Political Notebook

First 2012 attack ad assails Romney

May 21, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney is the focus of the first attack ad of the 2012 presidential race, with an independent group run by former aides to President Obama tagging Romney as both a flip-flopper and a politician who would not protect Medicare.

“Mitt Romney says he’s ‘on the same page’ as Paul Ryan, who wrote the plan to essentially end Medicare,’’ a narrator says as black-and-white images of the former Massachusetts governor flash across the screen. “But with Mitt Romney, you have to wonder . . . which page is he on today?’’

The ad, which also tweaks Newt Gingrich, will run in South Carolina as Romney makes his first visit of the year to the state tomorrow.

The ad is being run by Priorities USA Action, a political action committee headed by Obama’s former deputy press secretary, Bill Burton. The group can accept unlimited donations and is meant to counter Republican groups that were formed during the 2010 midterm elections. Those groups were criticized at the time by top Democrats, who have filed legislation to curb the influence of outside money in politics.

“President Obama and his team are desperate to change the subject to anything other than jobs and the millions of Americans out of work,’’ Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney’s presidential exploratory committee, said in a statement. “With 9.6 percent unemployment in South Carolina, voters are looking for a jobs plan, not a smear campaign.’’

Romney is planning to visit Irmo, S.C., to discuss the economy and meet with employees at Meetze Plumbing.

Romney has said that he and Ryan were “on the same page,’’ although he has not wholly embraced the Wisconsin Republican’s budget plan, which includes a drastic reorganization of Medicare. Romney said last week that he would at some point present his own plan on reforming the health care program for the elderly and said it would “not be identical but shares objectives’’ with Ryan’s plan.

— Matt Viser

Pawlenty’s campaign features ‘regular guy’ story ST. PAUL — When Tim and Mary Pawlenty step out for date night, the fine dining can be a sandwich over a garbage can at a Minnesota Wild game. His ride since leaving the governor’s office is a used Ford Escape. His house is a trim two-story like millions of others in American suburbs.

In a GOP presidential race peppered with millionaires, Pawlenty is the closest thing in sight to a regular guy — and it is a card he plays often.

Pawlenty will declare his candidacy in the leadoff caucus state of Iowa on Monday, an adviser said. The adviser, who disclosed the plans on the condition of anonymity, said Pawlenty will then head to Florida, New Hampshire, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Pawlenty often tells his “American story,’’ a life that began in the meatpacking town of South St. Paul and continued through his father’s on-and-off work as a truck driver, the death of his mother to cancer when he was a teenager, and his bootstrapping days of college and law school — the first in his family to go so far.

Much of this is essential to Pawlenty’s bid to be seen as the Republican best able to relate to the economic anxieties of Americans, perhaps the key issue in the 2012 race.

“I know that feeling. I lived it,’’ Pawlenty intones in an introductory video.

— Associated Press

DNC outraises Republicans more than double in April WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee raised about twice as much money as its Republican rival during the first month of President Obama’s reelection campaign, an early indicator of the president’s fund-raising machine heading into the 2012 election.

The DNC collected $12.4 million in April, more than double the $6.1 million raised by the Republican National Committee during the same month. A DNC official said the party’s totals would be filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The figures provide a first glimpse of the fund-raising abilities of the Obama campaign, which has held several joint fund-raisers with the DNC as it ramps up its money machine for next year’s presidential election. Obama raised $750 million in 2008, prompting speculation that he could bring in $1 billion for his 2012 reelection campaign.

Obama’s reelection campaign is expected to post its first fund-raising totals in late June or early July.

— Associated Press