Tonight's the night for the first of three Presidential Debates. Tonight is domestic policy only. Oct. 16, is a mix of domestic and foreign, and Oct 22 is exclusively foreign policy. You can watch it livestream or recorded here 9.00PM Eastern.
FORMAT FOR TONIGHT'S DEBATE (9 to 10:30 p.m. ET, at the University of Denver's Magness Arena, inside the Daniel L. Ritchie Center for Sports and Wellness), per a debate official: "It goes 90 min. straight-up -- no breaks. First three 15-min. segments are economy [Economy I, II, III], 4th segment health care, 5th is 'the role of government' and last is 'governing.' Then closing statements, so segments will be less than 15."
--AP's Nancy Benac and Kasie Hunt: "The moderator, PBS newsman Jim Lehrer, will open each 15-minute segment with a question, and then Obama and Romney will have two minutes apiece to answer. After that, it's up to Lehrer to keep the conversation going and to intervene if one candidate goes too long. ...
"Former President Bill Clinton will be in Boston on Wednesday night for Obama, with donors paying $20,000 a person. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is headlining a New York fundraiser. The Obama campaign plans more than 4,000 debate-watching events around the country. And Biden is scheduled to hold a live discussion with supporters that will be streamed online after the debate. The Romney camp planned 336 debate parties at restaurants, bars, grills, VFW halls and other sites concentrated in battleground states."
JIM LEHRER, in the 2012 paperback update to his memoir, "Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates" (writing before he had been selected for tonight): "I strongly recommend that it be standard practice to advise debate hall audiences in advance that they are expected to remain absolutely silent during a debate. They are invited guests, not participants. The moderator should remind the would-be cheerleaders and boobirds of the rules and enforce them when necessary. That has been the long-established practice in the fall general election debates. ... There have been thirty-five nationally television presidential and vice presidential debates, counting [the] first one in 1960 [Kennedy-Nixon] and the last four in 2008.
"All the moderators have been broadcast journalists except one - Chicago Sun-Times editor James Hoge in 1976. There have been several repeaters: Howard K. Smith of CBS and ABC, Edwin Newman of NBC, Barbara Walters of ABC, Bernard Shaw of CNN, Bob Schieffer of CBS, my PBS colleague Gwen Ifill, and I account for twenty-one [now 22] of the thirty-five [now 36] moderating assignments. ... The first ... was for a 1988 debate between Vice President George H.W. Bush and Governor Michael Dukakis in Winston-Salem."
THE CANDIDATES AS BRANDS: a poll out today that used methods for measuring the effectiveness of corporate branding, applied to political candidates -- Mackenzie Weinger: "Pollsters from the Democratic firm of Penn Schoen Berland said ... Obama is successfully making the election a referendum on Republicans, while Romney's attempt to make the race a referendum on the last four years is falling flat with voters. And the Republican hopeful had only one theme that was breaking through with independent voters -- his attacks on Obama's handling of violence in the Middle East ... Of the 24 messages tested - 12 quotes by each candidate from their convention addresses and subsequent stump speeches - the top eight were all from Obama. Obama's highest scoring message was his line at the Democratic Convention: ... 'we have been there, we've tried that, and we're not going back.' Romney's ... most compelling message [was] his convention line: ['What America needs is] jobs. Lots of jobs,' ... in ninth. ...
"The company used its trademarked 'Master Message' system and conducted the poll online to expose people to lengthy quotes. ... Obama's top two testing messages set up Romney as supportive of old Bush-era policies that have failed in the past ... Romney only has one message that is resonating with independents, [Billy Mann, Penn Schoen Berland's managing director] said, and that's his foreign policy critique of the president that ranked at number 12: 'The President said the developments in the Middle East are "bumps in the road." Bumps in the road? We had an ambassador assassinated. We had a Muslim Brotherhood member elected to the presidency of Egypt. Twenty thousand people have been killed in Syria. We have tumult in Pakistan, and of course Iran is that much closer to having the capacity to build a nuclear weapon,' Romney said at a campaign event in Pueblo, Colo. on Sept. 24. ...
"[T]he lowest scoring message overall was Romney's '12 million jobs' line from a campaign rally in Jefferson County, Colo. on Sept. 23, 2012: ... 'My choice will lead us on a path that will create 12 million new jobs and rising take-home pay.' ... Penn Schoen Berland polled 1,003 likely voters online from Sept. 28-Oct. 1." http://politi.co/Wi21EU
Analysis: Much at Stake for Romney With Debate Audience
As I watched my hometown Detroit Tigers clinch their division last night (Awesome!), I noticed the two teams with different colored Sox were not making the playoffs and basically ending a very disappointing season. The Chicago White Sox (President Obama’s team) and the Boston Red Sox (Gov. Romney’s team) were ending their year not meeting expectations and underperforming. The hometown teams seem to perfectly represent two unelectable candidates running against each other, though in this case they are the only teams in the playoffs, so one will win, writes National Journal's Matthew Dowd.
Analysis: Romney Softens on Immigration, But Will it Help Him With Hispanics?
Mitt Romney’s advisers have long insisted that economic doldrums--not immigration policy--would turn Hispanic voters toward the Republican nominee. But Romney’s decision to break his silence on allowing young illegal immigrants to stay in the United States reflects a shift in that failing strategy and an implicit admission that the increasingly powerful Hispanic vote could, in part, cost him the election, writes National Journal's Beth Reinhard.
The Wall Street Journal: One debate goal: Sway the swayable By Janet Hook The presidential debate will give Obama and Romney one of their last, best shots at winning over an ever-dwindling number of uncommitted voters.
MINOW: The debates are a moment of respect for the intelligence of voters. ”The debates are an institution now, and among the most watched television events in America. They are one place in the modern campaign — perhaps the only place — where the voter is treated with respect. They are the one time when the major candidates appear together side by side under conditions they do not control. They are a relief from the nasty commercials that dominate the campaign, fed by donations that are effectively unlimited and anonymous. Broadcasters provide the television time for the debates, without commercials, as a rare public service…The debates are one of the few features of our political campaigns that are still admired throughout the world.” Newton N. Minow in The New York Times
MILBANK: Romney’s candidacy already has too much “Zinger” in it. “The Zinger is an unwholesome confection. One serving of this Hostess snack, which is basically a Devil Dog or a Twinkie with icing, has 35 percent of your daily allowance of saturated fat -- and some trans fat thrown in for good measure. The first ingredient listed is sugar, followed later by corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavor, glucose and polypropylene glycol…Probably the Republican nominee has been equipped not with packaged snacks but with that other type of zinger, the one-line putdown commonly used in presidential debates. Unfortunately, the nutritional value of this zinger is the same as its namesake confection. At a time when even his fondest supporters are pleading for more substance, Mitt Romney is giving them the political equivalent of junk food. His has been the Zinger candidacy -- all sugary platitudes, no protein.” Dana Milbank in The Washington Post.
POLLS: OBAMA LEADS IN OHIO, BUT RACE IS TIGHTER IN FLORIDA AND VIRGINIA. As they head into their first debate, President Obama remains stubbornly ahead in Ohio, while the race against Mitt Romney remains close in Florida and Virginia, according to new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls released early on Wednesday. In Florida, Obama leads, 47 percent to 46 percent; in Ohio, 51 percent to 43 percent; and in Virginia, 48 percent to 46 percent. The latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll released on Tuesday showed the two deadlocked among likely voters, though an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on Tuesday showed Obama with a 3-point lead and an NPR Poll released on Wednesday showed Obama with a 7-point lead.
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION TONIGHT. The most important question in tonight’s debate may be,“Why aren’t you seriously trying to solve the jobs crisis?” The so-called “jobs plans” both President Obama and Mitt Romney have put forth are, put simply, nowhere near aggressive enough to close the gap between where the economy should be right now and where it actually is, due to the Great Recession and the feeble recovery that followed it. National Journal’s Jim Tankersley writes that Jim Lehrer should hammer the candidates on that disconnect tonight—for all 90 minutes if he must—because voters are desperate to hear real solutions for persistently high unemployment.
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Obama’s lead nationally is at three points.
Paul Ryan said in 2011 that 30 percent of Americans “want the welfare state.”
The Democratic super PAC American Bridge is up with 25 issue briefs on Romney in advance of tonight’s debate.
Romney is asking three states — including Wisconsin — to extend their deadlines for receiving military ballots.
“8 questions about the first presidential debate” – Dan Balz, Washington Post
“Moderating presidential debates: harder than it looks” — Paul Farhi, Washington Post
THE AIR WAR-
OBAMA OUTSPENDING ROMNEY ON TV: For every 5 Romney commercials that aired in Colorado during the last two weeks of September, Obama ran 7. In Florida, there were about 50% more Obama ads. "In Ohio and in Iowa, in Norfolk, Va., and on the Boston stations that feed New Hampshire, Mr. Obama out-advertised his rival after the parties' nominating conventions, according to data compiled by the political advertising monitoring firm Kantar Media/CMAG," the New York Times reports: http://goo.gl/a2Zw8.
OBAMA COAL AD SAYS ROMNEY USES WORKERS AS PROPS: "Seen the coal miners in these ads? Turns out they were told that attendance at Mitt Romney's rally was, quote, 'mandatory,'" a narrator says in an Obama ad running in Ohio. "Their mine was closed, lost the pay they needed, all to be props in Romney's commercial." This was first reported by ABC: http://goo.gl/YDR5P.
BATTLEGROUND BRIEFING-THE PATH TO 270:
PENNSYLVANIA VOTER ID LAW SET ASIDE FOR NOVEMBER ELECTION: "Pennsylvania voters who go to the polls without photo identification will be able to vote in next month's presidential election after all. They won't even have to fill out provisional ballots," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "So ruled a Commonwealth Court judge Tuesday in the closely watched legal battle over Pennsylvania's controversial voter-ID law. Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. upheld the law - but blocked it from taking full effect in the Nov. 6 election. In essence, the rules remain as they were during the law's so-called 'soft roll-out' in the April primary: Voters will be asked for the photo ID required by the new law, but if they don't have it, they can still vote. Whether Simpson's ruling is the last word was not yet clear. Corbett administration officials said Tuesday through spokesmen that they had not yet decided whether to mount an appeal." http://goo.gl/80o5s
GOP FIRM KNEW OF POSSIBLE FLORIDA FRAUD IN AUGUST: "On Tuesday, new details emerged that Strategic Allied Consulting knew of problems in Florida weeks ago in what is now a case of possible voter registration fraud in a dozen counties," the Tampa Bay Times reports. "The Republican Party of Florida filed an election fraud complaint last week that is now part of a criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Up until this summer, RPOF ran an in-house voter registration program that used paid staff to collect voter registrations...The RNC already had an arrangement with Strategic Allied Consulting, so the state party says it followed the national party's lead. Company representatives have said they kept Florida Republicans informed once they were alerted of questionable registration forms in Palm Beach County and fired the employee responsible on Sept. 18. Republicans say they didn't hear about the flawed forms until a week later when told about them by a Palm Beach Post reporter. But Cheryl Johnson, Lee County's voter registration director, told the Times/Herald on Tuesday that she noticed some odd applications that came quite a bit earlier, on Aug. 28." http://goo.gl/Ogfxw