09/12/2012 05:57 pm ET Updated Nov 12, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - Mitt Romney Built This Terrible News Cycle

Republicans spent the day berating Americans serving in conflict zones, because theirs is the party of national security. Mitt Romney has lost his advantage among male voters, a problem he could easily fix by discussing his love of sport. And Jon Kyl compared the alleged misconduct of the Obama administration to a judge blaming a rape victim, because the GOP desperately needs more people Googling "republican rape statement." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, September 12th, 2012:

MITT ROMNEY GETS A CASE OF THE FOREIGN POLICY YIPS, OBAMA RESPONDS - Taking a cue from Franklin D. Roosevelt, who famously told the nation, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself... and the defeatist, obstructionist tactics of congressional Republicans," Mitt Romney attacked President Obama's handling of the attacks in Egypt and Libya that killed four diplomats, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Last night, Romney released a statement calling the administration's handling "disgraceful" and reiterated that attack today at a press conference. "When our grounds are being attacked, and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. And apology for America's values is never the right course," he said, slamming the Obama administration for "sympathiz[ing] with those who waged the attacks." He was referencing a statement released by the Cairo embassy in response to an anti-Muslim film (and if the statement apologies for America's values, then so does the "Cosby Show"). The embassy statement actually preceded the attack, but, as the Romney campaign has said, it's not going to be "dictated by factcheckers." [With Josh Hersh (embassy statement included)]

Romney looked mighty pleased with himself after he left the podium this morning

President Obama responded on CBS News: ""There's a broader lesson to be learned here," he said during a "60 Minutes" interview. "And I think -- you know, Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that. That, you know, it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts. And that you've thought through the ramifications before you make 'em." Asked if Romney's criticisms were irresponsible, Obama replied, "I'll let the American people judge that." So yes, yes they were. [CBS News]

Jon Kyl has just the perfect analogy for the Cairo embassy statement: ""It's like the judge telling the woman who got raped, 'You asked for it because of the way you dressed.' OK? That's the same thing. 'Well America, you should be the ones to apologize, you should have known this would happen, you should have done -- what I don't know -- but it's your fault that it happened.' You know, for a member of our State Department to put out a statement like that, it had to be cleared by somebody. They don't just do that in the spur of the moment." Never change, Jon! [HuffPost]

A lot of face-palming in Republican foreign policy circles today. BuzzFeed: "Mitt Romney's sharply-worded attack on President Obama over a pair of deadly riots in Muslim countries last night has backfired badly among foreign policy hands of both parties, who cast it as hasty and off-key, released before the facts were clear at what has become a moment of tragedy...'They were just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit based on the embassy statement and now it's just completely blown up,' said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand, who called the statement an 'utter disaster' and a 'Lehman moment' -- a parallel to the moment when John McCain, amid the 2008 financial crisis, failed to come across as a steady leader." [BuzzFeed]

The Washington Post's editorial board really didn't mince words: "Mr. Romney's rhetoric on embassy attacks discredits his campaign" [WaPo]

BOXER SMASHES BIBI - Ali Gharib has a letter from Barbara Boxer to Benjamin Netanyahu, who's been acting like a Romney surrogate lately: "I am stunned by the remarks that you made this week regarding U.S. support for Israel. Are you suggesting that the United States is not Israel's closest ally and does not stand by Israel? Are you saying that Israel, under President Obama, has not received more in annual security assistance from the United States than at any time in its history, including for the Iron Dome Missile Defense System. As other Israelis have said, it appears that you have injected politics into one of the most profound security challenges of our time -- Iran's illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons." [Daily Beast]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Household incomes declined for the fourth straight year in 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau announced on Wednesday, in another reminder of the economy's failure to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression. In its annual economic snapshot, the Census Bureau reported that the median household income -- half of Americans made more, half made less -- fell 1.5 percent to $50,054 last year, using inflation-adjusted dollar amounts. Incomes have fallen 8.1 percent since 2007, the year before the Great Recession got started (it ended halfway through 2009). Doug Walter of Ivyland, Pa. spent most of his career earning between $55,000 and $60,000 a year working in the parts and service departments of car dealerships. "I was an average middle-class white guy," Walter, 45, said in an interview. In 2009, many car dealerships closed as the American auto industry plunged into bankruptcy. Walter and his wife both became unemployed. "It sucked," he said. [HuffPost]

Bassett Bummer: "The Republican-controlled Missouri State Legislature voted on Wednesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon's (D) veto of a bill that would allow employers and insurers to refuse to cover birth control, abortion or sterilization for moral reasons. The State Senate overrode the governor's veto by a vote of of 26-6, while the House, which needed 109 votes to override, barely did so, by a vote of 109-45." [HuffPost's Laura Bassett]

FEWER UNINSURED! Jeffrey Young: "President Barack Obama's health care reform law and government health programs helped drive down the number of Americans without health insurance last year to the lowest tally since 2008, according to a new census report." [HuffPost]

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IT'S ABOUT TO GET EVEN REALER IN LIBYA - Dave Wood: "The U.S. warfighting commander who would oversee any U.S. retaliatory strikes for the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya Tuesday recently warned of the growing influence of al Qaeda and related Islamic jihadist groups. Army Gen. Carter Ham, who heads the U.S. Africa Command and directed the U.S.-led coalition that collapsed the regime of Muammar Gaddafi last year, expressed concern that violent extremist organizations were establishing a presence in post-war Libya. In the wake of Tuesday's attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, in eastern Libya, and on the American embassy in Cairo, U.S. intelligence officials and senior military officers at AFRICOM and elsewhere were scrambling to identify the attackers and to confirm reports that the attacks were planned and coordinated. Military planners were already well into developing strike options for the White House to consider." [HUFFPOST]

Arnold Palmer received the Congressional Gold Medal today. "I'm particularly proud of anything that the House and the Senate agree on," he said of the recognition. Also, John Boehner cried. [WaPo]

ROMNEY LOSING LEAD AMONG MALE VOTERS - Maybe it was the constant talk of Rafalca during the Olympics or perhaps the president's near-alcoholic insistence on drinking beer everywhere he goes (or most likely it was the convention) -- whatever the case, Mitt Romney has lost his advantage among the dudes.. The Hill: "A CNN poll released Monday showed Obama moving into a small lead among men, besting Romney 48 percent to 47. The finding was especially notable because CNN, in a poll conducted about a week prior, had shown Romney holding a 12-point lead among men (55 percent to 43). On Tuesday, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found Obama enjoying a 3-point edge among men...In addition, a new poll from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling organization found that Obama has a 1-point lead among men, taking 47 percent to Romney's 46." [The Hill]

Yellow card: "Carolyn Lerner, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel concluded that Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act when she served as the Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker at the February 25, 2012 gala for the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina." [ABC News]

MASS. DEMOCRATS TO WARREN: DUMB IT DOWN - A Boston Globe report indicates that Democratic operatives in the Bay State are increasingly concerned that Elizabeth Warren's campaign ads are too preachy and cold, whereas Scott Brown's feature pastoral Massachusetts scenes and regular folk. So don't be surprised if ads begin to surface of the gray-haired university professor taking hits from a Sam seasonal beer bong and playing grab ass with mill workers. Globe:"According to top Democratic leaders in Massachusetts, Warren campaign advisers are considering a new strategy that will be aimed at toning down what those leaders call the preachy tone that has dominated her ads until now. Instead, some of the spots would rely more on the voices of voters from all walks of life describing what Warren's supporters say is the warm personality of a popular university professor. They would also zero in on Brown, acknowledging that while he is a likable public figure, he is not the moderate Republican that he makes himself out to be." [Boston Globe]

REPORT: ROMNEY WAS A HAWKISH SQUARE IN COLLEGE - The Times delves into Mitt Romney's freshman year at Stanford and finds he was essentially a non-drinking composite of the Omega Theta Pi brothers from Animal House: "As Mr. Romney's freshman year waned, Mr. Harris won a landslide victory as student body president. Anti-draft demonstrators soon took over the Stanford president's office. Mr. Romney demonstrated as well -- outside, in khakis and a sport jacket, picketing the occupiers with a sign that read 'Speak out, don't sit in.' Within three months, he was bound for France, never to return to Stanford...Not three years later, after George Romney had become the housing secretary in the Nixon administration, a journalist interviewed children of top administration officials about their views on the war. 'If it wasn't a political blunder to move into Vietnam,' the 23-year-old Mitt was quoted as saying, 'I don't know what is.'" [NYT]

Where is Nico Pitney? In India, straight chillin' with some donkeys, naturally.

STUDY: VOTER ID LAWS COULD ROCK DECIMATE THE VOTE - "As many as 700,000 minority voters under age 30 may be unable to cast a ballot in November because of photo ID laws in certain states, according to a new study. The lower turnout could affect several House races as well as the tight presidential contest. Using calculations based on turnout figures for the past two presidential elections, researchers at the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis concluded that overall turnout this year by young people of color ages 18-29 could fall by somewhere between 538,000 to 696,000 in states with photo ID laws...An analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's law school found that 11 percent of Americans lack a government-issued photo ID such as a passport, driver's license, state ID card or military ID. Nine percent of whites don't have such ID, compared with 25 percent of blacks and 16 percent of Hispanics, the Brennan study said." [AP]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Hummingbird snores, unless it's closing its eyes and doing a phenomenial impression of a bottle rocket being fired.

RON BROWN'S SON VS. D.C. SNIPER'S CONFIDANT - HuffPost DC: "The attorney representing the former re-election treasurer for D.C. Councilmember Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) responded on Wednesday to accusations the incumbent made about his client misdirecting campaign funds. 'You mean to tell me that over two-thirds of your campaign treasury was depleted and you knew nothing about it? Incredible,' said attorney J. Wyndal Gordon, who had a close relationship with D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad." [HuffPost]


- We are pleased to hear that Obie the Obese Dachshund has been put on a strict diet. [http://bit.ly/QJCVzo]

- Banky's street art turned into animated GIFs. [http://bit.ly/Q2ufiP]

- "The Simpsons" mashed-up with "Breaking Bad." Ned Flanders never seem so mad-diddly-ad. [http://bit.ly/Oq5pxF]

- Move over, Rich Kids of Instagram, the "Rich Cats of Instagram" are infinitely more entitled than you. [http://bit.ly/SagwWO]

- Seagull, unhappy with the direction a film was taking, steals the camera while it's recording. [http://bit.ly/QFxQ8Z]

- An author is writing her novel live on Google Docs. [http://bit.ly/QPHHpF]

- Moving tribute to the search-and-rescue dogs who helped sift through the wreckage on 9-11. [http://bit.ly/OFyz7C]


@daveweigel: President Romney will make darn sure that no embassy ever issues a calming statement when protesters are about to attack.

@danamira: As president, Mitt Romney would personally approve every press release sent out by every American embassy in the world.

@jaketapper: There's no way Jews are behind that Mohammed movie. Horrible production value.



6:00 pm: On the heels of the president and DNC's huge fundraising haul, Debbie Wasserman Schultz heads up to Maryland for a fundraiser benefiting President Obama's reelection campaign. [Cabin John, MD]

7:00 pm: Because North Dakota is little more than a collection of highways leading to and from places that aren't North Dakota, it's appropriate that Rick Berg's "Young Professional Reception" is being held at the AMerican Trucking Association. [American Trucking Association, 430 First Street SE]


5:00 pm: Mitt Romney heads to Lawn-guy-land for cocktails (presumably he'll be drinking sparkling cider) and a reception with some local luminaries. Al D'Amato and Rick Lazio will be among the attendees. [Old Brookville, NY]

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: The Republican nominee for Senate from Texas, Ted Cruz, is the toast of the Republican conference. Mitch McConnell, Mike Crapo, , John Cornyn and John Barrasso make appearances. [Caucus Room, 401 9th Street NW]

5:30 - 7:00 pm: Bill Pascrell invites donors to an "Italian Style Reception," which doesn't sound like it's an Italian-themed reception but at reception that is a half-hearted attempt at an "Italian Reception."

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Congress is in session for a precious few two weeks, so it's a good thing John Boehner is taking time out to MC a dinner in Mark Amodei's honor. Donors will want to hang out in the back alley to catch the speaker during his smoking breaks. [Cava Mezze Restaurant, 527 8th Street SE]

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: American politics' frattiest frat boy, George Allen beers himself some campaign funds for his Senate bid against Tim Kaine. [Vienna, VA]

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