Tuesday marked the start of my daily focus on the 2012 election campaign, covering the latest news and controversies across a very wide range of races and issues that progressives care about. As the author of three books about influential political campaigns, I also bring a certain historical perspective to this very topical task. You can bookmark the blog by clicking my name at the top or by going here. Send me tips at epic1934@aol.com. Frequent updates, from the top:

For Friday’s blog, go HERE.

4:45 THE BALLAD OF MITT  Just came across this incredible (because it’s not a parody)  song tribute to Romney–from 2008 but still hitting all the notes for today.  He even "turned water into wine." Or maybe he meant "whine."  Incredibly:  There’s even a slowed-down version for maximum "goosebump" potential.  (h/t Zoe Schlanger)

3:55 POST-SPEECH REACTIONS The official @BarackObama feed tweets: "Turning back Citizens United loophole and restoring democracy must be priority for 2nd term."…. MSNBC’s Jon Alter called speech "one of least successful" from Obama he’s ever heard….MoveOn pressing Romney to take clear stand on Florida vote purge.

3:50 "MAC" ROMNEY Andy Borowitz: "BREAKING…New, Improved Mitt Romney Has Retina Display." But no flash drive, for sure….

3:25  WHATEVER Think Progress: GOP at its Latino outreach site uses stock photo of Asian kids at the top of the page.  Update: They’ve now removed it.

2:50 HAMMER HITS EXECUTIONS MC Hammer (left) backing one of my pet issues: supporting California’s ballot initiative to replace the death penalty with life without parole. He writes about it at Huffington Post.

2:05 LOOK OUT, CLEVELAND Obama starts allegedly "big" speech in Ohio. Chris Cillizza of Wash Post tweets: "Obama missed a chance not to start his speech with ‘Hello, Cleveland.’ Spinal Tap references = winning." Watch live here. Follow my live-tweet commentary @gregmitch. Next to address voters in Ohio: The Bush head from "Game of Thrones." Read about Romney bus folks taunting Obama fans outside arena.

1:30 DIMON IS FOREVER Guess how much money those U.S. Senators who went easy on Jamie Dimon yesterday got in donations from JP Morgan? Ding-ding-ding. Yes, over $550,000.

12:50 SCOTUS DECISION NEARS Nervous yet? Justices will rule very soon on Obamacare. Surely it will effect the campaign, as Obama’s ready to hit back at a loss and Romney poised with "told-you-so" but warning that only taking White House will drive stake through its heart. ABC has a handy flow-chart on possible outcomes and results.

12:40 AFTERNOON DELIGHTS Study finds Obama blows Romney out of the water–on Facebook…. Obama and The Veep both in Cleveland during the same week… We’ve been waiting for it and today it has arrived: A NYT piece on Anne Romney’s fashion choices (she refused to be interviewed) plus whatever-happened-to-Mitt’s-skinny-jeans….Who knew? The Daily Show has a separate "Election Center."  New music feature today.

11:40 COURTING DISASTER Major new piece by former Sen. Russ Feingold at Stanford Law Review site on how Citizens United decision pretty much wrecked everything. "Without a significant change in how our campaign finance system regulates the influence of corporations, the American election process, and even the Supreme Court itself, face a more durable, long-term crisis of legitimacy."

11:35 ROMNEY vs. PRESS Mike Calderone’s tweet says it all: "Reporters kicked out of Romney’s talk at the Newseum, a building with a 74-foot-high engraving of the First Amendment."

11:00 LATE NIGHT CAMPAIGN HUMOR  From Colbert to Fallon.

10:50 EASY ON THE AYES Daily Beast writer with "10 Women to Watch" in this year’s campaign. Somehow they resisted calling them the "10 Hottest." Of course, Elizabeth Warren is on the list, also Kelly Ayotte and Kirsten Gillibrand, but the rest are relative unknowns.

10:00 AM KERREY NEBRASKA? Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos fame came out today against Bob Kerrey, the famed Democrat now vying for his old Nebraska seat in the Senate. Here’s why.

CASINO ROYALE We reported yesterday that Sheldon Adelson had donated $10 million to a pro-Romney PAC. Now comes word via Forbes that his giving will be virtually "limitless" this year. "Adelson, who has built Las Vegas Sands into an global casino empire, will do ‘whatever it takes’ to defeat Obama, this source says. And given that Adelson is worth $24.9  billion – and told Forbes in a recent rare interview about his political giving that he had been willing to donate as much as $100 million to his initial presidential preference, Newt Gingrich – that “limitless” description telegraphs potential nine-digit support of Romney. Adelson, this source continues, believes that ‘no price is too high’ to protect the U.S. from what he sees as Obama’s ‘socialization’ of America, as well as securing the safety of Israel."

Our own Ari Beman tweets: "Media should start covering 2012 less like an election and more like an auction. Democracy sold to highest bidder."

HBO APOLOGY Now the cable giant has apologized for this: A model of George W. Bush’s (dead) head used on Game of Thrones  they claim they needed one and it was just there for scene of decaptiated head on a pike, not a political statement.

TAXING QUESTIONED Good Reuters report on the surprising revolt against cutting taxes in the reddest of red states, North Dakota and Oklahoma. "My message to the Tea Party, whom I am affiliated with: go back to the drawing board and write a bill that is explicit in detail and is based on economics and not blind ideology with a Thomas Jefferson quote attached."

ARTY CAMPAIGN FILM? A piece at the ABC News site looks at the growing trend of candidates doing "wacky" TV spots to gain attention in (often losing)  campaigns. But it also mentions a GOP candidate in Minnesota who wanted to do something more "artistic" and so made a film (starring himself) that debuted last night in a local film festival. Here’s the trailer:

PORK BARREL POLITICS Andy Borowitz tweets: "To Boost Popularity, Romney Sprinkles Self with Bacon." … Jeff Greenfield, not known for his humor, points out: "Maybe John Edwards should have become CEO of a major bank–then the Justice Dept. never would have prosecuted him in the first place."

SEX DOMAIN MAN Florida candidate for Congress, Henry Raydel III, has been exposed for registering Web domain names are not exactly "family-friendly." Starting in 2005, "his now-defunct company, Trey Enterprises, registered a number of sexually charged web addresses, many of them in Spanish, according to historical domain name ownership records."

CASH OF THE TITANS That was title of "Daily Show" segment last night on party fundraising, with a cameo by Anna Wintour.


ANOTHER PANTHER IN THE HOUSE? The Hill profiles NYC councilman Charles Barron who could pull upset in Brooklyn race for Congress. They point out that he has hailed Libya’s Gaddafi and compared Israelis to Nazis. "A former Black Panther, Barron is known for his rhetorical bombs, and in a House that will be devoid of departing Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.), he could easily claim the mantle of most outspoken member, and arguably the most radical."  Note: Longtime Representative Bobby Rush is also an ex-Panther.

MAP TIME Talking Points Memo has unveiled its new electoral map. It Has Obama over Romney 260 to 224, with 270 needed to win. The three states as true tossups? Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado…. Meanwhile, Business Insider claims only FIVE states total will matter at all this year: Iowa and Colorado, plus Virginia, Ohio and Nevada. Suck on that, the rest of us. Blame it on the founding fathers– and the Electoral College.

NORTH DAKOTA NO SURE THING FOR GOP? Surprise, via The Fix: "Republicans won an open Senate seat in North Dakota in 2010 in a cakewalk. Given that result and the state’s conservative lean in a presidential year, when Sen. Kent Conrad (D) shocked the political world by announcing his plans to retire rather than seek reelection in 2012, it was considered something short of a given that the GOP would win the open seat contest in November. But a series of polls in North Dakota in recent weeks — most of them from Democratic pollsters — show the race is neck-and-neck between former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) and Rep. Rick Berg (R)."

"SWINGERS" LOSE SWAY?  My assistant Max Rivlin-Nadler reports: An ABC/Washington Post poll finds that independent voters are receptive to neither economic plans offered by the two presidential candidates. The mysterious "swing voters" have again become the focus of intense scrutiny and discussion. We’re reminded that individuals who are torn between Obama and his opponent are not necessarily a bellwether of the campaigns, but are more likely just seriously uninformed indiviwho don’t really hold much sway (or vote) in the general election. The candidates win by rallying their base.

MORNING SHORTS  Preview of big Obama speech on the economy later today…. Romney already borrowing from SNL…While another witness claims that, yes, he DID impersonate a cop as a young man….A NYT article on Mormons and gay rights by Neil Young–no, not that one (though the rocker’s dad was a sports writer).

From late Wednesday

QUOTE OF THE DAY  Democratic operative Dave "Mudcat" Saunders told the Daily Caller he has signed up with Wayne Powell (D) to take on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).   The campaign’s message: "He screwed us, and us is pissed."  (h/t Taegan Goddard)

AIN’T THAT A SHAME Senator Sherrod Brown’s team sent out email blast today seeking funds to combat enormous PAC spending against him in Ohio race. They even mention recent ads by ex-rock star (and longtime GOP enthusiast) Pat Boone. Here’s one of them that I somehow missed:

STORY OF THE DAY Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire brings us news that Diana Newland and Edward Lapeyre tied in their runoff election last week for the Webster, TX, city council, with 111 votes each. A dice roll was needed to break the tie. Newland won on the third roll of the dice… 

DIMON NOT THIS GIRL’S BEST FRIEND Jamie Dimon, the JP Morgan CEO, testified in Congress today and quickly Code Pink and other protestors were tossed out of the room. But Elizabeth Warren, the Senate candidate in Massachusetts, "sees JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s Wednesday testimony before the Senate Banking Committee as an opportunity to push the government to strengthen financial reform, to increase pressure on Dimon to resign from the New York Fed Board — and to tie her Massachusetts Senate opponent Scott Brown to the Wall Street excesses that crippled the U.S. economy. But the longtime reform advocate worries that powerful financial interests still control Congress and their own regulators, and that the window is closing for using JPMorgan’s eye-popping losses on bets with depositor funds to tighten regulations on Wall Street."

Greg Mitchell’s campaign books include The Campaign of the Century (Upton Sinclair, 1934), Tricky DIck and the Pink Lady (Nixon-Douglas, 1950), and Why Obama Won.