War In A News Cycle (The Note)

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

Is it over already?

The white-hot "war on women," which boiled over this week - and particularly within the last 48 hours - may have reached the point of ceasefire. At least for now.

Of course, the tug-of-war between Democrats and Republicans for the support of women voters in the 2012 election cycle is just beginning, but if we've learned anything from this week, it's that in the micro-tuned new cycle of the Twitter era, nothing lasts for very long.

In Slate today, Dave Weigel writes a requiem for the war that was, tracing its life from birth to death.

"A moment of silence, please, for a talking point that was taken too soon," Weigel begins. "The 'war on women' began its life in a February 2011 House speech about abortion. After a short life as a Democratic hobby horse, it died during the second week of April 2012. The cause of death: Rosengate, the latest and least explicable battle in the Umbrage Wars."  http://slate.me/J1gQ5J 

The comments from Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen that spiraled out of control seem like a million news cycles ago, but it was only Wednesday night when the avalanche of tweets, statements, responses, apologies, conference calls, cable news hits started.

We also learned that both the Obama and Romney campaigns are ready to put the "rapid" in rapid response this year. Team Romney instantly capitalized on Rosen's choice of words, launching @AnnDRomney into the Twitterspehere to rebut her accuser.

As ABC's John Berman noted on "Good Morning America" today, the Romney campaign "jumped on this with military precision." By Thursday afternoon, the campaign was already printing bumper stickers with the slogan, "Moms Drive The Economy."

But just as quickly, everyone from President Obama and First Lady Michele Obama to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Obama campaign manager Jim Messina were distancing themselves from Rosen, as fast as they could.

The president, in an interview with ABC's Cedar Rapids affiliate, said yesterday, "there's no tougher job than being a mom" and "anybody who would argue otherwise, I think, probably needs to rethink their statement."

And, although ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd pointed out this morning, the Rosen chapter to the "war on women" may be over, there's much more to come. With middle class moms with children poised to be a major swing voter group, there are many more chapters to be written.

EXCLUSIVE: DIANE SAWYER AND THE ROMNEYS. On Monday, April 16 the presumptive Republican nominee for President, Mitt Romney, will speak to "ABC World News" anchor Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview. In an election year with so much on the line, Sawyer's wide-ranging interview will cover the topics that matter most to voters including the economy, health care, and taxes among other campaign issues. In addition, Ann Romney will join her husband for a special conversation with Sawyer. This marks the couple's first joint network interview of the election year.

The exclusive network interview will take place at Fenway Park and will air Monday on "World News with Diane Sawyer" with the extended interview airing on "Nightline." Portions of the interview will also be featured across ABC News broadcasts and platforms including "Good Morning America," ABCNews.com, the Newsmakers series on Yahoo!, OTUSNews.com and ABC News radio.


HEY, MR. TAXMAN. The Obama campaign will today post online the 2011 tax returns for the Obamas and Bidens - as well as those dating back to 2000 - an Obama campaign official tells ABC News' Devin Dwyer. The release comes as the president heads to Tampa, Fla., this morning to talk about international trade issues. It will also offer Democrats another chance to intensify pressure on Mitt Romney to release more than the two years of returns he has disclosed, and highlight Romney's lower effective tax rate than the Obamas and most middle-income earners.

ROMNEY ON NORTH KOREA:  "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the attempted North Korean missile launch," Romney said in a statement last night. "Its weapons program poses a clear and growing threat to the United States, one for which President Obama has no effective response.  Instead of approaching Pyongyang from a position of strength, President Obama sought to appease the regime with a food-aid deal that proved to be as naïve as it was short-lived. At the same time, he has cut critical U.S. missile defense programs and continues to underfund them.  This incompetence from the Obama Administration has emboldened the North Korean regime and undermined the security of the United States and our allies."


THIS WEEK ON "THIS WEEK": TREASURY SECRETARY TIM GEITHNER. ABC's George Stephanopoulos welcomes Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to weigh in on the state of the American economy just seven months before voters get to decide whether to re-elect President Obama. The "This Week" roundtable weighs in on all the week's politics, with former Obama domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes, Republican political analyst and president of The American Cause Bay Buchanan, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, editor and publisher of The Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel, and The New York Times chief Washington correspondent David Sanger.  http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/

HANGOUT WITH JAKE TAPPER AND MATT DOWD. Today we will host our first Google + Hangout with ABC News' senior White House correspondent + Jake Tapper and ABC News political analyst + Matthew Dowd for a discussion of election-season politics at 11:30 am. Hang out here: https://plus.google.com/106595064637006853945/posts



ROMNEY AIMS FOR GUN-OWNING SKEPTICS. "In his hunt for voters, Mitt Romney has talked about gunning for everything from 'small varmints' to elk," Bloomberg News' John McCormick notes. "It hasn't eased nervousness among some firearms owners about the former Massachusetts governor's fidelity to their issue. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee will confront those skeptics as he speaks today to the National Rifle Association in St. Louis. It's a constituency Romney must win over as he tries to consolidate his party's support before the November general election. … The NRA has approximately 4 million members, according to Stephanie Samford, a spokeswoman. Many are located in such general election swing states as Florida and Ohio. … Romney, 65, also backed a ban on certain assault weapons in a 1994 federal anti-crime bill. As governor, he signed legislation that raised gun license fees from $25 to $100 to help close a state budget deficit, while also extending license durations to mitigate the increased cost, according to a Boston Globe report. … Romney's primary opponents said he'd already moved on the Second Amendment issues and that's why voters should be leery of counting on his loyalty." http://bloom.bg/HPVGHi

NOTED: From a press release: "St. Louis area sportsmen will hold a press conference outside America's Center at 10:30 am on Friday, April 13th before Mitt Romney takes the stage at the annual NRA convention.  While Mitt Romney may call himself a "lifelong hunter," and NRA member, Romney isn't shooting straight when it comes to his record on guns.  Before he started running for President, Romney was an ardent supporter of strict gun control measures and made it clear that he didn't 'line up with the NRA.'  Mitt Romney has repeatedly proven that he will say anything to get elected, and his speech before the NRA convention will be no different."

SANTORUM-ROMNEY MEETING IN THE WORKS?   Although Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have back-to-back speaking appearances on the same stage, our sources tells ABC News that there are no plans for a meeting between the candidate and former candidate. At the most, they might bump into each other, but there will be no meeting to discuss a possible endorsement or anything else. "Not gonna happen," a source close to Santorum said. Next week could be a more likely time for a get-together between Romney and Santorum, however it's also possible the meeting could be put off until after the Pennsylvania primary

ROMNEY SETS $600 MILLION FUNDRAISING GOAL. "Aides and leading donors to Mitt Romney are preparing a major expansion of the campaign's fund-raising efforts to prepare for a general election contest against President Obama, with the goal of raising up to $600 million, according to several people involved in the discussions," reports The New York Times' Nicholas Confessore. "Republican-leaning outside groups and Democratic-leaning unions are planning to spend hundreds of millions more. And Mr. Obama, who raised $750 million in 2008, is likely to meet or exceed that this year, according to people involved in his fund-raising operation. Those goals make it virtually certain that neither party's nominee will accept public funds for the general election or the spending limits that come with them - the likely death knell for a cornerstone of the post-Watergate campaign finance reforms intended to limit the influence of money in federal elections. Mr. Obama opted out of the public financing program in 2008, breaking a campaign pledge, and went on to outspend the Republican nominee, John McCain, by four to one." http://nyti.ms/IOfPRN

SANTORUM 2016? Rick Santorum was on Fox News' "On The Record" with Greta Van Susteren last night for his first television interview since he left the race. ABC News' Shushannah Walshe notes that Greta brought up the fact that the 53 year old former Pennsylvania senator will still be young in 2016. "Well yeah I feel like a young man and hopefully I feel like a young man four years from now. Last year put a couple years on me but I feel pretty good, I do and I feel like, more importantly, there are a lot of issues out there that I care very deeply about that I think we introduced into the debate and I think the values that I talked about throughout the course of this campaign are ones that resonate," he said. Santorum again said money was tight at the end of the campaign. "One was money," Santorum said in the interview. "After Wisconsin it was very, very difficult to raise money but one of the reasons for that was the media narrative that the race is over."


-MOVE ON LAUNCHES ANTI-ROMNEY 'BIRDDOGGING' EFFORT. "MoveOn.org is out with a new online ad campaign to hold Mitt Romney accountable for his role in the Republican War on Women. The ads will start running tomorrow in St. Louis, where Romney is scheduled to campaign. MoveOn will continue to run similar ads throughout Romney's campaign stops in swing states as part of what they're calling an 'innovative new online birddogging effort.'  The ads accuse Romney of having a "serious women problem," highlight his desire to "get rid" of funding for Planned Parenthood, and ask "Mitt Romney, what do you have against women?" The ads end with: "Hey Mitt: stop your Republican War on Women." WATCH: http://bit.ly/J01QVJ and http://bit.ly/HEbQYw



@samyoungman : Mitt Romney has two fundraisers in Fla. on Sunday. No press will be traveling with him

@jonlovett : Problem is, the two people are Mitt Romney. RT  @newtgingrich: It is now a 2 person race.

@markknoller : The Summit of the Americas marks Pres Obama's 22nd foreign trip since taking office. Will bring his country count to 32.

@PentagonPresSec : Operation Military Kids is encouraging everyone to wear purple today to show support 4 military children #militarykids

@mlcalderone : Roger Ailes defending Fox to UNC journalism students: "If there's an alternative point of view, don't wet your pants."  http://bit.ly/HOesTq



- Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich will address the NRA National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri. Despite dropping out of the race, Rick Santorum will also speak at the event.

- Ann Romney and Callista Gingrich will attend the NRA's Women's Luncheon.

- Ron Paul is off the campaign trail. -ABC's Joanna Suarez


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