Debate Day In Danville: The Battle For No. 2 (The Note)

Oct 11, 2012 8:47am

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

NOTABLES:

  • THE ‘THRILL IN THE ‘VILLE’… Is what some are calling tonight’s one and only vice presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky., which has become a highly anticipated moment in the final sprint to Election Day. Tonight, Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan will square off just as a spate of new polls show a tightening contest in key battleground states. The debate begins at 9 p.m. ET and will be moderated by ABC’s Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz. ABC News will have comprehensive coverage on all platforms beginning at noon today with a live preview show on ABCNews.com. http://abcnews.go.com/politics/live
  • ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: OBAMA VOWS DETERMINATION AFTER DEBATE STRUGGLES. President Obama sat down for a White House interview yesterday with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, who asked the president why he struggled against Mitt Romney onstage last week. “Governor Romney had a good night. I had a bad night. It’s not the first time I’ve had a bad night.” Obama told ABC. “I played a lot of sports as a kid and still do. If you have a bad game you just move on, you look forward to the next one, and it makes you that much more determined.” http://abcn.ws/T6Uaq7 (More highlights from Sawyer’s interview below).
  • SPOTLIGHT ON TONIGHT’S MODERATOR: Martha Raddatz was named Senior Foreign Affairs correspondent for ABC News in November 2008, after serving as White House correspondent during the last term of President George W. Bush’s administration. Raddatz has traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan dozens of times, and to Iraq 21 times to cover the ongoing conflict. She was on the last convoy out of Iraq and is the only television reporter allowed to cover a combat mission over Afghanistan in an F15 fighter jet, spending nearly 10 hours in the air on two separate missions. Raddatz joined ABC News in January, 1999 as the network’s State Department correspondent. There she covered the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, as well as traveled to Africa, Pakistan and India with then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. She has won numerous awards, including four Emmys and, in 2012 alone, the First Amendment Award from the Radio Television Digital News Foundation and the prestigious Fred Friendly First Amendment Award. Here’s Raddatz’s “World News” report from yesterday — she took a ride with the first female fighter jet commander: http://abcn.ws/VRBbWn
  • COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY: There are 26 days to go until Nov. 6, 2012. Here are the ABC News battleground state rankings: http://abcn.ws/OovnMp

THE NOTE:

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Just a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan will face off in their only head-to-head meeting of the presidential race tonight as the Democrats look for a boost after President Obama’s lackluster effort in Denver last week and Republicans seek to maintain some momentum after Mitt Romney’s command performance.

Apart from what happens on stage this evening, ABC News Political Director Amy Walter points out that tonight’s event comes on the heels of a round of new polls showing last week’s debate did not completely transform the race, but it did provide Romney the opportunity to improve his battered image.

In every state poll released today, Romney saw his favorables tick up — not a lot — but some. This means voters are now more receptive to what Romney has to say at the next debate.

Meanwhile, Ryan is still something of a mystery to swing state voters.

A whopping 27 percent of Colorado voters and 28 percent of Virginia voters in today’s New York Times-CBS News-Quinnipiac University poll said they don’t know enough about him to offer an opinion.

Biden doesn’t fare much better. In most of these states his favorable ratings are lower than the president’s. And, even after four years in office, plenty of voters still don’t know enough about him to have any opinion of him at all.

That puts lots of pressure on both men to not only define and defend their running mate, but to make a solid first impression of themselves as well.

 

BATTLEGROUND POLLS SHOW TIGHT RACE. A bevy of new polls shows Mitt Romney virtually tied with President Obama in swing states.

–VIRGINIA: Romney leads 48 – 47 according NBC/WSJ/Marist, while Obama leads 51 – 46 according to NYT/CBS/Quinnipiac http://on-msn.com/RhWJZM ,http://nyti.ms/RhWON3

–COLORADO: Romney leads 48 – 47 according to NYT/CBS/Quinnipiac http://nyti.ms/RhWON3

–FLORIDA: Obama leads 48 – 47, according to NBC/WSJ/Marist http://on-msn.com/Q0RhWL

–WISCONSIN: Obama leads 50 – 47, according to CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac http://nyti.ms/RhWON3

–OHIO: The president has held onto a distinct lead in the Buckeye State, NBC/WSJ/Marist shows, with Obama leading Romney 51 – 45 http://on-msn.com/STz5hT

 

MORE FROM DIANE SAWYER’S INTERVIEW WITH THE PRESIDENT:

–OBAMA INSISTS ‘FUNDAMENTALS’ OF THE RACE FAVOR HIM. President Obama told ABC’s Diane Sawyer: “I think what’s important is that the fundamentals of what this race is about haven’t changed. Governor Romney went to a lot of trouble to try to hide what his positions are because he knows that those ideas have been rejected–they won’t work. And if he’s making an honest presentation about what he’s proposed, he will lose, because the American people are not going to go back there. What this comes down to is how are we gonna grow an economy in which everybody gets a fair shot, and Governor Romney’s prescription is that if we cut taxes by $5 trillion, skewed towards the wealthy, and we roll back regulations that I’ve put in place that somehow the economy’s going to grow. And I fundamentally disagree with that.” http://abcn.ws/WTAk5M

–OBAMA: I’M CONSISTENT, ROMNEY’S NOT. In his interview with Sawyer, President Obama painted Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper who’s dashed to the center just a month before the election. Asked about Romney’s statement this week that abortion legislation isn’t on his agenda, Obama told ABC: “This is another example of Governor Romney hiding positions he’s been campaigning on for a year and a half … Governor Romney has made very clear that if a bill comes to his desk that overturns Roe v. Wade, that he will be fully supportive of that. And he said, ‘I will appoint justices that overturn Roe v. Wade.’ And now, four weeks before an election, he is trying to cloud the question when it comes to women’s rights to control their own health care decisions. The one thing that I think people, Republicans as well as Democrats, can say is that there has been consistency with me from the time that I started running for president to today. And there will be consistency all the way through the next four years of my presidency. People will know where I stand, what I believe, what I’m fighting for, and that’s part of leadership.” http://abcn.ws/WTxA8p

–LESSON LEARNED: LET PEOPLE KNOW ‘HOW DEEPLY I CARE ABOUT IT.’ Sawyer pressed President Obama to explain why he performed the way he did, and what lessons he could draw from it. Obama’s response: “There’s no doubt that I can make a better case, which is why I’m so looking forward to Tuesday. … I do think one lesson learned is just to make sure that people understand how much is at stake, and how deeply I care about it.” http://abcn.ws/WTxA8p

–OBAMA’S ADVICE FOR BIDEN: LET JOE BE JOE. What advice does President Obama have for Vice President Joe Biden on squaring off with Paul Ryan in tonight’s debate? “I think Joe just needs to be Joe. Congressman Ryan is a smart and effective speaker, but his ideas are the wrong ones and Joe understands that.” http://abcn.ws/WTxA8p

 

TUNE IN TODAY: ABC NEWS’ COVERAGE OF THE DEBATE. ABC News will provide comprehensive coverage of tonight’s vice presidential debate, moderated by ABC’s Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz, as well as the remaining two presidential debates.

ON TV: Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos will anchor special coverage of the debate from ABC News Election Headquarters in New York from 9:00-11:00 p.m., ET tonight. Sawyer and Stephanopoulos will be joined by members of ABC’s political team including: Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper; “ABC World News” weekend anchor David Muir, who covers the Romney campaign; Senior Political Correspondent Jonathan Karl reporting live from ABC’s Fact or Fiction Desk in Danville, Ky.; and ABC News political analysts.

ONLINE: ABC News Digital will provide live debate coverage anchored by ABC News Political Director Amy Walter and “Good Morning America” Weekend Anchor Dan Harris from 8:00-11:30 p.m., ET. The coverage will be live-streamed across several platforms including ABCNews.com, Yahoo!, Yahoo! News, GoodMorningAmerica.com, ABC News’ iPad & iPhone apps, as well as on ABC News affiliate websites. ABC News Digital coverage will also serve as the official provider of the debates on YouTube’s Elections Hub. ABC News Digital will have a one-hour pre-show at 8:00 p.m., ET and a one hour post-show each night of the debates, as well as a 30-minute noon show.

ON THE AIR: ABC News Radio will provide live coverage of each debate from 9:00-11:00 p.m., ET including 30 minutes of post-debate analysis. ABC News Radio Correspondent Aaron Katersky will anchor ABC News Radio’s coverage from each debate site. He will be joined by ABC News Radio White House Correspondent Ann Compton, ABC News Radio correspondents Vic Ratner, Steven Portnoy and Alex Stone. In addition, Katersky will anchor a one-hour preview before each debate from 8:00-9:00 p.m., ET.

 

LOOK NO FURTHER — YOUR ALL-IN-ONE-PLACE DEBATE NIGHT GUIDE: with ABC’s Arlette Saenz, Shushannah Walshe and Chris Good:

JOE BIDEN: The gaffe-prone vice president hasn’t done a national TV interview since his May, when his “Meet the Press” session all but forced President Obama to complete his “evolution” on gay marriage, ABC’s Arlette Saenz notes (http://abcn.ws/SPnZ3H). But tonight, the gloves come off: Biden attacked Mitt Romney on the campaign trail the day after last week’s debate drubbing, and tonight he gets a shot at Paul Ryan. With 40 years of debating experience under his belt, Biden participated in presidential debates in 1988 and 2008, while his opponent has participated in just a handful. READ up on Biden’s prep: http://abcn.ws/TgjFoF

HOW BIDEN PREPARED. Biden hunkered down in Wilmington, Del., this week for his final debate prep, which involved mock debates with Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., playing the part of Paul Ryan. Biden has reviewed video of Ryan’s speeches and interviews and read “Young Guns,” the book coauthored by Ryan, and Reps. Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy.

WHO’S ATTENDED DEBATE PREP? Van Hollen and long-time advisors former Sen. Ted Kaufman and Mike Donilon. David Axelrod, senior advisor to the Obama campaign, was also on hand for the debate prep, a decision campaign officials say was made before Obama’s debate performance last week. Biden’s communications director, Shailagh Murray, played ABC’s Martha Raddatz in debate prep.

BIDEN: I DON’T WANT TO SAY ANYTHING INACCURATE. “What I’ve been doing mostly quite frankly is studying up on Congressman Ryan’s positions on the issues, and governor Romney has embraced at least everything I can see. I don’t want to say anything in the debate that’s not completely accurate,” Biden said on Oct. 4 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

RYAN VS. PALIN: WHAT’S DIFFERENT THIS TIME? While a campaign official told ABC News Biden’s team is “not re-inventing the preparation wheel,” the approach Biden takes at Thursday night’s debate may differ from the way he handled his debate against Palin.  In the 2008 vice presidential debate, Biden focused most of his attention on attacking Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, with only making passing references to Palin.  But in this year’s debate, Biden will likely target Ryan, who he says has given more definition to Romney’s campaign, and his programs head on. “Like President Obama, Vice President Biden will use the upcoming debate as an opportunity to speak directly to the American people about what’s at stake for the middle class in this election,” a campaign official said.  “He will continue to drive home the specific plans he and the president have to keep strengthening our economy and the middle class.”

MEMORABLE DEBATE MOMENTS.

Aug 23, 1987 – In his closing speech at a debate at the Iowa State Fair, Biden used the same speech delivered by Neil Kinnock, a leader of the Labor Party in Britain, without crediting Kinnock.  Biden had incorporated phrases of Kinnock’s speech at various campaign appearances before the debate, but he always credited the Briton for his remarks.  The incident, coupled with news of Biden’s plagiarism while in law school, eventually drove the Delaware senator to drop out of the presidential race.

April 26, 2007 – After moderator Brian Williams noted Biden’s gaffe prone narrative, he asked Biden if he could “reassure voters in this country that you would have the discipline you would need on the world stage,” to which Biden simply responded “Yes,” setting off rounds of laughter from the audience.

Oct 2, 2008 – Biden choked up when talking about raising his two sons alone after a car accident killed his wife and young daughter. “The notion that somehow because I’m a man I don’t’ know what it’s like to raise two kids alone. I don’t know what it’s like to have a child you’re not sure is going to make it. I understand, I understand, as well as with all due respect the governor or anybody else what it’s like for those people sitting round that kitchen table. And guess what? They’re looking for help. They’re looking for help. They’re not looking for more of the same.”

 

CONGRESSMAN PAUL RYAN: With eight debates under his belt, but none on the national stage, the kid is hungry. Mitt Romney looked poised during last week’s debate against President Obama, and Paul Ryan enters Round 2 tonight after intense preparations: For over a month, Ryan has studied, practiced, and game-planned with staff during sessions at his home in Janesville and at a multi-day debate “camp” in Virginia, ABC’s Shushannah Walshe reports. Debate prep seems to be a strategic priority for the Romney campaign, but tonight Ryan will face a far more experienced (if mistake-prone) opponent. READ Walshe’s story on Ryan‘s prep:  http://abcn.ws/RhCTOr

HOW RYAN PREPARED. Ryan began at home in Janesville Sept. 2, watching Biden and Sarah Palin, according to an aide. He ramped up his preparation on Sept. 9, working with aides all day, except for a small break to watch the Green Bay Packers’ game. His efforts continued in Janesville and in Washington, D.C. in September before he underwent four days of intense prep at his “debate camp” in Wintergreen, Va. Oct. 3-6. His only break was a rally with Mitt Romney in Fisherville, Va., last Thursday, and Ryan conducted two full-length mock debates with former solicitor general Ted Olson standing in as Vice President Joe Biden. He finished up on Wednesday, with another full-length run-though planned at The Vinoy hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla.

WHO ATTENDED RYAN’S DEBATE PREP? A slew of top aides were on hand for Ryan’s prep work in Virginia and Florida. While Ted Olson stood in for Biden, Mitt Romney’s advisor and former lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey, played ABC’s Martha Raddatz. Aides in attendance included Romney foreign-policy advisor Dan Senor, Ryan Chief of Staff Andy Speth, Ryan House Communications Director Conor Sweeney, traveling campaign press secretary Michael Steel, Romney Communications Director Gail Gitcho, and Romney Senior Advisors Russ Schriefer and Ed Gillespie.

HITTING THE BOOKS. Before Ryan was even selected as Romney’s running mate, staffers began assembling briefing books on different policy issues in large white binders. At the very beginning of debate prep that’s where Ryan started, according to an aide at the time: “A lot of what he has done thus far has consisted of reading briefing books and editing briefing books to make sure that those binders reflect not just the policies of the Romney-Ryan campaign but also sound like him, things that he is comfortable with … reading information, absorbing it, putting in his own words and getting really comfortable with it,” the aide said.

TED OLSON: RYAN’S SPARRING PARTNER. Who is Ted Olson? The Republican attorney famously argued in federal court for same sex marriage and against Proposition 8. Paul Ryan is against same sex marriage. At a LGBT dinner in Washington D.C. in March, the renowned attorney called the battle against Proposition 8 “the highlight of my life” and “this is the most important thing we’ve done in our lives,” according to the Washington Post. Olson also served as Solicitor General in the George W. Bush administration, and as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the Administration of Ronald Reagan. He also served as private counsel to both Bush and Reagan. He helped to cement Bush’s victory in the 2000 presidential election during the recount.

ON THE WAY TO DANVILLE, RYAN LOWERS EXPECTATIONS. Most recently at an ice cream stop in St. Petersburg on his way to Danville, Kentucky for the debate he acknowledged that it’s a “nervous situation” and tried to tamp down expectations for himself. “Joe Biden has been on this stage many times before,” Ryan said while ordered two scoops of Moose Tracks ice cream. “This is my first time so sure it’s a nervous situation because Joe Biden is one of the most experienced debaters we have in modern politics, but the Achilles Heel he has is President Obama’s record and I’m really looking forward to giving the American people a very clear choice.” He denied being more concerned about one issue over another and said his final debate prep at the beautiful Vinoy Hotel here “went well.”

RYAN’S DEBATE HISTORY. Despite what Mitt Romney said Tuesday, Ryan has participated in at least eight debates over his fourteen years in Congress, according to available news articles and information provided by the Ryan campaign. An examination of them shows topics that have been raised during this campaign, from his vote for TARP to Medicare.

1998 – Ryan, 27, debates Democratic opponent Lydia Spottswood, 47, who notes that she is old enough to be Ryan’s mother.

2000 – Ryan debated Democratic challenger and Janesville surgeon Jeffrey Thomas, and even then the debate focused on Social Security and Medicare, according to the Journal Times of Racine, Wisc. “In 1965 they didn’t have the prescriptions we do today,” Ryan said to Thomas.”I believe we need to modernize Medicare.”

2010 – When opponent John Heckenlively brought up partisan gridlock, Ryan complained that Democrats never allowed debate on GOP bills. “Switch control of Congress and then we’ll have to work together,” Ryan said.

 

THE BUZZ:

with Chris Good (@c_good)

BATTLE OVER BENGHAZI: SECURITY OFFICIALS TESTIFY. Security and State Department officials testified Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and ABC’s Jake Tapper reports for “World News”: That horrifying night in Benghazi had former security officials in Libya today condemning their superiors for denying their requests for more security agents. Eric Nordstrom, the former security officer at the U.S. embassy in Libya today recalled his biggest frustration as being the State Department. Nordstrom suspected the denials for more security were rooted in a fear of making Libya seem more unstable, but a State department official today denied any politics were at play. WATCH Jake Tapper’s “World News” report: http://abcn.ws/SRG1SY

OBAMA ON THE BENGHAZI EXPLANATION. ABC’s Diane Sawyer asked President Obama about U.S. intelligence on the attack and the administration’s initial suggestions that it began with a protest sparked by the now-infamous anti-Muslim video filmed in the U.S. Obama told ABC: “As information came in, information was put out. The information may not have always been right the first time. … Diane, these are people I know. And if there’s something to be fixed, it’ll get fixed.” http://abcn.ws/SRG1SY

SECURITY OFFICE ON STATE DEPT.: ‘FOR ME THE TALIBAN IS INSIDE THE BUILDING.’ ABC’s Jake Tapper reports: In a heated and dramatic congressional hearing today, witnesses who served with the U.S. diplomatic corps in Libya and pushed for a stronger security presence repeatedly faulted the State Department for standing in their way – one even referring to the State Department officials he described as obstructionist as if they were Taliban terrorists. The former regional security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, recalled talking to a regional director and asking for twelve security agents. “His response to that was, ‘You are asking for the sun, moon and the stars.’ And my response to him – his name was Jim – ‘Jim, you know what makes most frustrating about this assignment? It is not the hardships, it is not the gunfire, it is not the threats. It is dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me. And I added (sic) it by saying, ‘For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building.’” http://abcn.ws/PoNd8f

WHAT HAPPENED IN BENGHAZI?: JAKE TAPPER: “President Obama shortly after the attacks told “60 Minutes” that regarding Romney’s response to the attack, specifically in Egypt, the president said that Romney has a tendency to shoot first and aim later. Given the fact that so much was made out of the video that apparently had absolutely nothing to do with the attack on Benghazi, that there wasn’t even a protest outside the Benghazi post, didn’t President Obama shoot first and aim later?” WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: “First of all, Jake, I think your assessment about what we know now is not complete. … I’m not disputing that there was a protest. But what we said at the time is our intelligence community assessed that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. OK? Again, this is a moving picture, and people who on the night of an attack or the day after claim they know all the facts without making clear that what we know is based on preliminary information aren’t being straight, and they’re in some cases trying to politicize a situation that should not be politicized. I think that’s what the president was getting at. And I think many other people felt the same way.” http://abcn.ws/Rann3p

THE GRIEVING WIDOW BEHIND ROMNEY’S STUMP SPEECH. ABC’s Emily Friedman profiles Jane Horton, whose husband is featured in Mitt Romney’s stump speech: Jane Horton began crying on the other end of the phone when she learned that Mitt Romney had been using the story of her husband, Chris Horton, who was killed in Afghanistan, as a part of his stump speech. “Wow,” the 26-year-old said. “I had no idea. “To be honest, I’ve been through a lot and I’m not a super emotional person but it brings me to tears,” Horton said in an interview with ABC News, after being informed of her husband’s newfound spot on the national stage. “Not that he’s telling my story, but that he’s telling my husband’s story, it means the world to me. “One of the last things my husband said to me before he was killed, when I would ask him, ‘Chris, what do you need over there? What can I send you?’ he said, ‘I need a new president,’” Horton recalled. http://abcn.ws/T83kCI

ROMNEY CLARIFIES ABORTION STANCE. ABC’s Emily Friedman reports from Delaware, Ohio: A little more than 24 hours after he told an Iowa newspaper that abortion legislation would not be part of his agenda if elected, Mitt Romney told reporters today that he would “immediately” move to defund Planned Parenthood. “I’ve said time and time again, I’m a pro-life candidate,” Romney told reporters during a stop at a restaurant in Ohio today. “I’ll be a pro-life president. The actions I’ll take immediately are to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget. “And also, I’ve indicated I’ll reverse the Mexico City position of the president,” Romney added. “I will reinstate the Mexico City policy.” http://abcn.ws/RxYKOP

RYAN DENIES ROMNEY’S POSITION HAS CHANGED. ABC’s Shushannah Walshe reports from St. Petersburg, Fla.: “Our position’s unified,” said Ryan, outside the Old Farmer’s Creamery before heading to the airport to fly to Danville, Ky. “Our position is consistent and hasn’t changed.” … When asked if Romney’s statement to the Register made him uncomfortable or upset he said, “No, No. Look, no positions have changed, our position is very consistent.” http://abcn.ws/UJNcho

RYAN: I LIKE JOE QUITE A BIT. Discussing the debate with CNN’s Dana Bash in an interview Wednesday, Paul Ryan said of his opponent: “Actually, we’ve gotten along quite well over the years. You know, I like Joe personally quite a bit. I just disagree with his policies.” http://bit.ly/QefbAw

AIDE: RYAN WORRIED ABOUT ‘IRISH UNCLE’ MOMENT. ABC’s Shushannah Walshe reports from St. Petersburg, Fla.: An aide, who asked for anonymity, admitted the obvious, especially after his running mate’s show stopping performance last week: “He’s nervous.” … The aide said his biggest worry was an “Irish uncle moment where the vice president’s charm overwhelms his lack of facts or logic.” http://abcn.ws/RhCTOr

PAUL RYAN’S HOUSE OPPONENT WANTS A DEBATE, FOLLOWS HIM TO DANVILLE. Paul Ryan’s House challenger will be in Danville, Ky., site of the vice presidential debate on Thursday, asking for a debate of his own. Rob Zerban, the Democrat challenging Rep. Ryan, R-Wis., will be doing national interviews in Kentucky, telling reporters that Ryan has neglected his home-district House campaign. Ryan, who presumably has his hands full running for vice president and debating Joe Biden, has refused to debate Zerban, so far. Zerban has circulated a petition among his supporters demanding a debate. “The reason that Rob is going down [to Kentucky] is that Ryan basically has refused to campaign in the district or debate him or anything like that, despite spending money on TV in the district, so we’re trying to call attention to that,” Zerban spokesman TJ Helmstetter told ABC News. http://abcn.ws/QebM4J

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AT SCOTUS: JUSTICES SKEPTICAL OF TEXAS PLAN. ABC’s Ariane de Vogue reports: At the Supreme Court today, the conservative justices had skeptical questions for a lawyer defending the University of Texas’ plan that takes race into consideration in the admissions process. One of their main concerns goes to the heart of the case: at what point does the court stop deferring to a university’s judgment that the consideration of race is still necessary? “I understand my job under our precedents is to determine if your use of race is narrowly tailored to a compelling interest, “Chief Justice John Roberts said to Gregory Garre, a lawyer representing the University of Texas. “The compelling interest you identify is attaining a critical mass of minority students at the University of Texas, but you won’t tell what the critical mass is. How am I supposed to do the job that our precedents say I should do?” http://abcn.ws/T6WmxR

HALLOWEEN TREND: ‘SASSY BIG BIRD’ COSTUMES. ABC’s Jilian Fama reports: After Big Bird became part of last week’s presidential debate, Big Bird costumes are flying off the shelves. … A representative from costumecraze.com told ABC News that although its original Big Bird costume sold out before the first presidential debate, it saw a 500 percent  increase in sales for the women’s “sassy Big Bird adult costume” post-debate. The “sassy” rendition of the beloved “Sesame Street” character is a short, yellow-ruffled dress with orange knee-highs and pink accents. The costume comes complete with a bird headband. http://abcn.ws/W3YWZP

PALIN WON’T RULE OUT FUTURE RUN FOR PRESIDENT. ABC’s Gregory J. Krieg reports: Sarah Palin played it cool Tuesday night, refusing to rule out a future run for the White House. “I’m not sure what the future holds… Que sera, sera,” she said with a coy smile when asked by celebrity gossipers Extra if she had any plans to get back in the ring. http://abcn.ws/UJNVz7

COURT BLOCKS S.C. VOTER ID LAW–FOR 2012. ABC’s Ariane de Vogue reports: A federal court in Washington today blocked South Carolina’s Voter ID law from going into effect for the 2012 elections, but said it could go into effect for future elections. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, South Carolina–because it has a history of discrimination–had to get approval for the law from federal officials in Washington DC. A three judge panel of federal judges unanimously said today that it couldn’t pre-clear the law “given the short time left before the 2012 elections,” but said that the law was not enacted for a “discriminatory purpose” and could go into effect “beginning with any elections in 2013.” http://abcn.ws/OURDDS

ROMNEY EMBRACES ‘FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.’ Mitt Romney has adapted the fictional football team’s slogan for his campaign, the AP’s Kasie Hunt reports: “‘Clear eyes and full hearts–and America can’t lose.’ It’s Mitt Romney’s campaign trail twist on the inspirational slogan from ‘Friday Night Lights,’ the gritty but poignant TV series about football at fictional Dillon High School in rural Texas. The popular version–simply “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!”–has become a rallying cry for a resurgent Romney campaign. Romney has repeated a version of the line for several days straight on the campaign trail. His campaign sent fundraising email with the motto in the subject line. And it’s now plastered at the top of his Facebook page, overlaid on a black-and-white photo of the candidate standing in the rain, his back to the camera, at a rally in Virginia on Monday.” http://abcn.ws/OqqW8p

ROMNEY WON’T MENTION MEETING SEAL FROM NOW ON. ABC’s Michael Falcone and Emily Friedman report: Mitt Romney’s campaign said today he will stop citing his meeting with a former Navy Seal killed in last month’s terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya after the victim’s mother protested his use of her son’s death. “He shouldn’t make my son’s death part of his political agenda. It’s wrong to use these brave young men, who wanted freedom for all, to degrade Obama,” said Barbara Doherty, the mother of the slain Navy Seal Glen Doherty. She added, “I don’t trust Romney.” A Romney aide told ABC News today that the Republican candidate will respect Mrs. Doherty’s wish and stop telling the story on campaign stops about how he met Doherty a few years ago. http://abcn.ws/OVOwLP

 

DEBATE EXPECTATIONS:

OBAMA SURROGATES ON HAND IN DANVILLE. Last week, reporters noted that President Obama’s spin-room surrogates were outnumbered by Romney’s and that they left sooner. Today, the Obama campaign emails this list of those who will be on hand in Danville, Ky., tonight:  ”Jim Messina, Obama for America Campaign Manager; David Axelrod, Obama for America Senior Strategist; Stephanie Cutter, Obama for America Deputy Campaign Manager; Governor Martin O’Malley; Governor Ted Strickland; Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL); Senator Jack Reed (D-RI); Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA); Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Beau Biden, Attorney General of Delaware; Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund”

OBAMA CAMP: WHAT TO EXPECT: The Obama campaign emails on the expectations game: “We now know that Mitt Romney will say anything to win, even if it’s not true–just like he did in Massachusetts and in the boardroom. Mitt Romney has been running for years on positions he described as ‘severely conservative’ … The question now is whether Ryan will adopt the same dishonest strategy or if he’ll stand by the very extreme positions he’s taken as the ‘intellectual leader’ of the Republican Party.” http://bit.ly/PpBshz

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@DavidMDrucker: .@MittRomney social media outreach & ground game looks to close gap w/ @BarackObama.MR’s team confident: http://bit.ly/TiJlRl 

@ByronYork: Aide’s comments, plus silence on trail, suggest Romney believes Libya story is moving on its own, doesn’t need push from the campaign.

@steveholland1: Mitt Romney doing some debate prep this morning with Sen Rob Portman in Dayton, Ohio

‏@mattbeynon: @RickSantorum returns to the South Carolina Lowcountry to visit the North Charleston Romney/Ryan Victory Center at 4:30pm today!

@alexis_levinson: McCaskill campaign on new Akin ad: “This latest attack has been proven false, and he knows it.” http://goo.gl/mfEc2  #MOSen

@ChelseaClinton: Happy 37th Anniversary to my Mom & Dad!!pic.twitter.com/UvtkRi7M

 

POLITICAL RADAR

with ABC’s Joanna Suarez

–Vice President Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will face off in the Vice Presidential Debate in Danville, Ky. starting at 9 p.m. ET tonight.

–President Barack Obama will attend campaign events in Miami.

–Mitt Romney will hold an evening rally in Asheville, N.C.

–First Lady Michelle Obama will address grassroots supporters in Castle Rock, Colo.

–Ann Romney will be in South Florida, where she will tour a local children’s hospital and sit down with local television stations.

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

 

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