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First Thoughts: A limit to states' rights

Members of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles hold a rally in response to the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on Arizona's immigration law outside the Los Angeles Federal Court building on Monday, June 25, 2012.
Members of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles hold a rally in response to the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on Arizona's immigration law outside the Los Angeles Federal Court building on Monday, June 25, 2012.Damian Dovarganes / AP

Wrapping up yesterday’s SCOTUS decisions: A limit to states’ rights… Mitt be (not so) nimble, Mitt be (not so) quick when reacting to the Arizona immigration decision… But he transforms into George W. Bush on the issue, promising immigration reform in first year in office?... Health-care decision coming on Thursday… It’s NBC/WSJ poll day! Poll comes out at 6:30 pm ET… New Obama TV ad hits Romney on outsourcing… This week’s 10 hottest advertising markets… A change of plans in Charlotte… Watching Hatch and Rangel… And Obama learns that you have to know your crowd.

Members of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles hold a rally in response to the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on Arizona's immigration law outside the Los Angeles Federal Court building on Monday, June 25, 2012.Damian Dovarganes / AP

*** A limit to states’ rights: One of the conservative rallying cries we’ve heard in the past three-plus years has been something like this: “The federal government has too much power, and it’s time to return that power back to the states.” But if there’s one thing we learned from yesterday’s Supreme Court decisions, it’s that court believes there’s also a LIMIT to states’ rights. In the ruling on the Arizona immigration case -- which struck down three parts of that state law, but (sorta) upheld the “show me your papers” provision -- the court maintained that states couldn’t make their own foreign policy. “The national government has significant power to regulate immigration,” Justice Kennedy said for the majority, per the New York Times. “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.” In another decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2010 Citizens United decision trumped state laws -- like Montana’s -- putting restrictions on corporate money in political races. The implication: Individual states don’t have the ability to craft their own campaign-finance laws that contradict Citizens United, even if for state and not federal races

*** Mitt be (not so) nimble, Mitt be (not so) quick: If there is a constant criticism about Mitt Romney and his campaign from both the left and right, it’s that they’re not nimble -- especially when it comes to dealing with issues they’d prefer to ignore. And yesterday was a perfect example of this. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s immigration law shouldn’t have been a surprise and even though Romney was holding a fundraiser in Arizona (of all places!!!), it took the candidate and campaign hours to finally tell the public what they thought of the decision. First came a press release that didn’t signal if Romney agreed with the decision (and which parts). Then came a seven-minute press scrum in which a Romney press secretary refused to comment on the merits of the SCOTUS decision. And finally came Romney’s remarks at the Arizona fundraiser in which he appeared to disagree with the thrust of the ruling. “I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states not less,” he said, per NBC’s Garrett Haake. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Much of a president’s job is crisis management, and the only way to succeed is being nimble. That Team Romney seems to struggle with this aspect of the job is a potential warning sign for a challenger against an incumbent president.

*** Romney transforms into George W. Bush on immigration? But here is one place where Romney HAS BEEN nimble… Also at that Arizona fundraiser, Romney said -- for the first time -- that he would tackle immigration reform in his first year as president. "In my first year, I will make sure we actually do take on immigration; we secure our border; we make sure that we grow legal immigration in a way that provides people here with skill and expertise that we want," he stated. That’s a remarkable transformation for a candidate who has used illegal immigration as a weapon against John McCain (in 2007-2008) and Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich (in 2011-2012). The only recent comparison that comes to mind is when then-candidate Obama used free trade (and NAFTA) as a weapon against Hillary Clinton in the primaries and then has signed free-trade treaties as president.

*** Health-care decision coming on Thursday: We will get the Supreme Court’s decision on Obama’s health-care law on Thursday. That’s not a prediction; it’s now a fact. But speaking of “predictions” when it comes to WHAT the Court will do, they’ve been all over the place. Some say the court will strike down the whole thing; others believe the court will uphold the law in its entirety. No one knows how the court will rule, but here’s what we do know: 1) Chief Justice Roberts is writing the majority opinion; 2) the Arizona immigration case proved that there are three justices (Alito, Scalia, and Thomas) who are going to take the conservative side no matter what; and 3) Arizona also proved that both Roberts and Kennedy, not just Kennedy, are swing votes. How is Thursday going to turn out? We’ll find out two days from now…

*** NBC/WSJ poll day! How do Americans view the health-care law? What about the Obama-Romney presidential contest? Or the state of the U.S. economy? Well, we have a brand-new NBC/WSJ poll coming out today at 6:30 pm ET.

*** On the trail: Romney holds a campaign event in Salem, VA at 12:25 pm ET… Obama raises money in Atlanta and Miami… And Biden stumps in Waterloo, IA.

*** New Obama ad hits Romney on outsourcing: With Romney campaigning in Virginia today, the Obama camp is airing a brand-new TV ad in the state that seizes on last week’s Washington Post story, which reported that Romney’s Bain Capital invested in companies that shipped jobs overseas. The ad concludes: “Does Virginia really want an Outsourcer-in-Chief in the White House?” The campaign will air similar ads in Iowa and Ohio.

*** This week’s 10 hottest advertising markets: Here’s our weekly look at the 10 hottest advertising markets this week (in terms of advertising points from June 25-July 1), and some quick observations. One, for the first time, a Colorado market (Colorado Springs) has jumped to the No. 1 spot; Richmond, VA was No. 1 last week (and now it’s No. 4). Two, Florida -- with two markets (Ft. Myers and Tampa-St. Pete) -- finally makes it on our list. Three, the battleground states represented on this list are Virginia (3 markets), Colorado (2), Ohio (2), Florida (2), and Nevada (1). And four, for the first time since we’ve being doing this list, North Carolina isn’t represented on the Top 10; Charlotte comes in at No. 11.  A quick guide: ROF is Restore Our Future (Romney Super PAC); AFP is Americans for Prosperity (Koch Brothers group); CWA is Concerned Women for America (conservative group); and Priorities is the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA Action.

1. Colorado Springs, CO (Obama 1400, Romney 740 ROF 430, AFP 365, Priorities 150)
2. Roanoke-Lynchburg, VA (Obama 1400, Romney 550, ROF 515, CWA 450)
3. Cincinnati, OH (Obama 1500, Romney 630, AFP 300, ROF 300)
4. Richmond-Petersburg, VA (Obama 1500, Romney 500, ROF 275, CWA 240, Priorities 200)
5. Denver, CO (Obama 1500, Romney 500, ROF 300, AFP 200, Priorities 140)
6. Norfolk, VA (Obama 1500, Romney 500, ROF 250, CWA 220, Priorities 100)
7. Ft. Myers, FL (Obama 1300, ROF 615, AFP 500)
8. Cleveland, OH (Obama 1500, Romney 425, ROF 300, AFP 200, Priorities 115)
9. Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL (Obama 1500, ROF 375, AFP 330, Priorities 175)
10. Reno, NV (Obama 1500, Romney 370, ROF 230, AFP 200)

And here’s another way to look at this advertising: Team Obama (campaign and outside groups) has more advertising points in all of these markets than Team Romney (campaign and outside groups) does with one exception -- Roanoke-Lynchburg. But do note how the outside spending is helping Romney narrow the gap with Obama.

1. Colorado Springs, CO – Team Obama 1550, Team Romney 1535
2. Roanoke-Lynchburg, VA
– Team Romney 1515, Team Obama 1400
3. Cincinnati, OH
– Team Obama 1500, Team Romney 1230
4. Richmond-Petersburg,
VA – Team Obama 1700, Team Romney 1015
5. Denver, CO
– Team Obama 1640; Team Romney 1000
6. Norfolk, VA
– Team Obama 1600, Team Romney 970
7. Ft. Myers, FL
– Team Obama 1300, Team Romney 1115
8. Cleveland, OH
– Team Obama 1615, Team Romney 925
9. Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL
– Team Obama 1675, Team Romney 705
10. Reno, NV
– Team Obama 1500, Team Romney 800

*** A change of plans in Charlotte: The Charlotte Observer reports: “In the second major change to the Democratic National Convention schedule, organizers announced Monday night they are moving the much-touted Labor Day festival from Charlotte Motor Speedway to uptown Charlotte. In January, officials announced they were shortening the convention to three days, and would forgo the traditional Monday opening for a festival instead at the Speedway. At the time, the party chairwoman said they wanted to “make this convention different than any other in history.” But Monday night, host committee officials said dropping the Speedway event will provide attendees with a much stronger connection to the convention.” This appears to be both a financial decision and a realization that getting over 100,000 people to show up three nights before you are trying to fill an 80,000 seat stadium is a tall task.

*** Watching Hatch and Rangel: It’s primary day in New York and Utah, where the races to watch are primaries for Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and New York Rep. Charlie Rangel. Hatch -- who learned the lesson from Robert Bennett’s primary defeat in 2010 -- appears likely to cruise to victory. And Rangel seems like the bet to win, too. Polls close in New York at 9:00 pm ET, and they close in Utah at 11:00 pm ET.

*** Yes, you have to know your crowd: NBC’s Shawna Thomas reports that President Obama received boos from folks at a Boston fundraiser after he mentioned that the Red Sox’s Kevin Youkilis had been traded to Obama’s beloved White Sox. “And finally, Bos, I just want to say thank you for Youkilis,” joshed the president near the beginning of his 40-minute speech.  That line elicited what sounded like “booos” in the room. Obama then tried to back out of the comment: “I’m just saying.  He’s going to have to change the color of his socks. I didn’t think I’d get any boos out of here.  But I guess I should not have brought up baseball.” Finally, the president said, “My mistake. You’ve got to know your crowd.” Then again, it is POSSIBLE that some of those Boos… were actually Youuuks… Sadly, we’ll never know…

Countdown to GOP convention: 62 days
Countdown to Dem convention: 69 days
Countdown to Election Day: 133 days

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