POLITICS
10/15/2012 05:46 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - Polls Are Skewed, Says Poll Loser

George W. Bush has taken up painting, but don't expect him to grow an afro and encourage public television viewers to paint happy little trees. The Obama and Romney campaigns' debate agreement leaked online -- thankfully it doesn't contain a "no brown M&Ms" clause. And Romney campaign officials attribute Obama's substandard poll numbers among Latino Floridians to his lack of machismo. That must explain why Mitt Romney has been urging audiences to "Say hello to my little friend" while introducing Paul Ryan. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, October 15th, 2012:

POLL HAS ROMNEY UP IN SWING STATES - The Obama campaign is questioning the methodology, which is the political version of the home team blasting "MAKE SOME NOISE!!!" on the jumbotron when they're losing badly in the eighth inning.
"Mitt Romney leads President Obama by five percentage points among likely voters in the nation's top battlegrounds, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and he has growing enthusiasm among women to thank. As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, the survey of voters in 12 crucial swing states finds female voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney. The Republican nominee now ties the president among women who are likely voters, 48%-48%, while he leads by 12 points among men...Now, the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows Romney leading Obama 51%-46% among likely voters in the swing states. Men who are likely voters back him 54%-42%. The states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin." [USA Today]

$$$$$$$: "The Romney campaign raised $170 million in September and now has more than $191 million in cash on hand, it reported on Monday, putting it in a solid position for spending in the final weeks leading up to the election...The September haul, however mighty, is still slightly behind the $181 million raised by the Obama campaign and its affiliated organizations, including the Democratic National Committee and Obama Victory Fund. The Obama campaign, however, has not released a cash on hand figure for the end of September." [HuffPost's Paul Blumenthal and Elise Foley]

Time obtained a copy of the 'Memorandum of Understanding' between the two campaigns, the document establishing the rules of the debates. Included in the documents are clauses forbidding the candidates from asking one another questions, establishing the number of credentials allotted to each campaign and one demanding that Bob Schieffer do something about that breath describing the adjustments that would be made should another candidate qualify for a debate. [Time]

WEED GETS ITS DAY IN COURT - Lucia Graves: "For the first time in nearly 20 years, a federal court will consider the medical benefits of marijuana. In the case, Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration, the court will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the classification of cannabis as a dangerous drug without therapeutic effects, and is expected to rule on whether the Drug Enforcement Administration acted appropriately in denying a petition -- first filed by a collection of public interest organizations back in 2002 -- to reclassify it. Under federal law, cannabis is currently a schedule I prohibited substance defined as having 'a high potential for abuse' and 'no currently accepted medical use in treatment.' The case will be heard Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Womp womp, another unemployment agency making more unemployed people. AP: "The agency that tracks South Carolina's unemployment rate is downsizing. The Department of Employment and Workforce said Monday it would cut more than 130 jobs statewide. The cuts begin this month and are expected to be completed by June. Officials say the reductions come after the elimination of federal funding for emergency compensation and extended benefits programs. Executive director Abraham Turner says people receiving benefits from the agency will not be affected by the cuts." [Associated Press]

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OBAMA CAMPAIGN HINTS AT MORE ASSERTIVE DEBATE STYLE - Last time around, the president reminded everyone of their dad on Thanksgiving around 7:00 pm ("I'll get to the dishes......... later"). This time, campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki implied today, we'll get more of the lean-closer-to-the-mic-raise-his-voice-and-wag-his-finger Obama we know from the campaign trail. The Hill: "President Obama will be 'firm but respectful' in his pivotal second debate Tuesday night against Republican Mitt Romney, his campaign spokeswoman said Monday. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki would not get into the specifics about Obama's expected tone, but promised Obama would be 'forceful' on Tuesday night." [The Hill]

The Romney campaign thinks the president's so-so performance among Latinos in Florida is due to his lack of macho-ness. We all look forward to a mustachioed Mitt Romney taking the stage tomorrow night in alligator shoes and the top three buttons of his shirt undone, revealing an untamed tuft of hair on which rests several gold chains. BuzzFeed: "Romney aides told BuzzFeed their polling indicates that Obama's biggest vulnerability among Hispanics is that he's viewed as a 'weak leader.' In much of Latino culture, they explained, political leaders are expected to demonstrate a macho bravado, and Obama's debate performance last month -- with his verbal pauses, downward gaze, and weak defense of his own record -- seemed to exacerbate the incumbent's perception problem." [BuzzFeed]

DEMOCRATS LEADING IN EARLY VOTING - WaPo: "Early voting has edged past the 1 million mark, and while the numbers are still too strong to draw sweeping conclusions, so far they show a Democratic advantage... Many states don't supply party registration as part of early voting results. But information from those that do suggest that reports of waning Democratic enthusiasm in 2012 may be overstated, McDonald said. In Iowa, the state with the largest share of the electorate voting early (14.2 percent) Democrats have a nearly 2-to-1 edge (52 percent to 28 percent) among the 220,000 early votes cast. The margin is narrower when it comes to absentee ballot requests (48-30) and Republicans have gained ground there in recent weeks. In Florida, Republicans have a four-point margin in party registration of early voters (44-40), but that is down considerably over the 12 point edge they enjoyed in 2008... Ohio, the all-important battleground state, is harder to read because partisan registration is not part of the information reported. County-by-county numbers show increased early voting activity in both heavy Democratic and Republican areas. In Franklin County, home to Ohio State University, where the Obama campaign has pushed hard to organize students, 11 percent of the electorate (62,000) has voted early." [WaPo]

Mitt Romney on hair malfunctions: "If I have a bad hair day, I just think, Well, it will be an OK hair day tomorrow. Just put your head down and go. Life is a bit like being on a roller coaster, which is, You get on and there's no stopping along the way. There are some days when you feel like this is pretty tough, and there are the days that are exhilarating, but you just keep on going." [Reader's Digest]

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson has a lot of hats, here are some of them.

BUT IS TAMMY BALDWIN GOOD FOR THE JEWS? - During a press conference on Sunday, Wisconsin Senate candidate Tommy Thompson accused his Democratic opponent Tammy Baldwin of, more or less, basing her entire platform on "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." "Tammy Baldwin, her whole record is anti-Israel," he said in Wauwatosa. "She voted for the first time for the sanctions three months ago because she knew she was running for the U.S. Senate. That is the lamest excuse I've ever heard...She's anti-Israel, she's anti-Jewish and she's trying to now somehow obfuscate her views and her intentions." Is there anything more ominous than speculating about what someone's "intentions" are toward Jews? [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

Scott DesJarlais is the subject of an ethics complaint. Mike McAuliff: "The complaint filed Monday by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington argues that regardless of whether both parties wanted the relationship, it violates state ethics law, which bars any sexual relations between doctors and patients. HuffPost noted the law in a story last week... In a letter to the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, [CREW Executive Director Melanie] Sloan argues that the case merits an immediate investigation and sanctions, solely based on what DesJarlais has admitted." [HuffPost]

POT CALLS KETTLE A POWER-HUNGRY ENEMY OF THE CONSTITUTION - Has your political party been injured in a series of domestic and foreign policy blunders? John Yoo will Fight. For. You. Elise Foley: "John Yoo, the George W. Bush-era Justice Department lawyer who penned so-called 'Torture memos' authorizing controversial interrogation techniques, accused the president Friday of holding a 'radical vision of executive power' and usurping the Constitution with his recently enacted policy to stop deporting some young undocumented immigrants. 'Obama's order has pushed the executive power beyond all constitutional limits,' Yoo wrote in a Fox News op-ed posted Friday, adding later that it appeared to be a political move to shore up the Latino vote ahead of the election. 'Worried about Hispanic support for his re-election ... Obama simply decided to unilaterally enact his own legislation.'" [HuffPost]

America's dysfunctional criminal justice system has been a total non-issue in this campaign, Radley Balko reports.

GEORGE W. BUSH: ARTIST - New York reports that that the 43rd president has taken up painting since he left the White House, his favorite subjects being dogs and Texas landscapes. Visitors to the Bush residence in Dallas might want knock before entering, lest they happen upon Bush painting John Ashcroft sprawled across a Victorian fainting couch wearing nothing but a giant sapphire necklace. The Hill: "A former aide tells the publication, 'I find it stunning that he has the patience to sit and take instruction and paint.' Bush and wife Laura are owners to at least two four-legged friends, Scottish terriers Barney and Miss Beazley. Bush spoke of his passion for creating canines with the stroke of his brush, telling a crowd at a fundraiser over the summer he's 'kinda stuck' painting pups. The Daily Beast wrote that Bush joked, 'I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.'" [The Hill]

You better not shout, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why, Republican Congressional candidate Kerry Bentivolio is going insannnnneeeee. Daily Caller: "In fact, he just might believe he is Santa Claus. Before Bentivolio was the Republican candidate for congress in Michigan's 11th District, he worked as a Santa Claus impersonator. For the past 18 years, Bentivolio has run a business called Old Fashion Santa. He dresses up as Santa -- in green, because a red suit would be too 'commercial'--and his sled is pulled by live reindeer...In a court case several years ago, Bentivolio testified to the fact that his two identities were beginning to blur, according to court documents obtained by The Daily Caller. 'I'd like to say I'm really Santa Claus and I play somebody else the rest of the year,' Bentivolio said during the court proceedings." [Daily Caller]

MARION BARRY DISMAYED BY NATS' LOSS - How the former mayor learned about the heartbreaking defeat, via WaPo:

[Mayor Vincent] Gray: "We lost."
Barry: "We lost?"
Gray: "We're gone. Not only did we lose, Marion, but it went down to the last strike."
Barry: "We're out of it?"
Gray: "We were up by two runs with one strike to go. One strike!"
Barry: "Ain't that a [expletive]."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Photos of adorable animals who are very happy to see you.

SWEET LOVE FROM THE CITY THAT READS - HuffPost DC: "If you've ever had Dangerously Delicious' Baltimore Bomb pie, the critical ingredient in the oh-so decadent dessert is a little not-so-healthy treat that's been a favorite in Charm City for generations: Berger cookies. The Huffington Post made an excursion to Lexington Market this weekend where Bergers Cookies has a stall. We naturally picked up some of the classic thick cookies, topped with a generous helping of fudge frosting." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- A London bartender set a world record by mixing the most expensive cocktail ever, comprised of 200-year-old liquor. [http://bit.ly/RugN84]

- Highlights from Felix Baumgartner's supersonic Red Bull Stratos jump. [http://bit.ly/QI2UU1]

- The Red Bull Stratos jump, reenacted by LEGO figurines. [http://bit.ly/Tmlsc8]

- Forget giant scissors, watch this tortoise cut the ceremonial ribbon at a building opening. [http://bit.ly/R0WjGO]

- The most expensive retro video games. [http://bit.ly/XdL9Q1]

- Guy has a drinking problem -- the Airplane! type of drinking problem. [http://chzb.gr/XdQWoS]

- Dr. Seuss once drew illustrations for an anti-malaria campaign. Here they are. [http://bit.ly/Ts4pVJ]

TWITTERAMA

@dceiver: Someone should ask Mitt a bunch of FNL questions: "Would you have stuck with Saracen as your starter, based on the available data?"

@daveweigel: ACORN RT @MichelleObama: Hey, @BarackObama, I just dropped my absentee ballot in the mail - I couldn't wait for Election Day! Love you! -mo

@benjysarlin: Watching this Bush-Gore debate, you really wish TiVo had a "fast forward 12 years" button

ON TAP

Today - Wednesday morning: A really bizarre Republican smorgasbord is taking place this week in New York at the Waldorf. Paul Ryan makes an appearance, as do Rudy Giuliani, Reince Priebus, Charles Schwab, Donald Trump and Dennis Miller. Paul Ryan interacting with Donald Trump is something we'd pay good money for. [New York, NY]

Tonight, 4:30 pm: Pennsylvania is probably out of Mitt Romney's reach but, hey, doesn't hurt to try, right? Ann Romney, Mitt's better (and human) half, charms some cheddar out of Keystone State supporters [Harrisburg, PA]

Tonight, 5:30 pm: Joe Biden is the man of the hour of at a high-dollar fundraising dinner in Las Vegas. Whoever sits next to the veep will have a story to tell after Biden leans over and whispers that they should blow this joint and hit the tables. [Las Vegas, NV]

Tonight, 6:00 pm: Brad Sherman will try not to get into any near-altercations as he raises money for his Dem-Dem election against Howard Berman. Also, it's at Ed Begley Jr.'s house... so he's got those single-issue Begley voters locked up. [Studio City, CA]

Tomorrow, 5:30 pm: Dianne Feinstein squeezes in a campaign function before the debate with a dinner with Jerry Brown Willie Brown, Jackie Speier and others. [San Francisco, CA]

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