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N2K Presidential Race: Romney's Backstory N2K Presidential Race: Romney's Backstory

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CAMPAIGN 2012

N2K Presidential Race: Romney's Backstory

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Obama's decision to back gay marriage adds color to his reelection strategy.(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Presidents don’t like running in sour, stubborn economies, particularly if they are susceptible to allegations that they are in over their respective heads. 

And venture capitalists running for office don’t like being portrayed as practitioners of cruelty who enjoy firing people, particularly if that depiction reinforces the notion bred from episodes like jokes about factory-closings.

Today’s Washington Post report--that a teenaged Romney tormented a fellow student already teased for his “presumed homosexuality” and that he prompted a teacher with poor vision to walk into a door--makes the young Romney come off as pitiless, if not sadistic. But scattered reports about actions that candidates take in their youth usually matter politically only if they further existing narratives.

Romney today said that some of his high school “pranks … may have gone too far and for that I apologize," and that he “became a very different person" when he met his eventual wife, Ann. But the Post report vividly depicts mean-spirited tendencies of the like that turn off undecided voters.

Obama has a hard time running on the economy. If Romney continues to face anecdotes that he is spiteful toward the vulnerable, he’ll have a hard time running from himself.

-- Jim O’Sullivan
@JOSullivanNatJo

NATIONAL JOURNAL
’S PRIMARY REPORT

Romney’s Prep-School Classmates Recall Pranks, But Also Troubling Incidents
[Washington Post, 5/10/12] In a lengthy expose, The Post documents an incident from Romney's prep-school years in which he tackled a young, presumably homosexual classmate and forcibly cut his hair, according to accounts from Romney’s ex-classmates, one of whom called the incident "vicious." On Thursday, Romney apologized for some pranks "that may have gone too far" but said he did not recall the incident in question. The Post also wonders: Do these tales matter?

 

Democrats Having Second Thoughts About Charlotte
[National Journal, 5/10/12] Obama's support for gay marriage is just one of the issues that's complicated the choice of Charlotte, North Carolina (a state that just outlawed same-sex marriage) for the Democratic Convention this summer, and a growing petition is calling for Dems to pick a new locale.

Biden With the Assist: Veep Again Dumb Like a Fox
[National Journal, 5/10/12] When Vice President Joe Biden said on Sunday that he is “comfortable” with gay marriage, he set in motion a three-day saga that dominated the political air space.National Journal’s Major Garrett writes that Biden is consistently underestimated: He happily plays the “fool” while outmaneuvering those who think the bigger story can be found in his malapropos and exasperating candor. Meanwhile, Obama said that the veep “got out a little over his skis.”

Obama’s Gamble With Black, Latino Voters 
[NPR, 5/9/12] Of all the groups represented in Obama’s political base, black and Latino voters are among the most churchgoing and hostile to the idea of gay marriage--and the president badly needs both blocs to win in November. 

 

While Obama Trumpets Gay Marriage, Foes Seek New Topic
[New York Times, 5/10/12] Obama came out yesterday in support of gay marriage, and today, his campaign is working to center the discussion on Romney's position against gay marriage, while Republicans on the Hill and elsewhere attempt to counter that effort and shift discussion back to the economy.

Minorities and Gay Marriage: It's Evolving
[National Journal, 5/10/12] As Ron Brownstein writes, while minorities, a core group of Obama supporters, have traditionally been more resistant to gay marriage than whites, their views are evolving as well. 

Why Liberty Won't Host Romney's 'Sister Souljah' Moment
[National Journal, 5/10/12] A "Sister Souljah" moment is one in which a candidate distances himself from his party's most extreme supporters. Romney may need one to win over moderate Republicans and independents, but it won't be happening when he gives the commencement address at ultra-religious Liberty University this Saturday.

Obama Web Ad Hits Romney on Gay Marriage
[National Journal, 5/10/12] Just a day after his shift in position on same-sex marriage was announced, Obama's campaign is out with a new Web ad attacking Romney on the issue, titled “Mitt Romney: Backwards on Equality.”

 

Another Ohio Poll Shows Obama, Romney Tied
[National Journal, 5/10/12] In its second look at the presidential race in the pivotal battleground state of Ohio this month, a Quinnipiac University poll released early on Thursday confirms that Obama and Romney are in a virtual tie in the Buckeye State. Obama leads 45 percent to 44 percent--but adding Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio as Romney's running mate wouldn’t put the presumptive GOP nominee over the top.

Dinner With Clooney Could Net Obama $15 Million
[CNN, 5/9/12] Obama could rake in $15 million from a fundraiser held at actor George Clooney’s Southern California home. In addition to smaller donors, the 150 guests gave $40,000 each. Additionally, after his same-sex marriage announcement on Wednesday, the president sent an e-mail to supporters, at the end making a money pitch. On Thursday, the Republican National Committee launched a new campaign knocking the president’s “celebrity” status ahead of the fundraiser.

Is Obama's Evolution Too Little, Too Late?
[American Prospect, 5/9/12] Bob Moser writes that the celebration for gays is muted by residual frustration over the long wait for Obama to make his  announcement—and by his failure to speak out more forcefully against North Carolina’s marriage ban. And, he notes, Obama says he still supports the “concept” of states deciding the issue on their own.

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Votes on Immigration Policy Could Hurt VP Chances for Portman, Ryan
[The Hill, 5/10/12] Sen. Portman and Rep. Paul Ryan are rising stars in the GOP believed to be on the short list of possible running mates for Romney, but their prospects could be endangered by their votes on legislation to crack down on illegal immigrants.

Rubio Prepared for Role as Romney’s Surrogate
[Roll Call, 5/10/12] Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has been preparing to play the role of Romney surrogate since early this year, as David Drucker writes. Rubio told Roll Call in January that he hoped defending Romney’s hard-line position on illegal immigration early would mitigate any political mess on the subject he might have to clean up during the general election.

Super PACs: Follow the Money--If You Can
[Reuters, 5/10/12] Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was surging ahead of his GOP rivals in several polls back in December, but he lost his edge after being barraged by negative ads produced by the super PAC supporting Romney. Reuters goes behind the scenes to find out where all that money went.

End of Campaign Means That Rick Santorum Could Grab Hold of Super PAC
[ABC, 5/10/12] When Santorum put out a statement blasting Obama for his same-sex marriage announcement, it came from the Red, White and Blue Fund, the pro-Santorum super PAC. That’s because Santorum is no longer a candidate or officeholder, and he can coordinate with his super PAC.

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