Presidential races

Presidential races

Bush's former press aide leading new RNC effort to beat Obama

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer will help lead a Republican National Committee effort to adjust and refine the party's national message heading into 2012.

Fleischer, who served as press secretary to former President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003, is set to steer the committee's "communicators group," according to an email from RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer.

The RNC is planning monthly conference calls with a group of GOP communications pros to discuss strengths and weaknesses of the party's messaging and disseminate ideas.

"As we enter a key presidential cycle at the RNC, we are putting together a group of top notch communicators inside and outside the beltway," Spicer wrote in an email to GOP insiders that went out Sunday night. "I am pleased to announce that former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer has agreed to help lead this group."

The RNC is holding its first call Tuesday morning, which will include Fleischer and Republican pollster Glen Bolger. It comes just a day after President Obama announced his reelection campaign with a video message to supporters.

Under former Chairman Michael Steele, the RNC's 2010 performance was widely panned despite a strong election cycle for Republicans nationally. New Chairman Reince Priebus has pledged to regain the trust of major donors and is working to rebuild the committee's political infrastructure.

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Ventura open to running for VP with Rep. Ron Paul

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Venura said he'd consider running on a national ticket with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

Paul, who sought the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, said last week that he will make a final decision on a 2012 White House bid "within a couple of months."

During an interview on "Good Morning America" Thursday, Ventura said he'd "give great consideration" to being Paul's vice presidential nominee, but only if Paul ran as an independent.

"I will not be a Democrat or Republican. They are the problem, not the solution. We need to abolish political parties in this country," he said.

Paul ran for president as a libertarian in 1988. Ventura, a former professional wrestler, served as governor from 1999-2003.

Ventura appeared promoting his new book, 63 Documents the Government Doesn't Want You to Read. He's also slated to go on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" on Monday.

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Gingrich spokesman: Obama reelect 'begins and ends with political extortion'

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's (R-Ga.) camp blasted President Obama's reelection announcement Monday, highlighting the potential for Obama to raise upwards of $1 billion for his 2012 race.

"With their announced goal of raising a billion dollars in order to drown out their opposition, one thing is certain: it begins and ends with political extortion," Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler said in a statement reacting to Obama's announcement.

The president made his bid for a second term official early in the day, distributing a video message to supporters.

In the video, titled "It begins with us," a series of Obama supporters talk about the need for a second term for the incumbent Democrat. In an accompanying email message, Obama wrote, "Today, we are filing papers to launch our 2012 campaign ... [E]ven though I'm focused on the job you elected me to do, and the race may not reach full speed for a year or more, the work of laying the foundation for our campaign must start today."

The former House speaker is the latest rumored 2012 hopeful to react to Obama's online reelection announcement Monday.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty released a video of his own earlier in the day, highlighting the economic downturn and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tweeted, "@barackobama I look forward to hearing details on your jobs plan, as are 14m unemployed Americans."

Once Obama files with the Federal Election Commission, his 2012 fundraising efforts can begin in earnest. Both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have met in recent weeks with supporters at events billed as non-fundraisers that have hosted a number of top donors whose financial support is likely to come quickly to the campaign.

In addition, the president has a major fundraiser scheduled for mid-April in Chicago, which could bring in millions for his campaign.

-Michael O'Brien contributed to this report.

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GOP 2012 hopefuls attack Obama's job record in response to reelection announcement

Several of President Obama's potential Republican challengers are firing back at the president's reelection announcement.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's (R) exploratory committee released a Web video highlighting the economic downturn and claimed that Obama lacks the right policies to right the ship, reports The Hill's Jordan Fabian.

"I got a question of you: How can America win the future when we're losing the present?" Pawlenty said, in a jab at one of Obama's main talking points. "In order for America to take a new direction, it's going to take a new president."

Pawlenty is one of of the few GOP contenders to announce an exploratory committee.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is expected to run but hasn't made a formal announcement.

He took to twitter, however, to criticized Obama's economic record, The Hill's Michael O'Brien reports.

"@barackobama I look forward to hearing details on your jobs plan, as are 14m unemployed Americans," he tweeted Monday.

Also expected to run is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose camp blasted Obama's reelection announcement Monday, highlighting the potential for Obama to raise upwards of $1 billion for his 2012 race, reports The Hill's Shane D'Aprile.

"With their announced goal of raising a billion dollars in order to drown out their opposition, one thing is certain: it begins and ends with political extortion," Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee used Obama's reelection announcement for fundraising pitch, asking supporters to help the committee raise "$270,000 in the next 72 hours - $1,000 for every electoral vote required to elect the next Republican president."

The RNC also attacked Obama's job record, releasing a web site and web ad entitled "Hope isn't Hiring."

"Despite a looming government shutdown, a new military operation in Libya and Tax Day around the corner, President Obama made the decision to focus on kicking off his billion dollar campaign," chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. "As the debt and reckless spending championed by this administration threatens to snuff out the recovery and future job growth, the president’s conscious decision to take a back seat on leadership is downright irresponsible. Simply put, America can’t afford four more years of Barack Obama.”

(We'll add reaction from other potential 2012 candidates as we get it). 

-- This post was updated at 1:44 p.m.

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Clinton: 'Ludicrous' birther claims will hurt GOP

Former President Bill Clinton dismissed the claims of so-called "birthers" as "ludicrous" in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" that aired Monday, warning Republicans against embracing questions about President Obama's birthplace.

"If I were them, I'd be really careful riding that birther horse too much," Clinton said. "Everyone knows it's ludicrous."

While the rumored field of Republican presidential hopefuls have largely dismissed "birtherism," real estate mogul Donald Trump has practically made it the centerpiece of his would-be campaign.

Trump is weighing a run for the GOP nomination next year, and in a series of recent TV interviews has demanded that Obama produce his birth certificate, arguing that questions over whether the president was born in the U.S. are legitimate.

It even led Trump to release his own birth certificate, which, as it turned out, was not his original birth certificate.  

During the 2008 campaign, Obama released a certificate of live birth after some critics first raised questions. Obama was born in Hawaii.

"I think he will fight back," Clinton said of Obama during the ABC interview, "but I think one of the elementary rules of combat is you don't want to get in your opponent's way if he's shooting himself in the foot."

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Poll: Young voters increasingly happy with Obama

President Obama's job-approval rating among young people has gone up, even as his overall approval rating has hit an all-time low in certain surveys.

A new poll of 18- to 29-year-olds by Harvard University's Institute of Politics (IOP) found 55 percent of so-called Millennials approve of Obama's presidency — a six-point increase over a similar IOP survey in October. His approval rating is even higher among those attending a four-year college, where 60 percent back Obama. That was a nine-point increase from the last survey.

A recent Quinnipiac University survey found Obama's approval rating at just 42 percent, but that survey was of registered voters. Harvard's poll was conducted in online surveys of 3,018 18- to 29-year-old U.S. citizens, and has a margin of error of 2.4 percent. It was in the field from Feb. 11 through March 2.

The findings are good news for Obama, who was propelled into the White House in 2008 with the votes and volunteer hours of millions of young people. Their renewed enthusiasm could help boost his reelection bid.

One other finding that emerged from the survey is that Facebook "statuses" are the second biggest source of news about the presidential race for Millenials. While major national newspapers were the preferred news source for 49 percent of respondents, 36 percent cited Facebook as their top go-to for political coverage.

This comes as campaigns have increasingly sought to boost their social-media presences. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), for instance, recently announced in a video posted on Facebook that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee.

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Rep. Ron Paul to decide on White House bid soon

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said Thursday that he will make a final decision on a 2012 White House bid "within a couple of months."

During an appearance on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," Paul said he nearly formed a presidential exploratory committee earlier this year, then backed off to think about it some more.

Paul noted that his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), recently said there is a 50-50 chance that he or his father will run for president.

With a laugh, the elder Paul said he would say there is a 50-50 chance that neither mounts a White House bid.

The House lawmaker, who lives with his son in Washington, said he and the senator have never talked seriously with one another about their possible 2012 aspirations.

--This story was updated at 10:55 a.m. 

Watch the Paul below:

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