09/26/2012 05:45 pm ET Updated Nov 26, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - Romney Campaign's October Surprise: Eye Contact

If recent polling and reports are to be believed, the Nationals' Teddy Roosevelt mascot is going to have a better fall than Mitt Romney. The National Republican Senatorial Committee might restore Todd Akin's campaign funding if the Missouri congressman can go a few days without claiming that the chicken dance delays menstruation. And Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson says he's the only candidate who'll protect us from the zombie apocalypse. Think about it: which other candidate can keep the undead out both of our wallets AND our bedrooms? This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, September 26th, 2012:

ROMNEY CAMPAIGN EMPLOYING LAST-DITCH STRATEGY: ROMNEY - The Romney campaign released a TV ad today devoid of black-and-white footage of president Obama grimacing and/or walking with his head hung down in shame. Instead, the entire ad consists of the candidate speaking directly into the camera. The Romney campaign is really digging this. WaPo: "A Democrat familiar with ad buy information tells me that starting Friday, the new ad the Romney campaign rolled out today will begin airing at full throttle in all of Romney's media markets in nine swing states, and it will be the only Romney ad running in them. This underscores that the Romney campaign is betting all of its chips on the new approach represented in the minute-long ad, which is about cleaning up the mess made by Romney's remarks about the freeloading 47 percent, and about reframing the Romney message as a forward looking one. The Dem source says ad buy info indicates that other currently running spots -- one hits Obama as soft on China; the other is a positive ad touting Romney's plan for the middle class -- will be replaced by this one." [WaPo]

Looks like Romney is hoping for an October surprEYES!!! Right, right... right?

DEMOCRATS SHIFTING HOUSE STRATEGY - Politico: "Searching for a path to the House majority, Democrats are shuffling a series of TV ad buys in districts across the country, scaling back in races that are increasingly seen as long shots while adding investments in others... The House Democratic campaign arm has reduced its investments against GOP Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia and GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida, who earlier this year was cleared in an ethics committee investigation of his finances. The DCCC also scaled back on purchases in Indiana's 2nd District and North Dakota's At-Large seat, both of which are vacant...The committee increased its purchases in four districts where Democrats are playing offense, three of which are held by Republican incumbents. The party will spend more against GOP Rep. Dan Lungren, who is running for reelection to a Sacramento-area seat that shed Republican voters in redistricting, and freshman Republican Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle of New York and Ohio Rep. Bill Johnson. It has also invested more funds in Illinois' 13th District, which GOP Rep. Tim Johnson is retiring from." [Politico]

@ppppolls: Our full Iowa poll, which finds Barack Obama up 51-44 there after only leading 47-45 in August, is now posted: http://bit.ly/S8CUAj

Michael Grimm wants to discourage criminal behavior in the two teenagers who threw rocks at his office by offering them internships in the office of a congressman under federal investigation. Roll Call: "Rep. Michael Grimm seems to want to do right by the two teenagers who vandalized his campaign office on Staten Island, saying he is open to offering internships or volunteer opportunities to them to give a firsthand view of public work. For their part, the teenagers apparently threw rocks through his window just for the heck of it. 'I invite the teenagers to see firsthand the importance of public service and the political process by interning in my official office or volunteering in another capacity within our community' the New York Republican said in a statement, adding that he hoped the judge 'will take leniency with these children . and use it as a teachable moment on the importance of serving our community instead of vandalizing it." [Roll Call]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Everything is bad. "In Lake Charles, Louisiana, the owner of two grocery stores was ordered to pay more than $1.7 million in restitution and was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison after trading food stamps for cash and other goods, the [USDA]'s inspector general said in a report. Investigators seized a Ferrari, Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and two bank accounts in the case, the report said. The food stamp program, formally named the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, helps poor people buy food." [Reuters]

HuffPost Hiccup: Perhaps suffering Chicago teacher hangover or the brain-scrambling effects of Monday night's terrible call ... or most likely a severe case of sloppiness, we called the NFL referee standoff a "strike" when it is actually a lockout. Apologies for the brain fart. Here's a puppy.

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POLL: ROMNEY MIGHT AS WELL CAMPAIGN IN SEATTLE - A Quinnipiac/CBS/New York Times survey published today gives the president strong leads in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida -- numbers that could result in another Romney campaign reboot invovling dropping Paul Ryan in favor of Sherrod Brown. Luke Johnson: "Obama leads 53 percent to 43 percent in Ohio. He leads 53 percent to 44 percent in Florida. He has a 54 percent to 42 percent lead in Pennsylvania, widely considered less competitive than the other two states. The poll showed a substantial gender gap among voters. Obama leads by 25 points in Ohio among women, while Romney has an eight-point edge among men. Obama has a 21-point lead among women in Pennsylvania and is even among men. Obama's approval rating is at 50 percent in Florida and Ohio, and 51 percent in Pennsylvania." [HuffPost]

Obama registered a sizable leap in Gallup's daily tracking poll, leading Romney 50 percent to 44 percent.

@GovGaryJohnson: Only one candidate will protect you from the zombie apocalypse, and it's not @BarackObama or @MittRomney.

Newt Gingrich is offering unsolicited debate advice to Romney. "Reagan and Kennedy both had this wonderful knack of using humor to make points," Gingrich wrote in a Human Events column. "President Obama is a detached, often stiff person who overestimates his competence (the next time you see a story on the Middle East remember he got a Nobel peace prize for having done nothing). No president in my lifetime has been as vulnerable to humor as President Obama." This can only end with a terribly unfortunate bout of Romney laughing ("Haha the president has led from behind while the Middle East has been haha engulfed in flames haha!"). [HuffPost's Elise Foley]

ROMNEY'S CAMPAIGN SUCKS: AMERICANS - A new poll from ABC News and the Washington Post finds that 61 percent of Americans hold an unfavorable view of how the Romney/Ryan campaign is being conducted. When you subtract the 47 percent of Americans -- who are little more than moochers, sitting at home all day and clogging up America's Netflix queue with hour upon hour of Katherine Heigl movies -- he only needs to worry about 14 percent of the country. ABC News: "Barack Obama's ratings for handling his campaign are substantially better, 54-43 percent, favorable-unfavorable. And while ratings of Romney's campaign have grown more negative, favorable ratings of Obama's campaign efforts have gained 8 points since July...Fifty-four percent in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, see his "recent comments about people who don't pay income taxes" negatively; 32 percent respond favorably, with the rest unsure." [ABC News]

@jbendery: Woman fainted at Ryan event. "Good thing she has a good health care system to go to today," Ryan says as she's taken out.

MASSACHUSETTS SENATE RACE BOILING DOWN TO WHO OFFENDS NATIVE AMERICANS LESS -The chief of the Cherokee Nation on Wednesday demanded an apology from Scott Brown for what he called an "uneducated, unenlightened and racist portrayal of native peoples" by senior staff on his campaign and in his Senate office. At a recent campaign rally, several senior Brown staffers did their best impression of an Atlanta Braves crowd by tomahawk chopping and belting war whoops. "The Cherokee Nation is disappointed in and denounces the disrespectful actions of staffers and supporters of Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. The conduct of these individuals goes far beyond what is appropriate and proper in political discourse. The use of stereotypical 'war whoop chants' and 'tomahawk chops' are offensive and downright racist," said Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, in a statement. [HuffPost]

NRSC RECONSIDERING FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR AKIN - Last month, after Todd Akin's offensive rape-is-a-kind-of-condom comments, the NRSC announced that it would not spend money on the Missouri congressman's Senate race. Today, the organization sent out a statement suggesting there's some wiggle room. "There is no question that for Missourians who believe we need to stop the reckless Washington spending, rein-in the role of government in people's lives, and finally focus on growing jobs in this country, that Todd Akin is a far more preferable candidate than liberal Sen. Claire McCaskill," Rob Jesmer, executive director of the NRSC, said in the statement. "As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November, and we will continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead." [WaPo]

TODDMENTUM: AKIN RECEIVES SUPPORT FROM SANTORUM AND DEMINT - Yes, Missouri has been trending Republican the last few cycles -- President Obama was the first Democrat to win the presidency without Missouri -- but we're not sure it has trended rightward enough for a Rick Santorum and Jim DeMint endorsement to help in the general. Seriously, your state has to be Harry Potter is a threat to Christianity conservative for that to make a dent. "If Republicans are to win back the Senate and stop President Obama's liberal agenda, we must defeat Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri," Santorum and DeMint said in a joint statement. They added: "We support Todd Akin and hope freedom-loving Americans in Missouri and around the country will join us so we can save our country from fiscal collapse." [AP]

THE UNION MAKES US STRONG... AND IS INFECTIOUS: STUDY - A study from American Rights At Work suggests that support for union members is a lot like like support for LGBT Americans: it helps to know someone. Cole Stangler: "Politicians who come of age with the labor movement in their lives are more likely to advocate on behalf of worker-friendly policies, regardless of their political leaning, the makeup of their district and financial support from labor, according to a new study on union members and voting behavior.Pro-worker advocacy extends far beyond issues that directly affect labor unions, and includes stronger support for policies such as family and medical leave or paid sick days, according to the study...Recruiting more union members to run for office would be an effective way of finding reliably worker-friendly legislators, the study implies." [HuffPost]

Murdoch fail: "Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch is saying he accidentally joined a political party his own newspaper described as 'cult-like' and run by 'a self-confessed Marxist' and 'anti-Semite.' The billionaire's aide said Murdoch joined the New York Independence Party by accident while filling out a voter registration form following a move into a new Fifth Avenue penthouse in 2010,Crain's New York Business reported." [HuffPost's John Celock]

HUGE NEWS - US News: "For six seasons and more than 500 individual races, 'Teddy' the racing president has not won a single race against 'George,' 'Tom,' and 'Abe' during the Washington Nationals' famous fourth inning President's Race... But rumors are now swirling that the parody of the spectacled 26th president could finally have his day in the sun. Whispers is hearing that the Nationals, who have already secured a playoff spot, are planning to have Teddy win the Presidents Race in the Nationals final regular season game next Wednesday...Though the Nationals press office is staying mum about whether a Teddy victory is on the horizon, the team has already dropped some hints of a win. This week, the Nationals named the final series the 'TeddyIn2012' series." [US News]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Normally the phrase "grumpy cat" is superfluous but this is truly one grumpy cat.

MARBLE LINCOLN INFECTING DC WITH GREEN OOZE - HuffPost DC: "Despite the National Park Service's best efforts, Lincoln Memorial's newly reconstructed Reflecting Pool has filled with green algae." [HuffPost]

SOMETHING QUEER IS AFOOT IN LOUDOUN COUNTY - HuffPost DC: "A handful of former aides to an outspoken anti-gay Republican county supervisor have been questioned by the FBI over the fundraising activities by their former boss." [HuffPost]


- Chameleon excels at hand-washing, being bug-eyed. [http://bit.ly/RZ3taU]

- A mashup of movie explanations of how time travel works... something about flux capacitors and wormholes. [http://bit.ly/TBcqOm]

- ATTENTION TRAIN NERDS: Here's video of the Ascela being tested at 170 mph. [http://bit.ly/QjD1MA]

- Thirteen retro contraception advertisements, a lot of which look like album covers. [http://bit.ly/OUtDQM]

- By the year 2000, seismic events and solar flares will submerge large portions of the United States, this awful scientist predicts. [http://bit.ly/TBglLf]

- A 1974 episode of "The Advocates," debates the question, "Should Marriage Between Homosexuals Be Permitted?" Good thing our society has resolved that debate. [http://bit.ly/RF7vL4]

- A gift for our OCD readers: 32 metronomes start at different times but eventually syncronize. [http://bit.ly/P5o4JI]


@igorbobic: Santorum sends out release endorsing Todd Akin at midnig-- errr wait, broad daylight.

@b_fung: "But let me try, anyway: 00101001010101010" RT: @jbendery: "I can't explain love." -- Mitt Romney

@AdamWeinstein: But seriously, have you ever seen Jon Tester and Meat Loaf in a room together?



6:00 pm: Jim DeMint takes a break from making sure the Senate Republican conference doesn't run smoothly for that most Republican of meals: a steak dinner. [Ruth's Chris Steak House, 724 9th Street NW]

6:30 pm: Kelly Ayotte, though you might know her better as her anagram, Layette Yolk, is the guest of honor at a fundraising dinner. [330 Maryland Avenue NE, 330 Maryland Avenue NE]


5:00 pm: The patron saint of Just For Men: Touch of Gray, Mitt Romney, heads to a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., the future home of his free enterprise institute (assuming the poll numbers in Ohio and Florida stay as they are). [Renaissance Marriott, 999 9th Street NW]

6:00 pm: The handful of LGBT voters who aren't members of the Log Cabin Republicans -- talk about an endangered species, amirite? -- attend an LGBT reception with First Lady Michelle Obama. [Chicago, IL]

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