Obama's Mixed Reviews on Issues

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


  • RATINGS WARS:  Americans are largely divided on how favorably they view the signature issues of the Obama presidency, including the automobile industry bailout, financial regulation and the stimulus, according to a new ABC News-Washington Post poll. It means that although the Obama campaign is spending time trying to define the president's first term, they may soon pivot hard to defining Mitt Romney.
  • PREP SCHOOL PROBLEMS: What happens at Cranbrook evidently doesn't stay at Cranbrook. Tales of bullying from Romney's prep school days rocketed into the national dialogue yesterday after a searing Washington Post report. The story could leave a permanent stain on the former Massachusetts governor. ABC's team in the field brings you the latest.
  • CHANGING THE SUBJECT: Speculation is running high about whether Romney will address this week's news about same sex marriage or the bullying story during a commencement speech at the evangelical Liberty University in Virginia on Saturday.
  • NOTE IT! ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd on why decades-old high school pranks still matter and Rick Klein weighs in on how the Romney campaign could turn the Cranbrook controversy into a golden opportunity.



President Obama's not going to spend the next six month running away from his record, but running on it will only get him so far.

According to the results of a new ABC News-Washington Post poll out this morning, the president receives "mixed marks" on three of the top accomplishments of his administration, "with no scores above 50 percent on either the auto industry bailout, greater regulation of financial institutions or - most basic - the administration's economic stimulus program."

The poll found that 50 percent of Americans see the auto bailout favorably while 43 percent do not, 49 percent view financial industry regulation favorably while 44 percent do not. And on the economic stimulus program - 47 percent give it favorable marks compared to 48 percent who rate it unfavorably.

"In likely the president's biggest risk, independents rate the economic stimulus negatively by 50-44 percent," according to ABC News pollster Gary Langer. "They're less negative (indeed slightly positive) on the automaker loans and regulation of financial institutions. But it's the economy that dominates voter concerns. Political independents are the key swing voters in national elections - and at 41 percent of the population, they outnumber Democrats and Republicans alike in this survey, 33 and 23 percent, respectively." http://abcn.ws/J2FfhW

So it's telling that the Obama campaign unveiled new ads yesterday, including two separate 30-second spots, specifically designed to tout the auto bailout which are set to run on television in the battleground state of Ohio.

"The decision to intervene with the auto industry was not popular," the president says in one of the spots. "But I was convinced it was the right thing to do because it wasn't just a million jobs were at stake, it was also part of what built our middle class, creating products stamped with those words 'made in America.' What happened in Detroit can happen in all sorts of communities where you combine American innovation with the best workers in the world and we can succeed."

Even though the White House has released commercials touting the president's big accomplishments, the public's rather lukewarm opinion of them is clear. All of which leads us to believe that these ads are soon to be replaced with ones that seek to define Mitt Romney instead of defining the president.



-FORMER CLASSMATE REMEMBERS 'BULLYING SUPREME' BY 'PACK OF DOGS.' After Mitt Romney's former high school classmates at Cranbrook School in Michigan recounted a bullying incident to The Washington Post's Jason Horowitz, ABC's David Muir talks to a classmate who was there: "It's a haunting memory.  I think it was for everybody that spoke up about it …  because when you see somebody who is simply different taken down that way and is terrified and you see that look in their eye you never forget it.  And that was what we all walked away with," said Phillip Maxwell, who is now an attorney and still considers Romney an old friend. … Maxwell said he held the boy's arm and leg, describing he and his friends as a "pack of dogs." … "This was bullying supreme," he said. http://abcn.ws/K0lh0E

-LAUBER'S FAMILY PUSHES BACK. The family of John Lauber, the alleged victim of the incident, rejects his portrayal, ABC's Matt Jaffe reports: The older sister of Mitt Romney's former high school classmate said she has no knowledge of any bullying incident involving her brother and the GOP presidential candidate. … "The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda. There will be no more comments from the family," she said. http://abcn.ws/JjCfKa

-CRANBROOK FILES: ROMNEY DOESN'T REMEMBER. From ABC's Shushannah Walshe - the candidate told Fox's Neil Cavuto in a televised interview Thursday: "First of all, I had no idea what that individual's sexual orientation might be, going back to the 1960s that wasn't something that we all discussed or considered, so that's simply just not accurate," Romney said. "I don't recall the incident myself but I've seen the reports and I'm not going to argue with that. There's no question that I did some stupid things in high school, and obviously if I hurt anyone by virtue of that, I would be very sorry for it and apologize for it." http://abcn.ws/M1EhCe

ABC's DAVID MUIR has the latest on Romney's bullying incident on "Good Morning America" today. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/IQ6lIl



ABC's MATTHEW DOWD: The interesting thing to me is, it touches on something that touches every one of us, which is our high school experiences. Most peoples' high school experiences sit just below the surface - the good ones and the bad ones. I think Mitt Romney has not put this to rest and still needs to do something bigger and bolder on this. http://abcn.ws/Lw11aI

ABC'S RICK KLEIN:  There's still a moment here for Mitt Romney to go big on the bullying story. He can't create a half-century-old memory that he and his campaign has said repeatedly that it doesn't exist. But he can tie what he remembers and what he's been told about his teenage actions into the larger story of his coming of age as a man and a leader. Nobody particularly likes their high-school bullies, but everyone would tune in to see him apologize and explain lessons learned.


VIDEO OF THE DAY: OBAMA'S SOLO FLIGHT. Romney skirts the issues and Biden gets heavenly on this week's Politically Foul with ABC's John Berman. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/J2EjKE



with ABC's Chris Good ( @c­_good)

OBAMA TOUTS GAY MARRIAGE, RAKES $15 MILLION AT CLOONEY'S HOUSE. ABC's Mary Bruce on the president's star-studded L.A. fundraiser: "It grew directly out of this difference in visions," Obama explained. "Are we a country that includes everybody and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly? Does that make us strong? I believe it does." … The president raked in a record-breaking $15 million from the $40,000 a plate dinner, according to host Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation. …  two lucky sweepstakes winners were joined by some of Hollywood's biggest stars, who came out in droves for the event. The guest list ranged from actors Tobey Maguire and Salma Hayek to designers Diane Von Furstenberg and Trina Turk, to songstress Barbra Streisand and comedian Billy Crystal. http://abcn.ws/KrVYso

OBAMA WADES INTO WASHINGTON STATE MARRIAGE DEBATE. After the president declared his support for gay marriage and called it a states' issue, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports on a Seattle fundraiser: "Here in Washington you'll have the chance to make your voice heard on the issue of making sure that everybody, regardless of sexual orientation, is treated fairly. You will have a chance to weigh in on this," Obama said inside Seattle's Paramount Theater. "We are a nation that treats people fairly. We're not going backwards, we're not going backwards, we're going forwards." http://abcn.ws/JkAPh2

BIDEN APOLOGIZES. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: Vice President Joe Biden apologized to President Obama on Wednesday for getting ahead of his boss by coming out publicly in favor of same-sex marriages, sources familiar with the exchange told ABC News. The conversation took place in the Oval Office before Obama sat down with ABC News' Robin Roberts for an interview during which he announced support for the unions, the sources said. http://abcn.ws/INL5mi

ROMNEY WANTS TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT. The AP's Philip Elliott and Kasie Hunt report: "Romney is trying to return the focus of his campaign to the sluggish economic recovery and his vision for America after spending a day restating his opposition to gay marriage … His schedule isn't making it easier. On Friday, Romney is set to discuss jobs and the economy in North Carolina … While raising money Thursday in Kansas City, Mo., Romney all but ignored the discussion of gays and lesbians prompted by President Barack Obama's endorsement of gay marriage." http://apne.ws/J2Nw5E

…BUT COULD BRING IT UP IN LIBERTY UNIVERSITY COMMENCEMENT. The Boston Globe's Matt Viser on Romney's upcoming commencement address: "Romney advisers, who have seen early drafts of the speech he will deliver on Saturday, said he was unlikely to dwell on the gay marriage debate but could bring it up. He instead will deliver a new speech focused more on the personal - mindful that he's addressing a graduating class - than the policy or political." http://b.globe.com/K1GF5U

NOTED: ROMNEY AFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR GAY ADOPTION. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports that Romney has been consistent in his position: Romney told Fox's Neil Cavuto, "And that if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship and even want to adopt a child, in my state individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children. In my view that's something that people have the right to do, but to call that marriage is, in my view, a departure of the real meaning of that word." Romney has made statements in the past in support of gay adoption, something social conservatives oppose. He has been consistent in supporting it, but has called for an exemption for religious institutions that have adoption services. http://abcn.ws/JiCE0v

JINDAL FOR VEEP? Written off after his 2009 State of the Union response, RealClearPolitics' Scott Conroy figures Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is back in the mix: "Surprising the skeptics, Jindal has enjoyed a quiet re-emergence as a popular second-term governor, a highly coveted surrogate for out-of-state Republicans, and a likely name on Mitt Romney's vice-presidential short list." http://bit.ly/LtCiUJ

BOOK: BILL CLINTON WANTED HILLARY TO RUN IN 2012. New York Daily News' Carl Campanile on Edward Klein's new, unauthorized Obama biography: "'The country needs you!' the former president told Hillary Clinton, urging her to run this year, according to accounts of the conversation included in Edward Klein's new biography of Obama. … "Barack Obama," Bill Clinton said, according to book excerpts, 'is an amateur.'" http://nyp.st/INBpDn

GOP HASHTAG: #OBAMAFORGOT. National Journal's Alexandra Jaffe reports on a Twitter trend launched by Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams: "Does President Obama sometimes forget about the recession? That's what he said at a campaign rally in Seattle on Thursday, and that's what Mitt Romney's campaign wants voters to believe. The remarks ignited a firestorm across the Twittersphere as critics of Obama sent out tweets using the hashtag #Obamaforgot." http://bit.ly/Jl6KxQ

OBAMA'S SECRET WEAPON: MICHELE? Politico's Jennifer Epstein on the first lady as a campaigner: "In just the past few months, she's been on "The Biggest Loser" twice, joked about her prom photo on 'Ellen' and challenged Jimmy Fallon to sack races in the East Room. … She'll be out on the trail three days each week, tending to the president's connections with a specific focus on women, young adults, African-Americans, Latinos and the Democratic grass roots." http://politi.co/JjL7zB

WISCONSIN'S CAMPAIGN APOCALYPSE. Politico's Robin Bravender and Charles Mahtesian on the interest groups, the primary, and the labor movement's denoument in Gov. Scott Walker's recall election: "For Big Labor, a win by Walker would be devastating, potentially opening the floodgates for other states to move to curb collective bargaining rights and further diminish labor's already thinning ranks. Unseating Walker, on the other hand, would energize the movement and send a powerful warning to Republicans across the nation about labor's muscle. … [former Bill Clinton labor secretary Robert] Reich said the last labor fight of this magnitude surrounded the contentious Taft-Hartley Act that clamped down on unions' power." http://politi.co/KPZvxW


@ByronYork : Much speculation Romney will use Liberty U speech to make red-meat appeal to conservative evangelicals.  http://ow.ly/aQsoF

@RollCallAbby: 3:32am email from Paul Babeu: "I have decided to end our congressional campaign and seek re-election as Pinal Co. Sheriff"  #az04  #azpolitics

@robportman : President FDR's D-Day prayer inspired our nation in a time of great peril. Let's ensure those words are never forgotten  http://goo.gl/Vf9oz

@HotlineReid : Romney camp opening first coordinated campaign office in PA next week. Obama camp opening its 24th PA office this weekend #HotlineSort

@jimacostacnn : Now Pence facing residency issue in run for Governor of Indiana. http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120511/EDITORIAL/120519957/1015



-Mitt Romney campaigns in Charlotte, North Carolina today and delivers a commencement address at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. on Saturday.

-President Obama delivers a speech on home ownership in Reno, Nev. He returns to Washington, DC in the evening.

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