Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

Vice President Biden clarified muddied waters

I understand the Republicans are calling it a draw, which should tell you that Vice President Biden (my former boss, full disclosure) did very well tonight against Representative Paul Ryan in their first and only debate.

I did pre- and post-debate commentary on CNBC and before the debate, I said the vice president needed to clarify the waters that newly moderate Mitt had muddied. And that he did. Especially on the economic and fiscal material, he wouldn’t let Ryan get away with the misleading claims that too often went unanswered in the first debate.

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An opportunity for a real policy debate between two Catholics

Tonight’s vice presidential debate features two Catholics squaring off for the first time in U.S. history. Joe Biden and Paul Ryan share the same faith, but dramatically different policy visions for our nation. Focus has predictably fallen upon their contrasting views on the legality of abortion. This is a bedrock moral issue for the Catholic Church, and a topic of political interest to both parties. However, there is another profound moral difference that will be on display in the debate. It concerns the morality of our nation’s budget and the growing influence of libertarianism on our politics and culture.

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A time for governing

Most of the commentary about the first presidential debate focused on what it will mean for the two candidates on Election Day. But its just as important to consider what the debate means for America and whether those campaign themes will remain in tonight's vice presidential debate and beyond.

And if Barack Obama and Mitt Romney mean what they said, then perhaps a long and depressing era of gridlock and dysfunction in American government can come to an end.

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A bulwark against the Super PACs: The Internet

Money and politics have always gone hand in hand. But this year, we are witnessing the first presidential election in which big corporations can contribute unlimited funds to media campaigns that directly support or attack candidates. In this brave new world, big money donors are coloring voters’ views of candidates which can make or break political careers at an unprecedented scale. The influence of big money interests continues once candidates are elected, with all of the access money can buy.
 
We must work to fix the massive structural issues that have allowed big money to distort our political landscape. But in the meantime, we also need to find ways to level the playing field for everyone. And that means protecting today’s greatest equalizer: the Internet.

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Obama's closing argument

President Obama won’t have a chance to make up for his uninspiring debate performance until Oct. 22, when he will meet Mitt Romney in Florida with CBS’s Bob Schieffer moderating. The vice president’s debate comes before that, though, as well as a debate with a town-hall format that won’t allow the candidates much opportunity for oratory. So, as an old speech writer, I can’t resist offering suggestions for his last clear chance for summation. Here’s what I’d whisper in his ear the night before.

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Romney's foreign policy: More, please

With polls showing Americans trust President Obama more on foreign policy and a debate devoted to the subject coming up on Oct. 22, Mitt Romney has been clarifying his positions in articles and speeches, including a major address Oct. 8 at the Virginia Military Institute.

Romney says he wants America to lead again, resuming the strategy that guided the United States for the 70 or so years prior to 2009. He has a good point, but much of his attention has been directed at what he considers Obama’s failings — leading from behind, apologizing, not being close enough to Israel — rather than toward delineating his own policy.

A good example was his pallid op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on Sept. 30. It began with 10 paragraphs of throat-clearing (“President Obama has allowed our leadership to atrophy,” etc.) and offered precisely two prescriptions: make the ayatollahs believe “when we say an Iranian nuclear-weapons capability ... is unacceptable” and place “no daylight between the United States and Israel.”

Even in an election that will surely turn on economic issues, Americans deserve more from their candidates on foreign policy.

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Romney will put business before consumers

Though presidents are rarely judged by their role in protecting consumers, President Obama may have done more for consumers than any president in recent decades. That makes sense, given that he took office shortly after the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression, a collapse caused in part by predatory lending, consumers not understanding what they were pledging to pay, and lenders granting mortgages without verifying that borrowers' incomes could cover their payments. In response, the president led the battle to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), passed new credit card protections in the 2009 Credit CARD Act, and, in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, blocked lenders from granting mortgages to borrowers who cannot repay their loans. When Senate Republicans vowed to prevent anyone from leading the CFPB unless the Bureau was significantly weakened, President Obama defied them by granting former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray a recess appointment to head the CFPB, so the Bureau could get on with protecting consumers.

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A President Romney will fix our immigration policy

I am both blessed and grateful to be an immigrant to the greatest country in the world. As such, immigration is an issue close to my heart and it saddens me to know that for decades this country’s immigration system has been broken. And yet, the politicians in Washington have done little to fix it. Instead, immigration reform has become the quintessential political football, with both sides of the aisle using it as a bludgeon with which to attack the other. Too often, that has meant provoking fear among voters – and immigrants - in an effort to divide Americans.
 
We saw that again in these pages in an article entitled, “Romney must come clean on immigration policy” by Cesar Vargas. The article is brimming with mischaracterizations of Governor Romney’s positions on the issue of immigration, an approach that we see too often in this never-ending debate. But rather than focusing on what Mr. Vargas gets wrong, I would like to lay out Governor Romney’s real position on immigration.

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The final Obama narrative: The emperor has no clothes

The controversy swirling around Obama's debate performance completely misses the point. For better or worse, this is it. Stripped of all pretension. Devoid of the catch phrases and the swoons. Minus the Hollywood glam. This is he. Barack Obama. The man, unadorned. No longer do we see Obama through a glass dimly. Now we see him for who he is. This is neither to embellish nor dis-embellish the man. This is to see things for what they are and not what they ought -- or ought not -- to be.

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California's Paid Family Leave is worth replicating

This election season, one thing that Republican and Democratic candidates seem to agree on is the importance supporting and advancing strong family values. Headlining speeches by “Mom in Chief” Michelle Obama and Ann Romney highlighted the importance of mothering and family at both conventions.

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