The Softening Of The GOP Super PACs

Steven Senne/AP

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


  • ABC NEWS POLL: ROMNEY EKES OUT AN EDGE: ABC News pollster Gary Langer reports on our latest presidential tracking poll: Mitt Romney eked out bragging rights in the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll, claiming 49 percent support among likely voters vs. Barack Obama's 48 percent - Romney's first numerical edge, however slight, since before the party conventions. Slight is the word: Taking it to two decimals (for illustration only-not to imply false precision), Romney has 48.51 percent support, Obama 48.44 percent-about as close as it can be. Still, with rounding, Romney's 1-point numerical edge is his first since an ABC/Post poll Aug. 25.
  • TAGG ROMNEY APOLOGIZES TO OBAMA: ABC's Jake Tapper reports: Last week the oldest of Mitt Romney's five sons, Tagg, 42, raised eyebrows when he explained to a radio interviewer what it was like to watch President Obama assail his dad's truthfulness. Tagg said the comments made him want to "jump out of my seat and … rush down to the debate stage and take a swing at him." … "But you know you can't do that because, well, first, because there's a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because this is the nature of the process," Tagg said … Sources tell ABC News that on stage after the debate last night, Tagg apologized to the president for the remark, a mea culpa the president quickly accepted.
  • INDIANA SENATE HOPEFUL RE-IGNITES CONTROVERSY OVER RAPE: ABC's David Muir reports for "Good Morning America" that after a controversial comment about rape by Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock at a debate Tuesday night, Democrats are pouncing and Mitt Romney, who appeared in a recent TV ad for Mourdock, is distancing himself from the comment. WATCH Muir's report:
  • TRUMP DAY - WHAT WILL HE DO? ABC's Jen Wlach and Sarah Parnass report: The business and media mogul is likely to reveal his announcement about the president sometime Wednesday. … Trump's office was quick to shoot down rumors Tuesday afternoon. Trump's special counsel and political adviser Michael Cohen said, "In advance of Mr. Trump's announcement tomorrow several rumors are circulating on the Internet. And that is exactly what they are-rumors. These reports do not reflect the sum and substance of Mr. Trump's announcement scheduled for tomorrow."
  • COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY: There are 13 days to go until Nov. 6, 2012. Here are the ABC News battleground state rankings:


After months of relentless attacks on President Obama, the Republican super PACs and independent groups are now going soft. Well, on TV ads at least.

ABC News Political Director Amy Walter notes that Crossroads GPS, the group associated with Karl Rove, released a powerful new ad yesterday featuring the parents of young cancer victim, whom Romney had befriended during his time in the hospital.

And the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, went up with a TV spot that featured Iraq veteran Peter Damon talking about Romney visiting him at Walter Reed and the ex-Governor's work "with a charity to build special homes for severely injured veterans." Restore Our Future announced that they plan to spend $17.7 million in 10 states - all the major battlegrounds plus Michigan - between October 23 and 29.

So, why the personal stuff now?

For the first time in the race, they say, they see an opportunity for Romney to really shrink the gender gap.

Stephen Law, the head of Crossroads, tells ABC, "We've seen a marked shift of women voters toward Romney in the last two weeks, and saw an opportunity to build and deepen that wave." Even so, our own ABC News tracking poll this week showed a 14-point lead for President Obama among women.

Romney's strong debate performances have given swing suburban women voters a reason to take a second look at the Massachusetts governor. The question now is whether the second look will turn into an actual vote.

Meanwhile, the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, returned to a familiar theme for their closing-week's ad released yesterday: Romney's record at Bain Capital. It features testimonials from workers at Bain-owned businesses like Donnie Box who says, "This was a booming place. And Mitt Romney and Bain Capital turned it into a junkyard," and Loris Huffman, who adds: "I was suddenly 60 years old. I had no healthcare."

It's one last opportunity for the Democratic group, which has been instrumental painting a picture of Romney as a heartless, corporate raider, to underscore that message.


The Note's virtual political roundtable:

ABC's RICK KLEIN: As Gloria Allred and Donald Trump set to steal a scene in the presidential drama, and yet another GOP Senate candidate gets sidetracked on conception, there are more stubborn realities coloring the race. The truth is both sides are worried - Team Obama is nowhere near as confident about its map as public statements suggest, and the Romney surge isn't as real (or relevant, given battleground-state polling) as Republicans are spinning. Yet it's that map that governs still - national polls aside, the Romney surge hasn't spilled into the battlegrounds (particularly Ohio) enough to upend the race in Romney's favor, at least not yet.

ABC/YAHOO! VIDEO: DOES SENATE CONTROL MATTER? SCOTT BROWN SAYS NO. In the latest installment of "Spinners and Winners," ABC's Jonathan Karl interviews GOP Sen. Scott Brown in Wooster, Mass. "For me, it really doesn't matter who's in charge," Brown tells Karl, when asked about partisan control of the Senate. "The problem in Washington, you have these extremes on the left and the right, but in the middle there's a bloc of about 15 to 20 of us who are actually the good moderates, Democrats and Republicans. But the problem is you've got Joe Lieberman's leaving, Kent Conrad, Olympia Snowe, Richard Lugar, so that group of moderates is dwindling … You still need to get to 60 votes." WATCH:

PAUL RYAN TO DELIVER POVERTY SPEECH. Just two weeks before voters cast their ballots, Paul Ryan will try out a new argument: The Republican ticket will do more to help the poor, notes ABC's Shushannah Walshe. He will spell out a conservative, non-government-focused model for addressing poverty. According to a Ryan aide, the GOP vice presidential candidate will use a speech in Cleveland on Wednesday to "make the case that Americans stuck in poverty cannot afford four more years like the last four and that Mitt Romney offers a better pathway for low-income Americans to improve their lives through opportunity and upward mobility than the failed policies of President Obama." At this time of the campaign, candidates are usually trying to squeeze in as much campaigning as possible as opposed to laying out a policy address, but four years ago Sarah Palin also gave a series of policy addresses in the final days, including one on support for families of special needs children.


with Chris Good ( @c_good)

DEBATE: WHO REALLY WON? ABC's Jake Tapper reports for "World News" that President Obama showed an unmistakable swagger on the campaign trail following Monday night's foreign-policy debate, while Romney has benefited most from debate season on the whole. WATCH Tapper's "World News" report:

WHAT RICHARD MOURDOCK SAID. At Tuesday night's Indiana Senate debate, Republican Richard Mourdock said pregnancies resulting from rape are part of God's plan, tearfully explaining that he only supports abortions when a mother's life is in danger. "I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen," Mourdock said during Tuesday's Senate debate, choking up. Mourdock's main opponent, Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, opposes abortion except in cases of rape and incest.

DEMOCRATS HIT ROMNEY, WHO ENDORSED MOURDOCK. Democrats wasted no time linking GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to Mourdock. Earlier this week, Romney personally appeared in a TV ad for the Indiana state treasurer, offering his endorsement. "Richard Mourdock's rape comments are outrageous and demeaning to women. Unfortunately, they've become part and parcel of the modern Republican Party's platform toward women's health," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement released to press, asking that Romney ask for the ad to be removed from airwaves. "Mitt's man Mourdock apes Akin, reflecting a GOP that is way out of mainstream," Obama strategist David Axelrod tweeted.

ROMNEY CAMPAIGN DISTANCES ITSELF. "Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views," campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. Abortion has become a more prominent issue in the presidential campaign in recent weeks, as Mitt Romney told the Des Moines Register that he would not pursue any specific abortion legislation as president and began airing a new TV ad in which a woman touts Romney's support for abortions in cases of rape and incest-a difference of opinion between Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan. The Obama campaign hit Romney on abortion soon after, releasing a TV ad of its own that features footage from a 2007 GOP presidential primary debate in which Romney said he would be "delighted" to sign a bill banning all abortions in the U.S.

… SO DOES NRSC. ABC's Jonathan Karl reports that National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn released the following statement playing down Mourdock's comments as a "restatement" that life is a gift from God: "Richard and I, along with millions of Americans-including even Joe Donnelly-believe that life is a gift from God. To try and construe his words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous. In fact, rather than condemning him for his position, as some in his party have when it's come to Republicans, I commend Congressman Donnelly for his support of life. But this election is about big ideas and the reality that our country is going in the wrong direction. If you support Obamacare, government bailouts, reckless spending and higher taxes than you should vote for Joe Donnelly. But if you believe, as I do, that our government is too big, our taxes are too high, and we are passing an irresponsible debt onto future generations, than Richard Mourdock is your candidate to help get our country back on track."

ROMNEY ASKS COLORADO TO PUT HIM OVER THE TOP. ABC's Shushannah Walshe and Emily Friedman report from Morrison, Colo.: In front of one of the biggest crowds of his campaign, Mitt Romney, joined by Paul Ryan, appeared at the outdoor Red Rocks Amphitheater and told a crowd of 12,000 that Colorado voters will put the GOP ticket over the top on Nov. 6th. "We're on the home stretch now and I think the people of Colorado are going to get us all the way there. What do you think?," Romney said, to roars from the crowd Tuesday. "What you're seeing across this country as we've had these debates and as Paul and I have gone across the nation, you're seeing this movement growing." … Romney again reiterated, "I need you to get those folks to vote for us!"

ROMNEY LIKENS OBAMA CAMPAIGN TO SINKING SHIP. ABC's Emily Friedman and Shushannah Walshe report from Henderson, Nev.: In his first appearance since the final presidential debate, Mitt Romney stormed into the battleground state of Nevada and characterized President Obama's campaign as a sinking ship. "He's been reduced to try to defend characters on Sesame Street and word games of various kinds, and then misfired attacks after one and another," Romney said of Obama. "You know the truth is that attacks on me are not an agenda."

OBAMA HITS ROMNEY FOR NOT MENTIONING VETS AT DEBATE. ABC's Mary Bruce reports from Dayton, Ohio: President Obama twice chastised Mitt Romney on the trail today for failing to mention veterans in Monday night's debate, in a further attempt to drive a wedge between Romney and supporters of the military. … "By the way, I just want to point out, in the same way that Governor Romney didn't mention the Afghan war or our troops in his convention speech, Governor Romney didn't even mention our veterans last night," Obama told supporters at a rally in Delray Beach, Fla.

OBAMA, BIDEN CAMPAIGN ON AUTO BAILOUT IN OHIO. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports from Dayton, Ohio: President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden united today in western Ohio, casting themselves as the only true champions of the state's resurgent auto industry in an effort to bolster their working-class vote. … "Governor Romney looked you right in the eye, looked me in the eye, tried to pretend that he never said, Let Detroit go bankrupt. Tried to pretend he meant the same thing I did when we intervened and worked to make sure that management and workers got together to save the U.S. auto industry, pretended like somehow I have taken his advice," Obama said.

OBAMA CAMP CLAIMS EARLY-VOTE EDGE. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports from Dayton, Ohio: "We are outperforming our early-vote margins in key states compared to 2008. We're ahead of where we were against McCain, and more importantly, we're ahead of Mitt Romney," said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina on a conference call with reporters. "Romney may be winning more raw votes than McCain did at this time, but look the facts are important here. And the numbers tell a very clear

OBAMA'S RHETORIC: FROM HOPE TO SNARK. ABC's Russell Goldman writes: If you're President Obama, you know you pushed the sarcasm envelope at Monday night's debate when even Rachel Maddow describes the way you spoke to Mitt Romney as being in "very, very overtly patronizing terms." … Time's Mark Halperin described the president's style as "belittling." Mike Allen at Politico called it "snide derision." Whatever you call it, it seems to have worked. Most pundits scored the debate a win for president, finding that despite the zingers Obama still came off as a confident, knowledgeable commander-in-chief.

CLINT EASTWOOD RETURNS. After his widely panned appearance at the Republican National Convention, featuring a now-infamous empty chair, Clint Eastwood has returned to appear an a TV ad for the GOP super PAC American Crossroads, ABC's Jonathan Karl reports. In it, Eastwood says: "In the last few years, America's been knocked down. 23 million people can't find full-time work, and we borrow $4 billion every single day, much of it from China. When someone doesn't get the job done, you've gotta hold him accountable. Obama's second term would be a rerun of the first, and our country just couldn't survive that. We need someone who can turn it around fast, and that man is Mitt Romney. There's not much time left, and the future of our country is at stake." The group says it will air the ad in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia starting today, Karl reports. WATCH:

E-MAIL ALERTS SHOW BENGHAZI ATTACK UNFOLDING. ABC's John Parkinson reports: A series of email alerts sent as Obama administration officials monitored the attack on the U.S consulate in Benghazi last month are the latest to shine light on the chaotic events that culminated in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. … The first email, with a subject line of "U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack," sent at 4:05 PM about 25 minutes after the attack began, describes an assault on the compound by 20 armed people. … The next email sent at 4:54 PM states that the shooting has stopped and the compound was cleared, adding that a response team was "onsite attempting to locate COM personnel." The third email updates officials that Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the Benghazi attack on Facebook and Twitter, and has threatened to attack the Tripoli embassy.

THE QUIXOTE DEBATE: MINOR CANDIDATES SPAR IN CHICAGO. Minor party candidates beat up on Democrats, Republicans, corporations, and political money at the minor-party-candidates debate at the Hilton Chicago, moderated by former CNN host Larry King-who forgot to ask for opening statements, prompting candidates to offer them only after they had all answered the first question. The debate featured Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Libertarian Party candidate and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, Constitution Party candidate and former Virginia congressman of both the Republican and Democratic parties Virgil Goode, and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson. The full political spectrum was on display, from Jill Stein's support for free, government-funded college education and a "Green New Deal," to Anderson's proposal of a WPA-like program and protections from sexual-orientation discrimination, to Goode's insistence that the government can't afford more Pell grants, to Johnson's call for a 43-percent cut in military spending and opposition to government's involvement in marriage and drug policy. The debate was hosted by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, which will take votes on its website and host a "runoff" debate between the two winners next Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

HOW MANY BAYONETS? THE U.S. ARMY WEIGHS IN. After President Obama claimed that the U.S. has fewer "horses and bayonets" on Monday night, pointing to miltitary capability as a more important issue than force size, ABC's Luis Martinez reports: The Army said today it has 419,155 bayonets in its inventory. The Marine Corps has another 195,334 bayonets that it bought in 2004 and it plans on buying 175,061 more bayonets this year. A Marine official says it's not accurate to add the two totals together as the new ones will include replacements for ones already in service as well as additional stocks. Bayonets are standard issue for Marines deployed to combat areas, though they don't necessarily carry them with them when they're on patrol.

KELLY CLARKSON FOR OBAMA. The Huffington Post reports: "Nearly a year after voicing her support for former GOP candidate Ron Paul, Kelly Clarkson says she plans to vote for President Barack Obama in November. Calling herself a 'Republican at heart,' the 30-year-old Texas native told the Daily Star: 'I've been reading online about the debates and I'm probably going to vote for Obama again…I can't support Romney's policies as I have a lot of gay friends and I don't think it's fair they can't get married.'"

CANDIDATES REVEAL THEIR CLOSING STRATEGIES. The Washington Post's Philip Rucker and David A. Farenthold report: "After a debate season that reversed the two men's fortunes in the polls, President Obama indicated that he would run in the last two weeks of the race as an underdog. 'I don't want to lose this election,' he told supporters in an e-mail. … Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who had been the longtime underdog, signaled that he would finish the campaign as a calm, cautious front-runner. Advisers said he was unlikely to lay out new ideas. From his perspective, why would he?"

OBAMA PRINTS 3.5 MILLION COPIES OF GLOSSY PLAN BOOKLET. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports from Delray Beach, Fla.: Exactly 14 days before voters hit the polls, President Obama released a glossy, magazine-style brochure outlining his plan for a second term. The 20-page document signals a final play for undecided voters in key states, and an attempt to counter Republican attacks of late that Obama has failed to lay out a specific agenda. The Obama campaign has printed 3.5 million copies, planning to send 1.5 million to field offices across the country and distribute the rest by direct mail, an official said.

'ROMNESIA' CURE? OBAMA RECOMMENDS OBAMACARE. ABC's Gregory J. Krieg reports: "If you can't seem to remember the policies on your web site or promises you've been making over the last six years you've been running for president, if you can't even remember what you said last week, don't worry-Obamacare covers preexisting conditions," Obama said to howls of delight from the partisan crowd.

HERMAN CAIN ACCUSER GINGER WHITE IS WRITING A BOOK. Lauren Ashburn and Howard Kurtz report at Daily Download: "Nearly a year after being battered by the media in the heat of a presidential campaign, Ginger White says she plans to prove that she had a 13-year affair with Herman Cain. The businesswoman, still smarting from what she believes was an unfair press assault on her character, is writing a book. The disclosures in the book could prompt the former presidential candidate "to be a little more honest with his wife, because the details that I share, only she would know," White told Daily Download. She says this would include "physical attributes, scars and marks." Cain has strongly denied having anything other than a friendship with White."

HEADLINE: 'OBAMA EFFIGY CALLED "MISUNDERSTANDING."' The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Richard Brooks reports on a Halloween decoration that drew attention from the Secret Service: "The decoration involved an Obama mask that Million says he bought at a clearance sale last Halloween. And this year, he put the mask on a human-like figure, dangling it by a noose tied to a tree on his front lawn. Yes, that's also called an effigy. And it upset a lot of people, raised disturbing questions about Million's views on race and the president, and drew newspaper and television reporters to his house. 'This is just a misunderstanding. This is getting all blown out of proportion. It's down. It's gone. We didn't want to hurt the president,' Million told the reporters soon after two Secret Service agents finished questioning him late Tuesday, Oct. 23. 'It was just for a party.'"


MAJORITY PAC RELEASES 4 NEW ADS. The Democratic super PAC Majority PAC has released new TV ads to air in four Senate races: attacking Indiana's Richard Mourdock for attacking bipartisanship; Nevada's Dean Heller for votes on oil; North Dakota's Rick Berg for votes on Social Security, Medicare, and minimum wage; and Pennsylvania's Tom Smith for proposing an end to the Department of Education. WATCH: , , ,

RNC WEB VIDEO: OBAMA OFFERS PETTY ATTACKS. The Republican National Committee releases a web video that reprises President Obama's zingers, from "Romnesia" to "horses and bayonets" to Big Bird, accusing the president of offering little substance and a lot of petty attacks in lieu of leadership. WATCH: ttp://


@hillhulse : Sen McConnell rates 'mostly false' " @jonkarl: Scott Brown tells me "it doesn't really matter who's in charge" of the Senate.

@McCormickJohn : Obama-Romney Race Has Both Arguing Plausible Path to Victory (via San Francisco Chronicle): #2012 #CO

@guycecil : Even Mitt Romney is not trying to distance himself from Richard Mourdock. Pretty hard to do, given this:

@Sarah_Boxer : Campaigning in OH, @Matt_Romney says his dad isnt running b/c of personal ambition. "This is his way of giving back."

@AriFleischer : Unthinkable: Trump breaks real, hard news and MSM has to chase it. I'm no Trump fan, but it wld b fun 2c media's head xplode


With ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)

-President Obama has a busy Wednesday campaigning in three states on his "America Forward!" tour. The President will address supporters in Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada. He will also appear on the "The Tonight Show w/ Jay Leno."

-Mitt Romney is on the trail in Nevada holding a rally in Reno at the Reno Events Center. Romney will also address an evening crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Ann Romney is out campaigning for her husband in Florida with three events. Romney Surrogate John McCain is also in Florida traveling the state on a bus tour.

-Vice President Biden wakes up in Ohio for an event in Marion.

-Paul Ryan is also in Ohio delivering remarks in Cleveland.

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