House GOP Pushes Health Care Repeal as Candidates Target Battleground States

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  July 11, 2012 at 9:10 AM EST

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks after Tuesday’s House Republican Conference meeting. Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.

The Morning Line

Some things aren’t hard to predict.

The Republican-led House of Representatives will render judgment on President Obama’s signature health care law for the 31st time on Wednesday. The final tally isn’t a certainty, but the result will be the same: It will still be the law of the land tomorrow.

The president and his Republican rival Mitt Romney are likely to engage on everything but health care, as they are keeping a focus on bread-and-butter issues and tax policy.

But the Nov. 6 election remains a close contest that will come down to energy, enthusiasm and which man gives voters the most confidence that he will improve the nation’s economic picture.

In many ways, Mr. Obama and Romney are waging individual state contests, storming repeatedly across Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia with tailored versions of their national message.

The Washington Post’s Amy Gardner and Dan Balz took a look Wednesday at the president’s relationship with the Hawkeye State. They write that the president’s re-election team has an “extensive field operation” of 18 offices across the state, “far more than Romney has.” But Democrats acknowledge that Romney has an advantage in voter registration and thanks to relentless ads attacking Mr. Obama during the primary season.

Iowa appears to have reverted to the kind of closely divided politics of the previous decade, when Vice President Al Gore won the state by less than a percentage point in 2000 and President George W. Bush followed with a similarly razor-thin victory in 2004.

Other battlegrounds are quite competitive, but Iowa stands apart. It is hotly contested despite the bond Mr. Obama established with many voters here four years ago. And unlike in some other battleground states, such as Virginia or Colorado, the elements of the Obama coalition that can provide protection against the currents flowing this year — high numbers of African-American and Latino voters and a younger, more mobile population — do not exist in Iowa.

Iowa has more of a fondness for Romney this time around, given that he invested time and money in the state and came within a few votes of winning the caucuses (after initially being declared the victor) in January.

Check out the TPM Polltracker average, showing Mr. Obama and Romney basically tied in Iowa.

Many of these battleground states are likely to remain close, even if national polls suggest one man is performing better among the electorate. That’s one reason you’ll continue to see the president and Romney target specific demographic groups to influence the margins.

NEW SPANISH SPOT

Romney is out Wednesday with a new Spanish-language television ad starring his son Craig outlining his father’s biography.

Among the points the younger Romney highlights are his parents’ 40-plus-year marriage and big family (five children, 18 grandchildren).

Team Romney says the spot will air in “target markets across the country” and is part of its outreach to the Hispanic community that includes the launch of a Spanish-language website.

Polls have shown Romney trailing the president with Hispanic voters by more than 40 percentage points, a deficit the Republican must close if he is going to have a shot at winning key states such as Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico come November.

Watch the ad here or below.

EXPLORING THE ‘TEAVANGELICAL’ MOVEMENT

Judy Woodruff spoke recently with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network about his new book, “The Teavangelicals: The Inside Story of How the Evangelicals and the Tea Party are Taking Back America.”

Brody defines “Teavangelicals” as a “huge” force in American politics. “They’re the worker bees,” Brody said, but he added that some in the movement still have reservations about Romney as the Republican nominee.

“The question for the Teavangelicals out there is that they may have been not all that enthused about Mitt Romney in the GOP primary, but they will most likely vote for Romney,” Brody said. “The question is, will they bring a friend and will they organize? And I think that’s the key. There’s a difference between support and enthusiastic support.”

Brody also detailed his reporting on the Romney campaign’s outreach to evangelical leaders, including the Republican’s early meetings with key figures in New Hampshire in 2006. He said the leaders are looking for two things in particular from Romney.

“One is a good vice presidential pick. That’s extremely important,” Brody said. “The second one is a stump speech that in essence takes a page out of Rick Santorum’s playbook and is able to weave a pro-family message based on Judeo-Christian principles in this country, a lot of what we have heard before from the — quote — ‘religious right,’ but not necessarily cloaked in religious right language, but more with the morality and the immorality of what’s going on from a fiscal standpoint in this country.”

Watch the interview here or below.

NewsHour’s politics production assistant Alex Bruns filed this complementary sidebar to the Brody discussion, taking the temperature of some evangelical leaders about Romney’s candidacy.

You can explore which states have the largest percentage of evangelicals in our Vote 2012 Map Center.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Team Obama is out with another web video Wednesday focused on Romney’s offshore investment accounts.

  • The latest Quinnipiac University national poll of registered voters showed the president taking 46 percent, with Romney getting 43 percent. That’s nearly unchanged from April’s survey that had Mr. Obama leading 46 percent to 42 percent. The poll found a big marriage gap, with Romney winning married voters 51 percent to 38 percent and the president leading among unmarried voters 54-34.

  • A new Reuters/Ipsos survey found the president leading Romney among registered voters, 49 percent to 43 percent. His improved standing was fueled by a rise in optimism about the future, with the number of Americans who think the country is on the wrong track dipping five percentage points to 58 percent, the wire service reported.

  • Roll Call’s Jonathan Strong follows up on his scoop about House Speaker John Boehner’s remarks at a private fundraiser, where the Republican leader said some people won’t be excited to vote for Romney.. “I’m going to be enthusiastic about voting for Gov. Romney in November,” Boehner said in the the follow-up.

  • Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is talking with the Romney campaign, he told ABC News.

  • The left-leaning Public Policy Polling found Mr. Obama at 47 percent and Romney at 46 percent in a new poll of North Carolina voters. The president also leads in Virginia.

  • David Axelrod briefed House Democrats on Tuesday on Team Obama’s nine-state campaign strategy, Roll Call’s Steven Dennis and Daniel Newhauser report.

  • In a speech at the NAACP convention, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder compared voter ID laws to “poll taxes.”

  • During a speech to the National Council of LaRaza, Vice President Joe Biden needled Romney about not releasing multiple years of his taxes. “When his father, George Romney, was a candidate was for President in 1968, he released 12 years of tax returns because, as he said, ‘One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show.’ His son has released one year of his tax returns. Making a lie of the old adage: Like father, like son,” Biden said. “Mitt Romney wants you to show your papers, but he won’t show us his.”

  • MoveOn is smacking Romney over the Koch Brothers.

  • Team Romney started selling throwback T-shirts in the style of George Romney’s White House bid.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Judy’s Notebook this week focuses on the health care fight.

  • The Washington Post reports that in 2009, as the Tea Party tax battle raged, people were sending the “smallest portion of their income to fed govt since 1979.”

  • On MSNBC Tuesday, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel lashed out at Republicans over health care and talked about the effects Wednesday’s vote will have in House races.

  • House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters Tuesday that he believes some Democrats will join Republicans on the repeal vote, but he added, “[T]here may be some Republicans who may bail as well.”

  • Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez became the latest Democrat on Tuesday to call on Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to provide more information about his leave from Congress.

  • Michigan voters will choose a replacement for Thad McCotter on Sept. 5.

  • Rep. Vern Buchanan was cleared by the House Ethics Committee on Tuesday of charges that he misled Congress about his finances. The Hill’s Jordy Yager reports that the committee is still investigating whether the Florida Republican “attempted to procure a false affidavit from a witness testifying about allegations of a straw-donor scheme.”

  • Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad looks at how the ethics probe into Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley’s activities might impact the Senate contest in Nevada.

  • Crossroads GPS launched $2.5 million worth of ads in Virginia, Ohio and Montana.

  • Senate Democrats may not pass any appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, Roll Call’s Humberto Sanchez reports.

  • Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly has a new basketball-focused ad in his Senate race against Richard Mourdock in Indiana. It paints Mourdock, who defeated Sen. Dick Lugar in a GOP primary this spring, as uncompromising and inflexible. Watch it here.

  • The Democratic group House Majority PAC raised $4.3 million in the second quarter.

  • Service Employees International Union has a new health-care focused radio ad and mail campaign geared toward influencing Latino voters. It focuses on Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia. “It would be a disaster if up to 9 million Hispanics lose our access to health insurance or if insurance companies once again can deny us coverage if we are sick,” a narrator says in the ad, which you can listen to here.

  • Harvard’s Institute of Politics announced its class of fall semester fellows: John Carr of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle; Fortune’s Nina Easton; strategist Mark McKinnon; strategist Brett O’Donnell; and former White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation aide Sonal Shah. They will lead informal, off-the-record study groups for undergraduate students.

  • Heard on the Hill finds that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s name has made it into the Urban Dictionary.

  • Cookie Monster has a sense of humor, apparently.

Cassie M. Chew contributed to this report

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Mitt Romney addresses the NAACP National Convention in Houston at 10:30 a.m.

  • President Obama has no public events scheduled. He will meet with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at 12 p.m. and Democratic congressional leaders at 2:15 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.