Obama building war machine to respond to 'Swift Boat' attacks
John Byrne
Published: Sunday April 20, 2008

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"He's not going to sit there and sing 'Kumbaya' as the missiles are raining in," David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist, tells Newsweek for its Apr. 28 issue. "I don't think people should mistake civility for a willingness to deal with the challenges to come."

The Obama campaign is planning to expand its research and rapid-response outfit to repel planned "Swift-Boat" like attacks, the magazine will report. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth tooled spurious stories and message points against Sen. John Kerry in 2004.

Obama continues to face heat over his ties to indicted Chicago real estate developer Antoin Rezko. More important in the present, perhaps, are messages from the Clinton campaign that he's not electable because he hasn't been tested by Republican attacks.

There are signs that Swift-Boat-like agents are on the horizon.

"Operatives such as David Bossie, whose Citizens United group made the Willie Horton ad that helped sink Michael Dukakis's 1988 presidential bid, are sharpening knives as expectations mount that Obama will be their target in the fall," Newsweek's Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff write. "Bossie says he is assembling material for TV spots about Obama's ties with Ayers, a Chicago professor and unrepentant former member of the Weather Underground, a group that bombed several government buildings to protest the Vietnam War."

The issue received prominent treatment in last week's ABC debate. Obama served on a nonprofit with Ayers and attended a campaign event at the professor's house in 1995. Ayers dismisses the link -- at a dinner party, the magazine will report, "Ayers 'ridiculed' the notion that Obama shared his left-wing views: "He thought the idea that there was a political connection between them was absurd.'"

Obama, meanwhile, faces concerns on his other flank regarding the trial of Chicago real estate developer Antoin Rezko. A witness testified that Obama had met with an Iraqi mogul convicted of fraud in France who had been barred from entering the United States. Rezko is said to have sought the help of unnamed Illinois officials to help lobby on Auchi's behalf. An Obama spokesman says he neither recalls the event or ever meeting Auchi.

Strategists -- who are also Clinton supporters -- continue to use the Swift Boat meme against Obama. On Saturday, the communications director for the International Association of Machninists and Aerospace Workers -- a Clinton-backing union -- sent an "urgent memo" aiming to get more voters to pay attention to Obama's Ayers connection.

With the title "What Is Rove Up To?," Sloan asserts Rove will try to hijack Obama's slogan "Change We Can Believe In" and brand it as "revolutionary change, change driven by an alien ideology, change no patriotic American could stomach. And he intends to do so by channeling Sen. Joseph McCarthy." The memo was acquired by ABC.

"The IAMAW endorsed Clinton last year, and Sloan is an avid Clinton supporter," ABC adds. "The document makes no mention of Sloan's position with the union, and he told ABC News he sent it as a private citizen, not in his role as a spokesman for the union."