A new daily blog, updated often, covering news and controversy across a wide range of races and issues. As author of three books about influential campaigns (Upton Sinclair 1934, Nixon-Douglas 1950, Obama 2008), I also bring historical perspective to this. You can bookmark the daily blog by going here.

11:30 YOUR ‘DAILY SHOW’ RE-CAP  For folks who are now blocked from Comedy Central.  Opens with LIBOR.  "Bankers–never trust anything that rhymes with wankers."  "Are you friggin’ kidding me"–guys named Rich Ricci, Mr. Diamond and Alexander Hoare.  "Is this a Dickens novel?" ….Then on to Romney and tax returns: "Mystery Finance Theater 2012."  Jon claims the show obtained 25 years of Romney returns.  First tidbit: Took deductions for car stairs and car escalator before he got car elevator. More excerpts to come….Sigourney Weaver, aka new TV "Hillary Clinton," guests. Family in show also modeled on Kennedys, Johnsons, etc.  Wasn’t looking to do TV but loved character.  "I especially want women to see it."

8:00 FINALLY, ROMNEY MYSTERIES SOLVED Seamus takes the fall. Andy Borowitz: “BREAKING—Romney Claims Dog Ate Tax Returns and Ran Bain Capital for Three Years.”

7:20 THE HORNY TOAD & THE STRIPPER Attack ad of the month—and there have been some wild ones in Prez race—has got to be this new one for the Lt. Gov. post in Missouri. Candidate, with great name Kinder, placed at a bar called the Horny Toad, and then there’s some trouble with a stripper. You can’t make this up, and maybe even the ad maker didn’t. Meanwhile, MoveOn sticking with “Tricky Mitt” meme from its own ad today (see below) with this image.

7:05 NO BOUNCE IN POLLS That Obama bump some predicted due to Romney’s very bad Bain month—but which I discounted—seems illusory indeed, as new NYT/CBS poll finds Romney for rare time leading, 47–46 percent. Means little except that—when added to other current polls—obviously, no surge. And Romney now leads 49-41 on best able to manage economy—suggesting that, as I warned, that weak jobs report this month, forgotten by many pundits and progressives, has more salience right now than the missing tax returns. Also, Obama’s “favorable” index declines, though would hate to hazard a guess why.

5:50 PLAYING ‘CHECKERS’ WITH NIXON With the new “Tricky Mitt” attack ad gaining traction—and new calls for Romney to come clean on financial history—here’s the classic Nixon “Checkers” speech from 1952, if you have somehow missed it (also has a part II). Love the way he stumbles over “integrity” at beginning. And then we get to the dog and Pat’s “Republican cloth coat.” (BTW, there are new print and ebook editons for my Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady book.)

4:20 WOULD ROMNEY QUIT RATHER THAN RELEASE TAX RETURNS? Huff Post, adding to an earlier scoop, now cites Bain sources who say Romney never dreamed he’d be forced to release tax returns, going back to his first run for office in 2002. They (or is it just Huff Post?) hint that he fears the release so much he might even consider dropping out of the race if poll numbers drop—that’s how much he hates the idea. Maybe he invested in a strip club—or Solyndra.

The earlier Huff Post report today: It’s been largely overlooked until now, but Huff Post points out that even for the one year of tax returns fully released by Romney, big gaps remain—especially re overseas shelters. Notably: “[P]eople who own foreign bank accounts are required to file a separate document with the IRS that provides additional details on such overseas bank holdings, and Romney has not released that form to the public.”

2:55 OUR MISTER BROOKS Once again, there’s an entertaining Gail Collins–David Brooks online-only chat at the NYT. Barely taking a breath, David says Obama is acting like just as big an “idiot” as Romney, ignores key issues, and then he hails a “brilliant” Peggy Noonan column. Then he actually takes seriously Romney’s attack on “crony capitalism.” Then hails outsourcing. Quote of the Day from David: “The Whig Party represents my views better than any other political party ever has, so I would have been going door-to-door with little bumper stickers for people’s horse-drawn buggies.” Gail, who usually hits back hard and with humor, is pretty passive this time around.

2:35 GREEN POLITICS The Green Party’s newly minted presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, appears with Jennifer Granholm (the former governor) on her Current TV show tonight. Here’s a piece on seven things you may not know about her, including: she has female running mate, is already on twenty-four ballots, and expects to spend a paltry $1 million on the race, literally pocket change for the major party candidates. Also, unlike Obama, she has experience running against Romney!

12:20 THE CASE FOR JINDAL? For a few chuckles, check out campaign über-insider Chris Cillizza of Wash Post making his case for Bobby Jindal as Mitt’s Veep pick. But first recall how he flubbed his big moment on the national stage in that infamous State of the Union response. Comically, Cillizza calls him “flashy enough” and claims big gain from a first-ever “historic” pick (in this case, as Indian-American)—despite the Palin flop. Also points to money donations from American-Indian community—as if it would be more than a drop in the bucket given this year’s funding. More fun: GOP would have him ready to run for president in eight years… More Veep fun: Greg Sargent of Wash Post says, “It’s sad to see Pawlenty and Portman try to out-lie each other, in veep quest, over bogus attack on Obama as anti-business.” Taegan Goddard adds: “Department of irony—Romney’s veep selection team is poring over tax returns of potential candidates.”

12:05 pm  MIDDAY MADNESS   As I predicted, national and state polls showing no real bump for Obama this week–45% locked in against him no matter what….New Q & A with Tom Hayden, at age 72, at Wash Post….NBC: Chris Christie to give GOP keynote address at convention (but party won’t confirm)… Dave Weigel of Slate: “Romney’s old tax returns would be just like Obama’s birth cert, if Romney had released multiple copies of his old tax returns”… Poll finds Obama up among Hispanics by only forty-eight points… PolitiFact finds charge that Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz has offshore accounts like Mitt “mostly false.”

10:55 am  DUMP MITT AT OPEN CONVENTION? Just wondering: Anyone seen speculation yet that GOPers & consevative pundits begging Romney this week to release more tax returns expect very bad news—with still time to get new nominee at party convention? Yes, a real longshot, but amazes me that the Romney backers asking for full release are so clueless they don’t realize that most likely some incredibly damaging news in there? Suicidal? So I wonder if, for some, they have a Plan B. Senator Chuck Grassley latest to issue call today. UPDATE: Yes, Marcy Wheeler was already on this a couple of days ago. Explains Newt backing off Bain attacks when ready to move in for kill back in January.

10:25 DAILY SHOW PREVIEW? Expect to see this on The Daily Show tonight: Steve Doocy (a favorite Jon Stewart punching bag) of Fox and Friends says election boils down to “the capitalist” vs. “the socialist”… And maybe this: Anderson Cooper takes on Michele Bachmann on her radical-Muslims-infiltrating-US govt charge… Plus, I wonder: maybe Jeremy Lin will make ad for Romney: “Like they do w/ Mitt, many now complaining about my success & making money in our great capitalist system.”

9:50 ROMNEY’s VEEP PICKED EXPOSED Our house comic, Andy Borowitz, just moved over to The New Yorker today, and first column prints exclusive photo of Romney’s Veep pick (left)—a true legend in the financial and real estate world. He brings added wealth to campaign spending but has political baggage that could prove problematic: “We’re talking about someone who has gotten out of jail multiple times.”

9:15 FRUM: HERE TO INSANITY David Frum, the increasingly moderate longtime GOPer, asks today why Romney camp is “talking crazy” and notes new poll showing that contrary to conventional wisdom there is indeed an “enthusiasm gap” but it favors Obama—with 51 percent of liberals wild for him and only 31 percent of conservatives gaga over their candidate. So entire campaign heading straight for the mud… And now we have anonymous Romney aide talking about Obama and cocaine. But as Buzzfeed reveals: that’s just one of dead-in-water desperate memes from the campaigns. Others: dirty Chicago politics, Rod Blago, Fast & Furious. Bill Ayers surely on the way.

THE COST OF VOTER ID LAWS New study by Brennan Center explores why so many in 10 states will have trouble meeting new criteria. For example, “Echoing the Justice Department’s argument that the laws are burdensome, the Brennan Center report found nearly half a million eligible voters in the 10 states do not have access to a vehicle and live more than 10 miles from their nearest state ID-issuing office”… Ari Berman adds: “States with restrictive voter ID laws comprise 127 electoral voters—nearly half of what’s needed to win presidency.”

HORSING AROUND WITH MITT Another attack ad just out raises the “dressage” angle along with the Read My Lips No New Tax Returns. And here’s a more serious ad that David Frum says “draws blood.”


‘TIMES’ HAS COME TODAY Two NYT columns: Maureen Dowd predictably hits Romney “as the privileged kid who grew up at the country club and got special deals because of his dad, but then runs around claiming to be a self-made businessman.” And from the right, Ross Douthat offers this laugh line: “the Romney campaign, for all its recent troubles, is actually doing just fine.”

SHORT SHOTS More mainstream support for Citizens United as no big deal—I linked to upcoming NYT piece by Matt Bai (see below) claiming this and now Chris Cillizza of Wash Post calls it “GREAT piece”… Tracing yesterday’s GOP deception on Obama’s “builidng” quote yesterday from rightwing bloggers to CNN to Romney himself… Possible Romney picks so far: Veepstake tomatoes?

12:05 am ‘TRICKY MITT’ Toughest ad of campaign so far comes just now from MoveOn, which has led national campaign to push Romney to “release the returns.” Ad calls him “Tricky Mitt” and ends with him morphing into a smiling Nixon and reference to his famous “I am not a crook” avowal. Here’s where I should mention new print and ebook editions of my own Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady.


From late Tuesday

YOUR ‘DAILY SHOW’ RE-CAP Since no many have been cut off from Jon Stewart this week, here’s our review for tonight. First segment: no election coverage, but did hop from Egypt to the Kiss-Cam to McCartney abd Springsteen silenced in London (Jon did a little “Thunder Road”). Watch here. Second segment, however, featured Al Madrigal trying to import some gringo-style negative ads to Mexico for their election—where they had just been banned. Candidate for president the ad attacked as “devil spider” won anyway.

Then Colbert opens with look at Nevada which now allows people to vote for “None of the Above.” So he suggests Romney name “None of the Above” as his running mate—who has more charisma than Pawlenty and Portman.

ARPAIO’s PROBE GOES FULL BIRTHER Results are in, says the wacky Arizona sheriff, and they prove Obama birth certificate is fake. “Mike Zullo, the posse’s chief investigator, said numeric codes on certain parts of the birth certificate indicate that those parts weren’t filled out, yet those sections asking for the race of Obama’s father and his field of work or study were completed. Zullo said investigators previously didn’t know the meaning of codes but that the codes were explained by a 95-year-old former state worker who signed the president’s birth certificate.”

THE SHERROD BROWN SCANDAL! Fun, pathetic story of the day: conservative blogger thinks he’s spotted scandal—Senator Sherrod Brown hugging a journalist—of course, it’s his wife, Pulitizer-winning columnist Connie Schultz. She admits she has even kissed him. Exchange of notes with her here

AFTERNOON UPDATES Disclose Act blocked again by GOP… Romney seizes on badly out-of-context Obama quote about businessmen and runs with it—all day… Sheldon Adelson still has not taken Sarah Silverman up on her offer of sexual gratification… Rick Perry joins Ron Paul today in calling on Romney to release more tax returns. Maybe they think they can get the GOP nod yet.

CITIZENS UNITED NOT SO BAD? NYT’s chief Sunday political writer Matt Bai has made that point before and now has a lengthy piece on it coming this Sunday in the Magazine, just posted online. His bottom line: “the accepted narrative around Citizens United is, at best, overly simplistic. And in some respects, it’s just plain wrong.” And: “the Supreme Court’s ruling really wasn’t the sort of tectonic event that Obama and his allies would have you believe it was.” Two of the biggest impacts—money can go directly for electioneering and no names need be replaced—he refers to as merely “rigamarole.”

ROMNEY’s ‘DOWNFALL’ Someone last week—I think it was TPM’s Josh Marshall—wondered when the first classic Hitler Downfall parody of Romney staff meeting after his NAACP speech and reaction would appear. And now it’s here. “The common man? There are no common men. Just you and me—and the Kochs.” Plus: “These idiots don’t understand the first thing about dressage!” “Under capitalism you can pay what you can afford—and I can afford to buy this election!”

WHY ROMNEY WON’T RELEASE RETURNS Now that he has dug in his heels, the speculation runs rampant, much of it plausible and showing real dangers for the candidate. Josh Green: Romney may not be releasing returns because they show he paid no taxes for 2008 and 2009. Another view: they show super-aggressive “sheltering.” I’d add: they show massive profits for Romney even as others lost their shirts in 2008–10. Meanwhile, Matthew Dowd, longtime top GOP operative (who has mellowed), now says Romney must do something in next forty-eight hours to change Bain/taxes narrative.

ATTACK AD STAR SPEAKS OUT Turns out that steelworker in widely seen anti-Romney ad for Obama won’t be voting for the president either. “I could really care less about Obama,” says Donnie Box. “I think Obama is a jerk, a pantywaist, a lightweight, a blowhard. He hasn’t done a goddamn thing that he said he would do. When he had a Democratic Senate and Democratic Congress, he didn’t do a damn thing. He doesn’t have the guts to say what’s on his mind.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY John McCain, explaining why he passed on Mitt Romney as Veep candidate in 2008, says it’s not because of tax issues but Sarah Palin was “the better candidate.”

SUNUNU’s NO-NO Peter Hamby of CNN on Twitter quotes John Sununu, a leading Romney surrogate, on conference call with reporters just now: “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.” Hamby adds: “so so so bad.” But that was just the latest hit from Sununu today. Earlier on Fox he said of Obama: “He has no idea how the American system functions, and we shouldn’t be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia, another set of years in Indonesia, and, frankly, when he came to the U.S. he worked as a community organizer, which is a socialized structure, and then got into politics in Chicago.”