August 7th, 2012
07:43 PM ET
(CNN) - President Barack Obama is readying for a three-day blitz next week through Iowa, the swing state that ignited his 2008 primary charge against Hillary Clinton and later handed him a 10-point victory over Sen. John McCain.
The seven-city tour, lasting next Monday through Wednesday, will include stops in seven separate cities: Council Bluffs, Boone, Oskaloosa, Marshalltown, Waterloo, Dubuque, and Davenport.
The campaign also said that first lady Michelle Obama will appear with her husband on the third day of the trip to be on hand at the stops in Dubuque and Davenport.
Obama's campaign swing coincides with the similarly feverish travel schedule of rival Mitt Romney, whose multi-state bus tour commencing this weekend will take the former Massachusetts governor to Florida and Ohio while Obama is in Iowa.
With seven electoral votes, and an electorate that comes to know presidential candidates better than that of nearly every state, Iowa is being eyed heavily by both campaigns. An NBC News/Marist poll conducted last May found the race dead even between Obama and rival Mitt Romney, each at 44 percent.
Obama has visited Iowa seven times since announcing his re-election bid last year – most recently to hold a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids.
August 7th, 2012
06:27 PM ET
A new attack ad by a Super PAC backing President Obama appears to blame Mitt Romney for a woman's death from cancer after his company, Bain Capital, shut down the steel mill where the woman's husband worked.
The ad makes it seem like Joe Soptic's wife, Ilyona "Ranae" Soptic, lost her battle with cancer shortly after he lost his job at GST Steel in Missouri, where he had worked for almost 30 years.
"When Mitt Romney closed the plant I lost my healthcare, and my family lost their healthcare," Soptic says in the ad put out by Priorities USA Action, the main pro-Obama super PAC. The ad is expected to air in the coming days in five battleground states.
"A short time after that, my wife became ill. I don’t know how long she was sick and I think maybe she didn’t say anything because she knew we couldn’t afford the insurance."
It's a very heart-wrenching story, but it’s not accurate. Here is the actual timeline:
Romney stopped his day-to-day oversight at Bain Capital in 1999 when he left to run the Salt Lake City Olympics, though he officially remained CEO until 2002. Bain Capital shut down GST Steel in 2001, costing Soptic his job.
According to Mr. Soptic, his wife received her primary insurance through her employer – a local thrift store called Savers – and retained it even after his layoff. Soptic's policy through GST Steel was her secondary coverage.
In 2002, Mitt Romney formally left Bain. Sometime in 2002 or 2003, Mr. Soptic says his wife injured her rotator cuff and was forced to leave her job. As a result she lost her health insurance coverage and Mr. Soptic's new job as a janitor did not provide coverage for his spouse.
It was a few years later, in 2006, that Ilyona Soptic went to the hospital with symptoms of pneumonia. She was diagnosed with stage four cancer and passed away just days later.
Joe Soptic, an Obama supporter who appeared in another political ad released by the Obama campaign back in May, told CNN he blames Romney for the loss of his job and his insurance.
"That is the way I feel," Soptic told me over the phone. "Mitt Romney is a very rich man. I mean, it is obvious if you watch him on television he is completely out of touch with the average family, you know middle income people. I don’t think he has any concept as to how when you close a big company how [it] affects families, the community – you know, it affects everyone."
Priorities USA said Tuesday the ad, titled "Understands," was part of their current $20 million television and online buy, and that the 60-second spot would run in the battleground states of Iowa, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio.
The Romney campaign disputes the ad’s accuracy.
"President Obama's allies continue to use discredited and dishonest attacks in a contemptible effort to conceal the administration's deplorable economic record," Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement. "After 42 months of unemployment above 8 percent, it is clear that the President and his campaign do not have a rationale for reelection."
The Obama campaign and the White House are keeping their distance from the debate. During the White House briefing Tuesday, Press Secretary Jay Carney said he hadn't yet seen the ad.
"I'm simply saying that I have not seen this. So how could I possibly assess it?" Carney said.
"But you can. Will you assess it later?" I asked him.
"If you ask me tomorrow, sure," Carney answered.
When I followed up with him after the briefing he told me though he may look at the ad his assessment “will be I have no assessment."
It's become a common occurrence this election cycle: a Super PAC does the dirty work so the campaign, the candidate and, in this case, the White House don't have to.
UPDATE: Priorities USA tells CNN that ad has yet to air, but will soon be added to its swing state media rotation.
August 7th, 2012
05:36 PM ET
(CNN) – As far as bill signings at the White House go, President Obama on Tuesday signed the Sequestration Transparency Act to little fanfare.
But the legislation, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent and the House by a 414-2 margin last month, could prove to be a major headache for the president come late November, whether or not he is reelected.
That’s because the relatively obscure bill, initially backed by Republicans, forces the Obama administration to specifically spell out the full effect of the required $1.2 trillion cuts to domestic and defense programs if Congress doesn’t agree to a deficit-reduction plan of their own by January 2, 2013.
Should Congress fail to reach an agreement ahead of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the Budget Control Act of 2011 mandates across-the-board cuts, or “sequestration.” While the specter of sequestration has been looming for months, the extent to which certain programs will be affected remains fairly vague.
August 7th, 2012
03:57 PM ET
After losing the monthly fundraising battle in July for the third straight month, the Obama campaign is rolling out a new money-raising gimmick to encourage its supporters to pony up donations.
In an email sent out on Tuesday, Obama for America announced that future donors to the president’s reelection campaign will be automatically entered into a lottery for the chance to play basketball with current and former NBA and WNBA stars at the rescheduled Obama Classic. The winner will also get a dinner with President Obama and NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Originally organized during the 2011 NBA lockout, the Obama Classic was an exhibition game scheduled for last December at a time when basketball fans had nowhere else to turn to watch their favorite players. When the lockout was resolved at the end of November, NBC stars and Obama Classic organizers Vince Carter, Baron Davis and Chris Paul sent out an email announcing that the game was being postponed until summer 2012. FULL POST
August 7th, 2012
07:47 AM ET
While President Obama remains in Washington tomorrow, his day isn’t entirely absent presidential politics; he’s scheduled to appear at back-to-back fundraisers at the W Hotel in the late afternoon. These follow the dual fundraisers he is held in Connecticut Monday night.
Per a campaign official, the first event is a “roundtable” discussion with 20 people. The second event is also a roundtable, this time with 24 supporters. Tickets to the first event cost $40,000. The campaign isn’t yet saying how much tickets are to the second event.
As for official business, the president is meeting with the White House Rural Council in the afternoon to discuss the drought. A meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is also on the schedule.