Democrats have spent the better part of the last week chastising Mitt Romney for making millions from his business interests at Bain Capital - sometimes, they argued, on the backs of working Americans.
But today Romney's rivals have about 40 million more reasons to dislike him.
Romney's campaign and the Republican National Committee announced this morning an April fundraising haul of roughly $40.1 million, which is on par with the $43 million the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised last month.
The news, first reported by The New York Times, should send a chill down the spines of Obama campaign officials in Chicago, especially when you combine that money with what GOP-allied super PACs have raised compared with those on Democratic side.
"There's no doubt that the combination of the Republican super PACs, the Romney campaign and the RNC could be at parity with us on the air," an Obama campaign official acknowledged to ABC News, "This is an incentive for our supporters to continue to invest now."
But many of the Democrat's most wealthy big-money donors have, so far, been reluctant to open their pocketbooks for groups like Priorities USA, the pro-Obama super PAC that has raised far less than Republican counterpart, American Crossroads.
But Team Obama says they have other tricks up their sleeve.
"As of yesterday 2 million donors have contributed to our campaign," the Obama official told The Note. "And it's a re-affirmation of our decision to build the largest grassroots campaign in history on the ground where the Republicans have largely taken a pass."
Nevertheless, Romney's growing war chest shows the power of the campaign's new joint fundraising agreement with the RNC, a group that has its own successful money machine in place under the leadership of Chairman Reince Priebus.
It also a sign of the time and effort Romney and his team have devoted to fundraising since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee. In recent weeks, Romney has hardly gone a day without holding a fundraiser and, according to the Miami Herald, his current fundraising swing through Florida this week could net him $10 million. http://bit.ly/KAbvHp
NOTED: ABC's Devin Dwyer points out that as of March 31, the Obama campaign had $104 million cash on hand and the DNC had $24.4 million on hand. The Obama campaign won't provide latest figures, but they will be in the campaign's May 20 FEC report. The Romney campaign says it has $61.4 million cash on hand as of the end of April.
ABC's AMY WALTER: The latest polling out of Wisconsin confirms what many insiders on both sides have long suspected: Gov. Scott Walker is the heavy favorite to win his recall election on June 5. Democrats concede that the enthusiasm generated from last spring's collective bargaining fight has waned. It's an important reminder to Republicans that a win on June 5 isn't necessarily predictive for November.
OBAMA CAMPAIGN OFFENSIVE FOCUSES ON VETS. Obama for America is launching "Veterans & Military Families for Obama" today. According to campaign aides, a field outreach effort is planned in key states, including phone banks, press conferences and house parties. Big names involved in the effort include, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, and OFA National Veterans & Military Families Outreach Director Rob Diamond. The Obama campaign will hold a press conference call this afternoon to discuss "the President's strength and decisiveness as Commander-in Chief and his strong record of accomplishment on behalf of veterans. This contrasts with Governor Romney's plan to take America backwards with the very budget he supports that includes deep domestic spending cuts that - if applied across the board - would cut veterans' spending by $11 billion a year."
REPUBLICANS COAL CALL. Although the Republican National Committee focused on the national debt most of this week, they have now pivoted to coal to try and bracket Vice President Biden's trip to Ohio, ABC's Shushannah Walshe notes. Out with a lengthy research piece ( http://bit.ly/KhvKFh) and a new web video they use President Obama and the vice president's own words on coal production including Biden's famous interaction with a young woman last cycle where he said, "We are not supporting clean coal. No coal plants in America!" The RNC is also hosting a morning conference call with Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson to bracket Biden's remarks today. W ATCH their web video: http://bit.ly/JN2xor
GOP AIMS TO SHOW OBAMA SOME SOUTHERN DIS-COMFORT: The RNC announced plans this morning to join forces with state GOPs in North and South Carolina: "Republicans are growing stronger than ever in North Carolina. In coordination with the Republican National Committee (RNC), the North Carolina Republican Party (NCGOP) and the South Carolina Republican Party (SCGOP) today announced that they will immediately begin to coordinate volunteer efforts to defeat President Barack Obama in the crucial battleground state of North Carolina this November."
VA GOP TROUBLE FOR McDONNELL? Could Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's own state Republican Party be causing problems for him down the road? The Washington Examiner's Steve Contorno reports on McDonnell's need to distance himself from Virginia Republicans, who "forced McDonnell to deal with thorny issues like abortion, defeated many of his budget amendments and, in a move that generated negative national attention, rejected a judicial nominee because he's gay." http://bit.ly/KCGTFa
THE CHRIS CHRISTIE ROAD SHOW: The New Jersey State Ledger reviewed Gov. Chris Christie's travel records and found the New Jersey governor is always on the go. Over the past 8 months, Christie has traveled out of the state 54 days since he assumed his position as Vice Chairman of the Republican Governors Association. But the frequent travel raises questions about whether he's trying to boost his national profile to curry favor with Romney, who may consider him as a VP pick. http://bit.ly/LeAXVl
MEETING OF THE MINDS: A few potential VP candidates will gather in Charlotte, N.C. today for RGA Meetings. The line-up includes Bob McDonnell, chair of the RGA, Nikki Haley, and Bobby Jindal.
V.P. CONTENDERS WITH SPEED: Two VP possibilities - Sen. John Thune and Sen. Kelly Ayotte - ran a three miler Wednesday morning in honor of the Wounded Warriors Project, and they each won their categories in the ACLI Capital ChallengeThune placed first among Male Senators, clocking in his 3 miles at 18:57 while Ayotte came in first among Female Senators with a time of 24:41
VIDEO OF THE DAY: BEES SWARM THE PENTAGON. ABC's Luis Martinez captured video of European honey bees that set themselves up in a small tree outside the Pentagon Mall entrance. According to Luis, most of them were in a box brought by a beekeeper. The estimate is 10,000 bees were buzzing around the tree. When the beekeeper cut off the branch they were on, about half of them moved into the box the other half flew away. An Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, who happens to be an amateur beekeeper, planned to take the box and swarm home with him. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/Kn6bEI
with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
SENATE TO UNVEIL 'EX-PATRIOT' ACT. In response to Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin relinquishing his U.S. citizenship and moving to Singapore ahead of Facebook's initial public offering of stock this week, Senate Democrats are unveiling a new proposal, ABC's Sunlen Miller reports. At a news conference this morning, Sens. Schumer and Bob Casey, D-Pa., will unveil the "Ex-PATRIOT" - "Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy" - Act to respond directly to Saverin's move, which they dub a "scheme" that would "help him duck up to $67 million in taxes." http://abcn.ws/JiDJsr
BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS ADD UP TO ZERO. Even a vote to use calculators on the Senate floor failed to yield a consensus on a budget resolution on Wednesday, reports ABC's Sunlen Miller. The Senate spent the whole day today, with over six hours of straight floor speeches, debating five nonbinding budget resolutions that everyone knew in advance would not pass. And, no surprise, none of them passed. http://abcn.ws/JhxNzD
DINNER TIME DISPUTE. A top Mitt Romney spokesmen, Ryan Williams, in Ohio to attend Vice President's Joe Biden's speech in nearby Youngstown, Ohio, got some unexpected one-on-one time with the veep last night when he was seated next to him at dinner, where he proceeded to drill him on his position on coal production, reports ABC's Emily Friedman. Williams said he asked the vice president why he was in coal country, challenging him on his support of the coal industry. According to Williams, Biden refused to answer when he asked the vice president why he believes coal is more dangerous than terrorism. "He disagreed with that and didn't want to answer my questions," said Williams, who added that Biden was "very cordial" and "seems like a nice man." http://abcn.ws/ JIXc2p
A SIDE OF TWEETS:
(Amy Dudley is Vice President Biden's campaign press secretary.)
G.O.P. 'SUPER PAC' WEIGHS HARD-LINE ATTACK ON OBAMA. The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg report: "A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the 'super PAC' era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from. The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign." http://nyti.ms/ JxVrYF
HOAGIE DIPLOMACY. President Obama lunch with congressional leaders yielded one bipartisan agreement- the sandwiches served were a popular choice. ABC's John Parkinson reports that Boehner asked the president to clarify whether he wants Congress to pass an increase to the debt ceiling that does not include any spending cuts to reduce the deficit, according to a readout provided to reporters by the speaker's office. After the president answered in the affirmative, Boehner laid down the law according to him. "As long as I'm around here, I'm not going to allow a debt ceiling increase without doing something serious about the debt," Boehner said. Oddly, the readout ended by revealing that "the speaker was very pleased with the sandwiches served." http://abcn.ws/JwCKVl
ROMNEY BACKERS COMPARE US ECONOMY TO GREECE. As part of its weeklong push to criticize President Barack Obama on the economy and the deficit, the Republican National Committee and the Romney campaign hit the president on the national debt, reports ABC's Shushannah Walshe. On an RNC conference call Wednesday, New Hampshire lawmakers never mentioned the trillions in debt accrued during the Bush administration, mostly due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and instead compared the country's economy to the dire situation in Greece. http://abcn.ws/KfQYTV
HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED. Campaigning in Florida, Mitt Romney seemed to evade directly mentioning George W. Bush, referring to him only as Obama's predecessor. "I find it incomprehensible that a president could come to office and call his predecessor's record irresponsible and unpatriotic and then do almost nothing to fix it" Romney said. ABC's Emily Friedman reports Romney made no mention of Bush's endorsement earlier in the week. http://abcn.ws/KtrXdE
CAN OBAMA RECAPTURE THE YOUTH VOTE? Young workers were hit hard by the recession, and their economic woes could prove difficult for Obama going forward. National Journal's Alex Roarty reports: "The White House incumbent enjoyed the overwhelming enthusiasm of young voters in 2008, winning them by a two-to-one margin over Republican John McCain - an incredible edge even for a group that usually leans left. But replicating that success could prove difficult when so many of those same voters are beset by personal financial difficulty. To do so, the Obama campaign might have to rely on a culturally oriented pitch, one that can tout the president's support of same-sex marriage." http://bit.ly/ JiBULV
PRO-OBAMA SUPER PAC ENLISTS JOHN KERRY'S FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER. Priorities USA, the pro-Obama super PAC that has so far struggled to match the fundraising prowess of similar groups on the right is getting some help, ABC's Michael Falcone reports. The group is bringing on Sen. John Kerry's former presidential campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, as a strategic consultant, according to Priorities USA officials. Cahill currently serves as the director of the Washington, DC office of the United Auto Workers and will continue to "maintain a relationship" with the union. So far, Priorities' fundraising has lagged behind competing GOP-allied groups although insiders say they have picked up the pace. Just this week the super PAC announced it would spend more than $4 million on a round of television ads in key swing states attacking Mitt Romney's business dealings at Bain Capital. "Mary Beth brings an enormous wealth of experience in national campaigns and we couldn't be happier that she's joining us," Priorities USA senior strategist Bill Burton said in a statement. "As the election draws closer, her expertise in strategy and targeting will be invaluable in ensuring the President's reelection."
TEA PARTY TEST IN TEXAS AND UTAH. Politico's David Catanese reports: "Another pair of GOP primaries in rock-ribbed red states - Texas on May 29 and Utah on June 26 - will further test the strength of the tea party movement that helped deliver the House to Republicans in 2010 and has roiled the party ever since. A lot can happen in six weeks, but early indications are that they could have a tough time extending their run in those states." http://politi.co/ KzNEaD
HERMAN CAIN EVOLVES, ENDORSES ROMNEY. After initially endorsing Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain announced he had "evolved" on Wednesday and was endorsing Mitt Romney, reports ABC's John Parkinson. "It is clear that Gov. Mitt Romney's going to be the Republican nominee and so I wanted to formally endorse him today for president of the United States of America" Cain told reporters… "My endorsement evolved," he said. http://abcn.ws/Mlg2z4
SEAMUS ROMNEY'S STORY IMMORTALIZED IN UPCOMING BOOK. That infamous and seemingly immortal tale of Mitt Romney crating his dog on the roof of his car during a 14-hour road trip has already weaseled its way into the narrative of the 2012 campaign and is now splashing its way onto America's bookshelves. ABC's Amy Bingham reports that the Romney family's now-deceased Irish setter Seamus' story is being cemented in history in a 64-page satirical book, "Dog on the Roof," set to be released June 19. http://abcn.ws/Jh7Pwp
@DaveWalkerCAI : I am the keynote speaker at the AICPA's 125th Anniversary Conference today in DC. I will issue a call to action to help save our future. DW
@jasoninthehouse : My op-ed about horses gone wild, aka an over regulated society: http://www.heraldextra.com/news/opinion/horses-in-the-dining-room/article_f7ec243e-845d-5e7c-b9f6-5735ca9bd9dd.html
-President Obama has no scheduled events and will spend the day in meetings at the White House.
-Vice President Biden heads to Martins Ferry, Ohio for a campaign stop at Staffilino Chevrolet.
-Mitt Romney is in Jacksonville, FL for a rally at the River City Brewing Company. Ann Romney is in Austin, TX for a private fundraiser.
-On the Veepstakes front, Bob McDonnell, Nikki Haley, and Jim DeMint are in Charlotte, North Carolina for a roundtable quarterly meeting
ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV