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Monday, August 27, 2012

Going Deeper Into the Hall


The Republican National Convention opens Tuesday in Tampa, Fla., and The New York Times will provide live, comprehensive coverage of the events, people and politics on the Web and mobile devices and in print. Among the highlights:


- TimesCast Politics At 2 and 7 p.m. eastern each day, our live video broadcast from Tampa will take readers behind the scenes with newsmaker interviews, analysis from Times journalists and stories exploring various aspects of the campaign.

- Convention Speeches Watch the major addresses live on the Web and mobile devices. Come back each morning for speech highlights and annotated video and transcripts.

- Live Blog Starting around 7 p.m. eastern, Times reporters, editors and photographers will provide real-time news, analysis and scenes from the hall.

- Voter Portraits A collection of photos and voices from potential voters.

- Photo Slide Shows A daily look at the people, places and events.

- Convention Storybook On Friday, a narrated multimedia presentation featuring highlights from the convention.

- Election 2012 App The latest news from The Times and other top sources. Plus opinion, polls, campaign data and live video.

- Social Media For on-the-ground reporting, follow the Times political team on Facebook at Facebook.com/nytimespolitics and on Twitter at @thecaucus. Find more Times journalists on Twitter here.



- TimesCast Opinion Charles M. Blow hosts daily conversations with other columnists and editorial board members.

- Google+ Hangouts Frank Bruni and Gail Collins talk to voters from around the country and across the spectrum.

- The Conversation, on Video Gail Collins and David Brooks tackle the campaign live from Tampa.

- Op-Docs The comedian and commentator Mo Rocca hosts “Electoral Dysfunction,” a video series.

- Columns and Blogs Op-Ed columnists and editorial board members provide daily analysis and commentary, and regular dispatches on the Campaign Stops and Taking Note blogs.

- Room for Debate Tom Brokaw, Kiki McLean and Mark McKinnon, among others, will discuss whether conventions still matter and how they could be improved. Later in the week, experts will discuss whether the deficit is the nation's most pressing problem.

- Twitter The Opinion section will host highly opinionated Twitter messages from Op-Ed columnists including Charles M. Blow, Ross Douthat, Frank Bruni and Bill Keller, and editorial board members.

Palin Spends First Day of Republican Convention in Arizona


GILBERT, Ariz. - Sarah Palin spent the first day of the Republican National Convention serving baked beans and sliders at a barbecue joint here, in a last-minute campaign stop for Kirk Adams, a former state legislator who is vying for the Republican nomination in Arizona's Fifth Congressional District race.

Not that it mattered why she was visiting.

“I don't know who this Kirk person is,” said Jessica Flowers Cuff, 31, who lives in Gilbert. “It's my day off; I wanted to see Sarah.”

Ms. Palin picked the location: Joe's Farm Grill, which serves grilled American grub not far from an interstate highway. She had seen it featured on the Food Network series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” said one of its owners, Tim Peelen.

The Adams campaign ordered food for 500 people: chicken, sliders, beans, but no dessert. There were Adams signs all around and T-shirts that read, “ O.M.G.: Obama Must Go.” His primary opponent, Matt Salmon, a former congressman, has been endorsed by Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, and Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, among others.

Ms. Palin walked onto the stage to Roy Orbison's “Oh, Pretty Woman,” and fired up the crowd by saying, “This election, folks, is not just about replacing the party that's in power. It's about who and what we'll replace it with.”

“Kirk Adams will fight for you,” she continued. “He'll fight for America; he'll fight for our kids' future.”

Ms. Palin has been fairly successful in her endorsements, which usually cut against the choices of the Republican Party establishment to support many of the same insurgent candidates embraced by her adoring base.

For Mr. Adams, her visit was “a huge deal,” and could not have come at a better time: a day before the state's primaries.

Romney Campaign and Activists Reach Compromise on Delegate Rule


TAMPA, Fla. - Mitt Romney's campaign has reached a compromise with conservative activists in the Republican party who had been angered by efforts to change rules for delegate section leading up to the 2016 election.

Lawyers for Mr. Romney last week proposed rules that would give the Republican nominee the power to control who gets picked to be delegates to the next national party convention.

Some delegates objected to the proposal, calling it a power grab that would make it too hard for disparate voices in the party to express their views and shape the party platform every four years.

The dispute threatened to break out into the open on Tuesday when the rules proposed by Mr. Romney came to a vote of the entire convention. A public fight on the floor would expose continuing tensions inside the party and interfere with the political outreach that Mr. Romney hopes to do at the convention.

But aides to Mr. R omney and activists who had opposed the rules said they had reached the compromise late Monday evening.

“Everyone feels good about the compromise hammered out,” said one Romney aide familiar with the negotiations. The aide asked to be anonymous to discuss private conversations, but said, “What you are seeing different sides coming together within the party.”

Jim Bopp, a conservative delegate who had led the opposition to Mr. Romney's proposed rules, issued a statement on Monday saying he was pleased with the compromise.

“The Romney for President campaign has heard the concerns of the conservative grassroots voices in our party and has crafted an amendment to the Rules adopted on Friday to address these concerns,” Mr. Bopp said.

Under the compromise, delegates would be selected by the state and local level without interference or control by the party's presidential candidate. That would allow competing voices inside the convention, both sides said.

But in a nod to the concerns of Mr. Romney's campaign, delegates sent on behalf of a candidate would be required to vote to nominate that candidate on the first ballot. If they tried to vote for someone else, their vote would be recorded for the candidate to whom they were bound.

Timescast: Day 1 of the Republican Convention

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Romney to Arrive in Tampa Tuesday


TAMPA, Fla. - The Republican National Convention will be welcoming its newest- and most high profile - guest Tuesday: Mitt Romney himself.

Mr. Romney was originally scheduled to arrive in Tampa at least a day later as he prepares to accept his party's nomination Thursday with a speech meant to re-introduce himself to the nation. But his campaign decided to send him two days early amid uncertainty about the convention schedule because of Tropical Storm Isaac.

The ostensible reason: two watch his wife, Ann, deliver her speech Tuesday evening.

No word on what else Mr. Romney will do while in town.

Protests Muted as Convention Gears Up


TAMPA, Fla. - The storm that caused Republican officials to cancel the bulk of the first day of their convention is also dampening the protests, as fewer demonstrators than were expected turned out for the first day of rallies.

A morning gathering that organizers had said they thought would include at least 5,000 people drew only a couple hundred people who rallied and marched in a drizzle that sometimes yielded to baking heat.

And later in the afternoon, a tense standoff between protesters and the riot police ended as a heavy downpour sent some protesters racing for cover under awnings, while others danced in the rain.

The rain was a looming presence even when it was not falling, as one of the organizers of a morning march and rally acknowledged from a stage at Perry Harvey Sr. Park.

“We all know the affect the weather has had on the turnout of this rally,” said the organizer,< /span> Mick Kelly, adding, “It's a lot lower.”

The small crowds that took to the streets on Monday were in contrast to the thousands who marched during the opening days of previous conventions in St. Paul, New York and Philadelphia. But the events in Tampa also included less friction between the police and protesters. During the two marches on Monday, it appeared that only one man was arrested.

Just before noon a few hundred people left Perry Harvey Sr. Park and embarked on what organizers said was a permitted march, chanting, blowing horns and waving signs criticizing Republican stances on various issues as they headed toward a designated protest area near that the Tampa authorities had set up in a lot near the convention center.

Among those who watched the crowd was the Tampa police chief, Jane Castor, who told reporters that everything appeared to be going well.

A few minutes later, as the marchers streamed into the large fenced lot that had be en set aside for protesters, some began loudly shouting that the protest area was a “cage.” Soon, several dozen younger people, some dressed in black or tying bandannas over their faces left the area, chanting: “Whose streets? Our streets. Tear up the concrete.”

The police followed them, and after several blocks one of the marchers was arrested in a parking lot near the intersection of Scott Street and Morgan Street. A police chief said that the man had been wearing a mask, something that was forbidden by a special ordinance adopted in preparation for the convention.

“They asked him to take it off and he resisted,” said the chief, J.A. Bennett.

One of the man's friends said that he had been arrested without being given a chance to remove a bandanna tied over his face.

“The cop tackled him,” said the friend, Keith Cutter, adding that his friend had not struggled.

Many of the protesters reassembled on Monday afternoon at the encam pment that has come to be known as Romneyville near the edge of downtown Tampa. They then set off on a permitless march organized by the Poor People's Economics Human Rights Campaign that was meant to address the problems caused by poverty.

One of the marchers, Jennifer Sullivan, 58, a mail carrier from Spring Hill, Fla., said that both major political parties were delinquent in addressing many issues that affect the poorest Americans.

“They both talk about the middle class,” Ms. Sullivan said. “But they both go to K Street to the lobbyists.”

After several blocks, most of the marchers left the street and entered Lykes Gaslight Square Park on Kennedy Boulevard. But several dozen remained in the street and faced off against a line of officers who blocked an intersection on Kennedy Boulevard.

After several minutes those protesters moved onto sidewalks, and large detachments of officers equipped with plastic shields and a few rifles with orange s tocks labeled “less lethal” arrived and stood in ranks.

As protesters scoffed from sidewalks and accused the police of overreacting, heavy rain poured from the sky. Most marchers took cover in doorways and under building overhangs, but some, followed by police officers on bicycles, marched down the center of North Tampa Street until they got back to their encampment, where they sought shelter under tents and tarpaulins.

Portman to Reprise Obama Role for Romney Debate Preparation


TAMPA, Fla. â€" It's time for Senator Rob Portman to dust off those old Obama audiobooks again. He has been tapped to reprise his role of playing President Obama to help Mitt Romney prepare for his debates.

Mr. Portman, an Ohio Republican, was once a contender to be Mr. Romney's running mate. But he agreed to help Mr. Romney get ready for three October debates. The first practice session is likely to be this weekend, aides said, followed by at least a half-dozen other rehearsals.

Impersonating Democrats to help Republicans prepare for debates has become something of a specialty for Mr. Portman. He has played the role of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore and Barack Obama.

His willingness to help Mr. Romney was not unexpected, aides said, even though it could be seen as the political equivalent of always being a bridesmaid but never a bride. Several senior Republicans believed that Mr. Portman would be a strong vice-presidential candidate.

Mr. Portman, who is speaking here at the Republican National Convention, has agreed to be at Mr. Romney's disposal over the next two months to help with debate sessions that are expected to take place near Mr. Romney's homes in New Hampshire and California. CNN first reported Mr. Portman's role.

In an interview this summer, Mr. Portman explained how he prepared to play the role of Mr. Obama four years ago to help Senator John McCain.
“I read his book. I did the audiotape because I wanted to hear his voice. I listened to the entire book,” Mr. Portman said. “It was helpful to get his cadence.”

Obama Gets Briefing on Tropical Storm


President Obama received a briefing on Monday afternoon about Tropical Storm Isaac as it approached hurricane force, but aides say no decision has been made to cancel his campaign trip on Tuesday to two swing states, Iowa and Colorado.

With forecasts warning that the storm could hit New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of that city's devastation by Hurricane Katrina, the administration is warily watching it, after it interrupted the Republican convention but largely spared the host city, Tampa, Fla. At the White House, Mr. Obama got updates from Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Rick Knabb, the director of the National Hurricane Center.

The center said the storm could become a Category 1 hurricane later in the day, and, according to a White House statement, Mr. Fugate gave Mr. Obama “an update on the resources FEMA has prepositioned along the Gulf Coast to support state and local officials as they prepare and begin to respond.”

FEMA and the Defense Department have stocked supplies at bases in Jacksonville, Fla., and Montgomery, Ala., the statement said, and FEMA has sent teams to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi to support state and local officials.

“The president directed Administrator Fugate to ensure that FEMA was prepared regardless of the ultimate strength and impact of the storm,” the White House said.

Mr. Obama then convened a conference call so that Mr. Fugate and Mr. Knabb could discuss the storm's track and the government's preparations with three gulf state governors, all Republicans â€" Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who canceled his prime-time speech to the Republican convention to oversee his state's response, Robert Bentley of Alabama and Phil Bryant of Mississippi â€" and the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat.

The president told Mr. Jindal that he had approved Mr. Jindal's request to declare a federal emergency in Louisiana ahead of the storm, a finding that allows the state to receive federal money to cover its costs for certain emergency measures. And Mr. Obama told all the governors and the mayor to identify other needs if they arose.

As Convention Opens, Debt Clock Ticks


As Republicans gather in Tampa, Fla., for their convention, party leaders want to drive home a message to voters: The federal debt is hurtling toward $16 trillion, and it is President Obama's fault.

That's the gist of what the party chairman, Reince Priebus, said as he banged a gavel to open the convention Monday afternoon. The banging activated a “debt clock” in the convention hall that tallies the amount the debt accumulating during the four-day event. A second ticker that started running earlier displays the total national debt.

Mr. Priebus said the clocks served to draw attention to the “unprecedented fiscal recklessness of the Obama administration.” A day earlier, he said the clocks highlighted what is at stake in November.

“This clock reminds every delegate and every American of why we are here in Tampa â€" because American can and must do better,” he said. “Every American's share of the nat ional debt has increased by approximately $16,000 during the current administration.”

He said Mitt Romney and Paul D. Ryan would “turn this fiscal mess around, get people back to work and set our country on a strong foundation for generations to come.”

The clock will hang over Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey as he delivers the keynote speech on Tuesday and Mitt Romney when he accepts the presidential nomination at the convention's close on Thursday.

For Republicans, the debt clocks represent efforts draw attention back to the economy after a week in which social issues dominated the political back-and-forth. The move plays to concerns that the federal debt is rising at an unsustainable pace, threatening the economic recovery and national security.

But by drawing attention to the nation's ballooning debt, Republicans are of course not mentioning their own role in its growth during the Bush administration.

New Warren Ad Keeps Focus on Women\'s Issues


BOSTON - A new television ad released by Elizabeth Warren on Monday aimed to keep Massachusetts voters' attention on women's issues after Ms. Warren and her Republican opponent, Senator Scott P. Brown, pounced on the comments about rape made by Representative Todd Akin of Missouri.

The 30-second ad titled “Still” begins with the Democratic nominee and consumer advocate looking directly into the camera.

“Why are women fighting the same old battles?” Ms. Warren says, before her voice continues over footage of individual women looking into the camera. “Women still don't get equal pay for equal work. Republicans blocked that. And even pushed a law that could have denied insurance coverage for birth control.”

While Ms. Warren does not mention her opponent in the ad, she alludes to legislation that she brought up on the campaign trail last week â€" including Mr. Brown's vote last year against the Paycheck Fa irness Act, an unsuccessful bill intended to ease the way for litigation over gender discrimination in pay, and his support for the Blunt amendment, a failed measure that would have allowed employers to deny coverage for treatments like birth control based on philosophical or religious exceptions.

The television spot comes on the heels of a radio ad with the same name, released by Ms. Warren's campaign last week, highlighting Mr. Akin's comments about “legitimate rape” alongside recent Republican actions on women's issues including birth control, Planned Parenthood and Roe v. Wade.

Ms. Warren also picked up on the theme of abortion in the television ad. “We're still fighting to protect a women's right to choose nearly 40 years after Roe v. Wade, and we could be just one Supreme Court justice away from losing it,” Ms. Warren says.

In a e-mail to reporters on Monday, Mr. Brown's campaign said Ms. Warren is “attempting t o support his strong pro-women voting record with desperate attacks,” and introduced an online-only video highlighting recent polling that has shown Ms. Warren lagging behind Mr. Brown, alongside media clips criticizing her campaign.

Mr. Brown, who is planning to attend only one day of this week's Republican convention, has worked aggressively to distance himself from Mr. Akin's statement, calling for the Missouri congressman to resign his Senate candidacy. Mr. Brown, who supports abortion rights, also wrote to Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, to express his opposition to the anti-abortion plank proposed by the party last week.

Mr. Brown and Ms. Warren are locked in a fierce and expensive race that could be critical to party control of the Senate. Federal records released on Monday showed that Ms. Warren raised more money than Mr. Brown during July and the first half of August, pulling in $3.64 million to his $2.26 million, but that Mr. Brown has a cash-on-hand advantage, with $14.19 million to her $12.34 million.

Schumer Urges Repairs to the Capitol Dome


Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, citing years of inclement weather, sent a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner on Monday about the “severe disrepair” plaguing the Capitol dome.

The $61 million needed to finish renovations to the dome was appropriated by a Senate committee in early August, but omitted from the budget submitted by its House counterpart, which said there was not enough money to go around. Mr. Schumer, a Democrat, is now calling for the money to be included in a short-term spending bill that negotiators from the House and Senate are working on to keep the government operating through March 2013.

“The leaks in the dome may even subject the inside of the building â€" including the fresco painted upon the dome's interior â€" to damage from the elements,” he said. “This upkeep is critical for the safety of those who work and tour the Capitol building every single day.”

He added: “The project also has major symbolic importance. The Capitol's dome is a monument to our nation's representative democracy. It would be a national embarrassment if partisan gridlock allowed this iconic work of architecture to fall into a state of permanent decay.”

Representative Ander Crenshaw of Florida, a Republican and leader of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, broke with his party and expressed hope that the money could be made available.

The skirt of the dome â€" the section around the base of the original sandstone foundation â€" was recently restored at a cost of $20 million. Mr. Schumer said that postponing more repairs would only increase the price tag.

“Most Americans believe that when your house has a leaky roof, you pay to fix the roof,” he said.

Boehner Sees G.O.P. Victory, but Not Necessarily a Mandate on Medicare


TAMPA, Fla. - The House speaker, John A. Boehner, on Monday cautiously predicted victory for Republicans up and down the ticket in November, but he avoided saying that a Republican victory would mean a mandate for the sweeping changes to Medicare that Mitt Romney and Representative Paul D. Ryan have proposed.

At a lunch with reporters, Mr. Boehner said that the nation's dire fiscal position, driven by health care spending, would confront Washington next year “regardless of who wins the election.” But he was cautious about predicting a mandate for the House Republican plan to end the government guarantee for Medicare, replacing the program with fixed contributions that older Americans would use to buy private health insurance or pay into the government plan.

Instead, he said, the 2012 election would be won on jobs, the economy and Republican assertions that President Obama's policies have failed.

“I thin k the American people are going to vote with their wallets on Election Day,” the speaker said.

Mr. Boehner's caution reflects the fears that Republicans have long held when approaching changes to Social Security and Medicare, a caution that Mr. Ryan has tried to move beyond.

After President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004, he claimed a mandate to partially privatize Social Security by diverting some payroll taxes into personal investment accounts. But after a full-throated presidential push on the issue, Congressional Republicans never even drafted legislation to put it into place.

The speaker did not distance himself from the proposal itself.

“We have a big menu,” he said. “We know what needs to be done. It's just a matter of having elected officials with enough courage of their convictions to do it.”

But he kept his focus on the president's economic policies, which he said the House's 89 freshman Re publicans had used to shore up their re-election prospects.

In April, Mr. Boehner said that “there's a one-in-three chance” Republicans could lose control of the House in November.

This time, he was more optimistic, raising his goal beyond maintaining the Republican majority to expanding it. “Many of them are in better shape than I would have guessed,” he said of the Republican candidates.

Republicans seem poised to firm up their grip on power with a relentlessly negative take on the economy under Mr. Obama. Guy Harrison, executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said on Monday that a “good night” in November should net Republicans four to eight extra seats.

The speaker acknowledged his party's problems with minority voters, but he said the economy would depress their turnout on Election Day for both sides.

“They might not show up to vote for our candidate, but I'd suggest to you they won't show up for the president either,” he said.

Mr. Boehner would not weigh in on whether the Republican convention here should be further truncated if Tropical Storm Isaac hits the Gulf Coast hard. He did suggest that the days of the four-day political convention might be over. The Democrats have cut theirs down to three days next week in Charlotte, N.C., and for the second year in a row, weather has lopped a day off the Republican gathering.

“I'm not sure having a four-day convention for the future makes sense,” he said.

Before the Convention, a Hometown Rally for Ryan


JANESVILLE, Wis. - Here where the first sparks of his political career were struck with his election as class president, Representative Paul D. Ryan returned for a boisterous rally at Joseph A. Craig High School on Monday, before flying to the Republican National Convention to accept his party's vice-presidential nomination - a trip now delayed by a day, until Tuesday, because of Tropical Storm Isaac.

Mr. Ryan, who lives with his family on Courthouse Hill around the corner from where he grew up, walked to the stage between a line of pom-pom-waving cheerleaders with his wife, Janna, and their three young children, one in a yellow cheese-head hat. His mother, Betty Ryan Douglas, and his father-in-law, Dan Little, were also on hand.

“I think I recognize every face in this room,'' Mr. Ryan said, visibly moved. “This gym means so much, it's so familiar.''

Mr. Ryan described how he was a fifth-generation Janesville resident with 60-odd cousins in town, who traced their roots to Irish immigrants in the 1850s.

“Our family's story is not that much different than most Americans' family stories,'' he said.

Friends credit Mr. Ryan's rootedness â€" he returns here from Washington three or four days a week â€" as keeping him down to earth and approachable. “Paul is Janesville,'' said Joe Knilans, a state assemblyman. “He's the guy in the Packers hat in the supermarket when you walk down the aisle.''

Republican strategists are hoping that same quality will enhance the appeal of the Republican ticket to middle-class voters, balancing Mitt Romney's image of youthful privilege and business wealth.

Mr. Ryan struck the same note here by embracing President Obama's disparagement of Rust Belt voters in 2008 as clinging to guns and religion. “Guilty as charged,'' he said, speaking as a hunter “whose tree stand is about six miles in that d irection.''

“We have a big choice to make, not just picking the next president for a few years,” Mr. Ryan told supporters. “We're picking the pathway for America for a generation.”

In response, the Obama campaign said the Republican ticket's economic proposals would undermine the middle class. “They'd raise taxes for middle-class families with kids by an average of $2,000, turn Medicare into a voucher system and slash critical investments in education and infrastructure,” a spokesman, Danny Kanner, said in a statement. “And they'd do it all to pay for massive tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”

An adviser to Mr. Ryan said that the hullabaloo that had attended him since he was named Mr. Romney's running mate two weeks ago â€" Secret Service motorcades, people fainting in large crowds, supporters on rope lines saying they pray for him â€" had been “an out-of-body experience” for Mr. Ryan.

“He's perplexed about it,'' the a dviser said. “‘Is all this for me?' He can't believe all this is going on around him. He has a very healthy perspective.''

A city of 64,000 in southern Wisconsin, Janesville is like many cities in the industrial Midwest, where a high school diploma once secured a middle-class job but no longer does. The closing of a General Motors plant in 2008 swept away 6,000 jobs. The 2012 race may, in part, come down to which campaign is best able to appeal to voters in places like Janesville in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Although Mr. Ryan spoke beneath a banner that said “Paul Ryan: The Pride of Janesville,'' he does not enjoy universal support in his hometown. About 30 protesters gathered beneath their own banner outside, which said, “Paul Ryan Is Not On Our Side.''

His Congressional district, which stretches from Janesville east to the shore of Lake Michigan, is a swing district that George W. Bush won in 2004 and President Obama in 2008. (That same year, Mr. Ryan won re-election a fifth time in a 29-percentage-point landslide.)

In downtown Janesville on Sunday evening, voters expressed a wide variety of views on Mr. Ryan. Kevin Warnecke, 40, a deputy sheriff, displayed a cellphone photo of himself with Mr. Ryan and recalled hearing him at a town-hall-style meeting a year ago. “He's phenomenal,'' he said. “There's not a man in the United States government who knows numbers like Paul Ryan knows numbers.''

Thomas Lee, 58, a registered nurse who once taught middle school art in Janesville, disagreed. “His methods don't solve the problems for low-income people, for middle-class people,'' he said. “Coming from the health world, I've seen people suffer when things get cut.''

Ken Kemler, 55, a restaurant owner, said that he could not afford health insurance for his employees, including two grown sons, and that he hoped that the president's health care law would allow him to do so. “Wh en Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney talk about business, they're not talking about me with 30 part-time employees,” he said. “They're talking about the Koch brothers.''

Laura Cleansby, 51, a warehouse clerk, said that she had voted for Mr. Obama but that, if the election were held today, she would choose the Republican ticket out of disappointment with high unemployment.

“I always thought Republicans were more for the rich,'' she said. “Paul Ryan seems to be more for people like us, the middle class. He seems to know more about us, what we're thinking.''

The Caucus Click: Get Your Souvenirs Here


Want to buy a Mitt Romney T-shirt? Or a hat? Or anything else with Mitt Romney's name on it? Delegates to the Republican National Convention can find it all at a pop-up store on the third level of the convention hall.

Don\'t Let the Original Price Haunt Your Decision to Sell


Carl Richards is a certified financial planner in Park City, Utah, and is the director of investor education at BAM Advisor Services. His book, “The Behavior Gap,” was published this year. His sketches are archived on the Bucks blog.

Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of chatter about Facebook stock. The headlines all seem to echo each other by focusing on the opening price:

  • “Facebook gains after dropping under $19, half of initial public offering price” [Washington Post]
  • “Facebook hits record low for third straight session, falls to less than half of IPO price” [Mercury News]
  • “Facebook stock falls below half its IPO price” [Los Angeles Times]

These headlines are a prime example of our very human tendency to anchor to a number, and it's usually the first number we see. In this instance, they're referring to the number $38, Facebook's initial public offering p rice.

But here's the deal: the decision to buy, sell or skip Facebook stock shouldn't have much to do with its opening price of $38.

Because we're human and we like anchors, that $38 price is hard to ignore. Anchoring can lead us to make mistakes with other money decisions, too. For instance, Derek Thompson, writing for The Atlantic, highlighted how that first number can impact your buying decisions:

You walk into a high-end store, let's say it's Hermès, and you see a $7,000 bag. “Haha, that's so stupid!” you tell your friend. “Seven grand for a bag!” Then you spot an awesome watch for $367. Compared to a Timex, that's wildly overexpensive. But compared to the $7,000 price tag you just put to memory, it's a steal. In this way, stores can massage or “anchor” your expectations for spending.

It's common to see a version of anchoring when people are selling their homes. Not surprisingly, most sellers mentally start with the price they paid. Depending on the market and other factors, they may play around with that number a bit, but it's hard not to anchor to that original price.

Let's say a family bought a home for $300,000 back before the housing market crashed. Over time, the house climbed in value, but then the market came to a screeching halt, and the home's value dropped. Then the homeowners got a job offer in another city, so it's time to sell. Even though they know the market has gone down, it's hard to forget that they originally paid $300,000.

So they list the house for $300,000. A few weeks and then months go by, and finally there's an offer for $275,000. Because of anchoring, it can be incredibly hard for the homeowners to weigh the offer on its merits. After all, they already had a number in their heads.

We carry sets of numbers in our heads in so many ways, and without realizing it, those numbers can weigh down our decisions. In stead of acting in a way that best suits our needs, we get stuck because the numbers don't match. Maybe we bought a stock for $100, determined after a time that it didn't fit our goals anymore and decided to sell it. But the stock now sits at $75. Do you still sell or do you wait? You'll find it's incredibly tempting to wait in the hope the stock will get back to $100.

Numbers matter, but you need to avoid the trap of anchoring to a single number and making it the primary guidepost for your decision. The first number will rarely be the number that should matter the most to you. As I've discussed before, the only number that matters when you need to sell is the price today.


As Isaac Approaches, Jindal Cancels Convention Speech


TAMPA, Fla. - The prime-time Republican National Convention speech of Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has become another casualty of Tropical Storm Isaac.

Mr. Jindal, who at one point had been considered a strong potential candidate for vice president on the Republican ticket, announced Monday that he would not attend events in Tampa while the storm threatened his state, let alone speak as scheduled at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

With the storm bearing down on Louisiana on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the governor really had no choice. He could hardly leave his post for a nationally televised moment in the political spotlight when parts of Louisiana could be underwater and residents facing disaster.

It is not the first time a hurricane has interrupted Mr. Jindal's political itinerary â€" he was forced to miss the 2008 Republican convention in St. Paul when Hurricane Gustav int ervened and kept him at home and off the podium.

While a convention appearance can be a big opportunity for a party star like Mr. Jindal, he probably will do more to further his political future by staying home and taking care of business.

Crist to Speak at Democratic Convention


TAMPA, Fla. - Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida who ran for the Senate as an independent, will speak at the Democratic National Convention next week, taking yet another step away from his erstwhile party.

Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, confirmed Mr. Crist's role just a day after he endorsed the president for re-election. The chairman of the Florida Republican Party, Lenny Curry, derided that endorsement as Mr. Crist's effort to “shed his skin for a political comeback.”

Mr. Crist, who hails from nearby St. Petersburg, was once seen as a rising Republican star whose endorsement was sought by several of the party's presidential candidates in 2008. But he fell out of favor in 2009 when he embraced President Obama's economic stimulus efforts, and he ran for the Senate as an independent in 2010 after it appeared he would lose the Republican primary to Marco Rubio, the Tea Party-backed candidate. Mr. Rubio, now the junior senator from Florida, is scheduled to introduce Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention here on Thursday.

Convention speakers from the opposite party are common trophies, and have been sought more aggressively in recent years as the parties try to highlight their broad appeal.

Mr. Crist was viewed as a contender to be Senator John McCain's running mate in 2008, but he is still not the most high-profile poaching in modern convention history. That title belongs to Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, who ran as Al Gore's running mate in 2000. After losing the Democratic primary in Connecticut in 2006, Mr. Lieberman then succeeded where Mr. Crist failed by winning his Senate race a s an independent.

Mr. Lieberman's further split with Democrats over foreign policy led him to address the Republican convention in 2008.

Preconvention Polls Highlight Tightness of the Race


Heading into the Republican convention, new polls show President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney running even - continuing a summerlong trend where neither candidate has been able to establish or maintain a clear lead in many national surveys.

In the ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted Wednesday through Saturday, 47 percent of registered voters support Mr. Romney and 46 percent favor Mr. Obama, a split well within the poll's margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. A CNN/ORC poll conducted last week showed Mr. Obama with 49 percent to Mr. Romney's 47 percent among likely voters.

A Fox News poll conducted from Aug. 19 to Aug. 21 had the race at 45 percent for the Republican t eam of Mr. Romney and Paul D. Ryan, and 44 percent for Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Gallup's daily tracking poll, which shows the results based on seven-day rolling averages, hasn't shown a lead of more than four points for either candidate all summer (Mr. Obama was up by four points for a few periods in July), which is just at the margin of sampling error of plus or minus two percentage points on each candidate. The most recent results, from Aug. 19 to Aug. 25, showed each candidate with 46 percent support among registered voters.

An analysis of preconvention polling by Gallup showed that the leader in polls entering the conventions has won 12 of the last 15 elections. Going back to 1952, the candidate leading in the Gallup poll conducted just before the first convention has won in November, except for in 1988, 1992 and 2004.

So entering into two weeks of conventions with nearly equal support among the American public, both Mr. Obama an d Mr. Romney face the same opportunities and the challenges of using their party conventions to rally their base of support and engage the broader electorate.


Why You Have 49 Different FICO Scores


As a consumer, you hear a lot about the importance of maintaining a good credit “score.” Most often, that means your FICO score - the score developed by the company of the same name to help lenders evaluate the creditworthiness of a potential borrower. But it probably makes more sense to talk about your credit “scores,” plural.

That's because other outfits produce credit scores, too - and FICO itself has many different varieties of scores, depending on the type of loan you're seeking. In fact, John Ulzheimer, a credit expert, has worked with Creditsesame.com to create a snazzy infographic (which you can click on above, and then zoom in on) showing a total of 49 different versions of your credit score under the FICO umbrella.

That's right, more than four dozen. Why so many?

FICO created the basic formula - the general purpose FICO, if you will - that is used to crunch consumer credit data for all loan types. The credit data is collected by the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and analyzed by FICO to create a single, three-digit score. So there's three versions of the basic score, just for starters.

But FICO also has several other versions, customized for the specific type of loan in question - say, an automobile loan, a mortgage or a credit card. Each is also offered by the credit bureaus, under their own brands. And each version may have multiple releases, as FICO's formula for crunching the data is updated. So you can see how the versions pretty quickly add up to nearly fifty.

All this can be very confusing for consumers, Mr. Ulzheimer says, who may wonder, “Why is the score I get here not the same as what they get there?”

That issue is currently under review by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, because consumers may pay for a credit score from various consumer Web sites but get a generic FICO or other score, which may differ from the actual score a lender is using to evaluate their creditworthiness.

For now, the main point to keep in mind, Mr. Ulzheimer says, is that the same general principal applies to keeping your scores attractive to lenders: Pay your bills on time, maintain low credit-card balances and apply for credit only when you really need it, “not to save 10 percent at the mall,” he said.

Have you paid for your credit score recently? Did you find it useful?

Key Dates Between Now and Election Day


President Obama and Mitt Romney have 71 days of campaigning from Monday until the election. The closing chapter of the race will be highlighted by a handful of marquee events that could change the dynamic of the contest. The political conventions will give way to a burst of campaigning in September, followed by the closely watched debates in October. While the election is not until Nov. 6, tens of millions of voters will not wait. Early voting begins in less than a month in Iowa, and four years ago, 88 percent of the electorate in the battleground state of Colorado cast their ballots before Election Day.

AUGUST 27-30Republican National Convention, Tampa, Fla.
SEPT. 4-6< /td>Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, N.C.
SEPT. 7Unemployment data released for August
SEPT. 27Early voting begins in Iowa
OCT. 2Early voting begins in Ohio
OCT. 3Presidential debate, Denver
OCT. 5Unemployment data released for September
OCT. 11Vice-presidential debate, Danville, Ky.
OCT. 16Presidential debate, Hempstead, N.Y.
OCT. 22Presidential debate, Boca Raton, Fla.
NOV. 2Unemployment data released for October
NOV. 6Election Day

Romney Says \'Dishonest\' Attacks Have Had an Impact


BOSTON â€" Mitt Romney said President Obama's attacks on him have been “dishonest” but acknowledged that they had succeeded in tarnishing his image as he heads to a convention intended to reintroduce him to the American people.

In interviews published Monday, Mr. Romney grappled with the challenges awaiting him as Republicans gather in Tampa, Fla., to seal his nomination. After a summer of relentless attacks, Mr. Romney finds himself on the defensive on his taxes, record in business and economic plans. But he expressed confidence that he could overcome that, starting this week.

“I do think that the president's campaign of personal vilification and demonization probably draws some people away fro m me,” Mr. Romney told USA Today. In the end, he said, “people will recognize those attacks for what they are, and they'll make a decision based on who can do a better job creating jobs and providing more take-home pay for the middle class of America. I believe I am that person.”

In a separate interview with Politico, Mr. Romney said: “Certainly their ads have some impact or they wouldn't be running them. But there would be an opportunity for people to get to know me better during the debates and during the time in the campaign season when people are actually paying a lot of attention to the candidates.”

Mr. Romney's complaints about his opponent's attacks mirror those of Mr. Obama, who has criticized his challenger for what he considers distortions and negativity.

Mr. Romney spent Sunday night at his home in Wolfeboro, N.H., and was spending Monday out of sight to work on his acceptance speech. He plans to fly to Tampa on Thursday, the final day of the convention when he will deliver his address.

The interviews underscored one of the liabilities Mr. Romney faces - the notion that he is not as likable or as attuned to regular people as Mr. Obama is. Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, agreed that that perception exists but attributed it to the Obama ad campaign and said voters would get a better sense of him this week.

“I was voted the president of my fraternity,” he noted. “They don't call them fraternities at Brigham Young University. They're called service clubs. It was the Cougar Club. But you don't get voted to be head of your group if you don't get along with people, if you don't connect with people.”

He expressed surprise at the issues Mr. Obama has focused on in attacking him. “There are plenty of weaknesses that I have, and I acknowledge that,” Mr. Romney said. “But the attacks that have come have been so misguided, have been so far off target, have been so disho nest, that they surprised me. I thought they might go after me on things that were accurate that I've done wrong, instead of absurd things.”

Asked what those accurate weaknesses would be, he laughed and declined to say.

Monday Reading: Scandinavia on $125 a Day


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.