American Crossroads Plans Anti-Obama Push, Romney Looks to Close Deal in Pa.

BY Christina Bellantoni  April 9, 2012 at 9:16 AM EDT

President Obama and the first family; photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk with their daughters Sasha, second right, and Malia from the White House to St. John’s Church for Easter Service. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

With the day mostly quiet on the campaign trail and 30,000 kids and family members at the White House rolling Easter eggs on the South Lawn, it could be one of the last somewhat friendly days of this election season.

As the New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny reported over the weekend, American Crossroads is preparing a May ad blitz against President Obama.

They reported that the conservative super-PAC is behind in its initial timeframe thanks to the prolonged primary, but the plan is to run the television ad campaign from “May through July, which they believe is a critical period for making an impression on voters, before summer vacations and the party conventions take place.”

From the story:

Steven J. Law, the group’s leader, said the ads would address the challenge of unseating a president who polls show is viewed favorably even though many people disapprove of his handling of the economy. Basically, Mr. Law said, “how to dislodge voters from him.”

Those spots could likely be running in tandem with the remaining Republican primary contests, with all of the candidates saying they plan to compete for the long haul.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is spending Monday with his ailing 3-year-old daughter Bella, but he intends to resume campaigning Tuesday. Mitt Romney’s campaign has made the decision to try and close the deal in the April 24 Pennsylvania primary, with plans to run $2.9 million worth of television ads in the Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Erie, Altoona and Philadelphia media markets, reports Salena Zito of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

She also writes that the pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future is airing commercials on cable channels statewide.

But here’s the signal to determine just how seriously Romney takes Santorum: If the spots are positive (ads that focus on the former Massachusetts governor), then he’s running a general election, battleground-state campaign. If Romney goes negative on Santorum, then the goal is to end the GOP nomination battle in the Keystone State once and for all.

Just in case anyone out there sees a mathematical path for Santorum, consider this report from Ben Swann of Fox 19 in Cincinnati. It’s one of the most comprehensive explainers we’ve seen about the delegate selection process, focusing on how the North Dakota Republican Party is rallying around Romney to deliver him the state’s delegates even though Santorum won the Super Tuesday caucuses.

Watch the report here.

JOBS, JOBS, JOBS

The NewsHour had several different takes on the new jobs numbers Friday night. Greg Ip of The Economist put the unemployment rate in perspective with Judy Woodruff.

And correspondent Paul Solman explored the paradox of unemployed workers who say they’re desperate for a job and employers who say they can’t fill open positions with the workers they need.

Watch that report here or below

Finally, Mark Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru, filling in for David Brooks, talked about what the numbers mean for the President Obama’s re-election hopes.

Watch the segment here or below.

CALLING PENNSYLVANIA REPUBLICANS!

Are you a Republican in the Keystone State?

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2012 LINE ITEMS

  • This week, the Obama campaign will go after Romney as Senate Democrats force a vote on the Buffett Rule. Vice President Joe Biden is expected to weigh in, all with this message, per the campaign: “Governor Romney will have to explain this week why he believes the he and the wealthiest Americans should pay a lower income tax rate than middle class Americans.”

  • Obama 2012 let a team of BuzzFeed reporters into the Chicago headquarters for a glimpse at its campaign operation.

  • Politico’s Alex Isenstadt notices that supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul may not be having much of an impact on the presidential race, but they are running down-ballot across the country. From the story: “Jared Paine, a Paul supporter who operates a website that tracks the campaigns of libertarian-minded candidates, said he counted around two dozen active Paul backers who are running for House or Senate seats and another 200 or so who are seeking local offices — almost all of them running as Republicans.”

  • The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro writes about the friendship forged in the mid-1970s between Romney and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which “has resulted in an unusually frank exchange of advice and insights on topics like politics, economics and the Middle East.”

  • Romney released a web video about his family.

  • The New York Times’ Ashley Parker profiles Romney aide Garrett Jackson, the body man behind the more personal look at the candidate.

  • Newt Gingrich tells The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty why he’s still running.

  • The Republican National Committee has a new web video suggesting that Mr. Obama has gone from “hope” to “hypocrisy.” Watch it here.

  • The Washington Post’s T.W. Farnham had front-page, step-by-step look at how campaigns are using targeted Google ads.

  • Don’t miss Judy Woodruff’s blog on the gender gap.

  • Stuart Rothenberg breaks down the historical numbers for Roll Call, and finds that there might be less to the gender gap than meets the eye.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Roll Call’s John Stanton scooped Friday that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., donated $25,000 to the anti-incumbent super-PAC that targeted Illinois Rep. Don Manzullo in a Republican primary against Rep. Adam Kinzinger. There’s a question about whether that money actually helped Kinzinger. (Don’t forget the Wall Street Journal report earlier this year that the National Republican Congressional Committee “has warned that companies who help campaign against incumbents might find their services are no longer needed by some parts of the Republican Party.”)

  • In our latest Divided by DC post, Samina Uddin Engel details the budget deal in Virginia. Maryland lawmakers are on the verge of a deal as well.

  • The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake on the decline of the Tea Party’s popularity.

  • On Friday, California Gov. Jerry Brown commuted the sentence of Shirley Ree Smith, 51, who has already served 10 years of the 15-years-to-life sentence she received after being charged with shaking her infant grandson to death.

  • Roll Call’s Joshua Miller has the primer on Rep. Charlie Rangel’s re-election bid in New York, a contest defined by ethics issues and redistricting.

  • The Washington Post has a slideshow retrospective on White House Easter Egg Rolls. And if that isn’t enough, check out this embarrassingly bad video Christina made as a White House reporter before she knew anything about Final Cut.

  • Everyone welcome our new reporter-producer Katelyn Polantz (@kpolantz) to NewsHour’s Team Politics.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Newt Gingrich holds two events in Raleigh, N.C., at 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.

  • Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have no public events scheduled.

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, @suddinengel and @kpolantz.