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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Associated Press previews the Tuesday night presidential debate at Hempstead, NY and probes the ramifications of the town hall format.
At The Fix, Chris Cillizza has a good capsule desription of the debate format: “…The setting for the second debate will be a town hall full of “average” Americans with CNN’s terrific Candy Crowley moderating. The questions in the debate will be asked by people in the audience, with Crowley following up or holding the candidates accountable as she feels it’s needed. That sort of format makes it tougher for the candidates to go harshly negative on each other than if it was simply the two of them standing behind podiums with Crowley seated at a table between them. The town hall backdrop puts a premium on trying to connect with the struggles, worries and hopes of the person asking the questions, not scoring points on scripted attack lines — although there probably will be plenty of those, too. The bar to being seen as overly or unnecessarily negative is far lower in a town hall debate than in a more traditional setting, meaning that both candidates will need to walk a very fine line with their attacks.”
All good Democrats will love the title and theme of this Telegraph article by Dan Hodges, whose bionote reads “Dan Hodges is a Blairite cuckoo in the Miliband nest. He has worked for the Labour Party, the GMB trade union and managed numerous independent political campaigns. He writes about Labour with tribal loyalty and without reservation.”
Paul Krugman rolls out the alarming cluelessness/dishonesty of Romney’s assertions about health care in the U.S.: “Last week, speaking to The Columbus Dispatch, Mr. Romney declared…”We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance….” Krugman adds,”these are remarkable statements. They clearly demonstrate that Mr. Romney has no idea what life (and death) are like for those less fortunate than himself…the reality, to which Mr. Romney is somehow blind, is that many people in America really do die every year because they don’t have health insurance…States that expand their Medicaid coverage, and hence provide health insurance to more people, consistently show a significant drop in mortality compared with neighboring states that don’t expand coverage..The fact that the United States is the only major advanced nation without some form of universal health care is at least part of the reason life expectancy is much lower in America than in Canada or Western Europe.”
Dan Balz and Jon Cohen report that “Presidential contest tight nationally ahead of second debate,” and they cite the new WaPo/ABC poll showing Obama leading Romney 49-46 in the “If the election were held today” question.
The Virginia race for the U.S. Senate — and perhaps control of the U.S. Senate — may turn on a key constituency, northern Virginia seniors. Ben Pershing has the the story at the Washington post.
At The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg reports that Libertarian Gary Johnson “is on the ballot in every state except Michigan and Oklahoma, enjoys the support of a few small “super PACs” and is trying to tap into the same grass-roots enthusiasm that helped build Representative Ron Paul a big following. And with polls showing the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney to be tight, Mr. Johnson’s once-fellow Republicans are no longer laughing.” Hmmm, makes you wonder if there might be some benefit for Dems to do a McCaskill in a couple of states.
In his New York Times op-ed, Steve Rattner has some good talking points explaining why “The Radical Is Romney, Not Ryan.”
Sarah Jones takes the mask off Romney’s claims about his supposed bipartisanship as Massachusetts Governor, noting at Politicus USA that “All told, Romney issued 800 vetoes in his one-year term as Governor. 800. Nearly all of them were overridden – 707 to be exact. Romney doesn’t mention that part in his “I like vetoes” ad.” Jones adds, “A March 2005 poll found that only 32 percent felt Romney should be re-elected if he ran for a second term as governor.”
The lede of the week award will probably go to Alex Altman for his “As his standing in the polls improves, Mitt Romney is piling up public endorsements from a new cohort of voters: the celebrity train-wreck set.” Altman’s post at Time Swampland, “The Lohan Effect: Will Romney Get a Boost from Low-Information Voters?” also has this insightful observation: “UCLA political scientist Lynn Vavreck has been tracking a large group of uncommitted voters since December 2011. As they’ve made up their minds, those voters have gravitated in roughly equal numbers to Romney and Obama. Obama “has the advantage among undecided voters who are making choices as Election Day draws near,” Vavreck wrote recently.”

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