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.
Vox Populi. The Real Clear Politics average for May 9-30 shows President Barack Obama polling +2.3. According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, 41 percent of Americans express positive views of Mitt Romney compared to 52 percent for President Barack Obama. But, Republican women are rallying to Romney now that other party candidates have dropped out. Obama and Romney are in a dead heat in three swing states – Iowa, Nevada and Colorado – according to a new Marist-NBC poll. Marco Rubio predicted that Latino voters will align with Romney as they learn more about the economic differences between the candidates. According to a new Gallup poll, Romney now enjoys a 24-point lead over Obama among Veterans. Larry Sabato keenly observes that rather than try to predict the winner based on presidential polling in June, we might as well flip a coin.
It’s the economy, stupid! Romney went on the offensive after clinching the nomination on Tuesday. He went after President Obama’s economic policies on Thursday with a campaign stop at the closed Solyndra facility, calling it a “symbol of failure.” Romney also attacked Obama’s job creation record in a coal mining community in Colorado. Meanwhile Democratic leaders across the country say they are largely united behind the Obama campaign’s strategy to go after Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital. On Thursday, David Axelrod attempted to go after Romney’s “economic philosophy and his failed economic record in Massachusetts” at an event in Boston, but was drowned out by Romney supporters. Ann Romney said she “completely” supports “90 percent of where Mitt is.” (This week Mrs. Romney also got a new press secretary, Sarah Haley, who previous served as the Santorum campaign’s national coalitions director.) Meanwhile, former first lady Nancy Reagan endorsed Romney and said her husband would have liked his business background and strong principles.
Foreign and National Security Policy. The New York Times examined President Obama’s oversight of the war on al Qaeda conducted out of view from public scrutiny, and his secret "kill list" of terrorist suspects. Beginning from his first months in office, the Times also reported today that President Obama ordered increased cyber attacks against computers in Iran’s nuclear facilities. The New York Times also examined why the Republican foreign policy establishment has been slow to embrace Romney, namely because of an unease over his aggressive statements on trade policy with China, his hard line toward Russia and his opposition to a new missile treaty. This week, Mitt Romney gave Obama an “F” on foreign policy during an interview on CBS News. He also condemned President Obama’s policy toward Syria, calling it a “policy of paralysis” that has allowed President Bashar al-Assad to “slaughter 10,000 individuals.” Romney also criticized the president, without mentioning him by name, for cutting military spending during a Memorial Day tribute in San Diego. Obama’s Memorial Day speech, meanwhile, touched on his military policy accomplishments and announced an ambitious plan to commemorate Vietnam War veterans. Neither Romney nor Obama has served in the military.
Political Humor. Former President George W. Bush returned to the White House for the unveiling of a portrait of himself and Lara Bush. President Obama praised his predecessor for his resolve after 9/11. Meanwhile, Bush stole the spotlight with a joke:
I am also pleased, Mr. President, that when you are wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you will now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask: What would George do?
Ad Wars. The Chamber of Commerce, which plans to spend more than $50 million in the 2012 election cycle, will directly support or oppose candidates in its ads so that it will not have to disclose donors and thus avoid a federal court ruling issued earlier. The Romney campaign is going after failed stimulus projects in a new ad called “Not Even Half.” Both the Obama and Romney campaigns are now microtargeting voters online. Those who visit the campaign websites are likely to see campaign ads when browsing elsewhere.
VEEPstakes. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says she has no desire to be number 2, but her “preference would be Bobby Jindal or Condi Rice.” Former Secretary of State Condi Rice endorsed Romney this week and called him a leader who “understands how really exceptional the United States of America is, and is not afraid to lead on the basis of that exceptionalism.” Jeb Bush will not be a running mate candidate. Michael Gerson opines that Chris Christie has veep skills: he “could provide an infusion of blue-collar combativeness” and “represent a move to the ideological center.” Mike Huckabee, however, said Romney should pick Marco Rubio. Ohio Senator Rob Portman went on a trip to Israel and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While there, Portman said voters aren’t looking for “pizzazz and pop” in a veep pick.
Super PACs. Super PAC donors are pushing back on public criticism of their six- and seven-figure donations and say ‘quit picking on us.’ Even though his campaign was bankrolled by Super PAC funding, Newt Gingrich lamented the role of outside groups. Gingrich told MSNBC that the Super PAC ad wars are “going to be a mess and people are going to be sick of it and it’s really unfortunate. It’s not the way a great nation should govern itself.”
Total Recall. Speaking about the significance of the upcoming recall election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walkter, RNC Chairman and Wisconsinite Reince Priebus said on Wednesday, ”Certainly [if] Wisconsin goes red, I think it’s lights out for Barack Obama.”
Former Alabama congressman Artur Davis, who helped put Obama’s name in nomination for the presidency in 2008, switched to the GOP, said he will vote for Romney in November and is changing his residency to Virginia with an eye toward running for political office.
Ron Paul supporters are planning a three-day festival leading up to the Republican National Convention, called “Paul Festival,” and are expecting up to 20,000 attendees.
Former Louisiana governor and long-shot presidential candidate Buddy Roehmer suspended his campaign and said: “Today, I am no longer a candidate for President of the United States. After 17 months of a wonderful campaign, the lack of ballot access in all 50 states makes the quest impossible for now. … We ran like we would serve – Free to Lead. To protect that freedom, we fully disclosed every contribution. We accepted no contributions above $100. We accepted no PAC money, no Super PAC money, no corporate money, and no lobbyist money.
In Memorium. Bill Miller (1926-2012), a longtime Miller Center colleague, passed away this week. His scholarship on Lincoln in particular is widely acclaimed, with Lincoln's Virtues and The Duty of a Statesman drawing substantial praise. Watch Miller speak about “Lincoln as War President” or “From Lincoln to Obama” at the Miller Center Forum.
The government released its monthly jobs report this morning that found U.S. employers added just 69,000 jobs in May – the fewest in a year – with unemployment rising slightly to 8.2 percent. To mark Jobs Day, we leave you this “Cap the Knife” clip from the Miller Center archives. In the clip, President Richard Nixon makes it perfectly clear to Caspar Weinberger, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, that he is to spend money on creating jobs and bringing down the unemployment rate from around 6.2 percent, regardless of the impact on inflation or the budget.