Full Text Campaign Buzz July 14, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech During 2 Day Virginia Tour at Walkerton Tavern and Gardens Glen Allen, Virginia — Continues Attacks on Mitt Romney & Pushes for Middle-Class Tax Cuts in the Rain




Drenched Obama Rallies Supporters in Rainy Virginia

Source: ABC News, 7-14-12

ABC News

Undeterred by the pouring rain, hundreds of enthusiastic, and soaked, supporters braved a storm on Saturday to hear President Obama make his case for a second term in the state he carried four years ago.

“I know these are some die-hard political folks here,” the president said as he took to the outdoor stage shortly after the skies opened up. “We’re not letting a little rain chase us away.”

The president, tie-less with his sleeves rolled up, was quickly drenched, resembling the soggy crowd of 900 assembled in front of the historic Walkerton Tavern….READ MORE

No Apologies: Obama Campaign Continues Attacks on Romney

Source: NYT, 7-14-12

President Barack Obama delivers remarks in the rain at a campaign event at Walkerton Tavern & Gardens in Glen Allen, Va., on Saturday.

Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

President Barack Obama delivers remarks in the rain at a campaign event at Walkerton Tavern & Gardens in Glen Allen, Va., on Saturday.

President Obama and his campaign barnstormed through Virginia on Saturday, relentlessly hammering away at Mitt Romney’s business record and releasing a mocking new ad….READ MORE




Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event

Source: WH, 7-14-12

Walkerton Tavern and Gardens
Glen Allen, Virginia

12:12 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: How’s it going, Virginia? (Applause.) You know, this feels kind of good. (Applause.) Don’t you think?


THE PRESIDENT: I need to cool off a little bit. It’s a little warm. (Applause.) Well, I know these are some die-hard political folks here — (applause) — not letting a little rain chase us away.


THE PRESIDENT: Although I know this from Michelle. Ladies, I do apologize for your hairdos getting messed up. (Applause.)

We’re going to have to treat everybody to a little salon visit after this. (Applause.)

So a couple of acknowledgements I want to make real quick. First of all, an outstanding member of Congress who’s looking out for working people every day, Bobby Scott is in the house. (Applause.) State Senator Donald McEachin is here. (Applause.) State Delegate Jennifer McClellan is here. (Applause.) And John Montgomery is here. Give him a big round of applause. (Applause.)

Now, I’m going to just cut straight to business. We don’t have time for small talk here.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Four more years! (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: This is my last political campaign. We’re term-limited as President. And it got me thinking about my first political campaigns. I think about the places I used to travel as a state senator when I was running for the United States Senate, all across Illinois, which is a lot like Virginia. You got big cities, but you also have small towns. You got rural, suburban, urban areas. You’d stop in VFW halls or diners. You go to churches or synagogues, and you’d meet folks black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, you name it. And wherever I went, even if on the surface folks looked different, there was a common thread that ran through their stories. And in those stories I saw my own.

So I’d meet an elderly veteran, and I think about my grandfather who fought in World War II, and my grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line while he was away, even though they’d already had my mother. And I’d think about how when my grandfather came back from Europe, he was able to get a college education on the GI Bill, and how they’d buy their first home with the help of an FHA loan.

And then I’d meet a single mom somewhere who was working hard, raising kids, and I’d think about my mom — because my dad left when I was young. And so my mother had to work and go to school at the same time, and yet, despite not having a lot of money, was still able to provide me and my sister with the best education possible, and instilled in us a sense that if we worked hard, we could go as far as our dreams would take us. (Applause.)

And then I’d think about Michelle’s parents whenever I’d meet a working family because Michelle’s dad was a blue-collar worker. He had multiple sclerosis. By the time I met him, he could barely walk, in fact, really couldn’t walk without two canes.

And he’d have to wake up an hour early — earlier than everybody else — just to get dressed. But he never missed a day on the job. (Applause.) And Michelle’s mom, she stayed at home when the kids were young and then found a job as a secretary, and that’s the work they did all their lives. They had a little second-floor apartment that Michelle and Craig lived in, and yet, despite those modest beginnings, Michelle and her brother were able to get the best possible education.

And so in these travels that I had in that first campaign, what I was reminded of was that core idea that is central to this country — what makes us exceptional, what makes us great. It’s not just how many skyscrapers we have; it’s not how powerful our military is — what makes us special is this idea that in this country, if you are willing to work hard, if you’re willing to take responsibility for your own life, then you can make it if you try. (Applause.) No matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, no matter what your last name is, no matter how modest your beginnings, you can make it in this country if you work hard. (Applause.) Because America has never been a country of handouts. We’re a nation of workers, and doers, and dreamers, and risk-takers. We work for what we get. And all we ask for, as Americans, is that our hard work pays off. All we ask is that our responsibility is rewarded — so that if we put in enough effort, we can find a job that pays the bills; we can afford a home to call our own; we won’t go bankrupt when we get sick; maybe we can take a vacation.

When I think about my favorite vacations when I was a kid, when I was 11 years old my mom, sister, and my grandmom, we traveled across the country. But we didn’t fly on jets, we took Greyhound buses. (Applause.) Took the train sometimes. I think we were in the car twice. Stayed at Howard Johnsons. And the exciting thing for me was if there was any kind of swimming pool — it didn’t matter how big it was. (Laughter.) And then after you spend the whole day swimming, then you’d go to the vending machine, get a soda and a bucket of ice. (Laughter.)

But the point was to spend time with folks you loved, and enjoy their company. So that was part of it, and then people expect, I think, that they can retire with dignity and respect after a lifetime of work. (Applause.) That’s the essence of America. That is within everybody’s grasp. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to have some ups and downs. It doesn’t mean at some point you’re not going to experience tough times. But it does mean that the trajectory of people’s lives in this country — if you work hard, you can make it. And that’s what made us special. That’s what made us the greatest nation on Earth. That’s what made us an economic superpower. (Applause.)

Now, when I ran in 2008, a lot of people, we came together — not just Democrats, but Republicans and independents — because we’re not Democrats or Republicans first, we’re Americans first. (Applause.) And we came together because we felt like that idea had been slipping away for too long. For almost a decade, people had been working harder but getting less. And then the worst financial crisis in our lifetimes hit, the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes hit, millions of people lost their jobs or lost their homes or lost their savings, and that made the dream that much harder to reach for.

But what I’ve learned over these last three and a half years is that even though the crisis put us through some very tough times, the American people are tougher. (Applause.) Folks may have gotten knocked down some, but they got back up. (Applause.) The crisis didn’t change who we are. It did not change our fundamental character as a people. It hasn’t changed our sense of purpose from 2008. Our mission right now, yes, is to put people back to work and, yes, to strengthen the housing market; but our purpose is also to rebuild our economy so that it lasts — (applause) — so that work pays off. An economy in which everybody, whether you are starting a business or punching a clock, you can have confidence that if you work hard you can get ahead. That’s our goal. That’s our central purpose. That’s what this campaign is about. That’s what I’ve been working on for the last three and a half years. That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States of America. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Now, I want to say this —

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Mr. President! (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Because we’ve gone through tough times, I think there’s a tendency sometimes for some of the commentators to say, well, this time it’s really different, we’re losing our number-one status, and all this stuff. I don’t buy any of that. We’re still, by far, the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.) And what’s holding us back from meeting our challenges —

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Congress. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: What’s holding us back from meeting our challenges is not a lack of big ideas, it’s not technical solutions. You name it, whatever it is — education, housing, the deficit — we have the solutions in front of us. What’s holding us back is we’ve got a stalemate in Washington that has more to do with — than just two candidates for President or two political parties. It’s two fundamentally different visions about how we move this country forward.

This election is about breaking that stalemate. The outcome of this election will determine not just what happens next year or the year after that, but what happens for the next 20 years.

See, my opponent and his allies in Congress, they believe in a top-down economics. They believe that if we spend trillions of dollars on tax cuts — mostly for the wealthy — even if we have to pay for it by gutting education, or gutting job training programs, or gutting investments in basic research, or turning Medicare into a voucher system, or increasing middle-class taxes — that if we do that, somehow all of you are going to benefit. That’s their idea. They also believe that if we roll back regulations on banks and insurance companies and credit card companies — regulations that are meant to protect people and our economy — that somehow everybody is going to be more secure. That’s their basic argument. They’ll spend a lot of time talking, but if you cut through all the stuff — (laughter) — what they’re really saying is tax cuts for the wealthy, roll back regulations. That’s essentially their plan.

Now, it is a plan. It’s a theory. It fits easily on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: We tried it. We tried it for a decade before I took office. It did not work. (Applause.) We tried it, and we turned a surplus into a deficit. We tried it, and we had the most sluggish job growth in decades. We tried it, and your income and wages on average went down — went down, even while the cost of health care and education and gas were all going up. And then it culminated in the worst financial crisis that we’re still cleaning up after.

So it’s not as if we haven’t tried their theory. It would be one thing if we hadn’t tried it. Then they could say, well, let’s try this. And maybe everybody would say, all right, that’s worth trying. But we did this, and it didn’t work.

We can’t afford to go back to top-down economics. (Applause.) We need somebody who believes in a middle-out economics, a bottom-up economics, somebody who will fight for you and working people all across Virginia and all across America. That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)

You know, when the American auto industry was about to go under, and my opponent was saying, “let Detroit go bankrupt,” I made a bet on American workers, on American ingenuity, and we got management and workers to sit down and work things out. And right now, GM is number one again — (applause) — and the U.S. auto industry is back on top. (Applause.)

Well, let me tell you something. What can happen in the auto industry in Detroit, that can happen in manufacturing all across this country. (Applause.) In Richmond and in Raleigh, and in Pittsburgh and in Cleveland. Which is why I’ve said let’s stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas, let’s give tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in the United States of America, and investing in American workers, so we can make American products stamped with those three proud words: Made In America. (Applause.) That’s how we build an economy that lasts. (Applause.) And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President. (Applause.)

Mr. Romney has got a different idea. He invested in companies that have been called “pioneers” of outsourcing. (Laughter.) I don’t want a pioneer in outsourcing. (Laughter.) I want some insourcing. (Applause.) I want to bring companies back. (Applause.) And part of that is making sure we change our tax code. Part of it is investing in basic science and research. We’ve always been at the cutting-edge of technology. We’ve got to keep that. We’ve got to maintain that.

And you know, four years ago I said I would end the war in Iraq. (Applause.) Because of our veterans, because of our outstanding men and women in uniform, we’ve been able to keep that promise. (Applause.) We’re transitioning out of Afghanistan and starting to bring our troops home. (Applause.) So now my attitude is, after a decade of war, let’s take half of those savings on war and let’s use that to reduce our deficit. Let’s use the other half to do some nation-building here at home. (Applause.) Let’s put folks back to work rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our railroads and our schools, and putting broadband lines into rural communities all across America. (Applause.) That’s how we build an economy that lasts. (Applause.)

That’s also, by the way, how we take care of our veterans. Now that they’re coming home they shouldn’t have to fight for a job after they fought for us. (Applause.) And they should get the benefits that they’ve earned. So we’ll be fighting any kind of cutbacks on veteran services. We’ve got to take care of folks who took care of us. (Applause.)

I’m running to make sure that our kids get the best education in the world. (Applause.) I want to help our schools hire and reward the best teachers, especially math and science. I want to give 2 million more Americans the chance to go to community colleges and get trained for the jobs that folks are hiring for right now. (Applause.) I want colleges and universities to bring down tuition so young people aren’t burdened with debt. (Applause.) Higher education isn’t a luxury; it is a necessity in this 21st century. (Applause.)

I want to make sure that middle-class families can refinance their homes, save $3,000 a year. (Applause.) That’s good for you, but it’s also good for businesses, because you’ll spend that money.

I’m running because I believe we’ve got to keep going on the Affordable Care Act. It was the right thing to do to make sure that everybody has health care. (Applause.) The Supreme Court has spoken. It is the law of the land. We are going to implement it. (Applause.) And because we’re implementing it, young people can stay on their parent’s health insurance plans until they’re 26 years old. (Applause.) And if you’ve got health insurance, the only thing that’s going to happen is you’ve got more security and insurance companies can’t jerk you around. (Applause.) And 30 million people, including those with preexisting conditions, can finally get health insurance. It was the right thing to do. We’re not going backwards, we’re going forwards. (Applause.)

I’m wrapping up. (Laughter.) Everybody is wet anyway, so it doesn’t matter. (Laughter.) It’s too late — those hairdos are all gone. (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Let me talk about one last thing, and that is the deficit and the debt. Because the other side, they’ll say, well, you know, this is the most important issue. And what I’ve said is, you know what, along with putting people back to work, we do need to bring down our deficit and our debt. After a decade of irresponsibility, where I inherited a trillion-dollar deficit, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. (Applause.) We’ve already cut a trillion dollars’ worth of spending that we don’t need.

I’m willing to do more, because not every program works. Government can’t solve every problem. Government can’t help somebody if they don’t want to help themselves. It doesn’t matter how much money we put into schools if parents, you’re not telling your kids they need to work hard in school. (Applause.) But I’m not willing to do is what my opponent proposes, which is pretend like you’re lowering the deficit and then cut taxes for folks like me by $5 trillion on top of the Bush tax cuts, because we can’t afford it.

What I’ve said to Congress is let’s make sure that everybody who’s making $250,000 a year or less, that your taxes don’t go up. (Applause.) That’s 98 percent of Americans. But let’s ask folks like me who can afford it, the top 2 percent, to do a little bit more — (applause) — so that we can still help young people go to college, so that we don’t turn Medicare into a voucher system, so that we’re still investing in basic research, so that we can still build roads and help folks with the housing situation. (Applause.)

And by the way, we’ve tried that, too. A guy named Bill Clinton tried it, and we created 23 million new jobs. (Applause.) And we had surpluses instead of deficits. And by the way, rich people did just fine back then. (Laughter.)

Here’s the thing I think the other side doesn’t understand. When working people do well everybody does well. (Applause.) That means businesses have more customers. That is how we grow an economy — not by everybody just looking out for themselves, but by all of us coming together and working hard. (Applause.)

All these things, whether it’s bringing manufacturing back, putting construction workers back to work, protecting health care, making sure our kids get the best education, caring for our veterans — all these things that make up a middle-class life, they all tie together. They’re all central to that idea that if you work hard you can get ahead. That’s the promise that our parents and our grandparents and our great-grandparents made to future generations.

Some of them came here as immigrants; some came here not wanting to come. But when they got here, all of us — whether they were working on farms or whether they were working in mines or working in a factory — that idea that if I work hard now things will be better for my kids, that’s what built this country.

And over the next four months, the other side is going to spend more money than we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes on a bunch of negative ads. And they’re going to try to peddle this economic theory that everybody knows we tried and didn’t work. And since they know that’s probably not going to sell, really what these ads are going to do is just say, the economy isn’t where it needs to be and it’s Obama’s fault. That’s their message. They’ll use all those scary voices in the ads and — (laughter) — but that’s basically their message.

And that’s a plan for maybe winning an election, but it’s not a plan for creating jobs or helping the middle class. (Applause.) It’s not an plan for rebuilding our economy.

And so I don’t worry about the kind of money they’re spending because what you taught me in 2008 — same thing I learned in my first campaign — was that when ordinary folks come together — (applause) — when they cut through all the nonsense, and they remember what makes this country great, they tap into those core American values, and they remember what’s true about our lives — when you come together, nothing can stop you. (Applause.) When you come together, change happens. (Applause.) When you come together, people get a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share and everybody plays by the same set of rules — when you decide.

And that’s the choice you have now in this election. So I have to tell you, when I ran in 2008, I tried to make sure that any promise I made I could keep. So I said I’d end the war in Iraq — we ended the war. (Applause.) I said I’d keep your taxes down — and I’ve lowered taxes for middle-class families, $3,600 on average. (Applause.) If somebody tells you I’ve raised their taxes, tell them that ain’t right. (Laughter.) It’s just not true.

But the main promise I made to you, I said I wasn’t a perfect man and I — you can ask Michelle that — (laughter) — and I told you I wouldn’t be a perfect President. But I told you that I’d always tell you what I thought, I’d always tell you where I stood — sometimes it wasn’t popular, but I’d tell you what I thought, what I believed. And I’d also wake up every single day fighting as hard as I knew how for you. (Applause.) To make your lives a little bit better. (Applause.)

And you know what, I’ve kept that promise. (Applause.) I’ve kept that promise. Because I see myself in you. When I see your grandparents, I see my grandparents. (Applause.) When I see my children, I see your children. We are in this together. We rise and fall as one nation. (Applause.) I still believe in you. And if you still believe in me, and you stand up with me, and make phone calls and knock on doors and get out there and organize with me — (applause) — we’re going to finish what we started in 2008. (Applause.) We’re going to win this election. We’re going to win Virginia. (Applause.) We’re going to put this country on the right track. And we’ll remind the world just why it is that the American way is what is the envy of the world and we are the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

12:44 P.M. EDT


Full Text Campaign Buzz, May 23, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Time Magazine Interview — Defends Bain Record, Hits Obama on Economy: ‘He Just Doesn’t Have a Clue’ — Transcript




Mitt Romney Defends Bain Record, Hits Obama on Economy: ‘He Just Doesn’t Have a Clue’

Source: Time, 5-23-12

Image: Mark Halperin interviews Mitt Romney

Peter Hapak for TIME

Mark Halperin interviews Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney lashed President Obama’s economic stewardship in an interview with TIME’s Mark Halperin on Wednesday, deflecting attacks on his years as a private equity executive and laying out how he hopes to take control of the economy as soon as he’s sworn in, should he defeat Obama in November….READ MORE

TIME Cover: “Raising Romney”

Source: TIME, 5-23-12

This week’s magazine cover features the presumptive GOP nominee and his mother, Lenore.

Romney Talks

Source: Time, 5-23-12

In a 36-minute Wednesday Manhattan interview with Mark Halperin, Romney pushes back on President Obama’s Bain attack, predicts he can drive unemployment down to six percent by the end of his first term and says he wants Washington to sit still during the lame-duck session.

Romney contrasts his record at Bain Capital with President Obama’s record in office.

Romney explains how his business background makes him better qualified to be Commander-in-Chief.

Part One:

Part Two:

GOP frontrunner says he will have unemployment down to six percent by the end of his first term.

Read Romney’s complete answer on Bain Capital here.

Read the candidate on the fiscal cliff here.

The Romney Interview Transcript – Bain Capital

Source: Time, 5-23-12

Peter Hapak for TIME

Halperin: The President says that your experience at Bain Capital will be central in this election. He says it does not qualify you to be a job creator as President. I know you think that working in the private sector in and of itself gives you insight into how the economy works, but what specific skills or policies did you learn at Bain that would help you create an environment where jobs would be created?

Romney: Well that’s a bit of a question like saying, what have you learned in life that would help you lead? My whole life has been learning to lead, from my parents, to my education, to the experience I had in the private sector, to helping run the Olympics, and then of course helping guide a state. Those experiences in totality have given me an understanding of how America works and how the economy works. Twenty five years in business, including business with other nations, competing with companies across the world, has given me an understanding of what it is that makes America a good place to grow and add jobs, and why jobs leave America – why businesses decide to locate here, and why they decide to locate somewhere else. What outsourcing causes – what it’s caused by, rather. I understand, for instance, how to read a balance sheet. I happen to believe that having been in the private sector for twenty five years gives me a perspective on how jobs are created – that someone who’s never spent a day in the private sector, like President Obama, simply doesn’t understand.

Halperin: I want to ask you to be just a little bit more specific about that, because again, he said this is like the central way he’s going to run this campaign, to focus on your business career. You said you know how to read a balance sheet. There are a lot of people in America who know how to do that. What would make you qualify to be President – again, specific things you’ve learned, things you know, policies that grow out of your experience at Bain Capital that would lead toward job creation.

Romney: Well Mark, let’s be a little more specific as to the area you’d like to suggest. Trade policies? Labor policies? Energy policies? Let’s take energy, for instance. I understand that in some industries, the input cost of energy is a major factor in whether an industry is going to locate in the United States or go elsewhere. So, when at Bain Capital, we started a new steel company called Steel Dynamics in Indiana, the cost of energy was a very important factor to the success of that enterprise. When the President is making it harder to mine coal, to use coal, to take advantage of our gas resources, to make it harder to get our oil resources – all those things combined to make our cost of energy higher than it needs to be, and it drives away enterprises from this country. It sends it to places that have lower-cost energy. I understand the impact of those kinds of factors on job creation. I will have a very different policy. My policy on energy is to take advantage of coal, oil, natural gas, as well as our renewables, and nuclear – make America the largest energy producer in the world. I think we can get there, in 10 or 15 years. That will bring back manufacturing of certain high energy intensive industries. It’ll bring back jobs. It’ll create a surprising economic revitalization of this country.

Halperin: So when the President says he wants to focus a lot of the election and debate on your career at Bain Capital, do you welcome that?

Romney: Well of course, I’d like to also focus on his record. What is it that he’s done as the President of the United States over the last four years? And the American people are interested in, not so much in the history of where I was at Bain Capital, or that I have understanding of the private sector, but instead, has the President made things better for the American people? Are they better off than they were four years ago? Has he established the revitalization he promised he would bring to us? Did he hold unemployment below 8%? It’s been what, 39 months now. That hasn’t happened. He promised it would happen by virtue of his stimulus. Gasoline prices – are people happy with those? Home prices – are they happy with the home prices, the level of foreclosures? Do they think someone can do better? I think the American people want someone who understands the economy, who has a vision for getting America working again. This is a President who spends his time blaming other people for the fact that he has been unsuccessful in turning around this economy. And I think the reason you’re seeing across the country, people saying they’d like to try someone new, is because they believe this President, while he may be a nice guy, is simply not up to the task of helping guide an economy.

Halperin: But you welcome scrutiny of your business record, is that right?

Romney: Mark, what I can tell you is this. The fact is that I spent twenty five years in the private sector. And that obviously teaches you something that you don’t learn if you haven’t spent any time in the private sector. If you were to say to me, tell me what you learned from your schooling that would help you be a President, it’s like, how do I begin going through a list like that? You learn through life’s experience. The President’s experience has been exclusively in politics and as a community organizer. Both of those are fine areas of endeavor, but right now we have an economy in trouble, and someone who spent their career in the economy is more suited to help fix the economy than someone who spent his life in politics and as a community organizer.

Full Text Obama Presidency May 21, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at NATO Press Conference — Discusses Afghanistan, Greece & Cory Booker’s Crticism of Campaign Attacks on Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital Record




Remarks by the President at NATO Press Conference

South Building
Chicago, Illinois

3:26 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Let me begin by saying thank you to my great friend, Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of the city of Chicago and to all my neighbors and friends, the people of the city of Chicago for their extraordinary hospitality and for everything that they’ve done to make this summit such a success.  I could not be prouder to welcome people from around the world to my hometown.

This was a big undertaking, some 60 world leaders not to mention folks who were exercising their freedom of speech and assembly, the very freedoms that our alliance are dedicated to defending.  And so it was a lot to carry for the people of Chicago, but this is a city of big shoulders.  Rahm, his team, Chicagoans proved that this world-class city knows how to put on a world-class event.

And partly, this was a perfect city for this summit because it reflected the bonds between so many of our countries.  For generations, Chicago has welcomed immigrants from around the world, including an awful lot of our NATO allies.  And I’d just add that I have lost track of the number of world leaders and their delegations who came up to me over the last day and a half and remarked on what an extraordinarily beautiful city Chicago is.  And I could not agree more.

I am especially pleased that I had a chance to show them Soldier Field.  I regret that I was not able to take in one of the Crosstown Classics, although I will note that my teams did okay.  (Laughter.)  Now — White Sox fan in the back.  (Laughter.)  Right on.

Now, as I said yesterday, NATO has been the bedrock of common security, freedom and prosperity for nearly 65 years.  It hasn’t just endured.  It has thrived, because our nations are stronger when we stand together.  We saw that, of course, most recently in Libya, where NATO afforded capabilities that no one else in the world could match.

As President, one of my top foreign policy priorities has been to strengthen our alliances, including NATO, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.  Two years ago in Lisbon, we took action in several areas that are critical to the future of our alliance and we pledged that in Chicago we would do more.  Over the last two days, we have delivered.

First, we reached agreement on a series of steps to strengthen the alliance’s defense capabilities over the next decade.  In keeping with the strategic concept we agreed to in Lisbon and in order to fulfill our Article Five commitment to our collective security, we agreed to acquire a fleet of remotely piloted aircraft, drones, to strengthen intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.  We agreed to continue air patrols over our Baltic allies, which reflects our unwavering commitment to collective defense.  We also agreed on a mix of conventional nuclear missile and missile defense forces that we need, and importantly, we agreed on how to pay for them and that includes pooling our resources in these difficult economic times.

We’re moving forward with missile defense, and agreed that NATO is declaring an interim capability for the system.  America’s contribution to this effort will be a phased adaptive approach that we’re pursuing on European missile defense.  And I want to commend our allies who are stepping up and playing a leadership role in missile defense, as well.  Our defense radar in Turkey will be placed under NATO control.  Spain, Romania and Poland have agreed to host key U.S. assets.  The Netherlands will be upgrading radars, and we look forward to contributions from other allies.  Since this system is neither aimed at nor undermines Russia’s strategic deterrent, I continue to believe that missile defense can be an area of cooperation with Russia.

Second, we’re now unified behind a plan to responsibly wind down the war in Afghanistan, a plan that trains Afghan security forces, transitions to the Afghans and builds a partnership that can endure after our combat mission in Afghanistan ends.  Since last year, we’ve been transitioning parts of Afghanistan to the Afghan National Security Forces and that has enabled our troops to start coming home.  Indeed, we’re in the process of drawing down 33,000 U.S. troops by the end of this summer.

Here in Chicago, we reached agreement on the next milestone in that transition.  At the ISAF meeting this morning, we agreed that Afghan forces will take the lead for combat operations next year in mid-2013.  At that time, ISAF forces will have shifted from combat to a support role in all parts of the country.  And this will mark a major step toward the goal we agreed to in Lisbon, completing the transition to Afghan lead for security by the end of 2014, so that Afghans can take responsibility for their own country and so our troops can come home.

This will not mark the end of Afghanistan’s challenges, obviously, or our partnership with that important country.  But we are making substantial progress against our core objective of defeating al Qaeda and denying it safe haven, while helping the Afghans to stand on their own.  And we leave Chicago with a clear roadmap.  Our coalition is committed to this plan to bring our war in Afghanistan to a responsible end.

We also agreed on what NATO’s relationship with Afghanistan will look like after 2014.  NATO will continue to train, advise and assist, and support Afghan forces as they grow stronger.  And while this summit has not been a pledging conference, it’s been encouraging to see a number of countries making significant financial commitments to sustain Afghanistan’s progress in the years ahead.  Today the international community also expressed its strong support for efforts to bring peace and stability to South Asia, including Afghanistan’s neighbors.

Finally, NATO agreed to deepen its cooperation with partners that have been critical to alliance operations, as in Afghanistan and Libya.  Today’s meeting was unprecedented, Our 28 allies, joined by 13 nations from around the world — Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.  Each of these countries has contributed to NATO operations in different ways — military, political, financial — and each wants to see us do more together.  To see the breadth of those countries represented in that room is to see how NATO has truly become a hub of global security.

So again I want to thank all my fellow leaders.  I think the bottom line is that we are leaving Chicago with a NATO alliance that is stronger, more capable and more ready for the future.  As a result, each of our nations — the United States included — is more secure, and we’re in a stronger position to advance the security and prosperity and freedom that we seek around the world.

So with that, I’m going to take a couple of questions, and I’m going to start with Julie Pace of AP.  Where’s Julie?  There she is.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You have said that the U.S. can’t deal with Afghanistan without also talking about Pakistan.  And yet, there has been little public discussion at this summit about Pakistan’s role in ending the war.  In your talks with President Zardari today, did you make any progress in reopening the supply lines?  And if the larger tensions with Pakistan can’t be resolved, does that put the NATO coalition’s gains in Afghanistan at risk?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, keep in mind my discussion with President Zardari was very brief, as we were walking into the summit and I emphasized to him what we have emphasized publicly as well as privately.  We think that Pakistan has to be part of the solution in Afghanistan, that it is in our national interest to see a Pakistan that is democratic, that is prosperous and that is stable, that we share a common enemy in the extremists that are found not only in Afghanistan, but also within Pakistan and that we need to work through some of the tensions that have inevitably arisen after 10 years of our military presence in that region.

President Zardari shared with me his belief that these issues can get worked through.  We didn’t anticipate that the supply line issue was going to be resolved by this summit.  We knew that before we arrived in Chicago.  But we’re actually making diligent progress on it.

And I think ultimately everybody in the alliance, all of ISAF, and most importantly the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan understand that neither country is going to have the kind of security, stability, and prosperity that it needs unless they can resolve some of these outstanding issues and join in common purpose with the international community in making sure that these regions are not harboring extremists.  So I don’t want to paper over real challenges there.  There is no doubt that there have been tensions between ISAF and Pakistan, the United States and Pakistan over the last several months.  I think they are being worked through both military and diplomatic channels.

But ultimately, it is in our interest to see a successful, stable Pakistan and it is in Pakistan’s interest to work with us and the world community to ensure that they themselves are not consumed by extremism that is in their midst.  And so we’re going to keep on going at this.  And I think every NATO member, every ISAF member is committed to that.

Hans Nichols.  Where is Hans?

Q    Yes, thank you, Mr. President.  Yesterday, your friend and ally, Cory Booker said that an ad that you released, that your campaign released was nauseating.  And it alleged that Romney at Bain Capital was “responsible for job losses at a Kansas City steel mill.”  Is that your view that Romney is personally responsible for those job losses?  Will comments from Booker and your former auto czar Steve Rattner that have criticized some of these advertisements call on you to pull back a little bit?  And, generally, can you give us your sense — three part, Mr. President.  Could you give us your sense of just what private equity’s role is in stemming job losses as they seek a return on investment for their investors?  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I think Cory Booker is an outstanding mayor.  He is doing great work in Newark and obviously helping to turn that city around.  And I think it’s important to recognize that this issue is not a “distraction.”  This is part of the debate that we’re going to be having in this election campaign about how do we create an economy where everybody from top to bottom, folks on Wall Street and folks on Main Street, have a shot at success and if they’re working hard and they’re acting responsibly, that they’re able to live out the American Dream.

Now, I think my view of private equity is that it is set up to maximize profits.  And that’s a healthy part of the free market.  That’s part of the role of a lot of business people.  That’s not unique to private equity.  And as I think my representatives have said repeatedly, and I will say today, I think there are folks who do good work in that area.  And there are times where they identify the capacity for the economy to create new jobs or new industries, but understand that their priority is to maximize profits.  And that’s not always going to be good for communities or businesses or workers.

And the reason this is relevant to the campaign is because my opponent, Governor Romney, his main calling card for why he thinks he should be President is his business expertise.  He is not going out there touting his experience in Massachusetts.  He is saying, I’m a business guy and I know how to fix it, and this is his business.

And when you’re President, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits.  Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot.  Your job is to think about those workers who got laid off and how are we paying for their retraining.  Your job is to think about how those communities can start creating new clusters so that they can attract new businesses.  Your job as President is to think about how do we set up a equitable tax system so that everybody is paying their fair share that allows us then to invest in science and technology and infrastructure, all of which are going to help us grow.

And so, if your main argument for how to grow the economy is I knew how to make a lot of money for investors, then you’re missing what this job is about.  It doesn’t mean you weren’t good at private equity, but that’s not what my job is as President.  My job is to take into account everybody, not just some.  My job is to make sure that the country is growing not just now, but 10 years from now and 20 years from now.

So to repeat, this is not a distraction.  This is what this campaign is going to be about — is what is a strategy for us to move this country forward in a way where everybody can succeed?  And that means I’ve got to think about those workers in that video just as much as I’m thinking about folks who have been much more successful.

Q    Just for — is Romney personally responsible for those 750 job losses?

THE PRESIDENT:  What I would say is that Mr. Romney is responsible for the proposals he is putting forward for how he says he is going to fix the economy.  And if the main basis for him suggesting he can do a better job is his track record as the head of a private equity firm, then both the upsides and the downsides are worth examining.

Hold on a second — Alister Bull.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I’d like to take you back to not this summit, but the one you hosted at Camp David a couple of days ago and whether you feel that you can assure investors there are contingency plans in place to cope if Greece leaves the euro to prevent a Lehman-like shock to the U.S. and the global economy?

THE PRESIDENT:  We had an extensive discussion of the situation in the eurozone and obviously everybody is keenly interested in getting that issue resolved.

I’m not going to speculate on what happens if the Greek choose to exit because they’ve got an election and this is going to be an important debate inside of Greece.  Everybody who was involved in the G8 summit indicated their desire to see Greece stay in the eurozone in a way that’s consistent with the commitments that it’s already — that have already been made.  And I think it’s important for Greece, which is a democracy, to work through what their options are at time of great difficulty.

I think we all understand, though, what’s at stake.  What happens in Greece has an impact here in the United States.  Businesses are more hesitant to invest if they see a lot of uncertainty looming across the Atlantic because they’re not sure whether that’s going to mean a further global slowdown.  And we’re already seeing very slow growth rates and in fact contraction in a lot of countries in Europe.  So we had an extensive discussion about how do we strengthen the European project generally in a way that does not harm world economic growth, but instead moves it forward.

And I’ve been clear I think in — not just this week, but over the last two years about what I think needs to be done.  We’ve got to put in place firewalls that ensure that countries outside of Greece that are doing the right thing aren’t harmed just because markets are skittish and nervous.

We’ve got to make sure that banks are recapitalized in Europe so that investors have confidence.  And we’ve got to make sure that there is a growth strategy to go alongside the need for fiscal discipline, as well as a monetary policy that is promoting the capacity of countries like a Spain or an Italy that have put in place some very tough targets and some very tough policies, to also offer their constituencies a prospect for the economy improving, job growth increasing, incomes expanding even if it may take a little bit of time.

And the good news was you saw a consensus across the board from newly elected President Hollande to Chancellor Merkel to other members of the European community that that balanced approach is what’s needed right now.  They’re going to be meeting this week to try to advance those discussions further.  We’ve offered to be there for consultation to provide any technical assistance and work through some of these ideas in terms of how we can stabilize the markets there.

Ultimately, what I think is most important is that Europe recognizes this euro project involves more than just a currency, it means that there’s got to be some more effective coordination on the fiscal and the monetary side and on the growth agenda.  And I think that there was strong intent there to move in that direction.  Of course, they’ve got 17 countries that have to agree to every step they take.  So I think about my one Congress, then I start thinking about 17 congresses and I start getting a little bit of a headache.  It’s going to be challenging for them.

The last point I’ll make is I do sense greater urgency now than perhaps existed two years ago or two and a half years ago.  And keep in mind just for folks here in the States, when we look backwards at our response in 2008 and 2009, there was some criticism because we had to make a bunch of tough political decisions.

In fact, there’s still criticism about some of the decisions we made.  But one of the things we were able to do was to act forcefully to solve a lot of these problems early, which is why credit markets that were locked up started loosening up again.  That’s why businesses started investing again.  That’s why we’ve seen job growth of over 4 million jobs over the last two years.  That’s why corporations are making money and that’s why we’ve seen strong economic growth for a long time.

And so, acting forcefully rather than in small, bite-sized pieces and increments, I think, ends up being a better approach, even though obviously we’re still going through challenges ourselves.  I mean, some of these issues are ones that built up over decades.

All right?  Stephen Collinson.  Where’s Stephen?

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  As you at this summit try to continue the work of stopping Afghanistan from reverting to its former role as a terrorist haven, terrorists today in Yemen massacred a hundred soldiers.  Are you concerned that despite U.S. efforts, Yemen seems to be slipping further into anarchy?  And what more can the U.S. do to slow that process?

THE PRESIDENT:  We are very concerned about al Qaeda activity and extremist activity in Yemen.  A positive development has been a relatively peaceful political transition in Yemen and we participated diplomatically along with Yemen’s neighbors in helping to lead to a political transition, but the work is not yet done.

We have established a strong counterterrorism partnership with the Yemeni government, but there’s no doubt that in a country that is still poor, that is still unstable, it is attracting a lot of folks that previously might have been in the FATA before we started putting pressure on them there.  And we’re going to continue to work with the Yemeni government to try to identify AQAP leadership and operations and try to thwart them.  That’s important for U.S. safety.  It’s also important for the stability of Yemen and for the region.

But I think one of the things that we’ve learned from the Afghanistan experience is for us to stay focused on the counterterrorism issue, to work with the government, to not overextend ourselves, to operate smartly in dealing with these issues.  And it’s not unique to Yemen, by the way.  I mean we’ve got similar problems in Somalia, what’s happening now in Mali and the Sahel.  And so this is part of the reason why not only is NATO important, but these partnerships that we’re establishing is important because there are going to be times where these partners have more effective intelligence operations, more diplomatic contacts, et cetera in some of these parts of the world where the state is a little wobbly and you may see terrorists attempting to infiltrate or set up bases.

Yes, I’m going to call on Jake Tapper because, Jake, Jay Carney told me that you’ve been talking to some of our troops in Afghanistan.  And since so much of the topic of this summit has been on Afghanistan, obviously none of this would be working were it not for the extraordinary sacrifices that they’re making, so —

Q    Thanks, Mr. President.  I appreciate it.  Yes, I put out an invitation for some troops and their families that I know and I’ll just give you two or three of them.  Mr. President, if this handoff and withdrawal prove premature, what plans are in place for dealing with an Afghanistan that’s falling apart or is possibly again under Taliban rule?  And I’ll just do one more, do you feel that the reporting you receive from the Pentagon fully represents what the on-ground commanders assess?  Is there any disconnect between what leaders feel the public and President want to hear versus what is actually occurring on the ground?  These are from troops I’ve met who served in Nuristan Province.

THE PRESIDENT:  Let me take the second question first.  I mean, I think that one of the things that I emphasize whenever I’m talking to John Allen or the Joint Chiefs or any of the officers who are in Afghanistan is — I can’t afford a white wash.  I can’t afford not getting the very best information in order to make good decisions.  I should add, by the way, that the danger a lot of times is not that anybody is purposely trying to downplay challenges in Afghanistan.  A lot of times it’s just the military culture is we can get it done.  And so, their thinking is, how are we going to solve this problem, not boy, why is this such a disaster?  That’s part of the reason why we admire our military so much and we love our troops, because they’ve got that can-do spirit.

But I think that we have set up a structure that really tries to guard against that, because even in my White House for example, I’ve got former officers who have been in Afghanistan who I will send out there as part of the national security team of the White House, not simply the Pentagon, to interact and to listen and to go in and talk to the captains and the majors and the corporals and the privates, to try to get a sense of what’s going on.

And I think the reports we get are relatively accurate in the sense that there is real improvement.  In those areas where we’ve had a significant presence, you can see the Taliban not having a foothold, that there is genuine improvement in the performance of Afghan national security forces.

But the Taliban is still a robust enemy.  And the gains are still fragile, which leads me then to the second point that you’ve made in terms of a premature withdrawal.  I don’t think that there is ever going to be an optimal point where we say, this is all done, this is perfect, this is just the way we wanted it and now we can wrap up all our equipment and go home.  This is a process and it’s sometimes a messy process, just as it was in Iraq.

But think about it.  We’ve been there now 10 years.  We are now committing to a transition process that takes place next year, but the full transition to Afghan responsibility is almost two years away.  And the Afghan Security Forces themselves will not ever be prepared if they don’t start taking that responsibility.

And, frankly, the large footprint that we have in Afghanistan over time can be counterproductive.  We’ve been there 10 years, and I think no matter how much good we’re doing and how outstanding our troops and our civilians and diplomats are doing on the ground, 10 years in a country that’s very different, that’s a strain not only on our folks but also on that country, which at a point is going to be very sensitive about its own sovereignty.

So I think that the timetable that we’ve established is a sound one, it is a responsible one.  Are there risks involved in it?  Absolutely.  Can I anticipate that over the next two years there are going to be some bad moments along with some good ones?  Absolutely.

But I think it is the appropriate strategy whereby we can achieve a stable Afghanistan that won’t be perfect, we can pull back our troops in a responsible way and we can start rebuilding America and making some of the massive investments we’ve been making in Afghanistan here back home, putting people back to work, retraining workers, rebuilding our schools, investing in science and technology, developing our business climate.

But there are going to be challenges.  The one thing that I’m never doubtful about is just the amazing capacity of our troops and their morale.  When I was in Bagram just a couple of weeks ago, the fact that you still have so much determination and stick-to-it-ness and professionalism, not just from our troops but from all our coalition allies, all of ISAF, is a testament to them.  It’s extraordinary.  And we’ve very proud of them.

All right, since I am in Chicago, even though my Press Secretary told me not to do this, I am going to call on a Chicagoan to ask a Chicago question.


Q    Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good to see you.  How you been?

Q    Good to see you, too, Mr. President, and good to see you in Chicago.  Chicagoans look at you standing there with Chicago, Chicago, Chicago on the wall behind you.  There is an undeniable sense of pride.  In your view, how did reality match up to fantasy in welcoming the world leaders to Chicago?  And did the demonstrators in any way on the streets undermine your efforts, Mayor Emanuel’s efforts, to project the image of Chicago you would have liked to have seen?

THE PRESIDENT:  I have to tell you, I think Chicago performed magnificently.  Those of us who were in the summit had a great experience.  If you talk to leaders from around the world, they love the city.  Michelle took some of the spouses down to the South Side to see the Comer Center where wonderful stuff is being done with early education.  They saw the Art Institute.

I was just talking to David Cameron.  I think he’s sneaking off and doing a little sight-seeing before he heads home.  I encouraged everybody to shop.  I want to boost the hometown economy.  We gave each leader a Bean, a small model, for them to remember, as well as a football from Soldier Field.  Many of them did not know what to do with it.  (Laughter.)  So people had a wonderful time and I think the Chicagoans that they interacted with couldn’t have been more gracious and more hospitable.  So I could not have been prouder.

Now, I think with respect to the protesters, as I said, this is part of what NATO defends, is free speech and the freedom of assembly.  And, frankly, to my Chicago press, outside of Chicago, folks really weren’t all that stressed about the possibility about having some protesters here, because that’s what — part of what America is about.  And obviously, Rahm was stressed, but he performed wonderfully and the Chicago police, Chicago’s finest, did a great job under some significant pressure and a lot of scrutiny.

The only other thing I’ll say about this is thank you to everybody who endured the traffic situation.  Obviously, Chicago residents who had difficulties getting home or getting to work or what have you — that’s what can I tell you, that’s part of the price of being a world city.  But this was a great showcase.  And if it makes those folks feel any better, despite being 15 minutes away from my house, nobody would let me go home.  I was thinking I would be able to sleep in my own bed tonight.  They said I would cause even worse traffic.  So I ended up staying in a hotel, which contributes to the Chicago economy.  (Laughter.)

Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END                          4:10 P.M. CDT

Campaign Headlines May 21, 2012: Backtrack, Backlash & Damage Control after Cory Booker Denounces Obama Campaign Anti-Romney Bain Ad




Cory Booker Walks Back Criticism of Obama Campaign Bain Attacks

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-21-12

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

President Obama’s re-election campaign is doing some damage control after a top surrogate Sunday sharply criticized a major Democratic assault on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat and high-profile Obama supporter, said in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press that he is “very uncomfortable” with an anti-Bain, anti-Romney ad campaign launched aggressively last week.

“If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses.  And this, to me, I’m very uncomfortable with,” Booker said….READ MORE

New Web Video: “Big Bain Backfire”

Source: Mitt Romney Digital, 5-21-12

President Obama’s attacks on free enterprise have triggered a backlash among many—even among those in his own party. In just the past few days, everyone from former advisors to his own surrogates have criticized the Obama campaign’s attack on free enterprise. With no record to run on, it is no surprise that the Obama campaign has resorted to misleading attacks that have been disavowed by its own supporters.

Obama: Attacks on Romney, Bain are fair game

Source: Politico, 5-21-12

President Obama Monday defended his campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s business record, denying that they are a distraction or a side issue.

“This is not a distraction. This is what this campaign is going to be about. Both the upsides and the down sides are worth examining.”

“My opponent, Gov. Romney, his main calling card for why he should be president is his business experience. When you’re president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits.”

“So, if your main argument for how to grow the economy was ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors’ then you’re missing what this job is about. That doesn’t mean you weren’t good at private equity. But that’s not what my job is as president.

“My view of private equity is that it is set up to maximize profits. And that’s a healthy part of the free market. That’s part of the role of a lot of business people. I think there are folks who do good work in that area.”

Romney: President Obama Fails To Accept Moral Responsibility For His Failed Policies

Source: Mitt Romney Press, 5-21-12

Mitt Romney today made the following statement on President Obama’s comments on free enterprise:

“President Obama confirmed today that he will continue his attacks on the free enterprise system, which Mayor Booker and other leading Democrats have spoken out against. What this election is about is the 23 million Americans who are still struggling to find work and the millions  who have lost their homes and have fallen into poverty. President Obama refuses to accept moral responsibility for his failed policies. My campaign is offering a positive agenda to help America get back to work.”

After Booker Criticisms, a Struggle to Define What’s Fair Game

Source: NYT, 5-21-12

The Obama campaign insists that the full-throated assault on Bain Capital is a critique of Mitt Romney’s claim to be a jobs creator. But much of the commentary describes Mr. Romney in highly personal ways….READ MORE

Surrogate for Obama Denounces Anti-Romney Ad

Source: NYT, 5-20-12

Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark sharply criticized an advertisement about Mitt Romney’s private equity work….READ MORE

Political Musings May 18, 2012: Mitt Romney Shifts to the General Election Launching First Ad Envisioning President Romney’s “Day One” – Sharp Contrast to President Obama’s “Character Assassination”


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in  2011.


Day One

Mitt Romney’s campaign shifted their focus to the general election airing on Friday the first TV ad in the season. Entitled “Day One” the positive ad listed what Romney would do for the economy on his first day as President. The ad was sent as an email to Romney supporters and aired in battleground states; Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa and in Virginia. The ad was also airing in Spanish as “Dia Uno” to reach Hispanic voters, who are critical of Romney’s tough immigration stance.

The 30 second ad delineates economic policies important to conservatives including the Keystone XL pipeline, tax cuts, and job creation and also repealing the Obamacare health plan. The ad’s imagery consists of stills depicting Romney speaking to supporters alternating with workers in construction gear to visually represent the main economic themes and promised policies.

Entirely narrated, the ad begins with asking “What would a Romney presidency be like?” The narrator continues answering “Day one, President Romney immediately approves the Keystone Pipeline, creating thousands of jobs that Obama blocked. President Romney introduces tax cuts and reforms that reward job creators, not punish them. President Romney issues order to begin replacing ObamaCare with common sense health care reform. That’s what a Romney presidency will be like.”

On Thursday, Romney spoke to reporters in Jacksonville, Florida announcing the ad’s format; “I certainly hope that you’ll get a chance to see our first ad — that will come up in a couple of days. It will be a positive ad about the things that I will do if I am president.” The Romney campaign decided to use a positive tone in the ad to introduce Romney who is still largely unknown to voters before the continued on slot of negative ads from the Obama campaign.

The Obama campaign already aired the “Steel” ad earlier in the week criticizing Romney’s economic record while heading the private equity firm Bain Capital. The two minute ad zoomed in on the closing and subsequent ob losses at the Missouri GST Steel plant, which was acquired when Romney headed Bain.

The ad depicted Romney as a job killing ‘vampire’, and included interviews with plant workers that lost their jobs from the closure such as 31-year steelworker Jack Cobb who said “It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us,” giving Romney the dramatic label. Romney however, no longer headed Bain Capital when the company closed the steel plant.

The Romney campaign wanted their first ad of the general election to be a sharp contrast to the rhetoric Obama was using in his ads. Continuing to unveil the ad’s theme to reporters in Florida, Romney stated, “I just think that we are wiser to talk about the issues of the day, what we do to get America working again, we talk about our respective records, and so with that, I certainly hope you get a chance to see our first ad. That will come up…. It’s contrasting with the president’s ad, which came out, again, as a character assassination ad.”

Although Romney has not yet attained the 1,144 delegates to officially clinch the Republican Presidential nomination he is considered the presumptive nominee ever since winning the Wisconsin primary. Shortly thereafter on April 10, Romney’s main competitor former Pennsylvania Senator & conservative favorite Rick Santorum suspended his bid for the nomination.

This past Tuesday, May 14, the last remaining candidate in the race for the Republican nomination Texas Rep. Ron Paul announced that he is suspending all active campaigning for upcoming primary contests, but will continue amassing delegates for a presence at the Republican Convention.

All Romney’s former competitors for the Republican nomination have endorsed him, except for Ron Paul. Late in the evening on May 7, Rick Santorum sent out an email to supporters which included a short endorsement for Romney buried in the 13th paragraph.

President Obama has also formally commenced his reelection bid and general election campaigning. Two weeks ago, on May 5, Obama had two rallies in Columbus, Ohio, and Richmond, Virginia, where he gave speeches announcing the start of his campaign with twin themes of defending his record and contrasting himself to Republican candidate Romney, and featured a bold message; “We will finish what we started. We’re still fired up. We’re still ready to go.” This is just the start of the season of sharp contrasting and nasty ads that will no doubt air in the next couple of months leading to Election Day.

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