Wisconsin Tightens, Ohio Loosens (The Note)

John Heller/AP Photo

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone ) and AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter )


  • HURRICANE GOP: UPDATE: "Tropical Storm Isaac, looking more menacing by the hour, is expected to become a hurricane today and continue on a path that has Florida emergency managers preparing for trouble." The Tampa Bay Times' Marissa Lang reports. "Forecasters expect Isaac to continue west and plow into the mountains of the Dominican Republic and possibly Cuba, some with peaks of up to 10,000 feet." http://bit.ly/SmLXRd And ABC News meteorologist Max Golembo notes that some computer models show Isaac staying on the current National Hurricane Center's path that would take it over the Florida Keys sometime Sunday late evening into very early Monday morning. Then it puts Isaac into eastern Gulf somewhere near Tampa on Monday at 8 p.m.!
  • PAGING BILL CLINTON: Former President Bill Clinton makes his 2012 campaign TV ad debut in a new spot affirming President Obama's economic plan. "This election to me is about which candidate is more likely to return us to full employment. This is a clear choice," Clinton says directly to the camera. "We need to keep going with his plan," he says of Obama. The endorsement underscores just how valuable and credible Team Obama sees Clinton in the quest to influence persuadable voters in a handful of key swing states. The popular 42nd president has appeared with Obama on the stump, in campaign web ads and at events to support the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action. http://abcn.ws/R2ZnO5
  • WILL HE STAY OR WILL HE GO? A source close to embattled Republican congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin tells The Daily's Daniel Libit and Dan Hirschhorn "that the congressman would likely stay in the race if polls continue to show him within five points of incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, but that if he falls into a deficit between seven and nine points, 'that gets difficult.'" http://bit.ly/NlWHui Yesterday, Akin told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he had "made the decision to stay in because I believe that we can win this race. There is such a strong contrast between me and my opponent … I think that contrast gives us a basis to win this, and I'm planning to win it."
  • TEXT ME, MAYBE: The Obama campaign announced that it will be the first political campaign in history to accept small-dollar donations via text message, according to a press release. Would-be donors who want to contribute $50 or less can text the word "GIVE" to the Obama campaign's "short code." According to the campaign, "The service will begin for Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular customers starting this week, and with other carriers, including AT&T, anticipated to approve in the near future. Text message contributors will see their donations charged to a given month's wireless bill."


The latest NYT-CBS News-Quinnipiac University poll confirms the greatest hopes - and fears - of the GOP.

Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate did put Wisconsin in play, but the Medicare issue remains a big liability in key battleground states, ABC News Political Director Amy Walter notes.

In the Badger State, the matchup between President Obama and Romney has tightened up - from an Obama lead of 6 points in a similar poll on Aug. 8 to just two points into the survey released today. Obama leads Romney, 49 percent to 47 percent in Wisconsin a little less than two weeks since the presumptive Republican nominee put Ryan on the ticket.

In Florida too Romney is making some inroads, now trailing Obama by just 3 percentage points - 46 percent to 49 percent.

But, as Walter points out, while the margin in Wisconsin is narrowing, Ohio is now drifting from "toss-up" to "lean Obama" - proof that the heavy air assault on Romney this summer has been brutally effective. The poll shows Obama at 50 percent in Ohio compared to Romney's 44 percent.

Winning Wisconsin, but losing Ohio would mean that to win the Electoral College, Romney would still need to run the table and carry Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada (or Colorado). (Remember, Ohio has 18 electoral votes; Wisconsin has just 10.)

Meanwhile, Obama can surpass the magic number by winning just three of those states - Colorado, Nevada and Virginia.

In fact, looking at the battleground states, map, ABC's George Stephanopoulos notes that Romney would have to pick up Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada and Indiana just to get to a 269-269 Electoral College tie.

One senior Republican told ABC's Jake Tapper he thought Romney's team was beginning to wonder if Ohio is a bridge too far - which was partly why Ryan was picked, as part of an alternative strategy involving Wisconsin and other states.

However, that's not to say that the campaign has given up on Ohio. Both Romney and Ryan will be campaigning together in the state on Saturday.

THE MEDICARE PLAY. "After more than a week of frenzied campaigning on the issue, Medicare ranks as the third-most crucial issue to likely voters in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin - behind the economy and health care, according to new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News polls of the three swing states. The Republican proposal to retool the program a decade from now is widely disliked," The New York Times' Michael Cooper and Dalia Sussman report. "Roughly 6 in 10 likely voters in each state want Medicare to continue providing health insurance to older Americans the way it does today; fewer than a third of those polled said Medicare should be changed in the future to a system in which the government gives the elderly fixed amounts of money to buy health insurance or Medicare insurance, as Mr. Romney has proposed. And Medicare is widely seen as a good value: about three-quarters of the likely voters in each state said the benefits of Medicare are worth the cost to taxpayers. … About 60 percent of independent voters in the three states support keeping Medicare as it is today, as do at least 8 in 10 Democrats. Republicans are closely divided on the issue in Florida and Ohio, but in Wisconsin, Mr. Ryan's home state, a majority of Republicans support changing it along the lines he has proposed." http://nyti.ms/O7Pa2T

OBAMA: AKIN SOMEHOW MISSED SCIENCE CLASS. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: President Obama Wednesday night laid into embattled Republican Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri for his recent comments on rape and abortion, telling a crowd of campaign donors that the congressman must have "somehow missed science class." "Recently some of you have been paying attention to the commentary about the senator (sic) from Missouri, Mr. Akin, who … the interesting thing here is that this is an individual who sits on the House Committee on Science and Technology but somehow missed science class," Obama said, drawing laughter and applause. http://abcn.ws/SoT7V8

DAMAGE CONTROL: Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan - just days from the Republican National Convention in Tampa - scramble to hold onto women voters amid Rep. Todd Akin's rape comments. ABC's Jake Tapper reports for "World News." WATCH: http://abcn.ws/Q08EeR


ABC's RICK KLEIN: We get it: Todd Akin said an awful, indefensible thing. He cosponsored anti-abortion bills with Paul Ryan. But every Republican with any mainstream credibility has denounced what he said, and called on him to exit the race. So how far, and how long, can Democrats credibly push this Akin = the Republican Party storyline? Maybe after President Obama makes a joke involving Akin and science class, in front of a room full of NBA basketball stars, this particular story has run its course.

SMALL BUSINESS GROUP SPENDS MILLIONS ON TV ADS. The National Federation of Independent Business has announced a $2 million nationwide advertising campaign focusing on "members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate who have been the most supportive of small business - and some who have been the least supportive," a source close to the group tells The Note. The group will run issue ads, highlighting the business records of several candidates, including North Dakota congressman and Senate candidate Rick Berg, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Wisconsin Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin and Nevada congresswoman and Senate candidate Shelley Berkley. The ads will be on statewide television and local radio in various states, national satellite radio and will contain a large web and digital component. As the NFIB points out, "Small businesses create 75% of the jobs in America and legislation should protect this nation's true job creators."


with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

ROMNEY TO REVEAL NEW ENERGY PLAN TODAY. Mitt Romney will reveal new energy policy today that will hinge on states, and not the federal government, being able to control energy development on federal land, a shift that the campaign says will result in North American energy independence by the year 2020, ABC's Emily Friedman reports. In addition to shifting the power of energy development exploration on federal lands to the state level, Romney's policy also calls for opening more offshore drilling options, starting off the coast of the battleground state of Virginia as well as the Carolinas. "What Governor Romney is proposing is that state governments, which already control the development of energy resources on their own and private lands within their borders, would also control the development of energy resources on federal land within their borders," said Romney's domestic policy advisor Oren Cass in a briefing call with reporters to preview Romney's energy speech slated to occur later today in New Mexico. http://abcn.ws/O6D9KS

PAUL RYAN INVOKES EUROPEAN GLOOM . Paul Ryan compared the U.S. economy to Europe's yesterday in North Carolina, saying if the country stays on the path the president has laid out, "we will turn out just like Europe if we stick with European policies," according to ABC's Shushannah Walshe. It's a similar message to one he has told donors at fundraisers since he became a vice presidential candidate 12 days ago, but it's the first time he said it publicly. "What's unique about this historic moment we are facing is we see it coming," Ryan said at a rally at a sheet metal fabrication warehouse. "Let me ask it to you this way. I remember 2008, the economic crisis, that crash. Now that we look back we can see why it all happened. You know housing markets and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and all the stuff that happened. The point is, when that crisis hit us, it caught us all by surprise. Trillions of dollars of wealth from families, from retirements were vanished. Millions of people [were put] out of work, which we're still suffering from." http://abcn.ws/TVpc6X

RYAN PREVIEW: Paul Ryan will hold a roundtable discussion in Fayetteveille, N.C. (near Fort Bragg) today. From the Romney campaign: "Because the President refuses to give up on the trillions of dollars in tax increases he wants, we are just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would devastate our military and impair our ability to meet and deter threats. Mitt Romney has promised to prevent these crippling defense cuts and replace them with common-sense reforms that promote our prosperity and keep America strong. In the House, Ryan was the author of legislation that would do just that."

RYAN PLAN FOR MEDICARE DOESN'T GIVE CONSTITUENTS WHAT HE GETS. Bloomberg's Brian Faler reports: "Republican vice presidential candidate Ryan's plan to revamp the health-care program for the elderly wouldn't have the safeguards against rising costs included in the coverage that lawmakers and other federal workers receive. Those differences, which help explain the savings claimed in Ryan's budget, are sparking complaints that Republicans want to impose a plan on the elderly that's inferior to their own. Ryan, a Wisconsin lawmaker, is chairman of the House Budget Committee." http://bloom.bg/PyEaPT

BIDEN: 'DETROIT'S GETTING BACK UP.' ABC's Arlette Saenz reports, revving up a crowd at a Detroit high school, Vice President Joe Biden offered up one of his father's old adages to illustrate the tenacity the people of Detroit possess as their city works to recover from the crisis in the auto industry. "My dad used to say you measure a man or woman - it wasn't whether they got knocked down, but how quickly they got up. And guess what? Detroit's getting back up," Biden told an estimated crowd of 1,100 packed into a narrow hallway at Renaissance High School Wednesday. http://abcn.ws/O8kz8O

INSIDE THE MORMON CHURCH. Even as Mitt Romney gets ready to take center stage at the Republican National Convention, Mormonism remains a mystery to many, ABC's Dan Harris notes. Inside the imposing temples run by men believed to have a direct line to God, secret rituals are performed, rituals so sacred that non-Mormons cannot enter. Members of the Mormon faith are keenly aware that they are sometimes seen as a source of mystery and suspicion, which, in part, is why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints launched a public relations campaign with the message: "We're your neighbors." WATCH: http://abcn.ws/P13tLz

ANTI-OBAMA DOCUMENTARY PROVES POPULAR. A documentary highly critical of President Obama's past became the second highest-grossing documentary of the year last weekend, grossing $1.2 million last weekend. "2016: Obama's America," based on conservative author Dines D'Souza's book "The Roots of Obama's Rage," expanded to 169 theaters nationwide on Friday, following the success of its limited release to 61 theaters over the past month, the Hollywood Reporter first reported. Overall the documentary has grossed slightly more than $2 million since it opened at one theater in Houston on July 13, making it the 12th highest-grossing political documentary in history. The film, D'Souza said, is "a vista" of Obama's life, following his childhood from Hawaii to Indonesia to Kenya, his father's birthplace, to Chicago. D'Souza claims that his documentary looks at "just how different" Obama is because of his multicultural upbringing, which the author claims led Obama to subscribe "to an ideology that sees America very differently." http://abcn.ws/PYYvPv

PROTESTORS WITH VIOLENT PAST PLAN TO ATTEND DNC. The Charlotte Observer's Cleve R. Wootsen Jr. reports: "When the Democratic National Convention hits Charlotte in less than two weeks, police and protesters expect most demonstrations to be peaceful as up to 10,000 protesters try to direct the international media spotlight to an array of issues. But organizers of groups who plan to demonstrate here say activists who have a history of antagonizing police and damaging property plan to come to Charlotte. Those peaceful groups fear that violent protesters, and publicity about them, detract from their messages or incite police aggression." http://bit.ly/MND6r8

TWITTER RE-WRITES SCRIPT FOR CONVENTIONS. USA Today's Martha T. Moore reports: "What would be the most anarchic, chaotic thing that could occur in Tampa and Charlotte, where the Republicans and Democrats are preparing to gather? How about equipping everyone - delegates, elected officials, surrogates, media drones and opposition operatives - with a way to comment very publicly on anything at any time, whether it conforms to the talking points or not? Welcome to the #conventions. Tweet at will… Spontaneous tweeting is the "antithesis" of political conventions, says Dan Schnur, who was communications director for John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign. 'Conventions are about singing from the same hymnbook. Twitter means everybody has their own song."" http://usat.ly/O3l4PE

GOP LEADERS COULD MAKE SENATE LIFE FOR AKIN TOUGH. Roll Call's Niels Lesniewski reports: "If Rep. Todd Akin doesn't heed GOP leadership calls to withdraw from the Missouri Senate race and still manages to oust Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill Republicans have an assortment of ways to make his Senate life less pleasant…Republican aides would not comment specifically on what might happen if Akin beats McCaskill. But in a Senate that will likely have a razor-thin party divide, McConnell could ill afford to completely shun Akin, and other Senators who have run afoul of leadership have been allowed to caucus with the party." http://bit.ly/RFztqg


-CROSSROADS ANNOUNCES $4.2 MILLION AD BUY. According to a release from the conservative group, Crossroads GPS: "Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (GPS) today announced four new TV issue ads in Florida, Montana, New Mexico, and Ohio backed by a $4.2 million total buy. The spots are part of the group's ongoing effort to encourage support of the New Majority Agenda. The new ads start today on broadcast and cable networks in the four states. 'Crossroads is keeping the pressure on Washington to quit the massive spending and stop the government's disastrous health care takeover,' said Nate Hodson, Crossroads GPS Director of State and Regional Media Relations."


?@HowardKurtz: Media can't stand both candidates: 3/4 coverage of Obama, Romney is negative. Study says Fox, MSNBC most biased http://bit.ly/PHMFrg

@Markhalperin: The full new TIME magazine cover package on @MittRomney and Tampa, including an exclusive interview with Mitt. http://ti.me/RFJG66

@globeglen: MASS. SENATE: Scott Brown, EWarren scramble for political GAIN from Akin's gaffe. A deadwood analysis… http://b.globe.com/SqPXjF #mapoli

@markknoller: Almost done. Just a patch of dirt left to cover with sod after 2 yrs of excavation on WH North Lawn.. pic.twitter.com/QgDBCv2k

@AriMelber: Wow. Map Shows Romney Plan Hurts Red States, Helps Wealthy Urbanites; Obama Boosts Rural Areas http://bit.ly/PErdRZ @thenation


-President Obama and Vice President Biden have no campaign events scheduled.

-Mitt Romney is in New Mexico where he'll hold an event in Hobbs at a Truck and Supply company. Romney will also attend a fundraiser in Hobbs. Then, he travels to Minnetonka, Minnesota for an evening fundraiser.

-Paul Ryan is on the trail in Fayetteville, North Carolina speaking at a defense industry roundtable.

-First Lady Michelle Obama is in Wisconsin holding a campaign event in Milwaukee. While in Wisconsin, the first lady will also speak to victims of the Gurdwara Shooting in Oak Creek.

Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV

Get more pure politics at ABC News.com/Politics and a lighter take on the news at OTUSNews.com

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