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Monday, October 31, 2011

Outside Groups and the GOP

At The New York Times, Nicholas Confessore reports on how American Crossroads and other outside groups are overshadowing the formal GOP party organization -- but with the latter's cooperation.
"I love the fact that Crossroads is up there with these huge ad buys softening Claire McCaskill or Jon Tester or whoever it is,” said Rick Wiley, the Republican National Committee’s political director, referring to two Democratic senators high on Republicans’ target list for next year.

The emerging Republican network is changing not only campaigns, but also Washington’s political culture. If the older generation of independent expenditure groups was a career backwater, popping into existence for a cycle or two before disbanding or fading, the new groups are attracting some of the party’s top talent.

The Congressional Leadership Fund and its sister group, the American Action Network, are run by Brian O. Walsh, who was political director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 2010 cycle, when the party gained 63 House seats.

“Suddenly, there is this new avenue that allows you to use your skills and talents in an entirely new way,” Mr. Walsh said.

One major innovation this election cycle will be the outsourcing of the Republican Party’s voter list, its most valuable asset but one that is enormously expensive to keep current. In August, the Republican National Committee signed a contract to let the Data Trust, a new outside group run by the committee’s former chief of staff, manage the database.

Data Trust will be allowed to swap the list with other outside groups, which can use money raised outside federal contribution limits to update it. Under current law, the improved list can then be used by the Republican National Committee, potentially saving the party millions of dollars.

Cain the Unready

Even if the harassment allegations against Cain prove ill-founded, his response raises serious questions about his readiness. Chris Stirewalt writes:

Despite having known that the story was in the pipeline for weeks, the Cain team and the candidate seemed utterly unprepared for the onslaught that has predictably followed. They have issued evasive denials and immediately gone to political DEFCON 1 by invoking the fricasseeing of Clarence Thomas, also a conservative black man from Georgia, in 1991 for allegations of bawdy talk at his office.


So how could Cain and his team not have been prepared for this? If there was a payout to these women, which the campaign seems to allow is possible, then how was there no plan in place for this contingency? Surely they long knew that some rival campaign would unearth these allegations and that this would be tremendously dangerous for a candidate who is an ordained minister.

Allegations of physical sexual misconduct would be ruinous for Cain or any candidate on the Republican side, but even bawdy talk of the kind Thomas was accused of would badly undercut Baptist preacher Cain’s image. While some GOP primary voters may celebrate Cain’s lack of political correctness when talking about high-voltage border security or the funny names of America’s allies in Central Asia, they wouldn’t be so forgiving of raunchy language directed at women.


Which brings us back to Cain campaign manager Mark Block. Block has been busy calling attention to himself and his nicotine cravings, hardly wise if you have played the political game as close to the edge as Block did in his Wisconsin career.

Now, even as Team Cain tries to handle the sexier story of harassment hush money, the more boring claim bubbles up that Block violated federal campaign finance laws by having a company he established in Wisconsin improperly finance Cain’s campaign launch. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that the company seems to have existed almost solely for the provision of funds to the Cain campaign. What we don’t know is what matters most: Where did the money come from?

Cain later made denials on Fox News and at the National Press Club. Alexander Burns writes at Politico:

But Cain’s story is still riddled with holes and reversals. He insisted both on Fox and at the Press Club that POLITICO’s story was based on anonymous sources that his campaign didn’t care to answer. But a POLITICO reporter gave Cain’s campaign – and the candidate himself – the name of one of the women who accused him of inappropriate behavior, and Cain still declined to comment in advance of publication.

In POLITICO’s initial report, Cain said through a spokesman he was “vaguely familiar” with harassment allegations dating to the 1990s. Now, he claims absolute certainty in his knowledge of the charges and the subsequent investigation, though not the settlements.

After POLITICO published its report Sunday night, Cain’s campaign told the Associated Press that it was flatly denying the contents. Today, Cain has confirmed much of the core of the story and denied knowledge of the rest.

And even setting aside all that, Cain hasn’t yet addressed what the allegations of harassment against him involved, how many women made accusations, what the NRA investigation showed or how he, as president of the National Restaurant Association, could have been unaware of multiple five-figure payouts to employees who left the group.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sexual Harassment Story about Cain

Cain's "Uh Oh" moment has arrived. Politico reports:

During Herman Cain’s tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group, multiple sources confirm to POLITICO.

The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures.

In a series of comments over the past 10 days, Cain and his campaign repeatedly declined to respond directly about whether he ever faced allegations of sexual harassment at the restaurant association. They have also declined to address questions about specific reporting confirming that there were financial settlements in two cases in which women leveled complaints
Byron York presents the full statement by Cain spokesperson JD Gordon:

Fearing the message of Herman Cain who is shaking up the political landscape in Washington, Inside the Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain.

Dredging up thinly sourced allegations stemming from Mr. Cain’s tenure as the Chief Executive Officer at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumors that never stood up to the facts.

Since Washington establishment critics haven't had much luck in attacking Mr. Cain's ideas to fix a bad economy and create jobs, they are trying to attack him in any way they can.

Sadly, we’ve seen this movie played out before – a prominent Conservative targeted by liberals simply because they disagree with his politics.

Mr. Cain -- and all Americans, deserve better.

Why OWS is not The Tea Party

Insiders have a tough time tapping into outsiderism. Jonah Goldberg explains why President Obama cannot go far in co-opting the Occupy Wall Street movement:

If Occupy Wall Street is a sincere, organic, grassroots movement for radical change and overturning the status quo, it can't be 100 percent behind the guy who's been running the country for the last three years.

Moreover, Democrats had near total control of the government for Obama's first two years. Together, Obama and congressional Democrats already got their Wall Street and student-loan reforms, their health-care overhaul, and a huge stimulus. And yet Occupy Wall Street is still furious with the political status quo. Does anyone believe Obama can both run on his record and co-opt the Occupy Wall Streeters?

A "political hip-hop artist" who goes by the name "Immortal Technique" summarizes the view of many OWSers. "We're willing to put [Obama's] second term on the altar of democracy and sacrifice it if we need to," I.T. told, "to send a message to the rest of the world saying, 'If you promise us change, and then you deliver nothing but the same, if you do these little superficial changes to pacify the people, to placate people, then you expose yourself.'"


The tea parties had an easy time of it in 2009 because there was no one in power to defend and no compromises required. If the financial crisis had hit in 2006, the emergence of anything like the tea party would have torn the GOP apart. But in 2009, with Bush gone, Democrats running the show, and Obama championing a program that made George W. Bush look like Calvin Coolidge (praise be upon him), there was nothing holding back the tea parties.

For Occupy Wall Street to enjoy similar freedom, it can't be hobbled by having to defend the most powerful and important politician in America. You can't declare war with the status quo and support the chief author of the status quo at the same time. Similarly, you can't run for re-election and be joined at the hip with fringe revolutionaries.

If it were possible to buy stock in Occupy Wall Street, shareholders would be doing everything they could for a Republican victory in 2012. Only then will you see Democratic leaders and Immortal Technique fans alike, locked arm in arm, in united opposition to the Powers that Be.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Strong Oppo from the Huntsman Campaign

The Huntsman campaign expertly goes after Romney:

Has Cain Peaked?

Robin Abcarian writes at The Los Angeles Times:
For months, Herman Cain floated under the radar as other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination were poked, prodded and scrutinized by a voracious national media.

A businessman with no elective office experience, Cain could say anything he wanted — and did — because few were paying attention.

Then Cain unleashed his catchy 9-9-9 tax reform plan. He won a straw poll in Florida and vaulted into the top tier, tying or besting front-runner Mitt Romney in some polls.

That, paradoxically, is when Cain's trouble began.

His statements about abortion seemed contradictory. An electrified border fence: joke or no joke? He fumbled a softball question about negotiating with Al Qaeda. He mocked Uzbekistan, calling it "Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan."

Cain's spokesman blamed the 65-year-old candidate's blunders on fatigue, the fast pace of the campaign and the media taking some answers "out of context." Now, amid hints that the Cain surge may be fragile, powerful Republican figures are questioning his ability to rise to the occasion, while his beleaguered staff is being urged to bring on more-seasoned political pros.

"You can't ad lib your way through a presidential campaign," said Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who ran Michele Bachmann's campaign until September and is not affiliated with any candidate. "If you're at the back of the pack, maybe you can do that, but when you're a front-runner, and people are judging you, it can be very detrimental."

Romney's Edge?

At The Weekly Standard, Jay Cost identifies three strategic advantages for Romney:
1. There is no major candidate to his left. Huntsman has yet to gain traction, and several conservatives are competing for the tea-party half of the party. Thus, Romney has the non-tea Republicans pretty much to himself.
2. He has money.
3. Though Mormons constitute only a small percentage of the overall population, they make up a significant share of the GOP primary votes in several Mountain West states. In a close fight, these states could make a difference.
In Epic Journey, we note that John McCain was the last man standing in the 2008 GOP race. The same may be true of Romney. Taylor West and Peter Bell write at National Journal:
The large Republican presidential field, along with the dramatic surges and collapses of several of its candidates, may ultimately be much ado about nothing. That, at least, is the conclusion of the Republican strategists surveyed in this week's National Journal Political Insiders Poll, who almost unanimously identified Mitt Romney as the most likely candidate to win the nomination. In the five times the GOP Insiders have been asked that question in 2011, Romney has never surrendered the top spot.

Democratic Insiders, meanwhile, largely believe Republicans are on the right track, with more than two-thirds of them naming Romney as the strongest candidate the GOP could nominate for the 2012 election.

Many GOP Insiders expressed a healthy dose of ambivalence about Romney's success, even as they voiced their certainty that he would prevail.

"Romney's not conservative enough for me," said one, "but [I'm] not sure anyone else is capable or can beat him." Echoed another: "Republicans are beginning to realize that this is a choice between Romney and the unelectable."

"Through none of his own doing, he has become the heir apparent," declared a third.

Romney's winning-by-not-losing position was emphasized by many of the Republican respondents.

"Mitt Romney looks more and more like the last man standing by failing to self-immolate," said one strategist.

Bullock Leads in Montana

Politico reports:

A new Democratic poll being released Thursday shows a competitive race for the open gubernatorial seat in Montana, with the leading candidates from both parties largely undefined to voters a year from the election.

Higher favorability ratings propel Attorney General Steve Bullock to a 4-point lead over former GOP Rep. Rick Hill, according to the survey by Project New West.

Bullock, a Democrat, takes 42 percent to Hill's 38 percent, according to the Oct. 2-Oct. 4 poll of 500 voters.

Bullock enjoys a larger advantage on personal favorability, with 32 percent of voters giving him a positive rating, compared to just 17 percent for Hill. Still, in each case, a majority of voters registered no opinion or were neutral. Bullock is better known statewide, with 61 percent able to identify him, compared to just 50 percent who know Hill.

The memo, provided to POLITICO, argues that Hill has a problem with "upside-down" favorability.

Friday, October 28, 2011

GOP Brackets: Tea and Not-Tea

In Epic Journey, we analyzed the three "tournament brackets" of the 2008 GOP nomination contest. At National Journal, Ron Brownstein suggest that the 2012 race is coming down to just two: tea party and non-tea party. The former remains volatile.

The last few national CNN/ORC polls, though, suggest that the non-Tea Party half of the GOP may be starting to coalesce around Romney. In the late August and early September surveys, the non-Tea Party Republicans divided almost exactly evenly among Perry, Romney and Palin (with Perry holding a narrow advantage within the margin of error each time). But the most recent national surveys show Romney rising steadily with that non-tea party portion of the GOP. While Romney attracted 16 percent of their support in late August and 18 percent in early September, he increased to 24 percent in a late September survey and 35 percent in the mid-October poll. That 35 percent is by far the most any candidate has attracted from non-tea party Republicans in any CNN/ORC poll this year. It's also a significant increase from the range of 16 percent to 22 percent support that Romney attracted among those more pragmatic voters in all the previous CNN/ORC polls since June.

Third Party Run for Ron Paul?

Ron Paul could raise enough money to mount a serious third-party bid for the presidency. And if he were (again) the Libertarian Party nominee, he would have fewer problems with ballot access. Is he thinking about it? See this interview:
Juan Williams, FOX News: "Everybody in this town thinks there is going to be a third-party candidate. An independent candidate. If you don't get the Republican nomination, could that independent candidate be Ron Paul?"

Ron Paul, candidate: "Look, Juan, you have to realize let's say that I was thinking about that and I said that. Then it would undermine what I'm doing. I'm running for president. I'm doing pretty well, I'm in third. So, no, I'm running for president in the Republican party, I'm doing very well. And last time they wondered about it, but, you know the whole thing is, is boy the people are really frustrated. You go to New Hampshire there are more independents then Republicans or Democrats."

Williams: "But what you're saying is you are not saying that you will not run as an Independent."

Paul: "Well, I say, is that I have no plans to do it."

Bret Baier, host: "So, how about are you big on pledges? Would you pledge here tonight that you would not run in a third party?"

Paul: "I pledge that I have no intention of doing it."


Paul: "I'm running for this Republican primary!"

Baier: "That sounds pretty political, Congressman."

[more laughing]

Paul: "Well, you know, I have to vacillate a little bit in my life."

Charles Krauthammer: "We need a grammarian to work on that sentence."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Knowledge of Romney's Religion

Adelle Banks writes at the Religion News Service:

Less than half of Americans know that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a Mormon, despite recent media attention focused on his faith, a new survey shows.

Just four in 10 Americans — 42 percent — identified the former Massachusetts governor as a Mormon, according to the Washington-based Public Religion Research Institute. That figure remains unchanged from July 2011, despite a flurry of media attention after an evangelical supporter of another GOP candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, called Romney’s religion a “cult.”

The only group that showed an increased knowledge about Romney’s religion was white evangelicals, whose knowledge of Romney’s faith rose from 44 percent in July to 53 percent in mid-October.

“The increase in knowledge of Romney’s Mormon faith among evangelicals is potentially problematic for Romney, since we know from our research that six in 10 evangelicals do not see the Mormon faith to be a Christian religion,” said Daniel Cox, PRRI’s research director.

For a Change, Some Good Numbers for POTUS

Gallup reports:
President Barack Obama's job approval rating has shown modest improvement in the past week. His latest rating, based on Oct. 24-26 Gallup Daily tracking, is 43%, and his approval has been at or above 42% in each of the last seven days. In the prior two weeks, his averages were generally at or below 40%.

The increase in Obama's approval rating could be tied to two recent major foreign policy events -- the death of Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi and Obama's announcement that virtually all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by Dec. 31. Additionally, the U.S. stock market has shown gains this month, particularly in the past week.

The bit of positive momentum in Americans' evaluations of the president reverses the generally downward trend seen in recent months, including a personal low 41% quarterly approval average in his recently completed 11th quarter in office.

ABC reports:

Stocks closed higher on Thursday after European leaders agreed on a plan to avert a Greek default and the Commerce Department announced third-quarter gross domestic product grew 2.5 percent, boosted by higher consumer spending, allaying fears that the economy is slipping into another recession.

The Dow Jones industrial average increased about 2.9 percent to 12,209 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq increased about 3.3 percent to 2,784 at the end of the day. The S&P 500 had its biggest monthly rally since 1974, according to Bloomberg, increasing 3.4 percent to 1,285.

The GDP rate was in line with what economists were expecting. The 2.5 percent growth rate is almost triple the 0.9 percent pace of economic growth in the first half of this year, which has been far too slow to generate any job growth. Unemployment has remained stubbornly high at over 9 percent.

"Clearly today's GDP report is indicative of an economy that is extractating itself from a temporary soft patch, and not one that is rolling into another recession," Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist with Federated Investors, said.

Romney and the Ohio Union Measure

Rachel Weiner writes at The Washington Post:
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney today declared that he was “110 percent” behind a law in Ohio that limits collective bargaining rights, after refusing to comment on the matter Tuesday.

Romney was roundly hammered by conservatives for refusing, on a visit to Ohio, to endorse a ballot measure there that curtails collective bargaining for public employees. The Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and prominent pundits all attacked the presidential candidate. Rival Texas Gov. Rick Perry quickly joined them.

“I fully support Gov. Kasich's Question 2 in Ohio," Romney said at a campaign stop in Virginia, referring to the Issue 2 referendum that would maintain the law. “I'm sorry if I created any confusion there.”

The episode was especially odd because Romney — as he pointed out in Virginia — endorsed Issue 2 way back in June, on his Facebook page. He was also at a call center for volunteers rallying support for the law when he declined to comment.

Michael Shear writes at The New York Times:

The result of the 24 hours of back and forth was a renewed push by Mr. Romney’s political opponents to highlight what they call his routine repositioning on the issues.

The campaign of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas quickly attacked via Twitter, calling on users of the social media site to use the hashtag #flipflopmitt.

“With Mitt Romney finally showing a willingness to flip-flop on his liberal positions, the Perry Truth Team is encouraging Twitter users to suggest other liberal positions Mitt Romney should flip-flop on by using the hashtag #flipflopmitt,” the campaign said in a statement.

Earlier, Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for Mr. Perry, fired off a statement accusing Mr. Romney of “finger-in-the-wind politics” and saying that “when you try to stand on both sides of an issue, you stand for nothing.”

Politico reports that Democrats are reinforcing the Perry attack:

“It will be hard for Romney to beat Obama if he can’t get out from under the flip-flop narrative,” said former Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney. “It plays into concerns the primary voters have that he can’t be trusted [and it’s] equally important in a general election against an incumbent president people like and trust.

“It’s not just that there is an alignment of interests” between Obama and Perry, Finney said. “But more importantly, it illustrates how vulnerable Romney is on this issue.”

As one Democratic operative aligned with Obama explained the strategy: “You get in the slipstream and get in behind the collective anti-Romney message. You jump in and draft off that.”

Far from an attempt to tilt the outcome of the Republican primary, the operative called the Democratic messaging push a “bow to the obvious” — that Romney’s likely to be the GOP standard-bearer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Herman Cain sings!

Cain aide Mark Block gets attention for ... smoking. One Brit calls it "the worst ad in the history of politics."

And the Herman Cain Train Music Video:

Perry's Sorta Flat Tax

Rick Perry proposes a tax reform:

By implementing a simple and optional flat tax that will allow Americans to file their taxes on a postcard, up to $483 billion a year could be saved by American families and businesses in reduced compliance costs alone. A simpler, flatter tax code – free from the dozens of individual carve-outs that make the code so incomprehensible – will remove the disincentives to work, entrepreneurial risk-taking, and investment that form the foundation of a strong and vibrant economy.

Lower- and middle-income families will be able to take advantage of an optional 20% flat tax rate that includes generous standard exemptions of $12,500 for individuals and their dependents, as well as deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state and local taxes.

If the plan is optional, then people would never choose to pay more than they already do. Many would be able to pay a lot less. So revenues would fall. Perry says compliance costs would also fall -- but not if a lot of people opt for the current system. The "optional" part means that the rest of the tax code stays in place, which negates the "simplicity" part.

National Review observes:

No detailed analysis of how much revenue the plan would raise has been done, but it seems highly likely that the number would be much lower than under the current system, and lower than Perry’s team is claiming. Governor Perry has already had to put an optimistic gloss on his proposed spending cuts to get his numbers to balance. If his revenue estimates are also too optimistic then the net effect of his proposals will be to make our already precarious budgetary position worse. The personal accounts Perry wants to introduce to Social Security will also make the budget deficit worse for many years, which is a bigger problem now than it would have been a decade ago.

Why the GOP Contest Matters

William Galston writes at The New Republic:

In a general election contest against an unpopular incumbent (one with an approval level significantly below 50 percent), the main hurdle that the opposition candidate needs to clear is that of competence. In 1980, for example, voters made their decision in two distinct stages. Between late January and mid-April, Jimmy Carter’s approval rating sank from 58 to 39 percent and never exceeded 43 percent for the remainder of the campaign. This represented stage one, in which the voters concluded that they didn’t want to return Jimmy Carter to the Oval Office for a second term—if they had a reasonable and non-threatening alternative. In the second stage, which occurred immediately after the sole presidential debate, they decided that despite their earlier doubts, Ronald Reagan represented such an alternative. Reagan’s humorous and avuncular affect in the debate dispelled fears that he might be the second coming of Barry Goldwater. To filch a phrase from Mike Huckabee, Reagan was clearly a conservative, but he wasn’t angry about it.

That’s why the Republican contest matters. A bad candidate could still lose in November.

Granted, Mitt Romney is a flawed candidate whose vulnerabilities can be exploited, especially in intra-party combat. But in a general election, he has a better chance than any other Republican of reassuring persuadable voters that he represents a safe and competent alternative to the incumbent. Unless the economic environment changes a lot during the next twelve months, skepticism about Obama’s performance as president should be enough to propel Romney to victory, if not one of landslide proportions.

Republican primary voters, of course, are free to choose whomever they want to serve as their nominee. Early in 1980, let us recall, many Democrats believed that Reagan would be easier to beat than his principal rival—George H. W. Bush—because his brand of conservatism would alienate swing voters. One might argue that history is repeating itself, with Romney filling the role of Bush 41 and Rick Perry starring as Reagan.

Maybe. But having spent more than two years as Walter Mondale’s issues director during his presidential campaign, I got to size up Reagan’s record and political skills. Rick Perry isn’t his equal as governor, and he certainly isn’t his equal as a candidate. If circumstances are dire enough next November, he might win anyway. But I very much doubt it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Romney Responds on Immigration and Health

Jennifer Rubin writes at The Washington Post:
Yesterday Texas Gov. Rick Perry (either his old or his new campaign) attacked Mitt Romney because illegal immigrants in Massachusetts are able to obtain medical benefits under the state’s health-care plan. There are a number of problems with this argument, including the need to provide medical care in order to prevent public health hazards. But for now I will focus on the sheer hypocrisy of the charge.

Katrina Trinko of National Review Online explains:
[T]he Romney campaign also argues that Texas provides medical care for illegal immigrants, too. Among the examples cited include $62 million the care of illegal immigrants cost the Texas Emergency Medicaid fund and the $33 million the Texas Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Perinatal Coverage is estimated to have spent on illegal immigrants.
It took the Romney campaign a few hours to uncover reams of other examples: Designated “emergency” care was provided to illegal immigrants on a non-emergency basis; state prenatal care is provided to “women living at up to 200% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) who do not otherwise qualify for Medicaid, typically due to their citizenship status”; substance abuse treatment is provided regardless of citizenship; and care is provided for special-needs children regardless of immigration status.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Birthers, Redux

In an interview in Parade, Rick Perry declined to say definitely that President Obama was born in the United States. When the reporter pressed him, he said that the issue was "distractive." Linda Feldmann writes at The Christian Science Monitor:

Distractive, indeed. And now Perry, who is trying mightily to revive his presidential prospects, has created a new distraction. Maybe he’s not a full-fledged birther, part of a fringe that is convinced that Obama was born in Kenya or Indonesia or maybe Mars and is therefore ineligible to be president. But Perry has now teed up yet another diversion from what should be his dominant message as a candidate: his job-creation record.

Listen, for example, to Bobby Jindal, who won reelection as governor of Louisiana on Saturday and who addressed a recent Republican National Committee meeting in Tampa, Fla. Governor Jindal, who is the son of Indian immigrants, said this: “I do not question where President Obama is from. I question where President Obama is going.”

Jindal may well have his eye on the presidency someday, and he also wouldn’t want “distractive” questions about his eligibility. Ditto Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the rising GOP star and son of Cuban immigrants. He’s faced some birtherism as well – as well as that little flap about misstating when exactly his parents came to the States.

Perry and Romney Oppo

The Austin American-Statesman conveys a hit on Perry:

Over his eight years as Texas' farmer-in-chief, Perry oversaw a loan guarantee program with so many defaults that the state had to stop guaranteeing bank loans to startups in agribusiness and eventually bailed out the program with taxpayer money.

The state auditor panned Perry's claims of creating jobs and criticized Perry and his fellow board members at the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority for not following their own lending guidelines.

In some instances, the auditor said, Perry and the authority guaranteed loans to applicants with a negative net worth or too much debt. Citing growing debts, the auditor finally suggested that state officials consider dismantling the program.

And the Los Angeles Times conveys a hit on Romney:

The Massachusetts healthcare law that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed in 2006 includes a program known as the Health Safety Net, which allows undocumented immigrants to get needed medical care along with others who lack insurance.

Uninsured, poor immigrants can walk into a health clinic or hospital in the state and get publicly subsidized care at virtually no cost to them, regardless of their immigration status.


"Our view when we signed the law was that all benefits would be for people in the commonwealth who were here legally," Murphy said, noting that the regulations implementing the program were written after Romney left office in 2007.

But Massachusetts officials involved in crafting the healthcare law said there was broad understanding when Romney signed it that at least some people who would benefit would be in the country illegally.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why Hill Dems are Ahead in Fundraising

At Politico, Alex Isenstadt and David Catanese identify several reasons why DCCC and DSCC are ahead of the GOP counterparts in fundraising:
  • House Republicans are trying to cut spending, which alienates many contributors;
  • Hill Democrats in general, and Pelosi in particular, are good at raising money;
  • Members of the GOP class of 2010 are not donating their own funds;
  • Super PACs are vacuuming up a lot of Republican money;
  • Democrats control the White House and the Senate, enabling them to raise lots of access money.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

American Crossroads and the Obama Albatross

After Florida's unemployment rate dropped only slightly, Republican Senate candidate Adam Hasner criticized incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for his ties to the president. So did American Crossroads. From Sunshine State News:
American Crossroads, a conservative political organization with ties to many prominent Republican leaders including legendary strategist Karl Rove, also looked to link Obama and Nelson to Florida’s continuing high unemployment rate. The group sent out a news release, noting that the unemployment rate in Florida had been 3.9 percent when Nelson first took his Senate seat back in January 2001, contrasting that to the current rate and noting that Obama’s stimulus packages, which Nelson supported, have not worked.

“Today’s disappointing jobs report unmistakably demonstrates Bill Nelson’s support for the Obama agenda is failing Florida workers,” said Steven Law, a veteran Republican operative who serves as the president and CEO of American Crossroads, on Friday. “The Obama-Nelson scheme -- a wasteful, jobless stimulus package now followed by another round of identical stimulus spending -- is an unsuccessful one-two punch which will not get Floridians back to work. As Bill Nelson continues to embrace Obama’s failed policies, voters in Florida are ready to hold the Obama-Nelson team accountable next year at the ballot box.”

The group goes more broadly after the president's economic policies in a satirical web ad:

Friday, October 21, 2011

On His Way Out, Cardoza Kicks Obama

Moderate California Democrat Dennis Cardoza announced his retirement from the House yesterday. From his statement:
Looking back on disappointments, I am dismayed by the Administration’s failure to understand and effectively address the current housing foreclosure crisis. Home foreclosures are destroying communities and crushing our economy, and the Administration’s inaction is infuriating. As a leader of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, I am also disappointed by the broadcast media's general lack of attention to moderate members of Congress, and their failure to recognize those members of all ideologies who work together to build consensus and solve problems. The constant focus on ‘screamers’ and the ‘horse race’ of elections is smothering useful discourse and meaningful debate of public policy. This, in turn, is fueling the increasingly harsh tone in American politics. My experience tells me that those who shout the loudest, and give the most speeches, have the fewest good solutions for America’s challenges.
At Politico, Alex Isenstadt writes:
House Democratic aides and party strategists, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they were taken aback by the harshness of Cardoza’s message — he’s not known as a bomb-thrower — and couldn’t recall any recently departing member tossing such a grenade on their way out the door.

“This is beyond odd and clearly a reflection of Democrats’ frustration with this president and administration,” said one Democratic strategist who is a veteran of House races.

Crossroads v. Stimulus II

Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS) today released a new strategy memo by its president and CEO Steven Law, focused on President Obama’s latest stimulus plan. The memo is based on a recent survey that tested opinions and attitudes of 1000 Americans concerning the plan.

The memo can be found here.

According to the memo and survey, just 45% approve of Obama’s “jobs plan” while 44% disapprove. However, while the president’s standing is relatively weak, conservatives must aggressively and specifically litigate the proposal in order to win the debate:

The public is open to being convinced by either side on the best way to revitalize our economy; therefore, [conservatives] need to challenge Obama’s plan in detail … In every case in the survey, detailed, data-driven arguments significantly outperformed more generic statements and arguments.

The survey identified three key messages conservatives should use to effectively push back against the president’s stimulus plan:

  1. Opposition to Obama’s plan is bipartisan
  2. Obama’s plan is a retread of his failed 2009 stimulus that spent billions while the unemployment rate increased
  3. Obama’s latest stimulus is a “Band-Aid” that doesn’t fix our real problems

“President Obama is clearly on weak ground with this second stimulus, but to ensure that conservatives win this debate we must aggressively litigate the specifics of the plan – the state government bailouts, the bipartisan opposition to its components, and the fact that it doesn’t address underlying problems in a serious way,” said Crossroads GPS president and CEO Steven Law. “The president’s jobs plan is little more than a watered down repeat of his 2009 stimulus, which spent $830 billion without bringing the employment rate down.”

Obama 2012 and Bush 2004

Richard W. Stevenson writes at The New York Times that the Obama team has figured out that Karl Rove was pretty smart after all:
Can Mr. Obama overcome the bad economy, and perhaps even turn it to his advantage in certain ways, in the same way President George W. Bush overcame and in a sense turned to his advantage the bloody, expensive and increasingly unpopular war in Iraq eight years ago?

And can Mr. Obama do to his opponent – for now let’s say Mitt Romney – what Mr. Bush did to Senator John Kerry in 2004?

The parallels are sufficient enough that Mr. Obama and his team have studied, and to a striking degree are replicating, the Bush re-election playbook.

Already they are building a narrative in which Mr. Obama made politically brave decisions to do what was right for the economy, even if those decisions were unpopular. It’s a theme that echoes Mr. Bush’s argument in 2004 that he did what it took to keep the country safe, and that even if you disagreed with him, you knew where he stood.

As for defining the opponent, Mr. Obama’s supporters are already hard at work hammering home the idea that Mr. Romney is an inveterate flip-flopper, a man without core or convictions who says and does whatever is necessary to advance his political interests. It’s an approach that bears a passing similarity to the Bush re-election campaign’s efforts to paint Mr. Kerry as an inveterate flip-flopper, a man with core or convictions who. … You get the idea.
But the circumstances are very different. In the fall of 2003, Bush's Gallup approval ratings ranged between 50 and 63 percent. By comparison, Gallup reports today:
President Barack Obama's 11th quarter in office was the worst of his administration, based on his quarterly average job approval ratings. His 41% approval average is down six percentage points from his 10th quarter in office, and is nearly four points below his previous low of 45% during his seventh quarter.

These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking from July 20-Oct. 19, 2011. During this time, Obama's approval rating ranged narrowly between 38% and 43% for all but a few days of the quarter. The 38% approval ratings, registered on several occasions, are the lowest of his presidency to date.

Other numbers also bode ill for the president. Reuters reports:
An unofficial gauge of human misery in the United States rose last month to a 28-year high as Americans struggled with rising inflation and high unemployment.

The misery index -- which is simply the sum of the country's inflation and unemployment rates -- rose to 13.0, pushed up by higher price data the government reported on Wednesday.

The data underscores the extent that Americans continue to suffer even two years after a deep recession ended, with a weak economic recovery imperiling President Barack Obama's hopes of winning reelection next year.
And at the Christian Science Monitor, Ron Scherer reports a number that will outweigh just about anything the Obama campaign could say:

Think life is not as good as it used to be, at least in terms of your wallet? You'd be right about that. The standard of living for Americans has fallen longer and more steeply over the past three years than at any time since the US government began recording it five decades ago.

Bottom line: The average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the Great Recession – even though the recession ended, technically speaking, in mid-2009. That means less money to spend at the spa or the movies, less for vacations, new carpeting for the house, or dinner at a restaurant.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gingrich Redux

Peter Grier writes at The Christian Science Monitor:

Is Newt Gingrich the Republican's flavor-of-the-month-in-waiting?

We ask this because it appears that Mr. Gingrich has resurrected his campaign with steady debate performances in which he (mostly) focuses his comments on the Obama administration, instead of his GOP rivals.

For instance, CBS political analyst Brian Montopoli listed Gingrich as one of the winners of Tuesday night’s CNN debate in Las Vegas. The ex-Speaker was professorial, according to Mr. Montopoli, peppering his answers with historical references and presenting himself as an idea guy, floating above the fray.

“It’s probably not going to lead him to the nomination, but it’s turning what had been a catastrophic campaign into a respectable one,” wrote Montopoli.

Montopoli wasn’t alone on this. University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato tweeted after the debate that Gingrich had turned in an A- performance. Newly announced non-candidate Sarah Palin told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News that she thought Gingrich did best of all the candidates.

“He seems to be above a lot of the bickering that goes on,” said Ms. Palin.

But reduced media scrutiny is one reason for his rise. As a second-tier candidate, Gingrich has gotten away with gaffes (e.g., suggesting that Barney Frank should go to jail) that would severely damage a top-tier candidate. The latest example comes from the Las Vegas debate:

And I, frankly, would be really worried if somebody assured me that nothing in their faith would affect their judgments, because then I'd wonder, where's your judgment -- how can you have judgment if you have no faith? And how can I trust you with power if you don't pray?

Here he seemed to be suggesting that atheists are unfit for office. Granted, about half of Americans would not vote for an atheist for president, but Gingrich's statement might alienate the other half.

Outside Money Eclipses Inside Money?

At National Journal, Reid Wilson writes about the potential dominance of Super PACs:

To see just how little early fundraising actually matters, consider this cycle’s incumbents. By this point in 2005, McCaskill, then a challenger, had raised $681,000, while her Republican opponent, then-Sen. Jim Talent, had more than $4 million on hand. Jon Tester, then the president of the Montana Senate, had only $141,000 in the bank, a fraction of Sen. Conrad Burns’s $3 million war chest. And Democrat Jim Webb hadn’t even entered the race in Virginia against GOP Sen. George Allen.

Now that outside groups can spend unlimited amounts on independent advertising, candidate fundraising means even less. Last year in Colorado, when Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet first sought election after his 2009 appointment, he raised and spent $11.5 million while Republican Ken Buck raised and spent almost $5 million. Yet outside organizations dwarfed both candidates’ campaigns; Democratic groups spent $13.2 million on Bennet’s behalf and Republican groups spent more than $14 million for Buck.

In 2010, outside groups spent more than $10 million per state on Senate races in Nevada, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Washington, Illinois, Missouri, and California, according to data compiled by The Hotline and the Center for Responsive Politics. The average member spent $1.44 million to win his or her House seat; in 38 districts, outside groups spent more, according to the center’s data.

“You’re going to see candidates having a smaller voice in their own campaigns,” said Rob Collins, a Republican strategist who ran the American Action Network, which spent more than $20 million to influence federal elections in 2010, according to center data.

That’s not to say fundraising reports aren’t illuminating. Early fundraising success is indicative of candidates’ potential for attracting support within their districts, and outside groups use those gauges as a preliminary way to rank which districts are worth a closer look.

“I’m always interested in how much money a candidate raises in-district or in-state and how many donors contribute,” said Mike Duncan, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and head of American Crossroads, which spent almost $22 million last cycle. It’s a reflection of the depth of a candidate’s support, and candidates with strong local support and good direct-mail programs are difficult to defeat. The national fundraising often reflects how serious a candidate is being taken by major donors and creates momentum with national committees and organizations.”

Neither American Action Network nor American Crossroads existed before last cycle.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 74

President Obama tells ABC's Jake Tapper that he's made all the right decisions:
I guarantee it's going to be a close election because the economy is not where it wants to be and even though I believe all the choices we've made have been the right ones, we're still going through difficult circumstances. That means people who may be sympathetic to my point of view still kind of feel like, yeah, but it still hasn't gotten done yet. This is going to be a close election and a very important one for the American people. The thing I hope the most is that everyone is going to be paying close attention to the debate that takes place because it could determine not just what happens over the next four years, but what'll happen over the next 20 or 30 years.

The Vegas Debate

Alexander Burns writes at Politico:

Mitt Romney was thrown off balance for the first time in the 2012 race, as a gang of primary opponents assailed him on the issues of health care and immigration during Tuesday night’s GOP debate.

Romney has largely coasted through a season’s worth of Republican candidate forums. That appeared to change in Nevada on Tuesday, as multiple rivals blasted his record from the right — starting with the universal health care law Romney signed in Massachusetts.


You hired illegals in your home, and you knew about it for a year,” Perry said. “The idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you’re strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy.”

The attack referred to a 2007-vintage report from The Boston Globe, which revealed that a company Romney used for lawn care had hired illegal workers.

The former Massachusetts governor pushed back against both sets of attacks but struggled at times to get a word in edgewise against opponents who repeatedly interrupted him.

And in the exchange with Perry, Romney got visibly flustered and delivered a gaffe suggesting his choice of lawn-care company was politically motivated.

“I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake. I can’t have illegals,” said Romney, who jabbed that Perry’s attack came from desperation after “a tough couple of debates.”

Also at Politico, Reid Epstein and Maggie Haberman write:
Perry’s campaign was prepared for the attack, emailing reporters a 2007 Boston Globe that first revealed the presence of undocumented workers at Romney’s Belmont, Mass., home. The campaign also sent a release headlined “Romney is a fraud on immigration.”

“Despite tough talk directed at employers hiring illegal aliens, it was discovered in the last campaign that Romney went a decade without checking the citizenship status of those who tended to his 2½ acre lawn,” the campaign wrote.

Perry’s senior political adviser Dave Carney said in the post-debate spin room that Romney’s vulnerability on the issue is clear.

“When you make a holier-than-thou argument about it and you know about hiring illegals … it seems kind of hypocritical,” Carney said.

Carney took the "holier than thou" line directly from Rudy Giuliani's 2007 debate exchange with Romney on the subject:

Giuliani: If you're going to take this holier than thou attitude, that your whole approach to immigration...

Romney: I'm sorry, immigration is not holier than thou, Mayor. It's the law.

Giuliani: If you're going to take this holier than thou attitude that you are perfect on immigration...

Romney: I'm not perfect.

Giuliani: ... it just happens you have a special immigration problem that nobody else up here has. You were employing illegal immigrants. That is a pretty serious thing. They were under your nose.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Campaign Videos

Gingrich has"Newt Now."

Perry calls himself "America's Jobs Governor."

Romney goes after Perry:

And Herman Cain's video is a few weeks old, but still worth seeing:

Obama Reacts to Crossroads Ad

David Nakamura reports at The Washington Post that the president is reacting to an American Crossroads spot:

President Obama is fighting back against what he is calling false advertising.

During a stop at a YMCA here during his bus tour, Obama told a crowd of 1,100 that he was watching Monday Night Football when he saw a television advertisement that implied his jobs plan would raise taxes on most Americans.

“I was watching the football game last night,” Obama said. “They had some ad that didn’t really make much sense.”

Obama didn’t name the advertisement, but it appeared to be a spot titled “Don’t” that was produced by American Crossroads, a conservative political action committee. In the 34-second advertisement, a female narrator begins, “He raised our hopes. He seemed to understand” over images of Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Then the picture cuts to Obama saying during that campaign: “The last thing you want to do is raises taxes in the middle of a recession.”

“But today he’s different,” the narrator continues, showing recent news clips of television reporters saying Obama plans to raise taxes to pay for the jobs plan.

American Crossroads has thus put the president on the defensive, not a strong place to be.

Explaining Movement in the Polls

Why is Herman Cain doing so well? CNN reports:
According to the CNN/ORC International Poll released Tuesday morning, 34% of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say that Cain is the most likable candidate in the race, putting him at the top of the list a few points ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"The same pattern holds when we ask about the economy," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Among Republicans, 33% say that Cain is most likely to get the economy moving, again putting him in the top spot."

But electability may be Cain's Achilles heel. Only 18% of Republicans say that Cain is most likely to win the GOP nomination, and only a quarter say he has the best chance of beating President Barack Obama in the general election.

Who is the most electable candidate, according to GOP voters?

"Mitt Romney - and it's not even close," says Holland. "Four in ten Republicans say that Romney is most likely to get the party's nomination, and 51% say he has the best chance of beating Obama in the fall. On both those measures, Romney's numbers have improved dramatically, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been sinking like a stone."
Cain has been getting good press, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism:
Rick Perry received the most favorable coverage of any candidate for president during the first five months of the race, but now Herman Cain is enjoying that distinction, according to a new survey which combines traditional research methods and computer algorithmic technology to code the level and tone of news coverage.

Perry lost the mantle of the candidate enjoying the most favorable treatment to Herman Cain two weeks ago, after the Florida straw poll in which Cain scored a surprise victory. Meanwhile, though he has often led in the polls, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has received less coverage and less positive coverage than the shifting casts of frontrunners -- and that remains true even now. He ranks second in the amount of attention received, and the tone of that narrative has been unwaveringly mixed.

A poll from the Pew Research Center suggests that debates may be having some effect:

According to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 13-16 among 1,007 adults, about a third (36%) of Republicans say they have watched a debate this year, which is comparable to the number that said this in July 2007 (38%). Interest among Democrats and independents is understandably much lower, with only a quarter of Democrats (25%) and independents (24%) reporting that they have watched any of the debates. This compares to significantly broader viewership in 2007 (45% of Democrats and 38% of independents) in July 2007, when there were contested primaries in both parties.

And, in a sign of their engagement this election cycle, about half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who say they agree with the Tea Party say they have watched any of the GOP debates (53%). This compares with only 21% among Republicans and Republican-leaners who do not identify with the Tea Party movement.


The influence of the debates is broader among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents; about four-in-ten (43%) who watched say the events have led them to change their minds about which of the candidates they might support. Fully half (51%) of Tea Party Republicans and Republican-leaners say the debates have led them to reassess which candidate they might support.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cain Leads, Romney has Legs

At MSNBC, Mark Murray reports that Cain is ahead in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll:

Fueled by Tea Party supporters, conservatives and high-interest GOP primary voters, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain now leads the race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

And in yet another sign of how volatile the Republican race has been with less than three months until the first nominating contests, the onetime frontrunner, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, has plummeted to third place, dropping more than 20 percentage points since late August.

“Cain is the leader ... That’s the story,” said Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff.

But McInturff cautions that Cain’s ascent — and Perry’s decline — is probably not the last shakeup in a GOP race that has seen a series of sudden rises and abrupt falls (first Donald Trump, then Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and now Perry) in the field.

“There is still a long, long, long time to go,” McInturff said.

Cain checks in as the first choice of 27 percent of Republican voters in the poll, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 23 percent and Perry at 16 percent. After those three, it’s Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 11 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 8 percent, Bachmann at 5 percent and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 3 percent.

At The Wall Street Journal, Gerald Seib notes encouraging data for Romney:

It's true that 40% of Republicans say that, were Mr. Romney to win the nomination, they would have some reservations about voting for him in the general election, and that's not a good number for Camp Romney. But it's also true that he's the second choice of more Republicans than any other candidate—a sign that he's at least acceptable in quarters that aren't excited about him—while 60% of very conservative voters still say they have overall positive feelings about Mr. Romney.

But perhaps the most revealing picture emerges when Mr. Romney is stacked up in a hypothetical one-on-one match-up against Texas Gov. Perry. ...

Set against Mr. Perry now, Mr. Romney prevails easily, 54% to 39%. Mr. Romney actually does better among tea-party backers in that match-up, and loses only slightly among "very conservative" voters.

Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who co-directs the Journal/NBC News poll with Republican Bill McInturff, says Mr. Romney is the kind of candidate who inspires "respect, not passion." Such candidates sometimes fail (Michael Dukakis, Robert Dole), but sometimes succeed (George H.W. Bush). Their fate may be more a function of their times than anything else.

But if the question is whether Republicans can learn to live with Mitt Romney, the numbers suggest many already have.

Third-Quarter Money

Paul Blumenthal writes at The Huffington Post about third-quarter FEC filings:

The campaign filings also show that, despite challenges facing individual candidates, whether it's raising big money or getting donations from small donors, the Republican side is keeping pace with the campaign of President Obama. Republican primary candidates combined to raise $49 million from July through September. That's $7 million more than the $42 million raised by Obama's re-election committee.

Among the primary candidates, some candidates are separating from the field, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Rep. Ron Paul pulling in substantive hauls of $14 million, $17 million and $8 million, respectively. Pizza mogul Herman Cain, a surprising contender in these late months, raised $2.2 million in the third quarter, more than expected from the once-fringe candidate. Rep. Michele Bachmann, once thought to be a major contender and a successful fundraiser, raised only $3.9 million in the third quarter, a number that should be disappointing to someone known as the best fundraiser in Congress.

The other candidates are going to have a much more difficult time getting their messages out, apart from the televised debates. The campaigns of former Utah Gov. and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and former Speaker Newt Gingrich are each in debt more than $1 million. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum raised only $700,000 in the third quarter, an amount that would be unimpressive in a Senate election bid.

USA Today reports:
While Mitt Romney remains Wall Street's favored candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has turned to energy companies and industries with investments in his home state to help finance his presidential bid, a USA TODAY analysis of new fundraising reports shows.

The biggest source of campaign money to Perry: Employees of a Dallas tax and accounting firm owned by George Brint Ryan, a longtime Perry supporter. Ryan, who donated more than $500,000 to Perry's Texas campaigns over a decade, also is helping to guide an outside group that can raise unlimited funds to aid Perry's presidential ambitions, as long as it doesn't coordinate with his campaign.

Ryan employees donated $116,000 to Perry, according to the analysis, which examined individual contributions to 10 presidential candidates. Employees of coal producer Murray Energy ranked second, adding more than $66,000 to Perry's war chest.

At Mullings, Rich Galen offers a simple explanation of why Perry has been able to raise a lot of money:
  • We do know that more than half Perry's money came from the donors in the State of Texas. As a very wise Texan told me when Perry first announced:
    We are a Texas business. Perry is either going to be President of the United States or he's going to be Governor of Texas for the next three years. In either case, our name is going to be on that first finance report.

  • We also know that about $13.5 million of Perry's money (nearly 80 percent) has come from donors who gave $2,500 which is the maximum amount. They can't give again in this primary season so we can assume the Perry campaign has been ramping up its small-donor program - the folks who give more modest amounts, but can be hit up again and again.
  • Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Wall Street Money

    In 2008, President Obama did well raising campaign money from hedge funds and other elements of the financial community. Nicholas Confessore and Griff Palmer write at The New York Times:

    It is no secret that the relationship between President Obama and Wall Street has chilled. A striking measure of that is the latest campaign finance reports.

    Mitt Romney has raised far more money than Mr. Obama this year from the firms that have been among Wall Street’s top sources of donations for the two candidates.

    That gap underscores the growing alienation from Mr. Obama among many rank-and-file financial professionals and Mr. Romney’s aggressive and successful efforts to woo them.

    The imbalance exists at large investment banks and hedge funds, private equity firms and commercial banks, according to a New York Times analysis of the firms that accounted for the most campaign contributions from the industry to Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama in 2008, based on data from the Federal Election Commission and the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics