Presidential politics has now devolved to the point that gaffes (misstatements, Kinsley gaffes, caught-on-tapes – include them all) need not be closely tied to the principal in order to hijack the conversation, force the principal to respond from a defensive posture, and elicit endless speculation about long-term implications.
They need not be uttered by the principal’s husband, preacher, or leading financier. As John McCain learned in 2008, a faceless voice in the audience can imbue the principal’s public image with whatever stray thoughts may have been rattling around in that particular crowd member’s head.
Or, a prominent party operative can go on TV and give voice to what the other party believes lurks in the secret id of that operative and her party. And everything else – failed launches with nuclear implications, 8.2 percent unemployment, even modest tactical calculations like what Mitt Romney needs in a running mate – are elbowed to the back of the line.
Just 207 days until Election Day.
— Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Voters Who Rejected Romney Now His Most Certain Votes
[NPR, 4/13/12] Romney has faced some of his most stringent opposition from within his own party: the more conservative, Southern bloc of Republican voters. Still now, as The Daily Caller reports, tea party groups are warning that their support is not guaranteed. But new polling suggests that Romney is close to bridging this gap within his party as the general election creeps forward.
‘Newt Inc.’ Bankrupt as Campaign Operates on Shoestring
[Bloomberg, 4/12/12] The presidential campaign may have boosted Gingrich’s public status from his days as the speaker of the House. But it could also have put a hole in the way he’s earned a living since his public service days. Two of his businesses, which generated $107 million in 10 years, have gone down since the start of the campaign, and so has his reputation, some argue.
Campaigns Plan Maximum Push to Raise Money
[New York Times, 4/12/12] The Romney machine is preparing a major expansion of the campaign’s fundraising efforts to prepare for a general election contest against Obama, with the goal of raising up to $600 million. Meanwhile, Obama, who raised $750 million in 2008, is likely to meet or exceed that figure this year.
'Exceptionalism' Gets Personal
[Los Angeles Times, 4/13/12] Much of the campaign rhetoric this cycle has dwelled on "American exceptionalism." What's behind that phrase -- patriotism or something "more malignant"?
Obama Doesn’t Qualify for ‘Buffett Rule’
[National Journal, 4/13/12] President Obama earned $789,674 in 2011, the White House announced on Friday. However, with this income, he does not even qualify for the so-called Buffett Rule that he has promoted relentlessly and the Senate will take up on Monday.
Veepstakes as the NCAA Tournament
[National Journal, 4/13/12] This year’s veepstakes has a lot in common with the NCAA tournament. National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar has pickied his top four seeds in each of the four “regions”: Hispanics, women, safe governing picks, and conservative leaders.
The ‘War on Women’ Is Over
[Slate, 4/12/12] Dave Weigel charts the birth, life, and death of a Democratic talking point, which has probably seen its end in the wake of the Hilary Rosen-Ann Romney Mom Flap. That said, the "war on women" was a fitfully successful frame for Democrats to use in describing antiabortion bills and anti-equal-pay legislation, he argues.
The Polygamists in Obama and Romney’s Family Trees
[Washington Post, 4/12/12] Author David Maraniss does some digging into the Obama and Romney family trees: Obama’s Kenyan great-grandfather had five wives, including two who were sisters. His grandfather had four wives. His father was already married to a Kenyan when he married Stanley Ann Dunham, Obama’s mother. As for Romney? His paternal great-grandfathers had five and four wives.
Spotlight on Ann Romney Key to Campaign Strategy
[Wall Street Journal, 4/13/12] Ann Romney is crucial in helping to close a yawning gap in her husband’s standing with women that could handicap him in a contest with Obama. The Journal takes a look at Ann’s life and her impact on the campaign trail.
Romney: Obama’s ‘Incompetence’ Emboldened North Korea
[National Journal, 4/13/12] Romney condemned North Korea’s failed long-range rocket launch in a statement late Thursday, saying the act violates U.N. Security Council resolutions and blaming Obama’s “incompetence” for “emboldening” the regime and undermining the security of the region.
Google Tapped for Tampa Convention
[Politico, 4/13/12] For the Republican National Convention, a new partnership with Google and YouTube for the 2012 Tampa convention this summer means it can upgrade its convention experience ahead of the most digitally oriented presidential election in history.
Ban on Political Ads on Public TV Struck Down
[Reuters, 4/12/12] A U.S. appeals court on Thursday struck down a federal ban on political advertising on public television and radio stations. This 2-1 decision in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco could open up the floodgates for campaign ads on public airwaves ahead of November’s elections.
Recession’s Pain Hit Men, Women at Different Pace
[Wall Street Journal, 4/12/12] Romney’s statement that women accounted for 92.3 percent of workers who have lost jobs since Obama took office in January 2009 is true, Josh Mitchell writes, but it offers only a partial account of how men and women have fared in the recession and recovery.
Obama Campaign Claims Romney Would 'Outlaw Abortion'
[BuzzFeed, 4/13/12] The Obama camp is out with a new online graphic which claims, among other things, that Romney would “outlaw abortion.” The jab stems from a partial quote from 2007 where he said he would sign a law banning abortion if there were a national consensus.
Gingrich Rents Donor List to Raise Cash
[Politico, 4/13/12] Scrambling to dig himself out of a $4.5 million hole, Newt Gingrich has resorted to renting his presidential campaign’s most valuable asset – its donor list – for as much as $26,000 a pop. But this is a risky move – it looks like a white flag, rather than a genuine effort to challenge Romney.
Romney to Appear at Greenwich Fundraiser
[Connecticut Post, 4/12/12] A $1 million payday awaits Romney next month in Greenwich, as the presumptive GOP nominee for president will appear at a $2,500-a-head fundraising cocktail reception at the home of Republican state senator and venture capitalist L. Scott Frantz.
Santorum’s Sports Scandal Revealed!
[Daily Beast, 4/13/12] Despite growing up in western Pennsylvania, Santorum confessed to a scandal that his opponents’ opposition research teams failed to dredge up: He grew up not a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but rather, the San Francisco Giants.
Ron Paul Meets Quietly With Evangelicals
[Newsmax, 4/12/12] The Texas congressman spoke to several thousand in downtown Fort Worth on Wednesday, but met quietly afterward with evangelical leaders. Ron Paul? Really? The thinking from conservative Christians is that Romney may be forced to pick an evangelical as a running mate if all the candidates stay in, writes a Ron Paul adviser.