Why did some Democrats recoil when David Plouffe said Mitt Romney had "no core"?
Plouffe, who ran Obama's 2008 effort and is now a top White House aide, used the disparaging phrase--an unusually harsh, frontal attack so early in the campaign--on Meet the Press. There is widespread bipartisan concurrence among the political class that Romney will face Obama next year--and that Romney is willing to say just about anything to get elected. But Plouffe's personal attack sounded off-key to some party operatives, when the winning message is about jobs and the economy, not personality.
Would Romney go personal against Obama?
Just the opposite. What is most potent about Romney's campaign so far is its cleverly dispassionate anti-Obama formula, which goes something like this: "The President is a nice man with a nice family. He didn't cause the economic mess, but his actions have made things worse. He's clearly in over his head." That message worries many senior Democrats, who now believe Romney has made the tactical decision to take the high road and leave the gutter attacks to the incumbent. Says Romney strategist Stuart Stevens, staying softer-edged than Plouffe: "This is the same Obama campaign that savaged Hillary Clinton [and] ridiculed President Clinton [in 2008]. It must be difficult to think you have elected the next FDR and instead find yourself working for Herbert Hoover."
So what are Romney's weaknesses in a general election?
Romney's remote, wooden manner and his history of flip-flopping. But to hold the White House, the Democrats will need to dismantle Romney's job-creation claims, not his character.
When Bank of America announced a $5 monthly fee for debit-card purchases in September, Molly Katchpole, 22, of Washington went on the offensive. She cut up her debit card on camera and collected 306,000 signatures online. On Nov. 1, the bank rolled back the fee.
Brown vs. State Workers?
California's generous state pension plan may get a haircut now that Governor Jerry Brown has asked new government workers to contribute more to retirement accounts, wait until age 67 to retire and rely on a mix of benefits, including pensions, Social Security and a 401(k)-like plan. Elected with the support of public-employee unions in 2010, Brown says his proposed reforms would save the state $900 million a year.
The President and The Pipeline
Barack Obama said he would decide whether to permit construction of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline and whether to require that it be routed away from the massive Ogallala aquifer that supplies 2 million people in the Plains states with drinking water. The pipeline would carry crude from Alberta's oil-sands region to refineries in the U.S. and create thousands of jobs, but it faces local opposition along its path and challenges from environmentalists.
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