NBC’s Domenico Montanaro gives his first read on First Read this morning – the president heads to New Hampshire, where he’s no longer the favorite to win the state, Romney’s up with his first ad, and the blame game heats up on the Super Committee’s failure.
Obama goes back to New Hampshire, but has work to do … Obama can win reelection without Ohio, Florida, Virginia, or North Carolina, but NOT without winning New Hampshire … Bracket-ology: Romney’s first campaign ad – it’s negative and out of context, but the campaign defends it … These go to Eleven: It’s yet ANOTHER debate, and again on foreign policy … Super Committee’s epic fail, who gets the blame, why Obama didn’t get involved, and why a deal could still happen.
From NBC’s Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, Natalie Cucchiara, and Brooke Brower
*** Obama’s reversal of fortune in NH: New Hampshire has never been an easy state for Barack Obama. After his decisive win the Iowa caucuses -- and all the momentum that came with it -- New Hampshire Democrats and independents surprisingly sided with Hillary Clinton, which set the stage for the LONG Democratic primary in 2008. Ten months later, however, Obama easily won the state in the general election, besting John McCain (who had plenty of previous success in the Granite State) by nine points, 54%-45%. Yet when he returns to the state today to speak on his jobs legislation at 12:15 pm ET, Obama’s fortunes in New Hampshire have once again been reversed. An October NBC-Marist poll showed the president’s approval rating in the state at just 38%, and it had Mitt Romney beating him there 49%-40%. A more recent Bloomberg survey similarly showed Romney beating Obama by 10 points. This is Obama’s third trip to the Granite State as president, per NBC’s Alicia Jennings, but his first since Feb. 2010.
*** ‘Live Free or Die’: While New Hampshire contains just four electoral votes, it’s important to Team Obama in this respect: He can get to 270 electoral votes and win re-election without winning Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, or Virginia -- as long as he carries Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico, plus all the states John Kerry won in 2004. But if Obama loses New Hampshire under that scenario? He falls short with just 268 electoral votes. And there are factors working against Obama in the Granite State, especially if Romney is the GOP nominee. For starters, Romney was governor of neighboring Massachusetts and owns a home in New Hampshire. What’s more, the Obama coalitions of young voters and minorities aren’t found broadly in the state; it’s 93% white, for example. And independents make up 42% of the state’s registered voters. His poll standing with this key group remains upside down.
*** Romney brackets Obama: As it usually does when Obama hits the road, the Romney campaign is bracketing Obama’s visit to New Hampshire -- but this time it’s doing it with its first TV ad of the race. Per NBC’s Jo Ling Kent, the advertisement will begin airing today on WMUR (at a buy of $134,000). Strikingly, Romney’s first ad is NEGATIVE. It blames Obama on the economy and then pivots (with soaring string music) to what Romney wants to do. He hits on Tea Party talking points -- “getting rid of programs, turning programs back to states”; “get rid of ‘ObamaCare’; “moral responsibility not to spend more than we take in”; “high time to bring those principles of fiscal responsibility to Washington, D.C.” And, with a shot of a manufacturing worker, he says, he’ll “make America a job-creating machine like it has been in the past.” After Obama’s speech in Manchester, N.H., Romney surrogates Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) will hold a conference call at 2:00 pm ET. And Romney took out a full page ad in the Union Leader, Concord Monitor, and Nashua Telegraph, calling it an “open letter to President Obama,” entitled, “Welcome to New Hampshire -- your policies have failed.” In it, he references the out-of-context attack that Obama thinks Americans are “lazy.”
*** Speaking of out of context: With grainy video, ominous music and President Obama with an echo, Romney’s ad uses this seemingly damning line from Obama: “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” But, as the New York Times points out: “[T]he line, which is perhaps the spot’s most devastating moment, is also the one that seems to be the most taken out of context. In fact, at the time, Mr. Obama was referring to something that an aide to his then opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona, had said in reference to the McCain campaign — not Mr. Obama, then or now.” The Romney campaign defended its use, saying the “tables have turned” on the president. “President Obama and his campaign are doing exactly what candidate Obama criticized,” Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said. “President Obama and his team don’t want to talk about the economy and have tried to distract voters from President Obama’s abysmal economic record.”
*** Debate No. 11: Just two days before Thanksgiving, the Republican presidential candidates will hold their 11th debate of the cycle. It will be second-straight foreign-policy-focused debate. And it will be the first one since Newt Gingrich’s poll surge, as well as the first one since Herman Cain’s flubbed response on Libya. Gingrich leads, leads by the way, in a new CNN poll. The debate begins at 8:00 pm ET, and it’s co-sponsored by CNN, and conservative Washington think-tanks the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute. It’s moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and takes place in D.C.
*** The blame game: The Super Committee officially announced its failure yesterday, and while congressional Republicans and those running for president were blaming Democrats and President Obama, it was also striking that President Obama in his statement yesterday pointed his finger directly at congressional Republicans. “Despite broad agreement for such a broad approach,” Obama said, “There are still too many Republicans in Congress who have refused to listen to voices of reason and compromise coming from outside Washington.” Over the summer -- whether it was the debt ceiling or the FAA shutdown -- he referred to Congress as a whole. But yesterday, he singled out the GOP.
*** Three reasons Obama didn't get involved in Super Committee: (1) Members on both sides of the Super Committee asked the president NOT to get involved, NBC’s Kristen Welker reports according to White House officials; (2) He believes the deadline in many respects is artificial. If the automatic cuts don't kick in for a year, then there is time to come up with some other solution; and (3) It's good politics. Yes, he'll take short-term nicks with Republicans blaming him, but what if it failed and he had gotten involved? What if it passed, but they had to make painful cuts to social programs that would have upset his base? It's good to run against a Congress that's as unpopular as this one is. We've seen the president go down to Congress' level on lots of occasions, and he was criticized for it. This time, he stayed away and highlighted Congress’ inability to get things done on their own.
*** But here’s why something could still get done: Republicans are trying to find ways around the automatic Defense cuts, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reported on TODAY. But President Obama, noting that “one way or another” $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction will go into effect over the next 10 years, issued a veto threat. “I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending,” he said. “There will be no easy off-ramps on this one.” White House officials stress that the cuts don’t go into effect until 2013 and that the president is going to push for a “balanced” approach, NBC’s Kristen Welker reports. So, in the White House’s view, the real deadline is Dec. 31, 2012. The White House thinks the threat of hefty cuts to items important to both sides is a way to bring all sides to the table. (Just asking, but wasn’t that supposed to be the point of the Super Committee in the first place?) Expect to hear from the president the themes of “coming together” and the need for “compromise” on this issue on the campaign trail similar to the way he’s campaigned on his jobs plan. By the way, House Speaker Boehner defends his own role in the process, saying in an op-ed in USA Today that he “did everything possible” to support the committee.
*** Giving Thanks: For the Thanksgiving holiday, we’re taking a break from the morning version of First Read until Monday. But don’t fret, we’ll still have updates throughout the day as news warrants.
*** On the 2012 trail: The only action is with Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul, who are both in New Hampshire.
*** Tuesday’s “Daily Rundown” line-up (with guest host Luke Russert): Super Committee member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) on how we got here… MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on his new book “Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero”… the latest on Egypt with NBC’s Richard Engel in Cairo… more 2012 news with the Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson, Roll Call/Rothenberg Report’s Nathan Gonzales and Republican strategist Phil Musser.
*** Tuesday’s “MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts” line-up: Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich on the Super Committee, Author Jeff Madrick on whether America Needs Wall Street, former Gov. Ed Rendell and Susan Del Percio on Gingrich’s rise in the polls.
*** Tuesday’s “NOW with Alex Wagner” line-up: The Nation’s Katrina Vanden Heuvel, publisher Mort Zuckerman, Financial Times’ Gillian Tett; and MSNBC contributor Meghan McCain.
*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: Andrea Mitchell anchors from New York. Guests include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, MSNBC’S Rachel Maddow, NCAA President Mark Emmert (on the Penn State investigation), Newt Gingrich’s New Hampshire Director Andrew Hemingway, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, and NBC’s Engel.
Countdown to Iowa caucuses: 42 days
Countdown to New Hampshire primary: 49 days
Countdown to South Carolina primary: 60 days
Countdown to Florida primary: 70 days
Countdown to Nevada caucuses: 74 days
Countdown to Super Tuesday: 105 days
Countdown to Election Day: 350 days
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