Robert Shrum: As he finally claims the nomination that was his all along, but which was so reluctantly yielded to him, Mitt Romney enters his Etch A Sketch period. He may twist the knobs to try and shift his professed beliefs as easily as the aluminum granules on the screen of one of the last century’s most famous toys. But it’s hard for the epic flip-flopper to reframe himself again – or it should be.
Romney is only doing what comes naturally to a man who once said he was “better” on gay rights than Ted Kennedy, but then later donated $25,000 to the homophobic National Organization For Marriage – through a conduit that was designed to hide his contribution. Romney’s public life across two decades has been a ceaselessly revised Etch A Sketch.
Quarterback Phillip Sims takes a picture of President Barack Obama as he poses for a photo with members of the BCS National Champion University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team following a ceremony to honor their 14th national championship and their 2011-2012 season, on the South Lawn of the White House, April 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Washington Post: LORAIN, Ohio — Just a day after President Obama visited this crucial swing state, Mitt Romney spoke at a shuttered drywall company visited four years ago by then-candidate Obama to make the argument that Obama’s record has yet to live up to his lofty rhetoric.
On an empty warehouse floor, Romney laid the blame for the company’s fate squarely on Obama.
…. The company actually shut down in June 2008, months before Obama took office and his economic policies took effect.
…. Romney campaign aides said that Obama hasn’t delivered on the promise to jump-start the economy.
… But in Ohio, the economy is improving.
With an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent in February, Ohio’s jobless stats are lower than the national average of 8.2 percent. The unemployment rate, which peaked at 10.6 percent in December 2009, has steadily fallen since then — it was at 8.6 percent when Obama took office in January 2009.
ThinkProgress: If It’s Sunday, It’s Meet The Republican White Men
ThinkProgress: Yum! Brands, the owner of fast food brands KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut told Color of Change that they will no longer support the American Legislative Exchange Council, the right-wing front group that, until recently, was a driving force behind state voter suppression and “stand your ground” gun laws. Yum!’s decision means a dozen corporations (plus the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) have now dropped the conservative group.
9:50 AM: PBO departs the White House en route Joint Base Andrews
12:15: Arrives in Tampa, Florida
12:40: Tours the port of Tampa
1:20: Delivers remarks at the port of Tampa
2:35 Departs Tampa en route Cartagena, Colombia
5:45: Arrives in Cartagena, Colombia
10:10: Arrives at the base of Castillo, San Felipe de Barajas
10:20: Attends a leader’s dinner
Friday: On the way to the Summit of the Americas, the President will speak at the Port of Tampa about the importance of U.S. exports to the Americas and the need to deepen trade and investment. He arrives in Cartagena Friday night, and he’ll begin the summit with a dinner that the Colombians are hosting for summit leaders.
Saturday: PBO begins his day with a CEO Summit of the Americas. He will then join the other leaders for an arrival ceremony in the early afternoon. From that, they will go into the plenary session, which will run throughout the afternoon. The leaders will again have a dinner during which they will continue their discussions.
Sunday: In the morning there will be an official photo for the Summit. That will be followed by the leaders’ retreat, which will run throughout the morning and conclude the summit program. The President will then have a multilateral meeting with Caribbean leaders.
In the afternoon, the President will have a bilateral program with President Santos of Colombia that will include a meeting and a working lunch. The two leaders will then hold a joint press conference and will participate in an event at San Pedro Claver Church. In the late afternoon, the President will return to the United States, getting back to Washington late Sunday night.
NYT: Punctuating a week of political assaults on Mitt Romney over taxes, President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. plan to release their own income tax returns on Friday, along with a statement calling on Mr. Romney to do the same, according to an Obama campaign official.
The release of the returns, four days ahead of the Internal Revenue Service’s tax deadline for the public, will set the stage for another week of wrangling over taxes, with the Senate scheduled on Monday evening to take up the White House’s proposed “Buffett Rule” minimum tax for the wealthiest Americans.
…. While Mr. Obama has long acknowledged being in the nation’s high-income echelon, thanks largely to sales of his best-selling books, he and his wife, Michelle, have paid an effective federal tax rate nearly twice that of Mr. Romney and his wife, Ann, according to tax returns released by both couples.
…. Asked Thursday if Mr. Romney had plans to release his returns, an aide said, “I can’t give you any guidance on when they will be released, but I can let you know that in previous years, Mitt Romney has sought an extension.”
ThinkProgress: Mitt Romney has not publicly stated his opinion on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the reauthorization of which Republicans are delaying this year because of added provisions for marginalized communities.
….. In 2008, Romney didn’t even know what VAWA was: During an “Ask Mitt Anything” forum …. he demurred when an audience member asked him whether he would hold up reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act on the grounds that it kept men from visiting their children.
“I’m not familiar with the Act,” Romney replied.
The answer surprised some women’s rights advocates, since the Violence Against Women Act – which established new federal crimes for domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking – has been federal law for more than a dozen years. Former President Bill Clinton signed it in 1994, it was the subject of a high-profile Supreme Court case in 2000 and has been reauthorized twice by Congress. Bush signed the most recent version in 2006.
ThinkProgress: For the first time in history, the United States government has issued an indictment in a case that involves a hate crime based on the victim’s sexual orientation. Defendants David Jason Jenkins and Anthony Ray Jenkins of Kentucky allegedly kidnapped Kevin Pennington, took him into a secluded part of a state park, and beaten until he was nearly dead. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law on October 28, 2009 by President Obama, but this is its first application.
Washington Post: …. The grand jury charged the men with violating a hate crime law that was expanded in 2009 to cover assaults motivated by bias against gays, lesbians and transgender people…
“The indictment marks the first federal case in the nation charging a violation of the sexual orientation section of the Federal Hate Crimes Law,” said a U.S. Department of Justice statement.
“It’s vindicating to see that the years of hard work that went into making sure this law was on the books is now being put into place,” said Michael Cole-Schwartz, a spokesman for the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, which pushed for the law’s passage.
Romney speaks at the NRA annual convention in St. Louis today – which Willard will turn up?
Mitt Romney: “I purchased a gun when I was a young man, I’ve been a hunter pretty much all my life.”
Carl Cameron (Fox): “…. when it was later revealed that in fact he’s only been hunting twice he said he meant varmints and rodents – but any sportsman will tell you, that ain’t hunting, that’s pest control.”
Hey, our Colombian Obot is fired up and severely ready to go:
Colombian Silvio Carrasquilla gestures in front of a huge picture of the US presidential family, during an interview at his house in Turbaco, some 60 km from Cartagena. Obama will attend the VI Summit of the Americas, being held in Colombia’s Caribbean resort city of Cartagena.