* How Dems will paint Romney as candidate of one percent: This tough new ad from MoveOn.org, which is set to air in New Hampshire, provides us with the clearest preview yet of how Dems will attack Mitt Romney over the layoffs at companies restructured by Bain Capital on his watch:
The key to the ad is that it takes direct aim at Romney’s spin on his Bain years: That they proved he’s a “job creator.” The ad features a steelworker, Donny Box, who says he was laid off from a Bain-restructured company, and claims:
Mitt Romney wants to call himself a “job creator”? Mitt Romney doesn’t care about jobs. He cares about money.
The battle to define Romney’s Bain years will be epic — as critical an election narrative as the war over the true nature of John Kerry’s Vietnam years was in 2004. If Romney can sucessfully persuade the public that his Bain years have left him with the tools necessary to tinker around under the hood of the economy and get it humming again, it could be very dangerous for Dems. The primary Dem pushback will be to go hard at the true nature of his Bain work and the type of capitalism it embodied, arguing that it was all about profiting off of mass layoffs; that Romney was not a job creator, but a job killer; that he’s the candidate of the one percent. This case will be linked to the arc of Romney’s life and character, and to a case about his policy priorities and whose interests he truly has at heart.
As I reported the other day, Dems are likely to roll out a number of Romney layoff victims to set the record straight about a central and defining episode in Romney’s career. If Dems have their way, the workers themselves will successfully dramatize the idea that Romney’s Bain years were emblematic of the sort of predatory, unfettered capitalism that has caused widespread economic misery for ordinary Americans and helped lead to he meldown in the first place.
* The new ground zero in the labor wars: Democrats in Indiana replicate their counterparts in Wisconsin by staying away from the statehouse in order to prevent a vote on a new “right to work” initiative. The showdown shows that Republicans remain unchastened by their massive loss in Ohio, and sets up another high-stakes referendum on whether national conservative groups can break union influence on the state level.
* Good news for the Obama re-elect: From the Chicago Tribune:
This year, for the first time since 1988, all three Detroit automakers have gained market share in the U.S.
Expect Dems to contrast this with Romney’s infamous “let Detroit go bankrupt” Op ed today.
Relatedly: Steve Benen has the latest decline in jobless claims in chart form.
* Next up for Obama’s jobs push: The White House will unveil a new initiative designed to create tens of thousands of summer jobs for young workers, the latest in a drive to demonstrate Obama’s determination to go around Congress to get the economy goin again.
Key footnote: Some analysts think the economic travails faced by young voters could dampen enthusiam among this core Obama constituency next year.
* Romney is still facing a two front war: Karl Rove is always worth reading to gain a glimpse into what the GOP establishment is thinking. Today he says Romney is the heavy favorite, but also offers this bracing look at what he still has to contend with, now that Rick Santorum is a direct competitor and Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have vowed to tear Romney down:
This leaves Mr. Romney facing a two-front war: one in New Hampshire against Messrs. Santorum, Gingrich, Paul and former Amb. Jon Huntsman, and a second one in South Carolina against Messrs. Santorum, Gingrich, Paul and Perry. His deep organization and large treasury are critical to weathering assaults from these gentlemen. The former Massachusetts governor should prepare to be the piñata at Saturday’s debate in Manchester, N.H.
* Gingrich unloads on Romney: In another sign of what Romney is up against, Newt Gingrich is up with a new ad that hammers Romney as a “timid” conservative who doesn’t have a prayer of beating Obama. Clearly, Newt intends to make good on his vow to retaliate against Romney for tearing himdown in Iowa.
It remain to be seen, however, whether Gingrich’s drop will make it impossible for him to raise the money he needs for his new tear-down-Romney campaign to matter.
* Why conservatives dread Romney as the nominee: Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake boil it down:
The defining factor of the 2008 Republican presidential race was a splintered conservative vote that handed the nomination to a candidate that the base didn’t love. Sound familiar?
This is why conservatives are desperately hoping they can unite behind an alternative, and the question of whether they can will likely decide the nominee.
* GOP primary will determine fate of conservatism: A nice E.J. Dionne column dives into the cultural strains of conservatism each of the GOP candidates represent, and explains why the future of the movement could be set by the primary’s outcome.
* Dems exploit old Romney-McCain tensions:The DNC marks John McCain’s endorsement of Mitt Romney with a new Web video featuring footage of McCain in 2008 blasting Romney as a serial flip flopper, and concluding: “If McCain thinks Romney has two positions on every issue, then which Mitt is he endorsing?”
* And general election Mitt will revert to his old moderate self: Nick Kristof previews what I expect to be a key media narrative if Romney wins the nomination: Oh, Romney doesn’t really believe all the crazy things he said to win the GOP primary. He’s really a moderate at heart, and he will govern as one; it isn’t that big a deal that he temporarily ditched his previously sensible positions, because that’s just politics.
I’m not saying that Kristof believes this, just that his column hints at the ways it may prove a seductive storyline, one that Romney and his adviers will eagerly encourage. You heard it here first.
What else is happening?