POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 9/3

Obama Goes It Alone

Wall Street Journal: “The president does almost no fundraising for Senate or House candidates and hasn’t transferred money to other party election committees. His numerous campaign offices rarely coordinate with local candidates or display signs for anyone but Mr. Obama.”

“At rallies, Mr. Obama seldom urges supporters to volunteer — or even vote — for other Democrats running for office. Sometimes, he mentions other politicians in the room without noting that they are seeking re-election. He rarely shares the stage with other candidates.”

How President Obama and Bill Clinton Became Friends

A preview of a Ryan Lizza piece in the New Yorker this week via Mike Allen:

“The reconciliation began in earnest late last summer. Patrick Gaspard, the former White House political director, who has moved to the Democratic National Committee, approached Douglas Band, Clinton’s closest political adviser and longtime gatekeeper, with some suggestions about how the former President might help with Obama’s 2012 reëlection campaign. Band, who, by reputation, has an acute sense for moments of political advantage, tried to explain that you don’t just call up Bill Clinton and tell him to raise money and campaign for you. Band recommended that the two Presidents begin by playing golf.”

“The next day, Obama phone Clinton and invited him out for a round. Several Clinton associates say that this was the moment they realized that Obama truly wanted to win in 2012. Why else would he spend hours on a golf course being lectured by Clinton?

Obama’s Spine

The New York Times profiles White House adviser Valerie Jarrett who “often serves as a counterweight to the more centrist Clinton veterans in the administration, reminding them and her innately cautious boss that he came to Washington to do big things. Some of his boldest moves, on women’s issues, gay rights and immigration, have been in areas she cares about most. If Karl Rove was known as George W. Bush’s political brain, Ms. Jarrett is Mr. Obama’s spine.”

The Party of Entitlements

Nicholas Eberstadt: “In current political discourse, it is common to think of the Democrats as the party of entitlements, but long-term trends seem to tell a somewhat different tale. From a purely statistical standpoint, the growth of entitlement spending over the past half-century has been distinctly greater under Republican administrations than Democratic ones. Between 1960 and 2010, the growth of entitlement spending was exponential, but in any given year, it was on the whole roughly 8% higher if the president happened to be a Republican rather than a Democrat.”

“This is in keeping with the basic facts of the time: Notwithstanding the criticisms of ‘big government’ that emanated from their Oval Offices from time to time, the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George W. Bush presided over especially lavish expansions of the American entitlement state. Irrespective of the reputations and the rhetoric of the Democratic and Republican parties today, the empirical correspondence between Republican presidencies and turbocharged entitlement expenditures should underscore the unsettling truth that both political parties have, on the whole, been working together in an often unspoken consensus to fuel the explosion of entitlement spending.”

Romney’s Big Gamble

Wall Street Journal editorial says Mitt Romney left the GOP convention with unfinished business.

“The immediate media consensus, especially on the political right, seems to be that Mitt Romney ‘did what he had to do’ in his GOP convention speech Thursday. He repaired an image battered by Obama attack ads, showed he appreciates women, defended Bain Capital and criticized President Obama more in sorrow than in anger. On to the White House!”

“Well, maybe. Mr. Romney’s speech did hit all of those essential points, but the one thing it didn’t do constitutes a major political gamble. Neither he nor the entire GOP convention made a case for his economic policy agenda. He and Paul Ryan promised to help the middle class, but they never explained other than in passing how they would do it.”

Quote of the Day

“We met an implacable opponent in the Republican leadership. They made a decision, and they’ve been very open about it, that from Day One they weren’t going to cooperate on any major issue.”

— David Axelrod, quoted by the Washington Post, explaining why President Obama failed in his promise of a new politics of unity and hope.

Romney’s Speech Falls Short of McCain Audience

Nielsen data shows Mitt Romney’s speech at the GOP convention averaged 30.3 million viewers, about 22% short of the nearly 39 million who tuned in for Sen. John McCain across nine networks four years ago, Variety reports.

Bain Capital Under Investigation for Tax Avoidance

The New York attorney general “is investigating whether some of the nation’s biggest private equity firms have abused a tax strategy in order to slice hundreds of millions of dollars from their tax bills,” the New York Times reports.

The investigation focuses on whether more than a dozen firms “converted certain management fees collected from their investors into fund investments, which are taxed at a far lower rate than ordinary income.”

Among the firms to receive subpoenas: Bain Capital, which was founded by Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president.

Two Polls Show No Bounce for Romney

The Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll shows President Obama regained a narrow lead over Mitt Romney despite the attention of the Republican National Convention, 44% to 43%.

Romney was ahead by one point on Friday and two points on Thursday.

Said pollster Julia Clark: “This wasn’t a lightning bolt convention. Comparatively speaking, this was a more muted convention in general… So it doesn’t surprise me that (the bump in polls) wasn’t a great deal bigger.”

The Gallup tracking poll shows no bounce whatsoever.

What Political Reporters are Missing

Sasha Issenberg: “Over the last decade, almost entirely out of view, campaigns have modernized their techniques in such a way that nearly every member of the political press now lacks the specialized expertise to interpret what’s going on. Campaign professionals have developed a new conceptual framework for understanding what moves votes. It’s as if restaurant critics remained oblivious to a generation’s worth of new chefs’ tools and techniques and persisted in describing every dish that came out of the kitchen as either ‘grilled’ or ‘broiled.'”

Issenberg’s book, The Victory Lab, is out next week. If you want to understand how politics is practiced today, you really need to read this book.

Romney Exits Convention a Little More Likeable

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds Mitt Romney coming out of the Republican convention with a slight improvement in his image among voters.

Key findings: 31% of registered voters found Romney “likeable”, up from 26% when the convention started. In contrast, Obama enjoys a 48% likeability rating.

Florida Convention Watchers Moved Slightly Towards Romney

A new SurveyUSA poll of Florida voters finds 66% of those who watched the final night of the GOP convention did not change their mind on who to vote for, 22% switched to Mitt Romney and 12% switched to President Obama.

Caveat: “As expected, those who watched the speeches at the Republican National Convention were disproportionately Republican. This poll does not attempt to measure how all likely voters in the state of Florida would vote if filling out a ballot today. It attempts to measure early movement among speech-watchers only.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Go home and call 211.”

— Mitt Romney, quoted by the Huffington Post, telling a homeless hurricane victim in Louisiana to call the information line for health and human services programs.

Mitt Romney, Then and Now

“I want liberal policies to fail. I want him to fail in trying to put in place a health care plan that takes away the private sector from health care. I want him to fail in this cap and trade program as long as China and Brazil and Indonesia are not going to play in it. But I want him to succeed as a president, meaning, I want him to succeed in strengthening our economy, keeping us free, bringing our troops home in success from Iraq and Afghanistan. But I don’t want his liberal policies to succeed.”

— Mitt Romney, on Larry King Live, March 19, 2009.

“I wish President Obama had succeeded, because I want America to succeed.”

— Romney, quoted by the Washington Post, accepting the Republican presidential nomination this week.

Obama Plans to Keep Campaigning Even After He Wins

The Wall Street Journal says President Obama “has fundamentally shifted his view of modern presidential power” and “is now convinced the most essential part of his job, given politically divided Washington, is rallying public opinion to his side. As a result, if he wins a second term, Mr. Obama plans to remain in campaign mode.”

“The president views a second term in some ways as a second chance, an opportunity to approach the office differently… He would like to tackle issues such as climate change, immigration, education and filibuster reform. He has told some aides that a sizable mistake at the start of his administration was his naiveté in thinking he could work with Republicans on weighty issues.”

Ryan Backtracks on Marathon Claim

Rep. Paul Ryan admitted to the New Yorker through a spokesman that he had exaggerated his finish time in running a marathon after a magazine could find no record of his claim of running under three hours.

Said Ryan: “The race was more than 20 years ago, but my brother Tobin — who ran Boston last year — reminds me that he is the owner of the fastest marathon in the family and has never himself ran a sub-three. If I were to do any rounding, it would certainly be to four hours, not three. He gave me a good ribbing over this at dinner tonight.”

Brown Challenges Christie to a 3 Mile Race

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) spoke to the California delegation at the Republican National Convention and said they “made the bad choice by going with an old retread” in electing Gov. Jerry Brown (D), the Los Angeles Times reports.

Said Christie: “Jerry Brown? I mean, he won the New Jersey presidential primary over Jimmy Carter when I was 14 years old.”

Brown responded while speaking to a local union that while he has “not as much hair” as he did back then, he still “ran three miles in 29 minutes two nights ago.” He then challenged the New Jersey governor to a three-mile race, a push-up contest and a chin-up contest.

Said Brown: “Whatever he wants to bet. I have no doubt of the outcome.”

See more…

Obama Campaign Promises Full Stadium

The Obama campaign promises it will fill every one of the 73,778 seats in Charlotte’s mammoth football stadium Thursday night when President Obama accepts the Democratic party’s presidential nomination, The Hill reports.

Said press secretary Jen Psaki: “We’re confident we’ll be full. We have a great ground operation in North Carolina and we’ve registered more voters than any other state.”

Democrats Will Focus on Bush Economics, Not Bush Himself

In an Obama campaign conference call with reporters, senior adviser David Axelrod said that former President George W. Bush’s policies and legacy — but not Bush himself — will be key to the Obama campaign’s effort to draw a sharp contrast with Mitt Romney, Greg Sargent reports.

“Axelrod joked that Bush the man would get about as much of a mention at the DNC as he did at the RNC — which is to say, almost none at all — but said Bush economics would be very much on the agenda.”

Said Axelrod: “We are going to take issue with the policies that were in place in the last decade, because this is where they want to go back to. These are the policies that they want to embrace once again.”

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