Election 2012

Why Richard Mourdock Matters for the Presidential Election

Richard Mourdock, the GOP candidate for Senate in Indiana, has joined the growing ranks of Republican men who openly oppose “rape and incest” exceptions in anti-abortion laws. For Mourdock, the reasoning is straightforward—every life is a “gift from God.” Here’s the full quote: “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said at a debate. “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” That Mourdock is not a victim of rape or incest—and biologically unable to become pregnant—seems not to have factored into his “struggle” on the issue. That aside, there’s nothing surprising about Mourdock’s view. It was echoed in Todd Akin’s now-infamous statement about “legitimate rape,” and Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh’s claim that no woman would ever need an abortion to save her life. It forms the basis for bills like the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which would grant...

Mitt Romney's Question Mark Economy

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
As we close in on Election Day, the questions about what Mitt Romney would do if elected grow even larger. Rarely before in American history has a candidate for president campaigned on such a blank slate. Yet, paradoxically, not a day goes by that we don’t hear Romney, or some other exponent of the GOP, claim that businesses aren’t creating more jobs because they’re uncertain about the future. And the source of that uncertainty, they say, is President Obama — especially his Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Dodd-Frank Act, and uncertainties surrounding Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy. In fact, Romney has created far more uncertainty. He offers a virtual question mark of an economy For example, Romney says if elected he’ll repeal Obamacare and replace it with something else. He promises he’ll provide health coverage to people with pre-existing medical problems but he doesn’t give a hint how he’d manage it. Insurance companies won’t pay the higher costs of insuring...

Moderate Mitt Takes on Israel

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
The final American presidential debate aired in the small hours of the Middle Eastern night. An Israeli who stayed up to watch was rewarded by learning some new facts from Mitt Romney: Iran is a land-locked country with access to the sea only through Syria. Romney believes America can push Israel and the Palestinians toward peace, and he faults President Barack Obama for failing to do so. An Israeli viewer could learn that Romney would not rush breakneck into war to stop the Iranian nuclear program. An Israeli, that is, could conclude along with Americans that Mitt Romney has an identical twin whom he sent to debate in his place. In their views of the world, Mitt and his look-alike share only one thing: a blurred map of the Middle East in which Syria has borders with both Iran and the West Bank. Unlike Mitt, the brother is not bound to policies designed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and multi-national campaign funder Sheldon Adelson. Obama regularly, forcefully reminded...

First Ladies in Waiting

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore, Barack Obama for America)
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore, Obama for America) S ure, it's fun to hate her. She's a dance mom to a high-priced horse. She crowed about her “real marriage” to Mitt during her RNC speech, which would count as a homophobic dog whistle if it weren’t loud enough for everyone to hear. She wears thousand-dollar t-shirts and still manages to dress like a modern-day June Cleaver. And this Fall she's taken to saying bafflingly tone-deaf things to reporters, like that she has “concern” for her husband’s “mental well-being” should he actually have to serve as president. But all snark aside, why should we care about Ann Romney? The answers may seem obvious: If her husband is elected, she'll surely have the ear of the President of the United States in ways most cabinet members only dream of. She provides a window into a strange and often inscrutable candidate. And of course, the campaign has designated her a surrogate, so who are we to argue? But none of these answers stand up to scrutiny. Governors and...

The Belle of the Electoral College Ball

(Clare Malone/The American Prospect)
Clare Malone This is part three of the Prospect ’s weeklong series on the swing districts that could determine the national outcome on November 6. S oren Norris is pretty sure he’s just been spouse-blocked. Norris, a canvasser for Working America, the AFL-CIO’s community affiliate, is walking away from a door that’s been slammed in his face by a rotund man in a polo shirt and khakis at the mention of Ohio’s incumbent Democratic senator, Sherrod Brown. He explains the phenomenon, common enough in this politically divided state to have been given a name by political professionals. “It’s when you want to talk to one, and the other one won’t let you talk to them. She might have been in the back. Who knows?” Norris shrugs off the encounter and is soon off to the next house on his list. He and his team of canvassers need to knock on 3,500 doors in Cuyahoga Falls, a city 45 minutes south of Cleveland, tonight—T-minus 25 days until Election Day in Ohio. It’s no secret that every four years,...

Bald-Faced Romney

One of the most dramatic moments of the three presidential debates occurred during Monday night’s foreign-policy finale. In a back-and-forth over diplomacy with Iran, Mitt Romney threw Barack Obama a bone by repeating his persistent claim that the president had gone on an “apology tour” in 2009. The baseless notion of Obama “apologizing for America” has been a central theme from the start of Romney's campaign, and his opponent was ready to jump on it: "Nothing Governor Romney just said is true," Obama said . "Starting with this notion of me apologizing. This has probably been the biggest whopper told during this campaign." There was more, and it was damning for Romney. But in the aftermath, the Republican’s response set a bold new standard for shamelessness (not an easy thing for a politician to do). This morning, his campaign blasted out a brand-new “Apology Tour” ad —containing zero evidence to support the lie he won’t let die. Both Romney and his campaign have made it abundantly...

Marry Me in ... Maine?

The sixth in a Prospect series on the 174 ballot measures up for a vote this November. Last week, I announced my caution about the chances of winning same-sex marriage at the ballot in Maryland . Just after I wrote that, a Washington Post poll showed that voters are leaning 52 percent to 43 percent in favor of upholding the marriage-equality law there. I got a lot of pushback, based on that poll. Look, that’s better than the reverse. But those of us who have watched same-sex marriage get voted on—and voted down—32 times since 1996 have learned a few basic things: The spread is meaningless. All undecideds vote against us. Our side loses two to five points at the ballot. We end up where we started before the campaign. I don’t think that voters lie to the pollsters. I think that most people don't think about lesbians and gay men very much. If they don't give the issue much thought, they vote for the status quo: marriage as they've always known it. Faced with the sentence “marriage is...

Let's Hold Off on the Champagne, Team Romney

One way to win any close contest is to project an aura of confidence. This is exactly what we’re seeing right now from the Romney campaign. From Politico , you have a campaign advisor declaring that Mitt Romney would win 305 electoral votes on Election Day. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell says that he has a “permanent sustainable” lead, and Romney strategist Stewart Stevens declared that “The majority of Americans don’t want to vote for Barack Obama.” The spin here is dizzying, and unfortunately, political journalists—and not just at Politico —seem to be buying it. In his debate analysis, for example, ABC’s Rick Klein declared that “Mitt Romney may have done more to actually boost his chances of being elected.” Chris Cilizza maintains that Romney is still rising in the polls, and a whole host of Republicans outside the Romney campaign have declared the race over for Barack Obama. The polls paint a different picture. A quick glance shows a race that has stabilized, and begun to shift...

The "Apology Tour" Lives On

Flickr/micagoto
During last night's debate, when Mitt Romney started to go off on his usual "apology tour" line, President Obama got a little smile on his face. Here it comes, I thought—he knew Romney might say this, and he's got a killer response ready. After all, there may be no single falsehood Romney has repeated more often than this one. It's simply a lie, Mitt Romney knows it's a lie, it's been fact-checked to death so every journalist knows it's a lie, and now at last Obama would smack it down and we wouldn't have to hear it anymore. No such luck. Obama's response was to assert that Romney's charge is false ("This has been probably the biggest whopper that’s been told during the course of this campaign") without explaining why or finding a way to shame Romney for his shamelessness. And the Romney campaign was so pleased they put out an ad today revisiting the moment: Point out to conservatives that Obama has never apologized for America, and they'll say, "Nuh-uh! What about that time he said...

The Neocons' Long Game

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Pool, Win McNamee) President Barack Obama answers a question as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney listens during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, October 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Florida. M ost of the snap polls taken after last night's foreign policy debate, the last before the November 6 election, gave the win the President Obama—if not an outright knockout then at least a TKO on points. But beyond the candidates themselves, the debate did have one clear loser: neoconservatives. During the many years Mitt Romney has been running for president, he's taken a number of fluid positions on foreign policy. In addition to reflecting Romney's character as an eager-to-please shape-shifter, the changing positions also represent a genuine—and growing—policy tension among foreign policy factions within the GOP establishment. Even though old school realists like Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft retain some influence, and more isolationist voices...

Are Pollsters Undercounting Latinos?

In the most recent national poll from Monmouth University, Mitt Romney leads President Obama by three points, 48 percent to 45 percent. If you dip into the internals, however, you’ll see something odd: Obama has a small six-point advantage over Latinos, 48 percent to 42 percent. What’s unusual about this is that it runs counter to every other survey of Latino voters, which—on average—show Obama with a 48.4 percent lead over Romney among the group. It’s possible that Monmouth’s result won’t matter much for the accuracy of the topline number—because of small sample sizes for particular groups of voters, a poll can still be accurate, even if it has an unusual demographic breakdown. But there’s room for disagreement, and as Matt Barreto explains in a must-read post at the Latino Decisions blog, this missampling of Latino (and African American) voters could have a hugely distortionary effect on perceptions of the presidential race. He explains: Let’s examine how these faulty Latino numbers...

Bellwether by the Sea

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Jamelle Bouie This is part two of the Prospect ’s weeklong series on the swing districts that could determine the national outcome on November 6. I n a tiny Virginia Beach office belonging to Scott Rigell, an auto dealer who swept into Congress on the 2010 Tea Party Republican wave and is running for re-election, volunteers for Mitt Romney gather for a morning of voter outreach. Dunkin Donuts and coffee are available for those interested—namely, kids there to help their parents. “Vaaah Beach” (as its known to locals) is my hometown, but I’m unfamiliar with this particular neighborhood, a development of McMansions in a wealthy area called Bayside, since it’s 20 miles north of Pungo, the rural patch of town where I went to high school. Yes, 20 miles. One of the odd things about Virginia Beach is its vast size. Located in the southeast corner of Virginia and part of the larger metropolitan region called Hampton Roads, it touches the ship-building city of Norfolk and the mouth of the...

Mitt Romney, Language Cop

Mitt Romney, saying things.
There were a number of strange moments in last night's debate, the most substantively meaningful of which was almost certainly Mitt Romney's declaration that "when I’m president, we'll make sure we bring our troops out [of Afghanistan] by the end of 2014." For the last year, Romney has been criticizing Barack Obama for having precisely this position, saying that we can't tell the enemy when we're leaving and our departure has to be determined by events on the ground. In the foreign policy version of Moderate Mitt, that apparently is no longer operative. But the oddest thing Romney said had to be this: "I'd make sure that Ahmadinejad is indicted under the Genocide Convention. His words amount to genocide incitation. I would indict him for it." As I've observed before , Romney's critique of Obama on foreign policy has always been primarily linguistic. He takes issue not with what the President has done, but what he has said. He apologizes for America! He didn't use the word "terror"! He...

A Good Debate, But Will Voters Notice?

(AP Photo/David Goldman)
(AP Photo/David Goldman) President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shake hands following their third presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida. Obama did very well in the foreign-policy debate, but it remains to be seen if his success will change the trajectory of the race, which has been trending toward Romney. Several things about this debate were a surprise. The most surprising thing was the emergence of Mild Mitt. Romney sounded almost as if he were on downers. His campaign must have decided that he was coming across as too ferocious or two bellicose. But his performance tonight was underwhelming. Obama, by contrast, took the debate to Romney right from the first exchange. He was almost too aggressive, calling the former Massachusetts governor on his inconsistencies and policy recommendations that would have backfired. “Every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong,” the president said. But Romney did not take the bait. The other odd thing...

Horses and Bayonets and GIFs, Oh My!

The candidates agree we should build economies abroad. The candidates agree we should educate women. The candidates agree on how to handle Syria. The candidates agree we should build our economy at home. Like, they reeeeallly agree that the domestic economy is important. Wait, are we still watching the foreign policy debate? Is Bob Schieffer still here? Mitt refers us to his website to explain how he'd pay to grow the military. Horses and bayonets! Finally something worth tweeting about! But, uh, we need to be thinking about defending ourselves in space? The candidates agree they loooove Israel. Ok seriously, do they agree on everything? Crippling sanctions. Mitt loves crippling sanctions. Bob Schieffer asks, "What's the deal?" The candidates agree they both love drones. We all love teachers! Mitt says we should vote for him. Obama says we should vote for him. Thank god these debates are over.

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