U.S. elections 2012: Obama versus Romney

Written by  //  November 6, 2012  //  Politics, U.S.  //  2 Comments

 The Campaign in Two Minutes clever montage from CNN

Boss Rove
By Craig Unger
Vanity Fair Letter From Washington
September 2012
Not long ago, Karl Rove seemed toxic: the brains of a disastrous presidency, tarred by scandal. Today, as the mastermind of a billion-dollar war chest—and with surrogates in place in the Romney campaign—he’s the de facto leader of the Republican Party. But in Rove’s long game, 2012 may be just the beginning.
See U.S. elections 2012: the conventions
Politico Elections 2012
Paul Ryan: Look Into My Lies
(The Nation) The old saying goes “There are no referees in politics.” But there are fact checkers — Politifact, FactCheck.org, The Fact Checker. These “independent” seers like to think they’re defending the truth. But Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have figured out how to use them to spread lies…. Although modern politicians are generally too smart to repeat lies about themselves, the Romney camp knows the fact checkers will. So how do you dictate what the media will be talking about tomorrow? Make purposely deceptive statements about the issues you want to highlight.
The best part of this super-sneaky strategy is that it’s fool-proof. Republicans can admit what they’re doing, yet fact checkers and incredulous Democrats still fall into the trap. “Not only was everything Congressman Ryan said factually accurate, but by the Chicago folks highlighting this, they’re advancing our argument,” Sean Spicer, the chief spokesperson for the RNC, said today.
And I have to admit they’re right. Look at the one GM factory in Jannesville that Ryan brought up, deceptively blaming the president for its closure today even though it was scheduled to close during the Bush Administration. We’re doing it again!
Instead of talking about the dozens of GM factories the president helped save or the hundreds of thousands of  industrial jobs that the auto rescue protected, we’re talking about one that’s closed. Point: Romney/Ryan.
Character, Policy and the Selection of Leaders
The end of Labor Day weekend in the United States traditionally has represented the beginning of U.S. presidential campaigns, though these days the campaign appears to be perpetual. In any case, Americans will be called on to vote for president in about two months, and the question is on what basis they ought to choose.
Many observers want to see intense debate over the issues, with matters of personality pushed to the background. But personality can also be viewed as character, and in some ways character is more important than policy in choosing a country’s leadership. Read more: Character, Policy and the Selection of Leaders | Stratfor
Tony Burman: Why Obama should lose the election, and why he won’t
Lewis Lapham: It is the wisdom of the age — shared by Democrat and Republican, by forlorn idealist and anxious realist — that money rules the world, transcends the boundaries of sovereign states, serves as the light unto the nations, and waters the tree of liberty. What need of statesmen, much less politicians, when it isn’t really necessary to know their names or remember what they say? The future is a product to be bought, not a fortune to be told.
Happily, at least for the moment, the society is rich enough to afford the staging of the fiction of democracy as a means of quieting the suspicions of a potentially riotous mob with the telling of a fairy tale. The rising cost of the production — the pointless nominating conventions decorated with 15,000 journalists as backdrop for the 150,000 balloons — reflects the ever-increasing rarity of the demonstrable fact. The country is being asked to vote in November for television commercials because only in the fanciful time zone of a television commercial can the American democracy still be said to exist. Conclusion of a long essay Feast of Fools: How American Democracy Became the Property of a Commercial Oligarchy
Obama’s Way – Excellent Vanity Fair profile by Michael Lewis
Jonathan Alter: How Small Money Can Matter Again in Politics
(Bloomberg) A funny thing’s happening on the way to Nov. 6. The billionaires trying to buy the U.S. election with contributions of $1 million, $10 million or even $100 million aren’t succeeding.
If trends continue and the Democrats have a good year (still a big if), the notion that in order to win candidates need the indirect backing provided by gobs of money from super-political action committees will be discredited. (published September 27; a very long time ago in this election)
The power of the meme
Although memes are a useful way to parody politics, they often lose track of what’s at stake.
As I sit in the library, reading about the empowerment of the masses through memes on my smartphone, a line starts to form at the front desk. This is the line to use a library computer, the only source of internet access for a significant part of the Saint Louis population. For the locals in line, a half hour of library computer use is the only way they can check email, print documents, or apply for jobs. They are the 47 per cent who cannot track the subversion of the 47 per cent narrative online. They are the 23 per cent of Missourians who lack regular internet access, who live outside the meme.

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Florida Early Voting Fiasco: Voters Wait For Hours At Polls As Rick Scott Refuses To Budge
Once again, Florida and its problems at the polls are at the center of an election.
Early voting is supposed to make it easier for people to carry out their constitutional right. Tuesdays are notoriously inconvenient to take off work, so many states have given voters the option of turning out on weekends or other weekdays in the run-up to Election Day.
But in Florida this year, it has been a nightmare for voters, who have faced record wait times, long lines in the sun and a Republican governor, Rick Scott, who has refused to budge and extend early voting hours. Charlie Crist: Rick Scott’s Refusal To Extend Florida Early Voting Is ‘Indefensible’
AFP reports that further north: New Jersey email vote rule raises storm of protest – and some praise
Polls 2012: Barack Obama Leads Mitt Romney With One Day Remaining
With just one day remaining in the 2012 race for president, the polling picture is now virtually complete. President Barack Obama continues to hold narrow but significant leads over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in enough battleground states to put him over the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.
The sheer volume of data tells us that Obama’s leads in the tipping point states like Ohio and Nevada are not a matter of random chance, and there are no signs of any late breaks to Romney. If anything, the latest national polls appear to indicate a slight uptick in Obama’s favor.
The only real remaining question is whether the the final polling averages will prove to be accurate or whether some systematic error in the swing state surveys is concealing a hidden Romney advantage that will reveal itself when all the votes are counted.
David (Jones) Romney is a better leader for the U.S. and Canada
vs.
David (Kilgour) Election prediction: Despite Canada’s hopes, Obama’s ship is likely sunk
Financial Times: Obama is the wiser bet for crisis-hit US
Four years after the financial crisis, with inequality an affront to the American dream, there remains a need for intelligent, reformist governance
4 November
(Fivethirtyeight) State and National Polls Come Into Better Alignment
It appears that President Obama is likely to go into Election Day with a very modest lead in the average of national polls.
As of this writing, on Sunday evening, Mr. Obama led by an average of 1.3 percentage points across 12 national polls that had been published over the course of the prior 24 hours.
Could Latinos tip the U.S. Election?
(CBC radio Sunday Edition Hr.2) Latinos are highly motivated voters, and given their growing numbers in the United States, they could be the decisive factor in Tuesday’s election … something that pollsters and the English-media have largely missed.
3 November
John Parisella: Has Mitt Romney closed the deal?
(Maclean’s) Romney may well win this election, but there is no doubt his victory would represent an important change in direction for the nation in economics, cultural, and national security areas. He may even break the partisan gridlock in Congress. A victory by Romney, however, will clearly lead many to ask: which is the real Romney, and which one will America get after Nov. 6? That has been the consistent question that has dogged him since day one of his candidacy, and makes one wonder whether he has successfully closed the deal.
Poor US economy takes toll on Latino support
(Al Jazeera) Voters in Pueblo, an old steel town in southern Colorado, wish the president would push his agenda more aggressively.

What Americans want from the next president
(CSM) On the eve of a historically tight election, a writer drives through swing states and listens to the voices of America, hearing one overriding plea: ‘Washington, stop bickering. Get something done!’

2 November
Why Do White People Think Mitt Romney Should Be President?
Parsing the narrow, tribal appeal of the Republican nominee.
(Slate) There is a real, airtight bubble in this election, but it’s not Obama’s. As a middle-aged white man, in fact, I’m breaching it. White people—white men in particular—are for Mitt Romney. White men are supporting Mitt Romney to the exclusion of logic or common sense, in defiance of normal Americans. Without this narrow, tribal appeal, Romney’s candidacy would simply not be viable. Most kinds of Americans see no reason to vote for him.
This fact is obfuscated because white people control the political media.
Pew Study: 2012 Campaign Coverage Overwhelmingly Negative For Both Sides
Supporters of President Obama or Mitt Romney who complain that the media is hard on their candidate are correct, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.
1 November
Michael Bloomberg: A Vote for a President to Lead on Climate Change
Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be — given this week’s devastation — should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action. …
When I step into the voting booth, I think about the world I want to leave my two daughters, and the values that are required to guide us there. The two parties’ nominees for president offer different visions of where they want to lead America.
One believes a woman’s right to choose should be protected for future generations; one does not. That difference, given the likelihood of Supreme Court vacancies, weighs heavily on my decision.
One recognizes marriage equality as consistent with America’s march of freedom; one does not. I want our president to be on the right side of history.
One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.
Of course, neither candidate has specified what hard decisions he will make to get our economy back on track while also balancing the budget. But in the end, what matters most isn’t the shape of any particular proposal; it’s the work that must be done to bring members of Congress together to achieve bipartisan solutions.
The fight against voter suppression
(CBC) Think of Florida and U.S. presidential elections and you might just think Bush vs. Gore, hanging chads and utter debacle. That would be the 2000 election that went all the way to the Supreme Court to determine the winner.
This year you might also think voter suppression. At least that’s how many Floridians view some of the new laws in that state ostensibly passed to combat voter fraud.
30 October
(The New Yorker) Romney Has a Christie Problem and a FEMA Problem
Obama and Christie to Assess Damage in New Jersey
Mr. Christie had been one of the president’s most ardent critics until the storm’s arrival. In the last 24 hours, he has praised Mr. Obama’s leadership and the administration’s actions to speed relief resources to New Jersey.
Romney’s big storm: killing off FEMA
(CBC) Mitt Romney is running hard today, but not after voters. He has suspended campaigning for the time being, out of respect for the millions struggling with the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Sandy.
No, Romney is running from a pack of campaign reporters eager to hear him expand on his suddenly famous views about chopping FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. … The classic Republican position, of course, is that pooling national resources to help out a few hard-hit states — which, given the realities of America’s climate, are often the poorer ones — amounts to redistribution, or, as conservatives here like to call it, socialism.
Storm Roils Campaign as Obama Cancels Appearance
The presidential candidates suspended all their personal campaign activities on Monday as President Obama raced ahead of a dangerous Atlantic storm to convene a Situation Room meeting of the nation’s emergency officials and Mitt Romney called off all the events planned for himself and his running mate on Monday night and Tuesday. Both campaigns have also halted fund-raising across the East Coast in favor of an appeal to donors for Red Cross contributions. And both camps warned volunteers and staff members who live in the path of Hurricane Sandy to remain safe despite an election that is only eight days away.
NYT Editorial: A Big Storm Requires Big Government
Hurricane Sandy blows away election ephemera, leaving stark choice
Some things truly transcend politics: a hurricane emergency is one. But Sandy also asks what kind of leader we really want
(The Guardian) We’re not choosing the nation’s CEO, a boss-in-chief. Mitt Romney’s approach to poor performance is eliminating jobs, it’s only Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) employees he could fire – and he’s said he wants to – not the natural disaster itself. You can’t put the bravery of first responders on a balance sheet, or quantify human loss.
Whoever becomes president, the job is really that of a community organizer – whether that’s the role they’re prepared for or not.
Storms and elections — The politics of Hurricane Sandy
(The Economist) IS HURRICANE SANDY capable of altering the election result? The presidential candidates are hunkering down and trying to avoid looking partisan as this big, wet storm heads for the eastern seaboard. But any number of calculations are being made by the campaigns. Plausible arguments are flying, explaining why this storm is bad news, or is it good news, for both sides.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday morning, bosses at the campaign headquarters of Barack Obama in Chicago stressed that the president is focused “on the storm and governing the country”, and noted that he had cancelled events in storm-hit states from Florida to Wisconsin. A well-handled disaster can strengthen an incumbent president (just as a Katrina-level bungle is a political, as well as human disaster).
Mitt Romney cancelled events planned for Monday night and Tuesday, citing the need to avoid putting supporters in danger or tying up emergency services. In Virginia, the Romney campaign bus will be delivering storm-relief supplies. The Romney campaign also sent out a notice that it had suspended fundraising emails to the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
To be brutal, a certain amount of bad weather on election day helps conservatives in every democracy. In crude terms, car-driving conservative retirees still turn out in driving rain, when bus-taking lower-income workers just back from a night shift are more likely to give rain-soaked polls a miss. School closures are a particular problem for low-income families or single mothers scrambling to find childcare.
28 October
Obama Extends Narrow Lead Over Mitt Romney: Poll
(Reuters) Swings could be possible in the remaining days of the campaign, however. Fifteen percent of registered voters say they could still change their minds and vote for a different candidate.
27 October
NYT endorses Obama – no major surprise
Barack Obama for Re-election
The economy is slowly recovering from the 2008 meltdown, and the country could suffer another recession if the wrong policies take hold. The United States is embroiled in unstable regions that could easily explode into full-blown disaster. An ideological assault from the right has started to undermine the vital health reform law passed in 2010. Those forces are eroding women’s access to health care, and their right to control their lives. Nearly 50 years after passage of the Civil Rights Act, all Americans’ rights are cheapened by the right wing’s determination to deny marriage benefits to a selected group of us. Astonishingly, even the very right to vote is being challenged.
That is the context for the Nov. 6 election, and as stark as it is, the choice is just as clear.
(FiveThirtyEight) Oct. 27: Minnesota Moonlights as Swing State, but Ohio and Virginia Are More Crucial
With the election so close, Saturday is no longer a day of rest for pollsters. Eight polls were released from potentially competitive states:
Oct. 26: State Poll Averages Usually Call Election Right
By Nate Silver
The FiveThirtyEight forecast model has found the past several days of battleground state polling to be reasonably strong for Barack Obama, with his chances of winning the Electoral College increasing as a result. The intuition behind this ought to be very simple: Mr. Obama is maintaining leads in the polls in Ohio and other states that are sufficient for him to win 270 electoral votes.
… Mr. Obama held leads in 11 polls on Friday, against four leads for Mitt Romney’s and two ties. Mr. Romney’s leads came in North Carolina and Florida, two states where the FiveThirtyEight forecast already had him favored.
26 October
Dr. Charles Cogan: The Enduring First Debate Effect: They Finally Found a White Man They Could Like
(HuffPost) It was not so much the atonal performance of President Obama. It was as though the American public, or a significant part of it, had “discovered” Romney and had decided he was an appealing candidate. It was as though finally they had found a white man they could vote for — an antidote to the image of a dark-skinned man and woman occupying the White House, which causes many Americans, mostly between the coasts but not exclusively so, an underlying discomfort.
Democrats Look Strong in Senate Races, and That’s Terrible for Them
… think about this: What would Democrats be able to do if Romney won the presidency, Republicans held the House, and they narrowly held the Senate? That looks to me like a horrible arrangement. January 2013 starts with yet another Obamacare repeal fight, which Harry Reid tries to keep off the floor, which requires coddling Joe Manchin and Mark Pryor. A rump of vulnerable Democrats, facing down a brutal 2014 map (Alaska, North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana — all up for election), are tempted to cut deals with President Romney. Reid, who despises Romney, is constantly under pressure to avoid the inevitable defections, as President Romney uses his honeymoon and PR control to tell voters that the only obstacle is a Democratic Senate.
These two posts from CBC’s Neil Macdonald give a sense of the dilemma of the pundits in these final days:
Tea Party politics playing into Obama’s hands — Rape and abortion comments mirror Republican official platform (October 26) and two days earlier: Neil Macdonald: How ‘Moderate Mitt’ might steal this election
25 October
Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama
(Daily Kos) In the world of political endorsements, this is a big one: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama on Thursday morning
As election nears, efforts intensify to misinform, pressure voters
(Reuters) – In Florida, Virginia and Indiana, voters have received phone calls that wrongly told them there was no need to cast a ballot in person on Election Day because they could vote by phone.
In Ohio and Wisconsin, billboards in mostly low-income and minority neighborhoods showed prisoners behind bars and warned of criminal penalties for voter fraud – an effort that voting rights groups say was designed to intimidate minority voters.
And across the nation, some employers – notably David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who help fund the conservative group Americans for Prosperity – are urging their workers to vote for Republican Mitt Romney for president.
Two weeks before what could be one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, efforts to mislead, intimidate or pressure voters are an increasingly prominent part of the political landscape. Analysts say tactics typically seen in the last few days before an election are already in play.
21 October
It’s Not About the Economy, Stupid
It’s about trust. That’s President Obama’s message for the home stretch.
20 October
Stop the presses! A tally of newspaper endorsements for president
(CSM) Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are beginning to collect endorsements from major US newspapers. Some are full-throated, others tentative. In metropolitan areas, they could make a difference in the race.
Salt Lake Tribune throws support behind Obama
(CNN) – The Salt Lake Tribune announced in an editorial published Friday its endorsement of President Barack Obama for the 2012 race, questioning the “pragmatic, inclusive” former Massachusetts governor’s change into Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
“The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first,” the Utah newspaper said in the editorial.
14 October
Obama Leads Among Early Voters: Poll
(Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are neck and neck in opinion polls, but there is one area in which the incumbent appears to have a big advantage: those who have already cast their ballots.
Obama leads Romney by 59 percent to 31 percent among early voters, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks.
12 October
U.S. election scorecard: Mitt Romney keeps ‘the edge’ after vice-presidential debateanalysis from five experts gives various interpretations; we believe that Professor Paul J. Quirk offers the most realistic.
“… In the long run, however, the significance of the week will lie primarily in other events whose effects will unfold over the remaining four weeks of the campaign. An unexpectedly favourable jobs report, bringing unemployment below 8 per cent for the first time in almost four years, weakened Mr. Romney’s most powerful argument for replacing the president. Mr. Romney’s first major foreign-policy address struck commentators as mostly empty rhetoric. Most important, Mr. Romney re-confirmed last week’s 11th-hour swing toward moderation, making a series of emphatically centrist statements on taxes, Medicare, abortion and other issues.
Mr. Romney’s renewed moderation is a clear improvement of his positioning from the standpoint of swing voters. But the Republican base may blow up over it, and the Obama campaign will repeatedly point out the apparent opportunism. In a bold challenge to conventional political wisdom, Mr. Romney has confronted the normally damaging label of flip-flopper and decided to own it. The long-term result of the week, impossible to call at this point, will depend on how that decision plays out in the rest of the campaign.”
Jack Welch, Rupert Murdoch & More Angry Old Rich Guys Who Hate Obama
(The Daily Beast) Jack Welch, who accused Obama of manipulating the jobs report, is just one of the wealthy white dudes, mostly in their late 60s and 70s, who’ve been stalking the airwaves, print, and social media, attacking the president. Daniel Gross offers a guide to the aging moguls who loathe Obama.
10 October
With just 28 days to the election, Democrats losing faith in Obama after debate failure
It’s more than President Barack Obama’s lacklustre debate performance that has some Democrats on edge a month from Election Day.
Party loyalists, in Washington and in battleground states, are fretting that Obama’s campaign has been slow to rebound after Republican Mitt Romney’s commanding debate. They’re worried that the Democratic ticket isn’t aggressive enough in blocking Romney’s post-debate pivot to the political centre. And they fear Romney’s new effort to show a softer side gives the Republican nominee an opening with female voters, who are crucial to the president’s re-election prospects.
8 October
2 October
Greg Sargent: Paul Ryan retreats deeper into mathematical fantasy
(WaPost) By seeming to take some middle class deductions off the table, Ryan made the math even more hallucinatory. This might be good politics — Ryan is getting more specific in promising not to raise middle class taxes — but it further confirms that Romney and Ryan have completely jettisoned deficit neutrality as a goal of their plan, and that they are selling people a fiscal bill of goods that doesn’t pass the laugh test.
1 October
Mitt Romney’s Wealthy Donors May Be Fleeing Campaign: Report
(HuffPost) Mitt Romney’s campaign may be suffering in more than just the battleground states.
Fox Business’ Charlie Gasparino reports that some wealthy donors who have made financial commitments to the Romney campaign are reneging, and instead, opting to send their money to Republican House and Senate candidates who they see as having a better chance of winning next month.
Citing two sources, including “a major player in Romney’s New York fundraising circles,” Gasparino notes that some donors are losing faith that the Republican nominee can beat Obama.
Mitt Romney’s Terrible Wall Street Journal Op-Ed
(Foreign Policy) It’s official: The Republican nominee has no new ideas for the Middle East.
28 September
The Sense Of An Ending For Mitt Romney: The 2012 Speculatron Weekly Roundup For Sept. 28
(HuffPost) This week, the frenzied activity of the campaign trail seems to hit a caesura, of sorts, perhaps because now that we’re at, or near, a halfway point between the party conventions and Election Day, with a quartet of looming debates set to begin Wednesday. So, the world of politics took a bit of a pause. We railed against replacement refs, atoned for whatever we said in the heat of that railing, and took a moment to catch our breath. And what we couldn’t help but notice was that in this brief intermission, a distinct mood had settled in — that the competitive part of the election was over, and that the GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, was toast.
27 September
David Weigel: Why the House Will Stay Republican
(Slate) In 2008, Obama won this by 31,128 votes and swept Steve Chabot out of office. In 2010, Chabot won a comeback bid by 11,098 votes. The overall Chabot vote slipped from to 140,469 in 2008 to 103,770 in 2010. But he’s safe now… The old district forced Chabot to compete in Cincinnati while winning Republicans in neighboring Butler County. But the new district excises Cincinnati—that’s the jagged hole—and brings in a chunk of Republican heaven, Warren County. It’s one of 11 districts that favor Republicans, and nine of them strongly favor Republicans. Obama may win the state with 51 percent of the vote while Democrats win 31 percent of the House seats.
Democrats will point out that their weakness in gerrymandered states will be overcome by wins in new California, Texas, and Illinois seats. And to an extent, they will! But it’s very tough to see how they get to +25. Their best hope for taking back control later this decade is that the districts shift their demographics.
Virginia Ex-Congressman Could Cost Romney the Election
(Daily Beast) In a state that’s a must-win for Mitt, a conservative third-party candidate could throw the election to Obama. Former congressman Virgil Goode tells Patricia Murphy why he’s running.
Unlike the days when Goode campaigned locally in his southern Virginia district, he says his role as presidential nominee for the Constitution Party has him traveling across the country making his case to voters. He’s on the presidential ballot in more than 30 states and is working to hit 40 by Election Day. When he lists the states where he thinks he’ll do well, the roster of too-close-to-predict swing states is enough to strike at least a little fear into a national campaign manager’s heart— Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, and North Carolina, the state that borders Goode’s old congressional district and that Obama won by just 14,000 votes in 2008.
26 September
Polls Point to Larger Lead for Obama in Ohio and Florida
(NYT) Mitt Romney’s burden is no longer to win undecided voters, but also to woo back those who seem to be growing a little comfortable with the idea of a second term for President Obama.
Howard Learner: Watch Out for the Republican Super PACs Moving Away from Romney to Rain Even More Millions on Swing Senate Races
(HuffPost) If Governor Romney does not outperform in the first Presidential debate on October 3rd and post-debate polling does not show any significant movement, watch for the Republican Super PACs to find ways to quickly move away from the Presidential race and invest even more heavily in the swing Senate races. Those Senate results may determine whether a second-term President Obama can advance his priority policy agenda items – including transformative renewable energy development, high-speed passenger rail, judicial appointments, and tax fairness and deficit reduction measures to name a few – or will face a Republican-led Congress with even more hostile right-wing and Tea Party-aligned members.
Here’s why the Republican Super PACs’ super-focusing on close Senate races, as well some House races, may well happen soon after October 3rd:
23 September
David Brooks is continuing his assault on Mitt Romney.
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, The New York Times conservative columnist continued his full assault on the Republican presidential nominee, saying he’s simply not into his campaign.
“Mitt Romney does not have the passion for the stuff he’s talking about,” Brooks said. “He’s a problem solver. I think he’s a non-ideological person running in an extremely ideological age, and he’s faking it. So if I were him, I’d go to what he’s been for the last several decades of his life: be a PowerPoint guy. Say ‘I’m making a sales pitch to the country here are the four things I’m going to reform. You don’t have to love me but I’m going to do these four things for you.’ And so I’d do a much more wonky and detailed thing than he’s done so far.” He said much the same thing on PBS Newshour on Friday.
20 September
Neil Macdonald | The full Romney: a peek behind Mitt’s public mask
(CBC) Mitt Romney was just being honest in those video remarks that are blazing around the country today. Voters should savour them. They’re a fresh, sweet, breeze of candour, blowing through the stale hothouse of American politics.
Romney, though, probably regards them as some sort of nightmare.
Because that surreptitious camera, pointed at the Republican nominee during a private $50,000-a-plate fundraiser in Florida May 17, has just ripped away the carefully constructed public mask and given voters a peek at what’s underneath.
Mitt Romney’s campaign claims there is nothing to worry about. They are only trying something entirely new.
(Slate) Why all the activity? Romney aides insist it has nothing to do with polls. While some national polls show Obama leading, and some polls in battleground states look that way too, aides point to the Rasmussen poll and the Gallup tracking poll that show Obama’s post-convention bounce disappearing. They also say this new tack isn’t a response to the criticism that arrived Sunday in a Politico article, which amounted to a turducken of nitpicking, stuffed inside a hefty helping of carping, wrapped in a shell of sniping. (See below)
16 September
(Politico) Inside the campaign: How Mitt Romney stumbled
15 September
Deeds, not words — America needs a debate about foreign policy; the election isn’t providing it
(The Economist) Mr Obama took office with an ambitious plan. After much squandering of American blood and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan, he would reach out to Muslims, notably in a June 2009 address in Cairo. His stated aim was to reduce the antagonism of Muslims towards the West and Israel. If his outreach succeeded, Israel would be left safer, and so might make concessions in the Middle East peace process. The scheme was elegant and logical. It also failed, leaving Mr Obama authorising more drone strikes on Islamic militants than George Bush, and nursing abidingly awful relations with Israel’s government.
Now it is Republicans who seem obsessed with phrasemaking. Haunted by the imperial overreach of the Bush era, they are drawn to a different model, Ronald Reagan. At their recent convention in Tampa, a video tribute to President Reagan showed him, in 1987 Berlin, instructing Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”. The next images showed the Wall falling, as if toppled by the power and moral confidence of Reagan’s words.
… Voters may not greatly care. Massacres in Syria, even the killing of a fine diplomat, matter less than this election’s defining argument, about the economy. But the winner will face foreign policy crises from day one. Then the time for talk will be over.
Mitt Romney’s foreign policy advisers include Bush veterans and academics
Republican candidate’s team of 40-plus conservative counsellors includes a few familiar faces from the George W Bush years
13 September
Romney, Obama navigate Arab world turmoil
(CNN) Romney and some conservative backers seek to draw parallels between the Carter and Obama presidencies, hoping to weaken what has been a major advantage for Obama on foreign policy and cement in voters’ minds that he doesn’t deserve a second term. … Romney trails Obama in the latest polling, particularly on foreign affairs. A recent CNN/ORC International poll showed Obama favored over Romney on foreign policy by 54%-42%.
11 September
Mitt Romney Panic Syndrome
It happens every four weeks. Conservatives get a very scary feeling that Mitt Romney is blowing this election for all the wrong reasons.
8 September
Romney Slams GOP Leaders — Including His Own VP Nominee — for 2011 Budget Deal
(ABC News) Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as chair of the House Budget Committee, was part of the team that signed off on the budget deal with the White House, mandating immediate spending cuts, creating a “Super-committee” tasked to finding $1.5 trillion in further deficit rediction, and raising a self-imposed sword of Damocles — $1.2 trillion in cuts to the Pentagon and domestic spending that few in Congress wanted — if the Super-committee failed.
Writing at the National Review Online at the time, Ryan said the bill was a “reasonable, responsible effort to cut government spending, avoid a default, and help create a better environment for job creation.”
But today Mitt Romney said Ryan, the man he picked as his running mate on the Republican presidential ticket, and other House GOP leaders made a “big mistake” in agreeing to that deal, which was part of the summer 2011 negotiations over raising the debt ceiling
4 September
Paul Krugman: Rosie Ruiz Republicans
… these days Paul Ryan is the Rosie Ruiz of American politics. This would have been an apt comparison even before the curious story of Mr. Ryan’s own marathon came to light. Obviously nobody cares how fast Mr. Ryan can run, and even his strange marathon misstatement wouldn’t be worth talking about in isolation. What makes this incident so striking is, instead, the way it resonates with the essential Rosie-Ruizness of Mr. Ryan’s whole political persona, which is built around big boasts about accomplishments he hasn’t accomplished.
29 August
David T. Jones: Yes, Romney Can Win
The question is less whether the Republicans can get elected than why they are not substantially ahead already
(Ottawa Citizen) Conventions are more to energize the bases than convert the undecided. So the next two months will see barrages of negative, distorted advertising. Three presidential debates should favour Romney, honed in 23 primary debates, against Obama who has had only softball press questions since election. The stakes are exceptionally high — essentially whether social services and taxes will be cut or raised. The polls and the “swing” states are essentially balanced; Romney can tip them in his direction.
28 August
John Moore: America’s let’s pretend party
It is unlikely but entirely possible that Mitt Romney will be able to turn his campaign around and win the White House in November. Or this delirious right wing panjandrum will hit the same immovable wall it slammed into in 1964. Then Republicans can set aside their voodoo science and tattered copies of Atlas Shrugged and begin the process of building an intellectually sustainable movement again.
26 August
Former Fla. governor Charlie Crist endorses Obama
(WaPost) In his endorsement, Crist continued to criticize what he says is a Republican Party “pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they’ve proven incapable of governing for the people.”
25 August
Radical right threatens to blow Mitt Romney off course as Republicans gather in Tampa
Mitt Romney wants his party convention to attract moderates, but a show of strength by the Tea Party puts that hope at risk
(The Guardian) Some of them believe Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Others want to force raped women who become pregnant to have their child. There are those who vilify Obama as a socialist and want to do away with most of the federal government. A fair few doubt the theory of evolution or hold that gays can be “cured”. As Mitt Romney arrives at the Republican national convention in Tampa, Florida, where he will be nominated to run for president, he faces the difficult task of dealing with a party base that has become one of the most radical in recent American history.
24 August
(Foreign Policy) On Thursday, the Romney campaign unveiled a new energy plan that the candidate says will allow the U.S. to achieve energy independence by 2020. The plan involves deregulating the oil and gas industry, opening up more federal lands and offshore waters to drilling, and approving the Keystone XL pipeline between the United States and Canada. In a policy paper released this week, the campaign accuses Obama of having intentionally “sought to shut down oil, gas and coal production in pursuit of his own alternative energy agenda.”
Republicans eye return to gold standard
(FT) Party platform draft calls for auditing the Fed’s monetary policy and a commission to look at restoring the dollar link to the precious metal
21 August
Todd Akin should drop out of Senate race, Romney says
(WaPost) In his first explicit call for Akin’s exit after the Missouri congressman used the phrase “legitimate rape” when talking about abortion and pregnancy, Romney said: “As I said yesterday, Todd Akin’s comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country. Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race.”
Romney Will Have To Defend Ryan’s Fringe Positions
By Eliot Spitzer
(Slate) … Just consider Ryan’s positions on these social issues:
He is rabidly against abortion rights, believing life begins the moment a fetus is conceived and that there is no right to abortion even in cases of rape and incest. [And this issue just became overwhelmingly important thanks to Todd Akin’s Rape Fiasco]
He is against same-sex marriage rights of any type.
He toes the NRA line on all Second Amendment gun issues.
On fiscal issues, the Ryan plan is supply-side all over again, a perfect model of the failure of the Bush era. It has no balance in the budget until 2030. Medicare is put on a voucher system that would force seniors to face significant cutbacks.
And his tax policies would endanger all government spending other than defense spending.
From education to research and development, the investments that government provides in critical sectors—investments that are necessary for the economy—are simply not part of Paul Ryan’s worldview.
Ryan is pleasant enough and knowledgeable enough that within Washington he has been tagged as thoughtful. But his policies would be a disaster for the nation and will spell electoral defeat for Romney once they are understood.
The big winner—other than President Obama, whose re-election just got much easier—is Paul Ryan, who will be left standing as the voice of a smaller and even more limited Republican Party heading into 2016.
15 August
Paul Ryan Candidacy More Harm Than Help To Romney, Insiders Suggest
(HuffPost) A vice presidential pick doesn’t matter. Dead wrong.
Look at recent history: In 1992, a photo op with Al Gore and his family helped domesticate the image of Bill Clinton. Dick Cheney in 2000 added Dutch uncle gravitas to lighter-than-air George W. Bush. In 2008, Sen. John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin made a mockery of his claim to be the candidate with savvy and wisdom.
Now comes Rep. Paul Ryan.
Starting last Saturday on The Huffington Post and continuing more recently at Politico, anonymous and/or fallen-away Republicans and conservatives are crying havoc about Ryan. The main reason for this is Ryan’s central role in pushing a plan (which Romney supports in some respects) to turn the popular Medicare seniors’ health program into a “premium support” (aka voucher) plan.
Well written and very even-handed analysis
Expat dispatches: What a Romney rally says about his odds of winning Florida
14 August
Is Romney ‘Ryan’s man’?
(Al Jazeera) As the Republican presidential candidate chooses a staunch conservative as running mate, we analyse their politics. …
Ryan, 42, is a congressman from Wisconsin and a staunch conservative, both fiscally and socially. He believes in giving fertilised embryos full rights – essentially equating abortion with murder. And he is a climate change skeptic.
Among other things, Ryan proposed privatising social security in 2004, supports replacing Medicaid with a voucher programme, and as congressman voted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He voted to give bailout money to banks and the US auto industry, voted against a law that demanded equal pay for women, co-sponsored a bill that would ban in vitro fertilisation (IVF), and co-sponsored a bill to ban abortions in cases of rape and incest.
Congress Approval Rating Hits All-Time Low In Gallup Poll
(HuffPost) In contrast to the partisan gridlock within Congress, Americans’ distaste for the institution is entirely bipartisan: Only 11 percent of independents, 10 percent of Republicans, and 9 percent of Democrats approved.
The trend in the Gallup poll roughly matches that found by other national surveys that track congressional job approval.
13 August
We read the Paul Ryan New Yorker profile so you don’t have to
(WaPost | The Fix) With Mitt Romney’s Saturday announcement of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his vice presidential running mate, there isn’t a story more indispensable to understanding the new member of the GOP ticket than Ryan Lizza’s recent profile of him in the New Yorker. The story tracks Ryan from his youth, through his early days as a rank-and-file member of the House, to his emergence as a leading voice in the Republican Party. But we know you’re busy. So we’ve read the story and plucked out the most telling passages. Without further ado, below are the most revealing parts. Reading the profile in full is worthwhile
11 August
Mitt Romney running mate Paul Ryan a link between Tea Party and Republican establishment
(National Post) Mitt Romney introduced Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate Tuesday (sic), turning to a deeply conservative, budget-cutting specialist to shore up trust in the party ticket among the small-tax, anti-big government tea party movement.
Romney chose Ryan as a means of mollifying the Republican right wing which has shown only modest enthusiasm for his candidacy, given the former Massachusetts governor’s history, until his presidential campaign, of acting from a moderate political philosophy.
8 August
Zoellick pick roils Romney campaign
Zoellick’s selection to the new job [head of national security transition planning for Mitt Romney] … caused severe blowback within the campaign’s policy team. That team is filled with experts and former officials who disagree with one other and are unhappy with the process run by policy director Lanhee Chen and foreign-policy coordinator Alex Wong. But the Zoellick choice had several advisors up in arms to the point where the political leadership of the campaign went into damage-control mode.
30 July
Mitt Romney Comments At Fundraiser Outrage Palestinians
(HuffPost) Romney, seated next to billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson at the head of the table, told donors that he had read books and relied on his own business experience to understand why the difference in economic disparity between countries is so great.
25 July
The New York Times reports today that Adelson and other members of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s board of directors have committed $6.5 million to an effort to turn the heavily Democratic voter bloc more Republican in 2012.
“The group, the Republican Jewish Coalition, plans to begin a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in the coming weeks called ‘My Buyer’s Remorse,’ targeting voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, aides said.”
23 July
‘You Didn’t Build That,’ Uncut and Unedited
(FactCheck.org) There’s no question Obama inartfully phrased those two sentences, but it’s clear from the context what the president was talking about. He spoke of government — including government-funded education, infrastructure and research — assisting businesses to make what he called “this unbelievable American system that we have.”
19 July
Why President Obama’s reelection is no sure thing — in 2 charts
(WaPost) Once you step back from the day to day knife fight of the campaign — and make no mistake that Obama is getting in more and better swipes than Romney at this point — you’re reminded that the overarching dynamic of this race is the sputtering economy and a continued lack of confidence within the electorate that things are or will get better.
Two charts tell that story — and make clear why any celebrating among Obama partisans is premature.
The latest entry in the acrimonious (and often sanctimonious) debate over what President Obama said and meant in his recent speech at a campaign event in Roanoke, Virginia
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
Bernard Avishai: Charlie’s Angels
There was, I assumed, little I could add from Jerusalem to the you-didn’t-build-that debate now roiling (actually, entertaining) journalists “covering” the presidential campaigns, but then I happened on this column by my old classmate from Montreal, Charles Krauthammer. The column begins with the quote, played endlessly on Fox-News, and attributed to President Obama–“If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen”–and Charlie takes off from there…
The author, who went to school and university (McGill no less) with Charles Krauthammer, concludes, “It is fine to say, albeit pretentiously, that a conservative is a liberal who was mugged by reality. But it is quite another thing to be Charlie’s kind of conservative when reality mugged you and the institutions liberals and social democrats put in place were your family’s guardian angels: educated you and saved you from penury. What, with so much ingratitude, can a conservative be trusted to conserve?”
15 July
Paul Krugman: Policy and the Personal
(NYT) … talking about Mr. Romney’s personal history isn’t a diversion from substantive policy discussion. On the contrary, in a political and media environment strongly biased against substance, talking about Bain and offshore accounts is the only way to bring the real policy issues into focus. And we should applaud, not condemn, the Obama campaign for standing up to the tut-tutters.
Choosing a Vice Presidential Nominee — Will Romney Make His Announcement Before the RNC?
(Fox News Sunday) The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny said that Republicans inside the campaign who are making the case to decide on a vice presidential nominee early, is that it would help Mitt Romney when he’s traveling around the country doing fundraisers and making news. Zeleny observed that, “As we’ve seen right now, Governor Romney’s not doing that much campaigning, he usually has one event a day. And the Obama administration, the vice president, the cabinet members, other people, they’re really outflanking them in terms of on the road, local news coverage.”
The downside to announcing the VP early, according to Fred Barnes from The Weekly Standard, is that “if you announce it now or over the next week and a half or so before he goes on his trip to the Olympics and to Israel and to Poland, what’s going to happen with that trip which is a very important one for Romney … It’ll get snowed under, overshadowed by whoever his vice presidential pick is.”
Condoleezza Rice as Mitt Romney’s running mate? No way!
(NY Daily News) Former secretary of state is ill-suited to be a vice president
13 July
Drudge Report sparks speculation of Condoleezza Rice as Mitt Romney’s running mate
While Mitt Romney was raising money in Wyoming with former Vice President Dick Cheney, a screaming headline on a popular and influential conservative website stirred speculation about whom the presumptive GOP presidential nominee will choose as his running mate.
The headline on the Drudge Report Thursday night: Romney had narrowed the field of prospective candidates to a handful, according to sources, “and a surprise name is now near the top of the list: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice! The timing of the announcement is now set for ‘coming weeks.’
5 July
Boston Globe: Wall Street Journal editorial criticizes Mitt Romney
Says he is ‘squandering’ chance against President Obama

The editorial said Romney needed to offer a broader vision for what he would do as president, and his campaign – referred to at one point as “the Boston boys” – needs to be quicker to respond to the Obama campaign’s attacks.
But the thrust of the criticism was over how Romney has handled the week after the Supreme Court upheld Obama’s health care law. The editorial criticized the campaign’s “lame jujitsu spin” on the issue, and added, “The campaign looks confused in addition to being politically dumb.”
30 June
How Obama, Romney are spinning court’s health-care ruling
(CSM) Republicans and Democrats are putting their political spin on the US Supreme Court’s historic and startling decision on the Affordable Care Act. As they head toward the presidential election, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have major challenges in interpreting the law.
Just some of the issues with wildly different political interpretations include: Defining the details and impact of what the court says plainly is a form of taxation – the basis, in fact, of the constitutionality of what critics call “Obamacare.” What the outcome would be for Medicare. The number of already-insured Americans who would have to scramble to find new health care coverage. Whether or not the ACA is a “job-killer.” Whether or not the deficit would go up or down as a result of this landmark legislation.
28 June
With the announcement of the Supreme Court ruling on ‘Obamacare’ Politico predicts that “The imposing Republican message machine was in full lock step an hour after the decision, with a torrent of emails blasting Obama as a tax-and-spend Democrat.”
27 June
Dr. Charles Cogan: Presidency Interruptus: The Possible Curious Fate of Barack Obama
(HuffPost) This scenario has happened once before in American history. Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd (1885-1889) and the 24th (1893-1897) president. After his first term, he ran against Benjamin Harrison and lost. There was a repeat match in 1892 and Cleveland won over Harrison. Substitute Romney for Harrison and Obama for Cleveland and therein lies the speculative match-up. Intriguing analysis, but it isn’t over yet.
23 June
Lawrence Solomon: How Obama lost the left
Disappointed supporters realize there’s little difference between him and Romney
(Financial Post) After sweeping to victory, he failed to keep promises to the Democratic base
21 June
Obama Outfoxes Romney
(Slate) The president’s agility on gay marriage and immigration is making his rival look stodgy and unprincipled.
15 June
Economic politics Definite uncertainty
(The Economist | Democracy in America) … notice the source of this uncertainty. It’s the same as in America: political polarisation. As in the US, Dutch parties are less and less able to strike lasting deals with each other because of a combination of rising public hostility to deal-making and compromise as such, and because government is gradually being transformed into a never-ending electoral campaign [emphasis added]. With rare exceptions, the rewards available to politicians and parties from having used power to deliver the things voters say they want are not as great as those they win by “standing tall” and rejecting whatever it is other parties’ voters want government to do, or whatever government actually needs to do even though it’s not terribly popular. This was the proximate cause of the collapse of the government—the far-right anti-Islam firebrand Geert Wilders pulled out rather than make any choices on budget cuts or tax hikes to cut the deficit, preferring to campaign on having resisted them. And in the past week, we’ve seen a new American import: for the first time ever in Dutch parliamentary procedure, Mr Wilders and the far-left Socialist Party are scheduling endless parliamentary debates and other delaying tactics to forestall the passage of laws they know a majority of parliament supports. They are, in other words, trying to import the filibuster.
[Editor’s note: We are struck by the obvious relevance of these observations to the current situation in Canada]
12 June
Jeb Bush & Current Political Environment
The left has become just as hard in its position and the harder the left and right get, the more voters will move to the middle. Just look at registration. The greatest gain in voter registration has been “Independents.” So, while it might be hard to work with either side right now, the growing middle, with no party loyalties, will mean an increase in demand for solutions and accountability.
In a sign of growing frustration, a new poll by The Tarrance Group released today found that a majority of Americans, 59 percent, believe the country is on the wrong track. .
11 June
Not Jeb Bush’s GOP
Does the Republican hero and former Florida governor have a place in his own party?
(Slate) It’s not just that Bush’s policy prescriptions on topics like immigration and tackling the deficit are a challenge to party orthodoxy. He also describes a more pragmatic vision of leadership—where accomplishments are valued over ideological purity—that seems deeply at odds with conservative calls for maximum constancy. This is perhaps the freedom enjoyed by those who are not running for president. But the formula Bush offers does reflect on the man who is running: Jeb Bush is describing a hole in American politics, and Mitt Romney is not necessarily the man to fill it.
10 June
After Wisconsin: Race, the 2012 Race, and Beyond
By Thomas de Zengotita, contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine
(HuffPost) The big picture: a lot of blue state liberals may not have noticed, or just shrugged off, the news that white births made up less than half of U.S. births as of July 2011. But you can be sure that news will not go unremarked among those determined to replace “welfare queen” with “public sector queen” in the national pantheon of invidious stereotypes. The “take back our country” theme is just getting under way in American politics.
That’s why voter registration vs. voter suppression is the most important practical political issue on the table — in 2012, and beyond.
6 June
Bill in a China Shop
(Slate) What’s up with Bill Clinton? Has he lost his touch or is he playing a more devious game?
No single theory explains Clinton. He contains multitudes. Which portion of which theory makes up the complete picture requires you to come up with your own alchemy. As for the Obama campaign, which must handle these little eruptions now and again, the best thing to do is to prepare for the occasional breakage of a family heirloom, because they’re never really going to be able to control the St. Bernard.
12 April
Mitt Romney’s Mormon dilemma: To reach voters, should he discuss his faith?
(CSM) Mitt Romney trails President Obama in polls on likability, and Republican strategists say his campaign is debating whether he should more openly discuss his Mormon faith. See also Meet The Press of 8 April on the role of religion in American politics, a civil and respectful discussion.
11 April
Romney’s Hill to Climb
(Foreign Policy) If Romney thinks he can beat Obama on foreign policy, he’s going to have to do a whole lot more than just criticize the president.
Americans trust Obama over Romney on international affairs by a 53 to 36 percent margin, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week. Foreign policy is one of Obama’s strongest advantages among 18 issues and attributes tested in the poll.
10 April
Why The Obama Campaign Shouldn’t Declare Victory Just Yet
As the air war begins in earnest between the president and Mitt Romney, the Obama campaign in Chicago called itself, in the words of campaign official David Axelrod, “confident, but realistic.”
So: combative, realistic, girding for a $2 billion drone war, but confident. Some would say cocky.
But should they be?
There are reasons for saying yes. The president is a superb campaigner. He will have as much, if not more, money than the Republicans, a rare advantage for a Democrat. The economy is headed — slowly, to be sure — in the right direction. As Vice President Joe Biden has said, this is the administration that killed Osama bin Laden and saved General Motors. There is no love lost between the American people and the GOP, especially on social issues and especially among women, who favor the president by double-digit margins.
But there are a number of reasons why the Obama team might — and should be — more worried than they claim and why they should not take anything for granted between now and November.

2 Comments on "U.S. elections 2012: Obama versus Romney"

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    When Gov. Mitt realized he had never met any qualified women during all his years in business, he did, in fact, ask for women. But not resumes. Well, I happened to be in my husband’s binder right down the street from the governor’s office. This was my time to shine at last. I managed to sneak my resume out to his office even though my qualified-women for Mitt skills were very rusty by this time. Unfortunately, he never even looked at my binder because he decided it wasn’t the right color to fit the decor of his private elevator in the building. In addition, many other women who didn’t make the grade were stuffed into my binder, and we were removed to his personal storage facility in New Jersey. My husband divorced me for desertion even though he only let me out to make his meals. But some of my binder-mates have been resorting to cannibalism to make more space available to update resumes, therefore, I still retain the hope that if Mitt loses to President Obama, his Mitt-CEO elite gang will deport him to his own facility. We can then open the binder just enough to throw out resumes for him to decide the color decor of the Oval Office when he decides to run again for the 100th time in 2016.

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