1. "Forget Barack Obama and Mitt Romney," says Matt Negrin at ABC News. The battle for the White House may have been the most momentous event on Tuesday, but "the most exciting matchup of the night was between Karl Rove and his employer, Fox News."

    After the network’s decision desk called Ohio — and thus the presidency — for Obama at little after 11 pm (ET), the GOP strategist and super PAC kingpin protested (and protested), arguing that there were too many votes left, that Romney was closing the gap, and that Fox should un-call Ohio. “That’s awkward,” said anchor Megyn Kelly.

    Keep reading

     

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  3. The littlest campaigners — Even with the country sharply divided, the charm of these budding patriots and partisans will surely cross party lines.

    Take a look at more refreshingly gaffe-free kids on the campaign trail.

    (Source: theweek.com)

     

  4. "That’s it, I’m moving to Canada." So goes the liberal response every time the Democratic candidate loses a presidential election. The prospect of four years of Republican rule makes America’s northerly neighbor — where everyone has health care, gay marriage is legal, financial regulations are strict, and the death penalty is abolished — seem like a sanctuary of progressive values. 

    But, can you really move to Canada if your candidate loses?

    (Source: theweek.com)

     

  5. Undecided voters are not going to vote against someone because they “forgot” stuff. You have to disqualify the candidate with his own words and portray them as craven, as someone who will say anything to get elected. That is a tell. It shows people that the other candidate cannot be trustworthy, and if you can’t trust him, then you won’t trust him with the country. The core attack against John Kerry in 2004 was not that he was effete and out of touch, it was that he had no core. This wasn’t true, but it worked really well. George W. Bush… he had a core. Obama has a core. But his campaign chose a line of attack that didn’t completely de-core-ify Mitt Romney. If Obama had been as aggressive in the first debate as he was in the last two, where he pointed out, over and over again, that Romney was inventing himself anew (the etch-a-sketch candidate), if he did this THE FIRST TIME PEOPLE SAW THE TWO MEN TOGETHER (sorry for screaming), Obama would have had this election wrapped up.”

    Marc Ambinder, who predicts that, even though it’s “anyone’s race,” Obama is still slightly favored to win re-election.

     

  6. Cartoon of the day: The last man standing
    Mike Luckovich, © 2012 Creators Syndicate

    More toons

     

  7. The final Obama-Romney debate: Who told the biggest whoppers?

    • Obama: Romney was “very clear that [he] would not provide government assistance to the U.S. auto companies, even if they went through bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private marketplace. That wasn’t true.”
      The verdict: Partly true
      Obama overreached here, say NPR’s Mark Memmott, Scott Montgomery, and Mark Stencel. In a famous November 2008 New York Times op-ed, Romney said if the government bailed out GM and Chrysler, “you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye,” but he did propose a “managed bankruptcy” in which the federal government provides “guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing.” The problem is, according to auto executives and outside experts, there would have been no post-bankrupt GM or Chrysler to help, says Jeremy W. Peters at The New York Times. In late 2008, credit markets were frozen and no private firms — not even Romney’s own Bain Capital — were “looking to invest to the tune of the $80 billion the car companies needed at the time.” That means “the only path through bankruptcy would have been Chapter 7 liquidation, not the more orderly Chapter 11 reorganization that the company ultimately followed” under Obama. “In the tangled debate over whether the auto industry would have survived under Romney’s bankruptcy plan, Obama has the edge on the argument,” says Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post.
       
    • Romney: Upon taking office, Obama “said by now we’d be at 5.4 percent unemployment.” 
      The verdict: Mostly false
      This claim stems from an economic projection two Obama economists laid out before he took office, to predict the effects of a $775 billion economic stimulus bill. The economists, Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein, added “numerous caveats and warnings” to their analysis,says Kessler, “because, after all, it was merely a projection,” based on an unwritten bill. But yes, a chart on Page 4 of the report did foresee unemployment dropping to 5.4 percent by mid-2012. “The chart is now infamous, but it was never pitched as a promise,” says PolitiFact. And the caveats were there for good reason: “The economy was, in fact, much worse than economists knew.”
       
    • Obama: Romney “said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day.”
      The verdict: Half true
      Romney didn’t really contest Obama’s narrow point, that he thinks we should still have combat troops in Iraq, says Kessler. But ultimately, “Romney has the better part of this argument,” because as he points out, Obama tried to keep troops there, too. The Obama administration attempted to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement that would keep roughly 5,000 troops in Iraq, but the talks fell apart when Iraq declined to put the agreement to a parliamentary vote and the Obama administration decided that would expose U.S. troops to Iraqi prosecution. The upshot is that Obama now “stresses the fact that he has removed all troops from Iraq, while knocking Romney for supporting what he originally had hoped to achieve.”

    More fact-checking

    (Source: theweek.com)

     

  8. President Obama and Mitt Romney meet tonight for their third and final presidential debate, and the stakes couldn’t be higher: The polls show the race in a dead heat, and the debate is likely the last event that could dramatically alter the contest’s trajectory. Under pressure to defend his record and solidify his foreign-policy edge, Obama will undoubtedly underscore the killing of Osama bin Laden. For his part, Romney must convince voters that he would make a credible commander-in-chief, while seducing independent voters with an alternate national security vision. Here, a guide to where the candidates stand on key issues:

    1. Libya — The biggest chink in Obama’s foreign-policy armor? The September terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The White House’s response to the attack has been confusing, and Republicans have accused the administration of misleading the public. Romney sought to exploit this advantage, but only hurt himself by appearing to politicize the death of four Americans. His dilemma tonight: To back off Benghazi or go on the offensive? “The national conversation has been about the terrorist attack in Benghazi,” says Peggy Noonan at The Wall Street Journal. “Did the president tell the truth at the time?” But Romney was caught “playing political gotcha with a national tragedy,” says Bill Keller at The New York Times, and another miss could badly hurt his campaign. Obama’s job is to make sure “the political spin stops,” says Juan Williams at The Hill. “The bottom line is there is no evidence so far to support the Romney camp’s claim of incompetence or a cover-up.”

    2. The Arab Spring — Romney has heavily criticized Obama for his handling of the Arab Spring, suggesting that stable, pro-American regimes would have emerged following the fall of dictators in Egypt and Libya if the president had taken a firmer hand. While it’s unclear what Romney would have done differently, Spencer Ackerman at Wired summarizes the debate thus: “[Does the U.S. need] to involve itself deeper in the Arab Spring; pick favorites within the uprisings; or stand back as the upheaval proceeds?” Obama is under pressure to defend his hands-off, country-by-country approach, while articulating a broader foreign policy argument that explains why “he’ll intervene in Libya but not Syria,” says Ackerman. Romney, for his part, “has yet to distinguish his geopolitical plans from Obama’s without seeming like he’s out to start a whole new war.”

    3. Iran and Israel — Romney has hammered Obama for failing to halt Iran’s suspected progress toward a nuclear weapon; this dovetails with Romney’s claim that Obama hasn’t been a good friend to Israel. However, both candidates essentially have the same policy: A stated determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and a vow to keep all options — from diplomacy to military force — on the table. Romney is having so much trouble distinguishing himself from Obama that he ends up sounding like a “foreign policy love child” of Obama and George W. Bush, says Sally Kohn at Salon. “Rhetorically, Romney sounds almost exactly like George W. Bush. In terms of what he’d do on the ground in places like Iran [however]… Romney sounds exactly like Barack Obama.” Unless Romney can convince voters that his policies to stop Iran and protect Israel are distinct from Obama’s, says Keith Koffler at Reuters,the president will continue to enjoy his healthy advantage with Jewish voters.

    4. Afghanistan — Afghanistan is another area in which Romney has struggled to differentiate himself from the president. Romney says “he would hew to President Obama’s timeline to withdraw U.S. troops by the end of 2014,” says Maeve Raeston at the Los Angeles Times, “but he would part ways with the president by giving greater deference to the judgment of military commanders.” However, it remains unclear what Romney would do if the military’s top brass called for keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan past 2014. Obama has used Romney’s “past statements to argue that Romney’s commitment to Afghanistan could be open-ended,” says Raeston, which could be a problem for the 60 percent of voters who favor a speedy withdrawal from the country.

    5. China — Here, Romney and Obama have real differences. Romney has vowed to dub China a “currency manipulator” on his first day in office, a designation that would almost certainly spark a self-defeating trade war. Romney “wouldn’t be the first candidate to pummel China on the campaign trail and make nice in the White House,” says Keller. “But the stridency of [his] protectionist rhetoric…makes many of [his] supporters cringe.” Indeed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest business lobbying group,opposes such a move. However, polls show that “Americans have turned increasingly negative toward China and its trade policies,” says Howard LaFranchi at The Christian Science Monitor, which means Romney may be on the right track, politically speaking. Obama’s challenge is to sound suitably tough on China without alienating one of the U.S.’s largest trading partners.

    6. Defense spending — Romney has claimed that the “U.S. military is in danger of becoming a ‘hollow force’ under Obama because of potential cuts,” say Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and Margaret Talev at Bloomberg. Romney has proposed reversing a planned $1 trillion in Defense Department cuts and adding another $1 trillion in spending over the next 10 years, measures he argues are necessary to ensure American military superiority. Obama is also opposed to the cuts, but has shot down proposals to boost military spending after that, saying it’s simply unaffordable. The fight over defense spending is one of the few areas of the debate that will touch directly on domestic policy, with the candidates outlining their priorities when it comes to reducing the budget deficit.

    Oh, and don’t miss: The final presidential debate: A viewer’s guide

     

  9. The publication: The New Yorker
    The endorsement: Obama
    The key quote: "The reëlection of Barack Obama is a matter of great urgency. Not only are we in broad agreement with his policy directions; we also see in him what is absent in Mitt Romney — a first-rate political temperament and a deep sense of fairness and integrity.
    The context: "If you spell reelection with an umlaut," one GOP insider tells Politico, “odds are your endorsement will go for Obama.”

    The publication: Reno Gazette-Journal
    The endorsement: Romney
    The key quote: "It wasn’t an easy decision. A recommendation against an incumbent can’t be taken lightly… However, while [Obama] had to contend with a Republican Party that was determined to deny him a second term at any cost, Obama cannot avoid the consequences of poor decisions and misplaced priorities."
    The context: "Somewhat offsetting the pro-Romney votes of the Gazette-Journal and the Las Vegas Review-Journal,” says The Associated Press, the Las Vegas Sun has endorsed Obama for president, “taking a different direction than Nevada’s two other largest newspapers” in this swing state.

    The publication: Cleveland Plain-Dealer
    The endorsement: Obama
    The key quote: "Four years ago, this newspaper’s editorial board enthusiastically endorsed Barack Obama… our endorsement this year comes with less enthusiasm or optimism. Obama has changed — and it’s more than gray hair. The unifier of 2008 now engages in relentless attacks on his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The big dreamer of 2008 offers little in the way of a second-term agenda. There is a world-weariness unseen four years ago."
    The context: Obama won the backing of two of the three most important newspapers in this critical swing state, says Leigh Ann Caldwell at CBS News, but both — the Plain-Dealer and the Akron Beacon Journal, “offered less-than-ringing support.”

    8 major news outlets’ presidential endorsements

     

  10. The vice presidential debate: A viewer’s guide

    When is the debate, and how can I watch it?
    The debate starts at 9 pm (ET) and lasts 90 minutes. The Biden-Ryan face-off, at Centre College in Danville, Ky., will be aired live on all four networks — ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox — and the major cable news channels: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Univision, and CNN Español, among others. It will also be live-streamed on numerous websites. (GigaOm has a comprehensive list of where to watch it online and on mobile devices.)

    Who’s the moderator?
    Martha Raddatz, the senior foreign affairs correspondent for ABC News. Conservative website The Daily Caller tried to make hay out of Obama’s attending her 1991 wedding, as a guest of her now-ex-husband Julius Genachowski, who was on the Harvard Law Review with Obama. But the article “failed to make a major impact,” says Politico's Dylan Byers — perhaps, notes CNN's Candy Crowley, because it was so obvious an attempt at “playing the refs.” (Crowley is moderating next week's presidential debate.) Ryan's spokesman said the GOP campaign has “no concern” about Raddatz. 

    Is there a theme to the debate?
    No. According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, it will “cover both foreign and domestic topics,” which leaves Raddatz an unlimited number of subjects to choose from. There are only nine slots, though, note Jason Linkins and Elyse Siegel at The Huffington Post, and “with so many domestic policy topics left untouched in the first presidential debate, and foreign policy encroaching at the veep debate, chances are viewers are going to be left wanting more.” The bulk of the issues will almost certainly be domestic, but remember, Raddatz has “walked the foreign policy beat for the entirety of the past four years,” so expect at least one question on Libya, Iran, or Afghanistan. 

    What’s the format?
    Compared with the Denver presidential debate’s, um, loose format, the Danville showdown will be positively regimented: There will be nine segments of about 10 minutes each; each candidate will have two minutes to respond to Raddatz’s question, and she will use the remaining six minutes to foster discussion on the topic.

    Who’s favored to win?
    Ryan. Voters expect the 42-year-old congressman to outshine Biden in at least three polls — by a margin of 55 percent to 39 percent (CNN/ORC International), 46 percent to 30 percent (Zogby), or 40 percent to 34 percent (Pew) — and no poll forecasts a Biden win. That is probably good news for the vice president, since it sets a pretty low bar. But Ryan has been rigorously preparing for the debate since Romney tapped him as his running mate in early August.

    Do VP debates even matter?
    The conventional wisdom is that no, vice presidential debates are mostly for sport, or, at best, a chance for the public to meet the men who will be a heartbeat away from the presidency. But that sells them short, University of Pennsylvania’s Kathleen Hall Jamieson tells The Daily Beast. As in 2004, when Vice President Dick Cheney’s strong performance helped President George W. Bush recover from his weak first debate against Sen. John Kerry, the VP showdown “can be an interlude which changes the present dialogue about the momentum of the campaign.” But if you look back, says Dan Amira at New York, newspapers say that same thing every four years. So will the Biden-Ryan showdown “be the one that finallymakes a huge difference?” Anything could happen, “especially when Joe Biden is involved” — but don’t bet on it. Besides, as political scientist Jonathan Bernstein notes, this year’s debate has its share of competition for viewers. The MLB playoffs — Yankees-Orioles (Game 4) and Tigers-A’s (Game 5) — and an NFL matchup of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans are all on at the same time.

    (Source: theweek.com)

     

  11. "I careth not where thou has traversed from, varmint!"

    Rainn Wilson, aka Dwight Schrute from The Office, wants to make Voting Day a national holiday, because voting on a Tuesday is “a pain in the ass.

     

  12. "Mitt Romney. Taking on our enemies, no matter where they nest."

    A new Obama ad mocks Romney for his focus on Sesame Street instead of Wall Street. 

    (Source: theweek.com)

     

  13. Romney still won’t release his tax returns and no one is sure why.

    A few popular theories: Each return provides a reminder of Romney’s Mormonism. His tax rate might have been close to zero. Romney’s income might have been extremely high.

    Or maybe he actually has something to hide.