“If You Want to be President, You Owe the American People the Truth!”

I was among the bloggers and journalists who participated in a conference call this morning with David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior advisor. About Mitt Romney’s debate performance he said it was “Well-delivered, but fraudulent…We’ll hold [him] accountable for the things he said… and make him justify those claims.” The president held a spirited rally before leaving Denver today. Here’s a 7-minute video of his talk and then a transcript of it.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Now, the reason I was in Denver obviously is to see all of you, and it’s always pretty, but we also had our first debate last night. And when I got on to the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that. The real Mitt Romney said we don’t need any more teachers in our classrooms, but -don’t boo, vote – but the fellow on stage last night, he loves teachers, can’t get enough of them. The Mitt Romney we all know invested in companies that were called pioneers of outsourcing jobs to other countries, but the guy on stage last night, he said that he doesn’t even know that there are such laws that encourage outsourcing. He’s never heard of them. Never heard of them. Never heard of tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas. He said that if it’s true, he must need a new accountant. Now, we know for sure it was not the real Mitt Romney because he seems to be doing just fine with his current accountant. So you see, the man on stage last night, he does not want to be held accountable for their real Mitt Romney’s decisions and what he’s been saying for the last year and that’s because he knows full well that we don’t want what he’s been selling for the last year. So Governor Romney may dance around his positions, but if you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth. So here’s the truth – Governor Romney cannot pay for his $5 trillion tax plan without blowing up the deficit or sticking it to the middle class. That’s the math. We can’t afford to go down that road again. We can’t afford another round of budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy. We can’t afford to gut out investments in education or clean energy or research and technology. We can’t afford to roll back regulations on Wall Street or on big oil companies or insurance companies. We cannot afford to double down on the same top-down economic policies that got us into this mess. That is not a plan to create jobs, that is not a plan to grow the economy, that is not change, that is a relapse. We don’t want to go back there. We’ve tried it, it didn’t work and we are not going back, we are going forward.

Now, I’ve got a different view about how we create jobs and prosperity. This country doesn’t succeed when we only see the rich getting richer. We succeed when the middle class gets bigger. We grow our economy not from the top down, but from the middle out. We don’t believe that anybody’s entitled to success in this country, but we do believe in something called opportunity. We believe in a country where hard work pays off and where responsibility is rewarded and everybody’s getting a fair shot and everybody’s doing their fair share and everybody plays by the same rules. That’s the country we believe in. That’s what I’m fighting for, that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States, and that’s why I want your vote.

AUDIENCE: Four more years!

PRESIDENT OBAMA: What I talked about last night was a new economic patriotism, a patriotism that’s rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong, thriving middle class. That means we export more jobs and we outsource – export more products and outsource fewer jobs. You know, over the last three years we came together to reinvent a dying auto industry that’s back on top of the world. We’ve created more than half a million new manufacturing jobs. And so now you’ve got a choice. We can keep giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, or we can start rewarding companies that are opening new plants and training new workers and creating jobs right here in the United States of America. That’s what we’re looking for. We can help big factories and small businesses double their exports and create a  million new manufacturing jobs over the next four years. You can make that happen. I want to control more of our own energy. You know, after 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, your cars and trucks will be going twice as far on a gallon of gas. We’ve doubled the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. The United States of America today is less dependent on foreign oil than any time in the last two decades. So now you’ve got a choice between a plant that reverses this progress or one that builds on it. You know, last night my opponent says he refuses to close the loophole that gives big oil companies $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies every year. Now, we’ve got a better plan where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal and the good jobs that come with them, where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and our trucks, where construction workers are retrofitting homes and factories so they waste less energy, and we can develop a hundred-year supply of natural gas that creates hundreds of thousands of jobs and, by the way, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020. That will be good for our economy, that will be good for our environment, that will be good for Colorado, that will be good for America, that’s what we’re fighting for, that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.

Who “Cares About Your Needs and Problems”?

While Romney evidently gained more from the first debate, this CBS poll shows President Obama still holds edge on the question of who “Cares About Your Needs and Problems”.

Big Poll Margin Growing for PBO in NH?

This could be an outlier poll, but wow: President Obama is up 52-37 in New Hampshire–according to the latest survey from WMUR, the most widely viewed TV station in the Granite State. Even if 15% makes it an outlier, they’re must be something working very well for the president there right now. I suspect it’s the recent ads the Obama campaign has fashioned from Mitt’s disastrous 47% remarks, like this spot, for which all the words are supplied by Mitt, against the moneyed sound of cutlery colliding with crockery during the meal eaten by the Repub candidates’ wealthy donors. In counterpoint to the aural part of the ad, all the graphics and visuals are skillfully supplied by the president’s ad-makers.

Nov. 6 Can’t Come Soon Enough–for Republicans

Ordinarily, the leading candidate in a campaign wants election day to come as soon as possible. In most years, this axiom would suggest the DEMs and President Obama wish November 6 were tomorrow. While that may still be the case, to a degree, I see another dynamic possibly at play right now.

Judging by the way several Republican Senate candidates–think of Tommy Thompson (WI), Richard Mourdock (IN), Connie Mack (FL), and Josh Mandel (OH)–are seeing their support collapse and/or remain anemic, I think the Repub establishment wishes the big day were this Tuesday, instead of the Tuesday six weeks from now. They would almost certainly lose the presidential election if it were held this week, but this would at least limit their congressional losses. Instead, with Mitt Romney currently veering from bad to worse in national and state polling, there is an increasingly probability that DEMs will retain or increase their Senate majority. Lurking behind this scenario is the one that until now has been spoken of by only a few pundits, while remaining unmentioned–if not unthinkable–for national Republicans: they could also lose their House majority.

I know that the 2010 congressional redistricting done in many states was designed by Republican partisans to make the possibility of losing their House majority extremely remote, but if Romney does poorly in the debates and if his support tops off in the mid-40%s, and if Republican voters see him as a national embarrassment and become demoralized about voting, a big DEM wave really could build over the next month.

All of this is conjecture, of course, and I’ll quickly concede that the outcome of the presidential election is itself far from certain. Still, with many observers pointing out that pressure is growing on Romney and his advisors to try to force a ‘game-changing’ moment in the first debate, it strikes me at least as probable that clumsy Mitt may over-step or over-react to something said by  President Obama or the moderator. Remember how they over-reacted to the tragic news from Libya a few weeks ago? Mitt thought he had a political opportunity there too, and look how that turned out in political terms–a disaster for Mitt and Republicans.

As to the current polling mentioned above, click on the adjacent screenshot of a Sept. 24th blog post from Taegan Goddard’s, with six swing state polls, or visit Taegan’s site for more of his comprehensive coverage:

Why Mitt’s Tax Summary Doesn’t Cut the Mustard

The Obama campaign views Mitt’s 2011 tax return, and the summary of returns from 1990-2009–released late this afternoon–quite skeptically. That’s no surprise, of course.  But, by providing only a summary for the bulk of years included, with a total average about what tax rate he paid over those 20 years–the Romney camp claims 20.20%–we can’t  determine how the number was arrived at. As Greg Sargent points on the Plum Line,

“The way [the Romney Camp did it] obscures the fact that [his] income may have fluctuated quite markedly from year to year. If Romney paid his lowest rates in a number of the higher income years, the overall 20 percent figure would overstate the rate he actually paid over the whole period. [Roberton] Williams, [a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center], provided the following purely hypothetical example:

‘Let’s say you have 10 years in which you paid 13 percent in taxes, and 10 years in which you paid 27 percent. . . . If you average those rates, you’ll get an overall rate of 20 percent. But if the 13 percent years were high income years, and the 27 percent years were low income years, then his total taxes paid as a share of total income over the 20 years would be less, perhaps significantly less, than 20 percent.’ 

Yet in that scenario, the Romney campaign would be claiming, by its chosen metric, to have paid 20 percent. How realistic is it that Romney could have had far higher income some years than others?

‘You can be a person like Romney and have a highly fluctuating income year to year,’ Williams said. ‘Some years Romney’s income could be much lower than in other years. When you average just the rates, you can distort the rate you’ve paid relative to your income over the whole period.’

Williams concluded: ‘The only way we can know for sure what rate he actually paid is to see what his tax payment and his income was for each of the 20 years.’”

With that truth for context, I suggest the Obama campaign’s statement packs a potent punch, one that DEMs and the media ought to ask on the Romney tax issue (italics added are mine):

“Today’s release of Mitt Romney’s 2011 tax returns confirms what we already knew – that people like Mitt Romney pay a lower tax rate than many middle class families because of a set of complex loopholes and tax shelters only available to those at the top. Yet, Mitt Romney still wants to give multi-millionaires an additional $250,000 tax cut at the expense of middle class taxpayers who will see their taxes go up. While the tax return for the one year released today continues to mask Romney’s true wealth and income from Bain Capital, leaving the American people in the dark about critical details about his finances, it does confirm that he continues to profit from millions of dollars invested overseas. These types of investments, the use of tax loopholes, and the resort to foreign blocker corporations enabling him to reduce his U.S. tax obligations, all raise basic and still unanswered question – why does Mitt Romney not just release the full returns, instead of the bare summary he has provided of the last 20 years, so voters can make their own judgments about Mitt Romney’s finances? As Mitt Romney’s father said, candidates should release several years of returns, because one year could be a fluke. President Obama, Vice President Biden and nearly every other candidate in recent memory has met that test, but Mitt Romney continues to fail it.”

“Con-text” is Everything

Via, a satirical take on the Romney campaign’s continuing penchant, from the beginning of the year, for quoting snippets of remarks by President Obama, and then trying to make a big deal out of the distorted meaning. It was seen again today, once it was proven that the big deal Romney’s been trying to make over remarks that  Illinois State Senator Barack Obama made in 1998 about “redistribution” were really innocuous, and balanced with mentioned of “competition” and “the marketplace.” This bit of campaign skullduggery, quickly exposed by NBC, earned 4 Pinocchios from Glenn Kessler, fact-checker at the Washington Post.

Here, the Obama camp turns the tables and with a wink, knowingly–admittedly–takes Mitt out of context to show how nakedly dishonest his campaign really is. I found it quite funny. If the video has a name, it must be titled, “Con-text.” I like the way the DEMs are ridiculing and mocking Mitt. He is a joke, after all.

Mitt Still Using Coal Miners as Campaign Props

You may recall that a few weeks ago, I posted a blog entry, “Mitt & His Minions Sticking it to Coal Miners,” on the fact that on August 14 coal miners in Beallsville, Ohio had been compelled by their employer, Murray Energy–a company whose executives it was also revealed have contributed more than $900,000 to Republicans in the past two years–to attend a pro-Romney rally, and were docked their pay. Murray’s spox tried to deny that miners had been forced to attend the event, and offered this bizarre Orwellian statement: “Attendance was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.” The Romney campaign used the rally for photo ops like the picture accompanying this post.

Now, TPM is reporting, as is the Columbus Dispatch, that the Romney campaign has released two new TV ads, again using the rally with the miners as the backdrop for their bogus claims that the Obama administration is “waging a war on coal.” I can’t imagine the ads are going to do their campaign much good, with them inevitably trailed by reports of the tainted rally at the coal mine.

Please note a few more things about Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy.

1) He is a vociferous denier of global warming who claims that scientists are trying to make money off climate change.  That’s rich–a guy who’s made his own fortune digging and shipping coal is accusing other folks of trying to cash in on cleaning up his mess. Think Progress’s Stephen Lacey has reported Murray said:

“The fraudulent individuals around the world who have attempted to capitalize on the promotion of their theory that the Earth is warming are now finding out that it’s just not true. . . . They did it for what I call crony capitalism – to make money off global warming. . . . Albert Gore has made hundreds of millions of dollars over his hoax, and now they’re finding it’s simply not true.”

2) In the same item, Stephen Lacey reports,

“Murray Energy is perhaps best known for operating the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah that collapsed in 2007, killing six miners and two rescue personnel. After that tragedy, reporters uncovered thousands of violations resulting in millions of dollars in fines at various mines owned by the company.”

3) According to an item by media reporter Jim Romenesko, last month Bob Murray sued Charleston Gazette (WV) reporter journalist  Ken Ward, Jr. for supposedly defaming him. Ward had written:

“’Renegade coal operator Bob Murray played a major role recently in a campaign fundraiser in Wheeling, W.Va., for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’” and that ‘the question for Governor Romney, of course, is whether he thinks criminal behavior by coal companies, especially when it kills workers and damages the environment, is acceptable. If not, why is he buddies with Bob Murray?’”

I hope Ken Ward, Jr., and his newspaper don’t have to spend a fortune in defense of his First Amendment rights.

Mainstream Anchors & Pundits Dump on Mitt

The DNC didn’t have to work very hard to find scathing criticism of Mitt Romney’s 47 per cent remarks, but what’s remarkable in this 2-minute mash-up of the best, er, worst commentary about the incident is who’s speaking and who’s cited. This is not an MSNBC roll call: Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams, David Brooks, John King, Anne Kornblut, are all included in the video below, and David Gergen, who on a CNN panel with Ari Fleischer and Fareed Zakaria, says, “It’s almost oafish for someone who has a bank account in the Cayman Islands to reduce taxes to criticize someone who’s in need. . . . It’s not just this comment. It’s a pattern, a series of statements over time. Americans tend to create a circle in their mind of people inside that circle, of people who would make a credible, comfortable president, someone they could see in that office. I think this pattern of statements is increasingly placing Mitt Romney outside that circle.”