THE MORNING LINE -- May 16, 2012 at 9:14 AM EDT
Obama Campaign Raises $43.6 Million in April
President Obama holds a jersey presented to him during a White House event Tuesday to honor the MLS champion LA Galaxy. From left, front row: Head Coach Bruce Arena, captain Landon Donovan and David Beckham. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.
The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised $43.6 million in April, a sign of the president's continued fundraising advantage over Mitt Romney.
The news was announced by campaign manager Jim Messina in a video emailed to supporters Wednesday.
The April figure is down from the $53 million raised by Democrats in March, but does not factor in a series of recent fundraising events, including one last week in Hollywood that hauled in a reported $15 million.
In the video, Messina says the resources will be needed to keep up not only with the Romney campaign, but with spending from outside groups attacking the president. "Oil company executives and other special interests are dumping millions of dollars in super PAC attack ads," he argues, adding: "The Koch-brothers funded super PAC spent $6 million dollars on TV ads attacking the president. Mitt Romney's super PAC put another $4 million on the air. That's $10 million in ads from two outside groups who can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money."
Messina also gives supporters an update on the campaign's different pathways to 270 electoral votes this fall, touting the hiring of staffers and opening of 42 field offices in key battleground states such as Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
"One of the most important things we can do is get our arms around that fact that this election is going to be close given the historic challenges the nation faced when the president first came into office," he says in the video.
Messina also says volunteers registered 15,000 new voters in North Carolina just last month, which he called, "A big deal, because we won the state by less than that last time."
"We can't count on anyone's old map, even ours," Messina says, one reason the campaign hired new staff in Arizona last month. "It wasn't a swing state this time around, but if we can help register the hundreds of thousands of eligible voters who missed out in 2008, we can put it on the table this November."
Check out the Electoral College numbers yourself in our Vote 2012 Map Center.
BIDEN TAKES ON ROMNEY
Vice President Joe Biden will make the administration's case for re-election to blue collar voters in Ohio on Wednesday, while also taking aim at what has become a main target for the Obama campaign: Romney's business record.
The vice president is expected to say that Romney's business strategy harmed the middle class and helped the richest profit. According to excerpts provided by the campaign, Biden will compare what he dubs "Obama Economics," the "philosophy that believes everyone deserves a fair shot and a fair shake, and everybody should play by the same rules," to "Romney Economics, which says as long as the government helps the guys at the very top do well, workers and small businesses and communities can be left to fend for themselves."
Biden will reprise the attack laid out by an Obama campaign ad on Monday, which focused on Romney's role at Bain Capital when it took over GST Steel.
Biden will say the Obama administration is "prepared to lower the corporate tax rate by 20 percent" and still wants to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, a longtime campaign promise.
From the prepared speech:
What does Governor Romney want?
He wants a new tax system that says American companies that move factories overseas don't have to pay any U.S. taxes on those factories. That's a huge incentive to move offshore. That's Romney Economics.
What does Governor Romney believe?
When China dumped all these cheap tires here, and we fought back and we won, Romney called it "protectionism." Said by standing up to China, we would somehow hurt American workers. That's Romney Economics.
SURPRISE RESULT IN NEBRASKA
Democrats are having a good morning.
State Sen. Deb Fischer prevailed in a Republican Senate primary in Nebraska, setting her up for a matchup this fall against former Sen. Bob Kerrey. Of the three major candidates vying for the nod to seek the open seat, Fischer was the least known with the least money and least organization. She was boosted late in the race with a endorsements from Herman Cain and Sarah Palin.
Fischer won 41 percent of the vote and most of Nebraska's counties, besting the state Attorney General Jon Bruning (who got 36 percent of the vote) and Treasurer Don Stenberg (who won 19 percent of the vote.) The two statewide elected officials received the majority of the attention during the primary, with the Club for Growth spending nearly $1 million on Stenberg's behalf and other national figures getting involved in the race.
The Omaha World Herald focused its coverage on how just how unknown Fischer is.
A rancher from Valentine in the rural northern part of the Cornhusker state who won her state Senate seat in 2004, Fischer "was truly the darkest of dark horses," the paper's Robynn Tysner wrote.
Her strategy from the beginning was to remain positive and to let her two opponents bruise and batter each other on the campaign trail. It worked.
To be sure, it's still a heavy lift for Democrats hoping to maintain the party's hold on Sen. Ben Nelson's Senate seat, but Fischer's victory gives them more opportunity to try.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Matt Canter gloated about what the party is calling an "accidental victory."
"These results set up a promising general election match-up between Bob Kerrey, a proven independent leader, and Deb Fischer, an untested hypocritical politician whose record and positions have never been scrutinized," Canter said, calling the Republican an "untested Tea Party candidate."
REVOLUTION'S NEXT PHASE
Judy Woodruff attempted to make clearer Tuesday night the forces behind Texas Rep. Ron Paul's decision to suspend his campaign.
Paul announced Monday that he would stop actively campaigning in states with upcoming primary elections, yet he would continue to pursue support from delegates in states that have already voted. The goal is to have parts of Paul's platform of "liberty" incorporated into the Republican Party's, a campaign memo said.
"By sending a large, respectful and professional delegation to Tampa, we will show the party and the country that not only is our movement growing and here to stay, but that the future belongs to us," his strategist Jesse Benton argued in the memo.
Judy spoke Tuesday night with Las Vegas Sun political columnist John Ralston and Brian Doherty, author of "Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired" and a senior editor at the libertarian magazine Reason.
The two said they were baffled by Paul's announcement. Ralston dubbed the strategy "running backwards."
Doherty said that Paul's efforts to end active campaigning may have been a way to pre-empt rowdy disturbances from his supporters at political conventions.
Paul's grassroots supporters are sometimes at odds with Paul's official campaign. They've expressed their support with a zeal no other candidate has seen this election season, Doherty said. For instance, this past weekend, they caused disruption and chaos at the Arizona and Oklahoma state conventions because of disagreements with state GOP leaders.
These supporters may not follow guidance from the official campaign, and many Paul supporters took to Internet message boards this week to express their unhappiness with the campaign suspension. Some of them believe, the NewsHour guests noted, that Paul may be able to overcome Romney's mass of delegates to take the nomination -- a near impossibility.
Overall, the Romney campaign must find a way not to offend or provoke Paul supporters, Ralston said, so the convention in Tampa this summer may be a graceful "coronation of the nominee" rather than a brawl instigated by Paul supporters.
Watch the segment here or below.
2012 LINE ITEMS
The Associated Press' Phil Elliott reports that Crossroads GPS will launch a $25 million, month-long advertising campaign in 10 states. The group will "open the effort Thursday by spending $8 million on a TV ad that castigates Obama on the economy by using his own words against him."
Former President George W. Bush has endorsed Romney.
In Iowa Tuesday, Romney called for austerity. "A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation, and every day we fail to act that fire gets closer to the homes and children we love," he said.
The president and vice president released their 2011 financial disclosure forms Tuesday. Mr. Obama and first lady Michele Obama hold assets worth between $2.6 million and nearly $8.3 million. Biden listed assets of between nearly $230,000 to $860,000. Among the Obama assets, reports Roll Call's Steven T. Dennis, a "fat account at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and a mortgage on his Chicago home that he should probably refinance."
Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal criticized the president's experience before taking office, saying Mr. Obama "never ran a state, never ran a business, never ran a lemonade stand."
The Washington Post's Aaron Blake writes about Americans Elect's struggles to find a third party presidential candidate to run in November. The group has gained ballot access in more than half the states, but no candidate has gained enough support to be considered at the group's online convention next month.
The president is leading Romney, 53 percent to 41 percent, in swing-state New Hampshire, according to a new survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling. The firm noted that Romney was up 46-44 in July.
New Mexico Republican Gov. Susana Martinez criticized Romney's support for "self-deportation" in an interview with Newsweek. The first-term governor has been frequently mentioned as a potential vice presidential running mate but has repeatedly denied any interest in joining the GOP ticket in 2012.
Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley will host President Obama for a fundraiser in Baltimore on June 12. An invitation to O'Malley's political email list noted it would be "one of his only fundraising events in Maryland."
The president demonstrated some pop culture prowess in a taped appearance on "The View" on Tuesday, correctly answering questions about "The Avengers" and the Kardashians. He drew a blank when asked to name "the controversial sex book that's on millions of women's bedside tables" -- "Fifty Shades of Grey" -- and also didn't know that Jessica Simpson had her baby earlier this month.
The president teased David Beckham about his age and clothing line Tuesday during the soccer star's visit to the White House for a ceremony honoring the MLS champion L.A. Galaxy.
Someone made a Tumblr inserting the president's official photo into historical images.
FACT: For every first-time donor Obama attracted in April, two workers dropped out of the labor force.— Joe Pounder (@PounderFile) May 16, 2012
So proud to be running the 31st Capital Challenge 5K with Team Lugar this morning. twitter.com/senatorlugar/s...— U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar (@senatorlugar) May 16, 2012
In last night's primary, Oregon Rep. Pete DeFazio defeated the son of his general election opponent: bit.ly/JIdU0P— Kevin Robillard (@PoliticoKevin) May 16, 2012
Just asked Lugar if he'll support Mourdock on the campaign trail now. "I have no comment."— jennifer bendery (@jbendery) May 15, 2012
.@SpeakerBoehner excerpt: "I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase."— Todd Zwillich (@toddzwillich) May 15, 2012
OUTSIDE THE LINES
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, fired the opening shot in the next debt limit debate by insisting Tuesday that any increase in the country's borrowing limit must be matched by spending cuts. White House press secretary Jay Carney called on Republicans to avoid the "political brinksmanship" they engaged in last year.
The Las Vegas Sun reports that former Nevada Sen. John Ensign's chief aide Doug Hampton "appears to have reached a deal with federal prosecutors to settle charges he violated a cooling-off period prohibiting congressional employees from lobbying for at least a year after they leave their jobs."
Roll Call's Nathan L. Gonzales puts the "war on women" in context.
The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports, "Sen. John McCain is talking with Democrats about a joint effort to require outside groups that have spent millions of dollars on this year's elections to disclose their donors."
An appeals court refused to grant a stay on an opinion that would require political ads include a disclosure about the donors behind them. The case is still pending further appeal, but it means this election cycle could see some major changes.
Republicans are eyeing former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' seat in Arizona in the June special election so much so that Citizens United will buy a $100,000 TV ad in support of GOP candidate Jesse Kelly.
The Senate approved legislation Tuesday to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank on a 78 to 20 vote, reports The Hill's Daniel Strauss.
The Club for Growth is criticizing Republican freshmen in Congress.
Here is your daily update on the John Edwards corruption trial, courtesy of the News & Observer.
And Ruth Marcus devotes her column to the Edwards trial.
Katelyn Polantz, Cassie M. Chew and Alex Bruns contributed to this report.
ON THE TRAIL
All events are listed in Eastern Time.
President Obama holds a roundtable discussion with small business owners in Washington, D.C., at 10:30 a.m., attends a lunch meeting at the White House with House and Senate leaders at 11:30 a.m. and awards (posthumously) the Medal of Honor to Army Specialist Leslie H. Sabo Jr. at 3:10 p.m.
Vice President Biden delivers remarks at a campaign event in Youngstown, Ohio, at 12 p.m.
Mitt Romney holds an event in St. Petersburg, Fla., at 9:10 a.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.