Is Romney's Debate Bounce Built To Last? (The Note)

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


  • BARACK OBAMA, SELF-CRITIC-IN-CHIEF: President Obama got in on the act last night, joining a long line of commentators and comedians who have poked fun at his lackluster debate performance last week, ABC's Mary Bruce reports from Los Angeles. Speaking to 6,000 supporters at the star-studded "30 Days To Victory" gala at the Nokia Theatre, Obama praised the performers that came before him, including Jon Bon Jovi, Earth Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry and Jennifer Hudson. "They just perform flawlessly, night after night," he said. "I can't always say the same." The president quickly launched into his standard stump speech but later reminisced about his 2008 campaign, acknowledging he had made some mistakes and "goofed up" at times, but that "the American people carried us forward."
  • ROMNEY TO DELIVER FOREIGN-POLICY SPEECH: Mitt Romney plans to deliver a foreign policy speech today in which he will try to reverse some of his perceived missteps, most notably his highly criticized response to the terrorist attack in Libya, as the Republican GOP candidate looks to bolster his foreign affair credentials in the weeks remaining before the election, ABC's Emily Friedman notes. The Romney campaign will use the remarks to strengthen their criticism of the Obama administration's response to last month's terrorist attacks in Libya, hoping to capitalize on what they believe to be a mishandling by the administration to accurately pinpoint the reason for the attacks or to have prevented them in the first place.
  • PRO-OBAMA SUPER PAC 'STICK'S IT TO ROMNEY: In a new television ad that aired over the weekend and was officially unveiled this morning, the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, hits Mitt Romney on education. In it, a narrator says, "Take away his toys and he'll play with a stick. Take away their bikes and they'll still find a way to get where they're going. But if you take away early childhood education, slash K-12 funding and cut college aid for middle class families they won't go far," the ad's announcer says. "Yet that's exactly what Mitt Romney wants to do to pay for a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar tax break for multi millionaires." The 30-second spot, which features images of gloomy children, will run in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin as part of the group's $30 million ad campaign. WATCH:
  • COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY: There are 29 days to go until Nov. 6, 2012. Here are the ABC News battleground state rankings:


Less than a week after the Denver debate, it's all tied up.

A Gallup tracking poll out this morning finds President Obama and Mitt Romney running even nationally - 47 percent to 47 percent - with just under a month to go before Election Day.

This represents a boost for Romney, who, before the debate, was trailing the president by 5 points, 50 percent to 45 percent. And the poll's other major finding leaves little doubt that last week's face-off in Denver played a role.

"Those who viewed the debate overwhelmingly believe Romney did a better job than Obama, 72 percent to 20 percent," according to Gallup's Jeffrey M. Jones. "Republicans were nearly unanimous in judging Romney the winner. But even Democrats rated Romney as doing a better job than Obama, 49 percent to 39 percent."

The question now: Will Romney's bounce last?

As ABC News Political Director Amy Walter noted this weekend - the fundamentals of the race still favor President Obama. Why?

For one thing, Americans were feeling better about the state of the economy and Obama's handling of it before last week's jobs report, which showed the unemployment rate dropping to 7.8 percent, came out. Americans they don't think the economy is as bad today as it was a year ago. And, a small - but growing number - think it's getting better.

Second, the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll showed 47 percent approved and 52 percent disapproved of the job President Obama is doing on the economy - the strongest the president has been on this question since the summer of 2010 and a 10 point improvement since last fall. Meanwhile, voters' confidence that Romney will do a better job on the economy has dropped significantly between August and September. Back in August, Romney had a seven point lead on that question.

Third, thanks to the efforts of millions of dollars of negative advertising over the summer by Obama and his allies, and little to no effort by Romney to rebut them, Romney entered the fall campaign with more people feeling unfavorably toward him than favorably. Voters see Obama as better able to understand the economic problems of regular people and more in tune with the concerns of the middle class.

But there's a lot President Obama needs to worry about too. His voters are less enthusiastic and less committed to vote than Romney supporters.

A new Politico-George Washington University Battleground tracking poll was the latest to pick up on this trend, finding that 73 percent of those who support Obama said they are "extremely likely" to vote, compared to 86 percent of those who are in Romney's corner. More Republicans - 84 percent - said they are "extremely likely" to vote than Democrats - 76 percent.

And, this lack of enthusiasm has been a problem even before Obama's poor debate performance, putting even more pressure on the next round of debates, including this Thursday's showdown in Kentucky between Vice President Joe Biden and Romney's running mate Paul Ryan moderated by ABC's Martha Raddatz.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: It took a few days, but President Obama is now acknowledging he didn't bring his A-game to the first presidential debate. One piece of the fallout, though, was a much longer time coming, and has larger implications than post-debate spin. For months, the campaign has sought to depict Mitt Romney as a conservative extremist - to take him at his word, rather than highlight his shifts from more moderate positions earlier in his political career. Now, the campaign is stressing Romney's policy reversals, trying out the flip-flopper theme for the first sustained time period, just a month before an election. It's late to start building a new frame.


GIBBS: ROMNEY TAKES THE BATTLE 'STRAIGHT TO SESAME STREET.' Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "When you ask them, what loopholes will you close specifically for wealthy earners to help pay for the $4.8 trillion in reduced revenue, there's no answer. … Look, the only thing he outlined that he would cut in the budget is Big Bird. He's taken the battle straight to Sesame Street, and let Wall Street run hogwild."

GIBBS: OBAMA KNOWS HE STRUGGLED. More from Gibbs: "I think the president understood that he hadn't performed up to his own expectations pretty quickly into - after he got off the stage that night. … I think now that Barack Obama has had the opportunity to meet both Mitt Romneys, I don't doubt that he'll make some adjustments. I know he's looking forward to the next debate."

GILLESPIE: YOU CAN PAY FOR IT. Speaking about Romney's proposed tax cuts, Romney adviser and former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie told ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "You can pay for it. There are six studies that say you can do that. You can broaden the base and lower the rates, that would foster economic growth. And we've done that in the past. There's one study that says that you can - that uses the word assume or assumption 68 times by a liberal think tank and that's what Gibbs and others point to."

NOONAN ON THE DEBATE: A 'HISTORIC MOMENT.' Columnist Peggy Noonan predicted a big impact for the debate: "We will look back on it as an historic moment in this election. It upended things. This is what it upended. Barack Obama was supposed to be the sort of moderate centrist fellow, who looked at Mitt Romney, this extreme, strange fellow. By the time that debate was over, Mitt Romney seemed a completely moderate, centrist figure, who showed up as Mitt Romney the governor, not as Mitt Romney the candidate."

BILL O'REILLY: THE RACE IS ABOUT PHILOSOPHY. Fox News host Bill O'Reilly summed up the presidential race on "This Week": "Look, the election is about philosophy. Just like Stewart and I were debating last night, it's about direction of the country. Are we going into the western European, quasi-socialism, or are we going to get back to robust capitalism? What are we going to do here? All right, the micro is important, but it's not the dominant theme, which direction do you want America to go in?"

CENTENARIANS FOR OBAMA. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: They form what is perhaps the smallest and least influential voting bloc in the 2012 presidential race. But this campaign season, the nation's oldest voters - 100 years, plus - are proving that they may have the most grit, and an affinity for President Obama. … "I'm 101 years old! 101 years old!" yelled one man at an Obama town hall meeting in Cincinnati in July, triggering a shouting match of ages. "105!" screamed a woman in the back of the room, motioning to an older woman seated in a wheelchair. Obama, who had just taken the stage, looked incredulous. "OK, you guys - 105 right here!" he said, pointing to the woman. "105! God bless you. 106 next month. She's beautiful."Spotted at rallies from Jacksonville, Fla., to Las Vegas, Nev., and states in between, politically-active centenarians form a select group from among the roughly 53,000 Americans at 100 years-old or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Experts say they have predominantly left-leaning views that reflect the influence of Depression-era values on their political coming-of-age.


with Chris Good ( @c_good)

EXCLUSIVE - AMB. STEVENS WANTED HIS SECURITY TEAM TO STAY PAST AUGUST. ABC's Jake Tapper reports: U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens wanted a Security Support Team, made up of 16 special operations soldiers, to stay with him in Libya after their deployment was scheduled to end in August, the commander of that security team told ABC News. The embassy staff's "first choice was for us to stay," Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, 55, told ABC News in an interview. "That would have been the choice of the embassy people in Tripoli." But a senior State Department official told ABC News that the embassy's Regional Security Officer never specifically requested that the SST's tour be extended past August, and the official maintained there was no net loss of security personnel. The Regional Security Officer "asked for a number of U.S. shooters because of the pending SST redeployment and he was at that number," said the senior State Department official, who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing internal investigation.

MEMO: IN FEBRUARY, EMBASSY REQUESTED THAT SECURITY TEAM STAY. ABC's Jake Tapper reports for "Good Morning America" on a February memo from the Libya embassy to the state department: In the memo, obtained exclusively by ABC News, the embassy in Libya did not mince words, requesting that the State department keep the 16-member security support team in the country: "Quite simply, we cannot maintain our existing levels of Embassy operations … without a continued [security support team] presence," the memo says. That request, made in February, was granted, but after that security in Libya deteriorated further.

ROMNEY WILL HIT OBAMA ON LIBYA RESPONSE. ABC's David Muir reports on "Good Morning America": He's going to take on the administration on this, in fact the campaign giving me a statement of what he'll say later: "The attack on our consulate in Benghazi was likely the work of the same forces that attacked our homeland on Sept. 11, not the reprehensible video insulting Islam that the administration had been talking about for several days after the attacks"-so he's going full steam on this.

AFTER OBAMA STRUGGLED, AXELROD COACHES BIDEN UP. The New York Times' Peter Barker and Trip Gabriel report: "Under the tutelage of David Axelrod, the president's chief strategist who is personally overseeing the preparations, Mr. Biden will be counseled on how to avoid Mr. Obama's mistakes and even correct them with a more aggressive prosecution of the Republican ticket. Mr. Axelrod's involvement highlights the stakes the Obama campaign places on the debate, and Mr. Biden has been reading 'Young Guns,' the book co-written by Mr. Ryan, and practicing attack lines that Mr. Obama avoided. The focus on Mr. Biden comes as the campaign tries to diagnose what went wrong in Denver and what to do about it. Advisers had seen two presidents during practice debates, one who had been listless and passive two nights before and another energetic and aggressive the next night. It turned out the former was the one who showed up in Denver. He kept looking down and was not using the lines they had practiced assailing Mitt Romney, who kept the president on the defensive and presented a forceful case against his re-election."

VEEP DEBATE COULD MATTER MORE THIS YEAR. Jonathan Martin writes at Politico: "Vice presidential debates typically matter as much as vice presidential picks - which is to say not a lot - but a convergence of factors is raising the stakes on this week's faceoff between Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden. … Obama's Denver dud, and specifically his refusal to go after Mitt Romney on some of the GOP nominee's most glaring vulnerabilities, has officials in both parties anticipating an aggressive, hard-hitting Biden showing up to try to put Democrats back on the offensive."

NOTED: KATY PERRY'S OBAMA NAILS. From ABC's Jason Nathanson, Katy Perrry tweets a photo of her nails, painted with Democratic donkey logos, stars, stripes, and Obama's face:

OBAMA'S MONEY SURGE. ABC's David Muir reports for "Good Morning America" on the Los Angeles fundraiser: One of six fundraisers expected to bring in nearly $10 million, with help from Bill Clinton and stars including Katy Perry … it comes as we learn the president had a record haul in September: $181 million in donations-the most any incumbent president has ever raised in a single month.

MORE ON OBAMA'S $181 MILLION. from ABC's Devin Dwyer: The campaign credited the huge haul to a surge in grassroots donations, noting that more than half a million donors in September were first-time contributors to Obama. Democrats' donor roll is now closing in on 4 million unique names in 2012, far surpassing the 3 million total during the campaign four years ago.

MITT'S BIG MOMENT. "World News" analysis from ABC's Rick Klein: Mitt Romney has the nation's attention again. Romney doesn't have the race he wants, at least not yet. But he has his best opportunity yet to change the presidential race that had shown signs of slipping away from him, if he can build on his strong debate to make the argument he's long sought to make against President Obama. Romney's strong debate set the stage for a comeback, though it did not do more than that. It did not trigger an exodus among Obama's supporters, or convince undecided voters that the only choice is Romney, according to early rounds of polling in the wake of the debate.

PAUL RYAN FEELS GOOD ABOUT WISCONSIN POLLS. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports: Paul Ryan told reporters today the polls in his home state of Wisconsin are "looking good." When a reporter asked him about tightening polls in the Badger state he noted, "They are looking good." When asked how it feels that the race seems to be tightening in the state, he answered: "I feel very good. It feels great to be home." The GOP vice presidential nominee came to the back of the plane on the way to a fundraiser in Chicago with his wife Janna and his three young children to look at Halloween decorations reporters put up on the jet this morning.

RYAN COMPARES ROMNEY'S DEBATE PERFORMANCE TO REAGAN. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports from Milwaukee: Paul Ryan said that finally, a month before Election Day, people are getting to see the real Mitt Romney, and the Republican presidential nominee is starting to look a lot like Ronald Reagan. "Did Mitt Romney not knock it out of the park the other night in Denver?" Ryan asked a crowd of about 200 donors at a fundraiser here Saturday evening. "I was so excited to see that because I was thinking to myself, finally people are seeing the guy we know. Finally - I mean didn't you kind of think of Ronald Reagan when you were watching that?"

ROSEANNE BARR TO RUN PRESIDENTIAL ADS IN CALIFORNIA. ABC's Michael Falcone reports: Media tracking sources tell ABC News that Barr is spending $4,900 to run television ads in the San Francisco Bay Area from Oct. 9 through Oct. 16. She's purchased time on cable stations like CNN, MSNBC, TBS, the Country Music Channel and Comedy Central. Solidly-Democratic California typically does not get much action on the TV airwaves from the major party presidential candidates. No word yet on what the ad will look like, but here's a clue: Barr is running mostly on a one-issue campaign platform - legalizing marijuana. "Thank you for breaking through your mind control programming and having some free thought," she told a crowd at an Oakland, California marijuana dispensary earlier this month. "Marijuana really does help you break through that and remember what is important."

OBAMAS CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARY WITH NIGHT OUT. ABC's Matthew Larotonda reported on Saturday: The president and first lady are celebrating a delayed 20th wedding anniversary today. Dining in Georgetown this evening, the first couple is commemorating the occasion at the urban chic Bourbon Steak restaurant, located in the Four Seasons hotel. The true date of their nuptials fell on Wednesday, which happened to be the day of the first debate between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL ENDORSES ROMNEY. From an editorial on Sunday: "Mr. Obama has never been the uniting agent of change he promised to be. His two biggest initiatives, the economic stimulus and his health care reform law, were rushed through a Democratic Congress without a single Republican vote, and the electorate responded in 2010 by giving Republicans control of the House. Instead of moving to the center, as President Bill Clinton did after the 1994 Republican Revolution, Mr. Obama has dug in his heels. He shares the blame for Washington's gridlock. If he won't change course, the country won't, either. Mr. Romney, however, is a Republican who was elected governor of heavily Democratic Massachusetts. He had to work with Democrats to get things done. His leadership and ability to bring people together saved the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. As a businessman, his management skills turned failing companies into profitable ones. Mr. Romney vows to do that, again, in Washington."

ROMNEY TV AD FACT-CHECKS $5 TRILLION. The Romney campaign released a new TV add over the weekend, in which a narrator says, ""President Obama continues to distort Mitt Romney's economic plan. The latest? Not telling the truth about Mitt Romney's tax plan. The AP says doesn't add up. ABC News: mostly fiction. Even the Obama campaign admitted it wasn't true. "It won't be near $5 trillion. Obama's plan? $4,000 more in taxes on the middle class. We can't afford four more years." WATCH here:

RECAP: STEWART, O'REILLY 'RUMBLE' AT GWU. From ABC's Daniel Steinberger: It was billed as "O'Reilly vs. Stewart 2012: The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium", a debate between powerhouse media personalities hosts Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart. It was very much a rumble. There was some yelling, but mostly an honest exchange of ideas, and great laughter for the hosts, the packed crowd at the George Washington University campus in Washington, D.C., and the people who paid $4.95 to see it live streamed on the internet. A portion of the proceeds will go to charity. O'Reilly and Stewart, at times mocking the presidential election and the presidential debate from this past week, seriously debated major issues that face the United States.


-OFA WEB VIDEO: 'CAMERAS.' A new Obama for American web video takes aim at Romney's protestations that he doesn't plan to cut $5 trillion in taxes. A narrator says, "When the cameras rolled, a performance began. The problem is, that's all it was." WATCH:

-REMINDER FROM AMERICAN BRIDGE. The Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century is out with a new video this morning highlighting Romney's past comments opposing going after Osama bin Laden. "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person," Romney said in a 2007 Associated Press interview. WATCH:


@sarahpompei : Vote for Obama - AS IF says Dionne! MT @REALStaceyDash: Vote for Romney. The only choice for your future. @mittromney

@BenLaBolt : One more instance of @MittRomney profiting from China rather than standing up to it:

@Sarah_Boxer : Kid Rock says everyone needs to tone it down: "I'm gonna vote for Mitt Romney, but that's where my politics end."

@RealClearScott : Why Obama is up in NV? @RalstonReports: "The Republicans here have to be upgraded in order to be classified as inept." …

@aterkel : Jon Huntsman, Sr. - a lifelong Republican - endorses Dem Jim Matheson over Mia Love in UT-4


with ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)

-President Obama is in Keene, CA announcing the establishment of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument. In the afternoon, the President will hold three fundraisers in the Bay Area including a concert at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

-Mitt Romney is on the trail in Lexington, VA delivering a foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute. Later in the day, Romney will hold a rally in Newport News, VA.

-Paul Ryan brings the Romney campaign message to Ohio holding an event in Swanton. In the evening, Ryan will hold a rally at Oakland University in Rochester, MI.

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