Obama-Romney Race Still A Dead Heat - But Mind The Gaps (The Note)

Michael Reynolds/Pool/AP Photo

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


  • THE SPRINT TO THE FINISH: Both presidential candidates are taking laps around the battleground states, and ABC's Jake Tapper reports for "Good Morning America" from Tampa, Fla., that President Obama embarked on an overnight campaign marathon, while seeking to tie Mitt Romney to Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock after his controversial comment about pregnancies resulting from rape. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, tried to sound a note of inevitability. The two campaigns and their allies are expected to spend about $80 million on TV ads in battleground states over the next week. WATCH Tapper's "Good Morning America" report: http://abcn.ws/S87rCD
  • NEW ROMNEY AD TAKES OBAMA TO TASK FOR 'HORSES AND BAYONETS': A new radio ad Mitt Romney's campaign is airing in Virginia replays the candidates' debate exchange over America's Navy. "Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission, we're now down to 285-that's unacceptable to me," Romney says. Obama: "We also have fewer horses and bayonets." A narrator points to 136,000 defense jobs in Virginia. LISTEN: http://mi.tt/WLgwDO
  • COLIN POWELL BACKS OBAMA: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has backed President Obama for a second term in the White House, reports ABC's Gregory J. Krieg. "I voted for him in 2008, and I plan to stick with him in 2012," Powell said this morning on CBS News. The Republican crossed party lines four years ago to support Obama in his race with Sen. John McCain. Thursday he did the same, casting himself as part of a "dying breed," a "Republican of a more moderate mold." Powell set the blame for much of the recent gridlock in Washington at the foot of a divided Congress, though he also pressed Obama to show "greater leadership potential." A retired four-star general, Powell criticized Mitt Romney's foreign policy plans, calling them "a moving target." http://abcn.ws/S899DS
  • ELIZABETH WARREN 2016? In the latest installment of "Spinners and Winners," ABC's Jonathan Karl interviewed Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. The battle between Warren and Scott Brown looks more like an national campaign than a Senate race. Even with super PACs on the sidelines (thanks to an agreement by the candidates), it is the most expensive and high profile race in the country other than the one for President. For progressive Democrats, the race is about much more than winning a Senate seat - it's about turning Elizabeth Warren into a national figure. But note this: In an interview, Warren told Karl there's no chance she'll run for president in 2016. "I have 5 words for that: No, no, no, no, no," says Warren. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/PsYoNe
  • ECONOMIC INDICATORS - GAS PRICE WATCH: In some parts of the U.S., prices have dropped as much as 50 cents a gallon in recent weeks, and the trend isn't over, ABC News Business Correspondent Richard Davies reports. "Definitely gas prices are already falling and they're going to continue to fall through the end of the year," analyst Ben Brockwell with the Oil Price Information Service told ABC News Radio. "The US average which was $3.80 just a few weeks ago is on track to go to below $3.50 here shortly." The Midwest and Plains states may see the most price relief, to perhaps under $3 a gallon, he added. In some states on both coasts, however, a refinery shortage keeps gas prices well above the national average. http://abcn.ws/Skp3u5
  • COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY: There are 12 days to go until Nov. 6, 2012. Here are the ABC News battleground state rankings: http://abcn.ws/OovnMp


Every day between now and the election, ABC News and the Washington Post will release a new head-to-head tracking poll in the presidential race, and so far, this week's results find the battle between President Obama and Mitt Romney essentially tied.

In last night's poll 49 percent of likely voters gave Romney the edge compared to 48 percent who said they would support the president. http://abcn.ws/S5mn4f

But as, ABC News pollster Gary Langer points out the neck-and-neck nature of the race also happens to include "vast and sharpening gaps among some groups."

Take white men without a college degree, for example. According to the ABC News-Washington Post numbers, Romney leads Obama among that group, 65 percent to 32 percent - the Republican candidate's highest margin with them of the campaign. It's important to keep in mind that, more than any other voting bloc, this is the group that has helped boost Romney on questions about which candidate is more trusted to handle the economy.

On another gender measure, President Obama enjoys a 15-point advantage among women, 56-41 percent, while Romney is holding on to a 17-point lead among men, 57 percent to 40 percent.

And another big gap for Obama is among Hispanics - 75 percent of whom are supporting the president. That number represents a new high this season in ABC News polling.

On two key economic questions voters are split: Likely voters now pick Romney over Obama, 50-44 percent, as the candidate they trust to do a better job handling the economy, and on the question of which candidate better understands the economic problems of ordinary Americans, voters give the edge to Obama, 50-45 percent, over Romney.

"The shift on empathy, as with trust on the economy, has occurred almost exclusively among white men," Langer notes. http://abcn.ws/S5mn4f

One area where there is no gap, at least nationally, is among early voters. Seven percent of likely voters say they've already voted, but they divide almost evenly between Obama and Romney.

Keep an eye on ABC News.com for our next ABC News-Washington Post tracking poll at 5 p.m. tonight - and every night - until Election Day: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/polls/


The Note's virtual political roundtable:

ABC's RICK KLEIN: President Obama continues his battleground blitz today while Mitt Romney hones in on just one state. Not just any state, of course - the state, the one that looks increasingly likely to determine everything in the election: Ohio. It's already almost trite to suggest it, but Ohio remains the must-win Romney state and the best way for Obama to turn Romney back. Will Ohio prove immune to national trends, a battleground-state island with its own forces at play? Ohio may not go as the nation goes, which is what makes it worth special attention these last dozen days.


-OBAMA REBUKES MOURDOCK ON LENO. After Mitt Romney and Republicans were put on the defensive by Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's comment that pregnancies from rape are something "God intended," ABC's Devin Dwyer reports that Obama addressed it on the "Tonight Show": "I don't know how these guys come up with these ideas," Obama said. "Let me make a very simple proposition, rape is rape. It is a crime. And so these various distinctions about rape don't make too much sense to me, don't make any sense to me." http://abcn.ws/RXEXrI

-OBAMA CAMP RELEASES ROMNEY/MOURDOCK VIDEO. Obama for America released a new web video this morning tying Romney to Indiana's Richard Mourdock and highlighting Paul Ryan's agreement with Mourdock in opposing abortions in cases of rape and incest. WATCH: http://bit.ly/WLeUdf

-ROMNEY HASN'T ASKED MOURDOCK TO PULL TV AD. Despite intense criticism from Democrats seeking to tie Mitt Romney to Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock after his recent comment about rape, ABC's Emily Friedman reports that Romney and his campaign have not asked Mourdock to stop airing a TV ad in which Romney personally appeared, offering support for Mourdock-the only Senate candidate for whom Romney has recorded such a TV spot. http://abcn.ws/Rlt9AG


with Chris Good ( @c_good)

OBAMA'S 'OFF THE RECORD' INTERVIEW, RELEASED. The Des Moines Register pressured Obama's team into releasing the president's off-the-record comments about the future of the "fiscal cliff," ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: Facing a barrage of criticism from Republicans and the press, the Obama campaign Wednesday released a transcript of an "off-the-record" interview between President Obama and the Des Moines Register editorial board. The White House had repeatedly rejected appeals from the paper to make the 30-minute phone conversation on the record, but abruptly reversed course when the paper published criticism of the decision. http://abcn.ws/SxUmQt

OBAMA PREDICTS GRAND BARGAIN. More from Obama's previously "off the record" Des Moines Register interview, from ABC's Devin Dwyer: "When you combine the Bush tax cuts expiring, the sequester in place, the commitment of both myself and my opponent - at least Governor Romney claims that he wants to reduce the deficit - but we're going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business," Obama said. "It will probably be messy. It won't be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I've been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs," he said. http://abcn.ws/SxUmQt

OBAMA: IF I WIN, I'LL HAVE LATINOS TO THANK. More from ABC's Devin Dwyer on the Des Moines Register interview: "Since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community," Obama told the paper, noting that immigration reform legislation would be a top priority. "This is a relatively new phenomenon. George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America. And so I am fairly confident that they're going to have a deep interest in getting that done," he said of Republicans and immigration reform. http://abcn.ws/SxUmQt

ROMNEY'S WAR FOR WOMEN. ABC's David Muir reports for "World News" that Mitt Romney will continue to support Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, but a day of controversy complicates Romney's already successful mission to win women voters. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Romney leading President Obama 60 - 37 percent among white, married, middle-class women. Romney has sought to moderate his tone on abortion-a tough move after the Republican primary. Obama, meanwhile, is featuring the first lady in a new TV ad. WATCH Muir's "World News" report: http://abcn.ws/Rif1d7

ROMNEY CRISSCROSSES COUNTRY, PREDICTING A WIN. ABC's Emily Friedman reports from Cedar Rapids, Iowa: "The Obama campaign is slipping because it can't find an agenda to help the American families, but our campaign is growing into a movement across this country that says we're going to get America back, we're going to get America strong, we're going to provide for our families," said Romney. "And I'm optimistic. I'm optimistic not just about winning. We are going to win by the way. And we're going to do that." http://abcn.ws/ThQYvx

RYAN TALKS UPWARD MOBILITY. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports from Cleveland: aul Ryan said today that the Republican presidential ticket will do more to help the poor in this country, declaring, "in this war on poverty, poverty is winning," and calling for a shift from federal government programs helping the poor to a community-focused model. … "We spend all that money attempting to fight poverty through government programs. And what do we have to show for it?" Ryan asked. http://abcn.ws/ThQ56h

WHITE HOUSE ON THE LIBYA EMAILS. ABC'S Jake Tapper reports: The White House this morning attempted to down-play the significance of emails sent to top national security officials during the attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, one of which suggested a known terrorist group claimed credit for the attack in its immediate aftermath. … White House officials maintained that the emails don't contradict what the White House believed at that point, based on the intelligence community's assessment of the attack. The views of the intelligence community are valued far more than Facebook and twitter claims, officials said, describing that email as an unclassified ops alert email, not a vetted intelligence assessment. http://abcn.ws/THQtHi

MICHELLE OBAMA APPEARS IN FIRST TV AD OF 2012. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports that the first lady is making an appeal to Latino voters: The 30-second spot, titled "El Voto Es Crítico," also features Cristina Saralegui, who is popularly known as the Hispanic Oprah. The women are shown seated beside each other having a conversation about the campaign with their remarks Spanish subtitled. "Why is it so important for Latinos to vote in this election?" Saralegui asks. "So much is at stake," the first lady says. http://abcn.ws/P4MQ1n

VOTER DISCRIMINATION IN ARIZONA? ACTIVIST GROUP CALLS FOUL. Univision's Emily DeRuy reports: "Last week, election officials in Maricopa County listed the wrong election date on voter-registration cards written in Spanish, but the correct date on the English version. They erroneously named Nov. 8, two days after the actual Nov. 6 election date, as the last day to cast ballots. The Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell also told voters last week that their early ballots could not be delivered to the post office or the county by anyone other than the person named on the ballot. … "That's three strikes for Purcell, and she knows it," said Rudy Lopez, national political director for the Campaign for Community Change in a statement. "Purcell has made it hard not to suspect an obvious attempt at the County Recorder's office to suppress Latino voters." http://abcn.ws/WL6UZS

PLOUFFE: OBAMA'S MOMENTUM A 'BLUFF.' ABC'S Mary Bruce reports: Speaking to reporters traveling with the president in Iowa today, Obama advisor David Plouffe said Romney's recent boost in the polls shows he has regained lost ground but that he is approaching his "ceiling." Beaming with confidence, Plouffe said the Romney camp is "overstating their Electoral College situation." "Both of our campaigns are telling you where we think the race is and in 13 days one of us will be right and one of us will be wrong," he said. "My sense is you're going to find that what was emanating out of Boston was more bluff than reality." http://abcn.ws/VqMdgT

BIDEN CALLS ROMNEY 'ONE QUACKIN' DUCK.' ABC's Arlette Saenz reports from Marion, Ohio: "This is one of these places where, my mom used to have an expression," Biden said. "You know, I'd say mom … can I go hang in the corner with the guys? She'd say, 'Joe, they're going to get in trouble.' I said, well I won't, mom. And she'd look at me and she'd say, 'Joey, if it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it's a duck!' Man, this is one quackin' duck! This is one quackin' duck! Folks, just use your commonsense, this is about commonsense!" http://abcn.ws/ThOZYd

WHEN OBAMA LOVED PRIVATE EQUITY. ABC's Jonathan Karl reports: President Obama has spent much of the past six months hammering away at Mitt Romney's career in the private equity business, but for a time, as a state senator in Illinois, Obama sang the praises of the private equity sector, saying it offered "the best opportunity for economic vitality" in Illinois. "As many of you know venture capital and private equity is one of the key mechanisms by which we finance new businesses in the state of Illinois," state Sen. Obama said in a speech before the Illinois Senate on May 30, 2003. "For a variety of reasons, Illinois has been lagging behind some of our competitor states in the formation of venture capital and its deployment in terms of seeding and funding new companies." http://abcn.ws/VI2qE8


-OBAMA TALKS TRUMP, JOKES ABOUT KENYA. More from ABC's Devin Dwyer on the president's "Tonight Show" appearance: Hours after Trump unveiled a dud of a potential "bombshell" against Obama-a call on the president to release his college records in exchange for a $5 million donation to charity-Leno asked the president why the media mogul and reality TV star seems to have it out for the president. "You know, this all dates back to when we were growing up together in Kenya," Obama joked, alluding to Trump's repeated birther claims. "We had constant run-in on the soccer field, and he wasn't very good at it. When we finally moved to America, I thought it would be over." http://abcn.ws/RXEXrI

-WORLD SERIES: OBAMA'S PULLING FOR DETROIT. With California more thoroughly Democratic than Michigan, might this be a move of political expediency? More from Obama's "Tonight Show" appearance, as ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: Turning to sports, Leno asked Obama about his pick for the 2012 baseball World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers. (Obama is famously a Chicago White Sox fan.) "I will say that I spent a lot of time in Detroit lately. And I didn't want to let Detroit go bankrupt," Obama said tongue in cheek, taking a subtle jab at his opponent, Mitt Romney, who favored bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler without federal aid. "In this particular World Series, I may be a little partial," he said. http://abcn.ws/RXEXrI


-OBAMA DOES VEGAS WITH KATY PERRY. The president held a night rally with the pop star, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: Katy Perry and 13,000 Nevadans rocked together for President Obama under the stars at a rally here to close out the first day of Obama's whirlwind two-day campaign blitz. Perry, wearing a skin-tight, white dress designed as a ballot, urged the crowd to vote for Obama-and vote early. She sang a full set of her hits, complete with back-up dancers, full concert lighting and a digital backdrop that showcased pictures of Obama and his slogan "Forward."

-AND GETS KISSED BY HER GRANDMOTHER. More from ABC's Devin Dwyer: Obama hailed Perry has "just a wonderful young lady" and said at the top of his remarks that he had the honor of meeting her grandmother backstage-and that she got some of her lipstick on him. "Fortunately somebody wiped it off before Michelle saw it," Obama said with a big grin. Perry's grandmother, who is 91 years old, watched Obama's remarks from a chair in the middle of the concert stage as the singer stood nearby. ABC News asked her about the kiss backstage after the event and she said it was "wonderful." http://abcn.ws/TXyxc9

-OBAMA TALKS TO 26,000 VOTERS FROM AIR FORCE ONE. More from ABC's Devin Dwyer: En route to Los Angeles from Denver for a taping of the "Tonight Show," Obama gave a 15-minute pep talk to about 17,000 swing-state campaign volunteers, according to a spokeswoman. "This election is much more important than last time around," he told them, according to photographers who briefly were allowed to shoot the scene inside Obama's personal cabin. Later, he held a 20-minute conference call with roughly 9,000 "undecided" swing-state voters invited to join by the campaign's field staff, aides said. http://abcn.ws/XYeQoN


-GLORIA ALLRED SEEKS ROMNEY TESTIMONY IN DIVORCE CASE. ABC's Sarah Parnass reports: Allred went to court in Boston Tuesday to support the Boston Globe's efforts to unearth testimony from Mitt Romney in a co-worker's divorce hearing. She represents Maureen Sullivan Stemberg, the woman involved in the divorce case. … So far, Romney seems to have no qualms about what Allred might discover he said in 1991. "This is a decades-old divorce case in which Mitt Romney provided testimony as to the value of a company," his lawyer, Robert Jones, said in a statement. "He has no objection to letting the public see that testimony." http://abcn.ws/XYevSV

-TRUMP'S NOT-SO-BIG REVEAL. Donald Trump's self-proclaimed bombshell turned out to be a $5 million charity offer-and it failed to blow up. ABC's Russell Goldman reports: Calling the offer a "major announcement," Trump released a video via Twitter at noon to much ballyhoo, and his online followers grew by the hundreds in the moments before the video was released. "I have a deal for the president," Trump said. "If Barack Obama opens up and gives his college records and applications, and passport application and records, I will give to a charity of his choice, a check immediately for $5 million." http://abcn.ws/XlRRVa


@Timodc : !! Des Moines Register front page sums up state of campaign perfectly. #RomneyRyan #CantAfford4More #tcot pic.twitter.com/amwoy9pV

@jonward11 : Obama campaign trying to increase pressure on Romney re Mourdock http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2012/10/25/obama-romney-mourdock_n_2014935.html?1351165713 …

@jeffzeleny : The next two days are key for Romney in Ohio, which aides call "the big nut to crack" in electoral college. Our story: http://nyti.ms/RkTHly

@mattklewis : ICYMI: Rick Santorum says Romney can 'pull off a surprise' in Pennsylvania http://dailycaller.com/2012/10/24/rick-santorum-republicans-can-pull-off-a-surprise-in-pennsylvania/ …

@reidepstein : ! RT @Sarah_Boxer: Spotted in Cinci hotel where Romney press stayed last night: Herman Cain #campaign2011


with ABC's Joanna Suarez

-President Barack Obama will continue his 48-hour campaign tour across the country, with events in Tampa, Richmond and Cleveland. The President will also vote early in-person in Chicago.

-Mitt Romney will spend the day in Ohio with stops in Cincinnati, Worthington and Defiance

-Vice President Joe Biden will travel to South Dakota to attend an evening prayer service for Senator George McGovern

-Paul Ryan will address supporters in Bristol and Charlottesville, VA

-First Lady Michelle Obama will attend a campaign event in Los Angeles before taping an appearance on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

-Ann Romney will continue to campaign in Florida.

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