GOP Contenders Take Aim – CBS Early Show

John Avlon and Margaret Hoover discuss the GOP presidential canidates on the CBS Early Show. Discussions about Rick Perry, Paul Ryan, mobilizing the Republican base, and what options the Republicans have for the 2012 Elections.

Exclusive: Congressional Ethics Probe Adds to Michele Bachmann’s Political Woes – The Daily Beast

The Hindenburg. The Titanic. Michele Bachmann.

Eighteen months ago, the Minnesota House member was considered an unlikely but undeniable Republican rising star, winning the Iowa straw poll that unofficially begins the primary season. Today, she is embroiled in a litany of legal proceedings related to her rolling disaster of a presidential campaign—including an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation into campaign improprieties that has not previously been reported.

The Daily Beast has learned that federal investigators are now interviewing former Bachmann campaign staffers nationwide about alleged intentional campaign-finance violations. The investigators are working on behalf of the Office of Congressional Ethics, which probes reported improprieties by House members and their staffs and then can refer cases to the House Ethics Committee. Read More…

What GOP Can Learn from Cuccinelli’s Tanking Bid in Virginia – CNN

Virginia is a cautionary tale for conservatives this year. And those Republicans who always argue that their party wins when it moves further to the right are going to have a lot of explaining to do after Election Day.

Polls show that “teavangelist” Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is going down to a decisive defeat in the governor’s race against an exceptionally flawed Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and Clinton fund-raiser.

The reason is simple: Cuccinelli is too extreme for swing voters in Virginia — and that neatly symbolizes the GOP’s problem as it looks to the congressional midterms of 2014 and the presidential campaign of 2016. Read More…

John Avlon Hosts – OutFront – CNN

John Avlon talks about Republican’s efforts to repeal Heath Care and other political topics of the day as he hosts CNN’s Out Front on July 2, 2012.

Weiner, Spitzer Out: Thank You New York – CNN.com

Twelve years ago, New York City taught the nation about resilience in the face of a massive attack.

On Tuesday, New York again taught the nation that character counts.

There is, of course, no comparison between the horror of 9/11 and a mayoral primary in America’s largest city. But while the shadow of the twin towers still hangs over the hearts of many in New York, the persistence of daily life remains a quiet sign of defiance.

This year, city politics seemed determined to hit a new low rather than aspire to new heights. A series of scandal-scarred candidates sucked up the oxygen amid an otherwise forgettable field. And for a while, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer seemed likely to win their respective races on the strength of name ID and notoriety. Read More…

The Obama Haters Book Club: The Canon Swells – The Daily Beast

Welcome to the Obama Haters Book Club—a parallel universe of fear mongering for fun and profit.

Over the past four years, no less than 89 obsessively anti-Obama books have been published, as now catalogued by The Daily Beast. I’m not talking about cool statements of policy difference, but overheated and often unhinged screeds painting a picture of the president as a dangerous radical hell-bent on undermining the Republic by any means necessary. It is hate and hyper-partisan paranoia masquerading as high-minded patriotism.

Here’s the worst part—this steady drumbeat of incitement is having an impact on this presidential election because it has poisoned the well of civic discourse for many voters and those in their radius of damage. It has helped divide the nation beyond reason, distorting the president’s real record beyond all recognition. Read More…

Michele Bachmann Is Done: Her Hostage Tape to Reality – The Daily Beast

Our long national nightmare is over.

Well, that’s overstating it. But the congresswoman who represented the worst of modern American politics more than she ever tried to represent her Minnesota constituents has announced that she will not run for reelection.

Michele Bachmann is done. Read More…

How Did ‘Patriot’ Become a Dirty Word? – CNN.com

On Memorial Day, we honor those patriots who gave “the last full measure of devotion” — in Abraham Lincoln’s words — and died defending our freedom and union.

But this Memorial Day is partly clouded by the resurgence of partisan scandal in Washington. At the IRS, employees filtered through the exploding number of tax exemption applications by politically associated organizations by being on the lookout for groups that had the name “Tea Party” and “Patriot” in their name. This was improper, illegal, unethical and outrageous.

But hold on — when did the word “patriot” become a partisan pejorative? How did such a bipartisan positive word get identified as a sign of hyperpartisan politics?

It’s actually an interesting story. Read More…

Hispanic Outreach Director Explains Why He Said ‘Adios’ to the GOP – The Daily Beast

Conservatives should consider this a warning sign. The Republican National Committee’s former Hispanic outreach director for Florida has left the GOP and registered as a Democrat, citing a “culture of intolerance.”

Pablo Pantoja is a decorated Iraq war vet who began his brief career with the GOP by volunteering for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and serving as field director for Marco Rubio’s triumphant 2010 senate campaign. He says he was originally drawn to the GOP “because of my business-minded mentality. Fiscal issues are important for all families—Hispanics and non-Hispanics.”

But a recent anti-immigration report from the right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation sent the Puerto Rican–born Pantoja heading for bluer pastures this week. Not only did the paper tally the cost of immigration form at an absurdly high $6.3 trillion, but its author, Jason Richwine, was found to have written an overtly racist dissertation in 2009 that labeled American immigrants as having lower IQs than those of white natives.

Read More…

With Benghazi Video, Karl Rove Kicks Off 2016 With Hillary Clinton Hit – The Daily Beast

Less than five months after Barack Obama began his second term, the 2016 presidential campaign kicked off this weekend with a Benghazi-themed attack ad that takes direct aim at Hillary Clinton.

The 90-second web ad, called “Benghazi”, was issued by the Karl Rove–founded American Crossroads, which spent more than $21 million in the last election cycle. It is the freshest evidence that hyperpartisan super-PAC slush funds are now a core part of the permanent campaign.

This American Crossroads ad matters because of its unsubtle purpose: a preemptive strike against a potential Clinton presidential campaign in 2016. Remember that through 2008, Clinton was widely considered the most polarizing figure in American politics. The days of Hillary as Republicans’ favorite member of the Obama cabinet are over. This dynamic was unlikely to the point of absurdity—a case of political amnesia brought on by a combination of her voting record in the Senate and the ’08 campaign-era conviction that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Read More…

Mark Sanford Is the Comeback Kid, Winning SC Congressional Seat – The Daily Beast

The redemption tour is over and Congress has a new Comeback Kid.

Scandal-laden former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford won back his old congressional seat on Tuesday night, defeating Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch by a 54 percent to 45 percent margin in a high-turnout special election.

The victory shocked the national press corps, who had been predicting a Colbert-Busch victory—with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, for example, declaring “this is not serious” after a PPP poll found Sanford 9 points behind the Democratic nominee two weeks from Election Day. Read More…

Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Mark Sanford Clash at South Carolina Debate – The Daily Beast

There was rolling thunder and rain outside the Citadel on Monday night, but the lightning was inside the packed auditorium where Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch clashed in the one debate of the one congressional race in the country right now.

Argentinean affairs? A confident Colbert Busch went there, slamming the former governor for leaving “the country for a personal purpose” on the taxpayer dime in 2009.

Sanford returned fire with repeated references to Nancy Pelosi and the labor union donations that have flowed into Colbert Busch’s campaign coffers. The practiced groans of the Colbert Busch staffers and supporters showed that this line of attack is at least as effective as it is hackneyed. Read More…

Palin’s SarahPAC Embarrassment: Consultants Are Cashing In – The Daily Beast

The ex-governor and VP pick railed against political consultants at CPAC. But her latest FEC filings show they took millions of dollars from her in the last election cycle.

She’s baaaack.

Sarah Palin attempted to relaunch her political career and her political action committee, SarahPAC, on Thursday with a Web video called “Loaded for Bear,” which presented the former Alaska governor as the new kingmaker for conservative populists in the GOP.

The video riffed off her speech at CPAC, in which Palin railed against “the big consultants, the big money men, and the big bad media.” But there’s an irony alert ahead: the current stated purpose of SarahPAC is to raise money ahead of the 2014 election—most of which will be spent on conservative consultants. Read More…

Mark Sanford Ditched by NRCC, but Counting Him Out Would Be Unwise – The Daily Beast

Leave it to the National Republican Congressional Committee to take a bad situation and make it worse.

After the unwelcome revelation that former South Carolina governor and GOP congressional nominee Mark Sanford has been accused of trespassing by his ex-wife, Jenny, national Republicans decided to pull the plug on funding for his campaign in advance of the May 7 general election.

The move might seem like a concession to common decency—until one considers the facts on the ground. Court documents state that the incident occurred Feb. 3, the night of the Super Bowl. According to a statement belatedly released by his campaign, Mark Sanford had, very unwisely, decided to watch the game with his 14-year-old son at their former family beach house while his ex-wife was out of town visiting another son. The decision was perhaps a sign of “rules don’t apply to me” syndrome and definitely in violation of their divorce agreement. But it is not exactly the stalking scenario that immediately came to mind when the court documents initially were made public Tuesday night. Read More…

South Carolina Special Election Has All the Makings of a Scandal-Filled Telenovela – The Daily Beast

This is one local election that’s going to get national attention.

With Mark Sanford’s victory in the Republican runoff Tuesday night, South Carolina’s May 7 congressional special election will be packed with enough scandal, redemption, and gender-war themes to fill a telenovela. To sweeten the pot, polls show that the Democratic candidate, Elizabeth Colbert Busch (sister of talk-show host Stephen Colbert), might have a real shot at winning what has traditionally been a safe Republican seat. Fasten your seat belts—this is going to be a wild four-week ride.

The view from outside South Carolina too often sees Lowcountry politics as a strange circus, a perspective confirmed for some distant observers by the elevation of Mark Sanford from the Appalachian Trail–hiking governor to a serious contender for his old congressional seat. Holding his primary-night victory party at a barbecue joint called Sticky Fingers didn’t exactly help his cause to be taken seriously again. Read More…

Palin’s SarahPAC Embarrassment: Consultants Are Cashing In – The Daily Beast

Sarah Palin attempted to relaunch her political career and her political action committee, SarahPAC, on Thursday with a Web video called “Loaded for Bear,” which presented the former Alaska governor as the new kingmaker for conservative populists in the GOP.

The video riffed off her speech at CPAC, in which Palin railed against “the big consultants, the big money men, and the big bad media.” But there’s an irony alert ahead: the current stated purpose of SarahPAC is to raise money ahead of the 2014 election—most of which will be spent on conservative consultants.

Don’t believe me? Well, this is a perfect time to page through SarahPAC’s Federal Election Commission filings, which—helpfully enough—were just released yesterday. Read More…

Exclusive: Congressional Ethics Probe Adds to Michele Bachmann’s Political Woes – The Daily Beast

The Hindenburg. The Titanic. Michele Bachmann.

Eighteen months ago, the Minnesota House member was considered an unlikely but undeniable Republican rising star, winning the Iowa straw poll that unofficially begins the primary season. Today, she is embroiled in a litany of legal proceedings related to her rolling disaster of a presidential campaign—including an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation into campaign improprieties that has not previously been reported.

The Daily Beast has learned that federal investigators are now interviewing former Bachmann campaign staffers nationwide about alleged intentional campaign-finance violations. The investigators are working on behalf of the Office of Congressional Ethics, which probes reported improprieties by House members and their staffs and then can refer cases to the House Ethics Committee. Read More…

More Sarah Palin Than Ronald Reagan: CPAC’s Paranoid Style – The Daily Beast

There’s no place where the paranoid style in American politics mixes with presidential aspirants quite like CPAC.

At this year’s conservative conclave, held at the Gaylord Hotel in Maryland, there is a mood of grim resignation after their rejection in the 2012 election, a determination to look for restoration along even stricter ideological lines.

What was once a decidedly fringe festival that Main Street Republicans have derided as a “Star Wars bar scene” has become a mandatory stop on the GOP presidential circuit, with Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, and Paul Ryan all making speeches this year. For conservative activists, it serves as an annual tribal gathering, selling special knowledge to those who feel at war with much of modern America and all of the Obama administration. And the media happily feed the beast because CPAC offers a one-stop shop for portraying the uneasy coexistence between constitutionalists and conspiracy theorists inside the conservative movement. Read More…

The Changing Face of the U.S. Electorate – CNN.com

John King speaks with Margaret Hoover and John Avlon about how Pres. Obama was able to win despite losing white vote.


With Plea Deal, Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Fall From Grace Seems Complete – The Daily Beast

Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. agreed Friday to plead guilty to charges of misusing campaign funds, in an apparent bid to an end a federal investigation that threatens to also implicate his wife, former Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson. Both had resigned their offices in recent months, reportedly as part of the congressman’s negotiations with prosecutors.

For the scion of what was once the country’s most influential African-American family, the plea deal represents a precipitous fall from grace that overlaps with the ascent of another African-American Chicago family to the White House. The Jackson dynasty appears to be done. Read More…

Republicans’ Nefarious Election Ploy – The Daily Beast

Something’s rotten in Virginia.

Conservatives in the Old Dominion state legislature are quietly plotting what could amount to an electoral coup d’etat: pushing forward a bill that would have delivered the majority of the state’s electoral votes to Mitt Romney, days after erasing a Democratic state senate district in a surprise mid-session redistricting.

In the wake of their decisive 2012 election defeat, Republicans aren’t digging the demographic changes making once safe states like Virginia go for Obama the last two presidential elections. Their response, as Michael Tomasky detailed yesterday, is to try and change the rules to allow electoral votes to be split up by congressional districts, compounding their advantage created by the rigged system of redistricting. In many of the states – Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio – this is at the level of legislative discussion rather than action. Read More…

Jindal, Courage is Not Enough – CNN.com

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal rode into the Republican National Committee retreat in Charlotte, North Carolina, ready to offer a dose of tough medicine for the Republican Party, which he now says “must stop being the stupid party.”

“The Republican Party does not need to change our principles,” he said in a keynote speech, “but we might need to change just about everything else we do.”


There’s a problem with Jindal’s prescription, however, rooted in an idea that Forrest Gump once articulated — “stupid is as stupid does.” Read More…

Mark Sanford on Run for Congress, a Second Chance at Politics – The Daily Beast

It’s official: Mark Sanford is running for his old congressional seat in South Carolina.

The former governor, who ended his second term in disgrace after admitting to an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman he described as his “soulmate,” had previously been considered a leading potential contender for the 2012 GOP nomination before the scandal consumed those ambitions.

But suddenly Sanford is back. Among many locals, he is considered the frontrunner in the special election to fill the congressional seat held by Tim Scott before he was appointed to the U.S. Senate—an unusual degree of turnover in a state where Fritz Hollings served as junior senator to Strom Thurmond for 36 years. Read More…

October Game Changers – CNN

Brooke speaks with CNN contributors John Avlon and Margaret Hoover about how unexpected events can impact close races.


Romney’s Rorschach Test – CNN

‘Severe conservative’ or ‘Massachusetts moderate’, which one of these terms would you use to describe Mitt Romney? If you’re having a hard time picking just one of those two options, you might not be alone. CNN Contributor John Avlon speculates that Romney’s recent surge in the opinion polls is because the Republican Presidential Nominee is now marching himself back to center of the political spectrum in time for the November election. But which one is the real Romney? Brooke speaks with Avlon and fellow CNN Contributor Margaret Hoover about Romney’s surge and what it says about voters.

Why Tim Scott Should Replace Jim DeMint – The Daily Beast

Apart from Stephen Colbert, the best pick South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley could make for Jim DeMint’s Senate seat is Congressman Tim Scott.

Happily, Scott is also reportedly DeMint’s first choice, though the current senator has nothing more than advisory powers in picking his successor.

Scott’s appointment would be historic for South Carolina and the Republican Party. More important, it would be constructive for the country. Read More…

Republican Politicians Must Stop Pandering to Conservative Populism – The Daily Beast

Republicans need to “stop being the Stupid Party.” That was a blunt postelection declaration of independence by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

“We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism,” continued Jindal. “We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people, and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”


After being demographically left in the dust by President Obama, conservatives are regrouping, reassessing, and recognizing the need to evolve on social issues if they are going to connect with the millennial generation. Read More…

The Final Insult: Mitt Romney’s Clueless Gift Gaffe – The Daily Beast

Mitt Romney made his final newsworthy post-election pronouncement, explaining to a conference call of big-dollar donors that he had fallen short because President Barack Obama had bribed liberal special interests with expensive gifts.

Here’s what he said, according to The New York Times:

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift…Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008 … You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge … Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.” Read More…

They Failed to ‘Buy’ the US Election in 2012: Will Conservative Donors Ever Open Their Wallets Again? – The Telegraph

An unprecedented amount of money was spent in the 2012 election — some $6 billion in total. But the real slumbering scandal was how much of that was an infusion of cash from Super PACs – supposedly independent “political action committees” exercising their right to free speech on the election – and of so-called “dark money” into the campaign.

Thanks to a combination of the Supreme Court’s controversial “Citizens United” decision and an abuse of tax-exempt status by political groups allegedly dedicated to “social welfare” despite party affiliations, corporations and unions could flood the airwaves with negative advertisements without disclosing their names.

Republicans had a huge advantage, aided by the almost pathological hatred of Obama felt by many big-money boys, who see him as a socialist despite a doubling of the US stock market since March 2009, soon after his watch began. Read More…

Obama’s Strong Support Among Cuban Americans Underlines Demographic Shift – The Daily Beast

The depth, if not dimensions, of President Obama’s reelection victory is slowly resonating, even in Republican circles.

After all the partisan spinning, it is clear that the combination of the Obama campaign’s ground game and demographic evolutions in our nation were decisive for his victory and bode well for the Democrats in the future.

One broad measure of this recognition is this: conservatives are arguing that the man they once dismissed as a failed socialist president is now grimly touted as a rare political talent with an unparalleled ability to inspire. These compliments come with a base alloy of consultant self-interest—once Obama is no longer on the ticket, they say, Republicans will be back in fighting form. There’s no need to change policies. Read More…

Welcome to the Twilight Zone – Newsweek – The Daily Beast

Partisan politics is starting to look like a cult, and after this presidential election, Republicans will need some serious deprogramming.

The overheated anti-Obama echo chamber on the far right led to a fact-free fanaticism, inspiring otherwise educated folks to ignore most polls in favor of feel-good tall tales about “Mitt-mentum” going into Election Day.

Among those caught up in the fever swamp was the architect of George W. Bush’s two White House wins, Karl Rove, seen awkwardly on air arguing with Fox News’s own pollsters about whether the election was over. The respected co-author of The Almanac of American Politics, Michael Barone, predicted a Romney landslide, as did the poet laureate of conservative columnists, George Will. And these were the adults at the conservative table. Read More…

Battleground Blog: How the Swing Counties Swung – CNN.com

Over the last two months of the campaign, CNN focused on the swing districts of swing states as a way of looking at who would win the election. From Jefferson County Colorado and Loudon County Virginia on CNN’s OutFront’s Final Factors, to the Battleground Bus Tour with Ali Velshi from Florida’s I-4 Corridor to Ohio’s Stark County, we hit the road and talked with swing voters on the ground. In the end, here’s how they voted. Read More…

Busting Campaign Myths with Margaret Hoover and Errol Louis – OutFront – CNN

CNN contributor John Avlon talks to NY1 anchor Errol Louis and Republican strategist Margaret Hoover about the top three campaign myths that voters should be aware of heading to the polls this November.

Nightmare Scenario—Ohio’s Provisional Ballots May Be 2012’s Hanging Chads – The Daily Beast

There was a traffic jam on the highway leading to the early voting station in Franklin County, Ohio, on Monday. Inside the former box store, lines snaked around the showroom floor with voters waiting more or less patiently for an hour or more.

In the center of the polling place stood a separate line coiled in a tight rectangle, a hundred or so people holding bright-yellow provisional ballots. These harmless looking documents could be the hanging chads of 2012, throwing the final results of the election to Nov. 17 or later in what state party leaders call the “nightmare scenario.”

The man set to be cast as the Katherine Harris of this potential debacle is Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican and former speaker of the state house in his early 40s. Opponents regard Husted as a partisan operative trying to tip the scales, while he argues that he has done everything possible to level the playing field and extend early voting in “the most important swing state in the country”. Read More…

Independent and Centrist Voters Breaking with Precedent – CNN.com

The final polls are out and behind the national horserace is a fascinating dynamic – Mitt Romney is narrowly winning independent voters while President Obama is winning centrist voters by a nearly 20-point margin.

For example, here in the must-win battleground state of Ohio, the final CNN/ORC poll showed Romney edging Obama among independent voters by two points, 48% to 46%. But among moderate voters, Obama is crushing Romney by 21 points – 57% to 36%.

This is significant because in past elections independents and centrist voters have been largely synonymous–overlapping cohorts, reflecting the belief of many independents that the two parties are too polarized and disproportionately dominated by their respective special interests. Read More…

Presidential Election Likely to Come Down to the Future vs. the Past – The Daily Beast

The fault lines in the 2012 election are the future versus the past—and not in an empty rhetorical “America is at a crossroads” sort of way. Something more fundamental and demographically measurable is at work. Consider this:

President Obama’s largest margins of support come from voters under 30, women under 50, African-Americans, and Hispanics.

Mitt Romney’s largest margins of support come from senior citizens and white men.

The data are depressingly clear. According to the final Pew Poll, Obama is beating Romney by 28 points among voters under 30, while Romney is winning voters over age 65 by 10 points. Read More…

What’s Really at Stake in Election 2012 – CNN.com

The stakes in this election go far beyond just who takes the oath of office in January.

Each of us is faced with choices that will have huge ramifications in our nation for decades — and the choice is not simply about Democrats versus Republicans or even Obama versus Romney. The real stakes are this: The political strategies that prove successful in this election will be replicated far into the future.

Throughout this election cycle, we’ve seen hyperpartisan narratives resonate more than facts, total opposition embraced as a congressional tactic, and unprecedented dark money flow through our airwaves in an avalanche of negative ads. Read More…

Sex, Drugs, and Ballot Initiatives – The Daily Beast

Ballot initiatives are direct democracy—the cutting edge of politics—but they don’t get the respect they deserve despite the huge consequences that can come from giving citizens the rebellious ability to do an end run around their slow-moving state legislatures.

With sex and drugs questions along with taxes, education, and election reform up in states across the nation, this year’s crop of ballot initiatives deserve your attention. Beyond the votes for president and Senate, they could help shape future policy debates across the nation.

So here my take on the most interesting and consequential items on the ballot in 2012. For a more comprehensive look, check out Ballotpedia.com Read More…

Vote the Bums Out: the Eight Worst Members of Congress – The Daily Beast

This divided and dysfunctional Congress has earned its record low-approval rating. Luckily we have the remedy in our hands on Election Day: vote the bums out. Here is my brief list of the eight worst congresspeople in 2012 from both parties and the reasons they deserve to get the boot on Tuesday. Consider it part of the mission to civilize, a necessary part of the process to start solving problems again in Washington. Read More…

Stand up for Centrist Candidates – CNN.com

There’s more to Election Day than just the presidential campaign. The polarization of the parties has led directly to the divided and dysfunctional Congress we’ve seen over the past two years, leading to the lowest congressional approval ratings in recent history.

No matter who wins the presidency, we need to see more principled problem-solving centrists elected from both parties.

That’s why I’m continuing my pre-election CNN.com column tradition of listing some of the most standout centrist Senate and House candidates on the ballot this year.

Centrism is one of most misunderstood and maligned political identities in our polarized hyper-partisan environment. Its advocates have been hunted into near-extinction on Capitol Hill by party-first conformists, angry ideologues and special interests. Read More…

In Election’s Last Weekend, Obama Gains Moderate Momentum As Romney Flails – The Daily Beast

Draw a line along President Obama’s endorsements by Mayor Bloomberg and The Economist, his post-Sandy stand with Chris Christie, and the deployment of Colin Powell ads to the swing states, and you’ll see why the president suddenly has the Big Mo—Moderate Momentum—heading into the preelection weekend.

Mitt Romney surged in the polls after recentering his candidacy in the first debate. The return of Moderate Mitt briefly swayed swing voters who voted for Obama in 2008 because of his core promise to bridge the hyperpartisan divides of the Bush years. Those divides have not only persisted but proliferated, leaving Romney able to suddenly (and however improbably) promise that he could be that agent of change. It was an effective pitch as long as there was no reminder of Republican recalcitrance in Congress or memory of the self-described “severe conservative” Mitt Romney who’s been running for president for the past two years. Read More…

In Last Days of Campaign Ground Game in Ohio Comes Down to Math – The Daily Beast

The weather is getting cold, but the ground game here in Ohio is already hot.

The polls are tight in the Buckeye State with President Obama maintaining a small but steady lead of between two and four points in most polls. Ohio is his firewall and Romney’s must-win state, at least in terms of precedent—no Republican has ever won the White House without it.

At this stage of an election, politics becomes a math problem—measuring early voting and overall turnout, making sure that your voters get to the polls.

Early voting began here on Oct. 2nd, and it remains a core part of the president’s re-election strategy, especially after Republican efforts to restrict early voting periods were rejected by the courts. Read More…

Battleground Blog: Ohio’s Senators Weigh in on Romney Jeep Ad Controversy – CNN.com

Here in Ohio and other Rust Belt battleground states where this election will be decided – the auto bailouts are a personal, political and pocket-book issue.

The latest campaign skirmish over the auto industry concerns comments Mitt Romney made on the stump about Chrysler allegedly moving Jeep manufacturing overseas to China. This drew immediate outcry from the company and provided a field day for Fact-Checkers who pronounced the statement a “Pants-on-Fire.” Read More…

Romney’s disputed Jeep claims – CNN

John Avlon offers his take on a controversy surrounding some claims Mitt Romney has made about the auto industry.


Romney, Obama battle for Ohio – OutFront – CNN

CNN’s John Avlon is traveling with CNN Election Express to a state that may call the election: Ohio.


As Election Nears, Voter Suppression Efforts Kick Into Gear – The Daily Beast

’Tis the season for dirty tricks.

Less than one week out from Election Day, we are witnessing a war of attrition, a game of inches. With state polls this close, every vote counts. And so beyond the positive effort to outdo the other party’s ground game and early-voting pushes, there is a negative corollary: voter suppression, confusion, and intimidation.

The ugly efforts to discourage the “wrong” voters from showing up reflect the asymmetrical polarization in Congress: neither party is entirely innocent, but conservatives have appeared to be driving the great bulk of efforts to suppress or misinform voters.

Yesterday, documents posted by Scott Keyes at TPM showed that the Romney campaign in Wisconsin is training poll-watchers to lie at polling stations by registering as “concerned citizens” rather than campaign volunteers; to untruthfully tell voters they are ineligible to vote unless they show proof of residency; and to misleadingly warn voters they are ineligible if they have been convicted of treason or bribery. Read More…

As Campaign Closes, Mitt Romney Peddles A Bipartisan Myth – The Daily Beast

Turn on the television in any swing state these days and you’re likely to see Mitt Romney smiling wistfully and saying this:

“Republicans and Democrats both love America. But we need to have leadership — leadership in Washington that will actually bring people together and get the job done.”

In the background, there’s a parade of carefully chosen faces—a young woman, a Hispanic father, a union worker wearing a hard-hat—all demographics he is losing by large margins, shown to create the illusion of a broad coalition. Read More…

Shooting Survivor Dean Kahler Passionate About Race – CNN

John Avlon speaks with Dean Kahler, a survivor of the Kent State shooting who is passionate about the 2012 election.


Battleground Blog: Shooting Survivor Passionate About 2012 Election – CNN.com

On the Battleground Bus Tour, we’ve met some extraordinary people. Usually, our focus is talking with the swing voters in swing states who will decide this election. But while Hurricane Sandy bore down on the East Coast, we started reporting a story on the ground game being implemented by both campaigns in Ohio.

At the Stark County Democratic Party Headquarters, we met a dedicated volunteer who lived through a dark chapter of American history and retained his sense of civic commitment.

His name is Dean Kahler and he was shot at Kent State in 1970. Read More…

Hurricane Sandy Exposes Mitt Romney’s Self-Made FEMA Problem – The Daily Beast

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, President Obama has been coordinating storm response from the White House—while Mitt Romney has been dodging questions about what critics say was a primary campaign call to cut funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

At a campaign stop in Ohio that hastily was rechristened a Hurricane relief event but nonetheless began with a Romney bio video, the candidate didn’t respond to what the press pool report said were 14 questions about FEMA funding.

The controversy stems from a tortured answer Romney gave at one of the countless Republican primary debates—when he lumped FEMA into a federalist argument about devolving funding and power to the states, specifically with regard to disaster relief. “Absolutely,” he said when asked if he’d support shutting the agency down and having the states handle emergency relief. Read More…