Tales from the Trail

Obama campaign TV spot hits Romney as governor

As President Barack Obama and presumptive nominee Mitt Romney hit up big-money donors on both coasts on Monday, their respective allies waged a public relations blitz to deride each other’s message.

The Obama campaign announced a television advertisement, which can be viewed here, that slammed Romney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts, saying he cut taxes for millionaires, outsourced call center jobs to India, and left the state saddled with debt.

The ad, called “Heard it Before,” cost the campaign approximately $10 million, and is on the air in nine battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, the campaign said.

“By almost every measure Governor Romney’s jobs record in Massachusetts was undistinguished and yet he positions himself as a job creator,” said Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod in a conference call with reporters to discuss the ad.

Axelrod said the Romney campaign exhibits “breathtaking hypocrisy” when it criticizes Obama for net job losses since he took office and then seeks to exclude from scrutiny early portions of Romney’s gubernatorial record because he inherited a tough economic situation. “We are going to hold him to the same standard they’ve held us,” Axelrod said.

Santorum staffer questions whether God wants women presidents

A staffer in Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign is under fire for an email suggesting a female commander-in-chief could be at odds with the Bible’s teachings.

The Des Moines Register last week reported that Santorum’s Iowa coalitions director, Jamie Johnson, sent an email over the summer asking, ‘Is it God’s highest desire, that is, his biblically expressed will … to have a woman rule the institutions of the family, the church, and the state?”

Michele Bachmann, a social conservative who campaigned heavily in Iowa, competed with Santorum over the conservative evangelical vote in the Iowa caucuses. She dropped out of the race after a dismal finish in the Iowa race.

Ron Paul attacks Gingrich and Romney in new ad

Republican Ron Paul has unveiled a hard-hitting new attack ad in Iowa and New Hampshire. As violins play anxiously in the background and washed-out images of the Capitol and other Washington landmarks flash across the screen, a voice-over warns that the “Washington machine” is “strangling” the American economy.

The implication: Washington is a conspiracy of insider politicians — politicians like Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney — working against the people.

“Serial hypocrites and flip-floppers can’t clean up the mess,” the narrator says ominously, as images of Gingrich and Romney flash on the screen. “Ron Paul,” the voice says in closing, is “the one we’ve been looking for.”

Romney casts “Virginia” Gingrich as Lucille Ball

Republican White House hopeful Newt Gingrich has termed his failure to make it onto the presidential primary ballot in Virginia, the state where he lives and is leading in the polls, in pretty grandiose terms, comparing the weekend events to Pearl Harbor. That allowed rival Mitt Romney to get off a zinger on Monday as he prepared to leave the friendly confines of New Hampshire for three days of tough campaigning in Iowa.

On Saturday, Gingrich’s national campaign director Michael Krull put out a statement after his candidate was knocked off the Virginia ballot for failing to garner enough verifiable signatures from residents: “Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941: We have experienced an unexpected setback, but we will re-group and re-focus with increased determination, commitment and positive action,” Krull said on Facebook.

Campaigning at a lobster-and-chowder shack in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Romney was asked about Gingrich’s ballot woes. “I think he compared that to Pearl Harbor. It’s more like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory,” Romney said to laughter, evoking a classic scene from U.S. television history. The 1952 episode of “I Love Lucy” had the red-headed comedian and her BFF Ethel trying to hold down jobs at a candy factory while their husbands subbed in to do the housework. Ineptitude, and hilarity, ensues.

Biden, Romney spar over economic policy

By Eric Johnson

CHICAGO — Vice President Joe Biden, in his first public criticism of a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, criticized Mitt Romney’s economic policies in an opinion piece in Iowa’s biggest newspaper on Friday.

“Romney appears satisfied to settle for an economy in which fewer people succeed, while the majority of Americans are left to tread water or fall behind,” Biden wrote in the Des Moines Register, which last week endorsed Romney for the Republican nomination.

In the piece, Biden laid out his working-class background — which the Obama campaign will tout in rust-belt swing states in 2012 — and said he and Obama were champions of equal opportunity for all, not an entitlement society, as Romney alleged.

Door-knocking Romney reprises missionary days

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney could be excused for having flashbacks to the 1960s when he went door to door in Berlin, New Hampshire, on Thursday.

The former Massachusetts governor worked in France as a Mormon missionary from 1966 to 1968, one of the church’s thousands of earnest young men (mostly) who knock on doors and proselytize. At that point Romney had plenty of doors slammed in his face, but on Thursday, not so much.

“This is a lot easier,” Romney quipped to Reuters. “People speak English. They wish you Merry Christmas. They don’t think you’re a salesman. People used to come to the door [in France] and wag their fingers: ‘No, I don’t want anything.’”

New DNC ad questions Romney’s claim that “any president would have” killed bin Laden

In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Saturday, Mitt Romney said he was “delighted” that President Obama “gave the order to take out Osama bin Laden.” It was something, Romney told Wallace, “any president would have done.”

Not so, according to a new ad from the Democratic National Committee. The video compiles praise from prominent conservatives, all of whom commend Obama for bin Laden’s death.

“I worked with a lot of these guys, and this is one of the most courageous calls, decisions, that I think I’ve ever seen a president make,” says former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Ron Paul quits CNN interview after questions about racist newsletters

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul abruptly ended an interview with CNN’s Gloria Borger yesterday after she asked him about racist newsletters published under his name in the 1980s and 1990s.

When Borger questioned Paul about profit he reportedly made from the newsletters, some of which contained prejudiced statements about African Americans and conspiracy theories about AIDS, Paul protested that he “never read that stuff.”

“I was probably aware of it ten years after it was written,” he said. “It’s been going on 20 years that people have pestered me about this and CNN does it every single time. So when are you going to wear yourself out?”

Colbert’s not giving up on S.C. primary

 

Comedian Stephen Colbert has not given up on the primary in South Carolina.

The cable television talk show host tried and failed to get on the ballot to run in his home state’s primary back in 2008. This year, he has been offering to buy naming rights for the Jan. 21 primary, first by negotiating with the South Carolina Republican Party, then the state Democrats, and now by offering to have his Super PAC cover a $500,000 shortfall that South Carolina counties face in paying for the vote. 

“The counties need the money, and Colbert Super PAC wants to give it to you; call it a Christmas Miracle. I’ve already filled out the check, and to prove it’s no joke, I’ve written ‘No Joke’ in the memo line. I’m going to be home in South Carolina over the holidays, so just give me a call. Both state parties have my contact info,” he wrote in an editorial in South Carolina’s “The State” newspaper on Thursday.

“Let’s put this late unpleasantness behind us and, in 2012, hold the greatest primary of all time.”

Battered by negative ads, Gingrich calls for Republican truce


A still from “Selling Access,” a recent ad released by the Ron Paul campaign.

Newt Gingrich is waving a white flag in the ad wars. As the most recent Republican frontrunner, he’s become the target of attacks from Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and the the pro-Romney group Restore Our Future.

Many of the attacks have focused on Gingrich’s consulting work for Freddie Mac in the run up to the financial crisis and the collapse of the housing market. Today his campaign announced a petition urging Republicans to stop attacking each other–and presumably to stop bringing up his work for Freddie.