Mitt Romney was in Chantilly, Va., today, speaking at a trade show company’s warehouse, and it was little surprise that Romney sought to wrest the spotlight back into an arena less favorable for President Obama than the national-security conversation that has dominated the campaign in recent days, write National Journal’s Beth Reinhard and Alex Roarty.
But think about that for a second. A Republican is trying to steer the debate away from national security. It’s as polar a reversal as could be from the preceding decades, after President Clinton restored Democrats some measure of economic credibility. And it could be the final eradication of what Wesley Clark, the retired Army general who commanded NATO forces in Europe under Clinton and ran for president in 2004 as a Democrat, in a recent interview called “the Vietnam lessons,” which held that Democrats were untrustworthy on keeping Americans safe and projecting strength abroad.
“Republicans know as the party of national security that they have to be strong on national security,” Clark told National Journal. “The problem is, Barack has taken their oxygen by his performance. And it may be that after this election we finally put to bed the lessons of Vietnam.”
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Romney Confronts Power of the Presidency
[New York Times, 5/2/12] Romney is witnessing the power of the presidency: For months, the former Massachusetts governor has been the Goliath in a field of Davids. But now Romney faces an incumbent president whose fearsome campaign machinery of 2008 is bolstered by the incalculable advantages of the office Obama holds.
Charlie Wilson’s War; Obama’s Peace
[National Journal, 5/2/12] Obama didn’t say it in so many words, but his 11-minute address to the nation from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan was a promise to wage Charlie Wilson’s war under the guise of Obama’s peace. National Journal’s Major Garrett weighs in.
Romney ‘Pleased’ With Obama’s Afghan Trip
[National Journal, 5/1/12] Steering clear of the political arguments pumped forth from both campaigns over the last few days, Romney said on Tuesday in a statement that he was "pleased" that Obama had visited Afghanistan and added that Americans "deserve to hear" what is at stake there. But this morning, former GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty—who has endorsed Romney—took to the airwaves to criticize the president for putting "arbitrary deadlines" on the Afghan withdrawal.
Gingrich Formally Ends Candidacy
[National Journal, 5/2/12] Gingrich, deep in debt, formally suspended his campaign today, but he said he wouldn't be disappearing from the political scene altogether. Gingrich told USA Today that he'll be willing to support Mitt Romney and possibly campaign with him in the future.
Newt Gingrich $4 Million in Debt; Staffers and Creditors Fume
[Yahoo! News, 5/1/12] Gingrich's millions in debt were due to his recklessness on the campaign trail, some say, and now it's come back to bite him, as many of the campaign's creditors and staffers are clamoring for payment.
Is Obama More Popular Than He Should Be?
[New York Times, 5/2/12] An analysis of historical trends in previous presidencies reveals that Obama's approval level -- while not as high as he'd like it to be during an election year -- is higher than expected. He shares this accomplishment with two previous presidents: George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan.
Second West Virginia Dem Unsure About Obama
[CNN, 5/2/12] West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin told a local paper that he's not sure if he'll vote for Obama in the general election, the second WV Dem to come out unsure about the president. West Virginia is a largely conservative state, and they'll likely have to distance themselves from Obama to ensure their reelection.
[Vanity Fair, 5/2/12] In the run-up to the release of his biography of Obama, David Maraniss teases sections of his book in Vanity Fair, where he reveals details of Obama’s life in New York City. From eating at the corner restaurant made famous by Seinfeld, to not returning the “I love you too” to his girlfriend, Maraniss gives a new take on the president’s early years.
Pro-Romney Super PAC Begins $4 Million Ad Buy
[New York Times, 5/1/12] Restore Our Future, a super PAC backing Romney’s campaign, has begun buying as much as $4 million worth of 30-second television advertisements in at least eight general-election swing states.
Newt Gives Up on White House, But Not the Moon
[Politico, 5/2/12] The former House speaker will drop his White House bid this week and has said he will endorse Romney, but that doesn’t mean he’s given up on some of his more creative campaign promises: Gingrich took one last shot at the haters of his moon-base plan in a USA Today interview.
Paul Supporters Create Delegate Mischief
[Washington Times, 5/1/12] Ron Paul isn't going to win the nomination -- but he's trying to make Romney's path there a little bit tougher. Working party rules in his favor, Paul supporters have blocked pro-Romney delegates from going to the convention this summer.
Mission Accomplished—At Last?
[National Journal, 5/1/12] National Journal’s Michael Hirsh compares Obama’s surprise trip to Afghanistan to George W. Bush’s notorious—and embarrassingly premature—“Mission Accomplished” political stunt in 2003. But Obama, unlike Bush, acknowledged in his speech on Tuesday night that the conflict may never be completely over.
Michelle Obama Swings West for Fundraising Push
[CNN, 5/1/12] While her husband was en route to Afghanistan for a surprise visit, first lady Michelle Obama was on a fundraising swing in New Mexico and Nevada. At one event in Las Vegas, she raised $300,000 for the president’s reelection effort. She was also in Colorado and Arizona on Monday. Democrats are hoping to make gains in all four states.
Romney’s Problem With Unmarried Women Voters Could Sink Him
[Daily Beast, 5/2/12] Romney is polling fine with married women, but he’s trailing Obama with single women by nearly 30 points—a gap that could prove fatal in November. Patricia Murphy reports on the message that could win them over.
Obama and Romney Vie for Mayor Bloomberg’s Endorsement
[New York Times, 5/1/12] Both Romney and Obama are determined to score the endorsement of Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, whose name is all but synonymous with Wall Street clout and nonpartisan politics. Their pursuit of the billionaire mayor is headed into overdrive now as the conventions loom ever-closer.
[National Review, 5/2/12] One of Gingrich’s senior advisers, Joe DeSantis, talks to National Review about the final days of the Gingrich campaign. “For a guy who’s not known for being in shape,” DeSantis said, “he’s physically tough.”
Romney Used Fees to Close Budget Gap
[Associated Press, 5/2/12] Romney’s claim that he closed a $3 billion budget gap as Massachusetts governor without raising taxes is a cornerstone of his White House campaign in a race where federal budget deficits and the slumping economy are hot issues. But the AP notes that Romney raised money by implementing fees on things like marriage licenses, real estate transactions, and gun licenses.
Portman Goes After Obama as ‘Celebrity’
[Talking Points Memo, 5/2/12] For those outside the Beltway, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, may not be a household name. But that’s not stopping the oft-mentioned possible vice presidential pick from attacking Obama for being too well-known. On Fox News, Portman called the president a “celebrity”—an attack that Republicans tried out in 2008.