Discuss as:

2012: The general election now begins

The AP’s Babington writes, “The 2012 presidential general election has begun. It won't be pretty. … Romney and Obama wasted no time in portraying the voters' choice in dire, sometimes starkly personal terms.”

“The inevitability is now the reality: Mitt vs. Bam for the White House,” the New York Daily News writes, “Rick Santorum’s announcement Tuesday that he will stand down has cleared the way for Mitt Romney to declare victory — and launched the fall campaign with a vengeance.”

And check out this quote from a “top Romney confidant”: “The fact is that this is the first day of the general election. Not Labor Day, but today. It’s here.”

Overlooked with all the news yesterday was President George W. Bush’s speech in New York City, in which he said this about the “Bush tax cuts”: “I wish they weren’t called the Bush tax cuts. If they’re called some other body’s tax cuts, they’re probably less likely to be raised.”

That’s quite the revelation from the former president about his presidency and legacy -- that he feels his name has been that polarizing.

GINGRICH: “Five Republicans have filed the necessary papers and $500 fee to qualify for the June 26 Utah presidential primary election, but with Rick Santorum dropping out of the race Tuesday, only four will be on the ballot,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports. “Or possibly three. Newt Gingrich’s check bounced.” More: “[I]f the fee isn’t paid by April 20, Gingrich will be disqualified and will not be on the ballot.”

This comes after Gingrich encouraged Santorum supporters to go to his website to support him and declared himself the “last conservative standing.”

ROMNEY: The Romney campaign is claiming that 92 percent of jobs lost since President Obama took office were women. Buzzfeed: “According to the Romney campaign, the 92 percent figure was reached by examining the net jobs lost under Obama (-740,000) and the decline in the number of women who are employed (-683,000).”

The New York Times “Mr. Romney’s figure of 92.3 percent is one his campaign began citing earlier in April. It is based on numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which show a net loss of 740,000 nonfarm jobs since Mr. Obama’s inauguration. Women have lost 683,000 jobs in that time, or about 92 percent. But the number drew a skeptical response from the fact-checking Web site PolitiFact, which pointed out that historically in recessions, men are the first to lose jobs in industries like construction, and women’s layoffs — in fields like education and government — follow. The statistic, which appears to be a talking point Mr. Romney intends to use regularly, was rated “mostly false” by PolitiFact.”

U.S. News points out: “It's also accurate to note that many more women who lost their jobs have found new ones.”

“The math they use is correct; the terminology is completely wrong,” Brian Davidson, an economist at BLS, told First Read. Davidson notes that women actually make up a larger share of the workforce now than they did in January 2008 before the financial meltdown, and since January 2009, it is a statistically insignificant change. In January 2008, they made up 48.8 percent of the workforce, in Jan. 2009, they were 49.5 percent, now they are 49.3 percent.

“Do we still have the same amount of women workers relative to men in the net change. Yes we do,” Davidson said. He added, “It’s like trying to pull a bunny out of a hat, but there’s no bunny inside.”

A former Romney adviser said economic uncertainty gives Romney a chance, but he’s not guaranteeing victory. “Voters are angry,” Mark Murphy said. “They’ve got their Frankenstein torches; they’re just not sure which castle to burn down.”

Romney heads to Connecticut and Rhode Island today.

SANTORUM: “Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign Tuesday, ending a dogged and increasingly Quixotic crusade to emerge as his party’s conservative champion and effectively handing the Republican presidential nomination to Mitt Romney,” the Boston Globe writes. “Santorum’s decision allows Romney to begin the urgent task of trying to heal the wounds from a divisive and sometimes brutal primary while broadening his appeal to independents who will be crucial to his effort to defeat President Obama in the fall. Santorum had proved to be the fiercest challenger to Romney’s claim on the nomination, in a campaign season that has seen that mantle pass repeatedly from candidate to candidate. But he was ultimately overmatched in money and organization, and it would have been nearly impossible for him to collect the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination.”

AP: “From obscure former senator driving a pickup truck across Iowa, Rick Santorum made a surprising -- he calls it miraculous -- leap to become the most formidable threat to Mitt Romney's march to the Republican nomination. His shoestring campaign, which ended Tuesday, was a constant reminder of Romney's trouble connecting with the party's conservative core.”

AP also compiles some of the greatest Rick Santorum hits against Romney.

The New York Post: “Rick Santorum yesterday pulled the plug on his presidential campaign, ending a long-shot bid that did better than anyone expected but ran out of steam.”