Tales from the Trail

Obama campaign reaches out in hard-fought states

By Eric Johnson

CHICAGO – U.S. President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, which has already proven its fund-raising prowess on its own behalf, is sharing the wealth. The campaign launched a joint fundraising committee to benefit the Democratic Party in the all-important “swing states,” where voting is expected to be close next year, and costs are expected to be high.

The new “Swing State Victory Fund” is the campaign’s second joint account, according to the Federal Election Commission. The fund will help the campaign and state parties in battleground states to fill their coffers as they push to elect. The states connected with the joint account are: Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

An individual could contribute a maximum of $10,000 to each state party per calendar year, in addition to the $2,500 maximum that can be donated to a candidate during the primary and the general election seasons, respectively, according to the FEC.

“It benefits state parties that will support the president and Democrats on the ticket,” a campaign official said in an emailed statement.

Obama campaign fundraisers so far this election cycle have benefited the Obama Victory Fund, a separate joint fundraising account shared by the campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Together, they have raised more than $150 million, far outstripping the Republicans vying for the nomination to run against Obama as he seeks re-election next year.

“I am a serious candidate,” Michele Bachmann says


Bachmann answers questions in front of her bus before the start of her 99 county tour of Iowa in Sioux City, Iowa, December 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

SIOUX CITY – Michele Bachmann wants some respect, especially from Newt Gingrich.

For two days in a row the sole woman in the Republican presidential campaign has demanded that she be respected as a serious candidate for president.

Gingrich faces down protests at brain science event

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich defended himself against attacks from his rivals on Wednesday when he ran into a sustained protest at what was supposed to be a low-key event about the human brain.

Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is trying to hang on to a lead in Iowa to score a victory in the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses, the first U.S. nominating contest in the Republican race to choose a 2012 presidential candidate.

But to do it he will have to overcome sustained negative ads and daily attacks from his rivals, such as a comment Mitt Romney made to The New York Times on Wednesday calling him “zany.”

Romney identified as ‘progressive’ in 2002 interview

YouTube just has no love for Mitt Romney. In a newly surfaced video circulating online, Romney is shown telling a television reporter during his 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor that he sees himself as “moderate” and “progressive” — labels most candidates in this year’s Republican primary have tried to avoid. At least one of Romney’s rivals, Jon Huntsman — whom many consider to be the only other moderate in the Republican race — is sending the video to reporters.

In the clip, Romney is shown telling a reporter:

“I think people recognize that I’m not a partisan Republican, that I’m someone who is moderate and my views are progressive, and that I’m going to go to work for our senior citizens, for people that have been left behind, for urban schools that are not doing the right job, and so they’re going to vote for me regardless of the party label.”

Here’s the video; Romney’s comments begin at the 0:40 mark:

YouTube Preview Image

Credit: Akaczynski1/YouTube

No jump start for Perry campaign in New Hampshire

The wheels on Rick Perry’s bus will go round and round Iowa, where he’ll make 49 stops between now and the Jan. 3 Republican presidential caucus, his campaign announced last night.

Missing from his schedule are any stops in New Hampshire or South Carolina — the two states Perry visited in August to announce his run — which will vote on Jan. 10 and Jan. 21, respectively.

The one-time Republican frontrunner had invested substantial time in both states, making 25 campaign appearances in 11 days in New Hampshire and 21 stops over nine days in South Carolina since announcing his bid, according to data compiled by the Washington Post.

Romney uses Mormon faith to deflect attention from wealth

Romney rarely has spoken about his religion during the primary campaign, conscious perhaps of polls showing that as many as half of white evangelicals believe the Mormon religion is not a Christian faith. In one of the few times he has highlighted his church, he made Rick Perry seem intolerant for refusing to disavow Pastor Robert Jeffress’s assertion that Mormonism is a “cult.”

Now Romney is talking about Mormonism in order to head off the perception that he’s an out-of-touch rich guy  — a view reinforced by his attempt to silence Perry’s attacks on his healthcare record by offering him a $10,000 bet during Saturday’s Republican presidential debate. Given his personal wealth, estimated at $250 million, Romney needs to avoid any more moments that make him look like Judge Elihu Smails, the country club president from “Caddyshack” who tried to use his money and background to purge the club of undesirables like the brash outsider Al Czervik, played by Rodney Dangerfield (and, yes, Caddyshack culminated in a bet between the two).

Today at a lumber mill in northern New Hampshire, Romney hearkened back to his ten years spent moonlighting as a Mormon pastor while living in Boston. That work included counseling those who had lost their jobs or were in dire financial circumstances. “What struck me, not having grown up in poverty, was revealing and important to me,” he said.

Gay Vietnam vet tackles Romney

Republican Mitt Romney probably didn’t know what hit him in a Manchester diner on Monday when he tucked into a booth to make small talk with an older man wearing a “Vietnam Vet” baseball cap.

Romney has been vocal in opposing cuts to U.S. military spending, and chatting up a veteran would seem like an easy warm-up to a day on the campaign trail.

But military spending wasn’t on the mind of Bob Garon, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

Newark mayor campaigns for Obama, hits Romney’s “business experience”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, campaigning in New Hampshire for President Obama, lit into one of Republican Mitt Romney’s main arguments for his candidacy: his business experience.

The former Massachusetts governor rarely misses an opportunity to remind voters that he spent “25 years in the private sector” and “understands the real economy,” unlike President Obama.

Booker took issue with that argument after a stump speech for Obama in Plymouth, N.H., and made his point by singling out fellow Democrat and former New Jersey Governor and ex-Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine, who is at the center of the collapse of brokerage firm MF Global.

from Political Theater:

New ad from pro-Romney SuperPAC hits on Gingrich’s weaknesses

The pro-Romney SuperPAC Restore Our Future has released a video ad warning that Obama's "plan" to "brutally attack Mitt Romney and hope Newt Gingrich is his opponent" because "Newt has a ton of baggage" is working.

The video goes on to outline Gingrich's potential vulnerabilities, including ethics violations, lobbying profits, flip-flopping on issues, and immigration. Check it out:

Credit: RestoreOurFuture and YouTube.

from Political Theater:

New Perry ad bashes Gingrich, Romney on health care mandate

A day after releasing an incendiary ad condemning gays serving in the military and "Obama's war on religion," the Perry campaign has put out a new campaign video, this one focused on his rivals' stances on the individual mandate.

"We don't want government-mandated health care," says a voice-over in the ad:

Yet Newt Gingrich supports it.

And Mitt Romney -- he put it into law in Massachusetts.

Worse, Barack Obama forced it on the entire nation.

Rick Perry? He'll repeal it, starting day one.

The video cuts to Perry, walking through the same scenic outdoor background as yesterday's ad (though wearing a different jacket), who tells viewers he's an "outsider" and "won't let the big government liberals ruin this country."

Check out the ad, via rickperry.org, below. And be sure to catch his spin-and-grin at the 0:26 mark: