Back when he was first elected, Obama uttered the infamous line about how he would be looking at a "one term proposition" if people didn't consider themselves "better off" after three years of an Obama presidency. Now, during the election cycle, it's coming back to haunt him, and his surrogates and aides have given some evasive answers when asked if, in fact, we are better off.
It all started with Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's awkward flip-flop from yesterday (on Face the Nation: we're not better off, "but that's not the question for this election) to today (in a tweet: We're clearly better off because we're creating jobs! Duh!). What a miraculous reversal in our nation's fortunes -- and in just twenty-four hours!
But despite O'Malley's clumsy attempt to walk back what he said, the question still haunted Joe Biden on the campaign trail in Detroit. Yes, we're better off, he says -- and if it wasn't so hot, he'd tell you why:
Providing conclusive proof of how Obama made us better off ought to be worth a few extra minutes in the heat, don't you think? But no matter -- just trust him. You are definitely better off.
Then there's the bevy Obama staffers who hit the airwaves today with their spin, trying to clean up that hot mess:
Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace and Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod had a similar back and forth. “David, is the average American better off than four years ago?” Wallace asked. Axelrod responded: “I think the average American recognizes that it took years to create the crisis that erupted in 2008 and peaked in January of 2009. And it’s gonna take some time to work through it.”
But on CNN’s “Early Start” this morning, anchor John Berman elicited a different response from Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse.
“Brad you’ve been shaking your head, as you’ve been sitting off camera, because we’ve been playing all the sound from the last 24 hours of Democrats being asked ‘are you better off today than you were four years ago?’” Berman noted. “So, I’ll give you the chance to ask the question: Are we better off than we were four years ago?”
“Absolutely,” Woodhouse said.
On the Today Show, NBC’s Natalie Morales asked Obama campaign deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter: “Let me begin by starting with that central question on a lot of people’s minds, and that is are we better off today than we were four years ago when President Obama was elected?”
“Absolutely,” Cutter said. “Let me just walk you through what life was like four years ago.”
As Jake Tapper notes in that post, answering honestly about how we're not better off is more of a losing strategy than flip-flopping on the issue. But those soundbites are still out there, and most of us know at least one person who's been out of a job, or whose business is still struggling. We're not better off just because an Obama flak says so. Maybe they ought to brave the heat and give a real explanation.
The RNC has a killer new video out today, juxtaposing Candidate Obama's speeches in 2008 with President Obama's speeches in 2012 and, well...he's saying the same stuff. Pretty damning:
When you're even using the same, specific line, "I want to recruit an army of new teachers," you're clearly strapped for content. He has nothing new to say, and he's returning to his old lines because he's hardly accomplished anything in the last four years. He's trying to run on the same promises he made (and subsequently broke) four years ago.
Wouldn't a president who'd accomplished much of anything have new promises to make, and a record to tout? Shouldn't a successful president be able to write a new campaign speech four years later?
Kind of reminds me of this clip of Aaron Sorkin dialogue. He uses the same lines from the West Wing in all his new shows because all his best dialogue came from there:
Somehow, the same words don't sound as good the second time -- and despite the recycled lines from his old hit, Sorkin's newest show, "The Newsroom," is a critical disaster.
Seeing some parallels?
This is getting ridiculous.
First, the DNC turns into a giant pro-choice rally. Now, MoveOn.org is out with a disgusting, fear-mongering attack ad about how the GOP will take women back to the era of back-alley abortions. Not only is it utterly offensive and completely off-point from voters' concerns, it conflates Mitt Romney's personal position on the issue with the GOP platform, so it's misleading, too.
Nevermind the moral debate about abortion -- although you can find a great perspective on the pro-life cause here -- consider what this adds to the conversation about abortion and more generally, this election: nothing, actually. \
First of all, it falsely implies that Mitt Romney shares the Republican Party's platform on abortion, which he does not. He's in favor of it in cases of rape, incest, and if the mother's life in endangered. Calling it "Romney and Ryan's GOP," however, clearly ties the candidate to a position that he has stated he will not support in office.
Second of all, the crude imagery of a woman staring at a hanger in a closet, contemplating that this is her only recourse for an abortion, runs totally contra to the supposed "civility" Obama desires. If this ad starts running in swing states near you, and our president doesn't issue some sort of statement denouncing it, then one can only assume he doesn't have a problem with the message and imagery. New tone, indeed. And in terms of persuading swing voters, the extremism on display in this ad will absolutely have the support of the Sandra Flukes of the world, but probably not your average suburban mom. She might be pro-choice, but she's likely to find the tone off-putting and exaggerated.
Third, the Left's obsession with abortion these days is creepy and pathetic. If they don't feel confident that the nation will accept Obama's economic ideology -- which, clearly, they don't, since they won't talk about it -- then their guy doesn't deserve to be reelected. My grandmother always says, "Do today your nearest duty," and right now, that's the economy. Families aren't hurting because of infringement on their "right" to an abortion; they're hurting because many are down a paycheck thanks to high unemployment, and too much in taxes comes out of the paychecks they do receive. Address the issue at hand -- the one that Americans care about -- and stop trying to distract from the conversation with offensive, hyperbolic messaging. Besides, one of these days, the average American female voter will get sick of being reduced to her anatomy; it's best to have something substantive to say about other "women's" issues, too.
One of the highlights of the convention last night were the copious personal testimonies about Mitt Romney's record as a business man and quiet humanitarian. He's often painted as an out-of-touch rich guy who stomps on the poor and middle class for his own gain, but it became clear through these stories that he's anything but. Sure, he's not the world's most electrifying public speaker, but he's a good man. If substance trumps style, then Mitt should be our guy.
The most affecting anecdote of the night came from this couple, the Oparowskis, whose then-14-year-old son David Mitt Romney befriended thirty years ago, while David was in the hospital, dying of Hodgkin's Disease. Watch, and try not to cry:
(h/t to Ed Morrissey for the video)
Byron York called this "the most extraordinary story of the convention" in a column today:
In particular, the program featured Ted and Pat Oparowski, a couple who lived in Medford, Massachusetts in the 1970s. They knew Romney from church, and when their 14 year-old son David was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in 1979, Romney visited the boy regularly. “They developed a loving friendship,” Pat Oparowski said, recounting the many times Romney came to see her and her son.
David Oparowski’s cancer was terminal. During one visit, Mrs. Oparowski recalled, “David, knowing Mitt had gone to law school at Harvard, asked Mitt if he would help him write a will. He had some prize possessions that he wanted to make sure were given to his closest friends and family. The next time Mitt went to the hospital, he was equipped with his yellow legal pad and pen. Together, they made David’s will. That is a task that no child should ever have to do. But it gave David peace of mind. So after David’s death, we were able to give his skateboard, his model rockets, and his fishing gear to his best friends. He also made it clear that his brother Peter should get his Ruger .22 rifle. How many men do you know who would take the time out of their busy lives to visit a terminally ill 14 year old and help him settle his affairs?”
“David also helped us plan his funeral,” Pat Oparowski continued. “He wanted to be buried in his Boy Scout uniform. He wanted Mitt to pronounce his eulogy, and Mitt was there to honor that request. We will be ever grateful to Mitt for his love and concern.”
It was an extraordinary story, seldom mentioned in the press, and it left many in the hall in tears. “You cannot measure a man’s character based on the words he utters before adoring crowds during times that are happy,” said Ted Oparowski. “The true measure of a man is revealed in his actions during times of trouble — the quiet hospital room of a dying boy, with no cameras and no reporters.”
Six months ago, the best attitude the public could've hoped to have toward Romney was as a competent, if distant, businessman, capable of turning our economy around. Likability was one of those intangibles most conservatives didn't anticipate him achieving. But last night demonstrated that Romney's reputation as a cold, calculating CEO exists primarily because (unlike another President of the United State I know...) he pretty much never talks himself up. In all the GOP primaries those months ago, in interviews, in speeches, he's never told this story. Yet who -- Republican, Democrat, Independent, whatever -- can listen to this couple's experience with Mitt and, in good conscience, deny that he's a genuinely good man?
One of the gaps Romney needs to close is this: 53% of voters believe that Obama cares more about their predicaments, while only 39% choose Romney. The Oparowskis' story -- and those of everyone who spoke last night -- reveals that Romney is a man of character. He's not the type to sit in his tower, and lecture people about how they should do what is "right," or what he wants. He rolls up his sleeves, he interacts with those in need, he solves problems, and -- most intriguingly -- has a record of providing comfort and reassurance. If this and those other stories had been told sooner (and more often), I'd imagine Romney's likability and compassion numbers would be on more equal footing with Obama's.
Before Guy got the scoop on Clint Eastwood appearing at the RNC, many joked that the mystery speaker would be a hologram of beloved conservative icon Ronald Reagan. And, well...they were half right.
Although it was never set to be part of the convention, there is a holo-Reagan out there, which its commissioner intends to use at some point in the future to promote the JOBS Act.
"It wasn't officially going to be part of the convention," Tony Reynolds, founder of crowdsourcing website A KickIn Crowd, told Yahoo News in a phone interview Thursday. "It was going to be outside of the convention at the Lakeland Center."
Reynolds obtained rights to a Reagan speech discussing small businesses and plans to use the hologram to promote the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act. He has been working with AV Concepts, one of the companies behind the creation of the Tupac Shakur hologram, which was unveiled at this year's Coachella Music Festival.
However, Reynolds says he discussed the idea with a number of Republican activists who asked him to delay the project out of concern it would overshadow Mitt Romney's acceptance speech.
"At the time he hadn't chosen Paul Ryan, so I think they were a little worried about his energy," Reynolds said. "Even in a hologram form I think Reagan's going to beat a lot of people in terms of communicating."
Reynolds said another reason he delayed the unveiling was that he didn't want the hologram to be used for partisan purposes.
"We were careful because the JOBS Act was a bipartisan bill and we didn't want to seem like we were favoring Republicans," he said.
Apparently, we can expect to see the hologram sometime in 2013, once the election is over. But would this have been a good addition to the RNC lineup? Or would Ronnie have distracted from the actual proceedings?
In non-RNC news, the president's schedule today included
a visit down to the storm-plagued Gulf Coast meetings with state and local officials about hurricane damage control a major fundraiser and an online chat with college kids. Yes, the consummate campaigner is at it again, inclement weather be damned. This afternoon, President Obama answered questions for Reddit's "Ask Me Anything," repeating vague, partisan tropes about his future plans to raise taxes on the wealthy and reduce student loan interest rates. Some of the highlights:
QUESTION: How are you going help small businesses in 2013 and 2014? and what if any bills are you going to implement for small businesses, in 2013, and 2014?
OBAMA: We've really focused on this since I came into office - 18 tax cuts for small business, easier funding from the SBA. Going forward, I want to keep taxes low for the 98 percent of small businesses that have $250,000 or less in income, make it easier for small business to access financing, and expand their opportunities to export. And we will be implementing the Jobs Act bill that I signed that will make it easier for startups to access crowd-funding and reduce their tax burden at the start-up stage.
QUESTION: What is the first thing you'll do on November 7th, win or lose?
OBAMA: Win or lose, I'll be thanking everybody who is working so hard - especially all the volunteers in field offices all across the country, and the amazing young people in our campaign offices.
QUESTION: What was the most difficult decision that you had to make during this term?
OBAMA: The decision to surge our forces in afghanistan. Any time you send our brave men and women into battle, you know that not everyone will come home safely, and that necessarily weighs heavily on you. The decision did help us blunt the taliban's momentum, and is allowing us to transition to afghan lead - so we will have recovered that surge at the end of this month, and will end the war at the end of 2014. But knowing of the heroes that have fallen is something you never forget.
QUESTION: What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term?
OBAMA: Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress - to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who. We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists. Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.
QUESTION: I am recent law school graduate. Despite graduating from a top school, I find myself unemployed with a large student loan debt burden. While I'm sure my immediate prospects will improve in time, it's difficult to be optimistic about the future knowing that my ability to live a productive life -- to have a fulfilling career, to buy a house, to someday raise a family -- is hampered by my debt and the bleak economic outlook for young people. I know that I'm not alone in feeling this way. Many of us are demoralized. Your 2008 campaign was successful in large part due to the efforts of younger demographics. We worked for you, we campaigned for you, and we turned out in record numbers to vote for you. What can I say to encourage those in similar situations as I am to show up again in November? What hope can you offer us for your second term?
OBAMA: I understand how tough it is out there for recent grads. You're right - your long term prospects are great, but that doesn't help in the short term. Obviously some of the steps we have taken already help young people at the start of their careers. Because of the health care bill, you can stay on your parent's plan until you're twenty six. Because of our student loan bill, we are lowering the debt burdens that young people have to carry. But the key for your future, and all our futures, is an economy that is growing and creating solid middle class jobs - and that's why the choice in this election is so important. The other party has two ideas for growth - more taxs cuts for the wealthy (paid for by raising tax burdens on the middle class and gutting investments like education) and getting rid of regulations we've put in place to control the excesses on wall street and help consumers. These ideas have been tried, they didnt work, and will make the economy worse. I want to keep promoting advanced manufacturing that will bring jobs back to America, promote all-American energy sources (including wind and solar), keep investing in education and make college more affordable, rebuild our infrastructure, invest in science, and reduce our deficit in a balanced way with prudent spending cuts and higher taxes on folks making more than $250,000/year. I don't promise that this will solve all our immediate economic challenges, but my plans will lay the foundation for long term growth for your generation, and for generations to follow. So don't be discouraged - we didn't get into this fix overnight, and we won't get out overnight, but we are making progress and with your help will make more.
QUESTION: How do you balance family life and hobbies with, well, being the POTUS?
OBAMA: It's hard - truthfully the main thing other than work is just making sure that I'm spending enough time with michelle and the girls. The big advantage I have is that I live above the store - so I have no commute! So we make sure that when I'm in DC I never miss dinner with them at 6:30 pm - even if I have to go back down to the Oval for work later in the evening. I do work out every morning as well, and try to get a basketball or golf game in on the weekends just to get out of the bubble. Speaking of balance, though, I need to get going so I'm back in DC in time for dinner. But I want to thank everybody at reddit for participating - this is an example of how technology and the internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run. AND REMEMBER TO VOTE IN NOVEMBER - if you need to know how to register, go to Gottaregister.com. By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole reddit experience - NOT BAD!
While he spent half an hour recycling talking points from any number of his recent speeches, this was happening down south:
And as Allahpundit over at Hot Air notes, Bobby Jindal was still waiting for response to some of his requests to the feds, tweeting about it concurrently with the president's fundraiser in Charlottesville, VA, shortly before the Reddit Q and A. Glad to see the fundraiser-in-chief has his priorities set.
Charles Krauthammer appeared on FoxNews' O'Reilly Factor last night to give his thoughts on Mitt Romney's speech tomorrow night, and he had a creative prediction to share: he thinks the GOP nominee will bring a special, non-human guest up with him. Watch:
"I think there's one secret ingredient here that I don't think anybody know about, but here's a scoop for you. I think when Romney comes on stage on Thursday, he's coming on stage with Seamus the dog, and Seamus is going to endorse Romney and say that that ride on the top of his roof, that was the ride of his life."
Ha! Given that the "Dogs Against Romney" crowd is still at it, it's a great way for Romney to poke fun at their ridiculous charges, while emphasizing that he has a sense of humor. And as a dog-lover, I think Dr. K's on to something -- here's hoping we'll see the Romneys' furry friend grace the stage tomorrow!
The schedule is set, the gavel's been hammered, and the 2012 Republican National Convention is underway. There's just one speaking spot that hasn't been announced yet...and it happens to be right during the 10PM hour on Thursday, shortly before Marco Rubio and the nominee himself, Mitt Romney take the stage, fueling some speculation that it's someone high-profile.
Buried deep in the convention schedule released Monday is a vague reference to a mystery speaker scheduled for the event’s final evening. “To Be Announced” has a prime speaking slot late in the Thursday program.
By then, speakers from Mitt Romney’s church will have taken the stage that night. The co-founder of Staples office-supply chain will have spoken about working with Mr. Romney during his time at Bain Capital. State officials from Massachusetts will have talked about the former governor. Olympians will have already thanked the presidential candidate for leading the 2002 Winter Games.
The only other speakers to follow “To Be Announced” will be Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Mr. Romney himself, suggesting that the unnamed guest may appear during the 10 p.m. hour when the networks all will be broadcasting the convention.
There's some speculation that it could be Sarah Palin, whose popularity among the more conservative wing of the Republican Party Romney would do well to please, given that he needs their enthusiasm come November. Other names floated include Gen. David Petraeus, Ted Nugent, or Nancy Reagan, but none of those would quite have the same effect of energizing the crowd just before Romney's speech as Palin would.
This evening, the Romney campaign will unveil a new video during the RNC called "Switchers," a 2:30 spot featuring former Obama voters who have decided he's not their guy in 2012. Watch:
It's a wise strategy for the GOP to pursue, as ads depicting former Obama backers who have become disillusioned with him over the last four years were deemed the most effective variety of ads by a bipartisan focus group. Romney needs to remind people that they aren't happy with the current administration, and he can best accomplish it with videos like this: ordinary people talking about the optimism they felt for Obama, and the subsequent struggles they faced when he didn't follow through on promises of "change."
Next week, the Democrat National Convention will convene in Charlotte, to take place at the [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers. Or at least, that's what party leadership is calling it, as they're unwilling to use its given name: Bank of America Stadium. Instead, some are resorting to calling it "Panther Stadium," or just "the football stadium," as Los Angeles mayor and chair of the convention Antonio Villaraigosa called it this afternoon on CNN:
It's hardly a matter of principle: BoA gave a quarter of a million dollars to Obama in the 2008 cycle. Simply a case of bad optics. After all, it's hard to villify a company that sponsors your convention venue!
Report: Boehner Won't Bring Immigration Bill to the Floor Without Majority of Republicans On Board | Guy Benson