Obama, Romney Look to Define Campaign on Their Terms

President Obama returns to the White House Wednesday night after campaigning in Texas. Photo by Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

The Morning Line

Can President Obama’s re-election team define Mitt Romney before the economy defines the Democrat’s presidency?

That has become the race within the race of the 2012 campaign as three consecutive months of discouraging employment reports have taken their toll on the president’s standing among the American people.

The latest New York Times-CBS News poll released Wednesday found a downward shift in public opinion about the president’s handling of the economy, with 39 percent saying they approved and 55 percent responding they disapproved. In April’s Times-CBS survey the president had a 44 percent approval mark on the economy compared to 48 percent disapproval.

Sixty-four percent of respondents said Mr. Obama’s policies contributed a lot or some to the economic downturn, although 81 percent said the same for former President George W. Bush.

The Times-CBS poll was in the field as the president’s campaign hammered away at Romney’s refusal to release additional years of his tax returns and his connections to the private equity firm Bain Capital.

Six in 10 respondents told pollsters that Romney’s experience as the head of Bain would have no effect on their vote. Fourteen percent said it would make them more likely to vote for him while 23 percent said it makes them less likely to cast their ballot for Romney.

Seventy-three percent of those surveyed also said that Romney’s personal wealth, estimated at upwards of $250 million, would have no effect on their vote.

Still, there remains a perception that the policies Romney would pursue if elected would benefit the wealthy over middle class and poor Americans.

A majority of respondents — 53 percent — said the policies of a Romney administration would favor the rich while 11 percent said they would favor the middle class and two percent said they would favor the poor. Thirty percent responded that the GOP candidate’s proposals would treat all groups equally.

The poll also shows the two candidates in a dead heat nationally, with Romney at 47 percent to 46 for the president. That is within the poll’s sampling error of plus-or-minus three percentage points. The president and Romney were tied at 46 percent each in April.

But the winner of November’s election will likely be decided by a few key states that are receiving the bulk of the attention from the two campaigns.

One of the most highly sought-after battlegrounds is Virginia, where the president and Romney are deadlocked at 44 percent apiece according to a new survey by Quinnipiac University. Last month the president held a 47 to 42 percent lead in that poll.

Half of Virginia voters say the president does not deserve to be re-elected and Romney holds a narrow three-point advantage, 47 to 44 percent, when it comes to which candidate would do a better job on the economy.

There is strong support among Virginians, however, for the president’s proposal to raise income tax rates on households earning more than $250,000 per year, with 59 percent backing the policy compared to 36 percent opposed.

Game out scenarios with the NewsHour’s Vote 2012 Map Center. You can share your Electoral College map with your friends using Twitter and Facebook.


In Washington, pundits and journalists are speculating incessantly about when Romney will announce his running mate.

Wednesday, the presumptive GOP nominee told a town hall in Bowling Green, Ohio he had not yet made his decision, but assured a concerned woman who asked if he would have his “ear to the tea party” that the person he chooses will “have conservative principles.”

Romney next week will embark on a trip to London and Israel, so the smart money is on the news coming either before he leaves, or once he gets back. A fundraising contest for Romney supporters to donate for a chance to sit down with the new veep pick closes in 24 hours, and people have even been reading between those tea leaves.

As timing for the major event is still unclear, plans for Romney’s nominating convention are taking shape. Officials let word leak out that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be the keynote speaker in Tampa, a nod to voters who had wanted the Republican to be considered for the No. 2 position.

Two new, less formal polls look at his question as well, with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leading the pack in a Fox News poll and Sen. Marco Rubio as the favorite of 8,000 activists surveyed by the Tea Party Express. In that poll, conducted via mail-in ballot, Rubio led Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and Rep. Allen West of Florida.

And keeping speculation of a northern pick alive, the New Hampshire Union Leader’s John DiStaso reports Romney will campaign with Sen. Kelly Ayotte at a lumber wholesaler in Bow, N.H., on Friday.

Roll Call’s Jonathan Strong looked at an obscure bill that involves Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. He writes:

At the height of campaign season, and while under extra scrutiny as a potential vice presidential pick, Sen.Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is on a quixotic bid to reform how the miscellaneous tariff bill is crafted. In the process, he’s going against the Republican Ways and Means Committee chairman — a close friend, as it happens — while giving bipartisan cover to a vulnerable Democratic Senator.

We may be hearing from Romney as early as this afternoon. Watch the NewsHour’s site for the latest on the veepstakes.


  • The Romney campaign is out with a new web video Thursday that targets comments made by the president last week in Virginia about how businesses are built. The clip features the owner of metal fabricating company in New Hampshire and some background music that sounds a bit like the Friday Night Lights theme music.

You can watch the video here or below.

  • The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Dan Eggen write that Romney’s London fundraisers next week will take the GOP candidate “to the heart of London’s scandal-ridden banking industry.”

  • An Obama campaign aide outlined the president’s new push for the day as he begins a Florida barnstorm — saying that Mr. Obama “will once again lay out the choice … between rebuilding this economy from the middle-out, or the top down.” The remarks will focus on a new Sunshine State-focused report released by the campaign that says Romney would harm Medicare.

  • The Associated Press’ Phil Elliot looks closely at the fundraising numbers.

  • The Republican National Committee has a new web video criticizing Mr. Obama by the numbers: 10 golf trips, 106 fundraisers, 0 meetings of his jobs council.

  • A new poll from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling found the president’s once-solid lead in New Mexico slipping.

  • In The Grio, Perry Bacon explores what the president would do in a second term.

  • BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski notes that Romney’s biography on the website for the Salt Lake City Olympics lists him as “the founder and CEO of Bain Capital.”

  • Team Obama has another man on the street video targeting Romney. This focuses in on his campaign’s use of the term “retroactively” to describe his Bain tenure.

  • A new Latino Decisions poll commissioned by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and America’s Voice showed the president winning 70 percent of the Latino vote compared to 22 percent for Romney.

  • Politico looks at who could be the Sheldon Adelson of the left.

  • The American Bridge 21st Century and Courage Campaign super PAC on Wednesday pushed a new web site called Mitt Gets Worse that they are calling an “oral history project and rapid response campaign to educate voters about Mitt Romney’s extreme anti-LGBT agenda.” Here is the inaugural video, focusing on the marriage fight in Massachusetts when Romney was governor.

  • Judy Woodruff (@judywoodruff) and Mary Jo Brooks (@maryjobrooks) are on the road with the president Thursday and Friday. Follow them!

  • Both NPR and the Los Angeles Times took a look at the voter ID law under scrutiny in Pennsylvania. Ray Suarez will have a report on the issue next week on the NewsHour.



  • The NewsHour examined the Boy Scouts’ decision to reaffirm its policy excluding scouts and scout leaders who are openly gay.

Watch below.

  • U.S. Capitol Police officers are pushing back against efforts by their bosses to impose a strict new dress code on them that would force officers with tattoos to wear long-sleeved uniforms – even in Washington’s brutal summer heat, John Stanton writes for BuzzFeed.

  • So, this happened.

  • The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe reports Sen. John McCain pushed back Wednesday at unproven allegations by House Republicans that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is part of a conspiracy by the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the U.S. government.

  • McClatchy’s Kevin Hall and David Lightman report most members of Congress do not release their tax returns. “Just 17 out of the 535 members of Congress released their most recent tax forms or provided some similar documentation of their tax liabilities in response to requests from McClatchy over the last three months,” they write.

  • D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is really, really unpopular.

  • The cost of Michelle Obama’s Aspen ski trip has some conservatives annoyed.

  • Politico’s Seung Min Kim on the domestic cuts that aren’t getting as much attention in the sequestration debate.

  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $18.1 million in the second quarter.

  • Stu Rothenberg lays out his take on the House landscape.

  • Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad lays out the possible Senate scenarios.

  • Politico’s David Rogers [writes](http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0712/78701.html#ixzz214ShgqvL ) that “NASCAR eked out a narrow victory in the House on Wednesday night upholding the military’s practice of paying millions for sports sponsorships – including race-car teams – to promote recruitment.”.

  • Talking Points Memo finds House Republicans are reviving birth control fights.

  • Hari Sreenivasan explored the effects climate change is having on the Swinomish Indians. Watch his report here or below.


All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama attends campaign events in Jacksonville, Fla., at 1:15 p.m. and 3:05 p.m. He then travels to West Palm Beach for two more campaign events at 5:35 p.m. and 6:20 p.m.

  • Vice President Biden delivers remarks at a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, at 2:45 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney has no public 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.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.