- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 1, 2012

President Obama’s campaign manager accused Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney Wednesday of pandering to tea party members who harbor a “very personal dislike” of the president.

“There’s lots of money to be raised from far-right tea party types appealing to a very personal dislike of Barack Obama,” campaign manager Jim Messina said in an email to Mr. Obama’s supporters. “When Romney tells a reporter that we need a president ‘who believes in American principles’ or that President Obama will be just a ‘footnote in history,’ that’s who he’s talking to.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Romney said the Obama campaign is just trying to distract people from the real issues in the race.

“The last thing President Obama and his political machine want is to have to face Mitt Romney in the general election,” said Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg. “Since last year, the Obama campaign has spent all of their time thinking of ways to attack Romney and distract from their own record of failure.”

Mr. Messina sent his missive after Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, won the GOP primary in Florida Tuesday night. In his victory speech, Mr. Romney said “we must not forget what this election is really about: defeating Barack Obama.”

That hit a nerve at Obama reelection headquarters in Chicago. Mr. Messina said that Mr. Romney should have talked about “getting the economy moving,” “keeping America safe” and “improving people’s lives.”

Mr. Romney made a pitch Tuesday night for supporters to contribute to a $1 million “one term fund” to end Mr. Obama’s presidency. In response, Mr. Messina said the Obama campaign is starting a $2 million fundraising drive to create a “two-term fund.”

“Most importantly, we’re going to show the number of people giving to make it happen,” Mr. Messina said. “Please donate $3 or more to our Two-Term Fund now.

It may not take the Romney camp very long to get to a million — they announced today that just 9 percent of their money comes from donors giving less than $200.”

The president’s campaign manager said Mr. Romney is interested only in booting Mr. Obama out of office, while the president is focused on the future of America.

“Last night Romney summed it up in one line — for them, it’s all about beating one man and sending his family packing from the White House,” Mr. Messina said. “Everything else the Republicans say or do is just means to that end. Our campaign is different. It’s about bringing people together to protect the progress we’ve made and make a lot more in a second term.”