Tales from the Trail

2012 Election? In hot summer, it’s leaving Americans cold

A long spell of brutally hot weather is not the only thing making Americans cranky this summer.

With four months still to go before the presidential election on Nov. 6, Americans seem to be experiencing the 2012 campaign more like studying for a big math test than watching an exciting neck-and-neck horse race, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. More Republicans in particular are bored with the campaign.

The poll 0f 2,013 adults conducted June 7-17 found that most Americans find the presidential election campaign between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney to be important and informative – but also exhausting, annoying, too negative, too long and dull.

More Republicans in particular find the campaign boring, and they were far more likely to feel so in June than in March, before Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, locked up their party’s presidential nomination.

In contrast, more Democrats are finding the campaign interesting now than in March, although comparable numbers of Democrats and Republicans say the contest has been too long and too negative. 

Obama campaign goes on the attack ahead of bus tour

President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign used Tuesday to pave the rhetorical road for the president’s two-day trip through the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania beginning on Thursday.

In a new television advertisement and during a conference call with reporters, the campaign and its allies tore into Republican challenger Mitt Romney for pushing policies and practices they say cost middle-class jobs and netted the former private equity executive millions.

The 30-second television advertisement, “Believes,” is airing in Ohio and Pennsylvania ahead of the President’s trip, as well as in several other states — such as Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Virginia — the campaign sees as crucial to winning another term in the White House.

MA governor puts Romney in healthcare bear hug

Before there was Obamacare with its controversial individual mandate on health insurance, there was Romneycare in Massachusetts…with a similar mandate that all residents of the state obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. And Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was happy to remind Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, of that fact on Thursday.

After the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the centerpiece of Obama’s signature healthcare overhaul, Patrick – a key Obama surrogate – met with reporters and expressed shock at the negative spin that Romney, his predecessor in the Massachusetts governor’s mansion, continues to put on federal legislation that is similar to the state law he once championed.

Patrick said that the motivations of Congress in taking up healthcare legislation in 2009 were “the same reasons our legislature and Governor Romney acted in 2006.”

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.

Will the “War on Women” have legs in November?

Democrats should not hold back from the “war on women” in campaigning for the Nov. 6 election, Senator Jeanne Shaheen said, even if the economy will be on voters’ minds as they head to the polls.

“I’m old enough to remember the ’50s and before … contraceptives were widely available to people, what my mother and other women were dealing with,” the New Hampshire Democrat said on Tuesday at the Reuters Washington Summit. “I’m old enough to remember what it was like before Roe v. Wade, and I think access to reproductive health services for women is critical.  And I don’t think women in this country are planning to go back.”

Polls generally show Democratic President Barack Obama with an advantage over Republican candidate Mitt Romney among women voters, but some recent surveys have shown Romney gaining ground. Democrats have sought to maintain their advantage by advertising what they call a Republican “war on women,” which casts the party as insensitive on issues such as equal pay for women, healthcare, protection against domestic abuse and access to contraception. 

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.

Blunt says to keep an eye on Virginia

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican who is Mitt Romney’s point person in Congress, doesn’t think Ohio or Florida will be the main states to watch on election night. He will have his eyes on Virginia.

In an interview at the annual Reuters Washington Summit, Blunt was asked which state was the one to monitor in the run-up to the Nov. 6 election between President Barack Obama and Romney.

“Virginia,” he said. “If I was watching one state on election night, it would be a state I’d [watch].”

Romney changes style – not substance – on immigration

Mitt Romney took a dramatically softer tone on immigration in his speech to Latino officials on Thursday than his harsh rhetoric on this issue during the primary campaign, but the likely Republican presidential nominee’s remarks fell flat with immigration advocates, who want him to offer solid policy suggestions and are wary of his past tough line on the issue.

Romney tacked hard to the right on immigration during his nomination fight, as he sought to woo conservative Republican primary voters from rivals who took more moderate positions. During the primary campaign, Romney endorsed an Arizona state law giving the police expanded powers to stop anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, which many Latinos view as racial profiling. He also called for the “self-deportation” of illegal immigrants and promised to repeal the Dream Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for some young illegal immigrants brought into the country as children, if the measure were to pass Congress.

But the audience for the general election on Nov. 6 is more moderate on immigration than Republican primary voters. Romney also came under pressure to offer proposals on immigration when President Barack Obama announced a plan on Friday that will let hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people to avoid being shipped home.

Obama campaign attacks Romney for raising fees as governor

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Massachusetts Democratic state lawmakers closed a budget shortfall by closing corporate tax loopholes and raising fees, the latter of which was attacked in a television advertisement the Obama campaign released on Wednesday.

The ad — titled “Mosaic” — hit Romney, who has said on the stump that he closed the budget shortfall without raising taxes, for raising state fees on everything from marriage licenses to gun permits when he was governor of The Bay State for one term starting in 2003.

“When Governor Romney says we balanced the budget without increasing revenues, that’s not true at all,” said Andrew Bagley, Director of Research and Public Affairs at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a non-partisan research group. “Let’s put it this way, corporations paid more taxes after changes to the tax policy.”

Romney, Boehner do burgers

It was an all-American moment for Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner on Sunday in their first joint appearance since Romney clinched the Republican nomination for president.

The pair rallied in Troy, Ohio, in Boehner’s Congressional district, along with Ohio U.S. Senator Rob Portman.

Amusingly, Boehner reminded the crowd that when he first ran for Congress few people knew his name – and many thought it was pronounced “Boner.”