THE MORNING LINE -- April 20, 2012 at 9:05 AM EDT
GOP Establishment Gets Behind Romney
Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign stop Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C. Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images.
It's a big day for Mitt Romney, who will be embraced by GOP establishment figures during the Republican National Committee's meeting of state chairmen and officials in Scottsdale, Ariz.
All week he's been collecting endorsements from governors and other top lawmakers -- including House Speaker John Boehner -- who sat out the nomination process rather than take sides in an intraparty fight.
The former Massachusetts governor will huddle privately with top RNC officials in addition to addressing the crowd in rah-rah fashion. It's the last formal meeting before the August nominating convention in Tampa. Romney's team has already begun discussions about how his operation will merge with the RNC when the nomination becomes official.
The Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow reports from Scottsdale that even Rick Santorum's boosters are coming on board:
A top RNC official contended Thursday that enthusiasm for Mr. Romney, who has struggled at times to connect with the party's conservative base, is on the rise.
"Romney is getting conservatives on this committee to rally behind him," said Illinois RNC member Demetra DeMonte, the elected secretary of the RNC and a founding member of the RNC's Conservative Caucus. Ms. DeMonte had originally favored Mr. Santorum, who often outpaced Mr. Romney in primaries and caucuses among evangelical voters and tea party activists.
The unity weekend is intended to help the entire party shift focus onto the general election.
(The Democratic National Committee has some fun with Arizona Sen. John McCain's planned introduction for Romney in a new web video, which you can watch here.)
Politico's Jonathan Martin has details on how Team Romney is pulling the various factions of the GOP together:
Behind the scenes, Romney and his campaign are just as engaged in shoring up support from Republicans. Some of the outreach is done by the candidate himself. Romney, for example, phoned Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to secure the Hoosier's endorsement. And he met with a small group of conservative elites, including Ed Meese and David Keene, when he was in Washington for a speech earlier this month.
Much of the stroking, though, is being done by Romney's advisers, who have divided up responsibilities. His point man with movement conservatives, Peter Flaherty, called evangelical leaders Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer within hours of Rick Santorum's withdrawal from the race last week.
Ed Gillespie, the former RNC chairman who has become a senior adviser, has spent considerable time on the phone during his first weeks aboard the campaign as well as sitting down with a mix of establishment and conservative Republicans who were lukewarm about Romney.
Former Minnesota Gov Tim Pawlenty, a frequent Romney surrogate, has been helping to bring the GOP governors in line.
Romney's top policy hand, Lanhee Chen, has held two conference calls in just in the past month with congressional policy aides, including the top issues staffers for Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Zac Moffatt, Romney's digital director, has been wooing conservative bloggers. Ron Kaufman, the longtime Romney confidante and Massachusetts Republican committeeman, is the liaison with members of the RNC and is in Arizona this week working the party leaders.
The New York Times' Ashley Parker reports that the campaign "has identified 14 to 16 battleground states where it will open offices and reactivate networks from the primaries." The candidate's aides briefed him this week on their Electoral College strategies for Nov. 6.
Romney's team is adding new staff as well, bringing Sarah Pompei, Kevin Madden and Austin Barbour into the fold.
THE LATEST POLL
A week filled with the first wave of general election polls ends with one from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News that puts President Obama ahead of Romney by six points, 49 percent to 43 percent, among registered voters.
The reason for that lead: the president's advantages among Latinos (69 percent to 22 percent), women (53-41) and independent voters (44-34).
Most of the other surveys released this week have shown Mr. Obama with similarly strong support among those key swing groups, serving as an indication that Romney still has much work to do before November, even as some national polls show him running close to the president.
The news from the Journal/NBC survey is not all bad for Romney, however, as voters gave him an edge on the top issue of the campaign: the economy. Forty percent of respondents said Romney would have better ideas for the economy, compared with 34 percent for the president.
NBC's Mark Murray quotes Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who said the dynamics suggest a tight race this fall:
"You are projecting a very, very close campaign," said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart.
"It is going to look like 2004 or 2000," Hart added, referring to George W. Bush's extremely narrow victories in those two presidential contests. "There are plenty of things that suggest it has a long, long way to go."
AGREEMENT IN CONGRESS?
On Thursday's NewsHour, Kwame Holman reported on the outrage over the General Services Administration spending scandal, which seems to be the only thing members of Congress have in common on these days.
In our piece, Washington Post reporter Ed O'Keefe analyzed how the story has played out and said that despite the unhappiness that's erupted among legislators about the spending, it may all fade away come November.
Watch here or below.
Jeffrey Brown handled our segment with Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn from the Daily-Download.com, examining the use presidential campaigns' use of Google search ads. Team Romney bought ads tied to a search for "Hilary Rosen," it turns out.
Romney is stepping up his web ads, but Team Obama still wins in volume online.
Watch the segment here or below.
What's interesting about this microtargeting is where each campaign is devoting resources. The president's team has invested heavily in sites focused on black voters and Hispanic voters, while Romney is going after women.
2012 LINE ITEMS
Romney announced raising $12.6 million just for the primary in the month of March. The campaign has more than $10 million in the bank.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul, still running for the GOP nomination and aiming to win in Rhode Island on Tuesday, announced that he raised nearly $10.4 million in the first quarter. Campaign finance reports are due at midnight.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., accidentally told everyone what was on his mind Wednesday, saying: "If in four to five years, if I do a good job as vice president -- I'm sorry, as senator -- I'll have the chance to do all sorts of things." National Journal has the video.
"First lady Michelle Obama's campaign to support military families wins bipartisan praise. It may be good politics, too," Kate Andersen Brower and Margaret Talev write for Bloomberg.
Vice President Joe Biden gave a feistier version of his campaign stump speech quote at a fundraiser in Phoenix, according to a pool report. Biden said: "Well, I've got a bumper sticker for you. 'Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.' Neither of those things would be true had Romney been president the last four years."
Ben Smith of BuzzFeed reports that Jon Huntsman's PAC "made more than $200,000 in payments to a phantom company."
National Journal's Dan Friedman talked to freshman Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., who said "he does not know if he will vote for Obama or presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney in November." "I'll look at the options," Manchin said.
Reuters looks at Romney's possible Supreme Court picks.
Politico's Maggie Haberman reports that the American Crossroads groups have raised $99,800,000 this year and last year.
Don't miss Morning Edition's awesome chat with Jonathan Martin, Ashley Parker and Anne Kornblut about this election year's version of "The Boys on the Bus."
Misinformation campaign against USA Today reporter, editor included fake websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts. usat.ly/HWYjM2— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) April 20, 2012
Spotted in Old Town - Callista Gingrich getting into a car with a driver, wearing a huge smile. .— Christina Bellantoni (@cbellantoni) April 19, 2012
NewsHour politics desk assistant Ryan C. Brooks (@ryancbrooks) has the NewsHour's recommendations for top tweeters to add to your feed.
Andrew is the second BuzzFeed reporter featured in this space, after his boss Ben Smith, but you should follow him, too. He's always engaging in the political conversation of the moment and manages to tweet every few minutes, it seems.
Politico's Maggie Haberman is a great journalist who is always on top of the day's stories. She often covers the GOP race and seems to retweet and follow everything political, be it analysis or breaking news.
@abumuqawama Andrew Exum blogged for a long time under the alias "Abu Muqawama" before revealing his name. He is a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a former U.S. Army officer. He also happens to be an excellent Middle East and defense analyst. He is very active on Twitter and is often quoted in articles on the military.
Kurtz mentioned this account on the Daily Download segment, and it's worth a laugh.
OUTSIDE THE LINES
A tax cut for small business passed the House.
The NewsHour's Jason Kane has a great piece on the health care benefits offered to Supreme Court justices.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., "has quietly built a national political operation that's flush with cash and designed to defend himself and his party against attacks," Politico reports.
Despite a push from national party leaders, North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman David Parker refuses to step down from his position in the wake of a scandal.
Ann Gerhart fronts the Washington Post Style Section with a colorful story on the Secret Service scandal, noting, these folks are supposed to be behind the scenes, not making a scene.
Talking Points Memo crafts a timeline of what we know about the Secret Service scandal.
Shad Happens, Kwame Holman writes. Christina will debrief Kwame in the newsroom Friday afternoon about what exactly is the Virginia Shad Planking. And don't miss the story from Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad, who talked with voters at the annual event.
Roll Call's Meredith Shiner on the role female lawmakers are playing this election year.
Americans for Prosperity has a strange target: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The group is calling on the Republican governor to take a "principled stand" against a health care measure that passed the legislature in mid-March. "Our organization respects much of the work the governor has done to try to turn New Jersey around and has stood with him on numerous issues, but on the issue of the government takeover of our health care he has disappointed us," Mike Proto, communications director for Americans for Prosperity's New Jersey chapter, said in a statement.
"Seventy five local, state, and national youth serving organizations are banding together in a youth-led campaign to change this and take the first step in bringing the collective voice of the 104 million Americans under 24 to Washington with a Presidential Youth Council," Harvard freshman Alex Wirth writes.
A Fordham University student discovered that the North Korean government's English-language site uses a little-changed design template that sells for $15. If you're curious, the slow-to-load site is korea-dpr.com
Christina will be in an undisclosed location next week. Be nice to Terence and Katelyn while she's gone.
NewsHour reporter-producer Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.
ON THE TRAIL
All events are listed in Eastern Time.
President Obama welcomes the sixth annual Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride cycling event to the White House at 4:45 p.m.
Vice President Biden attends a campaign event at noon in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Mitt Romney addresses the RNC State Chairmen's National Meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., at 2:05 p.m. He will also hold a Hispanic business roundtable at the Arizona Historical Society in Tempe at 4:35 p.m. and attend a rally there at 5:15 p.m.
Ron Paul campaigns in Pittsburgh, hosting a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. and a holding a town hall at 7 p.m.
Newt Gingrich attends a rally in Buffalo, N.Y., at 12:15 p.m. and stops by the Sussex County GOP Sock Hop in Long Neck, Del., at 7:15 p.m.
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.