Mo' Money, Mo' Problems (The Note)

(Image Credit: Chris Kleponis/AFP/Getty Images; Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone ) and AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter )


  • AIR WARS: Millions of dollars are already pouring into swing states for anti-Obama television ads courtesy of well-financed groups on the right. The question is when does the Obama campaign start to put some big money behind their own message?
  • BRINGING BACK BIN LADEN:  Would Mitt Romney have ordered the hit on Osama bin Laden? That's the issue being raised in a new web video out this morning from the Obama campaign as they try to poke holes in what they see as one of Romney's weak spots: foreign policy.
  • NOTE IT! ABC's Jonathan Karl on the dust-up over White House political travel, Rick Klein on the new "3a.m. phone call," Amy Walter on super PAC fundraising and Jake Tapper on Osama bin Laden as a campaign tool.



This week marked the symbolic start of the general election as well a new reality for presidential fundraising.

Just read Julianna Goldman's Bloomberg News story today about how only 12 of President Obama's top 532 fundraisers have donated to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supporting his re-election bid.

"The leaders of Priorities have asked former President Bill Clinton to tap the pool of donors who helped fund his campaign and Hillary Clinton's White House run," Goldman writes. "Yet Priorities lacks on its donor list most of the core group of Chicagoans who backed Obama's presidential ambitions four years ago."

Priorities USA announced last week that it raised about $2.5 million during the month of March and had $5 million in the bank. Along with the political arm of the League of Conservation Voters, the groups this week launched a $1 million television ad campaign taking on Mitt Romney as a stooge of big oil companies.

But compare their efforts to two outside groups on the right - Americans for Prosperity and the American Future Fund.

Americans For Prosperity announced yesterday it is dumping $6.1 million in eight states on a new television ad that they say "highlights billions of stimulus dollars that were given to foreign companies operating in Mexico, Finland, and China," by the Obama administration. It will air beginning today in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia.

The American Future Fund is also spending millions against President Obama. And this is just the opening salvo in what is shaping up to be the most expensive presidential campaign air war ever.

Most insiders agree that the next 30 to 60 days will be critical in defining the race for the fall. By the time October rolls around, perceptions of the candidates will have hardened.

The GOP outside groups know they have to protect and define while Mitt Romney recovers from his primary. But when does the Obama campaign start to put some money behind their message?


-Americans For Prosperity: "The Obama Administration continues to waste our tax dollars trying to pick winners and losers. This leads to overspending, no new job creation, and inevitably creates government cronyism," AFP President Tim Phillips said in a statement. "The President wasted some $530 million on Solyndra, but now we're finding billions more given to 'green energy' companies overseas."

-Priorities USA Action's Bill Burton: "Yesterday, we released an ad stating that 'Big Oil has pledged $200 million to help Mitt Romney.' Today, $6 million of that pledge was spent on television advertisements across the country. Billionaire oil executives like the Koch Brothers benefit from high gas prices financially and use that extra cash to support Mitt Romney because he has pledged to protect their billions in special tax breaks. While middle class families pay at the pump, Mitt Romney and the big oil companies bankrolling his campaign benefit from high gas prices financially and politically."



ABC's JONATHAN KARL: On the dust-up over White House political travel:  A former Bush (43) Administration official tells me this is a "dumb issue" for Republicans. Why?  Bush showed a similar affinity for Air Force One travel to rallies in battleground states in 2004 - and many of those trips were also classified as "official" travel. And with Bush, it wasn't just AF1.  One of the best visuals in 2004 was when he dramatically arrived at a big stadium event in Florida in Marine One, which landed right on the field in the middle of the rally.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: The turnabout from "3 am" to using Bill Clinton as a national-security validator for President Obama took four years. But it only took one year for another turnabout. Twelve months after the president entered the poker-face hall of fame, laughing through the White House Correspondents Association Dinner even as SEAL Team Six moved in, the Obama campaign is embracing the killing of Osama bin Laden in campaign advertising.

ABC's AMY WALTER: Talk to insiders about why Priorities is having a tough time raising money and they tell you this:  Obama hasn't done enough care and feeding of multi-million donors; GOP donors are more transactional, Dem donors looking for personal connection.

ABC's JAKE TAPPER on the new Obama campaign Osama bin Laden video out today: This is an intense spot. The suggestion is under a President Romney, Osama bin Laden would still be alive.

THIS WEEK ON "THIS WEEK." This Sunday, a special edition of ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," produced with the University of Virginia's Miller Center, tackles the critical topic, "America's Economic Recovery: Is It Built to Last?" Held before a live studio audience at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., this special edition of "This Week" moderated by George Stephanopoulos will bring together panelists from business, government and journalism to discuss the state of the economy and the challenges of the current recovery. Panelists include: Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard; Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan; Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist; Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google; David Walker, former Comptroller General; George Will, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" and the Miller Center are teaming up to produce a series of programs on the key issues of the 2012 election. The Miller Center will create educational materials for each show topic, including white papers and blog posts written by leading scholars and lesson plans that middle-school and high-school teachers can use to educate students about election issues.



with ABC's Christopher Good ( @c_good)

PUSHING THE BIN LADEN CALL. Campaigning on the successful mission to kill of Osama bin Laden, in a new video the Obama camp questions whether Mitt Romney would have ordered the raid.  Bill Clinton, starring in it, talks about the president's call: "He had to decide, and that's what you hire a president to do. You hire a president to make the calls when no one else can do it."

SANTORUM-ROMNEY STAFF CROSSOVER. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports on the newest Mitt Romney staff move: "Former Rick Santorum campaign manager Mike Biundo has joined the Mitt Romney campaign. He will be serving as Romney's deputy coalitions director, organizing conservative voters for the former rival's campaign. 'Mike Biundo ran an outstanding campaign for Senator Santorum, and we are excited that he has agreed to bring his considerable skills and abilities to our team. His decision to join Governor Romney's campaign is another indication that Republicans are coalescing around Governor Romney's pro-jobs, pro-growth message and quickly uniting to defeat President Obama,' [Romney spokesman Ryan] Williams said in a statement."

BIDEN TO ROMNEY: OBAMA CARRIES A 'BIG STICK.' Vice President Joe Biden took aim at the presumptive GOP nominee in a foreign-policy speech at NYU, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: "Vice President Joe Biden channeled Teddy Roosevelt today in an attempt to debunk Mitt Romney's claim that the administration is not credible when discussing a 'military option' toward Iran. … 'I promise you,' Biden said, 'the President has a big stick. I promise you.' The comment drew laughter from the crowd of 500, mostly college students. 'President Obama understands what Gov. Romney apparently doesn't:  It is possible - it's indeed necessary - for America to be strong and smart - and smart - at the same time,' Biden said."

HOW 'GIRLS GONE WILD' LANDED A SENATE INTERNSHIP. Sen. Mark Pryor has asked the FBI to investigate, but TPM's Ryan J. Reilly has the back-story of how a Senate internship was "auctioned" to "Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis: "'It was confirmed with his office as far as I knew, it was never a hoax,' Francis told TPM in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. As it turns out, the soft-porn mogul was right - the son of a lobbyist has admitted to creating the mix-up over the internship. In a letter apologizing for the 'embarrassment' he caused Pryor, Los Angeles businessman Chad Brownstein - son of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, Schreck partner Norman Brownstein - said he told someone organizing an auction benefiting the Wilshire Boulevard Temple that 'pending approval of [Pryor's] office, I thought it might be possible to auction off an unpaid month-long summer internship for a high school student with your office.'"

WHITE HOUSE DISOWNS EPA OFFICIAL'S 'CRUCIFY' REMARK. The White House backed away Thursday from a regional EPA administrator's 2010 suggestion that officials should "crucify" environmental-law violators, ABC's Jake Tapper reports: "White House press secretary Jay Carney today noted that Almendariz has 'apologized and made clear that those comments are an inaccurate way to characterize the work EPA does.' Carney went on to argue that the comments also do not reflect Obama administration policy, saying 'since the president took office, oil and gas production has increased each year.'"

OBAMA, BIDEN GO AFTER MILITARY-FAMILY VOTES. The Washington Post points out a new strategy by the Obama campaign: "President Obama and the first lady will greet soldiers at Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Ga., on Friday … On Thursday, Vice President Biden delivered a speech in which he made clear that the president's record winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan … The message from Obama and Biden is clear: They will campaign on the president's foreign policy record and actions to bolster services for veterans while aggressively criticizing Romney on the same subjects - and issuing pointed examples of the Republican's lack of proposals to assist returning veterans and their families."


-PCCC ENDORSES IN CA HOUSE PRIMARY. Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founders Adam Green and Stephanie Taylor email: "Today, we are proud to endorse Lori Saldaña for Congress in California's 52nd district. She is a bold progressive fighter who will be a strong ally of Elizabeth Warren in Congress." Saldaña is running in an open primary that includes Rep. Brian Bilbray (R), who currently represents the pre-redistricting 50th district.

-REVISITING WALL STREET REFORM.  "Dodd-Frank is a vastly transformative effort that did everything from regulate credit cards to create a new government agency (the deeply controversial Consumer Finance Protection Bureau).   In fact, even before new regulations were unveiled, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Dodd-Frank would slap $27 billion in new fees on American businesses," writes GOP strategist Joe Brettell in an Op-Ed on Fox "Instead of forcing Americans to navigate a tidal wave of government regulation, the president and Senate Democrats should re-evaluate Dodd-Frank. They should try to work hand in hand with House Republicans and economic leaders to develop common sense reforms that provide businesses with the chance to create jobs, while providing the kind of oversight that creates opportunity, not more new regulations." More from the Op-Ed:

-AD ATTACKS LACK OF BUDGET. From fiscal-accountability interest group Public Notice: "Public Notice is going to run a national TV ad on Sunday marking the 3rd anniversary of Congress' failure to pass a budget.  This caps off a weeklong grassroots advocacy campaign launched this past Monday."


@kakukowski : Brutal New RNC Ad: Obama 2012:  #StillNotReady

@YahooTicket : House set to vote on student loan rate, plus more to watch for this weekend in politics:

@pbsgwen : When's A Campaign…Not? Follow the money, folks. My Take:

@MarkLandler : Helene Cooper's nephew, Logosou, met Pres Obama at the WH last Christmas. Remarkable, when you read this:

@amyewalter : Puppy power. OK tweeps, who is the cutest ABC Pup? @winstontapper or  @eliwalterwoof@jaketapper



- President Obama will deliver a speech at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the afternoon and attend a private fundraiser tonight. First Lady Michelle Obama holds campaign events in Naples, Florida.

- Mitt Romney campaigns in Ohio, holding a roundtable with graduating seniors at Otterbein University in Westerville and delivering a guest lecture at the university.

- Newt Gingrich makes stops in North Carolina.

- Ron Paul holds a town hall meeting in Houston, Texas.

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