Obama and Romney campaigns announce details of latest fundraising as the Republican candidate meets GOP leaders
4.25pm: Here’s the fundraising numbers we’ve all been waiting for – well, the breakdown anyway.
According to the report it filed with the FEC, the Obama campaign raised $35m in March, and spent $15.6m during the month. The campaign had $104m in the bank at the end of March.
The Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee between the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee, also raised $18.7m in March and spent more than $22m.
4.10pm: Here you go then: the Obama campaign has released its first-quarter bundlers. See who you can find.
Oh look there’s Eva Longoria in the 500,000 category, and Tyler Perry in the $500,000 category. Oh and Jon Corzine managed more than $500,000 as well, proving he still has some rich friends.
Meanwhile, Restore Our Future, the super PAC that backs Mitt Romney, raised $8.7m in March but spent $12.7m in primary campaigning. It has $6.4m cash in the bank.
4.05pm: On Mitt Romney’s vice presidential choices, the Guardian’s Ana Marie Cox is on to something:
Really, if the last few successful presidential runs have suggested anything about how to pick a running mate, the idea is to pick someone people don’t talk about very much.
Hmm, but Mitt can’t pick himself.
3.55pm: I think we can all get behind this: a petition to make US election day a national holiday.
3.40pm: Good news! Mitt and Ann Romney’s horse Rafalca finished 17th in the World Cup dressage final grand prix in Holland today. Bad news: it was out of a field of 18:
America’s Jan Ebeling (Rafalca) and Shawna Harding (Come On III) undermined their chances by mis-timing their entry into the arena and were subsequently penalised with the deduction of all-important points.
Never mind, better luck for the “Freestyle to Music” event tomorrow.
3.25pm: Poor Steve Benin at the Maddow Blog is continuing his Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity series of weekly updates of Mitt Romney‘s statements of untruth.
It’s a Sisyphean task, since Romney appears happy to repeat any line no matter its tenuous relationship to the truth. For example:
8. Trying to justify his secrecy on tax returns, Mitt Romney told CNBC, “John Kerry released two years of taxes.”
3.04pm: Vice presidential speculation? Why not, it’s Friday afternoon. The speculator and speculatee of the moment is former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
Jeb likes Marco Rubio for the job – but would he consider it himself? He tells Newsmax:
With respect to his own response to such a call from Romney, Bush acknowledged, “Well I’d consider it, but I doubt I’ll get a call, and I don’t know if it’s the right thing for me to do. I didn’t run for president for a similar kind of reason, so I’m all in to try to help him get elected.
So that’s a yes. Jeb Bush’s other top picks include: Ohio Senator Rob Portman, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.
2.45pm: The Democratic party in North Carolina – a battleground state in 2012 – is caught in a bitter internal battle over its handling of sexual harassment charges made by a former staff member.
NC party chairman David Parker is refusing to resign immediately for his role in the matter, despite calls for him to step down “for the good of the party,” in the words of governor Bev Perdue. Instead he wants to hang on pending a special election next month:
The controversy leaves the Democratic Party in disarray with no clear successor as it is poised to play a major role in the presidential election and serve as host of the Democratic National Convention. President Barack Obama, who is pinning his re-election hopes on a victory in North Carolina, is expected to visit the Triangle on Tuesday.
2.21pm: It’s not just teenagers who need to worry about social media usage coming back to haunt them.
Richard Grenell, the new Romney campaign spokesperson for foreign policy, is a frequent and ascerbic Twitter user.
Luckily, he didn’t say rude things about anyone important:
In between his gigs at the UN and with the Romney campaign, Grenell has also been a very prolific tweeter. And more specifically, a prolific tweeter about Callista Gingrich and other aspects of Newt Gingrich’s personal life.
Since the start of the year, Grenell has mocked the Gingriches over Newt’s extramarital affairs, Callista’s appearance and her demeanor on the campaign trail. Most recently, he cracked on March 13: “do you think callista’s hair snaps on?”
2.10pm: Oh man.
Dogs. The 2012 election is going to be all about dogs.
1.55pm: With just four days remaining until the crucial primaries in New York and … sorry, scratch that. There are Republican primaries next Tuesday, but who cares?
Loser Newt Gingrich is making his big push in mighty Delaware. Christine O’Donnell won a Republican nomination there, so why not him?
His “campaign” includes, let’s see, “a stop by the Sussex County GOG Sox Hop” tonight in Long Neck, Delaware. Apparently it’s a “surprise” by Newt. I’ll say.
1.24pm: The Associated Press’s Beth Fouhy speaks to one of the founders of a Romney-supporting super Pac, who is open about the coordination between the various Republican super Pacs:
Carl Forti, a founder of Restore Our Future and its spokesman, predicted that as many as 20 Republican-leaning super PACs would seek to oust Obama and would work together to figure out how to gain maximum traction from their ads.
“The outside groups are at our best when we do coordinate,” said Forti, who was the political director for Romney’s failed 2008 presidential bid and has been a Crossroads strategist since 2010. “We did so in the 2010 cycle and I expect and hope we will be able to coordinate again.
It also has this quote suggesting the 2012 election could be nasty:
The 2012 Republican primary was by far the most negative we’ve seen and my expectation will be that the 2012 general election will be one of the most negative in history,” said William Benoit, who studies campaign advertising at Ohio University. “The super PAC ads will make it even more so.
1pm: Another snack from the buffet of the NRO’s interview with Mitt Romney:
NRO: I saw your comment yesterday that the race is about jobs, not dogs, so I won’t ask about the endless dog debates. But in light of the president’s strange dietary selections in Indonesia, what is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
Romney: Ahhh… You know, I don’t recall eating anything particularly bizarre.
NRO: I was going to guess when you were [in] France, maybe escargot or something?
Romney: Yeah, but escargot and snails and oysters and mussels and so forth are unusual but not exceptional features in American restaurants. I don’t know if those qualify as particularly unusual. Certainly not something you eat every day, but I can’t think of anything particularly surprising that I’ve had the occasion to eat.
12.45pm: Next week’s political activity will see Barack Obama visit universities in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa to call on Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling.
In an incredible coincidence, all three states are key general election battlegrounds. With lots of students.
While in North Carolina, Obama will record an appearance on NBC’s talkshow Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at Chapel Hill. Take a wild guess and assume that no beer pong will be involved.
12.30pm: Even Sarah Palin can make a good point from time to time.
Speaking on Fox News, Palin remarked of a Secret Service supervisor who wrote on his Facebook account of his January 2009 assignment guarding Palin: “I was really checking her out, if you know what i mean?”:
The president, for one, better be wary there, of when Secret Service is accompanying his family on vacation. They may be checking out the first lady instead of guarding her.
Palin also said of the agent, who has been removed for his part in the recent Colombia prostitution scandal: “Check this out, buddy – you’re fired!”
12.15pm: A sign of the times: American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-led super Pac, has raised close to $100m already – and nearly $50m in the last three months:
A pro-GOP independent super Pac co-founded by Karl Rove says it has raised nearly $100m so far this campaign cycle.
An official for American Crossroads confirms to CNN that the super Pac and its nonprofit affiliate Crossroads GPS combined brought in $99.8m since the start of 2011, with $49m of the haul raised just in the past three months.
Karl Rove kind of confirms it on Fox News, via the Hill’s GOP12 blog:
I’ll leave it up to the organization to put out the news release, but $100 million’s a lot of money, yes.
This is going to be the story of the 2012 election: the huge totals to be raised and spent by mainly Republican super Pacs during the election campaign. What effect will limitless amounts of money spent on mainly negative advertising have? We’re about to find out over the next 200 days.
12 noon: Politico’s Jonathan Martin says the Romney team is conducting a stealth campaign to win over Republican doubters:
There are two simultaneous versions of the White House race taking place right now. In the public eye, Romney is consolidating the GOP behind his candidacy. Most all the holdouts – including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – are getting behind the presumptive nominee and making the case for his candidacy.
But under the table, there is pervasive pessimism among Republicans about Romney’s prospects this fall. It’s apparent in rampant discussions about which Republicans will run in 2016 – talk that obviously presupposes a loss in November – and it’s downright glaring in private conversations with GOP officials on Capitol Hill and in consulting shops across Washington.
To that end the Romney team is reaching out to everyone from conservative bloggers to evangelicals to try and keep them all sweet.
11.40am: The National Review Online has an interview with Mitt Romney, in which Romney appears to link the GSA spending scandal with Barack Obama’s holidays. See for yourself:
NRO: Are you following the GSA scandal? How pervasive is a culture of waste within the federal bureaucracy — is it endemic or a few bad apples? How would a Romney administration go about changing habits and reducing tolerance for waste and excess?
Romney: I think the example starts at the top. People have to see that the president is not taking elaborate vacations and spending in a way that is inconsistent with the state of the overall economy and the state of the American family.
“Elaborate vacations”? Such as?
11.23am: Stupid Person of the Day goes to Democratic governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer, who said this to the Daily Beast in reply to a question about Romney’s appeal to Hispanics:
Schweitzer replied that it is “kinda ironic given that his family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico, but then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico, given the gender discrepancy.” Women, he said, are “not great fans of polygamy, 86% were not great fans of polygamy. I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of [the] polygamy lifestyle, but his father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico.
Sigh. Under the rules of politics as it is being played now, the Obama campaign had to “disavow” Schweitzer, and so it did:
Attacking a candidate’s religion is out of bounds, and our campaign will not engage in it, and we don’t think others should either.
11.07am: Romney’s addition of veteran foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell to his team is interesting because Grenell is not only openly gay but has battled against the Defence of Marriage Act so beloved of social conservative Republicans.
Chris Greidner of Washington’s Metro Weekly explains:
At the end of Grenell’s service in the Bush administration, he took a notable whack at the administration, telling The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld of his effort to have his partner, Matt Lashey, listed in the United Nations’ Blue Book, which is “a reference guide of contact information for different member states of the United Nations as well as diplomatic personnel and their spouses.”
Grenell had attempted to have Lashey’s name added several times, to no avail. He told the Advocate back in 2008, “What put me over the edge was a friend and colleague who met her spouse after I was already with my partner – they got married and subsequently were put into the Blue Book in a matter of days.”
The State Department eventually told him that the Defence of Marriage Act prevented the listing. Although he protested the decision behind the scenes, Lashey’s name was not ever added, which led to his coming forward to criticize the treatement publicly as he left his post.
Greidner notes that the news of Grenell’s hire came on the same day it was announced that Romney – who opposes marriage equality – would be the commencement speaker at the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University, itself an institution with a record of gay hostility.
10.30am: Mitt Romney‘s romance with the Republican party enters a new phase this afternoon, when he addresses the RNC’s state chairmen’s national meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona.
It marks a virtual coronation for Romney as the Republican party’s presidential nominee, with the candidate being introduced by the 2008 nominee John McCain.
The Romney campaign also has some good news on the financial front: it raised a campaign record of $12m for the presidential primary in March, despite the primaries being all but over. Romney currently has $10m in his primary bank account – and all that can be transferred over to the presidential election proper.
Meanwhile, the 2012 presidential phony war continues. Here’s a summary of latest developments from Ryan Devereaux:
• The Obama campaign maintained its theme of Mitt Romney’s fecklessness in responding to Romney’s speech yesterday in Ohio. “In a speech that he concluded by saying he’d ‘tell the truth,’ Mitt Romney actually didn’t tell the truth about President Obama’s record and his own failed record in Massachusetts… Mitt Romney is building quite a record of giving speeches filled with distortions and fabrications. Why does he have such an aversion to the truth?” The response followed Romney’s event outside a closed plant in Ohio that had shut its doors during the Bush administration.
• Indiana governor Mitch Daniels may have counted himself out as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate after he accused Romney of running a negative campaign. In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, Daniels said: “You have to campaign to govern, not just to win. Spend the precious time and dollars explaining what’s at stake and a constructive programme to make life better. And as I say, look at everything through the lens of folks who have yet to achieve.” Daniels reportedly paused then added, “Romney doesn’t talk that way.”
• Mitt Romney has named Richard Grenell – a former member of the Bush administration and UN spokesman – as his national security and foreign policy spokesman. Grenell is an openly gay Republican, a sign that Romney is no longer overly concerned with placating social conservatives.
• The latest poll by the Wall Street Journal/NBC News finds Obama is ahead of Romney by six percentage points, 49% to 43%. The survey presented people with a series of six statements intended to sum up the policies of the two campaigns, without attaching any names to them. Some 46% of those polled said they would be “much more likely” to back a candidate making the fairness pitch similar to Obama’s, compared to 30% who said the same for the statement on economic freedom, similar to Romney’s.
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