The Washington Times (yes, that one) has a good background piece on Romney’s team of foreign policy advisors, which seems to be heavy on Bush-era neo-con types:
But while Mr Romney has compiled a star-studded roster of nearly two dozen foreign policy advisers, the vast majority are known more for their alignment with post-9/11 foreign policy of George W Bush than the Cold War-era Reagan administration….
Others, including former counterterrorism chief Cofer Black, former CIA Director Michael V Hayden, for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and former UN Ambassador John R. Bolton, are more known for service under George W Bush — leaving open the possibility that Mr. Romney is as inclined to embrace a Bush-style “with us or against us” foreign policy as anything else.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times has a warning from Russia over disquiet at some of Romney’s rhetoric labeling Russia a “geo-political foe”:
Alexey Pushkov, chairman of the international affairs committee of the State Duma, said in a recent interview that Russian leaders have noted Romney’s comments with concern, and are watching with interest as neoconservative and “realist” advisers maneuver for influence within the campaign.
“We don’t think that for us Romney will be an easy partner,” said Pushkov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin. “We think that Romney will be, on the rhetorical side, a replay of the Bush administration.”
He also noted Romney’s statements that the United States should assert its dominance in the 21st century.
“If he is serious about this, I’m afraid he may choose the neocon-type people… In the first year of his presidency, we may have a full-scale crisis,” he said.
The current June 25-July 1 average includes four days of interviewing after the June 28 Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. Obama’s prior five-point lead, from June 22-28, was based on interviews conducted mostly before the decision. Therefore, although the Supreme Court decision may be a reason for Obama’s currently more positive position, he was gaining on Romney prior to the decision.
3.54pm: Mitt Romney‘s summer abroad will include a trip to London for the opening ceremony at the Olympic games, followed by a brief trip to Israel and a meeting with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the New York Times reports:
Mr Romney, who has pledged to “do the opposite” of the Obama administration on matters pertaining to Israel, is also expected to meet with Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority; President Shimon Peres of Israel; the American ambassador, Daniel B Shapiro; and leaders of the opposition Labor Party in Jerusalem. He plans to have at least one public event in a trip that will likely last less than two days.
It includes orthodox athletic events and less orthodox ones, such as who can hang onto a pole the longest, who can throw a football the farthest and who can hammer the most nails into a board in two minutes.
But why stop there? On Twitter, the #romneyolympics hashtag has offered many more alternatives.
This though is surely the most unlikely.
2.47pm: What was behind Rupert Murdoch‘s cavalcade of tweets aimed at Mitt Romney? As recently as five hours ago KRM was tweeting about WMR:
Maggie Habermann in Politico has the background: a private fundraiser at which Romney and Murdoch spoke about immigration – a subject on which Murdoch appears more liberal than the GOP base:
Murdoch chimed in, three sources said, telling the candidate, “You have to take the fight to Obama on this.” Romney said the Hispanic vote is important, noting he has Senator Marco Rubio on the trail for him and that one of his own sons speaks Spanish, but indicated he is not going to change positions from some of what he said in the primaries.
“I know I took some positions in the primary that are” hard to contend with in a general, Romney said, according to two sources.
“I am not going to be a flip-flopper,” he added, according to one guest. He talked more about the various concerns that he has to balance in terms of competing constituencies who have different views – and noted, two sources said, the precise percentage that Hispanic voters make up in the swing states, a figure that was less than 20 percent.
Despite the Supreme Court ruling that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, Republican governors are considering refusing billions in Medicaid funds which promise to insure millions of lower-income Americans without health care. The Court found that while the Medicaid provision is constitutional, the federal government cannot take away federal funds from states that refuse to open the program to more residents.
A ThinkProgress survey reveals that ten GOP governors have said definitively that they will not accept the funds, while 19 are still considering other options.
There’s a handy infographic of what this all means here.
A recount has concluded Democrat John Lehman defeated incumbent Republican Van Wanggaard in last month’s state Senate recall races.
An official canvas following the June 5 elections showed Lehman leading Wanggaard by 834 votes out of nearly 72,000 ballots cast in Racine County’s 21st Senate District. A Lehman victory would give Democrats a one-seat majority in the Senate.
Wanggaard requested a recount, but final tallies from the Racine County clerk’s office Monday showed Lehman with 36,358 votes and Wanggaard with 35,539, a difference of 819 votes.
1.21pm: Having failed at the supreme court, the Republican party’s latest tack to try and thwart the healthcare reforms going into effect comes in a letter from Jim DeMint and Michele Bachmann to all 50 state governors, urging them to resis establishing health insurance exchanges as required by the law.
DeMint and Bachmann are co-signatories to the letter, which reads in part:
As members of the US Congress, we are dedicated to the full repeal of this government takeover of healthcare and we ask you to join us to oppose its implementation.
Most importantly, we encourage you to oppose any creation of a state health care exchange mandated under the President’s discredited health care law.
These expensive, complex, and intrusive exchanges impose a threat to the financial stability of our already-fragile state economies with no certainty of a limit to total enrollment numbers.
And yet: a new poll commissioned by the Kaiser Family Foundation in the wake of the supreme court ruling finds little enthusiasm outside Republican ranks for further fighting on the matter:
Democrats overwhelmingly say opponents should move on to other issues (82%), as do half (51%) of independents and a quarter (26%) of Republicans. But, seven in ten Republicans (69%) say they want to see efforts to stop the law continue, a view shared by 41% of independents and 14% of Democrats.
The poll also found that “solid majorities of voters of every political stripe say the decision won’t impact whether or not they vote this November” but with more Republicans than Democrats (31% to 18%) saying the decision makes them likely to go to the polls.
1pm: Happy Second of July everyone. What do you mean, wrong day?
Here’s Founding Father John Adams (no relation) in a letter to his wife Abigail, after telling her “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America”:
I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
So why are the “Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations” held on the Fourth of July and not the second? This illuminating post says that Adams was talking about the “Lee resolution” of independence being approved by the Congress on 2 July. But what is celebrated on 4 July is (of course) approval of the Declaration of Independence, which wasn’t in fact signed until 2 August.
12.30pm: Via BuzzFeed Politics’s Andrew Kaczynski, here’s a PowerPoint presentation by a Massachusetts politician on what a healthcare-related individual mandate – or “personal responsibility principle,” as he dubs it – would look like.
Who is that mysterious Massachusetts politician? Why, it’s former Bay State governor Willard Mitt Romney – the 2006 model, that is.
I’ll be among the first to say Arizona’s immigration law might not have been for every state, but let’s not overlook what it was: an earnest attempt by Arizonans to deal with a very real problem.
However, rather than put resources in place so that Arizona wouldn’t have to expend state time and resources on this federal responsibility, the Obama administration decided instead to sue them to stop enforcing the laws the administration itself was not willing to enforce.
Perry also says: “I’ve recently renewed my call to pass legislation banning sanctuary cities here in the Lone Star State,” which suggests a tougher line in Texas.
Mitt Romney arrives at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Wolfeboro yesterday. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP
At church, Romney sat next to his wife, with grandchildren occupying the rest of the row. He sang along during the service’s three hymns, holding his iPad underneath his navy blue hymnal. Some of the kids – who range in age from a few weeks old to 16 years – grew restless during the long service. At different points, several walked over to receive a kind smile and quiet word from their grandfather. At one point, Romney took charge of a Ziploc bag of colored cereal, offering it to a grinning blond toddler.
11.33pm: The Romney campaign appears to be cutting across the Republican talking points on the issue of the supreme court decision – that the individual mandate was a tax in fact if not in name.
Republicans have seized on the new-look mandate as a tax as a useful stick to beat the Obama administration with. But Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom tied himself into knots trying to explain his candidate’s position – and the position Romney took on the issue while governor of Massachusetts:
Chuck Todd MSNBC: The governor does not believe the mandate is a tax — that’s what you’re saying?
Eric Fehrnstrom: The governor believes what we put in place in Massachusetts was a penalty and he disagrees with the Court’s ruling that the mandate was a tax….
Todd: But he agrees with the president that it is not — and he believes that you should not call the tax penalty a tax, you should call it a penalty or a fee or a fine?
Fehrnstrom: That’s correct. But the president also needs to be held accountable for his contradictory statements. He has described it variously as a penalty and as a tax. He needs to reconcile those two very different statements.
It’s hardly Watergate but it does show how difficult it is for Mitt Romney to exploit healthcare as an issue, given his history supporting a policy that was all but identical as governor
11am ET: With both presidential candidates taking early Fourth of July holidays and Congress in recess for the same reason, attention remains fixed on the battle over healthcare, with Republicans intent on stoking the fires.
Here’s a summary of the latest news:
• Barack Obama is heading to Camp David with his family this week. On Wednesday they will return to the capital to celebrate by holding a picnic on the White House lawn with US military service members. On Thursday, Obama will take off on a two-day bus tour of Pennsylvania and Ohio.
A police marine patrol boat is seen near the vacation home of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP• Mitt Romney has headed to Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where his family gathers at their lake house each year on Independence Day. There they will participate in the Romney Olympics, an event that pits the male Romneys against the females in a variety of traditional biking, swimming and running events, as well as series of less-traditional activities such as who can hang onto a pole the longest, who can throw a football the farthest and who can hammer the most nails into a board in two minutes; activities supposedly conjured up by Mitt himself after he failed to dominate in other areas.
• News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch chimed in on the US presidential elections over the weekend.
Murdoch suggested Romney may be ill-equipped to challenge Obama. Later Murdoch decided to take on Scientology, proving that he was in the mood for a weekend Twitter fight.