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Barrow's Politcal Strategy
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
October 27-- (From the Savannah Morning News)
By Larry Peterson

U.S. Rep. John Barrow has sent some voters campaign mailings saying he's working "hand in hand" with President Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, the Savannah Democrat also sent materials - apparently to other voters - proclaiming he's "stood up to ... the Democrats in Washington."

Barrow also is running a radio ad featuring an endorsement by Obama on radio stations that target mostly black audiences.

The first mailing has a cover with a picture of the Democratic president next to a headline, "NOW more than ever ... ."

"John Barrow," it says, "is working hand in hand with President Obama to create jobs and turn the economy around ... ."

The other mailing has a headline that proclaims the 12th Congressional District lawmaker as "not another rubber stamp ..."

It says he "stood up to (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Washington." It also notes his vote against Obama's energy bill and "the Wall Street bail-out."

Although he has voted for Pelosi three times, Barrow won't say whether he'd vote to re-elect her as Speaker next year.

Polls indicate the Californian is the most unpopular leader in Congress. Dozens of House Democrats in tough races have balked at endorsing her.

The radio ad, which the president made for Barrow in 2008, has run on - among other stations - E93, which describes itself as "Savannah's hip hop and R&B leader."

Tom Krause, a spokesman for Ray McKinney, Barrow's Republican opponent, said the mailing featuring Obama went mostly to Democrats.

And the "rubber stamp" one went mainly to residents of rural areas and independents, Krause said.

"John is a smart politician," said McKinney, nuclear power project manager from Vidalia. "He knows what the polls say just as well as I do.

"He's been playing the middle for a long time. Now he's playing both sides. Our hope is that both sides know they're being played."

Barrow spokeswoman Jane Brodsky didn't deny that the mailings and the radio commercial targeted specific audiences.

But Brodsky defended them, saying they show Barrow is independent and above party politics.

"This not about party or ideology," Brodsky said. "It is about doing what is best for the people Congressman Barrow represents.

"That means working with the president to get jobs at the Savannah harbor ... and new energy and housing renovation projects."

And it means voting against Obama and Pelosi when he disagrees with them on matters such as energy and the national health care bill, she said.

Asked about the radio message, White House spokesman Adam Abrams said Obama "has said many times there is an important election coming up, and he hopes Americans will vote for Democrats for Congress - including John Barrow ... ."

University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock said Barrow's approach could be risky.

"It lets the Republicans portray him as two-faced," Bullock said. "They can run ads asking, 'Who is the real John Barrow?'"

But Bullock also said Barrow's willingness to send multiple messages may show he believes he is "in pretty good shape" for re-election.

He said Barrow's posture contrasts with that of Democrats such as Macon Rep. Jim Marshall, widely considered in danger of losing.

Bullock said Marshall "is running from both Obama and Pelosi as fast as he can."

 
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