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Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney

The GOP’s Electoral College Scheme

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English: Electoral college map for the 2012, 2...

English: Electoral college map for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 United States presidential elections, using apportionment data released by the US Census Bureau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Reid Wilson | National Journal

 

Republicans alarmed at the apparent challenges they face in winning the White House are preparing an all-out assault on the Electoral College system in critical states, an initiative that would significantly ease the party’s path to the Oval Office.

Senior Republicans say they will try to leverage their party’s majorities in Democratic-leaning states in an effort to end the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes. Instead, bills that will be introduced in several Democratic states would award electoral votes on a proportional basis.

Already, two states — Maine and Nebraska — award an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district. The candidate who wins the most votes statewide takes the final two at-large electoral votes. Only once, when President Obama won a congressional district based in Omaha in 2008, has either of those states actually split their vote.

But if more reliably blue states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were to award their electoral votes proportionally, Republicans would be able to eat into what has become a deep Democratic advantage.

All three states have given the Democratic nominee their electoral votes in each of the last six presidential elections. Now, senior Republicans in Washington are overseeing legislation in all three states to end the winner-take-all system.

Obama won all three states in 2008, handing him 46 electoral votes because of the winner-take-all system. Had electoral votes been awarded by district, Republican nominee Mitt Romney would have cut into that lead. Final election results show that Romney won nine of Michigan’s 14 districts, five of eight in Wisconsin, and at least 12 of 18 in Pennsylvania. Allocate the two statewide votes in each state to Obama and that means Romney would have emerged from those three Democratic states with 26 electoral votes, compared with just 19 for Obama (and one district where votes are still being counted).

Republicans are able to contemplate such a bold plan because of their electoral success in 2010, when the party won control of state legislative chambers and the governorships in all three states, giving them total control over the levers of state government.

“If you did the calculation, you’d see a massive shift of electoral votes in states that are blue and fully [in] red control,” said one senior Republican taking an active role in pushing the proposal. “There’s no kind of autopsy and outreach that can grab us those electoral votes that quickly.”

The proposals, the senior GOP official said, are likely to come up in each state’s legislative session in 2013. Bills have been drafted, and legislators are talking to party bosses to craft strategy. Saul Anuzis, the former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, has briefed Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Chief of Staff Jeff Larson on his state’s proposal. The proposal “is not being met with the ‘We can’t do that’ answer. It’s being met with ‘I’ve already got a bill started,’ ” the official said.

Republican state legislators are motivated to act after Romney’s loss. And the party lost legislative seats in all three states, adding urgency to pass the measures before voters head to the polls in 2014.

Tweaks of electoral-vote rules are hardly unprecedented, according to Michael McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University. State legislatures routinely changed Electoral College allocation rules in the early years of the Republic; the political fallout then can inform present-day lawmakers considering the changes.

“State legislative elections became tantamount to the presidential election in a state. Local issues were put aside for presidential politics,” McDonald said. “These states legislators thus risk the nationalization of their state politics, to the detriment of their personal careers. State legislators learned that once they fixed the Electoral College rules, national politics no longer dominated state elections.”

In the long run, Republican operatives say they would like to pursue similar Electoral College reform in Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. Obama won all three states, but Romney won a majority of the congressional districts in each state.

Any changes to the allocation of Electoral College votes would have a major impact on each party’s path to the White House. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have given Democrats their collective 246 electoral votes in each of the last six elections. That virtually forces Republicans to run the swing-state table.

But rewriting the rules would dramatically shrink or eliminate the Democratic advantage, because of the way House districts are drawn. The decennial redistricting process has dumped huge percentages of Democratic voters into some urban districts, while Republican voters are spread over a wider number of districts, giving the party an advantage. This year, Democratic House candidates won more than 1 million more votes than Republican candidates, but Republicans won 33 more seats.

And if Republicans go ahead with their plan, Democrats don’t have the option of pushing back. After the 2010 wave, Democrats control all levers of government in only one state — West Virginia — that Romney won this year. Some consistently blue presidential states have Republican legislatures; the reverse is not true.

Some Republicans acknowledge that the party would open itself up to charges of political opportunism, but that they would frame the proposal as a chance to make the system more fair.

“With the frustration of the current system—and the fact that almost everyone would agree proportional or CD is more representative and maybe more fair than the current winner-take-all—Republicans have a strong, righteous argument,” Anuzis said. “However, the motivation would be viewed as being purely political since it hasn’t been done before.”

 

Claims increase of machines switching votes in Ohio, other battlegrounds for Obama

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Fox News Channel

By  Published November 02, 2012 FoxNews.com

Imagine going to vote for your presidential candidate and pushing the button  on a touch-screen voting machine — but the “X” marks his opponent instead.

That is what some voters in Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and Ohio have  reported.

Fox News has received several complaints from voters who say they voted on  touch-screen voting machines — only when they tried to select Mitt Romney, the  machine indicated they had chosen President Obama. The voters in question  realized the error and were able to cast ballots for their actual choice.”I don’t know if it happened to anybody else or not, but this is the first  time in all the years that we voted that this has ever happened to me,” said  Marion, Ohio, voter Joan Stevens.

Stevens said that when she voted, it took her three tries before the machine  accepted her choice to vote for Romney.

“I went to vote and I got right in the middle of Romney’s name,” Stevens told  Fox News, saying that she was certain to put her finger directly on her choice  for the White House.

She said that the first time she pushed “Romney,” the machine marked  “Obama.”

So she pushed Romney again. Obama came up again. Then it happened a third  time.

“Maybe you make a mistake once, but not three times,” she told Fox News.

Marion County Board of Elections Director Sophie Rogers, though, said: “My  personal opinion is that she hit it too hard.”

“We’ve noticed people just punch on them. She might not have hit the square  that she wanted,” Rogers said.

Rogers insists there are no problems with the touch-screen machines in Marion  County and that after learning of Stevens’ complaint she took the machine out of  circulation and had it reexamined and recalibrated. She says there was nothing  wrong with the machine to begin with.

But in response to the growing number of complaints, the Republican National  Committee has sent a letter to election officials in six states — Ohio, Nevada,  Kansas, North Carolina, Missouri and Colorado — demanding tighter controls on  touch-screen machines.

The RNC wants the machines to be re-tested, more technicians added to fix any  problems, and verbal reminders given by election workers telling voters to  double check their ballots.

Multiple voters from several states wrote Fox News to report problems similar  to what Stevens reported.

One voter asked: “I wonder how many voters just hit the ‘Cast Ballot’ without  reading the machine?”

“How can we be sure our votes are not being stolen electronically?” asked  another.

One expert warns it can happen.

“Vote jumping complaints have arisen in every election that uses touch-screen  voting machines, with the complaints going both ways,” said Barbara Simons,  author of the new book “Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?”

Simons, an expert on electronic voting who is on the Board of Advisors of the  U.S. Election Commission, said there is good reason for people not to trust the  older touch-screen machines.

She said, “This phenomenon can occur when a machine goes out of calibration.  The need to re-calibrate frequently is an important reason for discarding these  aging, unreliable, and inaccurate machines and replacing them with paper  ballots.”

Frequently recalibrating the machines is one of the RNC demands.

But election officials insist that the machines are practically foolproof.   They say any problems are due to human error, and that tinkering with  machines is almost impossible.

“It is nearly technically impossible to pre-program the voting machines in  Nevada to vote for a specified candidate,” said Nevada Secretary of State Ross  Miller, in a statement to Fox News.

He said machines are tested by each of the state’s 17 counties  individually.

“While it is possible for a voter to inadvertently select a candidate, it is  not possible for the machine to automatically select a candidate.”

Miller notes that similar allegations were investigated in his state during  the 2010 election, with the assistance of the FBI.  Authorities found that  claims that machines “were pre-programmed, malfunctioning or in any way  preventing any voter from casting a ballot for the candidate of their choice  were without merit.”

Miller, a Democrat, brands the Republican demand to election officials as  “based upon rumor, hearsay, or unconfirmed media reports,” as well as  “irresponsible” and “unfortunate.”

He said his office has “not received any direct, first-hand complaints from  voters.”

In Ohio, touch-screen machines, for example, are being used in Lorain County  with no reported “switched votes” or operational issues.

“We haven’t had any problems with the touch screens this year and everything  is going well,” Lorain County Board of Elections Director Paul Adams told Fox  News.

His county has used touch-screen machines since 2005.

Adams, a veteran election official, said that in his county, machines are not  electronically designed to be able to change choices, and there is no way for  anybody to rig a machine or pre-program its choices for one candidate or a  slate.

“We have heard of these issues in some of the other counties. We had sporadic  issues a few years ago, and since then we have upgraded our software and our  board has replaced most of our touch-screen unit screens if there were any  problems with them. And since we’ve done that about a year and a half ago, we  haven’t had any major issues.”

Lorain County did replace 400 of its 1,200 touch screen machines last  year.

Adams also notes that there is what is called “a paper trial,” like a  receipt, where voters can see their choices printed out. He also says that  anybody who has a problem voting should immediately tell elections  officials.

While Fox News spent the day at the County Board of Elections, where early  voting was taking place, election workers were doing just that.

One woman’s long fingernails blocked her selection, until she moved the angle  of her fingers to get it right.

An elderly man did not realize that he did not cast a vote for president, so  a worker did exactly what Adam advises. She walked the voter through the  process.

“I pushed the button!” the man declared.

“You might have accidently hit it twice. Just lightly tap it, real light,”  advised the worker.

She also showed the voter the paper evidence of his votes to confirm  them.

“Are you satisfied?”

“Yes, thank you very much,” the voter replied.

Nevertheless, Joan, who said she finally was able to cast a correct vote  after three attempts, advises fellow voters to confirm their choices.

“Be very careful when you vote. I don’t care who you vote for, just  double-check.”

If you suspect problems and the polls or voter fraud where you live,  tell us: Voterfraud@Foxnews.com

Fox News’ Meredith Orban contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/02/claims-increasing-switched-votes-in-ohio/#ixzz2B6P0zNEy

 

AP poll: Majority harbor prejudice against blacks after Obama was elected President

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By JENNIFER AGIESTA and SONYA ROSS | Associated Press

 

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll finds, as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.

Those views could cost President Barack Obama votes as he tries for re-election, the survey found, though the effects are mitigated by some Americans’ more favorable views of blacks.

Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008 whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly.

In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.

“As much as we’d hope the impact of race would decline over time … it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago,” said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor who worked with AP to develop the survey.

Most Americans expressed anti-Hispanic sentiments, too. In an AP survey done in 2011, 52 percent of non-Hispanic whites expressed anti-Hispanic attitudes. That figure rose to 57 percent in the implicit test. The survey on Hispanics had no past data for comparison.

The AP surveys were conducted with researchers from Stanford University, the University of Michigan and NORC at the University of Chicago.

Experts on race said they were not surprised by the findings.

“We have this false idea that there is uniformity in progress and that things change in one big step. That is not the way history has worked,” said Jelani Cobb, professor of history and director of the Institute for African-American Studies at the University of Connecticut. “When we’ve seen progress, we’ve also seen backlash.”

Obama himself has tread cautiously on the subject of race, but many African-Americans have talked openly about perceived antagonism toward them since Obama took office. As evidence, they point to events involving police brutality or cite bumper stickers, cartoons and protest posters that mock the president as a lion or a monkey, or lynch him in effigy.

“Part of it is growing polarization within American society,” said Fredrick Harris, director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University. “The last Democrat in the White House said we had to have a national discussion about race. There’s been total silence around issues of race with this president. But, as you see, whether there is silence, or an elevation of the discussion of race, you still have polarization. It will take more generations, I suspect, before we eliminate these deep feelings.”

Overall, the survey found that by virtue of racial prejudice, Obama could lose 5 percentage points off his share of the popular vote in his Nov. 6 contest against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. However, Obama also stands to benefit from a 3 percentage point gain due to pro-black sentiment, researchers said. Overall, that means an estimated net loss of 2 percentage points due to anti-black attitudes.

The poll finds that racial prejudice is not limited to one group of partisans. Although Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism (79 percent among Republicans compared with 32 percent among Democrats), the implicit test found little difference between the two parties. That test showed a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 percent).

Obama faced a similar situation in 2008, the survey then found.

The Associated Press developed the surveys to measure sensitive racial views in several ways and repeated those studies several times between 2008 and 2012.

The explicit racism measures asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about black and Hispanic people. In addition, the surveys asked how well respondents thought certain words, such as “friendly,” ”hardworking,” ”violent” and “lazy,” described blacks, whites and Hispanics.

The same respondents were also administered a survey designed to measure implicit racism, in which a photo of a black, Hispanic or white male flashed on the screen before a neutral image of a Chinese character. The respondents were then asked to rate their feelings toward the Chinese character. Previous research has shown that people transfer their feelings about the photo onto the character, allowing researchers to measure racist feelings even if a respondent does not acknowledge them.

Results from those questions were analyzed with poll takers’ ages, partisan beliefs, views on Obama and Romney and other factors, which allowed researchers to predict the likelihood that people would vote for either Obama or Romney. Those models were then used to estimate the net impact of each factor on the candidates’ support.

All the surveys were conducted online. Other research has shown that poll takers are more likely to share unpopular attitudes when they are filling out a survey using a computer rather than speaking with an interviewer. Respondents were randomly selected from a nationally representative panel maintained by GfK Custom Research.

Overall results from each survey have a margin of sampling error of approximately plus or minus 4 percentage points. The most recent poll, measuring anti-black views, was conducted Aug. 30 to Sept. 11.

Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political scientist who studies race-neutrality among black politicians, contrasted the situation to that faced by the first black mayors elected in major U.S. cities, the closest parallel to Obama’s first-black situation. Those mayors, she said, typically won about 20 percent of the white vote in their first races, but when seeking reelection they enjoyed greater white support presumably because “the whites who stayed in the cities … became more comfortable with a black executive.”

“President Obama’s election clearly didn’t change those who appear to be sort of hard-wired folks with racial resentment,” she said.

Negative racial attitudes can manifest in policy, noted Alan Jenkins, an assistant solicitor general during the Clinton administration and now executive director of the Opportunity Agenda think tank.

“That has very real circumstances in the way people are treated by police, the way kids are treated by teachers, the way home seekers are treated by landlords and real estate agents,” Jenkins said.

Hakeem Jeffries, a New York state assemblyman and candidate for a congressional seat being vacated by a fellow black Democrat, called it troubling that more progress on racial attitudes had not been made. Jeffries has fought a New York City police program of “stop and frisk” that has affected mostly blacks and Latinos but which supporters contend is not racially focused.

“I do remain cautiously optimistic that the future of America bends toward the side of increased racial tolerance,” Jeffries said. “We’ve come a long way, but clearly these results demonstrate there’s a long way to go.”

___

AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

omney: Debates ‘diminished’ Obama

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Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Ashland todayBy |

RENO, Nev.Mitt Romney continued to claim momentum in the aftermath of his debates with President Barack Obama, insisting that the forums boosted his campaign but “diminished” his Democratic opponent’s.

“He’s now been reduced to talking about ‘Sesame Street‘ characters and word games and misplaced attacks on me,” Romney told a crowd of roughly 2,500 people here.

The GOP nominee said Obama had “four debates”—including the vice presidential debate—to “lay out” a plan for the future but failed to do so.

“You can boil down what he’s saying to four simple words: ‘more of the same,'” said Romney.

For months, Romney has mocked Obama’s campaign slogan (“Forward”), telling audiences it should have been “forewarned” instead. Today he revised that attack, telling the crowd Obama’s plan “doesn’t feel like forward. It feels like backwards.”

As he has in recent weeks, Romney expressed confidence he’ll win the election, telling the crowd here he understands how to jump-start the struggling economy and “that’s why I’m going to win.”

Yet in a sign of how close the election is, Romney shook up his usual stump speech. He peppered his remarks with examples of voters in their “40s or 50s,” women and younger people who he said would benefit under his presidency.

Speaking in a swing district in a swing state, Romney called the upcoming election a “defining” moment for the country.

“I think the choice you make here in Nevada—and perhaps right here in Reno—will make a difference for the nation, will make a difference for the families of the nation and will make a difference for your family,” Romney said.

It was a theme he hit repeatedly while urging his audience to consider the impact of their vote.

“This election is about your family and families across this country, and the choice we make will have an enormous impact on your family,” Romney said. “I understand what it’s going to take to get this country strong again and to provide the answers that your families need. This is an election about two very different pathways for America.”

Koch Industries, and other CEOs warn employees of layoffs if Obama is reelected

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English: Seal of the President of the United S...

Koch Industries, the Wichita, Kan.-based company run by the billionaire Koch brothers, sent a voter information packet to 45,000 employees of its Georgia Pacific subsidiary earlier this month.

In it was a letter, dated Oct. 1, from Koch Industries president Dave Robertson implicitly warning that “many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences” of voting for President Obama and other Democrats in the 2012 elections, a list of conservative candidates the company’s political action committee endorses and a pair of editorials: one, by David Koch, supporting Mitt Romney, and the other, by Charles Koch, condemning Obama.

“While we are typically told before each Presidential election that it is important and historic, I believe the upcoming election will determine what kind of America future generations will inherit,” Robertson’s letter–first published by InTheseTimes.com–begins. “If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects, and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills. This is true regardless of what your political affiliation might be.”

Robertson’s letter continued:

(In These Times)

To help you engage in the political process, we have enclosed several items in this packet. For most of you, this includes information about voter registration deadlines and early voting options for your state. At the request of many employees, we have also provided a list of candidates in your state that have been supported by Koch companies or by the KOCHPAC, our employee political action committee.

I want to emphasize two things about these lists. First, and most important, we believe any decision about which candidates to support is — as always — yours and yours alone, based on the factors that are most important to you. Second, we do not support candidates based on their political affiliation. We evaluate them based on who is the most market-based and willing to support economic freedom for the benefit of society as a whole.

If you are concerned about our economy, our future and enhancing the quality of life for all Americans, then I encourage you to consider the principles of your candidates and not just their party affiliation. It is essential that we are all informed and educated voters. Our future depends on it.

It’s not the first time Koch Industries has sent employees political packets. Just before the 2010 midterm elections, Koch sent staffers an urgent mailer that the Nation said was “full of alarmist right-wing propaganda.”

Last week, David Siegel, the founder and CEO of Florida-based Westgate Resorts, sent an email to employees informing them that layoffs are likely if Obama is reelected:

It’s quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.

So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn’t? Whose policies will endanger your job? Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of protecting and saving your job. While the media wants to tell you to believe the “1 percenters” are bad, I’m telling you they are not. They create most of the jobs. If you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the “1%”; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country.

As Gawker noted, Siegel and his wife were the subjects of “The Queen of Versailles,” a recent documentary “about their ongoing quest to build the largest house in America.” And Siegel has often claimed credit for George W. Bush’s victory over Al Gore in the 2000 presidential race. (“I had my managers do a survey on every employee [8,000 total],” Siegel told Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “If they liked Bush, we made them register to vote. But not if they liked Gore.”)

Siegel and the Koch brothers are not alone in issuing anti-Obama missives to employees. According to MSNBC, Arthur Allen, chief executive of ASG Software Solutions, wrote a similar email to his staffers on Sept. 30:

Many of you have been with ASG for over 5, 10, 15, and even 20 years. As you know, together, we have been able to keep ASG an independent company while still growing our revenues and customers. But I can tell you, if the US re-elects President Obama, our chances of staying independent are slim to none. I am already heavily involved in considering options that make our independence go away, and with that all of our lives would change forever. I believe that a new President and administration would give US citizens and the world the renewed confidence and optimism we all need to get the global economies started again, and give ASG a chance to stay independent. If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come.

Straws in the wind or canaries in the coal mines? Warning signs the Obama campaign shouldn’t ignore

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Maybe it’s because I was told there’d be no math when I got into politics, but there comes a point in every campaign when I run screaming from the torrent of poll numbers and go looking for signs and portents, moments that (rightly or wrongly) seem to me to be of potential significance.

Sometimes they can be found in unexpected defections from the ranks. In 1980, for example, Ronald Reagan won the backing of the onetime leader of Manhattan’s Democrats—“Tammany Hall,” as the New York Democratic political machine was known back in the day—as well as former Sen. Eugene McCarthy. By themselves, they could be dismissed as aberrations (McCarthy was famously contrarian), but to me, they spoke of a shift in the political weather.

In 2008, a surprising number of prominent conservatives—ex-Solicitor General Charles Fried, ex-George W. Bush spokesman Scott McClellan and legal scholar Doug Kmiec—joined ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell in throwing their support behind Barack Obama.

Sometimes these portents are late developments that shift the political landscape, such as when Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh implicated President George H.W. Bush in the Iran-Contra scandal just before Election Day, or when a tape of Osama bin Laden was released just before the 2004 election. In the last few days, several such portents have emerged, and if you’re rooting for the Obama campaign, they will have you reaching for the Maalox.

Consider, for example, the anguished acknowledgment of Buzz Bissinger (author of “Friday Night Lights”) that after a childhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where the Republican voting machine levers have rusted from disuse, and after a lifetime of casting Democratic ballots, he is voting for Mitt Romney.

What makes Bissinger’s piece so damaging is that he is not retreating from his Democratic roots, nor even embracing Romney’s policies. Rather, he has concluded that Obama is “burnt-out. … He is no longer the chosen one.”

 

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Or look at the response of the late-night comedians—one of Obama’s securest bases—skewering his debate performance. From David Letterman to Jon Stewart to Bill Maher to the folks on “Saturday Night Live,” they have subjected Obama to something he experienced in the past only from his most zealous foes: ridicule. It is precisely the last thing the Obama campaign needs right now, as it works to gin up excitement among the president’s supporters, especially among the younger voters, for whom 2008 was a time of passionate engagement.

“Come on,” the reply might be. “These are trivial, insignificant items—nothing of real heft.”

So turn instead to one of the more remarkable pronouncements I have seen in recent years from a prominent American journalist: the remarks of CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan.

In a speech last week to Chicago’s Better Government Association, Logan, who was brutalized by a mob in Cairo’s Tahrir Square last year, painted a frightening picture of the terrain in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya—and accused the Obama administration of soft-pedaling the dangers there. On the heels of her “60 Minutes” report a week ago Sunday, her remarks amounted to nothing less than a frontal assault on some basic assumptions of Obama’s foreign policy—an area where he retains a significant advantage over Mitt Romney.

It is almost unimaginable that Bob Schieffer, moderator of the Oct. 22 foreign policy debate, will ignore the blistering words of his colleague, or that he will not raise his network’s report that security in Libya was reduced just before the attacks there that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

What’s significant about these items is that they are not stemming from the president’s ideological or political foes. And they are coming just at the moment when the president’s re-election prospects have been seriously damaged by his own inexplicable debate performance.

Please note what I am not saying. The president is no more doomed to defeat than was Mitt Romney in the days before that debate, when many of his own supporters were hanging crepe. Romney himself still faces serious headwinds. His major foreign policy address Monday was riddled with inconsistencies, and in some cases flat-out repudiations of his past stands. And some of his debate assertions, while confidently presented, leave him open to the charge of dissembling.

It’s just that these unrelated events of the past week call to mind the wisdom of basketball legend Bill Russell, who during his days as a TV analyst would often proclaim: “When things go bad … they go bad.”

Group Warns of Foreign, Fraudulent Donors to Obama Campaign

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Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008

By

A conservative political watchdog group is raising the prospect of an “illegal-donor loophole” in the nation’s campaign finance system, and suggesting the grassroots-donor-heavy Obama Campaign may stand to benefit.

In a 109-page report published at a new website CampaignFundingRisks.com, the Government Accountability Institute alleges the current online campaign contribution system lacks accountability and transparency, making it highly susceptible to foreign and fraudulent gifts.

The report’s focus is President Obama’s re-election campaign, which has collected historic sums from online fundraising, relying predominantly on donors who give in small-dollar increments.

Obama and Democrats announced last week that they raised $181 million in September – more than any incumbent president has raised for his re-election in a single month.  The funds poured in through more than 1.8 million transactions, 98 percent of which were in increments of $250 or less, officials said.

“Campaigns that aggressively raise money online are soliciting donations from people around the world–whether they intend to or not,” writes GAI president Peter Schweizer and Newsweek reporter Peter J. Boyer in a post on the report at Newsweek/Daily Beast.

The report suggests the Obama campaign is uninhibited in its foreign solicitations, lacks rigorous screening for donors’ citizenship and fails to impose basic e-commerce safeguards, such as requiring donors to provide the Card Verification Value (the security code on the back of a card) to prove a donor is in physical possession of the card.

Under U.S. federal election law, contributions from foreign nationals to presidential campaigns are forbidden.

“People around the world are being asked for donations by the campaigns themselves, simply because they signed up for information on campaign websites,” Schweizer and Boyer write. “The problem: candidate webpages don’t ask visitors from foreign IP addresses to enter a military ID or passport number. Instead, the websites use auto-responder email systems that simply gather up email addresses and automatically spit out solicitations.”

The authors claim the current system is also subject to “robo-donoations”- computer-driven giving to a campaign through various aliases to evade contribution limits and avoid detection. The Federal Election Commission conducts little to no oversight of internet fundraising practices, leaving each campaign to police itself, the report claims.

Schweizer and Boyer present no hard data that show Obama’s 2012 campaign has benefited from widespread foreign or fraudulent donations. They also acknowledge that Republican nominee Mitt Romney could theoretically take advantage of the “loopholes,” as well. The report only purports to illustrate that the possibility for fraud exists.

Conservative blogger Erick Erickson of RedState.com, however, tested out the Obama campaign’s online contribution system and documented the apparent ease with which someone with a foreign mailing address and fraudulent passport number could make a gift via credit card.  Erickson concedes, however, that his contribution was ultimately rejected by his bank.

In a post on its “Truth Team” blog, the Obama campaign called the GAI report and its insinuations politically-motivated, citing a history of right-leaning political activism by authors Schweizer and the Government Accountability Institute.

The blog states that “Obama for America” does not accept contributions from foreign nationals and takes voluntary steps to ensure that the campaign is in compliance with federal election law.  At the campaign’s Chicago headquarters, staff manually review each transaction flagged as potentially fraudulent by their third-party credit card processing service, officials wrote.

The president’s campaign also requires a copy of a valid passport from any apparently eligible contributor with a foreign mailing address or from a contributor making a gift from a foreign IP address, according to the post.  “If they do not offer one in a timely manner, the donation is returned,” the campaign says.

While no campaign can control who visits their websites, OFA is in no way directing solicitations to foreign nationals nor knowingly seeking foreign contributions—that is the legal standard,” the Obama camp says on its blog.

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