It’s good to be a sitting president, nice to have $25 million to spend on a look-at-the-record ad six months before the election.
The ad, ripe with depictions of energetic middle-class Americans at work, doesn’t mention Mitt Romney, unlike an earlier ad about Romney’s Swiss banking and a campaign video questioning his commitment to taking out Osama bin Laden. So it allows President Obama’s team to appear a little more credible in trying to contrast the two candidates’ tones favorably for the president.
It’s also nice to get a pass when your top deputies deploy the type of rhetoric they’ve warned against from the other side.
Imagine the to-the-ramparts reaction from the left, and many in the press, if on two consecutive days high-ranking members of Team Romney had used the phrase “hole in the head,” as Vice President Joe Biden did on Sunday in describing the extent to which wealthy Americans needed a tax cut, and “contract killers,” as senior strategist David Axelrod did on Monday in discussing right-wing super PACs. The MSNBC outraged-chyron team would be in high gear.
— Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Swing-State Poll Shows Obama, Romney in Virtual Tie
[National Journal, 5/7/12] Obama and Romney once again run neck-and-neck in a Gallup/USA Today poll of 12 battleground states released early on Monday, a significant tightening of the race since Romney became the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. But Obama supporters describe themselves as more enthusiastic than Romney’s.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan Joins Vice President Biden to Back Gay Marriage
[New York Daily News, 5/7/12] Duncan's statement today, that he does think gay couples should be legally allowed to marry, marks the second member of the Obama administration out in support of gay marriage in as many days. This could bring a politically thorny issue to the forefront of the national debate in an election year when Obama would rather not take a hard-line stance either way.
Romney Fighting for His Home State, But at What Cost?
[National Journal, 5/7/12] Instead of campaigning in swing states where he could gain an advantage over Obama, Romney will be in Michigan tomorrow, indicating that despite Obama's early lead there, Romney's not ready to concede his hometown to his opponent.
Romney Economic Outsider Image Backed by Bush-Era Policy
[Bloomberg, 5/7/12] Though he's casting himself as a Washington outsider committed to reversing Obama's poor economic choices, Romney's got former Bush advisers and Republican lawmakers helping him craft his economic policy.
Romney Plays Up Past Laurels
[Wall Street Journal, 5/6/12] As Romney seeks to reintroduce himself to the country as the presumed GOP nominee, the 2002 Winter Olympic Games he presided over in Salt Lake City play a starring role.
The NYT Interactive Electoral Map
[New York Times, 5/7/12] The Times has a helpful interactive graphic showing that, according to the newspaper, Obama has 217 electoral votes that are either solidly his or lean toward him, while Romney has 206. The piece includes thumbnail sketches for the candidates’ prospects in nine swing states and nine "leaning" states. Here’s an explanation of the ratings.
Axelrod: Obama Ready for ‘Contract Killers in Super PAC Land’
[National Journal, 5/7/12] The Obama camp’s new ad, out this week in nine battleground states, contrasts with the negative attacks produced by Romney’s campaign, Axelrod said on Monday. But the campaign’s commitment to projecting a forward-looking message doesn’t mean they aren’t prepared to fight fire with fire.
Six More Months
[New Yorker, 5/14/12 issue] George Packer takes a look at the race, and concludes that the contest of the slogans (“Forward,” “Believe in America”) suggests that it’s going to be a very long six months, with a deficit of passion on both sides of the red-blue line.
Still in the Race and Plotting a Path to the Convention
[New York Times, 5/6/12] In state after state, Rep. Ron Paul's libertarian army of volunteers is trying to seize delegates from Romney, causing trouble at state party conventions around the country. Nothing Paul can do threatens Romney’s hold on the nomination, but he could have an impact at the Republican National Convention.
Chris Christie Goes National
[National Review, 5/7/12] When it comes to the veepstakes, saying “no” doesn’t automatically mean “no.” Such is the case for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, state insiders are hoping. Robert Costa is reporting that Republicans in the state capital of Trenton say that the outspoken governor would gladly accept the VP nod, if it were offered.
Axelrod: No Enthusiasm Gap for Obama
[National Journal, 5/6/12] Axelrod tried on Sunday to dispel talk of an enthusiasm gap for Obama’s reelection after 4,000 seats were left empty at campaign event in Ohio on Saturday. “The fact is that 14,000 is 11,000 more than the largest crowd that Mitt Romney has ever drawn,” he said.
Romney Might Not Clinch Until May 29
[Associated Press, 5/7/12] Romney is 288 delegates short of the 1,144 he needs to win the nomination. He could get about 100 delegates from Tuesday's primaries in North Carolina, Indiana, and West Virginia, if he dominates the voting in all three states, but might not clinch the nomination until Texas’s primary on May 29.
[New York Times, 5/7/12] As of March 31, Obama’s campaign had raised a ton of money, but his super PAC, Priorities USA, had collected a paltry $8.99 million—chicken feed compared with Romney’s super PAC, Restore Our Future, which had raised $51.9 million. Thomas Edsall writes that what Obama needs now is a super PAC loaded with cash to hammer home negative advertising.
Fractious Florida Weighs Heavily on Presidential Campaigns
[Los Angeles Times, 5/7/12] In a crucial swing state, Romney has a potent issue in Florida’s ailing economy, but Obama has a huge head start in the ground game. Paul West reports on both campaign’s strategies in the Sunshine State.
The View From One Prudential Plaza: Why the Obama Campaign Is So Confident
[Time, 5/7/12] Described as both a hip-casual dorm room and a systematized Death Star, the Obama campaign headquarters in downtown Chicago seems to be working well for the president’s reelection bid, Mark Halperin writes. Detached from the distractions of the Beltway, in the heart of the Loop, the campaign goes by the slogan, “Be confident, but take nothing for granted.”