The super PAC abetting Mitt Romney is called Restore Our Future, but Romney’s strategic gambit this week in alleging President Obama’s capitulation to Moscow was more about restoring a vestige of victorious Republican campaigns past: the national-security advantage.
In successfully painting Democrats as foreign-policy weaklings, Republicans long enjoyed a muscular, masculine edge. Whetted by 9/11, the effectiveness of the strategy is evident in its ludicrous extreme: Max Cleland, stripped of three limbs during service in Vietnam, lost a Senate seat after being painted as soft on national security.
Promising economic indicators--signs of oil prices falling, the euro debt woes subsiding, and home-price declines easing--render Romney’s critiques of Obama’s economic management less effective. That means foreign policy and national security are some of the only outlets remaining to make the election a referendum.
If the economic rhythm is increasingly upbeat, look for Romney to amplify, no matter where the president is, his fault-finding across the globe: China (on which he’s already been outspoken), Afghanistan, Russia, Syria. If the Republican front-runner's “breathtaking weakness” argument against Obama trumps the president’s overseas successes, Romney will have claimed back for his party its historical preeminence.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Poll: Obama Stronger, Still Vulnerable in Swing States
[National Journal 3/28/12] Obama leads Romney in three key swing states, according to new polls released on Wednesday, but the president remains vulnerable in all three battlegrounds. National Journal’s Steven Shepard takes a look at the latest data in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
George H.W. Bush to Formally Endorse Romney
[National Journal, 3/28/12] George H.W. Bush will formally endorse Romney for president on Thursday. The former president had previously made supportive statements of Romney, saying in December that he’s “the best choice for us,” and his wife, Barbara, had recorded robocalls for the candidate. Meanwhile, not a peep from George W.
Gingrich backer Adelson Hosts Dinner Featuring Romney Supporters
[McClatchy, 3/27/12] Sheldon Adelson, one of Gingrich's biggest financial backers, sent signals to prominent Republicans at a private dinner on March 22 that he'd be willing to fund Romney's campaign, possibly on the same scale as his funding for Gingrich, if the former House speaker drops out of the campaign.
Pro-Gingrich Super PAC Might Be Ray of Hope for His Campaign
[ABC News, 3/28/12] Winning Our Future, the super PAC supporting Gingrich, still has cash to burn, despite the fact that the Gingrich campaign itself is strapped. This may be a ray of hope for the candidate in what's looking like an increasingly improbable campaign.
Victory Out of Reach, Will Gingrich Damage His Party and Legacy?
[National Journal, 3/28/12] Though he likely can't win the nomination and he's scaling back his campaign, Gingrich isn't scaling back his rhetoric, leading some to wonder if he's hurting, rather than helping, himself and his party.
DNC Fundraises Off Santorum 'Obamaville' Ad
[Politico, 3/28/12] The Democratic National Committee is using Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's "Obamaville" ad--which at one point morphs President Obama with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad--in its latest fundraising pitch.
‘Oops’ Moments May Add to Voter Cynicism
[Associated Press, 3/28/12] Obama has the hot mic. Romney has Etch A Sketch. The net result of these two gaffes may give voters another reason not to trust what they’re hearing from the presidential candidates, and to wonder how they would truly govern in 2013 and beyond.
Struggling Santorum Vows to Make a Stand in Wisconsin
[Reuters, 3/27/12] Under pressure to pull off a big primary victory, Santorum vowed on Tuesday to make a stand in Wisconsin next week despite a poor record in large Midwestern states.
Pennsylvania's Conservative Shift Could Save Santorum
[National Journal, 3/27/12] The center of power of the Keystone State’s GOP has shifted during the last two decades from the upscale, moderate Philadelphia and its suburbs to the religious, blue-collar center and western parts of the state--a change that could mean good news for Santorum in the state’s April 24 primary. At the same time, a recent poll shows him slipping badly in the state.
Santorum Brings His Message to Wisconsin
[Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 3/27/12] Down in the polls, Santorum took his presidential campaign to the Wisconsin's byways on Tuesday, pounding home a message that he's the "true conservative" in the race for the Republican nomination.
Cash-Strapped Gingrich Slashes Staff, Cuts Travel
[National Journal, 3/27/12] The news that Newt Gingrich is laying off a third of his staff and cutting back on his schedule comes as no surprise, as National Journal’s Beth Reinhard writes. But while Santorum allies have tried to nudge Gingrich aside to make it a two-man race, a new CNN poll suggested that a Gingrich exit would help Romney more. On Wednesday, the Gingrich campaign explained that it was staying in the race purely to stop Romney from winning the nomination.
Gingrich: ‘Romney Has to Earn This’
[National Journal, 3/28/12] Despite the campaign shake-up, and despite a vanishing chance of winning the nomination, Gingrich dismissed the notion on Wednesday that he was staying in the race due to any personal animus toward Romney.
Romney, on Leno, Cracks Wise--Just a Little
[Associated Press, 3/27/12] Turns out, Romney can be funny. On Jay Leno’s Tonight Show on Tuesday, Romney cracked that he would pick Leno rival David Letterman as his vice president, and had some choice words to describe Santorum: “press secretary.”
Santorum Has Only Five Paid Staffers
[BuzzFeed, 3/27/12] Santorum's presidential campaign is only paying five staffers directly, according to Federal Election Commission filings from February. The reports, made public last week, show that the campaign paid only a handful of staffers a salary; other members of the team are being paid consulting fees. Romney has a paid staff of more than 100.
Health Ruling Looms Small in Presidential Race
[Associated Press, 3/28/12] The Supreme Court's much anticipated ruling on health care may have one surprising outcome: a modest impact on Obama's reelection bid, even though he is intimately associated with the challenged law. The main reason? Mitt Romney. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., even called the issue "off the table" if Romney is the nominee.
For a Romney Running Mate, Don’t Bet on a Governor
[New York Times, 3/27/12] Since the end of World War II, only 4 of the 25 men and women nominated for vice president on a major-party ticket had previously served as governor. There’s probably a good reason for that, as questions about being vetted properly and being ready for the national stage always dog a potential outsider.