Is President Obama a hypocrite on campaign finance? Karl Rove says so.

Democrats are claiming that Republican-leaning organizations such as the US Chamber of Commerce aren't being open about campaign finance. But left-leaning groups are just as secretive about donors, says Karl Rove.

Sue Ogrocki/AP/File
Former White House adviser Karl Rove says Democrat claims that Republican groups are taking campaign money from overseas donors are hypocritical.

Is President Obama a hypocrite? GOP strategist Karl Rove says that he is.

In recent days Obama and other top Democrats have charged that Republicans are using foreign donations to help pay for political ads in the 2010 midterm elections. In particular, the White House has focused its rhetorical fire on the US Chamber of Commerce, and called on the Chamber and other independent groups to make public the names of their donors.

But Democratic-leaning organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have long kept their own contributors secret under the same rules, Mr. Rove pointed out in an interview Tuesday morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” These allies spent some $400 million in support of Obama’s own 2008 campaign, estimated Rove.

“The president is being hypocritical about this,” said the former top political adviser to President George W. Bush.

Rove denied that any of the political organizations he raises money for, such as the tax-exempt American Crossroads, and its affiliate Crossroads GPS, have taken cash from overseas.

“All the area codes I’m dialing are inside the United States,” Rove told ABC interviewer George Stephanopoulos.

Obama’s charges about foreign money, and Rove’s rhetorically-sharp response, may show this about the 2010 campaign: the gloves are off. The election is now only weeks away, and the Democratic Party in particular appears to be resorting to traditional attack lines as it tries to avoid huge congressional losses.

The foreign money issue is only part of it. Political speeches by Obama, Vice President Biden, and such top surrogate campaigners as ex-President Bill Clinton are full of references to GOP plans for tax cuts for “millionaires and billionaires," and regulatory relief for bankers, health insurance firms, the oil industry, and other reliable corporate bogeymen.

“You basically leave everybody else to fend for themselves,” charged Obama about Republican plans on Monday evening, at a fundraiser held in basketball star Alonzo Mourning’s Florida mansion.

Will this aggressive form of populist message work? Some Democratic analysts insist that it can. A new memo from the consulting firm Democracy Corps, co-founded by Clinton adviser James Carville, insists that a message with just the right populist tone can still make gains with independent and moderate voters, among others, leading to an “October surprise” of smaller-than-expected Democratic losses.

Poll-tested messages that Democratic candidates should use include “changing Washington to work for the middle class and American jobs, not corporations and Wall Street”, and “made in America, creating American jobs and opposing Republicans who support trade agreements and tax breaks for companies that export American jobs,” according to the Democracy Corps memo.

But independent voters remain highly pessimistic about the economy, according to a new Gallup survey. Fully 65 percent of independents say the economy is "getting worse," the just-published poll says. Their attitude on this issue is much closer to self-described Republicans than Democrats, notes Gallup.

And GOP analysts are pushing their own versions of a closing message to the voters. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says that in June the US distributed more food stamps than ever before in its history, while unemployment has risen to 9.8 percent under the Obama administration.

According to a Gingrich strategy memo posted on his website, Republican candidates should use the growth of food stamps and unemployment to “illustrate the difference for every American between the Democratic Party of food stamps and the Republican party of paychecks."

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