Welcome back to Hotline Sort. Mitt Romney's campaign and the RNC raised an impressive $40 million in April, a new Republican super PAC has been planning to introduce Jeremiah Wright into the presidential campaign, and stories about Elizabeth Warren's heritage won't go away. Meanwhile, Rick Berg has the early lead over Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota in a new poll, but Democrats don't buy the numbers. Here's today's rundown:
9. Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams had an interesting dinner companion last night in Youngstown, Ohio. Williams, seated at the table next to Vice President Biden, asked the Veep a pointed question about the administration's policies on coal.
8. NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions defended one of his top fundraisers, Florida GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan from allegations of ethics improprieties. Sessions, to the New York Times: "Vern Buchanan is entitled to have a fair hearing, At this point, there is no one that is making an accusation that he cannot sustain."
7. For the first time, white births are no longer a majority in the United States, according to a new Census Bureau study. Over the last 12 month period that ended last July, 50.4 percent of births were African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American or mixed race.
6. The hits keep coming against Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. The Boston Herald reports that the Senate candidate was "touting her claim of Cherokee heritage as early as 1984, according to a cookbook titled Pow Wow Chow edited by her cousin that includes Warren's recipes for a savory crab omelet and spicy barbecued beans."
Meanwhile, Warren takes up her pet issue - Wall Street reform on the op-ed page of the Boston Globe. "That's what government does: it passes laws to keep markets honest, and it puts a smart cop on the beat to enforce those laws. It is hard, but it isn't brain surgery. And it starts only if we have a Congress that has the guts to stand up to the big banks and their armies of lobbyists," Warren writes.
5. Martin O'Malley '16? The Maryland governor and DGA chair, rumored to have presidential aspirations, will be headed to New Hampshire next month as the "special guest" at the New Hampshire Democratic Convention. It's rarely a coincidence when national political figures travel to Iowa and New Hampshire, but then again, New Hampshire is a critical gubernatorial battleground and a presidential swing state.
4. North Dakota will be a Senate battleground, but a new poll
shows Republicans have the early edge in picking up the seat held by retiring Sen. Kent Conrad
, D-N.D. The first independent poll of the Senate campaign shows Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., with a 51 to 44 percent lead over former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp. Republicans have long been favored in the Republican-friendly state, but Democrats have spent money in North Dakota to hold onto the seat.
Democratic Senate operatives take issue with the poll's methodology, noting that the poll only tests likely primary voters, and they don't believe it matches up with the anticipated November general electorate.
3. A new study released by the Brookings Institution argues
that Romney's Mormon religion is unlikely to hurt him at the polls in November," the New York Times
From the Times: "The researchers based the conclusion on an experiment in which people were asked whether they planned to vote for Mr. Romney or Mr. Obama. Some of the respondents were first given information about Mr. Romney's religion - and in some cases, quite detailed information - while others were given none. Those who received the information first were no less likely to support Mr. Romney."
2. A blockbuster
from the New York Times
' Jeff Zeleny
and Jim Rutenberg
, who report that a group of high-profile GOP strategists have been planning an advertising blitz designed to tie President Obama
to his controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright
. The plan was designed by Republican ad man Fred Davis (of Christine O'Donnell "I am not a witch" fame) and wealthy businessman Joe Ricketts
, who has increasingly been involved in funding conservative causes.
"The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way," the proposal reads. It made the case for connecting Obama to Wright's "black liberation theology." A cringe-worthy part of the $10 million plan: The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an "extremely literate conservative African-American" who can argue that Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln."
(Ricketts, by the way, is the same guy who helped fund last-minute ads for Nebraska state Sen. Deb Fischer
, ads that some credit with pushing her over the top in her long-shot bid to win the Senate nomination earlier this week.)
1. It doesn't seem like Republicans have to be concerned about donor enthusiasm, with money pouring into Romney's campaign coffers after he wrapped up the GOP nomination. The Romney campaign, along with the Republican National Committee, came close to outraising the April haul of President Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Romney and the RNC raised $40.1 million for the month, just short of the Obama/DNC $43.6 million monthly total.
The Romney campaign ended April with $61.4 million in the bank. About $20 million of that is likely to come from the RNC, which had stockpiled the cash it could hand over to the party's eventual nominee, as allowed by campaign finance law.