It’s the economy, stupid. According to the monthly Labor Department report, the economy added 80,000 jobs in June, but unemployment remained at 8.2 percent. Mitt Romney seized upon the new report to attack President Barack Obama’s economic record. Nate Silver added an economic index to his election forecast model. He noted:
The historical evidence is robust enough to say that economic performance almost certainly matters at least somewhat, and that poorer economic performance tends to hurt the incumbent party’s presidential candidate. Likewise, it seems clear that the trend in performance matters more than the absolute level.
Healthcare. Mitt Romney said Wednesday that the individual mandate is “a tax,” contradicting a statement made by his senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom on Monday in which he said the former Massachusetts governor rejected the court’s characterization and believed that the individual mandate was a penalty. Seven states with Republican governors have given a flat ‘no’ to the Medicaid expansion since the Supreme Court ruling and another eight are leaning towards rejection, striking a blow to President Obama’s promise of expanded coverage, according to The Hill. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds American attitudes are split down the middle on the court ruling, with 43 percent holding favorable impressions of the ruling, and 42 percent holding unfavorable ones. The poll also finds a partisan split in attitudes with 80 percent of Democrats holding favorable views of President Obama’s plans for health care. Meanwhile 62 percent of Republicans have positive views of Mitt Romney’s ideas. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll also finds the public split at 41 percent favorable, 41 percent unfavorable, and 18 percent undecided. It also demonstrates a partisan divide.
Potpourri. A Wall Street Journal editorial outlining Romney’s hesitance to detail his policies from healthcare to immigration and other policies with any specificity is letting down Republicans. According to the WSJ:
All of these attacks were predictable, in particular because they go to the heart of Mr. Romney’s main campaign theme — that he can create jobs as President because he is a successful businessman and manager. But candidates who live by biography typically lose by it. See President John Kerry.
The biography that voters care about is their own, and they want to know how a candidate is going to improve their future. That means offering a larger economic narrative and vision than Mr. Romney has so far provided. It means pointing out the differences with specificity on higher taxes, government-run health care, punitive regulation, and the waste of politically-driven government spending.
Meanwhile Ann Romney told CBS News she worries that President Obama's entire campaign strategy is "kill Romney."
What would a second term for President Obama look like? One of the most important policy issues he could address is climate change. He might also champion immigration reform and address a more robust aid agenda for developing countries. According to Ryan Lizza:
If Obama aims to leave a legislative mark in his second term, he’ll need two things: a sense of humility, and a revitalized faction of Republican lawmakers willing to make deals with the President. Given the polarized environment and the likelihood of a closely divided Congress, it seems more implausible to suppose that Obama would turn radical in his second term than that he would cool to his Democratic base.
Campaign spending. According to new Federal Elections Commission calculations, presidential candidates raised and spent about half as much money through the first quarter of 2012 as they did in 2008. The lower spending resulted from the lack of a Democratic Party primary fight, which shattered spending records in 2008. However, Congressional candidates are spending more than they did in 2008: some 1,600 House and Senate candidates raised a combined $884.6 million as of March 31, compared with $685.9 million in 2008. The Romney campaign, along with its Romney Victory fund and the Republican National Committee, raised more than $100 million in June, according to Politico. The Republican Governor’s Association raised $16.7 million during the second quarter of the year and the Democratic Governor’s Association brought in $13 million.
Ad Wars. According to the New York Times, President Obama’s attack strategy is working. Who’s running the ads and where? Check out this NYT graphic. The Obama campaign seized on a Vanity Article investigating Romney’s offshore accounts and an AP story reporting that Romney transferred ownership of a Bermuda corporation to his wife one day before he was sworn in as Governor of Massachusetts in 2003 with a new online video. Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney Super PAC, is set to spend $7.2 million on ads to air in key states during the Olympics. American Crossroads, the Republican Super PAC, is attacking President Obama in key states for increasing “taxes on struggling families” following the Supreme Court’s healthcare ruling.
VEEPwatch. Two top-tier vice presidential contenders — former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — are following President Obama’s Ohio and Pennsylvania bus tour with their own rapid response “middle class promise gap”. The NYT profiled Romney’s potential running mates. New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte marched alongside Romney in the Wolfeboro Fourth of July parade.
On July 6, 1945, President Harry Truman signed an order creating the Medal of Freedom. Check out our earlier RTT post on the Reagan administration’s Medal of Freedom nominating and clearing process.