JOHNSON AND JASON
When Sen. Barack Obama held a meeting with his economic advisory team, an early draft of attendees approved by the campaign included Jim Johnson, the former CEO of Fannie Mae and a close friend and adviser to Obama. Johnson’s name was removed from the list made available to the media, and it is not known if he did in fact call in.
Johnson’s name was removed by one of the newer members of the Obama economic team, Jason Furman, who is coordinating economic policy between the campaign and its outside advisers. Furman was put in place by the campaign’s chairman, Penny Pritzker, who also recruited almost the entire Obama economic team, which includes Johnson, former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and former Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling.
“That Obama would even have Johnson within a mile of his campaign right now is just mind-boggling,” says a Democrat political operative informed of the gaffe. “But he prizes loyalty over almost anything else, so it’s also not surprising.”
CHRIS AND BARNEY SHOW
Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank spent much of late Friday and the weekend talking to their friends and donors in the banking, investment, and insurance businesses, seeking advice on how to handle the Bush Administration’s economic sector bailout proposal.
Dodd, specifically, according to Democrat Banking Committee staffers, was seeking which financial institutions stood to gain the most from the plan hatched by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.
“If this is nothing more than a play that helps Goldman Sachs, it’s not going to go over well with Dodd,” says a Banking Committee staffer. “Look, it’s in our interest to be responsible and keep our financial sector shored up, but politically, we know we’re not the ones who are going to take the hit if things get bogged down here in the Senate. We know this can be a wedge issue for us politically if we allow it to be.”
That attitude was reflected in the lukewarm-to-neutral statements put out late Friday by Democrat leaders in the House and the Senate. Both Dodd and Frank have been taking political hits for what is perceived by many to be their overly cozy relationship with some of the bad players in this economic collapse, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Countrywide Financial, among others.
And Frank’s and Dodd’s reticence to come out front late last week was reflective of their uncertainty of how to approach working with the Administration. “They were talking to a lot of people they have been dealing with over the past couple of years,” says another Senate Banking aide. “They weren’t just asking us, they were talking to the people who have been politically and financially supporting them.”
IN THE CROSSHAIRS
The Obama campaign intends to put Sen. John McCain‘s campaign manager, Rick Davis, in the political crosshairs over the next weeks or so, with TV and radio advertising targeting the longtime McCain adviser.
“It’s all about painting him as one of the root causes of the oil and economic crisis in this country,” says an Obama media adviser. “This is a guy who was on the housing payroll and the oil payroll, and he was doing it while advising that presidential campaign.”