MSNBC contributor and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell became one of the disillusioned Democrats in April when he criticized Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s work at Bain Capital.
In an interview with the Washington Free Beacon yesterday Rendell, who is known for his bluntness, defended his previous complaints, adding that unless politicians start telling the truth more often, voters will stop seeing them as reliable sources.
“All we said was that the attacks on Bain were over the top and a few Democrats jumped on us for that,” he said. “But to be a good surrogate you need to be reasonable; the independents are not going to believe you’re credible if you try to just say, ‘My guy is an angel; that guy’s the devil.’”
Rendell, who also served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee during Al Gore’s 2000 campaign, said members of Congress should give voters more credit in terms of what they can and can’t understand.
“The vast majority of our elected officials are so scared of losing their jobs that they don’t think ordinary citizens can handle the truth; they can, you just have to be honest,” said Rendell, who has been out of office since January 2011. “The Democrats are telling seniors, who are a good voting bloc, that there does not have to be Medicare reform. Of course there does, it was created when people were living to 65, not their 80s.”
The Obama surrogate also acknowledged that the President’s influence over the media and crowds as diminished as they found out Hope and Change weren’t realistic.
“The media and the population saw him as this transformative figure; he was the first serious black candidate, a new, young, promising figure. People have sobered to that; the newness has faded and people now see him as another practical politician.”
Rendell is correct. In a straw poll taken at progressive Take Back the American Dream Conference in Washington, D.C. this week, only 11 percent of respondents said they were enthusiastic about Obama and only 60 percent of respondents said they were strongly in favor of reelecting the President.
Likewise, Rendell is not the most high-profile Democrat speaking out against the President. President Bill Clinton and Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker have also criticized the Obama campaign’s approach to ripping on Romney.
In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, Clinton told guest host Harvey Weinstein, a movie mogul and top Obama fundraiser, “I think [Romney] had a good business career… There’s no question that in terms of getting up and going to the office and, you know, basically performing the essential functions of the office, the man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold.”
Booker said he felt “uncomfortable” with attacks on Romney’s record with Bain Capitol. On NBC’s Meet the Press, Booker admitted, “If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses—to grow business. And this to me, I’m very uncomfortable.”
In some cases former Obama enthusiasts have retreated from the Democratic Party altogether.
Artur Davis, a former Democratic congressman from Alabama and the man who seconded the official nomination of Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, has gone so far as to defect to the Republican Party.
In an interview with Wolf Blitzer of CNN, Davis said his disagreement with the Democratic Party stretches over a number of issues , saying he “started out as a conservative Southern Democrat and there used to be room for conservative Southern Democrats in the party, [but....] the Obama Administration has, candidly, gone too far to the Left… He has taken the party too far to the Left…. Like so many people I did not get what I voted for.”
If the Obama campaign can’t figure out how to energize or even keep its base, GOP nominee Mitt Romney could have an opening to win in November.