Willfully misleading attacks from Mitt Romney and his campaign aren’t new: “You didn’t build that” and “Obama’s apology tour” and so on have been a staple for the Romney camp. But the latest from the Romney camp just may be their lowest attack yet:

Despite a spate of headlines out of Ohio that push back on the notion that President Obama’s campaign is trying to strip military members of voting rights in the upcoming election, Mitt Romney’s campaign is drilling down on the claim.

In a memo out earlier from counsel Katie Biber, Romney’s camp insisted that the suit the Obama camp filed — to restore early in-person voting rights to every Ohio citizen — is targeting military members.

The suit doesn’t actually say this, and papers the campaign has filed called it “appropriate” to give three extra days to military members (more on that here). The suit argues against creating two classes of voters, using the legal term “arbitrary,” which Romney’s camp is seizing on to make its point — along with the argument that it’s “unconstitutional.”

The article cited in the quote, from Buzzfeed, points out that while fraternal military groups are opposing the Obama campaign’s lawsuit, the groups “make no suggestion that the Democrats’ suit would restrict Ohio soldiers’ votes.” Their objection is purely “that the Obama move might set a precedent that giving soldiers special consideration is unconstitutional.” Despite the plain text of the various motions, the Romney camp is calling the Obama lawsuit “despicable” and an “outrage.” Not only are Republicans misleading voters, but they’re using our soldiers to do so.

Such a disgraceful maneuver is just the latest sign that the Romney campaign has an increasingly weak hand. Yes, their fundraising remains strong, and Obama’s behind in cash on hand, but otherwise the fundamentals of the race look very bad for the former governor. As Dan Balz pointed out yesterday, hispoor performance in July “has only raised the stakes for what the presumptive Republican presidential nominee needs to do in August.” And as Peggy Noonan wrote over the weekend, the cliche that the race doesn’t matter until after Labor Day is no longer true: truly undecided voters are only four to five percent of the electorate already, and voters who might change their minds make up only a little over ten percent.

Finally, when the electoral college comes into play, Romney’s chances looks even worse. “The more you look at it,” argues Michael Tomasky, “the more you come to conclude that Mitt Romney has to draw an inside straight like you’ve never ever seen in a movie to win this thing.” With a weak candidate and few ways to really change the basics of the race, the Romney camp is resorting to ever more absurd tactics.

* Taxes a winning issue for Dems in down ticket races? The labor-backed Americans United for Change and AFSCME are going up with ads targeting Nevada GOP Senator Dean Heller and four vulnerable GOP members of Congress, hitting them over their refual to support continuing tax cuts on income up to $250,000 unless the top two percent see a continued tax cut, too. The version hitting Heller is here; an example of one hitting a Congressman is here.

The question, again, is whether Dems can use single issue votes — such as those on the Ryan Medicare plan and the Bush tax cuts — to break through with a message about GOP priorities on taxes and entitlements in an atmosphere dominated by jobs and the economy. — gs

* Does Romney camp really think Pennsylvania is in play? Real Clear Politics’ Scott Conroy has a nice look from inside the Romney campaign at this question, and the answer seems to be Yes. Two key takeaways: First, Note that one of the paths to 270 the Romney camp envisions requires picking off a state where Obama envisions a sizeable lead. Second, they won’t say so on the record, but the story reveals that Romney supporters are banking on the state’s voter ID law to help put him over the top. — gs

* The end of gay marriage as wedge issue: Politico has a big story this morning about the rapid decline of same-sex marriage as a campaign hot topic; when Dems announced that their party platform would include it, the reaction from the Romney campaign and other GOP leaders was silence:

The comparative quiet from party leaders would have been unimaginable even four years ago, when public opinion hadn’t yet shifted so rapidly on a signature social issue. And it marks a dramatic change among some of the top Republican donors and opinion-makers, who are supporting same-sex marriage in state-based gay legislative and legal fights, even as the official GOP platform will remain centered on traditional marriage.

The fact that gay marriage foes’ latest stand is taking place in a fast food restaurants hardly bodes well for the movement’s long-term health. For years now, majority support for gay marriage has been an question of when, not if, and now we’re rapidly approaching the point where such foes are rightly consigned to the fringe of American politics.

* Seven people dead in Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting: Sunday morning, a man entered a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and “sprayed automatic-weapon fire” at worshipers. Seven people were killed, including the gunman in a shootout with police. The shooter has been identified as Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old white male and ex-Army soldier, but his motive remains unknown.

And just like after the Aurora shooting, Obama, Romney and other politicians are long on statements of sympathy, but short on calls for gun controls that would save lives in the future.

* Transparency for me, not for thee: A must-read Washington Post analysis finds the Obama White House has “struggled to overturn the long-standing culture of secrecy in Washington,” concluding: “by some measures the government is keeping more secrets than before.” To say that Obama has been a disappointment on this front would be a gigantic understatement. Glenn Greenwald nailed the hypocrisy between the White House’s secrecy on drone strikes and their push for Romney to release his tax returns:

To summarize the Obama campaign’s apparent argument: it’s absolutely vital that we know all about the GOP nominee’s tax shelters and financial transactions over the last decade (and indeed, we should know about that), but we need not bother ourselves with how the Democratic nominee is deciding which Americans should die, his claimed legal authority for ordering those hits, the alleged evidence for believing the target deserves to be executed, or the criteria used to target them.

But the tax returns won’t go away: That helping of hypocrisy aside, it’s nevertheless enjoyable to watch Republicans splutter with rage at Senator Harry Reid’s claims about Romney’s tax returns. RNC chair Reince Priebus called Reid a “dirty liar” on ABC’s “This Week”, while Senator Lindsey Graham said the Senate majority leader was “making things up.”

Republicans know Reid has them boxed in as long as Romney won’t release his returns; until then, they’re helpless while he pounds away.

* Every bank for itself! As the Libor rate-fixing scandal continues to unfold, the New York Times reports that “major banks, which often band together when facing government scrutiny, are now turning on one another.” The question is whether federal authorities will finally be able to bring some major executives to justice. If they can’t score this goal line tap-in, it will be definitive proof the regulatory system is broken.

* NASA rover reaches Mars: The rover “Curiousity” touched down on the surface of the “Red Planet” early this morning. “Described by top NASA officials as their ‘mission of the decade,’ the just-delivered rover will search for the building blocks extraterrestrial life as well as investigate how and why Mars turned from a wet and warm planet into the dry and cold place it is now.” Plus, as the comic xkcd notes, you have an excuse for being sluggish today: “I was up all night trying to download photos taken by a robot lowered onto Mars by a skycrane.”

* And another fact checking group sides against Romney: Romney’s spinners in the press continue to insist that the Tax Policy Center study skewering Romney’s tax plan has neglected other aspects of his proposals that will supposedly produce massive growth that will pay for the cuts. But FactCheck.org takes a look and determines that Romney still has yet to show that his math works. — gs

What else?