In the space of the next few days both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will take their turn courting voters in Virginia - a state that is already emerging as one most intensively contested battleground states in the country.
Why is Virginia so important this year?
One simple reason: No campaign can afford to lose it. Obama can lose Ohio and Florida and still win re-election as long as he carries Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
Romney can lose Pennsylvania, but if Obama carries Colorado and Nevada, he'll need to win Virginia as well as Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and Iowa.
That's why Romney is in the state for the second day in a row, campaigning near Norfolk with Gov. Bob McDonnell, a potential vice presidential pick and picking up the belated endorsement of a former rival, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
Yesterday, the former Massachusetts governor spoke at a women-run company in the Washington, DC suburbs telling an audience that, if elected, he would do the "opposite" of President Obama.
"What he's done over the last three and a half years is install a series of policies that have made it back-breaking for many small businesses, and made it harder for our economy to reboot and put people back to work," Romney said. "What I would do, people ask me what would you to get the economy going and I say, well look at what the president's done, and do the opposite."
But the Obama campaign knows the stakes in Virginia too. They already have a growing infrastructure of satellite offices dotting the state, and the president will pay a visit to Richmond on Saturday - the day he officially kicks off his re-election campaign.
And beyond Virginia, we're seeing early campaign numbers from other important battlegrounds. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll out today, Romney leads Obama in Florida, slightly, 44 percent to 43 percent, but trails in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania Obama is up 47 percent to 39 percent.
The key takeaway, according to Quinnipiac, "voters in Florida and Ohio say Romney would do a better job on the economy."
FLASHBACK: MICHELE BACHMANN ON MITT ROMNEY: 'HE CANNOT BEAT OBAMA. ABC's Jonathan Karl reports that shortly before she dropped her own presidential bid - 119 days ago - Michele Bachman told him, point blank, that there was no way Romney could beat Obama. "He cannot beat Obama," Bachmann said. "It's not going to happen." The comment came in an interview at her Iowa campaign headquarters the day before the Iowa caucuses. Karl asked her about her opponents. "Mitt Romney, can he beat Obama?" he asked. Here is her complete answer: "No, he cannot beat Obama because his policy is the basis for Obamacare," Bachmann said. "The signature issue of Obama is Obamacare. You can't have a candidate who has given the blueprint for Obamacare. It's too identical. It's not going to happen. We have to have a candidate, a bold distinct candidate in the likeness of Ronald Reagan." http://abcn.ws/JVdnsd
ABC's RICK KLEIN: You don't win elections in May, but you can start to lose them. Elizabeth Warren, the highest-profile Democratic Senate challenger in the nation, has spent a flat-out awful week explaining why Harvard Law School listed her as a minority professor in the 1980s and 1990s, and in the process has displayed why politics is hard for first-time candidates. Her latest explanation, that her Aunt Bee frequently remarked about her grandfather's high cheekbones, "like all of the Indians do," borders on farce. Meanwhile, Sen. Scott Brown is sinking half-court shots.
GOP TEST DRIVES NEW MESSAGING. Ahead of President Obama's first official campaign trip to Ohio and Virginia on Saturday, the Republican National Committee plans to unveil a new slogan to bracket the president: "Hype and Blame 2012." It's, of course, meant to be a play on Obama's 2008 "Hope and Change" mantra. According to a statement from the RNC: "Obama has no record to run on so he's out on the trail resorting to the same tactics he campaigned against in 2008. He has a litany of broken promises so what does he do? Lay blame, make excuses, run on gimmicks and engage in divisive politics. Four years later we know the candidate of Hope and Change is now Hype and Blame." An RNC official told ABC News that in the coming days they will be highlighting the new slogan in a conference call, web sites, digital ads, research pieces, Op-Eds and bumper stickers, among other things. Here's the RNC's new "Hype and Blame 2012? research document: http://bit.ly/JPkt0p
FACEBOOK: MITT ROMNEY'S BRAIN TRUST. Mitt Romney's campaign headquarters is far from Washington, D.C., and the Republican establishment, nestled in the blue state of Massachusetts. The former governor and investment banker, who is the presumptive nominee for the Republican presidential nomination, has top staffers who have been working for or with him for a decade. Others have roots with the Republican National Committee and are veterans of George W. Bush's campaign teams. ABC News begins a new series, "Mitt Romney's Brain Trust," that takes a look at some of the faces behind Romney and what roles they play in his campaign - on the trail and back at headquarters. Today, meet campaign manager Matt Rhoades and senior advisers Eric Fehrnstrom and Beth Myers: http://abcn.ws/KV49zm
with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
ROMNEY ZINGS OBAMA SLOGAN. At a high-dollar fundraiser in Arlington, VA Romney made fun of the newly unveiled Obama campaign slogan- "Forward" reports ABC's Emily Friedman. "Forward," Romney said "Forward, what, over the cliff?" http://abcn.ws/KRGD6n
OBAMA CAMPAIGN PAINTS A PICTURE FOR WOMEN VOTERS IN NEW ATTACK. The Obama campaign is out with a new digital attack on Thursday, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports. The attack- an online interactive- is called "The Life of Julia" and claims to illustrate how the competing policies of Obama and Romney would each affect women. "Using this new online tool, mom's can see what President Obama and Mitt Romney's contrasting policies will mean for their daughters," the campaign says. http://bit.ly/ICfKAf
GINGRICH ENDS HIS CAMPAIGN, THANKS ADELSONS. After announcing his intention to drop out more than a week earlier, Newt Gingrich finally ended his presidential bid on Wednesday in Virginia, ABC's Elicia Dover reports. "Today I'm suspending the campaign, but suspending the campaign doesn't mean suspending citizenship," Gingrich said to a roomful of reporters who had waited a week for Gingrich to officially announce it. "Callista and I are committed to being active citizens."…Upon his exit, Gingrich thanked Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the billionaire casino owner couple who kept his campaign alive. The Adelson family donated more than $20 million to Gingrich's super PAC over the duration of his campaign. http://abcn.ws/ Kr5IQb
WISCONSIN RECALL IS NECK AND NECK. A new Marquette Law School poll in Wisconsin showed Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett within a single percentage point of embattled Gov. Scott Walker in a head-to-head match up in the state's June 5th recall. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports that Barrett, who ran against Walker in 2010 and was defeated by a margin of 5 percentage points, has a 47-46 lead over Walker among all registered voters. However, when the pool is narrowed to likely voters, the lead flips, and Walker has 1 percentage point over Barrett of 48 percent to 47 percent. Barrett seems poised to be the Democrats' choice to battle Walker in the June 5 recall election. With less than a week until the May 8 Democratic primary, the Marquette poll shows Barrett with a 38-21 lead over former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. http://abcn.ws/IWGXNM
YOUNG BARACK, IN LOVE. In a new biography of Barack Obama, author David Maraniss takes a look at Obama's young love, publishing journal entries and love letters from Genevieve Cook, Obama's ex-girlfriend from his early 20's. ABC's Mary Bruce reports that during the course of their roughly year-long romantic relationship, Cook chronicled a man who was charming and intelligent, but also distant and emotionally unreachable. Excerpts of the new book, plus pictures of Cook, are published in the June issue of Vanity Fair. http://abcn.ws/Kv4R1x
HOW MITT ROMNEY COULD LURE LATINOS. The general consensus is that Romney is going to have a difficult time with Latino voters. However, ABC's Matt Jaffe notes that a closer look reveals that the outlook for the GOP hopeful among Latinos may not be quite as bleak as it appears. While Romney has made his share of missteps with Latinos - such as vowing to veto the Dream Act, advocating an immigration policy of "self-deportation" and praising Arizona's controversial new anti-immigrant law - Obama has blemishes on his record, too. During the 2008 campaign, Obama promised to enact comprehensive immigration reform if elected. But despite a Democrat-controlled Congress for the first two years of his tenure, Obama failed to fulfill those promises. http://abcn.ws/ KVpJUk
NOTED: SANTORUM, ROMNEY MEETING DETAILS. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney will meet in Pittsburgh Friday morning, a Santorum advisor said. ABC News' Shushannah Walshe and Michael Falcone report that officials close to the former Pennsylvania senator said that while an endorsement will be discussed at the meeting, he will not publicly endorse Romney after the meeting. There are also no plans for a joint media availability with the candidate and former candidate either before or after the private meeting in Santorum's hometown. The location of their May 4 meeting was first reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Salena Zito.
DEM. FUNDRAISING WOES. The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins and Peter Nicholas report that Democrats are having difficulty meeting their fundraising goals for this summer's convention. "Democrats are struggling to raise money for the party's national convention this summer in Charlotte, N.C., in part because they've barred corporations and lobbyists from contributing. Now, one set of donors the party was banking on- organized labor- says it won't help pay for the event or will scale back contributions, partly because it is upset that the convention will be in a state considered unfriendly to unions. Labor unions chipped in $8.6 million of the $60.5 million the party spent in 2008 in Denver. This year, a number of construction unions, as well as the labor organization Unite Here, plan to give nothing, officials say…With about four months to go before the Sept. 3 opening of the Charlotte convention- which has been scaled back from the one in Denver four years ago- Democrats are about $20 million short of their fundraising goal of $36.7 million, according to two prominent Democrats who have been briefed by convention planners." http://on.wsj.com/ JrRaPq
VEEPSTAKES: DOES TIM PAWLENTY HAVE A SHOT? It was a year ago this month that Pawlenty launched his campaign for President in Iowa. Three months later, he had dropped out. Despite his failed candidacy however, ABC's Matt Jaffe notes that Pawlenty possesses several qualities which would make him a strong VP candidate- with a resume that features two terms as governor of a blue state, a national profile, and a blue-collar upbringing, Pawlenty could appeal to the Romney campaign. http://abcn.ws/ IoAiv2
VEEPSTAKES: PAUL RYAN ON VP: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., weighed in on his the veepstakes last night in an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier: "You know, I'm pretty busy doing my job. I hear that. OK. If they ask me to consider it, then I'll consider it. But that's months away from a - that kind of a decision being made, as far as I know. I like my job. I think I can make a big difference doing what I'm doing. I've decided against running for the Senate or running for leadership here in the House because I think we have a fiscal crisis on our horizon and I feel like I've played a pretty constructive role in trying to prevent that from happening, to save the American dream."
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-NEW POLL LOOKS AT THE OBAMA'S PROMOTION OF BIN LADEN ANNIVERSARY: A new poll conducted May 1-2 by the public opinion research firm, CivicScience, found that 49 percent of Americans believe that President Obama's promotion of the killing of Osama bin Laden one year on was "inappropriate use of a national security issue for political gain" while 32 percent said it was a "an appropriate way to highlight a major success." Another 19 percent were undecided. Digging deeper, among independents 59 percent said it was in appropriate versus 27 percent who said it was appropriate and 14 percent who said they were not sure.
- PRESIDENTIAL ADS 70 PERCENT NEGATIVE THIS CYCLE. An analysis from the Wesleyan Media Project finds that the strong majority of presidential ads have been negative this cycle- 70 percent. For comparison, in 2008 9 percent of presidential ads were negative. "One reason the campaign has been so negative is the skyrocketing involvement of interest groups, who have increased their activity by 1100 percent over four years ago" said Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project. "But we cannot attribute the negativity solely to outside groups. Even the candidates' own campaigns have taken a dramatic negative turn." Check out the full release here: http://bit.ly/KwCJLB
@BuzzFeedBen : Shepard Smith pretty much won the day http://www.buzzfeed.com/zekejmiller/fox-anchor-politics-is-weird-and-creepy
@tobyharnden : Obama says bin Laden raid was "the longest 40 minutes of my life" http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/225157-desert-one-shadow-hung-over-white-house-during-bin-laden-raid-
@RyanGOP : @MittRomney campaign names Phil Valenziano NH state director: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20120503/NEWS0602/705039995&template=mobileart #mitt2012
-Vice President Joe Biden will attend an evening campaign event in Washington, D.C.
- Mitt Romney will remain in Virginia for a campaign event with Governor Bob McDonnell in Portsmouth. Governor Romney is also expected to receive an endorsement from former candidate Michelle Bachmann. In the evening, he will attend a fundraiser in Wheeling, West Virginia.
- Ron Paul will hold a attend a luncheon and town hall meeting in California.
- Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal will address the American Federation for Children Summit in New Jersey.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV