The chatter continues this morning about GOP Governor Chris Christie’s astonishingly effusive praise of Obama’s handling of Hurricane Sandy. After Obama and Christie toured the damage yesterday, Christie thanked Obama for their “great working relationship” and claimed Obama “sprung into action immediately.” The day before, Christie praised Obama’s storm response as “outstanding,” adding: “He deserves my praise, and he will get it regardless of what the calendar says.”
What’s striking about this is how directly it undermines one of the central arguments Mitt Romney is making against Obama, with only five days left until Election Day.
Romney has been closing out the campaign with a series of ads claiming that he will work with Democrats to get things done in Washington and arguing that Obama utterly failed to persuade Republicans to work with him, despite his promise to change the tone in Washington. Romney claims his leadership skills — derived from being Governor of Massachusetts and a turnaround whiz in business — give him an ability to forge agreement between differing parties to get things done that Obama has proven he lacks. It’s Romney’s final case that his resume shows he’d be a better president than Obama has been — a bipartisan, get-it-done technocrat type (the latest version of Romney, anyway) who can end the rancor and division of the Obama years..
Now Americans are being treated to images of a Republican Governor extensively praising Obama for working with him cooperatively and displaying leadership and a propensity for quick action at a time of crisis.
There has been a lot of talk about how the storm has “frozen” the race. Some have noted that it stalled Romney’s supposed “momentum.” If so, it’s also relevant that Obama’s performance, and Christie’s high profile praise of it, directly undermine one of Romney’s main closing messages. Indeed, even Republicans are worried about this.
More broadly, a new Post poll finds that nearly eight in 10 likely voters say Obama has done a “good” or “excellent” job handling the storm. The federal government gets high marks, too. I don’t know how much this will impact the election’s outcome, if at all. But positive public sentiments (amplified by a Republican governor) towards Obama about the crisis — and about government in general — could matter a bit on the margins with remaining undecided voters. They certainly won’t help Mitt Romney.
* Obama camp airs new auto-bailout ad in Michigan: With Republicans making noise about contesting Michigan, the Obama campaign is airing a new ad in the state featuring the auto rescue:
Note the shot of Romney behind the glass in the back seat of a car. It’s an effort to dramatize Romney’s disconnect from the lives of ordinary Americans, which is one of the subtexts of Obama’s attack on Romney for “turning his back” on the auto industry when American workers needed help.
* Romney running ads tying Obama to Castro:The Miami Herald reports that the Romney camp is running an unannounced Spanish-language ad in Florida tying Obama to Fidel Castro and communist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara. This suggests Florida remains very much in play — like Virginia, it’s another must-win state that Romney simply hasn’t taken off the board.
* Obama ahead in other key states: The new NBC/WSJ polls find Obama leading Romney in Iowa (50-44), while holding smaller leads in Wisconsin (49-46) and New Hampshire (49-47). That Wisconsin finding comes after yesterday’s Marquette Law School poll put Obama up eight points; the Real Clear Politics average has him leading by 3.7 points. (It has Iowa and New Hampshire closer.)
The three NBC/WSJ polls, plus yesterday’s NYT/CBS poll of Ohio, all put Obama at 50 or 49 percent (but keep an eye on the averages).
* Obama widens lead in Nevada: A new Las Vegas Review Journal poll shows Obama widening his lead in Nevada to 50-46; he leads 52-46 among those who voted early. As noted here yesterday, Obama’s early vote lead in key states complicates the case for a last minute Romney “wave”; Romney would have to win overwhelmingly on election day.
The RCP average in Nevada has Obama up 2.4 points. This state plus Ohio and Wisconsin put Obama over 270.
* Obama camp airs new Colin Powell ad: The Obama campaign will air this ad in 10 swing states touting Powell’s endorsement of Obama:
The ad will air in Minnesota, but not Pennsylvania or Michigan — states the Romney campaign has insisted are in play. The ad emphasizes Powell’s praise of Obama’s work turning around an economy in free fall, the recovery, and the rescue of the auto industry, underscoring the Obama camp’s proactive touting of his economic record — and its argument that we are indeed recovering — in the final days.
* Are Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota really in play? The Post takes a skeptical look at the most recent Romney campaign claims of an “expanding map.” Short version: Obama retains a real lead in Pennsylvania; the Romney camp has no ground game in Minnesota; and Romney isn’t spending any money on ads in Michigan.
* Media polls track more closely with Dem view of race: Reid Wilson has an interesting piece on the stark differences in the findings between GOP and Dem internal polling, the result of very different predictions about the 2012 electorate. This is a key point:
What concerns Republicans most is the fact that media polls seem to track more closely with Democratic internals than with the GOP’s numbers.
Wilson is talking mostly about Senate races here, but the same is true of the presidential race. The simple truth is that right now, one side’s view of the race tracks with what public polling shows, and the other’s doesn’t. Of course, media polls could be getting it wrong.
* Romney’s missed opportunity: Josh Green details one of the mysteries about this race: Why Romney completely ceded the debate over his business career during the summer, allowing the Obama team to define it on its own terms.
* And Karl Rove’s case for a Romney victory: His case hinges on (natch) Gallup tracking, the alleged oversampling of Dems in a single Ohio poll, and early voting Ohio numbers that are blatantly cherry-picked. One thing Rove doesn’t bother rebutting or mentioning at all: What the averages of all the state polling show.