The Curious Case Of Donald Trump (The Note)

Credit: Julie Jacobson/AP Photo

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


  • A DAY WITH THE DONALD: Say what you want about him, Donald Trump is the 2012 presidential race's most reliable provider of shock and awe. Mitt Romney invited The Donald to stand shoulder to shoulder with him on what was one of the most symbolically significant nights of his campaign - even after he spouted his "birther" theory on cable news. And while it might have been Romney's day to celebrate - after all, he did clinch the GOP nomination - it was the Democrats who were declaring victory, at least for one news cycle.
  • NEW WEEK, NEW ATTACK: ABC's Jake Tapper and Devin Dwyer have learned that the Obama campaign is opening a new front in its war against GOP rival Mitt Romney with planned attacks to begin this week on Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts and the campaign promises Democrats say he left unfulfilled.
  • NOTE IT! In our virtual political roundtable, Amy Walter and Jonathan Karl weigh in on the results of the closely-watched Republican Senate primary in Texas where, as Karl notes, the GOP sees the second coming of Marco Rubio.
  • VEEP BEAT: In today's Veep Beat, Two VP contenders take their turn boosting their foreign policy credentials as Sen. Rob Portman heads to Israel while Sen. Marco Rubio returns from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Gov. Bob McDonnell says the Romney camp hasn't asked for vetting documents, and is John Thune the dark horse candidate for VP?


It's hard to believe that roughly one year and one month ago today, Donald Trump and his entourage landed at a private airfield in New Hampshire where The Donald declared, "I'm very proud of myself."

Trump, of course, was taking credit for managing to do what his fellow "birthers" had not - compelling  President Obama to release a copy of his Hawaiian birth certificate.

Watching Trump's midnight black helicopter touch down as President Obama held a news conference at the White House to answer questions about a discredited theory was one of those surreal moments that most of us never thought would be repeated.

Until yesterday.

Trump's masterful ability to claim an entire news cycle was on full display in Las Vegas yesterday - a day that was meant to be Mitt Romney's coming out party as the official heir to the Republican presidential nomination. Instead, it turned into another one of Trump's three-ring circuses.

Just a two days after conservative commentator George Will called the reality television star and real estate mogul a "bloviating ignoramus," Trump took to the airwaves, and in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, told the host that, "I think you sound ridiculous" for pressing him on why he was still espousing the belief that the president was not born in the United States.

Somewhere there was a primary going on that helped Romney pass the magic number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination, but you'd hardly know it. And somewhere there was a presumptive Republican nominee and a campaign trying to push a message - about energy policy and jobs - against President Obama. But you'd hardly know that either.

CHALK THIS ONE UP IN OBAMA'S COLUMN. As ABC News Political Director Amy Walter points out, most voters - especially those highly sought after independent, swing voters - aren't monitoring their computer and television screens like those of us inside-the-bubble. They have jobs and lives and like, real things to do.

Why the Trump incident really mattered for them is not for what they did see, but for what they didn't.

No attention was given to the fact that Romney was in Colorado talking energy policy and whacking Obama on Solyndra. Or that he was campaigning in a swing state with double digit unemployment. Or that the Conference Board reported consumer confidence suffered its biggest decline in eight months in May.

Every day that Trump, or other shiny objects like him (read: the reports of a super PAC going after Jeremiah Wright) distract the media, is another day that talk of the economy and jobs is on the back burner. And that is a small, but significant, victory for Team Obama.

At the end of the day, however, "winning the news cycle" only goes so far toward winning the race. Voters perceptions of the economy are going to drive this contest more than any one celebrity or ad or campaign flub.

WATCH David Muir's "World News" report rounding up all of the yesterday's action in Trump World:

EXCLUSIVE: OBAMA CAMP OPENS NEW LINE OF ATTACK ON ROMNEY. ABC's Jake Tapper and Devin Dwyer reports: The Obama campaign is opening a new front in its war against GOP rival Mitt Romney, ABC News has learned, with planned attacks to begin this week on Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts and the campaign promises Democrats say he left unfulfilled. Team Obama will point to Romney's rhetoric on job creation, size of government, education, deficits and taxes during the 2002 gubernatorial campaign and draw parallels with his presidential stump speeches of 2012. The goal is to illustrate that Romney has made the same promises before with unimpressive results, officials say.

The approach appears aimed at shifting some focus off of President Obama, who has an underwater approval rating and has struggled to bring down unemployment - currently above 8 percent nationally. He and his campaign are aggressively trying to make Romney an unacceptable alternative on the November ballot. Obama campaign officials say the latest line of attack will be a major focus from now through the election. It dovetails with a major $25 million positive TV ad campaign touting the president's first-term record. A 14-page research document compiled by the campaign and obtained by ABC News reveals the breadth of material Democrats plan to deploy, listing dozens of examples of Romney rhetoric and corresponding video clips from 2002, 2012, and the comparative "results in Massachusetts."

Jake Tapper reported for "Good Morning America" on the Obama campaign's new messaging. WATCH:

SHELDON SHELL GAME? A smart Democratic strategist and Friend of The Note offers up this theory: "Donald Trump's frenzy of paranoid statements was a clear distraction from Mitt Romney's true mission of the day - to butter up Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate poised to fuel the Romney campaign's attack machine with millions of dollars of secretive money." This operative points out that Romney's 45 minute sit-down with Adelson yesterday at his office at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas almost went overlooked.

From the Boston Globe: "There is inherent irony in the alliance with a man whose profession so clearly conflicts with Romney's religious mores. But gambling is an activity on which Romney has generally favored regulation over condemnation. And the meeting with Adelson - who has contributed $25.3 million to conservative candidates and committees during the current election cycle, none of it to Romney - is only the latest example of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's willingness to embrace people and policies with which he personally disagrees."



ABC's JONATHAN KARL: There was a major tea party victory in Texas last night. No, not Romney's victory in the Texas presidential primary. In the Republican Senate primary, a 41-year-old Cuban-American Tea Partier named Ted Cruz has forced the establishment candidate, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, into a run-off, which will take place on July 31.  For most tea party groups, Cruz's campaign is this year's number one priority.  The see him as another Marco Rubio - a young, Hispanic, conservative firebrand.  Cruz came in second (with 34 percent of the vote) to Dewhurst (47  percent).  But with the seven other candidates now out of the race, Cruz now has what he needed:  a one-on-one race against Dewhurst.

ABC's AMY WALTER: Lots of folks are suggesting that a run-off benefits Cruz, but Dewhurst backers note that 1) No U.S. senate candidate has gone in to a run off with 41 percent or more of the primary vote and lost; and 2) Dewhurst's strongest vote came from seniors and multiple election voters - those who always vote.


DEMOCRATS DE-FRIEND ROMNEY. A Democratic National Committee spokesman passes on a new video they are using to mark Mitt Romney's big night: "In honor of Mitt Romney securing the delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination for President - after six years of trying and millions of dollars spent - we're releasing a new video of our version of Mitt Romney's Facebook time line for the last year.  In that time we've learned that Mitt Romney and his brand of Romney Economics is wrong for the middle class." WATCH:

VIDEO OF THE DAY: WHY ROMNEY CAN'T QUIT TRUMP.  In the latest episode of the ABC News/Yahoo! Power Players series Top Line, ABC's Rick Klein and Amy Walter, along with Yahoo!'s David Chalian ponder the following: The Romney campaign is no longer just wooing Republican base voters, it is in the hunt for those crucial independents, too. So why cater to the Donald? WATCH:



with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

OBAMA STOKES OUTRAGE WITH 'POLISH DEATH CAMP' REFERENCE.  ABC's Jake Tapper reports, Poles and Polish-Americans expressed outrage on Tuesday at President Obama's reference earlier to "a Polish death camp" - as opposed to a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland. "The White House will apologize for this outrageous error," Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski tweeted.  Sikorski said that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk "will make a statement in the morning. It's a pity that this important ceremony was upstaged by ignorance and incompetence." The president had been trying to honor a famous Pole, awarding a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a resistance fighter who sneaked behind enemy lines to bear witness to the atrocities being committed against Jews. President Obama referred to him being smuggled "into the Warsaw ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself." JzcRmS

FORECAST: BRUTAL IN WISCONSIN. The conventional wisdom suggests that Gov. Scott Walker will - narrowly - win his recall election on June 5. But, the latest ad by the Governor's campaign suggests that he's not taking any chances, ABC's Amy Walter reports. Check out this very, very tough ad he's running against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  The attack, in a nutshell: Tom Barrett did nothing while a 2 year old was almost beaten to death. Also note: A new Marquette Law School poll will be out Wednesday afternoon. WATCH:

NOTED:   WISCONSIN GOV REPORTS HUGE FUNDRAISING AHEAD OF RECALL.  Politico's Robin Bravender reports: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker raked in at least $6 million in the last five weeks as he prepared to fight for his political life in the June 5 recall election, according to campaign finance reports released Tuesday. The GOP governor's latest haul puts his total fundraising at over $30 million since January 2011, with about $19 million coming in just this year. Walker's cash intake has dwarfed that of his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who didn't enter the race until late March and had to fend off a primary challenge. Barrett's campaign reported raising $3.4 million in the past five weeks, bringing his total to $4.2 million since he began his campaign." KR28CO

ROMNEY OFFICIALLY CLINCHES GOP NOMINATION. The Associated Press has projected Romney has won the Texas GOP primary, and ABC News estimates he will win 97 of Texas's 155 delegates, giving him the 1,144 needed to win the nomination, ABC's Chris Good reports: Romney isn't the nominee yet. The 2,286 Republican delegates will officially confer that mantle in August when they select the nominee in a floor vote at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. His campaign planned no victory party for this long-predicted mathematical triumph.

TEXAS GOP PRIMARY GOES TO A RUNOFF. The Texas Republican Senate primary will go to a runoff, the AP projected on Tuesday night, with Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and former Solicitor General and tea party up-and-comer Ted Cruz facing off in the contest, which is scheduled for July 31st, reports ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield. JOJF7V

GINGRICH: I DISAGREE WITH TRUMP'S BIRTHER CLAIM.  ABC's  Emily Friedman reports that former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said that he believes President Obama was born in Hawaii, despite the birther controversy perpetuated by Donald Trump ahead of a high-dollar fundraiser tonight in honor of Mitt Romney. "Governor Romney is not distracted, the Republican party is not distracted," Gingrich said when asked about Trump's claims that Obama was not born in the United States might not serve Romney's candidacy well. "We believe this is an American born, job killing president." JTC6Ln

NOTED: ANN ROMNEY GETS A PRESS SECRETARY.  ABC's Emily Friedman reports that the Romney campaign has hired a new press secretary to handle the schedule of Ann Romney, an indication that the 63-year-old grandmother of 18 will soon be ramping up her public schedule, ABC News has learned. LcKB67

RON PAUL SUPPORTERS GET ORGANIZED. In the days leading up to the Republican National Convention, Tampa could see a very different political gathering just blocks away, reports ABC's Chris Good. Ron Paul supporters are organizing Paul Festival, to be held at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Aug. 24-26, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The Republican National Convention is scheduled to begin the next day, Aug. 27, eight miles across town at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

REPUBLICAN GROUPS PLAN RECORD $1 BILLION AD BLITZ.  Politico's Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei report:  "Republican super PACs and other outside groups shaped by a loose network of prominent conservatives - including Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - plan to spend roughly $1 billion on November's elections for the White House and control of Congress, according to officials familiar with the groups' internal operations." KRafj0

SENATE DEMS OUTSPENT 3 TO 1 ON ADS BY SUPER PAC'S. Bloomberg's Heidi Przybyla reports: "While the presidential campaign commands the most attention, Senate Democrats are bearing an early television advertising assault by Republican-leaning groups that is reshaping those races. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, who is seeking a Senate seat, are being outspent by at least a 3-to-1 ratio on television advertising as super political action committees supporting Democrats struggle to raise money and President Barack Obama and the national party conserve resources for the fall election." N9s5NT

DECADES LATER, TRUMAN'S PAPER BOY GETS PAID. From beyond the grave, Harry Truman has paid off a debt to his paperboy 65 years late, reports ABC's Matt Negrin. George Lund has finally been paid the $7.50 he was owed, plus interest, from his days delivering The Independent Examiner to Truman, according to Kansas City's KMBC-TV. "I could never get anybody at the Truman home, you know, to answer the doorbell," Lund told the station.

ROMNEY CALLS FOR ACTION ON SYRIA, BUT PARTY IS DIVIDED. The New York Times' Mark Landler reports: " Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, condemned Mr. Obama on Tuesday for a "policy of paralysis" toward Syria that he said had allowed President Bashar al-Assad to "slaughter 10,000 individuals." But Mr. Romney's own prescriptions for ending the mounting death toll in Syria have been less definitive than his denunciations of the president. He called for the United States to "work with partners to organize and arm Syrian opposition groups so they can defend themselves"- a policy that goes somewhat further than Mr. Obama's but falls short of the airstrikes advocated by Republicans like Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina."

THE MULTIFACETED PRESIDENT. Roll Call's Steven Dennis reports: "It's a tale of two presidents - the ice-cold killer who orders drone attacks against a secret "kill list" of targets as young as 17, and the peacemaker winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and resisting calls to start new ones. The White House has worked hard in recent weeks to show both sides of President Barack Obama as it tries to sell his work to end the wars of the past decade while ramping up efforts to take on terrorists. The narrative aims to boost Obama's foreign policy credentials and serves to counter Republican criticism that Obama is weak on Syria and Iran."

MICHELLE OBAMA: DAUGHTERS NEED THICK SKIN IN POLITICS.  The AP's Nancy Benac reports: "Michelle Obama says her daughters are learning that even the kids of politicians have to have a thick skin. 'Politics is tough,' the first lady said Tuesday. 'That's just sort of the nature of the beast.'"


PLANNED PARENTHOOD ENDORSES OBAMA. From the Planned Parenthood Action Fund: "Planned Parenthood Action Fund announces its endorsement of President Barack Obama for president and simultaneously launches its first major ad campaign of the 2012 election cycle.  … This marks only the third time that Planned Parenthood Action Fund has endorsed a candidate for president.  This is the first in a series of planned ads for the cycle that will hold Mitt Romney accountable for his out-of-touch and harmful views on women's health. … Planned Parenthood Action Fund's first ad - "Out of Touch", will be running through June 19 in three key swing markets - West Palm Beach, Des Moines, and Northern Virginia, as well as Washington, DC - on broadcast and cable, and online. Planned Parenthood Action Fund is spending over $1.4 million dollars on this campaign."

WISCONSIN SENATE CANDIDATE PAINTS RIVALS AS 'DC INSIDERS' A memo from the campaign of Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin: "In the 2012 race for U.S. Senate, Wisconsin voters across the political spectrum agree on one thing; they believe Washington is disconnected from the economic challenges they face, and the last thing they want  right now is a candidate who will listen to the big special interests in Washington D.C. and put the  wealthy and corporations ahead of Wisconsin's middle class. … Eric Hovde, Washington D.C. hedge fund banker, was the first candidate rejected by party activists in the endorsement vote, garnering only 16% of the vote. Former Bush Administration Cabinet Secretary, Tommy Thompson, who has spent the last seven years peddling influence in Washington, was the second candidate rejected by party activists winning only 18% of the vote. Two Beltway insiders with one thing in common - if elected, they would both be a voice for the wealthy and the powerful interests who call the shots in Washington at the expense of Wisconsin's middle class."

VEEP BEAT: Our daily look at all the action on the veepstakes front, brought to you by ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz ):

PORTMAN TO MEET WITH ISRAELI LEADERS:  ABC's Gregory Simmons and Alex Marquardt report that Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday in Israel. An Israeli official confirmed the meeting to ABC News Tuesday.

RUBIO TOUCHED BY FIRST CUBA TRIP:  Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, whose parents emigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1956, made his first trip to the Island Tuesday when he toured Guantanamo Bay.  "Certainly, it was touching to be able to fly over the island from a distance and see it and know that's the land that saw your parents and your grandparents born," Rubio said at a press conference in Miami after his return, the Miami Herald reports. 'It's a place I hope to visit one day soon - a free Cuba, one where the people of Cuba can chose their own leaders and chose their own future.'  Rubio dismissed suggestions that the trip was an attempt to boost his VP credentials, saying it was a routine stop as "a member of the intelligence committee."

THUNE, A DARK HORSE VP?  Last Week, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said he has not been asked to submit vetting documents, but as National Review's Bob Costa reports, Thune may be a "dark horse" candidate for VP. "As Mitt Romney's senior advisers consider their vice-presidential prospects, they're keeping an eye on a dark horse: Senator John Thune, a lanky and telegenic South Dakota Republican.  'Even though he's not from a battleground state, he's seen as serious and credible," says John Sununu, a Romney confidant. "There's no question, in my mind, that he's on the list for consideration.'…According to sources close to the Romney campaign, the former Massachusetts governor may be inclined to tap a mild-mannered, business-friendly Midwestern senator."

McDONNELL NOT ASKED FOR VP DOCUMENTS:  Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell told MSNBC's Chuck Todd Tuesday that he has yet to be asked to submit documents to the Romney team for vetting.  "Nope," McDonnell said as he laughed.  "But I'm going to do everything I can to help him win Virginia." WATCH:



@maggiepolitico : Yep, it's the media and not Donald Trump, Arpaio or the AZ elex chief who keep bringing up birtherism. If only we would leave it alone

@DavidMDrucker : "Massachusetts Moderate" caricature that caused  @MittRomney fits in primary cld boost him in general:

@feliciasonmez : Gavin Newsom, on Sacramento: "It's just so dull. Sadly, I just, ugh, God." (h/t  @njhotline)

@woodhouseb : . @MittRomney secured the nomination tonight and unveiled a brand new logo.  #Amercia

@BuzzFeedBen : Polish anti-Obama meme factory just getting rolling over there



-Mitt Romney has no public events; he is on a fundraising swing on the West Coast.

-President Obama will sign the reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank at the White House.

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