same this time. i'm asking you to meet or exceed what you did in 2008 . that tone is reflective of the 14 e-mails from the obama campaign in the six days leading up to the june fund-raising deadline. from the president on tuesday, i will be outspent. from the first lady on wednesday, i'm not willing to let this happen. and from campaign manager jim messina on thursday, let's win this damn election. then on friday, from deputy campaign manager , they're bragging. she calls the fund-raising headline a huge deadline, a huge test and asks supporters can you set us right. then on saturday, from the president, this is important. ten hours later, from a seemingly exhausted and frustrated national finance director , rufus gifford, excuse me, i'm not going to lie, it's been a long, long week. so excuse my bluntness. can you donate before tonight's deadline at midnight your time? joining us now from washington is the head of the pro-obama super pac, priorities usa action, former deputy white house press secretary and our very own money honey , bill burton. bill, a pleasure to see you.
>> hi, alex. great to be on the show.
>> it's great to have you on the show. you caught that very long oscar-winning intro that i just gave. how severe is the financial disadvantage right now, bill?
>> well, i think that mitt romney counts on the fact that he can win elections by vastly outspending his opponents. it's how he won in 2002 . it's how he won this republican primary where he was able to outspend gingrich and santorum three, four, five to one in a lot of these states and it's what he's banking on for the white house . i think they are going to have a lot of money on their side because the folks in the oil industry, the folks on wall street have a lot invested in mitt romney winning this thing and they're not going to stop giving money. the koch brothers alone will spend $400 million to see to it that he's elected. the numbers are big.
>> with missives and pleas like that, do you not run the risk of alienating or turning off some supporters?
>> well, i think the smart folks who are sending those things out know what they're doing. if they thought it was hurting they wouldn't be doing it. what they're trying to do, i imagine, is engage, you know, a large number of the folks who support president obama but have been sitting on the sidelines. they look at mitt romney and say is this clown really going to beat president obama and the answer is well, maybe, if he has four or five times as much money as the president, then yes, he may well have a chance at winning in november. i think that's what democrats have been trying to tell other democrats, that there's a lot of money that's going to be involved here and democrats need to come off the sidelines and get engaged if they haven't.
>> bill, i have to ask you heading up a super pac that has had a hard time getting numbers or getting numbers that are in the field of restore our future, the news that sheldon adelson is giving $10 million to the koch brothers, the koch brothers are giving $2 million to the republican association, donald trump , always in the mix, giving $100,000. have you had more success fund-raising given the republican sweep happening on the right?
>> first, what's happening with donald trump that he's only giving $100,000? but yes, our numbers have been picking up and in fact, we're just now in the middle of $10 million we spent on television ads about mitt romney 's time in the private sector and they're clearly starting to work, if you look at any of the numbers out there, any public polling or focus groups, they're clearly working. so our fund-raising has picked up considerably and the spending that we're doing is having an impact.
>> i want to open up to our panel a little. margaret, when we talk about the advantages and disadvantages of having super pacs do your dirty work , if you will, one of the things we talked about on " morning joe " was the message management, which is to say we saw a little of this during the jeremiah wright kerfuffle, the ads that were never actually aired or were never actually ads to begin with but took mitt romney off message. he didn't want to deal with it, he hadn't planned on dealing with it. in terms of message management now, obviously the koch brothers and restore our future are not coordinating with the romney campaign but i wonder how given that, that dilutes the efficacy of having a unified message where team obama seems to have a clear set of talking points .
>> it is a concern that you can't control what other people are saying independently when they're spending independently. on the other hand, i think what you just referenced was kind of an early warning sign, red flag , and you know, the people who are spending a ton of money to support mitt romney 's campaign don't want to mess it up. they really don't want to mess it up. so in some ways you don't have to coordinate. it's like between twitter and all the surrogates and, you know, people out there from the campaign talking about the message, once everybody kind of circles the wagons it's not hard to see what the message is.
>> i feel they have not workshopped a cohesive strategy in terms of dealing with three sort of foundational or if not fundamental planks of his candidacy and that includes his time at bain . there has been no sort of unified response, no sort of offensive message, just kind of a wan game of defense on that. his time, his personal wealth, and i think to some degree his religion although that hasn't really come up as much. certainly bain , that seems to be a soft spot for him.
>> it's a soft spot because it's not really just been about bain . it's about the central premise for his candidacy that he knows how to create jobs. so they have correctly identified the people prioritize the economy and jobs, but his central claim is i worked in the private sector , therefore i know about job creation . that has never really been fully established. he tip-toed around it. in fact, in his announcement video, he couldn't quite get there and he's edged into this territory and it hasn't worked, hasn't worked because he hasn't been able to make the case and it also hasn't worked because the other side has destroyed that case before he managed to establish it. so they're left with two really negative campaigns which will become more negative as we go on. we're just seeing the romney campaign really edge into this now. it's going to be ugly. it's going to turn people off. that's why you need to have those base motivating fights, whether it's about immigration or health care , because it's one base versus the other. this is not a pretty election. by the way, just one point, if this president is having money worries right now it's partly his own fault, for blowing the lid off public financing of campaigns in 2008 which was great then. doesn't look so great now.
>> bill burton, i'm sorry we have to leave it there, my friend. i'm sure we will be asking you more questions about fund-raising in the coming days, especially. thanks for