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The Morning Line: Frontrunner Romney Officially Launches 2012 Campaign

BY David Chalian and Terence Burlij  June 2, 2011 at 9:06 AM EST

The frontrunner, Mitt Romney, makes it official and lays out his rationale for seeking to lead the country four years after he failed in his first attempt to do so.

The former Massachusetts governor will take the stage at a chili cookout at Doug and Stella Scamman’s Bittersweet Farm in Stratham, NH at 12:30 p.m. ET. (Doug is a former New Hampshire House Speaker.)

According to a senior Romney adviser: “Voters will hear a serious speech for serious times. Mitt Romney will talk about the number one issue facing the nation, and the reason he is compelled to get into this race — jobs and the economy.”

“A few years ago, Americans did something that was, actually, very much the sort of thing Americans like to do: We gave someone new a chance to lead; someone we hadn’t known for very long, who didn’t have much of a record but promised to lead us to a better place,” Romney is expected to say according to excerpts of his prepared remarks obtained by The Morning Line.

“At the time, we didn’t know what sort of a President he would make.  It was a moment of crisis for our economy, and when Barack Obama came to office, we wished him well and hoped for the best.”

“Now, in the third year of his four-year term, we have more than promises and slogans to go by. ”

“Barack Obama has failed America,” he plans to add in TV sound-bite friendly fashion.

Much ink has been spilled and airtime consumed looking at Romney’s flaws. They include his Massachusetts health care plan, which includes an individual mandate to which conservatives are opposed; lingering questions from his 2008 run about his authenticity; malleability on issues to fit the crowd he is wooing; and his — at times — apparent inability to emotionally connect with voters.

The Democratic National Committee plans to keep up the flip-flopper frame on Romney with this web video out Thursday.

Today, he will seek to portray himself as the person best equipped to jump-start the American economy and create jobs. He has spent the last several months saying that the economic issues driving the current political environment are in his wheelhouse and his launch marks the beginning of a journey to prove to Republican primary voters that he is the man for this moment.

Romney has displayed an impressive discipline in the run up to Thursday’s announcement. He stated months ago that one thing he intends to do differently in this campaign when compared to the last one (other than winning this time), is to avoid distraction by whatever the 24/7 media machine is seeking to pump out that day. He, instead, said he wants to simply stick to his game plan and talking about his solutions to sparking economic growth.

To his credit, he has done this successfully for the better part of six months. The spotlight will grow much brighter from this point forth, but even on this day when Sarah Palin is stealing some Granite State attention by attending a clambake on the Seacoast, the team around Romney seems unwilling to be taken off course.

As we have mentioned before, Romney’s fundraising prowess also has much to do with his frontrunner status. National Journal reports his breakneck paced fundraising schedule for the month of June is clearly aimed at delivering a serious blow to his opponents when the second quarter numbers get reported in mid-July.

And Jonathan Martin of Politico explains why expectations in the first-in-the-nation primary state are sky high for Romney.

Romney will hold a town hall meeting Friday morning in New Hampshire before beginning his whirlwind national fundraising tour in earnest.

TO THE LIMIT

Wednesday’s meeting at the White House between President Obama and House Republicans appeared to do little in the way of moving the debate forward when it comes to negotiations over raising the debt limit, but House Speaker John Boehner still wants a deal done in the next month.

“I just think we’re now in June, this really needs to be done over the next month if we’re serious about no brinksmanship, no rattling investors,” the Ohio congressman told reporters in his Capitol suite, according to Politico’s Josh Bresnahan and Jake Sherman.

The president will meet Thursday with House Democrats, the final round in his series of conversations with members from both parties in both houses of Congress.

Those discussions have been taking place while Vice President Biden leads negotiations with a bipartisan group of six House and Senate lawmakers to work out a deal on spending cuts to go along with a debt ceiling increase.

While those talks have been described as productive, significant differences remain, especially on raising taxes and addressing entitlement reforms.

The Washington Post’s Zachary Goldfarb and Paul Kane report Rep. Boehner contends lawmakers will come close to the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the country’s borrowing limit the way negotiations are currently proceeding.

“The issues they’re dealing with have to be dealt with. They are making some marginal progress, but at the rate that that’s gone, we’ll be right up against the wall,” the speaker said.

While Rep. Boehner has acknowledged the potential risks of waiting so long, other members of his conference do not appear to be as concerned.

The White House will dispatch Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to Capitol Hill Thursday to meet with House GOP freshmen to detail the potential consequences of not raising the debt limit. Geithner has said that the country could default on its obligations if the ceiling is not lifted by August.

TWITTER TROUBLES

Congressman Anthony Weiner gave a series of media interviews Wednesday to try and squash the brewing controversy over a lewd photo that appeared on his Twitter feed last week, which the New York Democrat claims was the result of a hacker.

But, the lawmaker’s answers to questions from reporters only raised more questions.

Rep. Weiner was asked by MSNBC’s Luke Russert if he could confirm that the image in question — a waist-down photograph of a man in his underwear — was not him.

“I can’t say with certitude,” Rep. Weiner said. “My system was hacked. Pictures can be manipulated.”

At a press conference later in the day Wednesday, Rep. Weiner continued to insist he was not responsible for posting the image, which was sent over the weekend to a Seattle college student who follows him on the social networking site.

“We know for sure I didn’t send this photograph,” the congressman said.

Pressed if suggestive photos of him exist, Rep. Weiner responded with a non-answer: “There are photographs of me in the world, yes.”

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer pressed the congressman on that issue. “You would know if this was your underpants,” Blitzer said.

“It certainly doesn’t look familiar to me,” Rep. Weiner responded.

The congressman, who is believed to be considering a possible run for mayor of New York, said he had hired a “security firm” to investigate the matter, but doesn’t want officials to investigate because “it is not a national security thing.”

“We’re trying to figure out exactly what happened here,” Rep. Weiner said.

At this point, he’s not the only one, and the longer questions about the incident linger, the more attention it’s likely to receive.

OPENING BID

The Obama campaign is doing some expectation setting about its second quarter fundraising haul.

According to Ken Thomas of the Associated Press, the president’s re-election campaign has instructed donors that they want to raise $60 million by the end of June, when the fundraising quarter comes to a close.

“A major donor involved in the re-election campaign’s fundraising said most of the $60 million had already been raised. The donor spoke on condition of anonymity because that person was not authorized to speak publicly.”

“Obama is expected to headline fundraisers in Miami, Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia before the end of the fundraising quarter on June 30, people familiar with the events said. First lady Michele Obama is expected to hold fundraisers in California in June, they said.”

If $60 million is the leaked expectations setting number, the guessing game about just how much over that amount the Obama team will actually bring in the door is set to begin.

The Obama campaign raised $750 million in 2008. Many observers believe the president’s team may raise more than $1 billion for his re-election effort.

For more coverage, visit our politics page.

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