To Vet, Or Not To Vet? (The Note)

Jun 20, 2012 8:53am

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

NOTABLES:

  • MARCO, THE MORNING AFTER. Was Florida Sen. Marco Rubio being vetted by the Romney campaign’s vice presidential search team at this time yesterday? ABC’s Jonathan Karl answered that question definitively in his reporting: “Rubio had not been asked by the Romney campaign to turn over any documents related to the vice presidential search and he had not been asked to fill out any questionnaires.” Is Rubio being vetted now? Mitt Romney took a stab at that one several hours after ABC News’ initial reporting: “Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process,” Romney told reporters in Michigan. Rubio, himself, stayed mum on all the chatter in television interviews this morning, but it’s clear the Romney campaign got the message from conservatives yesterday: If you’re not already vetting Rubio, start now.
  • SILENCE IS GOLDEN. Promoting his new book, “An American Son,” Rubio remained quiet about the V.P. question. ”I’ve made a decision a long time ago not to discuss the process and that’s not going to change today,” Rubio said on CBS News this morning.
  • ADMAGEDDON: The Obama campaign launched two television ads today in nine battleground states, attacking Mitt Romney for outsourcing state work and hiking a number of fees during his term as Massachusetts governor. But Romney’s getting some air cover from his friends. The pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, and the Koch Brothers-backed group, Americans For Prosperity, also released new television ads this morning using President Obama’s own words (“The private sector is doing fine”) against him. Restore Our Future will spend $7.6 million on the ad buy in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Meanwhile, Americans For Prosperity will spend $5.5 million on the flight of ads, which will run for 10 days in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Another outside group, Concerned Women for America, is out with an anti-Obama ad buy too. The $6 million dollar ad buy focuses on “Obamacare” and will air in Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Virginia and Wisconsin.
  • NOTE IT! In today’s virtual political roundtable, ABC’s Amy Walter notes that of all the names in the Romney running mate mix, Rubio is the only “true” Tea Party candidate and Rick Klein wonders whether Romney may “regret the decision to peel back the curtain” and talk about the vetting process.

THE NOTE:

Well, that was fast.

In the space of 24 hours, Marco Rubio went from an obvious choice to be Mitt Romney’s running mate to obviously not the choice and, finally, back to “contender” again.

It all started yesterday with a report by ABC’s Jonathan Karl noting that Romney had not asked Rubio to take the first steps in the vice presidential vetting process such as completing questionnaires or turning over financial documents.

Later that day, the Washington Post followed up with a similar report. And in an interview on Fox News, Romney stonewalled: “I get a kick out of some of the speculation that goes on,” he told Fox’s Sean Hannity. “I’m not going to comment on the process, of course. But I can tell you this. Only Beth Myers and I know who’s being vetted.”

By the end of the day, however, Romney emerged from his campaign bus before the final stop on his five-day tour of swing states and was singing a different tune: “Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process.”

It was the farthest Romney had ever gone in discussing the internal workings of his campaign’s vice presidential selection process, and it was no accident.

As Karl reported late on Tuesday: “I am told by several Republican sources that Romney came under intense pressure today from top Republicans who argued it was crazy to take Rubio out of consideration so early. Some argued for Rubio’s appeal as the party’s most effective and charismatic conservative voice. Some argued it is dumb politics to not consider the party’s top Hispanic conservative.” http://abcn.ws/Mu2NXP

Campaign officials denied they felt pressure, but comments like the one Romney made yesterday simply do not come out of thin air. The campaign has many ways to take issue with media reports other than with a statement from the candidate, himself.

Rubio’s status as a hero of the conservative right was locked in long before Romney became the presumptive nominee. There’s no better evidence of that than the number of times Romney invokes Rubio’s name in his stump speeches. Again, no accident.

 

NOTE IT!

ABC News’ virtual political roundtable:

ABC’s AMY WALTER: From my experience out on the trail this week, the GOP base is very interested in seeing Marco Rubio as VP. As I reported on Sunday, very few Ohioans I spoke with knew much — if anything — about their junior Senator Rob Portman. Many, however, volunteered that they were excited about the prospect of Rubio. Even a cab driver in Davenport made mention of him. Of all the names in the mix, Rubio is the only “true” Tea Party candidate. And the GOP base is hungry to see that movement represented on the presidential ticket.

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Mitt Romney may have solved an immediate problem yesterday by breaking with no-comment veepstakes policy and insisting that yes, Marco Rubio is being vetted. But he may regret the decision to peel back the curtain. What happens the next time someone is reported to be off the list — something more likely as Romney kicks more tires and relies on more outside advisers? Does he need to come out and give a boost to that man or woman too – or will silence be read as tacit confirmation?

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s Chris Good (@c_good)

MOVE ON.ORG MOVES TOWARD ITS 2012 ENDORSEMENT. An official with the advocacy group e-mails The Note:  ”Today MoveOn.org will blast an email tomorrow surveying its 7 million members on whether or not the organization will endorse Barack Obama’s re-election.  The MoveOn website will feature a live counter to tally the MoveOn members responses as they come in. MoveOn is a member driven organization and that’s why they are taking this decision to their members.”

OBAMA, ROMNEY, AND THE WATER’S EDGE. ABC’s Jake Tapper reports: The president, at the conclusion of the G20 international summit, took questions from three reporters, one of whom asked about an op-ed earlier this month in the German business journal Handelsblatt written by R. Glenn Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Business School and an economic adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Hubbard wrote that “President Obama’s advice to the Germans and Europe has…the same flaws as his own economic policy — that it pays for itself over the long term if we focus on short-term business promotion.” … President Obama begged off addressing the criticism, saying “with respect to Mr. Romney’s advisers, I’d suggest you go talk to Mr. Romney about his advisers. I would point out that we have one president at a time and one administration at a time. And I think traditionally, the notion has been that America’s political differences end at the water’s edge.”

OBAMA ADS: ROMNEY’S OUTSOURCING, FEE HIKES. From ABC’s Devin Dwyer: President Obama’s campaign will begin airing two TV ads today in nine battleground states, attacking Mitt Romney for outsourcing state work and hiking a number of fees during his term as Massachusetts governor. One spot — “Come and Go” — juxtaposes Romney’s claim of being a job creator with the accusation that he supported “outsourcing state jobs to India.” Another – “Mosaic” – juxtaposes his promise to cut taxes with the claim that he presided over “1,000 fee hikes” between 2003 and 2007. “Romney economics: It didn’t work then and it won’t work now,” narrators in both ads conclude. Independent fact checkers have examined Romney’s record on the outsourcing issue and taxes/fee hikes and found neither to be as black and white as the Obama campaign ads suggest. http://abcn.ws/KM5V7K VIDEO: http://bit.ly/NRpCvF , http://bit.ly/KyMvSg

PILING ON OBAMA:

–It was only a matter of time before President Obama’s words made it into a super PAC ad. Today, the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future announced it will run an ad reprising Obama’s “private sector is doing fine” comment, beginning today. The group said it will spend $7.6 million airing the ad in nine states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. From the script: “America’s jobless rate just went up again, but after a record 40 straight months of unemployment over eight percent, President Obama insists, ‘The private sector is doing fine.’”http://bit.ly/LDj39Z

Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-affiliated conservative group, says it will run a new ad for 10 days in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania–one that’s very similar to the Restore Our Future spot. Script: “Maybe your family is like most, struggling to make it by. But recently, President Obama said, ‘The private sector is doing fine.’ Hmm, how can our president be so out of touch? … The private sector is not doing fine.” http://bit.ly/Mwk96i

RNC WEB VIDEO: LATINO UNEMPLOYMENT. From ABC’s Shushannah Walshe: Just days after Obama announced his administration would not seek to deport up to 800,000 children of illegal immigrants, the Republican National Committee cane out with a new web video in both English and Spanish, and a research piece that hit the president for the nation’s economic problems and how they had disproportionately hurt Latinos. Over the voices of news coverage telling the viewer “Latino unemployment is in the double digits” are images of both the president and struggling families. “After four years of President Obama, our economy isn’t better,” a graphic reads before these statistics appear over a woman looking through her bills: “Hispanic unemployment skyrocketed to 11 percent” and “2.3 million more Hispanics in poverty.” http://abcn.ws/M3zKNK

HOLDER CONTEMPT VOTE SET FOR TODAY. ABC’s Matthew Larotonda and John Parkinson report: Attorney General Eric Holder took a brief ride from the Department of Justice to the Capitol late Tuesday afternoon to meet with top lawmakers from both parties, trying to avoid an embarrassing contempt vote scheduled for Wednesday. But his proposal was quickly rejected by Congress’s own top cop. Holder has faced a steady stream of criticism since news of the Fast and Furious operation broke from the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Darrell Issa. He told reporters after their meeting that the Department of Justice had made an “unprecedented number of documents available” in order to lay out a plan that would bring a resolution to the standoff. Now, Holder says, the next move is up to Issa. … While the contempt vote appears to be on schedule, Issa hinted that he could still postpone it.  http://abcn.ws/Lk4wDi

NEW ABC/YAHOO! VIDEO: WHY THE WRESTLER WON’T FLY. Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura accuses America’s political parties of gangsterism and talks about his lawsuit against TSA. “They’re a gang just like the street gangs, only they wear Brooks Brothers suits,” Ventura says of America’s political parties. The former governor plans to vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate. Ventura also says he refuses to fly on airplanes after a federal judge dismissed his suit against the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security. “I will never fly again, because I have metal in my body, and when I go to airports, I’m treated like a criminal.” http://yhoo.it/MEZQaB

HARRY REID: ‘THAT’S A CLOWN QUESTION, BRO.’ From ABC’s Sunlen Miller (with video): Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., regularly invokes the name of Washington Nationals baseball player Bryce Harper, but today he took his adoration one step further and quoted the Nats  own response to a reporter’s question, which has since gone viral. “That’s a clown question, bro,” Reid said to a round of laugher,  smiling as he delivered the line to a reporter. Just last week Nats center-fielder and 19-year-old Harper told a Toronto TV reporter  ”that’s a clown question, bro,” when he was asked whether he would be taking advantage of the lower drinking age while in Canada. And in the time since, the phrase has quickly caught on inside the Beltway. http://abcn.ws/M6n8YC

OBAMA: U.S., CHINA, RUSSIA SEE SYRIA DIFFERENTLY. ABC’s Mary Bruce reports: President Obama said today that China are Russia are not aligned with the United States and its allies when it comes to resolving the escalating crisis in Syria, but that both countries “recognize the grave dangers of all-out civil war.” “I do not think they condone the massacres that we’ve witnessed. I think they believe that everybody would be better served if Syria had a mechanism for ceasing the violence and creating a legitimate government,” the president told reporters at the close of the G20 summit. http://abcn.ws/Mt6sXZ

OBAMA PRESSES FOR EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK. From ABC’s Jake Tapper and Mary Bruce: As expected, the G20 conference came to its close with no bold agreements to resolve the economic crisis in the 17-member Eurozone. President Obama said today that he had urged leaders from the European countries present – France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union — to at least provide a public framework as to what they want to happen so that markets and others can calm down and be reassured solutions are coming. President Obama told reporters that what he had “heard from European leaders during the course of these discussions is that they understand the stakes, they understand why it’s important for them to take bold and decisive action and I’m confident they can meet those tests.”

ROMNEY: OBAMA POLICIES HURT MINORITIES. Via ABC’s Shushannah Walshe, Romney told Fox’s Sean Hannity in a Tuesday-eveniing interview that Obama “really doesn’t have a narrative that suggests why he should be president for four more years. His policies in the first 3 ½ yrs have disappointed people all over the country, minority populations have been hit the hardest, but other Americans as well are really struggling under his policies in fact he of course he did not cause the downturn but his policies have made it harder for the economy to recover.”

DID OBAMA CLINCH THE LATINO VOTE? Univision’s Jordan Fabian writes: “The president’s new policy isn’t likely to expand his share of the Latino vote, but all signs indicate that it will energize his existing supporters to actually go to the polls and vote for him again. Throughout this election cycle, Obama has polled ahead of Romney among Latinos more than two-to-one, similar to the percentage of the Latino vote he took in 2008. Republican nominee Mitt Romney has made overtures to Latinos, but so far he has not seen a bump in the polls. But Obama has been in real danger of seeing Latino turnout drop, and a big reason for that appears to be his immigration enforcement policies, which have led to a record number of deportations during his presidency. … Meanwhile, the president’s outside backers are driving home its immigration message in a series of well-funded Spanish-language ads in swing states.” http://bit.ly/MfnOHn

 

ROMNEY BUS TOUR–WHAT THE LOCALS ARE SAYING:

–The Detroit News reports on Romney’s economic message: “At an afternoon stop at Sweetie-licious Bakery Café in DeWitt — where he and his wife, Ann, tested their skills at making pie crusts — Romney promised to get Americans back to work, painting himself as a leader who knows how to get results in the private sector while Obama has never held a private-sector job. ‘Job No. 1 for this president,’ Romney said referring to himself, ‘will be creating jobs for the American people.’” http://bit.ly/Kkl5ec

–ABC’s Detroit affiliate WXYZ noted that Romney is “going to have to deal with that sticky issue involving auto bailouts” in Michigan. In an interview, Romney told reporter Stephen Clark that the Obama administration took his advice on GM and Chrysler: “Well, what I said was the companies needed to go through a managed bankruptcy, and the president finally came around to that way of thinking himself, and therefore General Motors and Chrysler went through the managed bankruptcy I recommended from the very beginning.” http://bit.ly/NP27SI

–The Grand Rapids Press noted Romney’s vision for the future of health care, reporting on his stop in Holland, Mich. David Eggert writes: “‘I’ll take out that big cloud that’s been hanging over small businesses. We’re going to get rid of Obamacare and return to personal responsibility,’ he said, drawing large applause from the crowd. ‘By the way, that doesn’t just mean that people are going to be off on their own. … We’re also going to make certain the insurance companies have to give people a fair deal.’ That means people with pre-existing conditions should not be denied coverage if they get sick or change jobs, he said. Those protections are int he current law signed by Obama.” http://bit.ly/NRl3BH

 

HAPPENING TODAY: CONGRESSIONAL WOMEN’S SOFTBALL GAME. It’s the press vs. pols World Series tonight. A rundown courtesy of the Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe: “Some female lawmakers and some of the female journalists who cover them square off tonight in one of the newest Capitol Hill traditions, the Congressional Women’s Softball Game. Proceeds from the fourth annual game will benefit the Young Survival Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to young women affected by breast cancer. The game will be played tonight at 7 p.m. at the Watkins Recreation Center on 12th Street, SE, near the Eastern Market/Potomac Avenue Metro stop. If you didn’t already buy a ticket at congwomensoftball.org, they may be purchased for $10 at the door.” http://wapo.st/LAnvHZ

Press Team: ABC’s own Amy Walter, Gregory Simmons Lemos and Christina Capatides; Jennifer Bendery, The Huffington Post; Leigh Ann Caldwell, CBS News; Lisa Desjardins, CNN; Caroline Horn, CBS News; Emmarie Huetteman, NY Times; Kasie Hunt, AP; Jill Jackson, CBS News; Brianna Keilar, CNN; Stephanie Kotuby, CNN; Jackie Kucinich, USA Today; Abby Livingston, Roll Call; Meredith Shiner, Roll Call; Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times; Shawna Thomas, NBC News. (Coaches: The Associated Press’ David Espo and The New York Times’ Carl Hulse).

Members’ Team: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.); Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.); Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Ill.); Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.); Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.); Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.); Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.); Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii); Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.); Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.); Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.); Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.); Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.); Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.); Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio); Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)

TRASH TALK: “I wake up in cold sweats at night over Rep. Laura Richardson’s hitting,” Roll Call reporter and Friend of The Note Abby Livingston e-mails. “But we’re ready for her this year. Bring it on!” Abby adds, “If beating Congress helps us beat cancer, then I’m all in.” After countless trips to the batting cages, Press Team co-captain and ABC News Political Director Amy Walter notes: “I’ll let my bat do the talking.”

 

VEEP BEAT: ABC’s Arlette Saenz rounds up all the action on the #veepstakes front:

–PORTMAN TO NEW HAMPSHIRE: The New Hampshire Union Leader’s John DiStaso reports: “Ohio U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has been confirmed as the featured guest at a New Hampshire Republican Party fund-raiser on July 7 in Concord. The venue has yet to be determined.” http://t.co/7ui9AtUB

–UNKNOWN CONTENDERS: ABC News’ Gregory Simmons highlights a new Gallup poll that shows the country’s unfamiliarity with Sen. Rob Portman and Marco Rubio.  62 percent of those polled said they never heard of Portman while 41 percent said they were unfamiliar with Rubio. The Florida senator drew a 26 percent approval rating and Portman received 12 percent favorability.

PORTMAN’S OHIO NETWORK: Even if he remains relatively unknown among voters, Portman can offer Romney a link to his strong political network he’s cultivated in Ohio, Roll Call’s David Drucker reported.  ”Sen. Rob Portman could help put Mitt Romney over the top in Ohio, a potential boost that has nothing to do with him joining the Republican ticket as Romney’s running mate,” Drucker wrote. “Since launching his first statewide campaign three years ago, Portman has built a strong political network throughout Ohio, including in the rural counties rich in conservative voters that could be crucial to Romney’s success this fall. Perhaps more importantly for Romney in his bid to oust President Barack Obama, Portman has credibility with a broad cross section of the party sufficient to activate this network on behalf of others.” http://bit.ly/KyLKIR

PRESIDENT DANIELS…OF PURDUE: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has a new calling that won’t lead him to the White House.  WISH-TV first reported Tuesday that the Indiana governor will become the new president of Purdue University.   The board of trustees will vote on Daniels’ appointment Thursday.  http://bit.ly/NOW0Oo

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

‏@MarkLeibovich: I fell asleep for a few hours…What’s the latest on whether Rubio’s been vetted???

@PrestonCNN: A primer on the economic conditions in 7 swing states from@cnnmoney: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2012/news/economy/1206/gallery.swing-state-election/

@timkmak: “Unfortunately we don’t have quite enough [delegates] to take over the convention,” says Ron Paul on MornJoe.

@BretBaier: Get the bacon out! RT @chefgeoffs Gonna be 100 today. Hot kitchen day.

@MotherJones: VIDEO: What would it look like if super-PACs and dark-money groups existed in Game of Thrones? http://mojo.ly/MvpRW9

 

POLITICAL RADAR

–Mitt Romney holds fundraisers in Michigan. Tomorrow he delivers remarks at the National Associated of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Conference in Florida.

–President Obama has returned to Washington, DC from the G20 Summit in Mexico. He has no public events.

ABC’s Joanna Suarez

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

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