(By Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold, Tribune Washington Bureau – Los Angeles Times) Frustrated by what they see as President Obama’s weakness in battling Republicans, leading Democratic donors and tacticians have begun independently plotting their political recovery — including building a network of outside fundraising and campaign organizations to compete with those formed this year by Republicans.
This week, more than 100 wealthy Democrats gathered in a posh Washington hotel for a closed meeting in which participants repeatedly called for Obama be more aggressive in his agenda and tactical combat with the Republican right.
“I am used to fighting losing battles, but I don’t like losing without a fight,” said financier George Soros, a longtime donor to causes on the left, in a comment confirmed by his staff as part of a call to arms in private conversations at the postelection meeting of the Democracy Alliance, an organization of wealthy Democrats that provides funding to liberal groups.
In another sign of Democratic unrest, a dozen prominent Democrats — including longtime Bill Clinton advisor Harold Ickes, labor leader Andy Stern and representatives of influential interest groups — will meet Monday to discuss whether to form a new operation to combat the array of outside groups launched this year by Karl Rove and other Republican strategists, according to multiple participants.
Such a move by Democrats comes despite Obama’s longstanding opposition to political spending by outside groups — particularly those that refuse to disclose their donors — and underscores the deep dissatisfaction with the White House’s strategy on several fronts.
The White House declined to comment.
Many disaffected Democrats complain that the Obama administration needs to be more aggressive in advocating positions to rally the party’s base and differentiate it from the Republicans. White House officials who attended the Democracy Alliance meeting, including Austan Goolsbee, chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, were pressed about the administration’s stances on taxes, job creation and the environment.
Some Obama supporters reject the view that the administration has been tepid.