Obama Borrows Republican Playbook

National Journal Staff
National Journal

President Obama’s latest ad blitz, a two-minute ad in five battleground states attacking Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, borrows a page from the Republican playbook in directly attacking his opponent’s greatest strength.

The strategy was on display in 2004, when the Bush campaign effectively attacked Sen. John Kerry on his Vietnam War record, the very asset that seemed unassailable. Now, Obama is attacking Romney’s business record, his most important credential and the foundation of his campaign.

The Bain Capital attack has already been used this election by Romney’s fellow Republicans, in the run-up to the South Carolina primary. The pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC, Winning Our Future, released a 28-minute film, while Rick Perry said Bain “looted” smaller companies.

The Bain attack did not resonate in the Republican primary, and it is unclear if it will fare any better moving forward. And not all Democrats buy it. Former Obama economic advisor Steve Rattner, for example, called the attack “unfair” on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday, saying Romney and those working at Bain played by the rules.

But the Obama campaign, in keeping with its theme of economic fairness, is clearly hoping that the attack will stick this time.

—Matt Vasilogambros


Obama’s Wall Street Problem NEW!
[Politico, 5/14/12] The stunning $2 billion trading loss at JPMorgan Chase highlights a central problem in Obama’s case for a second term: Four years after the financial crisis nearly brought the nation to its knees, very little appears to have changed.

Obama Ad to Attack Romney on Bain Years NEW! 
[National Journal, 5/14/12] A new ad criticizing Romney’s years as the leader of a private equity firm is set to air in five battleground states starting on Monday, according to the Associated Press. The two-minute long ad by the Obama campaign focuses on the fate of a steel mill in Kansas City, Mo.

Newsweek Cover Labels Obama ‘The First Gay President’
[The Daily Beast, 5/13/12] The May 21 cover of Newsweek declares Obama the nation’s “first gay president,”  with an image of the president staring off into space with a rainbow halo over his head. The story was written by The Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan, who is gay, and describes bursting into tears during the interview last week in which Obama supported gay marriage.

JPMorgan Goof Becoming Campaign Issue NEW!
[Associated Press, 5/14/12] The Wall Street firm’s $2 billion-plus trading blunder is reverberating on the presidential campaign trail by rekindling calls for tighter oversight of the nation's biggest financial institutions. White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday said the trading misfire was a reminder of why controls shouldn't be undermined.

Portman Defends Romney: ‘That is Capitalism’  NEW!  
[BuzzFeed, 5/14/12] As Romney faces new attacks from the Obama camp on his time at Bain Capital, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, came to the presumptive GOP nominee’s defense today. Portman offered a forceful defense of Romney’s economic record, arguing that Romney was simply engaged in free market capitalism. 

Cardenas: Gay Stance May Inspire Conservatives
[National Journal, 5/14/12] Al Cardenas, an influential conservative leader and chairman of the American Conservative Union, predicted Sunday that  Obama’s embrace of same-sex marriage will give social conservatives the one thing they were lacking in their support of Romney: passion. National Journal’s George Condon weighs in.

Big-Hearted Mitt
[The Daily, 5/13/12] Tales of long hours spent with grieving families, financial assistance to the needy, and timely help given to strangers abound in the adult life of Romney. But these stories – many of which are connected to his work as a Mormon bishop – are absent from the campaign trail.

Weary Warriors Favor Obama
[Reuters, 5/13/12] Many soldiers, fatigued with over a decade of war, are not attracted to the hawkish rhetoric coming from the GOP this election season. Although there was passion for the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the loss of life and the cost of war have drawn some veterans to the president’s side.

On Mother’s Day, Candidates Court Women With Videos
[New York Times, 5/13/12] In a video by the Obama campaign, the president speaks of the role that “strong responsible women” – Michelle and his own mother, Ann Dunham – played in his life and that of his daughters. Meanwhile, Romney’s team released a video produced by the candidate’s sons in tribute to their mother, Ann. National Journal’s Jill Lawrence also weighed in on the teams’ tactics.

Group's New Ad Pegs Obama to Wall Street NEW!
[CNN, 5/14/12] American Future Fund, a conservative non-profit, will spend $3.4 million for a seven-state television spot slamming the president for his ties to the financial industry. The group has previously hit the president on the bankruptcy of solar energy firm Solyndra and GSA. 

Mitt’s Mantra: Avoid McCain’s Mistakes
[Politico, 5/14/12] Romney and his top aides are building a strategy around what they consider John McCain’s disastrously-run 2008 campaign: Whatever McCain did, do the opposite.

After Obama’s Decision on Marriage, a Call to Pastors
[New York Times, 5/13/12] In the hours following Obama’s politically charged announcement on Wednesday, the president’s team embarked on a quiet campaign to contain the possible damage among religious leaders and voters. But a vocal few ministers made it clear that the president’s stand might make it difficult for them to support his re-election.

Susana Martinez: What New Mexico’s Governor Can Teach the GOP
[The Daily Beast, 5/14/12] Andrew Romano explores why New Mexico’s governor might be Romney’s best bet for the veep slot.

New Super PAC Hopes To Woo Younger Voters NEW!
[Associated Press, 5/14/12] A new super PAC, Crossroads Generation, is attempting to tap into the economic frustrations of voters under 30—a group that has been hit especially hard for the recession, and that traditionally votes Democratic. The committee’s largest benefactors are College Republicans, the Young Republicans, the Republican State Leadership Committee and American Crossroads.

As Chaos Mounts, Ron Paul’s Convention Plans Remain Mysterious  NEW!
[TPM, 5/14/12] Throughout several state GOP conventions, Ron Paul has accumulated a hefty amount of delegates that could land him on the ballot at the GOP convention in a few months. With a rowdy set of supporters who are not going away—interrupting Romney surrogates at events this weekend—what does the future look like for the Texas congressman?


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