Politics

Political news from New Hampshire Public Radio, from the State House to the First in the Nation Primary.

From now until November, President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will emphasize their differences. But the two men's lives actually coincide in a striking number of ways. In this installment of NPR's "Parallel Lives" series, a look at Romney's time at their shared alma mater.

When Mitt Romney attacks his Democratic opponent on the campaign trail, he often derides President Obama's Ivy League credentials.

Ron Paul is not going to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Even Ron Paul knows it. His acknowledgement that Mitt Romney will be the nominee is just stating the obvious.

But what exactly did he mean when he said last week that he will "no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not voted"? Was he telling us that he was dropping out of the race?

Not quite.

The latest deadline for the presidential candidates and the major superPACs to disclose their finances was Sunday night. The public and the media can find out who has been giving to the candidates, and how that money was spent. But there's a lot of political spending that isn't being reported.

Outside money groups are spending millions of dollars, and the donors remain anonymous. Two recent court rulings could force those groups to file public disclosures, but there already seems to be a way around that.

In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, only one candidate remains to challenge presumptive nominee Mitt Romney: Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Even Paul has said he will no longer campaign in states that have yet to hold their primaries. And Paul has always been considered a long shot to win. But that hasn't deterred many of his hard-core supporters, including the Silicon Valley billionaire who has bankrolled the superPAC backing Paul.

If you're eligible to vote but aren't registered yet, watch out. They're coming to get you!

Campaigns, political parties and interest groups are all mounting massive voter registration campaigns this year to influence the outcome of the November elections.

The target is the millions of Americans — the Pew Center on the States estimates that number is 51 million — who are eligible to vote but not registered. The belief is that even a relative few of these voters could swing the election results.

Following the release of what his campaign called his first ad of the general election, Romney participated in a "tele-town hall" with supporters in the swing states where the ad is running: Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Iowa.

President Obama's performance in Tuesday's Arkansas primary won't be as embarrassing as what happened in West Virginia two weeks ago, when he gave up 41 percent of the vote to someone who happened to be sitting in a federal prison in Texas for embezzlement.

But it may well do more lasting damage to his party.

Challenging an incumbent president means finding ways to narrow the stature gap between the Oval Office occupant and would-be president.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's the 300th episode of the It's All Politics podcast, and we hear from not only NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin, but from The Listener, as well.

Plus: one anti-Obama group wavers on hearing more from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Nebraska Republicans decide they've heard enough political mudslinging, and Americans Elect fails to find a candidate it can promote.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's talk about the money the campaigns themselves raise. All through the Republican primaries, President Obama's campaign raised far more money than Mitt Romney's campaign. But now the money gap is narrowing, as NPR's Peter Overby reports.

Mitt Romney is disavowing a plan by some wealthy Republicans to attack President Obama for ties to his controversial former pastor. Even the people behind that proposal said they are abandoning it after their idea was plastered on the front page of The New York Times.

The proposal centered on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who was a mentor to Obama before the two parted ways during the last presidential campaign.

Republicans unaffiliated with Romney were considering spending $10 million on a racially tinged advertising campaign tying Wright to the president.

Battleground states like North Carolina are where the action is when it comes to presidential contests. Thus, they are where political tactics like, say, the anti-Obama ad campaign featuring the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, first reported by The New York Times Thursday (and now disowned by virtually everyone the Times linked to it), are most likely to be rolled out.

One of the highest-profile political matchups of the season is playing out in Virginia, where two former governors with powerful friends and big-money backing are battling to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb.

The dead-heat matchup pits Democrat Tim Kaine, 54, a favorite of President Obama and a former Democratic National Committee chairman, against George Allen, 60, namesake of his legendary Washington Redskins football coach father and a U.S. senator until undone in a re-election bid by what has become known as his "macaca moment."

The campaign for GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney and the Republican Party together raised $40.1 million in April, just shy of the $43.6 million that President Obama and the Democratic Party took in.

This is the first monthly report since Romney effectively wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination. And because money is one way to keep score during a presidential campaign, the news is getting a great deal of attention from the political media this morning.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

President Obama and congressional leaders lunched at the White House Wednesday on sandwiches the leader of the free world purchased during a visit to a Washington, D.C., eatery where he met earlier in the morning with a group of small-business people.

Descriptions of the White House lunch meeting from those on the opposing red and blue teams aware of the details of the discussion made it sound like yet another meeting featuring the nation's top policymakers that you could have accurately described beforehand.

The partisan divisions on Capitol Hill are numerous — but Wednesday morning, about two-dozen members of Congress did something entirely nonpartisan. They ran in a 3-mile race for charity, along with their staffs and teams from the executive and judicial branches and the media (including NPR).

The ACLI Capital Challenge is an annual tradition that dates back to 1981, and one senator has run the race every time: Dick Lugar, R-Ind. But Wednesday's race was also his last.

If young voters were the breakout stars of the 2008 presidential election, then Latino voters may take center stage this year.

Every other week or so, it seems, a new poll gauges Latinos' opinions about the candidates, the issues and their level of engagement. Both parties are pouring millions into their Latino outreach. Latino politicians have assumed prominent roles in the conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties. And a Latino senator is on the short list of potential running mates for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

If President Obama is already running campaign ads that showcase people describing Mitt Romney as a "vampire" and a "job destroyer," what will the ads be like by November?

The Obama campaign on Wednesday escalated its attack on Mitt Romney's business career, with Vice President Joe Biden scheduled to aggressively question how Romney's management of Bain Capital might translate into running the U.S. economy.

On Monday, Obama's re-election campaign unveiled a new swing state ad questioning Romney's assertion that he was a job creator while running the private equity firm. The Romney campaign countered later in the day with its own ad.

Republican voters in Nebraska on Tuesday defied the expectations of pundits and the intentions of outside groups, nominating a heretofore little-known rancher and state lawmaker to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by incumbent Democrat Ben Nelson.

Deb Fischer, 61, rode a last-minute surge in support to defeat the establishment-favored candidate, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning. In the November general election, she will face a former governor and former senator — Bob Kerrey — who easily won the Democratic nomination.

"I'm for Mitt Romney."

With four words, said to an ABC News reporter as an elevator's doors closed, former President George W. Bush on Tuesday confirmed what was pretty obvious — he is supporting his fellow Republican's bid for the White House.

But as The Associated Press reports:

In Ohio, a new congressional district that stretches along Lake Erie between Toledo and Cleveland has become a political portrait of polarized America.

The 9th District is one of the results of Ohio's loss of two representatives following the last census. The primary for the redrawn district pitted two longtime Democratic incumbents against each other. Now the victor, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, is taking on a Republican known for his role in the 2008 presidential election.

It's happening in several congressional races, in states like Nebraska, Montana and Ohio — millions of dollars from out-of-state donors and outside groups are fueling candidates' war chests.

Nonprofit groups that want to run campaign ads within two months of the general election have to reveal the names of their donors. That's the result of a federal appeals court action on campaign finance law.

Several weeks ago, a federal court in Washington told the Federal Election Commission it could not allow the buyers of tens of millions of dollars' worth of ads to remain anonymous.

Presidential candidate Ron Paul is not expected to ultimately endorse presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, Paul's chief strategist said Tuesday.

"Never say never, but I don't believe that's likely," said Jesse Benton, during a half-hour-plus give-and-take with reporters.

Americans Elect, the nationwide effort to launch a credible third-party presidential campaign, has money, media attention and — most importantly — access to the ballot in dozens of states.

What it doesn't have is a candidate for president.

So if it follows its own rules, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization won't field a presidential candidate alongside President Obama and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney on Nov. 6, it announced Tuesday.

But the group also left the door open to bending those rules.

Republican Ron Paul is not shuttering his presidential campaign, his chief strategist says in a memo sent this morning to supporters and the news media.

"Let me be very clear," said Jesse Benton, "Dr. Paul is NOT dropping out or suspending his campaign."

"As Dr. Paul has previously stated, he is in this race all the way to the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August," Benton said. The campaign will, though, be "maximizing our resources" by not investing in remaining primary states, he said.

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