Day 1 of the post-Santorum era rapidly devolved into an argument over whether President Obama or presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has done more to harm women and who has most ardently conducted war on the largest swath of the electorate, which seems like bad politics.
Romney, the Obama camp said, is anti-woman, the latest evidence of which was a staffer’s muffing of a conference-call question about whether the former Massachusetts governor supports the Ledbetter Act, which facilitates lawsuits in fair pay cases.
Obama, Romney retorted, has “failed America’s women” by implementing policies that have led to women losing 92.3 percent of the jobs lost during his presidency, a figure that some watchdogs have labeled suspect.
Obama is playing with a big lead among women, fueled in part by contours of the Republican primary, which dragged Romney into Planned Parenthood and contraception fights, eliciting more visceral responses than the somewhat drier economic arguments the Romney campaign pushed today.
The imbroglio’s timing is notable, coming as Romney explores his running-mate options. If spats like these further pry female voters from the GOP, gender appeal would have to factor more thoroughly into the famously empirical candidate’s thinking.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
The GOP Thinks Romney Can't Win; History Says He Can
[Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/11/12] Romney's weaknesses against Obama may simply be due to structural factors -- a hotly-contested primary and internal party divisions -- that Romney could overcome in the general election, while Obama could very well become weaker.
Fence-mending Time for Romney as He Woos the Right NEW!
[Associated Press, 4/11/12] Romney's next task is to shore up support among the Republican base, but that's going to take some work convincing voters to drop their perception of him as an Etch A Sketch moderate candidate who can change positions at the drop of a hat.
Santorum's Romney Attack Script Made for Obama
[ABC, 4/11/12] Those attacks on Romney that Santorum has refined throughout the primary campaign season? They'll make the perfect foundation for Obama's general election campaign.
Mitt Romney 2012 = John Kerry 2004?
[Washington Post, 4/11/12] What candidate does Romney most resemble? Is it John Kerry in 2004, who may not have been the most galvanizing candidate, but was seen as the most electable? Or is he most similar, as GQ's Marin Cogan argued, to Al Gore in 2000, who struggled to connect with voters and came across as robotic?
Romney: Obama Administration is Waging 'the Real War on Women'
[National Journal, 4/11/12] Romney sought to reframe the battle for female voters this week by accusing the Obama administration of waging “the real war on women” through its failure to jump-start the economy. He pointed to some jarring statistics -- but they turn out to be mostly false. This didn't stop Romney from displaying his support for women -- by putting women behind him at a campaign event.
Romney’s ‘Empathy Gap’ NEW!
[New York Times, 4/11/12] With a new poll showing that the public doesn't believe Romney can empathize with them as well as Obama can, commentators have begun to wonder whether this "empathy gap" could hurt Romney in a general election. But historically, this hasn't been a problem for Republicans.
The Obama Game Plan: I'm Barack, He's Barry
[National Journal, 4/11/12] President Obama launched a general-election broadside against the GOP on Tuesday that revealed in stark outlines what his emerging strategy will be. Remember that "Etch A Sketch" pivot to the middle we heard Romney was going to make? National Journal’s Michael Hirsh writes that now would be a good time to make it.
Santorum Exit Opens Endorsement Floodgates for Romney
[National Journal, 4/10/12] With Santorum's exit from the race, a Romney nomination seems all but assured. That makes it safe for previously unaffiliated Republicans -- like Govs. Terry Branstad of Iowa, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Rick Scott of Florida, and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania -- to come out in support of Romney.
What Does Santorum's Future Hold?
[New York Times, 4/10/12] Nate Silver looks at Santorum’s options and notes that his chances at the vice presidential slot are low, he probably won’t have a shot at elective office in Pennsylvania for some time, and in 2016 he’ll face much stiffer competition if he tries another bid at the presidency. The 2012 nomination campaign might prove to be the high-water mark of his political career.
Ron Paul to Supporters: Donate Now or Campaign Can't Go On NEW!
[The Hill, 4/11/12] Paul was blunt in a plea for funds his campaign sent out Wednesday: "If we don't reach our $2.5 million goal, I am not sure our campaign can go on," the email read.
Conservatives Remain Decidedly Unenthused by Romney
[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/11/12] Republicans still haven't figured out how to reconcile what many of them want (a conservative nominee) with what they likely will get (Mitt Romney), writes executive editor David Shribman. Expect the frustration to build, as Republicans face a conundrum similar to Democrats in the late 1940’s, when the party experienced rebellions from both the right and left.
Obama Campaign Attacks Romney in New Video
[National Journal, 4/11/12] As Santorum’s departure leaves Romney the presumptive nominee, Obama is amping up his attack on the besieged candidate. The Obama camp released a stinging new video on Wednesday that aims to make Romney’s pivot back toward the political middle as hard as possible.
Angry Huntsman Vendors Threaten Lawsuit NEW!
[Politico, 4/11/12] Jon Huntsman incurred over a million dollars in campaign debt during his run, and former advisors to his campaign who have not been paid are considering taking legal action.
Who's the Rich Guy? Obama, Romney Duel Over Status
[Associated Press, 4/10/12] In an election year when populism sells, Obama and Romney are both trying to stick the "rich guy" label on the other guy. But both men are among the elite: One is worth up to $250 million and ran a private equity firm, while the other is the former head of the Harvard Law Review and a best-selling author.
Santorum Camp: We'll Do Whatever It Takes to Beat Obama
[National Journal, 4/11/12] Just a day after his campaign suspended its efforts, a Santorum spokeswoman said the former candidate would do whatever is necessary to help Romney beat Obama in November, but stopped short of offering an endorsement.
Romneys Help Pawlenty Erase Campaign Debt
[USA Today, 4/10/12] Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced on Tuesday that he had erased all of his campaign debt from his brief presidential run -- that is, with a little help from the Romney clan. Analysis shows that 11 members of the Romney family, and several top fundraisers and aides, helped clear T-Paw’s debt.
Romney's Long-Odds Looking-Glass Strategy NEW!
[National Journal, 4/11/12] Romney's attempting to turn many of Obama's strengths -- like his foreign policy and his hold on women -- into weaknesses, and while he's not without ammunition, he'll find that to be a tough battle to win.
Romney Camp Hesitates on Ledbetter Law
[Talking Points Memo, 4/11/12] The Romney campaign took a step back on Wednesday in trying to disprove Republicans' so-called war on women. On a conference call with reporters, Romney aides were unable to say if the former Massachusetts governor supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- a law that promotes equal pay for women. Later, the campaign confirmed Romney would not repeal the act, reports the Huffington Post.
Foster Friess, Santorum's Millionaire Backer, Swings to Romney
[Politico, 4/10/12] Now that Santorum has suspended his campaign, his biggest backers -- including Friess, who contributed $1.7 million to Santorum's efforts -- are free to back another candidate.
Passion for Social Issues May Have Doomed Santorum
[Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/11/12] At crucial points in the campaign, when he was riding the momentum of a win or capitalizing on a populist message, Santorum went off course to talk social issues. Could this focus on the family have harmed his chances at the GOP nod?
American Crossroads vs. President Obama
[Washington Post, 4/11/12] American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-backed super PAC, is preparing for an all-out air assault against the Obama campaign in the general election. Already bringing in big bucks, the group is attacking the president through new ads.
From Rivals to Friends, Romney Finds Conservative Ally in Huckabee
[The Hill, 4/10/12] When former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee launched his new radio show this week, his first guest had pointed political implications. Romney’s appearance on the show opened the door to a thaw in the relationship between the two former rivals -- and a new vice presidential possibility.