The biggest criticisms that Mitt Romney and President Obama are getting from the political press corps and the cognoscenti along the Acela corridor is this:
Romney needs to be more specific on his policy positions and Obama needs to be more positive, selling himself on the merits instead of just trashing Romney (and private equity).
But campaign theory and campaign reality are often miles apart.
Getting more specific only opens Romney up to criticism and potential pitfalls.
Romney needs this election to be a referendum on Obama more than a choice between two alternatives.
That's why although he had every opportunity to offer a detailed response to yesterday's Supreme Court decision on Arizona's immigration law, Romney declined.
"I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states not less," Romney told donors at an Arizona fundraiser. "There are states now under this decision have less authority, less latitude, to enforce immigration laws."
Romney described the state of immigration policy in America as a "muddle," which ironically is also how many of his critics characterized his response to the ruling.
As for Obama: No one likes running a negative campaign. Voters decry them. But they work. And it's the only choice the president has right now.
The economy shows no signs of making any real gains before November. And there are also signs that it could actually get worse.
So, it's no shock that the Obama campaign this morning unveiled new television ads in Ohio, Iowa and Virginia that accuse Romney of having a history of shipping U.S. jobs overseas.
As ABC's Devin Dwyer notes, the Ohio ad focuses on Romney's assertion that a "President Romney stands up to China;" the Iowa ad hits his claim that residents would experience "fewer worries;" and the Virginia spot attacks Romney's promise of "thousands of new jobs for Virginians." http://abcn.ws/MOPQtN
(Romney campaigns in Virginia today and Vice President Joe Biden kicks off a bus tour through Iowa.)
Obama's only hope for re-election is to make Romney an unacceptable alternative. Hence the attempts to turn Romney into a cross between Gordon Gekko and George W. Bush.
AIR WARS: OBAMA'S LATEST HIT. More from ABC's Devin Dwyer on the new Obama campaign television commercials: The narrator says in each of the Obama ads, "The Washington Post has just revealed that Romney's companies were pioneers in shipping U.S. jobs overseas, investing in firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India." Obama campaign officials believe the outsourcing attack on Romney, which the president has himself been pushing on the stump, is gaining momentum nationwide and resonating in key communities in battleground states. The state-specific ads are part of "significant buys in key markets," one official said, indicating they would run multiple times. The Romney campaign has rebuffed the outsourcing attacks as a distortion of the former Bain Capital executive's record and a diversion from President Obama's handling of the economy. http://abcn.ws/MOPQtN
Our virtual political roundtable:
ABC's Z. BYRON WOLF: What boggled the mind of reporters in Washington, D.C. yesterday is that neither Romney nor Obama spoke in public today about the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the "show me your papers" part of the law and strike much of the rest.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Among the great strengths of the Romney operation has been its ability to stay out of the Twitter-soaked weeds of the campaign, to keep a focus on the big things - and the single big thing of the economy. But sometimes, the weeds grow big enough to cast shadows on the campaign when they're not dealt with. Romney's purposefully incomplete answer on whether he actually supports the policies behind the Arizona immigration law speak to the complexities of a Republican appealing to Latino voters this year. It's also a consequence of trying to keep the campaign focused on something else entirely. Sometimes you tame news cycles this way, other times you look like you're trying not to answer questions of basic policy.
PRIMARY PRIMER. Utah holds its state and presidential GOP primary today, while New York, Colorado and Oklahoma hold state and congressional contests. Of these primaries, there are two big contests to keep an eye on: the Utah Republican Senate primary between six-term incumbent Orrin Hatch and Tea Party-challenger Dan Liljenquist, and the Democratic primary in New York's 13th Congressional District, where longtime incumbent Charlie Rangel faces a tough primary challenge. http://abcn.ws/ Ol9f9M
-IN UTAH, HATCH LOOKS WELL POSITIONED. Hatch has had two years to prepare for this re-election campaign for what he has said will be his last term in the Senate, reports ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield. The six-term incumbent watched his long-time colleague, Bob Bennett, get voted out of the running for the party's Senate nomination at the state's Republican convention in 2010 in favor of two younger Tea Party challengers. Hatch was proactive in making sure he did not wind up in the same scenario. http://abcn.ws/ NvCrpN
-IN NEW YORK, RANGEL'S FATE ON THE LINE. Roll Call's Joshua Miller reports: "The longtime Harlem icon faces the toughest election of his long career. Since his last election, he has been bludgeoned by a Congressional censure over ethics violations, health woes, a newly configured district that is less favorable to him and an ambitious and credible challenger in state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D). Whether Rangel survives today is anyone's guess, but any margin of victory in a crowded field is expected to be small." http://bit.ly/OlsrEp
with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
THE RULING: SUPREME COURT ON ARIZONA'S IMMIGRATION LAW. ABC's Matt Negrin reports, police officers in Arizona are allowed to check the immigration status of every person who is stopped or arrested, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday morning. But the court struck down other key parts of the law, signaling a victory for the federal government in its authority over immigration law. http://abcn.ws/Qa9S4r
DIANE SAWYER TALKS WITH UNIVISION'S JORGE RAMOS. Ramos told "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer that he was disappointed by the court's ruling. "I think this is very disappointing and very dangerous. This is a very sad day for the Hispanic community when the Supreme Court allows a state like Arizona to use racial profiling as a rule - we know that we really need immigration reform right now. The Hispanic community as expected didn't like show me your papers provision and this will only create more persecution and discrimination in Arizona and many other states. It's difficult to believe that the immigration law in Arizona could be example for other states in the country and it's even more difficult to believe that Sheriff Joe Arapaio could become role model for other law enforcement agencies, it is completely unreal." http://abcn.ws/Omuv08
ROMNEY EVADES. ABC's Emily Friedman reports, while President Obama released a statement today that got at specifics in the Supreme Court's split decision on the Arizona immigration law, his rival, Republican Mitt Romney, has stayed mum to the point that it's not clear if Romney supports the law the Supreme Court ruled on. Or, if like the court, he agrees with parts of it and not with others. http://abcn.ws/Ntetv6
ISSA WRITES OBAMA TO DENOUNCE EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE MOVE. ABC's John Parkinson reports: Following up on an intention he disclosed Sunday to ABC's Jake Tapper on 'This Week,' Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, has sent a letter to President Obama that challenges the president's invocation of executive privilege as the committee seeks documents from the Obama administration's role in the Fast and Furious gun walking operation.
Issa, R-Calif., questions Obama whether Attorney General Eric Holder or anyone at the White House was involved in a cover-up. "Your privilege assertion means one of two things," he writes. "Either you or your most senior advisors were involved in managing Operation Fast & Furious and the fallout from it, including the false February 4, 2011 letter provided by the Attorney General to the Committee, or, you are asserting a Presidential power that you know to be unjustified solely for the purpose of further obstructing a congressional investigation." http://abcn.ws/ MmlSka
CORPORATE MONEY IN STATE RACES LIKELY AFTER SUPREME COURT DECISION. ABC's Chris Good reports, the Supreme Court's decision upholding Citizens United in Montana today proved one thing: that corporate money is here to stay. In a short, anonymous ( per curiam) decision, the court effectively ruled 5-4 to invalidate a Montana state law that prohibits corporate spending in connection with candidates and elections, contradicting the Montana Supreme Court's rejection of a challenge to it. In doing so, the court upheld its own landmark campaign-finance decision in all 50 states. http://abcn.ws/MN0Z0b
OBAMA'S CHECKLIST OF CHOICES. At his 99th fundraiser of the year, on the home turf of rival Mitt Romney's re-election campaign, President Obama presented a vigorous case for a second term, framing the November vote as a series of personal choices that will have tangible effects on the lives of everyday Americans, reports ABC's Devin Dwyer. "The only way we're going to break that gridlock is through you," Obama said, underscoring an emerging theme in his campaign. http://abcn.ws/LYHW4P
ARIZONA RULING COMPLICATES REPUBLICAN STRATEGY WITH HISPANICS. The Washington Post's Peter Wallsten reports: "The quandary for Romney and the GOP is clear from recent polling. The Arizona law is very popular with whites and independent voters, according to data from the Pew Research Center, while many GOP strategists think their party has little chance for success in battlegrounds such as Colorado, Nevada and Virginia if Romney doesn't win close to 40 percent of Hispanics. The tension among Republicans over immigration has been a years-long struggle and became a point of contention during the GOP primaries, when Romney sought to win over skeptical conservative voters by attacking leading rivals for their more liberal immigration views. http://wapo.st/Kz8Ydh
BILLIONS AT STAKE IN SUPREME COURT HEALTH-LAW RULING. The Wall Street Journal's Louise Radnofsky reports: "Now that the Supreme Court has announced it will rule Thursday on President Barack Obama's 2010 health-care overhaul, one of the biggest questions that hangs over the decision is what happens to the billions of dollars already spent or pledged to carry out the law if parts or all of it are struck down. While it is clear that funding would end eventually if the law is thrown out, there is no precedent for exactly how the money would be unwound since no law of this size has been invalidated in recent history. Legal experts predict companies may file lawsuits to recoup any money they spent tied to requirements under the law." http://on.wsj.com/Nu7LVY
VEEP BEAT: ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz) rounds up all the action on the #veepstakes front:
RUBIO ON IMMIGRATION: Sen. Marco Rubio released a statement Monday on the Arizona immigration law ruling. "Today's decision on Arizona's immigration law is a reminder of Washington's failure to fix our broken immigration system. If the federal government would do its job and address this issue, states like Arizona would not be compelled to address the violence and lawlessness stemming from the federal government's dereliction of duty with respect to maintaining the sovereignty of our borders," Rubio said. "While I maintain that states do have a constitutional right to pass laws to address public safety issues in their communities, I nonetheless believe the best way to solve the immigration issue is at the federal level. Rather than have states enact their own unique immigration laws - and then spend precious time and taxpayer money litigating these matters - Washington should act legislatively to secure our border, implement a workable employment verification system, modernize our antiquated visa system, and responsibly address the situation faced by a limited number of young people who were brought here by their parents as children and now find themselves without any legal status in the United States." http://bit.ly/Qa5Dpz
CONDI TALKS POLITICS: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice normally sticks to policy, not politics in her speeches, but as Yahoo! News' Chris Moody reported, Rice pivoted to talking politics and slammed president Obama on immigration during a speech at a fundraiser for ShePAC, a group committed to electing conservative women to Congress. "This is a truly consequential election. This is perhaps a turning point for the country. I'm very often asked to speak about the foreign policy aspects and there are some key important foreign policy issues before us," Rice said, according to Moody. "There are many foreign policy issues on the agenda, but we are not going to address any of those international challenges unless we get it right at home. And it's not right at home right now, and the American people know it." Rice later continued to criticize the president's handling of immigration, particularly his administration's selective enforcement of immigration laws. "Americans who come here from other places to be a part of that belief that you can come from humble circumstances and do great things, which is why we need an immigration policy that works," Rice said. "But, by the way, we need one that the Congress and the president work out together, and we need to do something about access to education." http://abcn.ws/MP5QMo
MONEY MEN: N.J. Gov. Chris Christie attends a fundraiser for Romney in Woodbridge, N.J. Tuesday evening, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is part of a lunch for Romney in Washington, D.C. Tuesday afternoon.
- President Obama travels to Atlanta and Miami for two campaign fundraisers.
- Mitt Romney will hold a campaign event in Salem, Virginia at Carter Machinery Company. Then, Romney heads to New Jersey for a fundraiser. Veepstakes candidate Bob McDonnell will speak at fundraising lunch in Washington DC on behalf of Romney.
- Vice President Biden is on the trail in Iowa highlighting the President's record on strengthening the middle class. Biden will deliver remarks in Waterloo, IA.
- First Lady Michelle Obama campaigns for her husband in Chicago with two events.
ABC's Josh Haskell
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV