Tales from the Trail

Big Bird to Obama: Take down your TV ad

Big Bird, a bright-yellow protagonist of children’s television show “Sesame Street,” wants out of his role in a nationwide television advertisement for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

In the 30-second TV ad and an accompanying statement, the president’s re-election team needled Republican challenger Mitt Romney for focusing on cutting government support to “Sesame Street” distributor PBS, which would do little to reign in excess spending, instead of offering specific details about financial regulations needed to prevent financial fraud, such as the Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Bernie Madoff.

“Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about, it’s Sesame Street,” says the narrator in the spot, set to run on cable TV nationwide. “Mitt Romney. Taking on our enemies, no matter where they nest.”

But Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind the long-running educational show, wants the ad removed.

“We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down,” according to a statement from Sesame Workshop.

Republicans accuse Obama campaign of “dishonest cover-up”

The RNC is out with a new video accusing President Obama’s re-election team of covering up an attempt to pressure Newark Mayor Cory Booker into walking back his critique of their campaign tactics.

On Sunday, Booker told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he was “very uncomfortable with” some of the attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, a strategy he said he found “nauseating.” Within hours, Booker released a video on his YouTube page revising his remarks. “Mitt Romney has made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign,” he says in the video. “And therefore it is reasonable — and in fact I encourage it — for the Obama campaign to examine that record and discuss it.”

Today’s RNC video, titled “Dishonest Attacks, Dishonest Cover-up,” shows a clip of Obama campaign Press Secretary Ben LaBolt claiming that Booker was not asked to backtrack on his remarks, followed by a clip of Booker affirming that he had communicated with members of Obama’s campaign team after his “Meet the Press” interview.

Super PAC hits Romney on steel mill record

The super PAC supporting Democratic incumbent Barack Obama announced on Tuesday a multimillion dollar battleground television advertisement and accompanying website attacking Mitt Romney for what it sees as a slash and burn style of capitalism practiced by the former private equity executive while at the helm of Bain Capital.

The roughly one-minute ad, launched the day after the Obama campaign hit Mitt Romney’s record at Bain, is the first in a series of the campaign ads that will run on television and online in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to a release from the organization, Priorities USA Action, run by former White House aide Bill Burton.

It features Pat Wells, a former steelworker at GS Steel, the target of a Bain leveraged buyout that Reuters highlighted in a special report in January. The super PAC’s video, and the Obama campaign video from yesterday, argue that Romney practiced a brand of corporate raiding that helped wealthy investors at the expense of workers.

After gay marriage shift, high profile Romney backer switches to Obama

An openly gay, big-dollar donor to Mitt Romney’s campaign is asking for his money back after Vice President Joe Biden followed by President Barack Obama – embraced gay marriage, the New York consultant told Reuters on Monday.

“When I heard Biden say he was comfortable with men marrying men I almost fell off my chair,” said Bill White, 42, a registered independent who has supported politicians across the political spectrum, including both President Bushes and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and who maxed out during the Republican primary for Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor.

“These guys are on the right side of history,” said White, who was married to Joseph Bryan Eure in October 2011, a wedding that was officiated by David Boies, a lawyer who defended gay marriage equality in California, and attended by — disclaimer — Thomson Reuters senior executives. Soul singer Aretha Franklin performed at the wedding, the first legal gay marriage ceremony at the Four Seasons hotel, the New York Daily News reported.

Obama campaign reveals new slogan: “Forward”

Team Obama today introduced a new, one-word campaign slogan, “Forward,” in a seven-minute web video of the same name that lays out a case for the president’s reelection.

The ad suggests Obama fell heir to, in Alan Greenspan’s words, a “once in a half-century, probably in a century” economic crisis, but argues that things are improving: the stimulus “saved up to 4.2 million jobs” and the auto bailout another 1.1 million; manufacturing has seen its first increase in jobs “in a decade”; between March 2010 and March 2012, 4.1 million jobs were created in the private-sector. The president “took on” credit card companies and “the Wall Street banks,” the ad says, passing reforms to stop “unfair fees and hidden penalties” and ensure financial institutions “never again wreck our economy.”

The video also hits on Obama’s healthcare reforms — now, the narrator says, “insurance companies can’t deny children coverage for preexisting conditions [and] seniors pay less for prescriptions” — and claims wins, despite what the ad portrays as an obstructionist Republican opposition, in middle class tax cuts, wind and solar power, equal pay for women, the eradication of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” foreign policy, small business tax cuts, spending cuts, reproductive rights, stem cell research, fuel efficiency standards, domestic oil and natural gas production, science funding, and more.

Obama gets custom-made New Balance running shoes

President Barack Obama is well known as a basketball fanatic, but he might feel more like going for a jog after receiving a custom-made pair of New Balance running shows, embroidered with the words “President” and “Obama,” on them Friday night in Maine.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, or free sneakers, however. Obama will also get a nudge from a Maine lawmaker to require that the Department of Defense outfit service members with domestically-produced athletic shoes.

Mike Michaud, who represents Maine’s Second Congressional District, picked up Obama’s size 12D gray sneakers on Friday from New Balance’s facility in Norridgewock, central Maine. He will present the shoes at an Obama fundraiser at the Portland Museum of Art.

“Linsanity” hits the White House


President Barack Obama is well-known to be a huge basketball fan, and he hasn’t missed the biggest story in the NBA — the rise of Jeremy Lin, the Harvard-educated, Taiwanese American guard whose record-setting scoring run has led the New York Knicks to six straight victories.

Lin added to his legend on Monday night by making a three-point shot as time expired that gave the Knicks a 90-87 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said he and Obama had talked about Lin on Tuesday on the helicopter ride from the White House to catch an Air Force One flight to Milwaukee.

Newt Super PAC imagines Romney-Obama debate

A Pro-Newt Super PAC posted an animated version of how a general debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee would look.

The video titled “Obama’s Dream Debate” shows a cartoon Obama, voiced remarkably well, not only trouncing Romney in a debate but pointing out just how much the two have in common.

Winning Our Future is the same PAC that made a short campaign film attacking Romney as a “corporate raider” while head of Bain Capital, an ad Gingrich eventually asked to be pulled because of inaccuracies.

Ignoring polls, Santorum says he’s best GOP chance to beat Obama

You have to give him points for chutzpah. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has spent most of the GOP primary positioning himself as the candidate of the GOP’s conservative evangelical wing. With polls showing him running as high as third in Iowa, Santorum is out with a new ad in New Hampshire and Iowa making the case that he can win swing voters and is the Republicans’ best bet to win the general election.

Here’s the narrative:

Who has the best chance to beat Obama? Rick Santorum. A full spectrum conservative, Rick Santorum is rock solid on values issues. A favorite of the tea party for fighting corruption and taxpayer abuse. More foreign policy credentials than any candidate. And Rick’s ‘Made in the USA’ jobs plan will make America an economic superpower again. Rick Santorum, a trusted conservative who gives us the best chance to take back America.

Santorum has spent most of the campaign so far back in the pack pollsters have rarely surveyed him in head-to-head match-ups with the president. In fact there have been just three polls since July measuring how Santorum would fair against Obama. All three are by the Republican firm Rasmussen Reports and all three show Obama ahead by 10 points or more. Overall, polling has generally shown that Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman Jr. and Ron Paul would all fare better against Obama in a head-to-head match-up.

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.”