Tales from the Trail

Obama takes a break from debate prep – at the Hoover Dam

U.S. President Barack Obama took a break from preparing for Wednesday night’s debate with a quick visit to the Hoover Dam.

Wearing a gingham shirt, khaki trousers and sunglasses, according to a White House press pool report, the president asked some questions of a dam manager and a staffer from the U.S. Department of the Interior. He learned that most of the power generated from the dam – in Nevada, not far from Las Vegas – goes to Southern California, and that some of the 28,ooo people who built the dam were killed, but “fewer than you can imagine.”

A reporter asked Obama why he made the trip, and he responded: “It’s spectacular and I’ve never seen it before. I didn’t realize it was so close by.” Obama often takes breaks to visit tourist sites as he travels. Aides have said the tourist stops offer a mental break from the work of his office.

Obama is preparing for Wednesday night’s debate against Republican Mitt Romney at a resort in Henderson, Nevada.

His visit to a dam named after Herbert Hoover at such an intense time during his re-election campaign prompted some political speculation. A few Republicans noted that  Hoover was an incumbent who left the White House after he failed to end the Great Depression. But another view could be that Obama – a Democrat like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, replaced George W. Bush, a Republican like Hoover, who presided over the economic collapse.

Iranian leader’s plane shares tarmac with Air Force One

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport after a visit to Latin American countries January 14, 2012. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 – As President Barack Obama and passengers on Air Force One left for campaign events in Ohio on Wednesday, there was an unusual sight spotted from the presidential aircraft: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s plane.

At Joint Base Andrews, which houses the U.S. president’s jet, reporters traveling with Obama spotted a plane marked “Iran Air” parked on the tarmac.

Romney’s problems with minority voters extend to Asians, study shows

Republican Mitt Romney’s problems appealing to minority voters extends beyond blacks and Hispanics, with Asian-Americans also heavily favoring Democratic President Barack Obama’s re-election on Nov. 6.

Among likely voters who are Asian American, 43 percent back Obama, compared with 24 percent for Romney. But there are still many out there to be won over, because a third – 32 percent – of those who are judged likely to cast ballots on Nov. 6 have not yet made up their minds, according to the National Asian American Survey, which organizers said was  the largest such study of Asian American and Pacific Islanders’ public opinion ever done in the United States.

Many, however, have yet to be won over, because a third – 32 percent – of those who are judged likely to cast ballots on Nov. 6 have not yet made up their minds, the study found.

“Outside” spending for 2012 election already beats 2010

 

There are still six weeks before Election Day on Nov. 6, but spending by Super PACs and other outside groups has already hit $465 million, more than all of the entire 2010 campaign season, with Republican-aligned groups spending well over twice as much as those backing Democrats.

Democratic-aligned Super PACs have spent $108.4 million this year, and Republican-aligned Super PACs have spent $270.5 million, according to the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political spending. The total independent expenditures by other Super PACs was $15.6 million.

Spending by outside groups in 2010 totaled $454 million, the group said.

And much of the latest uptick in spending is focused on congressional races, even in the closely contested ” swing” states ultimately expected to determine whether Democratic President Barack Obama is re-elected or his Republican challenger Mitt Romney ousts him from the White House.

This election, abortion rights activists are looking for just a few good women

This fall, there is going to be a relatively small group of women voters who may be very, very sick of hearing from NARAL Pro-Choice America by Election Day on Nov. 6.

Like most of those involved in politics this election year, the abortion rights advocacy group says that women will determine the outcome of the contest on Nov. 6 between Democratic President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

But unlike most, the group has identified, by name and address, the thousands of women across the country that it thinks might make the difference – and it plans to go after their votes,  and in a big way, but in small numbers – in many cases as few as 1,000 or 2,000 in an individual county.

Non-retired Baby Boomers anxious about more than jobs

The Baby Boomers have come a long way from Flower Power. Retirement savings, Social Security and Medicare are weighing heavily on their minds this election season, even if they are still in the workforce.

The AARP surveyed Americans aged 50-64 who are still working, and found that they share younger voters’ worries about the economy ahead of the Nov. 6 election, but their economic concerns extend well beyond jobs. These members of the “Baby Boom” generation worry about rising prices, healthcare costs, financial security when they retire and taxes.

“We know the issue of jobs is very important to voters age 50-plus, but any meaningful discussion of the economy and this year’s election has to include the future of Social Security and Medicare,” Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of the 37 million-member AARP, said in a statement. “For these voters, ‘retirement security’ and ‘economic security’ are largely the same thing,” she said.

DNC to GOP on healthcare: Bring it on

 

The Democrats have an answer for the Republicans if the Supreme Court throws out President Barack Obama’s healthcare law on Thursday: Good luck with that.

It may be bravado in the face of what would seem to be huge disappointment, but some Democrats insist they relish the prospect of watching congressional Republicans grapple with how to deal with the massive and troubled industry. Annual U.S. spending on healthcare already totals $2.6 trillion a year. Skyrocketing costs are expected to make spending balloon to $4.8 trillion, or one-fifth of U.S. gross domestic product over the coming decade, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“It will be time for the Republicans to say what they are going to do. This is on them,” Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said on Wednesday at the Reuters Washington Summit.

This time, some Democrats are embracing “Obamacare”

 

Fierce opposition to President Barack Obama’s healthcare bill helped propel Republicans to big victories in the 2010 mid-term elections, when they won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives and cut into the Democratic majority in the Senate.

But this year, at least some Democrats are embracing the healthcare plan – touting their support for its popular provisions and attacking Republicans for opposing measures that polls show big majorities of Americans supporting.

North Dakota’s former Democratic attorney general, Heidi Heitkamp, who is running for the Senate, responded to a wave of attack advertisements against her over the healthcare law by creating an emotional advertisement of her own relating her own recovery from breast cancer to her support for the law.

Will the “War on Women” have legs in November?

Democrats should not hold back from the “war on women” in campaigning for the Nov. 6 election, Senator Jeanne Shaheen said, even if the economy will be on voters’ minds as they head to the polls.

“I’m old enough to remember the ’50s and before … contraceptives were widely available to people, what my mother and other women were dealing with,” the New Hampshire Democrat said on Tuesday at the Reuters Washington Summit. “I’m old enough to remember what it was like before Roe v. Wade, and I think access to reproductive health services for women is critical.  And I don’t think women in this country are planning to go back.”

Polls generally show Democratic President Barack Obama with an advantage over Republican candidate Mitt Romney among women voters, but some recent surveys have shown Romney gaining ground. Democrats have sought to maintain their advantage by advertising what they call a Republican “war on women,” which casts the party as insensitive on issues such as equal pay for women, healthcare, protection against domestic abuse and access to contraception. 

Outside campaign groups can coordinate – with each other

 

Super PACs and other outside campaign organizations are barred from coordinating with the candidates they support or political parties, but there is nothing keeping a Super PAC from coordinating with another Super PAC, or several Super PACs. And indeed, some of them do.

Jonathan Collegio, director of public relations for American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, Karl Rove’s conservative Super PAC and non-profit, said outside groups on the right work together all the time.

“There’s a lot of coordination among outside groups on the right, all of which is allowed,” he said at the Reuters Washington Summit on Monday. “Starting in 2010, Crossroads started bringing together a lot of the organizations that were going to be spending a lot of money in the issue and election debate. The goal there was to maximize the efficiency of what everyone was doing.”