Conflicted Voters Consider Closing Arguments (The Note)

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


  • BREAKING: ECONOMY ADDS JOBS, BUT UNEMPLOYMENT RATE RISES: In the final monthly jobs report before Election Day, the government today said that the U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent, ABC's Susanna Kim reports. The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the U.S. economy added 171,000 jobs. Analysts had expected around 125,000 added jobs, according to Bloomberg News. The unemployment rate for September was 7.8 percent, with employers adding 114,000 jobs.
  • THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': Top Obama and Romney campaign officials debate the final days of the 2012 election, including a look at the new numbers from the ABC News-Washington Post tracking poll, Sunday on "This Week." Plus, the powerhouse roundtable offers its final take before Election Day, including their own election predictions, with ABC News' George Will; ABC News' Cokie Roberts; Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile; political strategist and ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd; and National Journal Editorial Director Ron Brownstein. Tune in Sunday: (h/t ABC's Imtiyaz Delawala)
  • OBAMA CAMPAIGN TOUTS 'ROBUST' VOTER PROTECTION EFFORT: A six-page memo released this morning from Obama campaign general counsel Robert F. Bauer lays out the Obama campaign's approach to combating what it says will be a Republican effort to "impede or obstruct access to the polls." According to a summary of the memo: "We are building a robust and efficient voter protection operation - similar to those we've had in the past, including in 2008. Our voter protection structure focuses on recruitment of volunteers that help guide, build, and support our election protection team to ensure that every eligible voter can vote on Election Day. … Whereas, our voter protection operation continues to focus on educating and protecting all eligible voters. Either directly, through its vendors, or in close association with these allied organizations, Republicans have attempted to disrupt the electoral process and create obstacles to the fair and effective exercise of the right to vote." Read the memo:
  • MITT GETS A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS: Mitt and Ann Romney and Paul and Janna Ryan along will all appear at a rally to kick off the final weekend of the 2012 campaign in West Chester, Ohio tonight. And the GOP ticket will also have a little help from their friends, including: Senators John McCain, Rob Portman, Marco Rubio, John Thune, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Governors Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Sam Brownback and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge; former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani; Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus; Olympic champions Derek Parra and Scott Hamilton; and legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus. In all, nearly 100 governors, senators, mayors, and other officials will attend along with the Romney sons, Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben and Craig. Musical guest: Kid Rock. According to the Romney campaign, "Following the rally, from Friday to Monday, these supporters will travel the country in groups to campaign in eleven states: Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin."
  • WHAT THE ROMNEY PRESS BUS IS LISTENING TO: Just after 6:30 a.m. this morning en route to the Norfolk International Airport for a flight to Wisconsin, a musical blast of Rebecca Black's, "Friday": (As Black points out, "Everybody's looking forward to the weekend" - the final one of the presidential election.)
  • HANG OUT WITH ABC NEWS ON ELECTION DAY: On Election Day, ABC News is teaming up with Google for Google+ Hangouts with voters from all 50 states. In order to be a part of the hangouts, participants will need a webcam and a fast Internet connection. Interested in being a part of our coverage November 6th? Let us know who you are here:
  • COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY: There are 4 days to go until Nov. 6, 2012. Here are the ABC News battleground state rankings:


Another Friday, another jobs report and another opportunity to ask whether today's news that the economy added 171,000 new jobs while the unemployment ticked up to 7.9 percent matter all that much heading into Election Day - now just four short days off.

Voters appear divided - and in some cases, conflicted - about which of the presidential candidates would lead the country toward economic recovery.

According to last night's ABC News-Washington post tracking poll, 54 percent of likely voters expressed at least some confidence the economy would improve under Mitt Romney compared to 47 percent who said the same is President Obama wins re-election.

But as ABC pollster Gary Langer notes, "far fewer in either case are 'very' confident of economic gains - 19 percent if Romney wins, 21 percent if it's Obama - hardly a rousing endorsement of either."

What's more: Only 36 percent of likely voters say the president is chiefly responsible for the country's current economic troubles, and many more - 51 percent - instead blame President George W. Bush.

As our ABC News poll has indicated for weeks, the race could not be tighter: 49 percent of likely voters back Obama, while 48 percent support Romney.

On the campaign trail, Romney will deliver a speech that will lay out the closing arguments for his candidacy at Products Pavilion at State Fair Park in West Allis, Wisc. today. He previewed his message in a Op-Ed this morning.

"I am offering a contrast to what we are seeing in Washington today," Romney wrote. "We've watched as one party has pushed through its agenda without compromising with the other party. We've watched gridlock and petty conflict dominate while the most important issues confronting the nation, like chronic high unemployment, go un-addressed. The bickering has to end. I will end it." (President Obama also penned an Op-Ed for laying out his vision for the next four years:

Meanwhile, President Obama focuses on Ohio, campaigning at three separate events in Hilliard, Springfield and Lima. And that's a good indication of where the Obama campaign sees that the race for the Buckeye State will either be won or lost: In the northwest corner from Toledo to Lima, a swath of counties that were split between Obama and McCain four years ago, as well as Franklin County where Obama won overwhelmingly in 2008.

"They're scared," a Romney campaign aide said of the political geography of Obama's stops today. "They know they're going to lose areas like coal country and they're desperately trying to fix the problems that have been mounting in military areas."

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 AMY WALTER: In an election dominated by the economy it is remarkable how little influence the monthly jobs report has had on the trajectory of the race. A poor report the day after the successful Democratic convention did nothing to dampen Obama's September bounce. And, the rosy October report did nothing to stop Romney's post-debate momentum. Voters' perceptions of the economy are influenced by many things, but a government report on the unemployment rate doesn't look to be one of them.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: Mitt Romney has talked extensively about being a bipartisan leader who gets things done. Sandy's wrath allowed President Obama to play that part, on TV and beyond. The double-barrel embrace by Chris Christie and Michael Bloomberg seemed to seal the moment for Obama, freezing Romney and delivering the president a few news cycles only an incumbent could love. But how many days of lost power and snaking gas lines - and worse - will it take for Bloomberg and Christie to lose some luster? Can FEMA - and, by extension, a now-campaigning-again president - escape all blame given the early high marks?

ABC POLITICAL ANALYST MATTHEW DOWD: The perceptions of the economy are already baked in, so I think this jobs report won't have a dramatic effect on the election. I think the trajectory of this race has now slowly moved towards the president in the last few days, especially in how he's handled Sandy, and that perception in a close race has moved him, but Mitt Romney has 48 hours to adjust that this weekend - that's huge for Mitt Romney.

POLITICAL STORM: HOW WILL SANDY IMPACT THE ELECTION? ABC's George Stephanopoulos addresses two big questions in the wake of super storm Sandy on his ABC/Yahoo! series "George's Bottom Line." The first question, sent in by Nicole Rivera, was about FEMA aid and why Mayor Bloomberg told the president not to visit New York City. The other big question- tweeted by Mike Ruane - whether the storm will give either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama an advantage at the polls on Tuesday. WATCH:

THE COST OF SANDY. Hurricane Sandy may end up being the most expensive storm in U.S. history after Katrina. ABC News Business Correspondent Richard Davies notes: "Forecasting firm Eqecat says the damage from the storm will likely be far worse than it previously predicted, largely a result of Sandy hitting the most densely populated area in the country. The firm doubled its previous estimate for the total bill and now says Sandy may have caused between $30 billion and $50 billion in economic losses, including property damage, lost business and extra living expenses. Katrina's costs in 2005 were estimated to be $108 billion. Taking inflation into account, that works out to $128 billion today."

OBAMA WORKS THE PHONES. Aboard Air Force One last night, President Obama held a call with state and local officials from New York, including Governor Cuomo, to discuss the ongoing response to Hurricane Sandy, ABC's Jon Garcia reports. FEMA Administrator Fugate joined the call and provided an update on federal resources being brought to bear to support local response and recovery efforts. Similar calls were held earlier in the day with officials from Connecticut and New Jersey. This morning, the president will receive a full briefing from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security John Brennan, Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate on the latest status of response and recovery efforts.

EARLY VOTE VIEW: DEMOCRATS LEAD IN NUMBERS BUT GOP MAKING BIG GAINS FROM 2008. As we head into the final weekend before Nov. 6 both Republicans and Democrats say they feel confident about their performance with early voters, but Democrats have the numbers on their side. In a majority of the states where party registration numbers are available, Democrats are outpacing Republicans in total votes cast, ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports. But Republicans point out they have cut the Democrats' gap significantly from 2008. In that election, the Democrats held an 11 percentage point lead in the early vote, and this year it's down to 6 points. If there's one overarching take-away from the numbers however, it's this: It's going to be a close race.

COLORADO: Over 1.3 million ballots have been cast in Colorado- 457,337 Democrat, 493,457 are Republican and 341,920 are from voters registered as "unaffiliated." The number of ballots cast so far is already more than half- 53.9%- of the total votes cast in 2008.

NEVADA: 576,530 ballots have been cast in Nevada- and again this is more than half- 59.4% -of the total votes cast in 2008. Registered Democrats make up 254,258 of those votes, while registered Republicans make up 217,407. Independent voters account for 106,366 of those ballots.

IOWA: 557,432 votes have been cast in Iowa- about 36.1% of the total vote cast in 2008. 241,530 of those ballots are from Democrats while 179,675 are from Republicans. An additional 135,547 are from Independents- or as they are registered in Iowa, "no party."

OHIO: Over 1.2 million votes have been cast in Ohio according to figures released Tuesday by the Secretary of State's office - about 21.8% of the total vote cast in the state in 2008. Ohio does not register voters by political party.

FLORIDA: In the sunshine state more than 3 million ballots have already been cast- 36.1% of the total vote cast in 2008. 1,296,808 votes cast are from registered Democrats while 1,238,152 are from registered Republicans. Independents make up 517,000. votes

NORTH CAROLINA: A little more than 2 million ballots have been cast in North Carolina- 47.3% of the total votes cast in 2008. A little more than 48% of those votes come from registered Democrats, while just under 32% come from registered Republicans. Independent voters make up for 20% of the votes.

VIRGINIA: 302,664 votes have been cast in the commonwealth- 8.1% of the total vote in 2008. Virginia does not register by political party, so a breakdown is not available.

NOTED: The Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman notes that in localities Obama won in 2008, the turnout is down 13.6 percent, whereas in McCain localities won in 2008, it's only down 1.1 percent. Wasserman says this is not indicative that Obama will lose Virginia, this is just the first hard data proof that there is a very different turnout picture than there was in 2008 and that Obama is going to need to work a lot harder to get his less enthusiastic vote out on Election Day.


with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

ONE LAST PUSH. ABC's Jake Tapper reports from Ohio for "Good Morning America": With this race so close in the Buckeye State, any major event could tip undecided or soft voters into the Obama or Romney camps. The candidates are leaving no stones unturned as they make their final arguments. On Thursday the candidates were back on the trail - and back to attacking one another. Talking to strategists in each campaign, Tapper noted, is like talking to people on two different planets: Both predict victory and both predict different turnout scenarios on Tuesday.

PORTRAIT OF A CANDIDATE: DIANE SAWYER TAKES A LOOK AT THE PRESIDENT'S PERSONAL LIFE. ABC's Diane Sawyer sat down with President Obama to glimpse into his personal life. In the Oval Office, the President showed Diane his favorite photos- including a picture of him and Michelle on their wedding day, and a family portrait from when his daughters were still very young. "It seems like yesterday I could hold them in my lap. Now it gets a lot harder because Malia's like 5'9?" Obama said. The president talked about his biggest regret- the fact that his mother never got to meet his two daughters. "My biggest regret is she never got to meet her grandchildren, she would just gobble 'em up" he said. When asked if he's thought about what he might say to any incoming President, Obama replied "the only thing you carry into this office is a moral compass, and if you start making decisions based on what's politically convenient at the time, you will be lost." Tonight Diane will profile Mitt Romney on "World News." WATCH:

TOP LINE: NIGHTMARE SCENARIO - THE ELECTION NIGHT THAT WON'T END. In the latest episode of the ABC/Yahoo! series "Top Line" ABC's Rick Klein and Amy Walter take a look at scenarios that could drag on this election for days, even weeks past Nov. 6. A close election means that the winner may not be clear for who knows how long. Why? Because each state has its own, sometimes quirky, state laws that dictate how votes are counted and when recounts are triggered. WATCH:

NOTED: CAMPAIGNS LAWYER-ED UP FOR ELECTION OVERTIME. The AP's Curt Anderson and Stephen Braun report: "Legions of lawyers are ready to enter the fray in case Election Day turns on a legal challenge. One nightmare scenario would be for the results in a battleground state like Florida or Ohio to too close to call, with thousands of absentee or provisional ballots yet to be counted. The key, experts say, is whether the difference in votes between the two candidates is within what's known as the "margin of litigation" - that is, the number of outstanding votes must be much greater than the margin separating Obama and Romney when the smoke clears. And, it must be in a state that's decisive."

BLOOMBERG ENDORSES OBAMA. Citing climate change as the deciding factor, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday endorsed President Obama for a second term, saying Hurricane Sandy "brought the stakes of Tuesday's presidential election into sharp relief," reports ABC's Mary Bruce. In the wake of the devastation, Bloomberg, an independent, said the president is the best leader to tackle climate change, which he believes contributed to the storm.

NOTED: BIDEN SAYS BLOOMBERG'S ENDORSEMENT RESONATES AS A CALL FOR UNITY. ABC's Arlette Saenz reports: Hours after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his support of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden cited Bloomberg's endorsement as a call for the country to unite together, regardless of political affiliation. "When Mayor Bloomberg did his announcement today in support of our ticket, the essence of what he said, the essence of what he said was, We've got to work together. We've all got to be in this together."

THE BENGHAZI DRIP-DRIP-DRIP. As he left his Marine One helicopter Wednesday evening and walked to the residence of the White House, President Obama did not respond to a question shouted out by ABC News's Mary Bruce about when he would begin to provide answers to the numerous questions building up about what exactly what went wrong in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. ABC's Jake Tapper notes that as of now, the White House has disclosed that President Obama was informed about the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi at roughly 5pm by his National Security Adviser Tom Donilon as he was in a pre-scheduled meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey…But beyond that, the White House has punted, saying the Accountability Review Board established by the State Department is investigating the matter and what went wrong.

NOTED: NEW DETAILED ACCOUNT OF BENGHAZI ATTACK NOTES CIA'S QUICK RESPONSE. ABC's Martha Raddatz, Dana Hughes and Luis Martinez report, intelligence officials have disclosed a new detailed timeline of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, acknowledging the CIA played a greater role in responding to the attack than has previously been disclosed. A senior U.S. intelligence official also insisted that the CIA security team that initially responded to the attack was not given orders "to stand down in providing support," as had been suggested in media reports. The timeline provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official gives the first precise account of how CIA security teams provided the first response to the Sept. 11 attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

IN NEVADA, RYAN URGES EARLY VOTING ONE DAY BEFORE DEADLINE. Paul Ryan had a direct message for Nevadans Thursday: "Early voting doesn't end until tomorrow so don't forget that you can get out and early vote." ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports, Ryan told several hundred people in this battleground state that Nevada is "crucial." "A handful of states are going to determine this thing," Ryan said at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

OBAMA CLAIMS MANTLE OF 'CHANGE' IN 2012 RACE. Voters in Colorado tonight got a glimpse of the Barack Obama of 2008, with his soaring, impassioned and relentless rhetoric that electrified a crowd in a way only rarely seen during the 2012 campaign reports ABC's Devin Dwyer. Sharpening his closing argument for a second term, Obama delivered a forceful defense of his mantra of "change" in an evening rally at the University of Colorado, insisting that the economic and social transformation for which Americans are yearning will only come if voters stick by his side.

BIDEN PUSHES EARLY VOTING ON LETTERMAN. Vice President Joe Biden hit the late-night comedy scene Thursday night by reading his "Top 10? list of reasons to vote early on the "Late Show with David Letterman," pushing voters to head to the polls ahead of Election Day reports ABC's Arlette Saenz. "Honestly, don't you want this election over with already?" Biden said as his number one reason to vote early. Throughout their campaign stops in October, Biden and President Obama encouraged supporters to head to the voting booths early to help them win some of the key battleground states.

MATT ROMNEY TRAVELS TO RUSSIA FOR BUSINESS. The New York Times' Peter Baker reports: "Matt Romney, a son of the Republican presidential nominee, traveled to Moscow this week seeking Russian investors for his California-based real estate firm just days before his father is to wrap up a campaign in which he has vowed to take a tougher stance with the Kremlin. Mr. Romney's trip a week before the presidential election underscored the complex relationship between his family's business and the political campaign. Mitt Romney has criticized President Obama for being too soft on Russia, calling it "our No. 1 geopolitical foe" and promising to confront President Vladimir V. Putin's government with "more backbone" if elected on Tuesday. … The Russian Embassy in Washington said it was unaware of the trip. … But while in Moscow, Mr. Romney told a Russian known to be able to deliver messages to Mr. Putin that despite the campaign rhetoric, his father wants good relations if he becomes president, according to a person informed about the conversation."

MICHELLE OBAMA MAKES FINAL PITCH. The Washington Post's Krissah Thompson reports: "In the past year and a half, Michelle Obama has held 47 rallies and 92 fundraisers and has been featured on dozens of magazine covers and talk shows. After two rallies in Iowa on Monday, she took off again with plans to campaign Thursday in Florida, Friday in Virginia and Saturday in Ohio. The conventional wisdom among political strategists is that candidates' spouses don't move voters, said Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary for President George W. Bush. But Michelle Obama, who is among the most popular figures in the Democratic Party, is trying to disprove the wisdom. She wants to move money and votes, and she often evokes emotion to do so."

ROMNEY FACES SALE WITH A WIN. The Wall Street Journal's Mark Maremont reports: "If Mitt Romney is elected president, he likely would have to sell big chunks of his investment portfolio to comply with federal rules and to ward off political problems, according to several government-ethics experts and someone familiar with his finances. Mr. Romney's assets, valued at between $190 million and $250 million, include investments in hedge funds, private-equity funds and partnerships at Bain Capital, which he ran for 15 years. These entities have ownership stakes in dozens of companies that could be affected by government action, such as radio firm Clear Channel Communications Inc. and a video-surveillance firm based in China."


-FACEBOOK ENHANCES ELECTION 2012 OFFERINGS: Last night Facebook launched an Election 2012 section of the Facebook App Center (, which will help users stay informed with the latest campaign news and connect with friends around the candidates they support. And the Election 2012 section currently includes: Obama 2012, Campaign Story, Stand with Mitt, RNC Social Victory Center, Votocracy, Romney Store App, and Vote with Friends.,

-AMERICAN BRIDGE RECALLS 2004 ROMNEY FOOTAGE ON JOBS DAY: A new video out this morning from the Democratic super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, uses a clip of Mitt Romney saying Americans know it's "poppycock" blame then President George W. Bush for the state of the economy in 2004 and another showing Romney making the argument that people should look at the overall job trend rather than the "net-net" jobs created on his watch in 2006. The footage of Romney, which we released earlier this year, was recovered from the Massachusetts archive by American Bridge researchers. W ATCH:


@stephenfhayes : RT @HotlineSteve : Reading the NY papers this morning is absolutely heartbreaking for this Long Island native.

@RonBrownstein : In a deeply divided country, whoever wins next week will struggle to be more than the president of half of America.

@Ari_Shapiro : Based on my hundreds (thousands?) of voter interviews this year, I fear half the country will say the elex was stolen no matter the outcome.

@AlexConant : If you missed @marcorubio on @FoxNews @gretawire last night, it's worth watching online here: …

@MattMackowiak : Barbour: Christie right to praise Obama on #Sandy - …

@GeraldFSeib : My colleague Neil King's fine look at the ND Senate race, which has gotten too little attention. via @WSJ #election2012

@pourmecoffee : Oh no. Just realized turning clocks back Sunday will make election seem an hour longer.


-President Obama campaigns in Hilliard, Springfield and Lima, Ohio.

-Mitt Romney holds events in West Allis, Wisconsin, Etna, Ohio and concludes the day with an evening rally in West Chester, Ohio.

-Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Beloit and Superior, Wisconsin.

-Paul Ryan holds events in Montrose, Colorado and Cedar Falls, Iowa before joining Mitt Romney for an evening rally in West Chester, Ohio.

-First Lady Michelle Obama campaigns in Hampton and Petersburg, Va.

-Former President Bill Clinton holds a total of five events in Florida: Lake Worth, Palm Bay, Fort Myers, St. Petersburg and Tallahassee.

-Jill Biden campaigns in Asheville and Huntersville, N.C. before ending her day in Media, Pa.

Check out The Note's Futures Calendar :