Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak today visited one of the locations where Israeli and US soldiers are engaged in Operation Austere Challenge, their biggest joint military exercise to date.
** QUICK HITS. All polling now shows that President Barack Obama won last night’s debate, mostly by sizable margins. A CBS poll of undecided voters broke 53-23 for Obama. Will this move numbers in a very tight race, or is it a matter of debating points vs. action? Some believe that Romney succeeded by losing last night, as he fudged rather than fought on most major differences with Obama to seem less warlike and appeal to women still on the fence. On the other hand, he may have come across as unprincipled. … Obama is hitting hard on that front now, saying it’s a matter of who stands where they say they stand. … In California politics, Governor Jerry Brown warned of “Orwellian propaganda” by foes of the Prop 30 revenue initiative, attacking the hide-the-funders approach of the No side. … Brown insisted that revenues will go to the schools — opponents are claiming they might not, despite some obvious guarantees they will — and also aid the overall budget problem. And that the trigger cuts on education are real. The LA Times today debunked the latest No on 30 TV ad (see From the Jerry Files below).
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … BOND AT 50: A NOTABLE PREMIERE HARKENS BACK TO BOND’S BEGINNINGS.
** NEW SURVEY: OBAMA TOPS ON GEOPOLITICS AND FOREIGN POLICY. In a Gallup Poll survey completed before last night’s debate, which all polling shows was won by President Baraack Obama, Obama leads conservative Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on all measures of geopolitical and foreign policy leadership.
Also, twice as many voters say that the US spends has too much military spending than say it has too little.
Intriguingly, his job approval rating, which is in plus territory, much more closely tracks with his ratings on geopolitical matters than on economic matters. This makes sense because more voters still blame the Bush/Cheney Administration for the great global recession.
Foreign affairs, the theme of Monday night’s third and final presidential debate, has been one of President Barack Obama’s stronger issue areas in the campaign in 2012, although whether that continues to be the case isn’t clear. Gallup polling in September found Americans chose Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by 53% to 41% as the candidate better able to handle foreign affairs — a 12-percentage-point advantage. That exceeded Obama’s leads on healthcare, energy, Medicare and taxes, and contrasts with Romney’s advantage on the economy and federal budget deficit. …
Obama also led Romney 52% to 42% in public perceptions of who would better handle terrorism and other international threats, although more recently the two were tied on that issue — 48% for Obama, 47% for Romney — in the national component of a USA Today/Gallup swing-states poll. …
For most of Obama’s presidency, he has earned higher marks from Americans for his handling of foreign affairs than his handling of the economy, most recently by a 12-point margin, 48% vs. 36%. And, quite notably, his overall job approval rating has more closely mirrored his foreign policy rating than his economy rating, suggesting Americans are holding him more accountable for foreign policy outcomes than economic outcomes. …
As recently as March, Americans endorsed the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan, with the majority, 59%, saying that sending U.S. troops there was not a mistake. Nevertheless, given the choice, barely one in five, 21%, said U.S. troops should remain there indefinitely. One-quarter endorsed the plan to remove troops by the end of 2014 while half favored speeding up the withdrawal. …
Half of Americans told Gallup earlier this year that they are very concerned about the impact that trade relations with China is having on the U.S. economy. Additionally, 73% said they are concerned about the amount of U.S. debt held by other countries, an issue highly relevant to U.S.-Chinese trade relations. Concern for both issues outranked the financial situation in Europe, of great concern to 44% of Americans.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans were very concerned about the economic impact of the political situation in Iran. This is on par with concern about trade relations with China, but lower than concern about U.S. debt held by other countries. …
Americans have long expressed a partiality for Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most recently, in Gallup’s 2012 World Affairs poll, 61% said their sympathies lie more with the Israelis and 19% with the Palestinians. At the same time, 51% say they support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza, while 37% oppose this.
While Americans are skeptical that peace will ever come to the region — 60% doubt it will — this support for a two-state solution suggests Americans nevertheless favor continued U.S. involvement in resolving the conflict. Along the same lines, Gallup polling in 2010 found 53% of Americans saying Obama had not been tough enough on the Palestinians and 43% saying he had not been tough enough on the Israelis. …
At a rally in Florida early Tuesday morning following his win in the final presidential debate, President Barack Obama said the most serious issue in the White House race is who voters can trust. The president says that while Mitt Romney is shifting his positions on key issues, voters “can trust that I say what I mean.”
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Florida, Ohio, and Washington, DC.
Obama delivered remarks at a campaign event early this morning at the Delray Tennis Center in Delray, Florida.
At 9:20 AM Pacific, Obama departs Delray, Florida on Air Force One en route Dayton, Ohio.
At 11:30 AM Pacific, Obama arrives Dayton, Ohio.
At 12:50 PM Pacific, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden deliver remarks at a campaign event at Triangle Park in Dayton, Ohio.
At 2 PM Pacific, Obama departs Dayton, Ohio on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 3:20 PM Pacific, Obama arrives Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 3:35 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
Vice President Joe Biden is in the second of three straight days campaigning in swing state Ohio, where new polling has the ticket up by 5 points.
Conservative Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney campaigns in Ohio, then joins Congressman Paul Ryan to campaign in Nevada, and Colorado.
Obama and Biden have the edge in Ohio and Nevada, while Colorado and Florida are dead heats.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Persian/Arabian Gulf is ten hours ahead of Pacific time and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time. The time in Manila, on the South China Sea, is fifteen hours ahead of Pacific time.
** OBAMA WINS THE FOREIGN POLICY DEBATE ON … OHIO? Monday night’s debate, on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s announcement of the Cuban Missile Crisis, was all about geopolitics and foreign policy, and Barack Obama won it handily, with Mitt Romney morphing into “me too” mode on issues on which he’d previously bitterly attacked the president. But Obama’s ultimate edge may have come on a domestic issue, rescuing the auto industry, which has direct bearing on must-win Ohio.
More about that in a moment.
Geopolitics and foreign policy have been areas of significant strength for Obama and weakness for Romney.
The debate was a key moment for Romney, who has yet to cross the threshold of being a credible potential U.S. president on the world stage after stumbling through his summer international tour.
But Romney, who has repeatedly muffed the issue, as I’ve been pointing out for nearly six weeks, had another chance to try to score on Obama for the Benghazi disaster.
Even though I think his administration erred badly, Obama had enough to say, especially with regard to rather erroneous intelligence reports of the moment, to cover himself there while counter-punching nicely on his take-down of Osama bin Laden, a policy that Romney notably opposed the last time he ran for president.
So Romney, on the first question of the debate, punted, thereby removing the only true moment of peril for Obama.
The fact is that the world is a messy place in a state of flux. I think voters have a sense of this, and are not anxious to blunder into more dangerously entangled engagements that expensively go nowhere good. Romney might get it finally, too, reversing his position on Afghanistan, on which he’d previously attacked Obama for setting a withdrawal date.
Obama spoke to this by finding his sense of pith, mostly staying out of dry professorial mode. Too bad for Obama that he wasn’t like this in Denver, where he turned what could have been a decisive election victory into a dicey proposition.
Romney is trying to make the case that Obama is soft on China — Obama has an aircraft carrier strike group cruising the South China Sea with top officials of our old enemy Vietnam aboard over the weekend (which Obama did not mention) — and Russia, which Romney, rather unaccountably, identifies as America’s chief adversary in the world.
(You can see the archive of my articles dealing with the geopolitical pivot to Asia and the Pacific here.)
The reality is that Obama’s Pacific pivot is intended to counter the rise of China — complete with Navy battle groups moved into the South and East China Seas and trade sanctions — though of course the administration doesn’t put it that way publicly, and Romney has his own business-related problems on China, as Obama pointed out last night.
We did see how much the two differ on Iran’s nuclear program and Israel. Not much at all, if the new Romney is to be believed. The Israeli government and security establishment have largely turned away from Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s red-hot rhetoric of preemptive military attacks, which was mirrored over the summer by his old friend and business colleague Romney.
Obama and Romney debated last night on geopolitics and foreign policy, finding new agreement on the issues as Romney did his moderate Mitt Morph.
Romney also tried to soften on the Arab Awakening, which he’s been no fan of. But he said something very strange on that which indicates he really doesn’t know the most crisis-ridden region in the world.
“Syria,” he intoned, “is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea.”
Say what? Syria simply is not Iran’s “route to the sea.” First off, Syria and Iran aren’t next to one another. Second, Iran has 1,500 miles of coastline along the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, all leading to the sea.
Romney doesn’t seem to have looked at a map of Iran, which is shocking considering how many times he’s declared that a nuclear Iran would be the world’s greatest threat.
Romney wasn’t all “me too” clinching Obama last night, claiming again that Obama has dangerously cut the military, complete with a familiar riff on the Navy. The candidate definitely went to the well one time too many on that, saying that the U.S. Navy is weaker than it’s been since 1917.
Obama had a devastating riposte, saying that the military has “fewer horses and bayonets” now, too, and in any event, the ships we have are more powerful, including aircraft carriers and nuclear subs.
The claim that Obama is making dangerous cuts from the U.S. Armed Forces is strange. Our spending is greater than that of the next 14 nations in the world combined.
And his claim about the Navy, not to put too fine a point on it, is nonsense. You don’t even have to have been in the Navy, or any other branch of service — Romney was a Mormon missionary in France during the Vietnam War — to know this.
Actually, contra Romney, there are more ships in the U.S. Navy of today than in the U.S. Navy of 1916. And even more important, the ships we have today are far more capable and powerful. For one thing, there were no aircraft carriers in 1916, which Romney should know. For another, he equates little gunboats and patrol boats with modern warships like Aegis cruisers and nuclear submarines.
But the deepest problem for Romney last night may have come on a more domestic issue. Seeking to counter Obama’s attack that he opposed the auto industry rescue, Romney declared: “I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry. My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. I said they need — these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy. And in that process, they can get government help and government guarantees.”
Obama had a lethal counter: “You keep on trying to airbrush history here. You were very clear that you would not provide government assistance to the U.S. auto companies, even if they went through bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private marketplace. That wasn’t true.”
Romney clearly wanted to get through the final debate without getting embarrassed on topics he knows relatively little about, despite having been running for president for the past seven years.
Ironic, then, that he may have skewered himself on something he does know about.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Southern California, the Central Valley, and Northern California.
Brown is barnstorming today on behalf of the Prop 30 revenue initiative.
At 9:15 AM, he holds a press conference with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other Latino leaders at a high school in Inglewood.
At 12:30 PM, he holds a press conference with Latino and other community leaders at an elementary school in San Diego.
At 2:30 PM, he holds a press conference with community leaders at the Bakersfield College Quad in Bakersfield.
At 4:30 PM, he holds a press conference with community leaders at an electrical workers training center in Fresno.
Controversy over the massive mystery funding for the No on 30 and Yes on 32 (defund public employee union political committees) campaigns funneled through the Small Business Action Committee continues. SBAC operatives continue to insist they have no idea where the money comes from.
The Los Angeles Times today rapped the No on 30 campaign, to which the SBAC funnels money under the “small business” label, for several false statements in its latest TV ad.
Meanwhile, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger began filming his latest movie, Ten, yesterday in Atlanta.
** RECALLING GEORGE MCGOVERN’S LAST CAMPAIGN. … From my October 22nd essay.
** CALIFORNIA REPUBLIC: PASS THE BANANAS. … From my October 19th essay.
** OBAMA TAKES DEBATE 2: SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? … From my October 17th essay.
** GEOPOLITICS: OBAMA FACES BIG CHALLENGES DESPITE DEBATE WINNER ROMNEY’S LATEST POLICY WHIFF. … From my October 9th essay.
** JERRY BROWN GETS AN OCTOBER SURPRISE. … From my October 8th feature.
** RECALLING TOTAL RECALL: SCHWARZENEGGER’S COMEBACK PROCEEDS WITH A BIG (NATURALLY) BOOK. … From my October 5th essay.
** BOND AT 50: DR. NO IS A TIME CAPSULE FROM THE EARLY MAD MEN ERA. … From my October 4th essay.
** OBAMA PASSES THROUGH THE MINEFIELD OF U.N. WEEK (BUT SETS UP A POTENTIAL EXPLOSION NEXT YEAR). … From my September 28th essay.
** IS POST-PARTISANSHIP PASSE? SCHWARZENEGGER AND COMPANY (AND BILL CLINTON) SAY NO. … From my September 26th column.
** DETHRONED: MAD MEN‘S DOWN SEASON OPENED THE DOOR FOR A SUPERLATIVE HOMELAND. … From my September 24th 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.
Skyfall, the 50th anniversary Bond film, has its royal premiere tonight in London.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in major military operations 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. 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 from the Russia Today channel. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the state-run 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 about $28 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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