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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kentucky House Candidate Unveils Graphic Attack Ad


A commercial that all but calls President Obama a murderer â€" likening him to Hitler and Ted Bundy because of his support for abortion rights â€" is running on television stations in Kentucky despite its graphic images and provocative religious references.

The 30-second commercial is for Andrew Beacham, an obscure candidate for Congress who appears on camera at the end puffing on a cigar as he asks incredulously, “If you vote for Obama, the real question is what are you smoking?”

It opens with images of Hitler and Bundy as the candidate narrates. “Would you vote for a murderer?” he asks. “Would you vote for a man who paid others to murder for him? Would you vote for a man who stole f rom others to pay for his murders?”

Then a picture of an aborted fetus appears on screen. The candidate continues, “Well, Obama gives your money to Planned Parenthood to murder babies, and to the Muslim Brotherhood, who murders Christians and Jews.”

According to his campaign Web site, Mr. Beacham, who is running as an independent in Kentucky's Second Congressional District, is a “Christian and a patriot.” He identifies himself as a “full-time Pro-Life missionary” and Tea Party supporter.

Mr. Beacham, who is one of three candidates seeking to oust Representative Brett Guthrie, a Republican, also says he produces many of the advertisements for Randall Terry, the anti-abortion activist who is known for his own graphic commercials that feature aborted fetuses.

Stations are typically free to reject ads that they find offensive or distasteful. The Associated Press reported that one of the stations running the ad, WKBO in Bowling Green, said it could not refuse to show it, but was considering running a disclaimer warning viewers of its offensive content.

A media buyer who monitors political spending said that there was very little money behind the ad â€" about $3,000 in three Kentucky markets.

Romney Adds Note of Inevitability to Stump Speech


To hear Mitt Romney tell it, a Romney administration is not a question of if, but when.

Speaking to a group of veterans in Springfield, Va., Thursday morning, Mr. Romney made a point of stressing that come Nov. 6, he expects to be the president-elect.

“And if I become president - no, when I become president of the United States - we're going to do what we have to do,” he told the group, pausing for effect.

In the face of public polls that show President Obama leading Mr. Romney in a number of crucial battle ground states, Mr. Romney has recently added a deliberate line to his stump speech - a when-not-if quip - that seems designed not only to pump up the crowd, but perhaps also to reassu re weary Republicans and staff members that he has what it takes to wrest the Oval Office from Mr. Obama on Election Day.

Addressing a group of wealthy donors at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles last weekend, Mr. Romney tried to sound a confident note.

“I'm asked from time to time, ‘What are going to do if you get to become president?' ” he said, gearing up for his big applause line. “And the answer is, ‘Well first of all, I'm going be president.' That's No. 1.”

Making his way through Ohio Wednesday on a modified day-and-a-half long bus tour, Mr. Romney  made sure to incorporate the line at every stop.

At a morning rally in Westerville, Ohio: “I can commit to you this: With every ounce of my energy, when I'm president of the United States,” Mr. Romney began, before repeating the phrase again, for added emphasis, “When I am president of the United States, I will strengthen America.”

Before a business round-table discussion in Bedford Heights, Ohio, encouraging the small business owners to give him suggestions: “So if there's some impediments to that growth, some challenges you think we face, if you'll let me know what those things are, because I'm going to be the next president of the United States and I want to know.”

And at an evening rally in Toledo, Ohio: “If instead I - no, instead when I become president - we're going to get this economy growing again, we're going to do the things that ignite this economy.”

The cheerily confident assertion that Mr. Romney believes he will be the next president has become a fail-safe applause line for him - akin to repealing the president's health care plan, or making the nation energy independent - and a way for Mr. Romney to project optimism at the daunting path he faces to 270 electoral votes.
The line is a big hit with voters.

Don Byers, 80, a Korean and Vietnam veteran, recalled that w hen Mr. Romney reassured the audience Thursday morning that he was going to be president, “the crowd roared.”
So what did his wife, Joyce Byers, 80, think?

“Hope,” she said emphatically. “We hope that he does, hope that he makes it.”


TimesCast Politics: Early Voting Under Way in Iowa


Soros Gives $1 Million to Democratic \"Super PAC\"


The billionaire George Soros is committing $1 million to Priorities USA Action, the “super PAC” supporting President Obama, two people with knowledge of the decision said Thursday, a significant donation that could help spur further contributions to the group in the closing weeks of the election.

A longtime political adviser to Mr. Soros, Michael Vachon, made the announcement at a luncheon on Thursday hosted by the Democracy Alliance, a group of liberal donors who have already invested heavily in building grassroots organizations and research institutes. Mr. Soros will also give an additional $500,000 to two super PACs backing congressional Democrats. Other donors at the lunch were expected to commit between at least $10 million more to Democratic super PACs, suggesting that many - like Mr. Soros - had overcome their aversion to the purely advertising-oriented super PACs.

The luncheon, which was headlined by former President Bill Clinton, suggested a rapprochement of sorts between progressive donors who have traditionally favored movement-building and Democratic strategists who badly want large checks to finance the party's emerging super PAC apparatus, which only in recent months have begun to draw significant financial support, much of it from traditional party sources like Hollywood, trial lawyers, and unions.

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, also attended the event, each speaking briefly about why it was important for Democrats to win the House and keep control of the Senate. Mr. Clinton was introduced by Harold M. Ickes, his former White House aide. The donors and o fficials gathered at the Park Avenue apartment of Donald and Shelley Rubin, New York philanthropists and entrepreneurs who gave $1 million to Priorities USA earlier this month.

Mr. Soros had previously given $1 million to American Bridge, a group that provides research, video, and other services for its partner super PACs, and made a low-six figure contributions to House Majority PAC, a group supporting House Democrats. But Mr. Soros had earlier suggested he was unlikely to give to Priorities USA Action.

Mr. Soros' overall giving remains far below the scale of his political spending in 2004, when he and fellow billionaire Peter B. Lewis, the chairman of Progressive Insurance, together donated more than $40 million to Democratic-leaning independent groups. But his participation in the group supporting Mr. Obama could spur other donors to follow suit.

Mr. Soros did not attend in person because the luncheon was held at the same ti me as a board meeting for the Open Society Foundations, which he founded.

But in an e-mail to other invitees, Mr. Soros sought to dispel rumors that he was unhappy with Mr. Obama and explain his decision to contribute to Priorities USA.

“I fully support the re-election of President Obama,” Mr. Soros said in the email. He had not contributed until now, he wrote, because he opposed the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010, which paved the way for super PACs and unlimited money in politics. But since then, Mr. Soros wrote, he had become “appalled by the Romney campaign which is openly soliciting the money of the rich to starve the state of the money it needs to provide social services.”

Buoyant Obama Courts Military Votes in Virginia


VIRGINIA BEACH - Appearing just a few miles from the shipyard where Mitt Romney announced last month that Representative Paul D. Ryan would be his running mate, President Obama on Thursday was fighting hard to make a dent in the Republican Party's traditional stranglehold on military votes.

Virginia Beach and Norfolk are crucial to both campaigns' hopes of winning Virginia, where the race is widely viewed as one of the closest in the remaining swing states, and one that both camps desperately want to win.

“I still believe in you!” Mr. Obama yelled out to the sea of white, brown and black faces before him. “If you stand with me and work with me, we'll win the Tidewater again. We'll win Virgin ia again.”

Just six days before the first debate, both candidates were in Virginia. Mr. Romney campaigned at a veterans' event in the Washington suburb of Springfield, where he, too, played to the military, promising to stop “devastating job losses” to veterans if he is elected. Mr. Romney also vowed to build a military that is “so strong that no one wants to test it.”

The state has 13 electoral votes, but pathways to victory for either man get far steeper if Virginia is taken out of the column. This is especially the case for Mr. Romney, now that polls show him trailing Mr. Obama in Ohio and Florida.

And yet, with each day that moves the president closer to Election Day - and perhaps because of the recent polling in Ohio and Florida - he has appeared more relaxed, almost as if he is starting to enjoy himself. Surrounded by 7,000 screaming supporters - a crowd as diverse as the Tidewater region, with its naval base an d countless veterans - Mr. Obama seemed determined to hang on to his small but steady lead in the state polls.

“How's it going, Virginia Beach?” the president shouted. He quickly attached himself to Senator Jim Webb, the Virginia Democrat and former Marine who had introduced him in a lengthy windup that trumpeted the president's support for military families. “I could not be prouder,” Mr. Obama said, “of a man who has served his country his entire life, as a Marine, as a secretary of the Navy.”

The crowd was eating it up, primed beforehand by the cast of colorful characters that make up Virginia Democratic politics. Representative Robert C. Scott, with his thick Southern accent, seemed a particular favorite. He got roars when he recounted how in 2008 CNN called Virginia for Mr. Obama for the first Democratic presidential victory here in 40 years, and then “two minutes later” called the election for Mr. Obama, a story meant to demonstrate how centr al winning the state has become to presidential aspirations.

Of course, winning the people at this rally looked pretty easy. Attendees were so pumped up that there was almost a stampede when organizers handed out the Obama campaign's “Forward” signs.

As is becoming the norm before the president enters a rally, the crowd took over as Al Green's “Let's Stay Together” came on, belting out the lyrics like the president did at the Apollo Theater. By the time Mr. Webb came out to introduce the president, the din at Farm Bureau Live - an outdoor concert amphitheater - sounded like a Bruce Springsteen concert.

The Obama campaign also released a two-minute television ad on Thursday, in which Mr. Obama pitches an economic plan that he says will create one million manufacturing jobs, cut oil imports and increase education jobs.

Mr. Obama characterized the plan as a “new economic patriotism.” Speaking in Virginia Beach, he said: “During campaign sea son, we always hear a lot about patriotism. Well, you know what? It's time for a little economic patriotism.”

The ad will be shown in seven swing states: Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire. And with each poll that shows Mr. Obama ahead in Florida and Ohio and clinging to his narrow lead in Virginia, the president and his aides have seemed a little more buoyant - to the point that the campaign spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, cautioned that “if we need to pass out horse blinders to all of our staff, we will do that.”

Romney Charges That Obama Has Shrunk Military Commitment


SPRINGFIELD, Va. - Speaking to local veterans at an American Legion Hall here, Mitt Romney offered a military-heavy version of his usual stump speech Thursday, attacking President Obama over cuts to defense spending and arguing for doing more to help the servicemen and women returning from war in need of psychological treatment.

“We have huge numbers of our men and women returning from conflict that are seeking counseling, psychological counseling, and can't find that counseling within our system,” Mr. Romney said. “And, of course, record numbers of suicides. This is a crisis.”

He said that as president, he would devote more financial resources to the military, including to help treat psyc hological issues like post-traumatic stress disorder. (Mr. Obama's wife, Michelle, has also made helping military families one of her main initiatives as first lady.)

“How in the world, as commander in chief, you could stand by as we shrink our military commitment financially is something that I don't understand, and I will reverse it,” Mr. Romney said.

Mr. Romney also attacked Mr. Obama over proposed cuts to the military, calling the proposed sequestration legislation a “kind of a gun to your head opportunity, which is that Congress couldn't get the job done properly and the president couldn't lead them.”

“The world is not a safe place,” he said. “It is still a troubled and dangerous world. And the idea of cutting our military commitment by a trillion dollars over this decade is unthinkable and devastating. And when I become president of the United States, we will stop it. I will not cut our commitment to the military.”

The Obama ca mpaign was quick to point out that Mr. Romney, while publicly offering a muscular pro-military stance, had offered slightly different words behind closed doors; in secretly videotaped remarks at a May fund-raiser, Mr. Romney referred to “47 percent” of voters who don't pay income taxes and are dependent on the government - a group that would most likely include veterans.

“Mitt Romney would like Virginians to forget how he disdainfully wrote off half of all Americans, including veterans and active-duty members, at a fund-raiser with high-dollar donors,” Lis Smith, an Obama spokeswoman, said in an e-mail statement.

The Obama campaign pointed to remarks Mr. Romney made in South Carolina, when he seemed to float the idea of privatizing veterans' health care, though he never returned to the suggestion.

“His plan could result in deep cuts to the VA, and he has suggested privatizing veterans' health care,” Ms. Smith said in her statement. “And becaus e of his refusal to lead his party and demand that Congressional Republicans, including his running mate, drop their opposition to asking for a penny more from millionaires and billionaires, he's stood in the way of preventing devastating automatic defense cuts. These policies would be disastrous for America's military, military families, and veterans and we can't afford them.”

Tying a strong economy to a strong military, Mr. Romney held up Russia - which he once called the country's “No. 1 geopolitical foe” - as an example of a country whose military had faltered under a shaky economy.

“The old Soviet Union tried for a while to maintain a Grade A, if you will, military, but they had a Grade B economy and they couldn't keep up,” Mr. Romney said. “They finally had to - well, they collapsed. We have to have a strong economy.”

He pointed out that while Russia's gross domestic product is growing at about 4 percent annually, the United States' gr oss domestic product last quarter was down to 1.3 percent per year - “about a quarter or a fifth the rate of Russia's,” he noted.

But Mr. Romney also used his visit here to share some personal stories, albeit with a military twist. He talked about his experience Tuesday night in Toledo, when his private charter plane was getting ready to take off as an honor flight - full of veterans who had spent the day in Washington visiting the war memorials - was returning home. Mr. Romney delayed his flight in order to greet all of the veterans as they walked down the gangway of their plane, and one elderly, wheelchair-bound World War II veteran, he said, stood out in his mind.

“I said hello to him and shook his hand, and then he turned to go through this long alleyway that had been set up with flags and people who were there to recognize each of the veterans,” Mr. Romney recalled. “But he stopped the person who was pushing him, pushing him in the wheelchair, and then he reached inside his coat and took out a flag. And waved it.”

Mr. Romney also talked about how, as governor of Massachusetts, he was attending a ceremony to send his state's servicemen and women off to Iraq and Afghanistan when one of the soldiers raised his hand with an interesting proposal.

“He said, ‘I have a young lady that I'm in love with, and we haven't been married and I'm going to go off to conflict - could you marry us?' ” Mr. Romney said. “And I said, ‘I don't see why not.' ”

He added, jokingly, “I figured I was the governor, I could do whatever the heck I want to.”

Mr. Romney said that he called the soldier and his girlfriend up to the front of the entire audience and married them right there.

“When I got back to the office, they said, ‘You know there's this thing called a marriage license,' ” he said, before adding, “We were able to take care of all those things and make sure it was legitimate.”

Attendees said they appreciated hearing some of Mr. Romney's more personal anecdotes.

“He's much more compassionate than the press gives him credit for,” said William McCarron, 76, a veteran of the Korean War. “When he talks about that honor flight and that marriage, that shows a compassionate side to him that's not getting emphasized.”

Poll: Pennsylvania\'s Voter I.D. Law Has Solid Support


A wide majority of Pennsylvania voters support state efforts to require photo identification to vote, the latest Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll finds.

The new law is backed by 62 percent of likely voters, including about 9 in 10 Republicans and two-thirds of independents. Most Democrats are opposed. There are 10 other states with voter ID requirements.

The law made its way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which ruled last week that the lower court that had upheld it must determine first whether the state was doing enough to prevent voter disenfranchisement.

The question provided respondents with both sides of the debate, saying that some people say such a law is “need ed to prevent people from voting who are not eligible to vote,” while others argue that “such efforts are designed to suppress voting by minorities.”

The law is backed by most men and women, as well as majorities across all age and income groups. But while two-thirds of white voters support the law, fewer, about 4 in 10, nonwhite voters agree.

The statewide poll was conducted by telephone (land line and cellphones) Sept. 18 to 24 with 1,180 likely voters in Pennsylvania and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Full results of the poll.

Fewer Wealthy Americans Say They\'re Conservative Investors


Fewer affluent Americans describe themselves as “conservative” investors, suggesting that their tolerance for risk may be rebounding after some tumultuous years.

Thirty percent describe themselves as leaning toward lower-risk investment and savings options (like “mutual funds, bonds, savings  and money market accounts”), down from 36 percent a year ago and 50 percent two years ago, according to findings of the Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights survey.

The telephone survey, of 1,000 adults with assets of more than $250,000 to invest, was conducted in August by Braun Research on behalf of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Th e shift in attitude toward risk is most clear among affluent investors younger than 50. For instance, about a quarter of investors age 18 to 34 describe themselves as conservative, compared with 52 percent two years ago. These are investors who had become quite wary of the stock market, because of its volatility in the economic downturn. And a quarter of those age 35 to 50 also describe themselves as conservative, compared with 45 percent two years ago.

What is your risk appetite these days? Are you willing to consider individual stocks or alternative investments, or are you sticking with index funds and savings accounts?

With Start of Early Voting, Election Day Becomes Election Month


DES MOINES â€" As eight bells rang from the clock tower of the Polk County Courthouse, the doors to the election office opened on Thursday morning and voters began casting the first ballots of the presidential race in this highly competitive battleground state.

“It seems like we've been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Nancy Bobo, 60, who stood in line and voted for President Obama. “I'm just thrilled to get out here and vote as soon as I possibly could.”

Less than a week before the president's first debate with Mitt Romney and a month before the closing arguments of a campaign traditionally would be made, a steady stream of voters walked into election offices across the state to cast their ballots. They will be joined by voters in Ohio next week, along with 30 states where some type of voting is already under way.

For millions of Americans, the election no longer is a fixed date on the November calendar. It is increasingly becoming an item on the fall checklist, a civic duty steeped in the convenience of everyday life. The development is profoundly influencing presidential races, with Election Day becoming Election Month for as much as 40 percent of the electorate this year.

The number of people casting early ballots nationally climbed to 31 percent in 2008 from 23 percent in 2004, according to Michael McDonald, who studies early voting at George Mason University. This year, party strategists estimate that up to 40 percent of voters will cast ballots before Nov. 6, but the proportion is even higher in many battleground states.

In Florida, North Carolina, Colorado and Nevada, both campaigns believe th at as much as 70 percent of the ballots will be cast before Election Day. And in Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, advisers to both campaigns said at least 30 percent of people are expected to vote early.

Iowa became the first swing state to allow voters to cast ballots in person this week, a provision of state election law that the Obama campaign has seized upon. In the opening hours of voting on Thursday, supporters of the president dominated the line here in the state's biggest city. They were easily identifiable by their blue Obama 2012 stickers that declared, “Be the First!”

The bustling line slowed to a trickle after about two hours on Thursday morning. But the real burst of voting is yet to come, when the tens of thousands of absentee ballots that were previously requested by voters start arriving by mail, and through satellite voting locations that will be open across the state in places that were requested by the campaigns to maximize turnout.

The Iowa Secretary of State's office said Democrats had a 5-to-1 advantage over Republicans in the numbers of absentee ballots requested statewide. Republicans said the numbers would level out over the next 40 days.

“We are going to close that gap in Iowa,” said Rick Wiley, political director of the Republican National Committee. “Democrats in Iowa have a propensity to cannibalize their Election Day voters. What they've done is find people who would vote on Election Day anyway.”

While the early voting laws are not new in most states, election officials say campaigns are seeking to leverage them to a greater degree than in any previous presidential campaign.

“It has changed from one 13-hour Election Day to 40 days,” said Jamie Fitzgerald, the Polk County Auditor, who oversees elections here. “You are really seeing a lot more emphasis on early voting and ballots by mail.”

The Obama campaign invited Jason Alexander, the actor who played George Co stanza on “Seinfeld,” to travel across Iowa to promote early-voting efforts on Thursday. The Romney campaign held a rally aimed at women, featuring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.

At the election office, as Ms. Bobo stood with other Obama supporters on the first day of early voting, she said she wondered where Mr. Romney's supporters were.

“I don't see them,” she said with a smile. “But we're not taking anything for granted. We still have 40 days to go. You never know, things can change on a dime.”

When Non-Driving Factors Affect Auto Insurance Premiums


Automobile insurers may use factors unrelated to driving, like education and occupation, in determining rates.

Now, a consumer group is urging state insurance commissioners to restrict insurers' ability to use those factors, arguing that the result has been unfairly high rates for lower-income drivers. Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, said in a call this week with reporters that premiums should mainly reflect factors like accidents, speeding tickets and miles driven.

The federation analyzed auto insurance premiums quoted on the Web sites of the five largest insurers (State Farm, Allstate, Geico, Progressive and Farmer's) to price minimum liability coverage i n five cities. Using an example of coverage for a 35-year-old woman with a good driving record, the study obtained quotes while varying characteristics like marital status, education level, occupation, home ownership and gaps in insurance coverage. Her driving record was the same in all instances.

The group found that in most cases, annual premiums were much lower if the woman was a married homeowner with a college degree, a professional job and continuous insurance coverage. In four of the examples, the premiums fell by at least 68 percent.

Premiums tended to be high if the woman was single, rented in a moderate-income area, had a high school degree, worked as a bank teller or clerical worker and had a gap in insurance coverage.

The analysis first obtained quotes for the “standard” example - a 35-year-old single bank teller with a high school degree and good credit record who rents a house in a moderate-income Zip code. The hypothetical woman had driven 15 years with no accidents or moving violations, and sought the minimum required liability coverage on a 2002 Honda Civic. Then, the researchers changed the criteria to see what the impact was on the quoted premium.

For instance, the “standard” quote of $2,696 from Progressive, for coverage in Baltimore, fell to $2,212 when the woman's status was changed from single to married. And when all the criteria were changed to more a “favorable” status, the quote dropped to $718.

J. Robert Hunter, insurance director at the consumer federation, said a difference of nearly $2,000 based on non-driving factors is “patently unfair” and “actuarially unsound.”

Jeff Sibel, a spokesman for Progressive, said the insurer “works to price each driver's policy as accurately as possible, so that every driver pays the appropriate amount based on his or her risk of having an accident.” He added: “To do this, we use many different rating factors, which sometimes include non-driving factors, that have been proven to be predictive of a person's likelihood of being involved in a crash. Because different insurers use different information, which can cause rates to vary widely, we encourage consumers to shop around to find the combination of price and service that's best for them.”

Alex Hageli, director of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, disputed the federation's position in an e-mail, saying that data have shown “consumers' age, marital status, place of residence and occupation to be among the best predictors of future loss.” When such factors are “blended together” with criteria like driving experience, previous claims and vehicle age, he said, “these factors help to ensure that low-risk consumers can be better identified and pay less for insurance. In the final analysis, consumers benefit when insurance underwriting and rating decisions are ba sed on a wide variety of fair and objective factors.”

Loretta Worters, spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group,  said in an e-mail, “What's missing from the C.F.A.'s analysis is that every one of these factors that they attack is correlated, and highly correlated, with loss.”

Mr. Hunter of the consumer federation said his concern with using factors like occupation and education is that such factors are “surrogates” for criteria that states aren't allowed to use in setting premiums, like income. At the very least, insurers should give less weight to non-driving factors in setting premiums, he said.

Los Angeles had the lowest quotes, he said, because California limits the use of non-driving factors in setting insurance rates. It is up to state insurance commissioners and legislatures to take action, he said, because auto insurance is regulated at the state level.

“We're not trying to say get rid of these entir ely,” he said. “We're saying, you have to look at the combined effect and study these factors more carefully.”

Using non-driving factors drives up premiums, and forces many working families to drive without insurance, even though they risk paying fines or criminal charges for doing so. “Many low- and moderate-income citizens can't afford required insurance because insurers use unfair rating factors,” he said.

Do you think non-driving factors should be used to help determine insurance premiums?

Obama Unveils New Ad as Early Voting Begins


At two minutes long, President Obama's new ad, “Table,” is his longest direct pitch to voters in a television commercial this year. And the stakes could not be higher.

Early voting begins Thursday in Iowa, the first of many battleground states that allow people to cast their ballots well before Election Day on Nov. 6. The Obama campaign said the new ad would run not just in Iowa but in Florida, Colorado and Nevada as well â€" all of which allow early voting.

“During the last weeks of this campaign, there will be debates, speeches and more ads,” the president says, as the ad begins, adding “But if I could sit down with you in your living room or around the kitchen table, here's what I would say.”

In his script, the president sticks carefully to the story arc that he and his campaign have tried to lay out in their ads since the spring. He starts by reminding voters of the economic crisis he inherited and explains that progress â€" albeit too slow and incomplete, in his view â€" has been made.

“As a nation we are moving forward again. But we have much more to do to get folks back to work, and make the middle class secure again,” he says before laying out a four-point plan that includes investing in manufacturing, cutting oil imports, training new math and science teachers and reducing the deficit.

Mitt Romney's plan, he says, would “double down on the same trickle down policies that led to the crisis in the first place.”

The Early Word: Reach


In Today's Times:

Democrats' old deep-pocketed friends are beginning to pour money into Democratic “super PACs” like the groups Republican operatives have used to build their outsized influence in this election. Nicholas Confessore reports that the wealthy liberals who supported Democrats' efforts in 2004 remain on the sidelines, while Democrats draw from old friends like trial lawyers, unions and Hollywood. The financing comes at a crucial time for President Obama, as conservative groups prepare a barrage of attack ads.

In an aggressive effort to clean up the fallout from his “47 percent” comments, Mitt Romney is reaching out to middle-class and working-class voters with an ad aimed at reassuring them that he cares about their plight. Ashley Parker observes that the ad, which comes nine days after the remarks surfaced, reflected Mr. Romney's gamble that the election will be decided in the closing weeks and that Democrats' attacks will not hurt him much.

The president and Mr. Romney both stopped in Ohio on Wednesday before the state starts early voting next Tuesday. Helene Cooper writes that Mr. Obama is trying to “gallop ahead” to keep early voters out of Mr. Romney's reach, but Mr. Romney is campaigning hard in Ohio, too. Mr. Obama will visit Virginia on Thursday and Nevada on Sunday, before he begins two days of debate preparations in Denver.

Republicans in battleground states are stepping up their efforts to turn Jewish voters who are wavering on Obama into Romney supporters. Lizette Alvarez writes that Republicans hope “to erode Mr. Obama's deep-seated popularity in the Jewish community,” but Democrats call that “wishful thinking. ”

Around the Web:
The New Yorker explores how Mormonism and private equity shaped Mr. Romney's candidacy.

Happening in Washington:

Economic reports expected Thursday include second-quarter gross domestic product, durable goods for August, and weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Weekly mortgage rates and pending home sales index for August will be out at 10.

At 9, Prime Minister Mario Monti of Italy will discuss “challenges for the euro and the future of European integration” on a conference call with the Council on Foreign Relations.

Thursday Reading: Ski Resort to Use Treated Sewage to Make Snow


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.

Thursday Reading: Ski Resort to Use Treated Sewage to Make Snow


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.

\'Super PAC\' and Labor Group Team Up in Anti-Romney Radio Ad


A Democratic “super PAC” is joining forces with a labor group to begin a $1.25 million radio ad campaign on Thursday that starts with a direct attack on Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch millionaire who has insulted nearly half of the country.

The one-minute radio ad, by Priorities USA Action and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, plays some of the audio from a secretly taped video of Mr. Romney speaking about 47 percent of Americans at a fund-raiser.

“150 million Americans: seniors, veterans, the disabled,” an announcer says in the ad. “Romney attacked them when he thought no one else was listening.”

The ad accuses the Republican presidential nomin ee of wanting to raise taxes on the middle class by $2,000 while giving millionaires a tax cut.

“Mitt Romney's just not looking out for us,” the announcer in the ad says.

The radio ad will run in Ohio and Virginia, two of the most critical battleground states, starting this week. The ad or others ads that might follow will continue running throughout the rest of the campaign.

The super PACs backing Mr. Obama have been particularly aggressive in attacking Mr. Romney's wealth on the president's behalf. Priorities USA Action, which is run by former aides to Mr. Obama, have spent millions to highlight the Republican candidate's background in business and his investments.

“Mitt Romney will not stand up for students, veterans, seniors and hard-working Americans looking to make ends meet, but he has no qualms about protecting tax loopholes so he and his fellow multimillionaires can pay a lower rate,” said Paul Begala, a senior adviser for the group. “Romney's agenda would be a blow to the middle class: slash education, turn Medicare into a voucher program and raise taxes on hard-working families.”

For the radio campaign, the group is teaming up with the labor federation, which has also focused its efforts on accusing Mr. Romney of not being interested in helping working people.

“Romney's complete disdain for the middle class, the hard-working men and women of this country, the 47 percent is reprehensible,” said Seth Johnson, the assistant political director of the labor group.

Aides to Mr. Romney have acknowledged privately that his comments about the 47 percent from the fund-raiser have hurt the campaign. Polls in several battleground states show Mr. Obama with significant leads over Mr. Romney.

They argue, however, that the impact of the comments is already beginning to fade, and will be nothing but a distant memory by the time Election Day rolls around in six weeks.

The Democratic groups behind the radio ads are trying to make sure that doesn't happen.

Labor Group Revives George Allen Gaffe in New Ad


As George Allen battles to regain his seat in the United States Senate from Virginia, one important name has not been mentioned - until now.


That word - a term that can refer to monkeys - torpedoed Mr. Allen's re-election campaign in 2006 after he was caught on video using it to describe a young man of Indian descent at a campaign rally. The video instantly went viral online, one of the first such examples on YouTube.

The incident sparked weeks of national news about Mr. Allen's past, including allegations that the Republican senator had embraced symbols of racial hatred during his political career and in his personal life.

Mr. Allen's opponent this year, Tim Kaine, th e former governor of Virginia, has steered away from all of that, preferring to argue that Mr. Allen's economic and policy record make him unfit for a return to the Senate.

But now, a labor group backing Mr. Kaine's election is trying to raise it all again with a series of small, online advertisements that note each of the most unsavory allegations against Mr. Allen. The ads were created by workersvoice.org, a political arm of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

One notes that Mr. Allen “kept a noose in his office” and shows a picture of Mr. Allen giving a thumbs up next to a hangman's noose. Mr. Allen has always claimed the noose was a lasso intended to represent cowboys.

Another banner ad says that Mr. Allen hung a confederate flag in his living room; he said it was a symbol of youthful rebellion. A third ad notes, correctly, that as a member of the Virginia state legislature, he voted against a holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. (The state celebrated “Lee-Jackson-King” day for 16 years.)

A fourth ad revives the controversy over “macaca” by simply printing that word next to Mr. Allen's picture.

“George Allen kept a noose and a confederate flag in his office and anyone who would insult the African-American and Latino people of Virginia this way is not fit to hold office,” said Eddie Vale, the communications director for the group. “This is similar to, but even more offensive, than Mitt Romney secretly attacking 47 percent of all Americans.”

The revival of questions about Mr. Allen's racial attitudes is clearly an effort to help Mr. Kaine break away from Mr. Allen in what has been one of the closest Senate elections in the country. Mr. Kaine, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has been targeted by national conservative groups with millions of dollars of negative television ads.

Will it work?

It could. The intensity of the “macaca” cove rage in 2006 made Mr. Allen toxic among donors, dashed his hopes of becoming a serious contender for the 2008 Republican presidential primary, and ultimately cost him his re-election against the Democrat, Jim Webb.

But the stories have faded now. There are plenty of new voters in Virginia who may have little memory of all that coverage. If the labor group can remind them effectively, it could cause Mr. Allen problems again.

But it also could backfire. Despite all of the negative coverage - including, for weeks, reporting about whether Mr. Allen had used a particularly offensive racial epithet often aimed at African-Americans - Mr. Allen came within just a few thousand votes of winning re-election. (He denied it.)

The avalanche of negativity was seen by political observers as evidence that many Virginia voters were turned off by the series of attacks. Mr. Allen could tap into that sentiment if Mr. Kaine's allies try a reprise of the 2006 campaign.

Odds are that Mr. Kaine's advisers are smart enough to avoid getting drawn into the attacks. Better for them if their allies can make the attacks work without any strings attached.

But in the end, it's also possible that the whole thing could just fizzle this time around.

The economy in 2012 is very different than it was in 2006. People are out of work. Housing values have plummeted. The appetite for personal attacks that date back decades may have faded in the face of those more serious issues.

If so, look for “macaca” to once again become part of YouTube's early viral history.