Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Obama Campaign: We Will Win If We Do What We Need to Do

If you're feeling at all doubtful about the presidential race, here's just the medicine you need! In the video below Obama/Biden Campaign Manager Jim Messina explains why they feel confident about the swing states: large early voting advantages, getting "sporadic" voters (ones who didn't vote in the midterms) to the polls, and Democratic registration advantages. Messina says the President will win if we do what we need to do.

Need more? This morning on Morning Joe David Axelrod made a bet with conservative host Joe Scarborough: If Obama loses Minnesota, Michigan or Pennsylvania (states the Romney campaign claims are in play), “I will come on ‘Morning Joe’ and I will shave off my mustache of 40 years." Conversely, if the President wins either North Carolina or Florida, Scarborough will have to grow a mustache. Axelrod is as serious about his mustache as John Gregg, so he must be pretty confident!

As Jim Messina says, we just need to do what needs doing: work for candidates we care about, vote, and help others vote. Even if Indiana doesn't go for the President this time out, we can help turn a Republican Senate seat blue, give the President an ally in the Indiana statehouse, and help keep Indiana government balanced.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Donnelly Ad Is Mourdock's "Greatest Hits"

Joe Donnelly's opponent for the Senate has a knack for making statements that are pretty extreme, like any good Tea Party candidate. Donnelly's campaign has collected these into a kind of "greatest hits" ad.

John Gregg in Lafayette

John Gregg and Vi Simpson stopped in Lafayette on Sunday and met with supporters (including Heather Maddox) at 9 Irish Brothers. John indicated that internal polling said he had closed the gap between himself and Mike Pence to six points (in August he had been behind 18 points), so it's clear the momentum is with Gregg/Simpson. “Our goal is to be within the margin of error by the weekend and by Tuesday to overtake him, and we can do it,” Gregg said. Read the J&C coverage here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Something God Intended to Happen

"Even when life beings in that horrible situation of rape, that is something God intended to happen."

Richard Mourdock's appalling statement has set off a firestorm of controversy, including a call for him to apologize from Mike Pence. Here's a summary of responses from the Wall Street Journal.

Perhaps the most disingenuous is a statement issued by National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn of Texas:
“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.”
It is a gross distortion to tie Joe Donnelly to Mourdock's position by asserting that Mourdock's statement was nothing more than a bland observation on the holiness of life. Whether the "that" in Mourdock's statement refers to the pregnancy or the rape that produced it, Mourdock attributes the causal chain to the intention of God; God couldn't have intended the result without intending the cause.

In attempting to control the damage, Mourdock actually doubled down on his position: "I spoke from my heart. And speaking from my heart, speaking from the deepest level of my faith, I would not apologize. I would be less than faithful if I said anything other than life is precious, I believe it's a gift from God." Obviously, he was saying more than life is precious.

If you think there is a context problem here, watch the video of of Mourdock's entire response to the question.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nelson and Rokita Debate

The one and only 4th District Congressional debate was held last night on the Purdue campus, featuring Democrat Tara Nelson and incumbent Republican Todd Rokita. In the debate Nelson spoke of keeping US jobs at home: "As a manager, when I was asked to offshore my team, I created a business case to keep their jobs here. I think we need more people fighting for our jobs here and that's what I intend to do." on the subject of college debt, Nelson spoke against interest on loans: "We also need to eliminate tax interest rates from our student loans. We're making money off of our future, and I think we need to look at education as an investment in our entire country."

WLFI coverage is here and Exponent coverage is here.

You can hear excerpts or the entire debate on WBAA's site here.

Campaigning in 4th District, Nelson Learns from Sheila

In an article contrasting the styles of campaigning in Indiana's 4th Congressional District, the J&C quotes Democrat Tara Nelson citing Sheila Klinker as her model for campaigning at community meetings: "In a 16-county district, you can't go door-to-door and meet every person, so I'm going out to large community events." Nelson thinks her campaign message is being well received after they've heard incumbent Todd Rokita: "I hear concerns about unemployment, Social Security and Medicare benefits, especially after people hear Todd Rokita talk about cutting spending and entitlement programs. When people hear my message of reducing military spending instead of taking away the social safety net, they like my message better."

You can read the J&C article here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mark Straw Debates Alone for District 13

Democrat Mark Straw was scheduled to do a series of forums with his Republican opponent Sharon Negele, but she declined, calling the forums "an eleventh-hour political maneuver," according to the Journal and Courier. The newly created District 13 includes parts of Tippecanoe County and has no incumbent. Straw has been keeping his forum schedule in Waynetown, Remington, Williamsport, Lafayette, and Wednesday at the Benton County Library in Fowler at 7 p.m. You can read more about Straw's efforts here and at his website

Gregg Is Spirited in Second Debate

If you missed the second debate among the candidates for Indiana governor (it seems not to have been broadcast on television), you can see it here. John Gregg was generally credited with being more aggressive against Mike Pence, going after his attendance record at House votes and his lack of legislative output. Gregg's best line of the night focused on Pence's work habits: "This race is about being a workhorse, not a show horse. And the way you show up, you wouldn't even be a show horse, you'd be a one-trick pony."

You can read the South Bend Tribune's coverage of the debate here.

Superintendent Candidate Ritz to Debate Bennett Wednesday

Wednesday night will feature a debate between the candidates for Indiana's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Republican incumbent Tony Bennett and Democrat Glenda Ritz. The debate will occur at Wabash College in Crawfordsville starting at 5:30 p.m. All available tickets have been taken. A 33-year teacher, Ritz opposes the state's focus on standardized testing, the A-F school grading system, and the privatization of public schools. She is a plaintiff in the suit against Indiana's private school voucher program. You an hear the debate live at
Read more about the debate and the race here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lugar's Office Protests Flier Claiming Mourdock Endorsement

Former Senator Richard Lugar's office has protested a flier implying that Lugar has endorsed Richard Mourdock, insisting that the man whom Mourdock ousted in the Republican primary has not endorsed him. Hoosier political analyst Andy Downs notes that Lugar has not protested Joe Donnelly's claims to ties to Lugar:
“Donnelly has been talking about how much he has worked with Lugar. If Lugar were aggressively supporting Mourdock, he would have come out publicly, I think, and told Donnelly to step back from that, or put some sort of qualifiers on that cooperation,” Downs said. “By not doing that, he’s allowing Donnelly to legitimately try to influence Lugar supporters.”
Read the Indy Star article and see the flier here.

Springsteen Runs Out of Rhymes for "Obama"

As Bill Clinton and Bruce Springsteen campaigned for President Obama in Ohio today, Bruce took a minute to demo his attempt at a campaign song for the Obama campaign. Like the President in Denver last week, even the Boss can have an off night. The campaign will probably stick with "We Take Care of Our Own."

Bruce did some some serious writing on the President's behalf in an open letter posted to his website. Here's some of what he said:

Right now, there is a choice going on in America, and I’m happy that we live in a country where we all participate in that process. For me, President Obama is our best choice because he has a vision of the United States as a place where we are all in this together. We’re still living through very hard times but justice, equality and real freedom are not always a tide rushing in. They are more often a slow march, inch by inch, day after long day. I believe President Obama feels these days in his bones and has the strength to live them with us and to lead us to a country “…where no one crowds you and no one goes it alone.”
You cna read the whole letter here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

From a "One-point Plan" to a "Sketchy Deal": Obama's Greatest Hits from Debate Two

Here is Politico's list of the five best Obama lines in the second debate:

1. “Gov. Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”

2. “When he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considers themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about: folks on social security who have worked all their lives; veterans, who sacrificed for this country; students, who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams but also this country’s dreams; soldiers, who are overseas fighting for us right now; people who are working hard every day.”

3. “We haven’t heard from the governor any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood in terms of how he pays for that.”

4. “I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours, so it doesn’t take as long.”

5. “Gov. Romney was a very successful investor. If somebody came to you, governor, with a plan that said, ‘Here, I want to spend $7 [trillion] or $8 trillion and we’re going to pay for it, but we can’t tell you until maybe after the election how we’re going to do it.’ You wouldn’t have taken such a sketchy deal and neither would you, the American people.”

We'll stop gloating pretty soon now.

Debate Two: All the Signs Say Obama Won!

The CNN poll had President Obama winning the second debate by 46 to 39. Perhaps a better measure is what the odds makers saw. Here's what the Washington Post reported on that subject:
The votes on well-known political betting site reflected a jump in the president’s chances from 61.7 percent just before the debate to 64.1 percent shortly afterward. Similar jumps could be seen in other markets, too. At the betting site, the president’s chances jumped 2.7 percentage points during that period, and on the Iowa Electronic Markets, run out of the University of Iowa, his chances were up about 2.4 percentage points in that time frame.
Another measure of Obama's victory is Republicans' finding others to blame. Rush Limbaugh, as reported in Politico, landed on moderator Candy Crowley: “She kept feeding Obama lines. She did, folks, she kept feeding him lines. She kept prompting him. You Democrats, he couldn’t have done this last night without her assistance.” Or how about this? “She committed an act of journalistic terror or malpractice last night. If there were any journalist standards, what she did last night would have been the equivalent of blowing up her career like a suicide bomber. But there aren’t any journalist standards anymore." Try speaking the words "Rush Limbaugh" and "journalistic standards" in the same sentence without laughing. Another tell of losing: Republicans whining about Michelle Obama's clapping, though, as was pointed out, not for her husband but for Candy Crowley, as reported by Politico.

You can relive the whole evening below.

Gregg on the War on Public Education

StateImpact, the NPR program that looks at education-related issues in states, has published a side-by-side comparisons of John Gregg's and Mike Pence's positions on education. Here's a strong statement from Gregg about the value of public education:
“This current administration has declared war on public education. The day I’m elected is when the war on public education and public educators, our schoolteachers, quits. That fear of this high stakes testing is legitimate because there’s a mindset that wants to do nothing, I’m convinced, but constantly beat down our public schools. And I don’t think that solves the problem. I’m not a fan of vouchers.”
You can enjoy the entire interview with John Gregg here. You can read about Gregg's and Pence's views here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Senate Debate Draws National Coverage

Joe Donnelly more than held his own in last night's debate among Senate candidates, and the debate was picked up in national media outlets. The Huffington Post headline picked up on Donnelly's quip that that Hoosiers won't believe Mourdock as a moderate because they're "not that dumb." Here's the succinct summary from The Hill:
The first Indiana Senate debate featured both Republican Richard Mourdock and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) trying to define each other along partisan lines, with Mourdock accusing Donnelly of voting in lockstep for Obama's agenda and Donnelly accusing Mourdock of being "an unapologetic leader of the Tea Party movement." Donnelly attempted to frame himself as bipartisan by touting his work with Sen. Dick Lugar (R) on the auto bailout, a reference to the moderate incumbent defeated by Mourdock's primary challenge. But Mourdock worked to hang the stimulus and Obama's healthcare reform around Donnelly's neck throughout the debate.
Here's a Washington Post summary by Melinda Henneberger, who argues that Joe Donnelly benefits from the presence of Libertatian Andrew Horning because he draws off Republican voters. You can see the entire debate below.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hockema's Ad at Jeff: Rookie Mistake or Political Calculation?

In today's J&C Dave Bangert offers an extended examination of Chuck Hockema's unauthorized use of Jefferson High school facilities in an ad for his campaign against Sheila Klinker. Bangert cites several other uses of public school or Purdue events in previous local political ads, but, as a commenter on the J&C website notes, those occurred at public events and Jeff facilities are normally secured when not in use, and presumably only accessible to authorized persons.

Bangert is inclined to view this as a "rookie mistake" on Hockema's part, though he sees it as a "pretty big" one. Sheila Klinker disagrees: “You just can’t make politics part of a public school system. It’s not right.” Heather Maddox too: “I just think it sets a bad precedent all around. And to the general public, it does imply an endorsement, in my opinion."

The head of Purdue's Political Science Department thinks Hockema's use of school property is strategic: “The symbols are very, very important. ... Here, it’s trying to link him to education. That’s been Sheila Klinker’s issue — what she’s been known for. If he has any wits about him, he’s thinking very consciously about that. There’s a strategy there."

Rookie mistake or political calculation? As Prof. Clawson says, "I tell my class that there’s nothing in a campaign advertisement that’s a mistake."

You can read Bangert's piece here.

A Week of Debates

Hope you have your evenings cleared for some big debates this week!

Monday , Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. is the senate debate featuring Joe Donnelly; you can see it on WFYI and other local media.

Tuesday, Oct. 16., at 9 p.m. is the second presidential debate, this time in a town hall format; it will be on all the media.

Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. the second gubernatorial debate will occur in South Bend; most local media outlets will cover it.

Then we'll enjoy days of ongoing debates about the debates!

For those of you who miss the broadcasts, we'll try to provide video links to these events as they become available.

Gregg Strong in Governor Debate

John Gregg performed well in Wednesday's debate among gubernatorial candidates. He focused largely on his bi-partisan credentials and his opponent's lack of them, as in the following spoken directly to Congressman Pence: “You talk about bipartisanship,” but you’ve always been the lead attack dog on people in my party. You know the candidate and the congressman, they’re two different people. You have to look beyond the rhetoric.”

Here is good summary of the debate's highlights from the Indy Star. If you missed it, you can see the entire debate below.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Clinton Fires Up Indiana Democrats

Here is WISH TVs coverage of Bill Clinton's visit to Indianapolis yesterday to kick off the "get-out-the-vote" effort. Looks like classic Clinton.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Clinton to Kick Off Indiana Get-Out-the-Vote Drive!

Bill Clinton will be in Indianapolis on Friday for the "Hoosier Common Sense" rally to kick off Democrats' get-out-the-vote campaign! It will occur at 10:30 a.m. at North Central High School in Indianapolis. You can register for one free ticket at the Indiana Democrats' site here. Read the Indy Star article here.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bayh Contributes to Party for Final Campaign Surge

Indiana Democratic Chair Dan Parker writes:

I wanted you to know the identity of the generous Hoosier donor who agreed to match federal donations to the Indiana Democratic Party last week. Thanks to a pledge from former Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh, we were able to match almost $9,000 in contributions through midnight last Friday.

Gov. Bayh has pledged significant additional support for our federal election efforts this year. He knows how difficult these last few weeks will be, and he knows how important it is to invest in our campaigns now. Gov. Bayh’s generous support of the Indiana Democratic Party, past and present, has kept us financially competitive over so many years.

U.S. Senate candidate Joe Donnelly expressed his gratitude to Gov. Bayh for his longstanding commitment to the Indiana Democratic Party and his support for its federal campaigns this year.

"Gov. Bayh's generous investment in the Indiana Democratic Party means we're better equipped to send strong, principled leaders to Washington to make sure middle-class Hoosiers have a voice as we work together to find solutions to our most difficult problems."

Please join me in thanking Gov. Bayh for his generosity and continued leadership in the final weeks of this election!

4th District Candidate Forum Set for Oct. 22

A candidate forum for Indiana's 4th District U.S. congressional seat is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at Purdue University's Mallett Theatre in Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts.

WBAA Public Radio at Purdue, the League of Women Voters of Greater Lafayette and the Greater Lafayette Commerce will host the event that is open to the public and will feature the candidates, Republican Todd Rokita, Democrat Tara Nelson and Libertarian Benjamin Gehlhausen. Each of the three will make a brief opening statement and answer questions from the audience. Questions for the candidates may be submitted in advance via email The forum will last one hour and will be broadcast live on WBAA-AM 920 and streamed live online at the station's website,

Pao Hall is located at 552 W. Wood Street, West Lafayette. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis. Free parking is available in the Marstellar Street Garage, adjacent to Pao Hall.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Profiling Purdue's Role in District 26 Race

The J&C has printed a perspective on the District 26 race between Democrat Rick Cornstuble and incumbent Randy Truitt. Both feel that the cost of Purdue should be managed through reductions in administrative costs. According to the J&C,
"Truitt favors a policy that would limit tuition increases to no more than the rate of inflation . . . but he’d rather the trustees, those closest to the financial books and charged with running the universities, operate higher education without such heavy-handed measures from the Statehouse.

Cornstuble’s philosophy is to set expectations, guidelines and goals for universities and hold them accountable to hit those goals, not run state colleges from the Statehouse. If those expectations are met, Cornstuble believes costs could be contained."
You can read the whole analysis here.

Howey Says Pence Plays "Cat and Mouse" with Cultural Issues

Indiana political analyst Brian Howey has written that Mike Pence is being too clever about cultural/moral issues in this campaign. Pence's campaign is focused strictly on jobs and related economic issues. Howey observed that in his campaign kickoff speech Pence was explicit about his support of several specific moral/cultural issues:
“To restore our economy we must reaffirm our respect for the institutions and traditions that nurture the character of our people. As your governor, I will stand for the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and the importance of organized religion in everyday life. To build an even better Indiana, we must recognize every day that our present crisis is not just economic, but moral.”
The link to economic issues seems pretty strained there, and almost all of his subsequent rhetoric has focused on economic issues. Howey notes that at least three cultural issues are emerging on the legislative agenda--chemical abortions, so-called "personhood" (that was so restrictive that it was rejected by voters in Mississippi), and creationism. And don't count on the gay marriage amendment being out of bounds either. Howey insists that Pence should speak out on these issues:
"At some point – perhaps during the three debates next month – I hope Hoosiers will hear in Pence’s own voice what moral policy issues will emerge that in the past he said should not be met with silence. It’s fair and appropriate voters understand what’s coming prior to Nov. 6."
Read Howey's column here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fast Talk in Sandborn

Here's the latest installment of John Gregg's Sandborn ads.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Whose Scarier? Closet Liberal Donnelly or Tea Party Extremist Mourdock?

Lesley Weidenbener, political analyst for the Louisville Courier Journal, writes that Republicans' chief strategy against the surging Joe Donnelly is to suggest that he is only pretending to be a bipartisan moderate and is, in reality, a closet liberal who will return to his roots once in office. In other words, their counter to the robust argument that Mourdock is a Tea Party extremist is a pretty weak, "So's he!"

Weidenbener cites polling that indicates that voters aren't buying: "In an analysis in Howey Politics Indiana, pollster Fred Yang said the poll also found that 'voters are more concerned that Mourdock is a Republican who rejects compromise (41 percent) than that Donnelly is a Democrat who votes the party line on key issues (35 percent).'"

You can read Weidenbener's column here.