President Obama

The Absurd Impeachment Feedback Loop – The Daily Beast

Impeachment is the final fantasy for obsessive hyper-partisans. But some Democrats are exploiting the craziness as a fundraising call to arms.

Silly season has started—and both parties are trying to fund-raise off the fringe.

One-third of Americans now say that President Obama should be impeached, according to a CNN/ORC poll. This carries about as much constitutional weight as previous free-floating anxieties about the president being secretly Muslim, communist or born in Kenya.

The partisan breakdown of the Impeach Obama crowd is roughly what you’d expect. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans say they support impeachment and 35 percent of independents, with a very-confused 13 percent of Democrats bringing up the caboose. Read More…

Obama has Given Up Seeking a Solution to America’s Financial Woes

Without a bang or a whimper, all hopes of striking a so-called “Grand Bargain” to put America’s public finances on a sustainable track died a quiet death this week.

And because cynicism passes for wisdom in Washington, the passing was little lamented. But its death is a loss to the cause of putting America’s house in order, and all-but-officially marks the moment the Obama administration gave up trying to bridge the political divide on this most fundamental issue.

The death notice itself was printed in the pages of the Obama budget, which quietly rescinded the offer of long-term healthcare and pensions reform by withdrawing the offer of what Capitol Hill policy-wonks call “Chain-weighted CPI” from their budget blueprint. 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.

Shutdown Crisis: We Need a Hostage Negotiator – The Daily Beast

With the government shutdown entering its second week and debt ceiling default less than two weeks away, polarization has turned poisonous and confusion reigns on Capitol Hill.

“It actually reminds me of a prison siege,” says Christopher Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator, as he surveys the dysfunctional congressional deadlock. “The opposition isn’t particularly organized. The smart move is to pick among the leadership on the other side who is the most reasonable. Then you empower them by talking with them and granting some sort of small concession. And they suddenly gain a lot of influence on their side.”

Yes, it’s come to this: Washington’s shutdown stalemate looks like a hostage crisis to high-stakes negotiators. And in their eyes, the inmates are running the asylum. Read More…

The Suicidal Shutdown: Hyper-Partisan Fever Rules the Government – The Daily Beast

It was darkly appropriate that Congressman John Culberson (R-TX) rallied his conservative colleagues on Saturday to vote for a government shutdown by saying “Like 9/11, Let’s Roll!” Because this legislative plane is headed defiantly nose-down into the ground.

Decency, practicality, and perspective have deserted some of the folks working under the same Capitol Dome that the heroic passengers on Flight 93 saved from destruction. A decade ago, congressional conservatives might have been offended at the casual misuse of 9/11-imagery for hyper-partisan purposes. Today, nothing’s shocking in the obsessive opposition to President Obama and the healthcare law that began its life as a Republican alternative to Hillarycare in the 1990s. Any red meat rallying cry will do. Read More…

American Way: Can Jim Messina Do for David Cameron What He Did for Barack Obama?

The incumbent was underwater. Low poll numbers and a still-sluggish economy, soaring campaign promises of hope and change that never quite materialised. The opposition attacked him; so did some of the ideological absolutists in his own camp.

That’s the situation Jim Messina inherited when he took the helm of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2011. And it applies to the thicket of problems he’s going to confront as the newly announced senior adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron’s 2015 re-election campaign.

On the surface it is an odd-couple pairing – the University of Montana Democrat and the Oxford-educated Conservative. But Mr Obama and Mr Cameron are both pioneering members of Generation X, indulging in modest relatable rebellion before reaching the highest elected office in their land. Both men campaigned as candidates of generational change, presenting themselves as post-partisan coalition builders and rapidly rising to prominence on the strength of their speeches. Neither man entered office with much executive experience and the old political aphorism that “you campaign in poetry but govern in prose” quickly hobbled sky-high expectations.
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…

Don’t Call Obama Racist – The Daily Beast

Race remains a fundamental fault line in American life. That’s why the Trayvon Martin murder trial drew wall­ to ­wall coverage on cable news and why the jury’s decision to acquit George Zimmerman drew outraged cries.

And on Friday afternoon, a day before planned nationwide protests, President Obama weighed into the fray with a remarkable, unscripted 17­-minute address from the White House briefing room.

But by trying to use the bully pulpit to turn this national paroxysm into what he might call a “teachable moment,” President Obama reignited conservative criticisms that he is an advocate for identity politics rather than for national unity. Read More…

George H.W. Bush, Our Preppiest Ex-President, Honored at White House – The Daily Beast

It’s been a quarter-century since George H.W. Bush was elected president, but the wheels of history are finally turning his way. In a triumph of civility and character over hyperbolic hyper-partisanship, Bush 41 was honored Monday by President Obama at the White House for the success of his Point of Light award for civic volunteerism.

We begin to see clearly in the rearview mirror of history, and George H.W. Bush has lived long enough to be appreciated as the Lone Star Yankee, perhaps the last unapologetically centrist Republican to enter the White House, winning California on the way to an electoral landslide. Read More…

NSA Spying Shows Obama’s Machine Out of Control – The Daily Beast

With news that Verizon was required to hand over supposedly private domestic phone records to the government as part of a national security dragnet, the second-term curse just got much more real for the Obama administration.

To date, however, the Obama second-term scandals do not seem carelessly self-inflicted from the top like those of the past, from Watergate to Iran-Contra to Monica or even the botched response to Hurricane Katrina.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t deeply destructive to President Obama’s legacy. Read More…

American Way: Don’t Impose Watergate on the Scandals Facing Obama – They Stand on Their Own – The Telegraph

Somewhere Richard Nixon is smiling. Four decades after Watergate and two decades after his death, we still can’t stop talking about the dark anti-hero of American politics. His five-o’clock shadowy visage remains too convenient a metaphor for lazy critics looking to lacerate a president from the opposing party.

The latest non-Watergate to be labelled its second coming is actually a combination of three separate scandals afflicting the Barack Obama administration.

The collective weight of this scandalabra threatens to derail the president’s ambitious legislative agenda, dragging him to premature lame duck status. But it doesn’t represent outright criminality emanating from the Oval Office or promise to provoke a constitutional crisis, however fervently Obama’s critics might wish it. Read More…

CNN Podcast: Big Three – Obama’s Worst Week

This week on The Big Three, we take a look at what might have been Obama’s worst week ever – as a negative trifecta of scandals threaten to overwhelm his administration and derail his ambitious legislative agenda. We get a reality check with special guest, Representative Keith Ellison. And no talk about the biggest stories of the week would be complete without a conversation about Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a proactive double mastectomy and the message it sends to millions.

Listen to the Podcast here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Obama Budget Catching Hell From Both Sides: Why That’s a Good Sign – The Daily Beast

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall catch hell from both sides.”

So said a sign on the Justice Department wall of Burke Marshall at the height of the civil rights era. But it could also apply to President Obama’s new budget, finally offered up two months late and on the heels of competing Democratic Senate and House Republican proposals.

But this budget is not like all the others. It is not a positional bargaining document, designed simply to rally the base at the outset of negotiations. One way you can tell is that liberal activists and congressmen are already screaming “sellout” at the White House for offering Social Security reform as part of a balanced plan to reduce the deficit and debt.

The Republican response so far has been crickets, and that throat clearing you hear in the distance might just be a recalibration before another reflexive “tax and spend liberal” attack on the president. Read More…

CNN Podcast: Big Three – Margaret Hoover, Dean Obeidallah, John Avlon

Welcome to The Big Three — a CNN Radio podcast on the big three stories of the week, featuring three contributors who write for CNN Opinion — myself, my bride, Margaret Hoover, and political comedian Dean Obeidallah, who is of no relation (as far as we know).

We each come to the conversation from a different perspective — center, right and left — but we all share a commitment to smart, funny, civil conversation. And we’re all big Yalta buffs. Read More…

Joe Biden’s Shotgun Approach to Politics Good for Obama Administration – The Daily Beast

In the pop-culture presidency of the Obama administration, Joe Biden plays an outsize role. He’s the goofy white uncle, loose-lipped and earnest to a fault, who recently became the subject of an Onion biography that imagines the teetotaler as a beer-guzzling Trans-Am worshipper eternally fixated on the summer of ’87.

But while Biden has a tendency to shoot from the lip and stray from the script, it is not without strategic political benefit. On the campaign trial, his warmth balanced Obama’s cool—there’s nothing aloof about Biden. He was dispatched to Rust Belt union halls and rallied the base, embodying Bob Shrum’s eternal “fighting for you” formulation without seeming forced. Hell, the man singlehandedly brought the word “malarkey” out of exile. If Obama is among the most self-monitoring of men, Biden is among the least. Read More…

The PowerPoint That Proves It’s Not Obama’s Sequester After All – The Daily Beast

With deep sequestration cuts just days away, Congress is on vacation. But they’ve still got plenty of time to play the blame game.

The latest semantic spin is to call the looming $1.2 trillion in cuts, which could throw the whole economy back into recession, “Obama’s Sequester.” House Speaker John Boehner indulged this approach half a dozen times in a floor speech before he went on break, establishing its place in the talking-points firmament.

There are a couple problems with this tactic, as my colleague Michael Tomasky pointed out Tuesday. Congress passed sequestration before the president signed it, and the whole self-defeating exercise was carried out in response to Tea Party Republicans’ insistence that we play chicken with the debt ceiling, which ultimately cost America its AAA credit rating. Read More…

The Republicans’ Ugly and Shameful Chuck Hagel Filibuster – The Daily Beast

Since the election, Republican talking points have reflected the fact that they need to reach out beyond their base: to be positive rather than negative; appear more reasonable, less obstructionist.

But how you act speaks more loudly than what you say, and Senate Republicans have doubled down on obstructionism with their shameful filibuster of secretary-of-defense nominee Chuck Hagel. Add to this fresh insult the hold Sen. Rand Paul put on Obama’s nominee to be CIA director, John Brennan, and it looks like Republicans are backing a cynical political strategy that could compromise national security while proliferating hyperpartisanship even further in the future. Read More…

Obama’s Chance to Lead — or Kick the Can Down the Road –

“What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further. … We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s.”

So said President-elect Barack Obama at a Washington Post editorial board meeting in January 2009, just days before taking his first oath of office. He was talking about the importance of dealing with the long-term deficit and debt.

The rhetoric hasn’t met the record — debt has exploded under Obama’s watch. Reasonable people can forgive the president for expenses incurred while confronting the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression — and, let’s be honest, alternative paths of austerity have not worked that well across the Atlantic. But now is the time to get serious about reigning in our long-term debt, which now exceeds an unsustainable 70% of gross domestic product. Read More…

Republican Conspiracy Nuts on Obama’s Skeet-Shooting Picture – The Daily Beast

The Obama years have been a boom time for conspiracy theories and associated catchphrases.

During the first term, the “birthers” dominated this sad and sordid landscape, but in recent weeks we’ve seen the rapid rise and fall of the “Benghazi flu” and now—oh so briefly—“Skeet-Gate.”

Blink and you could have missed it. “Skeet-Gate” was the far-right-wing reaction to an interview in last week’s relaunched New Republic in which the president was asked whether he’d ever shot a gun. He replied, “Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.” Read More…

Hagel’s Confirmation Hearings Contentious and Partisan – The Daily Beast

The contentious Senate hearing for secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel divided starkly along partisan lines, with Republicans attacking their former colleague with the pitchfork zeal of heretic hunters.

Hagel’s calm recitation of consensus catechism on issues ranging from Iran to Israel to nuclear weapons didn’t seem to make any impression on his conservative critics.

This was personal. John McCain repeatedly interrupted his “old friend” and fellow Vietnam vet with palpable anger, his fury directed at Hagel’s opposition to the Iraq War and the 2007 troop surge. The core offense appeared to be Hagel’s contention that the invasion of Iraq was the worst foreign policy “disaster” since Vietnam—a parallel that infuriates McCain. Read More…

Immigration Reform Proposal Shows Similar Ideas Betweeen Bush and Obama – The Daily Beast

The ghost of George W. Bush is haunting President Obama’s immigration-reform push.

The past president serves as both an unlikely inspiration and negative object lesson to the current effort. Because the plan pushed by Bush in his second term bears an uncanny resemblance to the bipartisan plan now backed by the Gang of Eight senators and hailed by Obama as the best hope for comprehensive immigration reform in a generation.

Take a look back at President Bush’s 2006 televised address to the nation on immigration reform and read it alongside President Obama’s Las Vegas take on the same subject this Tuesday. The style may be different, but the substance and sentiment are essentially the same. Read More…

A Reality Check for Chuck Hagel Bashers –

At Thursday’s Capitol Hill confirmation hearing, Chuck Hagel will finally get to answer his critics.

The decorated Vietnam veteran and two-term Republican senator from Nebraska is President Obama’s choice to be the next secretary of defense. But the bipartisan pick hasn’t brought the two parties together.

Instead, a cadre of conservative activists have been trying to drum up opposition to Hagel ever since his name was first floated in what has amounted to a pre-emptive attack on not just his policies but, too often, his character. It’s time for a reality check. Read More…

Obama’s Odd New Pals on Immigration – The Daily Beast

This time it will be different.

After repeated failures at the federal level, comprehensive immigration reform finally looks like a real possibility this year. And that’s because a broad bipartisan coalition has been built in the Senate, motivated by both self-interest and national interest. Today in Nevada, President Obama will add his vision to their legislative foundation, officially making immigration reform the core of his second-term agenda.

Obama’s unexpected ally in this effort is the evangelical community—part of an emerging conservative coalition in favor of immigration reform that supporters describe as “the Bible, the badge, and business.” Read More…

In His Inaugural Address, Barack Obama Delivers a Progressive Manifesto – The Daily Beast

“To form a more perfect union” has always been the core idea animating President Obama’s career, an attempt to bridge old divides, blending the personal and the political.

The president used his second inaugural address to try to demolish the false dichotomies that have defined the overheated political debates of the past four years, implicitly making the case that his Democratic Party’s agenda is squarely in the mainstream of American history—expanding individual freedom through collective action.

It was an audaciously political speech, a statement of personal and partisan principle, rather than the expected broad bipartisan outreach. From the outset, the president took aim at conservatives’ claim to represent the idea of American exceptionalism, arguing instead that it is achieved by the constant struggle to expand equal opportunity. Read More…

Obama’s Legacy on the Line – CNN

Christine Romans, Annie Lowrey and John Avlon discuss the obstacles President Obama must overcome to get the middle class back on track and make his mark in the history books.


The NRA’s Shameful Day: Shooting App for Kids, ‘Stand and Fight’ Ad – The Daily Beast

The National Rifle Association board might want to quiz its communications shop. With President Obama set to unveil his gun proposals on Wednesday, the NRA spent its Tuesday “no-commenting” on what was apparently a sponsored shooting app geared to 4-year-olds, and releasing an ad calling Obama a “hypocritical elitist” for having the Secret Service protect his children.

The common denominator? Guns and kids. One month after Sandy Hook. It was a rare and ugly combination of cluelessness and callousness—and almost makes you think someone inside the NRA is trying to ruin its reputation. Read More…

Our Pathetic Congress – The Daily Beast

Welcome back to Washington, House of Representatives. Hope you all had a great vacation. While you were out, your inaction caused markets to tumble, and now America is just hours away from collectively being pushed off the fiscal cliff.

Your colleagues in the Senate—the supposedly responsible body—have been working the last three days, trying to put together some kind of deal your fractious asses can pass by New Year’s Eve. The bad news is that as of Sunday morning, they still didn’t have a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff. Agreement that 98 percent of Americans shouldn’t have their taxes raised isn’t enough. And deficit and debt reduction? Forget about it—this is all now a desperate exercise in political pain avoidance. Read More…

Beware the Fiscal Cliff Deniers –

Washington is playing chicken with the fiscal cliff — the combination of automatic tax hikes and deep spending cuts in 2013 that could plummet our recovering economy back into recession. Brinksmanship is back while the clock ticks.

Responsible voices in both parties say they don’t want the country to go over the cliff, and Republicans have just offered their own outline of a plan to counter the president’s opening bid. (Both sides have rejected those opening offers.)

There is danger ahead — a growing chorus of ideological activists on both sides who insist there is no reason to fear going over the fiscal cliff, if the cliff exists at all. Read More…

Will the Second-Term Quicksand Swallow Barack Obama? – The Daily Beast

Second terms come with instant historic legitimacy—and seemingly inevitable scandal.

Watergate, Iran-Contra, the Full Monica all started snowballing a year after strong second-term presidential wins. The defining domestic disaster of President Bush’s second term, the response to Hurricane Katrina, also fits the overall pattern of a tough repeat act—with the president rarely leaving office as a conquering hero.

So if history is any guide, President Obama should spend his political capital wisely, and now. Read More…

Democrats Must Step Up on Entitlement Reform for Fiscal Cliff Deal – The Daily Beast

The good news is that Republicans are starting to recognize the need to break with Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge. But that’s only part of the way toward a genuinely balanced bipartisan deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Listen carefully to what one of the principled defectors, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday on ABC’s This Week: “I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.”

Got that? Democrats are going to have to step up with serious entitlement reforms to get a balanced plan done. 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…

Battleground Blog: How the Swing Counties Swung –

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.

Independent and Centrist Voters Breaking with Precedent –

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 –

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…

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…

Obama’s Deficit Plan Closer to What CEOs Favor –

The deficit and debt are major concerns for swing voters — and President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have very different visions of how to deal with it.

That’s why it was significant to see 80 CEOs of major American companies sign a letter this past week committing to press for a balanced bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit and debt no matter which candidate is elected president on November 6.

The words “balanced” and “bipartisan” are key here — because the CEOs understand that this problem is too big to be solved by tax hikes or spending cuts alone. We can’t simply tax or cut our way out of this problem. Read More…

October Surprise: Shadowy Conservative Groups Dominate Outside Spending – The Daily Beast

The Super-PAC October Surprise is here with unprecedented negative spending – and an overwhelming advantage for conservative shadow money groups flooding the airwaves against Democratic candidates.

Total non-party outside spending is now estimated by the Center for Responsive Politics to exceed over $1 billion this cycle—twice what the group estimated would be spent as recently as August. And dark money spending from non-disclosing groups has just passed $200 million in this election—more than every other election cycle over the past 20 years combined. Read More…

Deficit-Hawk CEOs Bend Toward Obama –

The deficit and debt are major concerns for swing voters — and President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have very different visions of how to deal with it.

That’s why it was significant to see 80 CEOs of major American companies sign a letter this past week committing to press for a balanced bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit and debt no matter which candidate is elected president on November 6.

The words “balanced” and “bipartisan” are key here — because the CEOs understand that this problem is too big to be solved by tax hikes or spending cuts alone. We can’t simply tax or cut our way out of this problem.

Instead, the CEOs backed the outlines of the Bowles-Simpson commission, which attracted bipartisan support with its plan to cut spending, rein in entitlements and increase tax revenue through lower rates while closing loopholes and deductions. Read More…

Ground Game: Obama Campaign Opens Up a Big Lead in Field Offices – The Daily Beast

Beyond the presidential debates, one final factor matters more than all the rest in a close race: ground game.

It’s the ability to get your voters to the polls—a way of moving soft support into actual votes.

Field operatives have been undervalued in recent years, as the focus of campaigns has shifted to big-money ad-bombs, compounded by the super-PAC economy. But this presidential campaign is going to come down to a few percentage points in a half dozen states, and suddenly ground game is about to get a lot of respect. Read More…

Will an Energy Boom Swing Ohio? – The Daily Beast

I spent the weekend in Ohio, and filed this report for CNN on how a natural gas energy boom in the bellwether northeastern region of the state is the final factor for many swing voters in the area.

Their votes may break down to simple but changing realities about dollars and acres:

“For decades, the economic news here has been grim. Once the breadbasket and manufacturing backbone of the nation, Ohio has been hit hard by outsourcing while family farms have been under constant pressure. Read More…

Will Energy Boom Swing the Election? –

No Republican has won the White House without Ohio.

In these final weeks, the Buckeye State is an intense campaign battleground and northeastern Ohio is the bellwether of this key swing state.

For decades, the economic news here has been grim. Once the breadbasket and manufacturing backbone of the nation, Ohio has been hit hard by outsourcing while family farms have been under constant pressure.

But a bright spot has suddenly emerged after decades of struggle, an energy boom brought on by natural gas and oil wells. Suddenly, local farmland that had been worth $15 per acre six years ago was valued at $5,800 per acre and leases allow farmers to keep a portion of the royalties if oil and gas are found. Read More…

Ohio Oil Boom – OutFront – CNN

The key to winning the election could come down to Ohio. John Avlon reports on the final factors of the election.


Foreign Policy Should Take Center Stage – The Daily Beast

It is time for the presidential candidates to say what they see as America’s place in the world. Few aspects of the president’s job have as large an impact on as many people as his role as commander-in-chief, and while voters can look to President Obama’s record on the foreign stage, the Romney-Ryan ticket needs to make a clear, coherent statement of its own positions in the next debate.

In my latest column for The Sunday Telegraph, I write on how so far both campaigns have danced around some of the most important international issues that will determine America’s course over the next four years:

“Like Senator Obama four years ago, Governor Romney has little foreign policy experience. At least we knew then that Obama opposed the Iraq war and wanted to ramp up drone strikes against al-Qaeda instead – and now, in regard to killing bin Laden, the phrase ‘mission accomplished’ actually applies.

Read More…

In Virginia’s Crucial County, Military Cuts Worry Swing Voters –

Take it from President Barack Obama — Virginia’s Loudoun County is a must-win swing district in a must-win swing state.

“We won last time in Loudoun County, and if we win again, we win Virginia,” Obama declared at a rally in August. “And if we win Virginia, we win the election.”

The final factor affecting many undecided voters in this wealthy Washington exurb is sequestration — massive, automatic cuts scheduled to start taking effect at the the beginning of 2013 after the failure of a supercommittee to come up with a deficit-reduction plan. Read More…

In 2012 Election, Centrists Move Left As Independents Stay Split – The Daily Beast

Mitt Romney’s debate debut of his new, centrist political persona may be no deeper than an Etch-a-Sketch drawing, but it might prove effective. After all, elections in America are won by the candidate who connects best with centrists and independents, the quintessential swing voters.

But in an important and little-noticed new trend, centrists and independents this year have changed from nearly identical to become two very different groups.

For months, the once and apparently future Massachusetts Moderate has been getting crushed by President Obama among self-identified centrist voters—trailing by about 20 points, 36 percent to 58 percent, according to the mid-September Pew Survey and and 39 percent to 57 percent according to a late September poll by ABC News and The Washington Post. Read More…

Benghazi Backlash, Mideast Implosion, Jobless Numbers: The Real Potential October Surprises – The Daily Beast

October Surprise. It’s defined by Safire’s Political Dictionary as a “last minute disruption before a November election; unexpected political stunt or revelation that could affect an election’s outcome.”

America was treated to a lame attempt to manufacture just such a stunt last night with the live re-release on Hannity of a speech the president gave in 2007, promoted all day with banners at the Drudge Report and housed on the Daily Caller website.

The speech—originally broadcast on Fox on June 5, 2007—caused a minor stir at the time, commemorated in this column by Roland Martin, but it had largely been forgotten in the wake of two presidential campaigns and almost four years of actions in the White House.

Let’s be honest: It is a naked attempt to reinsert race into the election, trying to stoke the fires too many folks on the far right have been fanning since Obama first ran for president—arguing that he is not a “metrosexual black Abe Lincoln” (in the immortal words of Fred Davis’s emotionally aligned super-PAC pitch to Joe Ricketts) but a Black Panther radical in disguise who secretly hates white people and America (which is why he’s always apologizing for it). The alternative is to “let America be America again”—by any means Read More…

Obama’s Stirring U.N. Speech – The Daily Beast

President Obama can be, if anything, overrated as an orator. Some of his heavily hyped speeches—such as his Charlotte convention address—fall flat or fall short.

That was not the case with his U.N. address Tuesday.

Certainly, the stakes were high—two weeks after the murder of the first American ambassador since 1979, his killers still at large, and the hope of the Arab Spring given to shadows and fog. Read More…

Our Toothless Campaign Finance Watchdogs – The Daily Beast

This is the third and final installment in a series by The Daily Beast, in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics, on the influx of money into the 2012 campaign. To read part one, click here. To read part two, click here.  This Article was co-authored by Michael Keller and Daniel Stone.

The gold rush excesses of the super-PAC economy are encouraged by a Wild West mentality, where all boundaries are pushed in the absence of strong laws. The mechanisms for enforcing the rules are toothless and totally unsuited for the task at hand.

The Federal Election Commission would seem to be the obvious agency to regulate the system, but experts say the odds that it will hand down harsh penalties for, say, illegal coordination between a super PAC and a campaign are extremely low. In recent years, the FEC—which is run by six commissioners, three Republicans and three Democrats—has been routinely deadlocked with party-line votes. Read More…