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Friday, October 31, 2008

IA: Obama thanks Iowans for starting him on path toward presidency

6:49 PM

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama returned today to Iowa -- the place that 10 months ago launched him toward the Democratic nomination for president -- to thank supporters and urge them to work hard and reject negative campaigning in the final four days to the election.

"This campaign began here. Iowa helped launch this campaign so the people of Iowa, I will always be grateful to all of you," Obama said. "On the day of the Iowa caucus, my faith in the American people was vindicated and what you started here in Iowa has swept the nation. ... A whole new way of doing democracy started right here in Iowa and it's all across the country now."

The campaign for Republican presidential candidate John McCain was quick to jump on that statement, sending out a response and video of it almost immediately after it was uttered.

"Hardworking families need a president whose faith in the American people is not predicated on his own election," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. "At a time of mounting economic and foreign policy challenges, this country needs a president like John McCain who is experienced and tested -- and has proven his selfless faith in the American people."

Obama's 35-minute speech at an outdoor rally was attended by a police-estimated 25,000 people on a sunny, 70-degree fall day in downtown Des Moines. He poked fun at John McCain's voting with President Bush, saying "He hasn't been a maverick; he's been a sidekick." He rejected McCain's negative campaigning, saying, "he has spent the last few weeks of the campaign calling me every name in the book."
See pictures from the Obama rally


IA, MN, OH, WI: Obama outspending McCain on TV ads

12:46 PM

A new analysis from the Wisconsin Advertising Project shows Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee outspending John McCain and the Republican National Committee between Oct. 21 and Oct. 28 in states covered by

Iowa, which has been a recent focus of McCain's campaign to the puzzlement of state and local political observers, was the only state where McCain outspent Obama. Recent public polls have given Obama a double-digit lead in the state.

Midwest ad spending:
See the Wisconsin Advertising Project release for details


MN: Bachmann, Tinklenberg meet for final 6th CD debate

8:56 AM

From Minnesota Public Radio:
During an interview on MSNBC, Bachmann said she was concerned Barack Obama might have anti-American views. She also called on the media to look at the views of members of Congress and find out if they are they pro-America or anti-America.

Bachmann has since said she was misunderstood. But during the MPR debate, she denied making the comment. Bachmann also insisted that voters aren't asking about the issue.

"That is not what I said in recent remarks, and the number one thing that people have been concerned about as they talk to me when I'm all over the district campaigning is the bailout. That's their main concern," said Bachmann.

But the controversy that Bachmann sees as a non-issue resulted in a financial windfall for Tinklenberg. Donations to his campaign have totaled nearly $2 million in the past two weeks. Tinklenberg says Bachmann's comments show the need for political unity and bipartisan cooperation.

"The idea that this is not an issue in the campaign is simply not credible," said Tinklenberg. "I mean it's what's given this campaign a national interest. And it's what generated Colin Powell's comments about that kind of nonsense has got to stop. It is important."
The Associated Press reported on the candidates' back-and-forth over the economy:
When Tinklenberg said he would consider undoing some of President George W. Bush's income tax cuts -- while cutting taxes for the middle class and small businesses -- Bachmann jumped on the statement.

"The voters have a real clear distinction," she said. "They can have increased taxes and increased spending under El Tinklenberg or they can count on Michele Bachmann to cut their taxes and to cut wasteful spending."

Bachmann also said property taxes went up in Blaine when Tinklenberg was mayor.

Tinklenberg said he brought jobs to the suburb while keeping property taxes low -- and took the chance to tie Bachmann to Bush.

"That's a record I'm proud of, and I think it stands in good stead against the failed policies we have seen from the Bush administration," he said.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

OH: Dem pollster responds to McCain camp's polling memo

3:42 PM

Pollster Stan Greenberg has responded to the McCain polling memo mentioned Tuesday at

Greenberg says Joe the Plumber may be a household name, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's helping McCain:
True, McCain and Palin have made "Joe the Plumber" famous, but not in ways that have been helpful to McCain. In our tracking of people's viewing of the news and communications over the previous few days, what they have heard about Obama has made them more favorable by 10 points (46 to 36 percent), while what they have heard about McCain has made them less favorable by 8 points (36 to 44 percent). Week after week, Obama gets favorable comments from voters, but McCain, mostly negative.

Last week, we tested the big, unfolding tax debate - including the "Joe the Plumber" storyline of wealth redistribution, raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting taxes for the middle class. Obama was winning that argument by 14 points (see Democracy Corps poll of 1,000 likely voters nationwide conducted October 21-23, 2008). In this battleground poll, Obama has taken virtually no water on being "too liberal" or "will raise my taxes" - both essentially unchanged over the past month at 51 percent.
Read Greenberg's full response


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

OH: McCain campaign says Joe the Plumber "a household name"

2:53 PM

A new polling memo from McCain pollster Bill McInturff says the campaign's focus on Ohio's "Joe the Plumber" has increased awareness of the difference between the presidential candidates' tax policies.

From the memo:
This has been the week where "Joe the Plumber" has literally become a household name. An astounding 59% of voters in these battleground states have heard "a lot" about this story, 83% have heard "a lot" or "some" about this episode.

The 59% "a lot" dwarfs the other stories/thematic elements we are tracking this week.

The campaign's relentless focus has helped strengthen our margins on the issue of taxes and broadened as well to the attribute of handling the economy and jobs.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

IA, MN: Greenwald, Tinklenberg added to DCCC's "Red to Blue" list

12:20 AM

Two Democratic challengers -- Becky Greenwald in Iowa's 4th CD (taking on Republican Tom Latham) and Elwyn Tinklenberg in Minnesota's 6th CD (taking on Republican Michelle Bachmann) -- have been added to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue" list, which highlights top Democratic campaigns across the country.

Those on the list are offered financial, communications, and strategic support. The program's Web site states that candidates earn a spot in the program by surpassing demanding fund-raising goals and skillfully demonstrating to voters that they stand for change and will represent new priorities when elected to Congress.

See more on the Red to Blue program


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

WI: No RNC ads for the next week, state TV stations report

11:38 AM

The Republican National Committee hasn't booked ads for the next week in Wisconsin TV markets after running a series of spots attacking Barack Obama and congressional Dems, according to TV sources.

The decision comes amid speculation on whether Republicans may pull back in Wisconsin after several polls in the past week showed Obama up over John McCain by double digits. An RNC spokesman referred calls to the party's independent expenditure operation, which is in charge of the TV ad buys. An official with the party's IE arm did not immediately return a call from WisPolitics seeking comment.

Sources at Wisconsin TV stations in Eau Claire, Green Bay and Milwaukee said the RNC's latest buy ended Tuesday and no new purchases had been made for the week of Oct. 15-21. McCain's campaign has TV buys in Wisconsin at least through Sunday.

A source at a Green Bay station said the RNC didn't have anything running statewide for the next week. The group had been booking air time from week to week, but the RNC hasn't indicated if it will return to the air after the week of Oct. 15-21, the source said.

One Milwaukee station source said he had expected an RNC buy and said he was "shocked" that it hadn't reserved time for the rest of this week.


MN: National help less likely for Paulsen

8:21 AM

From The Politico:
Darren White and Erik Paulsen were prized Republican recruits, House candidates poised to be the new face of the GOP on Capitol Hill.

But as the two head into the homestretch of their campaigns, GOP operatives say they'll probably have to win — or lose — on their own. The money national Republicans earmarked for White in New Mexico and for Paulsen in Minnesota will likely go instead to protect GOP incumbents who once looked like locks for reelection.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

ALL: Atlantic magazine updates its electoral map

3:13 PM

Atlantic reporter/blogger Marc Ambinder released the magazine's latest look at presidential preference by state. In the newest edition he lists Iowa as a "solid Obama" state and has Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota all ranked as "lean Obama."

Here's what he had to say about the Midwestern states:
Iowa -- moves from lean Obama to SOLID Obama.

Minnesota -- still enough traction for McCain here so as to warrant a lean-Obama designation, but even Al Franken is moving up.

Michigan -- Last night, the Michigan Republican Party released a survey conducted for the MIRS newsletter showing Obama with a five point lead in Michigan, hoping to pressure the McCain campaign to revisit its decision to pull ads from the state.

Wisconsin -- the polls are holding; Wisconsin now leans Obama.

Ohio -- The state stubbornly resisted Obama's charm until the bottom fell out of the economy, and now it's coming around. McCain's decision to withdraw from Michigan gives Obama time for a liesurely two-day bus tour through Ohio later this week.
Read his post for the full rankings


WI: GOP attorney tries filing ad complaint against Obama campaign

3:03 PM

A northern Wisconsin attorney with ties to Republican congressional campaigns says he's filed a complaint with the Oneida County Sheriff's Department against Democrat Barack Obama's presidential campaign, claiming it violated state law that prohibits misrepresentations in political ads.

Sam Gold, who worked for former U.S. Rep. Scott Klug, a Madison Republican, and managed Republican John Sharpless' 2000 campaign against current Dem incumbent U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, said the sheriff's department told him it was unsure if it had jurisdiction in the case.

Read Gold's press release announcing the complaint

UPDATE: ABC News' Jake Tapper says the Missouri 'truth squad' story referenced by Gold has since been "dial(ed) back" by the reporter who initially reported on it.
Republicans -- led by the Governor of Missouri and the Republican National Committee -- are alleging that there is something untoward about the "Truth Squad" the Obama campaign has set up in the "Show Me" State. The problem, these Republicans say, is that these "Truth Squad" members are prosecutors and sheriffs with law enforcement powers, thus creating an atmosphere where Missourians might be afraid of being prosecuted for criticizing Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

There is no evidence, however, that these prosecutors are threatening to use their prosecutorial powers in such a way.

And despite GOP complaints that the mere presence of prosecutors on the "Truth Squad" could intimidate Obama's critics, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have used prosecutors on their "Truth Squads" too, prompting no complaints from the GOP at the time.
Read Tapper's piece for more


Monday, October 6, 2008

MN, WI, MI: Hoyer takes swing through Midwest states

6:13 PM

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is on a Midwest trip to boost Democratic congressional candidates. He's in Minnesota today and plans to visit Wisconsin and Michigan on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Today Hoyer is hostiing a fundraiser in Minneapolis for Ashwin Madia. Tuesday morning Hoyer will headline a fundraiser for Rep. Tim Walz in Minneapolis.

That afternoon, he'll travel to Milwaukee for a fundraiser for Rep. Steve Kagenbefore visiting Michigan to host a fundraiser with Gary Peters and attend a roundtable with undecided voters that is open to the press.

Wednesday morning Leader Hoyer will attend a fundraiser for Mark Schauer in Kalamazoo, Michigan and return to Washington in the afternoon.


OH, MN, MI: NRA on the air with anti-Obama ads

6:01 PM

From Marc Ambinder:
The NRA begins phase two of its anti-Obama advertising campaign today. The ads take on Obama's gun confiscation record. The tagline: "Defend Freedom. Defeat Obama." They're air in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota and Michigan. Spanish language versions of the ad will air in New Mexico and Colorado.
Visit Ambinder's blog for video of the ad


MI: Ruffini questions McCain's move out of Michigan

4:36 PM

Patrick Ruffini, a high-profile conservative online activist and former Bush-Cheney webmaster, thinks John McCain's campaign is miscalculating by pulling out of Michigan in favor of states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
The McCain withdrawal from Michigan was done ostensibly to redirect resources to more winnable states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But is Michigan really the weakest of these three states? ...

I won't lie. All three states are extremely uphill at the moment. But I could make a case for dropping Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa long before I'd make the case for Michigan.

I have put together a spreadsheet showing where McCain should stand in all swing states given national polling and the 2004 baseline. Michigan is one of the two states where McCain is performing strongest relative to 2004 if you compare the polling averages to the expected outcome. The other is New Hampshire. ...

Michigan carries more symbolic import than a Wisconsin or Minnesota, which haven't gone Republican since 1984 and 1972 respectively. It is home to "bitter" America and doesn't have much of a progressive streak. The consquences of pulling out could be to demoralize the troops nationally, not just in one state.
Read Ruffini's full post for more analysis


MI, WI: NBC analysis slides states to Obama column

1:07 PM

NBC's political team has moved Michigan and Wisconsin from toss-up status to "lean Obama" in its latest analysis of the electoral map. Here's where the states line up:

Likely Obama: IL
Lean Obama: IA, MI, MN, WI
Toss-up: OH

From NBC's First Read
Per our map, to reach 270, Obama has to hold on to the Kerry states -- winning New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin -- and pick up just one more state other than Nevada (which would get him to 269 and send the election to the House). Here's McCain's challenge: If he's unable to turn a blue state red, then he has to win EVERY SINGLE Toss-up to get to 270. It's doable, but it's also the poker equivalent of drawing an inside straight.


MI, WI, MN, IA, OH: NYT says slowing economy helping Obama in Midwest

9:14 AM

A New York Times piece says the struggling economy is changing the electoral battleground in favor of Barack Obama. The piece cites several Midwestern states, including Michigan, as evidence:
Mr. Obama has what both sides describe as serious efforts under way in at least nine states that voted for President Bush in 2004, including some that neither side thought would be on the table this close to Election Day. ...

By contrast, Mr. McCain is vigorously competing in just four states where Democrats won in 2004: Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, followed by Wisconsin and Minnesota. His decision last week to pull out of Michigan reflected in part the challenge that the declining economy has created for Republicans, given that they have held the White House for the last eight years.

"One of the biggest economic anxieties that people have is the cost of health care," said Gov. James E. Doyle of Wisconsin, a Democrat in a state where Mr. McCain is making a strong challenge to Mr. Obama. "There is a great deal of uneasiness."

Mr. McCain's advisers said that more than anything, it was the bad economy in Michigan, staggered by declining sales of American-made automobiles, that convinced them they had no hope of winning a state that once had been high on their list of targets. ...

Mr. Obama is making a sustained effort to capture from the Republican column Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.


Friday, October 3, 2008

MI: Independent news site sued over foreclosed voter story

6:23 PM

From Talking Points Memo:
A Republican official in Michigan has filed a defamation suit against an independent news site, over a story in which he is quoted as stating his party plans to challenge voters whose names and addresses appear on foreclosure lists. ...

CIM president and CEO David Bennahum told TPMmuckraker this morning that they had not yet received a copy of the suit, but said that CIM stands by the story and the reporter.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

MI, MN, WI: McCain leaves Michigan as Minnesota and Wisconsin become focal points

6:08 PM

The Politico's Jonathan Martin reports:
John McCain is pulling out of Michigan, according to two Republicans, a stunning move a month away from Election Day that indicates the difficulty Republicans are having in finding blue states to put in play.

McCain will go off TV in Michigan, stop dropping mail there and send most of his staff to more competitive states, including Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida. Wisconsin went for Kerry in 2004, Ohio and Florida for Bush. ... A McCain event planned for next week in Plymouth, Michigan, has been canceled.
Meanwhile another Politico reporter, Mike Allen, says Minnesota and Wisconsin are two of McCain's three key targets now:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) now must win Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Minnesota in order to get enough electoral votes to win the presidency, his campaign says.

Those were considered swing states in 2000 and 2004, but George W. Bush lost them both times.

"Our ability to pick off one of those three states is where our fortunes are largely held," a McCain official said. "These are states where Barack Obama is on the defense."


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