Both Obama and Romney are gunning for Virginia. For Obama, it represents an electoral need. For Romney, Virginia is a must win if we wants to get to 270 electoral votes. Politico's Ginger Gibson weighs in:
Just look at the candidates’ schedules. President Obama will make Richmond the site of his kickoff campaign rally this Saturday and, as he often does, will motorcade across the Potomac on Friday for an official event in Northern Virginia, this one devoted to student loans at an Arlington high school. Mitt Romney has two stops in Virginia lined up this week, Wednesday in Northern Virginia and Thursday in Hampton Roads, and he will also be in Lynchburg to speak to graduates of Liberty University next week.
Both campaigns are also moving swiftly to build their organizations. Romney recently brought his Iowa state director, Sara Craig, to helm Virginia and his team hopes to open at least a dozen field offices in the next month. Obama has had a Richmond-based staff in place for months and just opened up his 13th field office last month. The action on the ground is mirrored on the air – Obama’s campaign and Romney’s super PAC are already broadcasting commercials in the state.
Virginia Republicans all say publicly that they believe Romney will put the state back in the GOP column, but many will concede privately that the general election begins with Obama a few points ahead. Both sides believe that Obama’s advantage is something less than the 8 points a Public Policy Polling survey had him ahead by this week. Republicans acknowledge that they’ve got work to do following an ugly primary season and Democrats are feeling more upbeat thanks to a resurgent economy in the state, the gender-related controversies that arose during the legislative session this winter and the distance from the Washington-spurred 2009 and 2010 backlash.
George W. Bush understood the importance of Hispanics, Team Romney needs to catch on - particularly from an electoral standpoint. NBC's First Read has more:
Republicans are not on air on Hispanic media AT ALL so far, according to NBC/Smart Media Delta. President Obama, on the other hand, is going unchecked for two weeks, spending $435,000 – and $730,000 total so far this cycle – through mid-May with Hispanic media buys in Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Tampa, and Miami. If the president is wining by huge margins with Hispanics and women (more on that below), the math becomes very precarious for Romney. Look at those states where the president is advertising: Colorado, Nevada and Florida. Can Romney win the White House without winning at least ONE Western state?
Keep an eye on this one - it could determine who the next president of the United States is. From Gallup:
Catholic voters in the United States are evenly split in their support for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for president, mirroring the national trend. However, Hispanic Catholics -- about 18% of the total group of Catholic voters -- are overwhelmingly likely to support Obama over Romney, while a majority of non-Hispanic white Catholics support Romney.
Catholics constitute almost one in four voters in the U.S. today, making their vote an important target of the Obama and the Romney election campaigns. However, although Catholics as a whole are almost precisely average in their vote choices at this point in the campaign, there are major differences by the ethnicity and religiosity of Catholics that underscore the difficulty of typifying and subsequently targeting an "average" Catholic voter. Hispanic Catholics and nonreligious white Catholics, constituting between them almost four in 10 Catholic voters, strongly support Obama. On the other hand, very and moderately religious white Catholics -- about 56% of all Catholics -- support Romney, although by not as strong a margin.
Newt Gingrich ended his run for U.S. president on Wednesday after dazzling in televised debates but slumping to defeat in dozens of Republican primaries under attack from rivals who portrayed him as the consummate Washington insider.
The former U.S. House of Representatives speaker, the face of the Republican Party in the mid-1990s, badly trailed front-runner Mitt Romney in polls and his campaign piled up a debt of $4.3 million.
Gingrich announced his departure from the White House race in a long statement to the media at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia outside the capital that included references to his many grandiose ideas like the establishment of a U.S. colony on the moon.
He fell short of endorsing his former rival Romney but said voters had a clear choice in November's general election between Democratic President Barack Obama and the former Massachusetts governor.
Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said Gingrich will quickly be back on the campaign trail, likely as an "attack dog" for the Republican Party as it seeks to unseat Obama.
"The GOP needs him. They need conservative attack dogs who can break up the Obama message machine," said O'Connell. "He has the ability to take complex items and boil them down to be palatable Kool-Aid for conservatives."
"He's one of the best messengers of the right who, on a moment's notice can rebut someone."
Read more from Deborah Charles at Reuters
Mitt Romney is trying to flip the script on President Obama and use the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death to his own political advantage.
Romney on Monday dismissed the supposed courageousness of Obama’s decision to send a team of Navy SEALs to Pakistan to kill bin Laden, calling it an easy decision that “even Jimmy Carter” would have made.
The counterattack was aided by liberal commentator Arianna Huffington, who criticized as “despicable” an Obama campaign ad that suggested Romney would not have issued the order to kill bin Laden.
Obama was left to defend his campaign team and administration, telling reporters at a White House press conference that he “hardly think[s] you’ve seen any excessive celebration taking place here.”
“I think the American people remember rightly what we as a country accomplished in bringing to justice someone who killed 3,000 of our citizens,” Obama said.
Republicans recognize the talk about bin Laden could be dangerous territory for Romney.
“Obviously President Obama wants to make Election 2012 about anything but his record, but Mitt Romney really needs to make this more about the economy,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell, who argued the former governor was facing an uphill battle because the media was sympathetic to Obama on the issue.
“If the shoe were on the other foot, the media would flag a President Romney 45 yards for excessive celebration,” O’Connell said.
Read more from Justin Sink at The Hill
Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers is one of Capitol Hill’s better-known faces. She’s vice chairman of the House Republican conference and an ally of Speaker John Boehner. She’s also gaining notice on the airwaves. On Sunday, for example, she appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press, where she sparred with Rachel Maddow and Hilary Rosen.
Outside of the Beltway and her Spokane-area district, McMorris-Rodgers remains, for the most part, a political unknown. But that hasn’t stopped a handful of Republican insiders from citing her as a dark-horse veep contender. “The attention is not surprising,” says GOP consultant Ford O’Connell. “She’s been doing excellent work, speaking on behalf of Romney. But a lot of people would have to fail to meet the mark before she gets the call.”
Other Republican sources generally agree with O’Connell: McMorris-Rodgers is considered a rising star, but she is far from a likely selection.
Read more from Robert Costa at The National Review
In October, Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress ignited a firestorm by calling Mormonism a "cult" and telling Republicans not to vote for Mitt Romney because the presidential aspirant was not a "competent Christian."
Today, Jeffress is endorsing Romney.
He is just one of many evangelical Christian leaders putting aside their suspicion of the former Massachusetts governor, a Mormon, to support him against President Barack Obama ahead of this November's election.
Other leading Christian backers include famous televangelist Joel Osteen, who gave Romney a nod on CNN last week when he said that while he does not see the Mormon faith as "traditional Christianity," he believes Romney subscribes to the Christian faith.
Many ordinary evangelicals have not come out for Romney. But some of their leaders quickly shifted away from previous support of former Republican presidential hopefuls like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich as Romney to become the likely Republican nominee.
In a push to win over evangelicals, Romney will speak at the May 12 commencement of Liberty University, an evangelical school in Virginia. It may be Romney's biggest audience until the Republican nominating convention in August.
"Evangelicals, when ... you have basically approached them and done the right due diligence, they tend to be a little bit like a 'Get out the vote' unit of your own," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said. "It's not just get out the vote, it's spreading the word."
Read more from Patricia Zengerle at Reuters
The world is certainly a better place without Osama bin Laden, thanks in large part to the efforts of America’s military and the decision making of President Obama. That said, if Mitt Romney were running for reelection as president and touted the bin Laden takedown to this degree, the media would flag him 45 yards for excessive celebration.
Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"
As President Obama touts the take down of Bin Laden for re-election purposes, Team Romney has turned to Sen. John McCain to keep the president in line on foreign policy campaign claims. First Read has more:
McCain, now a Romney surrogate, said Obama’s “diminishing the memory of September 11th,” and accused him of “doing a shameless end-zone dance.” It’s a fine line. McCain clearly doesn’t mind playing this role. He says things Romney couldn’t get away with and it’s something that’s quite beneficial to Romney. If Romney said what McCain did, Romney might get ridiculed. It’s an interesting role that McCain is willing to play. It could be a preview of the role McCain might play going forward in the campaign -- traditional role of VP, but on foreign policy. McCain doesn’t mind going personal with Obama, as he’s demonstrated since 2008. You can try to explain away McCain’s motives all you want, but it could be oddly effective for Romney.
Unfortunately my own research at U.S. News And World Report suggests that The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza's findings are close to the mark. More from The Fix:
It’s no secret that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has a narrow path to win the presidency this fall. Nowhere is that reality more apparent than when examining the electoral map on which Romney and President Obama will battle in November.
A detailed analysis of Romney’s various paths to the 270 electoral votes he would need to claim the presidency suggests he has a ceiling of somewhere right around 290 electoral votes.
While Romney’s team would absolutely take a 290-electoral-vote victory, that means he has only 20 electoral votes to play with — a paper-thin margin for error.