Words With Frenemies (The Note)

May 4, 2012 8:25am
gty mitt romney santorum split thg 120313 wblog Words With Frenemies (The Note)

AP Photos

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

NOTABLES:

  • STICKS AND STONES: It may not mean much a few months from now, but at this early stage in the general election campaign, Democrats are not content to let the memory of the Republican primary fade. As Mitt Romney’s former rivals have dropped out of the race and, in some cases, endorsed him, their sharp rhetoric from the past few months is coming back to haunt him. The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee are making sure of it.
  • A NO GOOD, VERY BAD WEEK for Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat running against incumbent Scott Brown. Warren had to do a lot more explaining than campaigning.
  • GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS takes a look at the intensely revealing and sometimes embarrassing aspects of being president in a new ABC News video: http://yhoo.it/IpHm9i
  • NOTE IT! In our Friday morning virtual roundtable of ABC’s best political minds, Political Director Amy Walter traces Mitt Romney and Barack Obama’s path to 270 electoral votes, Jonathan Karl on a “poster child for stimulus waste” in California’s Napa Valley and Rick Klein on the lingering effects of the Republican primary.

BREAKING: The U.S. unemployment rate in April fell to 8.1 percent; 115,000 jobs were added. This is below economist expectations of around 160,000 new jobs.

THE NOTE:

Over the past week, Mitt Romney has come face to face with the ghosts of the primary past.

“If Mitt Romney’s an economic heavyweight, we’re in trouble,” one well-known former senator said of the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee not too long ago. “Because he was 47th out of 50 in job creation in the state of Massachusetts when he was governor.”

In another haunting passage for the former Massachusetts governor, a current member of congress issued a gloomy prognosis for November:

“He cannot beat Obama because his policy is the basis for Obamacare,” the congresswoman 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.” http://abcn.ws/JVdnsd

And this from a third detractor: “As the man who wants to run for president of the United States who can’t be honest with the American people, why should we expect him to level about anything if he’s president?”

They sound like the words of fierce partisans on the left, but they’re not. The three quotes were each said by one of Romney’s GOP primary rivals — Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich, respectively.

And their words have been getting new life this week.

As Romney and Santorum prepare to meet privately in Pennsylvania today, the Democratic National Committee rolled out a new web video and lengthy memo revisiting some of the former Pennsylvania senator’s greatest hits on Romney from the past few months. (Watch:  http://youtu.be/EcwWJ32wKgg)

“Rick Santorum thinks based on Mitt Romney’s failed jobs and economic record in Massachusetts that America would be in trouble with him at the helm, that his time as a corporate raider is definitely NOT what Americans are looking for in a president, that it’s unfair that Mitt Romney pays a lower tax rate than many middle class Americans and that Mitt Romney should release his tax returns,” DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse wrote in the memo. “Senator, we couldn’t agree more.”

Earlier this week, on the day that Gingrich officially exited the presidential race, the Obama campaign had a similar video ready to go titled: “Newt Gingrich: Frankly, not Mitt Romney’s biggest supporter.”

And even though he is no longer a candidate, Gingrich couldn’t help but continue to raise questions about Romney’s trustworthiness in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer yesterday.

“I still believe the Romney campaign said things that weren’t true,” Gingrich said, adding: “I also believe that compared to Barack Obama I would trust Mitt Romney 100 times over.” http://abcn.ws/J4weCE

Bachmann appeared at a campaign event with Romney in the Hampton Roads-area of Virginia yesterday to endorse him, and this is how she responded when Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren asked her last night why she did so. http://fxn.ws/JRng9w

“Two words, Barack Obama. That’s our alternative,” Bachmann said. “We have President Barack Obama or we can have President Mitt Romney. It’s very easy for me to come forward and support Mitt Romney because we simply have to win the election.”

While Santorum and Gingrich may soon follow Bachmann’s lead and publicly back Romney — perhaps even campaign with him — there was one voter in Portsmouth, Va. yesterday who reminded us of the damage done to Romney during the primary.

“I’m satisfied with Romney,” Dan McDonald of Carrollton, Va. told ABC News.

Enthusiastic?

“Um, no.”

 

NOTE IT!

ABC’s AMY WALTER: It’s all about the battle to 270: An informal survey of Democrat and GOP strategists yesterday found general agreement on the eight toss-up states that will decide the White House: Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina. The best opportunities for Romney: North Carolina and Iowa. The most likely state to end up in Obama column: Colorado. One state that’s not on anyone’s list: Wisconsin. It’s surprising given the state’s demographic make-up and an expected victory for Gov. Walker in the recall election next month.

ABC’s JONATHAN KARL: To critics of the Recovery Act, it was a poster child for stimulus waste: the $54 million project to relocate the railroad tracks used by the Napa Valley Wine Train. This week the former CEO of company that got the contract testified that the company was able to make “obscene profits” on the job and bilk taxpayers for an extra $10 million because it was a no-bid contract.  Read the story from the good muckrakers at California Watch: http://bit.ly/IpB7Ya (FLASHBACK: Jon Karl rides the wine train:  http://bit.ly/L5kKjV)

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: We can all laugh along with the DNC as they put together videos reminding us of the awful things Mitt Romney’s former rivals once said about Mitt Romney. But the interesting thing here is that some of them may not be done yet. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum haven’t gotten around to formally endorsing Romney. And Gingrich, in his first interview since dropping out of the race, couldn’t bring himself not to repeat his charge that Romney lied during the campaign. That damage from the extended primary just might continue to linger.

 

THIS WEEK ON “THIS WEEK”: DAVID AXELROD AND SEN. JOHN MCCAIN. ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper is joined by Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod and Sen. John McCain. Plus, the “This Week” roundtable weighs in on all the week’s politics, with ABC News’ George Will, Republican political analyst and president of The American Cause Bay Buchanan, former Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, and radio host and author Tavis Smiley. http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/ (h/t ABC’s Imtiyaz Delawala)

 

VIDEO OF THE DAY: GEORGE’S BOTTOM LINE: Inspired by the recent Vanity Fair article by David Maraniss — the author of a soon-to-be-released Obama biography which includes letters and journal entries from two of Barack’s ex-girlfriends, George Stephanopoulos takes a look at the intensely revealing and sometimes embarrassing aspects of being president. http://yhoo.it/IpHm9i

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s Elizabeth Hartfield (@LizHartfield)

WHAT’S ELIZABETH WARREN’S NEXT MOVE?  Elizabeth Warren, the likely Democratic nominee in the Massachusetts Senate race, has had a bad week, reports ABC’s Elizabeth Hartfield, Warren, who has spent the week answering questions about why she listed herself as a minority based on a far back Cherokee bloodline, needs to change the political conversation in the Bay state. It’s unlikely that any further or continued explanation will dig Warren out of the situation, so her best bet is to nationalize the conversation — tying her race to the Democrats fate in the Senate. http://abcn.ws/K3Sew0

CHEN GUANGCHENG WANTS FACE-TO-FACE WITH CLINTON. Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese activist who took refuge at the U.S. embassy in Beijing ahead of Secretary Clinton’s arrival, phoned a congressional hearing on Wednesday to request an in person meeting with Secretary Clinton. ABC’s John Parkinson reports that Chen said he “really fears for my other family members’ lives” and suspected that all of the villagers who helped him escape house arrest and get to the embassy ”are also receiving retribution.” Despite neither body of Congress being in session this week, Rep. Chris Smith, the chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, convened a hearing to examine Chen Guangcheng’s quandary as he seeks safe travel out of China. http://abcn.ws/Jhxb8h

Secretary Clinton leaves China today, and the State Department released a statement this morning saying that Chen has been offered a fellowship at an American university: ”The Chinese Government has indicated that it will accept Mr. Chen’s applications for appropriate travel documents. The United States government expects that the Chinese government will expeditiously process his applications for these documents, and make accommodations for his current medical condition. The United States government would then give visa requests for him and his immediate family priority attention.” 

ROMNEY: IT WILL BE A ‘DAY OF SHAME’ FOR THE U.S. IF CHEN WAS URGED TO LEAVE EMBASSY. Romney fired on the Obama administration for their handling of the on-going situation on Thursday, ABC’s Emily Friedman reports. ”It’s also apparent, according to these reports, if they’re accurate, that our Embassy failed to put in place the kind of verifiable measures that would assure the safety of Mr. Chen and his family,” said Romney. “If these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom and it’s a day of shame for the Obama Administration. We are a place of freedom here and around the world and we should stand up and defend freedom wherever it is under attack.” http://abcn.ws/KxwZBc

MISSING FROM ROMNEY’S VIRGINIA EVENT: No sign of Virginia’s GOP U.S. Senate candidate George Allen during Romney’s events over the past two days. He is running against Democrat Tim Kaine. Allen’s absence did not go unnoticed by Ty Matsdorf a senior adviser to the Democratic super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, who issues this statement: “Whether it’s turning back the clock on women’s rights or advocating huge tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of middle class families, Mitt Romney, Bob McDonnell, and George Allen are the Three Musketeers of extremism. Yet, inexplicably, George Allen has refused to campaign with his fellow Musketeers,” Matsdorf said. “And as Republicans across the country say when it comes to advocating policies that are wildly out of the mainstream: all for one and one for all.”

ROMNEY’S NARROW ROAD TO 270. In the race to 270 electoral votes, Romney will face a bit of an uphill battle. The Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Philip Rucker report “Mitt Romney faces a narrow path to the presidency, one that requires winning back states that President Obama took from Republicans in 2008 and that has few apparent opportunities for Romney to steal away traditionally Democratic states. Months ago, Obama’s campaign advisers laid out five distinct ways for the president to clear the threshold of 270 electoral college votes and win reelection. As Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and his advisers chart their strategy, they plan to target a dozen to 15 states and say that they, too, have more routes than their opponents claim. But Romney’s team acknowledges that any realistic course to 270 starts with winning back three historically Republican states that Obama won in 2008 — Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia — and believes that changing demographics in Virginia present a challenge.” http://wapo.st/K5jc7n

NOTED: OBAMA LEADING IN VIRGINIA, POLL SHOWS. A new Washington Post poll shows Obama leading Romney by seven points in the critical swing state of Virginia- 51 percent to Romney’s 44 percent. http://wapo.st/J3Ltfh

MATT DOWD’S TAKE: WHAT SHOULD ROMNEY DO? “Romney doesn’t need more details on economic policy or get more down in the weeds — he needs a memorable economic brand umbrella. It doesn’t need to be as simplistic as Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, but something headed in that direction would be helpful. He should take four or five key existing economic policy points and tied them together in a manner that voters can get quickly and talk about over their back fence or on their front porch or at the water cooler. It needs to be quickly understood and easily conveyed.” http://abcn.ws/IpQEDN

OBAMA CAMPAIGN’S QUIET GROUND SWELL. Obama’s re-election campaign may not have officially begun, but his campaign has been laying the ground work for 2012 for some time now. Bloomberg’s Julie Bykowicz reports: “Tomorrow, Obama will travel to college campuses in Columbus, Ohio, and Richmond, Virginia, to mark the start of his general election bid, yet much of the groundwork for the contest already has been quietly put in place. ”In 2012, we have had the benefit of time to put an unprecedented effort on the ground in all 50 states that is registering voters and making sure that voters know what is at stake in this election,” said Katie Hogan, an Obama campaign spokeswoman. The president’s campaign has spent $94 million, about $16 million more than Mitt Romney has laid out while fending off eight primary challengers, according to U.S. Federal Election Commission data through the end of March compiled by Bloomberg. http://bloom.bg/IZFkz0

DARRELL ISSA’S BOYCOTT FLIP-FLOP? The Huffington Post’s Michael McAuliffe reports ”House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is threatening a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, but when Democrats tried a similar move in the Bush administration, he called it politics and boycotted.” http://huff.to/L42W8X

BOBBY JINDAL BRIDGES POLITICAL GAP AT CONFERENCE. Speaking to an audience at the American Federation for Children Summit in New Jersey, Louisiana Governor and potential VP pick Bobby Jindal struck a sort of bipartisan tone and criticized both sides of the aisle, ABC’s Shushannah Walshe reports. ”You got one political party that seems to be governed by the national teachers unions, you got another political party that sometimes seems too afraid to stand up for what it actually says it believes in,” Jindal said at the American Federation for Children Summit. “And through that all, you’ve worked together to create opportunities for children.” Jindal keynoted the conference’s dinner and said the other side has “political action committees and protesters,” but he came to the summit in New Jersey to say that in his state of Louisiana “truth and the people are winning when it comes to education reform.” http://abcn.ws/KyjzVG

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@KevinMaddenDC: “What Ohio needs-what the country needs-is not four more years of economic mismanagement and failed leadership.” http://bit.ly/IxHKYq

@hilaryr: Foreign policy would be better if Romney cared more about being an American than winning the news cycle on the campaign trail.#MrChen

@jeffzeleny: Race is rarely discussed, but not forgotten as Obama seeks re-election. NYT’s Sabrina Tavernise explores from Ohio.http://nyti.ms/K5q4BW

@BobWoodruff: John Edwards-court yesterday w/daughter Cate composed as father’s former aides described their bizarre interactions w/ex-girlfriend Hunter

@RealClearScott: Mormons for Obama unswayed by shared faith with Romney:http://bit.ly/KdXmxN

 

POLITICAL RADAR

–Mitt Romney will meet privately will Santorum in the Pittsburgh, Pa. area before holding a public event at a factory that develops corrosion-prevention materials in Pittsburgh.

President Obama will travel to Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va., to speak with juniors and graduating seniors and their parents about the student loan interest rate.

 Check out The Note’s Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV

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