Tales from the Trail

Romney unveils happy ad for TV, goes negative on the web

Mitt Romney’s campaign is out with a new, upbeat television ad in Iowa extolling “the American ideals of economic freedom and opportunity.” The video weaves together farm imagery and a soaring voice-over by Romney, who says that “the principles that made this nation a great and powerful leader in the world have not lost their meaning”:

“When generations of immigrants looked up and saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time, one thing they knew beyond any doubt, and that is they were coming to a place where anything was possible. That in America, their children would have a better life”

Meanwhile, his campaign issued a new web video targeting President Obama that coincided with Romney’s visit to Davenport, Iowa, yesterday, four years after Obama visited the Mississippi River city as a candidate. “It is time for this pessimistic president to step aside and let American optimism that built this greatest nation on earth, build a greater future for our children,” Romney says in the video.

Behind the scenes, the Romney campaign continued to go negative on Gingrich, blasting reporters a lengthy opposition sheet highlighting Gingrich’s support for 1990s spending bills that contained earmarks. A quote from Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul highlights the line of attack:

“A lot of things have changed since 1998, but Newt Gingrich’s unreliable fiscal leadership is not one of them. Thirteen years ago, Speaker Gingrich derided fiscal conservatives as the ‘perfectionist caucus’ and ‘petty dictators’ while he backed a massive spending bill cheered by Democrats and the Clinton White House. Weeks later, when House conservatives decided a new leader was needed, Speaker Gingrich called them ‘cannibals.’ That is not the type of leader Republicans are looking for in 2012.”

New Hampshire paper, Huntsman launch fresh attacks on Ron Paul

New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, the Union Leader, suspended its attacks on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Thursday to turn its editorial fire on Texas Rep. Ron Paul.  The newspaper, which helped fuel Newt Gingrich’s rise in the polls in late November after it endorsed the former House speaker, published a front page editorial, titled “Ron Paul is truly dangerous,” criticizing Paul’s dovish views on Iran and the treatment of captured terror suspects. Paul’s views, in the words of publisher Joe McQuaid, are “warped” and “nuts.”

McQuaid writes:

Never mind Paul being the favored candidate of the lunatic fringe (see white supremacists, anti-Semites, truthers, etc.). Never mind his refusal to disavow a third-party run (which would only help President Obama’s reelection). His defenders say they admire Ron Paul’s “consistency.” It is true, Paul has been consistently spouting this nonsense. It is about time New Hampshire voters showed him the door.

Meanwhile, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has staked his entire campaign on the Granite State but has seen Paul surge ahead of him in polls there, is out with a hard-hitting new ad highlighting some loony statements contained in Paul’s newsletters. Among them: a claim that Martin Luther King was a “pro-communist philanderer,” another claim suggesting “90 if not 95 percent of black males in [Washington, D.C.] are semi-criminal if not entirely criminal” and the suggestion of a “federal-homosexual cover-up of AIDS.” Paul has said he wasn’t the author of the controversial statements, which appeared in letters with names like  Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report and the Ron Paul Investment Letter.

Ex-candidate Forbes criticizes Romney and Gingrich

When Steve Forbes endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry in October, Perry was still riding high in the polls and the magazine publisher and two-time GOP candidate appeared set to be one of the most influential economic advisers to a top White House contender. Now, with Perry buried in fourth place in national polls, Forbes could be forgiven for changing horses.

He hasn’t, and today he began a three-day swing through New Hampshire to campaign on Perry’s behalf.

Speaking at a luncheon at the Rotary Club, where previous guest speakers included a local choir and three Rotarians who had recently visited Pakistan, Forbes championed Perry’s flat-tax plan that he helped craft and took a few swipes at frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

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.

Gingrich attacks Romney, a week after promising a positive campaign

A week ago, Newt Gingrich vowed to follow Ronald Reagan’s famed “11th Commandment” and withhold attacks on fellow Republican candidates for president.

But last night his campaign e-mail blasted reporters a lengthy opposition sheet on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, ripping Romney’s latest television ad, “Conservative Agenda.”

In the oppo sheet, the Gingrich campaign calls Romney “Mitt the Massachusetts Moderate” and highlights a number of his past, more moderate positions that may be at odds with his current stances. These include Romney’s health care reforms in Massachusetts, his support for universal health insurance and abortion rights, his vote for Democrat Paul Tsongas in his 1992 bid for president and his renunciation of the Reagan/Bush era.

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.

Mitt Romney, car nut

Perhaps it’s no surprise to know that Mitt Romney is a car nut.

After all, Romney grew up in Michigan, where his father, George, once ran American Motors Corporation before becoming the state’s governor and launching his own failed bid for the White House.

Romney talked about his cars at campaign stops in Lancaster and Randolph, New Hampshire – and even offered to buy a classic car.

At Lowe’s, a gas station/convenience store in Randolph, Romney gassed up his tour bus with $69.90 in diesel fuel. In the store, surrounded by photos of famous visitors to the remote North Country location, he joked with one of the owners about how he would like to buy her classic “Nash Metropolitan” car, a photo of which was pinned to the wall.

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.’”

Romney reveals his debate card, says inheritance given away

During Rick Perry’s now infamous “oops” moment at a Republican debate last month, the Texas governor gave a panicked glance at his cue card to see if it held the name of the third agency of government he vowed to eliminate. It did not.

Today Mitt Romney told Reuters’ Steve Holland and Jim Gaines about his own debate card. Romney says he writes “Dad” on his card “just to remember a person who, if he’s able to watch, I’m sure he is.”

Romney said he also tries to remind himself not to focus his attacks in primary debates on his fellow Republicans: