The Obama campaign wasted no time trampling on Mitt Romney's apparent victory in the GOP primary Tuesday afternoon after Rick Santorum bowed out of the race. Campaign manager Jim Messina ripped into Romney for the barrage of negative ads he used throughout the primary campaign.
“It’s no surprise that Mitt Romney finally was able to grind down his opponents under an avalanche of negative ads," Messina wrote in a press release. "But neither he nor his special interest allies will be able to buy the presidency with their negative attacks." As POLITICO noted this morning, squaring themselves to the reality that Republican super PAC funding is on pace to easily dwarf Democratic efforts, the Obama campaign has shifted its efforts to attacking the source of the conservative super PAC funds.
The president's re-election team had already been treating the nomination contest as essentially over. Obama launched a blistering attack on Romney tying the presumed nominee to Paul Ryan's budget plan during an AP luncheon last week, and his campaign has been pushing the Buffett Rule this week to highlight Romney's wealth in juxtaposition to his support for lowering taxes on the wealthy. But Messina's missive—ignoring Santorum's name, instead responding to "today’s developments in the campaign"—can be treated as the official start to the general-election bickering that is sure to continue for the next seven months. "While calling himself the ‘ideal candidate’ for the Tea Party," Messina wrote of Romney, "he has promised to return to the same policies that created the economic crisis and has alienated women, middle-class families, and Hispanic Americans." Those are all the attack lines the Obama campaign has been developing over the past several months; with Santorum out of the way, we'll finally be able to see how things might shake out as the public begins to pay attention to the general election ahead.