Tales from the Trail

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.

Garon is gay, and a newlywed. He was eating at the Chez Vachon diner, as he does most days, with his husband, Bob Lemire, 73. The couple — whom friends sometimes call ‘Bob One’ and ‘Bob Two’ — married in June after 15 years together.

Same sex marriage became legal in New Hampshire in 2010, but the state’s Republican-controlled legislature has moved toward repealing the law.

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:

Romney takes a swing at Obama golf habit

Most presidents have their hobbies. George W. Bush loved to clear brush on his Texas ranch, and to take long mountain bike rides. Bill Clinton played the saxophone. John Quincy Adams reportedly liked to skinny-dip in the Potomac River.

Barack Obama likes to play golf. And Republican challenger Mitt Romney doesn’t approve.

The Romney campaign on Wednesday launched a website, fortyfore.com, that takes a swing at Obama’s golf habit. The site says that Obama has played “1,584 holes since 2009″ — the equivalent of 88 rounds of golf as he nears the end of his third year in office. That would put Obama far short of House Speaker John Boehner, who reportedly works much harder on the links to maintain a single-digit handicap.

New Romney ad counters ‘flip-flopper’ label

In case you missed it, Mitt Romney grew a bit testy when Fox News’ Bret Baier pressed him with questions about his about-faces on issues like abortion, climate change and immigration in an interview last week.

Now a new ad out from his campaign looks to counter the ‘flip-flopper’ label Romney has grown so tired of talking about. The ad, released online today and due to air in Iowa and New Hampshire this week, features images of Romney as a young man with his family while Romney gives a voice-over:

 I think people understand that I’m a man of steadiness and constancy. I don’t think you’re going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do.

Republicans, again, look to older White House candidates

If presidential candidates, like fine wine, improve with age, the 2012 Republican field is in luck.  The top three contenders — Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul — would each be one of the oldest U.S. presidents ever if he were to defeat Barack Obama and win the White House in 2012.

Gingrich, who currently leads the Republican pack, would be 69 years and 7 months old on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2013. That would make him the second-oldest first-term U.S. president, just behind Ronald Reagan, who was 69 years and 11 months old when he first took the oath of office in January 1981.

Romney is a bit younger than Gingrich, who was Speaker of the House in the 1990s. But, at 65 years and 10 months old on Jan. 20, 2013, Romney would be tied for third place in the presidential age stakes, after Reagan and William Henry Harrison. James Buchanan, the 15th U.S. president, was 65 years, 10 months and 9 days old when he was sworn in on March 4, 1857, the same age that Romney would be.

President Dan Quayle? Yes, it almost happened, for a few hours back in 1991.

Dan Quayle’s endorsement of Republican Mitt Romney in Arizona on Tuesday brings to mind Quayle’s tenure as vice president for President George H.W. Bush back in the early 1990s, and the time he almost assumed the powers of the presidency.

Here’s what happened.

Bush suffered a rapid heartbeat while jogging at Camp David on May 4, 1991, and was rushed to Bethesda Naval Medical Center for treatment.

At the time, there were immediate fears that Bush had a heart attack. Communications among White House staff and the press corps were difficult in this pre-Blackberry era, and there was a lot of confusion.

Democrats hit Romney on “Band-Aid” comment

By Jason McLure

Even as Newt Gingrich has soared to the top of most Republican presidential polls, Democrats continue to focus their attacks on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Today New Hampshire and Iowa Democrats unveiled a new website attacking Romney for calling the president’s jobs bill a “temporary little band aid” during a debate in October.

Democrats say passing the jobs bill, which would extend a payroll tax cut for employees, would save the average family $1,500 next year – or “four months of groceries, over seven months of gasoline, an electric bill for an entire year,” according to a video on the site, littlebandaids.com.

It also takes a swipe at Romney’s wealth, estimated to be around $250 million, with the line “$1,500 might be a Band-Aid to Mitt Romney, but to a middle-class family, $1,500 goes a long way.”

from Political Theater:

Huntsman accuses Romney of flip-flop gymnastics in new ad

Jon Huntsman has published a new web ad hammering Romney for changing, if not his stance, then at least his tone on key campaign issues.

"What exactly did Mitt learn while running the Olympics?" the ad asks, before using a split screen to show Romney opining on various issues next to video of gymnasts doing flips on balance beams. Romney ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where there was no gymnastics competition, but the point doesn't seem to be a literal one. Whenever Romney is seen taking a typically conservative stance on an issue, the gymnast "nails it," and when he doesn't, the gymnast falls off the beam.

For example, one clip shows Romney defending the "tough gun laws in Massachusetts" -- "I support them, I won't chip away at them," he says -- as a gymnast tumbles. The next clip shows him saying he's "always been, if you will, a rodent and rabbit hunter," as a gymnast lands a back flip on the beam.