Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said yesterday in Las Vegas that struggling homeowners should be allowed to go under so that private investors can buy the houses.
** WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS DOESN’T ALWAYS STAY THERE: WHY IT’S BEEN GOOD FOR ROMNEY THAT OTHERS KEEP GETTING THE SPOTLIGHT. On Monday, sometime Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney formally opened his Nevada campaign headquarters with an event in Las Vegas, timed to coincide with tonight’s CNN debate at the Venetian on the Vegas Strip.
In the normal course of things, he met with the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a routine discussion and interview.
The Review-Journal is a conservative paper, so Romney felt no qualms about talking his laissez-faire economic policy. But maybe he shouldn’t have been so comfortable.
In the course of the meeting, Romney allowed as how the best thing to do is to just let struggling home owners sink. In fact, he blamed President Barack Obama for prolonging the economic crisis through his rather muted efforts to help.
Two-thirds of Nevada home owners have underwater mortgages.
The Review-Journal didn’t think to highlight any of this this morning — here’s the original story — but video of the meeting was available on its site and a not surprising controversy erupted after it was viewed by others, as the paper now reports.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was one, and he’s demanding that Romney apologize.
Several hours before Tuesday’s CNN debate, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., demanded Mitt Romney apologize for saying in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the home foreclosure crisis should “run its course” so private investors can buy houses that homeowners can no longer afford.
Nevada has the highest home foreclosure rate in the nation with about two-thirds of homeowners “underwater,” owing more than a house is worth.
“Mitt Romney owes the thousands of Nevada families struggling to keep a roof over their heads an apology,” Reid said in a statement. “Once again, Mitt Romney is demonstrating he’s more concerned with big Wall Street banks than middle-class families. With the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, Nevadans can’t afford someone in the White House whose response to this crisis is ‘tough luck’.”
In the Monday interview with the Review-Journal’s editorial board, Romney said that the home foreclosure crisis has lingered because President Barack Obama has been trying to prop up homeowners with programs that don’t work and so the best solution is to let some homes go into foreclosure.
“Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom,” Romney said. “Allow investors to buy the homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back. The Obama administration has slow walked the forclosure process … that has long existed and as a result we still have a foreclosure overhang.”
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 2 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at Greensville County High School in Emporia, Virginia. The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
** LIVE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
With massive geopolitical events swirling and the 2012 presidential race unfolding, the White House is increasingly a pivot point for the day’s events. Live streaming of key presidential events is now available as a matter of course here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
NWN will continue to present other live netcasts in full streaming mode, as it did with the Ronald Reagan Centennial events from the Reagan Library, as they emerge and are technically available and as significance dictates.
** NEW POLL: WIDESPREAD UNCERTAINTY ABOUT OCCUPY WALL STREET. It’s striking a nerve around the world, but Occupy Wall Street is mostly regarded with uncertainty by a big majority of Americans.
According to a new Gallup Poll, over 60% of the country doesn’t know what to make of the still amorphous anti-Wall Street movement, whose symbolic center is an encampment near the New York Stock Exchange.
Which is not exactly a large surprise.
The protest just began a month ago, and was largely a fizzle until a few weeks ago when New York police fatefully pepper sprayed a number of protesters while arresting them.
And the movement’s goals still remain amorphous.
That said, and most intriguingly, support for Occupy Wall Street is around the same level as that for the far more massively hyped and well-established Tea Party movement.
Less than half of Americans express an opinion about either the Occupy Wall Street movement’s goals or the way it has conducted its protests. Those with an opinion are more likely to approve than disapprove. …
But the American public does not seem to be very familiar with the movement or its goals. Part of that may stem from the below-average level of attention Americans are paying to the news story. Fifty-six percent say they are following the story closely, including 18% who say very closely. The averages for more than 200 news events Gallup has tracked since the 1990s are 61% closely and 22% very closely.
Additionally, the lack of knowledge about the movement’s goals may be because the movement has not had clearly defined leaders or goals. Rather, it appears to be united by grievances against the wealthiest Americans — in particular, those who run major Wall Street financial institutions.
Republicans (57%), Democrats (57%), and independents (55%) are about equally likely to say they are following news about Occupy Wall Street closely.
Those who are closely following the news about Occupy Wall Street are more likely to approve than disapprove of the movement’s goals, but even among this more attentive group there is a substantial degree of uncertainty, 44%. That drops to 27% among the most highly attentive group, those who are following the story “very closely.” Among this group, 45% approve and 29% disapprove of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s goals.
Americans paying attention to the news about Occupy Wall Street movement are more inclined to have an opinion about the way the protests are being conducted, and are somewhat more likely to approve than disapprove of those methods. …
Democrats are much more likely to say they are supporters (42%) than opponents (8%) of the Occupy Wall Street movement, with the remainder neutral (47%) or not having an opinion. Most Republicans, 55%, are neither supporters nor opponents, though Republicans are much more likely to oppose the movement (34%) than support it (9%).
The poll sought to contrast support for Occupy Wall Street with another prominent American movement, the Tea Party. In the poll, 22% describe themselves as Tea Party movement supporters, 27% as opponents, and 47% as neither. Gallup has typically found that about equal percentages of Americans are Tea Party supporters or opponents, with the greatest percentage neutral. Thus, the current level of public support for Occupy Wall Street is similar to that for the Tea Party movement. …
Imprisoned Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, whose kidnapping in 2006 prompted a brief war between Israel and Hamas, was today exchanged for nearly 500 Palestinian prisoners, with over 500 more slated for release later this fall.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in North Carolina and Virginia.
Obama is in the midst of a three-day bus tour of North Carolina and Virginia.
He has quite a few stops on these bus tours that are not on his schedule in advance. This is in large part due to security, in order to cut down on the number of frequently ramshackle sites that the Secret Service must investigate and secure prior to his arrival.
This morning, Obama held a roundtable meeting with educators at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, North Carolina.
He then delivered remarks at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown
At 2 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at Greensville County High School in Emporia, Virginia.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
Israel and Hamas today executed an historic prisoner exchange.
477 Palestinian prisoners were released in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, snatched in a daring 2006 kidnapping which led to a brief and unsuccessful Israeli war with Hamas.
Another 550 Palestinian prisoners are to be released in two months.
Egypt played a major role as intermediary in the agreement and the exchange, which I watched live on international television. Before being handed over to Israeli authorities, Shalit went on Egyptian state television and called for peace between the contesting parties.
Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu then held a welcoming ceremony on an Israeli Air Force base, speaking much of his own role in gaining the freedom of Shalit, a corporal when he was taken and now a sergeant.
The deal helps Netanyahu and Israel in that it satisfies a widespread huge demand in the country for Shalit’s release and makes Israel appear more reasonable. It also boosts Hamas in its rivalry with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who’s received all the acclaim of late for his move to gain United Nations recognition.
But it raises the question of how dangerous all those Palestinian prisoners really were. Thousands more remain in captivity. And it certainly undermines the Israeli stance of not negotiating with terrorists, a stance which it has trumpeted for itself and for its allies.
Libyan rebels are celebrating the fall of Bani Walid. This leaves only a remnant of Gaddafi loyalists in a small slice of the deposed dictator’s home town of Sirte fighting on.
So the new leadership was happy to welcome Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a surprise visit today to Tripoli.
Clinton, of course, was one of the main advocates of the ultimate intervention policy in the administration’s internal deliberations on Libya.
Saudi Arabia is asking that the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate its ambassador in Washington be brought to the UN Security Council. The story is getting mostly short shrift in international media coverage. But the Saudis haven’t said what they want the Security Council to do.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Tripoli today on an unscheduled visit to the new leadership of Libya.
In domestic politics, Obama’s re-election campaign is touting the accomplishment of having one million contributors as of Monday.
He has far out-distanced all Republicans in fundraising.
Republicans are embroiled in a huge internal process dispute sparked by Florida moving its primary into the midst of the anointed first four contests of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.
Nevada reacted by moving up also, to January 14th, rather than be left in the dust. New Hampshire threatens to move into December, because its cranky secretary of state insists on having a week between his state’s primary and the Silver State’s caucuses.
Today Iowa set its historically first-in-the-nation contest as a date in stone: January 3rd.
The Republican field debates again tonight in Las Vegas, with the event airing on CNN at 5 PM Pacific.
It will be interesting to see if they discuss anything new beyond laissez-faire and austerity to help Nevada’s slumping economy.
Obama is monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time, Iraq is ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … SIGNS: JERRY BROWN FOLLOWING A DISAPPOINTING LEGISLATIVE YEAR.
NOTE: I have a column coming with remembrance of and perspective on Steve Jobs, tied to the Apple memorial for him on Wednesday.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Senator Dianne Feinstein officiated at Brown’s wedding to Anne Gust in 2005. She’s up for re-election next year, but has no opponent as yet, despite slumping ratings in the polls.
But she does have one big problem.
Feinstein’s campaign says now that it lost $4.7 million to the embezzlement of its longtime campaign treasurer, veteran California accountant/political consultant Kinde Durkee, who is said to have looted the accounts of dozens of political clients. I had never heard of Durkee before the scandal emerged last month, campaign treasurers being something I’ve paid virtually no attention to. Clearly I’m not the only one with such a blind spot.
** AFGHAN WAR AT 10, 9/11 AT 10+: DID OSAMA BIN WIN AFTER ALL? It’s 10 years since our Afghan War began, and ten-plus years since 9/11.
Most Americans, according to two new polls, don’t think we should be doing what we’re doing in Afghanistan, or that the war effort has been worth it. Every week, there are major fiascoes in Afghanistan. But Osama bin Laden has found his eternal rest far beneath the surface of the Arabian Sea, courtesy of the U.S. Navy SEALs. So bin Laden still lost, right?
Yes. And no. Mostly no. … From my October 7th essay.
** CALIFORNIA’S WILD RIDE: OF ARNOLD, JERRY, AND VANITIES FAIR (AND OTHERWISE). It’s nine months since Jerry Brown’s inauguration as governor. After a big early flurry of activity around big state budget cuts, Brown has proceeded more slowly, his new/renewed tenure as California’s second three-term governor beset by the same forces of dysfunctionality that marked the governorship of predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger. … From my October 4th essay.
** MAD MEN‘S FEAT. … From my September 28th essay.
** MEG WHITMAN TO RUN CALIFORNIA (ICON)! … From my September 22nd column.
** T2 AND ALIENS ANNIVERSARIES POINT UP THE PROBLEMS WITH TODAY’S ACTION MOVIES. … From my September 18th essay.
** OBAMA AND THE REPUBLICANS: TWO CONTRASTING NIGHTS. … From my September 9th column.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
** PAN AMERICAN GAMES LIVE. The Pan American Games, bringing together athletes from 41 nations across North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean contesting in 36 sports, have their opening ceremony tonight in Guadalajara, Mexico. The Pan Ams run until October 30th.
You can watch the action on ESPN Deportes.
Virgin Galactic has opened the world’s first commercial spaceport in New Mexico, a central project of former Governor Bill Richardson.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $86 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $52 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity, and down $28 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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