POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 8/6

Obama Still Has the Lead

Dan Balz: “The head-to-head polls have largely remained static in that time. But in looking at the numbers nationally and in the battleground states, the consistency of Obama’s lead is striking. More than two dozen national polls have been conducted since the beginning of June. Obama has led in the overwhelming number of them.”

“Polls in the most contested states show a similar pattern. In three of the most important — Ohio, Florida and Virginia — there have been roughly three dozen polls total since April, about the time that Romney’s GOP rivals were exiting the nomination race. In Ohio and Virginia, Obama has led in all but a few. In Florida, Romney has done better, but overall, Obama has led about twice as often…”

“But at this point, the available evidence suggests that the advantage, however small, is with Obama. If this were truly a dead even race, Romney should be ahead in these polls almost as often as he is behind.”

From Spicy Fried Chicken to Mitt Romney

Longtime Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom tells the Wall Street Journal that he was at his desk at an ad agency “working on a press release for a new, spicy menu at Popeye’s Fried Chicken” when Mitt Romney first called to offer him a job on his gubernatorial campaign.

Said Fehrnstrom: “I said to myself, ‘There have to be more interesting things in life than spicy fried chicken. I hung up the phone, walked down the hall and quit.”

(So, he went from “spicy” to “bland”! fvm)

Quote of the Day

“I think at this point of time it’s going to dog him all the way and he needs to get it behind him. I think he needs to release more taxes. Absolutely.”

— GOP strategist Ed Rollins, quoted by The Hill, on Mitt Romney’s lack of disclosure of his tax returns.

How Obama Grew to Dislike Romney

A fascinating excerpt from Obama’s Last Stand, a new e-book by Glenn Thrush, via Mike Allen:

“One factor made the 2012 grind bearable and at times even fun for Obama: he began campaign preparations feeling neutral about Romney, but like the former governor’s GOP opponents in 2008 and 2012, he quickly developed a genuine disdain for the main. That scorn stoked Obama’s competitive fire, got his head in the game, which came as a relief to some Obama aides who had seen his interest flag when he didn’t feel motivated to crush the opposition. Obama, a person close to him told me, didn’t even feel this strongly about conservative, combative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Hill Republican he disliked the most. At least Cantor stood for something, he’d say.”

“When he talked about Romney, aides picked up a level of anger he never had for Clinton or McCain, even after Sarah Palin was picked as his running mate. ‘There was a baseline of respect for John McCain. The president always thought he was an honorable man and a war hero,’ said a longtime Obama adviser. ‘That doesn’t hold true for Romney. He was no goddamned war hero.'”

Obama Hits Romney on Contraception

President Obama has a new ad out in eight swing states that hits Mitt Romney hard over calling for defunding Planned Parenthood.

The ad features a series of women talking about Romney, including one who says, “This is not the 1950s. Contraception is so important to women…”

See more…

Big Spending Dwindles Obama’s Cash Edge

President Obama “has spent more campaign cash more quickly than any incumbent in recent history, betting that heavy early investments in personnel, field offices and a high-tech campaign infrastructure will propel him to victory in November,” the New York Timesreports.

“But now Mr. Obama’s big-dollar bet is being tested. With less than a month to go before the national party conventions begin, the president’s once commanding cash advantage has evaporated, leaving Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee with about $25 million more cash on hand than the Democrats as of the beginning of July.”

Landslide for Obama?

Michael Tomasky: “There’s a secret lurking behind everything you’re reading about the upcoming election, a secret that all political insiders know — or should — but few are talking about, most likely because it takes the drama out of the whole business. The secret is the electoral college, and the fact is that the more you look at it, the more you come to conclude that Mitt Romney has to draw an inside straight like you’ve never ever seen in a movie to win this thing. This is especially true now that it seems as if Pennsylvania isn’t really up for grabs. Romney’s paths to 270 are few.”

Reid Enjoys Role of Attack Dog

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “has adopted the role of attack dog with relish” repeatedly bashing Mitt Romney for not releasing his tax returns, The Hill reports.

“It’s an unusual brawl from the standpoint that congressional leaders usually moderate their rhetoric and also because he and Romney are two of the highest profile Mormons in national politics.”

“It’s a reprise of Reid’s tactics in the 2008 election, when he called Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the GOP nominee, “erratic” and declared he did not have the temperament to be president. Reid famously announced that year he could not stand McCain, a long-time colleague. It was a shocking statement in the clubby Senate.”

Tennessee Democrats Disavow Their Senate Candidate

Tennessee Democrats distanced themselves from Mark Clayton (D) after he won the state’s Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate saying he’s part of an anti-gay hate group, the Tennessean reports.

The party said that it would do nothing to help Clayton who handily won the right to challenge Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) in November.

Said a party statement: “The only time that Clayton has voted in a Democratic primary was when he was voting for himself. Many Democrats in Tennessee knew nothing about any of the candidates in the race, so they voted for the person at the top of the ticket. Unfortunately, none of the other Democratic candidates were able to run the race needed to gain statewide visibility or support.”

Wife Says Jackson Debilitated by Depression

In an exclusive interview, Sandi Jackson told the Chicago Sun Times that her husband, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D), had become “completely debilitated by depression.”

However, she dispelled rumors her husband attempted suicide or was receiving help for alcohol and drug addiction.

Said Mrs. Jackson: “No, no, none of that is true.

She also said reports that Jackson was upset over the federal indictment of his old friend, Raghuveer Nayak, “can’t be true,” because Nayak was arrested June 20 — after the congressman was hospitalized.

She added: “He doesn’t know anything about the indictment.”

Siegelman Sent Back to Prison

A federal judge sentenced former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D) to 78 months in prison, the Birmingham News reports.

“A federal jury in 2006 convicted Siegelman of federal funds bribery on allegations that he sold a seat on a hospital regulatory board to former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman’s 1999 referendum campaign to establish a state lottery. Siegelman served nine months of an 88-month sentence before being released in March 2008 on an appeal bond. A federal appeals court tossed out two of the charges against him, which prompted today’s resentencing.”

Craig Says He Was on Official Business When Arrested

Former Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) “has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Federal Election Commission for using campaign funds to pay for his legal defense, arguing that he was on official travel when he was arrested in a sex-sting operation,” theIdaho Statesman reports.

Craig said that he was “allowed to use campaign funds to pay legal fees incurred from a 2007 arrest at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport because he was on the way to Washington for a session of Congress. The travel triggered the Constitution’s clause immunizing federal lawmakers from arrest.”

Plouffe Tells Lawmakers Democrats Have Momentum

White House adviser David Plouffe sent a “fiery memo” to House and Senate Democrats urging them to use the August recess to echo President Obama’s message to middle-class families, Politico reports.

Wrote Plouffe: “The President and Democrats in Congress move into the August recess with clear momentum on the question of who to trust on taxes and, more broadly, whose economic agenda will benefit the middle class. Over the coming weeks, there is an opportunity to build on this momentum and shape the legislative agenda this fall by highlighting the choice Congress faces at this make-or-break moment for the middle class.”

He concluded: “The choice is clear. The stakes are high,. And the message is simple and effective. The President will continue to make sure middle class families know he is on their side by fighting for legislation that grows the economy from the middle out, not the top down. We hope you will echo that throughout the country in August.”

Flashback of the Day

“The people of America recognize that the slowdown in jobs that occurred during the early years of the Bush administration were the result of a perfect storm. And an effort by one candidate to somehow say, ‘Oh, this recession and the slowdown in jobs was the result of somehow this president magically being elected’ — people in America just dismiss that as being poppycock. And they recognize it as that.”

— Mitt Romney, defending President George W. Bush in 2004.

Jobs Gain Better Than Expected Last Month

The U.S. economy added 163,000 jobs last month as compared to an expectation of just 95,000 new jobs, Wonk Wire reports.

Nonetheless, the unemployment rate inched up to 8.3% as more people sought work.

First Read: “As we said before, anything above 150,000 new jobs per month is good news for Obama. But expect Mitt Romney and the Republicans to focus on the slight tick up in the unemployment rate.”

Obama’s Southern Problem

Politico: “Ever since his national debut at the 2004 Democratic convention, Barack Obama’s calling card has been that he practices consensus-oriented politics that transcend traditional divisions. But four years after his historic presidential election, the country he sought to bring together is even more divided than when he launched his candidacy. And no place is more polarized than the South. Any hope that the nation’s first black president would usher in a period of reconciliation in the old Confederacy has crashed on the rocks of a harsh reality: African-Americans overwhelmingly support him and whites make up much of the opposition. Far from being a transformational figure in the South, Obama has instead reinforced the region’s oldest and sturdiest divide.”

The South is “at once the heart of the Obama resistance but also a region that is crucial to his reelection hopes. If he loses Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, it’s a virtual certainty that he’ll be a one-term president.”

Over $130 Million Spent on Their Own Campaigns

Open Secrets finds that candidates this cycle have collectively spent more than $130 million on their own campaigns ahead of the November elections.

Interestingly, just 11 of the 58 candidates in 2010 who spent at least $500,000 supporting their own campaigns won their general elections.

Romney’s Missing Biographical Narrative

Bloomberg notes President Obama has had more success defining Mitt Romney than Romney.

Todd Purdum: “All presidential candidates depend on biographical narrative to define themselves to voters. Jimmy Carter was the Man from Plains and Bill Clinton the Man from Hope. George W. Bush was the Sinner Who Went Straight and John McCain was the War Hero Who Never Gave Up. Barack Obama was the Fresh Face from Nowhere, who embodied the American Dream. Every one of these men, by the time he ran for president, stood atop a thick biographical record–books and articles, testimonials from old friends, memoirs and tracts, soul-baring interviews. One had a sense of how they thought, how they reacted, what made them tick–and as time went on, it was generally easy to see how their actions fit the people we knew.”

“And Romney is… who? What? It’s hard to know, because he doesn’t like to tell us.”

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