POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 7/30

Romney Not Sure If He’s Paid Less Than 13.9% in Taxes

Mitt Romney was asked by ABC News if there was ever any year when he paid lower than a 13.9% effective tax rate as his 2010 tax returns show.

Said Romney: “I haven’t calculated that. I’m happy to go back and look but my view is I’ve paid all the taxes required by law. From time to time I’ve been audited as happens I think to other citizens as well and the accounting firm which prepares my taxes has done a very thorough and complete job pay taxes as legally due. I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president. I’d think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.”

However, when pressed if he would get back to the interviewer, Romney wouldn’t directly answer the question.

Dark Money Makes Up Half of All Independent Spending

The Huffington Post reports that “dark money” has made up at least half of all spending this election cycle by outside groups.

“Through July 26, politically involved groups that do not disclose their donors have spent at least $172 million on campaigns that include television, radio and Internet advertising… Total spending by these groups is likely far greater, since they are required to report only a fraction of their spending to the FEC. Politically involved independent groups that publicly disclose their donors, including super PACs, have spent $174 million so far this election cycle.”

Is Mitt Romney a Wimp?

Newsweek cover story says Mitt Romney’s trip to London — where he “managed to alienate just about every living Briton” — suggests he might just be too insecure to be president.

“The episode highlights what’s really wrong with Romney. He’s kind of lame, and he’s really … annoying. He keeps saying these … things, these incredibly off-key things. Then he apologizes immediately — with all the sincerity of a hostage. Or maybe he doesn’t: sometimes he whines about the subsequent attacks on him. But the one thing he never does? Man up, double down, take his lumps.”

First Fan

Business Insider: “The Team USA men’s basketball team had no problem with France today in their opening match of the Olympics, cruising to a 98-71 win. But the mosteyebrow-raising highlight of the match may have come after the game when each member of the team, including coaches, walked over and gave Michelle Obama a hug.”

See more…

Quote of the Day

“Mitt Romney wondered aloud whether London was ready for the Olympics, and I think it’s clear that voters in this country wonder aloud whether Mitt Romney is ready for the world, and I think the world is not yet ready for Mitt Romney.”

— Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, in an interview with ABC News, adding, “I thought it was embarrassing for our country.”

What if Voters Just Like Obama More?

Los Angeles Times: “The economy is in the tank and hopes for quick improvement are dim. Most people don’t like the direction the country is headed and many blame President Obama. And his GOP rival scores better on the top issues. So why isn’t Obama doing worse in the polls?”

“One likely reason: Voters like him more than Mitt Romney.”

Washington Post: “In part, the disparity reflects a natural reserve, even an awkwardness on Romney’s part. It also reveals a sensitivity to the fact that there are upsides and downsides politically to defining himself through his biography — his Mormon faith, his spectacularly successful business career, his wealth and his stint as the governor of a liberal state.

Cheney Says Picking Palin Was a Mistake

Former Vice President Dick Cheney told ABC News he wouldn’t comment on the advice he gave Mitt Romney on picking a running mate but he was harsh in his assessment of Sen. John McCain’s decision to pick Sarah Palin four years ago.

Said Cheney: “That one, I don’t think was well handled.”

He added: “I like Governor Palin. I’ve met her. I know her. She – attractive candidate. But based on her background, she’d only been governor for, what, two years. I don’t think she passed that test…of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake.”

Mitt Romney’s London Gaffes

The Week looks at five ways Mitt Romney’s bungled trip hurt him.

Obama Gambles on Going Negative

New York Times: “As the campaigns prepare for the next phase of the race, the two sides are taking stock of what they have achieved in their first sustained engagement, a relentlessly negative effort over the last two months to define the other. The exchanges have been so fierce that hardly a positive ad has been broadcast in July.”

“But both the opportunities and the risks in the definition wars are greater for Mr. Obama. Mr. Romney is less well known to the public, giving Democrats a chance to shape perceptions of him just as more voters are starting to tune in to the race.”

“The president’s prospects for re-election now rest in part on one of the biggest gambles of his career: that the benefits of trying to eviscerate Mr. Romney outweigh the costs to his own image and reputation. ”

Romney Will Allow Media Into Fundraiser

Mitt Romney’s campaign “reversed its decision to bar reporters from an upcoming fund-raiser in Jerusalem, saying on Sunday it will now allow a pool of journalists to cover the presumptive GOP nominee’s remarks,” CNN reports.

“The reporters, however, will be escorted out before Romney takes questions from the audience during the event on Monday.”

Romney Bans Media from Jerusalem Fundraiser

Mitt Romney arrived in Jerusalem and was scheduled to attend a fundraiser on Monday but his campaign announced “that it would block the news media from covering the event,” the Washington Post reports.

“The campaign’s decision to close the fundraiser to the press violates the ground rules it negotiated with news organizations in April… Under the agreement, a pool of wire, print and television reporters can cover every Romney fundraiser held in public venues, including hotels and country clubs. The campaign does not allow media coverage of fundraisers held in private residences.”

A spokesman “declined to explain the campaign’s decision to violate protocol with the Jerusalem event.”

Mark Halperin: “With Sheldon Adelson expected to be in the house (the King David hotel) and a restive traveling press corps, this might not be the best way, however, to change the trajectory of the media narrative.”

Obama Lead Narrows in Pennsylvania

A new Susquehanna Polling & Research survey in Pennsylvania found President Obama leading Mitt Romney by just three points, 46% to 43%.

In June, Obama led by five points, 48% to 43%.

Key findings: “Nearly 80% of voters in the poll said they had seen campaign ads from the candidates. Just 39% view Romney favorably, compared with 41% who have an unfavorable view of him. Voters are almost evenly split on their opinions of Obama, 46% favorable and 45% unfavorable.”

Poll Suggests McCaskill Headed for Defeat

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Missouri shows Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) trailing all of her potential GOP challengers.

John Brunner (R) tops McCaskill, 52% to 41%, Sarah Steelman (R) leads 49% to 41% and Todd Akin (R) is ahead 49% to 44%.

Obama Just Ahead in Ohio

A new Magellan Strategies (R) poll in Ohio finds President Obama leading Mitt Romney by just two points in the key swing state, 45% to 43%.

Jewish Americans Overwhelmingly Back Obama

On the eve of Mitt Romney’s trip to Israel, a new Gallup poll finds 68% of Jewish Americans support President Obama for re-eelction, while 25% support Mitt Romney.

Romney Looks to Salvage Foreign Trip

Mitt Romney’s missteps on his trip abroad “have drawn extensive mockery in Britain and public consternation from both Republicans and Democrats in the United States, and his campaign advisers were at a loss Friday to put a positive spin on the story — other than to look ahead to the next two stops on his tour,” the Washington Post reports.

“Romney arrived in London under a bright spotlight, as expected, but apparently without a strategy for conveying a message to voters back home — such as reminding Americans of his widely lauded stewardship of the 2002 Winter Olympics or promoting his foreign-policy vision.”

“As a result, there is now immense pressure on him to find better footing in Israel and Poland. Romney’s advisers hope his events in Jerusalem on Sunday — when he will lock arms with Israeli leaders — could create a moment of strength that might redefine the candidate’s intensely scrutinized audition as a statesman.”

Daily Beast: Romney alienates England.

Jackson Being Treated for Depression

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) is at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota “for extensive inpatient evaluation for depression and gastrointestinal issues,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

“Jackson’s whereabouts have been a mystery since he went on medical leave June 10. The statement issued Friday said the congressman ‘has arrived at Mayo Clinic,’ but did not say where he came from.”

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