One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (The Note)

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


  • BACK TO THE FUTURE: All week long, President Obama's ad makers have kept a laser-like focus on Mitt Romney's business dealings at Bain Capital while the Romney team has made it clear that they would rather Bain remain in the past. Team Romney insists that the well-worn Bain attack is not sticking, but the Obama folks say they are just starting to make their case.
  • FLOODING THE ZONE IN WISCONSIN: Three GOP governors - Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, and Bob McDonnell - will head to Wisconsin over the next two weeks to campaign with embattled governor Scott Walker who faces a June 5 recall election. Meanwhile, the Democratic Governors Association announced this morning that it is sending an additional $1 million to the DGA-affiliated group, Greater Wisconsin, to support ads airing statewide, as well as get-out-the-vote efforts.
  • VEEP BEAT: In today's Veep Beat, Rob Portman acknowledges he's more boring than even he thought, Marco Rubio decries the divisive state of politics and Chris Christie opens up beach season in Atlantic City. Bonus: Does Donald Trump want a look for the VP spot? (Answer: Yes.)


The Obama campaign wants to turn back the clock. The Romney campaign wants to hit fast forward.

All week long the difference in messages coming from the two teams has been striking. Obama's ad makers have kept a laser-like focus on Mitt Romney's business dealings at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded nearly three decades ago.

And today, the Obama team is out with a new video looking back at Romney's memorable appearance last year at the Iowa State Fair when he declared, "corporations are people, my friend." (WATCH:

Like the Bain ads, Romney's heated exchange in Iowa last summer is meant to frame the image of the former Massachusetts governor as an out-of-touch capitalist, which President Obama's campaign has been hammering home all week. The president visits the Iowa State Fairgrounds later today.

Meanwhile, Romney appears to have little interest in re-living the past. And, after all, why should he? As we've noted before, every day Romney is not talking about the country's economic woes is a day that he's off message.

In an interview with Time Magazine's Mark Halperin, Romney attempted to swat away questions about his record at Bain: "Well of course, I'd like to also focus on his record," Romney said of Obama in response to a question inviting him to weigh in on his time in private equity.

And to underscore that strategy, the Romney campaign unveiled a new campaign ad this morning - part of their "Day One" series - that attempts to answer, "What would a Romney Presidency be like?" (WATCH:

"Day one, President Romney announces deficit reductions, ending the Obama era of big government, helping secure our kids' futures," the ad's narrators says. "President Romney stands up to China on trade and demands they play by the rules. President Romney begins repealing job-killing regulations that are costing the economy billions."

So, as Romney looks forward to inauguration day, the Obama campaign plans to continue chipping away at his record from years earlier. Team Romney insists that the Bain attack is not sticking, but the Obama folks say they are just starting to build their case.


with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)

GOP GOVS HELP OUT SCOTT WALKER:  As part of a concerted effort by the RGA to boost Gov. Scott Walker's standing in the state ahead of its recall election., three GOP governors - Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, and Bob McDonnell - will head to the Badger State over the next two weeks to campaign with the embattled governor.  Jindal is on deck today, McDonnell will help out on Tuesday, and Haley will be there next Friday.  They will join N.J. Gov. Chris Christie and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who have already traveled to the state to hit the trail with him.

NOTED: DGA WRITES ANOTHER $1 MILLION CHECK. The Democratic Governors Association announced this morning that it is sending an additional $1 million to the DGA-affiliated group, Greater Wisconsin, to support ads already airing statewide, as well as get-out-the-vote efforts in the 12 days remaining until the June 5 recall. According to a DGA aide, "This brings DGA's total investment to over $3 million in Wisconsin - more than both the 2006 and 2010 cycles - and underscores our commitment to highlighting Scott Walker's worst-in-the-nation record on job creation and questions he refuses to answer over his role in the John Doe campaign corruption investigation."

JUST A THOUGHT: A smart GOP strategist, and friend of The Note, offers this bit of early morning political prognosticating. Could Scott Walker be a potential vice presidential choice for Romney?: "A longshot, I know, but if he wins June 5, you're talking about bringing a swing state into play and firming up the right in a way none of the other folks in the top tier can."

ROMNEY'S EDUCATION PLAN: FEDERAL SCHOOL CHOICE. ABC's Emily Friedman reports: Mitt Romney today unveiled his education plan designed to make sweeping changes to the public education system, which would include expanding school choice by assigning federal money to low-income students for use at a school of his or her choice, or for tutoring or digital education. … "For the first time in history, federal education funds will be linked to the student, so that parents can send their child to any public or charter school of their choice."  … Romney's plans will shift the responsibility of school report cards from the federal level to the state level in an attempt to give parents a clearer understanding of their child's education.

POLL: HISPANICS SIDE WITH OBAMA. The Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler reports on a new poll by WSJ, NBC, and Telemundo: "Among Hispanic registered voters, 61% said they would vote for Mr. Obama if the election were held today, with 27% choosing Mr. Romney. The margin of error for this group was plus or minus seven percentage points. In a broader sample that included Hispanics not registered to vote, the poll found heavily negative views of the Republican Party. Just 22% saw the GOP in a positive light, while 40% saw the party in a negative light. Views of Mr. Romney were also negative, with 26% seeing him positively and 35% seeing him in a negative light. Mr. Obama was viewed far more positively than negatively: 58% to 23%. The margin of error for the broader set of Hispanic respondents was plus or minus 5.66 percentage points."

POLL: FLORIDA BACKS 'STAND YOUR GROUND' LAW. From Quinnipiac University's latest poll release: "A majority of registered voters, 56 - 35 percent, support the state's "Stand Your Ground" law that has come under recent scrutiny. Support is 78 - 15 percent among Republicans and 58 - 35 percent among independent voters while Democrats are opposed 59 - 32 percent. Men support "Stand Your Ground" 65 - 31 percent while women support it 48 - 39 percent. Support is 61 - 31 percent among white voters and 53 - 36 percent among Hispanic voters while black voters are opposed 56 - 30 percent."

OBAMA ON GOP 'WILD DEBTS.' ABC's Devin Dwyer reports from Obama's fundraiser Wednesday in Denver: "I'm running to pay down our debt in a way that's balanced and responsible. After inheriting a $1 trillion deficit, I signed $2 trillion of spending cuts into law," he told a crowd of donors at the Hyatt Regency. "My opponent won't admit it, but it's starting to appear in places, like real liberal outlets, like the Wall Street Journal: Since I've been president, federal spending has risen at the lowest pace  in nearly 60 years. Think about that." … "I just point out it always goes up least under Democratic presidents. This other side, I don't know how they've been bamboozling folks into thinking that they are the responsible, fiscally-disciplined party. They run up these wild debts and then when we take over, we've got to clean it up."

NOTED: COLORADO IN PLAY. The Hill's Amie Parnes and Mike Lillis report: "The state is not the same one Obama encountered in 2008, when Coloradans lined the streets for miles to witness the presidential candidate accept the Democratic nomination. Nor is it the same state Obama used as a backdrop to sign the stimulus bill into law just after taking office in 2009. 'It's as absolutely split as a state can be, which is why you can't turn around without bumping into the president and his motorcade,' said Kenneth Bickers, the chairman of the political science department at the University of Colorado at Boulder."

POWELL VS. ROMNEY'S FOREIGN-POLICY TEAM: A HISTORY. Colin Powell on Wednesday criticized Mitt Romney's foreign-policy sensibility - more specifically, his advisers and his thoughts on Russia - and in doing so, the former secretary of state resurfaced old conflicts with the Republican candidate's team. Two names likely stand out for Powell: John Bolton and Robert Kagan. During Bolton's 2005 Senate confirmation as U.N. ambassador, anonymous sources informed the Washington Post that Bolton had prevented a 2003 memo, on international support for U.S.-backed investigation of Iran's nuclear program, from reaching Powell's desk. Powell, meanwhile, privately urged Republican senators to vote Bolton down. Romney's advisers aren't exclusively neocons, but Bolton leads a faction with which Romney usually sides, the New York Times' David Sanger reported this month. Romney's team also includes Robert Kagan, another prominent neocon and Project for the New American Century member who urged George W. Bush not to appoint Powell to head the State Department, in a 2000 Washington Post op-ed.

ROMNEY AGAIN VOWS 6 PERCENT UNEMPLOYMENT. From ABC's Emily Friedman: "I can tell you that over a period of four years by virtue of the policies that we put in place we'll get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent or perhaps a little lower, depends in part upon the rate of growth of the globe as well as what we're seeing here in the United States," Romney said in  an interview with Time magazine's Mark Halperin. The current U.S. unemployment rate is 8.1 percent. Earlier this month, Romney said that any unemployment rate "over 4 percent is not a cause of celebration." The candidate first vowed to reduce unemployment 6 percent last fall during in a speech at a North Las Vegas trucking depot.

ALL TIED UP IN MASSACHUSETTS SENATE RACE. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports: A new Suffolk University poll shows Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown in a virtual dead heat in Massachusetts: Brown 48 percent, Warren 47 percent. The poll was conducted between May 20 and May 22- weeks after the Warren Native American story first emerged. It has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. 73 percent of likely voters said they were aware of the controversy involving Warren's claim of Cherokee heritage and minority status, and 69 percent said it was not a significant story. The numbers represent a seven-percentage-point improvement for Warren since the last Suffolk poll taken in February, when Brown had a nine point lead (49 percent to Warren's 40 percent).

MEET THE WEALTHY 21-YEAR-OLD WHO LAUNCHED A PRO-RON-PAUL SUPER PAC. Bloomberg's Greg Giroux reports: "John Ramsey became old enough to buy a Carlsberg nine months ago. The 21-year-old college student from east Texas isn't old enough to serve in Congress. … Ramsey is leaving a mark on U.S. politics that may outlast his political mentor and presidential candidate, Paul. The college senior spent $1.3 million of his own money to create a super-political action committee, Liberty for All Super PAC, that backs candidates who endorse what Ramsey calls "freedom philosophy." The dogma includes policies championed by Paul, such as supporting free-market economics, protecting civil liberties, slashing government spending and opposing most U.S. military action. … His interest in economics and finance comes from his grandfather, Justin Robert Howard, a banker who died on Thanksgiving 2010 and left a fortune to his survivors, including Ramsey and his two older siblings. JJp2hj

SENATE DEMOCRATS PICK EQUAL-PAY FIGHT. Roll Call's Humberto Sanchez reports: "In their latest play for female voters, Senate Democrats have begun laying the groundwork for a legislative fight over equal pay next month. Senate Democrats intend to set up a procedural vote after next week's recess on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update the Equal Pay Act signed into law June 10, 1963."

JANE LYNCH FOR OBAMA PRIDE. From ABC's Devin Dwyer: In a new five-minute, documentary-style campaign video, Obama appeals to his supporters by casting himself as the most progressive U.S. president on gay rights issues in American history.  He also reflects personally on how he was inspired to become an advocate through relationships with LGBT friends and family, U.S. military service members, and the mother of anti-gay hate crime victim Matthew Shepard. … The film is  narrated by actress Jane Lynch, who stars in the hit show "Glee."

OBAMA TO CADETS: A 'NEW FEELING ABOUT AMERICA.' ABC' Mary Bruce and Devin Dwyer report on Obama's speech to graduating Air Force Academy cadets on Wednesday: "The world stage is not a popularity contest," Obama said as he defended his foreign policy decisions. "As a nation, we have vital interests, and we will do what is necessary to defend the country we love-even if it's unpopular.  But make no mistake, how we're viewed in the world has consequences-for our national security, for your lives. "There's a new feeling about America" because of the progress made by his administration.  There's a new confidence in our leadership.  And when people around the world are asked 'Which country do you admire most?'…one nation comes out on top-the United States of America," he said.

AIR FORCE ACADEMY GRADUATES FIRST OPENLY GAY CADETS. From ABC's Devin Dwyer: "The whole thing is we don't want to be identified as anything different," said Trish Heller, who heads the Blue Alliance, an association of LGBT Air Force Academy alumni. "We want to serve, to be professional and to be symbols of what it means to be Air Force Academy graduates." Heller said her group had connected with at least four members of the class of 2012 receiving diplomas today who had come out publicly as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. There were  likely others, but they preferred to keep a  low-profile, she said.

REPUBLICANS SET TO GO AFTER MESSINA. Roll Call's Jonathan Strong reports: With Republicans ramping up their messaging on a health care investigation and set to unveil information that might ensnare President Barack Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, Democrats say they'll return fire by targeting Barry Jackson, a top aide to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), over his small role in two George W. Bush-era scandals. … Republicans say Messina might have violated the Presidential Records Act by using a personal email account to discuss official White House business. The allegations about the records law stem from a larger investigation into deals the White House made to help pass the health care overhaul. Messina, who was White House deputy chief of staff before moving to the re-election campaign last year, played a key role in those negotiations. … That investigation and another probe, into the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, revealed several interactions between Jackson and lobbyists who worked for Abramoff's firm.

BAIN DRAIN. The New York Times' Nicholas Confessore reports that Obama's Bain talk may jeopardize relationships and money: "At stake are not only a political and policy relationship Democrats have nurtured over decades with the financial services industry, but the millions of dollars in campaign cash that have come with it. Already this year, securities and investment firms have given Republicans 57 percent of their donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the party's highest share since the center began tabulating campaign money. Mr. Obama has raised millions of dollars on Wall Street, but far less than he did four years ago."

HALEY CREEPED OUT BY PINATA BASHING. After a YouTube video surfaced of a South Carolina union leader bashing a pinata adorned with the South Carolina governor's face, Politico's MJ Lee reports on more of Haley's reaction: "'It's creepy. I still hurt every time I see it,' Haley said to Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. 'This is not typical of South Carolinians. This is typical of union thugs.'" KNrBif

BIRTHER BEAT: AZ SECRETARY OF STATE GIVES IT UP. The Associated Press's Jacques Billaud reports: "Arizona's secretary of state said Wednesday that Hawaii's official verification of President Barack Obama's birth records meets necessary requirements, meaning the president's name will appear on Arizona's ballot in the fall. The inquiry launched recently by Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett gave official weight to a long-simmering political controversy generated by those who say that Obama was not born in the U.S. and therefore is ineligible to hold the nation's highest office."


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

PORTMAN'S PROSPECTS. From The Washington Post's Michael Leahy: "Romney and Ryan had met privately last autumn to talk about economic policy and deficits, said someone close to the candidate. Although Portman, he added, was 'much admired' by the Romney team and remained very high on the VP list, the view among several Romney insiders was that the chemistry between their leader and Portman 'had not been great - not bad, he's a nice guy, but just not great.' Still, only one man knows Portman's standing for certain. And Mitt Romney isn't saying anything about the process. 'Senator Portman is a proven leader and a trusted fiscal conservative,' says Ryan Williams, a Romney campaign spokesman. 'He played an important role during Governor Romney's successful primary campaign in Ohio.' Portman remains as disciplined and self-effacing as ever. Asked the same question that was put to Christie the day before about whether he would accept the vice presidential nomination, Portman declined to take the bait. He paused. No political figure can pause longer or answer more deliberatively than Portman. Icebergs could form in his cool hesitation. 'I don't know,' he said finally. 'My sense is .?.?. [lengthy pause], given all the various .?.?. [lengthier pause] .?.?. candidates he's looking at, that it's unlikely that question will ever be posed. He's got some great candidates.'"

RUBIO DECRIES DIVISIVE POLITICS:  Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., lamented the divisive state of politics Wednesday, accusing politicians of fostering a culture of ineffectiveness and division and placing the blame for much of this with a veiled swipe at President Obama."Last three and a half years after our elections, irrespective of how you felt about how they turned out, we all had hope that this nation would embark at a new moment, where somehow we would rise above the petty politics of the moment and have a real honest societal wide conversation about what kind of country we want to be, what kind of role we want to play in the world, and what kind of role we want our government to play in our lives. Well any hope of that is now gone," Rubio said during his keynote address at the Latino Coalition's Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C. Wednesday afternoon. "What you have today is nothing less than a whole sale effort to pit one group of Americans against each other on issue after issue."

 TRUMP CHIMES IN ON VP: PICK ME!  Donald Trump weighed in on the veepstakes race in an interview with NewsMax Wednesday.  "You have a lot of really good candidates," Trump said to Newsmax. "Chris Christie's a great guy. He's a friend of mine. You really have someone really good there. Rob Portman, who I don't know, but I hear fantastic things about. Certainly he's been very well vetted over the years. He's a professional who's been there a long time. He's been through it. He knows the game and he's a very, very solid citizen… "On a younger side, you could look at Sen. Rubio, who I think could help with Hispanics. But he is young, and I think he sort of doesn't want to go through it and doesn't want to do it."  But Trump joked about his own potential candidacy telling NewsMax with a smile. "They have a lot of very good people…Probably the best choice of all would be Donald Trump."

CHRISTIE HITS THE SHORE: N.J. Gov. Chris Christie hits the Jersey Shore Thursday with a tour and press conference in Atlantic City ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, ABC News' Shushannah Walshe reports.  Christie famously warned shore-goers last summer to "Get the hell off the beach" last summer as Hurricane Irene barreled towards the shore. 



PhilipRucker : Bluford, the Philly charter school Romney's visiting today, is on warning status and underperforming in math & reading.

@edatpost : Did the  @SecretService cut corners with its internal investigation? @carolleonnig has the scoop:

@JaredRizzi : I hope we eventually have enough of the Romney Day One ads to cobble together a decent season of "24?

@markzbarabak : Latino SuperPAC goes up w/its first TV spot, AZ immigration ad lumping Romney w/ Gov. Brewer + Arpaio. See it here 1st:,0,3863935.story

@Sarah_Boxer : TNR profiles Romney's BFF, Bob White



- President Obama will attend a morning fundraiser in San Jose. The President will then travel to Iowa for an energy event in Newton and a grassroots rally in Des Moines.

- Mitt Romney will visit a local charter school in Philadelphia, before heading to Boston for a roundtable and fundraiser.

- Vice President Biden will attend two campaign events in Charlotte. In the evening, he will also attend a fundraiser for Governor Tim Kaine in McLean, VA.

ABC's Joanna Suarez

 Check out The Note's Futures Calendar:

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