Campaign for the Middle Class Goes On

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  August 7, 2012 at 9:11 AM EST

President Obama; photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama greets the Presidential Logistics Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base on Monday before departing for campaign events in Connecticut. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

First, Mitt Romney used Hillary Clinton in an ad attacking President Obama. Now, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has turned to former President Bill Clinton.

The Romney campaign on Tuesday released a new television ad accusing Mr. Obama of “gutting” one of the signature achievements of the 1990s: welfare reform.

The 30-second spot starts on a beaming picture of Clinton signing the legislation as the narrator says the president and a bipartisan Congress “helped end welfare as we know it, by requiring work for welfare.”

The narrator adds: “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.”

You can watch the ad here or below.

Last month, the Obama administration announced a plan to let states seek waivers from the work requirement to experiment with other strategies to help people find jobs. The move was designed to give states more flexibility to find efficiencies in the welfare system.

Steve Peoples of the Associated Press notes that Romney was among “several Republican governors who signed a letter back in 1995 asking for more ‘waiver authority.’”

The welfare attack by the Romney campaign is part of a strategy to frame Mr. Obama as a “big government liberal” and not a bipartisan deal maker of the Clinton mold.

At a campaign event in Connecticut on Thursday night, the president tested a new label for his Republican opponent while criticizing Romney’s tax proposal.

“He’d ask the middle class to pay more in taxes so that he could give another $250,000 tax cut to people making more than $3 million a year,” the president said, drawing boos from the crowd. “It’s like Robin Hood in reverse. It’s Romney Hood,” he added.

The president argued his plan would grow the economy from “the middle class out and the bottom up.”

“That’s the choice in this election,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s why I’m running for a second term as president.”

Polls give the president a lead over Romney when it comes to the question of which candidate would be better for the middle class, an advantage the Republican will likely have to narrow over the next three months if he is to be victorious come November.

FARM BILL

On Monday night, the NewsHour began a series that will explore the issues Congress left undone when members went home for recess.

Desk assistant Meredith Garretson rounded up the most significant measures in this nifty chart. The NewsHour will next explore the cyber-security bill and postal reform.

Judy Woodruff sat down with Daniel Newhauser of Roll Call to dig into the issues surrounding the farm bill. He noted the biggest sticking point is that 80 percent of this bill funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps.

He added that the farm bill has been long known to pit legislators from different agricultural regions against each other as they compete for federal assistance program funding, but the rift over food stamps is especially divisive this year with the Republican Party split over how to walk the line between their drought ravaged constituents and desire to cut government spending.

“It may take nothing short of a grassroots groundswell of constituent anger and pressure from ag groups to get this thing done when members come back,” Newhauser told Judy when asked about the possibilities of the bill passing before it expires in September.

Newhauser noted the current legislation expires Sept. 30. “After that, they would pretty much lose subsidies, lose emergency disaster relief. And right now, the people who are being hit the hardest are livestock producers, cattle, sheep, and also tree producers, because of the drought, but also because of wildfires that have happened in this past year,” he said. “The emergency relief that was passed in the current farm bill actually expired in 2011. So…they have nothing to fall back on right now.”

Watch the segment here or below.

CLIMATE BATTLES

As more of the nation faces severe drought, Hari Sreenivasan talked with James Hansen about his new study linking the phenomenon to climate change.

Watch the conversation here or below:

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • A new Priorities USA television ad stars Joe Soptic, the same GST Steel worker who appeared in earlier ads from Team Obama.

  • The New York Times’ Shaila Dewan looks at the rush to win over single women.

  • The Tampa Bay Times has the latest roundup of Republican National Convention speakers: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Romney’s former rival Rick Santorum and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

  • The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez writes about the narrowing of Romney’s vice presidential short list as names of convention speakers are announced.

  • The Obama campaign keeps up its “man on the street” series by asking people to try an online calculator on camera to demonstrate how Romney’s tax plan would affect them.

  • Team Obama has 50 campaign offices in North Carolina, the News and Observer reports.

  • Going to the Democratic National Convention? There’s an app for that. In a web video, a Democrat says it will put “the whole convention experience at the tip of your fingers.”

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., won’t release his own taxes despite hammering Romney to release his, as the White House attempts to distance the president from the entire Reid kerfuffle.

  • At a fundraiser in Connecticut, the president praised actress Anne Hathaway as the best thing about “The Dark Knight Rises.” Also in attendance at Harvey Weinstein’s home were screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and actress Joanne Woodward.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Roll Call’s Joshua Miller lays out the stakes for Missouri’s tossup Senate primary as Republicans attempt to figure out who will challenge vulnerable Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

  • Shira Toeplitz has the curtain raiser on the Michigan primaries after a trip to the Wolverine State.

  • Monday’s fact from Face the Facts USA was that the United States is the biggest military spender in the world, even with cuts.

  • It’s not just middle-class tax cuts anymore. Mr. Obama supports exempting Olympic athletes from paying taxes stemming from their winnings at the London Games.

  • If you get bored with the 2012 race, remember, it’s never too early to look ahead to 2016. On that note, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is headed to Iowa in September to appear at Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin’s 35th Annual Steak Fry.

  • Crossroads is investing $7.2 million in ads for Senate races in Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Virginia.

  • The Root talks with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter about the state’s controversial voter ID law.

  • Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., posted a web video talking about what he says has been his “very encouraging” rehabilitation since his January stroke.

Alex Bruns and Cassie M. Chew contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Mitt Romney attends a campaign event in Elk Grove Village, Ill., at 11:40 a.m.

  • President Obama meets with the White House Rural Council to discuss ongoing efforts in response to the drought at 4:15 p.m. and attends Washington fundraisers at 5:20 p.m. and 6:20 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.