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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ryan Says Obama Policies Threaten \'Judeo-Christian\' Values

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. - Representative Paul D. Ryan on Sunday accused President Obama of taking the country down a path that compromises Judeo-Christian values and the traditions of Western civilization.

The remarks came in a conference call with evangelical Christians, sandwiched between public rallies in which he often spoke of the Romney-Ryan ticket's promise to bridge partisan divides if elected.

Mr. Ryan's campaign plane touched down in Colorado late Sunday, his fourth state in a hectic day of rallies meant to maximize turnout on Election Day, and he spoke by phone to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group founded by the conservative Christian strategist Ralph Reed.

“It's a dangerous path,” Mr. Ryan said, describing Mr. Obama's policies. “It's a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, Western civilization values that made us such a great and exceptional nation in the first pl ace.''

A spokesman for Mr. Ryan, Michael Steel, said, “He was talking about issues like religious liberty and Obamacare - topics he has mentioned frequently during the campaign.''

Mr. Ryan has previously criticized the Affordable Care Act for requiring church-run charities and institutions to include contraception in insurance plans for employees, a criticism widely echoed by conservatives. But this was the first time Mr. Ryan had used such strong language on the issue.

The Caucus Click: The Week in Pictures, Oct. 29-Nov. 2

Damon Winter/The New York Times

A look back at the week in pictures from the campaign trail.

Romney Overlooks Christie\'s Praise for Obama

MORRISVILLE, Pa. - Gov. Chris Christie's lavish praise for President Obama in the days since Hurricane Sandy has raised eyebrows across the Republican establishment.

Mitt Romney had a message of his own on Sunday night: It does not bother him.

Not publicly, anyway.

At a rally here, Mr. Romney seemed determined to play down any hint of tension between his campaign and Mr. Christie, the New Jersey governor, whose kind words have given the president an unexpected bipartisan credential in the final days of the campaign.

“He's giving it all of his heart and his passion to help the people of his state,” Mr. Romney said. “They're in a hard way, and we appreciate his hard work. Thank you, governor.”

Mr. Romney drew a giant crowd of about 25,000, among his largest of the year. Despite polls showing an Obama lead in Pennsylvania, Mr. Romney predicted victory there.

“The people of America understand we're taking back the White House becau se we're going to win Pennsylvania,” he said in Morrisville, near the New Jersey border.

Mr. Romney ran about an hour late, prompting hundreds of people who had stood out in the cold for hours to ask security officials to let them leave while Mr. Romney was still speaking.

After some negotiations, the Secret Service allowed them to leave.

“It's just too cold,” said Rob Boyson, who walked out just as Mr. Romney was asking the audience, as he does at most rallies: “I want you to walk with me. Let's walk together. We're taking back America.”

At Minnesota Rally, Ryan Emphasizes Bipartisanship

A member of the crowd held up a poster of Representative Paul D. Ryan at a campaign rally on Sunday in Minneapolis.Josh Haner/The New York Times A member of the crowd held up a poster of Representative Paul D. Ryan at a campaign rally on Sunday in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS - Expanding the campaign map into a state next to his own, Representative Paul D. Ryan held his first rally in Minnesota in the dwindling hours of the race on Sunday, dividing remarks between criticism of President Obama for failing to lead and promising that a Romney White House would reach across the partisan chasm as the president had not.

The boisterous cheers and clatter of thunder sticks from a crowd that his campaign numbered at 6,500, one of the largest Mr. Ryan has dra wn on his own, may have given him reason to wish he had visited Democratic-leaning Minnesota more often.

It is a state where the Romney-Ryan campaign has only recently decided to invest its resources, which is either a sign that it believes the electoral map has widened, or evidence that it feels its chances in the usual battlegrounds are diminishing.

Mr. Ryan, chosen as Mitt Romney‘s running mate for his ability to excite the conservative base, made one of his strongest appeals yet to bipartisanship. “Minnesota and Wisconsin, Wisconsinites and Minnesotans, we are bipartisan states,” he said. “We know you have to work with people across the aisle because they're with us, they're part of us, they're in our own families.”

Mr. Ryan delighted in playing up his ties to Minnesota, telling supporters he woke up Sunday morning in Green Bay, Wis., and was happy to find an ice-fishing show on television. “I've got a 15-year- old Jiffy power auger,” he told supporters, thousands of whom were in an airplane hangar and others outside - assuming that all Minnesotans would understand the reference to an ice-drilling tool.

In one breath Mr. Ryan blistered Mr. Obama for failing to meet Republican leaders from the Senate or the House since July.

In the next, he described Mr. Romney's record as a Massachusetts governor of working with a heavily Democratic legislature.

“Did he demean them?” he said of Mr. Romney. “Did he demagogue them? No. He met with them every single Monday. He reached across the aisle. He did not compromise principle; he found common ground and he did what he said he was going to do: he balanced the budget each and every year without raising taxes.”

“That's leadership,” he added. “That's the kind of leader we need. That's what he does.”

Mr. Ryan spoke as if the bipartisan gridlock in Washington was the fault only of the president and Dem ocrats. Yet, in the same speech in which he called the Obama administration “the most partisan White House I have ever seen,” he also praised the leadership of Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, the divisive founder of the Tea Party caucus in the House.

Mr. Ryan has told aides that if he becomes vice president, he plans to meet regularly with senators and House members from both parties in an effort to gain bipartisan support for sweeping tax and entitlement overhauls he and Mr. Romney propose. But Democrats on the House Budget Committee, which Mr. Ryan leads, say he has no track record of compromising with them, despite being well liked.

Mr. Ryan repeated the litany of grim economic markers that have always been the Republicans' most forceful argument against a second Obama term. He cited an unemployment rate higher today than on the day Mr. Obama took office, rising national debt and the highest poverty rate in a generation.

He personalized the jobs statistics, mentioning a high school friend laid off from a $25-an-hour job at a General Motors plant in Mr. Ryan's native Janesville, Wis., who now works for $9 an hour without benefits at a QuikTrip convenience store.

“We have family and friends that we know of who are in their 40s or their 50s or their 60s, prime working years, they're out of a job or they're out of a good job,” he said.

He also found fanciful ways to invoke bipartisanship. Noticing a sign reading “Vikings for Romney,” Mr. Ryan chuckled. “Look at this,” he said. “Even Viking fans and Packer fans can lay down together. This country is coming together. We can bridge our differences.”

Follow Trip Gabriel on Twitter at @tripgabriel.

Romney Returns to Iowa for One Last Shot at Victory

DES MOINES - Holding four events in four states, Mitt Romney kicked off his second consecutive day of packed campaigning Sunday in an attempt to edge out President Obama - who polls show holds a slight lead in several critical battleground states - in the final 48 hours before Election Day.

On the busy schedule: Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Speaking at an early morning rally here to a crowd of 4,400, Mr. Romney implored voters to turn out for him on Tuesday.

“I need Iowa,” Mr. Romney said. “I need Iowa so we can win the White House and take back America, keep it strong, make sure we always remain the hope of the earth. I'm counting on you.”

Iowa is a state that has bedeviled the Romney campaign since the very beginning. In 2008, his failure to win over social conservatives here - and his subsequent second-place finish to Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas - helped dash his presidentia l hopes.

This time around, Mr. Romney seemed to have won the Iowa caucuses by eight votes, only to have the victory overturned and handed to Rick Santorum (by 34 votes) just two days before the South Carolina primaries.

Aides privately joke that if the race goes to a recount, the hold-up will be in Iowa - the state on which they just haven't quite been able to get a grip.

But Iowa is also the state that first launched Mr. Obama four years ago, and a state where the president hasn't quite been able to rekindle the enthusiasm and sense of hope that galvanized his 2008 bid. The Des Moines Register, which endorsed him four years ago, switched its support to Mr. Romney this year, making the same case against the president that Mr. Romney offers on the stump.

“The president's best efforts to resuscitate the stumbling economy have fallen short,” wrote the editorial board. “Nothing indicates it would change with a second term in the White House.”

Gov. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa introduced Mr. Romney at the rally, and tried to remind the state's voters about what he said were the president's failed promises.

“Iowans feel betrayed,” Mr. Branstad said. “Almost a sense of - not only disappointed, but almost a sense of betrayal that our principles of sound budgeting and responsible government have been ignored by this administration for four straight years.”

He concluded, “Iowa's message for Obama is: it's time for a change. It's time for you to go back to Chicago.”

Mr. Romney, speaking from teleprompters - which he has used on and off since he rolled out his closing argument on Friday - attacked Mr. Obama for not achieving any real bipartisanship in Washington.

“Instead of building bridges, he's made the divide between our parties wider,” Mr. Romney said. “Let me tell you why it is he's fallen so far short of what he's promised: it's because he cared more about a liberal age nda than he did about repairing the economy.”

Leading the crowd in a call-and-response, he continued: “I mean, do you think Obamacare created jobs? Did his war on coal, oil and gas create jobs? Did Dodd-Frank regulations help banks make more loans? Does raising taxes put people to work?”

“No,” cried out the crowd, in response to each question.

Though Mr. Romney's voice was hoarse, he gave a longer-than-usual stump speech - just over 30 minutes - and seemed energized by the response of the crowd.

“We are Americans!” he enthused suddenly. “We can do anything!”

Democrats Sue to Extend Florida\'s Early Voting

MIAMI â€" In a state where legal action often goes hand in hand with presidential elections, the Florida Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit early Sunday to force the state government to extend early voting hours in South Florida.

The lawsuit followed a stream of complaints from voters who sometimes waited nearly seven hours to vote or who did not vote at all because they could not wait for hours to do so.

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, local election supervisors in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties, where queues sometimes snaked out the door and around buildings, said they would allow voters to request and cast absentee ballots on Sunday. Voters in three other Florida counties also will be able to pick up and drop off absentee ballots. State election law permits election offices to receive absentee ballots through Tuesday so long as they are cast in person.

In a separate Democratic Party lawsuit in Orange County, where Orlando is, a judge the re extended early voting on Sunday after a polling station in the Winter Park library was forced to shut down over a suspicious package. The extra hours are being offered at only one polling station.

In its federal lawsuit, filed in court in Miami, Democrats argued that an emergency order was needed to “extend voting opportunities” before Tuesday in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. It also urged that voters be allowed to cast absentee ballots in person in the counties' main election offices. The three counties are home to about 32 percent of the state's registered voters.

With Election Day a mere two days away, a judge will have little time to act in the case.

The lawsuit states that the three counties have “inadequate polling facilities” and have failed to meet the need of voters. Some voters faced “prohibitively long” lines and didn't finish voting until early Sunday morning.

“The extraordinari ly long lines deterred or prevented voters from waiting to vote,” the lawsuit states. “Some voters left the polling sites upon learning of the expected wait, and others refused to line up altogether. These long lines and extreme delays unduly and unjustifiably burdened the right to vote.”

With complaints streaming in from irate voters, the Florida Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters in Florida first asked Gov. Rick Scott and state election officials on Thursday to extend early voting. They argued that some voters were leaving without voting because they did not have all day to wait in line. The Monroe County election supervisor, Harry Sawyer, also issued a request to Mr. Scott that he used his emergency powers to extend early voting.

But Mr. Scott and state elections officials rebuffed the request, saying that the process was running smoothly and the move was unnecessary.

Last year, Mr. Scott and the Republican-controlled State Legislature pushed through a measure to cut early voting from 14 to 8 days and do away with voting on the final Sunday before Election Day. Because more Democrats cast their ballots early than Republicans, the move was viewed by Democrats as an effort to blunt Democratic turnout.

The long lines have been particularly acute in South Florida, which has the highest population density in Florida and some of the longest ballots this year. In Miami-Dade County some voters had to scour complicated 12-page ballots, which contained not just myriad political races but votes on 11 complex proposed constitutional amendments, local issues and judicial races.

Some election supervisors had warned that the combination of long ballots, fewer voting days and fewer polling stations would lead to unreasonably long lines.

State elections officials reported that by Saturday night 3.9 million Floridians had either cast absentee ballots or voted early.

“Because of Governor Scott's re fusal to follow precedent and extend early voting hours in the face of unprecedented voter turnout in South Florida, we are requesting in federal court that more Floridians have a meaningful chance to early vote,” said Rod Smith, Florida Democratic Party chairman.

Biden Tells Crowd, \'We Need Ohio\' to Win

LAKEWOOD, Ohio â€" On the last day he was to campaign in the state that might decide the election, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. called for a return to an earlier bipartisan era â€" but warned that Mitt Romney was not the way to get there â€" and exhorted more than a thousand supporters at a high school gymnasium near Cleveland to turn out to vote on Tuesday because, “We need Ohio, we need you, we win Ohio, we win this election.”

Mr. Biden was expected to travel to Ohio events later on Sunday in Fremont, southeast of Toledo, and Lancaster, near Columbus, before flying to Washington so he can spend a final day campaigning in Virginia on Monday and then vote in his home state of Delaware on Tuesday.

But the race may ride on turnout in Ohio, where Mr. Biden told supporters Sunday that the Romney-Ryan ticket was stuck in the 1950s or 1960s on women's issues. “As hard as they try, they can't bring themselves to climb into the 21st century,” he said.

And in a play on one of the main arguments of the Republican campaign â€" that the Obama administration favors a big-brother, over-spending approach to government â€" Mr. Biden argued that something like the opposite was actually true: A Romney administration, he suggested, would usher in a plutocracy run by moneyed elites dictating what they think is best for middle America.

“I think they do not have confidence in the average American,” Mr. Biden said of the G.O.P. nominees. “They somehow think that everything has to be run from the top down, the people with the most power, the people with the most money. Not because they think they are bad, but they think that's what has to be done in order to be able to run this country.”

The vice president hit on many of the themes that have dominated his campaign's stump speeches in the closing weeks, such as what he characterizes as Mr. Romney's “shameless” fiscal and budget poli cies propagated in the service of tax cuts for the wealthy, as well as criticism of Mr. Romney's secretly recorded statement that there are “47 percent” of Americans who “are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them.”

He also lauded President Obama's support of the $80 billion auto bailout, which is popular in Ohio. (Mr. Biden slipped up describing a Romney campaign ad about the auto bailout, mistakenly saying the commercial had attacked “President Clinton.”)

Mr. Biden also suggested he yearned for a time when Republicans and Democrats worked more easily in Washington, citing Republican leaders including former secretary of state Colin Powell, outgoing senators Dick Lugar of Indiana and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and former senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Bob Dole of Kansas.

“It used to work,” Mr. Biden said. “When this electio n is over, we've got to get back to doing it again.”

But he suggested the Romney-Ryan ticket was not the way to return to bipartisanship, saying they appeared committed to turning everything they could to their own political advantage. “I've never met two guys who are more negative about the country,” he said.

The \'Ryan Effect\' Proves Limited in Wisconsin

Representative Paul D. Ryan posed for pictures with fans of the Green Bay Packers on Sunday outside of Lambeau Field.Josh Haner/The New York Times Representative Paul D. Ryan posed for pictures with fans of the Green Bay Packers on Sunday outside of Lambeau Field.

GREEN BAY, Wis. - How many points does Representative Paul D. Ryan put up on the Republican scoreboard in his native Wisconsin?

It is unclear as both campaigns lavish attention on the state in the final days, with President Obama returning on Monday to a battleground his team once thought safe, while the Romney-Ryan ticket also includes Wisconsin in its heavy rotation.

On Sunday Mr. Ryan participated in one of the state's sacred rituals, tailgating before a Green Bay Packers ga me in a clear play to Badger pride.

“What's the spread today? Anybody know?'' Mr. Ryan asked a crowd outside the Sideline Sports Bar and Restaurant near Lambeau Field before the game with the Arizona Cardinals. “Ten,'' people shouted back.

He tossed beanbags in a game of cornhole with his children as a few supporters chanted “Two more days!''

In interviews with several dozen Wisconsin voters casting early ballots in recent days in Mr. Ryan's home district, which is along the Illinois border in the south to Wausau in the northern tier, neither those supporting Mr. Romney nor President Obama cited Mr. Ryan as a top reason for their choice.

“It's basically tied right now,'' said Mark Smith, an accountant who voted for the Republican ticket in Appleton. Hoping Mr. Ryan “will help us win the state,'' he said the bigger factor would be the fierce partisan divide over the failed recall of Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, in June. “I'd like to t hink the holdover from the Governor Walker vote will carry the day,'' he said.

Although Mr. Ryan's selection by Mr. Romney in August energized conservatives nationally and seemed apparent in a narrowing of Wisconsin polls at the time, since then there has been no clear “Ryan factor” influencing Wisconsin surveys, polling experts said.

“We have not seen any polling with Romney ahead,'' said Charles Franklin, a political scientist who runs the Marquette Law School poll of the state.

Leaders of the Romney-Ryan campaign in the state point out that even as Mr. Ryan's national stature has soared, the majority of Wisconsinites have never had a chance to vote for the seven-term Congressman, and that Tuesday will give them the opportunity.

But Democrats say Mr. Walker's seven-point margin in which he won the June recall vote has not translated into an edge for Mr. Romney, nor has the Ryan selection.

“He's a bit playe r,'' said Paul Maslin, a Democratic pollster based in Madison. “It'll make a little marginal impact in the First District, but not substantial'' statewide.

Mr. Ryan was appealing to more than Badger pride by visiting Green Bay on game day. Surrounding Brown County and the Fox Valley to the south are a swing region, without the deep partisan loyalty of either the liberal haven of Madison or the Republican ring of suburbs around Milwaukee.

In a recent week Green Bay was the No. 1 media market for political advertisements in the country. Its residents have switched teams regularly - from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Mr. Obama to Mr. Walker.

Mr. Ryan's visit was a brief one on a day that also includes campaign stops in Ohio, Minnesota and Colorado.

“The only problem is that I don't have tickets for the game,'' he said to a fan, departing before the kickoff.

As he shook hands with Packers fans, he grasped the hand of a reporter for Politico , Juana Summers. “Hey, hey there,'' he said. “Why don't you have any Packers flair?''

On Monday evening, Mr. Ryan will hold his final rally in Milwaukee, before heading home to Janesville to vote the following morning.

The Caucus Click: Autograph Seekers

Mitt Romney signed a young supporter's shirt at a morning rally on Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa.Stephen Crowley/The New York Times Mitt Romney signed a young supporter's shirt at a morning rally on Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa.