Commander-in-Mischief: Is Obama Trying to Sabotage the GOP?

Hannah Foslien/AP Photo

President Obama might want to look like the adult in the room, but his surrogates in the Democratic Party are playing the role of prankster as they try to derail the Republican nomination of Mitt Romney.

The Democratic National Committee stalked and mocked the one-time front-runner in New York today, hiring a plane to fly over the city with a sign calling attention to a foot-in-mouth bet that Romney made at a debate Saturday night. It reads, "Bet You 10K Romney's Out of Touch"

Go to that website and you'll see a big $10,000 bill bearing Romney's face and the slogan, "In Corporations We Trust."

That's not all: Obama's deputy campaign manager, Julianna Smoot, has asked supporters to donate money in honor of their conservative friends or relatives. In an email pitch, Smoot encouraged them to "have a little fun" by telling their Republican friends that their friends' Internet spam has encouraged the Democrats to support Obama, and even to tell them that they'll donate $3 "every time they [the GOP friends] say something outrageous."

"You can choose to send them a note and let them know they've moved you to help build President Obama's 2012 campaign," she wrote. "You can let them know a donation was made in their honor, but not that it's from you (it will drive them nuts!)."

Smoot's email doesn't mention Romney or Newt Gingrich, but there's no mistaking that the Democratic apparatus is trying to chip away at the former Massachusetts governor at every chance. The DNC has focused nearly all its attacks on Romney during the GOP's primary season, and only this weekend did it publish its first video ad targeting Gingrich.

The barbs are flying as Obama sinks to a new low among Americans who view him favorably. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 49 percent of the public has an unfavorable opinion of him, and just 48 percent like him. Gingrich's favorability rating, meanwhile, is much lower: 35 percent.

Compared to their previous jabs at Romney, highlighting his reversals on key positions, for example, the Democrats' new campaign tactics seem a little subversive.

At a news conference overlooking the Manhattan skyline intended to draw attention to the high-flying ad, the New York state Democratic chairman, Jay Jacobs, defended the gimmick.

"I don't think that calling this a stunt is really very fair. Campaigns are all about getting your message out," Jacobs later told ABC News. "If this helps call people's attention to the fact that you've got candidates on the Republican side who just don't get it, then I think it's completely appropriate."

Voting in the GOP primary hasn't started yet, but as Romney and Gingrich tear each other down, already some Democrats are reminded of Rush Limbaugh's advice to conservatives in 2008: Vote for Hillary Clinton in open primaries to draw out the bloody fight with Obama.

Somewhat jokingly, Tom Jensen, a pollster aligned with Democrats, remarked, "Just like Rush said, 'Go vote for Hillary … [Rep.] Debbie Wasserman Schultz [D-Fla.] should say, 'Go vote for Newt.'"