Latest News - October 16, 2012

After months of criticism for his supposed likability problem, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is now viewed favorably by a majority of likely voters, according to a Politico/George Washington University poll released on Monday.

In the survey of 1,000 likely voters, conducted between Oct. 7 and 11, 51 percent of respondents said they view Romney favorably, and 44 percent said they view him unfavorably. In the spring, as Romney emerged from a bruising GOP primary, his favorability rating was often in the 30s.

The improvement means Romney is closing the likability gap between himself and President Obama. In the Politico/George Washington poll, 53 percent of likely voters had a favorable opinion of Obama, while 45 percent viewed the president unfavorably.

Romney and Obama were essentially tied in the race for the White House, with 49 percent saying they support the president and 48 percent backing Romney. In 10 battleground states, Romney led Obama, 50-48. Both results were within the poll’s 3.1-point margin of error.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll also published on Monday showed a similarly tight race. That survey gave Obama a 3-point edge among likely voters nationwide, 49 percent to 46 percent -- again, within the margin of error.

By: Callum Borchers

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Latest News - October 12, 2012

After years of trying to win over the Republican party and American people, Mitt Romney spent this week savoring the sudden pleasure of being ahead in public opinion polls, even if only slightly, on the strength of a decisive debate against President Barak Obama.

"I just think the American people recognize that the president's policies are not something we can afford for four more years," Romney said. "We just can't afford more of what we've gone through."

More: Polls show Romney's post-debate bounce

Romney has encountered a lack of enthusiasm within the Republican Party -- and the country as a whole -- since he began campaigning for the presidency nearly six years ago in his first run for the White House. Even now, in the last weeks of his second campaign, he isn't enjoying an enormous surge.The CNN Poll of Polls, our calculation based on three independent national surveys, finds that Romney has the support of 48 percent of likely voters, with Obama at 47 percent.

It's just a one-percent advantage but it may reflect a more revealing change in momentum. Romney wasn't just trailing Obama in recent polls; his numbers had been eroding. For now at least he's stopped sliding backwards and has apparently jumped a tiny bit ahead.

The launching pad was last week's presidential debate; 90 minutes on national television that offered voters a surprising snapshot of the two candidates. Obama appeared remote and passionless, while Romney seemed to have more energy and empathy than many Americans expected.

Opinion: Why Ryan has edge in VP debate

If some Democrats had dreamed of a few easy weeks leading up to the November 6th vote, the debate and the new poll numbers were an opportunity for party leaders to address that enthusiasm.

"We have said from the beginning that this is going to be a tight race, it will be a tight race all the way up until election day," said Stephanie Cutler, deputy manager of the Obama campaign.

King: Let's not get carried away over VP debate

The new national polls will only focus attention on the numbers that matter more: the handful of "swing" states where the campaigns are competing for the voters who will really decide the outcome.

American presidential election results are tallied state by state. Most states vote predictably from one campaign to the next, just as most voters do. So the next three weeks will see a non-stop effort to reach out to undecided, persuadable voters in undecided, winnable states.

Opinion: Mitt Romney is not a liar

In places like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, Obama's lead has been diminished -- and in Colorado it may be gone entirely.

Romney has some good numbers after a long wait. There won't be much waiting left.

By: Jonathan Mann

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Latest News - October 11, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It's still all about Ohio.

After a strong debate performance, Republican challenger Mitt Romney is intensifying his efforts in the state that's critical to his White House hopes, while President Barack Obama works to hang on to the polling edge he's had here for weeks.

Both candidates campaigned hard in the state Tuesday, the last day of voter registration ahead of Election Day, now just four weeks away.

"It's time for him to leave the White House," Romney said of Obama at an evening rally in Cuyahoga Falls. "Ohio's going to elect me the next president of the United States."

Obama, in Columbus, called out, "All right, Buckeyes, we need you." His campaign had buses nearby, ready to ferry students or other supporters to registration centers.

As Obama wooed Ohio State University students here and Romney focused on the Democratic bastion of Cuyahoga County to the north, there were signs the president's Ohio advantage was narrowing. A new CNN poll showed Obama leading Romney 51 percent to 47 percent among likely Ohio voters. And Republican strategists familiar with Romney's internal polling contended the race was even closer – within a single percentage point – as the candidate enjoyed a post-debate surge of support.

"I promise you he's back in the game in Ohio," said Charlie Black, an informal Romney campaign adviser.

Like other Republicans, he credits Romney's strong debate appearance last week as the reason for an uptick in national polling. And Romney advisers maintain they're seeing evidence of that in the battleground states most likely to decide the election, Ohio among them.

"There isn't any question that he has breathed new life and new energy into the Republican Party," Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. "We're seeing that there is greater intensity among Republicans and a great willingness to get out and vote and participate than we're seeing with Democrats."

With a hefty 18 electoral votes, Ohio is such a key state for Romney that one top adviser has dubbed it "the ball game" as the Republican looks to string together enough state victories to amass the 270 Electoral College votes needed to take the White House. No Republican has won the presidency without this Midwestern state, and if Romney were to lose here, he would have to carry every other battleground state except tiny New Hampshire.

Romney has far fewer state-by-state paths to the White House than Obama, who still has several routes to victory should he lose here.

Given the stakes and with just 28 days left in the campaign, Romney's schedule highlights his increased focus on the state: He's spending four of the next five days in Ohio, ahead of the second presidential debate in New York next Tuesday. Running mate Paul Ryan squares off against Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday for the sole debate featuring the No. 2s on the tickets.

Obama was being greeted in Columbus – for a rally at Ohio State University – by enormous letters that spelled out "vote early," a plea to the young voters who buoyed the president's bid in 2008. He arrived from the West Coast, where he had been raising millions of dollars for the campaign.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki dismissed the impact of polls showing a tighter race, saying Democrats always expected the race here and elsewhere to tighten ahead of Election Day.

"We have blinders on," she told reporters traveling on Air Force One. "We're implementing our own game plan."

Illustrating the competitive nature of Ohio, no presidential battleground has been more saturated with television advertising.

The campaigns and outside groups had spent more than $141 million on TV ads in Ohio through the beginning of October, one of the highest per-person spending rates in the country. Only more-populous Florida, which has seen $150 million in ad spending, has seen a higher total.

Ads in Ohio have focused on the energy industry – some rural, southern areas of the state rely heavily on coal – and on China, where foreign companies are seen as competing with Ohio's manufacturing base and jeopardizing jobs.

Obama has sought to paint Romney as a plutocrat who outsourced jobs during his tenure leading the private equity firm Bain Capital.

Romney, in turn, has sharply criticized Obama's support for stricter regulations on coal and natural gas. It's seen as a way in with white working-class voters, on which his candidacy depends. "Stop the War on Coal. Fire Obama," read signs that dot the countryside of areas where Romney has held multiple events.

White blue-collar workers prefer Romney to Obama, but less so than they did Republican George W. Bush, who carried Ohio in 2004. These voters are considered still persuadable, although Romney may have hurt himself with his comment that the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax believe they are victims entitled to government help.

Romney's position on the auto bailout also dogs him in a state that's heavily reliant on the industry. Obama's decision to offer government support to automakers meant protection for thousands of jobs at parts and supply companies in Ohio.

Romney wrote a 2008 op-ed headlined "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," which has become a rallying cry for Democrats. They have argued Obama's support for the bailout has had a hand in Ohio's drop in unemployment, which is now lower than the national average.

In the final weeks, both campaigns insist they have the edge in the critical ground game. That battle was playing out in the courts, as well, with Ohio's election chief saying Tuesday he will appeal a ruling that reinstates the final three early voting days in the state.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted called a decision last week by a federal appeals court "an unprecedented intrusion" into how states run elections.

Husted said Friday's decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would affect how elections are run in all 50 states. The appeals court in Cincinnati affirmed a lower court ruling and returned discretion to set hours on the final three days to local boards of elections.

By: Kasey Hunt and Ben Feller
Huffington Post

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Latest News - October 11, 2012


CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — Mitt Romney tonight unveiled a new rallying cry, getting a crowd of thousands here this evening to begin chanting “Four more weeks! Four more weeks!” as the Republican presidential candidate tried to build support in the crucial swing state.

“I’ve been watching some of the — President Obama’s rallies — and they chant ‘four more years, four more years,’” Romney said. “And today there are 28 days before the election. I think the right chant ought to be for them, ‘Four more weeks, Four more weeks!’”

Tune in to on Thursday for livestreaming coverage of the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate moderated by ABC’s Martha Raddatz in Danville, Ky. Coverage kicks off with ABC News’ live preview show at noon, and full debate coverage begins at 8 p.m.

“I know there’s greater and greater interest in this campaign across the country,” Romney said. “The fact that, I don’t know, 10,000 people or more are here this evening is a testament to how much people care about this election. I know people are focusing on how the country’s going to be led going forward and I think that’s in part because people are facing some tough times.”

Romney continued to tweak Obama on the attention he’s paid to Big Bird, whom Romney for months has used in a campaign line when citing cuts to PBS as part of his budget plan.

“A time like this for the president to get up and say, as he has over these last several days, that he’s focused on saving Big Bird is, kind of a strange thing in my view, because you see I’m focused on getting the American people good jobs and brighter prospects,” Romney said.

Romney, who will spend three more days this week alone in the Buckeye State, was accompanied by Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, whom Romney has recruited to stand in as Obama during debate prep, and the always outspoken governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie.

Christie, taking the microphone ahead of Romney, was much more frank in his desire to replace Obama, suggesting that a plane ticket to Chicago is in his future.

“The president of the United Sates said you can’t change Washington from the inside,” Christie said. “That’s what he said, he said it himself. And I feel badly for the president.

“Maybe he’s still a little tired form last Wednesday night,” Christie said, referring to last week’s presidential debate. “Maybe he’s just a little disoriented when he said, it but let me remind, because I want to help the president and I’m sure because he loves me, I’m sure he’s out there listening.

“Mr. President, you have lived inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for four years if you can’t change Washington from inside the White House then let’s get you the ticket back to Chicago you’ve earned,” said Christie, then turning the crowd over to Romney. “There’s one man who is going to make sure that ticket gets punched on November 6th!”

A new CNN poll out this evening found Romney tightening the race in Ohio, with Obama holding a 51-47 percent lead on Romney, a smaller gap than the last poll, which had them seven to 10 points apart.

Romney is scheduled to remain in the state Wednesday, holding three campaign events, including one town hall.

By: Emily Friedman
ABD News

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Latest News - October 2, 2012

WASHINGTON — Republican White House candidate Mitt Romney is offering new ideas on the controversial issues of taxes and immigration, sparking a new flashpoint with President Barack Obama before their inaugural debate Wednesday.

The GOP nominee suggested an option of limiting deductions to pay for his across-the-board income tax cut and revealed that he would honor temporary work permits for young illegal immigrants granted by the Obama administration.

"The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I’m not going to take something that they’ve purchased," Romney told The Denver Post in an interview published Tuesday. "Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I’ve proposed."

Obama announced in June that he would prevent deportation for some children brought to the United States by illegal immigrant parents. Applicants must not have a serious criminal record and must meet other requirements, such as graduating from high school or serving in the U.S. military.

The program closely tracked with the DREAM Act, a bill that failed to pass Congress that would have provided a path to legal status for many young illegal immigrants. Romney said during the Republican presidential primary campaign that he would veto DREAM Act legislation.

Obama campaign spokesman Gabriela Domenzain said Romney’s statement to the Denver Post "raises more questions than it answers," including whether he would repeal Obama’s policy or deport those who have received a deferment after two years.

"We know he called the DREAM Act a ’handout’ and that he promised to veto it," Domenzain said. "Nothing he has said since contradicts this and we should continue to take him at his word."

The Denver Post interview comes as Romney and Obama are fighting a heated battle for Colorado, whose significant Hispanic population could determine which candidate receives the state’s nine electoral votes.

Throughout the Republican primary, Romney took an aggressive tack on immigration, saying in debates that he approved of "self-deportation," where undocumented workers would choose to leave the country on their own because they were unable to find work. He assailed rival Rick Perry, the Texas governor, for allowing illegal immigrants to attend Texas state colleges and universities at reduced, in-state tuition rates. Romney always has said he supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who serve in the military.

After Romney secured the nomination, he indicated he would review potential legislation from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio that would allow some young illegal immigrants a way to stay in the country.

In another interview Monday with Denver television station KDVR, Romney laid out a possible scenario for paying for proposal to cut all income tax rates by 20 percent. He’s previously said the cuts would be funded by closing loopholes and deductions, but that the specifics would have to be worked out with Congress.

"As an option you could say everybody’s going to get up to a $17,000 deduction; and you could use your charitable deduction, your home mortgage deduction, or others — your health care deduction, and you can fill that bucket, if you will, that $17,000 bucket that way," Romney said. "And higher income people might have a lower number."

The new details came as Romney and Obama went into seclusion Tuesday to practice for the debate, underscoring the high stakes for both in their first televised encounter. Obama is at a resort in Henderson, Nev., while Romney was spending most of the day at a hotel on the outskirts of Denver, where the debate is being held. He planned at some point Tuesday to tour the debate stage that was set up on the University of Denver campus.

With just five weeks until Election Day, they dispatched their wives and running mates to court voters in key states, such as the critical battleground of Ohio, where early voting began Tuesday. Balloting already is under way in other states.

In Pennsylvania, a judge blocked a requirement that all voters show photo ID in this year’s election, a victory for Democrats who argued it would prevent the elderly and minorities from voting. But voters will have to show identification in some other states as part of a wave of new policies approved primarily by Republican-controlled legislatures.

GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan was visiting three Iowa towns during a bus tour Tuesday, while Vice President Joe Biden scheduled two events in North Carolina, another swing state. First lady Michelle Obama was campaigning in Ohio and Seattle, and Ann Romney was attending a rally in Littleton, outside Denver.

In Clinton, Iowa, a voter asked Ryan about video of Romney saying 47 percent of Americans don’t pay income taxes and are dependent on government. The voter wanted to know if there is a way to collect something from everyone.

"I have an idea: Let’s help them get jobs so they can get good paychecks and then they’re good taxpayers," Ryan said. He did not mention that military members serving in war zones and retired seniors are among the millions of people who do not owe federal income taxes.

Ryan acknowledged, however, Romney’s comments about those people muddled the political landscape.

"Sometimes the point doesn’t get made the right way," he said.

Ryan also tried to invoke optimism as his ticket trails in the polls. He predicted the debates would spark a shift.

"Now we’re entering what we call the debate and choice phase of this campaign," Ryan told The Jay Weber Show on Milwaukee’s 1130 WISN talk radio. "People are going to focus on this. The debates are going to give us a chance to highlight our differences, and we’re entering the phase where we get to frame the choice of this election."

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Latest News - September 21, 2012

WASHINGTON - Now it's Mitt Romney who wants to be the candidate of change.

Romney is seizing on President Barack Obama's comment that "you can't change Washington from the inside." Grasping for a way to right his campaign and appeal to independents, the Republican nominee says he has what it takes to end the nasty partisanship in the nation's capital.

"I can change Washington," Romney said Thursday. "I will change Washington. We'll get the job done from the inside. Republicans and Democrats will come together."

PHOTOS: Obama through the years | Romney through the years

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Romney was expected to press the issue again Friday during a campaign rally in Nevada, a state hard hit by the nation's housing and unemployment woes.

Obama, who ran for president in 2008 on a pledge to fix Washington's combative tone, said in an interview that he had come to the conclusion "you can't change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside." Adding that he wanted people to speak out on issues, he went on to say: "So something that I'd really like to concentrate on in my second term is being in a much more constant conversation with the American people so that they can put pressure on Congress to help move some of these issues forward."

After Romney focused on the "can't change Washington from the inside" segment of Obama's remarks, the president's campaign countered quickly by noting that Romney said just that in 2007 when he was running for the 2008 Republican nomination: "I don't think you change Washington from the inside. I think you change it from the outside."

Both candidates were campaigning Friday in battleground states, with Romney stumping and raising cash in Nevada and Obama holding a rally in Woodbridge, Va., just a short trip from the White House. Obama won both states in 2008.

Polling shows the race tight in both states, though Obama appears to have an edge in Virginia. Democrats with access to internal polling say Obama is up 3 or 4 percentage points over Romney in Virginia, a slimmer margin than in some recent public polling.

Obama has also pulled ahead of Romney in cash on hand, a key measure of a campaign's financial strength. The Democrat has more than $88 million to spend in the campaign's final weeks while Romney has just over $50 million at his disposal.

Romney's campaign is seeking to regroup after a rough stretch that included the emergence of a video in which he tells wealthy donors at a private fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax and that they believe they are victims and entitled to an array of federal benefits. Obama has cast those remarks as a sign that Romney is out of touch with most Americans.

"When you express an attitude that half the country considers itself victims, that somehow they want to be dependent on government, my thinking is maybe you haven't gotten around a lot," Obama said Thursday during a forum on Univision, the Spanish-language TV network.

Romney is also facing criticism from some in his own party that he's spending too much time raising money and not enough time talking to voters in the eight or so battleground states that will decide the election. In response, his campaign added a Sunday rally in Colorado to his schedule and announced a three-day Ohio bus tour that kicks off Monday.

The president will campaign this weekend in Wisconsin, a state Romney is trying to put in play. Republicans are hoping the addition of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to the GOP ticket will help them claim victory there — or at least force Obama to spend time and money to hold the state.

Even with Election Day under seven weeks away, voters across the country are already casting ballots. By week's end, early voting will be under way in two dozen states.

Obama was also making a play for older voters Friday by speaking via satellite to an AARP convention and taking questions from the group's members. The president's campaign is seeking to gain an advantage with seniors and voters nearing retirement by attacking the Republican ticket's plan for Medicare.

The popular federal entitlement for seniors was the focus of a new television ad from the Obama campaign. The ad, scheduled to air Friday in Colorado, Florida and Iowa, presents a Democratic refrain — that Romney and Ryan would turn Medicare into a voucher program that could raise seniors' health costs by up to $6,400 a year.

Independent groups have said that a House Republican budget proposal led by Ryan could lead to higher costs for older Americans. But exactly how much is far from clear. The ad relies on the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning think tank, for the figure it cites.

Supporters of the Ryan plan say competition among private insurance providers could wring waste out of the system and bring down costs.

By: The Associated Press
Long Island NewsDay

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Latest News - September 11, 2012

The Gallup seven day tracking poll of the presidential race released today shows Mitt Romney behind President Obama by a 49 percent to 44 margin. The seven day tracking poll of 3050 registered voters, that has a margin of error of 2.0 percent, samples Democrats by about a 8 percent margin based on calculations from the reported data. If the data is properly weighted for the partisan makeup of the electorate, the data from this poll unskewed would show a Romney lead of 49 percent to 44. By skewing the poll, it gives Obama a five point lead instead of showing Romney leading by the same total.

The sampling used by Gallup differs with the partisan data measured from hundreds of thousands of voters by Rasmussen Reports, which measures the partisan percentages at 37.6 percent Republicans, 33.3 percent Democrats and 29.2 percent independents. This indicates a degree of over-sampling of Democrats by eight percent, a plus four margin for Democrats as opposed to the plus four margin of Republicans among the likely voting electorate.

The Gallup tracking poll has Democrats favoring Obama by a 90 percent to seven percent margin while Republicans surveyed in the poll favor Romney by a 91 percent to six percent margin. ARG found independent voters to support Romney by a 43 percent to 42 percent edge.

If this data is weighted for the appropriate percentage of Republicans, Democrats and independents as shown by the Rasmussen data, the survey indicates a far larger and growing lead for Mitt Romney. Analysis of the data by those criteria would lead to a result showing Romney leading with a 49 percent to 44 percent margin over President Obama. That is exactly the opposite of what was officially reported earlier today by Gallup.

The significance of this is, somewhere along the way the weighting and sampling used by Gallup appears to have changed. The polling output resulting from this change demonstrates an apparent change that may not have happened at all, resulting in the showing of a Barack Obama post-convention “bounce” much larger than what might have actually occurred.

The latest Rasmussen Reports Daily Tracking poll of the presidential race released today shows Obama at 50 percent to Romney at 45 percent. While Rasmussen releases the internals only to paid Platinum members, calculations from this data would require that either Obama has taken a lead of six to 10 points among independents or that this survey over-samples Democrats to produce a five point edge for Obama. It would be highly unlikely for a Rasmussen survey to match the Gallup poll that is skewed, at the same time, and not be somewhat skewed itself.

The Gallup poll is not the only such poll recently to be skewed by over-sampling Democrats to skew the results in favor of Barack Obama. Earlier this week, the latest CNN/ORC poll was similarly skewed. Last month on the Fox News segment “Campaign Insiders” today, Democratic pollsters Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen both confirmed their belief that major polls are skewed in favor of the Democrats by over-sampling of Democratic voters when the surveys are conducted.

By: Dean Chambers
The Examiner

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Latest News - August 20, 2012

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are ready to face New Hampshire voters and answer their questions, especially about the Republican plan for Medicare that has left some seniors skittish.
Romney and Ryan on Monday will try to explain to voters — particularly seniors, who reliably cast ballots — that their proposal to offer a private alternative to Medicare would not affect anyone over age 55. Some 14 percent of New Hampshire residents are over the age of 65, and this state, which holds the nation’s first presidential primary, is known for its voters’ sharp questioning of candidates during such town hall-style events.

President Barack Obama spent Saturday in New Hampshire, casting doubts on what the GOP ticket would do for older voters.

“You would think they would avoid talking about Medicare, given the fact that both of them have proposed to voucherize the Medicare system,” he said Saturday in Windham. “But I guess they figure the best defense is to try to go on offense.

“So, New Hampshire, here is what you need to know: Since I have been in office, I have strengthened Medicare.”

Obama’s top aides spent Sunday repeating the claim in television interviews that the GOP would gut Medicare, while Romney’s aides spent their day trying to convince voters of the opposite.

By: Philip Elliot

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Latest News - August 20, 2012

Vice presidential picks are always judged by their effect on the coming election. They rarely have any.

This time could be different. The Democrats' Mediscare barrage is already in full swing. Paul Ryan, it seems, is determined to dispossess grandma, then toss her over a cliff. If the charge is not successfully countered, goodbye Florida.

Republicans have a twofold answer. First, hammer home that their plan affects no one older than 55, let alone 65. Second, go on offense. Point out that President Barack Obama cuts Medicare by $700 billion to finance Obamacare.

It's a sweet judo throw: Want to bring up Medicare, supposedly our weakness? Fine. But now you've got to debate Obamacare, your weakness -- and explain why you are robbing granny's health care to pay for your pet project.

If Romney/Ryan can successfully counterattack Mediscare, the Ryan effect becomes a major plus. Because:

(a) Ryan nationalizes the election and makes it ideological, reprising the 2010 dynamic that delivered a "shellacking" to the Democrats.

(b) If the conversation is about big issues, Obama cannot hide from his dismal economic record and complete failure of vision. In Obama's own on-camera commercial -- "the choice ... couldn't be bigger" -- what's his big idea? A 4.6 point increase in the marginal tax rate of 2 percent of the population.

That's it? That's his program? For a country with stagnant growth, ruinous debt and structural problems crying out for major entitlement and tax reform? Obama's "plan" would cut the deficit from $1.20 trillion to $1.12 trillion. It's a joke.

(c) Image. Ryan, fresh and 42, brings youth, energy and vitality -- the very qualities Obama projected in 2008 and has by now depleted. "Hope and change" has become "the other guy killed a steelworker's wife." From transcendence to the political gutter in under four years. A new Olympic record.

While Ryan's effect on 2012 is as yet undetermined -- it depends on the success or failure of Mediscare -- there is less doubt about the meaning of Ryan's selection for beyond 2012. He could well become the face of Republicanism for a generation.

There's a history here. By choosing George H.W. Bush in 1980, Ronald Reagan gave birth to a father-son dynasty that dominated the presidential scene for three decades. The Bush name was on six of seven consecutive national tickets.

When Dwight Eisenhower picked Richard Nixon in 1952, he turned a relatively obscure senator into a dominant national figure for a quarter-century, appearing on the presidential ticket in five of six consecutive elections.

Even losing VP candidates can ascend to party leader and presumptive presidential nominee. Ed Muskie so emerged in 1968, until he melted down in New Hampshire in 1972. Walter Mondale so emerged in 1980 and won the presidential nomination four years later. (The general election was another story.)

Winning is even better. Forty percent of 20th-century presidents were former VPs: Theodore Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Bush (41).

Before Aug. 11, Ryan already was the party's intellectual leader and de facto parliamentary leader -- youngest-ever House Budget Committee chairman whose fiscal blueprint has driven congressional debate for two years. Now, however, he is second only to Romney as the party's undisputed political leader.

And while Romney is the present, Ryan is the future. Romney's fate will be determined on Nov. 6. Ryan's presence, assuming he acquits himself well in the campaign, will extend for decades.

Ryan's importance is enhanced by his identity as a movement conservative. Reagan was the first movement leader in modern times to achieve the presidency. Like him, Ryan represents a new kind of conservatism for his time.

Reagan rejected the moderate accommodationism represented by Gerald Ford, the sitting president Reagan nearly overthrew in 1976. Ryan represents a new constitutional conservatism of limited government and individual opportunity that carried Republicans to victory in 2010, not just as a rejection of Obama's big-government hyper-liberalism, but also as a significant departure from the philosophically undisciplined, idiosyncratically free-spending "compassionate conservatism" of Obama's Republican predecessor.

Ryan's role is to make the case for a serious approach to structural problems -- a hardheaded, sober-hearted conservatism that puts to shame a reactionary liberalism that, with Greece in our future, offers handouts, bromides and a 4.6 percent increase in tax rates.

If Ryan does it well, win or lose in 2012, he becomes a dominant national force. Mild and moderate Mitt Romney will have shaped the conservative future for years to come.

The cunning of history. Or if you prefer, sheer capriciousness.

By: Charles Krauthammer
Oregon Live

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Latest News - August 16, 2012

WASHINGTON - Republican Mitt Romney dug in Wednesday on his charge that President Barack Obama's campaign is driven by "division and attack and hatred," criticism aimed at cutting into Obama's likeability and personal appeal with voters.

In some of his harshest words yet against the president, Romney said Obama was "running just to hang onto power, and I think he would do anything in his power" to remain in office. Romney's comments escalated an already acrimonious campaign fueled by negative and sometimes false advertisements, as well as personal insults from the candidates and their surrogates.

Obama's campaign said Romney's fresh assertions seemed "unhinged."Romney replied: "I think unhinged would have to characterize what we've seen from the president's campaign."

"These personal attacks, I think, are just demeaning to the office of the White House," he added.

The latest rhetorical scuffle erupted Tuesday after Vice President Joe Biden told a largely black audience in Danville, Va., that Republicans would seek to "unchain Wall Street" and "put y'all back in chains" by loosening Wall Street regulations.

Biden later said he had meant to use the term "unshackled." But he did not apologize, and he mocked the Romney campaign for showing outrage.

In his interview Wednesday on "CBS This Morning," Romney said: "I can't speak for anybody else, but I can say that I think the comments of the vice president were one more example of a divisive effort to keep from talking about the issues."

Romney's onslaught comes as polls show Obama with a narrow lead over his Republican rival less than three months before the Nov. 6 election. On Saturday, Romney named Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, a pick aimed at energizing his party's conservative base.

Now Romney, straying from his campaign's efforts to stay singularly focused on jobs and the economy, is targeting Obama's greatest strength — his likeability.

Every major poll in the past two months has found Obama's favorability rating in positive territory, while Romney's languishes at about even or worse and has deteriorated in some recent surveys.

Some of Romney's efforts to chip away at Obama's likeability have focused on negative ads run by the president's campaign and a super political action committee supporting him. Priorities USA Action ran a commercial suggesting Romney was personally responsible for the death from cancer of the wife of a man who worked at a steel plant that was bought and subsequently shut down by Romney's venture capital firm, Bain Capital.

"If you look at the ads that have been described and the divisiveness based upon income, age, ethnicity and so forth, it's designed to bring a sense of enmity and jealousy and anger," Romney said Wednesday.

The Romney campaign has run its own negative ads, including one widely discredited by independent fact-checkers that accuses Obama of gutting welfare reform. Romney's team is also running an ad that criticizes Obama for raiding the Medicare trust fund, a charge the president's team labeled dishonest and hypocritical.

Romney was holding private fundraisers Wednesday in North Carolina and Alabama. The president was campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday, the final day of his three-day bus trip through the Midwestern swing state. First lady Michelle Obama was joining the president for their first joint campaign appearance since May.

Before Romney unleashed his striking criticism of the president's campaign, much of the White House race this week had focused on Ryan's austere budget proposals.

Obama's campaign was launching state-specific efforts to target lesser-known elements of Ryan's budget, expanding beyond its opposition to the Republican vice presidential candidate's Medicare overhaul.

The developing Obama strategy comes as Romney and Ryan make clear they plan to campaign aggressively on Medicare, not run away from it. In person and in a television ad, the Republicans argued Tuesday that Obama is the one who cut spending for Medicare to put money toward his divisive health care overhaul.

In states with large military and veteran populations — Florida, Ohio and Virginia among them — the Obama campaign plans to attack Ryan's proposed cuts for veterans' benefits and care, a campaign official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the campaign strategy publicly and requested anonymity.

In Colorado, Ohio and Iowa, the campaign sees opportunities to capitalize on Ryan's proposed cuts to clean energy industries that are taking hold in those states. The Obama team will argue that cutting those investments would essentially cede new energy technologies — and the jobs that could come with them — to countries like China, the official said.

In Nevada and several other states, the campaign plans to push the impact of Ryan's budget on education, citing estimates that it would cut 200,000 children a year from Head Start, an early education program, and reduce Pell grants for 10 million college students.

The campaign launched an ad Tuesday in five states — Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia — that links Romney directly to the Ryan budget's impact on college grants.

Obama's team may launch other paid advertising on elements of Ryan's budget soon. But for now, the campaign is focused on getting its message out in local media and directly to voters through its ample grass-roots network, which still trumps Romney's ground game in some states.

Despite ramping up new areas of attack, Obama's campaign is still eager to link Romney to Ryan's Medicare proposals, both on the national level and in battleground states with a significant number of voters over the age of 65, including Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Pennsylvania.

The president's pollsters wrote in a campaign memo that Ryan's Medicare proposals are a "game changer" in Florida, the battleground state with the most electoral votes up for grabs in November.

Ryan, interviewed on Fox News Channel, said he and Romney believe Medicare can be a winning issue for Republicans in the fall. "Absolutely, because we're the ones who are offering a plan to save Medicare, to protect Medicare, to strengthen Medicare," he said.

Ryan didn't say so, but the budgets he has written in the House both called for leaving in place the cuts to Medicare that he now criticizes. Romney has consistently favored restoring the funds, and his running mate said, "I joined the Romney ticket."

Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner criticized Ryan's answers, saying the Wisconsin congressman is "not ready for prime time."

"First, he attacked the president for the very same Medicare savings that he includes in his own budget," Kanner said in a statement. "In the same breath, he falsely claimed that the Romney-Ryan budget protects Medicare — in fact, their plan would end Medicare as we know it, leaving seniors with nothing but a voucher in place of the guaranteed benefits they rely on today."

The Obama campaign released a web video Wednesday that declares Romney and Ryan "plan to end Medicare as we know it." It features news commentators and liberal analysts such as economist Paul Krugman declaring that Ryan's House Republican budget would mean millions of older Americans would be unable to afford health care.

The video declares that Romney has lied about Obama's record on Medicare, and says Obama's proposal cuts payments to Medicare providers but offers more benefits to Medicare participants.

Romney and the Republican National Committee planned to release a new Spanish language TV ad Wednesday highlighting Obama's economic policies. Romney's campaign didn't say where it would run or how much money they plan to spend on the spot.

By; The Associated Press

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