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White House Weighing Last-Minute Fearmongering Against Tea Party (Update: WH Denies)

Hope.

9:20 AM, Sep 20, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Because demonizing the populist movement has been so successful thus far, Obama aides may be thinking about a national TV ad campaign to rally the base with the idea of zombie Christine O'Donnells...or something.

President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a range of ideas, including national advertisements, to cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said.

There is certainly division among Republicans in Delaware and Alaska that Democrats could potentially exploit, but I can imagine Dems in swing districts are all but begging the White House not to nationalize the election any further. To paraphrase Pete Sessions: What's scarier: a 9.6 percent unemployment rate and $13 trillion debt? Or the Tea Party?

A couple data points for the White House to consider. From a new survey:

Today, independents say they lean more toward the Republican Party than the Democratic Party, 50% to 25%, and that the Republican Party is closer to their views by 52% to 30%. This movement comes in spite of independents' generally negative views of the GOP—a majority of independents (54%) view the Republicans unfavorably, compared to 39% who have a favorable impression. (The poll also revealed that 48% of independents were either "sympathetic to or supporters of the tea party.")

Obama's approval among Independents is around 38 percent.

Other polls have also shown Tea Party approval among Independents hovering over 40 percent. It's true the Tea Party polls less favorably with the general public, but even then, its approval ratings are about the same as Obama's with independents.

Congress' approval is at 18 percent. Is this a fight they want to pick? Obama will be doing a series of rallies to revitalize the young vote he got to the polls in 2008, hoping they can make the difference in close races. Although young people certainly didn't like Bush, they also didn't respond to Obama because he was scaring them off the other party. His appeal was one of post-partisanship and transcendance perfectly calculated to move young voters without harshing their mellow. This message will be very different. Young people may not approve of the Tea Party, but are they willing to door-knock and vote because Obama warns them that their conservative aunt and uncle, who go to those Tea Party rallies, are sure to be the ruin of the Republic?

Update: The White House denied the NYT report on this Tea Party attack. The story has now apparently been removed from the NYT front page. Today, at a CNBC town hall, Obama went positive on the Tea Party, for at least a sentence:

"America has a noble tradition of being healthily skeptical about government. That's in our DNA. There's also a noble tradition in Republican and Democratic parties saying government should pay its way," he said."The problem I've seen in the debate taking place...is they're misidentifying who the culprits are."

He then pivoted to say that it's the populist movement's role to figure out exactly how to cut federal government spending, which leads one to wonder what the heck he and our representatives are for. As Jim Pethokoukis paraphrased, "Tea Party movement should blame Bush; then suggests they have no solutions, only gripes."

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