It is perhaps the essential tension in the Republican Party: the survival instincts in all politicians to negotiate a primary and lasso the base for the general, versus the senior architects’ long-term planning for the health of the party.
Rick Perry’s candidacy had many flaws, but his perceived squishiness on immigration was a gut-shot delivered neatly by Mitt Romney’s campaign. To triumph in a Republican primary, fealty to hard-line immigration policies is almost mandatory.
It’s a strategic shortfall that the party’s big thinkers recognized long ago. It’s (part of the reason) why Jeb Bush’s Romney endorsement is so tepid. The Jeb Bushes, Karl Roves, and Steve Schmidts of the world recognize that peeving Hispanic voters is slow, inevitable political suicide. And it’s why Democrats are so eagerly pushing Kris Kobach, architect of Arizona’s stringent immigration law, as deep into Romney’s inner circle as rhetoric permits.
A Pew Research Center survey released today showed registered Hispanic voters breaking for President Obama over Mitt Romney, 67 percent to 27 percent. Obama’s held steady since 2008, when he captured the same percentage to John McCain's 31 percent. Democrats will exploit that advantage to the hilt, and Kris Kobach gives them an easy way in.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Romney Begins to Court Moderates, Independents
[National Journal, 4/17/12] Romney met with moderate and independent voters in Pennsylvania to chat about issues ranging from the federal budget deficit to funding for public schools in an attempt to win over a key constituency in advance of November.
Economy or Personality?
[New York Times, 4/16/12] President Obama and Mitt Romney both carry political baggage: Romney’s problem is that no candidate in the modern polling era with personal favorability ratings as low as his has ever won the presidency. Meanwhile, Obama is more personally popular than Romney, but in the last 10 elections, no president has ever won reelection with unemployment rates as high as they are likely to be in November.
White House: Romney Has a Core -- and It's Deeply Conservative
[Wall Street Journal, 4/16/12] The Obama camp is no longer trying to make the case that Romney has no “core.” Instead, in an effort to keep him from tacking to the center, they are now arguing that all the conservative positions Romney has taken in the presidential primaries reflect his true beliefs.
Why Does Mitt Romney Seem So Stiff? He’s Trying Too Hard, Friends Say.
[Washington Post, 4/16/12] It's been hard for some of Romney's closest friends to reconcile the affable guy they know with the robotic Mitt that appears on the trail, and they -- along with Romney's campaign -- have urged the candidate to loosen up.
Exclusive: Big Green Groups to Endorse Obama
[Politico, 4/17/12] The Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action and Environment America are set to endorse Obama tomorrow, the earliest endorsement ever in a presidential election for the Sierra Club.
Four Categories for Romney's Veep Choice
[National Journal, 4/17/12] Analysis of every vice presidential pick in the 15 elections since 1952 suggests that this year’s choice will fall into one of four categories: geography, balance, reinforcement, or Hail Mary. National Journal’s George E. Condon Jr. weighs in.
The General Election Ground Game: A First Look
[New York Times, 4/17/12] An analysis shows that the Obama campaign has a head-start building campaign organizations in a number of swing states that could prove pivotal come November, but his lead isn't insurmountable.
Santorum Mailer: Romney as GOP Nominee 'Frightens Me'
[Chicago Tribune, 4/17/12] Iowans received a mailer from the now-defunct Santorum campaign on Monday that said that Republicans "will be crippled by a nominee who presents zero contrast with Barack Obama" on Monday, strong words from Romney's former opponent.
Boehner, McConnell Publicly Back Romney -- Finally
[National Journal, 4/17/12] Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., officially endorsed Romney on Tuesday, saying, “Yeah, I support Governor Romney for the president of the United States." House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, earlier in the day also registered his support, and said he’d work for his victory in November.
Kobach’s Role in Romney Campaign Under Scrutiny
[Politico, 4/17/12] Legal scholar Kris Kobach, who helped author Arizona’s immigration law, has advised the Romney campaign in the past, and he said Tuesday he is still doing so. But Romney’s camp appears eager to describe Kobach instead as a “supporter.”
And They're Off: Obama and Romney Start Race Nose to Nose in Pew Research Poll
[National Journal, 4/17/12] Obama leads Romney by 4 percentage points in a new Pew Research Center poll, but while a majority of voters said the economy was the most important issue in the election, they were split over which candidate would be the best to improve the economy and create jobs.
Bill Clinton Hits the Campaign Trail
[Politico, 4/17/12] Clinton will likely reprise his role from the 2010 elections, when he backed Democratic candidates big and small and traveled across the U.S. campaigning, recording robocalls and fundraising.
Romney Already Chose a Running Mate
[ABC, 4/17/12] Ten years ago, Romney chose a partner for his gubernatorial run, and that year, Beth Meyers was also involved. A close Romney adviser at the time said that his pick, Kerry Murphy Healey, was based less on politics and more on "policy brains, [and the] ability to help enact his change agenda."
Familiar Divisions Give Obama Narrow Edge
[National Journal, 4/17/12] Those same lines that divided the 2008 electorate still exist today, as revealed by a number of recent national polls. Obama has a narrow lead over Romney in all but one, attributable to stark racial and gender gaps for Romney but a gap with white men for Obama.
Herman Cain Flops on Gingrich Endorsement, Says, ‘Let’s Get On With This’
[ABC, 4/16/12] Cain said that Gingrich "doesn't have a shot now," and implied that he should drop out of the race. Gov. Rick Perry, however, told ABC he'd continue to back Gingrich.
Report: Romney Camp, RNC Expect $800,000 in Fundraising
[New York Times, 4/17/12] The Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee have set a fundraising goal of $800 million to defeat President Obama, The New York Times reports. To make it an even $1 billion, the campaign also expects Romney-friendly super PACs and outside groups to spend another $200 million.
National Review Gives Thumbs Up to Romney's Overheard Proposals
[National Review, 4/17/12] Even though the Romney camp was furiously trying to tell reporters that his overheard comments on eliminating tax deductions were mere ideas the candidate was throwing out, the editors at NR say they’re happy with what they hear. “We can report that much of what Romney proposes is constructive,” they write.
Romney Woos Tea Party at Tax Day Summit
[Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/17/12] Romney told a “tax day summit” of tea party activists at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia that he was determined to shrink the federal government and keep runaway regulation and high taxes from killing jobs. The visit reflects the delicate task that now confronts him: attracting independent and moderate voters while also reassuring holdouts in the base of his own party.
'Trust' to Join 'Fairness' as Obama Buzzword, Sources Say
[Real Clear Politics, 4/17/12] Throughout the so-called Buffett Rule debate, “fairness” has been a key word thrown around by Obama and his Democratic allies. Now, the president and his surrogates are going after a new word: “trust.”
Santorum Still Not Ready to Endorse
[National Journal, 4/16/12] Rick Santorum told supporters on a conference call Monday that he hasn’t even had a chance to speak to onetime rival Romney, much less think about endorsing him. He told his supporters that it was entirely up to them whom to vote for in next week’s Pennsylvania primary.
Michelle Obama Hits Her Campaign Stride
[The Hill, 4/17/12] Leveraging Michelle’s popularity will be crucial for the president in November, particularly with women representing a key swing demographic and Ann Romney having shown herself to be a powerful campaigner. In a huge shift from four years ago, FLOTUS has been everywhere lately.