Candidates will try to avoid mistakes, win swing voters

Published: Tuesday, October 02, 2012 @ 6:45 PM
Updated: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 @ 7:24 AM

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We will have coverage of the debate in Thursday’s newspaper. On Friday, we’ll examine the accuracy of what the candidates said. On Sunday, we’ll have a roundtable discussion with local voters about the debate.

We all remember those moments: President George H.W. Bush glancing at his watch in 1992; Vice President Richard Nixon’s sweaty face and loose shirt collar in 1960, Vice President Al Gore’s long sighs in 2000 and Texas Gov. Rick Perry in November 2011 trying in vain to remember what cabinet department he wanted to eliminate.

Those are just a few of the debate blunders etched in the public’s memory that both President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will try to avoid tonight in the first of three presidential debates that could decide one of the most contentious elections in American history.

“It only takes one mistake or one extraordinary comment before some important people re-evaluate the race,’’ said Nathan L. Gonzales, deputy editor of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report in Washington. “A majority of Americans don’t have to change their minds based on the debates. We’re talking a few swing voters in a few swing states.’’

Both candidates enter tonight’s debate with competing objectives. Obama will try to poke holes in Romney’s plans to overhaul Medicare and the tax code, while Romney has an opportunity to persuade undecided voters that he has a plan to ignite the nation’s sluggish economy.

“No matter how the campaign downplays it, it is a very important night for Mitt Romney and his campaign,’’ said Curt Steiner, a Republican consultant in Columbus. “There is a potential for a brand new ballgame at this stage and while the Romney campaign is down by a touchdown, there is still plenty of time left.’’

Dan Birdsong, a lecturer of political science at the University of Dayton, said that Obama’s “challenge is not to remind people, but solidify with people that what he’s been trying to do is the right course and that things are turning around, albeit slowly.’’

Unlike the Democratic and Republican conventions this year — which failed to generate massive TV audiences — the presidential debates tend to attract millions of viewers.

More than 63 million people watched the second debate in 2008 between Obama and Republican presidential nominee John McCain while 62.5 million watched the first debate in 2004 between President George W. Bush and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

Yet even with huge audiences and the networks endlessly replaying in the following days any mistakes committed by the candidates, some are convinced that presidential debates are simply not that decisive in deciding the outcome of an election.

They point to Nixon’s dreadful appearance in the first of four debates with Democrat John F. Kennedy in 1960. Three physicians at the time told reporters Nixon looked as if he had suffered a coronary. Yet polls showed the race tight before the debates and Kennedy eventually prevailed by less than 120,000 votes in one of the closest elections in history.

In the 1980 debate in Cleveland, Republican Ronald Reagan’s dismissal of President Jimmy Carter – “There you go again’’ – was regarded as a moment of high drama. But even before that debate, polls showed that Reagan had crawled into a lead which he never relinquished.

In an interview last week in Ohio, Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, said that “in the final analysis when we get past the impact of some extraordinarily inaccurate attack ads on (Obama’s) part and when we get a chance to actually talk about the real issues in the debates, then people will make an informed decision.”

Romney said he hopes to get the audience to focus on Obama’s record, saying that “these have been very difficult years for the people of this country and I think I can make peoples’ lives a good deal better. People understand that the president’s policies have not worked.’’

By contrast, Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said that “we’ve heard Governor Romney has prepared some zingers. We will leave that to David Letterman. We don’t think that’s what the American people want.’’

Instead, LaBolt said that Obama’s “goal is to lay out the economic choice between building the economy from the inside out and not from the top down.’’ He said that viewers will be “looking for specifics from Governor Romney and he should explain how he will be paying for a $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest without raising taxes on the middle class.’’

But even as Romney and Obama say they will focus on issues, Birdsong of Dayton said that viewers “learn from the debates and it’s not just necessarily issue-based learning … What people learn in the course of debate is candidate characteristics or in some sense, character.’’

Joe Hallett of the Columbus Dispatch contributed to this story.

Trump touts accomplishments in campaign rally to mark 100th day in office

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 10:10 PM
Updated: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 10:12 PM

Marking his 100th day in office, President Donald Trump brought back memories of his campaign for the White House by using a raucous rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to proclaim progress on his agenda, throw some long distance elbows at the news media, and vow that he would follow through on his pledge build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.

“I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles way from Washington’s swamp,” Mr. Trump said to cheers, as he began his speech by verbally smacking the news media, drawing the chant of “CNN sucks!” from the crowd.

Mr. Trump’s visit to the Keystone State – one of a series of pivotal victories for him on Election Night – coincided with his 100th day in office, as he made clear he is not giving up on his promise to shake things up in the nation’s capital.

The President again pledged to not only repeal the Obama health law, but also make health care coverage – in general – more affordable for all Americans.

“We’re going to get the premiums down, we’re going to get the deductibles down; we’re going to take care of every single need that you’re going to want to have taken care of,” Mr. Trump said, as he labeled Obamacare a “catastrophe.”

Among those on hand for the 100 day rally was Vice President Mike Pence, who told the cheering audience that President Trump was doing what he promised during the 2016 campaign.

“Across the board, our new President is doing exactly what he said he would do,” the Vice President said.

Before the event, Mr. Trump signed two more executive orders on trade, as he continued to follow through on his tough talk from before and after the election, vowing to do more to protect U.S. jobs at home from what he says are unfair practices by Canada, Mexico, and other nations.

Many political reporters might not have been watching the Pennsylvania event with the President, as some were instead back at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in Washington – and Mr. Trump was very happy to throw a few jabs at the news media – and remind everyone that he was not going to the event.

“The media deserves a big, fat, failing grade,” the President said, delighting the crowd, in an event that was much like one of his 2016 rallies.

The event ended on that exact note, with the playing of the Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” a fan favorite from the campaign trail.

Was Howard Stern right about Trump's presidency?

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 9:47 AM

Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Beth Ostrosky and Howard Stern (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
James Devaney/WireImage

Radio shock jock Howard Stern is never one to be shy about his opinions. Stern made a prediction about the Trump presidency in February that appears to be coming true, according to CNN.

During his Feb. 1 broadcast, Stern said that being president would be a nightmare for Trump, as he won't be beloved and it's not a winning situation compared to the way the business mogul is used to living. Stern concluded that being president would be detrimental to Trump's mental health.

>> Read more trending news 

Fast forward to this week, when President Trump revealed in a Reuters interview about his first 100 days that, “I thought it would be easier. I thought it was more of a … I’m a details-oriented person. I think you’d say that, but I do miss my old life. I like to work so that’s not a problem but this is actually more work.” Trump also reflected on his previous career as a businessman: “I love my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life.” 

Stern considers Trump a friend, even though he voted for Clinton. Trump has been on Stern's radio show multiple times and he attended Stern's 2008 wedding, according to CNN. 

Trump marks 100th day in office with Pennsylvania campaign rally

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 7:30 AM
Updated: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 7:30 AM

President Donald Trump will use his 100th day in office to make a return to the campaign trail, holding an evening rally in the Pennsylvania state capital of Harrisburg, taking his message of change back to the familiar crowds of the 2016 race for the White House.

While Mr. Trump has been happy to highlight his accomplishments of his first 100 days – he has also mixed that 100 day review with jabs at the news media, saying the measurement for a new President is a “false standard.”

“We’re moving awfully well, getting a lot of things done,” the President told the press after signing an executive order on offshore oil and gas exploration on Friday.

“I don’t think there’s ever been anything like this,” Mr. Trump added.

In a speech on Friday in Atlanta at a gathering of the National Rifle Association, the President visited familiar campaign themes, replaying the events of Election Night, and jabbing at Democrats at every opportunity.

“Only one candidate in the General Election came to speak to you, and that candidate is now the President of the United States, standing before you again,” the President said, eagerly reminding the crowd that few people gave him a chance to win last year.

“And remember they said, “There is no path to 270.” For months I was hearing that,” Mr. Trump added, as he vowed to protect the Second Amendment during his time in office.

The President’s choice to go to Harrisburg – the state capital – is an interesting one, as Dauphin County was one of only 11 counties to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, going 49 to 46 percent for the Democrats.

Mr. Trump won the Keystone State by just 44,000 votes, as his wins in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin were a linchpin for his overall victory.

“It was a great evening, one that a lot people will never forget,” Mr. Trump said Friday. “Not going to forget that evening.”

The President’s decision to hold a Saturday evening rally in Pennsylvania is also notable for what he will leave behind in Washington, D.C. – the White House Correspondent’s Dinner – which Mr. Trump and his top aides decided not to attend.

Kasich: U.S. should consider ‘taking out’ North Korean leader

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 6:09 PM


            Gov. John Kasich signs books at bookstore in Washington on Friday. JACK TORRY/STAFF.

It was the John Kasich they wanted to see: Poking fun at himself, respectfully answering questions from the audience and saying “we have to come together in this country.”

So for nearly an hour in a trendy book store in an upscale neighborhood loaded with Democratic voters, the Ohio governor autographed copies of his new book for nearly 150 people while delivering the same sales pitch that resonated with moderates during his unsuccessful quest last year for the Republican presidential nomination.

And while at one point he joked that he wished he “wasn’t such a jerk at times,” the crowd squeezed at the rear of the bookstore loved his message and made clear if he ever runs for president against, he can count on their votes.

“I love Kasich,” said Amanda Linton, a self-described staunch Democrat from Woodbridge, Va., who bought four copies of “Two Paths - United or Divided.” She said Ohio’s governor is “reasonable, he’s fair, he compromises (on) issues, he works with both parties and in a time of true divisiveness he would have healed our country.”

Others had similar reactions: “Real and personable,” said Luci Delsignore of Virginia, who grew up in Brazil. “We need more people saying we need to get back together,” said Pam Duran of Alaska.

Although Kasich said he did not “know what I’m going to do doing” in 2020, Linton said she hoped he runs, no matter what the political party.

He certainly acted like a presidential candidate. Earlier in the day, he met with reporters from major news organization at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, a box every candidate has to check before running.

At the breakfast, Kasich suggested the United States should consider “taking out the North Korean leadership,” a reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his quest to build a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach Japan, South Korea and the West Coast of the United States.

When a reporter quizzed Kasich about whether he meant military action, the governor replied, “You know exactly what I’m talking about.”

During the book signing, Kasich took a shot at the revised House Republican plan to scrap much of the 2010 health law known as Obamacare, saying Republicans “need to sit down with Democrats” and Democrats need to work with GOP lawmakers to revise and stabilize the law.

He added: “Let’s do it together.”

But in Ohio, Democrats say Kasich hasn’t made much of an effort to reach out to them.

David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, says he gives Kasich credit for being “a clear voice on how bad gerrymandering is and how that is leading to intense partisanship.”

But, he said, “Democrats want to see that bipartisanship in Ohio as opposed to” Kasich “talking about it at the national level.”

(Information from the Washington Post was added to this story.)

KASICH IN BEAVERCREEK

Ohio Gov. John Kasich Saturday will be at Books&Co. at The Greene, 4453 Walnut Street. Autograph line numbers will be given out starting at 12:30 p.m. You must show a receipt to get a line number. The event starts at 1:30.