Paul Ryan targeted on women’s issues
Politico // Maggie Haberman, Emily Schiltheis and Lois Romano
Paul Ryan co-sponsored a federal “personhood” amendment. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood. He opposes all abortions, except when the life of the mother is at risk. And he supports a federal bill requiring women to get an ultrasound before an abortion. If this sounds like an ominous ad from the Obama for president campaign, something like it could soon be coming to a TV near you. These are among the positions the Wisconsin congressman has taken in his career that Democrats are bound to highlight in the weeks ahead in ads, press conferences and rallies as they try to widen President Barack Obama’s lead among women over Mitt Romney in polls. Picked just a week ago as his vice presidential contender, Ryan is poised to become a key part of that strategy for both the Obama campaign and women’s groups hoping to energize their voters and those who might have been considering Romney. For all the attention on how his budget roadmap changes Medicare, Democrats see Ryan’s record on issues related to women as an opportunity to yoke Romney, who has flip-flopped on abortion rights in the past decade, to positions the presumptive GOP nominee staked out during the Republican primaries.
Few Voters Truly Up for Grabs, Research Suggests
New York Times // Rebecca Berg
WASHINGTON — Curtis Napier, a 52-year-old father of two in Lima, Ohio, belongs to a much-discussed group of Americans that is far smaller than is often realized: He is a true swing voter. He voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and for Barack Obama in 2008. With three months remaining in the campaign between Mr. Obama and Mitt Romney, Mr. Napier said, “I may not just vote for either one of them.” About one-third of Americans describe themselves as independent voters, creating a widespread impression that a large group of Americans will provide the decisive swing votes in this year’s presidential election. But that impression is misleading, polling experts and political scientists say. Many self-described independents — close to half, according to surveys — reliably vote for one party or the other. And many true swing voters live in states, like California or Texas, where no analyst doubts the outcome in November.
Obama slams Romney, Ryan on tax rates, Medicare in stops in New Hampshire
Washington Post // Nia-Malika Henderson
President Obama focused sharply on his rivals’ approach to the economy in this swing state Saturday, arguing that Republican Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, his running mate, would give tax breaks to the wealthy and strip away social programs and benefits that middle-class Americans rely on. In a sweltering high school gymnasium packed with some 2,300 people, Obama singled out Ryan’s budget, saying that the plan would give Romney a tax rate of less than 1 percent while Romney’s plan would raise taxes on middle-class families.
Gibbs: Ryan should ‘thank’ Obama for strengthening Medicare
The Hill // Meghashyam Mali
Senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs, defended the administration’s record on Medicare from GOP attacks, saying that Rep. Paul Ryan should “thank President Obama” for strengthening the program. During a campaign stop in The Villages, Florida Saturday, Ryan appeared with his mother, who is on Medicare, and continued hammering the administration for a $716 billion reduction in the program’s spending, claiming Obama “raided” Medicare to pay for his own healthcare reform bills. Gibbs pushed back on those claims during an interview on Fox News Sunday. “If he wants to protect Medicare for his mother he should first of all thank President Obama for what he’s done over the past few years to extend the life of the Medicare trust fund, to help seniors with their prescription drug costs to help seniors get free preventive care. ” said Gibbs.
Battlegrounds: Iowa’s seven electoral votes could be decisive
CNN // John King
Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) — A visit to the Iowa State Fair is a test of diet discipline: They fry just about everything — from Oreos to butter to mac & cheese — and the bigger the better, from half-pound tenderloins to massive turkey legs and pork chops. Not much changes from year to year. There’s the butter cow, nightly entertainment at the grandstand, arcade games and amusement rides. But the “Cast Your Kernel” booth, while hardly a scientific enterprise, offers a big hint of change from the last presidential year: With more than 30,000 kernels cast, Mitt Romney is leading President Barack Obama. Iowa, the scene of a 10-point Obama blowout in 2008, is a 2012 presidential battleground. Obama stopped by the fair during his three-day Iowa bus tour this week. And the Romney campaign chose the fair for the solo debut of Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential pick.
‘Solid South’ No Longer Just All-Red Or All-Blue
Associated Press // Bill Barrow
ATLANTA (AP) — The “Solid South” was a political fact, benefiting Democrats for generations and then Republicans, with Bible Belt and racial politics ruling the day. But demographic changes and recent election results reveal a more nuanced landscape now as the two major parties prepare for their national conventions. Republicans will convene Aug. 27 in Florida, well established as a melting-pot battleground state, to nominate Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Democrats will toast President Barack Obama the following week in North Carolina, the perfect example of a Southern electorate not so easily pigeon-holed. Obama won both states and Virginia four years ago, propelled by young voters, nonwhites and suburban independents. Virginia, long a two-party state in down-ballot races, had not sided with Democrats on the presidency since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Jimmy Carter in 1976 had been the last Democratic nominee to win North Carolina. Each state is in play again, with Romney needing to reclaim Florida and at least one of the others to reach the White House. Southern strategists and politicians say results will turn again this year on which party and candidates understand changing demographics and voter priorities.
President Obama Rips Paul Ryan’s Medicare Plan In Iowa
Talking Points Memo // Benjy Sarlin
President Obama lit into his Republican rivals over Medicare on Wednesday, repeating the charge that Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan “ends Medicare as we know it.” “I think they know their plan is not very popular,” Obama said. “You can tell that because they are being dishonest about my plan — especially when it comes to Medicare.” Romney has attacked Obama in ads and speeches for including $716 billion in cuts to Medicare in the Affordable Care Act. Romney promised to restore the spending this week, even though his own running mate included the same savings in the House Republican budget he wrote. Obama said he “strengthened” Medicare, noting that the savings came from subsidies to insurance companies and hospitals, not from retirees. He added that the ACA used some of the savings to fund additional benefits for seniors, including an end to the “doughnut hole” on prescription drug costs and an expansion of preventive care.
G.O.P. Packaging Seeks to Reveal a Warm Romney
New York Times // Jeremy W. Peters
They hail from the Broadway stage, the control rooms of NBC and the design studios that created sleek sets for Oprah Winfrey and Jon Stewart. Their craft is slick packaging and eye candy that audiences consume by the millions. Their latest project? Selling the Mitt Romney story in prime time. Working from makeshift offices at a hockey arena here, a team of Romney advisers, producers and designers have been staging and scripting a program for the Republican National Convention that they say they hope will accomplish something a year of campaigning has failed to do: paint a full and revealing portrait of who Mitt Romney is. Instead of glossing over Mr. Romney’s career as a private equity executive, they will highlight it in convention videos and speeches as the kind of experience that has prepared him to be the economic steward the country needs. And rather than shy away from Mr. Romney’s faith, as some campaign aides have argued he should, they have decided to embrace it. On the night Mr. Romney will address the convention, a member of the Mormon Church will deliver the invocation. On Sunday, this new approach was apparent as Mr. Romney invited reporters to join him at church services.
Ryan family companies hold stakes in energy business interests
Washington Post // Anne Gearan
Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan and his wife hold stakes in family companies that indirectly benefit from oil and gas tax breaks his budget proposal would retain, his tax returns and financial disclosure statements show. Ryan and his wife, Janna, are part owners of four family companies in her native Oklahoma that lease land or oil, gas, mineral or timber rights. The Ryans reported taxable income of $20,300 from two of the mineral rights firms last year, a fairly small share of the couple’s adjusted gross income of $323,416 in 2011. According to tax returns released Friday by the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan presidential campaign, the Ryans listed tax losses for the other two firms. Those hold gravel and timber rights.
Nation still waiting for Romney’s tax returns
Tampa Bay Times // Editorial
If Mitt Romney wants to put an end to speculation over his personal finances, he needs to release multiple years of tax returns. His assurance last week that he paid at least 13 percent of his income in federal income tax annually for the last decade won’t do it, and he should not be so offended by the requests for more openness. Nothing more is being demanded of Romney than has been routinely asked of and received from most other recent candidates for president, and there is no reason to treat him differently just because of his wealth. Romney’s response to a reporter’s question in South Carolina was an attempt to quell the unsubstantiated claim by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid earlier this month that Romney paid no taxes some years. But in fact, Romney’s answer just reinforced that wealth sets him apart — he paid a lower percentage of his income in taxes than many other upper-income Americans — and he won’t give voters a chance to verify his claim for themselves. Republican presidential nominee John McCain was an outlier in releasing only two years of tax returns in 2008. Every major party presidential nominee in recent history has released multiple years of tax returns to enable voters to evaluate their financial interests and potential conflicts.
Mitt Romney’s Double Medicare Contradiction
Bloomberg // Josh Barro
There are two key contradictions in the Mitt Romney’s messaging on Medicare reform. First, Romney says Medicare is “unsustainable” in current form. So why has he pledged to delay any Medicare reforms until 2022 and even repeal Medicare cuts contained within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, at a cost of $716 billion over ten years? Doesn’t that make Medicare even less sustainable? Second, Romney says that his premium-support based Medicare reform, to be implemented in 2022, will be “an improved program” and everyone will get benefits “at least comparable to what Medicare provides today.” If premium support is an improved program, why is there any need to delay implementation? Romney says his plan “honors commitments to current seniors” by waiting until 2022, but if his proposed benefit is as good as Medicare, why wouldn’t it count as honoring those commitments? Avik Roy has harumphed at my post from Wednesday arguing that the campaign is incoherent on Medicare, contending that I just don’t understand the program very well.