Tales from the Trail

Republicans accuse Obama campaign of “dishonest cover-up”

The RNC is out with a new video accusing President Obama’s re-election team of covering up an attempt to pressure Newark Mayor Cory Booker into walking back his critique of their campaign tactics.

On Sunday, Booker told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he was “very uncomfortable with” some of the attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, a strategy he said he found “nauseating.” Within hours, Booker released a video on his YouTube page revising his remarks. “Mitt Romney has made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign,” he says in the video. “And therefore it is reasonable — and in fact I encourage it — for the Obama campaign to examine that record and discuss it.”

Today’s RNC video, titled “Dishonest Attacks, Dishonest Cover-up,” shows a clip of Obama campaign Press Secretary Ben LaBolt claiming that Booker was not asked to backtrack on his remarks, followed by a clip of Booker affirming that he had communicated with members of Obama’s campaign team after his “Meet the Press” interview.

Asked on CNN yesterday whether anyone in the Obama campaign “reached out to fix this,” LaBolt said Booker “released that video of his own volition…the campaign did not ask him to do so.”

A few hours later, Booker went on TV and explained that he had indeed spoken to Team Obama — although he didn’t say they explicitly asked him to “expand” on his comments:

Chris Christie, Cory Booker do sketch comedy for Jersey press corps

New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, and Newark’s Democratic mayor, Cory Booker, joined forces for a comic video they debuted last night at the New Jersey Press Association’s annual Legislative Correspondents Club Show.

The skit plays on Booker’s reputation for valiance (thanks to his famed rescue of a neighbor from fire and for shoveling snow for Newark residents), with Booker edging out Christie on one heroic good deed after another. “Booker!” grumbles Christie each time, echoing Jerry Seinfeld’s aggrieved “Newman!” But there’s one act of heroism only Christie, in the video, can do: join Romney as running mate.

Watch, via Christie’s YouTube page:

RNC posts 2004 video of Obama calling the deficit under Bush “an enormous problem”

As Republicans this week extend their attacks on President Obama for the increasing federal debt, the RNC’s “rapid response” team has dredged up old video of then-Senate candidate Obama elaborating his views about the federal deficit during a 2004 debate.

In the course of his response to a moderator’s question about the “monstrous federal deficit,” Obama says it’s “an enormous problem” brought about by the Bush White House, which he calls “the most fiscally irresponsible administration in certainly my memory.”

“We have gone from trillion-dollar surpluses to trillion-dollar deficits in the blink of an eye,” Obama said. “Not all of those costs are the fault of the administration — obviously, 9/11 occurred and the decline in the economy. But what is also true is that it was aided and abetted by a set of fiscal policies that I think were on the wrong course.”

Super PAC hits Romney on steel mill record

The super PAC supporting Democratic incumbent Barack Obama announced on Tuesday a multimillion dollar battleground television advertisement and accompanying website attacking Mitt Romney for what it sees as a slash and burn style of capitalism practiced by the former private equity executive while at the helm of Bain Capital.

The roughly one-minute ad, launched the day after the Obama campaign hit Mitt Romney’s record at Bain, is the first in a series of the campaign ads that will run on television and online in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to a release from the organization, Priorities USA Action, run by former White House aide Bill Burton.

It features Pat Wells, a former steelworker at GS Steel, the target of a Bain leveraged buyout that Reuters highlighted in a special report in January. The super PAC’s video, and the Obama campaign video from yesterday, argue that Romney practiced a brand of corporate raiding that helped wealthy investors at the expense of workers.

After gay marriage shift, high profile Romney backer switches to Obama

An openly gay, big-dollar donor to Mitt Romney’s campaign is asking for his money back after Vice President Joe Biden followed by President Barack Obama – embraced gay marriage, the New York consultant told Reuters on Monday.

“When I heard Biden say he was comfortable with men marrying men I almost fell off my chair,” said Bill White, 42, a registered independent who has supported politicians across the political spectrum, including both President Bushes and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and who maxed out during the Republican primary for Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor.

“These guys are on the right side of history,” said White, who was married to Joseph Bryan Eure in October 2011, a wedding that was officiated by David Boies, a lawyer who defended gay marriage equality in California, and attended by — disclaimer — Thomson Reuters senior executives. Soul singer Aretha Franklin performed at the wedding, the first legal gay marriage ceremony at the Four Seasons hotel, the New York Daily News reported.

Obama compromised by Wall Street contributions, conservative group alleges

President Obama is too closely tied to Wall Street, claims a new web video that takes the tone of Occupy Wall Street, though it was produced by a conservative group.

The video, released by the American Future Fund, an Iowa-based organization designed to be “a voice for conservative principles” and “free market ideals,” alleges that raising tens of millions of dollars from Wall Street gave Obama reason to let (presumably culpable) Wall Street executives off easy:

“Nearly four years after America’s financial collapse, not a single senior Wall Street executive has been charged with a crime. Not one. Why? Could it be because Obama raised $49 million from Wall Street – more than any candidate in history? He rewarded top Wall Street donors and supporters with senior jobs. His chief of staff made millions from Wall Street — after Wall Street received billions in bailout money.”

Obama, Romney celebrate tough, compassionate mothers

In two Mother’s Day videos posted to their respective websites, the campaigns working to re-elect President Barack Obama and his likely Republican adversary Mitt Romney packaged the top women in their ranks as strong-willed but compassionate moms who played outsized roles in raising the children of the men vying for the job as leader of the free world come November.

The Romney campaign reprised family videos to highlight the household challenges faced by Ann Romney, who as a tough, doting mother grappled with five rambunctious boys — as well as multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. Ann compassionately disciplined the perceptually quarreling Tagg and Matt, the video notes, and served pancakes to Ben, who needed to be fattened up.

“She is an authentic person,” Tagg says in the video. “You know who she is when you meet her. She doesn’t put on airs. She doesn’t try to be something she’s not. She doesn’t try to measure what she is going to say to gauge how you are going to react. She just says what she thinks.”

The strange vogue in dumping U.S. citizenship

In 2005, a CUNY political science professor named Stanley Renshon compared citizenship without emotional attachment to “the civic equivalent of a one-night stand.”

Michele Bachmann’s fling with Switzerland lasted just 53 days – barely two of them public – before she came running back to Uncle Sam. That was right before Facebook’s co-founder Eduardo Saverin was found to have called it all off with the U.S, possibly for tax reasons.

Bachmann, who came out as Swiss to Politico on Tuesday, made headlines for deciding to split her allegiances – if only on paper – with a gay-friendly, abortion-happy Western European country. Her temporary Swissness made a farce of her fiery patriotic rhetoric, and added a cosmopolitan edge to her down-home image – an image she was counting on for her constituents to vote her back into office this coming term.

“Mitt Gets Worse” on gay rights, pro-Obama video alleges

Pro-Obama super PAC American Bridge has released a new web video outlining Mitt Romney’s various, and potentially incendiary, comments on a spectrum of gay-rights issues — marriage, child rearing, bullying — at different moments in his political career. “The more we learn about Mitt Romney’s attitude toward LGBT people, the worse it gets,” the ad declares.

The video — titled “Mitt Gets Worse,” presumably a play on the “It Gets Better” video project for LGBT youth — shows the presidential candidate repeatedly disavowing same-sex marriage, first as governor of Massachusetts (“Marriage in one state affects all of the states and therefore we have to have a federal standard that says marriage in this country is a relationship between one man and one woman,” he tells an audience) and, later, as a presidential candidate (“Calling it marriage creates a whole host of problems…three thousand years of human history shouldn’t be discarded so quickly”).

Romney’s concerns about the impact of same-sex marriage on “the development of children” are also highlighted: “The consequences of gay marriage fall far beyond just the relationship between a man and woman — they also relate to our kids,” he’s shown saying in one clip. “The development of a child in the history of civilization has been enhanced by the opportunity to learn from the gender characteristics of a mother and a father,” he says in another, although he doesn’t specify which “gender characteristics” he means.

New Obama ads highlight auto bailout, claim moderate recovery

President Obama’s re-election campaign on Thursday released three television ads — two focusing on the auto bailout and a third noting moderate economic improvements since Obama took office — all part of the campaign’s $25 million May marketing blitz.

The ads were a follow-up to what the campaign’s senior adviser David Axelrod called a “foundational” ad called “Go,” airing across nine battleground states and painting a portrait of an America on the economic mend, safer without Osama bin Laden, and relieved that its troops are finally home from Iraq. A nation whose Democratic incumbent simply needs more time.

“Different communities have different interests, or come at some of these issues in different ways, and we want to make sure that we’re getting to them information that is most germane and most relevant,” Axelrod, a former White House aide, said on a recent call with reporters.