With just over 90 days to go in the 2012 presidential contest, there's no rest for the weary swing state voter.
Every day the campaigns and their allies are churning out new volleys of attacks. The latest round comes today from Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting President Obama that has spent the vast majority of its time - and money - attacking Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital.
The group is at it again, this time with a powerful, new ad featuring a steel company worker who lost his job and his health plan after Bain closed the Kansas City plant where he worked. Unable to provide health care for his family, the employee, Joe Soptic, lost his wife to cancer.
"I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he's done to anyone," Soptic says in the minute-long spot. "Furthermore, I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned." WATCH: http://youtu.be/Nj70XqOxptU
The ad is the fifth in a $20 million flight on Romney's Bain record produced by Priorities USA Action, ABC's Devin Dwyer notes.
The Romney campaign, meanwhile, is taking a back-to-the-future approach with a new line of attack aimed squarely at what they say is President Obama's failure to keep the promises of the 1996 welfare reform legislation ushered in during the Clinton administration.
"Recently, the Obama administration issued an executive action to dismantle welfare and its work requirements," said Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul. "His actions may energize his dispirited liberal base, but they are an insult not only to those on welfare, but also to the millions of taxpayers struggling in today's economy, working more for less."
The campaign is also out with a new television ad backing up their message.
"On July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements," the ad's narrator says. "Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check." WATCH: http://mi.tt/MfWpcy
Bain is back for the Democrats and welfare reform is on the table for Republicans as both sides push their pre-convention messages.
ABC's AMY WALTER: The pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA shows no sign of backing off Bain. The group's latest ad is also their toughest. Not content to simply cast Romney as just a crass businessman willing to ship American jobs off to China to make a buck, the newest spot now paints him as a heartless man who cares nothing about the suffering of regular people.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: We obsess over convention speakers as if this is convening the United Nations Security Council, when it's really just programming a pep rally. But the rollout of speakers is a reminder of the deep Republican bench that's been built in the four short years of the Obama presidency. And while those already announced may or may not be under serious consideration for the vice presidency, the buzz generated now is a reminder of why Mitt Romney shouldn't be in a rush to make his choice, even just three weeks out now. All of the anticipation and all of the attention paid to these other Republican names will evaporate the moment he unveils his pick.
INSIDE THE MASSACHUSETTS SENATE RACE. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports, ask any Republican or Democrat to name the most important Senate races in the fight for control of the Democratic-led chamber, and they will undoubtedly include one state in particular: Massachusetts. The state's Republican Sen. Scott Brown will go up against Democrat and Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren in what polling indicates is likely to be a very close contest. The Note went on the road to Boston to talk with the candidates about their campaigns, their economic agendas, and what the race is really about in their opinion. http://abcn.ws/OWfkIC
VEEPSTAKES: PORTMAN SAYS HE DOESN'T THINK ABOUT VP PICK. Sen. Rob Portman isn't thinking much about the whirlwind that will consume him and his family should he receive the call from Romney to join him on the Republican ticket, ABC News' Gregory Simmons reports. "There are few moments that change a politician's life as dramatically as being picked to be a presidential running mate. The scenario goes something like this: The call comes asking you to join the ticket. If you accept, your world as you once knew it changes in an instant. You are descended upon by a robust Secret Service detail and almost entirely new staffers who work together to seal you off from a life you once considered 'normal.' You are now an integral part of a sprawling national campaign. The press corps you know by name expands exponentially to include dozens of people you've probably never seen in your life. And with that new group comes the searing glare of the national news media. From the moment you are announced until Election Day, you life is a sprint through swing states, a blur of speeches, and baby kissing. It is dramatic. It is nearly instant. It affects your family dramatically. It changes your life," Simmons wrote. "Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, however, says he hasn't spent any time thinking about the way his life might change if that call comes from Mitt Romney. 'The truth is we live our lives as if it will never happen. We really do,' Portman said when asked whether he and his family were ready if the call comes. 'In our Senate office, we're continuing to work for Ohio and promote legislation as if we're going to stay in the Senate. We really don't think about that and we're not planning on that.'" http://abcn.ws/MtoMFg
with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
VIDEO OF THE DAY: IS AMERICA READY FOR ANOTHER GEORGE BUSH? ABC's Jonathan Karl interviews rising GOP star George P. Bush in this latest installment of Karl's ABC/Yahoo! Power Players series "Spinners & Winners." As the grandson and nephew of the 41 st and 43 rd presidents of the United States respectively, George P Bush is the heir to a long political heritage. His father Jeb - the popular former Florida governor - had until recently been considered a possible vice presidential pick for the Romney ticket this fall. Watch Jon Karl's interview: http://yhoo.it/NgqypE
MISSOURI SENATE PRIMARY: A TEA-PARTY MASHUP. ABC's Chris Good reports on his native state: Missouri Republicans will vote today in a three-way primary to challenge vulnerable Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, and the race offers a little something for each kind of conservative. For the pro-business voter, there's John Brunner, a St. Louis businessman who's spent nearly $7 million of his own money and is backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. For the fiscal tea partier, there's former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, backed by Sarah Palin and Tea Party Express. And for the social conservative, there's the devout Rep. Todd Akin, who holds a divinity degree from a Missouri seminary and has appealed to Christian conservatives. July polling showed Brunner in a six-percentage-point lead, but a late momentum shift has made the race a toss-up. All three candidates poll ahead of McCaskill. http://abcn.ws/MqdvQf
OBAMA CALLS ROMNEY 'ROBIN HOOD IN REVERSE.' ABC's Mary Bruce reports, unveiling a new zinger against his opponent, President Obama said on Monday night that Mitt Romney's tax plan amounts to "Robin Hood in reverse" because it would take money from the poor to help the rich. "It's Romney Hood," the president said to uproarious laughter and applause from about 500 supporters who paid $500 each to attend a fundraiser in Stamford, Conn. http://abcn.ws/P0xo64
CHENEY SEEKS TO CLARIFY SARAH PALIN 'MISTAKE' REMARK. ABC's Jonathan Karl reports, in an interview that aired on Fox News on Monday night, former Vice President Dick Cheney tried to clarify what he told Jon Karl 10 days ago about Sarah Palin. In his interview with Karl, Cheney said John McCain's decision to pick Sarah Palin as his running was "a mistake" because, he said, Palin did not pass the test of being ready to be president. "I like Governor Palin. I've met her. I know her" Cheney told Karl. "She is an attractive candidate. But based on her background - she'd only been governor for, what, two years - I don't think she passed that test…of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake." http://abcn.ws/O1KltJ
OBAMA CAMPAIGN: ROMNEY FUNDRAISING EDGES MEANS 'WE'RE IN TROUBLE.' Yahoo!'s Olivier Knox reports, President Barack Obama's re-election campaign warned supporters in an email plea for cash on Monday that Mitt Romney's vast fundraising edge means "we're in trouble" with scarcely three months to go before Election Day. "We got beat three months in a row," the campaign said in the unsigned message. "If we don't step it up, we're in trouble." The appeal came hours after the two sides released their July fundraising totals, revealing that Romney and the Republican Party scooped up $101 million against the $75 million hauled in by Obama and the Democrats. http://abcn.ws/MgiKXj
BATTLE ST. LOUIS: POLITICAL SCIONS IN REDISTRICTING FIGHT. ABC's Good reports, after Missouri lost a congressional district, Reps. Lacy Clay, Jr. and Russ Carnahan will spar in a Democratic primary for the newly conglomerated St. Louis City district. Carnahan is the son of former governor Mel Carnahan, who defeated John Aschcroft posthumously in the state's 2000 Senate race, and former senator Jean Carnahan. Clay took over the district from his father, the state's first African-American representative. For the better part of a decade, the two have split St. Louis and its near suburbs, and their primary has been complete with racial dynamics and negative campaigning. Carnahan, who is white, has represented predominantly white South St. Louis and rural areas since 2005; Clay, who is black, has represented predominantly black North St. Louis since 2001. The candidates have gone negative in TV ads and mailers, and in radio ads, narrators have appealed directly to the district's African-American voters. The new district is mostly comprised of Clay's territory, and the primary winner will almost certainly prevail in the fall. http://abcn.ws/Qa3HdZ
CAN SARAH PALIN WIN THE GOLD WITH ENDORSEMENTS? ABC's Amy Walter reports, thus far, the former VP candidate Sarah Palin has endorsed four Senate candidates in competitive Republican primaries. All four have won. Today, she could extend that winning streak to five if Republican former Missouri state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, for whom Palin stumped this weekend, wins a three-way GOP primary contest. Like any good athlete, Palin has an impeccable sense of timing. And, she's keenly aware of the environment in which she's competing. Despite the fact that the Tea Party failed to field a credible presidential candidate, the mood of the GOP primary electorate remains as anti-establishment as ever. http://abcn.ws/TchWD4
HOW OBAMA'S HOLLYWOOD BACKERS HAVE OUTSOURCED JOBS. ABC's Jonathan Karl reports: "Movie-making is big business, of course. And, when it comes to maximizing profits, the President's top celebrity supporters have benefited from outsourcing, Hollywood-style. Here's a fresh example: "The Dark Knight Rises," starring Morgan Freeman (who recently gave Priorities USA, the Obama SuperPAC $1 million) and Ann Hathaway (who is co-hosting an Obama fundraiser with Harvey Weinstein tonight). There is no more quintessentially American city than Gotham. But where were half the Gotham scenes shot? In the United Kingdom and China. Going overseas may have meant fewer jobs for American workers, but, presumably some tax breaks and fewer union rules. http://abcn.ws/MsoKxu
2016 WATCH: MARTIN O'MALLEY TO IOWA NEXT MONTH. The Washington Post's John Wagner reports: "Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is booked next month as the "special guest" at an annual political event in Iowa, a move certain to further talk of his 2016 national ambitions. O'Malley will speak at a Sept. 16 steak fry sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), an event that typically draws hundreds of politically active Iowa Democrats to the Warren County Fairgrounds in Indianola. The visit to Iowa, the nation's first presidential caucus state, follows closely on the heels of a trip in June to New Hampshire, the nation's first presidential primary state. http://wapo.st/Qz0uJp
IN WEAK ECONOMY, AN OPENING TO COURT VOTES OF SINGLE WOMEN. The New York Times' Shaila Dewan reports: "Single women are one of the country's fastest-growing demographic groups - there are 1.8 million more now than just two years ago. They make up a quarter of the voting-age population nationally, and even more in several swing states, including Nevada. And though they lean Democratic - in a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, single women favored Mr. Obama over his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, by 29 points - they are also fickle about casting their ballots, preoccupied with making ends meet and alienated from a political system they say is increasingly deaf to their concerns." http://nyti.ms/RWhOoW
POLITICAL ADS: HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? The Wall Street Journal's Danny Yadron and Amy Schatz report: "Three months from Election Day, some political strategists already are asking if more TV ads really will make a difference. The question arises because of an increase in spending so far on political ads and the big reservations now being made for prime TV spots in the fall. Political ad placements are running higher than local TV stations in some swing states expected. http://on.wsj.com/P0L9BK
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-DEMOCRATS LAUNCH CONVENTION MOBILE APP. The Democratic National Convention Committee will launch the first official convention mobile app for smart phones today. The app, available for Apple iOS and Google Android systems, will provide guests with an interactive map to find restaurants and explore the city, stream the convention speeches, and allow for users to view and share photos and video, among other things. http://bit.ly/OK41Uy
with ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz)
-NINE THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT PAUL RYAN: Considered to be a dark horse candidate among the potential Vice Presidential picks for Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan has been getting some buzz lately. The Wisconsin congressman is well-regarded, he's strong on economics, and he's well liked by the right. Most people know Ryan for his budget acumen, but did you know that he used to work as a personal trainer in Washington, D.C., and that he was voted prom king in high school? ABC News' Elizabeth Hartfield reports on the nine things you didn't know about Ryan. http://abcn.ws/OK8E0J
-BETTING ON THE VEEPS: Gamblers have moved from waging on sports to making their predictions on veepstakes, and as ABC News' Amy Bingham reports, they have their eyes set on Tim Pawlenty and Rob Portman to fill the number two spot. "While politicos pontificate about which politician will make the ticket, betters from Los Angeles to London are wagering their loot on Ohio Sen. Rob Portman or former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, both of whom are ranked in ABC Veepstakes expert Jon Karl's top tier of possible running mates," Bingham wrote. "Traders on the Ireland-based Intrade political betting market have placed $17.8 million worth of bets on whom Romney will pick. But of the 58 possible picks being traded on the market, Portman and Pawlenty are the only two Veepstakes short-listers who have even hit double-digits. Portman hovered around a 5 percent chance until April, then as his appearances with Romney increased, so too did his Intrade odds. The Ohio senator's peak value of 39 percent came on July 11, the day after he met with chief Romney advisers . Traders are now giving Portman a 30 percent chance of scoring the VP spot." http://abcn.ws/PCeugq
-NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: IT'S 'OVER': With the RNC rolling out some of the headliners for the convention, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez declared the speculation about her VP chances officially done, the AP's Jeri Clausing reported. "New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has been tapped to speak at the Republican National Convention, a political honor that gives the first-term governor a national stage while putting to rest months-long rumors that she was on Mitt Romney's short list of potential running mates," Clausing wrote. "Martinez said, 'The veep rumor is over. I've said it over and over and over and over, I don't have any interest in being the vice president. I have every interest in the world of staying in New Mexico and taking care of New Mexico business.' Martinez, the nation's first female Hispanic governor, said the Romney campaign never talked to her about the vice presidential slot and she was never vetted." http://bit.ly/OIveEk
- President Obama is in Washington DC where he'll hold meetings at the White House and attend two evening fundraisers at the W Hotel.
- Mitt Romney travels to Elk Grove, Illinois for a campaign event at Acme Industries. Romney also holds a fundraiser in Chicago before heading to West Des Moines, Iowa for an additional fundraiser.
- Ann Romney is in London, England at the 2012 Olympics where she watched her dressage horse Rafalca compete.
-On the Veepstakes front, Rob Portman spends the day in his home state of Ohio attending a campaign event for Mitt Romney in Ontario. Bob McDonnell is also out delivering remarks for Mitt Romney at a victory office in Virginia Beach, VA.
ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV