President Obama and his allies want Mitt Romney to come clean on everything from his tax returns to his plans for the U.S. economy.
They say - or at least want to create the impression - that Romney is hiding something, and Team Obama got a big gift last night when a few intrepid reporters overheard Romney's remarks to a well-heeled crowd of south Floridians at a private fundraiser in Palm Beach.
There, as the Wall Street Journal's Sara Murray reports, the presumptive Republican nominee, "offered the first details of deductions he would eliminate or limit in order to offset the income tax cut he has proposed for all taxpayers." http://on.wsj.com/JmBs8B
Those details included cutting the budget of the Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as eliminating or lowering tax deductions for Americans who own second homes.
A spokesman for the Obama re-election effort, Ben LaBolt, sent news clips of the fundraiser around with the message: "Apparently Gov. Romney believes only high dollar donors have a right to know what programs he will cut."
And, as many Americans spent the weekend putting the finishing touches on their tax returns, two Democratic-allied super PACS, American Bridge 21st Century, and Priorities USA Action, have jointly released a new website: http://releaseyourreturns.com/
The site, with a headline that reads, "What's Mitt Hiding?" invites users to sign a petition demanding that Romney release his returns. Last week his campaign announced the Romneys had filed an extension on their taxes, allowing them to file anytime over the next six months.
So far, the Romney campaign's response has been to announce a conference call on what they are calling "President Obama's tax and spend culture" with former senator Jim Talent, a senior economic adviser to Romney.
But we'll get a chance to hear a much fuller response from Romney when ABC's Diane Sawyer sits down for an exclusive interview with the former Massachusetts governor at Fenway Park in Boston today.
In addition, Ann Romney, who has been at the center of the two parties' so-called "war over women," will join her husband for this conversation with Sawyer. It marks the couple's first joint network interview of the election year.
TUNE IN: ABC'S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE ROMNEYS: The exclusive network interview will air Monday on "World News with Diane Sawyer" with the extended interview airing on "Nightline." Portions of the interview will also be featured across ABC News broadcasts and platforms including "Good Morning America," ABCNews.com, the Newsmakers series on Yahoo!, OTUSNews.com and ABC News radio.
TODAY ON THE HILL. Yahoo News' Phil Pruitt notes that Congress is back in session and has a few items of business to take care of. http://abcn.ws/IG288R
-The Senate is scheduled to take up the "Buffett rule" proposal to increases taxes on millionaires. Republicans, who call the "Buffett rule" a political distraction and a job killer, are expected to block the bill. But Democrats are eager to hold repeated votes on it this election year in an effort to demonstrate that they favor economic equality while Republicans prefer coddling the wealthy.
-Over in the House, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing titled "Addressing GSA's Culture of Wasteful Spending." Witnesses include General Services Administration Inspector General Brian Miller and former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson. Johnson fired two of her deputies and then resigned earlier this month after an inspector general's report revealed excessive spending for a 2010 Public Buildings Service regional training conference in Las Vegas.
-There's nothing scheduled in Washington regarding the Secret Service scandal in Colombia, but, with Congress back, there is bound to be talk on Capitol Hill and more could come out of the White House. Obama said Sunday said he will be "angry" if allegations prove true that Secret Service personnel and military service members cavorted with prostitutes and engaged in excessive drinking ahead of his trip to Colombia this weekend.
GOP COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. The Republican National Committee this morning released a new video and research piece focusing on what they say are the excuses for the slow economic recovery we've heard from President Obama even after he promised to be held accountable. From the RNC: These Obama Promises: "I will be held accountable… I'm not going to make any excuses." Don't Mesh With These Obama Excuses: "Recession deeper than anyone realized…worst recession since Great Depression…string of bad luck…earthquake in Japan…Arab Spring…European headwinds…automation…globalization…'not his program.'" VIDEO: "From Hope to Hypocrisy: Excuses, Excuses" http://bit.ly/IN5XKP RESEARCH: http://bit.ly/IqHshY
VIDEO OF THE DAY: WELCOME TO OBAMAHA: ABC's senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper explains why Obama is doing well in reliably red Omaha, Neb. It's one sliver of the country that could tip the scales for Obama in the 2012 election. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/HKzQpK
"THIS WEEK" REPLAY: TIM GEITHNER CALLS ROMNEY'S CLAIMS ON OUT OF WORK WOMEN 'RIDICULOUS' Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner verbally smacked GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney Sunday morning on "This Week" - calling his assertion that the policies of the Obama administration have hurt women and resulted in major job losses for them - fiction. "It's a ridiculous argument. Ridiculous. It's been largely debunked this week by the people who have looked at it," Geithner told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "It's a ridiculous way to look at the problem. And this is a political moment and you're going to be seeing - just to borrow a line from Mario Cuomo - 'you're going to see a lot of politicians choose to campaign in fiction. But we have to govern in fact.'" Geithner was responding to recent allegations by Romney that the Obama administration had waged a "war" on women. Romney said earlier this week that the "real war on women has been waged by the policies of the Obama administration…did you know that of all the jobs lost during the Obama years, 92.3 percent of them are women. During the Obama years, women have suffered." George asked Geithner about the technical accuracy of the Romney claim and he explained "this crisis was a very damaging crisis, hurt everybody. And it began in, as you know, in early 2008. And a lot of the early job losses in 2008 affected men, because they affected construction and manufacturing. And as the crisis spread and state and local governments were forced to cut back on services and fire a lot of teachers, that caused a lot of damage to women, too." http://abcn.ws/HHCpxc
Watch the full interview and replay anything you missed from Sunday's edition of "This Week": http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/
OBAMA RAISED $53 MILLION IN MARCH. As the money race for the general election heats up, President Obama's re-election campaign reports raising $53 million in March, picking up pace from the month before, ABC's Devin Dwyer notes. The total reflects funds collected by OFA, DNC and two joint fundraising accounts. In February, they reported $45 million combined. Obama raised $42 million on his own in March 2008. "People are building this organization five and ten bucks at a time to take on Mitt Romney," says Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a campaign video announcing the total. The video showcases Obama's grassroots volunteers and donors, who the campaign says are what set it apart from their Republican rival.
The stats, per the campaign:
-190,000 first time donors in March
-567,000 total donations in March
-97 percent of donation $250 or less
-Average donation $50.78
ROMNEY COURTS HILL REPUBLICANS. "Mitt Romney and Congressional Republicans moved last week to jump-start the coordination of political and policy messaging after Rick Santorum's exit from the GOP presidential primary crowned the former Massachusetts governor the presumptive GOP nominee," Roll Call's David Drucker reports. "Senior Romney campaign officials are expected to be in constant communication with Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and their staffs, as well as with other GOP leaders and key rank-and-file Members who supported the governor early on in the primary campaign. … Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), who led Romney's Member-endorsement whip operation, said the goal now includes building relationships between Congressional Republicans and the nominee and his team so that the two groups are prepared to collaborate effectively beginning in January 2013 - if the governor defeats President Barack Obama in November. Blunt, the GOP Conference vice chairman, is expected to serve as a major conduit between Members and the Romney campaign. … From Romney's Boston campaign headquarters, Policy Director Lanhee Chen and Political Director Rich Beeson are expected to play crucial roles with Congressional Republicans. Chen, who met with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio) during a recent visit to Capitol Hill, is expected to handle policy outreach. Beeson is likely to handle political outreach, particularly to Members running in swing districts and states targeted by Romney." http://bit.ly/HYVky9
SHELDON ADELSON TURNS AWAY FROM NEWT, TO HOUSE RACES. "Sheldon Adelson, a wealthy casino owner who has spent millions to boost the presidential campaign of Newt Gingrich, has donated $5 million with his wife to a super PAC for House Republican candidates, according to campaign filings released Sunday," according to the National Journal's Shane Goldmacher. "The Adelsons made their donations in February to the Congressional Leadership Fund, which was formed last year to be "focused solely and exclusively" on maintaining the GOP majority in the House. The super PAC has the backing of the top GOP brass in the House. Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy were each among the 60 GOP lawmakers who attended the super PAC's inaugural event last fall. The financial infusion immediately makes the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is chaired by former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman, among the biggest players in the congressional landscape this year." http://bit.ly/IQYm9s
OBAMA CALLS FREE TRADE DEAL A 'WIN-WIN' President Obama announced today that a free trade deal with Colombia will be fully enforced next month, declaring the agreement a win-win for both countries, notes ABC's Mary Bruce. "We're moving ahead with our landmark trade agreement," Obama announced, standing alongside Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the Summit of the Americas. The announcement, which was largely expected, comes after Colombia enacted a series of protections for workers and labor unions. "Given the actions taken by President Santos and the Colombian legislature I can announce that the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement will enter into force next month on May 15," Obama said at a joint press conference with Santos. http://abcn.ws/HBne5b
ABC POLL: WITHER THE TEA PARTY? From ABC News Pollster Gary Langer: "A major force in the 2010 midterm elections, the movement has stalled in public popularity, its support well below a majority and decidedly lukewarm. And Americans by a broad 23-point margin say the more they hear about the Tea Party movement, the less they like it, rather than liking it more. That negative buzz has worsened from a 9-point gap in an ABC News/Washington Post poll as the movement was gathering speed two years ago. And its avenues for resurgence may be limited: Interest in learning more about Tea Party is down 7 points from spring 2010. This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that six in 10 Americans aren't particularly interested in additional information about the Tea Party, and 41 percent aren't interested "at all." Thirty-nine percent have at least some interest, but just 9 percent are very interested. Among those with interest, moreover, more than six in 10 already support it." http://abcn.ws/HKbj7F
@donnabrazile : Sending loads of prayers to the folks impacted by hundreds of tornadoes this weekend. We're all in this together.
@MarkLeibovich : At any given moment in DC, someone is clarifying their remarks..
- Mitt Romney will be joined by his wife Ann Romney for an exclusive interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer in Boston. He will also attend a Red Sox game with son Tagg Romney and two contest winners at Fenway Park. Later in the evening, Romney will address the Tri-State Tea Party Caucus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Newt Gingrich will hold a town hall meeting in Dallas, Texas. His wife, Callista Gingrich, will campaign in Rhode Island.
-First Lady Michelle Obama will attend a campaign fundraiser in Washington, D.C.
- Ron Paul is off the campaign trail.
-ABC's Joanna Suarez
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