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Friday Roundup: Biden Strikes Back

Obama Vs Romney. Photo Courtsesy Malwack, CC BY-SA.

Obama Vs Romney. Photo Courtsesy Malwack, CC BY-SA.

  1. Pre-Debate Hype. The first presidential debate injected what may have been an anomalous vitality into last night’s vice-presidential debate. The RCP’s national average showed a swing of roughly 4 points (Obama -3, Romney +1), which caused commentators like Andrew Sullivan to lament and the Obama campaign to rally supporters. Both the Huffington Post and Daily Beast published articles that charged Biden with the task of settling the score.
  2. Two facts worth mentioning about the VP debate: [1] The word “CROSSTALK” appears in the debate transcript 49 times, a marked increase from last week. [2] Joe Biden spoke for a little over a minute more than Paul Ryan. What about the generational gap? Scott Conroy of RCP points out that several of the past VP debates have featured candidates with an age gap (Biden is 69, Ryan is 42, and Sarah Palin was 44). To put this into cultural context, when Paul Ryan turned 16, number one songs on the radio featured the likes of Lionel Richtie, Prince, and Genesis, for Biden, it was the Everly Bros., the Champs, and Elvis.
  3. Prior to the debate (in part because of the perceived ineffectualness of Jim Lehrer in the first presidential debate) there was an unusual focus on the VP debate moderator, Martha Raddatz. In an interview after the debate, she said that she was surprised by the number of follow-up questions she was able to ask. Josh Barro notably criticized Raddatz’ performance for failing to bring up important topics such as immigration, monetary policy, housing policy, unwinding the fiscal cliff, and for focusing too narrowly on foreign policy while neglecting China, Latin America and Europe.
  4. Photos of Paul Ryan lifting weights wearing a backwards baseball cap were posted online at the end of last week. The photos were taken last december for TIME magazine, before Ryan was the VP nominee, but will nonetheless be added to the twitterverse/blogosphere history of the 2012 presidential campaign, which also includes Big Bird following the first presidential debate, the laughter of Joe Biden following the veep debate.
  5. President Obama together with the Democratic National Committee brought in $181 million in new campaign funds in September, about 98 percent of which was made in donations of $250 or less. The announcement of September’s fundraising record brings Obama's overall total to $925 million in the current election cycle, including money raised by his joint fundraising committees, the Obama Victory Fund and the Swing State Victory Fund, and the Democratic National Committee.
  6. The first Gallup tracking poll to be based around likely voters rather than registered voters, released Tuesday, gave Romney a 2-percentage-point lead, 49 percent to 47. Meanwhile, a Pew Research Center survey of likely voters conducted Oct. 4 to Oct. 7 gave Romney a four- percentage point lead over Obama. However, another Pew poll finds that Obama leads with Latinos 69 to 21 percent.
  7. Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy address at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) on Monday. Read our analysis questioning whether there is much difference between the candidates on foreign policy. Here are some highlights from Romney’s speech:
    • In short, it is a struggle between liberty and tyranny, justice and oppression, hope and despair. We have seen this struggle before. It would be familiar to George Marshall. In his time, in the ashes of world war, another critical part of the world was torn between democracy and despotism.
    • This is what makes America exceptional: It is not just the character of our country—it is the record of our accomplishments. America has a proud history of strong, confident, principled global leadership—a history that has been written by patriots of both parties.
    • I know the President hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States. I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy.
    • The size of our Navy is at levels not seen since 1916. I will restore our Navy to the size needed to fulfill our missions by building 15 ships per year, including three submarines. I will implement effective missile defenses to protect against threats. And on this, there will be no flexibility with Vladimir Putin. And I will call on our NATO allies to keep the greatest military alliance in history strong by honoring their commitment to each devote 2 percent of their GDP to security spending.

The speech, predictably, provoked a responses from both sides of the political spectrum. Is Romney living in a perpetual ‘Cold war fantasy’ or is he offering a legitimate alternative to the policies of President Obama?

  1. David Axelrod was among the first Obama campaign officials to defend the President’s debate performance based on the dishonesty of his opponent. Axelrod told MSNBC that he gives Romney credit for a strong performance and “an ‘F’ for being honest with the American people.” Several columnists questioned the wisdom of that strategy.
  2. Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei released an article this week about a supposed “family rebellion” within the Romney campaign, which portrays Romney’s family as a force attempting to resurrect ‘moderate Mitt’ against the advice of his top campaign advisors. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple has pointed out that the story has no on-the-record sources, and questions the narrative of infighting and subsequent ‘course-correction.’
  3. After last week’s Jobs report, Jack Welch initially suggested the report was suspect, and then elaborated on the those claims in a Wall Street Journal piece that went so far as to compare the response to his suggestion with Soviet Russia. Paul Krugman and others are unconvinced by this theory--to put it mildly.

MC Switchboard

A special edition of ABC’s This Week, produced with the University of Virginia's Miller Center, will air live this Sunday and focus on the question, "Do presidential debates change elections?" Panelists include:

  • NEWT GINGRICH, 2012 Republican presidential candidate
  • CHRIS DODD, 2008 Democratic presidential candidate
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, presidential historian
  • MARTHA RADDATZ, moderator of the October 11 vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan
  • GEORGE WILL, Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator
  • DONNA BRAZILE, campaign manager for Al Gore's 2000 campaign
  • Moderator: JAKE TAPPER, ABC News chief White House correspondent

Check www.abcnews.com/thisweek for airtimes in your area (scroll down to the bottom of the web page).

The panel will take questions from social media, and viewers are invited to post questions on Twitter to @ThisWeekABC and @Miller_Center and on Facebook at  www.facebook.com/ThisWeekABC and www.facebook.com/millercenter.

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