Morning Examiner: Obama’s abortion distraction

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

There is a very simple way to tell if President Obama’s reelection campaign has had a good day: if the biggest story was about the economy, jobs or the debt, then Obama lost the day. Those are the issues voters tell pollsters they care most about, and those are the issues that Mitt Romney beats Obama on. But if the biggest story is anything else (amnesty, gay marriage, birth control, etc.) than Obama has won the day. He has distracted voters from his weakest issues and kept Romney off message.

By that standard, Obama had a huge Sunday.

Yesterday morning, St. Louis’ Fox affiliate KTVI posted an interview with Republican senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who is taking on Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. Explaining his position on abortion, Akin said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

McCaskill immediately tweeted out a response: “As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases, I’m stunned by Rep Akin’s comments about victims this AM.” Hours later, Akin issued a statement claiming he “misspoke” in “off-the-cuff remarks.” But the damage to his campaign was already done. Akin has single-handedly turned what should have been an easy Republican pick-up in the Senate into a likely loss. The only question is whether or not the damage can be contained.

The Obama campaign and their allies at MSNBC had already been pushing the narrative for a week that Paul Ryan was the biggest threat to women’s health since the Boston Strangler. And one of their favorite talking points was that Ryan co-sponsored a bill that they claim would have forced women choosing an abortion to have an ultrasound first. That bill was also co-sponsored by Akin.

The Romney campaign released a statement late Sunday clearly distancing themselves from Akin’s comments, “Governor Romney and Congressman (Paul) Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg told CBS News. But this will not be enough to keep Team Obama from the issue. “We can now not only remind people how good Obama has been — but how bad Romney-Ryan will be. It’s a full court press,” National Abortion Rights Action League Political Director Beth Shipp told Politico.

Campaign 2012
Romney: The Romney campaign released a new television ad attacking Obama on welfare this morning titled, “Richmond Times-Dispatch On Welfare Reform.” And on Saturday, Paul Ryan campaigned in Florida with his mother, telling The Villages retirement community: “Medicare should not be used as a piggy bank for Obamacare. Medicare should be the promise that is made to our current seniors period, end of story.” Romney is set to gain access to more than $165 million next week after he officially accepts the Republican party’s nomination for president at the national convention in Tampa.

Obama: Politico’s Glenn Thrush released his new book, Obama’s Last Stand, today offering an inside look into the White House and the Obama campaign. Obama recently sat for an interview with “Moneyball” author Michael Lewis who is working on an article on leadership for the October issue of Vanity Fair.

Ryan is set to fund raise in Missouri this week. He is going to have to come up with a firmer answer on this issue before his campaign can turn the page.

In Other News
Associated Press, Unemployment rates rose in 44 US states in July: Unemployment rates rose in 44 U.S. states in July, the most states to show a monthly increase in more than three years and a reflection of weak hiring nationwide.

Gallup, August Unemployment Not Looking Good: New Gallup unemployment data suggest an increase in the government’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August when it is reported on Friday, Sept. 7.

The New York Times, Cautious Moves on Foreclosures Haunting Obama: Economists and political allies of President Obama now say the cautious response to the housing crisis was his administration’s most significant mistake.

The Washington Post, Surge in canceled deals offers preview of sequester damage ahead: A surge in canceled U.S. contracts as war funding winds down may be a preview of the damage ahead for government vendors under looming automatic budget cuts.

Righty Playbook
The Washington Examiner‘s Mark Tapscott reports that union boss pay has skyrocketed since 2000.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, claims that the “Regulatory Cliff” that will hit the U.S. economy if Obama is reelected is every bit as big and damaging as the fiscal cliff that is already slowing the economy.

RedState‘s Erick Erickson compares Akin’s abortion comments with Obama’s support for infanticide.

Lefty Playbook
The New York Times‘ Paul Krugman is demanding that Newsweek retract its cover story on Obama.

Talking Points Memo‘s Sahil Kapur notes that the Romney/Ryan Medicare plan looks like Obamacare for seniors.

House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., tells The Washington Post that the Romney/Ryan Medicare plan will cut benefits for current recipients.

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