NYT: President Obama skipped dessert at a long summit meeting dinner in Cambodia on Monday to rush back to his hotel suite. It was after 11:30 p.m., and his mind was on rockets in Gaza rather than Asian diplomacy. He picked up the telephone to call the Egyptian leader who is the new wild card in his Middle East calculations.
Over the course of the next 25 minutes, he and President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt hashed through ways to end the latest eruption of violence, a conversation that would lead Mr. Obama to send Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the region. As he and Mr. Morsi talked, Mr. Obama felt they were making a connection. Three hours later, at 2:30 in the morning, they talked again.
…. The White House phone log tells part of the tale. Mr. Obama talked with Mr. Morsi three times within 24 hours and six times over the course of several days, an unusual amount of one-on-one time for a president. Mr. Obama told aides he was impressed with the Egyptian leader’s pragmatic confidence. He sensed an engineer’s precision with surprisingly little ideology. Most important, Mr. Obama told aides that he considered Mr. Morsi a straight shooter who delivered on what he promised and did not promise what he could not deliver.
President Obama talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel during a phone call from his hotel suite in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 19 (Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, aboard Air Force One during the flight from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Washington, D.C., Nov. 20. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon listens at right. (Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in the Oval Office, Nov. 21. Chief of Staff Jack Lew, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough listen in the foreground. (Pete Souza)
10:25: Delivers remarks at Capitol Square, Concord
11:50: Departs Manchester, New Hampshire
2:50: Arrives Hollywood, Florida
3:40: Delivers remarks at McArthur High School, Hollywood
5:0: Departs Hollywood
7:10: Arrives Cincinnati, Ohio
7:55: Delivers remarks at 5th/3rd Arena, Cincinnati
9:10: Departs Cincinnati
9:50: Arrives Aurora, Colorado
10:25: Delivers remarks at Community College of Aurora at Lowry
11:30: Departs Aurora
Monday: The President will travel to Madison, Wisconsin and Columbus, Ohio for campaign events. In the afternoon, the President and the First Lady will travel to Des Moines, Iowa for a campaign event. In the evening, they will travel to Chicago where they will remain overnight.
Tuesday: The First Family will spend Election day in Chicago.
Wednesday: The First Family will return to Washington, DC.
NYT Editorial: …. The truth is that Mr. Obama was right when he talked about “real progress” in the economy during a campaign swing in Ohio, where the state unemployment rate has declined from 8.6 percent a year ago to 7 percent recently. Republican obstructionism has made it much harder to achieve the improvement we have seen, but it has failed in its seeming intent to ensure stagnation.
That left Mr. Romney flailing around for a response. His proclamation that the economy was at a “virtual standstill” is believable only if you adopt Mr. Romney’s denial of stark reality. A candidate who could ignore Chrysler’s announcement of 1,100 new jobs in Toledo and claim that Chrysler was moving jobs to China can just as easily see a flat line in an upward trend.
…. Republicans have been determined to keep the economy as weak as possible to hurt Mr. Obama’s campaign. The Republicans’ last-minute tactic has been a cynical one — to make it clear that they will continue obstructing Mr. Obama if he wins. That is a hollow argument for Mr. Romney. And it does not change the fact that Mr. Romney has no good ideas and Mr. Obama has plenty.
… Disaster coordination is one of the most vital functions of “big government,” which is why Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it….
…. FEMA, created by President Jimmy Carter, was elevated to cabinet rank in the Bill Clinton administration, but was then demoted by President George W. Bush, who neglected it, subsumed it into the Department of Homeland Security, and placed it in the control of political hacks. The disaster of Hurricane Katrina was just waiting to happen.
The agency was put back in working order by President Obama, but ideology still blinds Republicans to its value. Many don’t like the idea of free aid for poor people, or they think people should pay for their bad decisions, which this week includes living on the East Coast.
Over the last two years, Congressional Republicans have forced a 43 percent reduction in the primary FEMA grants that pay for disaster preparedness ….
….. Those in Hurricane Sandy’s path are fortunate that, for now, [Romney’s] ideology has not replaced sound policy.
10:10: President Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at Delray Beach, Florida
11:0: VP Biden delivers remarks at a campaign event on the campus of the University of Toledo, Ohio
3:50: The President and VP Biden hold a rally at Triangle Park in Dayton, Ohio
NYT Editorial: Mitt Romney has nothing really coherent or substantive to say about domestic policy, but at least he can sound energetic and confident about it. On foreign policy, the subject of Monday night’s final presidential debate, he had little coherent to say and often sounded completely lost. That’s because he has no original ideas of substance on most world issues, including Syria, Iran and Afghanistan.
…. At his worst, Mr. Romney sounded like a beauty pageant contestant groping for an answer to the final question. “We want a peaceful planet,” he said. “We want people to be able to enjoy their lives and know they’re going to have a bright and prosperous future and not be at war.”
…. Mr. Romney’s problem is that he does not actually have any real ideas on foreign policy beyond what President Obama has already done, or plans to do…
…. Mr. Romney’s closing statement summed it all up. He said almost nothing about foreign policy. He moved back to his comfort zone: cheerfully delivered disinformation about domestic policy.
Steve Benen: The Blowout in Boca …. CBS polled undecided voters again last night, and found Obama winning this debate by 30 points.
…. I not only thought the president excelled last night, I think Romney very nearly embarrassed himself. After six years of campaigning for the nation’s highest office, asking voters to make him the leader of the free world, the former one-term governor conveyed an unnerving message to the nation in the year’s final debate: he neither knows nor cares about international affairs. As a New York Times editorial noted, Romney at times “sounded like a beauty pageant contestant groping for an answer to the final question.”
Greg Sargent: …. Tonight, America was introduced to Peacenik Mitt — and watched him take a pummeling….
Romney didn’t take many of the shots he was expected to take — while Obama landed a number of very hard blows on Romney early on. Obama got right to his core message: We got Bin Laden, and we’re ending Bush’s war … Oddly, Romney again and again supported Obama’s positions, at one point basically acknowledging that Obama had made it clear that the United States has Israel’s back.
…. Perhaps most important, Obama repeatedly connected his insistence on fiscal sanity on defense, and savings from drawing down the Bush wars, to the need to invest in nation building at home. In other words, Obama successfully connected tonight’s debate over foreign policy to his core domestic policy message about the imperative of investing in long term middle class security. I don’t know how much tonight will change the race, if at all, but my bet is polls in the days ahead will show stronger public preference for Obama’s overall vision.
LA Times: …. Monday’s presidential debate featured a forceful and articulate defense of Obama’s foreign policy. That was no surprise. What was surprising was that it came from Romney.
…. Once Romney intimated that he might keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan past NATO’s 2014 deadline. No more. Now he agrees with Obama that it is feasible to transfer combat responsibilities to the Afghans by that point. On Iran, Romney emphasized economic sanctions rather than the threat of a military attack, effectively endorsing Obama’s approach…..
… Romney dusted off his canard that the president had conducted an “apology tour” through the Middle East. To be clear: Obama has not apologized for American influence; every time Romney says otherwise, he reinforces the many reasons to distrust his honesty.
…. If Romney believes in a thoughtful and centrist foreign policy, which he hadn’t until Monday night, it would argue for his candidacy. But if that vision is attractive — and it is — why not stick with the president who is already pursuing it?
President Barack Obama waves from the Colonnade to visitors as they tour the White House grounds and gardens, Oct. 19, 2012. Members of the public were invited to tour the grounds as part of the 2012 White House Fall Garden Tours. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
NYT: If Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, were to win next month’s election, the harm to women’s reproductive rights would extend far beyond the borders of the United States.
In this country, they would support the recriminalization of abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and they would limit access to contraception and other services. But they have also promised to promote policies abroad that would affect millions of women in the world’s poorest countries, where lack of access to contraception, prenatal care and competent help at childbirth often results in serious illness and thousands of deaths yearly. And the wreckage would begin on Day 1 of a Romney administration.
….. House Republicans want to cut the nation’s investment in international family planning severely. Mr. Romney’s record of bending to suit the most extreme elements of the Republican Party suggests that he may well go along on this critical issue as well.
NYT: Three leading Democratic “super PACs” raised more money in September than in any other month this election cycle, officials said, underscoring the growing willingness of wealthy Democrats to bankroll groups whose existence they had long opposed.
Priorities USA Action, the group backing President Obama, will report raising $15.2 million in September, thanks in part to aggressive fund-raising by party leaders like former President Bill Clinton and Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago. The group has already reserved millions of dollars in advertising for the closing weeks of the campaign.
Majority PAC, which supports Senate Democrats, raised $10.4 million in September and has brought in an additional $9.7 million through mid-October, officials announced on Friday, a period during which the party’s chances of holding a majority in the chamber appeared to be improving. House Majority PAC, the Congressional Democrats’ super PAC arm, raised $5.9 million, a figure the group said it was on pace to double this month.
The Journal Times: Celia Poole was outside Memorial Hall at 4:15 a.m. Friday waiting to get inside to see first lady Michelle Obama. When the doors opened at 10:30 a.m. she was one of the first inside and she was followed by approximately 2,500 more people.
…. So many people were inside that approximately 400 people were directed to the hall’s basement, where they were told they could hear the first lady but there was no video screen to see her.
But the first lady did not ignore those supporters. Even before she went up to the main floor and started talking to the crowd there, she went downstairs.
Linetta Davis, 38, an 8th grade teacher from Milwaukee who was in the basement, said it meant a lot for Obama to go downstairs. “With all the political discussion going on right now, it’s easy to feel overlooked,” Davis said, “but for the first lady to be aware people were downstairs and to acknowledge them meant a lot.” If she had been on the fence about who to vote for, she said that would have been a turning point for her.
Wausau Daily Herald: …. The first lady appealed to the crowd — 980 people, plus 600 more in an overflow room — at Friday’s rally to vote early, when early voting starts Monday. And she asked the audience to encourage others to vote for her husband, noting that an election can be decided by just a few votes in each ward.