Tales from the Trail

Married v. unmarried could be the new election “gender gap”

Despite the American obsession with voting differences between men and women – the famed U.S. election “gender gap” – there is a far bigger “gap” dividing likely voters in 2012 - the yawning divide between marrieds and unmarrieds.

Fifty-seven percent of likely voters who are unmarried support Democratic President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 general election, including those who have never been married, live with a partner or are widowed, divorced or separated.

Thirty-three percent of those unmarried likely voters back Republican challenger Mitt Romney, giving Obama a 24-point edge among the 910 respondents, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data for the week ended Oct. 21.

Among married likely voters, Romney led by a 13 percentage point margin, 53 percent to 40 percent, in a sample of 1,322 respondents, for a yawning 37-point “marriage gap.”

“There is something that appears to be around the marriage factor alone,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

Swing state ad from hawkish Democrats hits Romney on foreign policy

A group of hawkish Democrats with close ties to President Obama’s re-election campaign announced on Thursday a new swing state television advertisement attacking Mitt Romney on national security and foreign policy issues.

The 60-second advertisement by the Truman National Security Project is part of a low six-figure media buy and is set to run in veteran-heavy Ohio, one of a handful of states that could prove pivotal to the Nov. 6 election.

The advertisement oscillates between press footage and a montage of young veterans speaking directly to a camera questioning Republican White House candidate Mitt Romney’s ability to keep Americans safe in a dangerous and unpredictable world.

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.

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 gets a surprising ‘lift’ in Florida pizza joint

President Obama is hugged by Scott Van Duzer at a pizza shop in Florida

President Barack Obama met his match in the fitness category at an impromptu campaign visit on Sunday.

Stopping by a pizza place — the Big Apple Pizza & Pasta Italian Restaurant — in Ft. Pierce, Florida, the president, a workout fanatic, was welcomed by the 6-foot-3, 260-pound, big-muscled owner, Scott Van Duzer.

“If I eat your pizza, will I look like that?” Obama asked, marveling at the man’s physique.

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.

Obama campaign attacks Romney for raising fees as governor

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Massachusetts Democratic state lawmakers closed a budget shortfall by closing corporate tax loopholes and raising fees, the latter of which was attacked in a television advertisement the Obama campaign released on Wednesday.

The ad — titled “Mosaic” — hit Romney, who has said on the stump that he closed the budget shortfall without raising taxes, for raising state fees on everything from marriage licenses to gun permits when he was governor of The Bay State for one term starting in 2003.

“When Governor Romney says we balanced the budget without increasing revenues, that’s not true at all,” said Andrew Bagley, Director of Research and Public Affairs at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a non-partisan research group. “Let’s put it this way, corporations paid more taxes after changes to the tax policy.”

Obama campaign TV spot hits Romney as governor

As President Barack Obama and presumptive nominee Mitt Romney hit up big-money donors on both coasts on Monday, their respective allies waged a public relations blitz to deride each other’s message.

The Obama campaign announced a television advertisement, which can be viewed here, that slammed Romney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts, saying he cut taxes for millionaires, outsourced call center jobs to India, and left the state saddled with debt.

The ad, called “Heard it Before,” cost the campaign approximately $10 million, and is on the air in nine battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, the campaign said.

Santorum calls Romney “desperate,” downplays wins

Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum on Sunday called recent attacks by his rival Mitt Romney “desperate,” as the two face off in an increasingly contentious battle to become the party’s White House nominee.

Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania and social conservative known for his staunch positions on abortion and gay marriage, is competing to be the conservative alternative to Romney, who faces resistance from Republicans skeptical of moderate stances he took when he was governor of the liberal state of Massachusetts.

Asked about Romney’s recent efforts to highlight times when Santorum sided with Democrats while in Congress, including votes to raise the federal debt ceiling, Santorum appeared amused.