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First Thoughts: Stalled - another disappointing jobs report

The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd explains why President Barack Obama needs to find good news in the economic picture.

Another weak jobs report – just 80,000 jobs added, unemployment stuck at 8.2%. It takes the pressure off Romney after what’s been a rough couple of weeks … Romney considering foreign-policy push and Romney/RNC/Victory Fund rake in $100 million for June… All these leaks look like a Romney still trying to quell the right’s critics. … Obama made most stops for him this campaign yesterday in Ohio with five. He makes three more today – two in Ohio and one in Pittsburgh. … In Cincinnati NBC affiliate interview, Obama accuses Romney of not standing firm on principle and caving to the right, dismissed the tax vs. penalty argument, and believes the states will implement Medicaid expansion – eventually. … And what exactly is in the water in the Illinois congressional delegation?

*** Stalled – another disappointing jobs report: Despite things appearing to break the president’s way in the past couple of weeks – from immigration to health care, we’re reminded this morning what this election is all about – the economy, with yet another mediocre-to-bad jobs report. The economy added just 80,000 jobs in June and unemployment remained unchanged at 8.2%. It’s the third straight month of weak hiring. We noted yesterday that despite all of the problems Romney’s had over the past couple of weeks that today would reset that conversation if it was a poor jobs report. No one’s happier about this report than the Romney campaign, because it takes the pressure off, which is a delicate irony since the GOP can’t be seen as rooting for bad news. By the way, here’s a pretty good way to gauge the political reaction to the four remaining jobs reports of this campaign: any number under 100,000 will benefit Romney, between 100,000 and 150,000 is a push, and over 150,000 will benefit Obama. The president’s expected to address the jobs report at 10:40 am ET during a stop in Poland, OH.

Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images

People walk past a sign leading to a job center in Rosemead, east of downtown of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley in this May 24, 2012 file photo in California.

*** Romney continues to try and quell the right: With news out today that Romney is considering a foreign-policy push this summer with a trip to Europe and his $100 million month (joint with the RNC and Victory Fund), it seems the Romney folks are trying to leak some stuff out to calm down the Bill Kristols and Paul Gigots of the world. By the way, none of the changes noted in this piece seem to be real big changes but just the type of nuggets that will calm the nervous nellies down. By the way, the power of Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul owner of The Wall Street Journal, New York Post and Fox News, who started this tempest with just a Tweet, is notable here. Not only does the Aussie control those conservative media outlets, he also apparently wields enough influence that the Romney campaign felt it needed to make some adjustments. What’s makes it even more incredible is, as the New York Times reports, Romney and Murdoch aren’t even close. Murdoch got close to the Clintons and the Bushes. But he could never get close to Obama, because he bet on the Clintons, and now, he’s not really close to Romney, either.

*** Obama to Romney: ‘Your principles matter’: Back in October, Obama adviser David Plouffe said on Meet the Press of Romney: "He has no core." The president seemed to echo that yesterday in an interview with NBC Cincinnati affiliate, hitting Romney for changing his position on the mandate and caving to political pressure from the right. "On the health care bill, Mr. Romney was one of the biggest promoters of the individual mandate," Obama will say in the interview to air this morning. "That's exactly what's included as part of my health care plan...And the fact that a whole bunch of Republicans in Washington suddenly said, this is a tax -- for six years he said it wasn't, and now he has suddenly reversed himself. So the question becomes, are you doing that because of politics? Are you abandoning a principle that you fought for, for six years simply because you're getting pressure for two days from Rush Limbaugh or some critics in Washington?...One of the things that you learn as President is that what you say matters and your principles matter. And sometimes, you've got to fight for things that you believe in and you can't just switch on a dime." So the president went to the “flip-flopper” charge the first chance he got. A reminder, by the way, that it could be the most potent thing against Romney and why Romney’s folks are ALWAYS more sensitive to it than even the ideological issues.

*** Obama dismisses talk of tax vs. penalty…: Obama also weighed into the tax vs. penalty fray – and he took the opportunity to hit Romney: “This was the same kind of approach that was taken in Massachusetts - when Governor Romney implemented his plan. Less than 1% of the people have been impacted in Massachusetts, and it's estimated that less than 1% of the people throughout the U.S. will be impacted by this so-called individual mandate, so whether you call it a tax, a penalty, a mandate, whatever you call it, what it is - is if you can afford to buy health insurance, don't dump those costs on somebody else.”

*** …And bets states implement Medicaid: And he talked about states with conservative governors threatening to refuse Medicaid funds that could help the poorest get on the rolls. Obama’s betting that eventually politics “fades away” and it’s implemented. “What's going to happen,” the president said, “and we saw this when Medicare first started, a lot of times politics gets in the way of common sense and so there are a lot of Republican governors who feel pressure from Rush Limbaugh and members of Congress not to implement and so they think it's bad politics. Over time, though, when they start seeing that more and more people in states that do implement are getting a better deal on their health insurance, costs are going down, fewer people are uninsured, over time, what happens is the politics fades away and this thing gets implemented.”

*** Most Obama campaign stops in a day this cycle: Some of us watching the campaign have wondered just when it will kick into high gear. Most of what we’ve seen from both campaigns since the end of the GOP primary is fundraising mixed in with an event or two a day – not town halls and multiple stops in at local bars, diners, soda shops. But yesterday, President Obama made five stops in Ohio – the most he’s made this cycle, his campaign confirms. The most non-fundraising stops Romney has made in a day recently since the end of the primary was three on his bus tour weeks ago. And don’t miss the beer drinking at some of the unplanned stops…

*** POTUS will talk about jobs report later this morning: Today, Obama makes two more stops in Ohio – Boardman at 9:35 am ET and an elementary school in Poland at 10:40 am ET, where he will talk about the jobs report. He then heads to Pittsburgh for an event at Carnegie Mellon University at 12:50 pm ET. There, at one of the top engineering schools in the country, Obama will press this case, per the campaign – “Like other industrial Midwest states, Pennsylvania is benefitting from President Obama's vision of an economy built to last, where hard work pays, responsibility is rewarded and everyone plays by the same rules.” Obama won Mahoning County in Northeastern, Ohio, where Boardman and Poland are, 62-36%, in 2008. He won Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is, 57-42%.

*** What’s in the Illinois water? What’s going on with the bizarre, bipartisan behavior in the Chicago-area Illinois delegation? Joe Walsh had a strange interview yesterday trying to walk back from comments he made implying Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee, wasn’t a true hero. The fact is this wasn’t the first weird rant we’ve seen out of Walsh. It’s becoming clearer by the day that he has accidental “wave” members written all over him. All he’s doing is cementing his future. If you’re the NRCC and House Speaker Boehner, you hope you hold control with this guy going away. And then there’s the strange case of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. His office yesterday said he’s out on leave for “exhaustion” and checked himself into an in-patient treatment facility. All of this comes as there’s lots of speculation that an indictment could come down any day in addition to personal problems in his marriage and an ongoing investigation into his role in the Blagojevich problems. He’s been missing for days, unaccounted for. Now he’s accounted for, sort of, as his office hasn’t said where Jackson has checked himself into or exactly why.

Countdown to GOP convention: 52 days
Countdown to Dem convention: 59 days
Countdown to Election Day: 123 days

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