Tales from the Trail

New Obama ads highlight auto bailout, claim moderate recovery

President Obama’s re-election campaign on Thursday released three television ads — two focusing on the auto bailout and a third noting moderate economic improvements since Obama took office — all part of the campaign’s $25 million May marketing blitz.

The ads were a follow-up to what the campaign’s senior adviser David Axelrod called a “foundational” ad called “Go,” airing across nine battleground states and painting a portrait of an America on the economic mend, safer without Osama bin Laden, and relieved that its troops are finally home from Iraq. A nation whose Democratic incumbent simply needs more time.

“Different communities have different interests, or come at some of these issues in different ways, and we want to make sure that we’re getting to them information that is most germane and most relevant,” Axelrod, a former White House aide, said on a recent call with reporters.

A new, 30-second spot that aired in Ohio features an interview with a young autoworker heading back to work after losing his job. “Obama stuck his neck out for us, the auto industry, he wasn’t going to let it just die. And I am driving in this morning because of that, because of him,” the man, Brian Slagle, says.

A second ad airing in Ohio and elsewhere — titled “Succeed” — shows the Democratic incumbent speaking about the “more than one million jobs” the auto bailout saved.

Pro-Romney Super PAC rekindles “Mommy Wars” in new ad

A pro-Romney Super PAC is out with a new ad resurrecting the frenzy over Hilary Rosen’s accusation last month that Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life.”

The ad, released by Restore our Future just in time for Mother’s Day, notes that Ann Romney raised five sons and survived breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. “But what does White House insider Hilary Rosen say about Ann Romney?” a narrator asks before playing a clip of Rosen’s remark.

Bill Maher is also featured in the ad, where he’s identified as an Obama donor and shown saying, “Ann Romney has never gotten her ass out of the house.” Maher made the comment during a larger discussion about the meaning of Rosen’s remarks on his show, “Real Time,” on April 13:

The animal nature of the 2012 presidential race

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, whom Democrats have raked over the coals for once transporting Seamus, the family dog, in a crate strapped to the roof of the car during a road trip, hit back during a fundraiser at a hotel in downtown Indianapolis on Monday evening, telling the audience that “even the animals are suffering in the Obama economy.”

Democrats have used the tale of Seamus, who lost control of his bowels on the trip to Canada, to portray Romney as an uncaring former private equity executive. But Romney, who makes his corporate acumen the linchpin of his electoral pitch, focused on the story of a couple he met on the trail who owned a struggling veterinary clinic.

The business was down 40 percent and the couple were forced to move to a smaller home and were thinking of selling their business, Romney told the room of roughly 200 supporters, many of whom paid between $2,500 and $50,000 to attend the fundraiser hours before Indiana voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s hotly contested primary.

“Talking about” Obama and Romney on Facebook

When President Obama marked the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death earlier this week by unexpectedly addressing the nation from Afghanistan, several commentators cited it as an example of the ”advantage of incumbency”: the president’s visibility and ability to dominate the news are greater, just by virtue of being president, than those of challenger Mitt Romney, and he should be expected to benefit from the groundwork his campaign laid during the 2008 campaign, particularly its vast network of supporters, donors, and social media connections. 

Indeed, across a number of social media platforms, Obama’s following dwarfs Romney’s: Obama has 26 million Facebook ”Likes” to Romney’s 1.7 million; while Obama has nearly 15 million Twitter followers, Romney hasn’t yet hit half a million; on Google+, Obama has just over a 1 million users in his circles, compared to Romney’s just over 500 thousand; on Instagram, Obama has 636,790 followers to Romney’s 9,695. In absolute numbers, Obama seems to own a towering advantage over Romney.

But on Facebook at least, sheer number of “Likes” may not tell the whole story, or even the most important part of it. Last fall, Facebook launched ”people talking about this,” a metric that counts interactions with a Page — things like “liking” a Page, commenting on a post, or sharing a photo from a Page — over a seven-day period to measure user engagement.

Washington Extra – Obama’s China cloud

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event in Chantilly, Virginia earlier this week on May 2, 2012. REUTERS/Benjamin Myers

A bright spot of Barack Obama’s presidency – foreign policy – all of a sudden was taking some hits as the White House struggled to deal with a crisis involving a Chinese dissident. 

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney blasted away at Obama, talking of a “day of shame for the Obama administration.” Charges – vigorously denied by the White House – swirled that Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng may have been persuaded to leave his protective shelter at the U.S. embassy in Beijing so that high-level U.S.-China talks could go more smoothly. Another scenario being floated was that Obama’s team naively accepted Chinese assurances that Chen would not face government harassment if he rejoined his family at home.

Washington Extra – An anniversary observed

Troops at Bagram Air Base listen to U.S. President Barack Obama speak during his visit to Kabul, May 2, 2012. Earlier, Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement at the Presidential Palace. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

One year ago, President Barack Obama was secretly holed up in the White House Situation Room monitoring what turned out to be the successful U.S. military operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

A year later, he spent the day on another secret mission: flying aboard Air Force One to Afghanistan, the country from which bin Laden hatched his Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

New Obama ad goes after Romney on outsourcing


The Obama reelection team is out with a new ad today defending itself against allegations, advanced last week in an ad from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, that billions of stimulus dollars meant to create “green energy” jobs in the U.S. had been spent instead on creating jobs abroad.

“Obama’s clean energy initiatives have helped create jobs for projects across America, not overseas,” the new ad insists, citing fact checks at Politifact and the Washington Post and suggesting that “Big Oil” was the force behind the AFP attack. The video, which will air in Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa, also alleges that Mitt Romney has outsourced jobs in the past, first as a CEO and then as governor of Massachusetts, and now supports tax breaks for companies that do the same. “It’s just what you’d expect from a guy who had a Swiss bank account,” the ad’s narrator says.

The Romney campaign called the ad “desperate”: “President Obama is trying to distract Americans from the real issues with a series of sideshows,” Romney spokesperson Amanda Henneberg said. “Unable to defend his failed record of 23 million Americans struggling for work, wasteful boondoggles like Solyndra, skyrocketing national debt, and unacceptably high energy prices, President Obama has once again resorted to attacking Mitt Romney.”

Romney says Obama “is focused on taking away from those that have the least”

At a campaign stop today in Portsmouth, NH, Mitt Romney portrayed President Obama as a foe — and himself a champion — of the poor, noting the “greater and greater gap between those that have the most and those that have the least” and accusing President Obama of being “focused on taking away from those that have the least.”

“I want to help everybody, particularly those that are being left behind,” said Romney, who memorably told CNN he’s “not concerned about the very poor” in February. “I want to help the poor. I want to help the middle class get the kinds of jobs that raise their income. Let’s focus on helping the people who need the help the most.”

With Senator Kelly Ayotte — whom Romney has said is on his short list of potential running mates — at his side, Romney told the audience the president was “trying to divert” attention away from the economy “with all the silliness day in and day out.”

New Obama ad suggests Romney wouldn’t have gone after bin Laden

In advance of the May Day anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s assassination, the Obama reelection campaign is out with a new web ad, this one narrated by Bill Clinton who, echoing the words of another former president, praises Obama as “decider in chief.” The bin Laden operation was risky for Obama, Clinton says — if the intelligence was wrong or if the Navy Seals were captured or killed, “the downside would have been horrible” — but “that’s what you hire a president to do. You hire a president to make the calls when no one else can do it.”

The ad contrasts Obama’s action with speculation about whether Romney would have done the same, citing comments he made during the ’08 campaign suggesting it wouldn’t be worth it to spend “billions of dollars, just trying to catch one person.”

Watch the ad, via barackobama.com:

Photo credit: Screenshot/barackobama.com

Romney looks to give Bernanke the boot

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke attends the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) meeting during the spring IMF-World Bank meetings in Washington April 21, 2012.

“I’d be looking for somebody new.”

Those words from the U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney may give Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke some pause – or at least thinking about some other job prospects if the GOP frontrunner wins the Nov. 6 election.

As we report,  Romney, a former business executive who’s made the economy the cornerstone of his campaign, has made it clear that if he wins the White House he will try to replace Bernanke. The Fed chief’s term ends in January 2014 – a year after the next president takes office. Although Bernanke was nominated by Republican President George W. Bush, Democratic President Barack Obama give him second term in 2009.