View Travels With Mitt: Mapping The Romney Battleground Bus Tour (ABC News) in a larger map
BOSTON - Mitt Romney's five-day, six-state bus tour will take him through political battlegrounds from New Hampshire to Iowa at a time when his campaign appears to be riding high, buoyed by a series of setbacks for President Obama and, for Romney, his strongest fundraising month of the election cycle.
There's no question that the journey, billed by the campaign as the "Every Town Counts" tour, is being viewed as a key moment for the Republican challenger who still has some ground to cover. He still needs to define himself for many voters who remain undecided about which candidate can better steer the country to solid economic ground.
Ever since the last of his remaining GOP opponents quit the race in April and May, Romney has stepped up his fundraising pace and mostly held a series of one-day, one-state events. But all that changes today when he shifts - at least for the next five days - into full-throttle, retail politics mode.
The tour will take him more than 1,500 miles. He'll hold an ice cream social in New Hampshire, grab burgers with House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Rob Portman in Iowa, talk to voters at a park in eastern Iowa, meet up with Congressman Paul Ryan in Wisconsin and return to Michigan - the state where he was born and raised.
Here is a day-by-day look at the political lay of the land along Romney's route:
Day 1: Friday, June 15
Romney starts his tour in the place where it all started. It was at Scamman Farm in Stratham, N.H. one year ago this month that Romney officially kicked off his presidential bid. "This country we love is in peril. And that, my friends, is why we are here today," Romney said on a windy June day last year. "Barack Obama has failed America." He returns to the same spot on Friday to open his bus tour. It's well known that New Hampshire is one of Romney's "home states" - he owns a compound on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, and as the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, he will be hoping to capitalize on that familiarity come November. But, it looks like Romney could have an uphill climb in the Granite State. An April WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll found Obama with a 51 percent to 42 percent lead over Romney. Still, the GOP candidate is banking that on Election Day he can capitalize on the state's "live free or die" mantra.
Day 2: Saturday, June 16
President Obama won Pennsylvania four years ago by a solid 10 percentage point margin over Sen. John McCain, but if this year's polls are any indication, 2012 could be a lot closer. A recent Quinnipiac University survey found Obama with a slight edge compared to Romney, 46 percent to 40 percent. Sill, it's shaping up to be a tight race in a state that has gone Democratic in the last five presidential elections and Romney will concentrate his tour stops in counties north of Philadelphia. "We have staunch conservatives, but we also have a lot of moderates," Pat Poprik, the vice chairman of the Bucks County Republican Party told the website PoliticsPA this week. "Business people, who have made a payroll. We aren't far one way or the other, we're middle of the road. He appeals to Bucks County," Poprik said of Romney.
Day 3: Sunday, June 17
Republicans and Democrats alike see Ohio as the likely site of some of the bloodiest political warfare of the general election. It's a critical state in Romney's quest for the White House and one where he currently trails President Obama. A mid-May NBC News-Marist University poll gave Obama a 6 percentage point advantage over his Republican challenger, 48 percent to 42 percent. But Ohio is no less important to Obama, who used a community college outside Cleveland as the venue for his nearly hour-long re-framing speech on Thursday. On Romney's agenda - a Sunday morning pancake breakfast in the town of Brunswick, located southwest of Cleveland, and a stop at K's Hamburger Shop in Troy, north of Dayton. Romney's visit to the Buckeye State will not be without its share of political star power. He'll be joined by House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Rob Portman, who insiders believe is a top potential vice presidential pick. Portman got some credit for Romney's victory in the Ohio primary, but a recent Quinnipiac University poll showed that the former Bush administration official is still not a particularly well-known quantity. Thirty-eight percent of Ohioans said they approve of the job he is doing in the U.S. Senate while 23 percent disapprove but 39 percent did not know.
Day 4: Monday, June 18
Wisconsin and Iowa
Wisconsin has enjoyed a spot at the center of the political universe in recent weeks, and Gov. Scott Walker's success in battling back a hard-fought recall challenge from Democrats was viewed as a win for Republicans nationally. And while the GOP says its efforts on behalf of Walker have not only given the party a psychological boost but also a grassroots organizing advantage, President Obama remains on top of Romney in recent public opinion polls. A St. Norbert College-Wisconsin Public Radio poll taken in mid-May gave Obama a 49 percent to 43 percent lead over Romney. Romney will be joined at a stop in Janesville, Wisc. by Rep. Paul Ryan, architect of the GOP budget proposal.
Iowa provided President Obama with a key win in his quest to become the Democratic presidential nominee four years ago, and he went on to win the state by a comfortable margin in the general election. But times have changed. According to a late May NBC News-Marist University poll, Obama and Romney are all tied up at 44 percent a piece. Both campaigns have boasted about their ground game in the Hawkeye State. On his bus tour Romney plans to concentrate on eastern Iowa.
Day 5: Tuesday, June 19
Obama is still the favorite to win Michigan, a state where the politics of the automobile bailout loom large. But the Romney campaign would like nothing more than to give the president and his allies a run for their money there. And that's what Romney is signaling by spending the final day of his bus tour in the state where he was born and raised. Reliable recent polling from Michigan is hard to come by, and some recent surveys have shown Obama with a big edge while others indicate that Romney may be creeping up. Either way, Romney plans to make several stops there on Tuesday, capping off his five-day roadshow with an evening rally at Holland State Park in west Michigan.
-PRO-OBAMA SUPER PAC BRACKETS ROMNEY'S NEW HAMPSHIRE STOP. In advance of the first stop on Mitt Romney's bus tour - New Hampshire - the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA is airing a television ad hitting Romney for the dealings of one of his Bain Capital-controlled businesses. This time it's the clock and photo-supply company Holson Burnes, which saw jobs from a Claremont, N.H. factory shipped overseas. The ad will air in New Hampshire today. WATCH: http://bit.ly/KHg7I6 (Notably, then-candidate Rick Perry used the same company to attack Romney during the primary, as ABC's Arlette Saenz reported in January: http://abcn.ws/yAyh0f)
-DEMOCRATS LAUNCH: "ROMNEY ECONOMICS: THE MIDDLE CLASS UNDER THE BUS" TOUR. A Democratic National Committee operative e-mails: "The Democratic National Committee will be launching its own Romney Economics bus in Exeter on Friday, pointing to Romney's policies that 'throw Middle Class Americans under the bus.' This will feature a launch press conference in first in the nation New Hampshire and then the bus will continue west to other key states, telling the story of Romney's failed record in Massachusetts. The name of the tour is 'Romney Economics: The Middle Class Under the Bus.' It will be headlined by DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse, officials from Massachusetts who will tell the disastrous tale of what Romney Economics meant for the Bay State as well as prominent local surrogates. The tour will include at least ten stops in virtually all the markets of the Romney tour including after New Hampshire, Scranton on Friday, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton on Saturday, Madison and Davenport on Sunday and Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit on Monday.
- MOVE ON, MOVES IN ON ROMNEY. MoveOn.org Political Action plans to launch an "Every Millionaire Counts" tomorrow. According to the liberal group: "The tour will make case that Romney Is 'Running for President of the 1%, Not President of the United States' by following him to campaign stops in all six states using a host of innovative methods to hold Mitt Romney accountable on the campaign trail."
MEANWHILE, IN NORTH CAROLINA: The Romney campaign advises: "Senator Rob Portman and Senator Richard Burr will hold a small business roundtable at Triumph Actuation Systems in Clemmons, North Carolina."
Our virtual political roundtable:
ABC's RICK KLEIN: It's picture time for Mitt Romney. The success of his multi-state bus tour will ride not on speeches and soundbites but on the glimpses and snapshots that drive news cycles. He'll be looking not to make news - beyond the message that yes, he gets it, which almost counts as news in the context of his campaign to date. The ability to embark on a trip like this is no small feat for this young a campaign. The ability to end it in a substantially better place, though, would mark the greater achievement by far.
ABC's AMY WALTER: This bus tour is Romney's chance to prove that he can connect with swing state voters who are anxious about the direction of the country but worried that Romney doesn't understand them. Of course there's great risk that Romney has another "corporations are people" or "Iike firing people" moment. But, the risks are worth it. If Romney doesn't start to define himself - the folks in Chicago will do it for him. As as I saw in some recent focus groups many of those characterizations - he's a ruthless destroyer of jobs - are starting to stick.
ABC's JONATHAN KARL: Romney's five-day bus tour will look a little like a veepstakes version American Idol (hopefully without the singing). Kelly Ayotte joins him today in New Hampshire. He'll be with Tim Pawlenty in Minnesota. Rob Portman in Ohio. And Paul Ryan in Wisconsin. That looks like a short list to me.
ABC's JAKE TAPPER on Obama vs. Romney's dueling messages on jobs in Ohio yesterday. In case you missed it, watch Jake's "World News" report: http://abcn.ws/MLbEW4
MONEY QUOTES: VOICES FROM LAST NIGHT'S FUNDRAISERS.
-Mitt Romney in Chicago: "The President and I were both in the same state. He was on one side of Ohio and I was on the other. And I got the chance to speak first and predict what he might say. Now remember in his last campaign it was about hope and change. This time the campaign is hope that he can change the subject."
-President Obama in New York City: "Over the next five months, you won't be seeing a lot of ads because frankly Manhattan's not a battleground state. But out in those battleground states they will be seeing not just millions of dollars, but potentially over a billion of negative ads and the message will be very simple - the economy isn't where it needs to be and it is Obama's fault."
VIDEO OF THE DAY: POLITICALLY FOUL. ABC's Amy Walter runs us through some of the more out of bounds plays in the political arena over the past week, including Colin Powell's singing "Call Me Maybe" and the RNC's Spanish website prominently featuring an image of Asian children. WATCH HERE: http://abcn.ws/L8W0qC
with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
ROMNEY'S BUS TOUR: WHAT THE LOCALS ARE SAYING. Romney will visit two towns in New Hampshire today as part of his bus tour- Stratham, located near the coastal city of Portsmouth, and Milford, located near Nashua and Manchester.
The Portsmouth Herald featured an article about the prep work undergone by Scamman's Farm to prepare for Romney's visit. The Herald's Joey Cresta writes "Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is visiting the farm today as part of his Every Town Counts five-day bus tour. It is a return visit for the former Massachusetts governor, who used the farm as a pastoral backdrop when he kicked off his campaign last year. Things have changed a bit since then. Tommy Schultz, the Romney Victory Fund communications director in New Hampshire, said a deeper layer of planning goes into Romney campaign events now that he is his party's likely nominee. "It's a major production," he said. Schultz estimated that 40 to 50 volunteers will be on the ground assisting at the event alongside 20 or so planners. A major difference between this Romney visit and his stop at the farm last year is the addition of Secret Service agents to the mix, he said." http://bit.ly/ME4fXY
The Union Leader featured an article about Scamman's as well- it's located on federally protected land. John DiStaso reports "When Romney formally announced for the presidency about a year ago, and when he returns to New Hampshire tomorrow to kick off a six-state tour, he'll be speaking at former House Speaker Doug Scamman's Bittersweet Farm, surrounded by picturesque rolling farmland. But 200 acres of that farmland will be forever protected from development thanks in part to $950,000 federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection grant the town of Stratham received several years ago. Is it hypocrisy on Romney's part? Some Democrats think so. But Stratham Board of Selectman Chairman David Canada, a Republican Romney backer, said the town was just taking advantage of an available federal program and Romney shouldn't be blamed for speaking there. Canada said the grant was nearly half of the $2.35 million spent by the town to purchase a conservation easement from the Scammans in 2010. He said the grant did not protect the 12 acres where Romney spoke, and will speak tomorrow, surrounding the Scamman homestead." http://bit.ly/K7b4Ru
The Nashua Telegraph ran an article about the Romney's visit earlier in the week, but the visit did not play on the paper's site today. Michael Cleveland reports "Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, will be on the Oval in Milford on Friday for what is being billed as an ice cream social. Details are sketchy but an email invitation obtained by The Telegraph says that "doors open" at 1 and the event begins at 2. Town officials, however, have been told that the event will begin at 1:30. Apparently the social is by invitation only." http://bit.ly/KQioH6
ROMNEY'S BUS TOUR TURNS INTO VP TRYOUT CENTRAL. ABC's Emily Friedman reports, Mitt Romney's five-day, six-state bus tour is shaping out to be a series of auditions for potential vice presidential candidates. http://abcn.ws/K5Akrk
CHECKS AND THE CITY. Facing a tightening presidential race and onslaught of cash from pro-Republican outside groups, President Obama got a boost Thursday night from some of his loyal allies in the film and fashion industries with an exclusive multimillion dollar campaign fundraiser at the home of actress Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband, actor Matthew Broderick. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports, a party of 50 donors, each paying $40,000 to attend, gathered around a long table just inside the entryway of Parker's four-story brownstone in the West Village to dine with the president and First Lady Michelle Obama. Spotted at the table were actress Meryl Streep, producer Andy Cohen, designer Michael Kors, "Vogue" editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, and actress Olivia Wilde. (Broderick was not in attendance; the president noted he "had a show to run off to.") http://abcn.ws/KZx6vu
NO BIG BASE FOR ROMNEY IN MASSACHUSETTS. The Washington Post's Philip Rucker reports: "Massachusetts is where Romney moved for graduate school, ran a business, raised a family and served as governor. In pursuit of the presidency, however, Romney has all but ignored the state that was his launching pad. While Romney's studied moderation appealed to voters when he was elected to govern this traditionally liberal state, his bare ambition for higher office and lurch to the right made some people here distrust him. Some voters here who supported Romney in the early years of his governorship now say they feel abandoned by him, and more than half of the state's voters hold an unfavorable opinion of Romney, according to a poll last month." http://wapo.st/MUa87r
OBAMA SIGNS BEAM AT ONE WORLD TRADE CENTER. ABC's Devin Dwyer and Mary Bruce report, President Obama and the First Lady got a firsthand look today at the new skyscraper being built to replace the World Trade Center towers destroyed in the September 11th attacks. The president, who was also joined by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, then signed one of the final steel beams to be installed in the building with a message to all Americans. "We remember. We rebuild. We come back stronger! Barack Obama," the president wrote. http://abcn.ws/NnFExh
'MONEYBALL' GODFATHER TACKLES POLITICS IN SUPER PAC AGE. The Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports: "A political candidate being dramatically outspent by his opponent has few options. He can pin his hopes on a strong debate performance, dig up dirt on the opposition, or cut a particularly buzz-worthy television ad. Or he can do what other industries, led by Major League Baseball, have done before: worship at the altar of Bill James." http://huff.to/Legq2K
OBAMA'S 2008 YOUNG VOTERS FIND LITTLE HOPE IN JOB MARKET. Bloomberg's Mike Dorning reports: "For many, even the normal rites of passage to adulthood have been disrupted, as they delay such life steps as leaving home, getting married and having children. 'These people are stuck,' said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington. 'Their life is on hold in many different ways.' One in six 16- to 24-year-olds last year was idle, neither working nor attending school even for just an hour a week, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economics professor. Among 20- to 24-year-old men, almost one in five was idle last year." http://bloom.bg/LIHSmH
PARTIES STRATEGIZE AHEAD OF HEALTHCARE RULING. The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman and Michael D. Shear report: "House Republicans are not waiting for the Supreme Court verdict on the new health care law to plot their strategic response. If the measure is not thrown out entirely, House leaders plan to force a vote immediately to repeal the law to reinforce their deep opposition to the legislation, opposition that has become central to their political identity…t the White House, which has much riding on the case, top officials continue to project confidence that the court will rule in its favor and that the administration will move on to put the law into force. But White House allies and advocates of the new law do not necessarily share that view and are gearing up in the event of an unfavorable decision." http://nyti.ms/ KF4fYZ
DEMS: OBAMA SHOULD CALL ROMNEY A FLIP-FLOPPER. The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports: "Senate Democrats say criticizing Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper is an effective message for the 2012 campaign and President Obama should not discard it as a line of attack. In a move to appeal to independents, the Obama campaign in April shifted its emphasis away from attacks portraying Romney is a centrist flip-flopper without core principles. Instead, its attacks have cast the former Massachusetts governor as a hard-core conservative even though many voters are not inclined to view him that way. But Democratic lawmakers like the flip-flopper charge." http://bit.ly/KGuUo0
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-HAPPENING TODAY: MCCONNELL TARGETS OBAMA IN FIRST AMENDMENT REMARKS. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., plans to deliver remarks at the American Enterprise Institute today on the topic of freedom of speech. According to a source close to the Senate Minority Leader, "He'll talk about how the Obama administration is using the powers of government to intimidate its critics." He previews his message in an Op-Ed for Politico this morning: "No individual or group in this country should have to face harassment or intimidation, or incur crippling expenses, defending themselves against their own government, simply because that government doesn't like the message they're advocating," McConnell wrote. "If you can't convince people of the wisdom of your policies, then you should come up with better arguments. But, sadly, a growing number of people on the left, and now in the government itself, appear to have concluded that they can't win on the merits. So they've resorted to bullying and intimidation. The potential consequences are grave."
-PRO-DEMOCRATIC SUPER PAC LAUNCHES NEW AD IN NEVADA SENATE RACE. The pro-Democratic Patriot Majority USA has launched a new TV ad against Republican Senator Dean Heller in Nevada. The ad, titled "Jimme and Dexter" hits Heller on his economic policies. "Jimmie and Dexter have a plan" the ad starts. "Work hard. Save what they can. And count on the Medicare they earned. But Dean Heller has a different plan. He voted for huge tax breaks for millionaires…And a plan that would essentially end Medicare - replace it with a voucher program." http://bit.ly/L0lfNT
-Mitt Romney will kick off his multi-state bus tour at Scamman Farm in Stratham, N.H. He will also hold an ice cream social in Milford, N.H. before heading to Pennsylvania.
-President Obama will hold a reception at the White House to observe LGBT Pride Month.
-Vice President Joe Biden will address annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, Fla.
ABC's Greg Croft
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV