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.
Pandermonium. President Obama elaborated on his decision to no longer deport undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children in a Time Magazine op-ed. Meanwhile Romney received mixed reactions after delivering an address to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in which he called for loosening some immigration restrictions, including lifting caps on skilled worker visas and speeding the processing of applications for temporary agricultural work visas. In Arizona, Republican Representatives David Schweikert and Ben Quayle, who are running against each other in one of this year’s more competitive member-vs.-member primaries, each introduced legislation this week that would prohibit implementation of the Obama administration’s plan to stop deporting some illegal immigrants. Meanwhile Obama is reminding various constituents within the Democratic coalition of other accomplishments (contraception, support for gay marriage). In a new TV ad, Obama for America touts the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as the first bill signed by the president after his inauguration.
All the pandering this election season raises the question: Does the candidate or the party matter more? Gary Wills reminded all the “high-minded” voters who say they vote for the candidate and not the party that two are inseparable. According to Wills, “The man being voted for, no matter what he says, dances with the party that brought him, dependent on its support, resources, and clientele… The party has some continuity of commitment, no matter how compromised. What you are really voting for is the party’s constituency.” Jonathan Bernstein quibbled a bit, but mostly agreed that we choose between sets of constituencies. For more in-depth recent political science theorizing on the subject, read this paper.
The Real Candidates. David Maraniss’ new biography, Barack Obama: The Story, challenges the president’s memoir, Dreams of My Father. Maraniss shared excerpts of the book here and Ben Smith has a review of the book that is worth reading here. Meanwhile, the Washington Post profiled Romney’s path to success at Bain Capital. And the New York Times exposed the selective truths both candidates use in the campaigns.
It’s the economy, stupid! According to a new Gallup poll, “Americans become progressively less positive about economic conditions the farther away from home they look. Forty-nine percent rate economic conditions in their local area as excellent or good, but that drops to 25% when rating the U.S. economy, and to 13% when assessing the world as a whole.” Andrew Gelman graphed the partisan breakdown at The Monkey Cage and found that Democrats are more optimistic about the economy than Republicans. Meanwhile, according to a new Pew Research Center poll, Obama leads Romney on eight different character traits. However, Romney has the advantage when it comes to voter beliefs about who would improve economic conditions, and the economy dominates voter concerns.
Executive Privileges. Despite having criticized President George W. Bush for invoking executive privilege, President Obama used the same doctrine for the first time in declining to turn over documents related to the botched gun-running Operation “Fast and Furious” to the House Government and Oversight Committee. Presidency scholar Andrew Rudalevige argued that the move was not out of line with recent presidential history. He concludes it is unlikely that “Congress will be able to extract these documents by legal means – but then, executive privilege is more political than legal. Normally, these disputes are worked out via some sort of bargaining process – the House could hold up appropriations, for instance, to trade for information. But given that the legislative process is not moving anyway, these are not normal times. In this sort of policy vacuum, the president is likely to win – the battle, at least, if not the war.”
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems. “Our Super PACs are our Star Wars:” according to a GOP operative, Romney has adopted a cold war strategy to dramatically outspend Obama. The campaign committees and super PACs supporting them filed their monthly campaign finance reports this week. Obama and the Democratic National Committee reported a combined $139 million cash on hand at the end of May, while Romney and the Republican National Committee had about $78 million. However, it is unclear how much money might be stashed in a joint Romney-RNC fundraising committee, Romney Victory, which doesn’t have to report its cash-on hand until July. Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney super PAC, raised $5 million in May and spent nearly as much on ads, leaving it with $8.4 million in cash. Meanwhile, Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama super PAC, raised $4 million. Ron Paul’s campaign raised $1.8 million.
Ad wars. Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney super PAC, made a $7 million-plus buy on television ads that will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania until June 30. One of the ads airing uses President Obama’s “doing fine” blunder. The Obama campaign has consistently bought more search terms and invested more in online ads than Romney. Glen Kessler gave the Obama campaign’s new anti-Romney ad four Pinocchios.
VEEPwatch. Ron Paul supporters could create convention chaos by using an RNC rule to force a roll call vote on Romney’s veep choice, according to Jon Ward. Larry Sabato said to expect a plain vanilla ticket. His top three veep selection predictions (in order of ranking) are Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty and John Thune. Some veep hopefuls will join Romney, Karl Rove and high-end party donors at a posh retreat in Utah this weekend. After a Romney campaign advisor said Florida Senator Marco Rubio is not being seriously vetted for the number two position, Romney himself said he is being fully vetted.
June 21 marked the anniversary of Mississippi Burning murders in 1964. Check out the Miller Center’s online exhibit featuring perspectives from the LBJ tapes.