Pro-Obama super PAC American Bridge 21st Century has released opposition research books on five of Romney’s most likely VP choices, and the messaging is as predictable as you’d expect. Rob Portman’s file ties him to Bush’s economic policies, Tim Pawlenty’s rehashes his anti-Romney attacks during the primaries, Marco Rubio’s targets his autobiographical errors, Bobby Jindal’s hits him about tax cuts for the wealthy, and Paul Ryan’s is one long Mediscare attack. And that’s just the beginning; the booklets are hundreds of pages long and cover everything from the candidates’ statements about contentious social issues to their remarks on the Ryan plan, and (in Rubio’s and Pawlenty’s cases) an entire section on their “neoconservatism.”
Democrats obviously have attack plans lined up for each of them, so there’s no such thing as a completely “safe” pick. Not that it matters — as we’ve seen from the disgraceful Priorities USA ad, if the Obama campaign runs out of attacks, their backers have no problem just making things up.
We’re several days into the controversy about the Priorities USA steelworker ad, and the Obama campaign has repeatedly declined to condemn it. Campaign staffers have said they don’t know enough about Joe Soptic’s story to comment (even though they organized a conference call for Soptic to share the same story with reporters in May). They’ve also argued that the ad is being run by a super PAC that’s unconnected to the campaign, and therefore Obama has no responsibility for it.
Would the Obama campaign have bought the same excuse from its opponents? Of course not — in fact, the campaign has previously demanded that its opponents denounce sleazy attacks from outside supporting groups.
I’ve written before about the potential for a “November surprise” if the sequestration threat doesn’t get resolved before the election. The automatic cuts to the defense budget are set to go into effect on January 2, 2013, and federal law under the WARN Act required employers to give workers a minimum of 60 days notice before potential mass layoffs. That means layoff warning notices could go out to hundreds of thousands of workers just days before the presidential election.
Naturally, this poses some problems for the Obama campaign. Enter the Department of Labor, which released new guidelines this week telling states that it would be “inappropriate” to give workers 60 days advance notice in this situation, and basically asking them to ignore the employee protection laws under the WARN Act:
Although it is currently known that sequestration may occur, it is also known that efforts are being made to avoid sequestration. Thus, even the occurrence of sequestration is not necessarily foreseeable. In addition, the sequester’s impact on particular accounts will depend at least in part on Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 funding that Congress has not yet enacted. Perhaps more importantly, Federal agencies also have some discretion in how to implement the required reductions if sequestration were to occur. …
For these reasons, in the context of prospective across-the-board budget cuts under the BBEDCA, as amended by the BCA, WARN Act notice to employees of Federal contractors, including in the defense industry, is not required 60 days in advance of January 2, 2013, and would be inappropriate, given the lack of certainty about how the budget cuts will be implemented and the possibility that the sequester will be avoided before January.
Conservative pro-Israel groups are preparing for a massive assault on President Obama’s Israel record that will dwarf any similar efforts from four years ago. But this time around, Obama won’t have support from his top Israel surrogate, Dennis Ross, a trusted face in the Democratic pro-Israel community who stumped at synagogues and helped calm Jewish voters in 2008. Eli Lake reports:
“I am the counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy,” [Dennis] Ross said in an email on Friday. “The Washington Institute is a non-profit organization and I cannot do political work from here. When I acted for the campaign in 2008, I had to take a leave of absence to do so. Having only recently returned to the Institute, I cannot now again take a leave of absence.” …
Ross himself said, “I can give substantive advice to the administration, the president’s campaign, or any campaign that would ask for it. And, of course, when I speak I can talk about my views on policy and I have been supportive of the president’s policy on leading foreign policy issues.”
On Monday, President Obama slammed Mitt Romney’s economic plan before an Ohio audience: “By eliminating taxes on corporations’ foreign income,” said Obama, “Governor Romney’s plan would actually encourage companies to shift more of their operations to foreign tax havens, creating 800,000 jobs in those other countries.”
Forget the campaign implications and forget the fact-check analysis. Simply take Obama’s accusation at face value. He is acknowledging—no, trumpeting—that cutting corporate taxes creates jobs. Eight hundred thousand of them.
Based on all the sensational headlines last weekend, you might think there was actually a new break in the Bain Capital timeline story. The Huffington Post has: “Ed Gillespie: Mitt Romney Retired Retroactively From Bain.” MSNBC has: “Former Bain Capital partner says Romney was ‘legally’ CEO of Bain Capital Until 2002.”
Retired retroactively? Legally CEO? Sounds scandalous, but there’s nothing new when you get past the headlines. The New York Timesreport today concludes the exact same thing media fact checkers and the Romney campaign have been saying since January — Romney de facto left Bain in 1999, when he went to run the Olympics. His name remained on the SEC forms until the company a.) established that he wouldn’t return to a management role after the Olympics ended, b.) transitioned to a new ownership structure:
Indeed, no evidence has yet emerged that Mr. Romney exercised his powers at Bain after February 1999 or directed the funds’ investments after he left, although his campaign has declined to say if he attended any meetings or had any other contact with Bain during the period. And financial disclosures filed with the Massachusetts ethics commission show that he drew at least $100,000 in 2001 from Bain Capital Inc. — effectively his own till — as a “former executive” and from other Bain entities as a passive general partner.
An offering memorandum to investors in Bain’s seventh private equity fund that was circulated in June 2000 also suggests that Mr. Romney was no longer actively involved in managing firm investments at the time. The memorandum, first published by Fortune, provides background on the “senior private equity investment professionals of Bain Capital.” Eighteen managers are listed; Mr. Romney is not among them.
On another filing with Massachusetts officials, Bain Capital listed all of Bain’s directors and officers for 2001. The form lists Michael F. Goss as “president, managing director and chief financial officer,” along with seventeen other managing directors. Mr. Romney is not among them, suggesting that while he still owned Bain’s management company, he was not an officer of the company.
The first time I watched this, I thought it was just Obama trying to fudge his way out of a difficult question, the way people tend to spin the “what’s your biggest weakness?” answer during job interviews. (Nobody’s buying that claim you’re “sometimes too much of a team player.”)
But after watching a second time, I’m now wondering whether Obama actually believes his own fables. His political team is notoriously insular, and the cult of personality surrounding him would tell him that his biggest problem is he just hasn’t explained his policies to the American people well enough, goshdarnit. The scary news is Obama may truly be as out-of-touch as he appears in this CBS News interview:
According to a new poll for The Hill, two-thirds of likely voters say President Obama has kept his 2008 campaign promise to change America—but it’s changed for the worse.
The survey found 56 percent of likely voters believe Obama’s first term has transformed the nation in a negative way, compared to 35 percent who believe the country has changed for the better under his leadership.
As one would expect, the belief that the president has changed the country for the worse is strongest among Republicans (91 percent). Somewhat surprisingly, only 71 percent of Democrats believe Obama has changed things for the better. I say that because a strikingly high number of Democrats—one in five—are willing to admit they believe Obama has changed the United States for the worse.
In case you couldn’t tell from the dozens of Obama campaign emails you get each week begging for $3 contributions, or donations in lieu of wedding gifts, the president’s reelection team is apparently nervous about its money game. Exhibit B: The Daily Beast obtained a recording of a frantic 18-minute fundraising solicitation made by President Obama during a donor conference call on Air Force One:
The president’s 18-minute pleading—a recording of which was provided to The Daily Beast by an Obama contributor—hardly sounded like a man doing a victory lap after Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding ObamaCare, as the Affordable Care Act has come to be known. Or, for that matter, like a candidate who has been beating his Republican opponent in recent polls of key battleground states.
Rather, Obama sounded like a dog-tired idealist forced to grapple painfully with hard reality. “In 2008 everything was new and exciting about our campaign,” Obama said. “And now I’m the incumbent president. I’ve got gray hair. People have seen disappointment because folks had a vision of change happening immediately. And it turns out change is hard, especially when you’ve got an obstructionist Republican Congress.”