Hate To Say I Told You So
The White Stripes
Seven Nation Army
Tom McCarthy in New York, Thursday 11th October 2012 22:38
We're going to tie this blog up with a bow – and refer you to the main event, our debate live blog with Richard Adams, joined by Ana Marie Cox, Gary Younge, Ewen MacAskill and Adam Gabbatt.
Check it out – they've already begun!
Here's a summary of what we saw today:
• A gap opened between some national polls, in which Governor Romney appears to have developed a lead, and swing state polls favoring Obama. Jonathan Chait, in an analysis we neglected to link to earlier, blames the gap on the flood of advertising in swing states, which he reasons has made the electorate more hardened in their preferences and less prone to switch sides. Harry Enten's analysis of the situation is here.
• Jobless claims have fallen to their lowest levels since before President Obama took office. In possibly related news, Quinnipiac polling in Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado showed a marked uptick in confidence about the direction of the economy.
• Mitt Romney told the Columbus Dispatch that people who don't have health insurance still can get coverage by going to emergency rooms. "We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance," he said. The words bespoke a woeful ignorance of the state of emergency care in the United States and the health care quandaries the uninsured face, which we discussed.
• President Obama appears to be collecting a lion's share of votes cast by early voters in Ohio. Marist found Obama out front 63-37 among early voters in the state.
OK, now head on over to the vice presidential debate.
Guardian Washington bureau chief Ewen MacAskill is on the scene in Danville, Kentucky, to watch the debate circus come to town:
What people in Danville think of the presidential candidates is largely irrelevant, given that the state votes Republican in White House races. Along with about 40 other states in the US, the election is passing them by.
Except for this one night. This picturesque small town is decked out in red, white and blue bunting, celebrating the fact that for the second time in 12 years it is hosting a vice-presidential debate.
A small pointer to the fact that leans heavily Republican can be found at the Danville Debate Festival, an outdoor event dominated by country and western singers and rock groups.
Near the entrance is a man holding life-size cut-outs of Obama and Romney for people to pose with. It is free and popular, with people standing beside their chosen candidate at the rate of about one a minute.
The man with the cut-outs, asked which of the two was proving more popular, was diplomatic, saying it was about 50-50.
But watching over a ten-minute period, the demand for pictures was mainly for Romney.
One of those having her picture taken with Romney was Jennie George, 51, a teacher from London, Kentucky, visiting Danville with her two sisters to mark what she described as a historic moment.
She will be voting for Romney. "In all honesty, we are teachers [one of her sisters is a teacher too] and pay is getting less and less each year. There needs to be change, someone who will tackle the deficit," George said.
Huh, I wonder why the Romney campaign would make such a strange request?
Maybe it's Congress' impressive 80% disapproval rate.
Somebody is ready to rumble.
Governor Mitt Romney has just met with the influential televangelist Billy Graham in Montreat, North Carolina.
That room looks really familiar. Hang on...
Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter is under fire for saying "the entire reason" the Benghazi, Libya, attack "has become the political topic it is" is because Republicans have turned into "part of their stump speech."
CNN's Brooke Baldwin asked Cutter about it today. Cutter is at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky for tonight's debate. Cutter accused the Republican White House ticket of politicizing the issue. But she also seemed to dismiss the attack – and the administration's handling of it – as a valid matter for public concern:
In terms of the politicization of this... the entire reason that this has become the political topic it is, it's because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, it's a big part of their stump speech, and it's reckless and irresponsible, what they're doing.
Conservative pundits are calling for her head. It is possible to read their outrage as false fury in the election home stretch. But you be the judge:
In the immediate wake of the Sept. 11 attack, in which four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens were killed, Obama administration officials said protests outside the compound over an anti-Islamic video produced in California had preceded or somehow masked the assault.
This week the State Department, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, told a very different story. They said there had been no protests outside the compound after all. The attack was an ambush and fatally effective.
A congressional hearing yesterday sought to establish the chain of events in the attack. Republican leaders say they still aren't satisfied with the administration's explanation of what happened. They accuse the administration of passing bad information in the days after the attack and of seeking to cover up what really happened to protect the president on the eve of the election.
The president wraps his Miami speech. Cue the Boss. An excited student crowd for that one.
Well the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home:
A big laugh from the crowd for this line:
"After running for more than a year in which he called himself 'severely conservative,' Mitt Romney is trying to convince you that he was 'severely kidding.'"
President Obama has begun his stump speech at the University of Miami.
"We've got some work to do Miami," he near-shouts. "We've got an election to win." Then he advises the crowd that early voting starts in just over two weeks, on October 27.
RIchard Luscombe is on the scene for the Guardian. He catches a confident prediction from Florida senator Bill Nelson, warming up the audience ahead of Obama’s arrival: “Tonight Joe Biden will make mincemeat of Paul Ryan.”
Richard spoke to organizers in advance of the speech:
Roy Aguillon, the University of Miami campus organiser for Obama for America, doesn’t care much for the latest polls showing Mitt Romney having caught the president in Florida.
“If everybody votes here in Florida we are going to win, no matter what the polls say,” he told a raucous crowd comprising largely of students skipping classes to see Obama.
“This race is close with lots of ups and downs. But there are simple things we can do to win this and get the president back in office.”
The Obama campaign released a memo today saying the "verifiable numbers that clearly impact the election" – voter registration and early voting – depict a big advantage for the president.
The memo goes state-by-state to lay out the ground game advantage. The Huffington Post reports:
According to the campaign, Democrats have registered 2.41 million more voters than Republicans this election cycle in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Over the last three months, the campaign memo notes, Democrats have registered 114,540 in those states. [...]
In Iowa, the memo notes, the campaign has a "lead in vote-by-mail ballots cast, in-person early voting, total voting and total ballots requested." The margin there in both ballots requested and ballots cast is larger than where the campaign stood "at this point in 2008."
President Obama is scheduled to appear shortly at a rally at the University of Miami. Richard Luscombe is there for the Guardian:
A lively crowd has gathered at the University of Miami ahead of Barack Obama’s scheduled appearance here in less than an hour. The president is on his 12th campaign trip to Florida this year and third to talk to students at this particular university since February, highlighting the importance to his hopes of the Sunshine State and the younger generation of voters who helped sweep him to power in 2008.
The path to the university, whose president is Donna Shalala, the long-serving health secretary during both terms of Bill Clinton’s administration, is well trodden by White House hopefuls: Mitt Romney was here three weeks ago for a Spanish-language interview in an attempt to woo the Hispanic vote.
Students have previously also seen Clinton himself stopping by to take a class and Joe Biden dropping by for a coffee. And if those visitors were not considered “funky” enough for the university’s young voters, then hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons came by the students lounge last week at the invitation of Canes for Obama, the Democrats’ campus supporters group.
“It’s an exciting time to be a student here and a great experience to be involved in this election,” says Jordan Lewis, the student group’s president.
The debate participants gather. Only SIX hours to kickoff now.
Martha Raddatz is in the house, ABC New's senior VP tweets:
Robert Costa of the National Review Online has a bead on Biden:
But where is Ryan? Stay tuned...
Volunteers at the Warren County Democratic headquarters, just north of Cincinnati, were shocked and disappointed by a political prank unloaded on them early Tuesday morning – someone dumped a pile of horse manure in the parking lot of the headquarters building on US 42, just north of Lebanon.
But will President Obama's lead among Latino voters be undermined by low turnout?
The Guardian's Chris McGreal takes a look at a new poll by the Pew Hispanic Center showing Latino voters favoring Obama over Romney by more than 3-1. But, unfortunately for the president, they are less likely to make the effort to vote than whites. Here's Chris:
The poll gives Obama 69% Latino support to 21% for Romney, although it is a little narrower in battleground states such as Florida, Iowa and North Carolina. Pew says that figure has been pretty steady throughout the election campaign and is a wider margin in favour of the president than his victory over John McCain four years ago when Obama won the Hispanic vote by 67% to 31%.
"Since then, the Latino electorate has grown in size and importance. Today some 23.7 million Hispanics are eligible to vote, an increase of more than 4 million since 2008. Hispanics now account for a record 11% of the nation's electorate, up from 9.5% in 2008," said Pew.
But just 77% of Latino registered voters said they are "absolutely certain" to vote compared to 89% of the wider US population.
Top issues for Hispanic voters were, unsurprisingly, the same as for most other Americans: education, jobs and health care. But immigration did feature as well with 34% saying it was extremely important. Nearly nine out of ten Latinos support Obama's policy of permitting young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children to remain and work in the country.
Although new voter ID laws in 11 states are thought likely to disproportionately affect minority groups, the Pew research showed that 95% of Latino voters in those states said they were confident they can meet the legal requirement for identification. More than 70% said they support the voter ID laws.
Sean Penn and Kid Rock have made a mini-movie calling for civility in political discourse and fellowship across the partisan divide.
In the movie the actors have a vulgar argument and encounter a beautiful woman before a made-up news report of 26 marines killed in Afghanistan prompts them to share a drink and hug. After about 6:10 it seems to turn into some kind of music video, let us know what happens.
(h/t: The Hill)
Don't have health care but think you might be sick? Go to the emergency room. That's a good enough answer for Mitt Romney. Or at least he thinks it's a good enough answer for you.
In an interview with the Columbus Dispatch Romney repeated a line he has used before about emergency rooms being a legitimate health care alternative for people who don't have insurance.
Once again, Romney has described his understanding of the health care safety net in the United States. Here's how Romney sees it:
We don’t have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we just say to you, ‘Tough luck, you’re going to die when you have your heart attack,’ ” he said as he offered more hints as to what he would put in place of “Obamacare,” which he has pledged to repeal.
No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital. We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance."
In fact the United States has a higher rate of preventable deaths – 48,000 last year - than France or the UK. A widely cited, peer-reviewed Harvard study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2009 found that for every 1 million persons who were uninsured there were about 1,000 related, preventable deaths.
Romney is not the first politician to say this. President George W. Bush, another fortunate son who has lived a life of dynastic family privilege and can't truly be expected to understand how most people experience America, said the same thing.
“I mean, people have access to health care in America,” Bush said back in July 2007. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”
In fact fewer and fewer Americans have convenient access to ERs. One-quarter of hospital emergency departments have closed in the last 20 years, according to a 2011 Journal of the American Medical Association report. The uninsured are less likely to use health services and have poorer health as a consequence, according to the Urban Institute.
Overcrowding in ERs and hospitals disproportionately affects minorities and low-income families. The most expensive subsidized health care is emergency room care.
You don't have to look very far to find devastating first-person accounts of how hard and expensive it is to get health care without insurance. The film "Waiting for Health Care" documents ER disasters in California.
Does Mitt Romney understand how difficult it can be to get affordable health care in the United States? Is he familiar with the problem of overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms? Does he know anyone who has delayed going to the doctor or chosen not to because of concerns about how much it will cost? And who has paid a price in terms of their personal health for that delay?
Joe Biden's debate prep, which happened as a kind of day camp at a Delaware hotel last week, included a replica set of the debate stage, CNN reports.
Vice President Joe Biden's three greatest debate moments can be viewed here, thanks to BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski. Here's No.1, in which Biden demonstrates that brevity is the soul of wit:
For your predilection, here are two more national polls that disagree.
Today's Rasmussen tracking poll puts President Obama out front 48-47.
Romney is looking good in the new Reuters/Ipsos national poll, with a 47-44 lead. Just yesterday in the poll Romney had a one-point lead over Obama. It was the former governor's first lead in the survey in more than a month.
oh why not have at it.
How do you explain the fact that Governor Romney has moved into the lead in many national polls, but President Obama appears to be leading on the state level?
Our polling technician Harry Enten attacks the seeming paradox in a new piece:
..the difference between the statewide and national polls has been pretty staggering.
Romney has only trailed in one national poll since the debate and has made up somewhere between 5 and 6 points nationwide. The national polls say that Romney is ahead or at least tied in this race. [...]
History tells us that there is rarely more than a 1-point deviation in the margin between the popular vote and the state that would cause the electoral college winner to change. Considering most everyone pegs Ohio as the state most likely to determine the winner of the electoral college, the gap between the national and Ohio polls would indicate an historically larger than normal split between the electoral and popular vote. [...]
Something doesn't square here, and I'm not sure what is causing it.
Read the full piece here.
"I thought, wow, here's ol' moderate Mitt. Where you been, boy, I missed you all these last two years!"
The Obama campaign is promoting former President Bill Clinton's riff on Romney's self-reinvention at a rally in Las Vegas Tuesday.
Preacher Clinton in full effect. The crowd bellows its assent at every line. Testify! Praise the Lord.
In the last presidential election, 30% of Ohio voters cast their ballots early. This year Ohioans are voting early once again, and most of them are voting to reelect the president, according to the latest polls.
Thirty-two states plus the District of Columbia have some form of early voting. Under early voting people cast ballots at election officials' offices or satellite offices. At least 12 states require that early vote centers be open on a weekend day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The Obama campaign has been actively encouraging voters to go to the polls early. The president still has a polling edge in Ohio (51-45 in Marist this morning), although Governor Romney appears to have made some headway there in the last week.
An engaging Twitter conversation about today's polls between our Harry Enten and Greg Sargent of the Washington Post is here.
Here's a Time Magazine slide show of Paul Ryan working out.
We wonder if we can't prevail upon you to tell us what you think about this slide show in the comments.
We think Biden could take him.
Of course Paul Ryan's Bicep already has a Twitter account.
Tonight's debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan will be held at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. It's scheduled to run from 9pm-10:30pm ET.
The debate will cover both foreign and domestic topics and will be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates. The moderator will ask an opening question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the question.
That's how it's supposed to work, anyway.
The debate will be moderated by ABC News foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz. Raddatz is an extraordinarily accomplished journalist with prodigious war zone experience, knows the military as well as anyone in the field and has a sterling reputation among colleagues for a lifetime of forthright and courageous reporting. So, somebody's sure to hate her.
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein has interviewed Paul Ryan in person repeatedly. They used to have free-wheeling, on-the-record, detailed policy debates, Klein writes, before Ryan got to be a big enough name that he couldn't or wouldn't speak so freely.
Based on his personal knowledge of Ryan, Klein shares some tips for Vice President Joe Biden in the run-up to tonight's debate:
First, he’s smart. This shouldn’t need to be said, but some liberals seem to think Ryan’s intelligence is some kind of facade. In this view, he’s really a robotic Randian who does little more than spout talking points. His reputation for intelligence is simply the soft bigotry of Washington’s low expectations for politicians.
Vice President Biden’s team would be unwise to buy into this convenient line of thought. Ryan’s smart, and he’s quick, and he’s heard most of what you have to say before.
Read the whole thing here.
The last debate fell on the Obamas' anniversary. This debate falls on another first couple's anniversary. Check them out:
Weekly unemployment applications fell 30,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the lowest level in four-and-a-half years, the Department of Labor reports. The number suggests strong hiring activity, the AP reports:
Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. They can fluctuate sharply from week to week. If they stay near last week's level, it would likely signal better hiring ahead.
When applications consistently drop below 375,000, it suggests that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.
The news comes on the heels of an announcement Friday that unemployment had dropped below 8% for the first time since January 2009.
Good morning and welcome to our Thursday live blog politics coverage. Tonight it's Paul vs Joe on the vice-presidential debate stage: will the young wonk make grandpa look slow, or will grandpa teach the young punk a lesson or two about messing with Medicare? Here's a summary of where things stand:
• Let's start with a four-letter word: POLL. There are two major swing-state polls out this morning, from two of the biggest names in polling, and, *surprise*, they do not tell the same story.
• Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS found "no sharp movement" after the debate and last week's positive jobs numbers in the three states polled: Viriginia, Wisconsin and Colorado.
• NBC/WSJ/Marist found that Romney "had made some gains" since the debate in the three states polled: Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
• In the one state they both surveyed, Virginia, the two pollsters send back very different snapshots. Quinnipiac has Obama in the lead 51-46 in Virginia and Marist has Romney in the lead 48-47, with a three-point gain from last week. We'll take a closer look at both Virginia polls shortly.
• The polling shows one-point races in Colorado and Florida. Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS had Obama slightly out front in Wisconsin (50-47). In Ohio, NBC/WSJ/Marist had Obama leading 51-45, but showed a two-point uptick for Romney since last week.
• Respondents in the Quinnipiac poll saw Mitt Romney as a strong leader after the debate, but Barack Obama had an ace up his sleeve: the economy. You didn't read that wrong; in Virginia, 42% said the economy is getting better (up 18 points from August), 38% said so in Wisconsin (+13) and 37% said so in Colorado (+11).
• The Marist poll saw gains for Romney among independents in Virginia and Ohio. The poll found that Romney was leading 50-42 among independents in Virginia and 49-41 in Ohio. In Florida the poll found little change.