Political observers are asking whether Mitt Romney could pick Condoleezza Rice as his running mate a day after a story on the Drudge Report said she has emerged as the front-runner.
Strategists acknowledge picking the former Bush administration secretary of State would be a bold, unconventional choice that could broaden support for Romney among independents.
Yet many questioned whether floating Rice’s name as a front-runner was really aimed at shifting the political discussion from Romney’s tenure at the private-equity firm Bain Capital. Skeptics pointed to reasons why Rice could hurt a Romney ticket.
Count Republican strategist Ford O'Connell among the skeptics when it comes to Romney picking Rice.
“Team Romney appears to be looking for a running mate who is an experienced officeholder, can rally the base and play well in the suburbs. Given that Rice has ties to President George W. Bush, has never held elected office and her positions on abortion and immigration are to the left of Romney, I just don’t see how she fits that bill,” he said in an interview. “I think this is a clever diversion by the Romney folks to change the subject on what has clearly been an off-week for them.”
Read more from Justin Sink at The Hill
On the facts, nothing terribly new was added to the Bain equation by the Boston Globe story charging that Mitt Romney controlled the company for three years longer than he previously claimed. Several fact-checking organizations said the charges aren’t exactly breaking news and Romney’s denials have some validity.
The problem for the Romney campaign, when it comes to the Bain issue, is that things are reaching the point where the facts don’t really matter. The bigger problem is that the Bain cloud now hanging over the former Massachusetts governor is growing daily, and the Romney campaign still hasn’t found a compelling way to respond to what’s becoming the driving narrative, fairly or unfairly, of the 2012 campaign.
President Barack Obama and Democrats say Bain’s companies, and by extension Romney, laid off workers and outsourced jobs, shipping them overseas. But many of those acts happened after 1999, when Romney says he wasn’t responsible because he was no longer truly running Bain. But the Globe report showing Romney linked to the private equity firm as late as 2002 could contradict those claims, at least in the eyes of voters.
Romney’s business experience is his strongest selling point as he frequently argues his time in the private sector makes him more qualified than Obama to fix the economy. The Democratic attacks are starting to get labeled as the equivalent of the “Swift Boat” offensive that sunk John Kerry’s presidential campaign over his Vietnam war record.
Romney is violating a basic rule of politics, GOP strategist Ford O’Connell warns: Define yourself before your opponent does it for you.
“He needs to get out ahead of this and put this issue to rest before it becomes a major distraction,” O’Connell said. “He has yet to do it and if he doesn’t do it, Obama is going to do it for him.”
Not answering has the potential to eat away at Romney’s support in swing states.
“We’re starting to see evidence in some of the battleground states that this is working in the favor of the president,” O’Connell said. “There are only so many more of these chinks in the armor Romney can take.”
Banking on voters casting their ballots against Obama without Romney providing his own vision or plan is a “fool’s errand,” O’Connell said. “The key for Romney is to define himself and provide a bold, clear vision for the future,” he said.
Read more from Ginger Gibson at Politico
In late 2010, President Barack Obama went against his party's grain and extended the Bush-era tax cuts for another two years because, as he said at the time, raising taxes in a struggling economy is "the last thing you want to do." Two years later, the economy continues to struggle, but the president has changed his tune. He wants to raise taxes on those making in excess of $250,000.
His goal is to put Republicans, principally presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in a bind. Either they oppose a tax cut for middle-class Americans, or they accept the president's plan and try to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the $250,000 to $1 million-per-year set in stand-alone legislation that would paint them as coddling the rich.
So far, the only politicians to feel the heat from this are Democrats in tight Senate races.
It's unlikely President Obama's plan will put Romney or any Republicans into a bind. Americans understand the economy won't recover until investors invest, small businesses expand, and hiring improves.
Charles Krauthammer says President Obama's proposal shows he has given up on growing the economy and now pins his re-election hopes on fomenting class warfare. All Romney has to do is ask Americans if it's worth it to tax away all that potential growth to raise $65 billion in additional government revenue in a country with a $1.2 trillion annual deficit. No one serious about economic growth could say it is.
Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report
From John McCormick at Bloomberg:
Independent voters are growing in numbers at the expense of Democrats in battleground states most likely to determine this year’s presidential election, a Bloomberg News analysis shows.
The collective total of independents grew by about 443,000 in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and North Carolina since the 2008 election, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from state election officials.
During the same time, Democrats saw a net decline of about 480,000 in those six states, while Republicans -- boosted in part by a competitive primary earlier this year -- added roughly 38,000 voters in them, the analysis shows.
A Bloomberg survey taken June 15-18 showed 50 percent of independents view the Republican Party unfavorably, while 47 percent say that about the Democratic Party.
This is a straight political play by Team Obama to stoke the class warfare embers in an effort to make Mitt Romney and House Republicans look out of touch with the plight of average Americans.
It is not good economic policy, particularly if it is not accompanied by wholesale tax code reform, because a sizable number of small business owners file their business income on their individual returns. Additionally, a one-year extension does not give middle class Americans, employers and financial markets much long-term comfort nor the stability needed to invest. For these reasons, Congressional Democrats, including House Minority Leader Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, disagree with the president with regard to the income threshold ($1 million versus $250,000).
It is clear that President Obama is far more concerned with beating Romney in November than actually making America a more prosperous country for economic growth.
Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"
Mitt Romney's campaign is pretending Saturday is the day before Election Day.
In the first of a series of massive volunteer mobilization efforts, the campaign and the Republican Party will undertake "Super Saturday," a day when GOP volunteers call and canvass hundreds of thousands of swing-state voters, just as they will before Nov. 6.
The goal is not just to know which voters are on board with Romney, but to test the presidential campaign's ability to turn out the vote — something the GOP struggled with in 2008.
The GOP will run these Saturday tests once a month. The information is used as the campaign progresses to guide decisions such as where to deploy volunteers, where to focus early-voting turnout efforts, and which areas have the most undecided voters.
In 2008, Republicans made 28 million voter contacts, Wiley said. That jumped to 44 million in 2010, a number that he says this year's effort will exceed.
Republicans have a formidable opponent in the Obama campaign, which has reactivated its volunteer network from 2008, opened dozens of offices in swing states and is running full tilt on social media. The campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
"In Northern Virginia you cannot go out and not trip over an Obama GOTV effort, and that should scare the Republicans," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.
Read more from Martha T. Moore at USA Today
Mitt Romney may not win the presidency between now and the 60-day sprint, but he could well lose it if he doesn't change tactics. He must stop trying to thread the needle as he initially did on the Obamacare tax/penalty debate. Americans don't care about the minutiae. They want to hear whether he will repeal Obamacare and how or if he will replace it.
The Wall Street Journal is right: "The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault."
But this won't work. A quarter of the electorate remains undecided, according to an Associated Press poll. These voters know all about President Obama's handling of the economy. If that was enough to sway their votes, they'd already be in the Romney camp. What they want to hear is a bold vision of the future, one that takes us from where we are now to a better, more prosperous place. The candidate that best articulates this will win in November.
And it can't be done with platitudes.
Last time around, Americans voted for "Hope and Change" without details and are not satisfied with what they got. They won't be fooled again. They are demanding a bold, clear vision for the future—one replete with specifics and unafraid of change. And you don't get to that arguing about taxes vs. penalties.
Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report
Barack Obama became the first Democrat in 44 years to end the Republican stranglehold on the southwestern corner of Ohio in the 2008 election, winning in Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati and its conservative suburbs.
Mr. Obama flipped counties across the Rust Belt, helping him carry Ohio and Indiana and win more traditionally Democratic states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
But now, as Mr. Obama is in the middle of a two-day “Betting on America” bus tour across Ohio and Pennsylvania, political analysts said he will have to reassemble the “hope and change” demographic coalition of 2008 that relied on a high turnout of youths and blacks, and winning a larger-than-usual percentage of Hispanics and whites.
By most accounts, that will be easier said than done, especially after the elections in 2010, when voters sent a strong message of discontent to Mr. Obama by electing Republicans in nearly every competitive race in the Rust Belt and pulling the plug on the Democrats’ four-year reign in the House.
In 2008, Mr. Obama lost whites without college education by a margin of 58 percent to 40 percent.
The challenge for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is to tap into that anger and persuade those voters to turn out again this year, said Ford O’Connell, who ran rural outreach for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
“This is the group that has soured on Obama the most. Therefore,Romney must appeal to white working-class voters and drive up their turnout or else he will lose in 2012,” he said. “If Romney fails to outperform McCain with white working-class voters, his only other path to victory is essentially to hope that Hispanics don’t turn out to support Obama, and frankly that is not a very good game plan.”
Read more from Seth McLaughlin at The Washington Times
A semantic dispute over what defines “a tax” or “a penalty” has pushed Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign deeply off message as he struggles for the right response to last week’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the health care law.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling Thursday, said the mandate requiring all Americans to obtain health care coverage or else pay a fine to the Internal Revenue Service was constitutional under Congress‘ broad taxing powers.
Mr. Romney relied on the same mechanisms — an individual mandate backed up by a fine/penalty/tax — in the health care legislation that Massachusetts enacted under his governorship. He, too, would be in violation of his own no-new-taxes pledge if he accepts the court’s label.
Mr. Romney has said he disagrees with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s opinion, arguing that it is not a tax and therefore doesn’t fall within Congress‘ powers. However, he says, it still would be a legitimate exercise of a state’s authority.
On Monday, campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the pressure is on Mr. Obama to choose between calling it a tax or accepting it as a penalty — and therefore unconstitutional.
But one Republican strategist said that was playing “a cat-and-mouse game” and urged Mr. Romney to move on.
“The Romney campaign is overplaying its hand on the penalty/tax debate, given that polling shows roughly 40 percent of voters don’t even know the Supreme Court has ruled on Obamacare and given that there still exists a lot of low-information voters out there who don’t even have a clear understanding of what Obamacare entails and who it affects,” said Ford O’Connell, a political strategist who ran the McCain-Palin 2008 campaign’s national rural outreach program.
Read more from Seth McLaughlin at The Washington Times
A majority of U.S. Hispanics identify as political independents (51%) rather than as Democrats (32%) or Republicans (11%). However, once their partisan leanings are taken into account, most Hispanics affiliate with the Democratic Party (52%) rather than the Republican Party (23%). Both sets of numbers shift more decisively in the Democrats' favor among the roughly half of U.S. Hispanics who are registered to vote.