A new Civitas Institute poll in North Carolina finds Mitt Romney with a one point lead over President Obama, 49% to 48%.
National Journal has an excellent page that tracks ad spending by the presidential campaigns, the parties and the Super PACs across the battleground states.
Rick Hasen: “How does the brave new world of campaign financing created by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision stack up against Watergate? The short answer is: Things are even worse now than they were then.”
“The 1974 scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon was all about illegal money secretly flowing to politicians. That’s still a danger, but these days, the biggest weakness of our campaign finance system is not what’s illegal, but what’s legal. As Dan Eggen of the Washington Post put it, ‘there’s little need for furtive fundraising or secret handoffs of cash.’ The rules increasingly allow people and corporations with great wealth to skew public policy toward their interests–without risking a jail time, or a fine, or any penalty at all. It’s an influence free-for-all.”
President Obama and Mitt Romney might be taking a somber break from politics today after the shootings in Colorado last night, but not New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York Observer reports.
Said Bloomberg: “You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic,’ and you know, we look for was the guy, as you said, maybe trying to recreate Batman. I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day, it’s just got to stop. And instead of the two people – President Obama and Governor Romney – talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place, okay, tell us how. And this is a real problem. No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them concretely, not just in generalities – specifically what are they going to do about guns?”
“There are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.”
— President Obama, speaking about the tragic shootings early this morning in Colorado.
A Businessweek infographic looks at the 54 “mostly-trivial” bills sent to President Obama for his signature this congressional session.
CNN reports that the law designed to ban insider trading on Capitol Hill — which passed with a rare show of bipartisanship — “isn’t exactly as advertised. A loophole could still allow family members of some lawmakers to profit from inside information.”
Herman Cain is using a political action committee created in his name in unusual ways, the Washington Times reports.
Though the PAC raises money by sending multiple solicitations weekly to supporters making pleas to help fund ads, new disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission show no payments to advertising firms or advocacy groups running ads for any candidate or cause.
Mark Block, who runs the PAC, said the primary way it supports the candidates is “by endorsing them,” adding, “We put out a press release.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) defended his admininstration’s use of the Blackberry’s personal identification number instead of emails in order to avoid a paper trail, YNN reports.
Said Cuomo: “Hacking is a problem and if you have a secure communication or a confidential communication or information that you don’t want disseminated, than you have a find a secure means to communicate it.”
Mitt Romney “plans to depart next week for a visit to Britain, Israel and Poland, and the Republican presidential candidate hopes the trip will help him project the aura of a statesman and signal to voters back home that he would make a plausible commander in chief,” the Washington Post reports.
“He will listen to leaders of important U.S. allies, make symbolic appearances at historical sites and build personal relationships. He plans to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing St. and catch up with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an old friend from their days as business consultants, while aides are preparing speeches for him to give in Israel and Poland. Romney is not trying to replicate the dramatic scene that unfolded when then-candidate Barack Obama addressed an estimated 200,000 Germans at Berlin’s Victory Column four years ago, but his trip will inevitably draw comparisons.”
David Brooks: “It won’t help him win many votes this year, but it should be noted that Barack Obama has been a good foreign policy president.”
“Less than four months until Election Day, the battle for the White
House already has crossed the $1 billion mark — as the presidential
candidates, political parties and the two super PACs closely aligned
with President Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney race to collect
First Read: “The tragic shooting in Colorado means that politics and the Obama-vs.-Romney presidential race will take a back seat today — and probably throughout the weekend… For now, the Romney campaign says the candidate’s schedule will go on. As for the president, his first public event is scheduled for later this morning where he’s likely to speak about the tragedy for the first time on camera.”
Obama statement: “Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time… As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family.”
Romney statement: “We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice.”
Update: Politico reports the Obama campaign has pulled down it’s negative ads through the weekend. The Romney campaign quickly followed.
The Boston Globe takes a good look into Mitt Romney’s departure from Bain Capital.
“Shortly after Mitt Romney took a leave of absence from Bain Capital to run the Olympics in February 1999, he made a trip to Palm Beach, Fla… Romney and his partners had decided that, in his absence, five managing directors would oversee the company. And in Palm Beach it became clearer that Romney was unlikely to return — but would retain his title as chief executive officer and sole shareholder.”
“Interviews with a half-dozen of Romney’s former partners and associates, as well as public records, show that he was not merely an absentee owner during this period. He signed dozens of company documents, including filings with regulators on a vast array of Bain’s investment entities. And he drove the complex negotiations over his own large severance package, a deal that was critical to the firm’s future without him… Indeed, by remaining CEO and sole shareholder, Romney held on to his leverage in the talks that resulted in his generous 10-year retirement package.”
“Mitt Romney has secrets. Lots of them, perhaps. That provocative claim is at the core of President Barack Obama’s latest attacks on his Republican rival, a strategy that is dominating the narrative of the presidential campaign and leading anxious Republicans to question Romney’s tactics,” Reuters reports.
“In ads, interviews and social-media blasts, the Democratic president’s team is casting Romney as a mysterious figure who is guarding important secrets about his wealth and work history.”
“Feeding the Democrats’ storyline: Romney’s refusal to release more than a year or two of his tax returns, questions about whether he is being honest about when he left his job at Bain Capital, and the reams of records that have been kept secret from his years as Massachusetts governor and chief of the Salt Lake City Olympics.”
Peggy Noonan: “The reason Mitt Romney isn’t releasing more tax returns can be reduced to three words: Bill Clinton’s underwear. When he first ran for president, Bill Clinton put out his tax returns. Lisa Schiffren, an enterprising young writer for The American Spectator, went through them and found that the Clintons, when they were in Little Rock, had gone to great lengths to limit their tax bills, to the point of itemizing each contribution to local charities, including Mr. Clinton’s old underwear. Hilarity ensued. This is the kind of thing everyone in national politics fears.”
“But the question remains. Mr. Romney has known at least since 2007 that he would be running for president. He never in that time made sure his taxes from that date would pass rigorous public examination? This is odd, especially since he’s supposed to be so methodical, tidy, organized and prudent. The political answer to the question ‘Should Romney reveal more tax returns?’ is, ‘That depends on what’s in them.’ But the nonpolitical answer is yes, he should.”
The Atlantic has the list.
A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds that Americans, by a 54% to 37% margin, say Mitt Romney should release his tax returns from additional years.
Those calling for more disclosure include 75% of Democrats, 53% of independents and 30% of Republicans.
Also interesting: “While 42% predict the release of additional returns would not reveal anything politically harmful, 44% believe it would include damaging information — including 15% who say they believe the revelations would be so serious that they would ‘show he is unfit to be president.'”