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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Obama Says Romney Would Take Women Back to 1950s on Health Care


DENVER â€" President Obama made one of his strongest pitches to date to rally the women's vote that is crucial to his re-election, telling a mostly female crowd estimated at 4,000 in the swing state of Colorado on Wednesday that Republicans led by Mitt Romney would take them back to the policies of the 1950s

Mr. Obama was introduced at a downtown campus shared by three local colleges by Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law School graduate who this year was celebrated by some national women's groups and denounced by conservatives like the broadcaster Rush Limbaugh. Mr. Limbaugh called her “a prostitute” after Republicans blocked her from testifying in Congress in support of requiring insurance coverage of contraception methods.

The president told the crowd, which was made up of people of all ages: “The direction you choose when you walk into that voting booth three months from now will have a direct impact not just on your lives but on the lives of your children and the lives of your grandchildren. And that's true for everybody, but it's especially true for the women in this country - from working moms to college students to seniors.”

“When it comes to the economy, it's bad enough that our opponents want to take us back to the same policies of the last decade â€" the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place,” Mr. Obama said. “But,” he added, “when it comes to a woman's right to make her own health care choices, they want to take us back to the policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century.”

For the rally opening his two-day, four-stop swing across Colorado, one of about a dozen battleground states, Mr. Obama departed from his usual broad stump speech to focus on the benefits of his signature health-insurance law for women and families, and to reopen a debate over contraception that roiled the Republican presidential nomination contest this year and that helped solidify Mr. Obama's support among women.

“The decisions that affect a woman's health, they're not up to politicians, they're not up to insurance companies,” he said. They're up to you. And you deserve a president that will fight to keep it that way.”

Generally about 6 in 10 women voters support the president, nationally and in many swing states, helping to offset a gender gap that has white males opposing him by roughly the same margin.

In Colorado, however, Mr. Obama's lead over Mitt Romney among women is not as wide, according to a new poll for Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News that showed 51 percent of women among likely Colorado voters backing the president, compared with 43 percent supporting Mr. Romney. And Mr. Obama's thinner-than-before advantage among women helped account for Mr. Romney's narrow five-point edge among Colorado voters over all.

Mr. Obama's campaign adv isers disputed the poll's results and said their own surveys showed the president with a slight lead.

Mr. Obama, as he has lately, purposely called the 2010 health care law by the name that Republicans gave it â€" Obamacare - “because,” he said to laughs and applause, “I do care.”

He criticized Mr. Romney for promising to seek the repeal of the law and to end public financing of Planned Parenthood â€" messages echoed in Obama campaign advertisements televised in the state. He cited the benefits that would be lost without the health insurance law: coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions and for young adults under 26 years old on their parents' policies; savings for older Americans with large prescription drug bills; mandated coverage of preventive services like contraception; and insurance company rebates.

From Denver, Mr. Obama flew west to Grand Junction, in a region that he did not win in 2008, for another event. On Thursday, he w ill campaign in Pueblo, in the heavily Latino southeast. In each place he planned to draw attention to his support for â€" and Mr. Romney's opposition to â€" renewing federal tax credits to encourage wind energy.

In Colorado, which has become a leader in harnessing energy from the wind, tax incentives have bipartisan support. Recent news media coverage has not been kind to Mr. Romney, noting that he supports oil and gas subsidies even as he attacks the wind energy credits as part of what he calls Mr. Obama's costly obsession with “green jobs.” A column this week in The Denver Post began, “Is Romney trying to blow it?”

At each stop, including the last at Colorado College in Colorado Springs on Thursday, Mr. Obama will also continue the assault against Mr. Romney's tax cut plans. He mounted the attacks last week in two other battleground states, Ohio and Florida. The basis of his message is a nonpartisan study released last week that concluded that Mr. Romn ey's proposals inevitably would mean big income tax reductions for the wealthiest taxpayers and increases for the other 95 percent of Americans.

In New Jersey, Romney Is an Unexpected Guest at an Orthodox Wedding


Mitt Romney's arrival at a New Jersey fund-raiser capped a breakneck drive along New Jersey's highways followed by a surreal pursuit by an Orthodox wedding party, according to a reporter on the trip.

After a campaign appearance in Des Moines and a flight to Newark Airport, Mr. Romney was whisked by motorcade along the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway.

“Hitting speeds of up to 90 miles per hour,” and escorted by unmarked police cards, the motorcade arrived in Lakewood, a city about 60 miles south of the airport, at 3:35 p.m., five minutes ahead of schedule and more than 80 minutes before the event was set to begin, according to a pool report distributed to other news organizations.

The pool reporter, Holly Bailey of Yahoo News, noted that a trip that was meant to take over an hour was completed in 45 minutes.

The campaign contended that while the press van might have hit 90 m.p.h. to catch up with Mr. Romney's car, the candidate was not traveling that fast, noting that speeds are dictated by the Secret Service and the local police. In 2007, Gov. Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey suffered multiple injuries in a crash on the Garden State Parkway. The sport utility vehicle carrying him was traveling 91 m.p.h., 26 miles an hour above the speed limit.

Members of Mr. Romney's party arrived safely at Lake Terrace, a hall that serves the area's large Jewish community, boasting “grand opulence” and the “renowned” Greenwald Caterers' kosher menus.

According to the pool report, the motorcade was greeted by a variety of festive figures, including a man wearing American flag shorts who ran toward the hall yelling “Whooooo!”

Mr. Romney then seemed to briefly commit the worst type of social sin: upstaging a bride at her wedding. An Orthodox wedding party was taking pictures outside Lake Terrace, according to the pool repor t, but as the candidate's car drove up, “the family abandoned the bride and groom and began chasing Romney's car in the parking lot, waving cameras.”

About 10 wedding guests followed Mr. Romney's car to a back entrance, but they were ultimately stopped by the Secret Service. “We just want to see Romney,” one woman protested, according to the report.

Mr. Romney ultimately fulfilled that wish. A campaign spokesman said the candidate posed with the bride and groom, who told him they were supporters.

Romney Aide Touts Health Care Reform


A principal message-maker of the Romney campaign drew criticism from conservative circles on Wednesday by suggesting that if a laid-off steel worker in an anti-Romney ad had lived in Massachusetts, he would have had health insurance and his wife might still be alive.

Andrea Saul, Mr. Romney's press secretary, meant to undermine a harsh ad by a “super PAC” supporting President Obama in which a man recounts how he his wife died from advanced cancer, implying the couple could not afford insurance because he had lost his job due to a plant shutdown tied to Bain Capital.

“To that point, if people had been in Massachusetts, under Governor Romney's health care plan, they would have had health care,” Ms. Saul said on Fox News. “There are a lot of people losing their jobs and losing their health care in President Obama's economy.”

Ms. Saul said the ad was “despicable” and a “smear” against Mr. Romney in trying to link the candidate to the woman's death. The steel worker in the ad, Joe Soptic, lost his job when a plant owned by Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mr. Romney co-founded, closed it in 2001. Mr. Soptic's wife died in 2006, shortly after being diagnosed, according to news reports.

The Romney campaign is furious with the ad, not least because Mr. Romney left Bain in 1999 and says he had no operational control after that.

But Ms. Saul's remarks threaten to upstage that message by reminding voters of the link between the president's health care law and Mr. Romney's Massachusetts health reform in 2006. The universal mandate to buy insurance that Mr. Romney promoted helped inspire President Obama's health care overhaul.

Mr. Romney has never repudiated his health care reform, but he has said it was right only for his own state, and he has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act if elected.

That pledge may be his most potent campaign message â€" when he repeated it in Iowa on Wednesday it drew the loudest applause of his speech. But reminders of his own role in inspiring Mr. Obama's law could work against him.

A number of conservative commentators were quick to jump on Ms. Saul's remarks. Erick Erickson, the editor of of the conservative website RedState.com, posted to his blog that it could be a “read my lips” moment that alienates grass-roots Republicans.

In a New Attack, Brown Sets Target on Warren\'s Daughter


BOSTON â€" Senator Scott P. Brown on Wednesday accused Elizabeth Warren's daughter of using her position on the board of a nonpartisan organization in service of her mother's Senate campaign.

It is the latest exchange between Mr. Brown and Ms. Warren, his Democratic opponent, in what has become the country's most expensive Senate race â€" and one that will likely be critical in determining the Senate's balance of power come 2013.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Mr. Brown, the incumbent Republican senator representing Massachusetts, cited an effort by his state's Department of Transitional Assistance to mail almost 500,000 voter registration cards to individuals receiving welfare benefits. As part of the effort, the state will also run radio and television advertisements about voter registration and provide additional information on the issue in public assistance offices.

The Boston Herald reported on Wednesd ay that the effort is expected to cost more than $270,000.

The push is the result of a negotiated agreement in a lawsuit that said the state failed to follow the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which requires that all states offer voter registration at public assistance offices.

“I want every legal vote to count, but it's outrageous to use taxpayer dollars to register welfare recipients as part of an effort to boost one political party over another,” Mr. Brown said in a statement.

Mr. Brown then referred to the fact that Amelia Warren Tyagi, Ms. Warren's daughter, is the chairwoman of the board of trustees at Demos, one of the public-interest organizations that are lending litigation or research to this issue in more than a dozen states.

“This effort to sign up welfare recipients is being aided by Elizabeth Warren's daughter, and it's clearly designed to benefit her mother's political campaign,” Mr. Brown sa id.

Ms. Warren's campaign swiftly responded, calling Mr. Brown's comments “ridiculous” and “baseless.”

“His entire attack is built on efforts in multiple states to enforce a law passed almost 20 years ago with bipartisan support,” said Mindy Myers, Ms. Warren's campaign manager, in a statement. “Even the Bush Justice Department filed suit to enforce this provision of that law. For Brown to claim this is some kind of plot against him is just bizarre.”

Lisa Danetz, the senior counsel for Demos and one of the lawyers in the Massachusetts case, said the case was not intended in service of either political party.

“This is really just about making sure that people are offered the opportunities that are required under federal law,” Ms. Danetz said. “This is not about partisan gain, about any particular candidate or election. It's about making sure we have a representative democracy and robust participation in the political process.”

Ms. Danetz added that Ms. Tyagi has not been directly involved in Demos' Massachusetts work. The organization has been working on enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act since 2004; Ms. Tyagi joined Demos in 2006.

“She's not been in the conversation in terms of the strategy on this,” Ms. Danetz said. “Demos has been doing this work well before Amelia was on our board, and we're going to do it long after the election is over.”

On Wednesday, the candidates also released dueling television advertisements. Ms. Warren's, called “Crushed,” calls for investment in higher education. Mr. Brown's ad, “Paul,” features an endorsement from a Democratic former district attorney for Bristol County, Mass.

Teenagers\' Petition on Female Moderators Draws Support


Quick, name the last woman who moderated a presidential debate. If you are having trouble, there is a reason: No woman has done the job in 20 years, since Carole Simpson in 1992.

That fact is the subject of an unusual standoff between the Commission on Presidential Debates and three teenagers from New Jersey - Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel and Elena Tsemberis. When the girls, all 16, learned of that two-decade gap during a Montclair High School class this spring, they posted an online petition titled “It's Time for a Female Moderator” that quickly garnered more than 100,000 signatures.

Last week, the media-savvy young women marched into the commission's offices in Washington with cameras in tow and carrying printed versions of the petitions, but no one was available to meet with them. In an interview, Janet Brown, the commission's director, defended the group's practices but declined to address why two decades had passe d since a woman was chosen to moderate.

The commission looks for “journalists who have covered the campaigns and candidates and are thoroughly familiar with live TV broadcasting,” she said. Gwen Ifill of PBS moderated the 2004 and 2008 vice-presidential debates.

“I don't think anyone can give us an answer on why there hasn't been a female moderator,” Elena said in an interview on Monday in her mint-green suburban bedroom. “Clearly it's been a huge oversight.”

Frustration at a lack of equal treatment is an open secret among women who work in television news. But several prominent women in the field declined to comment on the controversy, explaining that they were reluctant to appear as if they were complaining or promoting themselves.

So in effect, the New Jersey teenagers are saying what the most powerful women in television rarely do out loud - that in newscasts, men are still often treated as if they have mo re authority than women.

Will the commission, expected to announce its choices this month, choose more than one woman to compensate for the long gap? Who will moderate the town-hall-style debate, and who will face off with the candidates in the two debates with more traditional formats?

The young women from Montclair are keeping their demand simple: just include one female moderator. For their entire lifetimes, and then some, Emma said, “it's always been men up there.”

In Iowa, Romney Leaves a Stance on Wind Power Unsaid


DES MOINES - Seeking support in the swing state of Iowa, Mitt Romney on Wednesday called for developing a laundry list of energy resources that included wind power, but he pointedly did not mention that he opposes a tax credit for the wind industry that the state's Republican leadership strongly favors.

Gov. Terry Branstad and members of Iowa's Congressional delegation have criticized Mr. Romney in recent days for not backing a longstanding tax break for wind energy in a state where the industry employs about 7,000 workers and supplies 20 percent of the kilowatts.

Mr. Branstad told Iowa reporters that the Romney campaign suffered from “confusion” over the issue and that he hoped to talk with Mr. Romney so he would become “educated.” On Wednesday, Mr. Branstad was in a different part of the state, and a senior Romney aide said he did not think they had communicated.

Representative Tom Latham, a Republican, said on Monday that Mr. Romney's opposition “shows a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation.''

Mr. Latham, who introduced Mr. Romney here, did not mention the issue.

Mr. Romney has long criticized President Obama over subsidies to “green” energy companies, including the bankrupt Solyndra. His campaign argues that extending a wind tax break, which is due to expire this year, would be a government intrusion into the free market. The position has won support from the Tea Party, members of the conservative base whom Mr. Romney needs to court to succeed in Iowa in November.

Last month a state spokesman for the Romney campaign told The Des Moines Register, “Wind energy will thrive wherever it is economically competitive, and wherever private-sector competitors with far more experience than the president believe the investment will produce results.”

At the sam e time, Mr. Romney favors keeping tax breaks for the oil industry.

Speaking here to campaign activists who had traveled from around the state, Mr. Romney said, “We have got to take advantage of America's extraordinary energy resources â€" coal, oil, gas, nuclear, renewables, wind, solar, ethanol, you name it â€" we've got to take advantage of all of them.''

He mentioned an article he had read predicting that the United States could be the world's largest energy producer in a decade, which he said would produce a jobs boom as manufacturers took advantage of low-cost power.

But he did not mention his opposition to the wind industry tax credit, which passed with a bipartisan vote this month in the Senate Finance Committee.

Mr. Obama, who campaigned in Colorado on Wednesday, another battleground state with a large wind industry, planned to promote his support of the tax break.

Adelson Libel Lawsuit Seeks $60 Million


Sheldon G. Adelson, the billionaire casino owner who has emerged as one of the country's biggest Republican donors, filed a $60 million libel lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday against a Democratic group that Mr. Adelson said had falsely accused him of condoning prostitution in his Macau casino properties.

The group, known as the National Jewish Democratic Council, published an article on its Web site in July urging Mitt Romney and other Republicans not to accept Mr. Adelson's contributions because he “reportedly approved of prostitution.” The accusation, which Mr. Adelson and officials at his company, Las Vegas Sands, have denied, stems from a continuing lawsuit against Mr. Adelson by a former Sands executive, Steven C. Jacobs, who alleged in court papers filed in June that company officials had sanctioned prostitution at its Macau casino. Several news outlets published the accusations.

Mr. Adelson's laws uit, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, names the Manhattan-based Jewish council as well as two of its officials, David A. Harris and Marc R. Stanley. It seeks $10 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.

“Defendants' goal was to advance their perceived political interests by assassinating Mr. Adelson's character, punishing him for exercising his right to make monetary contributions to political causes and candidates of his choice, and demeaning him within the Jewish community,” the lawsuit alleges.

In a statement, the council said it would fight the lawsuit.

“We will not be bullied into submission, and we will not be silenced by power,” the group said. “This is not Putin's Russia, and in America, political speech regarding one of the most well-known public figures in our country is a fundamental right. One would think the person making greatest use of the Citizens United ruling would understand this.”

In recent months, Mr. Adelson has emerged as one of the country's leading patrons of conservative causes and Republican candidates, donating to tens of millions of dollars to “super PACs” and other outside groups and suggesting he would be willing to spend as much as $100 million on this year's elections.

A similar accusation against Mr. Adelson was leveled in recent weeks by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. After legal threats from Mr. Adelson, the Democratic committee on Friday published a formal apology and retraction.

Poll Finds Tight Senate Races in Virginia and Wisconsin


A new poll finds tight races for Senate seats in the presidential swing states of Virginia and Wisconsin.

In Virginia, where the race pairs two former governors, 48 percent of likely voters support the Democratic candidate, Tim Kaine, and 46 percent back the Republican nominee, George Allen, a difference that is within the poll's margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Mr. Kaine does better among African-Americans, women, college graduates and younger voters. Mr. Allen's support is concentrated among white evangelical Christians, men, older people and voters who do not have a college degree.

At this point in the race, independents are breaking for Mr. Allen, 49 to 41 percent, according to the results of a new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll conducted by telephone from July 31 to Aug. 6 among 1,412 likely voters.

Throughout his primary campaign this spring, Mr. All en sought to link his opponent to President Obama, and the poll showed that Virginia voters are divided on the presidential race as well, with 49 percent supporting Mr. Obama and 45 percent backing Mitt Romney.

The Virginians surveyed are somewhat more optimistic about the state's economy than the nation's. About one in 6 said that Virginia's economy was getting worse, compared to nearly 4 in 10 who said the nation's economy was worsening. About half of Virginians said their state's economy would stay the same, and 3 in 10 said it was improving. Virginia had a 5.7 percent unemployment rate in June, well below the national rate of 8.3 percent.

Virginians appear to be happy with the performance of Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican; 52 percent of voters approved of his performance, and 29 percent disapproved.

In the Wisconsin Senate race, the poll finds Representative Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, in a dead heat with the three leading Republican contenders who wil l face off in a primary next week â€" former Gov. Tommy G. Thompson; Mark Neumann, a former member of the House; and Eric Hovde, a hedge fund manager.

In a head-to-head match, Ms. Baldwin and Mr. Thompson each received 47 percent support. Against Mr. Hovde and Mr. Neumann, Ms. Baldwin had a four-point and three-point edge respectively, differences that are within the poll's margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points on each candidate.

Against a fourth Republican in the field, Jeff Fitzgerald, the State Assembly speaker, Ms. Baldwin holds a 12-point lead. The Quinnipiac University/Times/CBS News poll was conducted July 31 to Aug. 6 among 1,428 likely voters.

Andrew Cuomo Limits Time at Convention


Despite his growing stature within the Democratic Party, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is skipping most of the Democratic National Convention next month because, he said, he is too busy with his day job in New York.

Asked at a news conference on Tuesday why he was taking a “passive role” at the convention, Mr. Cuomo responded, “Because I am governor of the State of New York, and I have a lot to do as governor of the State of New York, and I want to do the best job I can as the governor of the State of New York, and I do that best being in New York.”

Democrats plan to gather for their convention from Sept. 4 through 6 in Charlotte, N.C. Mr. Cuomo is planning to attend only the final day of the convention, when President Obama will accept his party's nomination at the Bank of America Stadium.

Mr. Cuomo, who took office last year, has shunned out-of-state political events during his time as governor. He has routinely skipped meetings of the National Governors Association as well as the Democratic Governors Association, and he rarely travels outside New York State.

The Best Time to Buy and Sell College Textbooks


It's that time of year again, when students across the country get ready to spend serious money on college textbooks. But to get the best deals - on both buying books for the upcoming semester and selling your old texts - it may be worth paying closer attention to when you shop and sell.

A recent analysis by Extrabux, a cash-rebate Web site, found that the best time for students to buy and sell textbooks was from Aug. 20 to Aug. 26, as well as Jan. 7 through Jan. 13. And the worst time to do it was from Nov. 19 to 25th and April 9 through the 15 (which seems to coincide with spring break).

The reason is simple. It all traces back to the basics of supply and demand. The best time to buy textbooks, the analysis found, is when demand is high. “We found that the prices of many products sold online will decrease as the number of shoppers looking for those products increases,” said Jeff Nobbs, co-founder of Extrabu x. “Online retailers/sellers want their prices to be as low as possible when there are the most consumers in the market looking for their products.”

He said the site looked at historical search trends for textbooks as well as price data through camelcamelcamel.com, which tracks price fluctuations from Amazon.com retailers.

The site also found that the best time to sell is when demand is high and supply is low.  “This means that students will get the most money for their books if they sell them when there are a lot more people buying rather than selling textbooks,” he said. In fact, students can get up to 20 percent more by selling during the right months, namely July, August and January. (The site discovered the pattern by analyzing when people search to buy and sell books through Google Trends, and then juxtaposing that with average textbook buyback prices throughout the year from BookScouter.com.)

Besides timing, you also need to know where to look for the best deals. In a previous Bucks post, we surveyed the different ways to reduce your costs - whether through finding free offerings online, using e-books or perusing the many Web sites that rent or sell used books, as well as sites that act as search engines and compare prices across several providers.

And in subsequent posts, we took an even closer look at comparison Web sites and some of our readers' favorite places to shop. (We also highlighted other options, including some sites created by recent graduates who were fed up with the book-buying process themselves. But it appears that some of them are now defunct).

Have you discovered new ways to reduce your textbook bill? Or have you found any new places to shop online?

In Primaries, Democrats\' Preferred Candidates (Including Republicans) Are Winners


WASHINGTON - So, to recap: In a group of primaries Tuesday night, an endangered Senate incumbent helped pick her Republican opponent, a spouse's imprisonment failed to impede a landslide victory for a veteran House member in Michigan and a reindeer farmer/Santa impersonator is now the Republican candidate for another seat in that state.

This week has been, at least for this fleeting moment, a decidedly good one for Democrats as their preferred candidates, among their own and Republicans, won some contested primaries. Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington held primaries Tuesday, and in all but Kansas, Democrats can claim success.

In Missouri, Senator Claire McCaskill, the Democratic incumbent, with her party's help spent roughly $2 million in the Republican primary running ads calling Representative Todd Akin, one of three candidates, very conservative and lamenting that he hated debt. The Br'er Rabbit approac h succeeded: Mr. Akin cruised to victory, winning 36 percent of the vote and assuring that Ms. McCaskill, while still the most endangered Senate Democrat in the country, will not have to face John Brunner, a businessman whom Republicans preferred in no small part because he would have paid for the race himself.
Now Republicans will have to spend money in a state they had all written off as theirs, and Ms. McCaskill can test whether Mr. Akin's strong consrvatisim and religiosity are too much for moderate voters in her state.

Mr. Akin also defeated former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, marking the first big defeat for Sarah Palin, who gave Ms. Steelman the nod. Ms. Palin has had a string of good luck endorsing Tea Party-tinged candidates in this election cycle, most recently boosting Ted Cruz in the Texas primary.

Testing a potential new vulnerability, the Nebraska Democratic Party will hold a news conference on Wednesday to discuss Ms. Palin's support of Deb Fischer, the Republican candidate for Senate who seems poised to beat former Senator Bob Kerrey, the Democrat in that race.

Also in Missouri one family dynasty was dinged by another after a nasty primary fight pitting current lawmakers. Representative William Lacy Clay easily beat Representative Russ Carnahan, the son of the former governor of the state and one-time Senate candidate. It's a wash for the party as a Democrat was always expected to prevail in the First District's general election.

In Michigan former Representative Peter Hoekstra brushed back Clark Durant, a lawyer with a 54 percent cleanup in the Republican primary and will take on Senator Debbie Stabenow, the Democratic incumbent, as expected.

But the real action in Michigan was in the House races.

After from former Representative Thaddeus McCotter failed to qualify for the Republican ballot in Michigan's 11th Congressional District and then resigned in embarrassment, Republicans were left with Kerry Bentivolio, a libertarian-leaning reindeer farmer and a holiday Santa, who trounced Nancy Cassis, a former state senator who formed a last-minute write-in campaign.

Democrats are now excited about their candidate, Dr. Syed Taj, a former chief of medicine at Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center in Dearborn who beat the Lyndon LaRouche-backed opponent, Bill Roberts. But the district leans Republican, so Santa Claus is (quite likely) coming to town.

Another Republican seat in the Grand Rapids area just got a little harder to hold, that of freshman Representative Justin Amash, whose claim to fame in the 112th Congress is voting no on just about every key piece of legislation, and plenty of benign measures, too. Democrats believe their winner of Tuesday's primary, a small-business owner, Steve Pestka, gives them a fighting chance.

In the state's one primary pitting current members of Congress, Representative Gary Peters easily defeated freshman Re presentative Hansen Clarke in a contest wrought by decennial Congressional redistricting.

Representative John Conyers Jr. seemed somewhat endangered entering Tuesday's primary. But his recent travails, including but not limited to the fact his wife is serving time after being convicted of taking bribes while she was on the Detroit City Council, did not give power to his challengers. He will now almost certainly cruise to his 25th term in the House in a new district containing portions of Detroit and some neighboring suburbs.

In in the First District of Washington - where redistricting created a seat closely split between Republicans and Democrats - Democrats got their desired candidate in a former Microsoft executive, Suzan DelBene, who beat back her less-moderate Democratic opponents in a nasty and expensive primary. She now has a slight edge over Republican John Koster, in the open seat, where Representative Jay Inslee, a Democrat, resigned to run for governor.

An Obama Message That Really Sticks


It's only August and the campaign hasn't really sunk in with the public yet, right? Wrong. Even the children are listening, probably too much.

The latest sign comes from a story President Obama has been telling on the campaign trail in recent days, one shared with him by his campaign manager, Jim Messina:

“He was at an event like this,” Mr. Obama related in Westport, Conn., on Monday night, “and there was a young couple. They had a 4-year-old boy, cute as can be. And during this campaign event, there was a picture of me there.

“And so the parents, very proudly, prompt the son, ‘Who is that?' And he says, ‘That's Barack Obama.' And they say, ‘Well, what does Barack Obama do?' And he thinks for a second, and he says, ‘Barack Obama approves this message.'”

Wednesday Reading: American\'s Bag Delivery Lets You Skip the Carousel


A variety of consumer-focused articles appears daily in The New York Times and on our blogs. Each weekday morning, we gather them together here so you can quickly scan the news that could hit you in your wallet.

Obama Hits Colorado With Appeal to Women


Women's issues and wind energy will join middle-class tax cuts as part of President Obama's platform on Wednesday and Thursday as he campaigns yet again in Colorado, a vital swing state where a new poll underscored his vulnerability from voters' doubts about the economy.

In the first of four stops, Mr. Obama will be introduced on Wednesday afternoon at the University of Colorado in Denver at the state's largest campus by Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law School graduate who earlier this year became the face of women's reproductive rights after Congressional Republicans blocked her from testifying about insurance coverage of contraception. The conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh later referred to her as a prostitute; he apologized after a furor caused some corporate sponsors to defect from his program.

Mr. Obama's emphasis on the issue of reproductive rights suggests an effort to solidify his backing among women , who are the mainstay of his support and offset his weakness among white males. In Colorado, his lead over Mitt Romney among women is not as wide as it is nationally and in other swing states, according to a new poll for Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News, accounting for Mr. Romney's narrow edge among likely Colorado voters overall.

The Obama campaign has recently run ads in the state slamming Mr. Romney's stands on women's issues, including using video clips in which Mr. Romney vows to end public support for Planned Parenthood. Like much of Mr. Obama's strategy in Colorado, the overt pitch to women borrows from the 2010 campaign playbook of Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat who will appear with the president. In an otherwise dismal year for Democrats, Mr. Bennet was elected on support from women and Latinos alienated by Republican positions on contraceptive rights and immigration.

From Denver, Mr. Obama will fly west to Grand Junction on Wednesday evening and then campaign in Pueblo in the southeast on Thursday, drawing attention in each place to his support for â€" and Mr. Romney's opposition to â€" renewing federal tax credits to encourage wind energy.

In Colorado, which has become a leader in harnessing wind energy, tax incentives have bipartisan support. Recent media coverage has not been kind to Mr. Romney, noting that he supports oil and gas subsidies even as he attacks the wind energy credits as part of what he calls Mr. Obama's costly obsession with “green jobs.” A column this week in The Denver Post began, “Is Romney trying to blow it?”

At each stop, including the last, at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Mr. Obama also will continue the assault against Mr. Romney's tax cut plans that he mounted last week in two other battleground states, Ohio and Florida. The basis of his attack is a nonpartisan study released last week concluding that Mr. Romney's propos als inevitably would mean big income-tax reductions for the wealthiest taxpayers and increases for the other 95 percent of Americans.

Colorado is now considered a toss-up state, one the president is struggling to win after he carried it comfortably in 2008, as the new poll indicated. Obama trails in the state by five percentage points, the survey found, with 50 percent of likely voters favoring Mr. Romney and 45 percent supporting Mr. Obama.

“I think we're doing fine in Colorado, but it's a battleground state for a reason,” said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama's longtime strategist.

The president's weakness in Colorado mirrors the continued weakness of the economic recovery. By 10 percentage points - 51 percent to 41 percent - likely voters in the state say Mr. Romney would do a better job of handling the economy, according to the poll. And 43 percent say their own finances would be hurt by Mr. Obama's re-election - nearly twice the 22 percent who say their pe rsonal finances would be helped if he won. State voters split on whether Mr. Romney's election would hurt or help them personally.

About four in 10 likely voters say the economy is getting worse, and voters split over whether Mr. Obama's policies eventually will help the economy improve.

The poll had another worrisome snapshot for Mr. Obama. While he is buoyed nationally and in many swing states by his greater favorability ratings among voters, that is not the case in Colorado: 50 percent of likely voters say they have an unfavorable view of the president and 46 percent have a favorable view. But Mr. Romney has a net-positive rating, with 47 percent holding a favorable view of him and 42 percent an unfavorable view.

Other results, more helpful to Mr. Obama, explain the closeness of the race. More voters say Mr. Obama better understands their problems. Many say Mr. Romney cared more for investor profits than jobs in his business career. And six in 10 agree w ith Mr. Obama that wealthier Americans should pay more income taxes.

The Early Word: Fixed Battle Lines


Today's Times

  • President Obama continues to hold a tight grip on the support of women and Mitt Romney has a sizable lead among white, working-class voters, Jim Rutenberg and Allison Kopicki report. Those findings, contained in the latest batch of Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News swing state polls, highlight the stubborn divisions of this year's presidential race among two of the most important voting groups in the most hotly contested states.
  • Mr. Romney accused President Obama of gutting the work requirement at the heart of the federal welfare law, Trip Gabriel writes. The attack on Tuesday drew an all-out denial from the White House and the Obama campaign, which accused Mr. Romney of warping the issue and of hypocrisy, because as Massachusetts governor, he urged similar flexibility in the federal law.
  • Though he is not the candidate who once ran an Olympics, President Obama is using the Games to combat the perception that he is somehow not American enough, Peter Baker reports. One of the perks of president is being the country's official cheerleader every four years, but it is also carefully considered politics.
  • President Obama is an avid consumer of political news and commentary, and though it has played a crucial role in helping make him a national star, he believes the news media has had a role in frustrating his ambition to change the terms of the country's political discussion, Amy Chozick writes.

Around the Web

  • Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, is expected to deliver more than $500,000 to the Romney campaign, showing the presumptive presidential nominee that he can pull his weight in fund-raising if chosen to join him on the ticket, Politico reports.
  • Sandra Fluke, the law student who was berated by Rush Limbaugh over the new contraception mandate, will campaign alongside Pre sident Obama in Denver, The Hill reports.

In Slip, Romney Refers to \'Sheik Temple\' Tragedy


DES MOINES - In extending condolences for the Wisconsin shooting, Mitt Romney mistakenly referred to the victims gunned down at a “sheik” temple, twice using the Arabic term for a respected leader to refer to the Sikh religion, a non-Muslim faith.

“We obviously have challenges around the country,'' Mr. Romney said on Tuesday evening, according to a transcript by a press representative attending a fund-raising event in West Des Moines. “I was in Chicago earlier today. We had a moment of silence in honor of the people who lost their lives at that sheik temple. I noted that it was a tragedy for many, many reasons. Among them are the fact that people, the sheik people are among the most peaceable and loving individuals you can imagine, as is their faith.''

After the speech, at the Glen Oaks Country Club, a Romney spokesman, Rick Gorka, was asked about the slip.

“He misspoke,” Mr. Gorka said. “It was the end of the day.”

He added: “He mispronounced similar sounding words. He was clearly referring to the tragedy in Wisconsin. You clearly heard him talk about it earlier today in Chicago.”

At that earlier appearance, Mr. Romney asked for a silent moment in honor of six worshipers killed on Sunday in Oak Creek, Wisc. by a gunman who was then shot to death by police.

The gunman, Wade M. Page, was associated with white supremacist groups and lead a white-power band.

Sikh groups report a rise in hate crimes and discrimination since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They say they are often mistaken for Muslims, because Sikh men wear turbans and keep their beards long. Sikhism originated in South Asia, not the Middle East.

Mr. Romney's slip of the tongue came a week after remarks he made in Israel about cultural differences between Israelis and Palestinians were attacked by a Palestinian official as racis t.

Earlier on Tuesday, he had no trouble naming the shooting victims. He referred to “the tragic, tragic shooting at the Sikh temple'' during a campaign stop outside Chicago, adding “that tragedy is even more profound because the Sikh religion and the Sikh people are such peaceful, loving individuals.''

Ad Watch: Ad Tries to Link Ex-Worker\'s Losses to Bain


Priorities USA Action, a “super PAC” supporting President Obama, released an advertisement on Tuesday suggesting that Mitt Romney's actions indirectly contributed to a woman's death. Joe Soptic, a former worker at GST Steel in Kansas City, Mo., speaks into the camera, while the ad intersperses shots of a shuttered factory.

Click on a subsection below to jump to a fact check.

The super PAC ad compresses time in way that links the closure of the GST plant with Mrs. Soptic's fatal illness.