After Pause in Politics, Campaigns Evaluate the Next Focus

BY Christina Bellantoni and Alex Bruns  July 23, 2012 at 9:24 AM EDT

President Obama; photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Obama embraces Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper as Sen. Mark Udall, left, and Sen. Michael Bennet look on at the University of Colorado Hospital. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

“[T]he reason stories like this have such an impact on us is because we can all understand what it would be to have somebody that we love taken from us in this fashion — what it would be like and how it would impact us,” President Obama said Sunday night after his visit to the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora.

As the community sifts through what happens and honors those who were slain in the theater massacre late Thursday night, the president had an opportunity to step in as consoler in chief. Mr. Obama’s brief remarks were aimed to honor the victims of the mass shooting instead of focusing on the man who committed the horrific act.

They also marked the close of a weekend of grieving and investigation. They were devoid of politics, even as some in Washington looked to revive a debate over gun control.

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper dodged a question on the issue, which was sparked by New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg calling for the presidential candidates to discuss it. Back in Washington, D.C., Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., re-filed legislation to bring back the Assault Weapons Ban.

Will gun rights get more attention in the three-and-a-half months until the election? Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One, “It’s too early to say on the specific policy issues what that will mean. But again, we’re taking it day by day.”

As presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney looks to refocus his campaign on foreign policy this week, it’s not likely he’ll be pushing for the conversation to turn to the issue of how guns should be regulated.

Watch the president’s remarks here or below.

THE AFTERMATH

The NewsHour devoted much of its coverage Friday to the tragic events in Aurora. Tom Bearden reported on the events from Colorado. Watch Tom’s report here.

Ray Suarez followed Tom’s piece with Peter Banda of the Associated Press and Kurtis Lee of the Denver Post. The reports from Aurora were horrifying. Watch Ray’s discussion with the reporters at the scene here.

David Brooks and E.J. Dionne also discussed the tragedy with Jeff Brown and Judy Woodruff, who joined the discussion from Florida, where President Obama cut his campaigning short to return to Washington. (You can watch Judy’s report on the Sunshine State on Monday’s NewsHour.)

According to Judy, many of the people who stood in line waiting to see the president had not heard of the events in Aurora until an announcement was made via loudspeaker in the auditorium.

At the end of the discussion, David and E.J. weighed into the gun control debate.

Watch the conversation here or below:

DISPATCH FROM OHIO

Christina was in Ohio on Friday and Saturday, and found an electorate that seemed a little more optimistic. The die-hard Democrats who were fretting about the president’s standing just a few months ago were saying they now feel confident.

Several Obama supporters said their job has gotten easier in recent weeks as they talk to voters in the battleground state.

Rep. Tim Ryan’s pitch to volunteers at the opening of an Obama campaign field office in Niles was simple: Help Democrats draw a distinction between what Romney stands for and what the president has done.

At the top of that list, Ryan said, was the auto bailout. Mr. Obama “stuck his neck out when it wasn’t popular” and helped the Ohio economy, Ryan said.

“This guy has done a lot of what he’s promised,” and once the campaign present this “very clearly” to people, the president can win, Ryan said.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Team Obama released a new web video focused on his work on veterans issues in advance of his speech Monday to the VFW.

  • The Wall Street Journal profiled some of Mitt Romney’s key foreign policy advisors.

  • The Obama campaign is reportedly going through money like water through a sieve.

  • Chris Cillizza evaluated the economic picture in the swing states.

  • Gwen’s Take on the veepstakes.

  • The Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz dives deep into Romney’s international past and how it shaped his career.

  • The Hill commissioned a poll that showed the majority of Americans blame the president for the bad economy.

  • The Wall Street Journal has an exclusive Monday morning on covert U.S. efforts to stifle Syria.

  • Next month, we won’t be seeing Bush 43 at the Republican National Convention.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Nate Silver reminds us of the imperfect relationship between polling and voting.

  • Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is under police protection after being threatened by a man from New Jersey.

  • The farm bill is in peril.

  • House Democrats are not showing the money.

  • Adam Nagourney charts the downfall of the California Republican Party.

  • Paul Krugman writes about seeing the forest of the [climate change argument]http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/23/opinion/krugman-loading-the-climate-dice.html) through the trees.

  • Ray Suarez explored the significance of the International AIDS Conference.

  • After his recent visit to Africa, Michael Gerson files a column Sunday on the AIDS epidemic.

  • The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on contact between Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., as she escalated accusations of his and others’ ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman on a quest by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, to preserve a tax loophole for black liquor.

  • Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., will hold a hearing Tuesday on Citizens United.

  • The Washington Post continues its investigation into D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s campaign tactics, with new findings that he may have improperly used private government data to find voters in housing assistance programs.

  • BuzzFeed on the GOP’s app for legislative tracking.

  • The NewsHour is working with ShoutAbout as it debuts a widget allowing people to get more involved when the read news online. Check it out at the end of this post here. (Disclosure: Christina is an informal adviser to the group.)

  • Finally, we could all use a little more Boss in our lives.

Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama speaks at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev., at 3:35 p.m. He then holds three campaign events in Oakland, Calif., at 6:20 p.m., 8:35 p.m. and 10:55 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney holds a small business roundtable at a company in Costa Mesa, California at 1:30 p.m.

  • Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the National Association of Police Organizations 34th Annual Convention in Palm Beach, Fla., at 11 a.m.

  • Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson greets voters in Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., at 5:30 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.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly identified New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a member of the Republican Party. He is an independent.