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Luke Johnson   |   November 7, 2012   11:58 AM ET

Former GOP vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had his own vision for the campaign.

The candidate wanted to visit inner cities and give speeches "that laid out the Republican vision for individual empowerment" The Washington Post reports, but Romney advisers rebuffed him. "The issues that we really test well on and win on are not the war on poverty," one Romney adviser told the Post.

Ryan got his wish and gave a speech in Cleveland on poverty on Oct. 24. But there was a central contradiction in it -- Ryan has authored budgets to slash the social safety net for poor people, which would necessarily exacerbate poverty.

Ryan told the audience that he would limit the federal government's role.

"The federal government would continue to provide the resources, but we would remove the endless federal mandates and restrictions that hamper state efforts to make these programs more effective," he said. "If the question is what's best for low-income Ohioans, shouldn’t we let Ohioans make that call?"

Ryan also tried to show his care for the poor in an impromptu campaign stop at a Northeast Ohio soup kitchen on Oct. 15. But the move backfired. The soup kitchen's director slammed the appearance as a "photo-op" and told the Post that, "He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall."

Ryan also appeared eager to talk about poverty when asked about guns in an Oct. 8 local television interview with a reporter from hardscrabble Flint, Mich.

"But the best thing to help prevent violent crime in the inner cities is to bring opportunity in the inner cities, is to help people get out of poverty in the inner cities, is to help teach people good discipline, good character," Ryan said. "That is civil society. That's what charities, and civic groups, and churches do to help one another make sure that they can realize the value in one another."

The reporter then replied, "And you can do all that by cutting taxes? By ... with a big tax cut?"

"Those are your words, not mine," Ryan said. Ryan's spokesman ended the interview from off-camera.

"That was kind of strange," Ryan added. "You're trying to stuff words in people's mouths?"

It was the last television interview he did.

Nick Wing   |   November 7, 2012    1:34 AM ET

Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist and former campaign adviser to Sen. John McCain, tore into GOP leadership in the wake of President Barack Obama's victory on Tuesday, urging them to speak out more aggressively against the most extreme voices in the party.

Appearing on MSNBC, Schmidt referenced a recent Twitter tirade by Donald Trump as evidence that something needs to be done about toning down the rhetoric from certain elements of the GOP.

"Now, people calling for revolution and these extreme statements -- when I talk about a civil war in the Republican Party, what I mean is, it's time for Republican elected leaders to stand up and to repudiate this nonsense, and to repudiate it directly," he said. "There has been a culture of fear and intimidation, that you are not a real conservative if you won't, you know, if you won't, you know, stand -- if you stand up to these extreme statements, whether it's Rush Limbaugh calling that young lady a slut or a hundred other examples over the last four years."

Controversial statements by Republican candidates became devastating campaign issues in a number of races this year. Senate elections in Missouri and Indiana in particular were rocked when the GOP nominees made eyebrow-raising remarks about rape. Missouri Rep. Todd Akin and Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock lost, but not before forcing party officials to make tough decisions about continuing support of their candidacies.

Schmidt has been happy to run against the Republican grain as Election Day approached. Earlier this week, he claimed that popular GOP arguments about alleged widespread voter fraud were simply part of the party's "mythology."

Elise Foley   |   November 6, 2012    1:11 PM ET

Jobs, the economy and immigration issues are the most important to Latino voters, according to a ImpreMedia and Latino Decisions survey info released on Tuesday.

The lead pollster in the survey said the numbers should be a more accurate read of Latino voters this year than national exit polling.

"We have had to rely on a National Exit Poll data, which is a single source monopoly, as the provider of data on voters on Election Day. The problem is that the National Exit Poll has historically had a terrible sample of Latinos," Matt Barreto, co-founder of Latino Decisions, said, according to Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion.

Latino voters are expected to turn out in record numbers this year, which will likely benefit Democrats. President Barack Obama holds support from Latinos by large margins -- some polls put him as many as 50 points ahead -- over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

ImpreMedia and Latino Decisions surveyed 5,600 Latinos who had either already voted or said they were certain they would. The polling was conducted from Nov. 1 to Nov. 5.

They found that 53 percent of Latino voters surveyed listed job creation and the economy as their top issue, while 35 percent said immigration reform was their major concern. Education and health care came in next as the top priorities. Most -- 61 percent -- said Obamacare should remain in place.

On the economy, ImpreMedia and Latino Decisions found that Latinos prefer Obama's plan for dealing with the economy to Romney's policy proposals. More than a third support higher taxes on the wealthy and 42 percent said they believe the deficit should be solved by cutting spending along with tax increases, according to the poll. Only 12 percent said they believe the deficit should be solved with only spending cuts, which is more in line with Romney and other Republicans' views.

What This Country Needs: A New Political Party

John F. Kimberling   |   November 6, 2012   12:33 AM ET

"What this country needs is a good five cent cigar," said former U.S. Vice President Thomas R. Marshall. No one has ever been quite sure whether he was being frivolous and humorous or whether he was making a serious and astute political observation. Perhaps he was right at that time. However, what this country needs today is a new political party, a third party that will bring new, creative ideas and take imaginative and sensible action to solve some serious problems facing us today.

Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party seems able or willing to deal with those problems now or to do so in the foreseeable future. They are bitterly divided and at odds. Both parties seem more interested in gaining a political advantage than working to solve our problems.

Congress is dysfunctional! The government is paralyzed.

Millions of people are out of work, and the national debt keeps increasing. The Republicans openly declare that nothing will be done in 2012 before the election. They seem more interested in defeating Obama's re-election bid than helping the country. The Democrats take no aggressive action to help things.

Since the midterm elections in 2010, in which the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, nothing has been accomplished by Congress. Extreme partisanship has prevented any significant progress toward solving our problems of stimulating the economy and creating jobs, tax reform, immigration reform, Social Security or Medicare reforms. Public opinion polls indicate less than 15 percent of the American people approve of the job Congress is doing. According to a poll several years ago, 40 percent of the American people think a third major political party is needed. The need has never been greater than now.

There is nothing sacred about our present two-party system. Our Constitution is silent on the subject. We have had a number of third parties in our country's history. Some major issue of the day had arisen, and the two existing parties took no action. Some of these issues were slavery, women's rights, direct election of senators, and civil service. The policies advocated by the new third party eventually were adopted by one or both of the two major parties, and the third party ceased to exist.

Today there is not just one major issue facing the country. There are a number of them, and neither of the two parties is addressing these very serious problems. Bitter partisan divisions have produced nothing but paralysis in our government.

We have had two major political parties since the beginnings of our country. For much of this time there were greater philosophical differences between members of each party than between the two parties themselves. In past years, there were conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. No longer. The leaders of the parties now seem so politically divided and philosophically opposed that they can never work together and compromise to solve problems as their predecessors did for several hundred years.

The growing national debt is an acknowledged problem, but the solution will not come from the existing Republican and Democratic parties. The Democrats seem determined to retain entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare in their present unsustainable forms. The Republicans have pledged never, ever to raise any taxes. The solution is obviously a combination of cutting spending and increasing taxes. The parties cannot agree upon these options.

What does this country need? We need to confront major political, economic, and social problems. How do we do so for the benefit of working people and small businesspeople rather than powerful special interests who give millions and millions of dollars in campaign contributions to control and in effect buy the government for their benefit?
This book sets forth a proposed platform for a new third political party to challenge both Republicans and Democrats and offer the American voters an option for new leadership. A majority of eligible voters no longer even bother to go to the polls. They either are disillusioned with both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party or they feel their votes do not count.

The platform of a new third party set forth in this book is not like those of the Republican and Democratic parties. Their platforms tell us only that they are against sin, crime, and drugs and that they are in favor of motherhood, freedom, apple pie, and the flag. This third-party platform confronts current major problems head-on and proposes pragmatic, imaginative, common sense approaches and solutions.

Politicians seem to pay inordinate attention to public opinion polls but ignore polls that show dissatisfaction with '"politics as usual" and continue in their same old ways to run the country for the benefit of certain special vested interests who for all practical purposes own the government. Two-thirds of the American public believes that big special interests run the government for their own benefit.

Recent polls indicate the government -- both Congress and the Executive branch -- do not understand what the people really think and want. There is a widespread view among government officials that the public is isolationist and dislikes the United Nations and opposes foreign aid. Poll results prove just the opposite. Another study reveals that government officials assume that the majority of the public is opposed to an activist government. The poll results are directly contrary. It is alarming that government policymakers have little confidence in the public. When asked if they thought the American public knew enough about issues to form wise opinions, only 31 percent of Congress members and 13 percent of presidential appointees thought the public had that much intelligence.

Most Americans probably fail to vote because they are unhappy with the choice of candidates for president and other major offices. A recent public opinion poll indicated more than half of Americans think the United States either is going in the wrong direction or has no direction at all.

Excerpted from the introduction of "What This Country Needs: A New Political Party (Revised Edition Election 2012)" (Polimedia Publishing, $4.95) a study of voter alienation and a manifesto for political change.

About the Author

John F. Kimberling is the author of What This Country Needs: A New Political Party (Revised Edition Election 2012, www.whatthiscountryneeds.net). Kimberling is widely known as a leading U.S. litigation specialist, a charter member of the ABA section on litigation, a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a veteran of two wars, and at various times served in leadership positions in both the Democratic and Republican parties. He was once hailed by The American Lawyer as the "one of the top trial lawyers in the country" and led a panel as moderator on a C-SPAN discussion titled "Is It Time for a New Political Party?"

WATCH: Dem Senator Rocks Out To Jay-Z

Mollie Reilly   |   November 5, 2012   10:29 PM ET

Hip-hop star Jay-Z performed at a rally in Columbus, Ohio in support of President Obama on Monday, revving up the thousands of supporters with some of his most notable hits.

Among those in the crowd was Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who was caught on camera dancing while Jay-Z performed "On To The Next One." Brown faces a tough reelection battle against Tea Party favorite Josh Mandel on Tuesday.

Watch the video above.

Luke Johnson   |   November 5, 2012   12:10 PM ET

Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is getting a last-minute boost from former President Bill Clinton, who recorded a robocall for her.

"Hi, this is President Bill Clinton. I’m calling to ask you to vote for Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday, November 6th," it says. "We can’t let Scott Brown and the Republicans take over the Senate and block President Obama’s agenda. Elizabeth Warren is a fighter for middle class families and for small businesses. She’ll help to get our economy on the right track and work for all our communities and all our people. So please vote for Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday, November 6th."

Warren is still locked in a close race against Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.). A UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll released Sunday showed Brown with a 49-48 edge, but Huffington Post's Pollster average shows her with a 50.3-45.8 lead.

Warren spoke before Clinton at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 5 in Charlotte, N.C.

Clinton recorded 40 robocalls for congressional candidates Saturday during a car ride between a rally in Chesapeake, Va., to the Norfolk airport, reported The New York Times.

Luke Johnson   |   November 5, 2012   11:33 AM ET

Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) sharply criticized the confusion and long lines at some Florida polling places Monday during an appearance on MSNBC.

After praising New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for allowing residents affected by Superstorm Sandy to vote via fax and email, and for "bringing in everything he can to ensure that people have access to the ballot," she turned to Florida.

"I don't know what went on in Florida, but I do have to say that in this day and age, it's inexcusable that in this country, we have anything like this going on." she said. "I've led delegations around the world to watch voting and this is the kind of thing you expect in a third-world country, not in the United States of America."

Some Florida voters have reported waiting as long as nine hours to vote, and one did not get to vote until 1 a.m. Sunday, six hours after the polls closed. A polling location in Miami-Dade County opened Sunday to allow voters to cast in-person absentee ballots, but shut its doors because of overcrowding, and because Miami Mayor Carols Gimenez (R) had not OK'd the move. It later reopened.

"I don't believe it's a big Republican plot because if it is, it backfired mightily and others might want to take a good look at it," Whitman said.

She said Democrats "may" have had more of their voters turn out but they might not have voted straight party-line.

Amanda Terkel   |   November 5, 2012   10:24 AM ET

Mitt Romney has been going after President Barack Obama's remark that "voting is the best revenge," frequently bringing it up in the final week of the campaign.

A new robocall by the Romney campaign continues to hammer the president on the comment, simply playing it back paired with Romney's Saturday response:

NARRATOR: This is Mitt Romney on the campaign trail yesterday.

ROMNEY: The president said something you may have heard by now that may surprise a lot of people. He told his supporters --

OBAMA: Voting is the best revenge.

ROMNEY: Voting for revenge? Vote for revenge? Let me tell what I'd like to tell you -- vote for love of country.


The call was received by a voter in Fairfax, Va., and passed along to The Huffington Post by Shaun Dakin of StopPoliticalCalls.org.

The Romney campaign has released a torrent of anti-Obama robocalls in the final days of the campaign, including one that tells Christian voters he poses a "real threat to our religious freedom."

Listen to the Romney "revenge" robocall:



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John Celock   |   November 4, 2012    9:47 PM ET

George Allen, the Republican nominee for Virginia's U.S. Senate seat, endorsed keeping a controversial state song in place while he was a legislator in the 1990s, according to a video from the Library of Virginia archives.

In video footage of Allen speaking on the floor of the state House of Delegates in 1991, the Republican endorsed retaining "Carry Me Back To Old Virginia" as the official state song during debate on whether the song should be repealed. The song was designated as Virginia's state song in 1940 and had been the subject of annual repeal bills starting in 1970 due to several racially tinged lyrics, including references to "darkey" and "massa." Allen eventually repealed it as the state's song in 1997 during his last year as the state's governor.

During the debate, Allen said he believed the song was an important part of the state's history and that the state legislature should not be in the business of rewriting it.

"This song was written years ago and it was not written to offend anyone," Allen said in the video, which was obtained by The Huffington Post from a Democratic source who was not authorized to speak on the record. "The issue that is before us is that the original words are now understandably offensive to some people. Though they were not intended to be."

Allen went on to say that he believed there could be two state songs, the original version of the song and a version written by the state legislature. He noted that several other states had more than one state song, including New Hampshire, Tennessee and West Virginia. Allen said it would allow Virginia residents to have a choice as to which song to use.

"I will vote against this bill because I believe that we should not revise history," Allen said in the video.

Allen is locked in a competitive battle with former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb. Allen was defeated in his bid for a second Senate term in 2006 by Webb after he used a racial slur to describe a Democratic Party tracker who was following Allen around the state with a video camera.

Allen's campaign did not return multiple messages for comment on the song.

Paul Blumenthal   |   November 4, 2012    8:48 PM ET

The American Future Fund, a "dark money" conservative nonprofit group, reported spending $2.8 million for the final days of the presidential campaign on television and online advertising. The centerpiece of the group's last-minute campaign is a $1 million ad buy for a one-minute advertisement bashing President Barack Obama over the auto bailout.

The advertisement picks up on recent auto bailout attacks by conservatives, including Speaker John Boehner, over non-unionized retirees from Delphi, the automotive parts division of General Motors. As one man says in the advertisement, "The union workers were taken care of, their pensions were not cut, their health care remained intact."

The auto bailout has been Obama's top talking point in Ohio, where one in eight jobs are related to the auto industry. Romney has been hindered in the state by a New York Times op-ed he wrote in 2009 that was headlined, "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

The campaigns have sparred over the bailout as Romney has sought to blunt Obama's consistent poll advantage in the crucial Buckeye State. Recent Romney advertisements stated that Jeep was shipping jobs overseas to China, an allegation that was deemed false by both General Motors and Chrysler, along with every single fact-checking organization.

Elise Foley   |   November 4, 2012    8:03 PM ET

Mitt Romney made his first and final appearance Sunday in Pennsylvania as the GOP presidential nominee, drawing about 25,000 supporters to a cold outdoor event in Morrisville, Pa., according to a pool report and a Secret Service estimate.

Romney expressed confidence in a win there, urging his supporters to talk to their friends and neighbors to encourage them to vote for his ticket.

"We're taking back the White House, because we're going to win Pennsylvania!" Romney said.

The state had received relatively little attention until the final few weeks of the campaign, in what some consider a hail mary pass by the Romney campaign to win there. Obama leads Romney in Pennyslvania by more than 5 points, according to a HuffPost Pollster estimate.

But the Romney campaign added a last-minute stop Sunday to Romney's schedule, and, along with groups supporting the nomiee, has dramatically stepped up advertising. They say the state is still in play. Others say they are just trying to reach voters in nearby Ohio.

The Daily's Dan Hirshorn wrote on Twitter earlier Sunday that a source told him the Republican National Committee was advertising in Pennsylvania because airwaves were full elsewhere. He added that the source said "there's just no more money to be spent in other states."

Romney delivered his usual stump speech, but hit Obama particularly hard on his policies on coal -- an issue close to some Pennsylvanians -- saying he will drill more and embrace "clean coal."

But the speech hit something of a hitch due to the cold, which led some supporters to attempt to leave, only to be delayed for security reasons. Romney was running more than an hour behind schedule due to problems flying in to the state, and most supporters had come well before the set start time. The temperature was in the 40s, but the wind made it feel like the 30s, The Huffington Post's Jon Ward wrote from the rally.

By 20 minutes into the speech, people were "literally streaming through the gates," USA Today's Jackie Kucinich tweeted. The Washington Post's Philip Rucker posted a photo of supporters leaving mid-speech.

The New York Times' Ashley Parker tweeted that many "who left say they're HUGE Romney supporters, just cold and tired, or with sick kids and spouses."

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What's happening in your district? The Huffington Post wants to know about all the campaign ads, mailers, robocalls, candidate appearances and other interesting campaign news happening by you. Email any tips, videos, audio files or photos to openreporting@huffingtonpost.com.

Michael McAuliff   |   November 4, 2012    5:05 PM ET

Elizabeth Warren, the former consumer watchdog and Wall Street reformer running for Senate in Massachusetts, offered a bullish outlook Sunday for her election chances.

Speaking on a call with volunteers organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee -- her grandchildren audible in the background as she drove between rallies -- the Democratic candidate said she liked what she saw in the Bay State.

"I think we're going to make this happen," Warren said.

Her optimism may have been buoyed by recent polls that give her an edge, but she also was talking to a group of people who were closing in on making 500,000 calls to get out the vote for Warren against Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

Warren took questions and reminded her listeners of what she thought the election meant.

"The race is about what kind of a country we want to be," Warren said, arguing that the country envisioned by Republicans is a harsh, unforgiving one. "They say, in effect, I've got mine, and the rest of you are on your own."

She added that it was up to people like those making calls and getting people to the polls to get the result they want.

"This is really democracy," Warren said.

She also pledged to not cut Social Security or Medicare, and got in a plug for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that she built -- and which she noted Mitt Romney would end.

"The more good work it does, the stronger it will be and the harder it will be to get rid it," Warren said of her marquee achievement. "But right now it's just a little baby agency, so one of the important things to do is protect that agency and obviously it's one of the things I want to do by going to the United States Senate."

Ariel Edwards-Levy   |   November 4, 2012    4:19 PM ET

Barack Obama heads into Election Day having regained a "modest" 3-point lead over Mitt Romney, according to the final election poll by the Pew Research Center.

The poll, released Sunday afternoon, gives Obama a 50-to-47 edge among likely voters after the 3 percent of undecided voters are divided between the candidates. Pew splits up the undecided after looking at the split of the respondents who express a lean toward one candidate, as well as calculations that predict which way a truly undecided voter will fall on Tuesday.

Some voters, of course, have already cast their ballots -- about a third, with 48 percent picking Obama and 46 percent choosing Romney, according to Pew.

The president had trailed Romney narrowly in the Pew Research poll conducted after the first debate, and the two candidates were deadlocked early last week.

Romney continues to lead among men and among voters 65 and older, although his lead with the latter group slipped 10 points in the last week. The president has restored the gender gap among women -- he now leads 53 to 40 percent, a 6-point shift from last week. He also gained among moderates and with voters in the storm-battered Northeast.

Sunday's poll is Pew's first since the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and it supports findings elsewhere that Obama's handling of the crisis may have boosted his standing. Nearly seven in 10 likely voters, including 46 percent of Romney voters and 63 percent of swing voters, approved of the way Obama managed the crisis.

Perhaps the best news for Obama in the poll is the strength of his supporters' enthusiasm. Eight in 10 Obama supporters say they're voting for him rather than against Romney, while only 60 percent of Romney supporters say they're primarily voting for him rather than against Obama.

As Pew's analysis notes, "In past elections, dating to 1960, the candidate with the higher percentage of strong support has usually gone on to win the popular vote....And far more registered voters expect an Obama victory than a Romney victory on Nov. 6 (52% vs. 30%)."

There's at least one bright spot in the poll for Romney -- his supporters have a significant edge in engagement, as they have throughout the campaign. They report that they're more closely following the campaign and thinking about the election, and are "more committed to voting" than Obama voters, by margins of 6 to 8 points.

Like all polls, the Pew survey is subject to random variability and has a margin of error -- in this case, 2.2 percent -- but Pew has a record of making spot-on final election predictions. In 2004, its final survey found George W. Bush leading John Kerry, 51 to 48, identical to the actual popular vote totals. In 2008, Pew predicted a 52 to 46 percent win for Obama over John McCain. Obama won by 53 percent to McCain's 46 percent.

The survey was conducted using live phone calls to interview 2,709 likely voters between Oct. 31 and Nov. 3.

The HuffPost Pollster tracking model, based on all public polls and calucated before the Pew Research poll was released, currently puts Obama ahead nationally by a fraction of a point.

Luke Johnson   |   November 4, 2012    3:39 PM ET

Ohio voters are facing extremely long lines at polling locations on Sunday. Early voting in the state has been reduced from the five weekends before the election to only the weekend right before Election Day.

A federal appeals court ruled against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and in favor of the Obama campaign in October, allowing hours to be extended in the final three days before the election. Husted took the case to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear it.

Early voters in 2008 were much more likely to be African-American in the Ohio counties that include the major population centers of Columbus and Cleveland, according to a study by Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates. Blacks accounted for 56 percent of all in-person early votes in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, while they accounted for 26 percent of votes overall, the study found. In Franklin County, which includes Columbus, African Americans cast 31 percent of early votes and 21 percent of votes overall.

HuffPost reader Lea McBooth sent the following photos from Cleveland:

ohio early voting

ohio early voting

HuffPost reader Ethan Geiling sent this photo from the Franklin County Early Voting Center in Columbus, Ohio:

ohio early voting

Here is one in Florida, having its own election problems:


Are you voting early in Ohio? The Huffington Post is eager to hear your experiences and see your photos. Email us at openreporting@huffingtonpost.com.