Tales from the Trail

Romney camp hits back at DNC for “Mitt v. Mitt” attack ad

Mitt Romney’s campaign lined up a bevy of surrogates on Monday to respond to the DNC’s new “Mitt v. Mitt” ad campaign by pressing home their point that Obama is attacking Romney in order to avoid talking about the sputtering U.S. economy.

Although Romney had no public events scheduled for Monday, his campaign arranged a series of conference calls with supporters to “discuss President Obama’s record.”

Former Minnesota Governor and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, three Ohio legislators, and New Hampshire’s state Senate Majority leader and House Majority leader were among supporters who set up at least six different press conference calls with reporters in states targeted by the DNC.

Their message: Obama is attacking Romney because he doesn’t want to talk about the high 9 percent unemployment rate.

“Before the first vote in the Republican primary is even cast, the Democrats are blasting Mitt Romney and trying to tear him down, and I think the reason for that is they don’t want to focus on their own failure,” said Pawlenty, who joined Romney’s team after ending his own presidential campaign in August. “The last thing they want to do is run against Mitt Romney.”

Newt, schmoot – Democrats keep sights firmly on Romney

 

Newt Gingrich may have jumped into the lead among Republican presidential hopefuls in some national polls, but the Democrats — at least – seem convinced that Mitt Romney will be President Barack Obama’s opponent in November 2012, at least if you look at how they are spending their advertising dollars.

The latest barrage, an early salvo in what is expected to be a particularly nasty presidential campaign, is a four-minute-long attack titled “Mitt v. Mitt: The Story of Two Men Trapped in One Body.” Slamming the former Massachusetts governor as having changed his position on a wide range of issues, the ad uses clips showing Romney speaking at varying points in his career and expressing different viewpoints on issues such as healthcare, immigration, climate change and even Ronald Reagan.

Speaking of Reagan, the video shows the former president saying, “There you go again,”  a particularly devastating line the Republican icon used in a debate with Democratic President Jimmy Carter, whom Reagan defeated in the 1980 election. It also uses clips from late-night television hosts depicting Romney as a candidate who “flip-flops” by changing his position, echoing Democratic attacks on Romney.

Gingrich takes heat over “amnesty”

Electrified fences, predator drones and anchor babies were nowhere to be found when the subject of illegal immigration came up in the latest of a series of Republican presidential debates.

The softer, gentler tone Tuesday night at Constitution Hall was a contrast from when the White House hopefuls took on the subject at a debate in Las Vegas last month.

But there was still heat at the Washington debate — and this time Newt Gingrich got scorched by expressing a relatively moderate position on illegal immigration.

Romney opens ad offensive against Obama

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s first television commercial attacking Barack Obama’s record  hits the airwaves in New Hampshire on Tuesday — just in time to welcome the president on a  visit to the early primary state.

A discussion of jobs was on the agenda for Obama’s quick trip to a high school in Manchester. But Romney didn’t wait for the president’s arrival.

The former Massachusetts governor previewed his new  ad Monday night on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” show.

Washington Extra – Turkey talks

The good news? Thanksgiving will not be interrupted by eleventh-hour negotiations by the “super committee” to strike a deal to cut the burgeoning deficit. After months of work, the 11 men and one woman called it quits today. Their statement said “it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement.” No mention of the word on everyone’s tongues: failure.

Even in the early days of the super committee, we are learning, hope was in short supply. At one of the early breakfast meetings, members kept saying how hard it would be to reach agreement. South Carolina’s  Democratic Representative James Clyburn said to his fellow panel members: “Do you want to know what’s hard? Desegregating South Carolina in the 1950s. I met my wife in jail.”

Right now, it’s hard to believe this Congress “can build on this committee’s work,” as the committee co-chairs said hopefully in their statement. There seems to be little faith left on the Hill. Just look at the harsh words from Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, who said the panel’s failure “represents yet another regrettable milestone in Congress’s steady march toward abject ineffectiveness.”

Gingrich fascinated by Romney computer wipe

Republican Newt Gingrich had not heard of a controversy surrounding some of the final actions of rival Mitt Romney’s staff when Romney was governor of Massachusetts, but suggested the ploy might even turn up in one of his books in the future.

The Boston Globe reported this week that when Romney was leaving the statehouse in 2006 after one term as governor, eleven of his staff were allowed to use their own money to purchase their work computers’ hard drives, and the Romney administration’s emails were all wiped from a server.

“They did what?” Gingrich said when asked about it at a press conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after a film screening. “I’m now in non-candidate mode, of simply being curious as a citizen.”

Herman Cain promises more “Powerful Pauses”

White House hopeful Herman Cain defended his now infamous “Milwaukee pause” while stumping in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, and even termed a new phrase putting a positive spin on his apparent gaffe.

Earlier this week Cain stumbled in an interview at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, pausing at length when asked a question about U.S. policy in Libya.

“Unlike politicians, I don’t shoot from the lip,” Cain told Reuters at the Airport Diner, saying that as a businessman he takes in information and considers it before responding.

Washington Extra – Patriotic millionaires

As Democrats and Republicans hunkered down on opposite sides of the Capitol on Wednesday, showing no signs of a compromise on slashing the deficit, a group called the Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength made its move.

Nearly 140 members wrote a letter to President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to “do the right thing” and “raise our taxes.” Next they hit up the bipartisan “super committee,” laboring under a Nov. 23 deadline to reach agreement on the deficit or trigger unpalatable budget cuts.

One of the corporate patriots said if Congress ended Bush-era tax cuts it would affect him and his fellow millionaires in his group “about as much as a dead fly interrupts a picnic.”

Newt goes back to school

Newt Gingrich may not have thrilled a crowd of Iowa school kids with all of his answers on Tuesday, but he cannot be accused of pandering to them.

Gingrich didn’t score points with the 200 or so middle and high schoolers  in Osage, Iowa, with his answer to the U.S. falling behind in the brain race with China.

“You’ve got to study more,” he told the kids, who stared back. “Scores in the end aren’t the teacher’s problem; they are the student’s problem.”

Newt’s campaign contributions surge alongside his rising favorability

Newly anointed Republican front-runner Newt Gingrich has raised more money since October 1 than during the rest of his presidential campaign, as rising poll numbers have prompted his fans to open their wallets.

The former Speaker of the House of Representatives has raised at least $3 million since October 1, said campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond. The donations have averaged $100 each and he is attracting 1,000 new donors each day.

In contrast, Gingrich took in less than $800,000 in the third quarter ending September 30, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. At that point, he was trailing far behind most of his rivals for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.