PI Original Aricka Flowers Thursday November 1st, 2012, 7:18pm

Early Voting Outlook Good For Obama, Sandy Causes Firestorm For Romney Campaign

Early voting numbers and poll results are not the only troublesome issues plaguing the Romney campaign this week. From Superstorm Sandy to endorsements to a controversial campaign ad, there are quite a few things that are dogging the Republican's campaign this week, just days before the election.

Early voting numbers appear to be in the favor of President Barack Obama, with data from states (and the Washington Post's early voting tracker) showing that the president is leading in most key battleground states, like Iowa, Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina.

"We have a significant early-vote advantage in battlegrounds from North Carolina to Nevada," said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a call yesterday with reporters. "Second, there is no Romney momentum in the battleground states. There’s only smoke and mirrors. Which brings me to the third truth of this final week: the Romney campaign has found itself trapped in a tremendously narrow and improbable path to 270 electoral votes – and its desperation is palpable ... The President leads or is tied in every battleground state across the country."

Obama seems to be edging Mitt Romney out in polling as well with the president having a slight lead in the RealClearPolitics average of polls and a Quinnipiac-New York Times-CBS survey that found Obama to be ahead of Romney in the battleground state of Ohio by five percentage points, at 50 percent to 45 percent, in a poll of likely voters. The poll's findings did not sit well with the Romney camp, prompting one of his pollsters to call it a "piece of crap." 

Early voting numbers and poll results are not the only troublesome issues plaguing the Romney campaign this week. From Superstorm Sandy to endorsements to a controversial campaign ad, there are quite a few things that are dogging the Republican's campaign this week, just days before the election. 

Obama, Christie Bipartisan Effort Rocks Romney's campaign, Fuels Questions About FEMA

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a top surrogate of Romney, repeatedly lauded President Obama for his stewardship and assistance in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, saying "The cooperation has been great with FEMA here on the ground and the cooperation from the president of the United States has been outstanding. He deserves great credit."

Christie has come under fire for his praise of the president, with conspiracy theorists like Rush Limbaugh saying Obama was only going to grant financial assistance to the state if Christie spoke well of him — going so far as to call the bipartisan effort to help Sandy victims a bromance between the two politicians and accusing the governor of being a "Greek column" for the president's campaign. Christie responded this way to his critics last night at a press conference:

The President of the United States and I have now had six conversations since Sunday. That shows to me a level of caring and concern and interest that I think a leader should be giving to this type of situation ... This was as comfortable and relaxing [of an] interaction that I've had with the president since I've known him. And I think it's because we're both doing what we wanted to do which was to get things done ... There will be some folks who will criticize me for complementing him. Well you know what? I speak the truth. That's what I always do. Sometimes you guys like it, sometimes you don't. Sometimes politicians like it, sometimes they don't. But I say what I feel and what I believe. And I'm just doing the same thing with the President of the United States.   

Meanwhile, during a Tuesday campaign "victory rally" turned "storm relief" event Romney repeatedly ignored questions from reporters about his plans to cut the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) budget by up to 40 percent, if elected. The next day, Romney flip-flopped on his past comments on the future of FEMA, should he be elected president, by way of this statement: "I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters. As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission, while directing maximum resources to the first responders who work tirelessly to help those in need, because states and localities are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by natural disasters."

But as CBS News points out, Romney's statement does not address his desire to severely cut the agency's budget nor does it explain how he would pay for federal aid provided to relief victims. Many conservative Republicans, including the party's vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, would fund disaster relief by making cuts to other appropriations in the budget. Ryan has also unsuccessfully tried to get rid of a bump in the budget for what can be spent on assisting the victims of natural disasters as well as a funding mechanism that puts money aside for such tragedies before they happen.

Sandy, Climate Change and Romney's Penchant for Etch-A-Sketching

Obama also picked up the endorsement of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg today, who citing the president's views on same-sex marriage, immigration, health care and climate change as reasons for the nod. Bloomberg also lamented Romney's decision to abandon his former views on health care, environmental issues, immigration and other key issues during his current presidential campaign, "In the past he [Romney] has also taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care. But he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the health-care model he signed into law in Massachusetts. If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were running for president, I may well have voted for him because, like so many other independents, I have found the past four years to be, in a word, disappointing."

The president responded to Bloomberg's endorsement with a statement, saying there are certain issues that members of all parties should logically agree upon:

I'm honored to have Mayor Bloomberg's endorsement. I deeply respect him for his leadership in business, philanthropy and government, and appreciate the extraordinary job he's doing right now, leading New York City through these difficult days. While we may not agree on every issue, Mayor Bloomberg and I agree on the most important issues of our time - that the key to a strong economy is investing in the skills and education of our people, that immigration reform is essential to an open and dynamic democracy, and that climate change is a threat to our children's future, and we owe it to them to do something about it. Just as importantly, we agree that whether we are Democrats, Republicans, or independents, there is only one way to solve these challenges and move forward as a nation - together. I look forward to thanking him in person - but for now, he has my continued commitment that this country will stand by New York in its time of need. And New Yorkers have my word that we will recover, we will rebuild, and we will come back stronger.

Lies, Damn Lies and the Auto Industry

The week before the election has been hard on Romney, with him also catching flack for a campaign ad about the auto industry that prompted the leaders of both Chrysler and GM to make public statements about the falsehoods portrayed in the commercials. The ad claimed that thousands of GM jobs were being shipped overseas to China and that Chrysler plans to start building Jeeps there, which will also result in the loss of U.S. jobs. (Meanwhile, Romney continues to ignore the repeated requestsfrom Freeport, IL workers who are calling on him to address the shipping of their jobs at a Bain-owned Sensata Technologies plant to China; which has, in some ways, brought outsourcing to the forefront of the presidential campaign. Check back with PI for the latest on that story.) Officials at both auto companies have balked at those claims, with Obama campaign manager Messina reiterating their comments yesterday:

The CEO of Chrysler said Romney’s suggestion that Jeep is moving to China is unambiguously inaccurate, and that Jeep is actually adding jobs to Ohio. The spokesman for GM said Romney’s ad comes from “some parallel universe,” and that the defense of it is “absolutely bereft of any fundamental understanding of the global automotive industry.” In the last couple of days this is what’s been on the front page in the news all over Ohio and Michigan. Today the front page of the Youngtown Vindicator reads “Romney ads draw fire from automakers.” The Detroit Free Press reads “GM and Chrysler: Romney is wrong”. Yesterday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote an editorial called, “Flailing in Ohio, Romney rolls out Jeep ploy.” Romney’s not going to fool the people of Ohio. They know that Romney turned his back on American auto workers, and the President has always had their backs. It’s that simple.

"In keeping with the Halloween season, Romney has decided in the final week to masquerade as champion of the American Auto industry," added David Axelrod, senior strategist for Obama for America. "The industry that he was willing to let go bankrupt, and he’s running ads that are fundamentally misleading – and he’s been called on it all over the state of Ohio – that suggest that somehow jobs are going to be shipped to China in manufacturing the Jeep, when, in fact, there’s a third shift being added to build the cars right here in America, in Ohio."

One could say its been a tough week for Romney. Come Tuesday night, we'll see how the happenings in the last week before the election translate into votes.

Image: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

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