Back in 2010, when the Supreme Court first handed down the Citizens United decision Barack Obama didn’t have a lot of good things to say about it. He even spoke out against Citizens United in his State of the Union speech that year saying it would open the floodgates for special interest and even foreign money to flow into American politics, essentially hijacking the process.
Fast forward to an election year and the president is changing his tune. He’s decided to finally endorse Priorities USA Action, the Super PAC that was started by two former Obama aids to raise money for his campaign. In the last couple of years the conservative Super PACs have completely outstripped Priorities, making more than $40 million compared to their rather anemic $4.4 million.
The problem has been that because Obama has kept the Super PAC at arms length they’re having trouble attracting the big donors. But times they are a-changing. According to the New York Times the president has agreed to start sending out top staffers to Priorities USA fundraising events, a move that signals he’s ready to start playing with the post-Citizens United rulebook.
Jim Messina, who manages Obama’s reelection campaign, said they’re not going into an election year battle with “one hand tied behind their back.” He went on to say that Democrats and Republicans can’t play with two sets of rules.
This isn’t the only major policy item Obama has flipped on this week. Senior Advisor David Axelrod recently said that the administration is open to compromising with religious organizations on controversial rules that would require them to cover contraception as part of their healthcare coverage. Religious organizations fired back saying they’d work every legal angle to stop the rule from taking place.
So, what do all these compromises mean for Obama as we continue on in the election cycle? How will the switch on Super PACS impact the upcoming race? And do these changes make Obama look like a flip-flopper?
Bill Burton, senior strategist, Priorities USA Action (a super PAC supporting Obama)
Jonathan Collegio, Spokesman for American Crossroads (super PAC tied to Karl Rove)