Mitt Romney’s debate record during the Republican primary has been partially marred by his missteps — the crack about a $10,000 bet with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his “for Pete’s sake” remark about employing illegal immigrants. But the real record hinges on the outcome, that Romney won a nomination race he was supposed to and performed ably enough to do so.
His task during Wednesday’s session in Denver, though, is different. Rather than running to preserve a lead, which inherently encourages caution, Romney is, according to polls, running from behind, which encourages boldness.
Neither Romney nor Obama has reached the final stretch of a presidential election by dint of their debating skills alone. But each has been, in a borrowed phrase, likeable enough.
In Denver, looking to close a gap, Romney may shoot for something more.
— Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Biden Says Middle Class ‘Buried’ Last 4 Years, GOP Pounces
[Fox News, 9/2/12] Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd in North Carolina on Tuesday that the middle class has been “buried the last four years.” Republicans quickly agreed, citing the recent travails of the middle class as a reason for voting out the current administration.
Analysis: Is the Presidential Race Tightening?
[FiveThirtyEight, 10/2/12] Polls this week show Obama with a smaller lead nationally than polls released last week. But if you look back at the previous results within the same poll, the trend toward Romney disappears, muddling the picture.
Polls: Voters Back Clean Energy, Climate Policies
[USA Today, 10/2/12] Eighty-four percent of Republicans and 95 percent of independents considered the development of solar power important in one recent poll. Another poll found that the majority of undecided voters consider global warming a priority.
The Only Debate Question That Matters
[National Journal, 10/2/12] There is only one Big Question that Jim Lehrer should ask the candidates on Wednesday, as NJ’s Jim Tankersley writes: Why aren’t you seriously trying to solve the jobs crisis? The plans put forth by Obama and Romney are nowhere near aggressive enough to close the gap between where the economy should be and where it actually is.
Judge Halts Strict Pa. Voter ID Law
[Associated Press, 10/2/12] A Pennsylvania judge ruled on Tuesday that the state's voter identification law could not be enforced for this year's presidential election. But the ruling doesn’t preclude the law from being implemented next year.
Polls Align With Obama Narrowly Leading Romney
[National Journal, 10/2/12] Obama leads Romney, 49 percent to 45 percent, among likely voters in a new Quinnipiac University poll. The results are consistent with other recent surveys showing a slender advantage for Obama.
Opinion: Can Romney Turn This Contest Around?
[Washington Post, 10/1/12] George Will tries to account for the fact that Obama continues to lead in the polls while his administration is in “shambles.” It could be that people are reluctant to fire the first black President, he argues.
Romney Tries to Soften Immigration Stance, But Is Losing Latinos
[U.S. News and World Report, 10/2/12] Romney told The Denver Post that he would not seek to deport any young illegal immigrants granted temporary visas through a policy change by Obama. Wooing Latino voters is crucial for Romney in many swing states, particularly Colorado, but the candidate’s support among that group continues to fall.
The Mitt Romney Who Might Have Been
[New York Times, 10/2/12] Writing for the magazine, reporter Robert Draper delves into what sort of leader Romney would be as president: the apolitical CEO or a Marshall-type figure who takes control. The risk for the former is a conservative revolt from House Republicans that won’t be pretty.
Obama E-Card: 'Vote Like Your Lady Parts Depend on It'
[National Review, 10/2/12] The campaign posted an E-card to its tumblr account Tuesday with an eyebrow-raising message. Some conservatives were not amused.
Romney Doesn’t See Debates as Win or Lose
[National Journal, 10/2/12] Romney told a crowd in Denver on Monday that he views his upcoming debate with the president as an opportunity to lay out a choice for voters between two dramatically different paths forward — although he acknowledged that his performance is going to be scrutinized.
New Anti-Romney Ad Features his Garbage Man
[Mediaite, 10/1/12] A new ad from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees features a man who picks up the Romneys’ trash at their oceanfront mansion in La Jolla, Calif.
Paul Ryan Iowa Bus Tour About 'Choice'
[CNN, 10/2/12] Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is making several stops in the Hawkeye State on Tuesday, promoting the so-called “choice phase” of the campaign. BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller captured a picture of the scene in Clinton, Iowa.
What If the Presidential Debate Is Boring?
[Washington Post, 10/2/12] The Post’s Chris Cillizza writes that there’s a real chance that Wednesday’s debate will deliver far less drama than the political class seems to believe it will. After all, Obama is a cautious debater, and Romney isn’t known for his risk-taking.
Health Care: How the Obama and Romney Plans Stack Up
[The Commonwealth Fund, 10/2/12] The liberal group has issued a report saying that Romney’s health plan would leave nearly 12 million children under age 19 and over 14 million middle-income Americans uninsured compared with Obama’s health care law.
Analysis: Romney Would Send Consumers Health Care Bill, With Benefits
[Reuters, 10/2/12] In order to control the soaring costs of health care, Romney’s advisers say, he would accelerate the use of high-deductible insurance plans that offer lower premiums but require beneficiaries to pay thousands of dollars more in out-of-pocket expenses.
Offshore Tactics Helped Increase Romney’s Wealth
[New York Times, 10/1/12] A review of thousands of pages of financial documents and interviews with tax lawyers found that, in some cases, the offshore arrangements in Romney’s tax returns enabled his individual retirement account to avoid taxes on its investments. But some say these arrangements are not tax-dodging strategies — they are just inadvertent consequences of a complicated system.
2012 Small-Dollar Donors Pack a Punch for Obama, Romney
[Politico, 10/1/12] The greatest value of these late-stage contributions is arguably the personal information the campaigns collect. They may use it to call the donors, canvass their houses, urge them to volunteer, and even target their Internet browsing with personalized ads.