Team Romney Catches a Case of the Blues (The Note)

Chris Schneider/AP Photo

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


  • BACK TO THE RACES: ABC's Jonathan Karl reported on "Good Morning America" from Florida, where both Mitt Romney and Vice President Joe Biden will be campaigning today. As Karl notes, superstorm Sandy forced President Obama to cancel several campaign events, but it has also given him a chance to flex his presidential leadership muscle. Later today, he'll get a firsthand look at the damage on the Jersey Shore with Republican governor and Romney supporter Chris Christie, who praised Obama for his handling of the storm.
  • ROMNEY RETURNS TO THE TRAIL: Today Mitt Romney holds three events in Florida, where he will be joined by the state's former Gov. Jeb Bush. Romney will hit Tampa, Coral Gables and Jacksonville. Sen. Marco Rubio will also campaign with Romney for part of the day. Today the Romney campaign also announced that Mitt and Ann Romney and Paul and Janna Ryan would attend a rally on Friday to kick off the "Romney-Ryan Real Recovery Road Rally" in West Chester, Ohio. The GOP ticket will be joined by nearly 100 governors, senators, mayors and other elected officials. According to the campaign, "From Friday through Monday, these supporters will travel the country in groups to campaign in 11 states: Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin."
  • STATE OF THE SWING STATES: A new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News Swing State poll released today shows President Obama up in three key swing states, but within the margin of error in two: FLORIDA: Obama 48 percent, Romney 47 percent; OHIO: Obama 50 percent, Romney 45 percent; VIRGINIA: Obama 49 percent, Romney 47 percent. According to Quinnipiac: "By wide margins, voters in each state say President Obama cares about their needs and problems more than Romney, but the Republican is seen as a leader by more voters. On who is better able to fix the economy, 49 percent of Florida voters pick Romney, with 47 percent for Obama; 49 percent of Ohio voters pick Obama, with 48 percent for Romney, and 50 percent of Virginia voters pick Romney, with 46 percent for Obama."
  • JIM MESSINA: 'DON'T BELIEVE THE POLLS? YOU DON'T NEED TO': In a new video out this morning, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina outlines why he thinks President Obama is in the dominant position heading into Election Day: "We are ahead or tied in every single battleground state. That means that Mitt Romney has to win not only all the toss-ups but also a couple states where we have a clear lead in order to have any chance of winning the presidency. Don't believe the polls? You don't need to. Early voting has started across the country so we have actual results to report and those results show clearly the president will win re-election if we do what we need to do. Voter turnout will reach an all-time high in this election. More than 14.4 million people have already voted - far more than at this point in 2008. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 44 to 37 among early voters across all states with party registration. And by the same margin in the battleground states that will determine the winner of this election." WATCH:
  • AT 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVE., HALLOWEEN IS OFF: The Obama family loves Halloween, and has often invited families of military personnel to trick-or-treat there, ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton notes. Last year Hollywood's macabre Tim Burton decorated the East Room for the Obama daughters with live Zombie characters. But alas, this year will be different. From the president's daily guidance: "The White House activities for Halloween tomorrow have been canceled."
  • COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY: There are 6 days to go until Nov. 6, 2012. Here are the ABC News battleground state rankings:


With just under a week to go before Election Day, the Romney campaign has a case of the blues - the electoral kind.

Yesterday brought the news that the campaign was wading into Pennsylvania, traditionally safe Democratic territory, with a flight of televised campaign ads set to begin today.

According to a source tracking television ad buys in the battleground states, the Romney campaign has already reserved nearly $600,000 worth of air time in the Philadelphia media market, and the GOP campaign's move comes close on the heels of the news that the Obama campaign is also going on the air in the Keystone State. The initial size of the Obama ad buy is $650,000 on broadcast and cable in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas from Oct. 31 through Nov. 6.

And it's not just Pennsylvania. Late last week, both campaigns took to the airwaves in another typically blue state - Minnesota - and now there are signs of movement in Michigan too. ABC News recently changed Pennsylvania and Minnesota's rating from "safe" to "lean" Democratic. Michigan remains in solid Obama territory.

It is possible that both campaigns' investments will grow before next Tuesday. And Romney's buy is bolstering the effort of several GOP outside groups, including the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, which announced a multi-million advertising blitz in many of these states.

So, why are the Romney campaign and Republican outside groups moving into blue territory like Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Michigan?

Here are some theories:

OHIO IS A LOST CAUSE? If so Romney needs need another path to 270 Electoral Votes. Despite the plethora of media polls showing Obama ahead in the Buckeye State (including today's Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News Swing State poll showing the president ahead of Romney there, 50 percent to 45 percent) Republicans not affiliated with the Romney campaign say they have polling showing a dead heat or Romney slightly ahead. In that vein, we are left to wonder whether his decision to run a blatantly false ad in Toledo regarding Jeep moving production to China is a Hail Mary pass or a way to try and tip this very tight contest?

BETTER BANG FOR THE BUCK: Campaigns and the outside groups have lots of money to spend and not a lot of places to spend it. Not only is it prohibitively expensive to try to buy last-minute ad time in places like Ohio and Virginia, there simply may not be any ad time to buy. TV stations have to make ad time available to campaigns, but not to outside groups. Moreover, the TV stations aren't required to provide the most highly desired times (like prime time or morning time). If an outside group wants to get the biggest bang for its buck, its states like Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Michigan where they'll get it.

MAKING SOMETHING OUT OF DEMOGRAPHICS: What do Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan all have in common?

Vote in 2008:

National: 74 percent white

Pennsylvania: 81 percent white;

Minnesota: 90 percent white

Michigan = 82 percent white

The latest ABC News-Washington Post tracking poll, shows Romney getting 57 percent of the white vote, including 60 percent of white men

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MO': The Romney campaign may be trying to keep the momentum story line going, even though the momentum is gone. As our ABC News-Washington Post tracking polls have shown, whatever momentum Romney had last week has stalled. So, what better way to keep the "momentum" storyline going than to show a campaign confident enough to expand the map.

THE SPIN: The Obama campaign regularly ran television ads in Pennsylvania during the spring and summer, before curtailing their spending there - until now. "We're going to take every precaution," Obama strategist David Axelrod said on Monday. "We're not going to surrender any state to them in terms of the airwaves." A Romney aide characterized the campaign's attempt to turn Pennsylvania and Minnesota (both of which voted for Obama four years ago) into red states as an "effort to get to 300 not just 270 electoral votes." "We've ensured that we have every dollar we need going toward staff, voter contact, get-out-the-vote, advertising and digital outreach. We've bought all the TV that can be bought," the aide said in an interview with ABC News. "We've done everything that we can do, and now we're expanding the map into areas that the president shouldn't even be thinking twice about." But an Obama campaign aide disagreed with that framing. "They are doing this because they don't have a path to 270, currently," this aide said. "They're not going to win Ohio, they're down in Virginia. So they need to expand the map, otherwise they're in trouble."

THE BIG QUESTION: If Romney is serious about turning these blue states red, will he spend any time in Pennsylvania, Minnesota or Michigan before Election Day? A Romney aide tells The Note: "Stay tuned."

Keep an eye on ABC for our next ABC News-Washington Post tracking poll at 5p.m. today:


The Note's virtual political roundtable:

ABC's RICK KLEIN: The question of the now-resuming campaign is simple, yet maddeningly complex: Is the expanding battleground map evidence of Mitt Romney's strength, or his weakness? The latter is the argument being made by Team Obama, which sees Romney pushing into Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and now Michigan as evidence that the traditional battlegrounds aren't tipping the GOP's way. So Obama responses, with campaign ads plus visits by Bill Clinton and Joe Biden, are aimed at cutting off new paths. The reverse argument is that there are more states on the board, and they're all hues of deep blues and dark purples. Even if the new three don't go Romney's way, their competitiveness bodes well for him in nearby Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Surely the Obama campaign wouldn't be wasting money or visits in states it wasn't at least slightly worried about. It's still Obama's map, as it's been from the start. But it's growing the way Romney always probably needed it to. Romney may be tossing Hail Marys, but they're all on the Obama side on the field.

FROM A FRIEND OF THE NOTE: A source familiar with ad buying trends writes in regarding the Romney campaign's new investments in states like Pennsylvania and Minnesota: "I would be more interested if Romney were ever leading in Ohio. Instead this new spending feels very much like, "What do we do when we're down in Ohio and haven't been able to move numbers?" I would not be surprised, with new Romney or GOP group spending in states like Oregon, New Mexico or New Jersey, if it weren't all about press coverage for them at this point."

EARLY VOTING MOVES ALONG DESPITE SANDY'S WRATH. ABC Political Director Amy Walter notes: While Sandy has forced a number of jurisdictions in states like Virginia and Maryland to curtail early voting , plenty of voters outside of Sandy's path continue to cast ballots before November 6. A week out from Election Day and about 6.5 million people in five battleground states have already voted. On average, anywhere from a quarter to 40 percent of the votes that were cast in these states in 2008 have already come in. Below is a breakdown of the early vote totals in the battlegrounds where it's an option.


In Colorado, close to 1 million residents have already cast their ballots - or about 37 percent of the total cast in 2008.

2008: 63% of total vote was cast early.


In Nevada's largest county, Clark County (Las Vegas), more than 335,000 voters have voted, or about 53 percent of the total number who voted in 2008.


497,000 have voted here, which is about 32% of the total 2008 vote.

2008: 36% of the total votes were cast early


Over 1.2 million have cast ballots, which is 22 percent of the 2008 total.

2008: 30% of total votes were cast early


More than 2.2M votes cast, which is 29% of the 2008 total

2008: 57% of total votes were cast early


Nearly 1.7M votes cast so far. Which is 40% of total 2008 vote.

2008: 56% of the total votes were cast early.


with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

HAPPENING TODAY: OBAMA WILL VIEW HURRICANE DAMAGE IN NEW JERSEY WITH CHRIS CHRISTIE. President Obama will travel to New Jersey on Wednesday to view the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy on the state. Scheduled to appear with Governor Chris Christie, Obama has suspended personal appearances at campaign events to respond to the storm reports ABC's Matt Larotonda. Speaking at the Red Cross headquarters in Washington Tuesday, Obama said his thoughts and prayers were with those who lost loved ones in the devastating hurricane, which has claimed at least ten lives in New York City alone.

ELECTION DAY UNLIKELY TO BE POSTPONED BECAUSE OF SANDY. ABC's Lauren Pearle and Ariane DeVogue report, superstorm Sandy has given rise to suspensions in campaigning by both President Obama and GOP contender Mitt Romney, but could it actually delay Election Day? In theory, yes, but in all likelihood, no. The Constitution leaves the "times, places and manner" of holding a federal election up to each state, but says that Congress may at any time make or alter such regulations. Election Day, which is set by Congress, for all federal offices is the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. To push that back, Congress would have to act, which at this late date seems highly unlikely. Or states could implement emergency procedures that could postpone Election Day, but that could be challenged by Congress or face federal Equal Protection challenges in the courts.

SPINNERS & WINNERS: THE BRAT PAC. In the latest episode of his ABC News/Yahoo! Power Players series "Spinners & Winners ABC's Jon Karl interviewed a unique political donor. When 22 year old John Ramsey's grandfather died, leaving him with a generous inheritance, Ramsey used that money to start a Super PAC. That inheritance made the 22 year-old Ramsey one of the youngest Super PAC financiers in the world. Ramsey, who supported Ron Paul's presidential campaign, joined forces with 23 year-old Preston Bates to found the 'Liberty For All' Super PAC. Their goal is to elect so-called "freedom candidates" - like minded people who support limiting government and promoting civil liberties, although they bristle at being labeled libertarians. Liberty for All, which some have taken to calling the 'Brat PAC,' has already contributed over $3 million dollars to national congressional races since it began seven months ago. WATCH HERE:

BIDEN PRAISES STORM RELIEF EFFORT, SAYS IT'LL TAKE 'HERCULEAN EFFORT.' On a day when the Democratic ticket held no campaign events due to Hurricane Sandy, Vice President Joe Biden lauded the storm relief efforts across the country and said it's going to take a "Herculean effort" to deal with flooding and restore electricity to areas that lost power reports ABC's Arlette Saenz. "The key is, as cold as it's here, it's cold as hell some of these places where people don't have any energy, don't have any electricity, and it's going to take a Herculean effort," Biden told reporters on the tarmac before taking off for Columbus on Tuesday.

PAUL RYAN BALANCES STORM RELIEF WITH POLITICS. Paul Ryan cancelled three events in the battleground state of Colorado on Tuesday to thank volunteers in his home state of Wisconsin who were distributing goods for people affected by superstorm Sandy. But, ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports, that doesn't mean the campaign disappeared. At his first stop Tuesday, just hours after Sandy slammed into the Eastern seaboard leaving billions of dollars in destruction and at least 50 people dead, according to the Associated Press, Ryan thanked volunteers who were waving Romney/Ryan signs and gathering canned goods, water and other non-perishable items to be driven to New Jersey.

NOTED: CAN RYAN KEEP WISCONSIN OUT OF ENEMY HANDS? President Barack Obama held a respectable lead in Wisconsin for months, before Mitt Romney chose Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate and winning the state became a real possibility for Republicans reports ABC's Abby Phillip. The "Ryan effect," along with Wisconsin's dramatic shift toward the Republican Party in the 2010 midterm election, has made it possible for Obama to lose a state he won by a near-landslide 14 points in 2008. A week before the presidential election, the race is still tight, with several polls giving Obama only a slight edge where he once had a sizable lead. ABC News rates Wisconsin as a "toss up."

THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS (OR BEGINS): Mitt Romney will hold his final campaign rally in New Hampshire next Monday night - the state in which he launched his bid for the White House sixteen months ago, ABC's Emily Friedman notes. The "Victory Rally" will be held at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester on the eve of Election Day. Kid Rock will be the special guest. The Granite State was the place where Romney launched his presidential bid in June 2011 at a picturesque farm house. It was where he chose to re-launch his campaign after it became clear he would become the nominee earlier this year. And the lakeside town of Wolfeboro, located in northern New Hampshire, became a retreat for the candidate throughout the campaign.

GLITCH DELAYS DELIVERY OF THOUSANDS OF OHIO VOTER REGISTRATION RECORDS. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Joe Guillen reports: "A small fraction of Ohio voters' absentee ballot requests may have been mistakenly rejected due to a recently discovered glitch in the transfer of change-of-address records. Even though the deadline for voters to register or change their address was three weeks ago, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted just this week sent about 33,000 updated registration records to local elections officials. The local boards had to immediately process the records to ensure those voters could properly cast a ballot in the Nov. 6 election. An unknown number of absentee ballot applications across the state have been rejected due to the delay because election officials did not have some voters' current addresses."

MCCAIN BLASTS OBAMA ON BENGHAZI AT 'STORM RELIEF' RALLY. ABC's Greg Krieg reports, after nearly 48 hours of squall stall, Sen. John McCain has kicked the presidential campaign back into gear, ripping the Obama administration's response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi during a brief speech this afternoon at a "storm relief and volunteer appreciation" event in central Ohio. "The president is either engaged in a massive cover-up deceiving the American people or he is so grossly incompetent that he is not qualified to be the commander-in-chief of our armed forces," McCain told a gathering of Romney supporters.

ROMNEY'S OHIO FATE TIED TO 47 PERCENTERS ALONG APPALACHIANS. Bloomberg's Tim Jones reports: "In the battleground state of Ohio, the Appalachian foothills stretching from the state's southern tip to the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania is the land Romney described as the "47 percent," a region of high dependence on government assistance - jobless pay, food stamps, and aid to the poor… For Romney, southeastern Ohio presents the political flip side of Obama's challenge to turn out young and minority voters in urban areas. While Ohio mirrors the nation in some major racial and demographic categories and is a presidential bellwether, the counties near the river are 90-plus percent white and the percentage of residents older than 65 is above the state average. Voters here decisively endorsed the candidacies of Republican nominees John McCain and George W. Bush in the previous three elections."


-MOVE ON LAUNCHES NEW VOTER TURNOUT INITIATIVE. A source with Civic Action tells The Note that the group is announcing today "that it has upped its voter turnout game with an innovative new concept - the Vote Score - that it expects will result in hundreds of thousands of additional progressive votes this year. Over the next few days, 12 million potential voters in key states and in key districts will learn their Vote Scores when they receive Voter Report Cards in the mail. Each Voter Report Card tells the recipient how often he or she has voted in the past five elections, and also how that record stacks up against the neighborhood average. MoveOn will also run provocative online ads to call attention to the Vote Score concept and to challenge potential voters to improve their scores. The MoveOn ad campaign will be viewed tens of millions of times by progressive potential voters in presidential swing states prior to Election Day.

- SCOTT BROWN RELEASES FINAL AD OF 2012 CAMPAIGN: "PEOPLE OVER PARTY." Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown releases the final ad of his campaign today in the hotly contested Massachusetts Senate race. The ad, titled "People Over Party" will run through Election day and emphasizes Brown's stance as an "independent voice"- a message his campaign has honed throughout the course of the race. "Every day I hold this office, I will give all that is in me to serve you well and make you proud" Brown says in the ad. "I've kept my promise to be an independent voice. I put people ahead of politics, and now I need your help to keep that independent tradition alive in Massachusetts."


@billmaher : Looking forward to James Bond movie; Obama's like him cuz he's cool, has license to kill; and Mitt's like him cuz he's been 6 different guys

@jmsummers : Campaign life is watching a friend try to walk up to the McDonalds drive thru window at 1 AM. #7days

@CoryBooker : If by "stiff" you mean a very firm milkshake, I'm in RT @joshuetree: send me your info - I'd like to buy you a stiff drink

@rick_wiley : "It's time to vote" great new video from the @GOP here

@jmartpolitico : With a @DavidChalian assist, why MI/MN/PA are more about lack of FEC constraints than map expansion or desperation

@ChrisPKenny : @jmartpolitico If Romney is blowing extra $ in MI/PA/MN, why isn't Obama in MO/IN/AZ/MT? Wouldn't negative ads help pop vote, Sen races?