Democrats locked in tight races across the country are not following the White House lead on attacking conservative and business groups' political activities.
One adviser to a Democratic Senate campaign told Power Play that the new line of attack from the president and the Democratic National Committee against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Republican strategists Ed Gillespie and Karl Rove is "potentially distracting" and "confusing to voters."
"It's not really part of what we're doing," he said.
President Obama, his top political adviser, David Axelrod, and a new ad from the DNC all harp on the claim that the Chamber and a group advised by Rove and Gillespie are using money from "secret donors" and "secret foreign money" to defeat Democrats.
The foreign money claim has mostly been debunked, with the New York Times correcting the administration on claims that dues from foreign companies are used to fund Chamber political ads.
President Obama has devoted several of his weekly addresses to the topic of Republican donors and even took the unprecedented step of chiding the members of the Supreme Court in attendance at his January State of the Union speech for their decision that removed federal limits on spending by outside groups.
It is not a passion shared by all in his party.
"I can think of better ways [for the DNC to spend money]," said a senior staffer on a Democratic House campaign. "My first suggestion would be to hit Republicans on outsourcing jobs."
The staffer said his candidate would not be mentioning the ads from American Crossroads, the group advised by Rove/Gillespie, or foreign money because it was "too complicated."
Power Play suggests that while Rove is famous from his years in the Bush administration, he is not enough of a public figure to move voters. Gillespie is even less well known outside of Washington, and the Chamber doesn't have much of a political profile except among insiders.
And if anything, attacking a business group so publicly right now may tend to reinforce the idea that Obama is "anti-business" at a time when the economy is in the doldrums.
If your ad in the closing three weeks of a campaign relies on an understanding of business groups and the identity of a long-ago chairman of the Republican National Committee, you may have a muddled message.
Thanks to today's Power Play crew: Kimberly Schwandt, April Girouard, L.A. Holmes, Lee Ross, Jen Suzara, Whitney Ksiazek, Gretchen Gailey, Bree Tracey and Molly Mathews.
Conway Once the Victim of the Same Attack He's Using on Rand Paul
Kentucky Democratic Senate Candidate Jack Conway has been going after Republican foe Rand Paul for Paul's unusually frank assessments that changes to Medicare and Social Security eligibility will be a fiscal necessity.
Conway should know the line of attack well, because it was one that was used successfully against him in his 2002 bid to unseat the Rep. Anne Northup.
Here's a Northup ad from that cycle:
"Narrator: These are the faces of Kentucky. They work hard. Pay their taxes. Play by the rules. In return, they think it's only right that they receive the Social Security benefits they earned when they retire --because after all, it's their money. But Jack Conway has different ideas. The press reports Conway believes we should consider raising the retirement age, and reducing benefits for Social Security. Tell Jack Conway Social Security is a sacred trust, and he needs to keep his hands off it...
Conway believes we should consider raising the retirement age and cutting Social Security benefits. Jack Conway's Social Security position: work longer, pay more in, get less back."
The Louisville Courier-Journal fact checked the ad at the time and found that:
"Conway acknowledges saying on the Joe Elliott Show on WHAS Radio in August 2001 that Congress should consider both options [raising the retirement age and reducing benefits] as it considers how to save Social Security for retirement of the Baby Boom generation, but says he was asked what he would do if the system was insolvent, which would not occur for decades even if Congress did nothing.
CNN even looked at the Northup ad:
"In fact, Democrat Conway did candidly concede that taxes needed to preserve Social Security could be -- quote - ‘enormous,' and, in the same interview said -- quote - ‘we're going to have to look at the retirement age and benefit levels.' But he advocated no specifics."
The Day in Quotes
"Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie -- they're Bush cronies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- they're shills for big business. And they're stealing our democracy."
-- Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod on "Face the Nation" denouncing political ads from the Chamber and from American Crossroads, a group that gets political advice from Rove and Gillespie.
"These ads are not a threat to democracy, Bob. They may be a threat to their power, but their power and democracy are not the same thing. It's very revealing that they see it that way."
--Ed Gillespie, former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, to "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer.
"They say all y'all are going to stay home. They say you might not care as much... Well, Philadelphia, I think the pundits are wrong. I think we're going to win, but you got to prove ‘em wrong."
-- President Obama rallying supporters in Philadelphia.
"Can we match the enthusiasm of the Tea Party? No. There have been too many disappointments."
-- Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) interviewed by the Washington Post at an Obama rally in Philadelphia.
"How do you run away from President Obama and at the same time get the people who really know and love Obama, more than they know and love you, to come out to vote?"
-- Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman to the Wall Street Journal, on Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan's struggle to win support from white independents and black Democrats at the same time.
"The 20-year-old kid who voted for Barack Obama and then saw this White House cut backroom deals with special interests instead of truly fighting for big change like the public option doesn't need a public shaming."
-- Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, quoted by The Hill on attempts by the Obama administration to goad liberals into voting.
"I'm doing it right here, Debbie. You know good and well that I don't support anything like that."
-- Rep. Eric Cantor on Fox News Sunday repudiating GOP House Candidate Rich Iott who once participated in reenacting Nazi military maneuvers.
"I'm glad that we could set up dinner."
-- FOX News anchor Bret Baier in the middle of a pointed discussion on "Fox News Sunday" between Eric Cantor and Debbie Wasserman Schultz that included a dinner invitation to continue the dialogue."Well, she certainly has a following and she's an interesting personality. So, you know, I'm not going to pass judgment on the level of force she represents in her politics, but she has -- you know, when she sends out a tweet on Twitter or puts something on her Facebook, you guys cover it, people respond to it. And so that makes her a player in our politics."
-- David Axelrod on "Face the Nation" talking about Sarah Palin."We're running to win the majority. We're not running to be a minority party."
-- Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on "Face the Nation."
"As I've said, we didn't know the extent of that activity."
-- Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias on "Meet the Press" dodging a question asking if he knew his family bank was dealing with known mob figures.
"I made mistakes with regard to my military misstatements. I was careless and I learned a very painful and humbling lesson."
-- Illinois Senate candidate Mark Kirk on NBC's Meet the Press expressing contrition for embellishing his military record.
"I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don't want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option - it isn't."
-- Carl Paladino, Republican candidate for New York governor, speaking at a gathering of Orthodox Jews.
"I would say somebody from the business community would find working in the White House and Larry Summers' job an extreme culture shock."
-- Former Obama car czar Steven Rattner on CNN.
"It may well be the case that there are some issues that we would have gotten passed last time that would not be able to pass this time."
--Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, promising Democrats will keep a House majority but acknowledging that it will be less effective than it is now.
Trail Riders - Biden's Scrantonicity; Mrs. Brown's Salty Talk; Daniels Dines; Bubba and Bennet
President Obama starts his political day with remarks about his $50 billion infrastructure proposal - part of his most recent stimulus plan rolled out in August. Obama will be joined by mayors from across the country to call for the spending.
In the evening, Obama heads to Miami for a big-money fundraiser for House Democrats.
Vice President Biden takes it back to Scranton, Pa., where Democratic Rep. Chris Carney is in trouble in his bid for a third term. His challenger, former U.S. Attorney Thomas Marino, has been running even with the incumbent.
Biden then heads west to Pittsburgh for two events - one for embattled Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper and Mark Crit and another for the flagging campaign of gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato.
FOX EXCLUSIVE -- New York Troops Still Don't Have Ballots
More than one week after its extended deadline, New York still hasn't mailed out absentee ballots to all its 320,000 military servicemen and women and overseas voters, in clear violation of the MOVE Act, FoxNews.com has learned. According to the 2009 MOVE Act, a state must send out its military and overseas ballots 45 days prior to elections. New York was granted a waiver to this deadline by the Department of Justice and given an additional 15 days -- until October 1 -- to send out all its ballots. On October 5, New York State Board of Elections co-directors informed federal officials that the state had not fully met their extended deadline.
FOX EXCLUSIVE -- Brown's Wife Was the One Calling Whitman "Whore"
People with knowledge of what happened inside the room say the voice heard calling Meg Whitman a "whore" is none other than Jerry Brown's wife. The slur was part of a voicemail revealed on Thursday, wherein Jerry Brown called a Los Angeles police union seeking support. Brown evidently thought he had hung up, but the recording continued and an impromptu campaign strategy session ensued. During the conversation someone called Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman a "whore," for allegedly cutting a deal with the police union in exchange for their endorsement. -- Jake Gibson
It Pays to Back Pelosi
Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office estimated to The Hill that Pelosi has personally raised $52.3 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this cycle.
Her staff is touting Pelosi's big fundraising to counter the increasing complaints from members of her own caucus about her leadership with some even suggesting they may vote against her for another term as speaker.
Obama to Rhode Island
President Obama will make an unexpected campaign stop in Rhode Island next week according to local news reports. Obama is set to raise money on Monday for David Cicilline, the mayor of Providence, running to replace retiring Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Cicilline faces Republican state lawmaker John Loughlin.
2012 Watch -- Daniels Holding Policy Dinners
Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) has been holding private dinners in Indianapolis with top national policy figures. Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner broke the news and compares the gathers to the one then Gov. George W. Bush held in Texas in 1998.
Bubba Stumps - Bennet Gets Some Love
Former President Bill Clinton's campaign swing for embattled Democratic Senate candidates will include Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), whom Clinton opposed in Colorado's Democratic primary in August. Clinton is scheduled to appear with Bennet at a rally in Denver on Oct. 18. Clinton will then campaign for Florida Senate candidate Rep. Kendrick Meek for two days.
Clinton is to appear on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace." He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.