After Mitt Romney’s latest stumble, and polls showing leads in key states for President Obama, the tone in the political universe has become decidedly bullish on the president’s chances, with some people acting as if he has locked it up.
But the voters don’t seem ready to declare the campaign over, and it is way too early to be writing Romney’s political obituary. In a Twitter world, six weeks—with four debates—is an eternity.
Undeniably shell-shocked by two weeks that seemed to bring bad news on each day (including today, when Romney running mate Paul Ryan was booed at an AARP event and Romney's tax returns caused a stir), Republicans are trying to regain their footing and start challenging what they fear is a growing consensus that Romney is blowing his challenge to a decidedly vulnerable president.
Exhibiting a trace of urgency to try to prevent that consensus from taking hold, their argument echoes the president’s defense of his tax plan: It’s not politics; it’s math. They contend that the math of the latest polls shows Romney behind, but not so far behind that it justifies some of the claims heard this week on cable television.
Tom Rath, the longtime Republican figure in New Hampshire, said he is encouraged by the willingness of voters to still consider Romney despite all the recent bad publicity—some of which he blamed on a “Greek chorus of unemployed consultants” taking shots at the campaign’s decision-makers in Boston.
“We can still win. It’s doable,” he said. “But we’ll have to thread the needle a little bit.” Read more
—George E. Condon Jr.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Romney Releases 2011 Tax Returns
[New York Times, 9/21/12] Romney paid $1.95 million in taxes on his 2011 investment income of $13.7 million, his campaign revealed on Friday. Romney estimated in January that his effective tax rate in 2011 would be 15.4 percent; it’s actually about 14.1 percent.
Ryan Booed, Obama Cheered at AARP Conference
[National Journal, 9/21/12] Obama won cheers for discussing the 2010 health care law, while Paul Ryan drew an aggressively negative response for vowing to repeal it. The back-to-back speeches before the nation’s largest senior-citizens lobby also exposed just how wide the gulf is between their ideas on how to reform America’s entitlement programs.
Ann Romney’s Plane Makes Emergency Landing
[TPM, 9/21/12] Ann Romney’s plane made an emergency landing in Colorado on Friday after the cabin filled with smoke. According to Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul, no one was injured.
Romney Fights on Medicare but Obama Retains Advantage
[USA Today, 9/21/12] Even as Romney challenged Obama on Medicare in a swing through retiree-rich Florida this week, a new poll of swing states shows that Obama remains more trusted to address the program’s challenges.
Obama Has More Campaign Money to Spend Than Romney
[Associated Press, 9/21/12] Obama has $88.8 million to spend in the final months of his campaign, according to August financial reports. This is nearly twice as much as Romney, who has $50.4 million in the bank and $15 million left to pay on a loan.
TV Ad Spending on Presidential Race Surpasses Two-Thirds of a Billion
[National Journal, 9/21/12] Spending on television advertising in the race for the White House has topped two-thirds of a billion dollars, according to sources watching the advertising market, with Republicans outpacing those who back Obama.
Obama’s Quagmire: Syria and the Islamist Arc
[National Journal, 9/21/12] NJ’s Michael Hirsh writes that more and more, the fast-moving events on the ground in Syria may be having an impact on a U.S. presidential election that most thought would be focused almost entirely on the economy. Romney continues his assault on Obama’s Mideast policies, while Obama officials argue that Romney’s approach is absurdly simplistic.
Before Debates, Romney Faces a Daunting Path
[New York Times, 9/20/12] With seven days until early voting begins in Iowa and less than two weeks until the debates begin, it’s crunch time for the Romney campaign. Plagued by negative coverage, a Times analysis says it’s up to Romney himself to change the dynamic.
Was Romney’s Tax Gaffe a Repudiation of Reaganite Conservatism?
[Time, 9/21/12] Many conservatives are arguing that Romney’s "47 percent" remarks implicitly reject one of the fundamental tenets of the conservative agenda: that carefully targeted tax breaks and deductions can work economic and social miracles.
Obama Falsely Claims 'Fast and Furious' Program Began Under Bush
[ABC News, 9/21/12] Speaking at the Univision forum on Thursday, Obama falsely claimed the controversial Fast and Furious program began under former President George W. Bush. Actually, the program began nine months into Obama’s presidency, in October 2009.
Romney, Obama Quiet on Tax-Policy Details
[Boston Globe, 9/21/12] Even in light of Romney’s "47 percent" remarks, both campaigns have been vague with their tax-policy plans. Romney won’t reveal which tax deductions he would eliminate and Obama won’t say what corporate tax havens he would cut.
Opinion: Just Like His Father, Romney Doesn’t Know When to Stop Talking
[Baltimore Sun, 9/21/12] The Sun’s Jules Witcover recalls the failed 1968 presidential campaign of Romney’s father, George Romney, who, in struggling to arrive at a clear position on the war in Vietnam, shot himself in the foot.
Noonan: Romney Needs a New CEO
[Wall Street Journal, 9/20/12] Columnist Peggy Noonan is going after the Romney campaign once again in an op-ed published on Friday. She writes, “This week I called it incompetent, but only because I was being polite. I really meant 'rolling calamity.' ”
Heartland Monitor Poll: Obama Leads 50 Percent to 43 Percent
[National Journal, 9/21/12] Obama has opened a solid lead over Romney by largely reassembling the “coalition of the ascendant” that powered the Democrat to his landmark 2008 victory, the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll has found.
Cain Says He'd Be Leading Obama if He Were Nominee
[Gainesville Sun, 9/20/12] The always-amusing Herman Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate, told the newspaper that if he were the nominee, he would be leading Obama in the polls.