Tales from the Trail

If middle class prospers, we all prosper: Obama in Olympics ad

A new national television advertisement released by President Obama’s campaign and slated to air during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games features the Democratic incumbent delivering an impassioned stump speech in which he ties national prosperity to the success of the middle class.

“I believe in fighting for the middle class because if they’re prospering, all of us will prosper,” Obama says in the 30-second advertisement, part of a $6 million Olympics ad buy, NBC confirmed. “That’s the idea of America and that’s why America is the greatest nation on earth.”

As Obama speaks, a montage shows “workers and doers and dreamers,” including a farmer loading hay into a pick-up truck, a woman punching in for her shift, and a suit-wearing father coming home to his family. The advertisement, which does not mention Mitt Romney, is a departure from a series of negative ads that criticized the former private equity executive’s business record and resistance to opening up his personal finances to increased scrutiny.

“Obama’s statement is a broad generalization. Real prosperity depends on all economic classes moving upward,” said Robert Kallan, a visiting economics professor at DePaul University, adding that the ad plays to undecided voters, the majority of whom are in the middle class.

The Romney campaign, which has not made an ad buy during the Olympics, NBC confirmed, released a statement on Friday highlighting poor economic numbers, seen as the biggest drag on Obama’s candidacy.

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 hits Obama’s economic vision in Democrat’s hometown

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney told supporters at a swanky fundraiser in President Barack Obama’s hometown on Thursday evening that under his administration they would see an “extraordinary resurgence of America’s economy” because of the former private equity executive’s economic prescription of less taxation, regulation, and government meddling.

The fundraising event in Chicago raised roughly $3.3 million for the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign and wider Republicans and came on the heels of speeches Romney and Obama gave hours before in different parts of the battleground state of Ohio outlining disparate visions for the economy.

“Our economy is propelled by freedom,” Romney said, speaking before roughly 220 people at a reception in a downtown Chicago hotel. “[Obama] believes a government can do a better job guiding lives and guiding the economy than can free people.”

Obama campaign TV spot hits Romney as governor

As President Barack Obama and presumptive nominee Mitt Romney hit up big-money donors on both coasts on Monday, their respective allies waged a public relations blitz to deride each other’s message.

The Obama campaign announced a television advertisement, which can be viewed here, that slammed Romney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts, saying he cut taxes for millionaires, outsourced call center jobs to India, and left the state saddled with debt.

The ad, called “Heard it Before,” cost the campaign approximately $10 million, and is on the air in nine battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, the campaign said.

Washington Extra – Tactical, not terminal

The predominant media narrative was pretty straightforward:  U.S. soldier kills 16 Afghan civilians, the Taliban respond by suspending participation in U.S.-sponsored Afghan peace talks. Game over.

Or maybe not. As Missy Ryan reports today, efforts by the Obama administration to cajole the Taliban into peace talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, while not exactly roaring forward, are not dead. U.S. officials see the Taliban move as tactical, not terminal, and more of a reflection of internal divisions within the movement than anything else. “Deep breaths, and not hyperventilation, are required here,” said one of the many U.S. officials Reuters interviewed.

The Taliban also appear put out that President Obama has not yet transferred senior Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to kick-start the talks. That’s a problem for Obama, who faces intense resistance to sending the Talibs to detention in Qatar. That Qatar has yet to agree to U.S. demands they be held under strict conditions further complicates matters.

No doubts as to Obama’s Irish Ancestry now

By Samson Reiny
Playing with one of the more enduring controversies of his administration, President Obama joked on Tuesday that he had the perfect place for a gift confirming his Irish heritage: right next to his much ballyhooed birth certificate.

Visiting Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny gave Obama the “formal certificate” at an evening reception in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which earlier saw Maryland Governor Martin  O’Malley singing upbeat Gaelic-inspired tunes alongside a band.

“This will have a special place of honor alongside my birth certificate,” Obama said to raucous applause and laughter.

Washington Extra – Gasoline alley

President Obama may have his facts right on what’s behind higher gasoline prices and he might be correct in saying that the causes are largely beyond his control. But even his strong arguments won’t stand a chance with Americans if a gallon of gas heads up to $5 in coming months.

Nevertheless, the president clearly understood the importance of getting his message out there early and his speech today in Florida was well timed. Rising gas prices are leading the nightly news shows this week and Republican presidential candidates are squarely placing the blame on Obama and his energy policies. Last night, right out of the debate gate, Newt Gingrich said he would give Americans $2.50 gas if he won the White House.

“You can bet that since it’s an election year, they’re already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas,” Obama said. “I’ll save you the suspense: Step one is drill, step two is drill and step three is keep drilling.”

Washington Extra – Tax time

If President Obama did indeed schedule the release of his corporate tax revamp Wednesday to steal the spotlight from Mitt Romney’s tax plan rollout – as some critics charge – it just might have worked. The Obama plan was the top story of the day.

But perhaps more importantly, Obama neutralized corporate taxes as an election year issue by aligning himself with Republican positions.

Sure, there may be differences in the tax rates each candidate backs – Obama at 28 percent, Romney 25 percent, Santorum 17.5 percent and Gingrich 12.5 percent.

Obama sings again, this time blues with B.B. King, Mick Jagger

President Barack Obama gave what appeared to be an impromptu performance of “Sweet Home Chicago” during a blues concert Tuesday night at the White House in celebration of Black History Month.

At the end of an evening of performances from the likes of B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Derek Trucks, Shemekia Copeland and others, Obama grabbed a mic from the stage and crooned, “Come on, baby don’t you wanna go,” part of the popular blues standard.

A month ago, Obama sang a little Al Green — a moment captured on video and viewed thousands of times over. It was seen as having added cool points to the president. Afterwards First Lady Michelle said Obama sings to her all the time.

Washington Extra – Proposals to nowhere

A line kept cropping up in our stories from Washington today, something along the lines of “unlikely to be passed in Congress.”

President Obama went out to Falls Church, Virginia to tout his $5 billion to $10 billion plan to help homeowners refinance. The proposal, sketched out in last week’s State of the Union address, could provide relief to many locked into high rates by their homes’ sagging value. But it doesn’t look like it will overcome Republican opposition.

Democrats also introduced today the “Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012,” longhand for the “Buffett Rule” that Obama also raised in his address last week. The idea is that millionaires would pay a minimum 30 percent effective tax rate. It has almost no chance of passage in a Republican-controlled House that has sworn off tax increases.