On the question of extending the wind production tax credit — an important issue for Iowans because of the roughly 7,000 jobs tied to the state's wind-energy industry — the two presidential candidates have made their positions perfectly clear: Obama supports it, and Romney does not.
Romney’s stance, however faithful to free-market principles, puts the presumptive GOP nominee at odds not only with Obama, but with his own supporters in the state who wasted little time in conveying their displeasure. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, seethed that Romney's position "shows a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation."
Iowa Republicans long ago diagnosed the alternative-energy dilemma: They don't want to be seen as enablers of corporate welfare, but they can't afford to ardently oppose a job-creating industry with high visibility in their state. Navigating this no-win situation, they reached an agreeable compromise: Support temporary tax credits while the industry is still finding its footing, but advocate for the gradual phase-out of federal funding.
Romney's stance is perplexing, to say the least. Here is a politician defined by his ideological pliancy, known for his moderate approach and willingness to find malleable middle ground. Yet faced with an issue that demands a certain flexibility, he has instead pigeonholed himself with a position that is overwhelmingly unpopular in a critical battleground state. Even if Romney walks back his opposition, he'll face fresh charges of flip-flopping and pandering. It's a lose-lose.
His position is not entirely without support. But in an election that very well could hinge on the Hawkeye State's six electoral votes, the path of least resistance isn't a bad place to be. Read more
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
For Undecided Voters, It’s the Devil-You-Know Election
[National Journal, 8/2/12] During two focus groups conducted this week, undecided voters wrestled with the choice ahead of them: the devil they know versus the devil they don’t.
Mitt Romney's Comeback Plan
[Buzzfeed, 8/2/12] The summer's been rough for the Romney campaign, but they're hoping the buzz around his VP pick and the convention bounce will erase any damage done by talk of Bain Capital, tax returns, and missteps abroad. The campaign plans to change the narrative with an economic message more focused on specifics.
'Make the S.O.B. Deny It'
[National Journal, 8/2/12] Late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson wrote that when Lyndon Johnson once needed to slow down a foe's momentum, LBJ ordered an aide to spread the rumor that the opponent was "enjoying carnal knowledge of his own barnyard sows." Now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has joined the list of those trying that tactic on the subject of Romney's tax returns. If rumors that Romney has something to hide aren't true, asks the Nevada Democrat, then why won't Romney make them public?
Harry Reid Doubles Down on Romney Taxes; Romney Campaign Responds
[Washington Post, 8/2/12] Reid is not backing down on his insistence that that Romney paid no income taxes for several years, saying he has heard that from multiple anonymous sources. The Romney campaign has unequivocally denied the charges and compared Reid to Joseph McCarthy.
Romney to Unveil Accountability ‘Scorecard’
[National Journal, 8/2/12] Romney is set to unveil a “presidential accountability scorecard” during a campaign event on Thursday as a counter to a study recently released by the Tax Policy Center indicating that his plan would disproportionately affect middle-class taxpayers. He will use the tool to measure his expected success in office against what he calls Obama’s “failures.”
Rove, Gillespie Hosting Joint Political Briefing in Aspen
[CNN, 8/2/12] Karl Rove, the head of the Crossroads super PAC, and Romney adviser Ed Gillespie are holding a joint closed-door political briefing with leading GOP donors on Thursday — despite federal election laws prohibiting coordination between campaigns and outside groups.
Romney Spokesman Suggests Obama Campaign Manager Broke the Law
[BuzzFeed, 8/2/12] In a conference call with reporters, Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom stopped just short of calling Obama campaign manager Jim Messina a criminal. Discussing the latest controversy surrounding the use of personal e-mail accounts to conduct White House business, Fehrnstrom said in part, “On its face, this appears to be a violation of the law.”
On the Heels of Rocky Foreign Tour, Romney Looks Forward
[CBS, 8/2/12] Back in the U.S. after last week’s rocky foreign tour, Romney is heading to Colorado on Thursday to kick off an apparent battleground-state offensive. Both candidates are doubling down on efforts to raise money and woo voters, particularly in a handful of crucial swing states.
Romney’s CEO Style Rankled Mass. Lawmakers
[Associated Press, 8/2/12] Romney’s top-down corporate management style during his tenure as Massachusetts governor rankled Democrats who overwhelmingly controlled the state House and Senate. Unlike his three GOP predecessors, the politically inexperienced Romney was never at ease in the world of trading favors for votes. How will that translate if he wins the presidency?
Obama Brings 'Middle Class' Tour to Nation’s Richest County
[National Journal, 8/2/12] Obama is bringing his “middle-class tax relief” tour on Thursday to Leesburg, Va. — which, National Journal’s Beth Reinhard points out, sits in the richest county in the country. It’s a safe bet that Obama’s plan would actually hike taxes for many households there.
Adviser Draws Attention to Romney’s Mideast Policy
[New York Times, 8/1/12] Dan Senor’s presence in the tight orbit of advisers around the candidate foreshadows a Romney foreign policy that could take a harder line against Iran, embrace Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and move away from being the honest broker in the conflict with the Palestinians.
Veepstakes: What If Romney Rolled the Dice?
[Politico, 8/2/12] A wild-card choice is a sign that the campaign is worried about its chances in November. But coming off the bad press from his gaffe-marked foreign trip, Romney needs a VP selection that not only goes smoothly but dominates the narrative — and one way to ensure that is to pick a running mate who’s off the beaten path. Politico explores his options.
Auto Bailout Helps Obama Hold Consistent Lead in Ohio
[The Hill, 8/2/12] In one of the most critical battleground states, Obama holds a small but significant lead that experts credit to his support for the auto bailout and strategy of appealing to blue-collar workers.