In it, but not of it. TPM DC
The group kicked off at an event in New York today, with speakers like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) appealing to the "vital center of our still-great country."
Mark McKinnon, one of the founders, described the group as a "Woodstock of Democracy in his opening remarks, and told the Washington Post that No Labels started because of the "huge disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country."
"The rest of the country is not hyperpartisan," he said. "They say: 'There's MoveOn on the left, the tea party on the right and nothing in the middle for me.' We're trying to become a microphone for those voices, to create a system that rewards and gives a shout-out for good behavior."
The website echoes this non-partisan feel-goodery, with the slogan "Not left. Not right. Forward," and statements like: "We are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who are united in the belief that we do not have to give up our labels, merely put them aside to do what's best for America."
But, as the Washington Post reports:
While No Labels bills itself as an assortment of citizen activists, the founders are grizzled veterans of campaign politics. McKinnon was a senior adviser to President George W. Bush (R) and to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during his 2008 presidential bid. Another co-founder, Nancy Jacobson, is a prominent Democratic fundraiser who worked on President Bill Clinton's campaigns and whose husband, Mark Penn, was the chief strategist on Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.
Among No Label's goals are to "establish a Political Action Committee that can operate in the 2012 primary races of members who get challenged by the ideological extremes of either party," to "monitor and track the activities of all members of congress to ensure they are not playing hyper-partisan games," and to "recruit one million Citizen Leaders to be part of No Labels effort."
The list of speakers today included:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Congressman Bob Inglis
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Congressman Tom Davis
Senator Joe Lieberman
Senator Evan Bayh
Senator Joe Manchin
Governor Charlie Crist
Lt Governor Abel Maldonado
Congressman Michael Castle
And though the logo is a red and blue bison, the group takes inclusiveness seriously: The gift shop offers a veritable menagerie of bipartisan animal swag. Just don't try to to find a donkey or elephant.