One of the first rules of politics is to define yourself before your opponent does it for you. The Obama campaign has made this its mantra with a relentless focus on making Mitt Romney out to be something of a cross between Gordon Gekko and George W. Bush.
Romney, meanwhile, has kept his focus squarely on Obama and the economy.
The latest USA Today/Gallup poll of battleground states shows that Obama's strategy is working - sort of.
"At this point, Obama is the clear winner in the ad wars," according to USA Today's Susan Page. "Among swing-state voters who say the ads have changed their minds about a candidate, rather than just confirmed what they already thought, 76% now support the president, vs. 16% favoring Romney." http://usat.ly/Nc5e4R
But, notes Page, "To be sure, Obama's ads have done more to win back Democrats than to win over independents or Republicans: Thirteen percent of Democrats say their minds have been changed by ads, compared with 9% of independents and 3% of Republicans."
In a Monday morning memo, the Romney campaign contends "their factually inaccurate attack ads, while plentiful, have been ineffective."
"Over 75% of the advertising the Obama campaign has run has been negative, anti-Romney ads, with at least 14 separate negative ads run against Mitt Romney," the memo read. "Yet, despite all of the negative advertising from the Obama campaign, polling numbers are exactly where they were before they started this onslaught."
Even so, it's clear what some perceive as Romney's passive strategy is starting to frustrate his supporters who want to see a more robust push-back.
Recall the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, which last week, wrote: "Team Obama is now opening up a new assault on Mr. Romney as a job outsourcer with foreign bank accounts, and if the Boston boys let that one go unanswered, they ought to be fired for malpractice."
But, getting into the fight that Obama wants to pick is a dangerous trap. It does Romney no good to try and defend bank accounts in the Caymans or the value of private equity.
The real question is when will we see Romney start to define himself on his terms?
Where is the People Magazine profile? Or the Good Housekeeping interview?
It was at this point in 2008 when then-candidate Barack Obama gave People a look at his family life full of interesting tidbits about the girls (they do chores and get a $1 allowance) and how he balances life on the trail with being a dad. http://bit.ly/Mal3pD
Voters are hungry to understand who Romney is, but they are interested in more than just the balance sheet profile. Voters want to take a measure of the man they vote to be the leader of the free world. Who is he? What are his values? Rounding out that profile before Obama fills it in for him will be the Romney challenge this summer.
ROMNEY'S $106 MILLION MONTH . The Romney campaign announced today that it raised $106.1 million in June, its best fundraising month to date, ABC's Emily Friedman reports. The money was raised by Romney for President, Romney Victory and the Republican National Committee. The campaign reported having $160 million on hand at the end of the month.
June's loot far exceeds May's total of more than $76 million, out-raising the Obama campaign by $16 million. The Obama campaign has not yet released its own fundraising numbers for the month of June. "This month's fundraising is a statement from voters that they want a change of direction in Washington," said Romney Victory National Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick in a statement. "Voters of all stripes - Republicans, Independents, and Democrats - have made it clear that President Obama has not lived up to the promises of his last campaign." http://abcn.ws/N9sYrG
"THIS WEEK" REWIND.
-MARTIN O'MALLEY HITS ROMNEY ON SWISS BANK ACCOUNT. Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Md., told ABC's Terry Moran on "This Week" that presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has "bet against America" by establishing a bank account in Switzerland and engaging in other offshore financial activities. "He bet against America when he put his money in Swiss bank accounts and tax havens and shelters and also set up a secret company, the shell company in Bermuda," said O'Malley. "What went the way of Europe were the - the Swiss bank accounts and the American dollars that Mitt Romney stuffed in that offshore Swiss bank account, jobs that he facilitated companies in moving offshore, out of places like Ohio, out of Pennsylvania and Maryland."
-BOBBY JINDAL CALLS THE TOPIC A DISTRACTION. "I think voters will consider all of the distractions thrown out by the Obama campaign. But at the end of the day, this election is about two fundamental choices. It's about President Obama, who wants to continue to spend money we don't have."
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: THE ROUNDTABLE: George Will, Gwen Ifill, E.J. Dionne, Steve Rattner and Mort Zuckerman joined Terry on the roundtable, where the group discussed the latest job numbers, the state of the recovery, Romney's potential VP pick, and the past week in politics. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/NQGnk1
with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? VOTERS AND ROMNEY. Analysis from ABC's Amy Walter: At a fundraiser held right before the July 4 holiday, House Speaker John Boehner was asked by an attendee, "Can you make me love Mitt Romney?" Boehner replied, "The American people probably aren't going to fall in love with Mitt Romney. I'll tell you this: 95 percent of the people that show up to vote in November are going to show up in that voting booth, and they are going to vote for or against Barack Obama." In politics anger is a more powerful motivator than love. Yet, Americans seem to be more comfortable casting a protest vote for their representative in Congress than the person who will serve as the leader of the free world. This is why many of the GOP establishment, are arguing that Romney needs to be more than simply the anti-Obama. http://abcn.ws/ Px5lLp
PROTESTERS GREET ROMNEY IN THE HAMPTONS. ABC's Josh Haskell reports: After a week vacationing in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney headed back to the fundraising circuit Sunday appearing with his wife Ann at three private residences in the Hamptons. One of the high-dollar events was held at the shorefront estate of billionaire David Koch, whose Southampton compound was tightly secured in part because of roughly 150 protesters in the area. Members of Occupy Wall Street and MoveOn.org made up those protesting, shouting and holding signs illustrating their anger towards "money in politics." http://abcn.ws/ LXKxur
SCENES FROM A FUNDRAISER: From The New York Times' Michael Barbaro and Sarah Wheaton: "A woman in a blue chiffon dress poked her head out of a black Range Rover here on Sunday afternoon and yelled to an aide to Mitt Romney, 'Is there a V.I.P. entrance. We are V.I.P.' No such entrance existed. The line of cars waiting to enter a Romney event at a waterfront estate here had reached 30 deep, testament to the Republican candidate's fund-raising might on a weekend when he is expected to haul in $3 million in the Hamptons. Mr. Romney's aides apologized for the wait: each donor had to be checked off a guest list in the driveway, leading to a major backup. 'We are doing our best,' an aide carrying a clipboard said, sweat dripping down her cheeks." http://nyti.ms/MUT9Dj
JAKE TAPPER'S 'POLITICAL PUNCH': NEW BOOK ARGUES SURGE IN AFGHANISTAN WAS A MISTAKE. The war in Afghanistan has faced mountainous hurdles, many of which, a new book reveals, originated not in the desert mountains of Kandahar or Helmand Province, but at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where Washington infighting reached a fevered pitch. In the latest episode of ABC News/Yahoo!'s Power Player series "Political Punch" Jake Tapper talks with the books' author. "We squandered the troop surge," says Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan, "because of this nasty bickering in Washington." WATCH: http://yhoo.it/NTJI1H
OBAMA CAMPAIGN RENEWS CALLS FOR ROMNEY RELEASE OF TAX RETURNS. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports, the Obama campaign is renewing calls on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to release more of his tax returns, saying a fuller disclosure is the only way to resolve questions about his secretive offshore finances, which Democrats have been scrutinizing for the past week. In January, Romney released copies of his 2010 tax return after immense public pressure from his GOP primary rivals and Democrats. But he stopped short of releasing the 12 years worth of returns that his father did when running for president and as President Obama has done. Public release of a candidate's tax returns is not required by law but has been precedent set by candidates in both parties. http://abcn.ws/McwMVs
MILITARY CUTS LOOM AS LATE CAMPAIGN ISSUE. The Wall Street Journal's Patrick O'Connor reports: "For all the focus on the unemployment rate heading into the November elections, the layoffs that could most complicate President Barack Obama's re-election prospects wouldn't take effect until early next year. Unless Congress and the White House reach a compromise by year-end, the Pentagon would have to slash roughly $50 billion more from the current fiscal-year budget in January. That prospect of wide layoffs could undercut Mr. Obama in battleground states heavily dependent on military spending, particularly Virginia." http://on.wsj.com/ Mcc9ho
BARNEY FRANK GETS MARRIED. Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., tied the knot with his long time partner Jim Ready this weekend, according to a news release from Frank's office. Frank, 72, and Ready, 42, were married at the Boston Marriott Hotel in Newton, Mass. Saturday night. They have been together since 2007. http://abcn.ws/OlaaCE
ROMNEY'S STUDENT LOAN PLAN CRITICIZED. The Boston Globe's Tracy Jan reports: "Mitt Romney promises to usher private lenders back into the federal student loan market in a bid to decrease default rates and increase efficiency if he becomes president, but such a move could cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars over a decade without saving students money, according to several higher education analysts. The prime beneficiaries, critics say, would be banks and loan companies that stand to reap a financial boon through subsidies to make nearly risk-free, government-backed loans. They are the same firms that benefited from the system that existed for decades before 2010, when President Obama required that the government issue all federal student loans." http://b.globe.com/ McldCX
ESPN RAMPS UP POLITICAL AD SALES. "ESPN has come up with a way to sell a bigger portion of its ad time to political campaigns. The sports network has struck a deal with a middleman that will result in more political ads appearing on ESPN programs, including NFL and college football games, in October and November - the critical period before the general election," The Wall Street Journal's Suzanne Vranica reports. "There is 'great demand' for ad time from 'political parties and the super-PACs,' said Ed Erhardt, ESPN's president of global customer marketing and sales. … ESPN's new deal was struck with NCC Media LLC, an ad-sales venture owned by several big cable operators. ESPN, which is owned by Walt Disney Co., is selling NCC some of the ad inventory that the network would have sold to national advertisers in the "upfront" ad market for the coming season." http://on.wsj.com/NzL4kv
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX
-PROGRESSIVES LAUNCH CAMPAIGN TO OVERTURN CITIZENS UNITED. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee will release a five part campaign today aimed at overturning Citizens United. The plan includes some of the following points: "Pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Require corporations to get shareholder approval before any political spending. Pass the Disclose Act, to force anonymous big-dollar donors out of the shadows. Pass public funding of elections, starting in New York state - a major battle happening right now." Also, according to an e-mail message from the PCCC: ""Until we can get corporate money out of politics, corporations will buy elections. If I were to focus on one issue in the upcoming months and years, it would be to change this corrupting influence on the American political system because it threatens the very core of our Democracy."
-STENY HOYER TO CALL MANUFACTURING 'THE BRIGHT STAR' OF ECONOMIC RECOVERY. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., will address the Center for America Progress today on the role of manufacturing in building a strong economy. In his speech Hoyer will refer to manufacturing as "the bright star of our recovery." According to advance excerpts of his remarks, Hoyer will say: "Over the last three years, we've seen strong gains by manufacturers…After having watched for years as American manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas, we are now bearing witness to some of these jobs returning. Companies are recognizing the rising costs of production in other countries and are looking once again to the talent and experience of American workers."
VEEP BEAT: ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz) rounds up all the action on the veepstakes front:
PORTMAN ON ROMNEY TURF, BUT NO MEETING: Sen. Rob Portman ventured onto Romney's turf this weekend, participating in an event for the N.H. GOP in Concord, but he told reporters Saturday he had "no plans" to meet face-to-face with the Republican nominee. But the Ohio senator could have another chance to meet with Romney or his staff in Boston today as he headlines a fundraiser for Romney at the Westin Copley, ABC News' Gregory Simmons reported. http://abcn.ws/Mg7Spw
RUBIO TO FUNDRAISE FRIDAY: ABC News obtained a copy of an invitation to a Romney fundraiser featuring Marco Rubio in Boston this Friday. The $2,500 a plate luncheon will be held at the Boston Harbor Hotel, putting the Florida Senator close to Romney's headquarters where he could potentially meet with Romney's staff. http://abcn.ws/LaUmpz
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: With seven weeks to go until the Republican National Convention in Tampa, the veepstakes is entering its final stages, with peculation rising about who Romney will select as his running mate and when he'll announce his decision, the Washington Post's Phil Rucker reported. "With the prospective vice presidential candidates fanning out as campaign-trail surrogates, Romney and his closest counselors have entered the final stages of selecting the ultimate surrogate - a running mate. There are seven weeks remaining until the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and Romney has a few important strategic decisions to make before then: not only who to name as a vice presidential nominee, but also when and how to do so," Rucker wrote. "Will Romney follow the precedent of both parties in 2008 by waiting until a few days before the start of his convention to announce his pick? Or will he elect to name a running mate sooner to effectively double the Republicans' ability to raise money and campaign against an incumbent president and vice president? And if Romney goes the early route, will he make the announcement over the next 2 1/2 weeks before he departs for Europe to begin a foreign trip? Or will he wait until he returns from overseas in early August, when the campaign will be competing against the London Olympics for media attention? Romney campaign officials would not comment on the confidential vice presidential selection process but said nothing has been determined." http://wapo.st/Nb5Aao
@jpaceDC : BEIRUT (AP) - Syrian opposition group says death toll from uprising has topped 17,000.
@mikiebarb : Romney's $3 million Hampton weekend turned out to be closer to $4 million, an informed source tells me.
-President Obama holds meetings at the White House and makes a statement on tax cuts in the East Room.
-Mitt Romney holds a private fundraiser in Aspen, Colo.
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