A Republican Super PAC backed by Cubs co-owner and TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts was secretly collaborating with a top political branding group to smear President Obama and destroy his chance at re-election come September -- but their 48-page playbook, called "Next," was leaked to the New York Times, which published the attack plan today.
The $10 million
strategy character assassination will highlight Obama's association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who they say preached a "black liberation theology." According to the Times:
The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an "extremely literate conservative African-American" who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln."
Obama's camp has responded accordingly:
The blueprint for a hate-filled, divisive campaign of character assassination speaks for itself. It also reflects how far the party has drifted in four short years since John McCain rejected these very tactics. Once again, Gov. Romney has fallen short of the standard that John McCain set, reacting tepidly in a moment that required moral leadership in standing up to the very extreme wing of his own party.
Romney, predictably, denounced the effort:
I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they've described. I would like to see this campaign focus on the economy, on getting people back to work, on seeing rising incomes and growing prosperity -- particularly for those in the middle class of America. And I think what we've seen so far from the Obama campaign is a campaign of character assassination. I hope that isn't the course of this campaign. So in regards to that PAC, I repudiate what they're thinking about.
Fun fact: The group hopes to snag Jon Voight for the voiceover.
UPDATE: Ricketts has released a statement disavowing the entire proposal:
Joe Ricketts is a registered independent, a fiscal conservative and an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, but he is neither the author nor the funder of the so-called Ricketts Plan to defeat Mr. Obama that the New York Times wrote about this morning. Not only was this plan merely a proposal -- one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors -- but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take.