Obama’s next line of attack

He's moving on to Romney's Mass. record; Scott Walker's defense fund; and Thursday's other top political stories

Topics: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Scott Walker,

- 47th out of 50 in job creation: That’s what the Obama campaign wants you to know about Mitt Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts. Chicago is rolling out a new line of attack against the Republican today, focusing on his tenure in the Bay State. Like its previous campaign against Bain, the Mass. attack features a website and video that include interviews with lawmakers who served with Romney criticizing his record in the state.

The campaign has also organized a press conference with Massachusetts lawmakers that will take place on the steps of the statehouse in Boston later today. Obama political svengali David Axelrod will be on hand.

- Scott Walker pours in more cash to legal defense fund: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his staff have been under a “John Doe” investigation for three years looking into his time as county executive in Milwaukee. And just ahead of next week’s recall election, the governor transferred $100,000 to his legal defense fund from his campaign account. The two transactions of $70,000 and $30,000 are a major escalation from Walker’s camp, which has so far tried to pretend the probe does not exist.

- Walker and Democrat Tom Barrett face off in final debate: With the recall election on Tuesday, tonight’s debate will be one of the last chances for the candidates to sway undecided voters — if there are any left in the state.

Democratic Governors Association (DGA) chairman Martin O’Malley, the governor of Maryland and an early favorite for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination (seriously), will campaign for Barrett today, according to the DGA. But the race is not looking great for Democrats, as a new poll shows Barrett down 7 points. The RNC says it is “very confident” about the race.

- Chamber pulls trick to hide donors to campaign ads: Faced with a court ruling that would make them disclose the funders behind their political ads, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — which plans to spend more than $50 million during the 2012 election cycle — has announced they will merely tweak their ads’ content to get around the disclosure order. “By changing the focus of its ads to specifically support or oppose candidates, it will not have to disclose any of its donors,” the Washington Post’s Dan Eggen reports.

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While the move will prevent the Chamber from disclosing, some watchdog groups think it may help Americans understand just how political the Chamber has become. Unlike local chambers of commerce, the U.S. Chamber is essentially is an independent GOP electioneering outfit, not unlike Karl Rove’s Crossroads groups.

- Is Mitt Romney too hawkish for Henry Kissinger?: The former secretary of state has failed to endorse Romney, like other top Republican foreign policy figures. The New York Times reports: “As Republican leaders fell in behind Mr. Romney this spring, many members of the party’s foreign policy establishment have been more muted. Reluctance by this group to come forward for Mr. Romney more quickly reflects an unease over some of his positions, including his hard line on Russia and opposition to a new missile treaty … [and] Mr. Romney’s aggressive statements on trade policy toward China.”

- Mitch McConnell has made his picks: The Senate minority leader has selected which Senate races he thinks will help him become the Senate majority leader, telling Roll Call:

The Senator said he sees three different levels of competitiveness in 2012 races where his party could add seats. The races that represent the best chance for GOP pickups are the open seat in North Dakota, Sen. Jon Tester’s (D) very competitive race in Montana, the open seat in Nebraska, Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D) uphill re-election bid in Missouri and the marquee matchup between former Govs. Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R) in Virginia.

McConnell’s “tier two” races include Sen. Sherrod Brown’s reelection effort in Ohio and the open seats in Wisconsin, New Mexico and Hawaii.

Then there are states less likely to lead to GOP pickups this cycle. “Maine, Pennsylvania, Florida are examples of ones you take a look at later,” said McConnell, who was chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 1998 and 2000 cycles. “Sorta see what develops.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Senate Democrats are being outspent three-to-one by super PACs on TV ads.

- Senate candidate defends call for national “birther office”: Former congressman Pete Hoekstra, who is now challenging Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., defended yesterday his recent comments that the U.S. should create a national office to verify the birth certificates and other citizenship materials of candidates for federal office. Earlier this month, he criticized Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for not making a bigger issue of President Obama’s birth certificate in 2008.

Yesterday, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin took the Senate hopeful to task for the comments, but Hoekstra stood by them, calling the birther office a “simple,” commonsense solution. He insisted his proposal had nothing to do with Obama, though acknowledged that, “For someone else, it might be about President Obama. So be it for them. For me, it’s not.”

Unlike lots of other birther candidates, Hoekstra should really know better. He served nine terms in the House and was even the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee (though Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is also on that committee, so… ). Hoekstra the Senate candidate is perhaps most well known for running an ad during the Super Bowl that featured a stereotypical representation of an Asian woman thanking Stabenow for sending jobs to China. The ad was produced by Fred Davis, the man behind the recently exposed proposal to run ads hitting Obama on his connection to Reverend Wright.

- Romneys collect cash poolside with CEO laying off thousands of workers: Romney is on a West Coast fundraising jaunt, including a stop at the home of Meg Whitman, the former California gubernatorial candidate who, as CEO of HP, announced recently that she was preparing to lay off as many as 30,000 workers. Whitman co-hosted a “poolside ‘ladies lunch’ Wednesday honoring his [Romney’s] wife at the Palo Alto home of Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers and his wife, Elaine.”

- VoteForEddie.com gets a website: An independent congressional candidate in Florida legally changed his name to his campaign website so his URL could appear on the ballot. Eddie Gonzalez, who says he has an innovative plan to lower energy prices, went before a Miami-Dade judge in January to rename himself “VoteforEddie.com.” But in that case, shouldn’t his website instead be VoteForVoteForEddie.com?

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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