* How will Obama rebut GOP charge he failed on economy? Obama’s reelection team hopes the 2012 election will be about vision and values, about two sets of priorities and two sets of ideas about where the country and the world are headed. But Republicans, too, get to have a say in what the election is about. And they will do all they can to make it about Obama’s economic policies — about the fact that Obama had his four years to fix the economy, and that people are still suffering.

Mitt Romney’s new ad in New Hampshire attacking Obama over the economy offers a preview of how the GOP will try to do this in the general election:

Romney’s ad is accompanied by what his campaign is calling an “open letter” to the President, flatly alleging: “I will be blunt. Your policies have failed.”

Obama’s advisers have told me that they intend to aggressively rebut this line of attack by pointing out that GOP policies are what caused the recession in the first place, and that Obama’s policies have produced 20 consecutive months of private sector job creation. And, needless to say, they will continue pointing out that Republicans are blocking Obama’s current efforts to fix the economy; they may amplify the charge that the GOP is deliberately sabotaging the recovery to win the election. But still, arguing that things would have been a lot worse without Obama’s policies is a delicate case to make when people are still suffering.

Either way, make no mistake: How Obama handles the GOP framing of the election — you’ve had your shot; why shouldn’t we conclude that your policies are a failure? — will be pivotal.

* Romney ad contains egregious distortion: The ad also airs footage of Obama saying: “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” But that snippet is torn out of context. What Obama actually said on that day in 2008 is this: “Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.’”

Romney’s campaign spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, offered this laughable explanation for the distortion:

We used that quote intentionally to show that President Obama is doing exactly what he criticized McCain of doing four years ago. Obama doesn’t want to talk about the economy because of his failed record.

What a joke. The out-of-context quote does not show that Obama criticized the McCain campaign in this fashion four years ago. It obscures this fact to make it look as if Obama was talking about his own campaign. We’re now at the point where the Romney campaign is dissembling about its own ad’s distortion.

It’s going to be a long year.

* Will news orgs let Romney’s falsehoods skate? As Steve Benen notes, the Romney ad’s distortion is only the latest in a series of blatant falsehoods coming from the Romney camp, ones that suggest a real pattern that invites serious examination.

* The real reason the supercommittee failed: Good for the New York Times editorial board for stating it clearly and unequivocally:

The only reason the committee failed was because Republicans refused to raise taxes on the rich, and, in fact, wanted to cut them even below their current bargain-basement level.

Again: Any news org that doesn’t convey this fact with total clarity is letting down its readers and viewers, and obscuring, rather than illuminating, what actually happened here.

* The real reason the supercommittee failed, ctd.: Eugene Robinson doesn’t obscure; he illuminates:

No, the sun didn’t rise in the west this morning. No, Republicans on the congressional supercommittee didn’t offer meaningful concessions on raising new tax revenue. And no, “both sides” are not equally responsible for the failure to compromise.

Also: The Post editorial board rightly notes that Democrats were willing to accept entitlement cuts, while Republicans were not willing to give ground on the Bush tax cuts.

* Obama didn’t get drawn into GOP’s supercommittee trap: The reason Obama didn’t take a more hands on role with the supercommittee is simple. Jackie Calmes explains it: Obama knew it was a sucker’s game, and that Republicans would never agree to a deficit deal he could support, because they would never, ever support anything that would meaningfully raise taxes on the wealthy.

Also: There would have been no upside in engaging and being associated with its failure and with Congressional dysfunction in general, particularly since he plans to run against Congress’s failure to act on the economy.

* Obama will keep up pressure on tax hikes for rich: Another key nugget from Calmes’s story:

Until Republicans give ground on taxes, Mr. Obama will stay on the sidelines, aides say; he is hoping that with polls on his side, Republicans eventually will compromise in return for Democrats’ agreement for savings from Medicare and Social Security. To keep the pressure on, he vowed to veto Republicans’ bill to repeal the threat of military cuts.

In other words, Obama and his advisers have concluded that keeping the pressure on the GOP to allow the Bush tax cuts on the rich to expire will continue to be a winning issue. Good.

* If Congress dodges the trigger, a downgrade could follow: With Republicans (and some Dems) looking for ways to get around the defense cuts triggered by the supercommittee’s failure, the fact that this could lead to another downgrade of the U.S. credit rating seems tangentially relevant.

* Demography and Obama’s path to reelection: Mike Tomasky has an interesting look at how shifting demographics give Obama a shot at winning reelection without fully reassembling his 2008 coalition.

Also: Tomasky knocks down the idea that Obama must choose either the white working class voters of the Rust Belt or the “new economy” voters of Virginia and Colorado as the focus of his strategy, and says he needs to try to compete everywhere. It’s my underastanding that the Obama reelect team agrees.

* And behold the Newt-mentum!!! The other day I noted that GOP primary voters might coalesce around Gingrich because they see him as a formidable intellectual and debating foe for Obama. Paydirt! Today’s Quinnipiac poll finds that a full 48 percent of Republican voters who think he has the knowledge and experience necessary to be president — and he tops the GOP field with 26 percent, with Mitt Romney at 22 percent.

And get this: In a head to head matchup with Romney, Newt leads by ten points, 49-39, underscoring again how badly some Republican voters want an alternative to Romney.

But: National polling ultimately may not matter; and as Taegan Goddard notes, a new poll finds that Romney’s New Hampshire firewall — which is central to his overall strategy — is holding strong.

What else is happening?