British Paper Puts Romney on Defense as Foreign Trip Begins

BY Christina Bellantoni and Katelyn Polantz  July 26, 2012 at 9:37 AM EDT

Mitt Romney in London; photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Mitt Romney arrives on Downing Street Thursday to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

It wasn’t the first time an unnamed adviser’s comment to the media sparked a political spat, and it’s highly unlikely to be the last before Nov. 6.

It also wasn’t the headline presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney probably wanted as he began his trip abroad and certainly not what he wanted to be defending.

The Daily Telegraph had a front-page story quoting Romney’s advisers, who said that if he is elected president, he would abandon President Obama’s “‘Left-wing’ coolness towards London.”

From Jon Swaine’s report:

In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.

The Telegraph’s reporting on Romney’s trip and series of meetings with officials in London sparked an aggressive response from the Obama campaign, which highlighted multiple unflattering reports.

Vice President Joe Biden issued a statement after the story was posted, complaining that Romney’s advisers “were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy, attempting to create daylight between the United States and the United Kingdom where none exists.”

Romney’s campaign said the quote was not true and based on false quotes. “If anyone said that, they weren’t reflecting the views of Gov. Romney or anyone inside the campaign,” spokeswoman Andrea Saul told reporters.

It isn’t clear yet if the story will expand into a bigger deal, but the Romney camp has insisted the Republican won’t criticize the president while he’s on foreign soil. Instead, Romney has deployed multiple surrogates in battleground states to do that while he’s away.

A TAXING DEBATE

The Senate voted on competing tax cut proposals on Wednesday, but Public Radio International’s Todd Zwillich told Gwen Ifill, “[I]n practical terms right now, as to your taxes, my taxes right now, there’s not a lot of important implications.”

The Democratic bill, which extends the George W. Bush-era tax cut for incomes up to $250,000, passed the Senate, 51-48. Lawmakers voted, 54-45, to kill the Republican plan, which extended tax cuts for everyone.

While both votes were largely symbolic, Zwillich said it was important foreshadowing. “It’s what the election is about — competing visions of how to reorder income distribution,” he said.

Vice President Biden was on hand in the chamber, in case he was needed as the tie-breaker.

Democrats obviously think the tax cut fight is a winning issue for them. Consider the statement issued by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel after the vote. “Time is up: Are House Republicans for protecting the middle class or for protecting millionaires at the middle class’ expense?” he asked.

Also bubbling on Capitol Hill was a new Congressional Budget Office estimate on the cost of the health care law. The CBO found that the law will cost less than previously expected — because it will cover less people than expected.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision to make state expansion of Medicaid optional, the CBO says the reduction in uninsured Americans will be 30 million, instead of the 33 million previously expected, because many don’t qualify for Medicaid or federal subsidies for health care exchanges. NPR health correspondent Julie Rovner, who as also on Wednesday’s NewsHour, discussed the shift.

Watch the segment here or below:

NEW PLAN FOR NOLA

The New Orleans Police Department announced this week sweeping changes in policies that aim to rebuild community trust and reform an agency that has struggled for years with officer misconduct. The plans come jointly from the city’s administration and the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Wednesday, Gwen spoke with Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas and Assistant U.S. Attorney General Tom Perez about the plan for reform, called a consent decree.

It’s the largest agreement the Justice Department has put in place in a city. Among the challenges the department will face include a $44 million price tag, shifting culture within and earning residents’ trust.

At the same time, the city fights to control a notable level of gun violence.

“The people of New Orleans want us to be successful. They need their police department to be successful,” Serpas said. “And every police officer worth their salt who has worn a police suit more than a day knows this. It is the information-sharing that makes you a successful cop, a successful detective, a successful police department.”

You can read the documents outlining the agreement in this post by NewsHour politics desk assistant Beth Garbitelli.

Watch the segment here or below:

ATTACK AD ON THE BIG SCREEN

Premiering Wednesday night at a low-key release in Washington, ahead of a nationwide opening Friday, was a new documentary-style film that attempts to question President Obama’s loyalty to America while conjecturing what a win by him this November would mean for the country four years from now.

“2016: Obama’s America” is narrated by Dinesh D’Souza, a political commentator made famous by a 2010 Forbes magazine cover story that accused the president of an anticolonialist agenda based on his past. NewsHour online politics production assistant Meena Ganesan attended the premiere and filed this report.

The film deconstructs Mr. Obama’s book, “Dreams From My Father,” and rehashes some of the attacks from 2008, including his relationships with Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. From the keystone pipeline to defense cuts to the recognition of Palestine to what D’Souza labels as “debt as a weapon of mass destruction,” the film saturates its portrait with claims that the president’s policy decisions were not only anticolonialist, but also bad for the country.

“The first time we did not know what change would look like,” D’Souza says as the film concludes. “Now, we do. The future is on you.”

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Deseret News reminds us of Romney as the frugal White Knight of the Salt Lake Olympics and shows how the Games’ CEO could translate into a presidency.

  • “It’s fun to be part of the Olympics in any way you can be a part of it,” Romney told NBC’s Brian Williams when asked about his wife’s dressage horse Rafalca. “It’s Ann’s sport,” he said. “I’m not even sure what day the event goes on.”

  • Romney also told NBC News that his veep pick is not coming before next week.

  • The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas and Carol Lee report that top Obama administration aides Pete Rouse and David Plouffe “have been spending about one day a week at the campaign’s offices.” Communications director Dan Pfeiffer made a trip to Chicago this week “and is expected to spend about one day a week at the headquarters as the campaign season picks up.”

  • The Associated Press has a fact check exploring Romney’s role at Bain Capital after leaving in Febuary 1999. It found that “he stayed in regular contact with his partners over the following months, tending to his partnership interests and negotiating his separation from the company.”

  • Mr. Obama outlined his thoughts on gun control Wednesday.

  • Monroe Anderson of The Root looked at what he dubbed the president’s “careful” Urban League speech.

  • Public Policy Polling’s most recent surveys show Mr. Obama leading Romney by six points in Pennsylvania and 14 points in Michigan.

  • Team Obama says it has “more than 4,200 grass-roots events” across the country planned for this weekend. The push aims to register voters, recruit new volunteers and pull in commitments from undecided voters, the campaign said.

  • Romney is looking to score some big Benjamins (like that) on his trip to London with a pair of overseas fundraisers.

  • Gwen and Judy Woodruff talked about the NewsHour’s campaign coverage at the National Press Club on Tuesday. Watch the video here.

  • Stu Rothenberg breaks down the real impact of political advertising on voters. (Hint: It matters a little and a lot.)

  • Chat with Gwen at the Washington Week website Thursday at 1 p.m.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Roll Call’s Shira Toeplitz does a little congressional psychology with a detailed look at how members who lose in primaries because of redistricting cope in the months after defeat.

  • Dante Chinni of Patchwork Nation looks at the geographic split when it comes to the gun control debate.

  • Judy examines the challenges people with disabilities face when trying to find work.

  • We have an incredible graphic comparison of a sudden freak ice melt in Greenland. Here’s Margaret Warner’s discussion with NASA’s Thomas Wagner from Wednesday’s show.

  • The Washington Post reports that GOP Sens. John McCain, Ariz., Lindsey Graham, S.C., and Kelly Ayotte, N.H., will hold sequester-themed town hall meetings.

  • The cost of television advertising in some swing-state markets has more than doubled since the beginning of the year.

  • Wall Street was shell shocked Wednesday when former CitiGroup CEO Sandy Weill, architect of the modern investment bank, endorsed breaking up the too-big-to-fail banks.

  • The severe drought affecting large parts of the country continues to get worse, and rising food prices could play a role in consumer sentiment as we head into November.

  • At a news conference Thursday at the National Press Club, the Brady Campaign will call on President Obama and Romney to address gun violence.

  • House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Wednesday that he views this session of Congress are the “least productive” he’s seen, even more so than 1995, Beth Garbitelli reports. Hoyer said he thinks Mr. Obama would get re-elected despite employment rates, even if they hover near 8 percent in November. He also said that the “context” for many of the districts that had elected Republicans were more favorable to Democrats than some people realized. “Redistricting did not hurt us as badly as it could have,” Hoyer said.

  • Meet the next celebrity mayor from Alaska. This one likes belly rubs and laissez-faire politics.

  • 2016 hopefuls, beware. “That deep-fried butter thing is sooo last year. But take heart (and heart medication): The Campbell’s Concessions’ Double Bacon Corn Dog will make its debut this year,” the Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Miller writes.

  • Remember that feel-good Mister Rogers Remix, “Garden of Your Mind”? Here’s the next one from PBS to go viral: “Bob Ross Remix: Happy Little Clouds”.

Tiffany Mullon, Meena Ganesan and Alex Bruns contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama has a series of meetings at the White House and will have lunch with Vice President Biden at 12:30 p.m. He will hold a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room at 2:10 p.m. and then he and the vice president will meet privately with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at 4:45 p.m.

  • On the first day of his trip abroad, Mitt Romney will participate in a series of meetings and photo opps with officials in England and will tour the Foreign Office.

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.