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First Thoughts: Obama unchallenged on Hispanic media

Obama goes unchallenged on Hispanic media … Could the GOP use a man like George W. Bush again? … The gender gap … New polls in OH, FL show toss up, Obama expands lead in PA … China issue to become political hot potato … Today’s veepstakes audition – Bob McDonnell … Romney should address Grennell issue … and Elizabeth Warren finally addresses Native American controversy.

By NBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, Natalie Cucchiara, and Brooke Brower

Charles Dharapak / AP

President Barack Obama's campaign has yet to see any competition from the Romney campaign on Hispanic media outlets.

*** Obama unchallenged on Hispanic media: Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney Super PAC, is up today with a $4.3 million ad buy across nine battleground states. But what’s been amazing is that even though the president is getting outspent by outside groups left and right, the one place opponents aren’t even COMPETING is on Hispanic media outlets. Republicans are not on air on Hispanic media AT ALL so far, according to NBC/Smart Media Delta. President Obama, on the other hand, is going unchecked for two weeks, spending $435,000 – and $730,000 total so far this cycle – through mid-May with Hispanic media buys in Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Tampa, and Miami. If the president is wining by huge margins with Hispanics and women (more on that below), the math becomes very precarious for Romney. Look at those states where the president is advertising: Colorado, Nevada and Florida. Can Romney win the White House without winning at least ONE Western state?

Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guang, who according to U.S. officials had eagerly embraced a plan to stay in China with his family, now says he is anxious to leave the country. The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd reports.

*** Could the GOP use a man like George W. Bush again? Republicans are rarely eager to tout the “Bush” brand these days, but, as the headline of this Univision article asks, “Is ‘Dubya’ the GOP’s missing link to Latinos?” We wrote about Romney’s challenge with Latinos last month, and it’s striking with the pivot to the general, that there hasn’t been more of an overt push to win over the group in ways that the Bush White House did. Former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told Univision earlier this week: “Gov. [George W.] Bush had some kind of personal quality that made it easier to connect with the Hispanic community, despite his privilege.” He added, “I’m not talking about a marketing campaign to sell himself [Romney] to the Latino community, that would be too slick. He has to develop some sense of trust that’s not there right now.” How the Romney campaign pivots and begins its wooing of Hispanics will be fascinating to watch. It’s a must-do for them especially if Romney finds himself facing a bigger gender gap than McCain dealt with.

*** Speaking of the gender gap: The Obama campaign up with an online tool, targeting women, using a made-up person named Julia, comparing Obama and what it’s dubbing the Romney-Ryan plan.  Folks, in talking with Democratic strategists and watching the rhetoric that regularly comes from House and Senate Dems, it’s clear that the goal of the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party in general is to do whatever it takes to WIDEN the gap if it’s possible with women. We’re guessing a week won’t go by without some NEW effort by the Obama campaign to try and woo women. This online tool is an interesting “Sim City” attempt to try to put a face to their charges against Ryan.  One state where the gender gap may be a hurdle: Pennsylvania; in particular those Philly suburbs.  By the way, Restore Our Future (the Romney SuperPAC) isn’t advertising in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, and two polls out, show Obama with high-single digit leads, up nine in Wisconsin and eight in Pennsylvania. A source in the know says Restore’s not up in Wisconsin, because it’s saturated right now with recall ads, and Pennsylvania just saw the ad for two weeks

*** Race tightens in Ohio, Florida: Romney may have some deficits with Hispanics and women to start, but the paths to 270 he has go through Ohio and Florida. And this morning, new Quinnipiac polling shows the races there have tightened and are pure toss ups. Romney leads Obama 44%-43% in Florida and Obama is ahead 44%-42% in Ohio (both within the margin of error). What’s also noteworthy from the poll is that two-thirds of people say we’re still in recession, but a majority also we’re starting to recover. It’s why the economy can be a more nuanced argument. People think the environment’s not good, but getting better. The Romney campaign is out with another in its series of “Broken Promises” videos, this one on energy. The RNC is starting a new message campaign against Obama called, “Hype and Blame” ahead of his campaign events Saturday. It’s going up with online advertising and bumper stickers as a fundraiser.

*** China hot potato: The “be tougher on china crowd,” which includes some Republicans and some Democrats, are going to pop up today, saying the Obama administration didn’t do enough for Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, especially after his release from a U.S. embassy and with Secretary of State Clinton and Treasury Secretary Geithner in China today for high-level economic talks. On cue this morning, House Speaker John Boehner’s out with a sharply worded statement, saying he’s “deeply disturbed” that Chen “was pressured to leave the U.S. embassy against his will amid flimsy promises and possible threats of harm to his family. In such a situation, the United States has an obligation to stand with the oppressed, not with the oppressor. Having handed Chen Guangcheng back over to the Chinese government, the Obama administration is responsible for ensuring his safety. While our economic relationship with China is important and vital to the future of people in both countries, the United States has an obligation to use its engagement with China to press for reforms in China’s human rights practices, particularly with respect to the reprehensible 'one-child’ policy."

*** Today’s veepstakes audition: Virginia Gob. Bob McDonnell is with Romney today in Portsmouth, VA, for a 1:15 pm ET event, where, by the way, former candidate Michele Bachmann is going to officially endorse Romney. McDonnell and Romney have campaigned together before, but this will be another chance to see how the two gel. By the way, though, with McDonnell and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker both up with ads talking about how good the economy’s gotten in their respective states, that complicates Romney bad economy message. In other veepstakes news, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal both talk education in New Jersey at the Alliance for School Choice National Policy Summit, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan holds “listening sessions” in Wisconsin, and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte holds a town hall in New Hampshire. Jindal’s on “Daily Rundown” today to talk education and veepstakes.

*** Romney should address Grenell: By the way, does Mitt Romney need to do a press avail to get the Richard Grennell question out of the way? The story hasn’t gone away. Sure it’s a “process” story. But, there’s more coverage of it today (see: The New York Times). Clearly, it does say something about the fact that, as we wrote yesterday, that Romney’s got to continue to look over his right shoulder. How much was this fear about creating a stir with social conservatives? It’s a tiny story that most aren’t following, but Romney has a big enough problem with suburban women. It’s the socially moderate, Independent, formally Republican women that the GOP is struggling with and stories like this can only make it worse.

*** Warren speaks up about Native American controversy: After days of not much of an answer, Elizabeth Warren admitted yesterday to listing herself as a minority in law professor directories: “I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group, something that might happen with people who are like I am. Nothing like that ever happened. That was clearly not the use for it. And so I stopped checking it off. That was it.” “Asked whether she considers herself to be a minority,” the Boston Globe writes Warren said, “Native American is part of my family. It’s an important part of my heritage.’” And then she pivoted to hit Brown on women: “You know, if we’re going to ask questions about qualifications, maybe the most appropriate person to ask is Scott Brown. What does he think it takes for a woman to be qualified?” Brown, meanwhile, derided Warren as having an “elitist attitude” yesterday. The Globe also reported yesterday that Brown has gotten $2.9 million in donations from the financial sector, noting he “played a critical role in the battle over the 2010 financial regulatory overhaul.” And both candidates are up with ads (Brown here, Warren here) trying to tie themselves to President Obama.

*** Pro-Lugar poll has Lugar up 2: A pro-Lugar group – in a one-day poll – showed Lugar up 44%-42% over state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

Countdown to Indiana Senate/Wisconsin recall primaries: 5
Countdown to Wisconsin recall election: 33
Countdown to Election Day: 187 days

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