The political media may be about to cycle into one of its John McCain swoons again.
McCain, who last seduced what he once called his “base” during the comeback phase of his 2008 presidential campaign, on Thursday slapped down criticism from Republican strategists who questioned his decision that year not to air ads against Barack Obama capitalizing on his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose impolitic sermons well might have dragged down the senator from Illinois.
“I made my decision; I stand by that decision,” McCain told reporters, noting that Mitt Romney’s campaign had also repudiated the strategy pondered by a Republican super PAC to highlight Wright by releasing new ads as part of a $10 million plan.
McCain the maverick, subsumed by McCain the craven fence-builder and eclipsed by the arrival of another campaign cycle, could be back. He’s got easy foils: controversial former campaign aides and TD Ameritrade founder and billionaire Joe Ricketts.
It's an opportunity for both McCain and Romney to elevate themselves above some of the seamier-seeming politics. And another reminder that, among a relative paucity of solid surrogates for Romney, the party's last nominee stands apart.
As for the description of him as “crusty” and “confused” by former campaign aides, including ad-maker Fred Davis, McCain played the statesman with a stiletto.
“I enjoy being in the Senate, and there’s no reason for me to hold any grudges,” McCain said. “It’s a way for political operatives to continue to make money.”
-- Jim O'Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Romney 'Repudiates' Conservative Group's Planned Rev. Wright Attacks
[Town Hall, 5/17/12] In an exclusive interview, Romney rebuked the conservative group reportedly planning to assail Obama over his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a Chicago pastor. The presumptive GOP nominee added that his campaign will release a positive television ad in the coming days. Meanwhile, McCain stood by his 2008 decision not to engage Obama over his ties with Wright. At a press briefing held specifically to address the uproar over the ad, Romney also took Obama to task for his campaign’s recent barrage of harsh portrayals of Romney as a merciless corporate raider.
With Memo, Race Issue Flares in Campaign
[Politico, 5/17/12] A just-released memo outlining a racially-charged ad campaign has brought the controversial subject back into the campaign spotlight, with the Obama campaign accusing Romney of not denouncing the proposed ad strongly enough.
An Interview With Romney on Bain, Greece and the Debt
[National Review, 5/17/12] Romney delves into a number of hot-button issues, and says that the recent Obama attacks on his time at Bain Capital “misfired.” He also has a pledge: “I will not be trying to rewrite the biographies of former presidents.”
Biden Raps Romney Over Auto-Bailout Comment
[National Journal, 5/17/12] On Thursday, Biden ridiculed Romney’s assertion that he deserves some credit for the auto industry’s recovery: "And by the way, I'll take a lot of credit for a man having landed on the moon, because all the while in school, I rooted for it."
The Class Divide Deepens
[National Journal, 5/17/12] On Wednesday, Gallup released new national results showing that while a plurality of Americans remains negative on their immediate financial situation, a strong majority expects to be better off one year from now. The variation in those attitudes follows tracks familiar from the gay rights debate.
Romney Raises $40.1 Million in April
[National Journal, 5/17/12] Romney and the Republican National Committee raised $40.1 million in April, almost matching Obama's $43.6 million. But Romney’s total is even more impressive because Romney and the RNC didn’t begin joint fundraising until April 14. And it doesn't stop there--Romney told donors in Florida that his haul on Wednesday alone was $2 million.
Crossroads GPS Ad Hits Obama on ‘Broken Promises’
[Washington Post, 5/17/12] The Republican-aligned Crossroads GPS super PAC launched a massive $25 million ad buy this week, starting with a hard-hitting ad that attacks Obama for a laundry list of “broken promises.” The Post’s Fact-Checker concludes that the ad goes too far, while the Obama campaign also released a video refuting the ad.
Can Obama Recapture the Youth Vote?
[National Journal, 5/17/12] The Great Recession took a sledgehammer to young job-seekers, as National Journal’s Alex Roarty writes, and their hardship explains Obama’s dilemma heading into election season. The president enjoyed the overwhelming enthusiasm of young voters in 2008, but to replicate that success this time around he may have to rely on a culturally oriented pitch.
RNC, Romney Camp Will Erect New Organization to Bypass State GOP
[Las Vegas Sun, 5/16/12] Fed up with the pro-Ron Paul GOP apparatus in Nevada, the Republican National Committee and the Romney campaign have decided to erect a “shadow state party” in this critical swing state, according to The Sun--although it now appears that state GOP Chairman Michael McDonald is trying to patch things up with the RNC.
Romney: JPMorgan’s Loss Is Someone Else’s Gain
[Wall Street Journal, 5/16/12] In an interview with conservative blogger Ed Morrissey on Wednesday, Romney cautioned that JPMorgan Chase’s stunning loss last week shouldn’t inspire a rush for new regulation. He pointed out that the loss was borne by the shareholders and owners of JPMorgan , not American taxpayers.
Obama Campaign Focuses on Military Families
[CNN, 5/17/12] The president is already leading in total donations from military members. On Thursday, he’s concentrating on military families with the launch of the Veterans and Military Families for Obama. The launch will take place in Norfolk, Va., with additional events held in 16 other states.
Romney’s Bill Clinton Strategy
[Politico, 5/17/12] Seeking to attract the Democrats and independents who supported the last Democratic president, Romney has turned into Bill Clinton’s biggest fan. Romney’s new tactic of contrasting Clinton’s boom-era ‘90s policies with Obama’s old-school, big-government ways is designed to drive a wedge between Obama’s white, working-class supporters.
Swing States: Could Europe Decide the U.S. Elections?
[Reuters, 5/17/12] The U.S. Commerce Department now estimates that more than a quarter of all manufacturing workers in the battleground state of Ohio depend on exports for their jobs. Against this backdrop, the Obama administration is trying to steer Europe away from financial disaster.
Romney Fundraising Event Hosted at Home of Morning-After-Pill Executive
[Christian Science Monitor, 5/16/12] For $50,000 a plate, Romney supporters attended a Wednesday dinner at the home of Phil Frost, the chairman of Teva Pharmaceuticals—the makers of the morning-after Plan B One-Step pill, among other drugs. And Planned Parenthood isn’t too happy with him: “Mitt Romney can’t have it both ways,” wrote the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Perry Enthusiastically Votes for Mitt Romney
[Houston Chronicle, 5/17/12] Former rival and Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he voted for Romney in the Texas primary, and that Romney would “absolutely” win in November. He continued, “The election may be close, but it shouldn't be.” During the primary, Perry called Romney a “vulture” for his actions at Bain Capital.
Attend a National Journal LIVE event | Sign up for National Journal newsletters
Don't Miss Today's Top Stories