President Obama speaks at a campaign event last week at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.
Poll after poll has shown that no single issue outranks the economy in the minds of voters this election year.
And while a pair of recent surveys have shown Mitt Romney with an advantage when it comes to having better ideas to fix the economy, the economic data in key battleground states appear to favor President Obama.
As Paul Wiseman of the Associated Press noted in his must-read story over the weekend, the unemployment rates in Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Nevada all dropped by more than a full percentage point in the past year.
He writes there is yet still more good news for the president: “Unemployment is down over the past year in the 10 other states the Associated Press identifies as swing states: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.”
Those are favorable metrics for the president to be sure, but the question is whether voters will be satisfied that the economy is trending in the right direction — or whether Romney can persuade them that the recovery could have been stronger and faster if different policies had been adopted.
With the GOP nomination essentially Romney’s, a good part of the general election discussion these next few months will be consumed by which Republican the former Massachusetts governor will select as his running mate.
The conversation seemed to be all over the Sunday shows, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on CNN and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on Fox News Sunday.
Both did their best to deflect inquiries on the subject, with Rubio saying he would no longer answer questions about the vice presidential selection process and Daniels insisting he would tell Romney to rethink his choice if he offered the job.
“Up to now it’s all been theoretical. We have a nominee now, and our nominee, Mitt Romney, the leader of the Republican Party, has a vice presidential process in place,” Rubio said. “And I think from this point moving forward, I think it’d be wise for all Republicans to kind of respect that process, myself included, and say moving forward, we’re going to let his process play itself out.”
“I’m not even going to discuss the process anymore. I’m going to be respectful of the process he’s put in place,” he added.
Daniels, meanwhile, said the vice presidential talk was purely “hypothetical” at this point.
“We haven’t had the conversation, and I don’t expect to have it…I promised the people of my state eight full years, and I like living up to that commitment,” he said. “You will remember what William F. Buckley said when he ran for mayor of New York and was asked what he would do if he won. He said he would ‘demand a recount.’ I think I would demand reconsideration and send Mr. Romney a list of people I think could suit better.”
For both men, it wasn’t the first time they had been asked about the subject, and it’s a safe bet that despite their protestations, it won’t be the last.
O’MALLEY FOR PRESIDENT?
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said he’s too focused on his state’s budget problems to consider a presidential bid in four years.
Still, the Democrat’s Friday morning appearance before a handful of reporters at the Third Way, a Washington think tank, billed him as a 2016 Democratic hopeful.
He hasn’t had serious discussions about national ambitions with his family, he said, though his daughters like to point out his name to him when they see it mentioned among a roundup of contenders.
“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, working on it or worrying,” he said.
Instead, the governor is buried beneath budget issues with state legislators. The heavily Democratic Maryland General Assembly ran out of time in its regular session to pass increases or other revenue adjustments, so the state has in place only deep cuts, the so-called “doomsday” scenario.
Statehouse watchers expect O’Malley will call a General Assembly special session to resolve the imbalance. We’ll be following developments there and in Virginia as part of our Divided by D.C. project.
O’Malley also spoke of a referendum on Maryland’s ballot this year that could overturn a same-sex marriage act he signed into law last month. He believes the people of Maryland associate same-sex marriage with religious freedom and will uphold it.
SHIELDS & BROOKS
Mark Shields and David Brooks joined Judy Woodruff on Friday to talk about the Obama vs. Romney matchup, voter volatility and the efforts to win over Latino voters.
Mark talked about a focus group he attended in Florida, where he said GOP voters “have no idea who Mitt Romney is.”
[H]e fails the would-you-like-to-have-a-beer test, completely. Barack Obama is seen as far more approachable and regular, and natural than even — and these were Republican voters. But, as I say, they don’t know where he stands, what he really believes.
They admire the fact that he’s a good husband, good father, good values and has been a success in business. But there isn’t any personal or philosophical connection with him.
David noted that Romney does not like talking about his faith, even though it is a central part of his identity.
I think he’s going to just have to over-leap this hurdle — he doesn’t want to take on Mormonism, and therefore he doesn’t want to talk about the two things that I think are core to his life, his faith and his family.
And I think you have just got to leap that over and say, I’m going talk about my family. I’m going to talk about where we have been from, what we have been through over the generations, being beaten back to poverty and building it up. I think that is who he is.
And Mark said that Romney faces a “terrible dilemma” when it comes to the demographics of the country and his struggles with Latino voters according to recent polling. “You can’t get enough white votes to win by themselves,” he said.
Watch here or below.
In the Doubleheader, Hari Sreenivasan and the guys paid tribute to Fenway Park’s centennial.
Watch that here or below.
SECRET SERVICE INVESTIGATION EXPANDS
The Secret Service scandal that has forced six from their jobs continues to grow as investigations continue.
AP reporter Julie Pace joined Ray Suarez to discuss the breaking news and other developments throughout the week.
As the show went live, the AP reported that one Secret Service member was added to the group under investigation, bringing the total to 23 from the agency and military. Three more of that group left the agency Friday, and President Obama spoke with Secret Service director Mark Sullivan. Also, one agent under investigation was cleared.
You can watch the segment here or below:
That might not be the end of the matter. USA Today has the roundup of discussion on the Sunday morning politics shows.
2012 LINE ITEMS
- Romney announced the support of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Monday. In a statement released by the Romney campaign, Giuliani said, “When I look at where we are as a nation and the challenges we face, I am convinced that Mitt Romney will provide a clear contrast to President Obama.”
- Jackie Calmes writes in the New York Times about the blurry line between presidential vs. political trips.
- Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., told Fox News Sunday that he has no plans to endorse in the 2012 presidential race.
- The New York Times editorial board endorsed Romney ahead of Tuesday’s state primary without cheering his candidacy: “Republicans could have done a lot worse.”
- Dan Balz of the Washington Post calls the general election a “jump ball.”
- BuzzFeed continues the scramble to profile Ann Romney. McKay Coppins looks at her relationships with newspaper writers throughout her husband’s political career.
- BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller reports that former GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman leveled some harsh criticism at his own party, comparing it to China’s Communist Party.
- The Washington Post looked at Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s record on the issue of abortion and whether the potential GOP vice presidential pick might have modified his stance to appeal to a general election electorate.
- Gwen Ifill (@pbsgwen) writes about surrogates gone wild.
Huntsman: It sorta hurt my bid when Michael Moore, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton said they liked me. bit.ly/IjG1Va
— Christian Heinze (@GOP12) April 23, 2012
Obama will be hosting a conference call Tuesday with college journalists. (He doesn’t do that with us!)
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) April 20, 2012
At Red Sox game, President Obama comes on big screen to recognize Fenway’s 100th anniversary, followed by loud chorus of boos.
— Eric Fehrnstrom (@EricFehrn) April 20, 2012
OUTSIDE THE LINES
- Paul Kane of the Washington Post previews the upcoming Robert Draper book on the influence of the House GOP freshman class.
- The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that six-term Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch was forced into a GOP primary against former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist after falling 32 votes short of the 60 percent threshold required to claim the nomination outright at Saturday’s state party convention.
- Arizona’s immigration law is on deck at the Supreme Court.
- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Friday he would prevail in June’s recall election.
- Here’s a name you haven’t heard in awhile: Cynthia McKinney wants her Georgia congressional seat back.
- Roll Call’s Shira Toeplitz got inside the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s opposition research room.
- Charles Colson, President Richard Nixon’s ‘dirty tricks’ aide who later became an evangelical leader, died Saturday at the age of 80.
ON THE TRAIL
All events are listed in Eastern Time.
- President Obama delivers remarks at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., at 9:45 a.m. and presents the Commander-in-Chief Trophy to the Air Force Academy football team in the Rose Garden at 2:25 p.m.
- Vice President Joe Biden travels to Florida and delivers remarks at 12:30 p.m on the administration’s efforts to restore the Everglades.
- Mitt Romney holds a pair of Pennsylvania campaign events: in South Park Township at 8:55 a.m. and Aston at 12:55 p.m.
- Newt Gingrich attends the Brandywine-Wilmington Regional GOP meeting in Wilmington, Del., at 7 p.m.
- Ron Paul has no public campaign events scheduled.
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.