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Homepage / N2K Presidential

A Poisonous Race

Vice President Joe Biden(AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher, Pool)

August 15, 2012

The presidential race has taken a turn for the personal, with both campaigns turning away from faux outrage and canned arguments in favor of barbed attacks.

Vice President Joe Biden delivered the spark at a speech in Virginia on Tuesday. Speaking to a diverse crowd, Biden was making an economic argument when he said Romney wanted to “put ya’ll back in chains.”

The Romney campaign pounced. "This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like," he said at an event in Ohio, later bringing this eyebrow-raising line: “Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago.” Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, hit back, saying Romney’s comments “seemed unhinged.”

Of course, this is a national political campaign, and bruises are to be expected. Both campaigns and their allied super PACs for weeks now have filled the air with negative ads.

But the vitriolic and highly personal comments are new. The Washington Post’s Dan Balz described it as “the sense that all restraints are gone.” Whether the attacks are calculated, perhaps to slash away at Obama’s likability, or a sincere and angry reaction to an opponent’s jab, the result is the same.

A tough campaign just got tougher.

—Matt Vasilogambros
@MattVas


NATIONAL JOURNAL
’S PRESIDENTIAL-RACE REPORT

Voter ID Ruling Could Put Pennsylvania in Play NEW!
[National Journal, 8/15/12] A trial judge Wednesday upheld Pennsylvania's much-criticized voter ID law, finding no evidence that voters in the state would be disenfranchised despite testimony at trial that suggested that more than 750,000 voters lack the necessary government-issued identification to vote in November.

Campaign on Track to Tarnish Four Reputations
[National Journal, 8/15/12] The latest exchange of Campaign 2012 — Romney calling Obama a desperate, angry candidate running a reckless, hate-filled campaign, and Obama's team responding by saying that Romney's rhetoric "seemed "unhinged" — was the most ferocious so far, writes National Journal's Jill Lawrence. This is not a campaign destined to enhance reputations. The only question is how much wreckage it leaves behind.

Conversation Nation: Negative Talk Eclipses Positive for Romney

[National Journal, 8/15/12] Forty-four percent of discussions about Romney were negative last week, while 31 percent were positive, according to National Journal’s latest Conversation Nation poll. That’s the continuation of a long trend for Romney, who has been the subject of more ire than praise among adults for 10 of the 11 weeks that NJ has conducted the poll.

Poll: No Significant Romney ‘Bounce’ From Ryan Rollout

[National Journal, 8/15/12] Romney's selection of Ryan as his running mate has not led to a significant increase in support over the first four days of Gallup's polling, and the new Republican ticket remains neck-and-neck with President Obama.

Can Ryan’s Biography Win Over His Budget?

[National Journal, 8/15/12] By picking Ryan, Romney is gambling that the Wisconsin Republican's image as a small-town, fresh-faced, straight-talking economic expert will win out over details of his budget blueprint that would impact future seniors and voters who are dependent on government benefits.

 

Ryan Pick Excites Foes of Tech Regulation NEW!
[National Journal, 8/15/12] Paul Ryan’s pick by Mitt Romney to join the Republican presidential ticket has energized a group of libertarian-leaning experts on tech policy who look past Ryan’s lack of issue-area expertise and focus on the free-market philosophy they believe drives his plan to flatten the tax code and shrink government. 

Ryan: Biden’s Comments ‘Desperate’ NEW!
[National Journal, 8/15/12] Ryan said on Wednesday that Vice President Joe Biden's remark that Republicans were trying to "unchain" Wall Street and put Americans back in "chains" is a sign of desperation from the Obama campaign

Is Ryan Really a Fiscal Hawk?
[National Journal, 8/15/12] Ryan, despite his reputation as a fiscal hawk, has voted for some pricey items over the years that have added to the country's debt burden. National Journal’s Matt Cooper breaks down his record.

Ann Romney: ‘There’s Going to Be No More Tax Releases Given’

[NBC News, 8/15/12] Flashing a little anger in an interview, Ann Romney says that “we've been very transparent,” but that releasing more information “will only give them more ammunition."

Romney: Analysts Made ‘Garbage Assumptions’ About My Plan

[Fortune, 8/15/12] In a wide-ranging interview with Fortune magazine, Mitt Romney says that a group of analysts with the Tax Policy Center made incorrect assumptions about his tax plan in a report that concluded it would raise taxes on the middle class. Said Romney: "They made garbage assumptions and they reached a garbage conclusion.”

Don’t Count on Americans Caring That Much About Ryan’s Pet Issues

[National Journal, 8/15/12] With the Ryan pick, the conversation has turned to the finer points of Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, the fate of Social Security, and the way these programs contribute to the growing deficit. But National Journal’s Nancy Cook writes that Americans are not ready to debate the size and scope of the federal government.

Ryan’s Antiabortion Record a Target for the Obama Campaign

[CBS News, 8/15/12] Ryan’s antiabortion credentials, unlike Romney’s, are impeccable: He voted to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and was one of several dozen Republicans to cosponsor a particularly controversial bill that states that “personhood” rights begin with fertilization. This stance has potential to widen the gender gap in crucial swing states.

Romney, Obama Fates Hinge on Shrinking Sliver of Undecideds
[National Journal, 8/15/12] Obama and Romney will spend nearly all their time and a lot of their money on just 4 to 7 percent of the electorate, in just a handful of critical states. They tend to be younger, female, and clueless about politics: They are the undecided.

Poll: Unlikely, Unregistered Voters Favor Obama
[National Journal, 8/15/12] Nearly 40 percent of American adults won’t vote in the upcoming election. But if unregistered and unlikely voters did cast their ballots, the president would win with ease, according to a new poll.

Read NJ political-convention news | Download NJ’s conventions app

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