Tales from the Trail

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.

Van Duzer, clearly delighted by the president’s visit, gave him a big bear hug — then lifted him, literally, into the air.

“Man, are you a power lifter or what?” the president exclaimed after he was put safely back on the ground.

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.

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.

Business comments taken out of context, Obama says in new ad

President Barack Obama’s campaign released a new television advertisement on Tuesday pushing back against a wave of attacks that followed remarks the Democratic incumbent made that Republicans deemed anti-business.

The 30-second advertisement — “Always” — will air in six battleground states and is the second in as many days featuring a regal Obama speaking directly into a camera — a far cry from the campaign’s hard-hitting ads, marked by ominous narrators and elaborate graphic design, portraying Mitt Romney as a ruthless former private equity executive whose personal finances are shrouded in secrecy.

In the ad, the president is seen fighting back — calmly, authoritatively — against a barrage of attacks by Romney, his campaign, and wider Republicans who seized on a fragment of Obama’s speech in Virginia on July 13 when he said, “If you own a business, you didn’t build that.”

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.”

Blunt says to keep an eye on Virginia

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican who is Mitt Romney’s point person in Congress, doesn’t think Ohio or Florida will be the main states to watch on election night. He will have his eyes on Virginia.

In an interview at the annual Reuters Washington Summit, Blunt was asked which state was the one to monitor in the run-up to the Nov. 6 election between President Barack Obama and Romney.

“Virginia,” he said. “If I was watching one state on election night, it would be a state I’d [watch].”

Conservative group parodies Dos Equis beer commercials in anti-Obama ad campaign

Conservative political group RightChange came out on Tuesday with a pejorative spoof of the hit Dos Equis beer commercials that replaces “The Most Interesting Man in the World” with a superlatively arrogant President Barack Obama.

Instead of ticking off the unusual, adventurous feats of the world’s most interesting man (“At museums, he’s allowed to touch the art; sharks have a week dedicated to him; he once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels”), the roughly 1-minute grainy, black-and-white montage shows the President identified by a baritone narrator as “The Most Arrogant Man in the World.”

“Out of respect, they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize without him doing anything…and he took it. He changed healthcare for millions of Americans even though they liked what they had. He says he will tell Iran to quit making nukes and they will stop because he is just that good.”

Obama campaign launches voter drive around gay marriage

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, looking to tap support for the president’s embrace of same-sex marriage, launched a voter drive in key electoral states on Wednesday, saying a Mitt Romney presidency would be the “ultimate deal breaker” for proponents of “marriage equality.”

The campaign’s effort to mobilize lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender voters and those who back their rights to wed is called “Obama Pride: LGBT Americans For Obama” and will combine on-the-ground operations in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada, and Florida with an enhanced digital footprint.

“The President fights for our equality because he believes we are equal. Mitt Romney would fight against our equality because he believes we do not deserve it,” said Joe Solmonese, an Obama campaign co-chair and president of the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group. “We can not afford to go back.”

Washington Extra – The Pentagon and the poor

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) shows a copy of the "FY2013 Budget - The Path to Prosperity" during a news conference at Capitol Hill in Washington March 20, 2012. U.S. House Republicans placed a major election-year bet Tuesday on a deficit-slashing budget proposal the party hopes will win over voters and quell any concerns about the plan's most controversial element - a sweeping revamp of Medicare. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana

Never ones to shy away from a budget fight, the current crop of House Republicans pushed ahead with their latest deficit-reduction ideas – ones that weren’t exactly designed to win bipartisan support. 

By throwing last summer’s delicately-crafted budget deal overboard, this updated plan mandates deeper cuts to social programs for the poor while adding money to military accounts. Food stamps, child tax credits and Medicaid healthcare would all feel the knife, while the Pentagon would escape all of the cuts that otherwise would begin triggering in January.

Washington Extra – Moonshot no more

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich bows his head in prayer before speaking at First Redeemer Church while on a campaign tour in Cumming, Georgia, February 26, 2012. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

Earth calling Newt: When the biggest news of your presidential campaign is the penguin biting your hand at the zoo, it’s probably time to pack it in.

Even though Newt Gingrich’s odds of winning the Republican nomination were about as long as those of realizing his dream for a moon colony, the 68-year-old seemed to enjoy himself to the end. “I never got the sense that he was quote-unquote down,” said adviser Charlie Gerow. “I got the sense on a couple of occasions that he was tired. Really tired.” And really in debt. His campaign spent $4.3 million more than it brought in.