“Does Virginia really want an outsourcer-in-chief in the White House?”
That’s the closing line of a harsh new ad campaign the Obama team has just launched — with versions airing in three key swing states — which means the Obama campaign is escalating the attacks on Mitt Romney’s Bain years in a big way.
The ads are based on the Post’s big story reporting that Bain invested in companies that were “pioneers” in the practice of shipping work overseas. What’s noteworthy is that the ads use these revelations to undermine Romney’s aura of economic competence, which Americans seem prepared to accept that he possesses, if polls are any indication:
The spots open with footage of Romney’s own positive ads claiming that in the early days of his presidency, he’ll unleash a wave of job creation and economic growth. “But would he?” the ads ask, before pivoting to the outsourcing revelations.
Many commentators have questioned the Obama strategy of attacking Romney’s Bain years, suggesting that the election will turn on the state of the economy and nothing else.. But it’s now clear that the Obama team sees this line of attack as absolutely central to defining Romney in the crucial months before the campaign kicks into high gear with the conventions at the end of the summer.
If the recovery continues to sputter, Romney’s message — the economy sucks, so get rid of the guy in charge and replace him with someone who knows how the economy really works — could prove very seductive. Obama's best hope may be to define Romney’s economic credentials in not just a negative light, but a threatening one. In this telling, banking on Romney’s economic know-how becomes a risk: Sure, Romney knows how to make money for himself and his friends, but he’s the walking embodiment of the very trends that enriched the wealthy while causing the bottom to fall out from under the middle class — and you were the loser. Why would things be any different under President Romney this time around? Obama may not have turned the economy around as quickly as you’d like, but at least you know he’s on your side.
The Obama camp is banking heavily on the revelations about offshoring, an easy-to-grasp, emotionally potent issue, to render Romney as unattractive an alternative as possible. It remains to be seen whether this argument will resonate with voter perceptions of Romney’s abilities and intentions, or indeed whether Romney’s credentials or image will even prove that big a factor in an election that may turn largely on Obama’s economic performance and little else.
* Obama ads push back on “doing fine” gaffe: This got lost in the shuffle yesterday, but it’s important: The Obama campaign is up with a new, unannounced ad in nine swing states that directly rebuts the multiple spots airing right now that feature Obama’s claim that the “private sector is doing fine.”
The ad features multiple shots of Obama emphathizing with struggling Americans, suggesting the Obama camp may be worried about — or at least sees an urgent need to get out ahead of — GOP efforts to cast him as out of touch with peoples’ economic suffering.
* GOP continues to struggle over immigration issues, Latinos: Good stuff from Peter Wallsten, who reports that yesterday’s Arizona ruling is only intensifying a major problem for the GOP: How can Romney and Republicans avoid alienating Latinos when their base adores immigration policies (such as the Arizona law) that Latinos despise?
Romney’s solution has been to try to create the appearance that he’s moderating his post-primary immigration tune, without taking actual policy positions on the most pressing problems associated with the issue. Nor will he say whether he’d repeal Obama’s current solution to them.
* Romney’s timidity on immigration: Byron York channels conservatives’ rising dissatisfaction with his refusal to say where he stands on the issue, most recently with regard to the Arizona ruling:
On Monday, Mitt Romney had the perfect opportunity to align himself with the conservative — and popular — side of the question and declined to take it.
How much longer will he continue with his strategic equivocations, and is there a point at which they’ll provoke any kind of real backlash from the right?
* Romney escalates attack on Obamacare: With the SCOTUS decision looming, the Romney campaign’s new statement signals that Romney will seize on a ruling against the law to argue that Obama took his eye off the ball on the economy, with nothing to show for it:
“Three years ago, President Obama chose to ram through his partisan, job-killing Obamacare legislation rather than focusing his full attention on the economy. The results of this decision are in — Obamacare will raise taxes on job creators, force jobs abroad, and hinder small-business hiring. On Day One, Mitt Romney will take immediate action to repeal and replace Obamacare with a plan that empowers individuals and frees job creators from the burdens this President has imposed on them.”
Of course, economists say that repealing Obamacare will do nothing to solve the economic crisis, which seems tangentially relevant to this argument.
* Obamacare reality check of the day: Charlie Cook reminds us: No matter how much overheated punditry you hear, the simple fact is that the SCOTUS decision on health reform is unlikely to matter in this fall’s election.
* Scarborough mocks Romney’s lack of specificity: I joked yesterday on Twitter that it’s now become cool to call out Romney’s refusal to specify positions on key issues, and now here comes none other than Joe Scarborough getting in on the act:
“Romney — first of all, they don’t understand they’re losing by 3 or 4 points — but seriously, their goal is to not let people know what he believes on one issue after another.”
* Thursday is a big day for Obama: Republicans have scheduled the contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder for Thursday, which has led some to suggest they want it to get overshadowed by the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare, but on the other hand, a decision against the law followed by a contempt citation could make for a very bad political day for the president.
* And Elizabeth Warren blasts Romney: Opening for Obama at a fundraiser in Boston last night, Elizabeth Warren highlighted their work creating the consumer protection bureau and tore into Romney with the sort of biting populist rhetoric that has made her a national figure. “This election will be about whose side you stand on,” Warren said. “Over the past few years, I’ve seen whose side the president stands on.”
The speech — which focused on Obama’s passage of Wall Street reform and Romney’s desire to repeal it — may stir more talk of giving Warren a plum speaking slot at the Democratic convention.