The big money outside groups best known for airing ruthless ads in the early state GOP primaries are elbowing their way onto the turf of presidential campaigns and parties — and some campaigns aren’t happy. In the last few weeks, super PACs and other outside groups supporting Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and President Barack Obama launched activities in Florida, other key states, and nationally — including phone banking, field organizing, direct mail, polling, state-of-the-race memos and even surrogate operations — that were once left mostly to the campaigns and parties.
The ambitious expansion is another example of a shift in political power away from the major parties and their candidates to deep-pocketed outsiders. But it’s left campaign operatives and even candidates grumbling about whether the super PACs are actually helping their favored candidates.
Campaigns generally are happy to let super PACs carpet bomb opponents with attack ads, but when it comes to direct-contact with voters and sensitive messaging, they fear that super PACs will muddle their framing, create confusion in the field and duplicate efforts — wasting cash rather than complementing their campaigns. “It would be much better for the super PACs to just focus on running ads and not try to get into the ground game because that can get really confusing and reduplicative, and I think there can be some headaches,” said Jesse Benton, Ron Paul’s campaign manager.