Posts by Amy Walter
For all those who've been part of campaign frenzy of 2012, now is the time to relax and reflect. But before we tuck into the turkey, sidle up to the stuffing, or dig into the dessert, political types need to give thanks for the bounty that this election year has provided to them.
Open mics and hidden cameras gave hungry political reporters lots to feast upon. From Obama's moment of candor with Medvedev to Romney's dinner discussion with donors, reporters reaped the benefits of politicians caught straying from carefully crafted talking points.
Late Night Comedians
And, for those who have some room for just one more piece of pie after stuffing themselves silly at dinner -- hint, think Jersey boys -- check out this week's episode of Top Line.
You know it's been a bruising political season when a candidate would rather have an endorsement of a fake president than a real one.
The cast of "The West Wing" reunited in a video to endorse Michigan Supreme Court candidate Bridget Mary McCormack. Of course, it's only by complete coincidence that McCormick is the sister of actress Mary McCormack, who played the role of national security adviser Kate Harper on "The West Wing."
The endorsement video reminds Michigan voters to fill out the nonpartisan portion of their ballots that includes Supreme Court candidates.
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan isn't afraid to field tough questions on Medicare and Social Security, but he found himself stuck between a rock and a swing state on the subject of football this week. Ryan's a well-known University of Wisconsin fan, but when asked who he thinks will win in an upcoming football match-up between the Badgers and the Ohio State Buckeyes, Ryan shied away from endorsing his favorite team.
Politicians went pop culture this week, but many learned that sometimes it's best to leave Hollywood to the professionals.
President Obama headed west for a star-studded gala where big names like Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder, and Katy Perry -- who hands down bore the most colorful endorsement for the president -- served as his warm-up act.
"They just perform flawlessly, night after night. I can't always say the same," said Obama, finally acknowledging what just about everyone else in America believes about his debate performance. But, doing it at a swanky Hollywood fundraiser? We call foul.
Romney got his own star turn this week, when Buzz Bissinger, the author of "Friday Night Lights," took to the web to endorse him. But the GOP candidate went a step further, co-opting the pre-game chant from the hit Friday Night Lights TV show.
Along with eating a corn dog on camera, dancing is a huge political no-no.
It's not only campaign season; fall is also hunting season. Let the bullets and arrows fly!
Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester is in a tough battle for his seat against Republican Montana Representative Denny Rehlberg. In this red state, Tester can't count on Obama's coattails to pull him to victory. And, with approval ratings of Congress in the basement, Tester wants to talk less about his time in Washington and more about his time in the duck blind.
Tester has , er, mounted an effort to remind voters that he increased hunters' access on federal lands and fought Obama on hunting regulations by releasing an ad filled with endorsements from talking animal heads mounted to a hunter's cabin wall.
"Jon stood up for hunters in Montana," a stuffed duck says in the ad. A grey wolf rug growls at the duck, which goes on to says, "Jon even took on the Obama administration over gray wolves."
The animal most in danger this week, isn't even a real animal.
Obama fired back on the campaign trail Thursday.
This week, the biggest foul was committed in the sports arena, not the political one. But that didn't stop candidates from trying to score a dubious touchdown or two.
The Romney campaign attacked President Obama for cutting billions of dollars from Medicare to pay for "Obamacare."
"You pay into Medicare for years, every paycheck. Now, when you need it, Obama cut $716 billion from Medicare," says a new ad from the Romney campaign.
Except the new healthcare law does not cut funds from Medicare. That $716 billion refers to the amount saved by reforming the future rate of growth -- affecting hospitals and health insurance companies, not seniors' benefits.
Aside from the fact that Romney himself has admitted to speaking "inelegantly" about the 47 percent of voters who he says won't support him, did he actually attack veterans and old people? No.
In politics, just like sport, it all boils down to who does it better. And often, there is a clear winner.
When President Obama stopped by a pizza joint in the battleground state of Florida Sunday, restaurant owner Scott Van Duzer swept Obama off his feet. Literally. The hulking pizza man lifted the president off the ground in a bear hug.
A couple days later, former Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a man best known for awkward hugs, stopped by the same restaurant to get his own embrace from the pizza guy.
Crist wants back into Florida politics, it's the worst kept secret in that state. But copying a big Obama moment isn't helping the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Obama supporter prove that he's more than just a political opportunist.
Out on the presidential trail, Mitt Romney was roundly criticized for seemingly embracing birther theories last month in Michigan.
Oh that Joe. Vice President Joe Biden has been known for his fair share of gaffes. But even when he steps in it, he is still an asset to Obama -- a real team player that understands his role in this game.
But will Biden throw a touchdown? Or fuuuuuummmmmble ?
How about a little of both? This week Biden told a crowd in Detroit, Mich., "Folks, I can tell you I've known eight presidents. Three of them intimately." Way too much information Mr. Vice President.
But in the end, Biden knows what his job is: Block and tackle and protect the star quarterback.
"You guys in the O-line, you get the living hell kicked out of you," he told a group of high school football players in Minneapolis, Minn. "Your name never gets put up in the lights, no one ever pays attention to that play and the only time you really get mentioned in the game is if you make a mistake and miss a block right?"
Sounds like Biden knows the play book.
When Romney picked Paul Ryan last weekend, the message was that the campaign was now going to rise above the petty and personal that had dominated the summer, and instead be about ideological choices, the size of government, the direction of the country, big priorities ... Right?
Not so much.
On the trail in Iowa, President Obama elevated the debate. If by elevating you mean mocking Romney's, er, lofty decision to strap the family dog on the roof of the car over 20 years ago.
"Governor Romney even explained his energy policy," said Obama. "He said you can't drive a car with a windmill on it. That's what he said about wind power, you can't drive a car with a windmill on it. I mean, maybe he's tried it. He's put other things on the roof."
At a rally in Virginia, Joe Biden, ahem, rose to the occasion as well, by describing Romney's decision to repeal Obama administration financial reforms.
"He said in the first hundred days, he is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street. They are going to put y'all back in chains," the vice president told the crowd.
It was the most politically foul week yet. Harry Reid hits below the belt. The Obama and Romney campaigns call each other names. Sen. Bill Nelson calls his opponent a tax cheatin,' road ragin', Hooters promotin' slacker.
And, winning the award for the most flagrant foul, a TV ad by a Democratic group which insinuated that Romney was responsible for the death of a man's wife.
It all started with a below-the-belt punch by former amateur boxer -- and current Senate Majority Leader -- Harry Reid, hitting presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in his political crown jewels.
"The word's out that he hasn't paid any taxes for ten years," Reid said. "Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn't."
So, how does the chairman of the Republican party respond to this low blow? Does he turn the other cheek? Rise above the fray? Not so much.
But surely the presidential candidates themselves are above engaging in these kind of schoolyard taunts.
In the spirit of the Olympics, we decided to ditch the baseball metaphors and go to some old-school Olympics scoring. The President starts out lukewarm -- for being so quick to to dis the Real Housewives, the judges give him a 5.5. In this economy, reality shows are about the only industry with growth potential.
First Lady Michelle Obama, on the other hand, made an impromptu visit to campaign headquarters in North Carolina this week, and even brought a fruit basket. A 9 from the judges. A thoughtful - and very on message gift -- from the First Lady of eating right.
But at least the president got his chance to be a judge, be it an awestruck one, when he called the U.S. gymnastics team to congratulate them on their gold medal, asking, "How do you not bust your head every time you're on those -- that little balance beam?"
OK, so he's no Béla Károlyi.