Defining Moment (The Note)

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


  • DEFINE OR BE DEFINED: With Democrats trashing Mitt Romney's business record at Bain Capital, the presumptive Republican nominee is attempting to wage the presidential campaign on his terms. He released his first general election television ad today - a seemingly positive vision of his top priorities if elected. But as ABC News Political Director Amy Walter points out, the ad amounts to a subtle - but razor-sharp - contrast to President Obama.
  • IN THE HOUSE:  A "This Week" exclusive on Sunday. ABC's George Stephanopoulos sits down with House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi about simmering tensions on Capitol Hill on the budget, taxes and other key issues.
  • NOTE IT! In our virtual political roundtable, ABC's Amy Walter on why Republicans are all of a sudden walking with a spring in their step and Rick Klein on the perils of the super PAC era.


During a week when Democrats kept Mitt Romney on defense with their attacks on his work at a private equity firm - attacks that Romney said he considers "character assassination" - the presumptive Republican nominee attempted to regain his footing by unveiling his first television ad of the general election.

The ad, titled "Day One" envisions the first day of a Romney presidency, and according to the 30-second spot, it will be a busy one. (WATCH:

"President Romney immediately approves the Keystone pipeline, creating thousands of jobs that Obama blocked," the ad's announcer says.  "President Romney introduces tax cuts and reforms that reward job creators, not punish them. President Romney issues order to begin replacing Obamacare with commonsense health care reform."

The ad will run in several battleground states, including Virginia, Ohio, Iowa and North Carolina.

But the Romney campaign's description of this as a "positive" ad should get a "pants on fire" rating. It is simply a criticism of the Obama administration but with pretty images and softer tones instead of ominous music and scary voices.

It follows on the heels of a one-two punch earlier this week from the Obama campaign and an allied super PAC, Priorities USA Action, which attacked Romney's record at Bain Capital. Both released television ads highlighting job losses at a Kansas City steel company taken over by Bain.

"The issue that will never go away - Mitt Romney's career as a corporate raider and his creation of Romney Economics," Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse noted this morning, introducing a new web video that keeps Bain front and center. (WATCH:

It's more evidence that the Obama campaign and Democrats are doing everything they can to try to define Romney faster than he can define himself.

"The purpose of the president's ads are not to describe success and failure, but somehow to suggest that I'm not a good person or not a good guy," Romney said at a campaign stop in Florida yesterday, "and I think the American people will know better than that."

Nevertheless, the former Massachusetts governor's challenge is clear.

"He must demonstrate how and why the man who ran Bain Capital, the man who relished 'creative destruction,' the man who gave Obamacare a test run in Massachusetts and who knows of NASCAR only through his acquaintances with various team owners provides the better choice for a more hopeful, more prosperous America," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell notes in a US News commentary. "He doesn't have to be perfect. He doesn't have to be likeable. But he does have to be someone we think we know and understand."


ABC's RICK KLEIN: It's not that pretty, but we may have stumbled onto something important about the super PAC era in the events of the last 24 hours. The fact that the public learned the identity of the person considering Jeremiah Wright ads - a person who founded a major online brokerage and whose family controls a baseball team - contributed mightily to the fact that the ad isn't running, and may never run. The major players in super PACs haven't been shadowy figures, they've been out in the sunlight, or at least close enough to it that they have the potential to wilt in its shine.

ABC's AMY WALTER: For the first time since this cycle, Republican strategists and politicos are starting to really believe that Romney can win this thing. A combination of strong polling numbers nationally and in traditionally blue states like Wisconsin, combined with good fundraising numbers (and a lack of Democratic firepower on the super PAC side) has given the GOP a spring in their step that had been missing for much of the last few months.


THIS WEEK ON "THIS WEEK": EXCLUSIVE - JOHN BOEHNER AND NANCY PELOSI. George Stephanopoulos speaks exclusively to House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sunday on "This Week." Will Congress take action on renewed battles over the budget and taxes during an election year? How will dysfunction in Washington impact the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney? And which party will win control of the House in November? See Boehner and Pelosi this Sunday, only on "This Week."

Plus, the "This Week" powerhouse roundtable debates all the week's politics, with ABC News' George Will, political strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile, radio host Laura Ingraham, and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. (h/t Imtiyaz Delawala)


VEEP BEAT: Our daily look at all the action on the veepstakes front, brought to you by ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz ):

RUBIO WARNS OF 'DAILY' DEBT CEILING CRISIS:  While Congress won't have to vote on raising the debt ceiling until, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., still warned that the country is facing a debt ceiling crisis "daily" and criticized Secretary Treasury Timothy Geithner's suggestion that a debt ceiling crisis does not exist.  We are having a debt ceiling crisis on a daily basis, and here's why," Rubio said in a FOX News interview Thursday. "Because this government every year is spending $1.5 trillion more than it takes in."

RUBIO ON VEEPSTAKES:  "I'm curious to see who it's going to be." ("Your World with Neil Cavuto," 5.16.12)

MEET THE RUBIOS:  In her first ever extended interview, Jeanette Rubio joined her husband Marco Rubio to discuss their family life with Politico and expressed that she is prepared for whatever scrutiny the couple may undergo as his national profile begins to rise.  "I'm prepared for the idea that no matter what he does - especially when there's talk of him being the VP candidate - that [there] are things that are going to come out," Jeannette Rubio told Politico.. "And through the Senate campaign, we already went through a lot. … That really prepared us, or at least me." The interview shares the story of how they met, endured distance relationship in the age of no-Skype (Marco Rubio wrote long letters), and how they maintain a strong family.

CONDI: 'I DON'T REALLY LOVE POLITICS'   ABC News' Emily Friedman highlights this NBC Chicago report that Condoleezza Rice again said she will not be Mitt Romney's running mate, saying she doesn't really have that loving feeling for politics. "Not going to happen," she told the audience. "I love policy, I don't really love politics," Rice said at a speech in Chicago Thursday.  "One can do a lot with policy not in Washington."


VIDEO OF THE DAY: GEORGE ON JOHN. George Stephanopoulos tackles the question "can John Edwards come back?" in the latest installment of George's "Bottom Line" part of ABC's News/Yahoo!'s Power Players Series. "But even an acquittal is only the beginning" Stephanopoulos says. "To understand why, look no farther than a  recent New York Times/CBS News poll showing that Edwards' approval rating is an unfathomably low 3% - and that drops to 2% among women. I've never seen an approval rating so low in any kind of poll."



with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

ROMNEY REJECTS ADS AIMING TO TIE OBAMA TO REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT . Yesterday Mitt Romney rejected reports of a plan to air attack ads against President Obama by rehashing ties to his former pastor, the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, reports ABC's Emily Friedman. The plan, which was first reported by the New York Times on Thursday, had a $10 million price tag, and was  developed by "a group of high-profile Republican strategists" and Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade. Jy7a7y

-ABC's Jake Tapper dissected the immediate distance Romney put between his campaign and the proposal: JLaCLc

-Democrats were quick to point out comments Romney had made on Obama's relationship with Wright during an interview with Sean Hannity, notes ABC's Matt Negrin.  Romney said he believed Obama didn't understand "that Judeo Christian philosophy is an integral part of our foundation." "I'm not sure which is worse: him listening to Rev. Wright or him saying we must be a less-Christian nation," Romney said. Romney addressed his comments to Hannity on Thursday - "I'm not familiar with precisely what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was," Romney said.

-One of the strategists who reportedly oversaw the proposal was GOP ad man Fred Davis- whose resume boasts a long list of buzzy political ads, including Christine O'Donnell's infamous "I'm Not A Witch" ad from 2010. ABC's Amy Bingham takes a look at some of the highlights in his reel.

-And ABC's Shushannah Walshe takes a look at the risk vs. reward of going negative in political ads.

SENATOR COBURN: RETURN THE TAXPAYERS MONEY FOR THE CONVENTIONS . Senator Tom Coburn has his eye on a bigger target than the $800,000 GSA conference in Vegas- the Republican and Democratic conventions. ABC's Jon Karl reports that as of May 3, the Republican and Democratic parties have each received checks from the U.S. Treasury for a total of $36.5 million to be spent on their conventions in Charlotte and the Tampa this summer.  Now Coburn has written a letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz asking them to give the money back.  "Can we agree once and for all the party is over when it comes to travel and meetings paid for by the taxpayers?" Coburn wrote in a letter on Thursday. JjiKFJ

MATT DOWD: WHAT PALIN CAN TEACH OBAMA ABOUT SEIZING THE MOMENT. Life is really about the moments and whether we're ready to take advantage of them- says ABC's Matt Dowd. "In the campaign during the last few weeks, I see two of those moment opportunities having surfaced" Dowd says. "President Obama and his campaign bypassed one key moment, while Sarah Palin took advantage of the other. It kind of shows the difference between a politician and campaign that makes decisions tethered to a plan and from logic, and another who makes decisions based on their gut and from their heart."

FAREWELL AMERICANS ELECT. The third party group that sought to nominate a third party presidential candidate through an online nomination process officially its nomination process on Thursday, reports ABC's Amy Bingham. No candidate met the minimum requirements for nomination set forth by the group of 10,000 "clicks"- 1,000 from 10 states.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: RICKETT'S ANTI-OBAMA PLOT RISKS CUBS STADIUM GROWTH. Bloomberg's John McCormick and Julie Bykowicz report: "The admission by a Ricketts' spokesman yesterday that one proposed advertising campaign focused on the president's relationship with a Chicago preacher known for racially charged sermons removed the element of surprise, increased scrutiny of his political activity and put at a negotiating disadvantage one of the Ricketts family's prized possessions - the Chicago Cubs…The Ricketts' standing in Chicago, Obama's hometown and a city dominated by Democrats, is diminished at a time they are looking for political and financial support to make renovations to 98-year-old Wrigley Field baseball stadium and the neighborhood around it."

ROMNEY PRAISES CLINTON, OBAMA PRAISES REAGAN. The New York Times' Peter Baker reports: "To listen to the candidates on the campaign trail these days is a form of political whiplash. Mr. Romney lavishes praise on the very Democratic Mr. Clinton for breaking with his party's traditional big-government orthodoxy, while Mr. Obama harks back to the very Republican Mr. Reagan for agreement that millionaires should not pay lower tax rates than the middle class."

OBAMA SADDENED BY DONNA SUMMER'S DEATH. Yahoo!'s Olivier Knox reports: "President Barack Obama said Thursday that he and first lady Michelle Obama were "saddened" to hear of the death  of "Disco Queen" Donna Summer. 'Her voice was unforgettable, and the music industry has lost a legend far too soon. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Donna's family and her dedicated fans,' the president said in a written statement."

JUSTICE BREYER ROBBED AGAIN. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was robbed again, reports ABC's Ariane deVogue. This time a housekeeper discovered that his Georgetown home had been burglarized while no one was home on May 4. The DC police is currently investigating the matter a court spokesperson said. It was only in February that Breyer was robbed at knife point in his vacation home on the Caribbean island of Nevis.



@TonyFratto : BREAKING: Sliced Bread Expected to Concede to Facebook $FB #facebook

  @JimCourtovich : Never write in a memo what you don't want on the front page of the morning paper..that is a very simple rule only foolish advisors break.

  @gabrielsherman : Result of failed Ricketts plan is Jeremiah Wright has been injected into the news cycle again. Allowed Republicans to get his name out there

  @billburton716 : The worst practice in this wk's reporting is uncritical citing that POTUS' budget was "defeated unanimously." It encourages bs GOP gimmickry

  @GeraldFSeib : Every 4 years someone dreams of breaking out of the 2 parties. The dream always dies. This time, Americans Elect:



 -- Mitt Romney will hold an event at the Sawyer Bridge in Hillsborough, N.H.

- President Obama will speak at the G8 Food Security Symposium at Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center in Washington, DC.

ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)

   Check out The Note's Futures Calendar:

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