Entries in Campaign (14)


Romney Doubles Down on Vow of 6% Unemployment

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney on Wednesday double-downed on his promise to reduce the country’s unemployment rate if elected in November, again offering a specific 6 percent target that he says he’ll achieve during his first term in office.

“I can tell you that over a period of four years by virtue of the policies that we put in place we’ll get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent or perhaps a little lower, depends in part upon the rate of growth of the globe as well as what we’re seeing here in the United States,” Romney said in an interview with Time magazine’s Mark Halperin.

The current U.S. unemployment rate is 8.1 percent.

Earlier this month, Romney said that any unemployment rate “over 4 percent is not a cause of celebration.” The candidate first vowed to reduce unemployment 6 percent last fall during in a speech at a North Las Vegas trucking depot. Romney said he would lower the then-9.1 percent unemployment rate to 5.9 percent by the end of his first term as president.

The candidate also repeated his benchmark 5.9 percent goal repeatedly in a 161-page book that outlined his economic plan.

Romney could be overreaching: The Congressional Budget Office has already published its unemployment rate estimate for the end of 2016, and it’s 6.3 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gingrich Owed $4.78M When He Suspended Campaign, Report Finds

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- By the time he announced his plans to suspend his campaign in late April, Newt Gingrich owed $4.78 million, according to his FEC filing for April, released Sunday.

The Gingrich campaign had just $806,960 cash on hand by the close of the reporting period, which was April 30. Gingrich took in only $638,830 in that month.

Gingrich’s largest debt—$1.03 million—is to Moby Dick Airways, a private jet company. Gingrich also owes a great deal to himself: $580,134.

Among Gingrich’s other debts are the $16,525 he owes Herman Cain Solutions for strategic consulting and travel, and the $12,763 he owes Twitter for a media buy, according to the FEC report.

The latest monthly report for the pro-Gingrich Super PAC Winning Our Future showed a very different financial picture. Winning Our Future reported no debt, and ended the reporting period with $5.6 million cash on hand.

Still, the PAC’s filing showed that the group could face a problem staying solvent in the long term. Winning Our Future raised just $478 in April, and it came from only one donor—Frank Hanna Jr. of Georgia, a member of the investment committee of the Paladin Capital Group in Washington, D.C. The PAC only spent $132,701 in April.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama's Three Pieces of Advice for Barnard Grads

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- President Obama on Monday delivered his first commencement address of the year at Barnard College in New York City, offering three pieces of advice for the fawning crowd of women graduates who are part of a key constituency for his re-election campaign:

  • “Don't just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table.  Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.”

Obama encouraged the young women to be bold activists -- leaders and organizers -- for causes of social justice.  “It's up to you to stand up and to be heard, to write, and to lobby, to march, to organize, to vote,” he said.

  • “Never underestimate the power of your example.”

Urging grads to ignore a “pop culture obsession over beauty and fashion,” Obama said the Class of 2012 must become role models for future generations of women who are needed in key professions like science and technology.

“You can be stylish and powerful too,” Obama said. “That's Michelle's advice.”

  • “Persevere. Nothing worthwhile is easy.”

Obama invoked the story of his mother and the mother of Michelle Obama to covey the importance of keeping at it, even when faced with daunting setbacks as his parents had. “No one of achievement has avoided failure, sometimes catastrophic failures, but they keep at it,” he said. “They learn from mistakes.  They don't quit.”  

The advice – aimed clearly at mobilizing and energizing young women voters -- comes at a time when fresh graduates face a gloomy job market, high unemployment and mounting student debt. Obama acknowledged those facts, which Republicans had underscored ahead of the address, as similar to what he faced as a young graduate in 1983.

“In many ways you have it even tougher than we did,” Obama said. “This recession has been more brutal, the job losses steeper, politics seems nastier, Congress more gridlocked than ever.”

But, he seemed to ask the crowd to suspend any belief in the idea that their difficult personal economic situations can’t be overcome or that he could be to blame.

“My job today is to tell you don't believe it, because as tough as things have been, I am convinced you are tougher,” he said.

“The question is not whether things will get better. They always do.  The question is not whether we've got the solutions to our challenges.  We've had them within our grasp for quite some time. ...The question is whether together we can muster the will in our own lives, in our common institutions, in our politics to bring about the changes we need.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama’s Hiring: Campaign Puts Videographers in Key States

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The Obama campaign is preparing to expand its already sizable and costly digital media operation, seeking to hire and deploy several “one-man-band” videographers in key states to help boost grassroots outreach and fundraising.

The positions -- billed as a “producer, cinematographer, and video editor” all in one -- were announced in a job posting circulated Thursday by the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

The extra videographers in the field will help Team Obama tailor its message to local audiences and broaden their reach through targeted video sharing on social media and online.

“We’re going to run the most effective, creative, and innovative digital campaign in the history of politics,” the posting boasts. “And our digital team will be core to achieving the communications, fundraising and organizing goals of the cause.”

The perfect Obama campaign videographer is someone with “extreme adaptability, with an ability to multi-task and pivot on a dime” and has “passion for helping millions of Americans fight alongside President Obama and create change,” the posting says.

Team Obama had 592 staff on a monthly payroll of $2.2 million as of March 31, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Staff salaries made up roughly 15 percent of the entire monthly budget of $15.7 million.

The campaign’s top expenditures have been online advertising and outside digital media consultants, marketers and content producers -- an investment that has blanketed the Web with Obama-Biden banners and targeted web videos. lists 84 videos produced for the 2012 campaign, including several state-specific spots like this one for Wisconsin.

Do the videos make a difference in winning over voters?  Political communications and social media expert Heather LaMarre at the University of Minnesota says they could.

“You can have all kinds of glitz and glamour with fancy videos, but at the end of the day, if people don’t have jobs or $5-a-gallon gas hits, none of it will matter,” she said.

“That said -- all else being equal or, in the event that it’s a 45-45 split between these candidates, they’re fighting over the middle 10 percent -- then they really could make a difference.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gas Prices Spark TV Ad War Over Obama

Priorities USA Action(WASHINGTON) -- The super PAC backing President Obama has joined an intensifying battleground state skirmish over high gas prices and oil company subsidies.

A new TV ad by Priorities USA Action links Mitt Romney to the U.S. oil industry, which it claims has been underwriting the assault on Obama to defend billions of dollars in taxpayer cash.

“Who’s behind this ad smearing President Obama? Big Oil, that’s who,” says the narrator in the 30-second spot that’s airing in eight states – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.

“The money they make from high gas prices – is going right into Mitt Romney’s campaign,” the ad says.

Romney opposes eliminating tax incentives and subsidies for the major U.S. oil companies, even as they have reported record profits in recent months.  Obama wants to end the practice and invest the money on development of renewable energy sources instead.

The American Energy Alliance, a nonprofit group with Republican ties, has been blasting Obama’s energy policy with a $3.6 million TV ad campaign in the same eight states, which are all crucial for the general election.

The ad — “Nine dollar gas” – criticizes Obama for gas prices that have nearly doubled during his first term as he has opposed oil drilling in Alaska and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and backed support for a $500 million loan to solar start-up Solyndra, which later went bankrupt.

It also features a quote from Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu who said before taking office in 2008 that the country needs to “boost the prices of gasoline to levels in Europe.”  He has since reiterated a commitment to bringing down prices.

“Tell Obama: We can’t afford his failing energy policies,” the AEA ad says.

Crossroads GPS, another pro-Republican interest group ran a similar TV ad campaign in New Mexico, Ohio and Nevada last month, spending $650,000 to hit Obama on oil production and the Keystone pipeline.

Democrats say the offensive by both groups is funded in part by conservative billionaire oil company magnates Charles and David Koch, who have pledged more than $200 million to defeating Obama. Neither organization however is required by law to reveal the identities or contribution amounts of its donors.

Obama has been promoting his “all-of-the-above” approach to energy production, which has overseen the highest levels of domestic oil production in eight years. As part of that strategy, he has urged Congress to repeal $4 billion in subsidies for the oil industry. But in a vote last week, the Senate rejected the proposal.

Republicans insist repealing the subsidies amounts to a tax hike on oil companies, which would in turn raise prices at the pump even higher.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Debuts Cellphone Credit Card Swipe for Donations

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/​Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The campaign team that pioneered an iPhone app for volunteer recruitment and get-out-the-vote efforts for President Obama in 2008 is out with a new tool aimed at tapping into more cash in 2012: the Obama Victory Fund mobile phone credit card donations app, with swipe attachment.

The system, powered by the tech start-up Square, is being rolled out by a select group of Obama campaign staff at hundreds of field offices across the country this month, a campaign aide told ABC News.

Organizers equipped with the small, one-inch square attachment that plugs into a smartphone will be able to accept credit card swipes from donors, whose information will be automatically entered into the campaign’s database through the software interface downloaded on the phone.

"The idea is that if you’re at a house party or in daily interactions -- at a grocery store shopping -- and someone sees your Obama for America button and wants to talk to you about the campaign, you can ask for a donation and accept it right then and there," the aide said.

The tool will be made widely available this spring, when supporters will be able to download the free app in the Apple iTunes store and obtain the swipe attachment.

A campaign aide closely involved in development of the technology told ABC News that each “Square” costs about one cent when the campaign buys them in bulk. The mobile interface may eventually connect with the campaign’s grassroots fundraising pages online, which promote competition among small-dollar donors.

Square Inc. CEO Jack Dorsey, who also co-founded Twitter, told Bloomberg TV last summer that the tool has the potential to revolutionize business and politics.

"The tool you have in your pocket today – that mobile phone – you pair with one of our readers, and suddenly you can accept payments everywhere. And it’s a payment device that 90 percent of this country uses, and that’s transformational."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Store Stocked for Black Friday: Goods Entirely ‘Made in USA’

ABC News(CHICAGO) -- This Black Friday, count President Obama’s re-election campaign as one “retailer” fully stocked and hungry for a slice of the holiday shopping pie.

A glimpse inside the campaign store at headquarters found shelves loaded with the traditional array of screen print T-shirts, buttons, stickers and yard signs.

But there’s also plenty of non-traditional “swag” to accompany what aides bill as a non-traditional campaign.

New arrivals include Obama-Biden branded yoga pants, basketball jerseys, golf divot tools, martini glasses, cutting boards, grill spatulas and cufflinks.

Bo Obama, the first family’s pet Portuguese Water Dog, makes a cameo appearance on a button.

Vice President Joe Biden’s face is emblazoned on a coffee mug titled “Cup of Joe.”

And a facsimile of the president’s birth certificate appears both on “Made in the U.S.A.” T-shirts and coffee mugs, poking fun at the conspiracy theorists who insist Obama was born abroad.

Campaign officials won’t reveal which are the hottest selling items, or how much revenue the sales have raised.

One thing they will say for certain is that everything on the shelves was manufactured on U.S. soil.

“If a product isn’t made here, we won’t brand it and sell it,” a campaign official said, adding that staff members have actually vetted some factories to ensure materials are made or assembled in America.

Not all the 2012 presidential candidates can make the same claim. A number of the Republican contenders have hawked goods made overseas.

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Top CEOs Among Obama’s 351 Campaign Bundlers

SEBASTIAN DERUNGS/AFP/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The Obama campaign Friday voluntarily released the names of its 351 top volunteer fundraisers, or “bundlers,” who collect checks from their networks of deep-pocket friends and deliver them to the Obama Victory Fund for the coming campaign.

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, UBS Americas CEO Robert Wolf, and former CNET executive and Obama national finance committee chairman Matthew Barzun are among the newest financiers to enlist in the last quarter, which ended Sept. 30. Each brought in more than $500,000 for the 2012 campaign, records show.

They joined Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, DreamWorks CEO Jeffry Katzenberg, former New Jersey Gov. and Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine, and 241 other high-profile financiers who enlisted in April.

Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments and a Good Morning America finance contributor, also became a bundler, wrapping up between $200,000-$500,000 for Obama and Democrats.

Obama bundlers have raised $55.5 million combined for the Victory Fund, which funnels cash to both the Obama campaign and Democratic National Committee. Looked at another way, their contributions are 35 percent of the total $156 million raised by Obama and the DNC so far this year.

Forty-one bundlers have raised more than $500,000 each; 95 collected between $200,000 and $500,000; 105 gathered between $100,000 and $200,000; and 110 netted between $50,000 and $100,000. The campaign had set a goal of signing up 400 bundlers for the cycle, asking each to rake in $350,000.

None of the Republican presidential candidates has disclosed a full list of the names and contributions of top fundraisers, breaking from a precedent set by George W. Bush and continued by Sen. John McCain during the 2008 campaign.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama's Bus Made in America? Not Entirely

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At his rural economic forum in Iowa Tuesday, President Obama exhorted the need to boost the manufacturing and export of U.S. cars and trucks to create jobs.

"We've got folks in America driving Kias and Hyundais. I want to see folks in Korea driving Fords and Chryslers and Chevys," Obama said, drawing applause.

"I want to sell goods all over the world that are stamped with three words: 'Made in America.'"

But it turns out the president's new custom motor coach comes stamped with a brand that's located someplace else: Canada.

The $1.1 million jet-black rumbling bus that has been carrying Obama through the Midwest this week was designed in part by Prevost, a motor coach manufacturer based in Quebec. The New York Post was first to report this, and Provost officials confirmed this fact to ABC News.

"We just build an empty shell of a bus, and then sell them to a converter for outfitting," Prevost's Steve Zeigler told ABC News.

The U.S. Secret Service said it purchased the vehicle from Hemphill Brothers Coach Co., which is based in Nashville, Tenn.

Hemphill, which declined to discuss the presidential bus or its business generally, assembles custom motor coaches and customizes the interiors before selling the finished product directly to individuals, businesses or the government.

"We just make the shell. We don't know anything about the end user," said Christine Garant of Prevost.

Several industry sources speculated that Hemphill may have installed an American-made engine, such as a Detroit Diesel, in the presidential bus, though that could not be immediately confirmed.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the agency based its purchase on bus design, looking for the coach with the most available space to accommodate state-of-the-art custom security modifications.

The service acquired two of the new campaign-style buses last year as additions to the government's protective fleet. Could the government have purchased a bus that was made entirely, or almost entirely, in America? In theory, yes.

The only U.S.-headquartered coach manufacturer, Motor Coach Industries, based in Schamburg, Ill., also builds the country's only "buy American compliant" coach, the majority of whose parts are made here, an MCI spokeswoman said. It's unclear whether the Secret Service considered this option.

The current presidential limousine, nicknamed "The Beast," was made by Cadillac, a General Motors Corp. brand, in 2009. The vehicle, however, is not any model available to the public, and has been extensively retrofitted with performance, security, and other enhancements.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Business Leaders Respond to Starbucks CEO's Pledge to Boycott Campaign Contributions

Starbucks Corporation(NEW YORK) -- It's far from a stampede of support yet, but a few business leaders are getting behind Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's pledge to stop all campaign contributions to incumbents until they create a long-term debt deal.

"Right now our economy is frozen in a cycle of fear and uncertainty. Companies are afraid to hire. Consumers are afraid to spend. Banks are afraid to lend," Schultz wrote in a letter dated Aug. 15 to officially launch his campaign, as first reported by The New York Times.

"The only way to break this cycle of fear is to break it. The only way to get the country's economic circulatory system flowing again is to start pumping lifeblood through it," he wrote. "That is why we today issue a second pledge. Our companies are going to hire. We are going to accelerate growth, employment, and investment in jobs."

Nasdaq OMX Group CEO Bob Greifeld forwarded Schultz's letter to all the companies listed in that exchange.

"I think that Howard's idea is a great one, and I have told him that he can count on me," Greifeld wrote in his email to those companies. "At NASDAQ OMX, we will also continue to invest in the future by hiring and focusing our efforts on job creation."

Duncan Niederauer, CEO of the NYSE Euronext, also sent Schultz's email to the 3,000 CEOs in that exchange.

"I am bullish on the state of corporate America, and the millions of jobs which support this powerful network," Niederauer wrote in his email forward to those companies. "Now is the time for corporate leadership, and for the collective voice of our CEOs to be heard. It is my hope that our leaders can put politics aside and focus on generating long-term sustainable growth driven by the private sector."

Greifeld and Niederauer were not available for comment.

Schultz has donated $27,900 to political candidates from 2007 to 2011, according to the Center for Responsive Politics' website, The most recent donation was to Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who was not immediately available to comment.

Schultz's pledge kicked off as Michele Bachmann clinched the Republican Iowa straw poll for the presidential nomination and the candidates try to woo donors across the country.

A Starbucks spokeswoman said the response has been "positive," though she said she could not provide additional names of CEOs who back the plan.

Requests for comment from AT&T, FedEx, United Parcel Service and Lockheed Martin, some of the largest corporate campaign contributors from 1989 to 2010 according to the Center for Responsive Politics, were not immediately returned.

A spokesman for Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Robert Reich, former Labor Department secretary under Bill Clinton and professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, said Schultz's pledge may not be enough to be politically influential.

"He should have gone further and asked all other CEOs to end all campaign contributions, period," Reich told ABC News. "They're corrupting our politics and are not even in the interest of shareholders."

Michael Beckel, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, told ABC News that it may be too early to tell whether Schultz's pledge may change behavior in Washington. The majority of large campaign contributors between 1989 and 2010 were in fact associations and unions, according to

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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