Republicans debate how hard-ass to be on Obama

But on the other side of the argument about anti-Obama rhetoric, you have this exclusive story reported by Yahoo! News on Tuesday.

Republicans on a private Republican National Committee conference call with allies warned Tuesday that party surrogates should refrain from personal attacks against President Barack Obama, because such a strategy is too hazardous for the GOP.

"We're hesitant to jump on board with heavy attacks" personally against President Obama, Nicholas Thompson, the vice president of polling firm the Tarrance Group, said on the call. "There's a lot of people who feel sorry for him."

Recent polling data indicates that while the president suffers from significantly low job approval ratings, voters still give "high approval" to Obama personally, Thompson said.

Voters "don't think he's an evil man who's out to change the United States" for the worse—even though many of the same survey respondents agree that his policies have harmed the country, Thompson said. The upshot, Thompson stressed, is that Republicans should "exercise some caution" when talking about the president personally.

Of course one of the leaders of the Republican Party, talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, went ballistic on his radio show Tuesday upon learning of this.

Meanwhile, the same people on this call are getting nasty and personal against any Republican running. Look what they're saying about Newt. The same Republicans on this call, folks, I cannot emphasize this enough, "Well, we can't vote for Newt. We can't have Newt. Look at his marriages. Look at all of his stuff at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The guy's scum, we can't vote for him. We can't vote for Rick Perry. Rick Perry, look what he's done with in-state tuition and vaccinations and illegals, plus he's stupid, and we can't vote for Michele Bachmann, she's an idiot, she's an absolute dummkopf, all those foster kids who the hell wants that? Rick Santorum, he's a nut, he's a religious kook. We can't vote for Santorum. We can't have somebody like that in our party. Herman Cain, for crying out loud, the guy's a walking sex act, we can't have this guy, doesn't even know where Russia is, he's the biggest idiot, blithering idiot we ever had."

Every bit of stated opposition from Republicans about Republicans is personal. I don't know if it's the same Republicans on this conference call but I'm telling you that it apparently is fine and dandy and it's hunky-dory to get personal if you are a Republican campaign strategist, if you're a Republican campaign worker, if you're anywhere involved in conservative media, fine and dandy, you go get personal against all of these nominees any day as often as you want. Don't do it with Obama, don't you dare get personal with Obama. Can attack our people personally all day long. Herman Cain, Gingrich, but lay off Obama.

It's not a stretch to say that large elements of the GOP hold Barack Obama in intense personal disdain. We'll refrain from using the word "hate" because people get upset about the term, but well, you get the idea.

Certainly the GOP presidential candidates are united in their antipathy toward the health care plan that the president signed into law in 2010, a sentiment that polls say is shared by a majority of the American public (although the Los Angeles Times published a powerful op-ed yesterday by one woman who was against the new plan until she learned earlier this year she had breast cancer and now calls the new law potentially a "life-saver").

How much does the collective GOP dislike the health-care law? Well, there's nothing scientific about this small anecdote reported in the National Journal, but it does give one a sense of the visceral opposition to the president out in the hinterlands:

A candidate “needs to have a warrior ethos to be the GOP nominee. They have to be a fighter, and they have to have some substance,” said Republican media strategist Rick Wilson.

If Democrats suffered through “Bush Derangement Syndrome” during the last decade, Republican primary voters view the current president with near-contempt, thanks to the lousy economy and a liberal governing agenda. Obama’s unpopular health care law still is driving much of that anger. Wilson said he recently conducted a focus group where Republicans were asked whether, if they had a choice, they would rather “kill Obamacare” or have killed Osama bin Laden.

“They would have killed Obamacare and waited for the actuarial tables [to] play out for bin Laden,” Wilson said.

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