Election 2012

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." 

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:

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 "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 simply 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 actually put out an ad today revisiting the moment:

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.

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.

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.

Mitt Romney, Language Cop

Mitt Romney, saying things.

There were a number of strange moments in last night 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 isn't strong and resolute! But forced for the first time to actually have his foreign policy arguments probed and criticized, all of Romney's attacks on Obama fell away, and he ended up saying over and over that he agreed with Obama's policies.

So Romney's pledge about Ahmadinejad was perfectly in keeping with his language obsession

A Good Debate, But Will Voters Notice?

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

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.

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.

 

Obama's Total Knockout

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(AP Photo/Pool-Win McNamee)

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama answer a question during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, October 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Florida.

Calm Down and Do the Math

Is President Obama ahead or tied in Ohio? If you look at the poll released this morning, from Quinnipiac University, the clear answer is that Obama has a solid lead—five points, as a matter of fact. But if you tuned in this afternoon and saw the poll from Suffolk University—which shows a tie between Obama and Mitt Romney—you’ll either be panicked (if you’re a Democrat) or thrilled (if you’re a Republican). 

You Are Me and We Are All Together

I've written often in the past about appeals to tribalism, and the "He's not one of us" argument is something that 1) you almost always hear from Republicans, not Democrats, and 2) you hear much more often in the South than anywhere else. You're much more likely to see an ad saying that a candidate has "South Carolina values" or "Oklahoma values" than one saying a candidate has "Oregon values" or "New York values." Perhaps that will change as people from places dominated by liberals get a more clearly defined tribal identity linked to their geography, but in the past it's been the South where the lines between "us" and "them" are clearest. It's not necessarily racial in the strict sense that whites are part of "us" and blacks are part of "them," but race is almost always implicated. Someone who's a little too Northern in their history or their sympathies is part of "them" in part because they're too solicitous of the interests of blacks.

All that notwithstanding, identity is a complex thing that can be wielded in the service of any ideology. To wit:

The Third Debate: New Topic, Same Empty Taste

(AP Photo/Mario Tama, Pool)

(AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney exchange views during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. 

The Last Debate

Expect Obama to try to focus on Osama bin Laden and the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Romney tries to steer things toward China.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Planning on catching snippets of the final presidential debate tonight during time-outs on Monday Night Football? The game is tight, there are only two weeks left on the clock, and tonight is the last time that the candidates will face off in an attempt to connect with undecided voters. Here’s what to look out for after kick-off in Boca Raton.

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