Film spotlights voters who have turned on Obama
(File/Marc Piscotty/Getty Images))
(CBS News) A provocative new film spotlighting Democrats and
independents who say they voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but have since
turned on the president is set to debut at the Republican National
Convention in Tampa next week.
Titled "The Hope and the
Change," the anti-Obama film was jointly financed by Citizens United and
Victory Film Group -- the production company helmed by conservative
filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon.
This is the first
presidential election in which Citizens United was able to produce a
film about a candidate after the conservative advocacy group's lawsuit
to air a 2008 campaign movie about Hillary Clinton made it to the
Supreme Court in 2010.
The court's momentous 5-4 decision that year led to the birth of super PACs and the overhaul of the campaign finance system.
film, in my opinion, is the definition of what the Reagan coalition
was," said Citizens United President David Bossie. "The Reagan coalition
was obviously Republicans, but it was Democrats and independents, too,
who wanted American exceptionalism and wanted to believe and have hope."
Before its full premiere next week and subsequent
showing at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Bannon
plans to preview the film during an hour-long special scheduled to air
on the Fox News Channel on Friday night.
documentary opens with footage of Obama supporters reacting ecstatically
to his victory on Election Night in 2008. Pro-Obama commentary from an
array of cable news hosts and celebrities is then intercut with clips of
the 40 focus-group-tested non-Republican interviewees, 25 of whom are
All of those interviewed hail from key districts
in seven swing states, according to Bannon and Bossie, and many of them
are shown recalling the excitement they felt in voting for the Democrat
four years ago.
"He is just a charismatic individual who I
saw as a knight in shining armor -- someone who came out of nowhere and
was going to, you know, take my vote," one woman says.
film's mood and accompanying musical score quickly turn dark, as the
interviewees express regret for their votes and disappointment with the
country's direction under the president.
"Obama's a great con artist," one of them says.
set to work on the film last October, shortly after former Alaska Gov.
Sarah Palin announced that she would not run for president in 2012. "The
Hope and the Change" keeps with the rabble-rousing style that the
filmmaker employed in his previous works, including last year's
pro-Palin documentary, "The Undefeated."
the festivities and positive sentiments surrounding Obama's
inauguration are shown, the movie veers back in time to the
near-collapse of the financial sector in the fall of 2008 but does not
clarify that those events took place before the current president took
"The American investment bank Lehman Brothers has
filed for bankruptcy," reports a Sky News anchor in an event that
occurred in September 2008 but appears in the movie after Obama is shown
being sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
film next features a photograph of Obama sitting with cabinet members
in the White House juxtaposed with footage surrounding the bailout of
Citigroup -- an event that also occurred under the direction of the Bush
But several of the interviewees in the
film appear to mistakenly believe that government actions such as the
TARP program and Citigroup bailout were initiated by Obama, rather than
After a clip from a CBS News report on
the November 2008 Citigroup bailout is shown, an interviewee says, "I
tried to put on a positive face to that and say, 'Well, the president is
on the inside of that and knows hopefully a lot more about this, has
advisers, so I'm not going to judge too harshly here,' but it is
A 2010 Pew Research poll
revealed that only 34 percent of Americans surveyed knew that TARP had
been initiated by the Bush administration, while 47 percent incorrectly
thought that the Obama administration enacted it.
it where people were asking the questions," Bannon said when asked why
he featured government actions that took place before Obama became
president. "You go out and talk to them -- they don't blame Bush for the
bailouts. They blame Obama and the continuation of the bailouts."
News contributor Pat Cadell, who helped organize the focus groups, said
that his behind-the-scenes role in the film was to be the
"methodological referee" and ensure that all of the interviews were
"There was no leading them on," Cadell said.
"They are really articulate, and my suspicion is a lot of people are
going to watch it and say, 'That's me. That's what I think.' "
added that the film's inverted chronology related to the TARP program
and Citigroup bailout was reflective of how "in people's minds, it's
"It's a neatness problem, but we're not having a
seminar," he said. "This is how they sense it and also the way they
The heart of Bannon's film is devoted to the
interviewees criticizing in broad strokes the 2009 economic stimulus
program, the bailout of the auto industry, national health care reform,
and rising gasoline and food prices during the Obama administration.
is exactly what my father was trying to get away from back in communist
Eastern Europe -- is some of the same things that are happening right
now in the government," an interviewee says during the segment on health
The film also leans heavily on disparaging
Obama's priorities and performance in office. He is shown filling out a
March Madness bracket, taking vacations, and stumbling over his words in
"He's really enjoying being a celebrity more than anything else," one female interviewee says.
Hope and the Change" ends with a call to arms, as several of the
featured voters note that they will not cast their ballots for Obama
But while Paul Ryan does make a brief appearance
in the film, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is neither
alluded to nor mentioned directly.
After the rollout at
the two conventions, Bannon and Bossie hope to show the film to a wider
audience through a national cable TV deal that is still in the works.
"Our goal is to have as many people watch it as possible and, from that, start a conversation," Bossie said.