Tales from the Trail

Union leader sees opportunity in Romney’s dismissal of the “47 percent”

Democrats have reacted gleefully to the release of Mitt Romney’s secretly videotaped dismissal of 47 percent of American voters – whom he identified as supporters of President Barack Obama – as victims who do not pay their share or “care for their lives.”

But few have reacted with as much glee as union leaders who have spent the past two years waging big fights over labor rules with Republican-controlled state governments – and the past week facing fallout from a bitter Chicago teachers’ strike.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka blasted Romney’s comments as the latest sign that the wealthy former businessman is out of touch with ordinary Americans.

“What Mitt Romney said about half the country is really an insult to everyday people who know what it means to work incredibly hard and still sometimes fail to get by,”  Trumka told reporters at the labor federation’s headquarters on Tuesday, the day after the left-wing magazine Mother Jones began posting the video on its website.

“Mitt Romney has built a life and a fortune on the losses of others. Those so-called victims that he dismisses with ease are victims of this. They are victims of a system that’s been rigged by Mitt Romney’s backers so that they would lose. And in a moment of candor, it is very clear that he doesn’t understand and doesn’t care what almost everyone goes through, except for people like him,” he said.

Obama and Romney wrangle over welfare policy

The Obama administration’s July change to a 1996 bipartisan welfare-to-work law has devolved into a mudslinging contest on the campaign trail.

In a 30-second television advertisement released on Monday, Mitt Romney’s campaign asserted that President Obama “has a long history of opposing work for welfare.” Romney initially launched the welfare attack in Obama’s home state of Illinois last week in a coordinated stump speech and television ad accusing the president of loosening work requirements built into the law, which proponents say moved millions off of welfare.

The plan, put forth by the Health and Human Services Department, allows states to seek waivers from the work requirements baked into the law. The states need to prove the success of their models by moving at least 20 percent more people off of welfare to work or they lose their waivers.

Non-retired Baby Boomers anxious about more than jobs

The Baby Boomers have come a long way from Flower Power. Retirement savings, Social Security and Medicare are weighing heavily on their minds this election season, even if they are still in the workforce.

The AARP surveyed Americans aged 50-64 who are still working, and found that they share younger voters’ worries about the economy ahead of the Nov. 6 election, but their economic concerns extend well beyond jobs. These members of the “Baby Boom” generation worry about rising prices, healthcare costs, financial security when they retire and taxes.

“We know the issue of jobs is very important to voters age 50-plus, but any meaningful discussion of the economy and this year’s election has to include the future of Social Security and Medicare,” Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of the 37 million-member AARP, said in a statement. “For these voters, ‘retirement security’ and ‘economic security’ are largely the same thing,” she said.

A battleground is a battleground is a battleground – or is it?

It isn’t really surprising that there are widely varying theories for the best way to win the battleground states – those considered neither firmly Democratic nor Republican – in the Nov. 6 election. After all, if they were easy to win, they wouldn’t be battlegrounds.

But what is surprising is the extent of the disagreement over which should be defined as battlegrounds – or swing states, toss-ups or “purple” (as in something between Republican red and Democratic blue).

A new study by the University of Minnesota found that news outlets that publish election maps vary widely in their assessments of which states are up for grabs in 2012.

Obama ad on Romney’s tax plan: he pays less, you pay more

President Barack Obama’s campaign on Thursday released a new television advertisement hitting Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney for paying what it considers to be a low tax rate in 2010 and for pushing a tax plan that could most benefit Americans earning more than $1 million per year.

The 30-second spot features a montage of ostensibly “average” Americans — one comparing prices at the grocery store, another scrutinizing a work report, another sifting through bills at the kitchen table — and then flashes to a grinning Romney.

“You work hard, stretch every penny, but chances are you pay a higher tax rate than him,” the narrator says, referring to Romney’s 2010 tax rate of 13.9 percent and 2011 estimated tax rate of 15.4 percent.

Business comments taken out of context, Obama says in new ad

President Barack Obama’s campaign released a new television advertisement on Tuesday pushing back against a wave of attacks that followed remarks the Democratic incumbent made that Republicans deemed anti-business.

The 30-second advertisement — “Always” — will air in six battleground states and is the second in as many days featuring a regal Obama speaking directly into a camera — a far cry from the campaign’s hard-hitting ads, marked by ominous narrators and elaborate graphic design, portraying Mitt Romney as a ruthless former private equity executive whose personal finances are shrouded in secrecy.

In the ad, the president is seen fighting back — calmly, authoritatively — against a barrage of attacks by Romney, his campaign, and wider Republicans who seized on a fragment of Obama’s speech in Virginia on July 13 when he said, “If you own a business, you didn’t build that.”

Romney speaks at the VFW convention

Mitt Romney will deliver remarks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention at 2pm ET today from Reno, Nevada.

Watch live:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A Number Cruncher could add up to become Romney running mate

Washington number crunchers are finally getting some respect.

Just take a look at Mitt Romney’s search for a Republican vice presidential running mate.

With the economy the top issue in the Nov. 6 elections, Romney’s short list of his possible picks features two of Congress’s most wonkish guys.

One, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, served as President George W. Bush’s budget director, and is now viewed as a top contender.

Romney touts tourism in fire-ravaged Colorado

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a message for what Americans can do to help a section of Colorado hit hard by recent wildfires – come to the state on vacation to help out the local economy.

Romney’s point, made during a visit to a food bank that has been supplying people uprooted by the wildfires, was that most of the region has been unaffected by the devastation and that the forests and lakes remain as beautiful as ever.

“What’s happened is people are staying away because they think the whole area has been burned out. It’s not. It’s as beautiful as it’s always been and tourists need to come back and stay in hotels, go to restaurants and purchase local merchandise,” he said.

Republicans shoot for “Super Saturday”

 

Hoping to echo the Democratic Party’s successful use of volunteer armies to engage – and turn out – voters, Republicans are mounting their first “Super Saturday” volunteer day of the 2012 campaign this weekend. On July 7, the party says it will dispatch an army of volunteers to knock on doors and make telephone calls to voters in swing states across the country.

Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said the Romney/RNC operation would be in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa.

President Barack Obama won all 12 of those states when he won the White House in 2008, aided by an army of volunteers. Romney will need to swing a large number of them back to the Republican column to defeat Obama on Nov. 6.