January 20, 2014

Jim Messina, Obama campaign manager, joins Charlie Crist's campaign

@MarcACaputo

Jim Messina, campaign manager for President Obama's 2012 reelection, has joined Charlie Crist's campaign for governor.

"RT to help me welcome @Messina2012 to the People's Team. Join us at http://charliecrist.com ," Crist said via Twitter on Monday night.

Shortly after that announcement, the campaign touted another big-hire from Obama's team: Teddy Goff, digital director for the president's reelection campaign, who oversaw its social media, web video and online advertising efforts. Goff has been hired along with his firm, Precision Strategies, which includes other top Obama advisors.

For Crist, the announcement serves multiple purposes: It underscores the close ties Crist has with Obama's political team, it quiets concerns from some Democrats doubting Crist's party bonafides and it softens the blow of the mysterious departure of Bill Hyers late last year, who quit before he officially became campaign manager.

Hyers declined to comment on the move, as did Crist.

Crist couldn't be reached nor could Messina, who's expected to act as more of a senior advisor instead of a campaign manager.

In a recent interview with The Miami Herald, Messina downplayed talk of becoming Crist's campaign manager. But he clearly expressed his support and admiration for Crist, a Republican turned independent turned Democrat.

"Gov. Crist was obviously very helpful to the 2012 re-elect. He did whatever we asked and was very helpful giving strategic advice,” Messina said.

“He gave a very important Democratic National Convention speech,” Messina said. “It framed the election in an important way. And he was very important to the fact that Barack Obama won Florida.”

Well before the 2012 elections, Messina and Crist met at an Orlando restaurant where, Messina said, Crist offered his unqualified support for President Obama's reelection effort.

Counting Messina and Goff, at least nine former campaign workers from Obama's 2008 or 2012 campaigns have signed up for Crist's campaign. Gov. Rick Scott's campaign announced last week that it was bulking up, naming spokeswoman Melissa Sellers as campaign manager and state Sen. John Thrasher as campaign chairman.

Crist leads Scott in the polls, but the Republican is walloping Crist in fundraising. Crist is posting solid fundraising numbers, and the news of Messina should help boost him further.

Crist is leading his main Democratic rival, former Weston state Sen. Nan Rich, by double digits in polls of their party's primary.

BeeCkmMCQAAkMNK-1The Republican Party of Florida's communications director, Susan Hepworth, tied Messina to Obamacare and PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" in this statement: "As Charlie Crist tries desperately to cover up his failed record he will definitely need help from the ultimate spin doctor who sold the lie of the year that 'if you like your healthcare plan you can keep it.'" Hepworth also Tweeted out a pictures mocking the pick.

Judging by the laser focus on Crist -- and private conversations -- Scott's backers and Florida Republican operatives are worried about a Crist comeback. The addition of Messina could make them even more concerned.

But Obama's far less popular now than he was in 2012, and he's dragging down some Democrats in the polls as well.

Still, the Obama campaign was a cult of Obama. Without Obama, it's unclear how well this Florida iteration of his operation will fare.

We're going to find out.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/18/3825852/poll-charlie-crist-would-wallop.html#storylink=cpy

December 16, 2013

After Obama wins Lie of the Year, more spin from his administration

President Obama lied. Millions of health-insurance policies will die.

And he, his administration and Democrats are paying dearly for it.

On Thursday, Obama was awarded PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” for repeatedly saying “if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it” under the Affordable Care Act.

The administration refuses to fully fess up to the lie.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius refused to do it Friday during a Miami trip touting Obamacare. And Obama has tried to rewrite history.

“What we said was, you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed,” Obama said Nov. 4.

PolitiFact rated that statement Pants-on-Fire false.

So the president lied. Then he told a whopper about his lie. What’s to say the other assurances about the Affordable Care Act are true?

The day after Obama won the Lie of the Year, Sebelius hosted her made-for-TV chat with Obamacare recipients and advocates at the downtown Miami-Dade Main Library.

Ducking two questions about the lie, Sebelius talked up the act’s improved sign-up website and the success stories of prospective enrollees who are getting good coverage for little money.

“I hope you all will become part of the effort to spread the word,’’ she said.

But this administration’s word isn’t so trustworthy.

Column here

 

 

December 10, 2013

Obama-Castro redux: Image of a handshake, but a speech with a backhanded slap

@MarcACaputo

Picture 1We are inevitably drawn to pictures over words, to the image and not the meaning, the shadow and not the substance.

So the abiding takeaway of President Obama's appearance and tribute to Nelson Mandela today, for some, might not be what the president said but what he did: Shake hands with Cuban president/strongman Raul Castro.

If that's all that some people talk about, they missed the speech and its meanings. It's a sad commentary on how some would rather see what they want to see rather than also listen to what was said.

Obama's tribute was one of the most-inspiring speeches from a U.S. president in years. Picking a great quote is almost impossible because there are so many:

It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well...

“I’m not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”...

In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness; persistence and faith.  He tells us what’s possible not just in the pages of dusty history books, but in our own lives as well.

Tucked in all of this, however, was a focused backhanded slap against repressive regimes like the one Castro presides over:

Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and are still persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love.

We, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.

But many aren't talking about any of this.

Most didn't hear the speech broadcast in the U.S. this morning. They won't read it. And there's a far better chance they'll see the photo or video of the handshake. Twitter is abuzz. The partisans have donned their armor of lazy talking points, hoisted their tired 140-character standards of dysfunction.

A few have noted the president "bowed" to Castro. It's a function of the president being so much taller than the little dictator, and being decorous at an event on the world stage. The encounter just didn't look like an act of obeisance by Obama.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about the handshake. That doesn't mean Obama shouldn't have said more to Castro or criticize him face to face when he had a chance. But we should consider the text of the speech as well.

There's some historical significance to the greeting, as CNN points out, but reporter Christiane Amanpour's reaction was as instructive as it was over-wrought: "Castro! He's shaking hands with Raul Castro!"

Duh.

Continue reading "Obama-Castro redux: Image of a handshake, but a speech with a backhanded slap " »

December 05, 2013

Gallup: Obama hemorrhages Hispanic support, drops 23 points in a year

@MarcACaputo

Gallup, the nation's premier polling outfit, has more grim news for President Obama: Hispanics are turning away from him in greater amounts than any other subgroup.

From December 2012 through November, Obama's Hispanic approval ratings fell 23 percentage points, from 75 percent to 52 percent.

Overall, Obama's approval rating remains near historic lows, 41 percent.

"Hispanics' approval ratings of Obama have shown the most variation of any group's ratings throughout his presidency," Gallup explains in an analysis. "That means their views of him are less firmly anchored than those of other groups, which may help explain why their opinions of the president soured more than any other group's in recent months. Despite the significant decline in their approval ratings over the past 12 months, a majority of Hispanics, 52%, still approve of the job Obama is doing."

Continue reading "Gallup: Obama hemorrhages Hispanic support, drops 23 points in a year" »

December 04, 2013

Obama launches defense of healthcare law critics

@dchangmiami

With repairs to the Health Insurance Marketplace at healthcare.gov beginning to show promise, President Barack Obama on Tuesday attempted to change the narrative of the faulty federal online exchange and to push back against Republican opposition, with a defiant vow to make the Affordable Care Act — and its centerpiece online exchange — work even if it takes the rest of his term.

As Obama launched a new campaign to highlight the health law — with plans to emphasize a different benefit each day — he accused Republicans of being interested only in repeal without offering an alternative plan.

“My main message today is, ‘We’re not going back,’” Obama said in an afternoon address at the White House. “That seems to be the only alternative that Obamacare’s critics have.

“You’ve got good ideas? Bring ’em to me,” he said. “But we’re not repealing it as long as I’m president.”

Republican opponents of the law say the website troubles are a symptom of bigger problems.

“The American people have been learning about the impact Obamacare will have on individuals and families in the form of higher premiums, disrupted insurance and lost jobs,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. “And they’re becoming increasingly aware of the fact Obamacare is broken beyond repair.”

The only fix, he said, is “full repeal followed by step-by-step, patient-centered reforms that drive down costs.”

More here.

November 22, 2013

Q-poll shows how President Obama, seen as untrustworthy, hurts Democrats in FL

@MarcACaputo

Florida voters are souring on President Obama and his signature healthcare law — and it’s hurting Democrats in the state, a new poll indicates.

The president’s job-approval numbers are near an all-time low — 40 percent approve, 57 percent don’t — and a majority of Florida voters now view him as being untrustworthy, the Quinnipiac University poll released Friday showed.

Obama’s waning support is probably weighing down Democrats from Charlie Crist to Hillary Clinton, who are now seeing stiffer competition from Republicans, said Quinnipiac pollster Peter A. Brown.

“Politics is a team sport,” Brown said. “Obama’s the blue team captain and he’s not doing well. So it’s no surprise the president’s teammates are not doing well, either.”

Continue reading "Q-poll shows how President Obama, seen as untrustworthy, hurts Democrats in FL" »

November 15, 2013

Sorry, Obamacare haters: 300k FL Blue customers no longer 'losing' insurance policies for 2014

@MarcACaputo

Obamacare haters should have taken an insurance policy out on their criticisms.

They'd be rich now that the president has helped stop the public-relations damage that stemmed from millions of health insurance-company cancellation notices sent to people in the individual-market since Oct. 1, when the Affordable Care Act started to kick in. The grace period: about a year. After that, we'll have to see.

In Florida, Florida Blue sent out about 300,000 such notices (with more now in the mail). And it quickly became a rallying cry for Florida Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott:

“The President’s healthcare law is causing hundreds of thousands of Floridians to lose their health insurance plans. The White House should focus on helping these families, not Medicaid, which our state just recently reformed to be more flexible, accessible and cost-conscious,” Scott said in a recent statement. “Unfortunately, the White House’s politics of deflection and distraction won’t give anyone their healthcare back, even after the president promised that if they liked their plans, they could keep them.”

Well, the president might have listened. Or Florida Blue did.

According to the state's insurance commissioner, the insurance company is holding off on the cancellations. It should be noted as well that these cancellations did not mean people were going with or went without coverage. They were being shifted over into Affordable Care Act-compliant (that is, richer and, in some cases, more expensive plans).

Here's FL Health Watch:

"On the heels of the President's announcement, Florida Blue agreed to allow individual members to continue their existing health care coverage or explore new plan options under the ACA.  Those who previously received cancellation letters from the insurer will get new ones offering them the option to remain on their existing plan through 2014 if they choose.  

"The company said it will continue to offer guidance to its customers related to their healthcare options. The member contact number is 1-800-FLA-BLUE (1-800-352-2583).

"So now that the president has decided to, as Scott said, "focus" on these families, will Scott focus on the 848,000 Floridians who are eligible for Medicaid under Obamacare -- but only if the state agreed to expand the program?"

Of course, none of this means Obamacare criticisms are over. The disaster of a rollout with the feckless website, anemic enrollment figures and the fib that people who liked their plans could keep them will haunt the president and the program.

Also, there's the fact that in basically calling for a one-year delay in Obamacare, the president appears to be legislating from the executive branch. And that can have spooky consequences. Here's the conservative Townhall on that.

November 14, 2013

Like Obama, Obamacare starts collapsing in Gallup poll: 40% approve, 55% disapprove

@MarcACaputo

Public approval of President Obama's signature healthcare law reached an all-time low since his reelection, with 40 percent of Americans approving Obamacare and 55 percent disapproving in Gallup's latest survey.

That's an index of -15 and a shift against the law of 11 percentage points since mid October, when Gallup found public opinion almost tied. Then, 44 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved.

Just after Oct. 1, when the individual-market plans of Obamacare were starting to come online, the Affordable Care Act seemed oddly insulated from the drumbeat of negative publicity about its botched rollout. Then came the wave of millions of current-policy cancellation notices from insurance companies that disproved the president's falsehood that those who like their insurance plans can keep them.

Yet Obamacare's numbers held essentially steady.

Until, perhaps, now.

Foreshadowing the drop, the president's poll numbers started to bottom out first. In early November, Gallup's daily tracking poll found the president matched his all-time low job-approval rating, 39 percent.

Quinnipiac's poll earlier this week found that more voters, 52 percent, found Obama to be not honest and trustworthy compared to those who found him reliable, 44 percent. Quinnipiac found Obama's job approval was 39-54, a -15 index that at the time compared with Gallup's daily tracking index of -14.

Also nearly matching Quinnipiac's results, Gallup reported yesterday that American perceptions of Obama's trustworthiness have taken a dive. Exactly half find him honest, 47 percent don't. (Note: one difference between Gallup and Quinnipiac is the former had polled residents, the latter surveyed voters).

As has been said in this space before: it ain't the topline, it's the trend. And Obama is spiraling downward.

Other surveys are showing similar results regarding the president's favorability ratings. And considering the anemic Obamacare enrollment numbers released yesterday and running-scared Democrats, there's a good chance Obama and Obamacare's numbers will continue dropping.

Democrats are quick to point out that Congress' approval ratings are in the single digits, and that Republicans were badly damaged for precipitating the government shutdown. But the Quinnipiac poll indicated that voters were as or more likely to trust congressional Republicans on a variety of issues (including immigration) when compared to Obama.

Obama has lost the middle of the country. Survey after survey shows that independents are turning away from him in droves, essentially siding with Republicans (but not in the same proportions).

That doesn't just spell trouble for Obama and his healthcare law. It's a warning to Democrats in the mid-term elections. Mid-terms are often referendums on a president, and the mid-terms of a president's second term are often bloodbaths for the party that controls the White House.

Look what happened to George Bush.

A year after his reelection, and months after his administration's botched response to Hurricane Katrina, Bush's approval fell to 39 percent in Pew Research's poll, which last week reported that Obama's ratings were at 41 percent and were on a parallel downward track.

There's another parallel between Bush and Obama: both seemed to be far more-effective at campaigning than governing.

Blame history, perhaps.

But, from the failures of the Obamacare website to the false hopes he raised and phony statements he made, blame Obama as well.

November 12, 2013

Charlie Crist's campaign, donors look like extension of Obama for Florida

@MarcACaputo

Charlie Crist’s career as a Republican was ruined four years ago after he hugged President Barack Obama onstage; now he says it could be his salvation as a Democrat.

Running again for his old post with a new party affiliation, Crist is being embraced by another aspect of the president: former Florida campaign workers for Obama, who has twice carried the Sunshine State.

At least seven former Obama Florida campaign workers — from his pollster to a top political consultant to media experts to his fundraiser — now form the nucleus of Crist’s new campaign team.

And top Obama donors, pleased with Crist’s help on the campaign in 2012, are expected to follow.

“I’ve always liked Charlie Crist, even when he was a Republican,” said Ralph Patino, a Coral Gables lawyer who helped the Obama campaign’s Futuro Fund raise $30 million last year for Hispanic outreach.

Patino, who hosted a Friday Democratic National Committee fundraiser headlined by Obama, invited Crist the day before when the governor stopped by and asked for his support.

“The Obama world has an interest in Crist — they had him speak at the Democratic National Convention,” Patino said. “That showed me, even back then, that they had an interest in Charlie Crist.”

More here


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/12/3749087/charlie-crist-campaign-team-looks.html#storylink=cpy

GOP seizes on Clinton's criticisms of Obamacare rollout

 @AnitaKumar01

Republicans couldn't help but react with glee to former president Bill Clinton's remarks Tuesday that the Obama administration ought to accept a change in the law that would allow all Americans to keep their current health insurance plan.

In an interview published on Ozy, a web magazine, Clinton said Obama should honor his the promise that he has been making for years: If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.

“I personally believe even if it takes a change in the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got,” Clinton said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, applauded Clinton for joining a bipartisan call for Obama to act.

"These comments signify a growing recognition that Americans were misled when they were promised that they could keep their coverage under President Obama’s health care law," Boehner said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama agrees with Clinton and said he has asked aides to devise a way to accomodate those people losing their plans. But he declined to outline the possible fixes, or even a timetable for action.

“The president has tasked his team with looking at a range of options, as he said, to make sure that nobody is put in a position where their plans have been canceled and they can’t afford a better plan, even though they’d like to have a better plan,” Carney said.

Lawmakers from both parties have introduced bills to allow Americans to keep their plans, but the White House has not endorsed any proposal.