WASHINGTON -- Everywhere you turn, President Obama is accused of not offering a clear second-term agenda. It's not surprising that Republicans say it, but you also hear it from quarters sympathetic to the president.But how true is the charge?The president does lack a crisp, here's-my-plan set of sound bites. What's less obvious is whether this should matter to anyone. Mitt Romney's own five-point plan sounds good, but is quite vague and, upon inspection, looks rather like five-point plans issued by earlier Republican presidential candidates. Moreover, Romney has been...
Why did Mitt Romney embarrass himself on Libya in this week’s debate? One possibility: Because he, and the Republican Party in general, have opened up an alarming policy deficit between themselves and Barack Obama and the Democrats.What I mean by that is that Romney, Republicans and conservatives have, in case after case, simply given up on crafting viable public policy. That wasn’t always the case. When Ronald Reagan took office, conservative think tanks were ready with a host of ideas for transforming what government did and the way it did it. As recently as the 2000...
Less than 48 hours before his final debate with President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney took a brief break from preparing and did what a lot of Americans do on Sunday. He turned to football.
While campaigning in Delray Beach, Fla., Romney traded in his suit and tie for shorts and sneakers, hitting the sand to watch a game between his aides and traveling reporters. The AP notes that Romney's main role was administering the coin toss. He also passed out a "Friday Night Lights" spinoff bracelet to the team captains.
More from the pool report:
“Let’s see look at the captain, Gail’s a captain is that right? Got a bracelet for you.This is a clear eyes full heart America can’t lose. All right?" Romney said to communications adviser Gail Gitcho.
"Ashley’s a captain. There ya go look at that," Romney said to The New York Times Ashley Parker.
"There ya go shake hands, shake hands," Romney told Gitcho and Parker.
Gitcho and Parker shook hands, and then Romney asked Parker if she was going to call the flip in the air.
"You’re going to call it really? You want it to hit the ground?” he asked her.
“You can catch if you want," Parker said.
Romney decided to throw it up and let it drop, and Parker called tails, and after searching for the coin in the sand, Gitcho found it and announced that it was tails.
“Tails it is! That’s the last call you guys are getting," Romney said.
Romney closed with an assessment of his staff's talent pool, adding "Where’s Chris Christie when we need him? He’s our line."
Below are PHOTOS from the big game at the beach:
The Romney campaign released a new TV ad Sunday contrasting Mitt Romney's tenure as governor of Massachusetts with President Barack Obama's first term in office, focusing on how Romney worked with a Democratic legislature while Obama has blamed his inability to "change Washington" on opposition from House Republicans.
The ad, called "Find a Way," is one of the few spots to highlight the Republican presidential nominee's record in Massachusetts. It seizes in particular on comments made by Obama last month, in which he expressed frustration at learning that he couldn't "change Washington from the inside." The argument was hardly new, but Romney quickly jumped on the statement as proof that Obama had failed to work with Congress and doesn't deserve another chance.
“Most Americans believe we are heading in the wrong direction," the narrator says in the ad. "Higher deficits, chronic unemployment, a president who admits he can't work with Congress.”
“But he's says he's only had 4 years. That's all Mitt Romney needed," he continues. "He turned Massachusetts around, cut unemployment, turned the deficit he inherited into a rainy day fund. All with an 85% Democratic legislature. Some can't live up to their promises. Others find a way.”
The Obama campaign had focused its efforts on Romney's term as Massachusetts governor earlier this cycle, charging that he was unable to meet his promises and spur job growth while governing the state from 2003 to 2007. In its response to Romney's new ad, Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith resurrected those points and attributed them to "Romnesia," the phrase the president's reelection team has coined to characterize Romney's recent pivot to the middle.
"If his latest ad is any indication, Mitt Romney’s Romnesia is only getting worse," Smith said in an email. "But he is right on one point - he only needed four years as governor of Massachusetts."
"That’s because in just one term, Romney drove the state down to 47th out of 50th in job creation, increased per capita debt to the largest in the nation, left his successor a $1 billion deficit, and pushed through a tax cut that overwhelmingly benefited 278 of the wealthiest residents while raising taxes and fees on everyone else," she added. "And he did all of this while refusing to work across the aisle. Mitt Romney wouldn’t make Washington better - he’d make it worse."
For a final set of fundraisers, these events came with all the trimmings.
After more than a year of cross-country traveling to boost his campaign's financial resources, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney held his last go-arounds in Palm Beach, Fla. on Saturday night.
The 150 individuals who attended the Ross-Romney event needed to have a hefty check ready, as the Palm Beach Post reports that each plate carried a $50,000 cost.
ABC News added that Romney held a $5,000-per-ticket gathering earlier on Saturday at the home of Dwight Schar -- part-time owner of the NFL's Washington Redskins and founder of homebuilding company NVR Inc.
In their final push for the White House, both Romney and President Barack Obama have held events with massive entry fees. Obama's September 2012 fundraiser with Jay-Z and Beyonce at a New York nightclub posted a $40,000 buy-in. Romney's July 2012 fundraiser at David Koch's Hamptons estate netted $50,000 per guest, drawing protesters in the process.
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- Republican Mitt Romney on Sunday refused to say if he would be open to one-on-one talks with Iran if elected president.
The presidential candidate took time away from debate preparations to officiate the coin toss at a flag football game between reporters and his senior campaign aides. But he did not answer questions about how he would handle talks about the Middle Eastern country's nuclear program, how he was feeling about the Monday night debate with President Barack Obama or about a new poll showing a close race.
"I thought you were talking about one-on-one talks with the president, I was about to answer," Romney joked when a reporter assigned to cover his visit to the beach game asked about Iran.
He also refused to answer a follow-up question about whether he felt about this week's debate with Obama, which is focused on foreign policy.
"Ready for football," Romney said.
The White House on Saturday said Obama's administration is prepared to talk one-on-one with Iran to find a diplomatic settlement to the impasse over Tehran's reported pursuit of nuclear weapons, though there's no agreement now to meet.
While Romney's campaign has not addressed the specific proposal, the Republican has taken a hawkish line on Iran and its suspected attempts to develop a nuclear weapon. Romney has said he would tighten sanctions on the country, though he has not specified how.
Despite unprecedented global penalties, Iran's nuclear program is advancing as it continues to defy international pressure, including four rounds of sanctions from the U.N. Security Council, to prove that its atomic intentions are peaceful.
Those sanctions, coupled with tough measures imposed by the United States and European nations are taking their toll, particularly on Iran's economy. Iranian authorities have in recent weeks been forced to quell protests over the plummeting value of the country's currency. The rial lost nearly 40 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar in a week in early October, but has since slightly rebounded.
The topic is likely to come up during Monday's debate on foreign policy.
With less than three weeks before Election Day, Romney on Sunday headed to Delray Beach, where senior staffers were gathered across from the press team, all in flag football uniforms. Romney walked down through the sand to officiate the coin toss and buck up his team.
The former Massachusetts governor handed bracelets to both team captains, reporter Ashley Parker and Romney Communications Director Gail Gitcho. He told them the bracelets read, "Clear eyes, full hearts, America can't lose." It's a version of the slogan from TV's "Friday Night Lights."
After the coin toss, Romney gathered his aides into a huddle and led them in a cheer.
"Figure out which of their players is best and take them out early," Romney said jokingly. "That's right, don't worry about injuries guys, this counts. Win."
The Associated Press did not participate in the football game.
byRick MoranBioWith less than three weeks to go until the election, both camps are on edge, hoping not to make a fatal misstep while praying their opponent stumbles. At this point, gaffe recovery would be problematic and the unfortunate candidate who shoots himself in the foot may think seriously of finishing the job by aiming the gun to his head.You can smell the desperation in the crazy attacks mounted by both campaigns and their thousands of surrogates on the web and social media in the last 72 hours. Romney's "binder"comment was inexplicably seized upon by Obama...
The unrepentant neo-cons and backbenchers on Mitt Romney's foreign policy team, such as Dan Senor and Cofer Black, always advise their candidate to attack signs of "weakness" coming from President Obama. The Administration's announcement of direct talks between the U.S. and Iran should be welcomed as good news by those who don't wish to see yet another bloodbath in the Middle East but Romney can be counted on to condemn the diplomatic breakthrough as insufficiently hawkish. The news that Obama has chosen dialogue over saber-rattling gives Romney the opportunity to vent his criticism at the sole foreign policy debate that falls on the 50th anniversary of the night when President John F. Kennedy first made public the existence of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.
Fifty years ago, President Kennedy, after being informed that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev had deployed intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Cuba, was able to move beyond his knee jerk reaction to bomb and invade the island. Fortunately, over the course of days Kennedy tempered his response by adding statesmanship to his brinkmanship. The idea of bombing Cuba followed by a ground invasion was sidelined in favor of more incremental pressures: seeking multilateral assistance while enforcing a Naval "quarantine" of Soviet vessels to give negotiations more time.
As the United States tries to assess the danger of Iran becoming a nuclear power the lessons of JFK's dealing with the Soviets over the change in the nuclear status quo is more relevant than ever.
The bluster and war mongering of repeating the mantra "all options are on the table" needlessly heightens tensions and makes war more likely if it is not accompanied by face-saving ways out of the crisis. The U.S.'s adversary du jour, (in this case the fallible clerics who run the Islamic Republic of Iran), typically do not respond well to military threats of air strikes, "red lines," or "axis of evil" rhetoric (thank you David Frum). These kinds of intimidating tactics coming from a nuclear power that can lay waste to Iran, although favored by the neo-cons who brought us the disastrous war in Iraq, if devoid of any links to a pathway out of the confrontation amount to little more than bullying and belligerence. In the case of Iran, the threat of "the use of force" after years of George W. Bush's calamitous policies in the region do nothing to dissuade the Ayatollahs from continuing their nuclear enrichment program.
Iran remains a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which has safeguards and allowances for the civilian uses of nuclear power. The best U.S. intelligence analyses conclude that Iran is not building an atomic bomb.
If President Kennedy could offer an off-ramp from disaster to Nikita Khrushchev, who was at the time the U.S.'s most bombastic ideological foe who possessed a nuclear arsenal big enough to do serious damage, then a sitting U.S. president today can give Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (a far weaker adversary) a similar face-saving out of the current "crisis."
Through secret backchannels, Kennedy offered Khrushchev sweeteners in the form of offering to remove the U.S.'s Jupiter missiles from Turkey and pledging not to invade the island in exchange for the Soviets agreeing to take their missiles out of Cuba. Any public ultimatum ("red line") against Iran absent of private offers of concessions amounts to nothing more than war mongering.
A wiser policy toward Iran more akin to the one Kennedy applied to Cuba during the missile crisis would be to take the military option "off the table," quiet down the noise level from actors in the U.S. and in the region (such as Bibi Netanyahu) who are screaming for a war, and deal with Iran on terms of mutual respect and a realist recognition of shared interests. This dual-track policy appears to be where President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are heading. It is the only policy that can defuse the "crisis." There is no military solution.
Let's not forget that in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks Iran offered to help the United States track down Al Qaeda and has assisted in stemming the drug traffic out of Afghanistan. And let's also not forget that the Reagan Administration armed the government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the mid-1980s in an attempt (according to Reagan) to open up a "dialogue." And let's not further forget that it was the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency that in August 1953 overthrew the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh and installed the Shah Reza Pahlavi. The CIA coup d'état, organized from within the U.S. embassy in Tehran, re-wrote that nation's history denying Iran in the early 1950s what might be called today a "Persian Spring."
There has never been an adequate American acknowledgement that the U.S. was responsible for propping up a dictatorship in Iran under the Shah for 25 years, which set the stage for the 1979 revolution that brought the clerics to power in the first place. The recent history of American-Iranian relations, which has been a lengthy series of underhanded and failed policies, must be taken into account. A little humility on the American side could go a long way.
In October 1962, President Kennedy's sobering experience during the missile crisis led directly to his American University speech of June 1963 where he called for an end to the demonization and brinkmanship of the Cold War. The crisis also put the Atmospheric Test-Ban Treaty on the front burner of his priorities and Kennedy spent considerable political "capital" in prodding the U.S. Senate to ratify the treaty.
Had Kennedy decided to bomb and invade Cuba it would have been popular with the hardliners around him and with American public opinion. But it is also highly likely that one of the 98 tactical nuclear bombs on the island would have been detonated over the heads of U.S. marines. (There had been good cause for politicians and other residents of Washington to begin readying bunkers and bomb shelters.)
On October 22, 1962, in announcing the existence of the missiles President Kennedy chillingly told the world that any detonation of a nuclear device in the Western Hemisphere would be considered "an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union." Yet he understood that Khrushchev would have to brush back the hardliners inside his own government. Imposing a U.S. Navy "quarantine" of Soviet ships heading for Cuba and bringing in the United Nations and allies to help find a way out of the crisis was the least pugnacious of the military options and it bought time for negotiations.
Robert F. Kennedy was sent as his brother's emissary to privately talk to the Kremlin-connected journalist, Georgi Bolshakov, and to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. The U.S. offered to dismantle its Jupiter missiles in Turkey and agreed not to try to topple the Castro regime. In late 1963, Kennedy even sent out feelers to the Cuban government that normalizing U.S. relations might be a possibility if Castro agreed to certain conditions, such as limiting the Soviet military presence. Although these efforts were cut short by Kennedy's assassination they illustrate that he was willing to make substantial concessions and push against the Cold War orthodoxy of the period that took as gospel that the Soviets only respected threats of massive violence.
With the ongoing partisan attacks against President Obama when facing challenges in a more complicated world than existed a half century ago, along with his ill-advised escalation of drone attacks that only increase tensions and create new enemies, the last thing this country needs is to blunder itself into another misguided war. What's needed when dealing with Iran and its nuclear program is the cautious pragmatism and willingness to bend and make concessions that characterized President Kennedy's strategy 50 years ago.
During the missile crisis the United States and the Soviet Union sidelined regional actors who called for military actions that would be in nobody's interest (including those demanding it). And like the crisis of 1962 the tensions with Iran in 2012 can be lessened with a greater willingness to compromise, the offering of concessions, and a recognition that war will only bring added misery and hardship to the people in that part of the world who have already endured enough.
Romney will no doubt go on the offensive against Obama's new Iran initiative decrying it as "weak" and not aligned with his neo-con proclivities. The Right's echo chamber will denounce the timing of the announcement of talks with Iran as an "October Surprise." But we mustn't allow their shrill, politicized whining about sensible diplomatic overtures drown out the crucial need for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Unfortunately, neither candidate today could make the kind of speech that President Kennedy delivered in June 1963 without enduring considerable political fallout. Kennedy said in his American University address:
"[H]istory teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors. So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all people to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly towards it... For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal ... [W]e shall ... do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid, we must labor on -- not towards a strategy of annihilation but towards a strategy of peace."
BELMONT, Ohio -– A few hundred hearty souls stood for more than two hours Saturday, in a sometimes-driving rain and temperatures in the upper 40s, waiting for Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan to show up at this southeast Ohio town, in the heart of coal country.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney and Ryan haven't spent much time in this part of the state. Out of 45 visits to Ohio by the two since June, Romney's Aug. 14 appearance in Bealsville was the only trip besides Ryan's to this corner of the state, according to a catalog of candidate travel by The Washington Post.
But they are planning more trips here in the closing days of the campaign, Romney aides said. While the region is not densely populated, there are many counties which, if Romney is able to squeeze votes out of enough of them, could provide the edge he needs in a contest expected to be razor thin.
Two polls released Saturday showed the race in Ohio tightening. A Public Policy Polling survey gave President Barack Obama a 1-point lead, 49-48, down from a 51-46 advantage a week ago. A second poll, by Gravis Marketing, showed the two men tied.
Romney has been pulling close to Obama in Ohio, but has not been able to establish a clear tie or a small advantage. He pulled closer after his successful first debate, on Oct. 3, but has been unable to overtake Obama so far.
Southeast Ohio may be the area that helps Romney get there, his campaign says.
Obama will win the solid Democratic territory of northeast Ohio, around Cleveland, handily. Columbus, in the center of the state, gives a slight edge to the president, and the margins of victory for Obama in the city versus the margins for Romney in the Columbus suburbs will be key. The optimal scenario for Romney is if Franklin County, and the counties around Columbus, are close to a draw.
Republicans believe they are in very strong shape in southwest Ohio, around Cincinnati, in Hamilton County but especially in the counties around Hamilton. A senior Obama campaign official based in Ohio predicted Obama will win Hamilton again, like he did in 2008, despite the fact that George W. Bush won the county twice in 2000 and 2004.
But the Obama official, who asked not to be named so he could speak more frankly about strategy, said Romney will "get more votes out of southwest Ohio."
"Warren and Butler and Clermont counties -- that ring around Cincinnati -- is a Republican area. We did better than [2004 Democratic presidential nominee] John Kerry did," he said. "We'll get 31 percent instead of 29 percent like Kerry."
The rural counties in the northwest are also solidly for Romney.
Romney's recipe for victory then works like this: a smaller victory than normal for Obama in Cuyahoga County in the northeast, as close to a tie as possible in the central part of the state around Columbus, a stronger than normal victory in the southwest, and then key strategic victories in small counties in the southeast, increasing margins of victory from the past or reducing Obama's margins in traditionally strong Democratic counties.
"I assume that they're probably figuring they're not going to get any more votes out of Toledo, they're not going to get any more votes out of the auto-type of zone up in northern Ohio, because of the auto loan stuff, so southeast is the one place where they think they can peel off some votes, because it's probably a little more culturally conservative," the Obama campaign adviser said.
But he added that Romney has less appeal in that part of the state than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin –- the Republican ticket in 2008 -– did four years ago.
Belmont County, where Ryan appeared Saturday, has gone Democratic the last three elections, but it was one of the Ohio regions where Obama got a smaller margin of victory than Kerry did in 2004.
This was a trend in Ohio in 2008. In fact, Obama got fewer votes in Ohio statewide (2,708,685) than Kerry did (2,741,167).
The reason Obama won Ohio by a relatively comfortable 4 points, despite this fall-off, is that McCain lost so many more votes. While Obama dropped down 30,000 votes, McCain got almost 400,000 fewer votes (2,501,855) than Bush did in 2004 (2,859,768).
Even Cleveland's Cuyahoga County, despite its huge Democratic numbers, gave Obama fewer votes than it gave Kerry four years prior. Obama got just under 442,000 votes, compared to Kerry's 448,500. But McCain allowed the Democratic margin in the county to go up nonetheless, getting just 196,400 votes compared to Bush's 221,600.
Each part of the state has a targeted message. In the southeast, Republicans are hammering Obama over coal. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel called Obama, "the general in the war on coal" at the rain-soaked rally Saturday. In Marietta, where Romney's son Tagg campaigned Friday, a huge billboard overlooking the highway reads, "President Obama's bureaucrats are eliminating coal jobs. Vote for coal."
Ryan told the crowd in Belmont Saturday, "The one thing you can do is elect a man named Mitt Romney who will end this war on coal and allow us to keep these good paying jobs."
Democrats countered with a press release touting the stimulus money and jobs injected into the county since the president took office: $49 million and 1,300 jobs.
But the main strategy of the Obama campaign has been to "muddy the waters," as one Democrat put it, primarily by raising doubts about Romney's commitment to coal, and capitalizing on an inherent distrust among many in the Ohio Valley toward the ultra wealthy. It is a strategy that, if successful, will tamp down enthusiasm and turnout in the region.
The tag line that comes at the end of the two pro-Obama ads running only in Ohio –- one focused on coal miners and the other focused on Romney's position on the auto bailouts -– is brutal: "Mitt Romney: Not One Of Us."
Playing up Romney's "47 percent" remarks is part of this strategy, and former President Bill Clinton told a large rally just outside Steubenville on Thursday that Romney's concern for the working class was just an act.
"Romney says, 'Forget about all that stuff I said for two years in the Republican primary. I won't mention it if you don't. Let's just pretend it didn't happen,'" he said.
"'I'm a jobs guy,'" Clinton said, continuing to mimic Romney. "'I have discovered that you haven't got a pay raise in 10 years. And now I care about it.'"
Clinton's voice trailed downward in mock sadness, and then his eyes went wide, and both hands went up to the side, all five fingers extended. "'And I'm a jobs guy!'"
Democrats are also reminding voters that in 2003, Romney stood in front of a coal plant in Massachusetts, where he was governor at the time and said, "That plant kills people."
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, introducing Clinton on Thursday, mentioned Romney's 2003 remark, and then said that Romney was "anti-coal" as a governor.
"He boasted, he boasted about his strict environmental regulations," Strickland said. "A coal miner voting for Mitt Romney is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders, and we know what Colonel Sanders does to chickens, do we not?"
Romney has his own ad hitting Obama on coal, showing a coal miner saying that Obama's policies "are attacking my livelihood."
Romney Ohio spokesman Chris Maloney fired back at Democrats on Saturday. "Obama's burdensome regulations have hindered coal production and resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs throughout the coal industry. As president, Mitt Romney will promote an all-of-the-above energy policy that harnesses America's coal and other energy resources to help create jobs across the nation."
Mike Carey, chairman of the Ohio Coal Association, said that coal production has decreased in the last two years, because of regulations, from 1.2 trillion tons to 816 million tons, roughly. "When you look at all of the layoffs that have been announced from West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and even here in Ohio, that is directly related to the amount of coal that's gone down and is out of production."
But the fusillades and the upcoming visits by candidates mean that coal country is going to matter a lot over the next couple of weeks, in a state where victory is crucial for both Obama and Romney.
WASHINGTON -- No one would call it a "surge," but the national tracking polls are beginning to show signs of a slight uptick for President Barack Obama.
The most recent national tracking surveys released as of Saturday continue to produce a mixed result in terms of the nominal leader, although all but one show a relatively close race between Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. With the exception of the Gallup Daily tracking poll none produces margins for the leader large enough to be considered statistically significant for any individual poll.
However, the most recent releases of five of the six tracking polls show net movement to Obama or away from Romney of between 1 and 4 percentage points compared to results from interviews conducted by each pollster between the first and second presidential debates.
Two of these polls -- the automated telephone surveys conducted by Rasmussen Reports and the Democratic Party affiliated firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) -- have been completed since the debate on Oct. 16. The rest continue to report on interviews conducted just before and after.
But again, five of the six show at least a 1 percentage point gain for Obama. Gallup is once again the exception, showing a 4-point net gain for Romney since early October.
The net effect is barely visible on the national popular vote chart produced by the HuffPost Pollster poll tracking model, which takes all public polls, both national and statewide, into account. As of Saturday evening, the chart shows Obama with a razor-thin margin over Romney (47.2 to 46.8 percent), which represents a gain of just under a half a percentage point over the last six days.
While Obama's razor-thin advantage in the popular vote as estimated by the model and the change over the last seven days are both still too small to be considered statistically significant, the model's reported confidence that Obama is leading the national popular vote has ticked up from 50 to 65 percent over the past week.
At the state level, polls continue to generally confirm the results of the past two weeks. Romney has certainly gained in the battleground states since the first debate. He now leads in North Carolina, Florida and -- by a whisker -- Virginia. Yet the poll tracking model continues to show Romney trailing Obama by 2 percentage points or more in Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin and Nevada. These states would combine with other states where Obama is further ahead to get him to 277 electoral votes, slightly more than 270 needed to win.
State level surveys so far provide less opportunity to assess change since the second debate, since most of the most recent polls were either still in the field before the debate or did not conduct a prior survey before the first debate in Denver. The one firm that produced polling snapshots before-and-after the second debate is Rasmussen Reports, and its surveys appear to indicate slight gains for Romney.
Two of Rasmussen's recent polls (in Ohio and Wisconsin) show no net change since before the second debate, two (in Virginia and Florida) show a 1-point net shift to Romney and a third (in North Carolina) shows a 3-point net gain. The average net shift to Romney or away from Obama is 1 percentage point.
There is a catch, however. Rasmussen is one of the few pollsters to routinely weight its samples so they match predetermined targets for the percentage of likely voters that identify as Democrats or Republicans. The catch, as Rasmussen Reports confirms to The Huffington Post, is that its weighting targets are now adjusting on a weekly basis to match the average party identification for likely voters measured on their last six weeks of calling (after weighting for demographics, but not for party). So the party weights for the past recent week may be slightly different than the party weights the week before.
More important, the weight targets for Rasmussen's national samples grew slightly more Republican in mid-October. Although the data are published on pages available to paid subscribers only, Rasmussen indicates that the national interviews for the week of Oct. 8 to 14 gave Democrats a 1-point edge over Republicans (38 to 37 percent). The party balance for the two prior weeks, Oct. 1 to 7 and Sept. 24 to 30, was a 3-point Democratic advantage (39 to 36 percent).
In the past, Scott Rasmussen has explained that the state-level party weighting targets are derived, in part, from national numbers and the "national shifts appear to provide a good indicator" of mid-year changes at the state level.
A 3-point shift toward a more Republican identification would more than explain the one-point shift to Romney in the five states Rasmussen surveyed this week.
Again, the upticks shown for Obama in all but one of the national trackers are slight so far. Even if confirmed by further tracking they may represent little more than a regression to the mean of a 2 percentage point lead in the polling averages that polls have shown for much of 2012.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed the second presidential debate as occurring on Oct. 15, 2012. The event in fact took place on Oct. 16, 2012.
Boston.comClassifieds:Log In October 20, 2012Jason Reed/Reuters (left); Evan Vucci/Associated PressPresident Obama addressed a crowd Friday at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan shared a laugh at an airport in Daytona Beach, Fla. To Add a message Your e-mail WASHINGTON — With just over two weeks before voters head to the polls, the presidential campaigns are bearing down on the same swing states that have been the focus for the past year, but they...
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Former President Bill Clinton said Friday that President Barack Obama is facing a tough re-election race because "impatient" Americans haven't fully recognized an economy on the mend.
Campaigning for Obama in Green Bay, Wis., Clinton urged voters to stay the course as more signs of a recovery sink in. Clinton said voters should judge Obama on the past three years, in which private sector job growth has made up for lost ground.
"This shouldn't be a race," Clinton said. "The only reason it is, is because Americans are impatient on things not made before yesterday and they don't understand why the economy is not totally hunky-dory again."
The former president said Obama's difficulty in his race with Republican challenger Mitt Romney is that "people don't feel it yet" even as the unemployment rate ticks down and the manufacturing sector perks up. Clinton said Obama deserves credit for stabilizing a situation that saw the country hemorrhage jobs well into his first year.
"Gov. Romney acts like from the minute the president took his hand off the Bible he was responsible for every lost job," Clinton said.
Everywhere he goes, Romney argues that the tepid recovery is grounds for a change. The shape of the economy consistently tops lists of voter concerns.
A local police official said 2,200 turned out to hear Clinton at a college fieldhouse. Clinton won Wisconsin in both of his presidential campaigns.
Republicans think they can flip the state, which hasn't gone to them since 1984. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan is on Romney's ticket and has campaigned heavily in the state in the past few months.
Too bad Sam Gibbons isn't still around to advise President Obama on the central issue of the 2012 election.
That was my first thought after hearing that the 92-year-old former Democratic congressman from Florida died on October 10 at his home in Tampa, two days after Obama and Mitt Romney sparred at their second debate over -- among other things -- how to fix the economy.
It prompted me to dig out a column I wrote for The Hill in June 1995, after interviewing Gibbons when his brief stint as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee was terminated as Republicans regained control of the House in the watershed election of 1994.
My column, headlined "Sam Gibbons: Sisyphus of tax reform," was inspired by his effort to replace the impossibly complicated federal tax code with a simple value-added tax. And even though he admitted it had little chance of passage, I think it's an idea that Obama, could, and should, support today. Here's what I wrote at the time:
Rep. Sam Gibbons sat me down the other day and tried to explain why it would be a good thing for the country if I quit paying federal income and Social Security taxes.
Naturally, the idea appealed to me since it would instantly increase the size of my take-home pay. And my employer would be happy too, since under a radical new tax proposal crafted by the veteran Florida Democrat, businesses no longer would pay any corporate income taxes.
The bad news is: The value-added tax proposed by the former acting chairman and now ranking minority member of the House Ways and Means Committee won't be enacted before my next Visa bill comes due. In face, given the mortality tables, it probably won't be enacted in the 75-year-old Gibbons' lifetime, and perhaps not even in mine.
"But it will happen eventually, predicts Gibbons, who in testimony before his Ways and Means colleagues earlier this month, laid out his plan to repeal all federal personal and corporate income and most payroll taxes - state taxes are not affected - and replace them with a simple value-added tax (VAT).
"When I went on the committee 26 years ago, I was going to be a great reformer and make our income tax system simpler and more fair," Gibbons said, his craggy features framed by a postcard view of the Capitol beyond his Rayburn Building window. "But I've come to the conclusion that it really can't be fixed, and that the current system should be replaced."
Gibbons, who ran the tax-writing committee during the 103rd Congress after longtime Chairman Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois was indicted, says the current Byzantine tax system is so complex and so riddled with sacred cows "that politically, you can't get the votes to change it much.
"We haven't changed it a hell of a lot in the last 30 years," says the decorated World War II paratrooper who landed at Normandy on D-Day. "We've nibbled around the edges but the biggest burden remains about the same," which falls most heavily on lower and middle income families. This doesn't' include the "very, very regressive" FICA or Social Security tax, which Gibbons say hits average wage earners the hardest.
Gibbons would replace this "maze of complexity" with a broadly based, uniformly applied value-added tax (VAT), which he emphasizes is a "pure consumption tax" and not a national retail sales tax. The tax would be collected, and paid, by all incorporated and unincorporated businesses, with a single rate set at the level necessary to replace the repealed taxes.
The taxable amount, explains Gibbons, would be its economic "value-added," which would be the amount it earns, if any, from the sales of all goods and services, except exports, after deducting all payments for goods and services purchased from other businesses.
Gibbons maintains that his tax reform plan is simpler and fairer than the current system. While it wouldn't change the current distributions of the tax burden, which averages 23.9 percent across the board, it would provide rebates to low and moderate income individuals, either through an earned income credit or direct payment. It also would bolster American competitiveness by stemming the loss of American jobs because the VAT would apply to sales of imported goods and services but not to exports.
Now in his 33rd year in Congress, Gibbons may be an endangered species as a New Deal-Great Society Southern Democrat. But he's convinced that much of the distrust of Washington that fed the Republican revolution of 1994 is due to the unfairness and horrendous complexity of the nation's tax system. However long it takes - or however much time he has left - he's determined to change that."
Gibbons, who helped shape much of President Johnson's Great Society program, retired in 1996 after 34 years in Congress. He never achieved his goal of reforming the federal tax system, but I hope that someday, someone inspired by his example, will make his dream a reality.
WASHINGTON -- After months of warning President Barack Obama that his message on economic success could be off-putting to voters, Democratic strategists James Carville and Stanley Greenberg reported Friday that his economy ads are working better than they had expected.
Carville and Greenberg, who run the public opinion polling and strategic advice group Democracy Corps, have long expressed concern that Obama may seem out of touch by emphasizing the gains his administration has made on the economy.
"I'm worried that when the White House or the campaign talks about the progress that’s being made, people take that as a signal that they think that things are fine and people don’t feel they ought to believe that," Carville said on ABC's "Good Morning America" in June.
Their advice was that Obama should focus his economic message on the future. Since then, the president has done both. Carville and Greenberg wrote Friday that talking about current and future policies seemed to be showing success.
"Our fear was that the progress message would sound out of touch and fail to give those voters who are on the edge financially hope that life would be better in a second term, particularly when Mitt Romney was on the air with his plans to create 12 million jobs," Carville and Greenberg wrote in a memo. "Fortunately, the survey confirms the utility of both the progress/don’t go back and future policy messages."
Democracy Corps conducted web surveys this week to test the effectiveness of two Obama ads. One compared an Obama campaign ad featuring actor Morgan Freeman talking about the president's economic achievements with an ad from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The other compared an ad on Obama's plans for the future with an ad on Romney's plans.
Carville and Greenberg found both Obama ads were viewed more favorably than Romney's by those who took the survey. The ad featuring Freeman -- which was of particular concern to the advisers because of its message on gains in the economy -- also tested well, as they wrote, "allaying fears that the campaign had made a premature turn to underscore economic gains on the economy that have emerged in the last month."
Still, they wrote that neither strategy on talking about the economy seemed to work equally across the board. Swing voters, seniors and white non-college-educated voters responded well to the ad on the progress made by Obama, while minorities and self-identified Democrats were more drawn to the ad on his plans for the future.
Carville and Greenberg spoke in May 2010 about the political challenges of dealing with the economy, advising the White House to focus on fiscal responsibility and job growth.
"The hardest thing to do in all of political communications is how do you deal with a bad but somewhat improving economy," Carville said. "And the skill, or the way to thread the needle in saying things are getting better when people don't feel like they are getting better. ... We fought with it and didn't do that great a job in the early years of the Clinton administration. It is not like someone has the holy grail of how to do this."
What's happening in your district? The Huffington Post wants to know about all the campaign ads, mailers, robocalls, candidate appearances and other interesting campaign news happening by you. Email any tips, videos, audio files or photos to email@example.com.
Abortion rights are at risk state by state with Republicans in charge, according to a new mailing from a super PAC affiliated with Planned Parenthood. The mailer, which targets female voters in Richmond and Northern Virginia, says presidential candidate Mitt Romney and U.S. Senate candidate George Allen would "overturn Roe v. Wade." That would "allow states to end safe, legal abortion even in cases of rape, incest or when a woman's life is at risk," the ad says. Romney and Allen have both gone on record as opposed ...>> More
Our regularly scheduled forecast update for Wednesday slipped through the cracks. The FiveThirtyEight forecast was not much changed based on Wednesday’s polls, however, with Barack Obama’s chances of winning the Electoral College increasing incrementally to 65.7 percent from 64.8 percent.We’ll catch up with Thursday’s polls with the next update. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on one particular survey, the Gallup national tracking poll.The Gallup national tracking poll now shows a very strong lead for Mitt Romney. As of Wednesday, he was...
During a town hall presidential debate in which audience members got to ask the questions, one woman asked Mitt Romney how he would differ from the last Republican to occupy the White House: George W. Bush. "Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election," said undecided voter Susan Katz. "What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?" Romney detailed several ways he would depart from ...>> More
President Obama should propose that the nation's biggest banks be broken up and their size capped, and that the Glass-Steagall Act be resurrected.
It's good policy, and it would smoke out Mitt Romney as being of, by, and for Wall Street -- and not on the side of average Americans.
It would also remind America that five years ago Wall Street's excesses almost ruined the economy. Bankers, hedge-fund managers, and private-equity traders speculated on the upside, then shorted on the downside -- in a vast zero-sum game that resulted in the largest transfer of wealth from average Americans to financial elites ever witnessed in this nation's history.
Most of us lost big -- including over $7 trillion of home values, a $700-billion-dollar bailout of Wall Street, and continuing high unemployment.
But the top 1 percent have done just fine. In the first year of the recovery they reaped 93 percent of the gains. The latest data show them back with 20 to 25 percent of the nation's total income -- just where they were in 2007.
The stock market has about caught up to where it was before the crash. The pay and bonuses on the Street are once again sky-high. So are the pay and perks of top corporate executives. The Forbes list of richest Americans contains more billionaires than ever.
And the tax rates of the top 1 percent are lower than ever -- courtesy of their armies of lobbyists.
Mitt Romney, private equity manager and financier -- well within the top one-tenth of 1 percent, collecting more than $20 million a year yet paying 14 percent in taxes because of tax preferences for capital gains and for private-equity -- is the avatar for all that's happened.
Just like the rest of the Street, Romney used other peoples' money to make big bets, leveraging like mad, pumping and then dumping companies regardless of the human costs.
Worse, Romney wants to cut taxes even further on the top 1 percent -- giving them them lion's share of a $4.7 trillion tax cut -- while shredding safety nets the rest of us rely on.
And he wants to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act that goes some way to preventing the worst excesses of the Street.
And this man has an almost 50-50 chance of becoming president?
The President should counter Romney's extraordinary solicitude toward the Street with a proposal to cap the size of the nation's biggest banks so that no bank is ever again too big to fail. And to resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act, which once separated commercial from investment banking.
In the 1980s the ten biggest banks had less than 30 percent of bank depositary assets. Now they have 54 percent. And the four biggest now dominate the Street almost completely. Because lenders and investors know they're too big to fail, the four biggest banks have a competitive advantage over smaller rivals that pose larger financial risks. That means they'll only get bigger.
Breaking up the biggest banks and capping the size of all banks is hardly a radical suggestion these days. The Dallas Federal Reserve Board, which has never been accused of excessive liberalism, has called for it. So has Sanford Weill, the creator of Citigroup, one of the biggest of the big. So has Daniel Tarullo, the Federal Reserve governor charged with bank regulation. So have conservative commentators such as George Will.
It's not too late for the President to advocate these measures. In fact, now may be the perfect time. Besides, it's not as if Wall Street is going to pour campaign contributions into Obama's coffers anyway; the Street is going with Mitt.
Calling for a breakup of the biggest banks and a resurrection of Glass Steagall would smoke out Mitt Romney -- revealing clearly and decisively he's not on the side of most Americans.
ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage," now available in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.
During the town hall presidential debate, Mitt Romney accused Barack Obama of strangling small businesses with too much regulation. That's been a popular theme with Republicans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who have complained about a "tsunami" of new regulations under Obama since 2010. Asked by one of the town hall participants about outsourcing, Romney gave his prescription for keeping jobs in the United States. First he spoke about the corporate tax rate, which he believes is too high and prevents job creation. Then he turned to regulations. "Regulations ...>> More
President Obama recently conceded that his 2008 vow to "get us out of his polarizing debate... and actually get things done" may have been a bit "naive" considering the current level of gridlock caging Congress. But that hasn't stopped Mitt Romney from resurrecting the promise as his own this cycle - after all, the GOP nominee said during Tuesday's debate: He's done it before, he'll do it again."What we have right now in Washington is a place that's gridlocked," Romney said during the second presidential debate at Hoftra University in...
Barack Obama reappeared tonight. He seemed to own Governor Romney on issues of foreign policy, women, immigration, the 47 percent and with a fatal blow regarding the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya. Don't get me wrong, Mitt was no wimp, and Obama was no progressive, but Obama had the better plans, the better attacks and the better handle on the truth than Romney.
The president called out the funny math of Romney's claims that he can lower taxes across the board and not raise the deficit. Mitt's only defense was, "Of course my numbers add up. I am Mitt Romney." He may convince Ann with that response, but such a defense does little to engender confidence in the rest of us.
The president was aggressive on jobs, touting his new five million jobs and his support of high wages, good jobs over winning the global race to the bottom apparently favored by Romney. The president hit Romney over the head repeatedly with his tax-cutting record, while maintaining his position that the wealthy must pay more. Obama made it clear that Romney's plan was to keep an elite set of rules that keep those at the top of the economic ladder firmly at the top.
By contrast, Romney was evasive and inauthentic. He tried to get away with answering a question about equal pay for women with a strange explanation about asking women's groups to find a binder of qualified women for his Massachusetts cabinet. Mitt said that women could be hired if only employers would figure out that they also need time to cook for their families.
In an equally evasive and puzzling response, Romney blamed single mothers and a failed federal sting operation in Mexico for assault weapon violence in the U.S.
Then came the knock-out blow, something like this, when a nearly apoplectic Romney proclaimed: "The president took two weeks to call the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya a terrorist attack." Obama shot back:"Governor Romney, I called it a terrorist attack the very next day." "No, Mr President, you most certainly did not." "Candy, tell him...I did, didn't I?" "Uh...yes Governor, The President did say that. He is right. You are wrong. You are down for the count."
Obama, for all his aggressiveness and better policy positions from Romney on jobs, taxes, women's health and economic issues and immigration, failed on the question of energy and the kind of revenue raising we need to get the country on track and to be the kind of country we want to be.
The President almost channeled Sarah Palin with a near-refrain of Drill Baby Drill. He agreed with Romney that the corporate tax rate is too high and he again missed the opportunity to tell the truth that Social Security, Medicare and social programs don't need overhauling and slashing in order to continue the programs and reduce our deficit.
I still want to see the president lead on the direct creation of jobs, taxing speculation, dividends and interest in the same way we tax earned income. I want to see him stand up and tell the truth that with the right priorities, we can spend far less on military, close corporate tax loopholes, fund a transformative shift to an economically and environmentally more sound energy policy. I want to see him lead on real cost-control in a universal type Medicare-for-All health plan.
I want more than just a rope-a-dope and a knock-out punch. I want to hear the words: America is not broke, we just have our priorities wrong. Then, I will be able to cheer a victory as something that is a victory for all of us, not just for a candidate's campaign.
The second debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney was a standoff in my view, with President Obama returning to form and Romney continuing his confident performance from their earlier exchange. By and large, Obama partisans were so relieved by their candidate's strong showing that they are proclaiming him the winner. It depends on your point of view.
But there was no mention of the impending fiscal cliff by either candidate or by the moderator, Candy Crowley. Once again, the elephant in the room was virtually ignored.
The main thing the public needs to know is how the candidates will deal with the greatest challenge to our country -- the massive federal deficit. We are spending over a trillion dollars a year more than we take in. It is without question a severe threat to our fiscal integrity and yet neither Presidential candidate felt obliged to get into it in any meaningful way in either the first or second debate.
To the extent that the candidates noticed the elephant, they resorted to their respective parties' time-worn clichés. The Democrats advocate taxing the rich and the Republicans insist that cutting spending is the answer although they are vague about where those cuts will fall. Romney boasts that he will cut Amtrak and National Public Radio -- piddling items in the overall federal budget. As for Obama, he walked away from Simpson Bowles and has never offered any significant suggestions for reforming Social Security or Medicare.
The Republicans have done themselves and the public a disservice by digging in their heels on tax increases. We need to make tough decisions on entitlement programs, but instead we are left contemplating the Republican determination to cut taxes for billionaires. This diversion enables Obama to simply take a pass. This is theater of the absurd.
The American public knows taxes must rise. It is reflected in every poll. But raising taxes alone cannot begin to rein in our deficit. A new study from the Democratic centrist group Third Way lays out the numbers in boldface. Soaking the rich simply will not do it. Even if the top rate goes to 50 percent, and the amount subject to Social Security taxes goes to $107,000, the national debt will double as a share of the economy by 2040. "Relying on taxes alone to hold long-term deficits at 3 percent of GDP would require phasing in a 60 percent tax increase on the median-income family, raising its annual tax burden buy $6,200 in 2012 dollars," the report said. That is politically impossible and economically crazy.
We absolutely must deal with entitlement spending. Each year tens of millions more people start drawing Social Security and relying on Medicare and Medicaid. This is where the basic problem lies and frankly I see little evidence that either party or Presidential candidate is willing to confront it. They sometimes speak vaguely of hard choices but offer no specifics. Each of us should use our individual leverage and contacts to demand that both Obama and Romney specify how they propose to reduce the federal deficit.
Jerry Jasinowski, an economist and author, served as President of the National Association of Manufacturers for 14 years and later The Manufacturing Institute. Jerry is available for speaking engagements.
WASHINGTON -- The Republican National Convention in Tampa, where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney accepted the presidential nomination of the Republican Party, was funded by a collection of corporations and mega-donors instrumental in funding super PACs and "dark money" non-profits to help put Romney in the White House.
The convention committee raised a total of $55 million for the four-day long proceedings, according to a report filed on Wednesday. Corporations accounted for the majority of that with $32.6 million in direct contributions. Wealthy individuals, including some of most well-known super PAC and "dark money" non-profit donors, contributed $13 million. In-kind contributions by corporations accounted for the other $10 million.
The top corporate donor was Marketing Solution Publications, a Florida-based business run by financier William Edwards, with $4 million in contributions. Of the more than $3 million given by AT&T half came from direct contributions. The American Petroleum Institute, the top lobby shop for the oil and gas industry, gave more than $2 million. Half of Microsoft's $1.5 million came from direct contributions. Bank of America and Florida Power & Light each donated $1 million in direct contributions.
Other corporations making direct contributions include Amgen, Archer Daniels Midland, Bacardi, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bright House Networks, Chevron, Citigroup, Comcast, CSX Corporation, Duke Energy, Ernst & Young, Experiant, FedEx, Ford, General Electric, Google, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, Merck, Pfizer, TECO Energy, United Health Care Services, Walmart, Wells Fargo, Xerox Corporation and Yankee Global Enterprises.
The single biggest donor to the convention was not, however, a corporation. It was instead the single biggest known donor to outside efforts to elect Romney president, Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who has reportedly contributed at least $71 million to super PACs and non-profits that do not disclose their donors. Adelson, the twelfth richest man in America, chipped in $5 million to the convention committee that organized and planned the four-day proceedings.
The casino magnate was joined by other Republican mega-donors with David Koch, the founder of conservative activist group Americans for Prosperity, giving $1 million. A collection of million-dollar donors to Romney's supportive super PAC, Restore Our Future, chipped in $1 million too. These included hedge fund investors John Paulson, Robert Mercer and Paul Singer, New Balance shoes founder James Davis and Univision founder Jerry Perenchio.
Below: See the full list of direct corporate donations to the host committee of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.