Romney Faces Record Shortfall in Popularity

A new ABC News-Washington Post poll finds Mitt Romney has emerged from the Republican primary season with the weakest favorability rating on record for a presumptive presidential nominee since 1984, trailing President Obama in personal popularity by 21 percentage points.

Romney is the first likely nominee to be underwater – seen more unfavorably than favorably – in eight presidential primary seasons across the past 28 years.

Gender Gap Gives Obama Lead Over Romney

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll finds President Obama holds a nine-point lead over Mitt Romney, 52% to 43%.

The survey indicates women voters back Obama over Romney by 16 points, 55% to 39%, virtually unchanged from an 18-point advantage among women for the president in CNN polling last month.

Tracking Poll Shows Tight Presidential Race

The Gallup daily tracking poll of the presidential election kicks off with Mitt Romney leading President Obama 47% to 45% among registered voters nationally.

Both Obama and Romney are supported by 90% of their respective partisans, but independents break for Romney 45% to 39%.

Congressional Retirements Highest Since 1996

Rep. Ed Towns’ (D-NY) retirement announcement “makes him the 25th House retirement of this cycle. Add in the 10 Senate retirements, and you’ve got the most combined retirements since 1996, when Democratic lawmakers retired in droves after the Republican Revolution of 1994 (and many Republicans joined them),” The Fix reports.

“Add in another 15 House members running for other/higher office, and the next Congress is already promising to include plenty of turnover — with 50 out of 535 members (nearly 10 percent) already leaving their seats.”

That said, filing deadlines “have passed in 30 of the 50 states so far, meaning there may not be that many more retirements to come.”

Walker Leads in Recall Election

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Wisconsin shows Gov. Scott Walker (R) leading each of his potential Democratic challengers in a recall election.

Walker leads Tom Barrett (D) 50% to 45% and tops Kathleen Falk (D) 50% to 43%.

New Ad Hits Romney’s Wealth

Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama super PAC, released a new television ad in Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Iowa today, Yahoo News reports.

The ad focuses on Mitt Romney’s effective tax rate features the now infamous picture of Romney and his Bain Capital colleagues with money stuffed into their suits.

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Is the Presidential Election Ever a Referendum?

Joe Klein: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a presidential election that was a pure referendum, and every presidential election I’ve covered involved a choice. There are good reasons for this.”

“The presidency is our most intimate office. The President lives in our homes for four years. The media spend considerable amounts of time, sometimes too much, telling us who these people are. And then in October we get to see two, occasionally three, men — only men, sadly, so far — on the stage and we decide which one we want to invite into our homes for the next four years. Barring a national disaster, issues are secondary — although an impression of how you might handle those issues is important.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“Angus King, in my view, is like electoral comfort food. We know him as a little bit bland, a smart man and a thinker. Sending mac ‘n cheese down to Washington is not good enough.”

— Maine U.S. Senate candidate John Hinck (D), quoted by the Bangor Daily News at a Democratic primary forum, with a memorable attack on likely independent candidate Angus King.

Frank Wanted Obama to Back Off Health Care

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) told New York magazine he urged President Obama not to press for health care reform in 2010 after Democrats lost their 60-seat majority.

Said Frank: “I think we paid a terrible price for healthcare. I would not have pushed it as hard. As a matter of fact, after Scott Brown won, I suggested going back. I would have started with financial reform, but certainly not healthcare.”

Frank said Obama made the same mistake Bill Clinton did in 1993 by underestimating the concerns of people who already had healthcare coverage.

Haley’s Memoir Under Fire

Politicians from both major parties say South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s (R) new memoir,Can’t Is Not An Option, “is untruthful or twists many events,” the Columbia State reports.

“Members of Haley’s own Republican Party — including the speaker of the S.C. House and a former lieutenant governor — say allegations against them are ‘absolutely not true’ and ‘not true at all.’ Democrats, including Haley’s 2010 opponent in the governor’s race, describe the book as ‘fiction.'”

Said one Democratic lawmaker: “This lady just makes stuff up.”

Romney Picks Head of Veep Search

Mitt Romney told ABC News he has put his longtime adviser Beth Myers in charge of the vice presidential vetting process.

Said Romney: “I have selected someone who has been an counselor of mine for a number of years, Beth Myers, she was my Chief of Staff when I was governor. I’ve asked her to be the person who oversees the process of the vice presidential selection and vetting an analysis and so she’s begun that process and is putting together the kinds of things you need to do to vet potential candidates.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’m not going to be the vice president. I’m not.”

— Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

Romney Said Welfare Moms Need “Dignity of Work”

Mitt Romney last week declared that “all moms are working moms,” but the Boston Globenotes “he insisted as recently as January that women on welfare need to get jobs, even if they have young children.”

Said Romney: “Even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless,’ and I said ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.'”

Gingrich Backer Turns Focus to House Races

Sheldon Adelson, the wealthy casino owner who backed Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid, has donated $5 million with his wife to a super PAC for House Republican candidates,National Journal reports.

“The financial infusion immediately makes the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is chaired by former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman, among the biggest players in the congressional landscape this year.”

Romney Offers Policy Specifics at Fundraiser

First Read reports that Mitt Romney “went well beyond his standard stump speech at a closed-door fundraiser on Sunday evening, and offered some of the most specific details to date about the policies he would pursue if elected.”

“Romney went into a level of detail not usually seen by the public in the speech, which was overheard by reporters on a sidewalk below. One possibility floated by Romney included the elimination of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Cabinet-level agency once led by Romney’s father, George… Romney also went into greater detail than he has on the campaign trail in describing how he would maintain the progressive structure in the tax code after implementing his 20 percent across-the-board tax cut.”

Quote of the Day

“It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother.”

— Ann Romney, quoted by The Hill, overheard by reporters at a private fundraiser discussing the incident with Hilary Rosen.

Was Dan Rather Right?

Texas Monthly: “Eight years ago, Dan Rather broadcast an explosive report on the Air National Guard service of President George W. Bush. It was supposed to be the legendary newsman’s finest hour. Instead, it blew up in his face, tarnishing his career forever and casting a dark cloud of doubt and suspicion over his reporting… Beyond the haze of elaborately revised fictions from both the political left and the political right is a bizarre account that has remained, until now, the great untold story of modern Texas politics. For 36 years, it made its way through the swamps of state government as it led up to the collision between two powerful Texans on the national stage.”

Interestingly, Rather has a new autobiography out in a few weeks called Rather Outspoken.

Obama Campaign Puts Focus on Arizona

President Obama’s re-election campaign “is dispatching workers across Arizona’s college campuses and Latino neighborhoods this spring, registering as many new voters as they can in an organized, three-month effort to determine whether they can put this unlikely state into play for Democrats this November,” the New York Times reports.

Romney Sells Access Early

Mitt Romney is already offering top donors access to a special “Presidential Inaugural retreat,” planned on the assumption that he will be elected president this November,BuzzFeed reports.

The offer is “one of several goodies offered to those who contribute more than $50,000 to the joint fundraising committee known as ‘Romney Victory.'”

Lessons from LBJ

David Frum suggests President Obama could learn a few things from Robert Caro’s bookson Lyndon Johnson.

“It’s hard not to detect in these pages an unspoken critique of Barack Obama. Yes, certainly, Obama shares Lyndon Johnson’s gift for driving opponents crazy, if it is a gift. But the use of power Caro so vividly describes is not something that comes naturally to our current president. The constant searching for opportunities; the shameless love-bombing of opponents; the endless wooing of supporters; the deft deployment of inducements and threats — these are the low arts that led to Johnson’s high success. You can see why a high-minded leader like Barack Obama would recoil from the Johnson style and embrace Kennedyesque rhetorical grandeur instead. Such presidents contribute great phrases to quotation books, but they tend not to add lasting laws to the statute books — or enduring change to the history books.”

Party Chief Says Kucinich is a Narcissist

The Seattle Times reports that the possibility of a congressional bid by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) in Washington state “horrifies” Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz, “who has repeatedly discouraged the idea.”

Said Pelz: “Dennis Kucinich has to decide what his legacy is going to be. Will he be remembered as a principled member of Congress or the narcissist who lost two Congressional races in two states the same year?”

Kucinich has until Washington’s May 18 filing deadline to make up his mind and establish residency in the state.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Plain Dealer is polling his supporters about whether he should make the bid.

Obama Campaign Releases Fundraising Numbers

President Obama’s re-election campaign and the DNC raised a combined $53 million in March, the Obama camp announced in a video.

They raised $45 million in February and $29 million in January.

Alexander Burns: “The more interesting test of Obama’s fundraising potential may come in the April numbers, now that it’s unavoidably clear who the Republican nominee will be. High on the list of reasons why Democrats believe Obama’s fundraising has been solid, but not jaw-dropping, is that there hasn’t been a general election-like contrast with a Republican opponent, and financial supporters of both the grassroots and high-dollar variety haven’t felt the urgency they otherwise might.”

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