Axelrod: GOP Super PACs Pointing Guns At Us!

Obama adviser defends Super PAC decision on 'Morning Joe'

February 7, 2012

President Obama’s senior political strategist David Axelrod defended the president’s perceived hypocrisy on the Super PAC issue in an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Tuesday. Responding to host Joe Scarborough’s inquiry into whether Obama is a "hypocrite" for now accepting super PAC money after previously opposing the practice, Axelrod shifted the conversation to Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers and the array of Republican Super PACs that he perceives as "pointing guns" at the Obama administration. He also claimed "99 percent" of Republican Super PAC ads in the presidential race have so far been negative. According to Axelrod, the president will continue to fight for campaign finance reform—but that "won't be in this campaign."

SCARBOROUGH: The next story is Obama yields and partially of Super PACS. Obviously he was critical of Citizens United, of the Super PACS, and a lot of the president's donors weren't going contribute to the Super PAC that Bill Burton helps run until they found out they got the go ahead from the president. Some were saying the president's being hypocritical. Others are saying and I think most of us agree he doesn't really have much of a choice if he wants to be competitive in this race. But is the president a hypocrite for championing a Super PAC?

AXELROD: I'm going to go out on a limb and say no.

SCARBOROUGH: Gutsy move, Axelrod.

AXELROD: The bottom line here is that the Citizens United decision was a bad decision from our perspective. It did open the floodgates. But now the rules are what the rules are. You've seen the impact all right. These super PACs have spent over $40 million in these Republican primaries. 99 percent of it on negative ads. We see Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers and others talking about raising collectively upwards of half a million dollars to try and defeat the president. And we were faced with a situation as to whether we could afford to play by two sets of rules. And the answer is obviously no. We're going to support that effort and we're going to insist that everything that is raised is disclosed as required by law. And we're going to move forward. But that doesn't mean that we believe that this is the best way for the system to function. The president will continue to fight for reform, but that won't be in in this campaign.


SCARBOROUGH: We now--I think Messina pushed back saying it's a bunch of B.S., we won't raise a billion dollars. How much money do you think you need to raise to win this campaign? I mean, obviously at least the $750 million you raised last time, right?

AXELROD: Well, that seems -- yeah, that's certainly true. And we'll see if we get there. One thing I'm pleased about is of those 1.3 million contributors, 98 percent of them are small donors. Our average donation is $55. So I heard Dan suggest that we don't have a good solid small donor fund-raising base. We have a stronger fund-raising base among small donors today than we did four years ago. So that's promising. But we're up against a tremendous amount of money here. And so, you know, we'll continue to raise money for our campaign to start our operations. And we'll see what this Super PAC does. I don't imagine that’s going to be able to compete with the array of guns pointed at us, but it may help offset that advantage to some degree.