American Crossroads, the biggest of the Republican “super PACs,” is planning to begin its first major anti-Obama advertising blitz of the year, a moment the Obama re-election campaign has been girding for and another sign that the general election is starting in earnest.
With an anticipated bank account of more than $200 million, officials at American Crossroads said they would probably begin their campaign this month. But they said they would focus the bulk of the first phase from May through July, which they believe is a critical period for making an impression on voters, before summer vacations and the party conventions take place.
Crossroads was co-founded by our old friend Karl Rove. It's probably smart for them to start attacking President Obama now, since President Obama is already taking a few shots at Romney. But negative ads aren't going to help the fact that Mitt Romney is currently the most disliked presidential candidate in recent memory.
I've written about what I believe the Republican strategy is going to be this time around: Pour as much toxic sludge into the pond in order to try to suppress voter enthusiasm. When fewer people vote, Republicans win, and so by making the presidential campaign a completely distasteful experience for voters, they'll drive away enough independents to push the numbers in Romney's favor. It's a disgusting strategy that just might work, if the DNC can't organize as efficiently as they did in 2008. But there's a flip side to this strategy, too: Nobody buys it when a candidate claims that they have no control over their Super PACs; everyone recognizes that an anti-Obama ad is a pro-Romney ad. If Republican Super PACs go overboard in attacking the president with their own candidate running at such dismal likability numbers, they could wind up making Romney even more unlikable.