* The most curious damage control yet from Mitt Romney:

“I got everybody in my state insured. One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record.”

So we’re embracing Romneycare, and claiming it demonstrates empathy for the people of this country? Okay, but Romney would repeal the national health law that Romneycare inspired, and won’t say what he would replace it with, if anything, for millions of “people of this country” who would lose protection as a result.

* Politico reports that the Paul Ryan budget cut Medicare spending to finance tax cuts, including ones for the wealthy, something that is likely to become a major Dem talking point.

* Steve Kornacki’s piece on the new polling showing Obama beating Romney on the economy gets this right:

Findings like these undercut the basic premise of Romney’s campaign, that economic anxiety will be enough to prompt swing voters to give up on Obama and use Romney as a vehicle for their protests. For this strategy to have any chance of working, a majority of voters must conclude that Obama’s policies have failed or are failing, and that Romney (or, really, any president not named Obama) would do a better job managing the economy. But this isn’t happening.

* The DNC releases a new Web video juxtaposing Romney’s new ad touting concern for the poor and middle class with a litany of previous statements that would appear to undercut that picture.

As Taegan Goddard notes, it’s an effective response to the new Romney spot. It’s also a reminder that Dems still have plenty in their arsenal, including the freeloading 47 percent remarks, to undercut his claim to concern about ordinary Americans.

* Jed Lewison, on the Romney campaign’s decision to go all in on that ad:

When you’re running an ad trying to convince people you didn’t mean it when you said you were writing off half the country, you’re in deep trouble.

* Ed Kilgore, bringing the history, says the new ad is reminiscent of George H.W. Bush saying: “Message: I care.”

* Relatedly, an interesting Tweet from Philip Rucker, on the trail with Romney in Ohio:

Romney, struggling to win over blue-collar voters, has only owners, presidents and corporate treasurers at his Ohio roundtable.

* E.J. Dionne on the public revolt at the NFL replacement refs, on what the standoff says about the value of labor and the arrogance of the rich, and on the statement Obama could make if he threw a flag on the owners.

* The question of the day, courtesy of Fareed Zakaria: “Can you be a serious candidate for the general election while not outraging the Republican base?”

* Why do Romney’s tax returns matter? Jamison Foser makes a big-picture case that they are relevent, given the increasing wealth of the governing elite, and its embrace of policies that favor the rich.

* Glenn Greenwald on a new study that documents the true nature of the terror unleashed by drone strikes, and the mendacity of U.S. officials about it.

* Kevin Drum on the bipartisan apathy that enables the terror to continue unabated.

* And you’ll be startled to hear that national Republicans have reopened the door to spending money on Todd Akin’s Missouri Senate candidacy, now that he’s remained in past the deadline to replace him.

What else?