Presidential races

Presidential races

Poll: Voters prefer GOP over Obama in presidential race

Voters are more likely to vote for the Republican candidate for president than Barack Obama, continuing an upswing that started in September, a new poll showed.

The undetermined Republican candidate wins 46-38 over Obama in the Gallup poll — the same rate as in September, but flipped with August, when Obama led Republicans 45-39.

The numbers affirm Obama's continued difficulty in maintaining popularity through ongoing unemployment and fiscal issues, even while the Republican field remains in limbo.

"Voters' minds are far from settled, and the ultimate choice of the Republican nominee, the health of the economy, and the months of campaigning between now and November 2012 will help shape the election outcome," wrote Gallup's Jeffrey Jones.

The poll of 876 U.S. voters was conducted Oct. 6-9 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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Paul gets personal with ad explaining anti-abortion-rights views

Ron Paul's campaign is hitting the airwaves with an intensely personal ad describing why he opposes abortion rights that seeks to shore up his support with social conservatives.

The ad, titled "Life," features clips of Paul, a former obstetrician, talking about his experience of watching an abortion firsthand.

Conservative evangelical voters are a major swing bloc in the early-voting states of Iowa and South Carolina. Paul has concentrated on building a major campaign infrastructure in Iowa, and nearly won the Iowa straw poll in August.

With a wide open field in the Hawkeye State, the Jan. 3 caucuses are anyone's game, and with many undecided voters there, if Paul can assuage some perceptions that he isn't socially conservative enough for them, he might be able to have a strong performance in Iowa.

The ad opens with the line: "Dr. Ron Paul: More than 4,000 babies delivered, a man of faith, committed to protecting life."

It then cuts to a close-up shot of Paul talking about why he opposes abortion rights.

"I happened to walk into an operating room where they were doing an abortion on a late pregnancy. They lifted out a small baby who was able to cry and breathe and they put it in a little bucket and put it in the corner of the room and pretended it wasn't there," he said. "I walked down the hallway and a baby was born early, slightly bigger than the baby that was just put in the bucket. They wanted to save this baby. So they might have had 10 doctors in there doing everything conceivable.

"Who are we to decide that we pick and throw one away and pick up and save the other one? Unless we understand that life is precious and we must protect life, we can't protect liberty."

The ad has several hundred thousand dollars behind it and will run on Iowa television as well as radio in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, according to Paul's campaign. His strong $8 million fundraising quarter means he has the money to keep it on the air long enough to make an impression on Iowa voters.

Watch it here:

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Axelrod to raise Obama dough in Arizona

David Axelrod, President Obama's chief strategist in 2008 and his close advisor, will travel to Arizona on Thursday to headline an event supporting Obama's reelection.

Gen44, a young professionals fundraising program of the national Democratic Party, will host Axelrod along with Arizona state Rep. Ruben Gallego (D).

Axelrod, one of Obama's most visible surrogates, left his post at the White House in January to work on the president's reelection campaign.

He released a campaign memo on Tuesday signalling that Obama would make his American Jobs Act a major component of his reelection strategy, pummeling Republicans who obstruct his attempts to revive the economy.

Obama's legislation appears to be stalled in the Senate after it failed to get to 60 votes during a key procedural vote on Tuesday.

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NH secretary of state feels "no pressure" for Jan. primary

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner feels "no pressure" to set his state's primary in January but he will not make a decision on the date until next week at the earliest, he told The Hill.

"No one has pressured me to violate our state law and no one has pressured me in any way to set a date on one day or week or another," said the longtime secretary of state. "I've been setting the date since 1976, and I’m going to set it the same way that I have in the past and it’s going to honor the tradition."

New Hampshire law requires it to hold its primary seven days before a "similar election" and it traditionally holds its primary on a Tuesday. Gardner has so far taken the view that Nevada, a caucus state, qualifies as a "similar election," but Republicans are pushing him to reconsider that standpoint.

{mosads}Nevada set its caucuses for Jan. 14, prompting speculation New Hampshire would set its primary for Tuesday, Jan. 3 and pushing Iowa's caucuses into December 2011. But last week Iowa officials indicated they would set their caucuses for Jan. 3, which was seen as a way to pressure New Hampshire to pick Tuesday, Jan. 10.

Another option would be for New Hampshire to set a December 2011 primary.

Gardner, who is politically an independent, has the sole authority to set New Hampshire's primary date, and is a fierce defender of the state's first-in-the-nation status.

He repeatedly declined to comment on whether he will put the state's primary date in January or December, but said that he will strictly adhere to the state's laws requiring New Hampshire to schedule its primary at least seven days before a "similar" election.

He also said that despite reports from Iowa that their caucuses will likely be held on Jan. 3, he has not definitively heard when that date will be and is not giving them preference on the date.

"There’s not going to be another event within seven days of Nevada other than Iowa and I don’t know where Iowa will be either at this point," he said.



Last week, a Republican source told The Hill that many had begun to question the way the primary calendar system was set up, and that if New Hampshire's primary occurred in December that the next time around the nomination calendar might be drastically altered, possibly endangering the Granite State's favored status to host the first primary.

Republican National Committeeman Saul Anuzis, who is on the RNC's calendar compliance committee, told The Hill two weeks ago that the only options the RNC had were to "let the system work like it has in this laissez-faire way or come up with a reform timetable that allows some rotational plan, come up with a way to make it fair from all 50 states' perspective."

If New Hampshire's primary does move into December, there may be calls to junk the current system completely and allow for different states to lead off the primaries every year.

The GOP primary calendar went into disarray last month when Florida moved its primary date up to Jan. 31 in an effort to exert greater influence on the nomination process. The RNC has threatened to remove convention delegates from any state that moves up its primary date.

-- This post was updated at 2:32 p.m.

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Romney maintains big lead in New Hampshire

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has maintained his strong position in the New Hampshire GOP primary, according to a new poll from Harvard University and St. Anselm College.

Romney takes 38 percent in the poll, while Herman Cain jumped to second place at 20 percent support and Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) gets 13 percent support.

New Hampshire is a must-win for Romney, who owns a home there and has spent more time campaigning there than in any other state since he narrowly lost its 2008 primary.

That time has seemingly paid off. "He's pretty locked in, and he's very well-liked even with the people not necessarily for him," said Trey Grayson, who heads Harvard's Institute of Politics. "He's very well-liked and well-known up there."

Other candidates did not fare as well in the poll. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has staked his candidacy on his New Hampshire performance, pulled just 4 percent support, tied with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and trailing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), who had 5 percent support. Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) had 3 percent, and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and former Gov. Gary Johnson (N.M.) had 1 percent, with 11 percent of likely Republican primary voters undecided.

The poll of 648 likely Republican primary voters was conducted from Oct. 2 through Oct. 6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

This is the second poll this week that showed Romney's continued strength in the Granite State. A poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire and WMUR had him at 37 percent support, with Cain in second place at 12 percent, Paul at 9 percent and Huntsman at 8 percent.

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Santorum reports less than $1M campaign funds raised for quarter

Rick Santorum has raised less than $1 million for his presidential race in the last three months, he said on "Fox News Sunday," a total that badly lags the first-tier presidential candidates and even trails some well-funded Senate candidates around the country.

The former Pennsylvania senator, who raised $582,000 last quarter, said he had brought in "a little more" than that this fundraising quarter, which ran from July through September. In contrast, Texas Gov. Rick Perry raised $17 million in his first seven weeks in the race, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) raised $8 million and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to have raised somewhere between $11 million and $14 million.

Santorum has turned in strong debate performances as of late, which he said has led to an uptick in fundraising — he raised more in the two and a half weeks before the Sept. 30 deadline than in the previous two and a half months.

"We feel like we are building traction … and at the right time," he said. "We have enough money to do what we need to do," he said.

Santorum has largely focused on Iowa, hoping he can win with retail politics in the inexpensive state, and has spent much more time there than any other candidate. But even if he pulls off an upset in the Hawkeye State, his momentum could be squandered because of a lack of funds needed to compete in other early-voting states.

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DNC website returns to Romney flip-flopper attack

The Democratic National Committee has launched a new website targeting Mitt Romney, a signal that by reclaiming front-runner status in the GOP presidential race, Romney has entrenched the perception among Democrats that he poses the biggest threat to President Obama's reelection.

The website, www.whichmitt.com, replicates the most frequently used — and perhaps most effective — attack on Mitt Romney: that the former Massachusetts governor changes course on key issues to suit the political expediency of the moment.

The site leads visitors through a series of multiple choice questions asking which of the included statements reflects Romney's view on abortion rights, auto industry bailouts, healthcare and other issues. The correct answer for each question in the DNC quiz is "all of the above."

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Gingrich focuses ire on courts at Values Voter Summit

Newt Gingrich showed he wanted to be legal scholar in chief with his speech at the right-wing religious Values Voter Summit Friday evening.

Rather than attacking Obama and "big government" like the other presidential candidates speaking there, Gingrich spent most of his time talking about what he called a "historic crisis that only indirectly relates to the president," judicial intervention.

"There is no judicial supremacy, it does not exist in the American constitution," he said, criticizing the Supreme Court and appelate courts for believing they could regulate the White House and Congress. "Let me be clear: judicial supremacy is facially wrong, it is morally wrong and it is an affront to the American system of self-government."

He joked that because the Supreme Court was split into liberal and conservative factions, Supreme Court swing vote Anthony Kennedy "becomes a one-person constitutional convention" and however he felt when he woke up would swing the whole country in a liberal or conservative direction.

The audience received him warmly and gave him a handful of standing ovations, but the reaction to his speech was nothing like the uproar and fervent response that Herman Cain got just minutes earlier.

Gingrich did not address most of the issues most voters are focused on today like the economy, jobs and health care, and only glancingly touched on issues close to the socially conservative voters' hearts, like abortion and gay marriage.

In the speech he proved why many call him the GOP's "big thinker." But in failing to focus on what most voters care about he also showed why he hasn't been able to break into the first tier in the presidential race.

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