Tales from the Trail

“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.

Washington, D.C.-based Sunlight attributed 78 percent of 2012′s outside spending to the effect of Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that eliminated many restrictions on campaign spending, The ruling lifted limits on corporate and union spending in elections, calling it “free speech” and equating it to any individual’s.

Sunlight said more than $272 million came from Super PACs, which only came into being after the ruling in January 2010.

Rock band The National to headline Obama fundraiser in Ohio

Music group The National and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will headline a fundraiser benefiting President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in Cincinnati on October 5, a donor to the campaign said.

The early-evening event in downtown Cincinnati will feature an acoustic concert by the alternative rock group, which is known for brooding songs like “Bloodbuzz Ohio.” The Brooklyn-based band, which formed in Cincinnati, has been Obama’s opening act a number of times since his first White House run in 2008.

The event will also feature remarks and a question and answer session with Schultz, a Florida lawmaker who has ripped Republicans for proposed austerity measures and changes to government-run healthcare for the elderly.

Pelosi confident Democrats will win back House, says Obama will “win big”

U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that despite predictions by so-called experts to the contrary, she’s confident her party will win back the chamber in the Nov. 6 election.

“The momentum is with us,” Pelosi said. “Our motto is don’t agonize, organize.”

Pelosi declined to say, however, if she would remain as her party’s House leader if Republicans retain control of the chamber.

Hollywood actors pose for Obama campaign social media drive

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is launching a “celebrity portrait shot” social media drive, a source close to the campaign said, drawing again on its base of Hollywood supporters to drum up enthusiasm for the Democratic incumbent ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

The source said that the initiative would bring between 20 and 30 actors – such as KaDee Strickland from medical drama “Private Practice,” Ashley Fink of TV musical series “Glee,” and Penny Marshall of the classic sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” – to a production studio in Culver City, California to be photographed in black and white for roughly 15 minutes on Friday.

The portraits will be blasted out over social media websites, like Twitter, with links to the Obama campaign’s website, where supporters can sign up to volunteer for or donate to the Democratic incumbent’s re-election drive.

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.

Union leader sees opportunity in Romney’s dismissal of the “47 percent”

Democrats have reacted gleefully to the release of Mitt Romney’s secretly videotaped dismissal of 47 percent of American voters – whom he identified as supporters of President Barack Obama – as victims who do not pay their share or “care for their lives.”

But few have reacted with as much glee as union leaders who have spent the past two years waging big fights over labor rules with Republican-controlled state governments – and the past week facing fallout from a bitter Chicago teachers’ strike.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka blasted Romney’s comments as the latest sign that the wealthy former businessman is out of touch with ordinary Americans.

Not expecting a call from the president? Try the second line

A warning to those who are sometimes slow to pick up the phone: you may miss a call from the president.

President Barack Obama stopped by a local campaign office in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Sunday to visit with supporters, and he placed a call to Barney Roberts, a volunteer in Jacksonville.

“Hopefully he’ll answer,” Obama said as excited volunteers listened in.

Obama and Romney wrangle over welfare policy

The Obama administration’s July change to a 1996 bipartisan welfare-to-work law has devolved into a mudslinging contest on the campaign trail.

In a 30-second television advertisement released on Monday, Mitt Romney’s campaign asserted that President Obama “has a long history of opposing work for welfare.” Romney initially launched the welfare attack in Obama’s home state of Illinois last week in a coordinated stump speech and television ad accusing the president of loosening work requirements built into the law, which proponents say moved millions off of welfare.

The plan, put forth by the Health and Human Services Department, allows states to seek waivers from the work requirements baked into the law. The states need to prove the success of their models by moving at least 20 percent more people off of welfare to work or they lose their waivers.

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.

Air Obama: President’s re-election campaign goes Dream Team

President Barack Obama’s campaign fundraising “Win a date with a celebrity” lottery has gone Dream Team.

The campaign is offering donors who give at least $3 the chance to enter a lottery to attend the “Obama Classic,” a night of basketball with some of the sport’s greats — Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing, Sheryl Swoopes, Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irvin — and the player many consider its greatest, Michael Jordan.

“Imagine shooting hoops with Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Ewing, Sheryl Swoopes, Kyrie Irving, and Alonzo Mourning. Oh, and you’ll get to meet President Obama and Michael Jordan over dinner, too,” Obama campaign staffer Marlon Marshall said in an email to supporters.