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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Caucus Click: Heading Toward the Floor


At Democratic Convention, Eastwood Joke Is a Recurring One


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It is the punch line that won't die.

The Party

Capturing the scene at the Democratic National Convention.

Clint Eastwood's sketch-comedy routine with an empty chair has become a seemingly mandatory (read: worn out) joke here, dropped with as much frequency as the names Michelle or Barack.

“Thanks for not Eastwooding,” read the small white signs placed on the tables at a party given by the Washington power couple Tony and Heather Podesta.

During a speech to delegates from Minnesota, Cory A. Booker, the Newark mayor, could not resi st. He dragged an empty chair onstage, to laughter from the audience. “I just wanted to sit down,” he explained slyly.

Elizabeth Warren, the United States Senate candidate from Massachusetts, weighed in, declaring that “like much of America, I was speechless.”

It's hard to blame the Democrats. No less a comedic inspiration than Chris Rock seemed to egg them on, proposing that party leaders “have an empty chair onstage for the entire D.N.C.”

When anybody asks, he said, they should say it is occupied by Osama bin Laden.

For Michelle Obama, Convention Speech Is a New Point in Transformation


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - In her speech here on Tuesday night, the first lady, Michelle Obama, will have a chance to define her husband on her own terms. But the speech will also mark a new point in her remarkable transformation from a Chicago hospital executive who openly called politics a waste of time to a hugely popular first lady and polished political communicator considered essential to her husband's re-election efforts.

Her last convention speech, from Denver in 2008, is worth watching in advance of the address she will deliver here tonight. But to really see how much Michelle Obama has changed, go all the way back to her husband's 2004 United States Senate race, her first time on the public stage.

L ook at the flier below, which is one of the first-ever pieces of Michelle Obama campaign material, and a striking contrast with the slickly produced images we see from the Obama campaign now. The future first lady does not yet resemble a first lady: she looks like the busy hospital executive she was back then, wearing little or no makeup (but the same huge grin). The sign is homemade, just a Microsoft Word document with a photo plunked in. And the event is an education round table - a chance for her to discuss policy with voters, which she does very little now.

During that race, Mrs. Obama was deliciously, sometimes hilariously, frank, saying all sorts of things that an aspiring senator's wife is not supposed to.

“I cannot be crazy, because then I'm a crazy mother and I'm an angry wife,” she told The Chicago Tribune about balancing her husband's Senate run with the rest of their lives. “What I notice about men, all men, is that their order is me, my family, God is in there somewhere, but me is first. And for women, me is fourth, and that's not healthy.”

“I've had to come to the point of figuring out how to carve out what kind of life I want for myself beyond who Barack is and what he wants,” she continued, on a more poignant note.

After the election, she trailed her newly sworn-in husband through the Capitol, mischievously saying to Jeff Zeleny, “Maybe one day he will do something to warrant all this attention.”

As late as 2007, with her husband running for president, she was still speaking very bluntly about the challenges of being a political spouse - or any spouse. At one early event, she even cited a sewage mishap: “A toilet overflows … I was scrambling around to reschedule a nine o'clock meeting, to be there,” she said. “Barack, love him to death, put on his clothes and he left! And to top it off, we have the added social pressure of looking good, staying slim, don't add pounds, you got ta look good … and we have to be in good spirits!… I'm just tired just thinking about it.”

Will the first lady sound remotely like that tonight? Don't bet on it. But fans of the unscripted Michelle Obama, maintain hope: according to aides, the first lady is already gathering material for the memoir she will write one day.

Another $100 Million Month for Romney and the R.N.C.


Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee raised about $100 million in August, a person briefed on the total said Tuesday.

The nine-figure haul is the Republicans' third $100 million month in a row, putting Mr. Romney on pace to be one of the most successful G.O.P. fund-raisers in history. Most of the money, raised in a series of joint party fund-raisers, will flow to the R.N.C. and other party committees participating in the effort, which can accept far larger checks from individuals than Mr. Romney's own campaign.

The August totals were shared with top Romney donors last week and reported Tuesday by Politico.

The joint arrangement - similar to one between President Obama and t he Democratic National Committee - is hoping to bring in a total of $800 million by the end of the cycle, slightly ahead of Mr. Obama's stated goal.

Related: Priorities USA Action Reports Record Monthly Donations

Protest Outside Convention Leads to Standoff With Police


About 200 protesters tried to march to the site of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday afternoon, but they were stopped by the police before they could get to the site.

One man, John Penley, 60, of Asheville, N.C., was arrested after he tried to climb over a police barricade. Mr. Penley, who said he was a Navy veteran, had been carrying an American flag at the front of the protest.

“We want Bradley Manning freed,” Mr. Penley said as he was handcuffed, a reference to the Army intelligence analyst who is charged with disclosing more than 260,000 diplomatic cables, many of them classified, in an inquiry into the WikiLeaks disclosures.

As the protesters tried to push toward the conv ention center, a standoff ensued with the police. As the standoff entered its second hour, some protesters lay down on the pavement behind lines of police three and four deep as a police helicopter hovered above.

The convention is to start in the Time-Warner Cable Arena at 5 p.m.

\'Super PAC\' Ad Takes Aim at Obama Health Overhaul


The Republican-leaning “super PAC” Americans for Prosperity is debuting a new commercial at the start of the Democratic National Convention, suggesting that President Obama‘s health care overhaul would leave the United States with a system much like Canada's, one in which costly delays in treatment would threaten people's lives.

The commercial quotes a Canadian woman, Shona Holmes, who was suffering from a rare brain condition and came to the United States for treatment because, she says, the delays in the Canadian medical care system would have put her life in danger from the illness. “The system had become far more dangerous for patients than I had ever realized,” she says. “The American sy stem was there for me when I needed it, and it's time for Americans to get engaged in this debate.”

The Obama administration has asserted that the overhaul will still leave a market-driven system of health care coverage in the United States, and that such delays will not result from the changes.

The commercial is part of a $6.2 million purchase in swing states, including North Carolina, where the convention is being held.

On the Road to North Carolina, Obama Stops to Shore Up Support in Virginia


MECHANICSVILLE, Va.-Of all the swing states this election, there are few more coveted by Democrats then this former capital of the Confederacy, where an influx of Hispanics and population growth in Northern Virginia has turned this formerly red state, if not blue, then at least, purple.

So it was no surprise that President Obama chose Norfolk as the final stop in the road to Charlotte-and the Democratic Convention-tour that he has been on over the past four days. Seeming intent on not heading to North Carolina without first doing all he could to shore up his chances in Virginia, Mr. Obama delivered a rousing speech to 11,600 people at Norfolk State University characterizing his G.O.P. opponents as repres entative of failed policies of the past.

At times shouting into the microphone, Mr. Obama began sentence after sentence with the word “Virginia.”

“So, Virginia-Norfolk-on issue after issue, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan-they want to take us backwards,” the president said. Whenever his audience booed, he fell back on the line he has taken to using of late on the campaign trail. “Don't boo! Vote!”

Democratic officials initially chose Charlotte as the site of this year's convention in part because of the hope that Mr. Obama would repeat in 2012 his unlikely win of the Tar Heel state in 2008. But now-even though the Obama camp has still managed to keep North Carolina somewhat still in play this year, campaign operatives privately acknowledge that it will be a tall order for Mr. Obama to repeat in North Carolina in 2012 what he did in 2008.

But Virginia is a whole different story. A New York Times/CBS News/Q uinnipiac poll last month showed Mr. Obama up by four points in Virginia. But more recent polls have shown the race tightening.

The state has only 13 electoral votes, but pathways to Mr. Obama's re-election get much steeper if the commonwealth is taken out of the blue column. With Virginia, Mr. Obama can lose Ohio and still win re-election. With Virginia, he can lose Florida and still win re-election. With Virginia, he can even lose both of those once must-have states-and he can still win re-election. Conversely, barring a major shift, it is very difficult to see how Mitt Romney can win the White House if he does not win Virginia; he would have to pick up Democratic-leaning states like Michigan or Pennsylvania.

“Virginia, it depends on you,” Mr. Obama said. He reminded the mostly college-age audience-a key constituency for the president-that Mr. Romney once suggested that one way to afford college was for students to go to their parents for loans.

The a udience, of course, booed.

“Don't Boo! Vote!” the president roared back.

With the GOP edge in spending becoming more increased each week, the Obama camp has been seeking to turn that edge into another cudgel to use against Republicans on the trail. Mr. Obama did so again on Tuesday.

“Over these next 63 days, you will see more ads, more negative ads, more insults and distractions and baloney than you've ever seen,” Mr. Obama told the crowd. “And they'll be supported by $10 million checks from wealthy donors who like things just the way they are.”

The president tried to tee up Tuesday night's convention events, with First Lady Michelle Obama holding a prime slot on the stage.

“I know that whatever I say here today, it's going to be at best a distant second to the speech you will hear tonight from the star of the Obama familyâ€"Michelle Obama,” Mr. Obama said.

The president, who is rarely known for showing much by way of emoti on, even went so far as to suggest that he would become so moved when Mrs. Obama spoke that he'd cry.

“I'll be at home and I will watch it with the girls and I will try not to let them see their daddy cry,” he said.

TimesCast Politics and Democratic Convention Day at a Glance


12:48 p.m. | Updated CHARLOTTE, N.C. - As Democrats gather here, seeking to recapture the unity from 2008, the convention officially opens on Tuesday, and The Times's political unit will be broadcasting live with the latest from the convention, beginning at 2 p.m. Here are a few of the highlights from the program:

TimesCast Politics at 2 p.m. Eastern time:

  • Jeff Zeleny, a national political correspondent, discusses the challenges facing Democrats at the start of their convention.
  • Previewing the Get Out the Vote effort in Charlotte.
  • Carl Hulse, deputy Washington bureau chief, interviews Senator Patty Murray of Washington.
  • Jim Roberts, an assistant managing editor, and Ben Smith, editor in cheif of BuzzFeed, break down Monday's demonstrations.
  • Jodi Kantor looks at the role of Valerie Jarrett in Charlotte.
  • In the latest installment from the series The Agenda, John Broder looks at the role energy policy and gas prices will play in Charlotte. Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts will sit down for an interview on energy policy in a second Obama administration.
  • Opinion: the Op-Ed columnist Charles M. Blow talks with the editorial writer David Firestone.

Opinion: Google+ Hangouts

Live at 4 p.m. Eastern time, five voters join the Op-Ed columnists Gail Collins and Frank Bruni in Google+ Hangout to discuss the future of bipartisanship after President Obama's failed promise to change the tone of politics in Washington.

On the Floor

In addition to the roll call vote to re-nominate the president late Tuesday afternoon, there is a full schedule of speakers. Live coverage of the night's events will begin at 7 p.m. Eastern time on NYTimes.com.

Michelle Obama will speak during the 10 o'clock hour, giving a speech that advisers describe as an exercise in empathy and connection.

Mayor Julián Castro of San Antonio, who will deliver the keynote address, is the first Latino to give the address in the convention's history. He is a close friend of the Obama family, and sat with Mrs. Obama during the State of the Union address in January.

Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, whom many see as a potential 2016 presidential contender, will deliver a speech before Mr. Castro.

A TMZ Moment at the Democratic Convention


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Obama, had completed a monotonously on-message performance Tuesday morning - no slip-ups, no leaks, and no accidental news-making.

The Party

Capturing the scene at the Democratic National Convention.

Then TMZ struck.

As Ms. Jarrett, flanked by Secret Service and young staffers expertly rushing her away from reporters with outstretched recorders, exited a Bloomberg breakfast panel, a reporter from the celebrity-stalking Web site shouted out the most surprising question of the morning, hand-held video camera at the ready.

< p>“Who do you think would portray President Obama better in a movie - Will Smith or Drake?” asked Colin Drummond, the TMZ reporter.

Ms. Jarrett smiled politely and ducked into her waiting S.U.V., much like TMZ's usual targets, though they are more typically dashing from the Chateau Marmont at night than a Bloomberg “insider” breakfast at the Democratic National Convention.

But TMZ's arrival in Charlotte shows, yet again, the full celebritization of the president's party, just four year's after Senator John McCain of Arizona called Mr. Obama “the biggest celebrity in the world.”

Mr. Drummond said he had been picking up tips from restaurants and hotels downtown, and so far he had spotted Will.i.am, Jeff Bridges, and Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York.

“He's everywhere,” he said, referring to Mr. Schumer, before adding, more philosophically: “But he's good. He speaks. He'll talk.”

In North Carolina, Romney and Obama Are in a Tight Race


In North Carolina, where the Democratic faithful have descended to hold their convention, a new poll shows that Mitt Romney and President Obama are running closely in the state.

In an Elon University Poll, 47 percent of likely voters are supporting the Republican candidate, Mr. Romney, and 43 percent are supporting Mr. Obama, a difference that is within the margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points on each candidate.

In 2008, Mr. Obama eked out a victory in North Carolina, edging out Senator John McCain by less than a half a percentage point, or about 14,000 votes. The Elon University Poll, conducted in partnership with The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer from Aug. 25 to 30, showed Mr. Romney held an advantage among men, whites, and higher-income and older voters in North Carolina. Mr. Obama's support came from younger, lower-income and black voters. Mr. Romney had a six-point edge among independents, while women were nearly evenly divided.

With the economy or jobs named as the most important issue of their vote this November, a majority of North Carolina voters also said Mr. Romney would do better at handling the economy. Voters were divided over which candidate shared their values most closely, with slightly more saying that Mr. Obama would do a better job handling relations with other countries.

The poll was conducted with live interviewers by cellphone and landline among 1,089 likely voters.

Near the Convention Site, \'Occupy\' Takes Root


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Eric Verlo waved an “Occupy the DNC” flag as he stood among the dozens of tents pitched around Marshall Park in uptown Charlotte on Monday in advance of the Democratic National Convention. The flag was not so much a rallying point as a declaration of the Occupy movement's defiant presence here.

Mr. Verlo drove from Colorado Springs to Charlotte to join the protest and is one of about 80 to 100 people staying at the Occupy encampment, a launch point for their activism during the convention that begins Tuesday.

But the park happens to be across the street from a more imposing encampment here - the convention at Time Warner Cable Arena - and the sides are separated by a high fen ce and a large police presence.

So how is Occupy the D.N.C. going to get its message through the barricades and to the power brokers?

“I'm not sure there's an answer there,” Mr. Verlo said. “We're up against barriers around most of the buildings here.”

“This is supposed to be part of our democratic process,” he said. “This is supposed to be involving the common citizen, but it's looking ever more like it's not. That could even account for the fewer numbers” of protesters.

Perhaps the demonstrators did not know they would be permitted here despite an ordinance that bans camping in the city, which was used to break up the original Occupy Charlotte encampment in January. This time, the city has set up portable toilets and provided water to Occupy members during the convention.

The small Occupy gathering here follows the smaller-than-expected showing in marches at the Republican National Convention last week in Tampa, Fla., and in Charlotte on Sunday.

“I'm a little disappointed,” said Darrell Prince, 36, of Brooklyn, an original member of Occupy Wall Street who was also in Tampa last week. “I feel like there's certainly enough people who are upset right now. Congress has a 9 percent approval rate.”

“That means there should be people out in the streets, and there's reasons to be out in the streets,” he said.

Most of the people out in the streets on Monday morning were participating in the annual Labor Day parade, which wound through several streets in Charlotte and ended at Marshall Park. That led to an odd confrontation between the union members and Occupy campers - two groups that had protested side by side on Sunday in the “March on Wall Street South” - a reference to Charlotte's status as a banking city.

The union members shouted “four more years” in support of President Obama, while the Occupy members who don't approve of eith er party responded, “war more years.” They shouted back and forth for several minutes, but there was no physical confrontation.

“They are selling out their independence, which is a big issue,” said Nancy Menoz of the Anarchists Alliance D.C., who led the shouts of the Occupy group. “And this is my problem right now with the unions that are supporting Obama.”

Ms. Menoz and Mr. Prince both plan to be in New York on Sept. 17 for the one-year anniversary of the start of the Occupy movement. The numbers there could determine whether there is a future beyond the encampments that have been banned around the country.

Some remain hopeful.

“I think it's funny that everybody's like, ‘Occupy's dead,” said Vic Suter, 23, an Occupy Charlotte member who is camping at Marshall Park. “We'll see come September 17 if that can be a revamping, restarting point, so we can figure out if we're not going to have these encampments, where are we going.”

Others believe it's inevitable the protests will continue in some form, whether their voices are heard in Charlotte or not.

“I think it's ensured by what's happening with the global economy,” Mr. Verlo said. “It's not going to be us starting slogans that will finally win people over. I believe it will be the fact that more people are going to lose their jobs and their homes and those aren't coming back.”

Striving to Lead More of an Heirloom Life


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.

Inventor Saul Griffith gave his new baby son a Rolex and a Montblanc pen. Odd gifts, right? But for Mr. Griffith, it was about buying the only watch and pen his son would ever need.

Over the past few years, Griffith has argued that we need to design more things to last, what he calls heirloom design in an interview with Good:

[it's] something that will not only last through your lifetime and into the next generation, but that you also desire to k eep that long because it's beautiful, functional, and timeless.

It reminded me of the case I made earlier this summer that we might actually save money by spending more on a high-quality item when we plan to keep it. I know this isn't a new or revolutionary concept, but when I read the comments, I was surprised to learn how many cool sayings there are from around the world that capture this advice.

“We're too poor to buy cheap things.”

“Owning just a bit less, and buying good quality stuff that lasts longer ends up making a huge difference over a lifetime.”

“I don't buy much, but I make sure it is something I really want.”

“Buy cheap, buy twice!”

“There is an Italian peasant saying that sums it up nicely: We're too poor to pay less. (Siamo troppo poveri per pagare meno).”

“Or, as the Scottish say: buy less, pay more.”

“Buy the best and buy it once†

These comments and the idea of heirloom design got me thinking about passing things on, of living an heirloom life.

What if instead of buying things to replace, we bought things that last? What if we bought with intention, choosing items with timeless design? And in line with the idea of spending a little more, what if we embrace buying fewer items of a higher quality?

Obviously not every buying decision falls into this category. But asking two questions can help separate what makes sense and what doesn't:

  1. Do I hope to pass this on to my kids or grandkids?
  2. If I break down my purchase as cost per use, does it benefit me over the long term to spend a little more for something to last longer?

Much of what we buy won't be something we pass on to our kids. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't buy to last.

For instance, the idea of heirloom shoes sounds a bit silly. But then I think about the shoes I wear the most during summer. My favorite pair is my Chaco Flips. In fact, if they ever wore out, I wouldn't hesitate to get a new pair. However, they do cost $60 a pair.

I know that price seems like a lot for flip flops. However, I've had my current pair for five years. Realistically, given how much I wear these shoes, I could easily go through 10 pairs of $12 drugstore flip flops in the same time. So if I look at it from a price per use basis, spending more money for the higher quality shoes has saved me money, time and aggravation.

Depending on where you're at in life, you may feel like an heirloom life isn't an option. And I know we're bombarded with the message that everything is replaceable. Between these two competing forces, it can be tempting to buy cheap and cross our fingers. But it's hard to ignore that there's something special about receiving a treasured family item from your parents or grandparents.

In many ways, spending more is only part of an heirloom l ife. The other part requires spending wisely. Your goal with an heirloom life isn't to buy for the sake of buying, but to buy because you want something to last.


Do You Have a Hurricane Deductible?


Many homeowners in Louisiana who were affected by Hurricane Isaac are probably getting familiar with an aspect of their insurance policies known as a hurricane deductible.

Deductibles are the portion of damage the homeowner pays out of pocket before insurance kicks in. For most “perils,” as the industry calls them, the standard deductible is a flat amount - say, $500 or $1,000. But coastal states from Maine to Texas have special rules for hurricanes, put in place to limit insurance losses after catastrophic storms.

Details vary from state to state, and from insurer to insurer. But generally, when a hurricane (or, in some cases, a named storm) is declared by the National Weather Service, special h urricane deductibles apply for resulting damage. Such deductibles are generally a percentage of the home's insured value, and usually run from 1 to 5 percent. So, for instance, if a home is valued at $300,000, the deductible could be as high as $15,000.

In some areas, homeowners can buy extra coverage - that is, lower their deductible - in exchange for paying higher premiums; some high-risk areas don't offer this option, however, according to the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group.

The institute lists details of hurricane deductibles by state on its Web site.

Hurricane coverage in standard insurance policies generally covers wind damage - both to the home, and to personal belongings - #8212;since many items become projectiles during hurricanes. “If its wind, it's covered - but if it meets hurricane criteria, it's a different deductible,” says Jeanne Salvatore, a spokeswoman for the institute.

Flood damage, however, is covered only if you purchase special flood insurance - generally, from the National Flood Insurance Program, or from some private companies.

Blythe Lamonica, spokeswoman for the Gulf State Insurance Information Center in Baton Rouge, La., said hurricane deductibles apply for damage from Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana. The nonprofit organization, which provides consumers information about insurance in Louisiana, has urged homeowners to review their policies before hurricane season to make sure they know their coverage, she said. Generally, insurers in the state must make the section on hurricane deductibles prominent in written policies, she said, such as by using large type or bold print.

While such deductibles apply, they can be enforced only once a given year. So if a second hurricane were to hit, standard deductibles would apply, she said.

Have you had to pay for a hurricane deductible? How much did it cost you?

Obama\'s Speech Will Be Outdoors, Unless Safety Is an Issue, Aides Say


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - If the Carolina Panthers can play in the rain, President Obama can speak in the rain.

That is the guiding principle behind one of the biggest questions here at the Democratic National Convention: Will the weather allow Mr. Obama to carry through with delivering his acceptance speech on Thursday evening to an outdoor stadium crowd of about 65,000 people?

Jim Messina, the president's campaign manager, has a quick answer to that question.

“We plan to be there rain or shine - unless there's a safety issue,” Mr. Messina said, speaking to reporters at a Bloomberg News breakfast here on Tuesday. “We'll continue to monitor the weather. It's going to be a special moment, and we' re really excited about it.”

A week after Tropical Storm Isaac forced Republicans to cancel the first day of their convention, storms are also threatening Charlotte. A driving rain here on Monday afternoon and evening welcomed the convention delegates as they arrived.

The threat of storm is not a concern for the first two days of the convention, which will be held indoors here at the Time Warner Cable Arena. But the president is reprising a move from the Democratic convention four years ago and taking his acceptance speech outdoors to Bank of America Stadium.

Convention organizers are checking weather reports on the hour. Some forecasts for Thursday call for a 30 percent chance of rain. If that comes true, the president will speak. His aides note that he has delivered some of his best speeches in the rain.

If lightning or tornadoes threaten the area on Thursday, plans may change, since supporters will begin arriving about 10 hours before the speech to clear security.

But campaign officials are turning to local officials for guidance with this overriding thought in mind: If the weather would be good enough for the Carolina Panthers to play in the rain, it will be good enough for the president.

In Interview Blitz, Ryan Plays Defense and Offense


GREENVILLE, N.C. - With Mitt Romney keeping a low profile this week, Representative Paul D. Ryan is the face of the Republican ticket, and on Tuesday he blitzed all three morning network television shows, pressing the attack against President Obama days before he is renominated at the Democratic National Convention.

Mr. Ryan was asked to defend controversial statements in his acceptance speech last week at the Republican convention and to explain why neither he nor Mr. Romney mentioned Afghanistan form the stage in Tampa, Fla.

Mr. Ryan rejected a suggestion the omission was disrespectful to the 2,000 Americans dead in the war, or that Mr. Romney had an obligation to lay out his plans as a potential commander-in-chief. Mr. Ryan pointed out that Mr. Romney spoke of the war to the American Legion the same week.

“I talked about our veterans and what they've done for our country,'' he said on “CBS This Morning.” “We're so thankful for what they've done. We believe if we have a strong national defense, peace through strength doctrine, that will help us tremendously.''

Mr. Ryan repeated that Mr. Romney supports the president's drawdown of Americans in combat roles by the end of 2014.

“We will have to do an assessment of Afganhistan immediately after taking office to see what the post-2014 posture looks like.''

Mr. Ryan was asked why he blamed Mr. Obama for failing to help a General Motors plant in Wisconsin, even though the plant largely shut down before the president took office.

“The promise is that he was going to open the plant, the promise is that he was going to lead an effort to retool the plant and people would go back to work and it would be open for another 100 years,'' he replied on NBC's “Today” show. “The point is he filled people with all this hope as he travelled around the country running for president, making grandiose statements and promise which are just not true.''

The Obama campaign responded that Mr. Obama never specifically promised to keep the Janesville plant open, although he did say while campaigning that he would work to “retool” similar plants for more efficient cars.

“The truth is that had Mitt Romney had his way and we had ‘let Detroit go bankrupt,' plants like the one in Janesville would have closed all across the country,'' Danny Kanner, an Obama spokesman, said in a statement. “Instead, the President bet on the American worker and rescued the auto industry.''

Mr. Ryan was also asked about Democratic charges that the Republican ticket's plan to cut taxes by 20 percent and make up for lost revenues through loophole-closing would mean a $2,000 tax increase for middle-class families. That was the finding of a non-partisan tax research group.

Mr. Ryan said other groups showed it is possible to eliminate tax breaks and still reduce rates for everyone. He said lower tax rates will pay for themselves by spurring the economy. “Economic growth is the key to this, and one of the keys to economic growth is tax reform,'' Mr. Ryan said on ABC's “Good Morning America.”

“And when we keep taxing our families and successful small businesses at much higher tax rates than our foreign competitors tax theirs, you make our businesses less competitive,'' he added. “We don't think we should be taxing small businesses and families more to spend the money in Washington. It hasn't worked, it won't work and we think we have better solutions.”

All three interviews were shot back-to-back in a conference room of Mr. Ryan's hotel in North Carolina. He left soon afterward fo r a busy cross-country campaign swing taking him to Ohio, Iowa and Colorado. Mr. Romney, meanwhile, left his vacation home in New Hampshire for a two-hour drive to Vermont, where he planned an improntu campaign stop, according to a pool report.

Priorities USA Action Reports Record Monthly Donations


The Democratic “super PAC” backing President Obama raised $10 million in August, as donors gave a record amount to the group amid growing concern among some elite Democratic contributors that Republican outside groups will swamp Mr. Obama's re-election effort.

The group, Priorities USA Action, has never raised as much in a single month since being formed last year by two former Obama aides. Yet the group's overall fund-raising is far behind super PACs and other groups, like American Crossroads and Restore Our Future, supporting the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, and other Republican candidates.

“Democrats have seen the threat from Karl Rove and the Koch brothers and they are respondin g,” said Bill Burton, a spokesman for Priorities USA. “There is still a long way to go, but this is a big step in the right direction to getting President Obama re-elected.”

Much like Republican groups did at their national convention in Tampa last week, Democratic outside groups are this week converging on their party's convention to woo donors, prospect for new ones and show the flag.

Priorities USA Action and two other groups - Majority PAC, which supports Senate Democrats, and House Majority PAC, which backs House Democrats - will host a shadow convention all their own.

Their events, known as Unity Convention 2012, expect to raise money for all three groups. Tuesday will feature a welcome cocktail hour and on Wednesday, a brunch is scheduled featuring “senior Democratic policy leaders from Capitol Hill and Democratic institutions.” The groups will also host a party immediately after Mr. Obama's formal acceptance of his party's nomination on Th ursday.

Tuesday Reading: Study Questions Advantages of Organic Food


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.

The Caucus Click: Pictures of the Day, Sept. 3, 2012


Democrats and others descended on Charlotte, N.C., on the final day before official events began at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.