OVERNIGHT BALLOT BOX: Obama endorses gay marriage

His announcement appeals to the base of his party and to  young voters of both parties, which Obama noted in his interview with ABC News.

“When I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same-sex equality, or you know, believe in equality, they are much more comfortable with it," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT
It also comes the day before Obama heads to Los Angeles for a fundraiser at the home of George Clooney. Several of Obama’s top Hollywood fundraisers are gay, and there has been anger within the LGTB community about the president’s lack of support on the issue. But now Obama has something to talk during his visit (and when he goes back there next week for another fundraiser).

There are also some questions about how black voters — who tend to be against gay marriage — will react to his announcement, although it’s hard to imagine the first black president losing a lot of votes from this group.

The real question is how this will play with independent voters.

A Gallup poll out Tuesday showed 57 percent of independents support gay marriage, while 40 percent don’t.

Also worth noting: Obama didn’t say he’d support a federal amendment on marriage, leaving this an issue for the states.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the most well-known openly gay member of Congress, defended Obama, saying “I believe it will be clear in the days ahead that this will cost him no votes, since those opposed to legal equality for LGBT people were already inclined to oppose him, and that it will make it easier for us to mobilize the people in this country who oppose discrimination to help reelect him.”

Republicans, of course, are blasting him.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Obama has "played politics" with the issue.

Rick Santorum said in a statement that this is “no doubt an attempt to galvanize his core hard left supporters in advance of the November election.”

Even gay GOP groups are saying it’s too little, too late.

Mitt Romney, however, did not take the opportunity to accuse Obama of changing his mind on the issue, saying it was up to the media to judge that.

Romney said during a campaign stop in Oklahoma that based on the media reports he had seen, it seemed like the president had "changed his mind," but said the media was better situated to "come to your own conclusions."

"This is a very tender and sensitive topic as are many social issues," Romney said.

He reiterated that his view is that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Romney’s comments came on a day he spent attacking Obama on his energy policies.

"The president likes to take credit for the fact that as president, oil production was up. Well, I'd like to take credit for when as governor the Red Sox won the World Series. But that's not the case," Romney said at a stop in Colorado. 



TOMORROW’S AGENDA TODAY: President Obama travels to Seattle and Los Angeles for fundraisers. Mitt Romney’s campaigning at Rick’s Café Boatyard in Omaha, Neb.


RACE RATINGS: The Hill has updated its ratings for Senate and House races.


TWEET OF THE DAY:
“I'm proud our President supports #love and #lgbt marriage equality. Thank you @BarackObama” — openly-gay Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.). 


QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“I think same sex couples should be able to get married.” — President Obama to ABC News.


POLL POSITION:

In the Wisconsin Senate GOP primary, businessman Eric Hovde (R) is within striking distance of former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), according to an internal poll released by Hovde's campaign. In the poll he trails Thompson by 30 to 27 percent, with former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wis.) at 20 percent.


AD WATCH:

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) launched his first television ad of his reelection campaign Wednesday, highlighting his reputation as an independent and his penchant for beating the odds.

The controversy over Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen’s remark that Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life” has largely subsided, but a new ad from a super-PAC backing Romney hopes to revive the issue in time for Mother’s Day.

Republican Jon Bruning is out with a new ad in Nebraska criticizing President Obama and former Sen. Bob Kerrey (Neb.), the Democratic recruit for the state's open Senate seat. It's the second ad this week that Bruning, the front-runner in the GOP primary and the state's attorney general, has released that ignores his two primary opponents and focuses instead on the general election. The primary is on May 15.

Compass Colorado, a conservative outside group, is placing 28 billboards throughout the state attacking Obama and Colorado Democratic Reps. Sal Pace, Joe Miklosi and Ed Perlmutter on energy issues. The ad shows the Democrats alongside Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, arguing their support for energy regulations has led to U.S. dependency on foreign sources of oil.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (N.J.) shot back at an ad released Tuesday by his primary opponent, fellow Democratic Rep. Steve Rothman (N.J.), with an ad of his own. Rothman's ad tied Pascrell to Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.); Pascrell's ad says he fought Gingrich and Christie and is against everything Romney stands for. Pascrell also touts his recent endorsement from former President Clinton. 



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Buchanan ethics investigation extended: The House Ethics Committee indefinitely extended an inquiry Wednesday into whether Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) attempted to procure a false affidavit from a witness testifying about allegations of a straw-donor scheme.

Late-night delight: Rick Santorum defended his late-night email endorsement of Romney. "We decided to put it out late at night so it would be sort of the first thing people would see in the morning," Santorum said on "The Tonight Show."

Sad news for reporters covering the convention:
Ron Paul denied any plans to disrupt the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., this summer, telling CNN: “I don’t like that even being a suggestion.”

Veep, Veep: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) dodges a question on Mitt Romney’s No. 2 spot.

Club growing ad buys: The Club for Growth, which spent heavily against Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) in his primary, is now spending in the Texas GOP Senate primary, dropping $1 million against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R). The group is backing former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz (R).

One for all: National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) was the guest at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Wednesday and said Republican House candidates will support Romney. "I know of not one Republican candidate who would not appear publicly with Mitt Romney, and I know many Democrats that don't even want to be in the same city, forget the same stage, as President Obama," Sessions said.

Endorsement watch: Sarah Palin is backing Nebraska state Sen. Deb Fischer (R) over her two Republican primary opponents in the race for retiring Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb.) seat. 

Endorsement watch part II: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) backed Rep. Connie Mack's (R-Fla.) bid for the Senate in Florida, calling Mack "a passionate defender and a tireless advocate for the ideals of less taxing, less spending, less government and more freedom." Mack faces former Sen. George LeMieux (Fla.) in the GOP primary; the winner will face Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) in the fall.

All locked up: A felon incarcerated in Texas took one in three votes away from President Obama in West Virginia's Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday. And Mitt Romney, of course, jabbed Obama about it.

Giffords’s special: The National Republican Congressional Committee has doubled its ad buy to $600,000.

Swiss Miss: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) now has duel citizenship — with Switzerland.


Please send tips and comments to Emily Goodin, egoodin@thehill.com; Cameron Joseph, cjoseph@thehill.com; and Josh Lederman, jlederman@thehill.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @hillballotbox, @emilylgoodin, @cam_joseph, @josh_lederman

You can sign up to receive this overnight update via email on The Hill’s homepage.