In recent days, the vibe emanating from Mitt Romney’s campaign has grown downright giddy. Despite a lack of any evident positive momentum over the last week — indeed, in the face of a slight decline from its post-Denver high — the Romney camp is suddenly bursting with talk that it will not only win but win handily. (“We’re going to win,” said one of the former Massachusetts governor’s closest advisers. “Seriously, 305 electoral votes.”)
This is a bluff. Romney is carefully attempting to project an atmosphere of momentum, in the hopes of winning positive media coverage and, thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Over the last week, Romney’s campaign has orchestrated a series of high-profile gambits in order to feed its momentum narrative. Last week, for instance, Romney’s campaign blared out the news that it was pulling resources out of North Carolina. The battleground was shifting! Romney on the offensive! On closer inspection, it turned out that Romney was shifting exactly one staffer. It is true that Romney leads in North Carolina, and it is probably his most favorable battleground state. But the decision to have a staffer move out of state, with a marching band and sound trucks in tow to spread the news far and wide, signals a deliberate strategy to create a narrative.
Also last week, Paul Ryan held a rally in Pittsburgh. Romney moving in to Pennsylvania! On the offensive! Skeptical reporters noted that Ryan’s rally would bleed into the media coverage in southeast Ohio and that Romney was not devoting any real money to Pennsylvania. Romney’s campaign keeps leaking that it is planning to spend money there. (Today’s leak: “Republicans are genuinely intrigued by the prospect of a strike in Pennsylvania and, POLITICO has learned, are considering going up on TV there outside the expensive Philadelphia market.” Note the noncommittal terms: intrigued and considering.) The story also floats Romney’s belief that, since Pennsylvania has no early voting, it can postpone its planned, any-day-now move into Pennsylvania until the end. This allows Romney to keep the Pennsylvania bluff going until, what, a couple of days before the election?
Karl Rove employed exactly this strategy in 2000. As we now know, the race was excruciatingly close, and Al Gore won the national vote by half a percentage point. But at the time, Bush projected a jaunty air of confidence. Rove publicly predicted Bush would win 320 electoral votes. Bush even spent the final days stumping in California, supposedly because he was so sure of victory he wanted an icing-on-the-cake win in a deep blue state. Campaign reporters generally fell for Bush’s spin, portraying him as riding the winds of momentum and likewise presenting Al Gore as desperate.
The current landscape is slightly different. The race is also very close, but Obama enjoys a clear electoral college lead. He is ahead by at least a couple points in enough states to make him president. Adding to his base of uncontested states, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin would give Obama 271 electoral votes. According to the current polling averages compiled at fivethirtyeight.com, Obama leads Nevada by 3.5 percent, Ohio by 2.9 percent, and Wisconsin by 4 percent. Should any of those fail, Virginia and Colorado are nearly dead even. (Obama leads by 0.7 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively.) If you don’t want to rely on Nate Silver — and you should rely on him! — the polling averages at realclearpolitics, the conservative-leaning site, don’t differ much, either.
If you look closely at the boasts emanating from Romney’s allies, you can detect a lot of hedging and weasel-words. Rob Portman calls Ohio a “dead heat,” which is a way of calling a race close without saying it’s tied. A Romney source tells Mike Allen that Wisconsin leans their way owing to Governor Scott Walker’s “turnout operation.” That is campaign speak for “we’re not winning, but we hope to make it up through turnout.”
Obama’s lead is narrow — narrow enough that the polling might well be wrong and Romney could win. But he is leading, his lead is not declining, and the widespread perception that Romney is pulling ahead is Romney’s campaign suckering the press corps with a confidence game.
By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intel, October 23, 2012
The lively October 11 debate between Vice President Joe Biden and the GOP Vice-Presidential candidate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, has been widely analyzed and fact-checked. But from the Wisconsin perspective, a few statements made by our fellow cheesehead brought to mind some idioms used widely in his home state.
If You Live In a Glass House, Don’t Throw Stones
“Joe and I are from similar towns. He’s from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I’m from Janesville, Wisconsin.” Ryan then cited Scranton’s ten percent unemployment rate, incorrectly suggesting it was indicative of national trends. “You know what it was the day [Obama and Biden] came in? 8.5 percent. That is happening all around America.”
When Ryan first became a U.S. Representative in 1999, unemployment in Janesville was at 3.8 percent. It is now at 9.2 percent. But nationally and in America’s major cities, unemployment is going down, albeit slowly. Unemployment in Ryan’s hometown is still too high, but the rate has dropped from a peak of 15.6 percent a few months after Obama and Biden took office. The peak was largely attributable to the Janesville General Motors plant closing in 2008 under President George W. Bush.
Fool Me Once, Shame on You; Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me
Ryan pledged during the debate that the Romney-Ryan ticket has a plan for “getting the economy growing at 4 percent, creating 12 million jobs over the next four years.”
The 12 million jobs pledge is one that Romney has been repeating on the campaign trail, with the campaign airing ads in Ryan’s home state promising to create 240,000 jobs in Wisconsin (12 million divided by 50 states). But folks in Wisconsin have reason to doubt these sorts of jobs pledges.
Wisconsin’s current Governor Scott Walker was elected in 2010 with a nearly identical jobs pledge — a promise to create 250,000 jobs by the end of his term in 2014 — and repeated the pledge in May of 2012 during his recall election. But even Walker admits this promise is already broken. Wisconsin’s job growth rates continues to rank among the worst in the nation, behind other states in the region and nationally.
Biden, for his part, did not make a specific promise about jobs numbers, but he did say “we can and we will” get unemployment below 6 percent, a plan that the White House has not backed up with any specifics.
As CMD asked in September, do these folks really think Wisconsinites will fall for it again?
Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth
In the debate, Rep. Ryan railed against the Obama administration’s stimulus plan and characterized it as a failure. Biden quickly pointed out that Ryan himself had sought stimulus funds for companies in his district.
“I love that, I love that,” Biden responded, laughing. “This is such a bad program and he writes me a letter saying — writes the Department of Energy a letter saying — the reason we need this stimulus, it will create growth and jobs. His words. And now he’s sitting here looking at me.”
Ryan sought $20 million in “green stimulus” for the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation and hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Energy Center of Wisconsin, both of which were granted by the Department of Energy. Ryan defended the letters in the debate by saying “We advocated for constituents who were applying for grants. It’s what we do.”
In one of the letters, Ryan wrote: “I was pleased that the primary objectives of their project will allow residents and businesess in the partner cities to reduce their energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate the local economy by creating new jobs.”
Other businesses in Ryan’s district have also benefitted from stimulus spending. Ruud Lighting in Racine, for example, manufactures LED lights and has expanded and added jobs by winning contracts to supply LED lights to municipalities across the United States, many of which are making the purchases using federal stimulus dollars from the Department of Energy.
Don’t Kill a Goose That Lays Golden Eggs
In his closing statements, Ryan repeated the widely discredited claim that Obamacare is a “government takeover of health care,” a right-wing talking point that CMD’s Senior Fellow on Healthcare Wendell Potter has demonstrated was developed by the private health care industry. “Obamacare,” after all, was developed largely to protect and defend the private insurance industry against those who preferred a government-run health care system, such as those found in Canada and much of Europe.
Romney and Ryan have pledged to repeal “Obamacare” without putting forward a plan to replace it. But in 2010, Rep. Ryan sought Obamacare funding for a community health center in his district.
“The proposed new facility, the Belle City Neighborhood Health Center, will serve both the preventative and comprehensive primary healthcare needs of thousands of new patients of all ages who are currently without healthcare,” Ryan wrote.
Community health centers like this one provide a variety of vital health services to low-income communities, and “Obamacare” provides funding to significantly expand those services, including $9.5 billion in operating costs for existing community health centers and $1.5 billion for constructing new facilities.
Wisconsinites will be talking about these facts and others as they gather around the bubbler this weekend.
By: Brendan Fischer, Center for Media and Democracy, October 12, 2012
With this in mind, here’s a tip for candidates: please try to keep track of your total number of homes in case the question comes up, because it’s likely to come up.
For years, then-Gov. Tommy Thompson complained that he wasn’t earning big bucks as a government official. Not any more.
Simply ask the U.S. Senate candidate exactly how many residences he owns. Just like U.S. Sen. John McCain, Thompson has a hard time keeping track. “Three,” the veteran Republican responded last week at a campaign event.
Thompson has three houses? Isn’t there another one? “No,” he answered without hesitation.
OK, everybody knows about the farm in his hometown of Elroy and the house in Madison. There’s also his family’s relatively new 10,889-square-foot home on the outskirts of the Walt Disney World Resort in Kissimmee, Fla. A Thompson family trust bought that edifice — and its “top of the line everything,” an online ad says — for $675,000 last year after the bank-owned property was marked down from its original $1.4 million asking price.
Later, the Republican’s staff clarified that Thompson said he owned three homes, he meant to say four. Thompson apparently forgot about the $1.3 million condo he owns off Lake Wisconsin.
There was another — a DC-area home Thompson used during his time as a lobbyist — but the Republican sold it last year.
Matt Canter, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in as statement, “Only an out of touch millionaire influence peddler like Tommy Thompson could forget that he owns a $1.3 million lakefront condominium. Thompson’s memory lapse is not surprising. The fact is Tommy Thompson long ago lost touch with Wisconsin when he cashed in on his political connections to become a millionaire in Washington peddling influence on behalf of special interest clients.”
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 8, 2012
A Dane County judge has ruled that the anti-collective bargaining law championed by Governor Scott Walker—legislation that would ultimately lead to the failed effort to recall the controversial Wisconsin governor—is unconstitutional under both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions.
While the news will, no doubt, bolster the spirits of Wisconsin unions fighting to regain their collective bargaining rights, they should not allow their hopes to get too high.
The case will, inevitably, end up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court where that highly partisan and political body—with the majority firmly in the camp of Governor Walker—is almost a sure bet to overrule the lower rule’s decision.
In the meantime, the impact of the ruling on existing union agreements remains unclear.
While the unions will seek to have the court’s decision take effect immediately, thus clearing the way to a return to the collective bargaining table in the state, the Walker administration will surely seek a stay pending review by the highest court in the state.
In response to the ruling, Governor Scott Walker issued a statement accusing Judge Juan Colas of being a “liberal activist” who “wants to go backwards and take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and the governor. We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process.”
Wisconsin Assembly Minority Leader, Peter Barca responded by saying, “This decision will help re-establish the balance between employees and their employers.”
By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, September 14, 2012