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First Thoughts: The bleeding doesn't stop

For Obama, the bleeding doesn’t stop… Romney campaign pounces on “The private sector is doing fine” remark… Obama camp tries to capitalize on Romney’s own firefighter/police gaffe… Mitch Daniels on Romney and why he’s not going to be on the VP shortlist… Commerce secretary cited in hit-and-run accident… Obama camp to highlight auto industry’s recovery in Michigan… Pro-Obama Super PAC and SEIU blast Romney in new Spanish-language ad campaign… Breaking down this week’s ad spending… Gabby Giffords stumps in AZ-8 special election… And Scott Brown’s new TV ads and his play for female voters.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Barack Obama answers reporters' questions during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House June 8, 2012.

*** The bleeding doesn’t stop: If last week couldn’t have gotten worse for President Obama and his campaign, well, it did on Friday when Obama uttered these six words at his news conference: “The private sector is doing fine.” In context, the president was noting that the private sector is doing fine IN COMPARISON with the public sector, and the job numbers back that up. But in politics, the context often doesn’t matter. (Remember Romney’s “I’m not concerned about the very poor”?) Also in politics, a gaffe is dangerous when it plays into a narrative the opposition wants to create, and Team Romney has been building the narrative that the president just doesn’t understand the economy; just see the Romney campaign’s latest web video and the RNC’s research responding to Obama’s “private sector is doing fine” remark. The good news for the Obama campaign is that 1) Romney has the challenge of proving he’s more in touch than Obama, 2) this is June, and 3) this race remains competitive. But right now, the Obama campaign looks caught off guard on so many levels; Friday was simply the icing on the cake.

*** Overly reactive: Being caught off guard is very surprising, given that the Obama campaign has been preparing for Romney over the past two or three years. They look overly reactive to the hourly news cycle -- something they would have mocked four years ago -- and seem to be unsure of their own message pushes against Romney. In fact, this all started with the Bain attacks, which privately they knew would get criticism in the Acela Corridor and yet the attacks really seemed to knock them off their game and they haven’t recovered since. Bottom line: There’s a tightness and a message discipline that looks to outsiders as if it’s missing in Chicago. Perhaps this is the growing pains of trying to run a campaign an entire time zone away, which was supposed to be an asset and right now looks like a liability since the principle they represent is in DC. Team Obama also learned this lesson on Friday: If you don’t have much to say, don’t do a presser. The lack of news in the president’s remarks allowed the Romney campaign and GOP to pounce on those six words.

President Barack Obama tried to remain update about private sector hiring at a news conference on Friday and change the narrative after a difficult week. The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd reports.

*** Obama campaign tries to capitalize on Romney own gaffe: For its part, the Obama campaign tried to highlight what it saw as Romney’s own gaffe on Friday afternoon -- just as Romney was reacting to the president. “[Obama] says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin?” Romney said in Iowa. “The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” The Obama campaign pounces on gaffe with this web video.

*** Mitch Daniels on Romney: How do we know that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels just isn’t a big fan of Mitt Romney? Here’s the latest example: Daniels said on FOX yesterday that Romney can’t run on just being the anti-Obama. "The American people, I think, will rightly demand to know something more than he's not President Obama,” Daniels said. “He better have an affirmative and constructive message and one of hope." Folks, let’s not even pretend Daniels is on the VP shortlist… Meanwhile, Jeb Bush is wrapping up an off-camera, on-the-record breakfast with NYC-based reporters, and it is not exactly on the Romney set of talking points, either. Put it this way: Go through your Twitter feed of reporters attending this breakfast and replace “Jeb” with “Clinton” and “Romney” with “Obama,” and you’d probably believe you’d know the biggest story of the day. Jeb is that OFF MESSAGE when it comes to Romney’s needs. Topics include: immigration, Hispanic outreach, Europe’s drag on the U.S. economy, and more.

*** Hit and run: You might not have known who the U.S. Commerce secretary is -- his name is John Bryson -- but now A LOT more people are going to know his name. The Los Angeles Times: “Bryson was driving a Lexus in the 400 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday, when he allegedly rear-ended a Buick as it was waiting for a train to pass… After briefly stopping to talk to the three men inside the Buick, Bryson left the location in the Lexus and then struck the Buick a second time, authorities said. The men followed Bryson's car and called 911 to ask for police assistance. Bryson continued to drive his Lexus into Rosemead, which is patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. There, he allegedly crashed into a second vehicle near the intersection of San Gabriel Boulevard and Hellman Avenue. There authorities found him alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his car.” More: “Authorities said drugs or alcohol do not appear to have played a role in the crash… He was cited for felony hit and run but was not booked into jail because he had been admitted to the hospital. His condition was not known.” And this just in: A Commerce Department official now confirms Bryson has since been released from the hospital.

*** Obama camp to highlight auto industry’s recovery in Michigan: Turning back to the presidential campaign, the Detroit News reports that the Obama campaign is launching a statewide effort in Michigan touting the administration’s rescue of the auto industry. “Instead of just focusing on the turnaround of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, which rebounded since the $85 billion federal auto bailout, the Obama campaign intends to shine a weeklong spotlight on other manufacturers, restaurants, tourist spots and firms that benefitted from the auto recovery… Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, will kick off the Michigan Road to Recovery Tour on Monday with a press call.” Of course, this effort comes after a poll last week showed a statistical tie between Obama and Romney in Michigan.

*** Pro-Obama Super PAC and SEIU blast Romney in new Spanish-language ad campaign: In a $4 million advertising buy, the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA Action -- in partnership with the labor union SEIU -- is up with a Spanish-language advertising blitz hitting Mitt Romney on his work at Bain Capital and some of his more memorable gaffes. After playing this soundbite from Romney (“You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus”), a Hispanic female says in Spanish, “What about us? He’s not thinking about us.” A Hispanic man adds, “It’s easy for him to say that since he doesn’t have the same necessities as us.” Then the ad displays this across the screen: “Mitt Romney made millions of dollars leaving thousands of people without work.” The ads will air in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, and Nevada throughout the summer, and Priorities and SEIU will hold a conference call on them at 2:30 pm ET.

*** This week’s ad spending: Given that new Priorities USA ad, here’s a look at the battleground ad spending for THIS WEEK, per data from NBC/SMG Delta. Bottom line: Team Obama (the campaign and its Super PAC) have a significant spending edge over Team Romney.
CO
: Obama $531K, Romney $90K, Crossroads GPS $169K, Priorities USA $179K
FL
: Obama $1.2M, Crossroads GPS $794K, Priorities USA $289, Planned Parenthood Action Fund $149K
IA
: Obama $592K, Romney $103K, Crossroads GPS $185K, Planned Parenthood Action Fund $103K
MI
: Crossroads GPS $223K
NV
: Obama $516K, Romney $30K, Crossroads GPS $172K
NH
: Obama $482K, Romney $33K, Crossroads GPS $310K
NM
: Obama $18K
NC
: Obama $1.1M, Romney $193K, Crossroads GPS $449K
OH
: Obama $1.7M, Romney $277K, Crossroads GPS $514K, Priorities USA $166K
PA
: Obama $474K, Crossroads GPS $427K, Priorities USA $214K
VA
: Obama $772K, Romney $128K, Crossroads GPS $615K, Priorities USA $145K, Planned Parenthood Action Fund $193K

*** On the trail: Romney raises money in Atlanta, GA… Meanwhile, President Obama conducts affiliate TV interviews with anchors from Roanoke, VA; Jacksonville, FL; Greenville, SC; Sioux City, IA; Green Bay, WI; Colorado Springs, CO; Reno, NV; and Fresno, CA.

*** Giffords stumps for Barber: Tomorrow is the special election between Ron Barber (D) and Jesse Kelly (R) to fill the Arizona congressional seat that Gabby Giffords (D) vacated earlier this year. Per NBC’s John Boxley, Giffords campaigned in Tucson over the weekend for Barber, her former staffer. On Saturday night, Giffords attended a get-out-the-vote concert that drew more than 800 people, as Giffords danced to the tunes of Calexico, her favorite band. Boxley adds that on Sunday, Giffords – accompanied by her husband, Mark Kelly -- visited a phone bank for Barber, where she was greeted with loud cheers, as well as hugs and kisses. Some in the crowd were moved to tears, after seeing Giffords.

*** Scott Brown’s new TV ads and the play for female voters: And in that competitive Massachusetts Senate race, Scott Brown’s campaign is up with two new TV ads (here and here) that feature Brown’s wife, Gail -- the first time that she has appeared in a TV ad. Make no mistake: This is an effort to play to female voters, given that Brown’s opponent is Elizabeth Warren (D). By the way, that Brown pickup truck is featured in both ads.

Countdown to GOP convention: 77 days
Countdown to Dem convention: 84 days
Countdown to Election Day: 148 days

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