Mitt Romney is kicking off his jobs tour on Friday, which will hit six battleground states throughout the week: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, and Michigan.
What do all those states have in common? All are battleground or Democratic-leaning states with a significant share of blue-collar white voters. The Romney campaign is betting that they can win over a clear majority of these voters, enough even to tip “blue wall” Rust Belt states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan into the GOP column.
The latest spate of polling backs their argument. An EPIC/MRA poll out of Michigan last week showed Romney leading President Obama 46 percent to 45 percent, a statistical tie, with only 41 percent of voters viewing the president favorably. A newly released Quinnipiac poll of Pennsylvania voters shows Obama leading Romney by just 6 points, 46 percent to 40 percent. Obama’s job approval is at 46 percent, in the danger zone for a sitting president. And last week’s Wisconsin gubernatorial recall exit poll showed Obama with a 51-to-45-percent lead, too close for comfort in a must-win, blue-wall state.
For a while, the conventional wisdom held that Obama had more paths to 270 electoral votes, thanks to his strength in the Southwest. But there are more electoral voters in the Rust Belt battlegrounds, and if the president loses even one of those three states, it’s hard to see him cobbling together an electoral vote majority.
--Josh Kraushaar, Hotline executive editor
NATIONAL JOURNAL'S PRESIDENTIAL REPORT
Romney Guards Campaign Finances, Donor Info, Sharing Only What Law Requires
[Associated Press, 6/12/12] Bucking a trend that had become the norm, Romney refuses to identify his biggest donors who bundle money for his campaign, and he often doesn’t say who is meeting with him or what he is doing for hours at a time. He puts limits on news media access to his fundraisers. And he resists releasing all of his tax returns, making just a single year public after facing pressure to do so.
Poll: Obama Leads in Pennsylvania But Remains Vulnerable
[National Journal, 6/12/12] President Obama holds a slight lead in the race for Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes, but Mitt Romney remains well within striking distance in the Keystone State, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released on Tuesday. The poll shows Obama leading Romney, 46 percent to 40 percent.
New Obama Ad Hits Romney on Massachusetts Record
[National Journal, 6/12/12] In yet another television ad that hits the Republican on his record as governor, the Obama campaign says Massachusetts, with an $18 billion state debt, was first in per-person debt on Romney's watch. The ad concludes with the now-familiar line, “It didn't work then. It won’t work now.”
Romney's Economic Reach Threatens Obama
[National Journal, 6/12/12] Romney's strong showing on the overall measure of economic competence tested across Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and Florida in the Quinnipiac Polls poses a clear threat to Obama, Ron Brownstein writes.
Romney Adviser Leaves Campaign Over Education Policy Disagreement
[New York Times, 6/11/12] Romney's support for school vouchers has received criticism from opponents, and now from one prominent supporter. One of his informal advisers, Margaret Spellings, a former education secretary to President George W. Bush, left the campaign because of Romney's belief in a hands-off role for the federal government with education.
When Gaffes Matter: Why Both Obama and Romney Should Worry
[National Journal, 6/12/12] President Obama and Mitt Romney each have already stumbled in ways that can derail even the most sophisticated, well-funded campaigns. That's because, Alex Roarty writes, they reinforce preexisting – and damaging -- public perceptions.
Obama’s New Radio Ad Targets Black Voters
[CNN, 6/12/12] "Four years ago we made history,” a narrator intones in the new spot. “We have to show the president we have his back." Singers in the background proclaim: “We’ve got you’re back!” The ad also runs a clip from a speech in which Obama says that he won’t cut taxes for millionaires by “kicking children off Head Start.”
Daley, Gillespie: It’s Going to be Close
[National Journal, 6/12/12] The message from both the Obama and Romney camps was consistent this morning: The election is going to be close. Bill Daley, an Obama campaign cochair and former White House chief of staff, said to those who worry how tight the race has gotten that it was expected.
Are Republicans Irrational Obstructionists?
[National Review, 6/12/12] Not at all, writes Rich Lowry. They’re just behaving the way opposition parties behave: by opposing things. And Obama and his defenders who complain about it are engaging in “partisanship wrapped in a veneer of high-mindedness.”
Obama, Romney Both Say the Other Guy Is 'Out of Touch'
[Chicago Tribune, 6/11/12] In response to controversial comments made last week by both Obama and Romney, "out of touch" was liberally sprinkled on Monday in conference calls by their respected campaigns. The comments were prompted by Obama claiming the private sector was "doing fine" and Romney mocking Obama for wanting to increase the number of teachers, police officers, and firefighters.
Gingrich Returns to Speaking Circuit, at a Discount
[BuzzFeed, 6/12/12] Newt Gingrich is back on the speaking circuit, but his fees appear to have dropped steeply since he was boasting of charging $60,000 a speech. The Worldwide Speakers Group is offering Gingrich for speaking events in Washington starting at $25,000 per speech.
Axelrod Floats Amendment to Stem Campaign Spending
[New York Times, 6/12/12] Days before the Supreme Court is expected to announce whether it will rehear the Citizens United case, which allows unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions, Obama’s senior campaign adviser said that if Obama wins a second term, he would consider proposing a constitutional amendment to eliminate the ruling’s effects.
For Obama and Romney, Every (Wealthy) Town Counts
[CBS News, 6/12/12] For all their speechifying geared towards the middle class and blue-collar workers, Obama and Romney spend an outsized amount of time with the wealthy subset of Americans at the multiple fundraisers they both must attend to keep their coffers full.
Can Google Predict the Impact of Racism on a Presidential Election?
[The Atlantic, 6/12/12] Since 1982, political pollsters and Democrats have worried about the tendency of African-American politicians to underperform on Election Day relative to their last known standing in nonpartisan and credible polls. Dubbed the Bradley effect, the theory predicts that white voters' concern over appearing racist will cause them to overstate their willingness to vote for a black politician when queried by pollsters.
Vouchers Unspoken, Romney Hails School Choice
[New York Times, 6/11/12] The Times takes a look at Romney’s education proposal, which would allow children to attend any school they choose – public, private, or charter, with the help of $25 billion in federal money. It’s a system Romney claims would introduce marketplace dynamics into education.
Is Mitt Romney Afraid of Gary Johnson?
[TPM, 6/12/12] Romney is afraid of being embarrassed in his home state by Gary Johnson, a libertarian who is behind a lawsuit expected in Michigan next week by the Libertarian Party, claiming that the Republican secretary of state is working to ensure Johnson is not on the ballot for November.
Obama Says He Was Too Busy to Campaign in Wisconsin Recall Election
[Washington Post, 6/11/12] In his first public comments about the Wisconsin recall election, Obama responded to a question about his decision not to appear in the state to support the Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by explaining that he has “a lot of responsibilities” as president.
Obama to Revisit Economic Debate on Thursday
[Wall Street Journal, 6/11/12] Obama will use a campaign policy speech on Thursday to contrast his preferred approach for the country's economic future with ideas proposed by Romney.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the N2K Presidential Race misstated the date on which Mitt Romney launches his jobs tour. The tour begins on Friday.