This is a bird’s eye view of the race for the White House in the week before the Republican convention. First off, polling:
- You can’t live with’m… Rasmussen sees Romney attracting 44% nationwide, while Obama has sunk to 43%. Ironically, this is a pretty low-level of support for either of them.
Today’s update matches the president’s lowest level of support since May. Yesterday was the lowest level of support for Romney since March. On a combined basis, today shows the lowest level of combined support for the two major party candidates since January 27.
In other words, enthusiasm might be dragging, and people are a little weary of the negative campaign ads running in swing states, and polling in swing states (Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, etc) is going to matter more than nationwide polling (which the Rasmussen poll is). With conventions coming next week for the GOP and the week there after for the Dems, both are hoping for a bump (though perhaps more to Romney than Obama).
- “Help me, Obi Wan Kanobi. You’re my only hope.” In a stunning and thorough article that topped the page on the Drudge Report and will grace the cover of Newsweek, Niall Ferguson argues it’s time for a new president.
In his inaugural address, Obama promised “not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.” He promised to “build the roads and bridges, the electric grids, and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.” He promised to “restore science to its rightful place and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.” And he promised to “transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.” Unfortunately the president’s scorecard on every single one of those bold pledges is pitiful.
What’s striking is not so much that Ferguson (who was a McCain adviser four years ago) is making the call, but that the article is in Newsweek. Four years ago, Newsweek was squarely in favor of the hope and change that Obama was selling.
This year, the cover is clear: the GOP is America’s Obi Wan Kanobi:
Don’t miss the reply comments to that posting. They’re priceless (and oh, so articulate). (Also, don’t miss my review of Ferguson’s book “Civilization: The West and the Rest.”)
- “I’m surrounded by idiots“: While Missouri Republican Senate candidate Congressman Todd Akin is taking heat (and justifiably so) for suggesting that a “female body has ways to try to shut” down a pregnancy in the case of rape, Peggy Noonan notes that if Vice-President Bidenhad been a Republican, people would be asking if he was stupid.Really. That’s what she said:
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Noonan said, “If it had been a Republican vice presidential candidate who had made those gaffes…the subject today of the panel would be how stupid is this person, can this person possibly govern?”
Apparently, no party has the corner on idiots and dumb comments. However, I’d take Paul Ryan as VP over Joe Biden every day. Biden’s White House would be an exercise in keeping the President away from an open mic or anyone with a Twitter account.
Also, in case you were wondering, the Romney camp condemned Akin’s comments soundly.
- “That’s so five minutes ago.” Obama 2012 prefers Rep. Paul Ryan circa 2011. So much so, that the campaign is still criticizing Ryan’s now out-of-date budget on terms that have been accounted for in the Ryan’s 2012 budget.
The president’s accusations largely refer to Ryan’s 2011 plan, ignoring the fact that the House Budget Committee chairman rolled out a different version in 2012 — taking into account Democratic critiques. Though the 2012 plan is more moderate, Obama and his surrogates have all but ignored the newer version as they amp up their accusations against the Romney-Ryan ticket.
- Competitive, much? A new e-book reveals that, typical of a lot of campaigns, there are a lot of egos involved in the Obama campaign. Also typical of many campaigns, there is a lot of internal conflict as those egos jostle for position and media appearances. Will it result in a one-term presidency?
- Also, the President has no problem with negative attacks on his opponents and surrogates:
Obama’s trash-talking competitiveness, a trait that has defined him since his days on the court as a basketball-obsessed teenager in Hawaii, was on display one night last February, when the president spotted a woman he knew was close to Sen. Marco Rubio in a Florida hotel lobby. “Is your boy going to go for [vice president]?” the president asked her. Maybe, she replied.
“Well,” he said, chuckling, according to a person who witnessed the encounter. “Tell your boy to watch it. He might get his ass kicked.”
Obama really doesn’t like, admire or even grudgingly respect Romney. It’s a level of contempt, say aides, he doesn’t even feel for the conservative, combative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Hill Republican he disliked the most. “There was a baseline of respect for John McCain. The president always thought he was an honorable man and a war hero,” a longtime Obama adviser said. “That doesn’t hold true for Romney. He was no goddamned war hero.”
Time and again Obama has told the people around him that Romney stood for “nothing.” The word he would use to describe Romney was “weak,” too weak to stand up to his own moneymen, too weak to defend his own moderate record as the man who signed into law the first health insurance mandate as Massachusetts governor in 2006, too weak to admit Obama had done a single thing right as president.
- Last from the ebook: Obama’s quite afraid of losing. He won on a wave of young support, and just last week polls show that the under-40 crowd is starting to swing for Romney:
During secret Sunday Roosevelt Room meetings with his top political and White House advisers, Obama has expressed concerns that the enthusiasm gap between his 2008 and 2012 support could cost him the election. He often peppers participants with pointed questions about campaign metrics — he’s especially interested in gauges of base enthusiasm, including the latest reports on volunteer enrollment in swing states and college campuses.
- “Like a fire is burning…” Meanwhile, keep your eyes open for further review of Romney’s Mormon faith in the coming weeks. The New York Times is reporting that a Mormon will give the invocation at the Republican Convention next week and McKay Coppins, a Mormon himself, went to church with Romney as part of the rotating press pool. He gives an account of what sounds like, at least to other Mormons, a pretty average and routine Sunday service, complete with fidgeting kids and a desperate choir director trying to wrest members of the congregation into singing with the choir. Also, is that J. Willard Marriott walking in with Romney?
- The focus on Romney’s faith at the convention is likely to turn much of the attention to the role of his faith in building him, including Romney’s time as a lay bishop in the LDS Church. The Telegraph, out of the UK, relates one experience (among others) from this period:
Sandy Catalano had a very different experience, however. A former Roman Catholic, she converted to Mormonism in the early 1980s, but her husband Ron viewed her new faith as a cult and the strain almost destroyed their marriage. Then she fell ill, and as Mr Catalano struggled to care for their two children, Mr Romney took time off work and arranged for Church members to help the couple.
“Ronnie started to realise that the Church was full of kind people, although he was still sceptical about some of the tenets,” she said.
“Then he lost his photography business and Mitt came up with maintenance jobs for him do around the church. He went out of his way to help Ronnie find work and maintain his integrity.”
What’s your take on the race this week? Is there a story you think should have been posted here?
- Obama aides say president now has personal ‘genuine disdain’ for Romney (conservativeread.com)
- Romney Shows Forward Momentum in Three Swing States (theatlanticwire.com)
- Rasmussen: Voters say Ryan more qualified to be president than Biden (thehill.com)
- Newsweek Magazine’s Latest Cover: Hit the Road Barack (themoderatevoice.com)
- Newsweek magazine turns on the President (tomfaranda.typepad.com)
- Newsweek Pounds Barack Obama With Cover Story (twighlightslastgleaming.wordpress.com)
- He’s That Bad… Even Newsweek Turns on Obama (menorahblog.typepad.com)