Could a line of attack that helped sink Mitt Romney's U.S. Senate aspirations in 1994 be just as effective against his presidential hopes 18 years later?
The story of the American Pad and Paper Company, Ampad, which was forced to lay off hundreds of workers in the mid-1990's after Romney's firm, Bain Capital, took it over and merged it with another company, is being re-told by the Obama campaign in a new, 5-minute web video popping online this morning. http://abcn.ws/KdA50g
The spot features testimonials from workers at the former Marion, Ind., office supply company: "Good paying job with good benefits," Jerry Rayburn, a worker who lost his job, laments in the video. "I loved the people I worked with. I thought I was settled in for life." (WATCH: http://bit.ly/JhDKLZ)
(ABC's Devin Dwyer points out that the clip also includes a clue about what may be coming down the pipeline from the Obama campaign: An on-screen graphic listing other companies whose bankruptcies left Bain with profits.)
But it's is not the first time Ampad has been injected into the presidential bloodstream this year. A super PAC backing Newt Gingrich featured the company's saga back in January in a lengthy political "documentary" called "King of Bain."
And later today the Obama campaign will hold a conference call with Randy Johnson, a worker who lost his job at Ampad after Bain took control of it. Johnson, however, is hardly a new name on the political scene. His testimonials against Romney and Bain date back to the former Massachusetts governor's failed Senate bid against the late Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994.
In an interview with ABC News' Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross earlier this year, Johnson recalled the last days of paper company:
"It was really one of the worst things I think I've had to deal with, because people … were at my desk crying, 'What do I do? I don't have a good college education… I just wanted to get to retirement,'" he said in the interview. "Families were devastated. In some cases, the husband and the wife both worked there. They lost all their income. It doesn't get much worse than that." http://abcn.ws/Kruwtc
Today's full court press against Romney and his company's management of the former Indiana-based paper supplier comes exactly one week after the Obama campaign released a television ad highlighting Bain's takeover of a Kansas City steel mill that later went bankrupt. http://abcn.ws/KdA50g
Although the ad buy was relatively small, a pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, chipped in millions more to purchase air time for their own ad attacking Romney's business dealings. And the Obama campaign noted today that they are expanding their original ad buy in Ohio.
The strategy is a sign, not only of how damaging the Obama campaign and their allies believe Bain can be as an election-year issue, but also that in politics, everything old can be new again.
ROMNEY CAMPAIGN RESPONSE: From Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul: "President Obama continues his assault on the free enterprise system with attacks that one of his supporters, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, called 'nauseating' and a former adviser, Steven Rattner, called 'unfair.' Under President Obama, too many Americans have lost their jobs and their homes. President Obama's policies have failed every American who expected their President to focus on the economy and make things better."
ABC's RICK KlEIN: Cory Booker got himself in surrogate hot water yesterday for sounding too much like … Barack Obama? Booker's call to end "nauseating" political attacks - as he categorized both possible Jeremiah Wright ads, and Democrats' efforts to demonize Mitt Romney's work at Bain Capital - echoed those long-ago Obama calls to rise above petty partisanship. By day's end, the Newark mayor was on camera trying to contain the damage from his "Meet the Press" appearance. But clarifying videos can't end the deep unease inside President Obama's own party over what's becoming the main line of Obama attack on Romney. With a new Bain-focused ad out from the Obama campaign today, Democrats' challenge will be to focus their attacks on Romney's particular actions, rather than venture capital in general. And, of course, Obama campaign aides want Democrats to sound like Obama 2012, not necessarily Obama 2008.
ABC's AMY WALTER: Booker's blunder is the talk of the town today, but it will have zero impact on the Obama campaign's strategy going forward. The folks in Chicago see the "fairness" debate as the defining issue in the campaign and will be doing all they can to paint Romney as out of touch with the frustrations of America's middle and working class. Given the low marks that Obama has on the handling the economy, the campaign has little choice but to try to make the race a referendum on Romney.
"THIS WEEK" REPLAY. BOEHNER: ANOTHER DEBT STALEMATE? The House speaker told ABC's George Stephanopoulos he wants further cuts before the debt limit is raised again. On his own GOP conference, Boehner said, "We've got a pretty disparate caucus, and it's hard to keep 218 frogs in a wheel barrow long enough to get a bill passed.
PELOSI ON 'THIS WEEK': 'HERE WE GO AGAIN': "The speaker wants to go over the edge" with spending cuts, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "They're over the edge, we want a balanced approach."
In case you missed any of this Sunday's edition: http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/
OBAMA OUT-RAISING ROMNEY. Campaigns and PACs filed their April fundraising data before Sunday night's deadline, and President Obama more than doubled Mitt Romney's take for the month of April with $25.7 million to Romney's $11.7 million. Romney's haul decreased from the $13 million he raised in March.
Romney for President
Raised in April: $11.7 million
Spent in April: $12.6 million
Cash on hand 4/30: $9.2 million
Restore Our Future
Raised in April: $4.6 million
Spent in April: $2.9 million
Cash on hand 4/30: $8.2 million
Raised in April: $1.8 million
Spent in April: $697,000
Cash on hand 4/30: $25.5 million
Obama for America
Raised in April: $25.7 million
Spent in April: $14.6 million
Cash on hand 4/30: $115.2 million
Raised in April: $1.6 million
Spent in April: $1.9 million
Cash on hand 4/30: $4.7 million
NEWT'S DEBT. How bad did it get? ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports: By the time he announced his plans to suspend his campaign in late April, Newt Gingrich owed $4.78 million, according to his FEC filing for April, released today. … Gingrich's largest debt-$1.03 million-is to Moby Dick Airways, a private jet company. Gingrich also owes a great deal to himself: $580,134. Among Gingrich's other debts are the $16,525 he owes Herman Cain Solutions for strategic consulting and travel, and the $12,763 he owes Twitter for a media buy, according to the FEC report.
DSCC OUTRAISES NRSC. From a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee release: "For the fourth consecutive month the DSCC outraised the NRSC. So far this cycle the DSCC has raised $64.2 million with 99.3% of the DSCC's donations coming from grassroots supporters giving under $200. The DSCC finished the month with $25.7 million on hand. According to FEC reports, the NRSC only raised $4.25 million in April and ended the month with $21.6 million banked."
VIDEO OF THE DAY: THE STORY BEHIND THE LAST MEDAL OF HONOR. Last week, Obama gave a medal of honor to the widow of Leslie Sabo, Jr. 40 years after his death in Cambodia. In this ABC/Yahoo Power Players video, ABC's JAKE TAPPER tells the story of Sabo, his widow Rose Mary Sabo-Brown, and what the medal means decades later. http://yhoo.it/KVwowG
with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)
THE BOOKER SHUFFLE, PART. 1. Newark Mayor Cory Booker criticized the Obama campaign's Bain Capital attacks on "Meet the Press," Yahoo's Dylan Stableford reports: "I have to just say from a very personal level, I'm not about to sit here and indict private equity," Booker, a Democrat, said … "To me, it's just we're getting to a ridiculous point in America. Especially that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people invest in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record, they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses." http://abcn.ws/KFjbt8
THE BOOKER SHUFFLE, PART. 2. Booker then backtracked on Twitter and YouTube, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: Shortly thereafter, Booker took to Twitter to try to clarify his remarks, saying in successive messages that he is tired of what he called a negative, divisive tone in politics - a sentiment he believes Obama shares. "So I'll clarify my comments on MTP ["Meet the Press"]. Yes, Obama must be re-elected. But we as a Nation owe it to him & ourselves 2 reject politics as usual," he wrote. But apparently Booker - or Obama campaign aides - felt that he didn't go far enough. Later Sunday evening, Booker and the campaign circulated a brief impromptu web video of Booker further clarifying his comment directly to camera from behind an office desk. "Mitt Romney has made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign. He's talked about himself as a job creator and therefore it is reasonable, and I encourage it, for the Obama campaign to examine that record and to discuss it," Booker says… http://abcn.ws/JK6tu2
KARZAI THANKS U.S. TAXPAYERS. ABC's Mary Bruce and Ann Compton report on the NATO summit underway in Chicago: "I'm bringing to you and to the people of the United States the gratitude of the Afghan people for the support that your taxpayers' money has provided us over the past decade, and for the difference that it has made to the well-being of the Afghan people," Karzai said after his meeting with President Obama ahead of the start of the NATO Summit. http://abcn.ws/JvOvur
OBAMA: WAR IS OVER. More from Mary Bruce and Ann Compton, on Obama's comments after meeting with Karzai: "The Afghan war as we understand it is over, but our commitment to friendship and partnership with Afghanistan continues," he said. "Both of us recognize that we still have a lot of work to do, and there will be great challenges ahead. The loss of life continues in Afghanistan; there will be hard days ahead. But we're confident that we are on the right track, and what this NATO Summit reflects is that the world is behind the strategy that we've laid out."
OBAMA RAISES MONEY OFF PROPOSED WRIGHT AD. The Washington Post's Rachel Weiner reports: "While former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is staying far away from a strategist's proposal to use the controversial pastor as a cudgel, Obama's campaign is raising money off the prospect. Campaign manager Jim Messina sent out a fundraising appeal Thursday night saying that the proposal, submitted to (and rejected by) a Republican super PAC, "shows in vivid and gruesome detail what the President and all of us are up against." http://wapo.st/KyShDc
LOBBYIST VISITS COMMONPLACE AT THE WHITE HOUSE. The Washington Post's T.W. Farnam digs through White House visitor logs and finds lobbyist visits are common, if not constant: "The Post matched visits with lobbying registrations and connected records in the visitor database to show who participated in the meetings, information now available in a search engine on the Post's web site. The visitor logs for Jan. 17 - one of the most recent days available - show that the lobbying industry Obama has vowed to constrain is a regular presence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The records also suggest that lobbyists with personal connections to the White House enjoy the easiest access." http://wapo.st/MyBDnY
MEET ROMNEY'S FIXER ON THE HILL. J.T. Jezierski, Romney's top legislative aide, is the candidate's connection to Capitol Hill, Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz reports: "If Mitt Romney wins the presidency, J.T. Jezierski will be the most connected man in the 16 blocks between the White House and Capitol Hill. … Romney needs an articulate anti-abortion surrogate to boost his numbers in southwestern Pennsylvania? Are all the local House Members invited to Romney events in four different states tomorrow? Campaign headquarters needs to notify Members that Romney backs the student loan bill? It's all Jezierski." http://bit.ly/Mas6Ro
ELECTION 2012: DOWNBEATS VS. 99 PERCENTERS. USA Today breaks Americans out into five opinion groups, based on the latest USA Today/Gallup polling: "The Downbeats and a second group that leans overwhelmingly to Romney, the Thriving, make up 51% of those surveyed. The other three categories - the 99 Percenters, the Hard-Pressed and the Upbeats - make up 49% of the total. They lean almost as decisively to Obama. Though the economic statistic most often spotlighted is the nation's unemployment rate, none of the five groups ranks jobs as the most pressing economic concern. For the two Romney-leaning groups, the top issue is the federal deficit and debt. For the three Obama-leaning groups, the Hard-Pressed cite the cost of health care, the Upbeats the value of savings and retirement accounts, and the 99 Percenters the concentration of too much wealth in the hands of too few - the cause that propelled the Occupy Wall Street movement." http://usat.ly/KqCctB
NEW AD: TESTER ENCOURAGES WOUNDED VET. Vulnerable incumbent Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mt., has released a new ad featuring the parents of a wounded Afghanistan vet whom Tester spent time with and encouraged during his injury rehab. http://youtu.be/iXn25A21E4o
PELL GRANTS WILL ROLL BACK IN JULY. Matt Krupnick of the San Jose Mercury News reports: "The changes take effect July 1, and students … will bear the brunt of the reforms, which are expected to save $11 billion over 10 years. Among those who will lose Pell Grants in the summer are at least 65,000 new college students without high school diplomas and 63,000 who, like Torno, have spent more than six years in college. Changes in income requirements will reduce or eliminate grants for nearly 300,000 others." http://bit.ly/JJGy5q
VEEP BEAT: Our daily look at all the action on the veepstakes front, brought to you by ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz ):
RUBIO SLAMS OBAMA: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., unleashed a set of attacks on President Obama Saturday evening in South Carolina as he called the president the most 'divisive figure' in modern American history. "His ideas that sounded so good in the classrooms of Harvard and Yale haven't really worked out well in the real world," Rubio said at the South Carolina Republican Party's Silver Elephant Dinner in Columbia, S.C. Saturday evening. "For all the policy disagreements that we may have with the president, it is hard to understate how much he inspired people across this country four years ago, with his promises to unite America and lift it up. The man who today occupies the White House and is running for president is a very different person. We have not seen such a divisive figure in modern American history as we have over the last three and a half years." http://abcn.ws/KCsABM
RUBIO COURTING S.C. REPUBLICANS: Rubio's speech Saturday omitted any references to Mitt Romney, who some think might select Rubio as his running mate, but even if the speech wasn't a direct attempt at a VP tryout, Rubio's appearance helped lay the groundwork for the future - be it 2016 or beyond. The 40 year old senator received praise from four South Carolina politicians, including Sen. Lindsey Graham calling him the "future of the Republican Party."
CHRISTIE SAYS OBAMA'S 'POSING AND PREENING' In Kentucky over the weekend, New Jersey Gov. Christie accused President Obama of "posing and preening" instead of dealing with the critical issues facing the country, the AP reports. "He is the most ill-prepared person to assume the presidency in my lifetime," Christie said at the Kentucky GOP's Lincoln Day Dinner in Lexington. "This is a guy who literally is walking around in a dark room trying to find the light switch of leadership…He has sat in the Oval Office and cared more about posing and preening and making partisan politics the rule of the day in Washington D.C. than he's cared about progress." http://bit.ly/JZn9Kq
RYAN AVOIDS VP TALK…AGAIN: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., adopted a new approach over the past week when it comes to chatter about the VP spot: Don't talk about it. In an appearance on Meet the Press Sunday, Ryan again deflected the question when asked if Romney's team had reached out to him about vetting. "Look, I'm not going to get into the internal process of another campaign," Ryan said. "I'm focused on doing my job here as a Wisconsin congressman, as a budget committee chairman. So I'm just not going to get into that speculation." http://politi.co/L8MnUU
@anoyes : Rep. @MarshaBlackburn stopped by @FacebookDC last week to talk tech and sign our giant Facebook Wall. Take a look: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150895152258396&set=a.318529878395.150142.6470828395&type=1&theater
- Mitt Romney holds two private fundraisers in New York.
- President Obama attends meetings at the NATO Summit in Chicago.
ABC's Joanna Suarez
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV