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The strange, intimate emails of the Obama campaign

May 11, 2012|By Robin Abcarian
  • President Barack Obama waves as he board Air Force One before his departure from Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
President Barack Obama waves as he board Air Force One before his departure… (Pablo Martinez Monsivais…)

This time of year, email boxes fill up with all sorts of unsolicited appeals from politicians, always in the service of fundraising. Most pitches have straightforward subject lines:

“Stand with Me,” urged recall target Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, in a March 11 missive that pleaded with supporters not to let “the liberal elite and Big Government Union Bosses control this election.”

“CNN Attacks Joe the Plumber,” read the subject line of a March 26 note from Samuel “Joe” Wurzelbacher, who turned a chance Ohio encounter with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 into a run for Congress, and a cable news story into a war cry. “Remember how the left-wing media crucified Sarah Palin?” Wurzelbacher asked.

On the presidential front, where the proliferation of candidates on the GOP side meant money seekers had to find creative ways of cutting through the email clutter, supporters received requests with subject lines like:

“Lazarus Rises Again!” From the Newt Gingrich campaign, after a poll in March showed Gingrich “gaining momentum.” (Actually, the line was a self-deprecating riposte to the Drudge Report story about the poll: “Lazarus Rising Again?” Drudge has made a sport of attacking Gingrich and providing favorable coverage of Mitt Romney, the GOP’s presumptive nominee.

“Rombo,” was the topic on Feb. 15 when former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum sent an email comparing Romney to the fictional anti-hero because of his “negative mudslinging attacks.”

For sheer creativity, however, the president’s re-election outfit, Obama for America, takes the cake for its faux intimate, often weird  and seemingly non-sequitur subject lines.

“I want you to see this first,” wrote Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, in an email containing a “powerful new ad” about the president that probably went out to hundreds of thousands of supporters.

“I love you back,” wrote First Lady Michelle Obama in the subject line of her email to supporters raffling off one of many dinners with her hubby. “I see this happen a lot,” she wrote. “Someone in a crowd yells at my husband, ‘We love you, Barack.’ That’s when he interrupts himself, smiles really big and says, ‘I love you back.’ And he does.”

“Hey,” was the single word subject on March 31 in an email pitch from the president himself. Again, the pitch was a raffle for dinner with the man himself.  Minumum donation: $3. The note was signed equally casually: “Barack.”

But this was just a warm up for a more enticing drawing:

“Clooney and Me.” (Those three words are surely the topic of a million romantic fantasies. Whoever crafted the phrase must have been pleased). That was an April 24 email offering a shot at dinner with Obama and the actor chez Clooney. In fact, on Thursday, many Angelenos will also be paying a price for that dinner -- with a presidential level traffic jam expected as Obama heads to Clooney’s home in the San Fernando Valley to break bread with two lucky “grassroots supporters” and their guests. Airfare and lodging were included for the winners.

“The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart was put off by what he called the “fake familiarity” of the “super casual bro mails” from the Obama camp. “This is wrong,” Stewart said last month. “You don’t need to address anyone as ‘Hey’ to be cool. You’re the president. That’s pretty [expletive] cool. … I’d mind it less if your email subject lines were, ‘Give me money.’”

Are the pitches successful? Seems like it. After Messina sent out an email on Feb. 24 titled “They’re obsessed,” asking supporters to give in the 24-hour period between the mailing and a speech Romney was scheduled to give to Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax group associated with the Koch Brothers, 82,746 people gave money, according to a counter embedded in the email. The Obama campaign did not respond to an emailed request for a comment.

Blogger Andrew Sullivan has also had it with the Obama emails. In particular, he found a Michelle Obama missive, subject line: “Me Again,” “cringe-inducing.”

“Look,” wrote Sullivan, “I understand the need for fundraising pitches but these are just creepy.”

Original source: The strange, intimate emails of the Obama campaign

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