(AFP) WASHINGTON — US Republicans drew fire this week after the disclosure of an internal fundraising memo that portrays President Barack Obama as the Batman films’ crazed killer “The Joker.”
The Republican National Committee document, first revealed by the online politics publication Politico, also describes fanning fears that Obama is a socialist as a good way to get donors to open their wallets.
“What can you sell when you do not have the White House, the House or the Senate…? Save the country from trending toward Socialism!” it declares, urging fundraisers to harness givers’ “fear” and “reactionary” sentiments.
The document, a 72-page PowerPoint presentation, says wealthy donors can also be motivated by “ego-driven” appeals, peer pressure, and “tchochkes!!!!!!!!!” — inexpensive knick-knacks often given as rewards.
It also likens Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the “Cruella” villain from Disney’s “101 Dalmatians,” who hopes to turn the films’ titular animals into a fur coat, and compares Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to the bumbling animated dog “Scooby-Doo.”
Politico cited an unnamed source as saying the presentation was given RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart to top donors and fundraisers at a party retreat in Florida on February 18.
But top Republicans immediately distanced themselves from the document, with House Minority Leader John Boehner telling reporters on Thursday: “I did not see it.”
And RNC chairman Michael Steele sought in a Fox News Channel interview to repair any potential damage with donors, admitting “the words on paper don’t sound appealing” but insisting the party holds its backers in high esteem.
Steele also told Fox “I don’t know what the context, or how that was presented to this particular committee of individuals.”
Yeah, because you’re only the chairman, so why the hell should you know what people who report to you are doing? 🙄
From RICHARD ADAM’S BLOG at guardian.co.uk:
The Republican party’s national organising committee was furiously backpedalling after an embarrassing document lampooning Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders as ‘evil’ was found in a hotel room.
Politico said that the 72-page document was sent to it by a Democrat, who found the original in the hotel where the meeting was held. on 18 February. Sources at the event said a presentation involving the document was given by the RNC’s finance director Rob Bickhart and finance chairman Peter Terpeluk, who was ambassador to Luxembourg under the Bush administration.
The document also contained a wealth of embarrassing details about Republican fundraising tactics. Politico reported: “The small donors who are the targets of direct marketing are described under the heading ‘Visceral Giving.’ Their motivations are listed as ‘fear;’ ‘Extreme negative feelings toward existing Administration;’ and ‘Reactionary.'”
The document also mentions the $80,000 (£53,000) price tag for donors wanting to join an official RNC visit to meet British Conservative party leader David Cameron in September – after the UK general election, when Republicans hope he will be Britain’s prime minister.
The Republican party sought to distance itself from the memo, with an RNC spokesman saying: “Fundraising documents are often controversial”.
Raynard Jackson, a Republican activist who works to attract blacks and other minority members to the party, told the Washington Post that he was outraged by the presentation: “And the best we can get is Michael Steele issuing a statement through a spokesman? And they wonder why they can’t get minorities, especially black people, involved in the party?”
From political ticker at CNN:
Steele would not say who was responsible for the document, saying only that he has asked RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart “to get to the bottom of it.” Bickhart is reportedly the staffer who made the fundraising presentation to GOP donors in Boca Grande, Florida last month.
Pressed on whether someone at the committee would be disciplined or fired over the matter, Steele said he is letting “the appropriate personnel process and procedures take place within the organization.”
“Clearly it’s not something that I would tolerate and certainly would not want presented to me, and we’re dealing with it administratively,” he said.
Doug Heye, the RNC communications director, told CNN there are no plans for either Bickhart or RNC Finance Chairman Peter Terpeluk to leave the committee as a result of the controversy.
“It is absolutely not true,” Heye said in an interview with CNN. Heye added that “the chairman has addressed this internally and has ensured moving forward this will not happen again.”
As for what actions are being taken by the chairman, Heye would not say. “We do not discuss anything that happens internally at the Republican National Committee as a matter of policy,” he said.
Here’s a little bit more about Rethuglicans flogging themselves over the embarrassment (yeah right, like they have an embarrassment gene) and a little more about Peter Terpeluk. From CBS NEWS:
Sen. John Thune (S.D.), a member of the Republican leadership, said: “There is no place for this. Obviously when you’re fundraising . . . you want to make direct and succinct points, but using these sorts of tactics is certainly not something that any of us ought to condone.”
Said Tom Rath, a former RNC member from Concord, N.H.: “We’re not going to win the election by drawing those kinds of comparisons. We’re going to win the elections because we have one view of government and how the economy ought to work and American security.”
Some Republicans declared the largely mundane slideshow to be much ado about nothing. Several also derided the document as the work of an amateur and said that Steele bears responsibility for the controversy even if he didn’t approve the use of the content.
Listed on the document is RNC Finance Chairman Peter Terpeluk Jr., a former ambassador to Luxembourg and the co-chairman of President George H.W. Bush’s 1992 reelection campaign. Terpeluk, who lives in Chevy Chase, was a major fundraiser for Republican Sen. John McCain‘s White House bid in 2008. He did not return a phone call Thursday requesting comment.
Democrats jumped on the flap, distributing a fundraising letter of their own that referenced it. Brad Woodhouse of the Democratic National Committee, said: “Where was Michael Steele condemning these things in August during the ‘tea party’ protests? . . . The only reason Michael Steele seems to be offended by it now is that he was caught using it.”