Can Mitt Romney Turn Obama's Blue States, Red? (The Note)

Image credit: Evan Vucci/AP Photo

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


  • STATE OF THE STATES: Mitt Romney's bus tour took him through a series of states that President Obama won four years ago. He's got to move at least a few over to the Republican column this time around. Can he? The Note ranks 11 states that voted for Obama in 2008, but could be ripe for GOP pick-ups in 2012.
  • ROMNEY TV: Keeping with its theme of explaining how a President Romney would change the country upon taking office, the Romney campaign on Friday announced four new television ads to air in Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia, promising Romney would repeal "Obamacare," reduce the deficit, take a tougher approach to China, and spur job growth.
  • FLASHBACK: PROMISES, PROMISES. President Obama will speak to the NALEO conference today in Florida (Romney was there yesterday), and ABC's Devin Dwyer recalls his address to the group four years ago: The change Obama promised NALEO and Latinos was at once sweeping and bold, from "ending the housing crisis" to creating "millions of new jobs" and expanding minority enrollment in health insurance plans. He called immigration reform "a priority I will pursue from my very first day." Now at a critical juncture in his bid for a second term, Obama returns to the group with many of those goals still works in progress, a source of frustration and disillusionment for some of his ardent Latino supporters. He'll make the case that the country is moving forward despite an uncooperative GOP, and that he needs more time.
  • VIDEO OF THE DAY: SOFTBALL SMACK-TALK. In the latest installment of Politically Foul, ABC's Amy Walter reports from this week's softball game between the women of Congress and the women of D.C. media. Florida congresswoman and Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz says softball is more pressure-packed than appearing live on a Sunday show, where she gets "softball" questions from the media. Also: Tennessee state Rep. Julia Hurley holds her dog outside the window of a moving car. MUST WATCH:


Mitt Romney's bus tour, which wrapped up on Tuesday, rolled through six states that all went for Obama four years ago. As a Romney campaign aide noted at the outset of the trip, Romney was largely campaigning on the president's "turf."

And it turns out that was true. But, four years later, Romney is looking to turn at least a few of those blue states red. Where does he have the best shot?

ABC News Political Director Amy Walter - a big fan of rankings - has ranked a list of Obama 2008 states from most likely to flip for Romney to least. Here's what she came up with:

1. Indiana 2. North Carolina 3. Florida 4. Ohio 5. Iowa 6. Nevada 7. Virginia 8. Colorado 9. New Hampshire 10. Pennsylvania 11. Wisconsin

Romney doesn't have to swing all of these states to the Republican column in November. But he needs to win 60 percent of the 124 electoral votes these states hold.

To that end, the Romney campaign released a series of television ads this morning in Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, and North Carolina, each with a message tailored to issues in that state.

In Virginia: "Repeal Obamacare, attacks deficit Day One. Reverses offshore drilling ban by Day 100."

In Ohio: "Stands up for China, demands a level playing field for our businesses and workers, Day One. By day 100, President Romney repeals regulations that are strangling our energy industry and costing us jobs."

In North Carolina: "Repeal Obamacare, cut taxes, Day One."

And in Iowa: "Day One, President Romney moves to repeal Obamacare and attacks the deficit, starting with $20 billion in savings."

THIS WEEK ON "THIS WEEK": DARRELL ISSA. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the man at the center of the stand-off with the White House and Attorney General Eric Holder over documents in the "Fast and Furious" investigation, speaks with ABC News Senior White House Correspondent JAKE TAPPER, Sunday on "This Week." Plus, the "This Week" powerhouse roundtable debates all the week's politics, with ABC News' George Will, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, National Journal White House correspondent Major Garrett, and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen. Tune in Sunday:

RECAP: ROMNEY AT NALEO. ABC's Matthew Jaffe reports on Mitt Romney's speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials on Thursday: "I will work with Republicans and Democrats to build a long-term solution," Romney said in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., to scattered applause from the audience. "I will prioritize efforts that strengthen legal immigration and make it more transparent and easier. And I will address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner. We may not always agree, but when I make a promise to you, I will keep it."


ABC News' Arlette Saenz reported from Lake Buena Vista, Fla.: The crowd in the room had a mixed response to his speech. Most of the rounds of applause were polite, at best. Betsy Franceschini, an Obama supporter from Orlando who is originally from Puerto Rico, said she was disappointed by Romney's lack of specifics in his speech, saying that he did not offer Latinos any reason to vote for him this Fall. "It wasn't anything of essence I thought, we talked about immigration but he had stated before that he believes in self deportation," Franchesini said. "I didn't find anything that I felt that changed dramatically how I think our community is going to feel about him."

Esteban Ferreiro, a self described swing voter from Miami, said Romney's speech was "concise and to the point" on education and immigration, but noted that his stance on immigration may not go far enough for some Latino voters. "For some of us what he said is just right. For others, they want more interactive, actually more aggressive immigration policies," Ferreiro said.

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports: Before Romney's speech yesterday Republican strategist Ana Navarro, who lives in Florida, said she hoped he would finally address the immigration issue in a more detailed, concrete way. "Morning prayer: Lord let Romney propose something on immigration, going beyond self-deportation, for the good of my soul & of the nation," she tweeted. So Jaffe asked her afterwards if Romney answered her prayers. "Yes," she replied. "He did offer some constructive, well thought out proposals on fixing legal immigration. He did not go into a specific proposal on how to address the 11 million undocumented. At this point the Latino community has a choice between a guy who tells good stories, makes big promises and doesn't deliver; or a guy who makes no big promises but commits to work on it."

Get more pure politics at ABC and a lighter take on the news at

TAPPER'S TAKE ON HBO'S 'THE NEWSROOM' (HINT: 'THE SNOOZEROOM') ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jake Tapper penned a review for The New Republic of the new HBO series about the modern press: "I wanted this show to be great. When asked to participate in a conference call, gratis, where I shared some of my reporting experiences with the writers, I eagerly did so. But I won't further bury the lede: 'The Newsroom,' which debuts June 24 on HBO, is sadly disappointing. There's much to criticize in the media - and TV news in particular. But though 'The Newsroom' intends to lecture its viewers on the higher virtues of capital-J journalism, Professor Sorkin soon reveals he isn't much of an expert on the subject. … An HBO executive once told me that, since so much artistic freedom is given to its shows' creators, new series often take a few episodes before they find their rhythm. I hope that proves to be true here. The cast is too good, Sorkin too skilled, and the subject matter too rich. There are too many fields to plow - a sub-plot involving one branch of the corporate empire plotting against another branch seems promising, as do the commercial pressures on the show to be first with information, its accuracy notwithstanding. But 'The Newsroom' had me contemplating that which is so feared in my industry: changing the channel. And I was watching it on DVD."

WEEKEND AT ROMNEY'S: A PREVIEW. In case you missed it, ABC News's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE has the rundown for the three-day retreat featuring Mitt Romney, his high-dollar donors and potential vice presidential contenders in Park City, Utah, this weekend.

TODAY: Discussion groups will cover the financial services industry, health care, Israel and community banking. Moderating and speaking will be former secretary of state James A. Baker III, former Minnesota senator Norman Coleman, Tennessee senator Bob Corker, Weekly Standard editor and co-founder Bill Kristol, former Utah governor Mike Leavitt, who will also lead Romney's transition team if he makes it to the White House.

SATURDAY: Arizona senator and 2008 GOP nominee John McCain will address the group. Next up is "Innovation in America," a panel moderated by possible running mate Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Rounding out the panel will be president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Meg Whitman, billionaire financier Ken Langone, and veepstakes contenders Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Then, "Media insight" will feature Romney counsel and longtime GOP attorney Ben Ginsberg; Fred Barnes and Kristol, editors and co-founders of The Weekly Standard; GOP strategist Mary Matalin; and Bush strategist and American Crossroads founder, Karl Rove. Lunch will be providedwith former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaking. The afternoon features a "Women for Romney Victory Tea" with Ann Romney and former Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill. The final reception Saturday night will be headlined by former Florida governor and much-talked-about possible running mate Jeb Bush.

SUNDAY: A round of golf.

NO SHOWS: Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Gov. Nikki Haley, and Gov. Susana Martinez.


with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)

U.S. CONSIDERED RAIDS IN PAKISTAN. The Associated Press's Kimberly Dozier reports: "U.S. military and intelligence officials are so frustrated with Pakistan's failure to stop local militant groups from attacking Americans in neighboring Afghanistan that they have considered launching secret joint U.S.-Afghan commando raids into Pakistan to hunt them down, officials told The Associated Press. But the idea, which U.S. officials say comes up every couple of months, has been consistently rejected because the White House believes the chance of successfully rooting out the deadly Haqqani network would not be worth the intense diplomatic blowback from Pakistan that inevitably would ensue. Members of the Haqqani tribe have been targeted by pilotless U.S. drone aircraft, but sending American and Afghan troops into Pakistan would be a serious escalation of the hunt for terrorists and potentially the final straw for Pakistan, already angered over what it sees as U.S. violations of its sovereignty."

JEB BUSH PRAISES ROMNEY, OBAMA AT NALEO. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports: At the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials or NALEO in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Bush began by giving Romney a nod. "We heard an excellent speech, I thought, from Mitt Romney, who is a supporter of education reform and of school choice," Bush said. However, in his next breath he aligned himself with Romney's rival … "I am proud of the fact that as a former governor I was asked by [Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan to introduce our current president of the United States in a high school in Miami because we share common ground," Bush said to cheers from the crowd. "And I don't know about you, but when we find common ground we shouldn't fight anymore, we should move on and build on that success. Apparently one can get in trouble when they say these kinds of things, but I happen to believe it's the American way. There is enough to fight about … to me it's important that we begin to focus on how do we build capacity for the next generation to maintain the greatness of our country."

OBAMA WEB VIDEO: ROMNEY DODGES ON IMMIGRATION. From ABC's Devin Dwyer: A new Obama campaign web video casts a spotlight on the fact that, for seven days, Mitt Romney has avoided giving a definitive answer about whether he would repeal President Obama's order suspending the deportation of young illegal immigrants. The former governor has only said publicly that he would work to replace Obama's temporary measure with some sort of permanent solution, the details of which he has not fully or clearly articulated. "On Friday the president announced a change to U.S. immigration policy… Ever since, Mitt Romney has been dodging questions about repealing the order," the Obama video says.

MORE BAIN PAIN? THIS TIME ON OFF-SHORING. As the Obama campaign airs ads attacking Mitt Romney's business record, The Washington Post's Tom Hamburger reports: "During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission."

FROM BILL BURTON, head of the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action: "Despite his phony rhetoric on standing up for American workers, today's Washington Post details how Mitt Romney directly profited from the outsourcing of American jobs overseas. Throughout his time as CEO, Romney found a way to come out ahead even when companies went bankrupt, promised benefits were eliminated, and middle class jobs were shipped overseas. As President, Romney has promised his experience as a corporate buyout CEO would guide his decisions. And that's exactly why if Romney wins, the middle class will lose."

NBA FINALS: A WIN FOR DEMOCRATS? What do the Miami Heat's LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh have in common? Aside from being NBA champions, they're all Democratic donors. LeBron gave $20,000 to the Democratic Party's joint fundraising committee in 2008, Wade gave $20,000 to a Democratic joint committee in Florida in 2010, and Bosh gave $10,000 to the same. None of the Oklahoma City Thunder's three stars-Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook-appear to have ever given to any campaign or party.

CLOSER LOOK: PAWLENTY'S VEEPSTAKES CHANCES. ABC's Matthew Jaffe reports: "[T]oday Pawlenty is back at the forefront of the political world, considered a likely frontrunner on presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney's list for a possible running mate. The former Minnesota governor is now at the top of the short-list, Politico reported on Wednesday. … In addition to Pawlenty's loyal work as a surrogate, he has other characteristics that may appeal to the Romney campaign as they try to figure out who to add to the GOP ticket. "He's got the benefit of having been a conservative governor in a blue state and moving it red, plus the benefit of coming from outside of Washington, so there's a lot that he brings to the table," the former aide said. … Another element in Pawlenty's favor: he has no skeletons in the closet. Pawlenty was vetted in 2008 by Sen. John McCain's campaign, which rated him as one of the top candidates for the spot that ultimately went to Sarah Palin. The advantages to picking Pawlenty do not end there. He and his wife Mary also enjoy a close personal relationship with Romney and his wife Ann. Another former Pawlenty aide said the friendship dates back longer than just this past year.

FIGHT! BIDEN SECURITY DETAIL'S THANKSGIVING MELEE. Fox News' Jana Winter reports: "a bloody, booze-fueled brawl that spilled out of Nantucket's Rose and Crown nightclub while Biden and his family were spending last Thanksgiving on the island, according to police logs, notes and reports obtained by It was one of at least two fights police in and around Martha's Vineyard have investigated involving Secret Service agents and other members of President Obama's and Biden's security details in the last year as the leaders and their families vacationed nearby. The fight, which a police report said 'caused visible damage to both parties,' pitted Jonathan Dawes, a hulking, 217-pound Secret Service agent, and Eric "Bomb Squad" Gahagan, a Massachusetts State Police bomb technician assigned to Biden, against three Air Force officers who had just been assigned to the same detail. The airmen, who suffered black eyes, head contusions and a chipped tooth, thought their assailants were local cops. Gahagan and Dawes knew the airmen were part of the Biden detail."

MOVEON.ORG ENDORSES OBAMA. Executive Director Justin Ruben writes at Huffington Post: "Today, MoveOn announced that its 7 million members have voted, with 91 percent in support, to endorse President Obama. A number of progressive friends have asked me why we would endorse the president, given MoveOn members' disagreements with him. The short answer is, MoveOn members believe the future of the economy and the middle class are at stake, they see this election as a choice between two candidates and they don't want to sit on the sidelines."

OBAMA TEAMS WITH ATHLETES. ABC's Mary Bruce reports: The White House is teaming up with major sports stars in a new public service announcement condemning violence against women. President Obama and Vice President Biden are joined by Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks, soccer star David Beckham, and Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies, among others, in the new minute-long video. "We thought the best way to get the truth out was to make sure young men hear from other men they respect," the White House said. The PSA, which is part of the vice president's "1 is 2 Many" campaign, is aimed at young men because women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rates of violence at the hands of someone they know, according to the White House.

GROVER NORQUIST ON DEFENSE. ABC's John Parkinson reports: [Grover] Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, met privately on Capitol Hill with Republican members and staff from the House Ways and Means committee, the powerful panel tasked with writing the country's tax policy, and other conservative lawmakers from the Republican Study Committee. As the House prepares to undertake its own version of tax reform next month and Congress braces for the fiscal cliff approaching at the end of the year when multiple provisions of the tax code are set to expire, Norquist worked to unify the GOP. … The Americans for Tax Reform pledge commits signers to "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses … and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

CLINTON SPORTS MARDI GRAS GLASSES. From ABC's Dana Hughes: Secretary Clinton decided to spice up what was scheduled to be a routine swearing in of Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Hammer by wearing purple costume jewelry and wing-tipped purple and green sunglasses. Amidst a room full of family, friends and colleagues, Clinton started her remarks by saying that the day was not only about Hammer but the color purple, well-known through-out the State Department as the assistant secretary's favorite color.

SENATE PASSES ACTUALLY PASSES A BILL (NO JOKE). ABC's Sunlen Miller reports: With many senators taking the rare step to work on the floor of the U.S. Senate, for over ten hours yesterday and four hours today they painstakingly voted on over 70 amendments to the farm bill. At the end of it all they passed the bill by a vote of 64-35, setting the nation's agricultural and food policy for the next five years. The nearly $1 trillion bill, notorious in years past for being laden with pork, saves taxpayers more than $23 billion this time around, mostly by eliminating direct payments for certain crops to farmers but also through savings to conservation programs and food stamps, and eliminating some subsidies and duplication.But at the same time, the bill expands crop insurance, with taxpayers paying nearly $9 billion a year for farmers' protection against things like droughts and floods.

UTAH SENATE RACE HITS THE HOME STRETCH. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield writes: As presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney and fellow Republican Party leaders prepare to convene in Deer Valley, Utah, this weekend for what is shaping up to be the second biggest power gathering of the summer (after the convention, of course) the Utah GOP will have its focus turned on another race - the Senate primary. Longtime incumbent Orrin Hatch faces a primary challenge from former state senator and Tea Party candidate Dan Liljenquist, and this weekend marks the final slog before the contest, which will take place on Tuesday, June 26. Hatch, 78, is currently tied for the title of longest-serving Republican senator - a distinction he shares with outgoing Sen. Richard Lugar. He serves as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he's been in the Senate for 36 years. His opponent was 1 year old when Hatch was first elected to represent the state.

MARK PENN: THINGS DONE CHANGED. The Democratic pollster and strategist writes in the new issue of TIME: "The 137 million voters registered to go to the polls this November will not look like the 131 million who voted for President in 2008. And they are vastly different from the 96 million who voted the year Bill Clinton was re-elected. The U.S. has been changed by circumstance, economics, demographics and the simple passage of time. We are a youth-obsessed country that has never been older. We think of ourselves as politically polarized, but the edges are shrinking as the political center expands."


-FAITH LEADERS IMPLORE HHS. From a letter signed by 25 faith leaders, most of them of various Christian denominations: "As religious leaders from a variety of perspectives and communities, we are compelled to make known our protest against the incursion of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) into the realm of religious liberty. HHS has mandated that religious institutions, with only a narrow religious exception, must provide access to certain contraceptive benefits, even if the covered medications or procedures are contradictory to their beliefs. We who oppose the application of this mandate to religious institutions include not only the leaders of religious groups morally opposed to contraception, but also leaders of other religious groups that do not share that particular moral conviction."

VEEP BEAT: ABC's Arlette Saenz (@ArletteSaenz) rounds up all the action on the #veepstakes front:

-THE VP GUESSING GAME: Real Clear Politics' looks at the history of vice presidential picks and how if history repeats itself, the guesses we're making today about Romney's running mate will turn out to be wrong. "While every eventual GOP nominee in the last five non-incumbent presidential cycles began the race as a favorite, the same cannot be said of their VP picks, all of whom were initially regarded inside the Beltway echo chamber either as blips on the political radar or not on the screen at all," Conroy wrote.

-RUBIO CALLS ON HOLDER TO RESIGN: Sen. Marco Rubio became the second senator to call on Attorney General Holder to resign, ABC News' Sunlen Miller reported. "Yes, I do at this point, I do," Rubio answered when asked at The Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington, D.C. Thursday if the attorney general should step down. "I think we've now reached a point of no return on this issue."

-PORTMAN IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Associated Press profiles Sen. Rob Portman and the qualities he possesses that could land him the vice presidential spot. "You can almost imagine Mitt Romney checking the boxes in pondering whether Ohio Sen. Rob Portman might be a good running mate. Experienced, steady Washington hand? Check. Represents key swing state? Check. Respected across the Republican Party? Check. Well-known? No. Charismatic? Hmm," the AP's Dan Sewell reported. "Probably as much as anyone, Portman would meet what presidential nominees always say is the top criterion for a vice president: ability to take over should something happen to the president."


@SovernNation : Favorite nugget frm Bloomberg #2012 poll: "Who wuld U rather sit next to on a long airplane flight?" 57% Obama, 31% Romney

@rickklein : whoa. of 1,613 congressional candidates, not one has raised more money than Elizabeth Warren. #MASEN

@JohnJHarwood : Was rooting for Thunder. But still happy for LeBron, and especially happy for the ultimate class act, Shane Battier. #goduke

@SamChampion : On stage with @maryjblige

?@RutherfordDan : Great morning for a jog


- President Obama addresses the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials at Disney's Contemporary Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

- Mitt Romney kicks of a weekend retreat with high-dollar donors and potential vice presidential contenders in Utah.

- Marco Rubio addresses the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials at Disney's Contemporary Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

ABC's Josh Haskell

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