Battle In The Buckeye State (The Note)

Image credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

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


  • FROM AKRON TO ANNA: President Obama kicks off a whirlwind day with a trip to a community college in northeast Ohio where he plans to deliver a speech designed to re-frame his re-election bid, which has lately encountered some speed bumps. He and Mitt Romney, who will be campaigning about 250 miles away in Cincinnati, plan to speak within minutes of each other and carry very different messages to the voters of Ohio. Then, while Romney heads to Obama's home turf of Chicago for a fundraiser, the president will wing his way to New York City where his night will include a fundraiser at the home of actress Sarah Jessica Parker featuring Vogue editor and fashion icon, Anna Wintour.
  • THE SPEAKER SPEAKS: Counter-programming President Obama's speech today is Ohio's own John Boehner. The House Speaker, who will be campaigning with Romney in the Buckeye State on Sunday, released a new web video this morning in which he appears on camera alongside many of the jobs bills waiting on a vote in the Senate. "These are the nearly 30 jobs bills that have passed the House, but are currently stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate," Boehner says. "These aren't big, controversial bills that no one has read - they're practical, common-sense proposals to help small businesses create jobs and build a stronger economy for all Americans. … You see, we're going to keep adding to this pile, and we're going to keep calling on President Obama and Senate Democrats to give these jobs bills a vote." WATCH:
  • NOTE IT! In our virtual political roundtable, ABC's Rick Klein notes that this is Romney's moment to casts his candidacy as one with a better-than-average shot at the presidency and a smart GOP strategist and Friend of The Note writes in to say that the goal of President Obama's speech today is compounded by two important factors.


Re-frame, re-set, re-tool - whatever you want to call it - President Obama is hitting the critical battleground state of Ohio today to re-capture the momentum of the presidential race from Mitt Romney.

The president's most important task, after a bruising few weeks, is to re-claim the economic upper-hand from his GOP opponent, who has benefitted from some bad news (the May jobs report) and a poor choice of words ("The private sector is doing fine").

"Gov. Romney and his allies in Congress believe that if you simply take away regulations and cut taxes by trillions of dollars, the market will solve all our problems on its own," an Obama campaign official told ABC News, previewing today's message. "The President believes the economy grows not from the top down, but from the middle class up, and he has an economic plan to do that."

As ABC News' Devin Dwyer notes, it's actually a case the president has been pushing for weeks in smaller campaign appearances with donors and grassroots volunteers.

"You've got to be able to say, 'we've saved you from the abyss and we're moving incrementally forward,'" a strategist affiliated with the Obama campaign told ABC. But the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged, "That's just a tough message, but it happens to be the environment you're in."

But as far as Republicans and the Romney campaign are concerned, the gloves are off.

Romney, who will hold a campaign event in a different corner of Ohio today, released a new television ad this morning - the former Massachusetts governor's first negative spot of the general election. (WATCH:

Not surprisingly, it takes a laser-like focus on President Obama's comments from last week in which he remarked that "the private sector is doing fine." As ABC's Emily Friedman notes, the 30-second television spot, rolls the footage of Obama saying the line no fewer than four times.

From an Obama campaign official: "A livestream of the President's speech will start at 1:45 p.m. ET. Immediately following the speech, David Axelrod will hold a Twitter Q&A. We will be taking questions starting Thursday morning and during the speech. Questions can be asked using hashtag #Obama2012 and Axelrod will answer questions @BarackObama."

GOP ON GOLF: Another day, another Republican National Committee web video. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports that today's installment starts with the president's interview with NBC's Matt Lauer at the beginning of his term saying if he doesn't fix the economy in three years, his will be a "one term" proposition. The video, titled "Mulligan" is meant to draw attention to what the RNC says is the president's "failure to live up to the promises he made for himself to turn the economy around. … Three years later, things aren't turned around and President Obama is trying to take a mulligan." WATCH:


Our virtual political roundtable:

ABC's RICK KLEIN: It's President Obama seeking a mini-reset on his campaign today, but this a campaign moment that's set to belong to Mitt Romney. With a bus tour and a round of national media interviews, it may be the first Romney moment that casts his candidacy as one with a better-than-average shot at the presidency. Remarkably, he arrives at this moment still largely able to define himself - and surely with more voters undecided on him than on the president and his policies. Who wouldn't have taken that deal if it was offered back when Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were still kicking around the race?

MYSTERY STRATEGIST: A smart GOP strategist and Friend of The Note passes along these thoughts on the president's speech: "President Obama's task of 'hitting reset' starting today is compounded by two factors: (1) I don't see Mitt Romney reaching the personal unfavorables it would take to make this a personality contest - he's gaffe prone but not so much that it would make people turn out in waves against him based simply on personality. (2) Both in terms of media narrative and voter mindset, the economy is the primary issue by which this election will be decided. Europe, Middle East, Bin Laden won't matter - if POTUS can't change the perception that things aren't improving, he'll be hitting the speaking circuit."


with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

ROMNEY'S PRE-BUTTAL: 'WORDS ARE CHEAP'. Mitt Romney offered a scathing preview on Wednesday of the speech President Obama is set to deliver today in Ohio, warning a group of business leaders here that while the president will speak "eloquently," "words are cheap" reports ABC's Emily Friedman. Romney added that he expects the president to "change course" after his comment last week that the "private sector is doing fine."

D EMS AIM FIRE AT ROMNEY'S HEALTHCARE PLAN. The former governor said this week, reiterating a position he's articulated in the past, that only Americans who have had constant, uninterrupted insurance coverage should be guaranteed access to a health plan, regardless of any pre-existing conditions, reports ABC's Devin Dwyer. Democrats have seized on the position to cast the former Massachusetts governor, who authored a landmark state health law that mandated individual insurance coverage, as grossly out of touch.

A VERY USEFUL GRAPHIC: SCOTUS FLOWCHART. The many ways in which the Supreme Court could rule on 'Obamacare'- together in one handy flowchart. Check it out:

CITIZENS UNITED 'BOUNCES BACK' TO SUPREME COURT. ABC's Ariane DeVogue reports, Justices are scheduled Thursday behind closed doors to discuss Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the landmark 2010 decision holding that corporations can make unlimited independent expenditures using general treasury funds to support or oppose candidates. Lkuu7P

MEANWHILE, SHELDON ADELSON GIVES $10 MILLION TO PRO-ROMNEY SUPER PAC. Sheldon Adelson is opening his wallet once again, this time contributing at least $10 million to Mitt Romney's super PAC "Restore Our Future" reports ABC's Shush Walshe. The billionaire casino mogul and his wife Miriam, who are worth more than $20 billion, gave $21 million to Newt Gingrich's super PAC. He met with Romney in Las Vegas last month as well as attending a fundraiser for him. Adelson was widely expected to donate to the presumptive GOP nominee's efforts at some point.

@davidaxelrod : "No limits": After funding Newt's brutal attacks on Mitt, right-wing billionaire now will spend $100m to elect him?

OBAMA AWARDS MEDAL OF FREEDOM. ABC's Mary Bruce reports, President Obama presented the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Israeli President Shimon Peres tonight, calling him "the essence of Israel itself - an indomitable spirit that will not be denied." KWq1Ml

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO RUSSIA: STOP ARMING ASSAD. Yahoo!'s Olivier Knox reports: "The United States on Wednesday flatly denied Russian charges of arming Syria's rebels and bluntly urged Moscow to stop shipping weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, warning that the "deteriorating" conflict was "spiraling towards civil war." "We believe that everyone who is providing weapons to the Assad regime should halt the provision of those weapons," spokesman Jay Carney said at his daily briefing. M6zQRk

OBAMA'S JUNE SWOONS. If it seems like spring and summer are tough seasons for Obama, they are, notes ABC's Chris Good. But it seems that, every year, the end of spring and beginning of summer mark a particularly tough time for Obama, when discussion turns to slipping polls and some broader, collectively negative trajectory, prompting us to wonder whether or not he'll overcome it. Since the past two weeks have been no different, here's a brief look at what Obama has faced in each June since his inauguration. KXhxVh

ROMNEY'S CLASH WITH GOP GOVERNORS. The Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr. reports: "Mr. Romney's message that the national economy remains sour is central to his core campaign argument that the president's policies have impeded the recovery, and that someone with deep business experience is better to set the U.S. right. But Republican governors in states that will decide the election, such as Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Iowa, have a rosier view. While Mr. Romney points to a feeble recovery, underscored by last month's grim jobs report, the governors - looking to their own political fortunes - cite job growth, higher corporate investment and the rebirth of domestic manufacturing in their states." LmYpuz

MEET RON BARBER, NEWEST MEMBER OF CONGRESS. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports, Arizonans in the state's 8th Congressional District have a new congressman-elect: Ron Barber. The former district director for Gabrielle Giffords won the special election to fill the seat left open by Giffords' retirement this winter. Barber made his campaign a referendum on his views as compared to his opponent's, hitting Republican Jesse Kelly hard on entitlement issues, particularly on privatizing Social Security. His candidacy was viewed in large part through the prism of his former boss; he was Giffords' choice to replace her, and she was the strongest ally he could have in the more Republican-leaning district. KtKAzA

INTRODUCING 'OBAMA BOY'. In 2008, there was Obamagirl, the web video about a young and often scantily clad young woman who sings to then-candidate Obama about she has a crush on him, notes ABC's Z. Byron Wolf. In 2012, after the president's evolution on same sex marriage, meet Obama Boy. A recently posted video takes the Obamagirl idea and morphs it into a serenade of the president by a young man who is happy with what the president has done on gay rights.

CATHOLIC BISHOPS SAY FIGHT WITH OBAMA IS OVER RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. The Los Angeles Times' Mitchell Landsberg reports: "Stung by criticism that they are engaging in partisan attacks in a presidential campaign, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops insisted Wednesday that their fight with President Obama has nothing to do with party politics or contraception, and everything to do with what they see as a fundamental assault on religious liberty. The bishops did not shrink from attacking the administration in a dispute that has become their signature issue, one involving what Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton called 'the most serious intrusion of government that we have ever experienced.'"

WHERE DO EX-LAWMAKER LOBBYISTS PUT THEIR CAMPAIGN MONEY? The Washington Post's T.W. Farnam reports: "Retiring U.S. lawmakers face tough restrictions on what they can do with their leftover campaign money, but some have found ways to make fat political bank accounts work for them, according to a new study. Those who become lobbyists are much more likely than other former lawmakers to put remaining money to political use - donating to lawmakers who have the ability to help their lobbying clients, according to the report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which tracked 57 House members who left Congress in 2007 and 2008."

FRED KARGER'S NOT SO WARM WELCOME IN UTAH. Yahoo!'s Chris Moody reports: "Although Mitt Romney has virtually locked up the Republican presidential nomination and all of his serious challengers have conceded the race, presidential candidate Fred Karger is still out on the trail campaigning. During his visit to Utah, Karger met with Washington County Republican Party Chairman Willie Billings, who Karger said was "welcoming" and "friendly." After their meeting, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times, Karger gave Billings some campaign paraphernalia, including a Frisbee and a T-Shirt. When Billings brought the souvenirs home, however, his wife, Nanette Billings, threw them in the garbage and fired off an email to Karger, calling him "a radical idiot" and saying "thank goodness" he "cant procreate." MCDFOT


@bethreinhard : A kinder, gentler Jeb Bush

@tackettdc : Today's Great Read by @joshgreen on Jim Messina as Obama campaign CEO @bnpolitics

@RyanGOP : RT @PounderFile: Tampa Tribune Editorial: "Obama Just Doesn't Get It" #DoingFine

@BuzzFeedBen : Amazing @BuzzFeedAndrew find: Stu Stevens in '94,on how "Mormon Card" beat Romney, & how Romney was slow to react to it

@jgm41 : Truly worth making the time to watch RT HBO Documentary Films: 41 Trailer: via @youtube #41


-Mitt Romney holds an event at Seilkop Industries in Cincinnati, Ohio this afternoon and tonight holds a fundraiser in Chicago.

-President Obama delivers remarks at Cuyahoga Community College Metropolitan Campus in Cleveland, Ohio. Later today he will travel to New York where he will visit the Port Authority and One World Trade Center with First Lady Michelle Obama and attend two campaign fundraisers.

ABC's Greg Croft

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