On the second-to-last day of Mitt Romney's bus tour through six swing states, The Note asked campaign strategist Stuart Stevens how Team Romney would gauge the success of the five-day roadshow.
Stevens said it all came down to one simple question: "Is what you are saying resonating with people?"
Though Romney has been traveling with a phalanx of national press along the roadways of each state he's visited, it's clear that the real point of the tour wasn't so much to court the inside-the-Beltway set but rather local newspaper reporters and small-market television correspondents, many of whom were offered the chance for rare one-on-one sit-downs with the candidate.
The strategy produced headlines like this from the Concord Monitor (New Hampshire): "Romney: The best is yet to come," and this from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania): "Mitt Romney predicts he will end Democratic Pa. winning streak."
ABC News' Chris Good notes that local coverage of the penultimate day of Romney's bus-tour was mostly positive, with newspapers and television stations giving straightforward accounts of the former governor projecting confidence onstage.
In Wisconsin, Romney drew glowing headlines for predicting a win in the state as well as drawing sizable and enthusiastic crowds. While local outlets noted Democratic protests on his swing through Ohio, Romney enjoyed a swell of positive or neutral stories in Wisconsin and Iowa, without prominent mentions of detractors getting in the way.
AMY ON THE BUS: ABC News Political Director Amy Walter traveled with Romney in Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa. Her take: "Republicans aren't interested in re litigating the primary. They may not have supported Romney back then and still don't necessarily love him now, but their desire to beat Obama outweighs any frustrations they may have about their nominee. But, they also want Romney to take the fight to Obama and not back down on core conservative ideals. The good news for Romney: he doesn't have a base problem. The bad news: it limits his ability to move to the middle."
TRAVELS WITH MITT: Romney's bus tour pulls into its last state today, and it's a true Democratic stronghold:
MICHIGAN: 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.
ROMNEY'S BUS TOUR: WHAT THE LOCALS ARE SAYING:
-The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Romney's win prediction, during an appearance with Rep. Paul Ryan and the recently victorious Gov. Scott Walker. Bill Glaubier writes: "Romney, the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee, said Obama 'just assumed from the very beginning Wisconsin was going to be his. But you know what? We're going to win Wisconsin.' … The rally at Monterey Mills, which drew a crowd of about 1,000 inside and outside the factory, showed off the Republican Party's local star power. Romney shared the stage with Walker, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, the former head of the state GOP." http://bit.ly/LvxW2O
-ABC Affiliate WISN noted a warm response from rally attendants in Janesville: "Mitt Romney supporters who packed the Monterey Mills plant in Janesville say the former Massachusetts governor needs to focus on creating jobs if he wants to win Wisconsin." http://bit.ly/Ma1PU
-A handful of Wisconsin newspapers ran Associated Press coverage of Romney's prediction that he'll win Wisconsin in November. Kasie Hunt and Scott Bauer report: "Mitt Romney sought Monday to capitalize on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's victory in a contentious recall election and predicted that momentum from that race will help him win the state come November and, with it, the White House. Wisconsin hasn't voted for a Republican for president since 1984, and President Barack Obama won big here in 2008. But Republicans sense an opportunity after Walker survived a Democratic push to oust him after he took on public sector unions." http://bit.ly/MCOmVb
-The Des Moines Register asked Romney about immigration. Jennifer Jacobs and Jason Noble write: "Mitt Romney has come under scrutiny lately for not being specific about whether or not he would deport young people who immigrated here illegally, but he told The Des Moines Register on Monday that he's in talks about an alternative immigration proposal. Asked how closely he has been working with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida on an immigration reform plan, Romney said his policy chief is talking with Rubio's staff. '(They) have been in discussions over the last couple of months to talk about a long-term solution for the children of those that have come here illegally,' Romney said in an interview after a boat excursion on the Mississippi River with about 100 invited guests." http://dmreg.co/Kx5ooO
-The Dubuque Telegraph Herald covered Romney's economic message and Mississippi River cruise. Erin Murphy writes: "As the Spirit of Dubuque riverboat paddled its way on a short cruise north from the Port of Dubuque to Lock and Dam No. 11 on a steaming, sun-splashed Monday afternoon, presidential candidate Mitt Romney regaled about 100 supporters and campaign volunteers with a 15-minute speech on his values of family, faith and the Constitution, while also charging President Obama's policies with dragging down the economy." http://bit.ly/KhyxiV
-The Detroit News previews Romney's final bus-tour day in Michigan. Marisa Schultz writes: "Mitt Romney's five-day small-town bus tour will roll into Michigan today for its finale in a state the Detroit-born presidential candidate hopes to secure in November. That's a feat not accomplished by a Republican candidate since George H.W. Bush." http://bit.ly/M3smEj
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: MARCO RUBIO SAT DOWN WITH ABC NEWS' DAVID MUIR: The Florida senator told ABC's David Muir about his childhood in the Mormon church, ABC's Ben Forer and David Muir report: "We were in the Mormon church I guess by the time I turned eight," he told ABC News' David Muir. Rubio, 41, was living with his family in Las Vegas at the time and took a liking to the musical group the Osmonds. … "We did our first communion in Las Vegas before moving back to Miami," Rubio said. "I know people find it interesting, it was a period in our lives and our family in Las Vegas, we have a large extended family of cousins, second cousins and others who are still part of the LDS church." http://abcn.ws/PiS2LW
NEWT GINGRICH, JON KARL AND AN ELEPHANT WALK INTO A ZOO…. NEW ABC/YAHOO! VIDEO: Touring the National Zoo with Jonathan Karl, Newt Gingrich says Mitt Romney's biggest risk in the general election will be to play it safe, stands by his super PAC's attacks on Bain, and reflects on political money in the post-Citizen-United era. Oh, and they see some elephants. "Elephants are among my favorites, partly because I'm Republican and partly because I'm big. Elephants make me feel like I'm the right size," said Gingrich. "They're very smart animals." WATCH: http://yhoo.it/L0Jyoz
with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)
OBAMA, PUTIN CALL FOR END TO SYRIAN VIOLENCE. From ABC's Mary Bruce and Jake Tapper: "President Obama and Russian President Putin called today for an end to the escalating violence in Syria and endorsed a political solution, but offered no details about a path forward. 'We agreed that we need to see a cessation of the violence, that a political process has to be created to prevent civil war,' Obama told reporters. The two presidents met for close to two hours on the margins of the G20 Summit and were visibly cold toward each other during the brief photo-op that followed, as Putin sat scowling alongside a subdued Obama." http://abcn.ws/NLtzlA
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Jake Tapper's "World News" report from Mexico: Greece Election Moves Obama to Push for Action: President urges European leaders at summit to push for more stability. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/PeLX37
PUBLIC BACKS IMMIGRATION MOVE 2 TO 1. Bloomberg's Lisa Lerer reports on a Bloomberg poll released today: "Sixty-four percent of likely voters surveyed after Obama's June 15 announcement said they agreed with the policy, while 30 percent said they disagreed. Independents backed the decision by better than a two-to-one margin. The results underscore the challenge facing Mitt Romney and Republicans as they try to woo Hispanic voters, who are the nation's largest ethnic minority and made up 9 percent of the 2008 electorate, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of exit polls. Obama won the Hispanic vote 67 to 31 percent over Republican John McCain in 2008, according to exit polls." http://bloom.bg/NLrFkQ
ROMNEY CALLS FOR SPECIAL PROSECUTOR. From ABC's Shushannah Walshe: Mitt Romney joined a list of mostly Republican leaders Monday calling for a special independent prosecutor to investigate leaks about U.S. counterterrorism programs, saying sensitive information "should not be leaked in a way that puts American interests and our people in jeopardy." "I do think that a special prosecutor should look into them," Romney told Fox News Channel's Carl Cameron. "I think we should make every effort to understand how those matters that relate to the safety of our men and women in uniform around the world and to our foreign policy plans." http://abcn.ws/Mp00Bm
MCCAIN ON RUSSIAN 'NOSTALGIA.' ABC's Matthew Larotonda reports: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said today that the Kremlin's support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could be made out of a desire to return Russia to the power it wielded in the 20th century. "I don't pretend to be able to get into President Putin's mind, but there is a certain nostalgia in Russia for the old Russian empire," the lawmaker said. "This is their last outpost and port on the Mediterranean." http://abcn.ws/Kx6HE7
ROMNEY: I CAN WIN MICHIGAN. From Yahoo! News' Holly Bailey: "Romney was cautious about his chances in the state, where polls show him in a close race with President Obama. 'Do I think I have a chance of winning? Who knows in these early stages, but I think Michigan is a state we can win,' the Republican nominee said. Asked what a win in the state would mean to him personally, Romney smiled and replied, 'If I win in Michigan and then I become president, and that would mean a lot to me.'" http://abcn.ws/NdLizF
ROMNEY HITS OBAMA ON IMMIGRATION. From the LA Times' Michael Finnegan: "At the Davenport rally, Romney led up to the immigration attack by accusing Obama of neglecting the economy and the deficit while going to work on Obamacare, organized labor's effort to expand its ranks and the banking overhaul known as Dodd-Frank. … 'He was going to deal with immigration, he said, in his first year,' Romney added. 'He was going to focus on that. Did he do anything on immigration while he had a Democratic House and Senate?' 'No,' the crowd shouted. 'No,' Romney continued. 'This is a president who's said one thing and done another. And I gotta tell you, we're going to have a very different course. Because the path he's taken us on is the path toward Europe.'" http://lat.ms/MKfsq3
ROMNEY TRIES TO CONNECT. The Wall Street Journal's Sara Murray and Patrick O'Connor report: "In the weeks since he effectively wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney has spent more time at private fundraisers than out and about with voters, prompting some in his party to push for him to mix it up with the public and show a more personal side. This week, Mr. Romney is making an effort to do exactly that. On a five-day swing through rural areas of six battleground states, Mr. Romney emblazoned his buses with a new and simple catchphrase, "Every Town Counts," and scheduled stops to meet voters at burger joints, convenience stores and riverboats." http://on.wsj.com/MlPr3S
MICHIGAN CONTROVERSY LEADS TO 'VAGINA MONOLOGUES' RALLY. The Detroit News' Chad Livengood reports from Lansing: "State Rep. Lisa Brown, silenced last week on the state House floor for referring to her vagina, fought back tears Monday as she addressed a crowd of more than 3,000 gathered on the Capitol steps for a special performance of the 'The Vagina Monologues.' 'I'm overwhelmed,' Brown said. 'Who would have thought one little floor speech could end in this?' The politically charged enactment of 'The Vagina Monologues,' Eve Ensler's famed play, got underway with State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer declaring a 'welcome to you and your lady parts.' … Brown was barred from speaking after she made the comment about her vagina during a debate about new abortion restrictions." http://bit.ly/LBzRy1
SENATE REACHES DEAL ON FARM BILL. From The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe: "The Senate reached a deal late Monday that likely guarantees final passage of a new farm bill, likely to be one of the only significant spending bills passed by Congress before the November elections. The new five-year measure would cost $969 billion over the next decade and includes $23.6 billion in proposed cuts, making it a slimmed-down version of legislation that historically served as one of the main opportunities for members of Congress to deliver pork-barrel spending to their constituents. Senators are scheduled to begin voting Tuesday afternoon on 73 amendments to the bill, with votes expected to last most of Tuesday and Wednesday and final passage by week's end, according to Senate aides. The 73-amendment "vote-o-rama" promises long days for senators on Tuesday and Wednesday and tops a similar 39-amendment process in April before final passage of a postal reform bill." http://wapo.st/L0G99d
'PHANTOM FUELS' UNMASKED: The American Energy Alliance released its latest video yesterday discussing the issue of "phantom fuels" - gasoline blends like those containing cellulosic ethanol. The blends aren't commercially viable, but cost fuel refiners more than $6 million in fines from the EPA annually due to inflexible mandates. WATCH: http://bit.ly/LwWo0t
CELEBS CALL FOR 'ROBIN HOOD TAX.' From a press release announcing a new campaign to tax Wall Street transactions: "Dozens of national organizations, celebrities including Mark Ruffalo, Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello and Coldplay's Chris Martin, renowned economists including Jeffrey Sachs, and former Goldman Sachs executives and global leaders such as Desmond Tutu joined today for an unprecedented coalition, calling for a 'Robin Hood Tax' on Wall Street. … Economists estimate that we could generate hundreds of billions of dollars annually by placing a small sales tax on trading in stocks, bonds, derivatives and currencies." Ruffalo's op-ed and video: http://huff.to/MlUcKG
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-BIEBER 2012: It's hard to escape the gravitational pull of pop star Justin Bieber these days. Even former President George H.W. Bush, in a recent interview, weighed in: "I don't know much about the Bieber. Never see him, I don't know what he does." Today, an inside-the-Beltway political operative and Friend of The Note passes along some thoughts on the new collection of Bieber tunes: "While Tuesdays are usually synonymous with elections, today is the release of Justin Bieber's much-anticipated sophomore album, 'Believe' (see also: Romney's campaign slogan). USA Today recently pointed out, 'Justin has no problems with his base,' which is a trend found almost nowhere in politics these days. The only question is which candidate will be first to add one of his painfully catchy tunes to their campaign playlists. By the way, Bieber is Canadian, but will he endorse?" ( NOTED: This closeted Belieber strongly recommends "Around the World," summer power ballad "Fall" and danceworthy "Beauty and the Beat" feat. Nicki Minaj).
VEEP BEAT: ABC News' Arlette Saenz rounds up all the news in the world of #veepstakes:
RUBIO LIKELY SHELVING VERSION OF DREAM ACT: Rubio told the Wall Street Journal's Neil King that his current efforts to craft an alternative to the DREAM ACT have been disrupted after the Obama administration's immigration move last week. "People are going to say to me, 'Why are we going to need to do anything on this now. It has been dealt with. We can wait until after the election,'" Rubio told the WSJ. "And it is going to be hard to argue against that." http://on.wsj.com/MK93ep
RYAN TAKES A VP TRYOUT SPIN: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., joined Romney in the congressman's hometown of Janesville, Wis. Monday, the latest VP contender to campaign with the presumptive GOP nominee on his five day bus tour. As ABC News' Emily Friedman reported, Ryan's appearance with Romney fueled speculation in the small Wisconsin town about his chances of appearing on the GOP ticket this fall. "Gov. Romney, we are in congressman Ryan's hometown, he is right here if you have an announcement to make," Dan Sinykin, the owner of the factory where Romney held a rally, joked in his introduction. http://abcn.ws/LigRYI
AYOTTE, RUBIO TO FUNDRAISE: ABC News confirmed Rubio will attend a fundraiser for Restore Our Future, a superPAC supporting Romney, in New York City Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal, who first reported the details of the event, said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., also will be in attendance. http://on.wsj.com/LZ9Xq7
@ChadPergram : House to swear-in Rep.-elect Ron Barber today, the former Giffords' aide who was wounded in rampage last year. Won special elex last week.
-Mitt Romney, on the last day of his bus tour, makes stops in Frankenmuth, DeWitt and Holland, Michigan.
-President Obama is in Los Cabos, Mexico for the second day of the G20 Summit.
-Vice President Biden will deliver remarks at the 40th Annual AFSCME Convention in Los Angeles and, later, holds a fundraiser in Sacramento.
ABC's Joanna Suarez
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV