With President Obama’s campaign ratcheting up focus on Mitt Romney’s service on Beacon Hill, it’s worth considering the political value of that tenure, to both Obama and Romney.
Despite the recent focus on jobs, Romney’s 2006 Massachusetts health care law has long topped most discussions of his governorship, a myopia on the part of both the press and Romney’s rivals that has both benefited and hamstrung him. Its placement there also comes at the cost of other hallmarks.
For example, cutting both ways politically would be Romney’s “smart growth” policies, which used carrots and sticks to encourage municipalities to build high-density, transit-oriented, multimodal development – a classic “big government” approach that would madden tea party types but represents a carefully reasoned growth strategy with appeals to environmentally and educationally attuned voters.
Did you know that Mitt Romney wanted every public-school middle and high schooler in the state to have a $100 laptop, to the tune of $54 million in taxpayer dollars? Again, anathema to the right, but with some currency among more centrist voters. And never discussed.
Particularly the tail end of Romney’s governorship was clearly geared to the 2008 primary; he wasted time, for instance, testifying to the liberal Democratic legislature in favor of a DOA capital-punishment bill – but there’s lots of goodies elsewhere in his service that warrant more discussion than they’ve been getting.
That the emphasis is routinely placed on the health care expansion, once by Romney and now by his detractors, crowds out instructive elements elsewhere on his record. But it’s a long time – 155 days – until Election Day. And there’s plenty of room for everything : the good, the bad, and the factual.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Obama Seeks Way Out of Jobs Gloom
[Wall Street Journal, 6/3/12] After a weak jobs report, Obama has limited options to stimulate the economy because of resistance from both European leaders and congressional Republicans. The Obama camp is working to position the election as a choice between two men with contrasting economic philosophies, but voters often view a weak economy as a referendum on the incumbent.
Axelrod Stands by Bain Attacks
[National Journal, 6/4/12] The Obama reelection campaign released a new ad that tries to knock down Romney's claims of having been a "job creator" in Massachusetts by poking holes in his economic record as governor. In a conference call with reporters, senior adviser David Axelrod and other campaign officials did not, however, back away from the Bain attacks, which have portrayed Romney as a “corporate-buyout specialist” and profit-monger.
With Boos and Solyndra, Romney Plays Offense
[New York Times, 6/3/12] Romney plans to double down on the campaign’s strategy of keeping the president on the defensive by focusing on the struggles of average Americans. That task may be easier in the wake of Friday’s disappointing jobs numbers.
Why A Socialist Politician May Be Obama's Best Friend
[National Journal, 6/4/12] French President Francois Hollande is already proving to be a much more valuable friend to Obama than Sarkozy was. He could even help Obama win in November because with Hollande's election, the balance of power may have shifted in Europe toward more dramatic economic stimulus and other self-saving measures for the eurozone.
American Crossroads Video Says Obama Running on Fear, Not Hope
[TPM, 6/4/12] A new web video from American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-affiliated super PAC, attacks President Obama for what it says is a campaign based on fear. At the end of the video, the iconic Shepard Fairey poster of Obama, in which the word “Hope” adorns the bottom, is altered to say “Fear,” with the word licked by flames.
New Obama Ad Hits Romney’s Gubernatorial Record
[National Journal 6/4/12] Team Obama’s new ad, “Heard it Before,” hits Romney on his gubernatorial — and presidential — campaign promise to bring new jobs to struggling economies, highlighting Massachusetts’ uneven economic performance while Romney was governor.
Obama Campaign Manager Offers Reassurance to Supporters in Video Message
[YouTube, 6/4/12] “We knew this was gonna be a tough race,” Jim Messina says in the video. He offers advice about what Obama supporters can tell friends about the latest polls, which show a narrowing race. For instance: He notes that Obama was actually tied or losing in some polls at this point in the 2008 election.
Bill Clinton Campaigns as Obama's No. 1 Surrogate
[NPR, 6/4/12] Former President Clinton is hosting a fundraiser for Obama on Monday night. Although he is sometimes off-message, Bubba has become one of Obama’s best surrogates. The Republican National Committee, however, is pointing to the Obama/Clinton relationship’s rough history.
Wisconsin Recall Battle May Snarl Obama Camp
[New York Times, 6/3/12] Even as the fight to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker comes to a head on Tuesday, a Republican resurgence in the Badger State is spilling into the presidential race. A GOP victory there could set off a wave of adjustments in the lineup of swing states that will shape the general election. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch poked Obama on Monday for skipping the recall campaign.
Working-Class Whites Still Wary of Obamacare
[National Journal, 6/4/12] Since late 2010, the share of people who say that their own family will be worse off because of the health care law has almost always exceeded the percentage that say it will benefit them personally, National Journal’s Ron Brownstein writes. The skepticism is most concentrated on working-class whites without a college degree.
Potential Romney VP Rob Portman Is a Method Actor of Debate Prep
[Yahoo! News, 6/4/12] Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a potential vice presidential pick for Romney, is more than just a good political ally. He’s a good actor, too, apparently. Portman has played the roles of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, and most recently, Barack Obama in debate prep — and is really good.
Sarah Jessica Parker Ad Touts Obama as ‘That Guy’ Who Created Jobs
[ABC News, 6/3/12] In an attempt to appeal to younger supporters, the Obama campaign ran three 30-second spots on the MTV Network on Sunday night during the MTV Movie Awards. The ad featured actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who said Obama was “the guy who ended the war in Iraq; the guy who says you should be able to marry anyone you want; the guy who created 4 million new jobs.”
Utah Is Romney’s Key to Western Contests
[Boston Globe, 6/4/12] Enthusiasm for Romney among Utahans – 60 percent of whom share Romney’s Mormon faith – have made the state perhaps the most promising source of volunteer labor in the country, which the campaign hopes to use as a staging ground for competitive neighbors such as Nevada and Colorado.
Poll: Romney’s Youth Gap
[Politico, 6/4/12] Despite a recent double-digit rise in the GOP candidate’s favorability ratings, a Monday poll shows that Obama remains more popular than Romney — particularly among young voters.
Obama Outspends Romney on Online Ads
[CNN, 6/3/12] The Obama campaign is spending twice as much money on online advertising than its Republican rival — $16.4 million in the first few months on 2012. By this rate, he is on pace to set a record on spending for digital ads. Romney’s campaign has spent $7.8 million this year.
Obama's 2008 Donors Don't Give in 2012
[BuzzFeed, 6/4/12] In a staggering gap between elections, 88 percent of the people who gave Obama's campaign $200 or more in 2008 — 537,806 people — have not yet given that sum this year. Even further, 87 percent of those who gave $200 or more by April 2008 have yet to donate that amount in this election cycle.
Attend a National Journal LIVE event|Sign up forNational Journal newsletters
DON'T MISS TODAY'S TOP STORIES