Changed Priorities
February 17th, 2012
08:15 PM ET
2 years ago

Changed Priorities

(CNN) – Bill Burton finds he's a lot busier. "There's definitely more interest and energy around our effort," Burton tells CNN Radio.

Last week, Obama for America 2012 manager Jim Messina let the word go forth it was OK by President Obama for his backers to give unlimited contributions to Priorities USA Action, a Super PAC co-founded by Burton.

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The organization was set up just in case Mr. Obama put aside his expressed distaste for the Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, that opened the door for unlimited donations and no advertising time restrictions for the PACs.

It's what Burton's been waiting for. "But I wouldn't say that anybody dropped off huge bags of cash," he chuckles.

"I think Democrats are predisposed to giving a little later in the cycle. I have no doubt that we'll have the resources," Burton adds, considering his group has set a target of raising $100 million between now and Election Day.

Burton served as national press secretary in the Obama '08 campaign and then as Deputy White House Press Secretary at the start of the administration. He figures Obama 2012 would probably raise about as much as the effort did in 2008, which was over $750 million. Early in the current presidential cycle, rumors abounded that the Obama team wanted to take in $1 billion.

In his capacity, Burton says that it's important to make up the difference. He figures Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS Super PAC, the anti-Obama businessmen brothers David and Charles Koch, plus the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, NRA "and the whole constellation of Republican groups [want to raise and spend] about $1.5 billion" to defeat Mr. Obama "just in outside money alone."

Charges of hypocrisy flew all around Washington when the Obama team announced its embrace of Priorities USA Action. At the 2010 State of the Union address, Mr. Obama looked down at the Supreme Court justices in the chamber and scolded them for the Citizens United decision.

Because of that, Obama supporters were reluctant to give to Priorities without the president's blessing.

"Republicans would love for Democrats to lay down arms and not compete using the same rules that they're playing by," Burton says, adding that the president still favors legislation to rein-in PAC efforts.

Now the arms, in the form of big checks, will be flowing to Burton's group.

Having seen what the Mitt Romney-backing Restore Our Future Super PAC has done in the GOP primary contest, Burton turns a question about being ready to fight fire with fire on its ear.

"You fight fire with water!" He considers it to be water from the font of truth; no mud-slinging. "There's enough information to run a fact-based, but hard-hitting campaign that helps define the choice" voters will face come November.

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Filed under: 2012 • President Obama
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. The California Gal

    OBAMA 2012 !
    With the current GOP clown pool it is guaranteed!

    February 17, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  2. poopmeister

    I think that Obama should stick with the original formula. Most of the contributions made to his 2008 campaign were small amounts and look how much the campaign pulled in. He should shoot for a repeat and shove it in the republicans faces that he did so without any super pacs. I get the fight fire with fire or water but he did run on change and as much as I want to see him re-elected, I would rather see him do it on the straight and narrow.

    February 17, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  3. ja

    you must fight fire with fire kudos to the president

    February 17, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  4. Larry in Houston

    Burton, you don't have to worry dude – the "resources" will come IN. You know what the old saying is, don't you ? "fine wine won't be ready til due time"

    ""I think Democrats are predisposed to giving a little later in the cycle. I have no doubt that we'll have the resources," Burton adds, considering his group has set a target of raising $100 million between now and Election Day""

    It's not time yet, Mr. Burton – the Dems will wait til the rethugs are down to the last monkey in the barrel, or shall I say the last clown in the car.

    To be perfectly honest – I wouldn't doubt if 'ol Warren Buffett didn't put IN around a Billion to Obama's Super Pac. He's playing the waiting game – in my opinion.

    February 17, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  5. DENNA

    Sweet. If it's okay for the rethugs, it's okay for the liberals. Thanks Supreme Court! I'll be making my own modest donation.

    February 17, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  6. mk1

    President Obama had no choice considering the obscene amounts of money being funneled into Republican super pacs. Considering also that the Republicans and their supporters will spare no expense to defeat the president, as I said, he was left with no other options. Thanks again to the not so supreme court.

    February 18, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  7. Bob

    Obama is an idiot!

    February 18, 2012 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  8. diridi

    Obama2012
    PS: Nation is on right track and going in a right direction to the right path!!!!

    February 18, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  9. WiredweirdinSF

    There is no changed priority, the democrats are still hypocritical, thieves and liars. It has everything to do with the way their organized labor bosses have trained them. They reflect the corrupt nature of the American Labor movement.

    February 18, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  10. GI Joe.

    He's not breaking the rules passed by the activist, legislating, right-wing supreme court.

    Overturn the ruling for ALL.

    February 18, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  11. ct

    game on.

    February 18, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |