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The public policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute
Wednesday, September 12th
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16:51 President Obama took Mitt Romney to task for jumping the gun on his Egyptian embassy attack statement last night. “There’s a broader lesson to be learned here. Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later,” the president said in an interview with CBS News’s Steve Kroft.
“As president, one of the things I’ve learned is that you can’t do that. It’s important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make them.”
When asked if Romney’s remarks were irresponsible, Obama replied, “I’ll let the American people judge that.”
Well played by Obama. He’s using the advantage of incumbency quite effectively here.
16:39 OK, I’m really starting to get concerned about Joe Biden’s mental health. I understand forgetting exactly which school or state you’re in, but when it happens week after week?
16:32 A new study by University of California in San Diego researchers shows that Facebook is one of the most powerful political tools out there. According to the study, about 330,000 more people showed up to vote in the 2010 midterm elections because of a single Facebook message posted on Election Day.
Researchers compared users who saw a simple reminder to vote with a group who saw the same message, except their Facebook friends had engaged with it. The experimental message allowed Facebook users to click “I voted,” which passed the message on to their friends.
“Users who got the informational message – who didn’t see photos of friends – voted at the same rates as those who saw no message at all,” according to the UCSD press release. “Those who saw photos of friends, on the other hand, were indeed more likely to vote.”
15:41 The German Constitutional Court has ruled to allow the creation of a new $640 billion rescue fund for indebted eurozone countries. This is big news because Germany’s Court was the final thing standing in the way of the new bailout fund. The decision allows President Joachim Gauck to sign off on the German parliament’s ratification of the treaty that sets up the European Stability Mechanism.
Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, welcomed the court’s decision: “Today, Germany is once again sending a strong signal to Europe and beyond: Germany is assuming with determination its responsibility as the biggest economy and as a reliable partner in Europe,” she told Parliament in Berlin hours after the ruling. “This is a good day for Germany and it is a good day for Europe,” she added.
Germany will be liable for about 27% of the overall European bailout program, which includes the ESm and the remaining money from the European Financial Stability Facility.
15:22 A CNN/ORC International poll released yesterday shows that most Americans expect President Obama to win the debates this fall. To be exact, 59% of those surveyed said Obama is more likely to do a better job than Mitt Romney, while 34% said Romney will win.
Only 5% of Democrats think Romney has the advantage, while 18% of Republicans think Obama does.
While it’s probably nice to have the American people voice their belief that you’re a good debater, this could actually be bad for President Obama. Debates are all about outperforming expectations. These numbers show that there’s an opportunity for Romney to make a big splash among voters if he can best Obama in one or all of the debates. Moreover, it also limits the debates’ upside for Obama.
15:05 In the race for Wisconsin Senate, former Governor Tommy Thompson has released a positive 30-second ad that focuses on his accomplishments as governor and the desperate need for reform in Washington. Enjoy.
14:52 Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), one of the top conservatives in the nation, expressed his ire over the Egypt/Libya embassy attacks, the Obama administration response to them, and the media’s response to Mitt Romney’s comments on the issue in the following statement:
The death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, American Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith and two other Americans is an outrage. Governor Romney is absolutely right, there is no justification for these deadly attacks and we should never apologize for American freedom. Islamic radicals will use any pretext to justify their hatred of America and our freedom.
It was disheartening to hear the administration condemn Americans engaging in free speech that hurt the feelings of Muslims, while real atrocities have been repeatedly committed by Islamic radicals against women, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East.
American freedoms are not to blame for the terrorist attacks of 9/11 or the apparently coordinated attacks on yesterday’s anniversary. Islamic extremists are to blame and we must work with officials in Libya and Egypt to ensure those who attacked our embassies are brought to justice.
These attacks raise serious questions about whether we were properly prepared and about the effectiveness of our policies and foreign aid in these nations. We need to get the facts on these attacks, the ongoing threats to America in these countries, and rethink our policies in Libya and Egypt going forward.”
14:36 The Right Scoop has gotten hold of some hot mic audio that appears to show reporters coordinating their questions for Mitt Romney during his statement on Libya and Egypt this morning. The big quote: “I’m just trying to make sure that we’re just talking about, no matter who he calls on we’re covered on the one question.”
There probably isn’t anything to this, but it is interesting to note that the female reporter whose audio we can hear most clearly jokes that Romney might not call on her if he sees her ABC notebook. Is she acknowledging her employer’s bias right there?
14:28 The latest Rasmussen poll of the Senate race in Missouri shows incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill holding a 6-point lead over Republican challenger Rodd Akin. Akin, you probably recall, is the “forcible rape” guy.
McCaskill was once considered the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent this cycle, but since Akin’s inane, factually-incorrect, and quite offensive statement on rape, she’s held a steady lead.
14:16 This new ad by American Crossroads, called “Words,” continues the Right’s soft sell attack on Obama that focuses more on disappointment than anger. As other Crossroads (and Romney) ads have done in the past, the ad compares Obama’s statements in 2008 with today, noting that they’re essentially the same.
The 60-second spot is a web-only test for a bigger push later on.
14:08 According to The Hill, Paul Ryan has had a higher favorability rating than Joe Biden in every major nonpartisan national poll since his selection as the Republican VP nominee.
Ryan averaged a likability factor 7.5% higher than Biden, and beat President Obama’s rating four out of six times.
Both a recent CNN and a Fox News poll showed Biden with a favorability advantage among Independents of about 30 points—a massive lead.
Ryan’s numbers are particularly interesting because they have actually improved since the day he was first selected as Romney’s running mate. Generally, the opposite effect happens with vice-presidential nominees.
Ryan also outperforms Biden in what is often regarded as the vice president’s home turf—the Midwest. Forty-seven percent of Midwesterners had a positive view of Biden in CNN’s survey, while 48% had a negative view. Meanwhile, Ryan had a 54% positive and 37% negative rating, for an 18-point lead over Biden.
One thing to keep in mind: All these polls were conducted before the Democratic convention, so Biden’s numbers may have picked up recently.
13:52 Team Romney released a Spanish-language ad today hitting Obama on Medicare. It’s a sign that the campaign is ready to start reaching out to Hispanics (finally) and continue playing offense on the Medicare issue.
“For years, we have paid into Medicare with our work. Now, when we need it, Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare to pay for his ObamaCare. The money we have paid to guarantee our healthcare will be used for a new program that’s not for us,” says a narrator, speaking in Spanish in the ad.
13:44 Rasmussen reports that President Obama’s post-convention bounce has largely dissipated. Obama attracts support from 46% of likely voters while Romney earns 45% of the vote. Five percent are undecided and 4% prefer a third-party candidate.
If Romney wins and Republicans control Congress, 45% thought it would help the ability of private companies to create new jobs. Thirty-five percent believe it will hurt. If Obama and the Democrats win, 39% think it will help with the creation of private sector jobs, while 44% believe it will hurt.
13:35 The National Republican Congressional Committee has elevated nine more candidates to “Young Gun” status, the top tier of their four-level recruitment program. To get there, they need to establish a clear path to victory and achieve a series of benchmarks. The candidates are Jonathan Paton (AZ-01), Martha McSally (AZ-02), Vernon Parker (AZ-09), Andrew Roraback (CT-05), Lee Anderson (GA-12), Kerry Bentivolio (MI-11), David Joyce (OH-14), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) and Randy Weber (TX-14).
13:33 AEI’s Marc Thiessen points out that between April 14, 2011, and August 14, 2012, President Obama had attended 203 fundraising events, slightly more than the number of intelligence briefings he attended during that time period.
On a related note, it’s being reported that Obama skipped all his intelligence briefings in the week leading up to the attacks yesterday.
13:20 Gallup has President Obama’s job approval at 51%, and shows him leading Romney by 7 points, 50-43.
12:05 In memory and celebration Ambassador Chris Stevens, take a look at this State Department introductory video, created for his appointment in January of this year.
May he and the others killed rest in peace.
12:03 If you’d like to see the trailer for the move that the Egypt/Libya embassy attackers supposedly are upset about, click here. As AEI’s Danielle Pletka explains, this movie is nothing more than a pretext for what were likely orchestrated attacks, but it’s still involved in the situation nonetheless. It’s a pretty offensive bit of film, there’s no denying that.
11:49 A new Obama for America ad, to be aired in Iowa, Nevada, Virginia, and Ohio, hits Romney once again for both his refusal to release more years of tax returns and his evasiveness on his tax reform plan. “Mitt Romney, he won’t reveal what’s in his taxes and he won’t tell you what he’d do to yours,” the narrator says. Check it out:
11:45 At least one Republican really liked Secretary Clinton’s statement:
11:41 Here is the video of Secretary Clinton’s statement earlier today:
11:30 Romney’s statement on the Libya/Egypt embassy attacks has been receiving a ton of criticism. Via BuzzFeed, here are a few reactions:
“They were just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit based on the embassy statement and now it’s just completely blown up,” said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand, who called the statement an “utter disaster” and a “Lehman moment” — a parallel to the moment when John McCain, amid the 2008 financial crisis, failed to come across as a steady leader.
“It’s bad,” said a former aide to Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “Just on a factual level that the statement was not a response but preceding, or one could make the case precipitating. And just calling it a ‘disgrace’ doesnt really cut it. Not ready for prime time.”
A third former Republican, a former Bush State Department official, told BuzzFeed, “It wasn’t presidential of Romney to go political immediately — a tragedy of this magnitude should be something the nation collectively grieves before politics enters the conversation.”
“He did jump the gun. It revealed yet again that his foreign policy team is not ready for prime time,” said David Rothkopf, a former Clinton State Department official. “It is ugly and amateurish. It also seems strangely out of character with Romney who elsewhere in the campaign seems inclined to be restrained to a fault.”
Not a good reaction so far, although several of the sources were careful to say that they felt the substance of Romney’s criticism was spot-on.
11:09 Some interesting thoughts from the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein on the Romney campaign’s decision to make such a big issue out of the Libya situation.
I think he makes a good point, but a little simplistic. So far, Romney hasn’t done much except issue a statement or two, so I’d hardly say he’s ended his focus on the economy. Moreover, national security is an area where Obama has been consistently far ahead of Romney; it makes sense for him to try and cut into that lead, especially given how the U.S. response has been somewhat fumbled by the Obama administration.
10:56 Obama’s statement on the Libya situation wasn’t particularly well received on Twitter. Some criticisms:
10:50 President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff at a 10:35 ET press conference. They called it an “outrageous attack” and said, “Make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.”
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” Clinton said. “America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear. There is no justification for this. None.”
The president didn’t answer any questions after his statement.
Mitt Romney also made a statement on the subject today. Here is video of his remarks.
10:38 In light of events in Egypt and Libya yesterday, check out some recent Gallup polling on public opinion in Libya. Fifty-four percent of Libyans polled approved of the U.S.’s leadership, the most of any nation. Moreover, fully three quarters of Libyans approved of NATO’s military intervention in their country.
This lends further credence to the idea that the attacks in Benghazi and Cairo were orchestrated by radical groups, not everyday citizens.
10:05 Crossroads GPS, the pro-Republican Super PAC, is up with a new ad in Nevada today. It’s in both English and Spanish, and slams President Obama for Nevada’s poor economy. In particular, it focuses on the president’s statement in 2010 that people shouldn’t “blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.” GPS’s response: “He doesn’t get it. In Nevada, tourism means jobs.”
See the Spanish language version here.
9:58 President Obama is attending a 5:25 PT rally in Las Vegas. Then he flies to Colorado and spends the night in Denver.
Mitt Romney has a 9:35 AM event in Jacksonville. He will campaign in Fiarfax, VA, tomorrow at 11.
Joe Biden is giving a 12:30 ET speech in Dayton, Ohio. He returns to DC for a 7 PM reception with Jewish community leaders at the Naval Observatory. Biden will campaign in Iowa next Monday and Tuesday.
Paul Ryan has an 11 CT town hall in De Pere, Wisconsin. At 6:30 ET he attends a rally with country star John Michael Montgomery in Owensville, Ohio.
Ann Romney will attend a 4:35 ET “Women for Mitt” rally in Largo, Florida.
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