Clear And 'Independent' Danger (The Note)

Alex Wong/Getty Images

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


  • ROMNEY COURTS HISPANICS… The Romney campaign this morning released a new Spanish-langue television ad - it's eighth of the campaign season - featuring Mitt Romney's son, Craig: : "I want to tell you who my father is, Mitt Romney. He is a man of great convictions. He's been married for over 40 years to my mom. Together they have five sons and 18 grandchildren. He loves our country greatly. What he has achieved has been through hard work - and it is with that same dedication that he will fight to get our country on the right track and create jobs," Craig says in the ad. WATCH: The Romney campaign also unveiled an accompanying Spanish-language website:
  • …BUT IS HE LOSING EVANGELICALS? This year, Mitt Romney is trying to fire up two major groups of Republican voters who have been instrumental in recent elections: evangelical Christians and members of the Tea Party movement. And frequently, these people are one and the same, hence the term coined by journalist David Brody: "Teavangelicals." In his new book, "Teavangelicals: The Inside Story of how the Tea Party and Evangelicals Are Taking Back America," Brody, the chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, explores the political heft these combined populations are having on today's political scene. Brody talked about his findings with ABC's Amy Walter and Rick Klein, and Yahoo!'s David Chalian in the latest episode of ABC/Yahoo!'s Power Player series "Top Line." WATCH:
  • SARAH PALIN'S VEEPSTAKES PREDICTION: The 2008 Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin weighed in on the veepstakes Tuesday evening, ABC's Arlette Saenz notes, arguing that Mitt Romney will pick a "known commodity" as his running mate after seeing the way her announcement was handled last cycle. "I think that Governor Romney will probably play it safe, relatively-speaking, in terms of finding someone who is a known commodity, so the media doesn't do what the media did to me and making things up and kind of thrashing somebody's reputation and record in order to distract," Palin said on Fox News. (h/t The Hill's Christian Heinze)


Digging into the crosstabs of this week's ABC News-Washington Post poll it's clear that Obama has a significant problem with independent voters.

On every measure, independents are significantly more disappointed with the President and more open to a Romney message.

On the economy, while 45 percent of voters overall say they approve of Obama's handling of the economy, just 37 percent of independents believe that. Obama has a twelve point advantage among all voters on the issue of "who has presented a clearer plan for dealing with the economy - Obama or Romney." But, among independents that flips to an eight point advantage for Romney.

Even on the issue of Romney's record in business, independent voters are more sympathetic to the Republican. Among all voters, more thought that Romney, in his work as a corporate investor, did more to cut jobs than create them, 42 percent to 36 percent. But among independents, that flips to a six point advantage for Romney, 43 percent to 37 percent.

So, why isn't Romney ahead?

As ABC pollster Gary Langer points out, the Democratic base is more energized and engaged.

But, if Republican enthusiasm and participation increases, Obama has some very serious problems.

Even with universal support among Democrats, Obama can't win if he's losing independent voters by these significant margins.

ON THE HILL: HEALTH CARE REPEAL - 33RD TIME'S THE CHARM? The Hill's Russell Berman and Elise Viebeck report: "The Republican-led House is set on Wednesday to vote again to repeal the entire 2010 healthcare law as lawmakers respond formally to the Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Obama's signature domestic achievement. While Democrats compared the move to the film 'Groundhog Day,' House Republicans said the vote was in keeping with the promise they made upon taking control of the chamber in 2010. They also argued repealing the healthcare law would help the economy… The vote on Wednesday is expected to resemble the breakdown of the House's first attempt in January, 2011, but Republicans expect more Democrats to join the repeal push. Three House Democrats voted for repeal last year, and one more has announced his intent to switch sides on Wednesday." Ox68Hm


ABC's RICK KLEIN: Why ever would the public be tuning out this campaign season? Today brings congressional vote No. 33 to repeal a health care law that will remain on the books regardless of what the House of Representatives declares. It comes two days after President Obama called for a partial tax cut he knows the same House will never take up; leaders' long-stated preference is for a full tax extension that the president, of course, has vowed to veto. Back over in Obama-Romney land, the game of "you're-the-real-outsourcer" - as if either man truly supports policies that would ship American policies overseas - is out there for voters to draw inspiration from. The time is ripe for one candidate - if not both - to try something a little bigger.

RISKY BUSINESS. The pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, which has spent millions of dollars on a series of television ads in key battleground states contends that "Mitt Romney's business experience - the centerpiece of his case for the presidency - has proven to be much more of a liability than an asset in key swing states." Priorities has focused almost exclusively on Romney's record at Bain Capitol, using laid-off workers as the spokespeople for their TV spots. In a memo released this morning, advisers to the group note: "Priorities USA's recent ad campaign on Romney's record as CEO of Bain Capital had a clear negative impact on perceptions of Romney across a variety of metrics. Over the last two months, Priorities USA has run advertising in 11 media markets across the five states mentioned in this memo. To analyze the effectiveness of this campaign, we ran an analysis of the markets where Priorities USA ran ads (the 'Priorities markets') versus the markets where they did not ran ads (the 'non-Priorities markets'). This made for an effective experiment as the two groups of markets are attitudinally very similar." Read the memo:

FROM THE DESK OF THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN. The Obama campaign is out with another web video trying to build pressure on Romney over his tax returns and offshore finances, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports. This one features this newly surfaced clip of Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, at a Finance Committee hearing: "The only real difference that I hear between investing in the Cayman Islands and investing in the U.S., or the only way that the Cayman Island investments are superior, is the possibility of avoiding U.S. tax. I don't think that is something the American public would agree with or appreciate." (Grassley's comment comes from a 2010 hearing for Obama nominee Jeffrey Goldstein to be deputy under secretary of Treasury. Goldstein, a private equity executive, was grilled by Grassley and other Republicans on the panel for ties to offshore accounts and so-called "blocker" corporations designed to avoid some taxes.) WATCH:

GOP COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. A day after the Republican National Committee launched their new messaging trying to paint the president as an "Outsourcer-in-Chief," something both Gov. Romney and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus hammered on the trail Monday, they are out with a new web video and research piece with the same message, ABC's Shushannah Walshe notes.

The video called "Barack Obama, Outsourcer-In-Chief" begins with the president's launch of the stimulus program in January 2009 promising the money will "get out the door" and go to "job creation," then the video quickly goes to press footage explaining that many of the jobs went to workers overseas, including Finland and China. Much of the excerpts are from ABC News reports by Jonathan Karl, Brian Ross, and Diane Sawyer. The video ends with dramatic music and a voice saying: "These are American taxpayer dollars and it should be American jobs that are created." WATCH: The RNC is also out with a research piece with the same message, which includes background material of Democrats voicing concern at the time:

DEMOCRATS RAISE VOLUME ON CALLS FOR ROMNEY'S TAX RETURNS. When it comes to releasing tax forms, Democrats have coordinated a campaign to embarrass Mitt Romney, who has refused to disclose more than one year of his taxes, ABC's Matt Negrin notes. Romney isn't required to release the documents, but most presidential candidates since his father in 1968 have provided several years of tax records.

In fact, ABC News looked it up, and the last presidential nominee from either party to release only one year's worth of tax returns prior to Romney was Ronald Reagan in 1980. Reagan only released one year of tax returns in his first bid for office - the returns from the previous year. According to an LA Times story, Reagan argued it was "bad precedent to require public officials to disclose their personal finances because persons in private life were not required to do so." As President, Reagan released his tax returns each year from 1980-1987.

Here's the breakdown of who released what and when. (h/t ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield and Chris Good):


-Barack Obama- 2000- 2006

-John McCain- 2006-2007


-John Kerry- since 1999


-George W. Bush- since 1994

-Al Gore- since 1991


-Bob Dole- since 1966


-Bill Clinton- since 1980


-Michael Dukakis- 5 years

-George H.W. Bush- 3 years

ABC News was not able to locate the exact number of years Democratic nominee Walter Mondale released in 1984, but a story in the Lodi News Sentinel from that year noted that he had released multiple years of tax forms. A former Mondale staffer, reached by ABC on Tuesday, said he recalled releasing everything from Mondale's private sector period from 1981- forward, after he was Vice President.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: ABC's Jonathan Karl reported for "World News" on the tax issue. Karl noted, "We've looked back and found every presidential nominee in both parties over the last three decades has released more tax returns. Romney says he'll release his 2011 return when he finishes it, but that's it. It's not that he doesn't have more returns handy. When he was under consideration to be John McCain's running mate four years ago, he gave McCain 23 years of tax returns, noting at the time quote, 'I'm a bit of a packrat so I had them all.' The Romney campaign calls all this attention to his personal finances a distraction - an effort they say by the Obama campaign to divert attention from the President's failed economic record." WATCH:


with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

TAX PLAN SHOWDOWN. ABC's Amy Bingham reports: The fight over creating jobs morphed into the battle of the tax plans this week after President Obama renewed his call to let the Bush Tax cuts expire for people earning more than $250,000 per year, a policy his Republican rival Mitt Romney dubbed a "kick in the gut." But while the rhetoric over taxes revolves around what the wealthiest Americans will pay, little attention has been given to how the other 98 percent of Americans - those that will most likely decide the 2012 election - will fare under Obama's or Romney's tax proposals. M2ttDL

OBAMA CALLS FOR TAX HIKE WITH 'HOMEBOY' ABE IN THE CROWD. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports that at a grassroots campaign rally to push an extension of middle-class tax cuts, President Obama today motioned to an "Abraham Lincoln" impersonator standing in the crowd, calling the remarkable resemblance a sign that one major Republican backs his second term. "My homeboy from Illinois," Obama joked, pointing out the tall, slender man with a beard and top hat. "And an outstanding Republican endorsee…" Obama told an energetic group of 1,600 Iowa Democrats he wants to raise taxes on wealthier Americans at the end of the year, including himself and GOP rival Mitt Romney, to pay for investments in the middle class.

BIDEN MAKES A SEX JOKE. Speaking at the annual conference of a Hispanic advocacy group in Las Vegas, Biden took a break from blasting Mitt Romney to talk about his family upbringing in 1950s Delaware, ABC's Matt Larotonda notes. Living in a three-bedroom, split-level home with three siblings, parents, and at least one senior made for some awkward situations, according to the vice president. "It was wonderful for children," Biden began. "By the way - having your grandpop living with you, having your great aunt, your uncle, for real. Those walls were awful thin. I wonder how the hell my parents did it."

ROMNEY DROPS BY COLORADO FOOD BANK. ABC's Emily Friedman reports, Mitt Romney rolled up his sleeves and used his teeth to rip open plastic food packaging during a stop at a food bank, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee joining in with volunteers and helping to sort food heading straight for Colorado families affected by the devastating wildfires. MXB3kS

ERIC HOLDER DUBS TEXAS VOTER ID LAW A 'POLL TAX'. Attorney General Eric Holder went off script today to say that voter ID laws like one being implemented in Texas are "poll taxes," equating the requirement that voters show a state-issued photo ID in order to cast ballots to the Jim Crow laws of the early 1900s, according to ABC's Amy Bingham. "Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them," Holder said in a speech to the NAACP on Tuesday, referring specifically to a law being implemented in Texas. "We call those poll taxes."

OBAMA STIMULUS PROGRAM SENT JOBS ABROAD, GOP SAYS. The Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr. and Peter Nicholas report: "Republicans opened a counteroffensive against Democratic claims that Mitt Romney outsourced jobs, highlighting how President Barack Obama's economic-stimulus program ended up sending some U.S. taxpayer money to foreign firms and workers. The issue of sending U.S. jobs overseas has emerged as a major theme of the presidential campaign, with both candidates striving to convince middle-class voters that his opponent poses the greater risk to their economic security." Mib8EJ

ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SELLS GEORGE ROMNEY INSPIRED MERCHANDISE. Yahoo!'s Laura E. Davis reports, the "Vintage" line of campaign T-shirts, bags and buttons floats the Romney name in swinging' sixties font while keeping it tied to this year's race with a "2012? or "'12." You can also get a button that has a picture of the 2012 candidate and his father, George, the former Michigan governor who sought the 1968 Republican presidential nomination. NluNAx

VOTER ID LAWS MAY HANDICAP BLACK VOTERS, DEMS FEAR. USA Today's Aamer Madhani reports: "Two million more black voters turned up at the polls in 2008 than in 2004, and central to the president's re-election strategy is expanding minority participation in 2012. Political analysts and supporters of the president in the African-American community say that tougher voter-ID laws in the pipeline in several states - including a few battleground states where the black vote will be crucial for Obama's re-election hopes - could diminish black voter turnout in November." MgeLVt

OBAMA POLICY ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IS CHALLENGED BY CHICAGO. The New York Times Julia Preston and Steve Yaccino report: "At a news conference on Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he would propose an ordinance that would bar police officers from turning over illegal immigrants to federal agents if the immigrants do not have serious criminal convictions or outstanding criminal warrants. In contrast to the Obama administration's long-running confrontation with officials in Arizona, who are mostly Republicans, the latest challenge to the president's immigration policies comes from Mr. Emanuel, his former chief of staff, and from other Democratic allies in President Obama's hometown." NrbPZE


ADVICE FOR ROMNEY: Craig Shirley and Diana Banister, executives at Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, offered up some thoughts for Mitt Romney at this stage in the race in a Politico Op-Ed: "It seems clear that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was 'vacationing' in New Hampshire all last week because his campaign is stymied and does not know what to do next. Sending out Ann Romney to go after President Barack Obama was a mistake. She is one of the campaign's best assets - but to use her in a cynical attack to say that Obama's campaign wanted to "kill" her husband wasted precious goodwill. … Part of Romney's difficulty is that he is not always regarded as a serious individual. It would help if he started meeting regularly with GOP wise men like Ed Meese and James Baker, or important conservative and tea party leaders."

ON THE HILL: Charlie Drevna, the head of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers is testifying today before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about fraudulent manufacturing of biofuels. A source passes along an excerpt of Drevna's testimony: "AFPM's refinery members are responsible for meeting the requirements of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). These companies have been the victims of fraud perpetuated by EPA-registered biofuel producers and have had to pay approximately $200 million as a result of EPA's punitive 'buyer beware' enforcement policy. … We believe that EPA must take responsibility for ensuring the integrity of the program Congress has asked it to administer and must make clear that obligated parties will not be punished for being the victim of fraud."

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

RUBIO'S FUNDRAISING PROWESS: When it comes to raising money, placing Sen. Marco Rubio on the ticket could offer Romney a boost in his fundraising, according to a study from the Center for Responsive Politics. "Rubio raised more than $21.7 million during his 2010 campaign, demolishing his opponents independent Gov. Charlie Christ who raised about $13.6 million and Democrat Kendrick Meek who raised about $8.8 million," The Daily Caller reported. "Among his biggest donors were the Club for Growth donating more than $350,000 to his campaign in 2010, and Republican Senator Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund which donated about $108,000 to Rubio in 2010. Retirees and Republican and conservative groups accounted for his largest donating groups, giving him $1.8 million and $978,000 respectively in 2010. Rubio has started his own leadership political action committee, Reclaim America PAC, and has raised nearly $1.12 million and has spent money supporting Sens. Scott Brown and Josh Mandel. In total, Rubio and his PAC have raised more than $27.3 million since 2007, according to the Center for Responsive Politics."

NO VET FOR NIKKI: South Carolina Nikki Haley told reporters Tuesday that she is not being vetted for the VP spot, the Wall Street Journal's Jon Ostrower reported. "South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said she isn't under consideration as Mitt Romney's running mate in the race for the White House. 'No, I am not,' replied Ms. Haley after being asked is she was being vetted by the Romney campaign. 'I have made it very clear from the very beginning that I love my job, I love South Carolina and I made a promise to the people of my state [to complete my term] and I have to keep it,' said Ms. Haley during an interview at the Farnborough International Air Show promoting South Carolina aerospace.

McDONNELL WEIGHING OPTING OUT OF MEDICAID: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is contemplating whether Virginia will opt out of Medicaid expansion like many other governors have announced this week, the Washington Post's Anita Kumar reported. "Gov. Bob McDonnell sent a letter to legislators Tuesday saying that he is considering whether Virginia should opt out of the federal health law's Medicaid expansion, but needs more information. 'A great expansion of Medicaid, without significant reform of the so-called 'federal-state partnership,' is not responsible,' McDonnell wrote.


@peterbakernyt : Called on distortions, both campaigns "stuck their fingers in their ears" and kept going, write @shearm and Rich Oppel.

@thehill : Quinnipiac poll finds Obama leading Romney 46-43 (by @JonEasley)

@MaeveReston : The cratering continues: San Bernardino becomes 3rd CA city in less than a month to seek bankruptcy via @LATimesWillon

@onetoughnerd : Good news for the Michigan economy: @DetNews reports that MI restaurants added 4,600 jobs over 12 months

@brandihoffine : . @rollcall: " @timkaine just recorded his best fundraising quarter of the cycle, bringing in around $3 million" #VASEN


-President Obama has no campaign events scheduled and will hold meetings at The White House.

-Mitt Romney starts his day in Houston, TX delivering a speech to the NAACP Annual Convention. Romney then travels to Montana for an evening fundraiser in Hamilton.

ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)

Check out The Note's Futures Calendar :