Tuesday night's speech from now-certain GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, billed as the unofficial start of his campaign against President Obama, was less a swivel toward political moderation than a gentle course correction.
The themes Romney wove into his address before New Hampshire supporters, made after sweeping a quintet of Northeast primaries, included the same basic message he's repeated for months: Obama's big-government overreach threatens freedom and the economy, while a Romney victory would restore the American Dream. He focused on jobs and debt, mostly. The changes were mostly minor and aesthetic.
Gone were references to conservative heart-warmers like "cut, cap and balance" the federal budget or reining in the National Labor Relations Board. The onetime Bay State governor also avoided mentioning the No. 1 issue among conservatives: "Obamacare."
The general consistency is a reminder that Romney, although undeniably pulled to the right during the Republican primary, never totally broke his rhetorical focus on the big fall election. The primary did inflict some damage. Among groups like Hispanics and college-educated women, his popularity sank because he was dragged rightward on topics like immigration. And on policy issues, he's already begun working his way back into the center.
But he seems to think he doesn't need an overhaul.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
RNC Formally Backs Romney
[National Journal, 4/25/12] Less than 24 hours after he swept five states and declared the nominating fight over, the Republican National Committee has officially backed Romney for president. The coordination of efforts is not a takeover of the RNC by the Romney camp, but rather an integration designed to maximize the effectiveness of the organizations.
Gingrich Unofficially Concedes GOP Nomination Race to Romney
[National Journal, 4/25/12] Newt Gingrich on Wednesday unofficially conceded the Republican presidential race to Romney, calling on conservatives to unite behind the presumptive nominee. After a nearly 30-point loss to Romney in the Delaware primary, a winner-take-all event that Gingrich said he had to win, the former House speaker had also hinted on Tuesday night at a possible departure from the race.
Big Day for the Veepstakes
[National Journal, 4/25/12] It used to be that the running-mate selection process would be done discreetly, behind the scenes, with nobody vying outright for the position. But, Hotline’s Reid Wilson writes, the day after Romney essentially locked down the nomination, the top four contenders have been openly gunning for it.
Rick Santorum’s Almost, Sort-Of Endorsement of Mitt Romney
[Politico, 4/24/12] Santorum said that Romney is "the person who is going to go up against Barack Obama, it's pretty clear, and we need to win this race," so he would support him -- but refused to agree outright that he had endorsed his former opponent.
Mitt Romney's Dark Knight
[GQ, May] One of Romney's top strategists is also one of his longest-serving, and that means that Eric Fehrnstrom both knows Romney well and has a heavy influence on the choices Romney makes on the campaign trail. He is now, and could continue to be if Romney wins the White House, Romney's Karl Rove.
Rolling Stone Interview: Obama Talks GOP, Race And Climate Change
[National Journal, 4/25/12] Obama chatted with Rolling Stone about a number of topics, asserting that the race is going to be close in the fall not because Republicans have "a particularly persuasive theory in terms of how they're going to move this country forward," but because of the economy.
After Five More Wins, Romney Solidifies His Lead
[New York Times, 4/24/12] Romney effectively assumed the helm of the GOP on Tuesday after five victories across the Northeast solidified his stature as the presidential nominee-in-waiting who is trying to unite conservatives and convince independent voters that Obama does not deserve a second term.
Marco Rubio Is This Election’s Sarah Palin
[Slate, 4/24/12] John Dickerson throws some cold water on Rubio-mania, arguing that the senator from Florida lacks the experience of other potential vice-presidential candidates. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio started receiving police protection on Tuesday after unspecified threats were made against him.
$1 million Ad Buy Ties Romney to Big Oil
[CNN, 4/25/12] Obama’s super PAC and another group are purchasing a $1 million ad buy against the presumptive GOP nominee for his relationship with big oil. The ad, which will go up in swing states Colorado and Nevada, was purchased by Priorities USA Action and the League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund. In the ad, they call Romney the “$200 million man,” who is “in the tank for big oil.”
Mitt’s Immigration Etch A Sketch
[Washington Post, 4/24/12] Dana Milbank writes that Romney can’t shake away his endorsement of SB 1070--the controversial Arizona immigration crackdown that is the subject of Supreme Court oral arguments this week--or the man who authored it, Russell Pearce, the former Republican president of the Arizona Senate.
Rob Portman: Vice President Vanilla?
[Politico, 4/25/12] With the presidential nomination all but clinched, the spotlight in the GOP race has fallen on some of the most colorful characters in the party: potential running-mate picks Chris Christie, Rubio, and Paul Ryan. Sen. Rob Portman, in contrast, is following a different approach, making himself one of the most boring characters on the national stage. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Romney Campaign Spent $18.50 per Vote
[CNN Money, 4/25/12] Now that we can all call Romney the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, how much per vote did it cost him to get to this point? Apparently, it’s $18.50, according to anew analysis. By dropping a cool $76.6 million—not including all of the super PAC money—for 4.1 million votes, the former Massachusetts governor clearly outspent all of his opponents combined.
Obama and Jimmy Fallon ‘Slow-Jam’ the News
[BuzzFeed, 4/24/12] As part of a new push for young voters, Obama "slow-jammed" the news on Tuesday during a taping of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Gingrich's Time Spent in Delaware Doesn't Translate Into Victory
[Wilmington News-Journal, 4/25/12] Despite spending a good amount of time in the First State, Gingrich did not win a single one of Delaware's 41 representative districts. Even conservative Sussex County districts--which were critical when Christine O'Donnell upset U.S. Rep. Mike Castle in a 2010 primary--went for Romney.
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