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Friday Roundup

President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai exchange documents after signing the strategic partnership agreement at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012.

Each week in the Friday Roundup, Riding the Tiger takes a look at the major news stories of the week involving the presidential election of 2012.

The one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden and President Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan to sign the Strategic Partnership Agreement dominated headlines this week and drew attention to the role of foreign and national security policy in the election. Romney and Obama have started the attacks early and, folks, it ain’t pretty. Romney and Obama sparred over the death of bin Laden. Romney accused President of Obama of using the anniversary to politicize the issue and asserted, “Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.” President Obama retorted by drawing attention to Romney’s remark in 2007:

“It’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”

But President Obama is polling well on national security and so Romney quickly sought to turn attention instead to the economy. Using the April jobs report as fodder, Romney asked the president in an op-ed to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Where are the jobs?” and asserted that President Obama is “out of his depth” when it comes to economic affairs.

In light of Newt Gingrich’s formal announcement that he is bowing out of the race for the presidency, the Obama campaign released an ad using fodder from Gingrich’s campaign to attack Romney. The president also attacked Romney on exported jobs, Swiss bank accounts and women’s issues.

The Obama campaign will officially launch the reelection campaign this Saturday with rallies in two key swing states – Virginia and Ohio. Recent polls show that Obama leads Romney in Virginia by seven points and that Ohio is too close to call. Earlier this week, the Obama campaign revealed its 2012 slogan, “Forward,” at the conclusion of an ad touting the administration’s record of achievements.

On the VEEPwatch front, we’ve essentially entered a casting call for the vice presidency, as Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, who worked for Al Gore’s 2000 campaign, put it. While many candidates have denied they’re interested, several have begun auditioning for the position. Several potential candidates have joined Romney on the campaign trail in the past couple weeks, including Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. And in April, Romney was joined at various points by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Perhaps wanting more attention, Chris Christie this week went further than just campaigning with Romney to outright expressing interest when he told students in a Plainsboro, NJ AP history class that Romney might be able to convince him to be vice president. According to Christie:

“What I’ve said before is I really have no interest in being vice president. But if Gov. Romney called and asked me to sit down and talk to him about it, I’d listen because I think you owe the nominee of your party that level of respect. And who knows what he’s going to say. And he might be able to convince me. He’s a convincing guy.”

As Emily Schultheis at Politico observes, it is remarkable how public the campaign for the vice presidency is this election. And perhaps even more remarkable is that all this jockeying for the position is taking place so early when selection is likely months, not weeks away.

MC Switchboard

On Sunday, April 29, the Miller Center partnered with ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” for the second of six special episodes to examine whether the economic recovery was built to last. This week, we featured scholarly responses to the debate by Julia Ott and Brian Domitrovic.

Join us at the Miller Center next week for two forums featuring experts on two of the most salient issues this election season – healthcare and national security. On Monday, May 7, Eric M. Patashnik will discuss what Americans think about what the American public thinks about the Obama administration’s push for evidence-based medicine. On Wednesday, May 9, Peter Bergen will be here to discuss the ten-year manhunt for Osama bin Laden.

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