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Inside Politics: GOP mood brightens toward Romney’s odds

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Republicans riding high from a string of breaks in their favor are increasingly optimistic about Mitt Romney's chances to claim the White House in November.

That's even the sense among conservatives who had qualms about making the former Massachusetts governor the party's nominee.

The bullish take is reflected in interviews with party strategists and activists, including people who previously supported Romney rivals. Mood matters because it can fuel fundraising and volunteer hustle.

GOP players stress that Mr. Romney has little room for error if he is to topple President Obama.

The chest-thumping follows a GOP victory in Wisconsin's recall election. The race galvanized Republicans as an early referendum on conservative fiscal principles in an election likely to hinge on the shape of the economy.

CAMPAIGN

New Romney ad hits Obama on 'fine' economy

Presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney has released a Web video hammering President Obama for his assertion Friday that "the economy is doing fine."

The Romney campaign has paid for the 54-second spot, which opens with the president at a White House news conference.

The ad shows eight people talking about their experiences: staff cuts, job loss, personal bankruptcy, a two-year job hunt, no health care and a slashed pension, among other concerns. The ad closes with, "No, Mr. President, we are not doing fine."

Mr. Romney is using Mr. Obama's remark to cast the president as out of touch with the average American, a criticism the president's campaign has tried against Romney.

The economy with its stubborn 8.2 percent unemployment is the biggest issue for voters and a weak spot for Mr. Obama.

CAMPAIGN

GOP groups outspending Democrat counterparts

Independent Republican groups are heavily outspending their cross-party counterparts on television advertising in the campaigns for the White House and control of the Senate.

That's eating into President Obama's financial advantage over Mitt Romney and prompting expressions of alarm from top Democrats.

The disparity is most evident in the race for the White House.

Crossroads GPS, Restore Our Future and other organizations aligned with the Republicans spent nearly $37 million on TV ads through the first few days of June, most of it attacking Mr. Obama. That compares with about $11 million by groups supporting the president.

Senate campaigns have been affected, notably in Ohio, where Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown's commanding lead in the polls began to erode after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others started a televised attack.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama pays tribute to New York Giants

President Obama and New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin share the same goal — getting back to the White House next year.

Mr. Obama honored the Super Bowl champions Friday, noting the similarities between the Giants' 2008 championship and its most recent triumph.

"They ended up winning with a circus catch in the fourth quarter, MVP performance by Eli Manning ... a come-from-behind win over the Patriots. So this is all starting to sound kind of like deja vu all over again," Mr. Obama said.

In his speech, Mr. Coughlin injected some political references for a president in the heart of a re-election campaign, telling his team and guests on the South Lawn that he hoped coming back to the White House "was not a twice-in-a-lifetime experience."

"We both have a goal to get back here next year. We have a lot of work to do," Mr. Coughlin said to cheers and a pat on the back from Mr. Obama.

Mr. Coughlin noted that his team overcame a 7-7 start to win their final two regular-season games and win the NFC East. The Giants won four postseason games, capped by a 21-17 Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots.

The team presented Obama with a blue No. 44 jersey and a signed football.

FDA

Agency delays decision on drug to prevent HIV

Drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc. says federal health regulators have delayed a decision on whether to approve its drug Truvada as the first pill that prevents HIV infection.

Gilead Sciences said Friday that the Food and Drug Administration will take an additional three months to review its drug application, after the Foster City, Calif., company submitted additional materials earlier this month.

In May, a panel of experts recommended approval of the daily pill Truvada for healthy people who are at high risk of contracting HIV. The group's vote is nonbinding, but the FDA often follows its advice.

Gilead says it submitted updated details on its safety materials for patients and doctors using Truvada

KANSAS

Bob Dole's sister Norma Steele, dies

RUSSELL — Norma Jean Steele, the sister of former Sen. Bob Dole, died Wednesday in Russell. She was 86.

Mrs. Steele was born in 1925 to Bina Marie and Doran Ray Dole. Her husband, Allen Thomas Steele Jr., preceded her in death.

Mrs. Steele's survivors include Mr. Dole, a Republican who represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1996. He was the GOP presidential nominee in 1996, losing the election to President Clinton.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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