Tales from the Trail

“Talking about” Obama and Romney on Facebook

When President Obama marked the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death earlier this week by unexpectedly addressing the nation from Afghanistan, several commentators cited it as an example of the ”advantage of incumbency”: the president’s visibility and ability to dominate the news are greater, just by virtue of being president, than those of challenger Mitt Romney, and he should be expected to benefit from the groundwork his campaign laid during the 2008 campaign, particularly its vast network of supporters, donors, and social media connections. 

Indeed, across a number of social media platforms, Obama’s following dwarfs Romney’s: Obama has 26 million Facebook ”Likes” to Romney’s 1.7 million; while Obama has nearly 15 million Twitter followers, Romney hasn’t yet hit half a million; on Google+, Obama has just over a 1 million users in his circles, compared to Romney’s just over 500 thousand; on Instagram, Obama has 636,790 followers to Romney’s 9,695. In absolute numbers, Obama seems to own a towering advantage over Romney.

But on Facebook at least, sheer number of “Likes” may not tell the whole story, or even the most important part of it. Last fall, Facebook launched ”people talking about this,” a metric that counts interactions with a Page — things like “liking” a Page, commenting on a post, or sharing a photo from a Page — over a seven-day period to measure user engagement.

Here, too, Obama leads Romney in absolute numbers, with a “talking about” total more than twice as high as Romney’s – 283,819 versus 126,990. Yet, as a percentage of overall “Likes,” engagement over the past week is much higher for Romney, at 7.6 percent, than for Obama, at 1.08 percent. 

For comparison’s sake, the activity of Romney’s Facebook followers appears to surpass those of Ron Paul, known for his passionate internet following: of Ron Paul’s 949,319 “Likes,” 24,943 — 2.6 percent — are ” talking about” his Page. And the percentage of Newt Gingrich’s fans who are engaging with his Facebook Page this week – 4,887 out of 295,289, or 1.65 percent — falls short of Romney’s — though it is still higher than Obama’s.

Fan-in-chief Obama draws popular basketball coach for Virginia rally

President Barack Obama’s big re-election campaign rally in Virginia on Saturday will feature a speaker who could be the most popular man in the battleground state.

It’s not a politician, like Tim Kaine, the former governor now running for the U.S. Senate, who will also be at Virginia Commonwealth University for the event. Two other Democratic Virginia politicians, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb, will not be there.

It is Shaka Smart, VCU’s basketball coach, who will host the rally before Obama speaks.  

Washington Extra – Obama’s China cloud

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event in Chantilly, Virginia earlier this week on May 2, 2012. REUTERS/Benjamin Myers

A bright spot of Barack Obama’s presidency – foreign policy – all of a sudden was taking some hits as the White House struggled to deal with a crisis involving a Chinese dissident. 

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney blasted away at Obama, talking of a “day of shame for the Obama administration.” Charges – vigorously denied by the White House – swirled that Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng may have been persuaded to leave his protective shelter at the U.S. embassy in Beijing so that high-level U.S.-China talks could go more smoothly. Another scenario being floated was that Obama’s team naively accepted Chinese assurances that Chen would not face government harassment if he rejoined his family at home.

Washington Extra – An anniversary observed

Troops at Bagram Air Base listen to U.S. President Barack Obama speak during his visit to Kabul, May 2, 2012. Earlier, Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement at the Presidential Palace. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

One year ago, President Barack Obama was secretly holed up in the White House Situation Room monitoring what turned out to be the successful U.S. military operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

A year later, he spent the day on another secret mission: flying aboard Air Force One to Afghanistan, the country from which bin Laden hatched his Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

New Obama ad goes after Romney on outsourcing


The Obama reelection team is out with a new ad today defending itself against allegations, advanced last week in an ad from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, that billions of stimulus dollars meant to create “green energy” jobs in the U.S. had been spent instead on creating jobs abroad.

“Obama’s clean energy initiatives have helped create jobs for projects across America, not overseas,” the new ad insists, citing fact checks at Politifact and the Washington Post and suggesting that “Big Oil” was the force behind the AFP attack. The video, which will air in Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa, also alleges that Mitt Romney has outsourced jobs in the past, first as a CEO and then as governor of Massachusetts, and now supports tax breaks for companies that do the same. “It’s just what you’d expect from a guy who had a Swiss bank account,” the ad’s narrator says.

The Romney campaign called the ad “desperate”: “President Obama is trying to distract Americans from the real issues with a series of sideshows,” Romney spokesperson Amanda Henneberg said. “Unable to defend his failed record of 23 million Americans struggling for work, wasteful boondoggles like Solyndra, skyrocketing national debt, and unacceptably high energy prices, President Obama has once again resorted to attacking Mitt Romney.”

Romney says Obama “is focused on taking away from those that have the least”

At a campaign stop today in Portsmouth, NH, Mitt Romney portrayed President Obama as a foe — and himself a champion — of the poor, noting the “greater and greater gap between those that have the most and those that have the least” and accusing President Obama of being “focused on taking away from those that have the least.”

“I want to help everybody, particularly those that are being left behind,” said Romney, who memorably told CNN he’s “not concerned about the very poor” in February. “I want to help the poor. I want to help the middle class get the kinds of jobs that raise their income. Let’s focus on helping the people who need the help the most.”

With Senator Kelly Ayotte — whom Romney has said is on his short list of potential running mates — at his side, Romney told the audience the president was “trying to divert” attention away from the economy “with all the silliness day in and day out.”

Romney’s claims don’t match reality, Obama team says in new ad

In its latest ad, “Mitt Romney versus Reality: Global Edition,” the Obama reelection campaign is hitting back on several of Romney’s attacks on the president’s foreign policy, splicing together video of Romney’s claims and what the campaign calls “reality” — mostly videos of Obama claiming to have done the opposite.

So where Romney is shown accusing Obama of wanting Israel to “go back to the ’67 borders,” a clip follows of Obama saying that “Israelis and Palestinians will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.” Video shows Romney telling an audience Obama “spends a lot of time apologizing for America”; the next clip shows Obama telling a different audience, “We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense.”

Watch the full ad, via barackobama.com:

Photo credit: Screenshot/barackobama.com

GOP Super PAC ad targets Obama for being too “cool”

A day after President Obama wrapped up his multi-state tour of American colleges, where he drummed up youth support for an extension of low interest rates on student loans, and presumably also his reelection campaign, American Crossroads, the Republican Super PAC backed by Karl Rove, has released a new ad targeting the same demographic.

The ad runs through some of Obama’s most famously “cool” moments — when he killed a fly with his hand during an interview, his dancing entrance on Ellen Degeneres’ show, singing Al Green at the Apollo Theater, “slow jamming the news” with Jimmy Fallon — followed then by a series of harsh claims about the economy into which college kids are graduating. “1 in 2 recent college graduates are jobless or underemployed,” the ad contends. “85% moving back in with their parents.”

“After 4 years of a celebrity president, is your life better?”

Watch the ad, via American Crossroads:

The Romney campaign followed up with its own ad echoing the statistics cited in the American Crossroads video. Watch:

Obama “slow jams the news” with Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon taped a special episode of his show in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, yesterday, where he was joined by President Obama, who, fresh from a speech to students at the University of North Carolina, made a dramatic entrance.

Fallon announced that he wanted to “slow jam the news,” a recurring segment on his show usually featuring Brian Williams. “And I’m not the only one,” Fallon said suggestively, as Obama stepped out from behind a curtain to raucous cheers from the audience. “I’m President Barack Obama, and I, too, want to slow jam the news,” said Obama, who without cracking a smile talked about student loan interest rates whilst accompanied by Fallon’s house band, The Roots. “Now is not the time to make school more expensive for our young people,” he said.

Obama, on a two-day, multi-state college tour to spotlight the cost of a college degree and urge support for an extension of low interest rates on student loans — which Congress is expected to take to a vote on Friday — returned to the issue in a sit-down interview with Fallon, who also asked him, among other things, about the Secret Service scandal, his most embarrassing moment in the White House, and his own college experience, showing a picture of a college-age Obama to the audience.

Washington Extra – Going nuclear?

 

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission commissioner Kristine Svinicki (L) is seen here with Chairman Gregory Jaczko (C) and fellow commissioner George Apostolakis (R) listening to testimony at a meeting at the NRC's headquarters in Rockville, Maryland in this March 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Obama to renominate Republican to nuclear panel – President Obama will renominate Republican Kristine Svinicki to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, defying opposition from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a White House official told Reuters. Republicans want Svinicki, whose term as a commissioner expires in June, to stay on the panel and believe the process is being held up because she, along with three other commission members, accused the current NRC chairman, a Democrat, of bullying women. For more of this story by Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton, read here.

U.S. House passes Republican business tax cut – The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a tax break for small businesses, giving voters a stark alternative to President Obama’s politically popular “Buffett Rule” surtax on the wealthy. In an escalating election-year war of words over taxes, the Republican measure, like the Buffett Rule, is not expected to become law. It is opposed by Democrats, who control the Senate, where the bill was expected to die. For more of this story by Kim Dixon, read here.