In little over a week, Barack Obama has gone from being a likely two-term president (according to the polls) to an imperiled incumbent who faces a must-win situation on Tuesday when he confronts Mitt Romney at Hofstra University in their second debate.
Obama’s biggest problem, however, may not be Romney but the debate’s format, which couldn’t be more difficult for an incumbent mounting a comeback.
The second debate will be town-hall-style, where a selected audience of undecided voters asks the questions, many of which will likely focus on the president’s tenure.
Hence, Obama must figure out how to defend his record before the crowd, focusing most of his attention on his individual questioners, while at the same time attacking Romney — and all without overdoing the negativism that typically doesn’t play well in such formats.
Pulling that off may be the only way the president can prove to the millions of Americans watching on TV that he can do what he failed to accomplish last week in Denver: effectively counter the insurgent across from him on the stage.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Romney Raises $170 Million to Finance Final Push
[New York Times, 10/15/12] Romney’s campaign took in $170 million in September, $11 million less than Obama’s total. But Romney’s momentum has energized his donors, many of whom are participating in a three-day retreat at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel aimed at securing a final windfall for the home stretch.
Obama Campaign Criticizes Gallup for Swing-State Poll NEW!
[National Journal, 10/15/12] The organization’s method of determining which registered voters are likely to actually cast ballots suffers from “deep flaws,” according to Obama’s chief pollster. And the poll, which shows Romney up five points across 12 swing states, is inconsistent with other public polling, the campaign charged.
Analysis: Why the Early Vote Looks Good for Democrats
[Washington Post, 10/15/12] Across several swing states, more Democrats are casting early votes than Republicans. And Dems’ early voting advantage is greater so far this year than it was in 2008.
Ryan Presses Early Voting, Military Ballot Concerns in Wisconsin
[ABC News, 10/15/12] With Gov. Scott Walker on hand, Ryan talked about a lawsuit the Romney campaign filed Friday to force Wisconsin to count the absentee ballots of service members sent in past their deadline.
Poll: Romney Now Even with Women, Leads in Swing States
[USA Today, 10/15/12] In the 12 most competitive swing states, Romney leads Obama 51 percent to 46 percent among likely voters. In those states, he’s now tied with the president among likely female voters, a group he’s struggled to attract thus far.
‘Obama Phone’ Lady Makes It Into Anti-Obama PAC Ad
[Slate, 10/15/12] The Tea Party Victory Fund is raising money to air an ad featuring an Ohio woman praising Obama for a (decades-old) federal program that gave her a free telephone. The ad asks if Obama’s policies have “enslaved Americans” and notes that one in seven Americans is on food stamps.
Inside the Campaign: How Romney Preps
[Politico, 10/15/12] Politico’s Mike Allen takes a look at Romney’s new debate challenge: how to repeat the success of Denver. Practice sessions for the second round have been focused almost entirely on the stagecraft and body language of engaging with the questioners.
Dems' Memo: Obama Needs Vision for Future
[National Journal, 10/15/12] In a stark warning on the eve of the second presidential debate, two veteran Democratic strategists wrote in a memo that the campaign “has reached a tipping point” that could cost Obama reelection if he does not present a more compelling vision for the next four years. NJ’s Ronald Brownstein weighs in.
Poll: Race Still Tied as GOP Enthusiasm Jumps
[National Journal, 10/15/12] A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released early on Monday shows a jump in GOP enthusiasm following the first debate, but the poll also showed positive news for Obama: The percentage of voters who say the nation is on the wrong track fell to its lowest point in nearly three years.
Report: George Romney Did Not Walk Out on ’64 Convention
[BuzzFeed, 10/15/12] For years, the story of George Romney walking out of the 1964 convention over the issue of civil rights has been an established fact, and one that Mitt himself has cited. One problem: It’s not true. A long read on the elder Romney's influence on the younger.
Medicare Premiums Would Rise for 59 Percent With Ryan Plan
[Bloomberg, 10/15/12] Medicare premiums would rise for 59 percent of beneficiaries under Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed overhaul of the system, according to a new study from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation released on Monday.
John Glenn Cuts Ad for Obama
[Huffington Post, 10/15/12] The Obama campaign released a new ad on Monday that features former astronaut and Ohio Democratic Sen. John Glenn that will run in Ohio — his home state. Earlier, left-leaning MoveOn released an ad with actresses Eva Longoria, Scarlett Johansson, and Kerry Washington.
Do Debate Fact-Checkers Matter? Not So Much
[National Journal, 10/15/12] With all the fact-checkers out there, why do the facts remain as murky as ever? The latest media fad educates voters, but the deluge of information may do little to help partisans or less-motivated voters stay informed — especially as the candidates aren’t always outright lying.
Romney Gaining Ground as Scrutiny Rises on Taxes, Foreign Policy
[Bloomberg, 10/15/12] Romney’s new assertiveness on national security and taxes may have hit a couple of hurdles in a statement from the father of slain Ambassador Chris Stevens, who said his son’s death shouldn’t be an issue in the campaign, and renewed skepticism over Romney’s tax proposals. These new developments may influence how aggressive and specific Romney is in the next debate.
Groups Work to Turn Out Youth Vote for GOP
[Roll Call, 10/15/12] Obama decisively swept the youth vote in 2008, but today’s polls suggest that young voters are less engaged, less certain they have registered, and less enthused about Obama than they were four years ago. The GOP is seizing the opportunity, with campus rallies, web and TV ads, and social networking to woo young voters.