Economic Gains in Key States Pose Messaging Dilemma for Romney

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  June 21, 2012 at 9:03 AM EDT


Mitt Romney campaigns in Frankenmuth, Michigan Tuesday. Photo by: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Morning Line
For Mitt Romney, the improving jobs picture in some battleground states led by Republican governors has made it a bit tougher to label President Obama’s economic record a failure.

And it seems that the Romney campaign has even gone so far as to ask one state executive to downplay job gains in his state, reports Bloomberg’s Michael C. Bender.

Here are the top two graphs from Bender’s piece:

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign asked Florida Governor Rick Scott to tone down his statements heralding improvements in the state’s economy because they clash with the presumptive Republican nominee’s message that the nation is suffering under President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Scott, a Republican, was asked to say that the state’s jobless rate could improve faster under a Romney presidency, according to the people, who asked not to be named.

The piece highlights a conundrum that the Morning Line has noted here before — GOP governors with economies performing above the national average are walking a tightrope as they advocate for the presumptive GOP nominee to win on Nov. 6.

At a breakfast with reporters in Washington last week Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., was asked about the possibility voters would reward the president for the improving jobs picture in states like his.

Walker responded: “On the surface level obviously voters feel better if the economy is better and a lot of times they don’t discern who is responsible. If you look at Wisconsin and a lot of other key states Republican governors have put in place aggressive policies that have helped turn the economy around. So, one of the beneficiaries of that might be the president.”

He added: “The question that voters have to look at is, why in those states where the economy is starting to turn around, why is that, and what will help us further improve the economy?”

For more on the contrast in framing between Romney and some Republican governors be sure to go back and read the Associated Press story by Bob Lewis and Phillip Rawls from last month. And you can also see in Cassie Chew’s video story for the NewsHour how one GOP governor in particular — Virginia’s Bob McDonnell — is showcasing the economic progress in his state.

A Bloomberg poll released this week found that a plurality of Americans said they are better off now than when Mr. Obama took office in 2009. Thirty-six percent responded that they were worse off.

Such numbers are welcome news for the president — and for the governors in the states where voters see an improvement in their economic situation — but it leaves Romney with the argument that things would have been better off if not for the president’s policies.

WOOING WOMEN

President Obama’s re-election campaign released a new television ad Thursday that appeals directly to a demographic that could decide the campaign: women.

The new 30-second spot — called “First Law” — highlights the fact that the first bill the president signed after taking office was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

“President Obama knows that women being paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men isn’t just unfair, it hurts families,” the narrator in the ad says.

You can watch the ad here or below:

“First Law” will air in seven battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.

The Obama campaign described the latest commercial as “the first in a series of television advertisements that highlight President Obama’s commitment to issues important to women and their families.”

Poll after poll has shown the president leading Romney with women, and he will need to do well with that demographic — especially in the states mentioned above — if he hopes to win a second term.

In 2008, exit polls showed Mr. Obama bested Arizona Sen. John McCain by 13 points, 56 to 43 percent, among female voters.

HELD IN CONTEMPT

The House Oversight Committee passed judgment Wednesday on Attorney General Eric Holder, voting along party lines to recommend he be held in contempt by the full House when lawmakers consider the matter on the floor next week.

The partisan snipe fest was mostly focused on Holder’s handling of documents and information tied to the botched gun-smuggling probe known as “Operation Fast and Furious.”

On the NewsHour, Ray Suarez talked with two members of the committee, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, after the vote.

Mica defended the GOP’s move as “the one means we have now,” since, he said, Holder did not fully cooperate with Chairman Darrell Issa.

But Kucinich argued it was not fair to put the blame for Fast and Furious, which claimed the life of a U.S. border patrol agent, on Holder.

“I’m concerned about making this a criminal matter, especially when the attorney general himself hasn’t personally been implicated in any of this. And this is a very serious matter to put it on an individual who it can’t be said that this was his personal responsibility,” Kucinich said.

Watch the segment here or below.

REPORTERS TROUNCE MEMBERS

The Bad News Babes were victorious over female members of Congress in Wednesday’s fourth charity softball game on Capitol Hill. The roughly $50,000 raised went to the Young Survival Coalition, a foundation focused on breast cancer awareness.

The press team won 13-10, and pitcher Abby Livingston of Roll Call was named MVP.

Roll Call’s Emily Cahn notes that members also were given awards despite the bruising:

On the Members’ side, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a Senate co-captain, was named the offensive MVP for her pitching skills. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) was named defensive MVP, and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) was named the team’s overall MVP.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Sen. Amy Klobuchar mixed it up as the announcers of the game, with an occasional aside from Sen. Chuck Schumer. The Washington Post’s Emily Heil was on the scene. In her report, she notes that Mitchell gave out personal details as players took to the mound: “Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) ‘tap-danced as a young girl’ and Rep. Shelley Moore-Capito met her husband on a blind date, the crowd learned.”

The NewsHour caught up with the teams as they practiced ahead of the big game, and asked why the charity matchup was so important. Watch Paula Rogo’s piece here or below.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Romney has $17 million in the bank. The president’s re-election team has $109.7 million in cash on hand.

  • The Republican National Committee posted a record fundraising month in May, raising $34.3 million. The RNC now has $60.8 million in the bank, and a release noted the party has “surpassed fundraising for all of 2011.” The Democratic National Committee raised $20 million and has just shy of $30 million in cash on hand.

  • Sheldon Adelson’s wife got a $5 million refund from the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC.

  • A new Quinnipiac University poll of Florida voters released Thursday found the president with a 46 to 42 percent lead over Romney in the Sunshine State. That’s a 10-point swing from last month when Romney held a 47 to 41 percent advantage.

  • The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker reports on Romney’s posh weekend donor retreat in Park City, Utah. The group of expected attendees includes potential vice presidential running mates Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and South Dakota Sen. John Thune.

  • Gallup found that Romney faces the same bias of his Mormon faith as his father George did when he ran for president in 1967. Eighteen percent of respondents said they would not vote for a well-qualified presidential candidate who happened to be Mormon, nearly identical to the 17 percent who felt that way in 1967.

  • It looks as if MoveOn is ready to endorse the president for re-election. The group emailed members Wednesday with a snap poll on the issue. A few hours before voting was set to close Thursday morning, the group’s site noted that more than 90 percent favor an endorsement, which comes with a promise to “campaign hard” for Mr. Obama.

  • BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins crunches the numbers on some recent slideshows the site did of the president and Romney as both children and young men, and finds Romney is “terrible for traffic.”

  • The gay conservative group GOProud endorsed Romney Wednesday, noting: “The truth is that gay people are living in the disastrous failed Obama economy too.”

  • Concerned Women for America is running a 60-second spot against the president’s health care reform law in Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Mexico.

  • “Senior officials in President Obama’s re-election campaign predicted Wednesday that Republicans will spend upwards of $1.2 billion on television ads in the general election, a sum they are unlikely to match,” the Washington Post’s Rachel Weiner and Chris Cillizza write, noting that, of course, the remarks are campaign spin.

  • Huffington Post’s Jon Ward explores “obscure rule change made four years ago by the Republican Party” that could be a headache for Romney and present an opportunity for supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

  • No surprise here: Mr. Obama holds a large lead over Romney in Washington state, and Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell is safe for re-election.

  • Cassie M. Chew reports from New Orleans: As the Obama administration continues its recovery from the president’s “private sector is doing fine” remark, Vice President Joe Biden made a campaign stop Wednesday night in New Orleans. During an impassioned speech before the National Association of Black Journalists, he reminded the audience of his humble beginnings. Biden said the middle class is not doing fine as the country struggles to recover from the economic downturn and that Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the Republican plan to reduce the deficit with spending cuts and no additional tax revenue will lead to the continual erosion of the middle class.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Predictions are in for the Supreme Court decision on health care, and it looks not optimistic for the individual mandate. Of course, these predictions may be moot by 10:10 a.m. Join us on http://www.pbsnewshour.org at 10 a.m. Thursday for ScotusBlog’s live coverage of the court’s opinions.

  • A new Bloomberg News poll found that just one-third of Americans (34 percent) believe the president’s health care overhaul should be repealed. Forty-three percent want small modifications to the law while 15 percent would prefer the policy be left alone.

  • NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown talked with former President Jimmy Carter about the elections in Egypt. Listen to their conversation.

  • In her newly dubbed “Judy’s Notebook,” NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff writes about her talk last week with Sen. John McCain, and how his legacy may end up being campaign finance issues.

  • Watch Gwen Ifill’s report on the future of the labor movement.

  • The Daily Caller finds two more Democrats — Reps. Kathy Hochul and Bill Owens of New York — skipping the Democratic National Convention.

  • A new Bloomberg poll shows Democrats leading Republicans 48 percent to 41 percent in a generic Congressional ballot.

  • The Washington Post’s Rosalind Helderman finds “something is missing from the campaign ads of men and women running for Congress: the word ‘Congress.’” She writes that the absence “is especially pronounced in the case of incumbents who are asking voters to reelect them in November.”

  • The Senate is up for grabs in November, Stu Rothenberg writes in his column for Roll Call.

  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outraised its Republican counterpart in May.

  • Former Sen. George LeMieux dropped his bid for the GOP nomination in Florida’s U.S. Senate race and endorsed Rep. Connie Mack. The new Quinnipiac poll of Florida voters mentioned above showed Mack trailing Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by four points, 43 to 39 percent.

  • Roll Call’s Emma Dumain reports that Congress is deciding on whether D.C. can spend money in the event of a federal government shutdown.

  • Margaret Warner’s latest dispatch from Mexico ahead of the big elections.

  • Welcome former candidate Jon Huntsman to the Brookings Institution.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama delivers remarks on student loan interest rates at the White House at 1:40 p.m.

  • Vice President Biden hosts an 11:30 a.m. event at the White House to announce the launch of a new Public Service Announcement about dating violence.

  • Mitt Romney addresses the NALEO 29th Annual Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at 12 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 and @meenaganesan.