* Romney team asked GOP governor to downplay good news: Let’s get started with the scoop of the morning, from Bloomberg News:
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign asked Florida Governor Rick Scott to tone down his statements heralding improvements in the state’s economy because they clash with the presumptive Republican nominee’s message that the nation is suffering under President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Scott, a Republican, was asked to say that the state’s jobless rate could improve faster under a Romney presidency, according to the people, who asked not to be named.
Unemployment has dropped for 11 straight months in Florida, though the rate is still above the national average, at 8.6 percent, and Scott has been touting the drop as good news. The Romney camp’s reported objection to this highlights the tension between GOP governors, who want to point to the recovery in their states, and the Romney campaign, whose chances depend on casting economic news in the ugliest conceivable light. We’ve already seen this tension on display with Ohio governor John Kasich, and Iowa’s Terry Branstad has even explicitly called on Romney to stop downplaying good news in his state.
A Romney spokesperson didn’t deny the story, saying only that Romney frequently praises governors “for their ability to overcome the job-stifling policies of the Obama administration.” That’s a new twist on the Romney camp’s argument that the recovery has only proceeded in spite of Obama’s policies, and only underscores the difficulty for Romney here — i.e., acknowledging the recovery where it’s happening while claiming Obama gets negative credit for it. It also highlights just how tightly Romney’s fortunes are dependent on us seeing the worst economic news possible for the next five months.
* Obama and Romney in tight race nationally: The new Associated Press poll underscores just how close a battle this has become: it finds Obama and Romney in a statistical tie among registered voters, 47-44. The two men are tied on who would do the best job handling the economy, 46-45, another sign that Romney continues to benefit from the presumption of economic confidence.
* A referendum on Obama, or a choice? The AP followed up its poll with interviews with voters, and this one is noteworthy:
“I’m not going to vote for Obama,” said Raymond Back, a 60-year-old manufacturing plant manager from North Olmsted, Ohio... “I don’t know what Romney is going to do, but this isn’t the right way.”
A second said he is going to vote for Obama in spite of the lagging recovery, because he doesn’t trust Romney and his business background. The voter who is so frustrated with the status quo that he’ll take a chance on any alternative is going for Romney. The one who is looking at the election as a choice is sticking with Obama. Which confirms again the Obama camp’s urgent need to shift the focus back to Romney.
* Obama redoubles pitch for female vote: The Obama campaign is out with a new positive ad that highlights his signing of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, without any mention of the fact that Romney has not said whether he would have done the same. The ad — which will air in seven swing states — that the battle for the female vote turns not just on social issues, but on economic ones. Romney has tried to shift the battle to the latter turf, and this is the Obama response.
* Will Romney firm up immigration position today? He’s set to speak to a group of Hispanic elected officials this afternoon, and the key questions are: Will he take a real position on Obama’s anti-deportation policy beyond criticizing it on process grounds and signaling general support for a vague long term solution to the problem? Will Republicans who are waiting for direction from Romney be satisfied with his answer? If he does take a real step towards firming up support for Obama’s policy, how will conservative opinionmakers and elected officials respond?
* Could decision nixing Obamacare be bad for GOP, too? Via Taegan Goddard, a new Bloomberg poll finds a plurality of Americans, 43 percent, want the law retained with small modifications, while only one third want full repeal. This is key from Bloomberg’s write-up:
A rejection of all or part of the Affordable Care Act would be a setback for Obama, undercutting his biggest legislative victory. It would also present a challenge to Republicans. With elections approaching, House Republicans are signaling they have no immediate replacement to offer.
* In the long run, does health care debate favor Dems? Theda Skocpol and Lawrence Jacobs game out the various post-SCOTUS health care possibilities, and conclude that the conversation will continue to focus on specific reforms over the long haul, no matter what happens.
* But there’s no sugarcoating a SCOTUS loss: Dems and experts acknowledge that it would be a huge setback for progressives and a serious blow to the longtime goal of universal health coverage.
* Opponents of health law vastly outspent foes: The New York Times tallies it up: $235 million has been spent on ads attacking Obamacare since March 2010, versus only $69 million on ads favoring it. This couldn’t possibly have played any role in public confusion about the law, of course.
* Obama leads in Florida: A new Quinnipiac poll finds that Obama leads Romney in this state by four points, 46-42. The key finding is that while Romney leads among whites and seniors, Obama is reassembling his 2008 coalition among women, young voters and minorities, and is now leading among independents by 46-37.
Also: while Romney holds the edge on the economy, Obama is more trusted to help the middle class.
* And control of Senate still up for grabs: A useful roadmap from Stuart Rothenberg. Key point: A number of races could turn on the decision swing voters make about the president — whethr they decide he should be held accountable for the economic status quo and they vote for change. Change, of course, being Mitt Romney.