For Whom The Attack Ad Tolls (The Note)

Aug 3, 2012 8:40am

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

NOTABLES:

  • BREAKING: JOBS NUMBER TICKS UP, BUT SO DOES UNEMPLOYMENT: The United States economy added 163,000 jobs in July, but at the same time, the nation’s unemployment rose from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent, according to the latest monthly jobs numbers issued by the Department of Labor. That’s up from 80,000 jobs added in June and better than economists’ expectations. According to the ABC News Business Unit, this is the best jobs report since February. Analysts had predicted the July jobs number would come in at around 100,000.
  • THE NEARLY HALF-BILLION-DOLLAR CAMPAIGN: According to data on television ad spending reported this morning in the National Journal, the Obama campaign and its allies and the Romney campaign and its allies “have purchased $457 million in television advertising. Voters in Florida have each seen more than $88 million in advertising, while Virginia voters have seen over $63 million in television spots.” http://bit.ly/MCDHbG
  • ALL QUIET ON THE VEEPSTAKES FRONT: Another week has passed without a vice presidential pick from Mitt Romney, ABC’s Arlette Saenz notes. Asked by reporters on Thursday whether he has made a decision yet about his running mate choice, Romney simply said, “Sorry guys, I got nothing for you.”  But in a radio interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Romney said he has not made a final decision on his running mate. “We have a large number of qualified people, and so I have a very strong group of people that I can consider,” Romney said. “There’s not a decision that’s finalized yet.” Romney added, “The process has worked really well. I have a good rapport with each of the people that we’re speaking with. I’m pretty confident that this process will go in a way that’s satisfactory to me and to the nation.”
  • THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’: ANN COULTER, VAN JONES AND MORE: The “This Week” powerhouse roundtable joins George Stephanopoulos to debate the latest in the 2012 presidential contest and the new jobs report, with ABC News’ George Will, ABC News senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl, conservative commentator Ann Coulter, former Obama White House environmental adviser Van Jones, and former Counselor to the Treasury Secretary and Lead Auto Adviser Steven Rattner. Tune in Sunday: http://abcnews.go.com/thisweek

THE NOTE:

New polls out this week from the Pew Research Center and Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times show the negative attacks on Mitt Romney taking a serious toll.

“By a 52 percent to 37 percent margin, more voters say they have an unfavorable than favorable view of Mitt Romney,” according to Pew’s analysis of the results. “The poll, conducted prior to Romney’s recent overseas trip, represents the sixth consecutive survey over the past nine months in which his image has been in negative territory.”

And forget all the complaints about party identification for these surveys being “too Democratic.” The Pollster.com aggregation of all polling since April shows Romney’s favorable/unfavorable ratings consistently underwater. As of today, he’s seen more unfavorably than favorably by an average of 8 percentage points. http://huff.to/AhdVDs

A look at the behavior from the Romney campaign and his allies suggests that they see some of the same things.
First, there are the ads that seek to portray Romney for who he is instead of who he isn’t. His success at saving the 2002 Olympics as outlined in an ad paid for by the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future. And his “Believe in Our Future” spot that finally has Romney telling his story in his own voice.

Second, as Byron York, chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner writes, Romney’s speech in Colorado yesterday focused as much on his plans for the future instead of just on Obama’s failures.

“On Thursday afternoon, there was Romney, addressing supporters in Golden, Colo., in front of a giant banner that said ‘ROMNEY PLAN.’ In his remarks, Romney criticized Obama; nothing wrong with that. But he laid out his larger purpose at the very beginning. ‘Today, I come to talk about making things better,’ Romney said, laying out his plan. ‘If we do those five things, those simple five things … you’re going to see this economy come roaring back.’ ‘This is the path to more jobs and more take-home pay and a brighter future for you and your kids,’ Romney added. ‘And I know that because I’ve seen it.’”

York notes: “Romney was clear, sharp and focused. If he stays that way, he’ll likely quiet some of his GOP critics, at least for a while.” http://bit.ly/MTPGWK

Of course, Romney’s “five things” were short on details. But, the idea is an acknowledgement that he needs to start filling in the gaps about who he is and what he believes in before the caricature that Democrats have created ultimately defines him.

 

REPORT: WHITE HOUSE SAVED SOLYNDRA FOR P.R. ABC’s Matthew Mosk reports on new Solyndra findings released by House Republicans: Senior Obama administration officials decided to restructure the government’s half-billion-dollar loan to the California solar energy firm Solyndra even after government analysts had concluded it would cost taxpayers far less to allow the company to fail, according to a newly released report on the investigation into the Solyndra matter by House Republicans. The decision appeared to be made at least in part out of concern with how it would look if Solyndra — the first recipient of government funds meant to spark growth in the nation’s production of cleaner burning fuels — went bust, according to the report, which quoted extensively from internal administration emails. “DOE is likely to be very sensitive about optics if it should default,” one analyst wrote in an e-mail. http://abcn.ws/OwiDa5

EXCLUSIVE: DALEY WAS BRIEFED ON SOLYNDRA. ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports: Buried in the treasure trove of White House emails related to Solyndra released Thursday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee is one suggesting that concerns about Solyndra’s viability were shared all the way up to then-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley a full six months before the company went bust. … The emails show that OMB analyst Kelly Colyar urged the company be shut down and its assets sold off in January 2011. Liquidating Solyndra then, she estimated, would limit taxpayer losses to $141 million. … And here’s the key line: “The issue was discussed with the NEC and the Chief of Staff.” http://abcn.ws/NepRvm

RNC PILES ON THE SOLYNDRA STORY. The RNC is continuing their pressure on the White House, specifically hitting the administration on transparency in the wake of new revelations in the Solyndra failure and the ongoing Caribou coffee, personal e-mail disclosures, according to ABC’s Shushannah Walshe.

They are out with a research piece detailing what they say are clear signals the administration ignored signs the solar panel manufacturer was going under, losing $500 million of taxpayer money. This isn’t a new attack for Republicans, both Romney and the Party have made it a focus, but new e-mails released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday gave the story new legs.  The RNC has especially been focused on an e-mail from August 17, 2011 where White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote an e mail to then-senior adviser now-Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter and senior adviser David Plouffe titled “Update on Solyndra.” He wrote: “This is going to be a real pain, Solyndra is about to go under apparently.” Cutter replied to both writing simply, “Ugh.” Pfeiffer then replied, “And there is an additional complication I will explain tomorrow.” http://bit.ly/MCnUJP

And in a lighter moment, the RNC have whipped up some birthday cards in honor of the president’s 51st birthday Saturday. As you can imagine, they aren’t exactly friendly. One from “Russian President Putin” reads “After the Election you are flexible for me. I flex for your birthday” and “Hugo Chavez” says “Here’s to four more years of you telling people I’m not a threat, Happy Birthday.” See them at www.BaracksBirthdayCards.com

 

NEW ONLINE: FACE THE FACTS USA. Backed by the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs, a new site called FacetheFactsUSA.org promises to be a kind of anti-FactCheck.org, presenting facts about a range of topics, not specifically intended to verify or debunk politicians’ claims. Instead, the site’s mission: “Present facts and data in creative ways that crystallize key issues facing America and debunk misconceptions. Offer “details on demand” so our users can connect directly with as much source data and as many points of view as they wish. Engage and connect people and communities; present ways to help people get involved and push for solutions that move America forward.” Check it out: http://bit.ly/NPCFNN On Twitter: @FaceFactsUSA

 

THE BUZZ:

with Chris Good (@c_good)

REGULATORY CZAR DEPARTS. ABC’s Ann Compton reports: Administration officials confirm that Cass Sunstein is returning to Harvard law school later this month, with thanks from an admiring president who brought Sunstein into the White House for the unglamorous but powerful job of juggling government regulations. “Cass has shepherded our review of existing rules to get rid of those that cost too much or no longer make sense, an effort that is already on track to save billions of dollars,” President Obama will say when the announcement is made later today.

ANN ROMNEY’S WEEKEND IN WALES. Rafalca, the dressage horse that took an elegant turn in the Olympics on Thursday, gets a break this weekend and Ann Romney (part owner of Rafalca) is off to visit her roots in Wales, notes ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe. But where? Mrs. Romney will spend Saturday at an 850-year-old pub, the Old House, in Llangynwyd, campaign aides confirm. She will do an interview with NBC News and no doubt mention her coal miner grandfather from the country who came to the U.S.  Wales Online first reported the news and writes that this isn’t the first star turn for the pub that’s several centuries older than the country Romney’s husband would like to be president of. The pub’s proprietors have welcomed Richard Burton and David Bowie as patrons, or punters as the Brits call them, as well. “This is the biggest thing that has ever happened to us,” Old House landlord Richard Stephens-David told Wales Online. “It’s great for the pub and for the area, after all it’s not often you get a possible future head of state visiting. I just hope she will return the favor if she gets into the White House.” Romney plans to stay in the U.K. to watch Rafalca and rider Jan Ebeling’s next dressage performance on Aug. 7. http://abcn.ws/N7ne01

FLASHBACK: IN 2004 ROMNEY SAID BLAMING BUSH FOR ECONOMY WAS ‘POPPYCOCK.’ Accompanying today’s jobs numbers, the Democratic opposition-research super PAC American Bridge has released newly unearthed video of Mitt Romney at a 2004 press conference, in which he defends President Bush from economic attacks. Romney: “The people of America recognize that the slowdown in jobs that occurred during the early years of the Bush administration were the result of a perfect storm. And an effort by one candidate to somehow say, ‘Oh, this recession and the slowdown in jobs was the result of somehow this president magically being elected’–people in America just dismiss that as being poppycock. And they recognize it as that.” Of course, the situation isn’t exactly the same today: Romney touted swift economic turnaround in 2004, which it isn’t doing today. http://bit.ly/ONoHu8

ROMNEY AND HIS ALLIES BLANKET THE AIRWAVES. National Journal’s Reid Wilson reports: “Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and outside groups that support him will spend more than twice as much as President Obama’s campaign on television advertising this week, according to sources watching the advertising market. But Obama is making down payments on the future, spending tens of millions of dollars on advertising that won’t run until September and October. … More than two-thirds of that money will come from Restore Our Future, a Romney-backing super PAC.”

OBAMA ON ROMNEY’S ‘FAIRY DUST’ PLAN. ABC’s Devin Dwyer reports from President Obama’s campaign stop in Orlando: “They have tried to sell us this trickle down, tax cut ‘fairy dust’ before. And guess what? It didn’t work then, it will not work now,” Obama said of Romney’s plan to slash rates for corporations and upper-income earners. “It’s not a plan to create jobs, it’s not a plan to reduce the deficit. It is not a plan to build the middle class. It is not a plan to move the economy forward,” he said. http://abcn.ws/OM5fj0

NEW ABC/YAHOO! VIDEO: OBAMA’S OLYMPIC HITS AND MISSES. In the newest installment of “Politically Foul,” ABC’s Amy Walter judges the latest political shenanigans, from President Obama’s “Real Housewives” diss to his asking the U.S. gymnastics team, “How do you not bust your head every time you’re on those — that little balance beam?” WATCH: http://yhoo.it/PrtTQT

SAME-SEX COUPLE INVITES CHICK-FIL-A CEO TO DINNER. From ABC’s Amy Bingham: The dinner invitation from Marci Alt and wife Marlysa, who live near Chick-fil-A’s Atlanta headquarters, is no paltry piece of paper, it is backed by an online petition sponsored by Change.org, an online organizing platforms for activists, and GLAAD, a gay rights advocacy group. “I hope Mr. Cathy will join my family for dinner, where we can share a respectful dialogue about our faith, work and families here in Georgia,” Alt said in a statement. “It’s important that Mr. Cathy meet the people his company is donating millions to stand against.” http://abcn.ws/MUrXGa

ARTUR DAVIS JOINS RANKS OF POLITICAL TURNCOATS. With former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis switching parties and now campaigning for Mitt Romney, ABC’s Gregory J. Krieg places him in historical context with other prominent party-switchers in Sen. Joe Lieberman, Rep. Michele Bachmann, former senator Zell Miller, Hillary Clinton, and more. Krieg writes: Political switcharoos happen for lots of reasons, and Davis’s decision follows the usual logic, but his trajectory is impressive by any standard. At the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, then Rep. Davis gave a stirring nominating speech in support of then candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. Now, just four years later, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him pumping up Romney during the GOP convention in Tampa. http://abcn.ws/Qmeoyg

OBAMA: PENN STATE PENALTIES ARE ‘APPROPRIATE.’ The Chicago Tribune’s Mike Memoli reports: President Obama on Thursday said stiff NCAA sanctions on Penn State’s football program were “appropriate” in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. “I have been a big admirer of Penn State football,” Obama said. “Obviously Joe Paterno was a great football coach. But there are some things that are just more important than sports. And making sure our kids are safe is more important than sports.” http://lat.ms/QIU21G

WHITE HOUSE BLAMES RUSSIA, CHINA FOR FAILURE OF SYRIAN TALKS. ABC’s Matthew Larotonda, Ann Compton, and Dana Hughes report: The White House blamed Russia and China today for the failure of Kofi Annan’s peace mission in Syria. … “Annan’s resignation highlights the failure of the United Nations Security Council, of Russia and China, to support resolutions – gainful resolutions – that would have held Assad accountable for his failure to abide by his commitments under the Annan plan,” [White House Press Secretary Jay] Carney said. http://abcn.ws/ONsozY

BIDEN PUSHES FOR EARLY VOTE IN IOWA VIDEO. After President Obama performed well in Iowa thanks to early voting in 2008, ABC’s Arlette Saenz reports: Vice President Joe Biden is featured in a new OFA video urging Iowa voters to vote early beginning on Sept. 27. “You know, Iowans are still fortunate to be able to early vote.  40 days out you can start to vote.  This is all about the franchise,” Biden says in the video. “We, the president and I, think America’s better when every qualified American gets a vote, and so they should take advantage of it.” http://bit.ly/Qmk5fN

 

IN THE NOTE’S INBOX:

–LOOK OUT FOR GEORGE P. BUSH. Republican consultant Joe Brettell sees a rising political star on the horizon, and he’s got a familiar last name: “If he does pursue a national profile, 2012 may be read as the year that George P. Bush quietly laid the groundwork to continue in the family business.  His involvement in Maverick Pac aka MavPac, a national organization dedicated to supporting young conservatives and Hispanic Republicans of Texas and devoted to electing conservative Republicans of Hispanic heritage in the Lone Star State, seems to provide the first indication that he’s ready to make a move — on his own terms. … If he is to carry on the family business, Bush will do so with changing Republican Party. Latino voters were a key constituency in his uncle’s presidential victories and both George P. and his father, Jeb, expressed public disdain over the vitriolic statements on immigration that came out of this year’s Republican primary.  Bush speaks about the ‘personal connection’ his family feels with the Latino community and makes frequent appearances on Telemundo and Univision. Those appearances bring him into the homes of what is quickly becoming a ‘must have’ voting bloc. As the Republican Party continues its soul searching on how to handle the immigration issue, and Latino voters as a whole, he is poised to play a key role in the process. Bush is also seeking to narrow the gap between Republicans and younger voters.  In the aforementioned Maverick PAC, which was founded in 2009, he is seeking to bring younger donors into the GOP fold.” http://fxn.ws/QD7Smr

SCOTT BROWN CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES NEW “DEMOCRATS FOR BROWN” AD. Scott Brown’s campaign is out with a new ad this morning- the latest in their “Democrats for Brown” series. The ad, titled “Konnie” features former Democratic Worcester Mayor Konnie Lukes and will run in media markets in Boston and Springfield, MA, as well as Albany, NY and Providence, RI, which encompass the western and southern portions of the state, respectively. In keeping with the message the campaign has been pushing for months, the ad focuses on Brown’s “independence.” “I am impressed by Scott Brown’s independence, his ability to work with people on both sides of the aisle” Lukes says in the ad. WATCH: http://bit.ly/OEJ8aR

 

VEEP BEAT:

with ABC’s Arlette Saenz (@ArletteSaenz)

–VP SEARCH HEAD TAGS ALONG: The head of Romney’s VP search, Beth Myers, tagged along with the presumptive GOP nominee Thursday on his trip to Colorado, serving as a reminder of just how near the VP announcement looms.  Myers chatted with press at his event in Golden and was spotted talking briefly Romney on the charter flight between Denver and Aspen. http://abcn.ws/Qmdwd1

–ROMNEY SHARES STAGE WITH POTENTIAL RUNNING MATES: Surrounded by governors in what almost looked like a public tryout to find his running mate, Romney appeared on stage in Basalt, Colorado Thursday with a number of potential VP picks who all share the background of governing a state – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.  Jindal, who appeared publicly with Romney for the first time aside from fundraisers, spoke about the different visions Romney and President Obama offer the country.  “President Obama, he believes in an Occupy Wall Street perspective that’s all about saying you’re entitle to your neighbor’s property, to dividing us by class, by geography, by age because he doesn’t have solutions,” Jindal said.  “Governor Romney understands that’s not the future for our country.”  McDonnell predicted his home state of Virginia would turn from “Obama blue to Romney red in 90 day” because the country is looking for a candidate who can restore the American Dream. Romney called Christie a “great closer” and let him round out the short speeches by the governors. “You know, I feel bad for the president. I really do, and here’s why.  You see, when you listen to the president talk about these things, he’s missed the core issue that has made his presidency fail, and the reason why it’s so clear to me today is because I’m standing on this stage with all these people. The core reason that his presidency has failed is he doesn’t know how to lead,” Christie said.

–CHRISTIE INTROS ROMNEY AT ASPEN FUNDRAISER: Gov. Chris Christie introduced Romney at a fundraiser at the Little Nell Inn in Aspen, according to an Aspen donor who attended the event.

–PORTMAN DISPELS ‘BORING WHITE GUY’ LABEL, ONE BEER AT A TIME: Senator Rob. Portman is often tagged with the “boring white guy” label, but as ABC News’ Gregory Simmons reported, Portman showed a lighter side when he sent a beer as a gift to a county commissioner. Senator Rob Portman, R-OH, isn’t taking the familiar criticism that he’s a ‘boring white guy’ lying down anymore. To prove it, he sent a 12 oz. bottle of Bud Light as a gift to Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartman’s office,” Simmons wrote. “Hartman, who has known Portman for over a decade, was recently quoted in the senator’s hometown paper saying, ‘Rob Portman has had one beer in more places than any man in America.’” http://abcn.ws/Prr2r9

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@DougHeye: @DanRonayne and @Brendan_Buck are two strong pick ups by the#Romney campaign.

@ThePlumLineGS: Krauthammer: Romney overseas trip was smashing success, but media just hasn’t figured it out yet: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-romneys-excellent-trip/2012/08/02/gJQAQwmtSX_story.html?hpid=z3

@DavidMDrucker: Congress has left town for August, and everyone left in Washington is thrilled about it. Trust us.

@GarrettNBCNews: Awwww snap. Happy Birthday to super-photog @CharlesDharapak

‏@nickschifrin: First Saudi woman competes in the Olympics. In hijab on judo mat. Not important that Wojdan Shaherkani lost. http://l2012.cm/NegLig

 

POLITICAL RADAR

–President Obama is in Washington DC where he’ll deliver remarks on the need for Congress to act to ensure that taxes don’t go up on 98 percent of Americans at the beginning of next year.

–Mitt Romney is in Northern Las Vegas for a campaign speech at Sierra Truck Body & Equipment. Romney then travels to Reno and Sun Valley for fundraisers.

–Vice President Joe Biden is in Los Angeles, CA for a fundraiser.

–First Lady Michelle Obama is also on the fundraising circuit in Massachusetts with three events.

–Ann Romney is in Porthcawl, Wales visiting family as she awaits the next Olympic Event for her dressage horse, Rafalca.

ABC’s Josh Haskell (@HaskellBuzz)

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

 

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