Surrogates rarely go off-message when a leader is strong. Lately, though, even the most prominent supporters of President Obama’s, such as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, have leveled criticisms against Obama or Obama’s campaign strategy. Booker criticized Obama’s attacks on private equity and immediately was forced to walk back those comments. Democrats at the state level have distanced themselves from Obama and his agenda. Former President Bill Clinton and Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein criticized Obama.
And on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, it was Obama’s former economic adviser Austan Goolsbee’s turn to go off message when he conceded that Obama had not lived up candidate Obama’s promises of uniting the country. (Video below)
“I think Matt’s right that we ought to come forward … and the president should have a mea culpa, that we have gotten into a place that was very different from what the campaign wanted it to be from 2008 …,” Goolsbee said, while also adding that caveat that he felt Republicans should be blamed more than Obama.
Goolsbee was responding to former Bush strategist and ABC political analyst Matt Dowd’s prior remarks on the show in which Down said Obama should issue a “mea culpa” because he ran in 2008 on a campaign of uniting “red America” and “blue America” but, due to his pushing his partisan Obamacare bill, ended up dividing Americans and Washington.
With so many of Obama’s surrogates committing Michael Kinsley’s “Washington gaffe” in which someone inadvertently says what is true, one has to wonder if Obama can even keep members of his own party in line going into the home stretch of the election.
One thing is for sure: the number of Obama surrogates that continue to undercut and criticize him and his message is a sign of weakness. It may also be a sign that Obama’s administration and reelection campaign are not ready for — and may have never been — ready for primetime.