At the beginning of this roller-coaster week on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney's team was sending signals that the campaign was about to undergo a re-tooling of sorts.
The plan called for a multi-state advertising blitz, a series of speeches by Romney clearly laying out his economic plans, a message to voters that included more specifics about how, if elected, he would carry out his proposals, among other things. The strategy was essentially: "More Mitt."
Then, the leaked fundraising video happened, followed by the campaign's incremental response, followed by a raft of criticism among members of Romney's own party and conservatives not only unhappy with Romney's candid remarks on the hidden-camera tape but also with the direction of his campaign.
Today marks the beginning of Romney's re-reset. Again, the strategy is "More Mitt." Senior Romney advisers passed along the rough game plan for the coming weeks to ABC's Jonathan Karl: http://abcn.ws/S83GNW
-DON'T PANIC: Romney himself sets the tone for the campaign and, as one adviser told Karl, "He never gets too high; he never gets too low." Romney has seen worse: he faced near-death experiences at least twice during the primary (the South Carolina loss, the losses, on the same day, to Santorum in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado).
-THE MESSAGE: The campaign is promising a "sharper message" in its upcoming advertising blitz. The message will be economy/jobs, of course, and it will be tailored to each state, each media market. In other words, it will hammer Obama on military cuts in Virginia, coal and manufacturing in Ohio, etc.
-THE SCHEDULE: Expect Romney to have "a very intense schedule" in the coming weeks - packed with events in Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia and other key states. This may seem like the obvious thing to do, but Romney lately has had a strangely light public schedule recently, with many more closed fundraisers in red states than campaign rallies in battleground states. At one recent Texas fundraiser, Karl notes, a donor told Romney, "I am happy to write a check, but why are you here? Shouldn't you be in Ohio?"
-THE DEBATES: More than anything, they are counting on a strong performance in the debates, especially the first on Oct. 3 in Denver, to pull them ahead of Obama.
The Romney campaign this morning announced a stepped-up pace in the battleground states. Next week, we'll see Romney and running mate Paul Ryan back on the hustings. This time the duo will take part in a three-day "Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class" bus tour across Ohio. Ryan is set to campaign in Lima and Cincinnati while Romney will travel to Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland, and Toledo.
POLLING NOTE: ABC News Pollster Gary Langer notes that in the most recent ABC News-Washington Post poll, registered voters by two-to-one margin said Romney had not provided enough details on the policies he'd pursue as president - 31 percent (enough) to 63 percent (not enough). That division was much closer on whether Obama has done enough to detail what he'd do in a second term, 46 percent (enough) to compared to 49 percent (not enough).
DAVID MUIR'S REPORT ON LAST NIGHT'S UNIVISION FORUM ON "GOOD MORNING AMERICA." WATCH: http://abcn.ws/Psohcr
JONATHAN KARL'S ANALYSIS OF THE ROMNEY CAMPAIGN'S NEW STRATEGY. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/OecJfX
TODAY'S MESSAGE FROM OBAMA H.Q.: From an Obama campaign official: "During a week that was supposed to be a messaging reset for the Romney campaign, Mitt Romney showed once again that he just doesn't get it on issues important to veterans and military families. Tomorrow, OFA will hold a conference call with reporters to run through Romney's terrible week on veterans' issues."
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Why have Paul Ryan on your ticket if you're not prepared to make this a Paul Ryan moment? Among the many discordant things about Mitt Romney's "47 percent" comment is that it's impossible to imagine it coming out of Ryan's mouth - it's just not what animates his conservatism. So why not turn to Ryan to put that behind him? Romney is starting to build back his economic message, saying last night that the campaign is "about the 100 percent." That's a sentiment Ryan would agree with. So maybe the answer isn't more Mitt, so much as it's more Paul.
NOTE EXCLUSIVE: SEIU ADS HIT ROMNEY, GOP CANDIDATES ON MEDICARE. ABC's Chris Good reports, the Service Employees International Union is airing a new radio ad in Florida, hitting Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan on Medicare reform. In it, a nervous-sounding mother calls her son asking about Medicare and the GOP ticket, confused by TV ads on the topic. "Well the Romney Ryan plan does essentially end Medicare, that's what the Wall Street Journal said," her son explains. "What I read said seniors would wind up paying over $6,000 dollars more per year." (That figure pertains to Ryan's 2011 Medicare proposal, which he has since revised.) "I don't like the sound of that," the mother says. SEIU will also air two new TV ads attacking freshman House Republicans. One questions Rep. Dan Benishek's ethics as a doctor for his vote in favor of the Ryan budget; the other attacks Rep. Scott Rigell. Noted: the ads recycle a claim that Romney/Ryan would hike seniors' health-care costs by $6,400-a figure that applied to Ryan's 2011 plan, not the revised 2012 version. See and hear the ads here: http://abcn.ws/T7GAZg
YOUR VOICE, YOUR VOTE: THE NEW AMERICA. ABC News announced the launch of an on-going series of reports, "Your Voice, Your Vote: The New America," to examine how the Hispanic vote will impact the whole political picture in November and beyond. The influence of the booming U.S. Hispanic population is challenging the conventional political wisdom in new and unexpected ways that have both Democrats and Republicans taking notice. The first reports began airing last night in conjunction with Univision's "Meet the Candidate" forums. ABC's Diane Sawyer spoke with Univision's Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas, moderators of the two forums. "World News" weekend anchor David Muir reported last night and this morning from Florida and watch for ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper's report tonight. BACKGROUND: In May ABC News and Univision News announced a joint venture that will launch a 24/7 news, information and lifestyle network primarily in English to serve the youngest and fastest-growing demographic in the country: U.S. Hispanics.
MEET THE PERSUADABLES: ABC News pollster Gary Langer reports that slightly more than a fifth of registered voters remain persuadable in their preferences for president, little changed from before the party conventions - and a continued sign that the 2012 election retains the potential to break open in either candidate's direction. Twenty-two percent of registered voters fit the definition of persuadable - those who express anxiety about the candidate they support and are seeking more information about their choices. That includes essentially equal numbers of Barack Obama's and Mitt Romney's supporters. The number of "persuadables" in last week's ABC News/Washington Post poll is similar to its level before the nominating conventions, 25 percent. http://abcn.ws/Oe1WT8
with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
PAWLENTY LEAVING ROMNEY ROLE FOR K STREET. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will step down from his position as co-chair of Romney's campaign after being named the CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable. "I'm excited about this new challenge," Pawlenty said in the official press release. "Few industries have more impact on the entire economy - and on the lives of average Americans - than financial services. I realize there is still work to be done to continue to earn customers' confidence. Our members will best accomplish that goal by responsibly investing every day in our communities and job creators. I look forward to working closely with decision makers from both parties on issues related to our nation's banks, insurance companies and investment firms so that they can continue to provide fuel for America's economic engine." Pawlenty's new job will begin November 1st, 2012 and he will take over from long-time CEO Steve Bartlett, who is retiring.
READY, SET, VOTE! EARLY VOTING BEGINS. The general election isn't 47 days away-it's happening now, reports ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield. On November 6 polls will open across the country and millions of voters will head out to cast their vote. But those voters won't be the sole contingent of Americans who decide the outcome of the general election. Rather, they'll be joined by another group, a smaller yet very sizable percentage for whom voting day might be a faint memory: the early voters. http://abcn.ws/P2geSy
BARACK AND MICHELLE OBAMA TO APPEAR ON THE VIEW. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will appear on ABC's "The View" Tuesday for their first joint interview on the daytime TV talk circuit, the show's producers announced today. The first couple will together take questions on their relationship, family life inside the White House and the 2012 presidential race from the program's five female hosts, the network said in a statement. The interview is scheduled to tape Monday, Sept. 24, in New York City. The Obamas have each appeared individually on "The View." http://abcn.ws/PWODFl
ROMNEY USES HIS MEXICAN BORN DAD'S WELFARE STORY AT JUNTOS CON ROMNEY RALLY. ABC's Emily Friedman reports, Mitt Romney called the Republican Party the "natural home" for Hispanic voters, saying, in his first campaign rally in nearly five days, that America is a place that helps those struggling get back on their feet but won't make government dependency a "permanent lifestyle." Speaking through various interruptions, one protestor, getting no further than screaming "The 47 percent!," a reference to those leaked videos, Romney tried to paint a picture of a presidency that would do the best job of pulling Hispanics out of poverty. To do that, Romney used the story of his own Mexican-born father as an example of someone who received government assistance but then made it on his own. http://abcn.ws/S8tQA8
MATT DOWD'S ANALYSIS: IN PRESIDENTIAL DECATHLON, OBAMA IS WINNING. ABC political analyst Matt Dowd notes, Presidential campaigns aren't decided on the last day of a race. They are decided in all the days and moments leading up to Election Day. They turn toward the candidate who puts together a lead going into the final voting in November, and who won or lost the important moments along the way. In that way, this race in its final months is like a decathlon. Instead of individual sporting events, it is the combination of 10 moments that determines which candidate has the most points on Nov. 6. Thus far, I would suggest there are have been five moments of significance. President Obama has either won or tied in each of these, allowing him to build up a small but significant lead. http://abcn.ws/PIn7Yy
RUBIO CALLS ROMNEY'S I-WISH-I-WERE-LATINO COMMENT 'A JOKE.' ABC's Michael Falcone reports: In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called Mitt Romney's I-wish-I-were-Latino comment, which came to light in a leaked video tape this week, a "joke." "I think he meant it as a joke," Rubio said on a conference call organized by the Republican National Committee, adding that's "how most reasonable people would take it." Romney was shown on a hidden-camera video clip posted by Mother Jones magazine telling his audience at a May 17 fundraiser in Florida about his father's background. http://abcn.ws/PUG3Xu
SCOTT BROWN AND ELIZABETH WARREN SQUARE OFF IN FIRST DEBATE TONIGHT. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports, Tonight Massachusetts voters get their first chance to watch Senate candidates Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown go head-to-head in a televised debate. The debate, which is hosted by WBZ-TV's Jon Keller, is the first in a series of four that will take throughout the next month across the state. And in a race that has stayed as consistently close as this one, these debates offer both candidates a chance to break through and gain a solid lead in the polls. http://abcn.ws/Usewh2
BUDGET DEAL IS GOAL OF SENATORS GUIDED BY BOWLES-SIMPSON. Bloomberg's Heidi Pryzbyla reports: "A group of U.S. senators is quietly attempting to do something almost unthinkable in Washington: craft a bipartisan solution to the nation's growing deficit in an election year. The group - which includes Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, and Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat - hasn't been given a name like the "Gang of Six," and members might fail like others before them. That hasn't stopped them from joining forces when most lawmakers are focused on campaigning. They are looking at reviving a proposal by the leaders of President Barack Obama failed 2010 deficit-cutting commission to require Congress to act on a long-term plan, said Democratic Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota. The lawmakers want to offer a proposal during the lame-duck session of Congress after the Nov. 6 election." bloom.bg/QDe24i
ELECTORAL FOCUS: ALL THE SINGLE LADIES. The Daily's Daniel Libit reports: "As both campaigns scour for new voters - especially in increasingly crucial Florida - a growing group of experts and a recent Gallup survey suggest that the obsession over single-female voters should shift to the widows and divorcees of the over-65 bracket. President Obama has been, in political terms, a single-lady killer: the latest Fox News poll of likely voters has Obama leading Romney by 38 points. According to exit polls, he won the group by 44 points in 2008. But an exit poll study by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that Obama's 2008 support among single seniors women shrunk to 19 points - the narrowest margin of any other subgroup as it relates to marriage status. By the time women reach their Medicare-recipient age, experts said, their living arrangement is almost incidental to their voting profile. Indeed, the Obama campaign confirmed recently that it is not making any specific targeting efforts related to single seniors - even though it has made great strides to connect to the younger constituency. http://bit.ly/SCLlUi
STRUGGLING YOUNG ADULTS POSE CHALLENGE FOR CAMPAIGNS. The New York Times' Susan Saulny reports: "Millions of struggling working-class young adults, many in battleground states like Florida, Colorado and Wisconsin, are up for grabs in this election, making up what experts call one of the most potentially powerful but often overlooked voting blocs. Voter turnout efforts tend to focus on university campuses and young professionals who have time and money to spend on campaigns. But in several tossup states this year, legions of eligible voters are young, jobless or underemployed, and lacking in formal education beyond high school. Undecided between the presidential candidates, and often discouraged, they are offering openings for both parties to make gains, experts say. http://nyti.ms/RxH4qC
TO CLAIM VIRGINIA, OBAMA'S HOPES REST ON WOMEN. The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty and Scott Clement report: "A new Washington Post survey indicates that President Obama holds a 19-percentage-point lead (58 to 39 percent) among female likely voters in the commonwealth yet is running six points behind Republican nominee Mitt Romney among men who are likely to vote (50 to 44 percent). That support from women is the reason the president now holds an eight-point advantage overall in Virginia. There has long been a disparity between women and men in their voting patterns - a phenomenon first identified and named the "gender gap" during Ronald Reagan's presidency. This year, however, ginning up female support has become an imperative for Obama in his reelection bid." http://wapo.st/T66gpf
@JohnJHarwood : Fox News swing-state polls: Obama +7 over Romney in OH (49%-42%), +7 in VA (50%-43%), +5 in FL (49%-44%). Likely voters.
@HotlineReid : On The Trail: 3 questions (coattails, economy, super PACs) left to answer that will determine election outcomes - http://nationaljournal.com/columns/on-the-trail/answer-me-these-questions-three-20120920 …
with ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)
-President Barack Obama heads to the University of Miami for Univision's broadcast of "El Gran Encuentro con el Presidente Barack Obama." Tonight the president attends a private fundraiser in Tampa.
-Mitt Romney holds a rally at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla. Later he holds campaign fundraisers in North Palm Beach.
-Vice President Biden has no public events.
-Paul Ryan is in Washington, DC to attend to Congressional business.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV