Colo. Shooting to Influence Friday’s Campaign Rhetoric

BY Terence Burlij and Katelyn Polantz  July 20, 2012 at 9:37 AM EDT

Colorado theater shooting; photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images

A gunman opened fire at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo., on Thursday night. Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

There are events that transcend politics in America, and the Thursday night shooting at a movie theater outside Denver is one such example. The tragic killing of at least a dozen people will likely result in the pause button being hit for at least a day in what has been a brutal stretch of the campaign.

On the trail, the week has ended much the way it began, with President Obama’s campaign and its allies hammering Mitt Romney for not releasing additional years of tax returns and the GOP candidate and his team firing back at the president for comments about business.

The Romney campaign released a television ad Friday that plays up comments made by the president last week in Virginia, where he said, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” The 30-second spot, called “These Hands,” also highlights the owner of a metal fabricating company featured in a campaign video released Thursday.

Watch the ad here or below.

During a campaign event at a truck repair shop near his hometown of Boston on Thursday, Romney said the president’s comments reflect a belief that government is responsible for building businesses.

“It wasn’t a gaffe. It was instead his ideology,” Romney said.

“The president does in fact believe that people who build enterprises like this really aren’t responsible for it, but in fact a collective success of the whole society that somehow builds enterprises like this,” Romney added.

The Obama campaign released a web video Thursday that included more lines from the president’s speech last week and accused Romney of “launching a false attack.”

Watch that video here or below.

In his July 13 remarks in Roanoke, Va., the president said:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The Romney campaign brushed off the broader message and seized on a single line as a way to attack Mr. Obama as disconnected from the concerns of small business.

At the same time, the president and his allies remain on the offensive with the matter of Romney’s tax returns.

In an interview with CNN on Thursday, former President Bill Clinton said he had “no idea” why Romney had not produced additional documents.

“I don’t know enough about it, but he obviously has concluded that the damage he’s taking for now doing it is greater than the damage he’d take from doing it. But it’s hard to imagine that that’s true,” Clinton said. “So I just can’t figure out why he doesn’t do it. I think it’s a mistake, I think he ought to do it. He ought to release a decade’s worth of tax returns.”

There was no sign from Team Romney, however, that a change of mind had occurred. Romney’s wife, Ann, told ABC News on Thursday that refusing to share more of the couple’s personal finances was the right call. “We’ve given all that people need to know,” Romney said.

She also called the attacks on her husband “beneath the dignity of the presidency.”

But a new poll released Thursday by USA TODAY-Gallup found that a majority of Americans, including nearly a third of Republicans, believe Romney should put forward additional years of returns.

USA Today’s Susan Page writes up the poll:

Those surveyed are divided on whether the likely Republican nominee is trying to hide anything. While 42% predict the release of additional returns would not reveal anything politically harmful, 44% believe it would include damaging information — including 15% who say they believe the revelations would be so serious that they would “show he is unfit to be president.”

With strong public support favoring the release of additional returns, the pressure on Romney to back off his refusal is only likely to build.

DEATH PENALTY DEVELOPMENTS

The death penalty debate rarely seems to take any new turns, yet the practice of capital punishment in the United States shifted notably this week after Texas put to death an inmate with a single dose of the sedative pentobarbital, and Georgia announced a switch to the same procedure.

The reason? One of the drugs used in the traditional three-drug cocktail for lethal injection has become virtually unavailable to states that use it.

Ray Suarez interviewed Mike Graczyk, an Associated Press reporter in Texas who has witnessed more state-sanctioned killings than any other living American media member, about the change.

Graczyk spoke about the lethal injection of Texas murderer Yokamon Hearn on Wednesday night.

The length of time was the biggest difference. As far as the reaction of the inmate, it was nothing at all different than what we have become accustomed to seeing with the previous procedure.

He was breathing deeply within the first seconds of the drug being administered, and essentially went to sleep and began snoring. And then the audio nature of the snores became less pronounced. And, finally, there was no noise and no movement at all.

The death penalty was in the news this week in another case, the scheduled execution of Georgia inmate Warren Hill. It has been postponed until Monday because of the drug changes, and Hill’s attorneys hope for a stay of execution for Hill from the U.S. Supreme Court because of the man’s low IQ.

One death penalty proponent says the procedural change may make it easier for states to carry out capital punishment with less fear of torturing the inmate.

Watch Ray’s segment here or below.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • The New York Times reports on former voters who can’t find the proper identification to be able to cast a ballot this year, and a study released Wednesday says the new state voter ID requirements will hurt elections turnout from minorities, the poor and the elderly this year.

  • Photographer Luke Sharrett takes readers inside Air Force One in this blog post filled with photos of presidential flight food and swag.

  • Team Romney produced a memo going after the president for spending money on negative ads in Florida.

  • First lady Michelle Obama will officially launch a new Obama campaign initiative called “It Takes One” during a visit to Virginia on Friday. The effort is aimed at engaging new supporters and building the campaign’s grassroots organization.

  • A new poll in Nevada from Magellan Strategies has the president up, 50 percent to 46 percent, over Romney.

  • In a [blog Q and A](http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/07/is-campaign-spending-a-lousy-idea-or-does-it-help-the-economy.html ), NewsHour correspondent Paul Solman examines campaign spending as economic stimulus.

  • The Associated Press rounds up Romney’s inner circle on the campaign.

  • Romney prepares to sharpen his foreign policy cred with a trip overseas next week, says this preview by the Washington Post.

  • Crossroads GPS has a new pro-Romney, anti-Obama ad running in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. Watch it here.

  • The Miami Herald writes that the president faces a much more dispirited electorate now than he did four years ago.

  • Judy Woodruff (@judywoodruff) and Mary Jo Brooks (https://twitter.com/maryjobrooks) are on the road with the president in Florida. Follow them, and we’ll have more from the trip on Monday’s NewsHour.

  • Morgan Freeman — yes, the actor who sparked a dustup earlier this month by saying Mr. Obama is not America’s first black president — has donated $1 million to the incumbent’s cause.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman looks at the hunt for split-ticket voters in the Virginia Senate race.

  • FBI agents have raided the home of Trenton, N.J., Mayor Tony Mack. No word yet on what it’s about, but it seems to be in connection with a convicted child molester who had donated to the mayor’s campaign.

  • “Conservatives hate the idea of the lame duck session so much that many of them are willing to support a six-month continuing budget resolution at a higher spending level than called for in their sacrosanct Ryan Budget,” Ben Terris writes for National Journal.

  • How House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia has struggled to balance his strong views on social issues with his party’s presidential candidate’s focus on the economy, by John Stanton of Buzzfeed.

  • Democrats and some Republicans [are asking(http://thehill.com/homenews/house/238927-house-republicans-pressure-gop-leaders-for-farm-bill-vote) for a farm bill vote in the House.

  • The General Services Administration’s spending scandal has blossomed once again, with new reports of a $270,000 bill for an awards ceremony. Best quote, from a statement from Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif.: “Instead of clowns and mind readers, we’ve got violinists and guitarists — GSA has really classed up their act.”

  • In the latest installment of her Notebook, Judy Woodruff writes about finding inspiration when you’re not even looking for it.

  • Here’s the latest celebratory political photo gallery: “How to Travel the World Like Hillary Clinton (in 30 Steps).”

  • The Republican Party of Texas says it is opposed to teaching students critical thinking skills.

Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama will address the shooting in Aurora, Colo., in remarks in Ft. Myers, Fla., at 11:20 a.m. He will then return to the White House. The campaign event in Winter Park, Fla., has been cancelled.

  • Mitt Romney attends a campaign event in Bow, N.H., at 12:10 p.m.

  • Vice President Joe Biden attends an event for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Houston at 1:30 p.m.

  • Ann Romney attends a campaign event in Royal Oak, Mich., at 1:30 p.m.

  • First lady Michelle Obama attends campaign events in Charlottesville, Va., at 1:40 p.m. and Fredericksburg, Va., at 6 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.