THE MORNING LINE -- April 12, 2012 at 8:58 AM EDT
Female Voters in Spotlight of Romney, Obama Battle
Women watch Mitt Romney campaign Wednesday in Hartford, Conn. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
If the voting women of America were feeling neglected, those days are over.
A newly emboldened Mitt Romney, bolstered by his now-inevitable claiming of the GOP nod to challenge President Obama, knows his weakness. Multiple polls showing a gender gap between the Republican contender and the Democratic president were a clear warning sign for Team Romney.
And they have time to correct the problem.
Consider the backdrop of Romney's stump speech Wednesday in Connecticut: Half a dozen women standing behind the candidate, who held a slick infographic in hand to prove his point that women have suffered more under President Obama's economy.
It's a point that Romney's campaign has been pushing for days, and one that top advisers struggled to defend on a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
NewsHour politics desk assistant Ryan C. Brooks was on the call and reports that Romney policy director Lanhee Chen said, "No amount of spin can hide what he's done for women....They'll find that women have benefited on less than one-eighth of the jobs gained."
According to an analysis by PolitiFact, Chen's statistic is accurate, but it "ignores critical facts that would give a different impression." The number corresponds to employment data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from January 2009 through March.
PolitiFact also found the Romney campaign's reading of these statistics is misleading. The site concluded that Presdient Obama could not be held accountable for this number because he is not responsible for the shape of the economy on the day he took office any more than he is responsible for an economic boom that occurred before his presidency.
"The president should stop blaming people and accept responsibility. It's fascinating to me that they seem to suggest a pattern regularized in recessions," Chen said.
Politico has more here.
The Obama campaign, of course, argues the figure is based on bad math. The president's team issued a statement from Lilly Ledbetter pressing Romney to say whether he supported the Fair Pay Act named for her, the first measure Mr. Obama signed when taking office.
Romney didn't let up, with his campaign sending out release after release from female supporters and surrogates complaining about the president's record on women and the economy.
Watch Judy Woodruff's report on the day's events here or below.
And as Judy told Christina in our weekly Political Checklist Wednesday, it's "game on" for the two men.
Watch that conversation here or below.
ABOUT THOSE MILLIONAIRES
Meanwhile, the Obama administration and the president's team in Chicago are keeping the pressure on when it comes to the Buffett Rule and raising taxes on the richest Americans.
Mr. Obama will record a series of interviews with local television anchors in states that mostly line up with battlegrounds. He'll talk to WCMH in Columbus, Ohio; KCRG in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; KMOV in St. Louis, Mo.; and KOLO in Reno, Nevada.
On Wednesday, the president did not mention his GOP challenger's name when talking about the Buffett Rule, but there was no doubt where his comments were aimed.
But just in case the message isn't getting through, Vice President Joe Biden will be in swing-state New Hampshire Thursday afternoon to drive the point further.
"We're not supposed to have a system with one set of rules for the wealthy and one set of rules for everyone else," Biden will say, according to excerpts released by the campaign. "Middle class Americans are willing to stand up and do their part. But they don't want to be played for a sucker. When you pay your taxes next week, you ought to be able to know that everyone else is paying their fair share too."
As he has numerous times on the trail in recent weeks, Biden will go after Romney directly by telling voters Romney wants to extend the "Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, the ones that were intended to expire, the ones that will expire this December."
"That will cost about a trillion dollars over the next ten years," Biden plans to say. "And to add insult to injury, he proposes to give another $250,000 in tax cuts to the average millionaire. That's another trillion dollars to the top 1 percent--on top of making permanent the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy."
The vice president will introduce some new language, comparing the "Buffett Rule" to the "Romney Rule," which he will describe as "the very wealthy should keep the tax cuts and loopholes they have, and get an additional, new tax cut every year that is worth more than what the average middle class family makes in an entire year."
The campaign also released a page on its website with a tax calculator to needle Romney.
"Use the calculator to see how your tax rate stacks up against Mitt Romney's -- and then see what the Buffett Rule would do," reads the site.
DEMOCRATS CELEBRATE MASSACHUSETTS HEALTH CARE BIRTHDAY
The Obama campaign released a web video Thursday on the sixth anniversary of Romney's signing of the health care law in Massachusetts. The first portion lauds Romney's plan and has a positive tone, saying his measure was the blueprint for the president's national model. Then it transitions to show Romney saying he'd repeal Mr. Obama's signature legislation and attacks him for "jumping into a political position."
Watch the web video here or below.
American Bridge has made a similar video. Watch it here.
CALLING ALL PENNSYLVANIANS!
Are you a voter in the Keystone State?
The primary might be a done deal, but we'd love to hear from you. Please fill out the NewsHour's quick survey on Public Insight Network.
2012 LINE ITEMS
Mr. Obama leads Romney, 49 percent to 44 percent, in North Carolina in a new survey from left-leaning Public Policy Polling. The pollster calls it "the largest lead we've found for him in monthly polling dating back to November of 2010."
The formation of a new labor super PAC called Workers' Voice will be announced Thursday afternoon. An official with the group described it this way: "a counterpart to Willard Romney's & Karl Rove's groups that accept millions in corporate and 1% money. But unlike them we are not going to focus on negative TV ads, but on activating and empowering networks of working families to counter their attacks. This is going to be an effort with ALL workers, union and non-union." Eddie Vale will serve as communications director and Tim Tagaris will be digital director.
Newt Gingrich released a web video starring Americans around the country recording YouTube videos and calling the former House speaker the last conservative standing.
Gingrich also announced a new endorsement from Delaware state Senator and "Tea Party favorite" Dave Lawson.
Female White House employees "earned a median annual salary of $60,000, which was about 18 percent less than the median salary for male employees ($71,000)," Andrew Stiles of the Washington Free Beacon reported.
At a fundraiser for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., on Wednesday, former Vice President Walter Mondale talked about Biden's decision to join Mr. Obama's ticket in 2008. According to a pool report from the Star Tribune's Baird Helgeson, Biden said that when he was asked to consider the spot, "I said, honestly, I don't want to be vice president. I will do anything I can to help you, but I don't want to be vice president." Biden said he called Mondale to ask what he should do, and Mondale laid out a blueprint of what Biden should do and say. Biden said that Mondale's advice was: "You have one purpose, that's to serve the president, to serve the president."
Thanks to Rick Santorum dropping out of the race, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) endorsed Romney on Wednesday and noted that Texas Rep. Ron Paul was "the lone candidate refusing to pledge to defend traditional marriage."
I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.— Ann Romney (@AnnDRomney) April 12, 2012
Against All Odds, Gingrich Donors Want Him To Stay In buzzfeed.com/zekejmiller/ag...— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) April 12, 2012
OUTSIDE THE LINES
NewsHour reporter-producer Katelyn Polantz writes about the Maryland legislature's failure to pass a budget for the first time in two decades. We'll be hosting a Twitter chat about our Divided by DC project on Maryland and Virginia on Friday. Details for participating are here.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Republicans see redistricting as a boost for their odds at keeping the House.
Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad reports on how Senate hopeful and former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine is using Sen. Mark Warner as a mentor in his race. That open-seat battle in Virginia is one of the NewsHour's Senate Six races we'll be tracking this year. Tune in to Thursday's NewsHour to learn more.
Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz scoops that the National Republican Senatorial Committee has put a $25 million ad buy on reserve for the fall.
A new Washington Post-ABC News Poll found "a majority of Republicans say for the first time that the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting." More here.
Watch the press conference announcing charges in the Trayvon Martin killing.
"Texts from Hillary" is shutting down, having reached the pinnacle of success with an endorsement from the secretary of state.
ON THE TRAIL
All events are listed in Eastern Time.
Vice President Biden speaks in Exeter, N.H., at noon and holds a fundraiser in Scarsdale, N.Y., at 6:15 p.m.
Newt Gingrich campaigns in Dover, Del., at 8:30 a.m.
Ron Paul holds a town hall in San Antonio, Texas, at 7 p.m.
Mitt Romney has no public events.
All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.