http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...ugust/?hpid=z1Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign announced early Monday that it raised $111.6 million during the month of August, its single best month of the campaign and the third straight month it has raked in more than $100 million.
President Obama’s campaign has announced its August fundraising totals via Twitter.
Obama, the Democratic National Committee and their joint fundraising committee had $123.7 million cash on hand at the end of July.
Welcome to the beginning of the end of the 2012 campaign
With the two parties’ conventions now over, the final days of the 2012 campaign are upon us. As this sort of beginning of the end — well — begins, it’s worth noting a few things we know will matter in the battle between President Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney over the next 57 days.
* The presidential debates:
There will be three one-on-one face-offs between Obama and Romney over these final eight weeks of the campaign and they are, without question, the most important and influential factor when it comes to voters making up their minds. The presidential debates are set for Oct. 3, Oct. 16 and Oct. 22 with a vice presidential debate sandwiched in between on Oct. 11.
This time around, Romney has more to prove but also a bigger opportunity to use the debates as a springboard into the final days of the election. Some Republicans believe that if Romney looks and sounds presidential in the debates, those five or six percent of undecideds looking for a reason to vote against Obama will have it.
* The September and October jobs reports:
The September report will be released Oct. 5, while the October report comes out Nov. 2.
It’s clear from last week’s August jobs report that the economy won’t get significantly better between now and Election Day. But the final two jobs reports will either be the icing on the top of the cake for Romney’s argument that Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing or a bit of a break for the incumbent to argue that things are slowly but surely getting better.
No matter how the jobs reports turn out politically, they will get wall-to-wall media coverage given the intense focus by the electorate on the health (or lack thereof) of the economy. Given how few people are undecided, two bad reports (and the resultant press attention) could well swing the election to Romney. Two good — or even slightly better-than-expected — reports could hand Obama some momentum.
* Romney’s money advantage:
In the final eight weeks of the race, Romney, the Republican National Committee and the slew of outside conservative organizations like American Crossroads are going to dump hundreds of millions of dollars onto the TV airwaves in swing states — a barrage that Obama and his side simply will not be able to match.
At issue is whether the heavy spending by Obama’s campaign during the summer months — as Romney was forced to wait until the GOP convention to begin to be able to spend general election funds — has defined the race in a way that is both a) beneficial to the incumbent and b) unchangeable even by the heaviest spending on the Republican side.
Beyond those three factors, it’s hard to see much of anything — short of a massive gaffe that neither candidate is likely to commit — doing much to change the underlying nature of the race.
It’s close today, and it will almost certainly be close for the next 57 days.
By SARA MURRAY and LAURA MECKLER
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...djemPolitics_hWith two months to Election Day, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney faces the disconcerting reality that he isn't winning most of the states he would need to beat President Barack Obama.
A new Public Policy Polling survey released Sunday, taken after both parties' conventions, found Mr. Obama leading Mr. Romney 50% to 45% in Ohio, an improvement on the president's earlier advantage. Meanwhile, Florida and Virginia remained neck and neck.
Mr. Obama is leading Mr. Romney by small margins in seven of the eight battleground states, all but North Carolina, according to averages of public polls compiled by RealClearPolitics. All are within the margins of error, and most don't include reactions to the Democratic convention and Friday's dismal jobs report.
The Hill: Opinion: War policy challenges Romney
By Juan Williams
http://thehill.com/opinion/columnist...llenges-romneyMitt Romney and President Obama are in basic general agreement on the path forward in Afghanistan. But by agreeing with each other, the two presidential candidates are in disagreement with the vast majority of the American people who want to get out as soon as possible.
Analysis: GOP Ticket Makes Questionable Argument on Defense Cuts
http://www.nationaljournal.com/natio...-cuts-20120910Romney and Ryan are trying to persuade voters in defense-heavy battleground states that their jobs would be safer if the GOP ticket wins the White House. From a political standpoint, the tactic holds potential to affect the outcome of the election. But there are a couple of problems with it. First, Obama and his defense secretary, Leon Panetta, have also said they would prefer that the cuts not take effect. Second, the job loss projections used by the GOP ticket are misleading, writes National Journal's Sara Sorcher.
Southern whites troubled by Romney's wealth, religion
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/...88A05H20120911(Reuters) - Sheryl Harris, a voluble 52-year-old with a Virginia drawl, voted twice for George W. Bush. Raised Baptist, she is convinced -- despite all evidence to the contrary -- that President Barack Obama, a practicing Christian, is Muslim.
So in this year's presidential election, will she support Mitt Romney? Not a chance.
"Romney's going to help the upper class," said Harris, who earns $28,000 a year as activities director of a Lynchburg senior center. "He doesn't know everyday people, except maybe the person who cleans his house."
She'll vote for Obama, she said: "At least he wasn't brought up filthy rich."
White lower- and middle-income voters such as Harris are wild cards in this vituperative presidential campaign. With only a sliver of the electorate in play nationwide, they could be a deciding factor in two southern swing states, Virginia and North Carolina.
Cook Report: Romney Adrift
http://www.nationaljournal.com//colu...ehind-20120910It is becoming clear that if President Obama is reelected, it will be despite the economy and because of his campaign; if Mitt Romney wins, it will be because of the economy and despite his campaign, writes Cook Report's Charlie Cook.
Mitt Romney and the ‘captain of the ship’ question
JEFFREY TOOBIN in The New Yorker, "Profiles: THE PROFESSOR -- Elizabeth Warren's long journey into politics :Mitt Romney’s hopes of a win this November rely on convincing a majority of voters of one simple idea: That he is uniquely suited to steer the ship of state during these trying economic times.
He’s not there yet, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, which asked registered voters “on a ship in a storm, who would you rather have as the captain?”
Forty-six percent of registered voters named Obama as their preferred captain, while 43 percent chose Romney. Among electorally critical independents, it was even closer on the “captain” question, with Romney taking 44 percent to 43 percent for Obama.
Why is the captain question so important to Romney? Because on virtually every other character attribute question, he is being swamped by Obama.
Who do you think would make a more loyal friend? Fifty percent of registered voters named Obama, while just 36 percent chose Romney. Fifty-two percent said they’d rather invite Obama to a dinner at their house, while just 33 percent chose Romney. Ditto who you’d rather take care of you when you were sick: 49 percent chose Obama, while 36 opted for Romney.
Dismiss these sorts of poll questions if you want, but they speak to the broader perceptions that people have of the two men running for president. And perception/feel/heart has far more influence in determining how someone votes than do policies/head. Obama is the caring, friendly one. Romney has to be — repeat, HAS TO BE — the competent, trustworthy one.
To win, Romney has to have voters think to themselves two things. 1. “I like Obama more but I don’t think he has what it takes to get the country out of this economic mess.” 2. “Romney may not be a guy I want to hang out with but he knows that he’s doing.”PUNDIT PREP - N.Y. Times 1-col. lead, "A TIGHT ELECTION MAY BE TANGLED IN LEGAL BATTLES: LAST-MINUTE APPEALS -- Partisan Fight Over ID Laws and Early Votes Is Critical to Race," by Ethan Bronner: "Voter ID laws have been both upheld as fair and struck down as discriminatory. In Pennsylvania, a state judge upheld the voter ID law, and the State Supreme Court will hear appeal arguments on Thursday. One issue that is likely to lead to lawsuits after Election Day is that of provisional ballots. Under federal law, anyone whose identity or voting precinct is in doubt can ask for a provisional ballot ... and then has a number of days to return with the required documentation." http://nyti.ms/PVSnnaWarren's Oklahoma roots are modest. Politically, she is a throwback to a more combative progressive tradition": "Warren ... is a young-looking sixty-three ... She is a startling sight for anyone who has seen her only on television. She is tiny, and very slight. Her campaign uniform consists of colorful T-shirts topped by button-down shirts that flap behind her as she paces and talks. Her energy level is just short of manic. ... [Her] stump speech ... is clearly informed by her years in the classroom. She's a loud, lucid speaker, whose words unspool in full sentences and paragraphs. 'I talk a lot about working families,' Warren said. 'I grew up in a working family.' ...
"She makes no gauzy promises of hope and change, and she wades into con?ict rather than trying to rise above it. She is a candidate of, and for, hard times. 'The people who broke the economy fought the regulations and then doubled down,' she told me." Abstract http://nyr.kr/P4nHBe
KRUGMAN: Republican obstructionism, an election tactic. ”[H]aving prevented Mr. Obama from implementing any of his policies, those same Republicans are pointing to disappointing job numbers and declaring that the president's policies have failed. Think of it as a two-part strategy. First, obstruct any and all efforts to strengthen the economy, then exploit the economy's weakness for political gain. If this strategy sounds cynical, that's because it is. Yet it's the G.O.P.'s best chance for victory in November.” Paul Krugman in The New York Times.
DIONNE: It’s advantage Obama, right now, but Romney has opportunities. ”Normally, a president presiding over 8 percent unemployment and a country that sees itself on the wrong track wouldn't stand a chance. But then a candidate with Mitt Romney's shortcomings, including his failure to ignite much enthusiasm within his own party, wouldn't stand a chance, either. The combination of the two explains why this election remains close.” E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post.
John Heilemann considers the relationship between Obama and Clinton: ”This tale of two speeches begins with the stylistic disparities between their authors. Whereas Obama is a classic orator, trafficking at his best in soaring stanzas and almost preacherly cadences, Clinton operates more in the mode of an aw-shucks southern country lawyer (albeit one with a public-policy Ph.D.). And whereas Obama excels at the inspirational, the electrifying, and the galvanizing, Clinton's skills are unparalleled when it comes to a quartet of earthier objectives: distillation, litigation, validation, and evisceration.
RYAN VOTED FOR SEQUESTER THAT ROMNEY ATTACKS: "Romney criticized the 2011 Budget Control Act on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' while Ryan defended his vote for the bill on CBS's 'Face the Nation,'" the Hill's Jeremy Herb notes. "When pressed about GOP support, Romney said: 'I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose it. I think it was a mistake for Republicans to go along with it.' On Face the Nation, Ryan gave no ground that voting for the [sequester] was a mistake, insisting it was not in fact a vote for the defense cuts." http://goo.gl/otNXz
LIGHTER CLICKS -
60 MINUTES ran a first-hand account last night of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, built around an interview with one of the Navy SEALs who pulled the trigger. Watch the whole 44-minute special: http://goo.gl/Uvksl.
OBAMA was lifted about a foot off the ground in a giant bear hug by the owner of a Florida pizza shop yesterday: http://goo.gl/PmpJy.
BIDEN was photographed by the AP whispering into a female biker's ear with her nearly on his lap. Awkward: http://goo.gl/tpzNB.
JON STEWART wrapped up his coverage of the Democratic convention ("Hope and Change 2") from Charlotte last Friday night. Watch the full 20-minute episode: http://goo.gl/iaOLG.
STEPHEN COLBERT interviewed Ed Rendell as part of his Friday night DNC wrap-up: http://goo.gl/tXScP.
HOWARD DEAN'S 2004 scream speech audio is mashed up with video of Jennifer Granholm's DNC speech last week: http://goo.gl/fXvAk.
LARRY FLYNT offers a $1 million reward for Romney's tax returns: http://goo.gl/YR7Ce.
CODA - QUOTE OF THE DAY: 'The president believes as much that God should be taken off a coin as he does that aliens will attack Florida. It's an absurd question to be raised." - Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki responds to Romney saying electing him will ensure that God remains