Can Clinton Redefine the Presidential Race?

National Journal

"There's a philosophy of saying and doing anything it takes." That was David Axelrod's critique of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign back in 2008, when he accused Bill Clinton of "doing slash and burn stuff" to win the nomination.

Now, four years later, it takes Bill Clinton to make the case for re-electing President Obama.

Democrats will announce today that Clinton will give a prime-time address at this year's convention in Charlotte, formally nominating Obama for a second term in office and offering a clear contrast between his candidate and Republican Mitt Romney.

The formal nomination is an insider's curiosity, a stark reversal from 2008, when Clinton's anger over the primaries was still palpable (And a nice parallel with 2008, when it was Hillary Clinton who moved that Obama's nomination be recorded as unanimous).

But the speech he will give is the truly important signal, another twist in the complicated and decidedly awkward political relationship between the two giants of Democratic politics made necessary by one's search for a legacy and another's hunt for re-election.

It's a sign that the president who felt our pain is still the politician best able to connect with voters who will decide this election. At a moment when Americans are choosing between an incumbent who can't stop talking about how rich he is and a Republican who can't stop talking about his buddies who own NASCAR and NFL teams, Clinton is perhaps the only national figure average Americans trust to understand what they're going through. Read more

--Reid Wilson, Hotline editor in chief

NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT

Obama, Romney Teams Vie For Early Voting Edge
[National Journal, 7/30/12] National Journal’s Naureen Khan writes that the 2012 election will begin in September, when early voting starts in many states. The Obama campaign has some practice in this arena, but don’t expect Team Romney to be nearly as outgunned as John McCain was four years ago.

Romney’s Comments at Fundraiser Outrage Palestinians
[Associated Press, 7/30/12] Romney told Jewish donors on Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than Palestine, sparking outrage among Palestinian leaders, who called the remarks “racist” and out-of-touch. On the positive side, Romney did get a warm welcome from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Romney’s Russia Rhetoric May Backfire in Visit to Poland
[Bloomberg, 7/30/12] Romney has called Russia, Poland’s historic foe, America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe” and accused Obama of the “sudden abandonment” of Poles because the president delayed plans for a missile defense system in eastern Europe.  But as Romney arrives in Poland on Monday, experts say this rhetoric may not resonate in today’s Poland.

McCain Stages Romney Intervention 
[Newsweek, 7/29/12] Howard Kurtz reports that senators John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called Romney in January objecting to his “self-deport” immigration remark and subsequently got Romney to tone down his rhetoric.

Candidates Look Overseas For Campaign Cash
[Associated Press, 7/30/12] Obama and Romney have been aggressively courting Americans living abroad at fundraisers far beyond U.S. shores, galvanizing a largely untapped group of voters while simultaneously raising money. Experts say the practice is legal and has been used for decades.

2012 Is Very Different from Kerry vs. Bush NEW!
[National Review, 7/30/12] While it’s become trendy to invoke 2004 as a mirror to this year’s race, Michael Barone isn’t so sure, noting that voters have become Increasingly volatile, the president’s job rating is weaker, and the Democrats are less united.

Strict New Pennsylvania Voter-ID Law Challenged in State Court
[National Journal, 7/30/12] A tough new voter-identification law in Pennsylvania is under challenge from opponents who say it’s a GOP scheme that violates the state constitution and disenfranchises thousands of voters. The law is just one in a wave of legislation driving a furious debate over voting rights as the presidential election looms.

New Romney Ad Takes Obama Quote Out of Context, Again
[Washington Post, 7/30/12] This is the second week in a row the Post’s Fact Checker has had to examine how the Romney campaign is using one of the president’s quotes. Glenn Kessler gives the ad four Pinocchios for clearing ripping Obama’s words out of context.

Romney Courts Campaign Donors in Israel
[New York Times, 7/29/12] Romney’s visit to Israel presents the candidate with an opportunity to raise money and offer top donors an unofficial mini-retreat abroad. At a fundraiser on Monday, nearly four dozen high-dollar donors – including casino mogul Sheldon Adelson -- were treated to a lavish breakfast and a Romney speech, bringing in over $1 million for the campaign.

Bill Clinton Gets Prime Time Convention Speech
[National Journal, 7/3012] Former President Bill Clinton is slated to deliver a prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 5, and will place Obama’s name into nomination.

Campaigns Plotting Best Use of TV For Political Ads
[Detroit Free Press, 7/30/12] In Michigan, the race to the general election will be chock full of advertising from the presidential and Senate races on down to congressional contests. All those campaigns could turn into a cash bonanza for TV stations that could exceed $100 million.

Swing States Give Obama the Edge
[The Hill, 7/30/12] Out of the 12 crucial battleground states in the election, Obama leads in 10. The dynamic may reflect a combination of lower swing-state unemployment rates and demographic advantages for the president.

Rob Portman’s ‘Genteel’ Conservatism
[Politico, 7/30/12] Politico’s Jonathan Martin profiles Ohio Senator and presumed GOP vice-presidential finalist Rob Portman, who Martin writes is much more closely aligned with the 41st George Bush than the 43rd.

Romney: Too Wimpy For the White House?
[Daily Beast, 7/29/12] In a Newsweek story headlined “Romney: The Wimp Factor,” Michael Tomasky explores how Romney’s many faux pas in Britain raise questions about how he will handle himself when representing our nation on the world stage.  For his part, Romney says he doesn’t care what the media says about him.

Romney’s Fundraising Boost Stems From Unique Tactics
[Roll Call, 7/30/12] Individuals are limited to contributions of $2,500 to Romney for President and $30,800 to the Republican National Committee. But maxed-out donors can contribute through the Romney Victory Inc. joint fundraising committee to the Republican parties of Idaho, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Vermont – states on which Team Romney and the RNC has much influence.

 

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