By: Jennifer Bendery, Huffingtonpost.com | Photo: Scott Senne, AP
WASHINGTON — Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) caused a stir on Thursday by saying that President Barack Obama had sent over a new fiscal cliff proposal to Senate Republican leaders — a key development that nobody else had heard about.
“Heading back to dc. Just learned that the Pres. reached out to Senate GOP leadership with a proposal. It is the first such proposal to be put forth. Eager to see why it is. How it is serious,” Brown wrote on his Facebook page.
He tweeted shortly after, “Getting on place to DC to review plan from Pres. We will see. Better late than never.”
But it turned out that Brown’s scoop wasn’t breaking news. It wasn’t even true.
White House officials and aides to Senate Republican and Democratic leaders all said Brown’s claim was inaccurate, noting there is no new proposal on the table and nothing has changed in the standoff over a fiscal deal. Those same officials also shot down a CNN report that mirrored Brown’s comments.
“This sounds like an over-interpretation of our readout of the President’s call,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), referring to a phone call between Obama and Hill leaders on Wednesday night. “While we’re expecting Democrats to finally act, I don’t have a specific time frame.”
A Brown spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on what the Massachusetts senator was talking about.
Whatever it was, it’s not the first time Brown has shown a penchant for exaggeration during his brief time as a senator.
He claimed in May 2011 that he had seen the photo of a dead Osama Bin Laden, which he later said was a fake and that he had been duped. In a radio appearance in June 2012, he claimed to have held “secret meetings with kings and queens and prime ministers.” His spokesman initially stood by the comment before saying that he misspoke. During a Senate debate last October, Brown said he had “served in Afghanistan,” referring to a two-week stint as part of National Guard training.
UPDATE: Brown spokeswoman Marcie Kinzel said the senator’s comments were in response to an email that McConnell sent to Senate Republicans Thursday morning with an update on fiscal cliff matters.
“Senator Brown was simply posting information he had received from Minority Leader McConnell that he took to be good news about efforts to avert the fiscal cliff,” Kinzel said.
Kinzel provided an excerpt of McConnell’s email. While it may have been a stretch for Brown to announce that Obama was sending over a new proposal to Senate Republicans on Thursday, McConnell did say that “serious talks” on a fiscal deal could begin Thursday, depending on what the president planned to put on the table.
Here’s what McConnell wrote:
“Last night, the President called me to say he would finally be proposing a package to avoid the cliff and I agreed to review it. The President is the first Democrat to reach out to at least propose legislation.As you probably read, the House leadership is of the view that they are not going to act before the Senate does. If the President has a serious proposal, one that might garner bipartisan support, then serious talks with the Administration will likely start today and I will keep you filled in when you all get in to town.”
Luke Johnson contributed reporting.
By: Aaron Blake – Washington Post
We have been documenting for a few days how Obama has consistently risen in polls of swing states — in many of them by several points — to the point where Romney trails basically everywhere that matters.
And everyone, it seems, wants to blame it on Romney.
But as much as Romney might have hurt himself in recent weeks with his stumbles (read: Libya, “47 percent”), it’s also clear that the inverse has been happening: Obama, to some extent, has regained his own mojo. And he’s crossed a pretty significant threshold in doing so.
As GOP12′s Christian Heinze notes this morning, nine of 13 national polls conducted this month have shown Obama cracking 50 percent approval, compared to just one poll in August. Even Gallup’s daily tracking poll, which had shown Obama’s approval rating dropping into the 40′s again after his post-convention bounce, today has him at 51 percent approval.
It has been a long time since Obama has earned the approval of half of Americans. In the five-month period between April 1 and Aug. 31, according to Real Clear Politics, only six nonpartisan polls (out of four dozen) showed Obama cracking 50 percent.
And really, there is no more important number in this election (including the unemployment rate) than a 50 percent approval rating.
For the Obama campaign, this race has been all about whether it could turn a referendum on his presidency into a choice between him and Romney — whether it could convince swing voters who may not be happy with him that Romney would be a worse option.
If Obama’s approval is 50 percent or above, though, that’s kind of a moot point.
If half of Americans approve of the job that Obama is doing, then the only thing that would prevent him from getting their votes is if his opponent was even more attractive.
With Romney, that’s not likely to be an issue. Romney’s favorably rating has rarely risen above the mid-40′s, which means that there really aren’t many people who like both Obama and Romney and would be torn between the two.
It’s very rare for a president — or any politician, really — to lose with an approval rating above 50 percent. Since World War II, no president with 50 percent approval has lost re-election, and George W. Bush and Harry Truman won reelection even though they were slightly under 50 percent on Election Day.
It’s not exactly clear what’s responsible for the uptick in Obama’s approval rating, but polling suggests that he’s closed the gap with Romney when it comes to who people trust to handle the economy. If, in fact, Obama’s has restored some confidence in his economic stewardship — whether at the Democratic National Convention or elsewhere — that basically negates the major strike against his presidency and his candidacy.
Obama’s approval rating will change by Election Day, but if it somehow manages to stay above 50 percent, it’s hard to see what Romney’s path to victory is.
Obama’s rebounding approval rating — even in the face of continued bad economic news — is an undersold part of the current narrative in the 2012 campaign.
By: Chris Cillizza, Washington Post – September 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm
As we have noted before, Romney’s financial life as a very wealthy person is significantly more exotic than the average person he needs to vote for him; that he made almost $14 million in 2011 (and $21 million in 2010) without drawing any salary is all the confirmation you need of that fact.
So, as soon as the Romney team made the strategic decision during the Republican primary process to hold the line on releasing no more than two past years of returns prior to the general election, they knew this day would come — a day when Democrats would get a chance to sift through a window into his full financial portfolio for evidence that the caricature they have painted of him (rich, entitled businessman) was right.
All the Romney campaign could control was when that day came. They chose today. But why?
Ask the campaign and, even when offered anonymity to speak candidly, top aides to Romney insist the returns were finished and signed by Romney yesterday and filed today, making today the obvious day to release them.
Of course, if you believe the calculation of when to drop the 2011 returns — as well as a summary of the past 20 years of tax rates the Romneys paid — was entirely without political motive then we have a bridge to sell you.
There’s a number of reasons for why Romney chose today to swallow this uncomfortable political pill — some logistical but mostly strategic.
First, the logistical. Romney had said previously he would release his 2011 return before the Oct. 15 deadline and before the first general election presidential debate, which is set for Oct. 3. This release meets both of those criteria.
Now, for the strategic.
1. It’s Friday: The phrase “Friday news dump” has not become common parlance in Washington political news circles by accident. The reality of human nature — and, yes, we are including reporters in that “human” category — is that our attention span starts to wane as the weekend approaches. The story will get less attention late today than it would have on, say, a Tuesday morning. Fact.
2. It’s already been a bad week: Romney’s “47 percent” secret video comments ensured that the Republican presidential nominee had already lost this week on the big political scoreboard. (Heck, Romney had already won the Fix’s “Worst Week in Washington” before the news of the tax return release broke this afternoon.) Political strategy 101 dictates that the best time to dump other bad new — at least in terms of political impact — is when things already are going badly so that it all gets wrapped into a single big story and you can then move on. Will Romney’s tax returns be talked about on the Sunday chat show circuit? Absolutely. But is that any worse from a political perspective than those same Sunday shows being dominated by chatter about why Romney hasn’t run a better campaign? Bad is bad. There are few gradations politically between bad and really bad.
3. The first debate is 12 days away: If Romney had waited to release his 2011 returns until, say, next Friday the first debate would be just 5 days away — ensuring that there would be some (extended) discussion of them in it. And that’s not what Romney wants. By releasing them today, it allows almost two weeks to pass before the debate, an amount of time that lets the GOP nominee dismiss the story as “old news” if and when Obama or one of the debate moderators brings it up.
The best case scenario for Romney on his tax returns (and his wealth more broadly) is that it takes up a single news cycle as people process the data in it and then move on. By dropping the 2011 return on a Friday afternoon, the Romney team is hoping that by Monday morning the political world has had its fill of the story and is back to talking about the economy and President Obama’s handling of it.
Let’s see if they’re right.