Calling Sarah Palin's vocal opposition to health care reform "dangerous," President Barack Obama's fundraising group has waded into the media circus surrounding the ex-Alaska governor's book tour with a call to supporters to raise $500,000 "to push back against Sarah Palin and her special interest allies."
Individuals on Obama's mailing list received an email Thursday from Organizing for America director Mitch Stewart, stating: "Right now, Sarah Palin is on a highly publicized, nationwide book tour, attacking President Obama and his plan for health reform at every turn. It's dangerous. Remember, this is the person who coined the term 'Death Panels' -- and opened the flood gates for months of false attacks by special interests and partisan extremists."
Stewart's email sets a goal of raising $500,000 over the next week in order to "have the resources to respond with ads, events, and calls to Congress when the attacks come."
The email directs readers to a page on the BarackObama.com Web site, where they can choose to donate an amount ranging from five dollars to $1,000.
Organizing for America is the successor to the 2008 Obama presidential campaign. Launched in January at the time of Obama's inauguration, it works as an arm of the Democratic National Committee.
It's unusual for political fundraisers at the national level to target an individual who is neither in office nor running for office, as is currently the case with Palin. David Corn at Mother Jones suggests that the fundraising campaign may be little more than an attempt to cash in on Palin's prominence in the media over the past few weeks.
"Whether Palin is running for president or not in 2012, the Obama strategists clearly see her as a useful foil," Corn writes. "With book sales indicating there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who are quite keen on her—and willing to shell out money to support her petty get-'em-back crusade—OFA is about to determine if there are similar numbers of Americans who want to pay a few dollars to join an anti-Palin campaign. It might have struck gold."
Carla Marinucci at the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Thursday that many Democratic activists "hope Palin's 15 minutes of fame lasts all the way to 2012."
"I see Democrats at bookstores buying her books by the dozens and trying to keep the book tour going," [Democratic strategist Garry South] said. "She's a magnet for controversy - and that's not what the Republicans need right now."
Even President Obama's adviser David Plouffe told The Chronicle that he hopes Palin will command the airwaves for months to come. "I think she'll be most helpful to the Democratic Party with a high profile," said Plouffe. "I hope her book tour lasts two years."
The full text of the email reads:
Right now, Sarah Palin is on a highly publicized, nationwide book tour, attacking President Obama and his plan for health reform at every turn.
It's dangerous. Remember, this is the person who coined the term "Death Panels" -- and opened the flood gates for months of false attacks by special interests and partisan extremists.
Whatever lie comes next will be widely covered by the media, then constantly echoed by right-wing attack groups and others who are trying to defeat reform.
As we approach the final sprint on health reform, we can't afford more deception and delay. We need to be ready for anything -- and have the resources to respond with ads, events, and calls to Congress when the attacks come.
So we're setting a big goal: $500,000 in the next week to help push back against Sarah Palin and her allies. Please chip in $5 to help reach our goal.
Earlier this month, Palin publicly said that she hopes health reform will be "dead on arrival." And since then, she's been working fiercely toward that goal.
On Tuesday, Palin went on Rush Limbaugh's radio show where she outrageously -- and falsely -- suggested that Americans could "face jail time as punishment" if they don't buy insurance.
Palin has many more interviews scheduled on Hannity and other conservative shows in the next few weeks, with more platforms to go after the President. As soon as she does, the rest of our opponents will likely parrot those attacks.
We need to be prepared. And we're counting on you help. Can you chip in $5?
Director, Organizing for America