If unemployment was the only factor driving this election, Mitt Romney would not have spent any time campaigning in Iowa, where the agricultural economy is relatively healthy and unemployment is at 5.2 percent, the lowest for any battleground state.
But spending and debt are big concerns in the American heartland, too. And that’s why Romney spent time on the trail in Des Moines on Tuesday, with a speech decrying excessive government spending.
Concern over federal spending is what drove the tea party movement into existence in 2010, and it’s an issue that hasn’t gone away in 2012. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who became a conservative icon for slashing state spending, looks to have the momentum in next month’s gubernatorial recall, thanks to peaked enthusiasm from the conservative base. New Hampshire is another state with a relatively solid economy, but it also has a “live free or die” libertarian streak that blanches at too much government. President Obama may be leading in early Granite State polls, but the Romney campaign is optimistic about its chances there.
When polls ask voters what their most important issue is, the catch-all “jobs and the economy” comes first. But the number of voters naming the deficit rose in 2010 and has remained largely constant, and it’s an issue that’s driving the GOP base to the polls. If Obama needs youth and minority turnout to win a second term, Romney needs a restive base anxious about the fiscal future of the country to show up in big numbers. It’s his ticket to victory.
—Josh Kraushaar, Hotline executive editor
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Donors Tied to Banking Desert Obama for Romney
[Boston Globe, 5/16/12] Fed up with Obama's pressure on the financial sector, donors from big banks, like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, have begun to shift to Romney.
Romney Says Obama Responsible For 100,000 Auto Jobs Lost
[Washington Post, 5/16/12] Personally responding for the first time to attacks this week over his business record at Bain Capital, Romney on Wednesday accused Obama of being responsible for the elimination of more than 100,000 auto industry jobs.
John Ellis: 2012 Electoral Map
[Ellisblog, 5/16/12] Political pundit John Ellis offers his take – and a helpful map – on the way the electoral votes will go in the fall.
Biden Launches Bain Attack on Romney in Rust Belt Speech
[NBC, 5/16/12] Vice President Joe kicked off Obama’s general election campaign on Wednesday with an impassioned speech in Ohio that attacked the GOP argument that Democrats hope to sow "envy" between the middle class and the wealthy.
Romney Campaign Admits ‘Error’ After Reporters Blocked at Events NEW!
[Huffington Post, 5/16/12] A Romney spokeswoman told The Huffington Post that the attempt by the campaign to physically block reporters from asking the candidate questions at a campaign event in Florida on Wednesday was an “error.” Reporters, who have not had the best relationship with the Romney team, took to Twitter to air their complaints Wednesday afternoon.
Forbes Estimates Romney Net Worth at $230 Million
[Forbes, 5/16/12] Forbes magazine looked at Romney's Office of Government Ethics disclosure forms and held discussions with high-level Romney officials regarding his holdings. On Wednesday, the publication announced Romney's estimated net worth: $230 million.
Kerry's 2004 Campaign Manager Joins Obama 'Super PAC'
[The New York Times, 5/16/12] Mary Beth Cahill, campaign manager for Senator John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid, is joining the fight to re-elect Obama. Cahill’s plans to join the leading pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, as a top adviser was scheduled for announcement on Thursday, but Bill Burton, a founder of the group, confirmed the development on Wednesday.
Obama Campaign, Committees Raise $43.6 Million in April
[National Journal, 5/16/12] The Obama campaign and the Democratic committees that support it raised $43.6 million in April, campaign manager Jim Messina announced in an online video today. With 98 percent of all donations less than $250, more than 437,000 people donated to the campaign, including roughly 169,500 first-time donors. The average contribution was just more than $50.
Romney’s Mormonism Could Help Him in the Fall NEW!
[Washington Post, 5/16/12] A new study by the Brookings Institution suggests that Romney’s Mormonism poses little threat to his electoral prospects, even among evangelicals, and in fact may boost his support among conservatives.
Role Unlikely for George W. Bush in Romney Bid
[Associated Press, 5/16/12] Romney's campaign doesn't foresee the 43rd president playing a substantive role in the race, as aides are carefully weighing how much the former president should be involved in the GOP convention. Bush fatigue was a drag on John McCain four years ago. Meanwhile, Romney on Wednesday defended Bush against comments from Obama's 2008 campaign that the former president was "irresponsible and unpatriotic" in his fiscal policies.
Romney Wins Oregon and Nebraska Primaries
[National Journal, 5/15/12] Despite his win in Nebraska, Romney won't receive any of the state's 32 delegates -- those are awarded at the Nebraska Republican Convention in July. He will, however, likely take most of Oregon's 25 delegates.
Super PAC to Launch $25 Million Ad Buy Attacking Obama
[National Journal, 5/16/12] Crossroads GPS will air its first ad in the month-long buy in 10 states on Thursday, aiming to attack Obama for broken promises.
Cain Finally Endorses Romney
[National Journal, 5/16/12] Former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain on Wednesday officially threw his support behind Romney. Cain said he will be traveling as a surrogate for the presumptive GOP nominee, something he said he has been doing for weeks but not making "a big deal out of it."
Democrats Overhaul Super PAC Fundraising
[Politico, 5/16/12] Democratic super PACs have thus far been unable to compete with their Republican counterparts, so Dems are trying a different tactic at the Democratic National Convention this summer: throwing massive parties in hopes of wooing still-elusive donors.
Rob Portman: The Best of the Boring White Guys
[Bloomberg, 5/15/12] Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio isn't actually as boring as some of the other candidates Romney is considering for his running mate, and he doesn't have a lot of the baggage some of the others do, making him quite possibly the best pick for VP.
Bashing Bain: Why Obama's New Attacks on Romney Might Not Work
[Time, 5/15/12] Because voters have already heard much of the worst about Romney's time at Bain, and because the economy is still not as strong as Obama might like, his campaign's attacks on Bain may not be as potent as they hope.
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