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Politics / N2K Presidential Race Analysis

N2K Presidential: The Clinton Conundrum

Former President Clinton shakes hands with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney after he spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative convention in New York on Tuesday.(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

September 25, 2012

Former presidents tend to be viewed in soft-focus. Ronald Reagan maintains a totemic appeal in both parties; recall that then-candidate Barack Obama lauded Reagan as transformational at the expense of Bill Clinton. John F. Kennedy’s legacy has been appropriated by wing-nuts in both parties, for foreign and domestic policies. It was Clinton who eulogized the disgraced Richard Nixon by saying his “journey across the American landscapes mirrored that of his entire nation.”

And there was Clinton again today, having faced down the impeachment that Nixon ducked by resigning, in the middle, drawing praise from both President Obama and Mitt Romney during their separate remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative in Manhattan, once again in the middle of Democrats and Republicans. The man who declared that “the era of big government is over” has helped usher in a new era of big nongovernmental initiatives, burnishing and encasing his image at the same time."If there's one thing we've learned this election season, by the way, it is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good," Romney said, to laughs. "All I gotta do now is wait a couple of days for that bounce."

Clinton’s enduring popularity, despite the invective directed toward him by the Right when he was in office, owes not just to his near-mythic personal charisma. Clinton’s famed propensity for reaching out to both parties on policy—“triangulation” to some, “pragmatism” to others—has no real echo in this campaign. And that could be part of a longer trend, when presidents are affiliated less with collective national nostalgia, and more through a harder, partisan lens.

-- Jim O’Sullivan
@JOSullivanNatJo

NATIONAL JOURNAL
’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT

Dual Speeches by Romney, Obama: Not Really a Duel
[National Journal, 9/25/12] NJ’s George E. Condon Jr. writes that both President Obama and Mitt Romney rose to their separate occasions—Romney to his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative, Obama to his address to the United Nations General Assembly—but that the president enjoyed the advantages of the office.

‘Questionable’ Palm Beach County Voter Registration Forms to Be Reviewed NEW!
[Palm Beach Post, 9/25/12] More than a hundred suspicious voter registration forms submitted by a firm hired by the GOP to register Florida voters will be sent the state attorney’s office. The state Republican party has fired the firm.

 

Romney Ups his Game in Ohio NEW!
[National Journal, 9/25/12] Romney flew to western Ohio on Tuesday after spending the morning talking foreign policy and education in New York City. There, both he and Ryan projected confidence to a crowd of more than 3,500 people who waited at the Dayton airport for hours to see the candidates.

Romney’s Speech at the Clinton Global Initiative – Live Blog
[Forbes, 9/25/12] Romney proposed that the United States give reformed foreign-aid packages to developing nations that open their markets to the U.S. and remove barriers to investment, trade, and entrepreneurialism within their countries. Forbes’s Agustino Fontevecchia writes that the speech, while not necessarily substantive, clearly spelled out Romney's economics from a global perspective. 

Obama Urges U.N. to Confront Roots of Muslim Rage
[National Journal, 9/25/12] Obama called on global leaders to speak out against violence and intolerance in remarks before the United Nations Global Assembly on Tuesday. In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Obama said that the U.S. will “do what we must” to prevent the Iranian government from securing a nuclear weapon.

Romney Would Let Teachers Strike
[Washington Post, 9/25/12] Romney said on Tuesday that teachers’ unions’ donations to Democrats create an “extraordinary conflict of interest” because the unions often end up negotiating with officials to whom they’ve donated. He also said that as president he would not interfere with unions’ ability to hold strikes like the one in Chicago.

Some Candidates Keep Distance from Obama, Romney 
[CBS News, 9/25/12] With neither candidate enjoying overwhelming popularity, some Republicans and Democrats have run away from their party’s nominee. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., did not mention Romney’s name in his first debate with Elizabeth Warren, and two Democratic members of Congress in North Carolina have refrained from endorsing the president.

President Obama’s Audacity-Free Campaign
[Politico, 9/25/12] Observers from both parties agree that Obama’s reelection effort lacks the lofty tone of his 2008 campaign. Instead, it resembles the politics-as-usual he once railed against.

Polls: Obama Lead in Ohio, Edge in Fla. Hamper Romney Path to Victory
[Washington Post, 9/25/12] Obama has grabbed an 8-point lead over Romney in Ohio and holds a slender edge in Florida, according to two new polls by The Post, indicating that there are fresh hurdles in the way of Romney’s best route to victory in November.

Republicans to Pollsters: Too Many Democrats in Your Surveys
[National Journal, 9/25/12] Critics allege that pollsters are interviewing too many Democrats—and too few Republicans or independents—and artificially inflating the Democratic candidates’ performance. But pollsters counter that the results they are finding reflect changes in public sentiment.

Who Is Behind That Super PAC Ad? There an App for That
[The Crowd Wire, 9/25/12] Two entrepreneurs have developed a way to decipher the flurry of super PAC ads you’re seeing this year: Simply aim your smartphone at the TV as you’re watching the ad, and the SuperPACApp pulls up key facts about who’s behind it, and even helps you fact-check its claims.

Fact Checkers Unite to Predict Debate Deceptions
[ABC News, 9/25/12] The top fact-checkers from Politifact, FactCheck.org, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog and the Associated Press are putting their heads together this week to root out the facts Obama and Romney are most likely to spin during the debates.


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