This is easily the worst one-week period Mitt Romney's campaign has experienced so far in the general election.
The leaked hidden-camera videos of Romney at a private fundraiser in May have launched a thousand complaints - from liberals seeking to exploit the Republican candidate's comments to conservatives worried about whether the Romney campaign can weather this storm.
In the Wall Street Journal, columnist Peggy Noonan put it bluntly: "Time for an Intervention."
"It's time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one. It's not big, it's not brave, it's not thoughtfully tackling great issues. It's always been too small for the moment. All the activists, party supporters and big donors should be pushing for change," Noonan wrote, along with a laundry list of advice for the GOP candidate and his campaign. http://on.wsj.com/QlSSu3
"He should stick to speeches, and they have to be big - where America is now, what we must do, how we can do it" Noonan wrote and "Wake this election up. Wade into the crowd, wade into the fray, hold a hell of a rally in an American city - don't they count anymore?" and "Romney should go out there every day surrounded with the most persuasive, interesting and articulate members of his party…"
But instead, this week, Romney has zigzagged around the country, mostly doing fundraisers, and keeping one of his lightest schedules of public events in recent memory. His most extensive comments yesterday were to Fox News' Neil Cavuto and they weren't about his campaign message, they were about the fallout from the secret video recordings.
New numbers in the battleground states aren't helping either.
Obama leads Romney in three of the most important ones - Virginia (50 percent to 46 percent) Wisconsin (51 percent to 45 percent) and by the thinnest margin in Colorado (48 percent to 47 percent), according to the results of a new Quinnipiac University-CBS News-New York Times survey out today.
To be sure, we can't just use one poll as our guide. The latest Pollster.com average as well as a fresh Associated Press-GfK poll shows that Obama convention bounce fading with the president and Romney statistically tied, 47 percent for Obama compared to 46 percent for Romney, nationally.
But the question now for the GOP is as much psychological as anything. Do Republicans believe they can still win?
The New York Times notes today that "a palpably gloomy and openly frustrated mood has begun to creep into Mr. Romney's campaign for president. Well practiced in the art of lurching from public relations crisis to public relations crisis, his team seemed to reach its limit" as the stream of video clips released by Mother Jones played out in real time. http://nyti.ms/S6gBPt
ABC's Jake Tapper reported for "Good Morning America" today on the latest developments with the Romney tapes as well as President Obama's response to them last night on Letterman: http://abcn.ws/PGLTIF
And ABC News Political Analyst Nicolle Wallace discussed the current state of the presidential election and whether Romney's secret fundraising tapes will cost him votes come November: http://abcn.ws/PSF8H7
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Imagine if Mitt Romney was actually losing. Another day, a new round of polls will help stir an anxious pot. But the remarkable thing about the GOP's concern about the direction of the campaign is that it's been growing even while the trajectory isn't changing. National tracking polls have the race back to its pre-convention virtual tie, and the battleground state polls for the most part have Obama leads inside the margin of error. All of which means we could be just a few news cycles away from the Romney comeback - and all that panic would be running to the other side.
ABC's AMY WALTER: Almost every candidate has a rough patch. But, the ones that pull out of them have one thing in common: candidate skill. It's what got Bill Clinton through Paula Jones and Obama through Jeremiah Wright. Romney, however, just doesn't have those kinds of skills. A speech, a press conference or series of rallies isn't going to help. In fact, it's more likely to hurt. Instead, he's going to need an event - planned or unexpected - to turn around his fortunes.
THE MYSTERY: WHO RECORDED MITT ROMNEY? We all know how the story ends. At a May 17 fundraiser, a camera secretly recorded Romney from a serving table at the edge of the room as he addressed an audience of 40 or 50 at the $50,000-a-plate event, delivering remarks that would make headlines four months later. Romney dismissed Obama supporters as entitled "victims," reports ABC's Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, Matthew Mosk, Cindy Galli and Angela M. Hill. The camera rolled for 49 and a half minutes. Whoever recorded Romney's remarks then provided the tape to Mother Jones magazine, which published the full video on its website today. Monika Bauerlein, co-editor of Mother Jones, told ABC News she would not disclose the identity of the magazine's source. "This is somebody that, as people would be, was excited about being in the room with a Presidential candidate," said Bauerlein. She said the tape "did not come from opposition researchers or a political campaign." James Carter IV, grandson of the former president and a political researcher, found the first posted snippet of the video on the internet and put Mother Jones in touch with the video's source. Carter told MSNBC today that "it would be fair to assume" that the videographer was not one of the wealthy donors who'd paid $50,000 to eat dinner with Mitt Romney. http://abcn.ws/Uo9Mcm
POLITICIANS, PUNDITS AND POLLS. ABC's Gary Langer reports: Whatever its charms, the 2012 campaign isn't doing much for politics as a career choice: Seven in 10 Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll express an unfavorable opinion of politicians, underscoring the public's broad discontent with its leadership choices in general. Just 26 percent in the national survey express a favorable view of politicians, while 71 percent see them unfavorably. While that negative assessment peaks among independents, it crosses party lines, making dislike of politicians one view on which bipartisanship prevails. http://abcn.ws/RpYdwC
with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
OBAMA TO LETTERMAN: NOT MANY IN THE 47 PERCENT 'THINK THEY'RE VICTIMS.' ABC's Mary Bruce reports, in his first response to Mitt Romney's comments that 47 percent of voters believe "they are victims" and would cast their ballots for the president "no matter what," Obama said "if you want to be president you've got to work for everybody, not just for some." "I don't know what he was referring to," the president told David Letterman in an interview on CBS' Late Show. "But I can tell you this. When I won in 2008, 47% of the American people voted for John McCain. They didn't vote for me. What I said on election night was even though you didn't vote for me, I hear your voices and I'm going as work as hard as I can to be your president." http://abcn.ws/QY4YsP
WHO IS THE 47 PERCENT? ABC's Amy Bingham reports, Romney gave up on winning support from nearly half of the American electorate in May, telling wealthy supporters at a private fundraiser that he could not hope to win the votes of the 47 percent of Americans who, he said, do not pay federal income taxes. So who are these 47 percent of Americans that Romney is not going to "worry" about winning over? In 2011 those 76 million people, about 46 percent of the people who filed taxes, did not pay a penny in income taxes, according to an analysis of IRS data by the bipartisan Tax Policy Center. But that does not mean nearly half of America skirted their federal tax burden. http://abcn.ws/ODyPIB
NOTED: TOP 13 QUOTES IN THE ROMNEY VIDEO. ABC's Amy Bingham takes a look at the rundown - from the controversial statements to the quirky jokes - of what Romney told his well-to-do donors during this closed-door fundraiser: topics include why he turned down SNL, Americans views on foreign policy, and how to use a fork. http://abcn.ws/PFeoX3
GOP HITS OBAMA FOR 'REDISTRIBUTION' REMARK IN 1998. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports, hoping to help Mitt Romney reframe the debate sparked by his comments on social class and taxes, Republicans are pointing to a newly resurfaced 14-year-old audio recording of Barack Obama appearing to endorse the redistribution of wealth. The audio, posted to YouTube by an unidentified user and dated Oct. 19, 1998, appears to be of remarks by then-Illinois State Sen. Obama at a conference at Loyola University in Chicago. "Let me just close by saying, as we think about the policy research surrounding the issues that I just named - policy research for the working poor, broadly defined - I think that what we're going to have to do is resuscitate the notion that government action can be effective at all," he says. http://abcn.ws/PxpA9H
ROMNEY TRIES TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT TOO. Romney yesterday also sought to draw attention to the 1998 audio clip, ABC's Emily Friedman reports: "The president's view is one of larger government, there's a tape that came out today where the president's saying he likes redistribution," Romney said Tuesday during an interview with Fox News' Neil Cavuto, the candidate's first interview since the leaked videos showed Romney referring to 47 percent of the American people who feel "entitled" and who are "dependent" on government. http://abcn.ws/PoTNbi
ROMNEY REPORTS FIRST DEBT OF CAMPAIGN. For the first time in this campaign, Mitt Romney's campaign is $11 million in debt after borrowing $20 million in August reports ABC's Emily Friedman notes. The move came just before the Republican National Convention when aides had complained they had been running out of primary campaign dollars to compete with President Obama's campaign. At the conclusion of the Republican convention, when Romney officially became the party's nominee, Romney had access to general election funds it had raised. http://abcn.ws/Uij1YO
CLINTON SAYS 'NO ACTIONABLE INTELLIGENCE' ON BENGHAZI ATTACK. ABC's Dana Hughes reports: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters today the intelligence surrounding the U.S. consulate in Benghazi did not indicate that the consulate was under a specific threat before it was attacked last week. "With all of our missions overseas in advance in Sept. 11, as is done every year, we did an evaluation of threat streams," said Clinton. "The office of the director of National Intelligence has said we have no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent." Clinton's comments echo what United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice said ABC's "This Week" where she said all indications were that extremists "hijacked" a "spontaneous" protest. http://abcn.ws/UlGNWE
NEW MEXICO GOV. SUSANA MARTINEZ CRITICAL OF ROMNEY'S 47 PERCENT. The Albuquerque Journal's James Monteleone reports : "Gov. Susana Martinez today rejected Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's remarks that Republicans this fall can't woo "47 percent" of voters because they're too dependent on government services. Martinez, who was asked to speak on behalf of Romney at the Republican National Convention last month, said every vote matters and reiterated the value of government support services for the poor. "We have a lot of people that are at the poverty level in New Mexico, but they count just as much as anybody else," Martinez said. "There is a net that does allow them to be caught and taken care of, whether it be through medical services, whether it be food services, whether it be with funding for apartments, for housing. "I think, certainly the fact that New Mexico provides that safety net is a good thing," the Republican governor said. http://bit.ly/Ui8YTx
NOTED: Martinez is the latest in a string of Republicans to vocalize their disagreement with Romney's remarks. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and Connecticut's GOP Senate nominee Linda McMahon also released statements denouncing the comments, reports ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield. http://abcn.ws/UlnZXx
ROMNEY'S COMMENTS GO UNNOTICED FOR MONTHS ON YOUTUBE. USA Today's Martha T. Moore reports: "Mitt Romney's comments at a Florida fundraiser were online for months before Mother Jones and Jimmy Carter's grandson turned them into a front page news story. The first clips of the surreptitious recording taken at a Boca Raton fundraiser May 17 were posted anonymously on YouTube May 31. Other audio clips followed, including Romney's calling Obama voters "dependent on government." But they went unnoticed until Monday afternoon." http://usat.ly/OZ8ssq
WISCONSIN OFFERS WINDOW INTO CHALLENGES CONFRONTING ROMNEY. The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Marjorie Connelly report: "Seven weeks until the election, with Mr. Romney facing new questions about his ability to gain trust among voters experiencing economic hardships, his campaign is increasingly pointing to Wisconsin as a place where a statewide Republican resurgence could rub off on Mr. Romney. But President Obama has overtaken Mr. Romney on who would do a better job handling the economy, according to a new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll of likely Wisconsin voters. The poll also found that Mr. Obama has a 17-point edge over Mr. Romney when voters are asked if a candidate cares about their needs and problems. http://nyti.ms/UbV9u5
CROSSROADS FINANCED GROUP THAT APPEALED TO KEEP DONORS SECRET. Bloomberg's Julie Bykowicz reports: "A U.S. appeals court reinstated a Federal Election Commission rule that allows Crossroads and other nonprofit groups running "issue ads" during election season to keep their donors secret. The rule had been tossed out by a lower-court judge after Rep. Chris Van Hollen sued the FEC. The winning appeal was brought by the Center for Individual Freedom and the Hispanic Leadership Fund, which argued that making donor names public hurts political speech. It turns out Crossroads has given generously to the Center for Individual Freedom. About half of the $5.6 million the center raised in 2010 came from Crossroads, according to Internal Revenue Service forms filed by both nonprofits." http://bit.ly/Rp657t
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-LET FREEDOM RING HITS OBAMA 'APPEASEMENT.' The conservative group Let Freedom Ring is taking aim at what they say is "President Obama's appeasement of the Muslim Brotherhood" after last week's violence in the Middle East. The 60-second ad says: "The Muslim Brotherhood's top leaders even write about taking over America. "President Obama, you invited the Muslim Brotherhood to the White House? Legitimizing a group that wants to undermine America and destroy Israel? You sent them 1.5 billion of our taxpayer dollars? Why Mr. President, Why?" The ad is part of a $7 million online advertising campaign launching in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. WATCH: http://bit.ly/S5WBgU
@MarkHalperin : Haley Barbour, all eternity: "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."
@TonyFratto : If you ever find yourself interviewed on TV from a remote location, just look into the camera as if it's a person.
with ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)
-President Barack Obama is in Washington, DC with no public events.
-Mitt Romney will participate in Univision's "Meet The Candidates" Forum at the University of Miami and later hold a "Juntos con Romney" rally at Darwin Fuchs Pavilion in Miami.
-Vice President Biden has no public events.
-Paul Ryan holds a rally at the Piedmont Precision Machine in Danville, Va.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV