Tales from the Trail

Mitt Romney still a blank slate, Democrat says

Americans don’t know much about Mitt Romney, except that he’s rich and once offered to make a $10,000 bet in a Republican debate, former White House spokesman Bill Burton said at the Reuters Washington Summit on Wednesday.

Burton, who left the White House to co-found a Super PAC to raise money and create ads aimed at making sure Romney doesn’t defeat President Barack Obama in November, said people need to learn more about the presumptive Republican nominee.

“He’s a blank slate to the American people. People know very little about him -  to the extent that they know anything it’s what they’ve heard on Saturday Night Live or Jon Stewart or the things that they pass around on Facebook,” he said.

“What people know about Mitt Romney is that he’s rich. And that’s kind of it,” Burton said. “That’s why I think it’s important that people understand how it is that he made millions and millions of dollars. Because it’s not like he’s Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or somebody who had this great idea and was an entrepreneur and able to sell it to the American people.”

Photo credit: Bill Burton, senior strategist of Priorities USA Action, speaks during the Reuters Washington Summit in Washington, June 27, 2012. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Lead a Super PAC, lose your friends

It’s not like the old days with his former colleagues at the White House and friends from the Barack Obama campaign anymore for Bill Burton.

The co-founder of the Priorities USA Action Super PAC, which is prevented by campaign finance rules from collaborating with the Obama campaign, told the Reuters Washington Summit he may spend his days raising money to get Obama re-elected, but he has very little contact with his old friends who are actually working in the administration or the re-election campaign.

Asked if he and White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer were limited to talking about sports if they get together for a beer, Burton just laughed.

Campaign 2012 goes a bit peanuts and crackerjack

 Massachusetts may have a reputation as the bluest of Democratically blue states, but it is also resoundingly red — as in Red Sox nation. And President Barack Obama seemed to hit a nerve at a fundraiser in Boston on Monday night when he made a joke involving his favorite baseball team, the Chicago White Sox, at the expense of the suffering denizens of Fenway.

“Boston, I just want to say thank you for (Kevin) Youkilis,” Obama said at a fundraiser at Boston Symphony Hall, referring to the popular infielder, a fixture on two Boston World Series winning teams, who was traded from Boston to Chicago during the weekend.

The crowd, who had paid at least $250 per ticket, reacted to his comment with (friendly) boos.

Pro-Obama super PAC, labor group launch $4 million Spanish ad campaign

A super PAC supporting Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and the nation’s largest health care and property services labor union on Monday launched a Spanish language television advertisement campaign highlighting “working Latinos’ reactions” to certain statements presumptive nominee Mitt Romney has made on the campaign trail.

The $4 million campaign, “Mitt Romney: En Sus Propias Palabras” (Mitt Romney: In His Own Words), is billed by Priorities USA Action and the Service Employees International Union as one of “the largest ever independent Spanish-language campaigns” and will run on TV and radio in Colorado, Nevada, and Florida.

The Nevada ad features Romney describing himself as “unemployed” as he seeks to oust the incumbent Democrat Obama from the White House in the general election in November.

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.

Is time off allowed during a mammoth oil spill crisis? Depends…

BP CEO Tony Hayward takes time off to watch his yacht race in British waters, President Barack Obama goes golfing over the Father’s Day weekend. OIL-SPILL/

Is that acceptable when the BP oil spill, the worst in U.S. history and a huge environmental disaster, is entering a third month in the Gulf of Mexico?

Well, depends on who you talk to.

The White House on Monday made a cutting remark about Hayward’s yacht trip: “Look, if Tony Hayward wants to put a skimmer on that yacht and bring it down to the Gulf, we’d be happy to have his help,” White House spokesman Bill Burton said at the daily media briefing. 

Gibbs Twitter math: 4 days, 8 tweets, 22,500 followers

NUCEAR-IRAN/MISSILES-USABasically all White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had to do was turn up … and they followed by the thousands.

Gibbs launched his first tweet on Twitter @PressSec this Saturday asking for micro-blogging tips and by Tuesday he had more than 22,500 followers. (OK so there may be a touch of envy from some of us still struggling in the three-digit follower realm).

Asked whether he was sending all the tweets — eight so far — himself, Gibbs replied: “Inexplicably, yes.”