Seems like only a month ago that Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS was running ads against Democratic Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, darkly warning of her ties to the Occupy Wall Street movement. The ads pointed out that she had taken credit for providing the "intellectual foundation" for the movement and is generally supportive of the demonstrators, who Crossroads characterized as "extreme left protesters."
Something must have gone wrong with that message, however, because today, Crossroads returns with a new Warren attack ad that paints her as a champion of the bailed-out Wall Street banks. Which is pretty neat! Between the 99% and 1%, is there anyone who Karl Rove thinks doesn't have Warren's support? (Answer: Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), probably.)
"Really?" queries the voiceover narrator, "Congress had Warren oversee how your tax dollars were spent, bailing out the same banks that helped cause the financial meltdown. Bailouts that helped pay big bonuses to bank executives, while middle class Americans lost out." The implication here, I guess, is that Warren was a happy enabler of Wall Street. Here's where you have to imagine Tim Geithner, crying out in pain, "If I had a dollar for every time I wished Warren would just quietly let me restore Wall Street to health, I could have funded even more banking lobbyists!" Instead, things sort of went like this:
What did Warren actually have to say about bank bonuses? Let's see ... oh, here you go: "I do not understand how it is that financial institutions could think that they could take taxpayer money and then turn around and act like it's business as usual. I don't understand how they can't see that the world has changed in a fundamental way, that it is not business as usual when you take taxpayer dollars."
And here's some more:
Warren roasted former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson for his handling of TARP, saying that he claimed the money would be funneled "into the banks to increase lending, specifically to increase small business lending, because that is the engine of our economy." But "that's not what happened with that money," and she said there is "no chance" there will ever be a full accounting of TARP funds because "we never asked on the front end."
And how did the oversight panel which Warren chaired view the bailout process? Glad you asked:
A scathing new report by a congressional watchdog panel blames the Treasury Department for failing to track how banks are spending taxpayer money provided through the government's $700 billion financial rescue package, also known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.
The panel, which has been charged with overseeing TARP and is led by Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, said in its report that it "still does not know what the banks are doing with taxpayer money."
By investing in banks that have refused "to provide any accounting of how they are using taxpayer money," the Treasury Department has "eroded" public confidence, the report stated.
The panel also asked whether the Treasury Department, which has allocated more than $350 billion from the rescue package so far, failed to comply with Congress' instructions to tackle the country's foreclosure crisis.
The department took "no steps to use any of [the $700 billion rescue package] to alleviate the foreclosure crisis," and that "raises questions about whether Treasury has complied with Congress' intent that Treasury develop a 'plan that seeks to maximize assistance for homeowners,'" the report said.
Simon Johnson vouches for Warren as well, and makes one point that rings out above all the others:
The idea that Elizabeth Warren would ever side with "big banks" against the middle class is preposterous. Time and again, she has stuck up for the middle class (and anyone who uses financial services) - even when it was deeply unfashionable to do so. The big banks have opposed her relentlessly and on-the-record, both directly and through various surrogates.
This is one of those ads that really should be precluded from even airing based on the fact that it's comprised of a bunch of utterly absurd, can-be-disproven-with-two-minutes-of-Googling lies. That said, it's great to know that Crossroads opposes big bonuses for banking executives -- file that under "biting the hand that funds our political ads."
UPDATE, 5:09pm: Warren campaign spokesperson sends along a statement: "Elizabeth was an outspoken critic of the bank bailout and it's blank check to Wall Street. And that's just one fact that makes these ads ridiculous. The Wall Street bankers financing these attacks are desperate to stop Elizabeth Warren because she's worked so hard to stop Wall Street from ripping off middle class families. Elizabeth's worked to keep both the banks and the government accountable. Those are the facts. The people of Massachusetts don't need more fast talk from Wall Street, they need a fighter like Elizabeth taking on Wall Street."
Asked who would do a better job of looking out for middle class families, 43 percent of voters cite Warren and 33 percent identify Brown. Nearly half of Massachusetts voters also say Warren would do a better job of regulating Wall Street institutions. And more than a third of Massachusetts voters say they are less likely to back Brown because of campaign donations from Wall Street, a main theme of the Democratic attack against the incumbent.
In other words, Warren's broader message -- that she's on the side of the middle class, and will battle Wall Street on its behalf, while Brown is in Wall Street's corner -- may be be resonating. Also key from the internals: Only 25 percent say Warren's views are too liberal, versus 40 percent who say they're about right. Only seven percent say Warren's work as a Harvard professor -- a major theme against her -- will make them less likely to support her. And only 23 percent say Warren's support for Occupy Wall Street makes them less likely to back her -- significantly less than the 37 percent who say Brown's acceptance of donations from Wall Street make them less likely to support him.
Those findings cast doubt on whether the right's efforts to push those old cultural buttons are working.
The poll does find that Warren's negative rating has gone up by nine points, but it's still down at 27 percent, while Brown's is up at 35 percent.
The implication: previous attempts to tie Warren to #OWS had the opposite effect than was intended, so now Crossroads is taking a new approach. The opposite approach! But, charitably, it's a stretch.
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