Two-Week Warning: All About The Battlegrounds With 14 Days To Go (The Note)

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

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


  • BIDEN: ROMNEY NOT READY TO BE PRESIDENT: "He clearly has made up for that," Vice President Joe Biden told ABC's George Stephanopoulos in an interview on "Good Morning America," arguing that the president has rebounded from his stale performance in the first debate. "What governor Romney showed today, and I felt a little badly, because it's clear he is not, he is not ready to be the commander in chief of the United States military. He demonstrated a lack of sophistication about what's going on in the world. His rapid change in his positions. Look, being president requires a clear vision and a steady hand. That's what President Obama demonstrated tonight, and it's exactly what governor Romney demonstrated was lacking." PnKYCk
  • RYAN: ROMNEY IS READY, OBAMA OFFERED ONLY ATTACKS: "Well, obviously I disagree," Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., told ABC's George Stephanopoulos, responding to Biden's comments in his own "Good Morning America" interview. "I think this was a fantastic debate, I think governor Romney won this debate, and do you know why I think he won it? Because Americans for a third time now got to see a man ready to become a great president. What they got from Mitt Romney: clear answers, a clear vision for foreign policy, very clear distinctions, and how we should go forward with this country. What we got from President Obama were mostly attacks on Mitt Romney. That's not an agenda. And we really actualy didn't get an agenda for how we should move our country forward on foreign policy."
  • NEW FROM BOSTON: Today the Romney campaign released a new television ad titled "Apology Tour," highlighting a point that Mitt Romney often makes on the campaign trail and one that he made at last night's debate. "[T]he President began … an apology tour, of going to various nations … and criticizing America," Romney says in the ad. "I think they looked at that and saw weakness." WATCH:
  • NEW FROM CHICAGO: In an entirely positive new 60-second TV ad, President Obama speaks directly to camera about his plan for the next four years. In it, he says: "There's just no quit in America…and you're seeing that right now. Over five million new jobs, exports up forty one percent, home value: rising, our auto industry back, and our heroes are coming home. We're not there yet, but we've made real progress and the last thing we should do is turn back now. … Here's my plan for the next four years: Making education and training a national priority; building on our manufacturing boom; boosting American-made energy; reducing the deficits responsibly by cutting where we can, and asking the wealthy to pay a little more. And ending the war in Afghanistan, so we can do some nation-building here at home. That's the right path. So read my plan, compare it to Governor Romney's and decide which is better for you. It's an honor to be your President, and I'm asking for your vote, so together, we can keep moving America forward." ABC's Devin Dwyer reports that the ad will air in New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Colorado. WATCH:
  • COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY: There are 14 days to go until Nov. 6, 2012. Here are the ABC News battleground state rankings:
(Click HERE for the full debate transcript and ABC News' debate analysis)


DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - On the debate stage last night at Lynn University in Boca Raton, President Obama came to play, and Mitt Romney played not to lose

Many pundits and instapolls gave the win to Obama. Even Republicans we talked to last night were not arguing that Romney won, but instead emphasized that he stood his ground and didn't lose.

Romney's goal, according to ABC News Political Director Amy Walter: Appear presidential. That meant no wild punches, no silly sniping or rhetorical excess. His audience was not the GOP neo-cons, but instead were those handful of swing voters who he needs to convince that he's an acceptable and credible alternative to Obama.

Obama, meanwhile, could not afford another Denver debate. And from the outset it was clear that he brought his aggressive side to Florida.

His goal was to keep his base engaged - and motivated. But, just as important was the goal of undermining Romney's credibility as a potential commander in chief as well as a steward of the nation's economy.

That said, almost everyone agrees that this debate did nothing to move the needle in this very tight race.

For the next two weeks it's all about turn out and motivation. To that point, President Obama's new two-minute ad shows he needs to do more than discredit Romney in these final days. He's also got to give folks a reason to vote for him.


The Note's virtual political roundtable:

ABC's RICK KLEIN: If President Obama scored more points last night, Mitt Romney may have done more to actually boost his chances of being elected. Romney's strategy - far different than in debates No. 1 and No. 2 - was to do no harm to his candidacy, specifically among women voters who are giving him a second look. He countered sarcasm with practicality. He was more subdued than Obama but had a different strategy in mind, and sought not to create distinctions where no real ones existed. Most importantly, he came across as a plausible commander-in-chief - keeping to the task of establishing himself as a credible alternative to the incumbent.


-CBS INSTANT POLL: OBAMA WINS DEBATE 53 - 23. From CBS: "Immediately after it wrapped, 53 percent of the more than 500 voters polled gave the foreign policy-themed debate to Mr. Obama; 23 percent said Romney won, and 24 percent felt the debate was a tie. Uncommitted voters in similar polls gave the first debate to Romney by a large margin, but said Mr. Obama edged the GOP nominee in the second debate. Both candidates enjoyed a bump regarding whom the voters trust to handle international crisis. Before the debate, 46 percent said they would trust Romney, and 58 percent said they would trust the president. Those numbers spiked to 49 percent and 71 percent, respectively."

-CNN INSTANT POLL: OBAMA WINS DEBATE 48-40. From CNN's Paul Steinhauser: "Forty-eight percent of registered voters who watched Monday night's third presidential debate say that Obama won the showdown, with 40% saying Romney did the better job in a debate dedicated to foreign policy. … Nearly six in ten watchers say that Obama did a better job in the debate than they had expected, 15 points higher than the 44% who said that the GOP challenger had a better than expected debate performance. … Obama's aggressive strategy led the debate audience to give him a narrow 51%-46% edge on leadership, but it may have come at the cost of likeability."


From ABC's Devin Dwyer and Emily Friedman:

ED GILLESPIE, Romney adviser: "I think people saw that Mitt Romney is a person who has command of the facts, who has policies, solutions, vision of where to take country… No sense of Obama what he would do better or different."

DAVID PLOUFFE, Obama adviser: "After the first debate, Gov. Romney won back voters he lost in September. They were never going to be for us. So we've never believed that any one event was going to change this campaign. We believe we had a better night than Gov. Romney. Everything matters, but this is a very close race. We feel we have the advantages in battleground states to win the presidency. IN the next 15 days we have to make the differences clear… and we have to turn the voters out… that's one of our chief challenges over the next two weeks.

STUART STEVENS, Romney strategist: "No one is going to outwork governor Romney over the next two weeks in this election. Nobody."

JIM MESSINA, Obama campaign manager: "Tonight what you saw is a strong and steady president verses a non steady Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney did not pass the commander in chief test and for the second, third consecutive debate Romney was unable to explain his tax plan, unable to explain his budget plan, he had a disastrous exchange on the military spending and I think what people saw tonight and what we wanted them to see is a strong and steady president versus sand uncertain mitt Romney."


with Chris Good ( @c_good)


-RYAN ON WHERE ROMNEY, OBAMA DISAGREE: IRAN, RUSSIA, STANDING UP FOR FREEDOM. Asked where Mitt Romney and President Obama disagree on foreign policy, Paul Ryan told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America": "Well sure on some things we do agree. We agree on the decision to get Osama bin Laden. We agree on a 2014 transition with Afghanistan. We agree on the president's decision to carry forward the Bush administration's drone-strike policy. But where we do disagree is on the president's handling of Iran, we do disagree with his Russia policy, we do disagree with these devastating military cuts, which make us look weaker, which hollow out our military. We believe that a strong economy at home promotes strong foreign policy abroad, and we believe we never should hesitate to speak up for freedom, for democracy, for equal rights, for women's rights. That's what a good foreign policy does, and that's what we saw from Mitt Romney in this debate: the kind of demeanor, and the kind of temperament, and the kind of leader we need."

-BIDEN ON 'HORSES AND BAYONETS.' Responding to criticism by a Romney aide that President Obama's comment about America having fewer "horses and bayonets" nowadays was demeaning to the military, Vice President Biden told George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America": "Demeaning to the military for the president to say the truth that one aircraft character is probably more powerful than the entire United States Navy was back then? This is a different Navy, my Lord, George. The capacity, the firepower-our Navy is superior to every other Navy in the world combined. This is a fundamentally different Navy that doesn't rest on the number of ships, it rests on the total capacity" PnKYCk

-RYAN: 'I FEEL GOOD' ABOUT WISCONSIN. Asked about David Axelrod's assessment that President Obama will win Wisconsin again in 2012, Paul Ryan told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America": "I beg to differ. Look, we won an impressive election in 2010. We won three different various recalls-Supreme Court race, recalls this summer, recalls last summer. It's a close state, I feel very good about it. I don't think in Wisconsin we want to see another four years like the last four years."

HOW ROMNEY GOT READY. ABC's David Muir reported for "World News" on Mitt Romney's debate preparation, noting that the biggest challenge for Romney, according to a key adviser, was to meet the "commander in chief threshold." WATCH David Muir's "World News" report:

BUZZY OR BUST? CAMPAIGN SLOGANS FAIL TO CATCH. Can you name the campaign slogans for President Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012? ABC's Devin Dwyer asked a handful of supporters at rallies across the country, and most of them couldn't, either. WATCH the report on how campaign slogans are (or aren't) catching on:

A ROMNEY-BIDEN ADMINISTRATION? IT COULD HAPPEN. ABC'S Jonathan Karl reports: If there is a tie in the electoral college … it will be up to the newly elected House of Representatives to elect a President and the newly elected Senate to elect the Vice President. … If Democrats keep control of the Senate, Biden likely wins. … Is this all just crazy talk? No. There are a number of plausible scenarios which could result in a 269-269 electoral tie. Here's just one: Obama wins OH, WI, NH. Romney wins FL, VA, NC, IA, CO, NV (and all other states go as expected).

UNDECIDED 'WALMART MOMS' GIVE THE DEBATE WIN TO OBAMA. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports: Out of a focus group of 10 "Walmart moms" in Orlando, Florida, eight gave the win to Obama in the third and final presidential debate. One woman gave the win to Romney, and another said she felt as though it was a tie. The group, which was organized by Public Opinion Strategies and Momentum Analysis and sponsored by Walmart, had mostly positive words for Obama after tonight's debate: good, focused, honest, strategic. … When asked how they felt about Romney after tonight's debate, the response was mostly negative. "I think he's a hypocrite," said one woman. "Obama called him out on something and he couldn't… back it up. It's too all over the place."

TOP GOOGLE SEARCHES DURING THE DEBATE. Google tells ABC News that the top searches during last night's debate were "horses and bayonets," "Syria," "Mali," "Drones," and "Tumult," in that order.

OBAMA WINS TWITTER WITH 'HORSES AND BAYONETS.' ABC's Gregory J. Krieg reports: President Obama won tonight's Twitter war with the weapons of yore, batting down Mitt Romney's complaint that the Navy will soon possess its smallest fleet since 1917 by reminding the challenger, "We also have fewer horses and bayonets." … By 9:45 p.m. ET, the microblog was seeing 105,767 tweets per minute (out of 6.5 million total) reporting or riffing on Obama's taunt. More than a half hour after the debate, #horsesandbayonets was still going strong, trending worldwide.

OBAMA POST-DEBATE SPIN: HE WON! President Obama's campaign e-mails: "For 90 minutes tonight, President Obama showcased his strength and stability as Commander in Chief, which is exactly what this country needs to stay secure and continue moving forward. In contrast, Mitt Romney once again failed the Commander-in-Chief test at every single turn. Romney was unclear, uncertain and unsteady, and his policies are reckless and wrong. That much was crystal clear to voters tonight."

JOHN MCCAIN: ROMNEY WILL KEEP AMERICA SAFE. Mitt Romney's campaign e-mails reaction from Sen. John McCain: "Tonight, Mitt Romney showed that as Commander in Chief, he'll keep America safe by renewing our strength at home and restoring our leadership abroad. By contrast, from his confused and misleading response to the terrorist attack in Libya to the continued massacre in Syria to the resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, President Obama's feckless foreign policy has weakened our standing in the world and made America less safe. We cannot afford another four years of President Obama 'leading from behind,' and Mitt Romney's commitment to peace through strength is exactly what America needs to protect our national security in a dangerous world."

FACT-CHECKING THE FINAL DEBATE. Massachusetts did reach top marks in education under Mitt Romney, the Navy is shrinking, and Obama did not embark on an international apology tour. For a full rundown of last night's factual hits and misses, check out our live fact-check blog:

BOSTON HERALD ENDORSES ROMNEY. From the paper's editorial staff: "What this nation got in Barack Obama was a president who used an economic crisis to further his redistributionist agenda - and, not surprisingly, failed miserably at restoring American prosperity. Oh, he brought change all right - to a government-knows-best philosophy that has given us four years of high unemployment, higher gas prices, a $16 trillion deficit, and a job-killing regulatory environment. … This nation desperately needs the kind of leadership on the economy that Mitt Romney can provide - that is based on sound principles of flattening out tax rates so that the overburdened middle class can keep more of what they earn and small businesses can grow, providing a much-needed job boost."

NEW YORKER ENDORSES OBAMA. The magazine's editors write: "The choice is clear. The Romney-Ryan ticket represents a constricted and backward-looking vision of America: the privatization of the public good. … we've already seen the future that Romney represents, and it doesn't work. The re-election of Barack Obama is a matter of great urgency. Not only are we in broad agreement with his policy directions; we also see in him what is absent in Mitt Romney - a first-rate political temperament and a deep sense of fairness and integrity. A two-term Obama Administration will leave an enduringly positive imprint on political life. It will bolster the ideal of good governance and a social vision that tempers individualism with a concern for community. Every Presidential election involves a contest over the idea of America. Obama's America - one that progresses, however falteringly, toward social justice, tolerance, and equality - represents the future that this country deserves."


-TAXPAYERS GROUP TALKS BALLOT INITIATIVES. The National Taxpayers Union today released its 2012 ballot guide. The group, which advocates for lower taxes and smaller government, highlights 750 propositions, initiatives, referenda, proposals and constitutional amendments from 35 states. According to an adviser to the NTU: "While these state and local laws don't typically receive the national attention that elected offices do, they can be key in driving turnout and determining the decisions of otherwise undecided voters. Among the highlights, NTU opposes ballot question 300 in Colorado, which would ban hydraulic fracturing in Boulder County and also opposed Proposition 30 in California, a measure that would raise taxes on the wealthiest residents to close a budget shortfall."


?@jmartpolitico : Whatever mitt does on TV, he'll have to do by Halloween. Time being reserved and window to have an impact closing. No early vote in PA, tho

@mikememoli : For all those talking about how SNL will portray last night's debate: this weekend is a repeat

@McCormickJohn : I keep telling fellow tired campaign trail reporters that we are at Mile 25, with just 1.1 to go. Not sure it is working.

@ByronYork : Remember when Newt wanted Lincoln-Douglas-style debates? Never got chance, but maybe not bad idea…

@ItsDavidFord : Check out ABC News Political Analyst Nicolle Wallace today on @KatieShow. She provides the conservative reaction to last night's #debates


with ABC's Joanna Suarez

- President Barack Obama campaigns in Delray Beach, Fla. and Dayton, Ohio.

-Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Toledo, Ohio and holds a joint event with the president in Dayton, Ohio.

-Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan hold joint rallies in Henderson, Nev. and Morrison, Colo.

Check out The Note's Futures Calendar :

Get more pure politics at and a lighter take on the news at