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Romney: Obama gave ‘gifts’ to win elections

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is telling top donors that President Barack Obama won re-election because of the “gifts” he had already provided to Blacks, Hispanics and young voters and because of the president’s effort to paint Romney as anti-immigrant.

“The president’s campaign, if you will, focused on giving targeted groups a big gift,” Romney said in a call to donors on Wednesday. “He made a big effort on small things.”

Romney said his campaign, in contrast, had been about “big issues for the whole country.” He said he faced problems as a candidate because he was “getting beat up” by the Obama campaign and that the debates allowed him to come back.

In the call, Romney didn’t acknowledge any major missteps, such as his “47 percent” remarks widely viewed as denigrating nearly half of Americans, his lack of support for the auto bailout, his call for illegal immigrants to “self-deport,” or his change in position on abortion, gun control and other issues. He also didn’t address the success or failure of the campaign’s strategy of focusing on the economy in the face of some improvement in employment and economic growth during the months leading up to Election Day.

Obama won the popular vote by about 3.5 million votes, or 3 percent, and won the Electoral College by a wide margin, 332-206 electoral votes. Exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks showed that Obama led Romney by 11 percentage points among women and won better than 7 of 10 Hispanic voters and more than 9 of 10 black voters.

Romney called his loss to Obama a disappointing result that he and his team had not expected, but he said he believed his team had run a superb campaign. He said he was trying to turn his thoughts to the future, “but, frankly, we’re still so troubled by the past, it’s hard to put together our plans for the future.”

Romney’s finance team organized the call to donors. A person who listened to Romney’s call provided details about it to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the call was private. The Los Angeles Times first reported Romney’s remarks.

Among the “gifts” Romney cited were free health care “in perpetuity,” which he said was highly motivational to black and Hispanic voters as well as for voters making $25,000 to $35,000 a year.

Romney also said the administration’s promise to offer what he called “amnesty” to the children of illegal immigrants — what he termed “the so-called DREAM Act kids” — helped send Hispanics to the polls for Obama.

Young voters, Romney said, were motivated by the administration’s plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest and being able to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans. Young women had an additional incentive to vote for Obama because of free contraception coverage under the president’s health care plan, he said.

“I’m very sorry that we didn’t win,” he told donors. “I know that you expected to win. We expected to win. We were disappointed; we hadn’t anticipated it.”

Romney said he and his team were discussing how his donor group could remain connected and have an influence on the direction of the Republican Party and even the selection of a future nominee — “which, by the way, will not be me.”

Asked about Romney’s remarks, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential contender for the GOP nomination in 2016, strongly condemned those in the GOP who classify voters based on income, race or age and said the party cannot concede wide swaths of voters and expect to win elections.

“We have got to stop dividing the American voters,” Jindal told reporters in Las Vegas, where the Republican Governors Association was meeting. “We need to go after 100 percent of the vote, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote.”

Source: AP

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Politics

Obama, Romney to make final appeals

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney make a frenetic dash to a series of crucial swing states on Monday, delivering their final arguments to voters on the last day of an extraordinarily close race for the White House.

After a long, bitter and expensive campaign, national polls show Obama and Romney are essentially deadlocked ahead of Tuesday’s election, although Obama has a slight advantage in the eight or nine battleground states that will decide the winner. Obama plans to visit three of those swing states on Monday and Romney will travel to four to plead for support in a fierce White House campaign that focused primarily on the lagging economy but at times turned intensely personal.

The election’s outcome will impact a variety of domestic and foreign policy issues, from the looming “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and tax increases that could kick in at the end of the year to questions about how to handle illegal immigration or the thorny challenge of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The balance of power in Congress also will be at stake on Tuesday, with Obama’s Democrats now expected to narrowly hold their Senate majority and Romney’s Republicans favored to retain control of the House of Representatives.

In a race where the two candidates and their party allies raised a combined $2 billion, the most in U.S. history, both sides have pounded the heavily contested battleground states with an unprecedented barrage of ads.

The close margins in state and national polls suggested the possibility of a cliffhanger that could be decided by which side has the best turnout operation and gets its voters to the polls.

In the final days, both Obama and Romney focused on firing up core supporters and wooing the last few undecided voters in battleground states. Romney reached out to dissatisfied Obama supporters from 2008, calling himself the candidate of change and ridiculing Obama’s failure to live up to his campaign promises. “He promised to do so very much but frankly he fell so very short,” Romney said at a rally in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday. Obama, citing improving economic reports on the pace of hiring, argued in the final stretch that he has made progress in turning around the economy but needed a second White House term to finish the job. “This is a choice between two different versions of America,” Obama said in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Final swing-state blitzes

Obama will close his campaign on Monday with a final blitz across Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa – three Midwestern states that, barring surprises elsewhere, would be enough to get him more than the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. Polls show Obama has slim leads in all three. His final stop on Monday night will be in Iowa, the state that propelled him on the path to the White House in 2008 with a victory in its first-in-the nation caucus.

Romney will visit his must-win states of Florida and Virginia – where polls show he is slightly ahead or tied – along with Ohio before concluding in New Hampshire, where he launched his presidential run last year.

The only state scheduled to get a last-day visit from both candidates is Ohio, the most critical of the remaining battlegrounds – particularly for Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor has few paths to victory if he cannot win in Ohio, where Obama has kept a small but steady lead in polls for months. Obama has been buoyed in Ohio by his support for a federal bailout of the auto industry, where one in every eight jobs is tied to car manufacturing, and by a strong state economy with an unemployment rate lower than the 7.9 percent national rate.

That has undercut Romney’s frequent criticism of Obama’s economic leadership, which has focused on the persistently high jobless rate and what Romney calls Obama’s big spending efforts to expand government power.

Romney, who would be the first Mormon president, has centered his campaign pitch on his own experience as a business leader at a private equity fund and said it made him uniquely suited to create jobs.

Obama’s campaign fired back with ads criticizing Romney’s experience and portraying the multimillionaire as out of touch with everyday Americans.

Obama and allies said Romney’s firm, Bain Capital, plundered companies and eliminated jobs to maximize profits. They also made an issue of Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of personal tax returns.


Source: Reuters

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Politics

Obama and Romney meet for private White House lunch

US President Barack Obama has met defeated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for a private lunch at the White House.

The two men discussed “America’s leadership in the world” and how to preserve it, the White House said.

The former Massachusetts governor left after just over an hour and the two said they would stay in touch.

Meanwhile, negotiations over a looming “fiscal cliff” seemed to falter in Congress.

House Speaker John Boehner said no major progress had been made on a deal to avert the looming package of tax rises and spending cuts.

‘No job offer’

Mr Obama and Mr Romney dined on white turkey chili and south-western grilled chicken salad during Thursday’s lunch meeting.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at a news briefing: “Governor Romney congratulated the president for the success of his campaign and wished him well over the coming four years.

“The focus of their discussion was on America’s leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future.

“They pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future.”

Mr Obama is also said to have noted that Mr Romney’s “skills-set” could help improve the workings of the federal government.

But there was no job offer for Mr Romney in the works, Mr Carney said.

Mr Romney has spent the past three weeks mainly at his family’s California home, making no scheduled public appearances, although he was photographed on a family trip to Disneyland.

On election night, 6 November, Mr Obama pledged to meet the former Massachusetts governor for talks on how to “move this country forward”.

The pair sparred in a bitter campaign and are said to have little rapport.

On Thursday Mr Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, met Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to discuss the fiscal cliff, a raft of tax rises and spending cuts due to take effect on 1 January.

The White House reportedly asked for $1.6 trillion (£1 trillion) in higher taxes over a decade, together with money to help the unemployed and struggling homeowners.

In exchange, President Obama would back savings of as much as $400bn from Medicare and other benefit programmes over 10 years, unnamed officials told AP news agency.

‘Step backward’

The offer did not impress Mr Boehner.

He said afterwards: “Unfortunately, many Democrats continue to rule out sensible spending cuts that must be part of any significant agreement that will reduce our deficit.”

Congressional Democrats countered that Republicans had not identified specific spending cuts.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said: “We’re still waiting for a serious offer from Republicans.”

Some Republicans have said they would consider increased tax revenue as part of a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

But the White House believes that simply ending tax deductions would not address the yawning budget deficit.

The fiscal cliff, which would suck about $600bn (£347bn) out of the economy, could tip the US back into recession, analysts warn.

The measures were partly put in place within a 2011 deal to curb the yawning US budget deficit, but also include the expiration of George W Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans.

Source: BBC

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Politics

Poll: Obama, Romney tied with two weeks to go

Heading into the final two weeks of the 2012 presidential race, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney are now tied among likely voters, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday.

The poll–conducted between Oct. 17 and Oct. 20 among 1,000 registered voters and 816 likely voters–found Obama and Romney are each favored by 47 percent of likely voters.

 

However, President Obama leads Romney by five points (49 percent to 44 percent) among registered voters, according to the NBC/WSJ poll.

 

In the same survey conducted prior to first presidential debate, Obama held a 3-point lead (49 percent to 46 percent) among likely voters.

 

Among men, the former Massachussetts governor holds a 10-point lead (53 percent to 43 percent) while the president leads by 8 points (51 percent to 43 percent) among women.

 

“I like what I see because the trend is in our direction,” Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman said on “Meet The Press” on Sunday. “That’s where you want to be at this point in the campaign.”

 

“If you look at the early voting that’s going on around the country, it’s very robust and its very favorable to us,” Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod countered. “And we think that’s a better indicator than these public polls, which are frankly all over the, all over the map.”

 

Source: Yahoo News

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Politics

Obama and Romney swap jokes at Al Smith dinner

President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney have made a series of lighthearted jabs at themselves and each other at a charity fundraiser.

At the event organised by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Mr Obama said his first debate performance – which he was judged to have lost – had been a “long nap” to prepare for the second.

Mr Romney mocked his own wealth.

Referring to his Mormon faith. he said he had prepared for the debates by “not drinking alcohol for 65 years”.

Earlier, Mr Obama made an appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

He said the US would “fix” security overseas after a deadly Libya attack.Stewart asked Mr Obama about the administration’s “confused” response to the attack on a US consulate in Benghazi, Libya on 11 September.

The US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans died in the attack, which remains at the centre of the campaign debate ahead of a foreign policy debate in Florida on Monday.

Mr Obama told Stewart his administration was still piecing together the evidence.

“The government is a big operation. At any given time, something screws up and you make sure you find out what’s broken and you fix it,” he said.

Relax in a tie

Mr Obama also repeated his wish to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba, a first term promise he has been criticised for not yet carrying out.

The Alfred F Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner – a traditional fixture on the presidential campaign calendar – was Mr Romney’s only public event on Thursday after several campaign stops in Virginia the day before.

Resplendent in formal white tie on stage, Mr Romney – known for his business fortune – said that after a long campaign it was “nice finally to relax and wear what Ann and I wear around the house”.

He also reminded the audience of the vice-president’s mirth-filled approach to his debate with Paul Ryan a week ago: “I was hoping the president would bring Joe Biden along because he’ll laugh at anything.”

Referring to the first presidential debate, Mr Obama said: “I had more energy in second debate. I was well-rested after the nice long nap I had in first debate.”

Mr Obama also noted he had been criticised for being too popular abroad at the beginning of his term. “I’m impressed with how well Governor Romney has avoided that problem,” he said, in a nod to a summer overseas trip that drew criticism.

The dinner was overseen by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has clashed with the administration over contraception provisions in Mr Obama’s health care law.

Cardinal Dolan has said he received “stacks of mail” protesting against Mr Obama’s invitation to the dinner, but he sought to avoid playing political favourites. The cardinal delivered benedictions at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2012.

Battle of polls

Ahead of his reunion with Mr Obama, a daily Gallup tracking poll of likely voters suggested Mr Romney had increased his lead nationally. However, a series of other polls show a much tighter race.

Mr Romney announced on Thursday that his campaign was leaving North Carolina, believing his victory was assured there. He is currently polling an average of six points ahead of Mr Obama in the state.

Mr Obama also benefited from new polling on Thursday, with a Pew Hispanic Center poll suggesting three-quarters of Catholic Latinos back the president.

The president picked up the backing of rock star Bruce Springsteen, as he did in 2008. Springsteen campaigned for Mr Obama on Thursday in Ohio with former President Bill Clinton.

“For 30 years I’ve been writing about the distance between the American dream and American reality,” Springsteen said, reading from a statement.

“Our vote is the one principal way we get to determine that distance.”

Source: BBC