Poll: Bain attacks are working

More people have a negative opinion of private equity; Bill Clinton says sorry; and other top Friday stories

Topics: 2012 Elections,

Bill Clinton apology tour: Appearing on CNN yesterday, the former president, said he was “very sorry” for putting daylight between himself and President Obama on the Bush tax cuts. “I’m very sorry for what happened. I thought something had to be done on the fiscal cliff before the election,” Clinton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, referring to comments he made this week suggesting the Bush tax cuts should be extended. “I support [Obama’s] position [on the Bush tax cuts], and I think on the merits, upper-income people will have to contribute to long-term debt reduction,” he said, explaining that he misunderstood the parameters and thought the tax cuts would expire before the November election. In fact, they expire in January.  He insisted he is not undermining Obama and is fully committed to the president’s reelection.

Meanwhile, Democrats are “politically paralyzed” on the tax cuts, with few good options and divided ranks. The Hill reports, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has no immediate plans to advance a bill allowing Bush-era tax rates for the wealthy to expire, and instead will let House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, move first on the Bush rates. Boehner plans to move a bill before the August recess.”

$125 million spent on recalls: We all knew Wisconsin’s recall elections were expensive and representative of the post-Citizens United era of campaign finance, but the final numbers are even bigger than expected. According to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, candidates and outside groups spent $80 million or more in the governor’s recall race, more than doubling the previous record for a gubernatorial race in the state. When you include the $44 million spent on the four recall races in the state Senate, you get a total of about $125 million.

Not surprisingly, the new figures show a huge disparity between the sides: About $47 million was spent on behalf of Governor Scott Walker, just $19 million was spent on behalf of Democrat Tom Barrett.



Fallout in Wisconsin spreads to Michigan: The Detroit Free Press: “For the second time in less than a year, a group has abandoned an effort to recall [Republican] Gov. Rick Snyder. This week’s failure of an effort to recall another Republican governor, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, was a factor in Michigan Rising’s decision to halt its drive to collect signatures, spokesman Bruce Fealk said Thursday. … The group would have needed about 807,000 valid signatures to get the recall question on the November ballot, and Fealk said it was far short of its goal.”

Poll shows Bain attacks work: Despite all the hand wringing and recriminations from Cory Booker and other Northeast elites about the Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, a new poll shows it could work well in the industrial Midwest. In 12 battleground states, 47 percent said they think private equity firms “care only about profits” and often create layoffs, while just 38 percent said they think the firms “help the American economy grow.” That margin is even bigger in places like Ohio, where the gap is 16 percentage points.

Oracle Nate Silver gives Obama slight edge: In his first official forecast of the presidential election, the New York Times wonder-blogger, who uses complex statistical modeling to predict election outcomes, gives Obama a “tenuous” advantage over Mitt Romney. He explains: “Mr. Obama would be about 80 percent likely to win an election held today, according to the model. However, the outlook for the Nov. 6 election is much less certain, with Mr. Obama having winning odds of just over 60 percent. The forecast currently calls for Mr. Obama to win roughly 290 electoral votes, but outcomes ranging everywhere from about 160 to 390 electoral votes are plausible, given the long lead time until the election and the amount of news that could occur between now and then.”

The nine states that will decide the election: Both Democrats and Republicans are zeroing in on nine battleground states and are already spending big money there. The states where both sides think the election will be won or lost: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The New York Times: “Much of the heaviest spending has not been in big cities with large and expensive media markets, but in small and medium-size metropolitan areas in states with little individual weight in the Electoral College.”

“[N]o recent general election advertising strategy has covered so little ground so early.” In 2000, George W. Bush and Al Gore fought in 20 states, and in 2004, it was the “Swing Seventeen.” In 2008, the Obama was advertising in 18 states at this point in the year.

Supreme Court reputation tarnished: Ahead of the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on Obamacare, which could come as early as Monday, a new poll finds that just 44 percent of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing. And the vast majority say the justices’ decisions are sometimes influenced by their personal or political views.

The high court’s approval was as high as 66 percent in the late 1980s, and over 50 percent in 2000, but controversial decisions like Citizens United and Bush v. Gore have damaged its reputation.

So much for the wall separating campaigns and outside groups: Super PACs and other outside groups are supposed to keep a firewall between them and campaigns, but as Roll Call’s Nathan Gonzales explains, “Today’s “independent expenditure” isn’t as independent as you might think”:

From designating funds for specific races to sharing opposition research, Republicans and Democrats are perfecting the art of communicating without coordinating. Sometimes operatives communicate privately, using in-house counsels as the conduit, while other information is shared through less-traveled regions of the Web. Party strategists are careful not to run afoul of the law — enacted as part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 — because unlawful coordination can lead to jail time. But attorneys advising both parties have come to many of the same unspoken conclusions where the law isn’t specific.

Minimum wage to $10?: About 25 Democratic lawmakers introduced a plan to raise the minimum wage, but the plan has little hope to advance as the party leadership is not behind it and Republicans would certainly oppose it.

Boy Scouts, still homophobic: USA Today: “Boy Scouts of America says it has no plans to ease its ban on gay leaders and Scouts after receiving an online petition urging a reversal from the group Change.org. Robert Mazzuca, chief executive of the Scouts at their Dallas-area headquarters, said Wednesday the resolution was referred to a committee for review after he received it last week. ‘We have no plans at the moment to make any changes,’ Mazzuca said in a phone interview. He said similar resolutions have been handled the same way in the past.”

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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