Obama Leads in New Poll, Plays Defense Over Small Business Comment

BY Christina Bellantoni  July 25, 2012 at 9:29 AM EST

Obama-Biden 2012 buttons; photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Campaign buttons are for sale as President Obama speaks at an event in Oakland, Calif., on Monday. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

One thing we know for certain: Polls taken in July don’t tell us what will happen on Election Day.

But what surprised pollsters who conducted the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released late Tuesday is how little things have changed despite major events over the last month.

President Obama holds a lead of 49 percent to Mitt Romney’s 43 percent in the survey and an eight-point lead over Romney in a smaller sample of voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The poll found Romney tops the president among “high-interest voters” who are more likely to head to the polls, 48 percent to 46 percent.

NBC’s political team writes:

What remains remarkable about this presidential contest, according to the NBC/WSJ pollsters, is how stable it has been, despite everything that has occurred in the past month.

For example: The U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Obama’s health care overhaul; the June jobs report, which showed that just 80,000 jobs were created last month; and the daily campaign attacks and counterattacks (including snipes over Obama’s business views, Romney’s unreleased tax returns, and the Republican’s time at Bain Capital).

“So much has happened, and so little has changed,” says (Peter) Hart, the Democratic pollster.

And voters aren’t thrilled with the candidates, NBC adds:

Both presidential candidates have seen their “very negative” ratings increase to all-time highs in the poll. And Romney’s overall favorable/unfavorable score remains a net negative – a trait no other modern presumptive GOP presidential nominee (whether Bob Dole, George W. Bush or John McCain) has shared.

The Wall Street Journal’s write up (subscription only) is here.

The president’s re-election team pointed out the poll shows he leads Romney on the question of looking out for the middle class by 16 points, one reason it plans to continue to paint the Republican as out-of-touch and seeking to reward the wealthy with tax breaks.

Team Obama also flagged a finding in the poll (which you can read in full here) showing 32 percent of registered voters said what they’ve seen, read or heard about Romney’s tax returns and the percentage he has paid in federal income taxes made them feel more negative about him.

Senate Democrats will lend the president a helping hand Wednesday with a vote on his plan to end tax breaks for those earning more than $250,000. Vice President Joe Biden told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that he and the president have a “vision that starts with a strong middle class,” because “the poor have a way up and a way out and the wealthy do very very, very well, thank you.”

Obama administration economic adviser Jason Furman added, “The debate that we’re seeing tomorrow is really a debate over priorities.”

But the Democrats are also on defense, with Mr. Obama appearing in a new television ad seeking to set the record straight on the GOP attacks over what the president said about infrastructure and small businesses.

“Those ads taking my words about small business out of context; they’re flat out wrong. Of course Americans build their own business. Everyday hard-working people sacrifice to meet a payroll, create jobs, and make our economy run,” the president says to the camera. “And what I said was that we need to stand behind them as America always has. By investing in education, training, roads and bridges, research and technology.”

The campaign said the spot will air in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Nevada.

Watch it here or below.

Is the ad a signal that the Romney meme is working, even taken out of context?

Consider this: Team Romney on Wednesday is hosting 24 “We Did Build This” events with supporters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Nevada. Events like this, without the candidate involved, are usually designed to generate local press. ABC has more on the push here.

We’ll keep an eye on how much attention this gets in the battlegrounds.

FOREIGN POLICY PUSH

As Romney embarks on his overseas trip, the NewsHour examined each candidate’s stance on some of the biggest international challenges. Margaret Warner talked with two former ambassadors who serve as foreign policy advisers to the campaigns.

Democrat Tim Roemer, the former ambassador to India and a former member of Congress, boosted his candidate: “President Obama’s track record, his success, his level of achievement, I think, is at historic levels compared to every presidency that we have had so far.” He also stuck to the campaign’s message that Romney has offered few specifics while criticizing the president.

“What is Gov. Romney about? In this speech today, I don’t think we’re clear about it. I don’t think we know what he’d do on Afghanistan,” Roemer said.

Rich Williamson, the former ambassador to the United Nations, defended the presumptive GOP nominee, outlined Romney’s plan for Afghanistan: “Gov. Romney said he is going to listen closely to military advice. He’s going to deal with the neighbors in the area. And he thinks we can get to 2014, but we have to recognize the need to get a vigorous security in place in Afghanistan.” He added that Romney would do nothing to change the withdrawal timetable as it currently stands.

He also said the Republican has been specific on defense cuts he’d like reversed.

Watch Margaret’s segment here or below:

You can watch both VFW speeches here and see Romney’s speech below.

We also did the Political Checklist on this topic, with Ray as a special guest star.

Watch that here or below:

In a related story, Molly Ball of the Atlantic talked with Florida Gov. Rick Scott about his efforts to purge voters from the rolls in his state. Many of them are Hispanic. The Republican told her he “never” thinks about those voters being the difference in a razor-thin election. “I just think about what my job is, which is to make sure we enforce the laws of my state. Non-U.S. citizens do not have the right to vote in my state,” he said.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser looks at how Romney’s position on China evolved over the years.

  • Talking Points Memo’s Evan McMorris-Santoro notes that the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA is using the Olympics to tweak Romney.

  • The president stars in a new web video rebutting Romney on “You Didn’t Build That”-gate.

  • The Fix put together a list of the million-dollar babies of the 2012 election.

  • Politico’s Kate Nocera sees the Audit the Fed effort as Texas GOP Rep. Ron Paul’s “swan song.”

  • BuzzFeed starts its own veepstakes watch.

  • Sheldon Adelson is funding a new group targeting Jewish voters, the New York Times reports.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • In a surprise move, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, appears in an ad endorsing Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono in her Hawaii Senate primary. “Here’s what’s important, Hawaii: If you’re looking for a United States senator who doesn’t just talk about ‘bipartisanship,’ but actually knows how to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done — Mazie Hirono will be that senator,” the longtime lawmaker says.

  • Roll Call’s politics team is out with its much awaited House race ratings and ranks 24 as tossups. Check out every seat here.

  • It’s still close in the Massachusetts Senate race.

  • Watch Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly’s newest ad in the Indiana Senate race.

  • Gwen Ifill talked with Elton John about the AIDS epidemic. The extended interview is here.

  • Don’t miss Miles O’Brien’s piece about getting to know Sally Ride.

  • Zerlina Maxwell writes for the Grio about the gun control debate sparked by the events in Aurora, Colo.

  • Rapper Ice T thinks the massacre should not lead to more gun control.

  • Think a VP pick doesn’t matter? Ask George McGovern.

  • New Mexicans are pretty sure aliens did not land in Roswell in 1947. Sixty-one percent think they did not, and only 21 percent think they did, Public Policy Polling found.

NewsHour politics desk assistant Beth Garbitelli contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Jill Biden will announce a new initiative for veterans at the National Association of Social Workers national practice conference in Washington, D.C., at 10 a.m.

  • President Obama attends a private fundraiser in New Orleans at 4:50 p.m., speaks at a campaign event at the House of Blues in New Orleans at 6:45 p.m. and gives a speech at the National Urban League convention at 7 p.m.

  • Vice President Biden speaks at the International Association of Fire Fighters 51st Convention in Philadelphia at 1 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney heads to England to begin his trip abroad. He will tape an interview with NBC News in London.

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.