A new Reuters-Ipsos poll shows Obama leading Romney by six points, 49%-43%.
And a new national Quinnipiac Poll finds President Obama leading Mitt Romney by three points among voters, 46% to 43%.
The Des Moines Register: “President Barack Obama gave Iowans a heartfelt pitch not to abandon him, asking voters ground down by negative TV ads and cynicism to “cut through the nonsense.” “This was a state that gave me a chance when nobody else would,” Obama said today at a campaign event that was part nostalgia, part pep talk and part rallying cry. The president asked Iowans for understanding, saying there’s a stalemate in Washington right now, but this election can change that. “Ultimately, Cedar Rapids, that’s why I’m running for a second term as president, because I believe we can make progress right now that helps you and your families. That’s what I’m going to be fighting for,” he said.”
The Denver Post: “Gov. Mitt Romney hit hard at the fiscal policies of President Barack Obama in a short stump speech in Grand Junction, but it was the hot-button conservative issues during a question-and-answer session that brought the crowd roaring to its feet on Tuesday. The 800 people packed into a high school gymnasium showed the most enthusiasm for Romney pronouncements to kill "Obamacare," do away with federal restrictions on natural gas fracking, uphold the death penalty and stand up for gun rights.”
Orlando, Fla. -- Speaking before a crowd of more than 2,000 Tuesday at the University of Central Florida, First Lady Michelle Obama listed President Barack Obama’s initiatives during his first term – including his recent executive order to stop deporting undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children – and said those policies are all “on the line” in November’s election.
“In the end, it all boils down to one simple question. Are we going to continue the change we begun, the progress we made?” Obama said. “Are we going to let everything that we fought for to just slip away?”
“We cannot turn back now,” she added. “We need to keep moving forward.”
The reference to President Barack Obama’s announcement last month that he had moved to block the deportation of hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants was perhaps an indication of how crucial Florida – rich in Latino votes – has become in an increasingly tight election.
“He knows and believes that it is time to stop denying responsible, young people opportunities in this country because they’re the children of undocumented immigrants. It’s time to stop that,” Obama said of her husband’s support for the DREAM act, which would offer a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have graduated from high school.
The measure has been held up in Congress since 2010.
According to pool reports earlier in the day, Obama made a quick surprise visit to the Blanchard Park YMCA in a mostly Hispanic neighborhood in Orlando. Many children recognized her – one girl covered her grin with both hands but could not hide it. Another asked for a hug.
At the university, Obama spoke for about 25 minutes inside the basketball arena. A state fire official estimated there were 2,251 people in the bleachers and on the gym floor.
There was no mention of the president’s opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, or of class and money – prominent themes in the attack ads released by both sides.
Still, Obama made a careful pitch of her husband as an ordinary man, whose origins as the son of a single mother “who struggled to put herself through school and pay the bills” leavens his judgment in office.
“I have seen how as president you are going to get all kind of advice for all kinds of people,” Obama said. “But at the end of the day, let me tell you when it comes time to make that decision as president, all you have to guide you are your life experiences. All you have to direct you are your values.”
"We all know who my husband is, don’t we?" Obama added. "We all know what Barack Obama stands for, don’t we?”
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – If the White House needs a surrogate who can pivot punch a rival’s policies to delivering bawdy humor about his parents, they’ve got their man.
Speaking to 1,800 Latino activists at the National Council of La Raza annual conference, Vice President Joe Biden challenged presidential rival Mitt Romney to release his tax returns, linking the Republican's lack of financial disclosure to his party's support for strict immigration laws.
"He wants you to show your papers but he won't show us his," Biden said to laughter from the pro-immigration crowd, which also cheered his descriptions of the administration's support for the Dream Act.
Biden, who likened discrimination against new Latino immigrants to the xenophobia aimed at Irish Catholics who immigrated to the United States after the potato famine of the mid-1800s, said he grew up in a multigenerational household similar to those of many middle-class Latino families.
That prompted a reference to the age-old problem of couples sharing a household with older family members.
"Those walls were awful thin, I wondered how the hell my parents did it," Biden said. "That's a different story. I know you don't know anything about that!"
Shifting between jocular to passionate, Biden warned that Romney and Republicans "don't get" the middle class mentality, saying that conservative ideals could erase decades of progress for minority populations if Romney names new judges to the Supreme Court.
"Imagine the court with two more [Antonin] Scalias and two more [John] Roberts on the court," he said. "Imagine what it would be like. Imagine what it will mean for civil rights, voting rights, and so much more that we've fought so hard for so long to accomplish."
Although Chief Justice Roberts was the swing vote in favor of upholding most of President Obama’s health care law, he is generally regarded as being conservative.
"Imagine a Justice Department that supports rather than challenges the continued efforts to suppress the right to vote," the vice president said, offering praise for embattled Attorney General Eric Holder.
Biden urged the audience to get involved in the presidential election, noting the "talent" and "patriotism" of the Latino community in America -- also a key voting bloc for both sides in the November contest.
"This is your moment," Biden said. "This is the moment for your community."
Tuesday’s address was the first of two major conference speeches for Biden this week; he travels to Houston Thursday to speak to a convention of the NAACP.
WASHINGTON -- Ohio Sen. Rob Portman's biggest asset as a potential running mate for Mitt Romney has traditionally been seen as his depth of experience in government and knowledge of the economy.
But Portman, speaking to an audience of hundreds at the American Builder and Contractors Association conference here in Washington, tried his hand at an important secondary role for vice presidential nominees: attack dog.
The Ohio pol talked about the difficulties his father faced when he started a forklift dealership in Cincinnati when Portman was five-years-old, a risk he says he dad may not have taken today because of the "anti-business rhetoric" and regulations imposed by Democrats. Those hurdles were compounded on Monday, Portman said, by President Obama's call to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for Americans making over $250,000.
"We saw it again yesterday, just right across the way here," Portman said at the Capital Hilton, located just blocks from the White House. "We had the president of the United States telling us again that the way to get out of these economic problems we’re in is to raise taxes on small business owners. And some of them are in this room."
For all of his efforts to sharpen his rhetoric toward the president, Portman's edge was less pronounced than some of the other rumored short-listers, namely Florida Sen. Marco Rubio or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
"We gave him the ball," Portman said of the president. "The American people gave him the ball. At a time when he was inheriting a tough economy, let's be honest. But in my view he fumbled the ball. It's time to give the ball to somebody else who has a game plan whose got a strategy to be able to turn things around, who understands because he has the experience and a record and the public policy positions to do it. That's why I'm supporting Mitt Romney."
There was no crescendo in his voice, and admitting that Obama inherited "a tough economy" is not on any list of GOP talking points. But his mild manner is often cited as a reason why Portman is so well-liked on both sides of the aisle.
Though Portman may have trouble stirring up more than moderate applause in front of big crowds, it likely is of little consequence to the presumptive Republican nominee. Romney is believed to be looking for someone with the readiness to serve as commander in chief, and Portman's time in the House and Senate, along with serving as U.S. trade representative and director of the Office of Management and Budget fits the bill.
Upon exiting the conference this morning, Portman told ABC News that he had met with Romney aides while in Boston a day earlier raising money for the Romney Victory fund. A Portman aide told NBC that the face-to-face time was for "fundraising meetings and financial events” and downplayed the notion he was there for anything related to the vetting process.
And while other Romney surrogates may be able to fire up a group of supporters, few can be as specific as Portman when it comes to how to fix the economy.
Along with lowering the tax burden on small businesses, Portman urged to reform a tax code that is "now 9 times longer than the Bible, and not nearly as interesting." For as bad as things might be now, the senator said all is fixable with the right leadership.
"We all love this country. I think the president loves this country. I believe he thinks he's doing the right thing. But frankly, I dont think he gets it."
GRAND JUNCTION, CO -- Three weeks ago, the Obama campaign began seizing on a Washington Post report that Mitt Romney's Bain Capital invested in companies that outsourced jobs to China and India. Most recently, it is airing this TV ad in battleground states.
But after disputing the article -- even demanding a retraction (which the Post didn't grant) -- Romney and his campaign have employed a counterattack: They're now saying that President Obama is an outsourcer, too.
The gist: "I'm rubber; you're glue -- your words bounce off me and stick to you."
Campaigning in Colorado today, Romney said of Obama: "He likes to talk about outsourcing. He's run some interesting attack ads on me on that topic. You may have seen that and interestingly an independent unbiased fact checking organization looked at his ads and looked at that attack and said it's false and misleading," he said, citing FactCheck.org.
"But it is interesting that when it comes to outsourcing that this president has been outsourcing a good deal of American jobs himself, By putting money into energy companies -- solar and wind energy companies that end up making their products outside the United States. If there's an 'Outsourcer-in-Chief,' it's the president of the United States."
Romney was referring to loan guarantees and grants made in the 2009 stimulus.
The Obama campaign quickly fired back, charging that Romney's actual plans endorse outsourcing while President Obama wants to discourage the practice. It also noted that Romney personally profited from the Bain investments, while Obama didn't with the 2009 stimulus.
"Mitt Romney’s plans encourage outsourcing. Barack Obama wants to end incentives to send jobs overseas," the Obama campaign said in a statement." President Obama has fought to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, fostered incentives for companies to bring jobs back to America and doubled the rate of trade cases we've brought against China to ensure an even playing field for American workers."
The campaign continued, "Mitt Romney, who’s personally profited from investments in companies that were pioneers in shipping American jobs to India and China as a corporate buyout specialist, would slash funds to spur the clean energy sector in America, eliminating renewable energy jobs in states like Colorado and Iowa and ceding the industry to China. The American people deserve a President who will fight to create jobs here in America, not the 'Outsourcer-in-Chief' Mitt Romney promises to be.”
Republicans are beginning to look with trepidation at the Obama campaign’s all-out effort to turn Mitt Romney’s business experience into a political liability, particularly in corners of the country that could decide the November election.
President Obama's campaign is claiming Mitt Romney outsourced jobs to China and Mexico during his time at Bain Capital. But is this an effective strategy for the president? NBC News' Chuck Todd and the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson join the conversation.
President Barack Obama’s team has relentlessly blanketed the airwaves in specific states – like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – looking to prime swing voters who might be susceptible to fret over suggestions that Romney had contributed to the growth in outsourcing jobs overseas during his time at Bain Capital.
Republicans, including Romney, dismiss the ads as a distortion and a distraction from the president’s own record on the economy. But some in the GOP worry these attacks could take their toll and prove effective unless action is taken.
Charles Dharapak / AP
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's business experience may become a political liability in the November election.
“As a baseless charge, this is something that can potentially be dispelled,” said former Pennsylvania Rep. Phil English, a Republican who represented the blue collar town of Erie. “But if the Romney campaign does not aggressively engage it and address it directly, I think they could suffer, potentially, a significant loss of voters.”
The Obama campaign’s line of attack versus Romney found its origin in the Republican primary, when Romney’s opponents charged him with perpetuating “vulture capitalism” during his time at Bain Capital. They pushed him to release years’ worth of tax returns, which the Obama campaign is now demanding as well.
Though the Obama campaign endured a measure of friendly fire from Democrats (who questioned the wisdom of attacking Romney’s private sector career) since it revived these attacks for the general election campaign, they largely haven’t let up in their scrutiny of Romney’s Bain record.
"Outsourcing versus insourcing. It matters," one of the Obama campaign's ads says, flashing pictures of Romney and Obama, respectively.
They were handed an additional piece of ammunition by a Washington Post article labeling Bain a “pioneer” in the practice of outsourcing while Romney was in charge. The Obama campaign has spent millions on advertising trumpeting that claim, disregarding the nonpartisan group FactCheck.org’s research that the underlying assertion was untrue.
“This is not dissimilar to the stuff Sherrod Brown ran against me in '06, but the difference is the climate,” said Mike DeWine, the former Republican senator from Ohio who lost his bid for re-election in the 2006 Democratic wave election.
DeWine, who now serves as Ohio’s attorney general, switched his support from Romney to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum during the GOP presidential primary, partly because he felt that Santorum would do a better job connecting with middle class voters.
“I don't know who's going to win, but this year is not '06,” he continued. “It remains to be seen whether they work in '12 or not.”
There are signs, though, that the Obama campaign’s attacks have had an effect. Forty-two percent of registered voters in a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday said they think Romney’s work as a corporate investor did more to cut jobs, versus 36 percent who said it was more directed toward creating jobs.
Strikingly, the poll also found that twice as many voters in swing states said that Romney’s business career was a major reason to oppose him than those who said it’s a major reason to support.
Republicans originally found success in using this line of attack versus Romney as recently as this year. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry pummeled Romney over his business record and personal wealth leading into the South Carolina primary, contributing, in part, to Romney’s loss in that contest.
Katon Dawson, a longtime figure in South Carolina Republican politics who spearheaded Perry’s campaign there, said he didn’t expect Obama to find much success in using this tactic.
“If it didn't stick in the Republican primary, it's not going to work in the general,” he said. “There's no way they're going to blame Mitt Romney for a member of their family being out of work.”
English said he distinguished between the attacks on Romney’s wealth and personal background from the Obama campaign’s claims about outsourcing. The latter, he said, had the potential to be much more potent in pivotal Midwestern states.
“I think you have to answer ads with ads,” he said. “There’s a tendency by Republicans to assume the truth will catch up. I think there is a naive quality to Republican thinking that they don't have to answer these charges.”
“I think the rule in politics is to be on offense, and he’s got to be on offense, not defense,” DeWine said.
Republicans are quick to note, too, that Romney has plenty of time to do just that. They praise Romney’s organization and the tenacity of the candidate himself. DeWine noted that most Ohioans have been more tuned into the Fourth of July and recent weather than the presidential election. And Dawson said that conservatives are more mobilized behind Romney than ever, after the Supreme Court issued its decision upholding the president’s health care reform law.
But the president’s own bus tour last week provided some clues about where Team Obama thinks the election could be won or lost. The stops through northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania cut through many of the areas where economic anxiety is near its peak; these areas were among the hardest hit by the downturn in manufacturing, and the loss of jobs to overseas labor.
“They're going after the swing voter,” Dawson said of the Obama campaign’s strategy. “This game is going to be played out among 9-12 million people in the places that put Republicans back in charge in 2010.”
That sentiment underscores a reality that the Obama campaign has tailored its attacks against Romney to both play to voters they desperately need to win, while also exploiting what they think to be a vulnerability of Romney’s.
“Every candidate has strengths and weaknesses, and if it were another candidate, I guess Democrats would be doing something else,” said DeWine.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) clarified on Tuesday some candid comments reported over the weekend that seemed to suggest lagging enthusiasm for Mitt Romney within the GOP.
Boehner said that he meant to suggest that this November's election would be a referendum on President Obama when he said at a June 30 fundraiser that "the American people aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney" and Romney has some "friends, relatives and fellow Mormons" who will enthusiastically support him, but "95 percent will either vote for or against Barack Obama."
Those comments were first reported by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.
Asked by NBC News this morning whether he wanted to clarify those remarks, Boehner responded: "The point I was trying to make is very simply this, the election in November is going to be a referendum on the president's failed economic policies, they just haven't worked and they really have made it worse so it's going to be a referendum."
"I'm going to be enthusiastic about voting for Gov. Romney in November, and I think the American people will be enthusiastic about voting for Gov. Romney in November," Boehner added, ramping up his positive words toward the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
Boehner additionally pledged to be out on the campaign trail "enthusiastically supporting Gov. Romney."
NBC's Mark Murray discusses the importance of Iowa and Colorado, two battleground states where President Obama and Mitt Romney are campaigning Tuesday.
Why Iowa and Colorado are so important to Obama and Romney… The reason: They make life easier getting to 270… Can Democrats stay unified on the Bush tax cuts?... Romney’s fundraising asterisk… The battle for Senate control… And why it probably hinges on whether or not Obama wins re-election.
Files / AFP - Getty Images
*** The importance of Colorado and Iowa: Today, President Obama and Mitt Romney will campaign in two battleground states that are important to their paths to 270 electoral votes. Obama stumps in Cedar Rapids, IA at 1:50 pm ET, and the Hawkeye State -- which launched his presidential bid in 2008 -- has been frustrating this time around for him. Polls show the president deadlocked with Romney, and reporting like this recent Des Moines Register dispatch suggests that many of the folks who were fired up and ready to go in ’08 aren’t as much in ’12. (Some Obama folks think the president’s problems in Iowa stem from disappointment due to the higher expectations folks in the state had for him.) Here’s why Iowa, despite its six electoral votes, is important to Obama’s path to 270: Winning the state gives him more flexibility. For instance, he could lose FL, OH, and VA and still surpass that magic number if he wins CO, IA, NV, NH, and NM. But if you take Iowa away, then he has to win one of FL, OH, and VA.
The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd previews the latest campaign stops and why the topic of the day may be taxes.
*** They make life easier getting to 270: Meanwhile, Romney today is in Colorado, where he holds a town hall in Grand Junction at 12:35 pm ET. And just like Obama’s situation with Iowa, Romney winning Colorado gives him MUCH more flexibility getting to 270 electoral votes. For instance, if the former Massachusetts governor wins that state, he can still lose Virginia but win the presidency by capturing FL, IA, NH, and OH. But if he loses Colorado to Obama, then he has to win in Virginia (or another state that John Kerry won in ’04). Bottom line: Obama winning Iowa and Romney winning Colorado makes life a lot easier for them.
*** Can Democrats stay unified on the Bush tax cuts? As for the fight over the Bush tax cuts -- which will be Obama’s message in Iowa today -- the question is whether Democrats remain united with Obama. We know the issue polls well, but the reason why Democrats lost this battle in 2010 is because of squeamish red- or purple-state Democrats. Here are the three Senate Dems (running in races this year) we’re watching: Jon Tester in Montana, Bill Nelson in Florida, and Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Nelson already said yesterday he wants the limit to be $1 million, not Obama’s $250,000. Ditto McCaskill, per Politico. One other observation here: It’s no coincidence that Obama is making the Bush tax cuts an issue at the very same time his campaign and surrogates are highlighting Romney’s offshore accounts. This is about trying to send the message that the “rich guy” who plays by his own set of rules on paying his own taxes is now fighting for more tax benefits for himself.
*** Romney’s fundraising asterisk: Although we won’t learn all the details and apples-to-apples comparisons until the FEC reports are due on July 20, here’s what we do know about the presidential money race: For the second-straight month, Team Romney (campaign/RNC/victory fund) outraised Team Obama (campaign/DNC/victory fund), $106 million to $71 million. But there’s an important asterisk to some of this money that folks are forgetting. Romney can’t spend any campaign contributions earmarked for the general election until after his party’s convention in late August. So if one donor gives Romney the maximum contribution to the campaign ($2,500 for the primaries, $2,500 for the general), Romney can spend the first $2,500 now -- but can’t spend the second until September. The Romney camp even admitted this in a memo it released yesterday morning. “[W]e are only allowed to spend primary dollars from now through the convention,” the memo stated. So if you want to know how Romney could be raising more overall money but still be outspent in advertising, here’s your answer.
*** The danger of jumping to conclusions: We want to make an additional point about the money race: Way too many people are jumping to conclusions right now. What appears to be going on is that Romney -- since becoming his party’s presumptive presidential nominee -- is grabbing the big checks from his party (up to $75,000 per donor that goes to the campaign, RNC, and victory fund). If he can keep up this pace in July and August, then we know he has a financial juggernaut on his hands. But if the pace slows down, then you know that his campaign has picked all the low-hanging fundraising fruit. Another thing to keep in mind: While the Romney camp controls the RNC and victory-fund money, there are strings attached to those dollars. (For example: In this presidential contest, coordinated party expenditures are limited to $21.7 million.) And here’s one other point to make: It’s likely that Obama’s June campaign-only haul isn’t far off from the $54 million it raised in June ’08. Those comparisons for the remaining months will be important. Both campaigns are pursuing DIFFERENT financial strategies. Team Obama is going for maximum spending FLEXIBILITY and because they didn’t have to spend primary money on a primary, they have that luxury. Team Romney is looking for maximum fundraising capacity, but it comes with more strings on how much of the money they are raising can be spent on TV advertising.
*** The battle for Senate control: Yesterday’s news that Rep. Shelley Berkley, the Democratic nominee in Nevada’s Senate contest, is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee is a blow to the Dems’ chances of picking up that seat in November. More importantly, it gives them even less margin for error in their effort to hold on to the Senate. This ranking of the GOP’s best pick-up opportunities is an easy way to look at this battle for Senate control:
2 North Dakota
8 New Mexico
*** And why it could hinge on whether Obama wins: If Obama loses re-election, Republicans need to pick up just three Senate seats to gain control. And if Angus King (I) wins in Maine and if he decides to caucus with the Dems, that moves the number to four. Under this scenario, Republicans winning NE, ND, MT, and MO would do the trick. But if Obama wins re-election, Republicans need to net four Senate seats -- and thus win five if King caucuses with the Dems. So under that scenario, Republicans winning NE, ND, MT, MO, and FL would accomplish that feat. And if Elizabeth Warren (D) beats Scott Brown (R) in Massachusetts, that would push the GOP’s number up to six seats. Bottom line: If Obama wins re-election and if King caucuses with the Dems, they have a much better chance of holding on to the Senate. But if Obama loses, Mitch McConnell is sitting pretty in becoming majority leader.
*** The remaining unknowns: And there are still some unknowns to contend with. Who becomes Claire McCaskill’s challenger in Missouri? (It’s fair to say that one opponent gives her a better chance than the others.) And who will Tammy Baldwin face off against in Wisconsin? (Will it be Tommy Thompson?) And while Nevada looks tougher for Dems after the Berkley news, don’t forget this: Somehow Harry Reid won it in 2010…
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*** Tuesday’s “Daily Rundown” line-up: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) on the tax fight and the health care repeal push… Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards on how their counter-offensive appeal to women voters… Latest 2012 headlines with NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, GOPAC’s David Avella and Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress.
*** Tuesday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: MSNBC’s Chris Jansing interviews Rep. Charles Rangel (NY), USA Today’s Susan Page, Washington Post Columnist Jonathan Capehart, Iowa Representative Bruce Braley, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, former Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler, and Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee.
*** Tuesday’s “MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts” line-up: MSNBC’S Craig Melvin (filling in for Thomas Roberts) talks with Obama campaign spokesman Ben Labolt, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), and Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky. Power panel guests: The Washington Post’s Nia Malika Henderson, Republican strategist Susan Del Percio, and MSNBC Contributor Jimmy Williams.
*** Tuesday’s “NOW with Alex Wagner” line-up: Alex Wagner’s guests include Salon.com editor-at-large Joan Walsh, MSNBC “The Cycle” Co-Host Steve Kornacki, The Nation’s Ari Berman, “True Believers” Author Kurt Andersen, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein
*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Jonathan Capehart, former NH Gov. John Sununu, Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) and actress Sigourney Weaver talks about her new USA miniseries “Political Animals.”
The New York Times: “President Obama and Congressional Republicans pressed ahead on Monday with politically charged proposals on tax cuts and health care, in competing efforts to frame the election-year debate. But each risked opening fissures in their own ranks, as lawmakers played up alternatives to the aggressive approaches of their leaders... The divisions underscored the stakes for the president and the Republicans as they battle for control of the political debate — each choosing as their weapon a complex public policy issue with broad ripple effects. With four months left until Mr. Obama and Congress face the voters, these choices have become even more fraught, as lawmakers worry about alienating people who like expanded health coverage or tax cuts.”
“Barack Obama promised voters four years ago that he would work to slow the outflow of American jobs to other countries, proposing to revamp a federal tax code that encourages companies to maintain overseas operations,” the Washington Post reports. “Obama as president has continued to call for rewriting the rules that allow U.S. corporations to avoid paying taxes for a time on income generated overseas. But the tax changes have not happened.”
The Des Moines Register: “The American Future Fund, the Iowa-based super PAC supporting Republican political candidates, is out with a new 1-minute web ad, timed to coincide with President Barack Obama’s visit to Cedar Rapids on Tuesday. The ad offers a harsh assessment of Obama’s term in office, criticizing several of his policy efforts — like the economic stimulus package, the auto-industry bailout and health-care reform — as expensive, ineffective and potentially harmful. But it does not support any specific Republican candidates or even reference the upcoming election; rather, it instructs viewers to call the White House to tell Obama to “stop the spending.”
“While the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee begin their counteroffensive on outsourcing today, Team Obama is continuing to grind away on the issue of Mitt Romney’s personal finances,” Politico reports.
“Mitt Romney is taking the path less traveled in the battleground state of Colorado. Set to make his third campaign stop of the general election in the Mile High state, Mr. Romney will once again venture to a reliably Republican corner of Colorado hours away from the state’s heavily populated and hotly contested Front Range. His stop Tuesday, the day after attending a private fundraiser in Aspen, will take Mr. Romney to Grand Junction on Colorado’s Western Slope, a swath of the state that has long favored Republicans. Mesa County gave more than 64% of its votes to Sen. John McCain in 2008,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
National Journal writes: “Given the Democrats' line of attack these days and the ads they are running in Colorado, Romney may well be asked in Grand Junction about his tax shelters and business practices. And that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for him. As any political pro will tell you and no doubt has told him: Better to get your sea legs now when people's minds are wrapped around summer vacation -- and not later when you're on the debate stage with a sitting president, a persistent moderator and most of the country watching.”
Reuters: “U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney raised $106 million in June, far surpassing President Barack Obama's $71 million haul in the record-setting money race leading to the November 6 election. Romney's fundraising mark, announced by his campaign on Monday, is the best monthly total so far in the 2012 presidential campaign. It is another sign that Romney and his allies are on course to wash away any cash advantage that Obama, as an incumbent president, typically would enjoy in a bid for re-election.”
Mitt Romney rejected President Barack Obama's renewed proposal to let tax cuts for the wealthiest households expire at the end of the year, calling it "another kick in the gut to the middle class."
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee dismissed the president's call for Congress to act to preserve existing tax rates for most households through legislation to extend all the expiring Bush-era tax cuts for households earning less than $250,000 per year.
"what the president is purposing is a massive tax increase on job creators and small business. Small businesses are overwhelmingly being taxed not at a corporate rate, but at the individual tax rate. So successful small business will see their taxes go up dramatically and that will kill jobs," Romney said on the John Fredericks Show.
"That will be another kick in the gut to the middle class in America. We just saw a terrible jobs report just last week, and now to add a higher tax on job creators and on small businesses is about the worst thing you can do to create jobs," Romney added, echoing his rhetoric in response to that lackluster jobs report last month.
Republicans, including Romney, have largely rejected Obama's proposal out of hand as an election year tactic, and one that threatens a tax hike at that.
Obama himself noted that this fall's presidential election between himself and Romney is more likely to dictate the future of these tax cuts.
"In many ways, the fate of the tax cut for the wealthiest Americans will be decided by the outcome of the next election," the president said in his White House statement. "My opponent will fight to keep them in place. I will fight to end them."
WASHINGTON -- Speaking in the nation’s capital Monday morning, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie shed light on how important he thinks it is for executive leaders to take “risks” and be themselves.
“I am coming to this place ... Washington, D.C., because I want people to know that their government can work for them but they need leaders who are willing to take risks,” Christie told the several dozen attendees at a Brookings Institute discussion. “Risk with their own parties and risk with the public who votes for them.”
The prominent Republican governor, whose name has been thrown out as a possible vice presidential pick for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, never directly attacked any politician by name, but did offer stern words for how everyone should govern.
“You can't lead by being a mystery. You can't lead by being an enigma. You can't lead by being aloof. You can't lead by being programmed. I think you have to lead by being yourself and who you are and then people will trust you. And when they trust you they'll follow you,” Christie said.
Just prior to President Obama’s public call to extend tax cuts to middle class Americans, the governor of the Garden State kicked off his roughly 40-minute policy speech at the think tank speaking about the pending fight in his state over cuts.
“Despite promises that we've had for a tax cut to happen, that tax cut was left on the table at the last minute,” Christie said, noting Democrats in his state thought “it was more important for me not to be able to the Republican National Convention in Tampa and say that I got a tax cut for the people of our state than it was to actually give the people of our state a tax cut.”
As for that RNC convention in late August, Christie told the small crowd he will attend but has “absolutely no knowledge at the moment whether I'll even be speaking at the convention.”
Obviously if Romney selects Christie as his running mate, he would address the convention.
The Garden State governor's authenticity has made him a popular figure in the Republican Party for his blunt, no-nonsense style. But it has also led to questions about his temperament. Recently, his off-the-cuff style led to him calling a reporter an "idiot" and got him in a shouting match on the Jersey boardwalk. It is that kind of behavior, conservatives fear, that could be a distraction if he were to be chosen as Romney's No. 2.
At no point in the speech or question and answer period Monday at, what was billed as “Restoring Fiscal Integrity and Accountability” discussion, did the vice presidential rumors come up.
Speaking publicly in Washington, D.C. for the first time since early May, Christie argued that only sound, strong leadership will help move this country forward.
“In the end, my message is that leadership is the only thing that will make the difference. And leadership is not just about obstructionism. Leadership is also not about caving every time you get pushed. Leadership is about nuance and about understanding and communicating to people,” he said.
Susan Walsh / AP
President Barack Obama calls on Congress to pass a temporary, one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for people who make less than $250,000 a year, during a statement in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 9, 2012.
President Barack Obama urged Congress on Monday to extend expiring tax cuts for most American households, injecting the issue of tax fairness into the 2012 campaign.
The president, speaking early this afternoon at the White House, again voiced support for allow tax cuts for households earning over $250,000 per year to expire at the end of 2012, while also preserving existing rates for households earning less than that.
“We don't need more top-down economics. We tried that theory ... we can't afford to go back to it,” Obama said. “That's why I believe it's time for the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, including myself, to expire.”
Congress is likely to do anything but that, though. Republicans who control the House of Representatives quickly rejected Obama’s proposal as a tax hike, though the president sought to decouple the middle class tax cuts from the high-end breaks. Obama urged lawmakers to act now to extend most of the expiring tax cuts, and have a second debate – likely to be decided in November’s election – on the tax cuts for the wealthiest.
During a news conference at the White House, President Obama called on Congress to extend tax cuts for people earning less than $250,000 per year and expire benefits granted to wealthiest Americans.
"My opponent will fight to keep them in place; I will fight to end them,” Obama said in reference to Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
All of the tax cuts, which were first proposed by President George W. Bush, were set to expire at the end of 2010. After having initially resisted their extension, Obama relented and agreed to a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for all income brackets – a compromise that allowed the administration to advance some of its legislative priorities through that year’s lame-duck Congress.
At the time of that extension, Obama said he would refuse to again agree to any extension of the high-end tax cuts.
The announcement is rife with election year significance. Republicans have raised the specter of a tax increase that would spring into effect if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire at the end of this calendar year.
Though Obama's proposal would preserve existing tax rates for all but the wealthiest American households, Republicans still derided it as a massive tax hike -- especially on small business owners whose revenues are treated as personal income.
"President Obama’s response to even more bad economic news is a massive tax increase," said Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul. "The president's latest bad idea is to raise taxes on families, job creators, and small businesses. Almost half a million fewer Americans are working today than the day Barack Obama took office, and we've just come through the worst job creation quarter in two years."
In response to that charge, Obama said: "This isn't about taxing job creators; this is about helping job creators."
Moreover, Republicans accused Obama of looking to divert attention from last Friday's jobs numbers, which showed the economy added 80,000 jobs in June, a figure that fell somewhat below estimates.
Taxes have often been an effective political cudgel for the GOP to wield against Democrats in election years. Obama's announcement on Monday was ostensibly intended to defuse the looming tax fight at the end of this year, though it's unlikely that any legislation makes it to the president's desk before Election Day.
Obama's proposal, rather, doubles down on what Democrats view as a politically advantageous demand that the wealthy contribute a higher share of taxes, a sentiment that generally polls well. Nonetheless, Americans slightly favored Republicans on the issue of taxes in the June NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they favor the GOP's approach to taxes, versus 32 percent who said that of Democrats.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have been eager to highlight, though, differences between Democratic lawmakers and the president on this very issue. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have called on preserving tax rates for all households earning less than $1 million per year, a higher threshold than Obama's. This alternative proposal was born of politics, since it opens the door to Democrats' charge that the GOP wishes to preserve tax breaks -- literally -- for millionaires.
The president's push to extend the Bush tax cuts for households earning less than $250,000 per year is also meant to set up a contrast with Romney, whose proposal to cut marginal income tax rates by 20 percent in each bracket composes the cornerstone of his tax reform plan.
"Unlike President Obama, Governor Romney understands that the last thing we need to do in this economy is raise taxes on anyone. He has a plan to permanently lower marginal rates, help middle-class Americans save and invest, and jumpstart economic growth and job creation," said Saul, the former Massachusetts governor's spokeswoman.
Romney has also called for cutting the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and maintaining friendly tax rates on investment income. The presumptive Republican nominee has said that he would pay for the price tag of these cuts with an overarching tax reform package that would eliminate some loopholes and deductions.
But he's refused to specify what those changes might be, or how they would affect the nation's tax ledger. He told CBS last month that he would "go through that process with Congress" to determine which deductions and exemptions he would eliminate.
Romney has additionally weathered pressure from the Obama campaign to release more of his own tax records amid scrutiny of his overseas holdings. Romney released his returns from 2010, which showed he paid an effective tax rate of about 14 percent (because much of his income came from investments). Romney filed for an extension on his 2011 taxes, and his campaign said it would release them to the public when they're available, no later than October.
"The next president, in the next four years -- somebody's going to have to tackle comprehensive tax reform. And they're going to have to deal with sheltering income, like it appears Mitt Romney is doing in Bermuda, in the Caymans, in Switzerland," senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said Monday on NBC's "TODAY" show. "I think the American people deserve to know what tax breaks and what sheltering each of these candidates is taking advantage of."
Nebraska Republicans will select delegates on Saturday to send to the national Republican convention, a process that could amount to Ron Paul's last stand as a presidential candidate.
If Paul wins a plurality of delegates in Nebraska this weekend, his name will be put forth as a nominee versus Mitt Romney in Tampa. If his team can't secure enough delegates on Saturday, his longshot bid for the Republican presidential nomination is formally dead.
Nebraska is the last state to hold a convention and its 32 delegates are not required to match the May 15 “beauty contest” primary, where presumptive nominee Mitt Romney won 70 percent of the vote. However, prospective delegates must indicate their presidential preference and are bound to vote for that candidate for the first two ballots at the August Republican National Convention.
According to RNC Rule 40, Paul needs a plurality of delegates from five states for his name to be put forth for nomination at the convention. The Texas Congressman has won a majority of state delegations in Iowa, Maine, Minnesota and Louisiana. If he is nominated, Paul will be allotted fifteen minutes to deliver a speech at the convention before the first round of balloting.
Local reports say both Romney and Paul supporters have been “burning up the phone lines” making calls to delegates to assess who they’re voting for before the state convention in Grand Island.
Support for Paul could embarrass Governor Dave Heineman, who was the first Republican governor to endorse Romney.
"I welcome the Tea Party and Ron Paul supporters," Heineman said. "That's great for our party. But it's time to be good sports and get behind Governor Romney.”
When Republicans arrive at the Riverside Golf Club for the convention they will be met with additional security, hired by the state party in anticipation of a Paul insurgency.
“It’s been communicated to us from other RNC members from around the country to watch for specific things,” Jordan McGrain, executive director of the state Republican Party, told NBC News.
“Their experience has been instructive to us. We’ve received correspondence from those who attended the Nevada and Louisiana state conventions where they had significant disturbances and problems. It arose from not everyone being on the same page and we have the benefit of that hindsight.”
Paul supporters have been blamed for picking arcane rule fights, which dragged out the state convention in Nevada and led to a brawl in Louisiana.
The 76-year-old congressman stopped actively campaigning in May, urging supporters to remain involved in politics to “become delegates, win office, and take leadership positions” and has focused resources on state conventions.
The date of Nebraska’s GOP state convention has not been lost on some Paul supporters, who point out July 14 is Bastille Day – “Vive la Revolution!” It’s up to Nebraska Republicans to determine whether Ron Paul’s Revolution will be loudly heard at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in August.
The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd talks about the announcement President Barack Obama will make asking for the one-year extension for people earning less than $250,000 a year.
Battling over the Bush tax cuts (again)… For Obama, this is both an opportunity (creates contrast with Romney) and a challenge (we’ve already been down this road before)… But have the Bush tax cuts actually worked?... Democrats blast Romney’s offshore accounts… House GOPers put pressure on House Dems… Boehner: The American people probably won’t fall in love in Romney… And has health care already disappeared from the campaign trail?
*** Battling over the Bush tax cuts (again): The last time we left you on this topic was back in late 2010, when President Obama agreed to temporarily extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all income groups -- including the wealthy -- which he had campaigned against in ’08. That move disappointed his base, but it also won him GOP concessions (on payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance), and it paved the way to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and approve the New START treaty. But the president vowed not to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy at the end of 2012, when he would have more leverage (because it would be after his re-election bid). “When they expire in two years, I will fight to end them,” he said at a Dec. 7, 2010 press conference. And today, Obama makes his first chess move in this new tax-cut battle: At a White House at 11:50 am ET, the president will call for a one-year extension of the tax cuts for ONLY those making less than $250,000. House Republicans, the New York Times notes, plan a vote later this month to extend the tax cuts for ALL income groups.
*** Obama’s opportunity and challenge: For Obama, today’s move allows him to change the subject after Friday’s weak jobs report. Perhaps more importantly, it enables him to draw a contrast with the Republicans and Mitt Romney, who just yesterday was raising money from wealthy folks in the Hamptons and who had spent his July 4 vacation at his New Hampshire lake house. But this is also dangerous ground for the president. We’ve been down this road before, and Obama has already caved once. The reason: Unlike Republicans, Democrats aren’t unified on this issue. Some of them want the threshold to be $1 million; others are open to extending them TEMPORARILY for the wealthy. This time around, Obama has much more leverage -- with the expiration coming after the election -- but he still faces the situation where not all Democrats are unified. Here’s what we’re watching for today: Does he draw a line in the sand that he would VETO any legislation that extends all of the tax cuts? He’s said before he opposes extending them for those making more than $250,000. He said in 2008 and in 2010 and yet he extended ALL of them in 2010. But what does he say this time?
*** Have the Bush tax cuts worked? Here’s an entirely different question: Have these tax cuts worked? Have they promoted economic growth? Have they created lots of jobs? The Bush-era tax cuts have been in existence for 11 years now. During that time period, George W. Bush presided over the weakest eight-year span for the U.S. economy in decades; the Great Recession took place; and job creation during Obama’s presidency has been lackluster. In this renewed debate over the Bush tax cuts, we’re going to hear Republicans claim that not extending them -- especially for the wealthy -- will hurt the economy. And we’ll hear the same from Obama when it comes to extending them for the middle class. But what evidence is there that these tax cuts have truly benefited the U.S. economy? This is one of these accepted pieces of conventional wisdom that doesn’t get much study on the policy front because, politically, it’s so lethal.
*** Democrats blast Romney’s offshore accounts: Just 48 hours after Friday’s bad jobs report, Democrats were engaged in a full-out assault on Romney’s offshore accounts. (Coincidence?) Here was DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on FOX (at the end of her interview): “I'd really like to see Mitt Romney release more than one year of tax records, because there's been disturbing reports recently that he's got a Bermuda corporation, a secretive Bermuda corporation that no one knows anything about.” Sen. Dick Durbin on CBS: “[Romney] is the first and only candidate for president of the United States with a Swiss bank account with tax shelters, with tax avoidance schemes that involve so many foreign countries.” Gov. Martin O’Malley to ABC: “Mitt Romney bets against America. He bet against America when he put his money in Swiss bank accounts and tax havens and shelters.” And Robert Gibbs -- who has been one of the Democrats’ best TV surrogates -- to CNN: “I pick a bank because there is an ATM near my home, but Mitt Romney had a bank account in Switzerland.”
*** How does Team Romney respond? This was clearly a coordinated assault -- and a reminder that when the economic news is not good, the Obama campaign has little choice but to go down this road. For now, the Romney response is simply, “They are trying to distract from the bad economy,” which has the added benefit of likely being true… But the other fact is these relentless attacks by Team Obama on Romney’s business career have started to take a toll. Will the attacks on his personal wealth also take a toll before the Romney campaign figures out a better way to respond?
*** House GOPers to put pressure on Dems: While Obama and Democrats are making their move on the Bush-era tax cuts, House Republicans are planning votes over the next four weeks to give Democrats heartburn. Politico: “House Republicans will kick off the effort this week with another quixotic attempt to repeal Obama’s health care law. Next week, they will turn to defense, passing the Defense Department’s funding bill while trying to put the Obama administration on record as having no plan to avoid deep cuts to the Pentagon next year. After that, Republicans intend to take up a slew of regulatory relief bills. And before the House breaks in August for its monthlong recess, GOP leaders plan to hold a vote on tax rates and principles for future tax reform.” Make no mistake, these votes are about writing TV ads and direct mail pieces. Meanwhile, the DCCC is up with a new online advertising campaign hitting GOP efforts to repeal the health-care law.
*** Boehner: “The American people probably aren’t going to fall in love in with Mitt Romney”: Speaking of House Republicans, don’t miss this quote from Speaker John Boehner (at a June 30 fundraiser in West Virginia): “The American people probably aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney.” He went on to say, per Roll Call: “I’ll tell you this: 95% of the people that show up to vote in November are going to show up in that voting booth, and they are going to vote for or against Barack Obama. Mitt Romney has some friends, relatives and fellow Mormons ... some people that are going to vote for him. But that’s not what this election is about. This election is going to be a referendum on the president’s failed economic policies.” We’ll say this: John Boehner hasn’t fallen in love with Romney, either…
*** Health care has already disappeared from the radar screen: A final observation: Have you noticed how no one is no longer talking about health care? It’s either Friday’s job numbers. Or Mitt Romney’s wealth. Or the new battle over the Bush tax cuts. Yes, House Republicans will schedule their vote -- again -- to repeal the health-care law, and the DCCC has that online advertising campaign mentioned above. But outside of these things, is the issue slowly disappearing from the presidential campaign trail beyond being an applause line? It sure looks like it this morning.
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*** Monday’s “Daily Rundown” line-up: The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Robin Wright on the latest in Syria…Author David Brody joins us for our Deep Dive on the Tea Party and white Evangelical voters…And more 2012 headlines including the latest USA Today/Gallup poll with USA Today’s Susan Page, The Washington Post’s Dan Balz and the Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page.
*** Monday’s “MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts” line-up: MSNBC’S Richard Lui, filling in for Thomas Roberts, talks with GOP strategist Hogan Gidley, Democratic strategist Richard Goodstein, Real Clear Politics’ Erin McPike, and NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Ryan Haygood on the TX Voter ID Trial. He’ll also have live coverage of the President’s live 11:50am ET remarks on extending the Bush tax cuts.
*** Monday’s “NOW with Alex Wagner” line-up: Alex Wagner’s guests include the New York Times’ Nicholas Confessore, TIME’s Rana Foroohar, Rolling Stone Executive Editor Eric Bates, Yahoo! News DC Bureau Chief David Chalian, and New York Magazine Contributing Editor Lisa Miller.
*** Monday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, Obama 2012 travelling press secretary Jen Psaki, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former Defense Secretary William Cohen, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell.
*** Monday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: MSNBC’s Tamron Hall interviews The Hill’s A.B. Stoddard, Democratic strategist Keith Boykin, Republican strategist Chip Saltzman, and Time Magazine’s Jim Frederick.
The New York Times: "With a torpid job market and a fragile economy threatening his re-election chances, President Obama is changing the subject to tax fairness, calling for a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for people making less than $250,000. Mr. Obama plans to make his announcement in the Rose Garden on Monday, senior administration officials said. The ceremony comes as Congress returns from its Independence Day recess, and as both parties and their presidential candidates head into the rest of the summer trying to seize the upper hand in a campaign that has been closely matched and stubbornly static."
"They never got close, and Mitt Romney may not have even seen them, but protesters — some from Occupy Wall Street — took political theater to a new level Sunday outside the beachfront estate of billionaire David H. Koch, where the Republican candidate was raising money," The Los Angeles Times reports. "Some of the 200 protesters marched down mile-long Coopers Beach toward the home in a cloud of sand, bearing banners and signs: "Your $50,000 ticket equals my child's education," "end corporate personhood" and "don't forget to tip the help.""
"After raising just over $106 million last month, Mitt Romney‘s campaign and its Republican allies still maintain they’re the underdog, according to memos to be released Monday,” The Wall Street Journal writes. “The Romney Victory effort — Mr. Romney’s campaign along with the Republican National Committee and select state committees — raised $106.1 million in June, the GOP allies’ biggest fundraising month so far. Along with the RNC, the Romney campaign had $160 million in cash on hand, according to the campaign."
The Washington Post: "With the prospective vice presidential candidates fanning out as campaign-trail surrogates, Romney and his closest counselors have entered the final stages of selecting the ultimate surrogate — a running mate. There are seven weeks remaining until the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and Romney has a few important strategic decisions to make before then: not only who to name as a vice presidential nominee, but also when and how to do so."
Garrett Haake / NBC
Protesters marched down the beach in New York's Hamptons to demonstrate against the power of deep-pocketed donors over the political process.
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In one of the most sizable shows of force from protestors seen on the campaign trail in weeks, a group of more than 60 demonstrators – backed by air support in the form of a banner plane – staged a protest of Mitt Romney's third and final fundraiser here on Sunday.
The fundraiser, at the beachside home of billionaire industrialist David Koch, was to cap a day of fundraising in New York's tony Hamptons communities that could bring in millions of dollars for the campaign's "Victory" fund. It marked Romney's return to the campaign trail after a week of vacation at his summer home in New Hampshire.
Romney and his guests received a loud – and at times profane – welcome from dozens of protesters representing organizations from Occupy Long Island to Greenpeace, which largely blocked a section of Meadow Lane to shout, "Shame on You!" (and unprintable variants thereof). The protesters waved signs at those who attended the back-to-back fundraisers hosted by Clifford Sobel, the former U.S. ambassador to Brazil, and later, by Koch.
It was Koch, whose net worth Forbes magazine pegs at $25 billion, who drew most of the protesters’ ire. Holding signs that compared the fundraiser's reported ticket price of $50,000 to their annual salaries or even life savings, the protesters decried the power of donors like Koch and his allies over American politics.
When local law enforcement officially cleared the protest, the demonstrators decamped from the street and – in one of the strangest visual moments of the campaign – marched nearly a mile down the beach to Koch's house.
Accompanied by a bass drum, horns and even a tenor saxophone, the ragtag band arrived at the stretch of beach behind Koch's house after a 20-minute walk, where roughly a dozen police, Secret Service and Romney staffers stood on the dunes that marked the line of demarcation between the public beach and Koch's private land, and told the protesters they could go no further.
And so they stayed - chanting, singing, and waving signs as a plane buzzed overhead, pulling a banner that read, "Romney has a Koch Problem. MoveOn.Org." While some protestors shouted obscenities as the security watching them from the dunes above (and from a Coast Guard vessel off the coast), this reporter saw no direct confrontations between protestors and authorities.
The climax of the protest event came when the saxophonist, David Intrator, 55, of New York City, led the protesters in a spotty rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," which most of the group joined, though some continued to chant slogans as they sang.
CONCORD, N.H.-- On the eve of the Republican National Convention this August, real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump will accept an accolade of his own just an hour south of Tampa as he receives the 2012 "Statesman of the Year" award from the Sarasota Republican Party.
An invitation to the event, which serves as a fundraiser for the Sarasota GOP, shows ticket prices ranging from $150 for general admission to $1,000 for a private meeting with the outspoken Trump at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota.
Trump spokesman Michael Cohen says Trump is "honored to be the recipient of this prestigious award," which was bestowed in 2011 on former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Then-presidential candidate Herman Cain delivered the keynote address at that ceremony.
Despite controversy surrounding his persistent questioning of President Barack Obama's American citizenship, Trump has emerged as a prominent surrogate for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney; recording robo-calls and conducting interviews for Romney's in early primary states, and raising money on the candidate's behalf.
In May, Trump hosted a fundraiser for Romney at Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, and on June 28 he attended another fundraising event for the former Massachusetts governor in New York City. A heavily promoted "Dine with the Donald" event, in which donors could win a contest to have a meal with Trump and Romney, was rescheduled, according to aides to both men.
Despite all this, the two have not campaigned together -- or even been seen in public together -- since Romney accepted Trump's endorsement in February, fueling speculation that the Romney campaign would prefer to keep its distance from its supporter's more controversial remarks.
Trump's presence just an hour down Interstate 75 from the Tampa convention, set to begin the following Monday, could put an unwanted spotlight on his birtherism at a time when most Republicans would rather talk about almost anything else.
Cohen, however, said he expected Trump to take an active and visible role in the convention.
"It would seem obvious that Donald Trump will play a role in the Tampa convention, as his massive popularity, reflected in this recent award, shows what an asset he would be in making the convention into an even greater success."