Did Mitt Romney Get His Game Changer? (The Note)

Evan Vucci/AP Photo

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


  • VEEPSTAKES: MITT - THE DECIDER: Amid speculation that Mitt Romney could announce the name of his running mate before leaving for an international trip next week, it appears as if the presumptive GOP nominee has yet to make a decision. Asked about potential running mates at a town hall in Bowling Green, Ohio on Wednesday, Romney told the crowd, "I have not chosen my VP," ABC News' Emily Friedman reported.
  • ANN: 'NOT QUITE THERE YET': And ABC's Arlette Saenz reports that Romney's wife added to the chorus in an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts. "We're not quite there yet," Ann Romney told ABC's Robin Roberts of her husband's thinking in an exclusive interview that aired today "Good Morning America." "We are certainly talking a lot. This last week, this last weekend, there was a lot of discussion," she said. "There was a lot of talk. We're not quite there yet. And we're going to be there soon." http://abcn.ws/NYd0R7
  • ROMNEY RADAR: According the Romney campaign, "On Friday, Mitt Romney will attend a Victory event at Coastal Forest Products in Bow, New Hampshire." ABC's Sunlen Miller reported yesterday that potential vice presidential candidate and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte will attend the event alongside Romney.
  • MICHELLE OBAMA GOES GRASSROOTS: The Obama campaign tells The Note that on Friday First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Virginia to launch "It Takes One," a new Obama for America initiative focused on beefing up the campaign's grassroots organization. According to a release from the campaign, "'It Takes One' emphasizes the impact that every single person can have in this election. Whether it's by registering one new voter or talking to one more neighbor every week, 'It Takes One' urges supporters who haven't yet gotten engaged in the election to start small - and to never underestimate the value of their contribution." barackobama.com/one


New polls out today show that the economy, not Romney's record at Bain Capital or his tax returns, are defining this contest for voters across the country. And, that's not good for Team Obama.

A fresh New York Times-CBS News poll showed that, nationally, the presidential race is a dead heat: 45 percent said they would vote for Mitt Romney if the election were held today and 43 percent said they would vote to re-elect President Obama.

As The New York Times Jim Rutenberg and Marjorie Connelly note, "Declining confidence in the nation's economic prospects appears to be the most powerful force influencing voters as the presidential election gears up…Despite the months-long onslaught of negative advertisements from Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies seeking to define Mr. Romney as out of touch with the middle class and representative of wealthy interests, there is little evidence in the poll of any substantial nationwide shift in attitudes about Mr. Romney." http://nyti.ms/Q6rIsH

And the problem evidenced by today's poll is even deeper for the president as ABC's AMY WALTER notes, "Voters remain sour on both the direction of the economy and Obama's handling of it. Perhaps the most troubling sign for Obama: among independent voters, just 31 percent think Obama can help improve the economy if given more time, but a majority (53 percent) say that he 'will never improve it.'"

For their part, the Romney campaign could not be happier with the results of the latest survey. The campaign circulated the poll last night with a series of "questions to consider," including: "Has President Obama Forgotten, 'It's The Economy, Stupid?'"

"The economy is a great riptide that is taking Obama out to sea. And they're going around pouring sand all over the beach, but they're not teaching him how to swim," a Romney aide told the Huffington Post's Jon Ward. "Until they start talking about what this race is about, it's all chaff." http://huff.to/Luts7o

All week long, political prognosticators have been speculating that Romney might announce his running mate in order to turn the page on a litany of bad headlines, but with each passing day that seems less likely.

And as ABC's RICK KLEIN points out: "The story yesterday was that the Bain and tax return attacks were working; the story today is that the economy is still the biggest issue for voters. Both may be true, and of course each side has an incentive in their argument being the one that sticks. But the election will still hinge on the Obama economy, not simply the Romney biography - a reason for Republicans to exhale after a breathless few weeks."

BOTTOM LINE: Today's poll may be the thing that helps Romney finally "turn the page" in the race back to economy.

MORE OF ABC'S ROBIN ROBERTS' INTERVIEW WITH ANN ROMNEY: Of her battle with multiple sclerosis, Ann Romney told ABC's Robin Roberts, "It crushed me to dust … If you could've seen me, I ripped up all the pictures of myself from that period of time because I look at them, and they remind me of how I felt .. I can't stand to even be reminded of how sick I was. … The sun comes up tomorrow, and there will be a brighter day." (h/t ABC's Russell Goldman)

AFTER '08, SHE SAID 'NEVER AGAIN.' Ann Romney to ABC's Robin Roberts: "Last time, after the last election, I said I will never do this again, because I took everything personally, I took all the attacks personally. … This time, when I decided to go forward, I just made a decision, I'm going to enjoy it."

MARCO RUBIO TALKS TO ABC NEWS, COY ABOUT VEEP PROCESS. ABC'S ANN COMPTON AND DEVIN DWYER report: Marco Rubio, the Tea Party darling and U.S. senator from the largest electoral battleground Florida, holds his cards close when asked about his place on Mitt Romney's vice presidential vet list. "I don't comment on the vice presidential process," he said with a grin Thursday in an interview with ABC News Radio White House correspondent Ann Compton inside his Capitol Hill offices. … "I think that Gov. Romney is successful because he's a good decision maker. He's always made good decisions," he said. "And what I have no doubt about is that he'll make another great decision. And being a good decision maker by the way is the number one quality you want in a president."

VIDEO: Watch Rubio's interview here http://abcn.ws/MImOLH

RUBIO GETS VP NOT … FROM TEA PARTY EXPRESS. The senator says he is "always honored by my association with the tea party," after the national tea-party PAC and activist group announced its members had anointed him their favorite VP prospect. http://abcn.ws/MsQDkW

RUBIO NARRATES DEMOCRATIC AD. The Tampa Bay Times' Marc Caputo reports (with video): "Democratic congressional candidate Joe Garcia is using a most-unexpected narrator in a web ad bashing Republican Rep. David Rivera: The voice of Sen. Marco Rubio, a Rivera pal who has repeatedly said Rivera will have to answer questions about his finances that have made him a target of state and federal investigations. Rivera narrowly escaped state criminal charges stemming from his use of state House campaign funds and an investigation into a secret dog-track payment." http://bit.ly/NzQezp

FROM BOSTON: ROMNEY WEB AD: 'YOU DIDN'T BUILD THAT'. Mitt Romney's campaign is out with a YouTube video that goes after President Obama's recent comment about businesses. From the script: "[Obama audio] If you've got a business-you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. … [audio from Jack Gilchrist, small business owner] My father's hands didn't build this company? My hands didn't build this company? My son's hands aren't building this company? Did somebody else take out the loan on my father's house to finance the equipment? Did somebody else make payroll every week or figure out where it's coming from? President Obama, you're killing us out here. Through hard work and a little bit of luck, we built this business. Why are you demonizing us for it?" WATCH: http://youtu.be/sNHeTwoy5vI


with Chris Good ( @c_good)

DEMOCRATS REGRET OFFENDING ANN ROMNEY. ABC's Jonathan Karl reports: At issue is a DNC video featuring footage of Ann Romney's dancing show horse. …Ann Romney, who trains with show horses as part of her therapy for multiple sclerosis, took offense in an interview with Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America," and now the DNC is saying it will put out no more horse videos, and is expressing regret for offending Ann Romney."Our use of the Romneys' dressage horse was not meant to offend Mrs. Romney in any way, and we regret it if it did," DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse told ABC News. http://abcn.ws/Plp7sj

ELECTRIC SLIDE: RNC CHAIRMAN TO ATTACK OBAMA OVER ELECTRIC CAR COMPANY. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will spearhead an effort to re-focus attention on the 2009 economic stimulus and instances where American money was used by companies doing business overseas. Priebus will make the argument at an event in Philadelphia and focus specifically on Fisker, the start-up electric car company that received part of a $529 million federal government loan guarantee from the Obama Administration. http://abcn.ws/Nkh13W

LESSON LEARNED: ROMNEY DISPUTES WOMAN'S 'MONSTER' COMMENT. From ABC's Emily Friedman: Romney was criticized in May for not immediately rebuking a woman at a town hall who said President Obama "should be tried for treason," and denounced by Democrats for standing by "silently" during attacks on the president. But during a town hall today in the battleground state of Ohio, Romney didn't miss a beat when one woman referred to Obama as a job-killing "monster." http://abcn.ws/NIBvD7

ROMNEY, CAMPAIGN CASH, AND THE LIBOR SCANDAL. The Washington Post's Philip Rucker and Dan Eggen report on Mitt Romney's upcoming fundraiser in London: "The hosts of Romney's high-dollar reception and dinner on July 26 overwhelmingly represent banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions, some of which are embroiled in the Libor rate-fixing scandal. By appearing at the fundraisers on the eve of the Olympics' Opening Ceremonies, Romney risks associating his campaign with the unfolding scandal, which focuses on banks that manipulated the London interbank offered rate, a benchmark for mortgages, auto loans and other financial contracts." http://wapo.st/NAWB40

CROSSROADS TO THE RESCUE. The Wall Street Journal's Danny Yardin and Colleen McCain Nelson report: "[O]ne of Mr. Romney's allies in the super PAC world plans to give some direct help. American Crossroads, a GOP-aligned political action committee, will begin an $8.8 million ad buy in nine states on Thursday to defend Mr. Romney from Democratic charges that he helped ship U.S. jobs overseas, said the PAC's president, Steven Law. … [T]he new ad is the first from Crossroads to mention Mr. Romney explicitly, and in defending him it serves a role that candidates traditionally have filled themselves." http://on.wsj.com/MmTAWe

JOHN MCCAIN DEFENDS HILLARY CLINTON AIDE. After a letter from House Republicans, including Rep. Michele Bachmann, alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, ABC's Sunlen Miller and John Parkinson report: Describing the accusations against her as "ugly" and "sinister," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., came to the defense of Huma Abedin, longtime aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. … "The Departments Deputy, Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin, has three family members - her late father, her mother and her brother - connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and /or organizations. Her position affords her routine access to the Secretary and to policy making," according to the the June 13th letter, signed by Reps. Bachmann, R-Minn., Trent Franks, R-Ariz., Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Thomas Rooney, R-Fla., and Lynn Westmoreland, R-GA. http://abcn.ws/MxEkI0

CAIR: BACHMANN PLAYING 'SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION DRINKING GAME.' ABC's Dana Hughes reports: Corey Saylor, a spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also known as CAIR, calls questioning the loyalty of "patriotic American Muslims" based on what he says are old anti-Muslim conspiracy theories "beyond the pale." … "America wants a serious national security conversation," says Saylor. "Michelle Bachmann is giving us a six degrees of separation drinking game." http://abcn.ws/NzLytg

-From a Republican strategist and Friend of The Note: "Bachmann is proving why she's never had the credibility to translate her popularity in the grassroots into real juice on the Hill. The rather shameful attack she's launched here is not only inappropriate, but also a bit mystifying. She's riding the express lane to irrelevance."

HOUSE REJECTS CUTS TO MILITARY BANDS, NASCAR. The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Jamie Dupree reports: "If you want an example of just how difficult it can be to trim back the federal budget, look no further than the floor of the House on Wednesday, as lawmakers easily rejected a plan to reduce spending on military bands. … A few minutes after the House dispatched the military bands amendment, there was another example of the difficulty involved in budget cuts, as the House rejected a plan to cut $72 million from the budget to stop Pentagon sponsorships in major sports like NASCAR." http://bit.ly/P66eGp

ELIZABETH WARREN: ERNST & YOUNG STUDY IS WRONG. Via ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield, Sen. Scott Brown's campaign is calling attention to comments by his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, that a new Ernst & Young study commissioned by business advocates is "Just wrong. They've made up their numbers," and that "these are just made up numbers, and there's nothing to support that." The study found that if Congress does not extend all the Bush tax cuts, small-business owners could be forced to cut jobs and wages. Study: http://wapo.st/MmOmd0 Video of Warren's comments: http://youtu.be/h7v1GMbxPAc

DCCC REVIEWING ADELSON LAWSUIT THREAT. ABC's Elicia Dover reports: Las Vegas Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson has threatened to sue the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) if it does not immediately retract and apologize for what Adelson's lawyers call defamatory statements, "falsely accusing Mr. Adelson of encouraging and profiting from prostitution." … DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson told ABC News that the DCCC just received the letter from Adelson's legal team, will be internally reviewing it and did not immediately have a response. http://abcn.ws/NATRUj

BAIN'S FOREIGN CAPITAL. The Los Angeles Times' Joseph Tanfani, Melanie Mason, and Matea Gold report that Bain Capital began with foreign startup money: "[Romney] and his partners tapped an eclectic roster of investors, raising more than a third of their first $37-million investment fund from wealthy foreigners. Most of the foreign investors' money came through corporations registered in Panama, then known for tax advantages and unusual banking secrecy." http://lat.ms/ML3Gf6

SO, IS ROMNEY SAVING MONEY IN THE CAYMANS? ABC's Matt Negrin reports: Michael Graetz, a tax specialist who teaches law at Yale and Columbia, noted that Romney makes no effort to suggest he's not benefiting financially from the secretive accounts. Romney's adviser Kevin Madden wrote in a letter that was read on "Fox News Sunday" that Romney "hasn't paid a penny less in taxes by virtue of where these funds are domiciled." But Graetz questioned whether that's the case. http://abcn.ws/NT3c74

DSCC RAKES $18.1 MILLION IN 2ND QUARTER. Politico's Maggie Haberman reports: "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee took in what it called a record-breaking quarterly haul, collecting $18.1 million between April and June, according to numbers shared with POLITICO. The figure included $8 million alone in June, a month that committee officials said was boosted by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling upholding key parts of President Barack Obama's health care law." http://politi.co/NZm5ZT

OBAMA CABINET OFFICIAL PRAYS FOR RAIN. ABC's Mary Bruce reports: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is praying for rain to bring relief from the drought, which is devastating crops and likely to push up food prices. "I get on my knees every day," Vilsack told reporters at the White House today. "And I'm saying an extra prayer now. If I had a rain prayer or a rain dance I could do, I would do it." Sixty-one percent of the U.S. is experiencing a drought, the worst in 25 years. http://abcn.ws/Nkhaod

9 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT TIM PAWLENTY. From ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield: He originally wanted to be a dentist, and he enrolled in pre-dentistry at the University of Minnesota, which he discusses in his book, "Courage to Stand." … In 2001, while serving in the Minnesota House of Representatives, he pulled a prank and yanked down the pants of then-House speaker Steve Sviggum during a statehouse baseball game. http://abcn.ws/ML3sow


-ACTOR MORGAN FREEMAN DONATES $1 MILLION TO PRO-OBAMA SUPER PAC. The Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman cut a $1 million check to Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama super PAC, which has been running a relentless advertising campaign focused on Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital. Here's why Freeman said he chipped in for the cause: "Pres. Obama has done a remarkable job in historically difficult circumstances. He ended combat operations in Iraq, put in place sensible reforms of Wall Street, saved the auto industry and protected the health care of every American. He has led our nation to be more tolerant and placed impressive, accomplished women on the Supreme Court. In return, he is the target of hundreds of millions of dollars from right-wing sources. I am proud to lend my voice - and support - to those who defend him. Priorities USA Action is doing a great job of protecting the values I believe in."

-NEWT GINGRICH RELEASES E-BOOK. A Gingrich aide passes along this Newsmax story: "President Barack Obama has made a career out of lying, Newt Gingrich claims in a new e-book released on Wednesday. And his about-face on whether his healthcare provisions are a penalty or a tax is reminiscent of 'George Orwell's '1984' or the best efforts of Pravda at the height of the Soviet period,' the former House speaker says. … Gingrich claims in the e-book entitled "No Taxation with MISrepresentation," that the president's "pattern of dishonesty" has three distinct categories: Personal dishonesty at a petty level almost as a habit; Cultural dishonesty in the pattern of much of modern popular culture; A deliberate systematic creation of a false history of key events and principles." http://bit.ly/Olz3ks

-DEMOCRATIC SUPER PAC PARTNERS WITH COURAGE CAMPAIGN ON 'MITT GETS WORSE' SITE. According to the Boston Globe: "A pair of liberal super PACs are teaming up on a new Web campaign that accuses Mitt Romney of advancing an 'extreme anti-LGBT agenda' that would make life worse for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans. The campaign is called "Mitt Gets Worse" - a play on the "It Gets Better" project, which is a collection of videos designed to encourage LGBT youth. President Obama was featured in an 'It Gets Better' video in October 2010. The 'Mitt Gets Worse' campaign, launched Wednesday by the Courage Campaign Super PAC and American Bridge 21st Century, is a compilation of video testimonies from people who describe Romney as insensitive and willing to put his political ambitions ahead of equality. The campaign's website also features video of Romney discussing LGBT rights as far back as 1994, when he ran unsuccessfully for US Senate." http://b.globe.com/MIh5FZ Here's the site: http://mittgetsworse.org/


@DaveWalkerCAI : My U.S. travels confirm today's NY Times poll regarding public concern about both POTUS candidates. People want substance and solutions. DW

@JakeSherman : What i wouldn't give to hear a conversation between Clinton, Barbour and McAuliffe. http://nyti.ms/Os6Lox @MarkLeibovich story

@HotlineJosh : Two must-read stories in @rollcall: @KyleTrygstad handicaps the Senate http://bit.ly/NBYtbl, @stupolitics the House http://bit.ly/MKXrbh

@mlcalderone : "Privately Fox executives say that a second Obama term could be the best thing that ever happened to their network." http://nyti.ms/Q7owNE

@DavidMuir : #MadeInAmerica! RT @Anita_CutLoose: @DavidMuir Don't make bow ties but my business makes bags from recycled tees-handmade in MN ?#TeamUSA!


-President Obama heads to Jacksonville, Florida where he will deliver remarks at a campaign event at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. Later, he travels to West Palm Beach, where he will attend at a campaign event at the Century Village.

-Mitt Romney is in Boston, Mass. for meetings. Tonight he holds a private fundraiser.

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

Get more pure politics at ABC News.com/Politics and a lighter take on the news at OTUSNews.com