THE MORNING LINE -- August 22, 2012 at 9:21 AM EDT
Republicans Hoping for a Bounce in Tampa
Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, attend a town hall Monday in Manchester, N.H. Photo by Aram Boghosian for the Boston Globe via Getty Images.
President Obama and Vice President Biden lead Mitt Romney and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan heading into the national party conventions, but the four-point margin in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll is by no means comfortable.
The Democratic ticket received the support of 48 percent of registered voters in the survey, while GOP running mates Romney and Ryan got 44 percent. That marked only a slight shift from last month, when the president led Romney, 49 percent to 43 percent -- a sign that the selection of Ryan has resulted in a minimal bounce for the GOP hopeful.
In fact, 22 percent of respondents said the Ryan choice made them more likely to support the Republican ticket. Another 23 percent said the pick made it less likely they would back Romney.
The Journal/NBC poll highlights two key metrics Romney needs to improve with the convention just next week in Tampa, Fla.
The former Massachusetts governor's approval rating remains upside-down, with 38 percent of voters having a favorable impression of him and 44 percent viewing him unfavorably.
Mr. Obama is seen as the more likeable candidate by a 35-point margin (58 percent to 23 percent) and bests Romney by 22 points (52 percent to 30 percent) when it comes to the question of which candidate cares more about average people.
Romney also faces concerns about his approach to Medicare, a subject thrust front and center into the campaign following Ryan's addition to the GOP ticket.
The Romney-Ryan plan would give future retirees a guaranteed payment to either purchase private insurance or pay an additional amount to remain in the traditional Medicare program. When the proposal was described to voters, 30 percent called it a bad idea, while 15 percent said it was a good idea. Slightly more than half of respondents, 51 percent, said they had no opinion.
Voters were also asked if they agreed more with Romney's statement that his proposal "would strengthen Medicare and reduce government costs for Medicare by giving future seniors more control over their own health care dollars" or with the president's claim that the GOP plan "would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system." Half of voters said they agreed more with the president's statement, while 34 percent favored Romney's.
A new Pew Research Center poll of 1,005 adults found 72 percent had heard "a lot or a little" about Ryan's Medicare proposal. Of those who were aware of it, 49 percent were opposed and 34 percent supported it. That's about the same as the Pew's survey from one year ago, when Ryan's budget blueprint first passed the GOP-controlled House.
The same survey showed 46 percent of respondents said Ryan is an only "fair or poor choice" as Romney's running mate, and 28 percent said he is an "excellent or good choice." On the Democratic side, Biden rates poorly: Just 27 percent told Pew he has done an "excellent or good job as vice president," and 56 percent said his job performance has been only "fair or poor."
A pair of automated surveys from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling looked at the battleground states of Virginia and Wisconsin.
The president continues to hold an advantage in Virginia, leading Romney 50 percent to 45 percent.
In Wisconsin, Romney edged the president by a 48-to-47 margin, a seven-point shift from early July, when the president and vice president held a 50-44 lead.
The Journal/NBC survey looked at a dozen battleground states -- Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin -- and found the president leading Romney by three points, 49 percent to 46 percent.
AKIN DRIVES ANOTHER DAY
Another day lost for the Romney campaign. There was little room for talk of Medicare, the president's economic policies or who built what. Instead, all eyes stayed on Missouri.
It was Day Two of a growing national obsession with GOP Rep. Todd Akin. The media watched as Republican brass pleaded with the Senate nominee to withdraw from the ticket before a 5 p.m. deadline Tuesday after his comments about "illegitimate rape," pregnancy and abortion made him a political pariah.
Romney joined the fray, calling for Akin to leave the race. But the Christian conservative stood firm -- let Romney run his race, and I'll run mine, he said in a radio interview with Sean Hannity. Hannity pressed him to quit for the second day in a row, as did other party power players, including Tea Party kingmaker Sarah Palin, who said she might throw support behind a third-party candidate.
Akin's decision to stick it out seems to come from the fact that the candidate takes his political directives from a higher power. What does he have to lose?
At the top of the Tuesday's NewsHour, Gwen Ifill spoke with journalists Garance Franke-Ruta of the Atlantic and Jon Ward of the Huffington Post about the persistent story.
Franke-Ruta has been providing context to the discussion of Akin's questionable scientific beliefs. Namely, she pointed out how the idea that a woman's body prevents pregnancy during the trauma of rape spread through the anti-abortion movement, and how the theory's main propagator has past ties to Romney.
Ward reported from Tampa on the collateral damage from Akin's comments, as Republican Party officials finalized the platform on abortion in advance of the national convention. The strictly anti-abortion platform remains largely unchanged from previous years, but it differs from the stance of Romney and Ryan, who have supported exceptions for abortion in the case of rape or incest. (Ryan personally opposes exceptions for rape or incest, but has supported legislation that contains the exceptions.)
Watch the segment here or below:
Ward also talked with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell while covering the platform meetings in Tampa. McDonnell opened up about how Akin is harming the party.
By the way, Akin says he won't attend the party convention next week. He'll be too busy focusing on how to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, he told George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday's "Good Morning America."
Roll Call's Joshua Miller explains why the paper still rates the race a toss-up.
Judy Woodruff is doing a series of book conversations about broken Washington. She began with E.J. Dionne of Brookings and his new book "Our Divided Political Heart."
On Tuesday she chatted with former Rep. Mickey Edwards, a Republican from Oklahoma. In his new book, "The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans," Edwards outlines his ideas for reforming the electoral system (fewer primaries and a more open petition process, for example). Here is part of their exchange:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is one party more guilty than the other?
MICKEY EDWARDS: I think they're both guilty.
You know, it may be a matter of degree, one more than another, but, you know, whether it's a Republican leader or a Democratic leader in the House or the Senate, they have all said outrageous things. You know, we won the election. We will write the bills or it's our job to defeat the other guy or to elect more of our team.
So, both parties are doing it.
Watch the discussion here or below:
2012 LINE ITEMS
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The Romney campaign released a television ad Wednesday attacking the president for cutting Medicare as part of the national health care overhaul.
The Obama campaign also released an ad Wednesday that charges Romney's policies would cut funding to public education. The spot will air Thursday in Ohio and Virginia.
Jason Volack of ABC News reports that Texas Rep. Ron Paul's supporters struck a deal Tuesday with the Republican National Committee over convention delegates, "avoiding a potentially embarrassing standoff with Mitt Romney" next week in Tampa.
Guess who will be showing up in Tampa? Oh, Joe!
The Democrats announced new convention speakers Wednesday: all female politicians. They are Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who is running for Senate, Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and House candidate Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. Politico has more.
The Center for Public Integrity's John Dunbar does the data dive and finds GOP super PACs are leaving Democrats in the dust.
The Weekly Standard looks at Team Obama's ties to the now infamous Joe Soptic ad.
The American people will soon have the White House Honey Ale recipe in the public domain.
The Washington Post's Emily Heil finds an Obama aide who doesn't mention that he lists Bain Capital on his resume.
Amazon has an election "Heat Map," and it finds more people are buying books from the right than those on the left. Mr. Obama's 2006 "The Audacity of Hope" is selling better than Romney's latest, "No Apology," but more people want to read about Ryan than they do Biden.
WNYC maps out how sports owners and executives are divided between Romney and the president.
The Republican Party platform won't make D.C. lawmakers very happy.
The Root looks at the campaign fight over welfare reform.
Ahead of the Republican National Convention, police found bricks and a Guy Fawkes stencil painting on a roof.
Also in preparation for the convention, we're watching on Tropical Storm Isaac.
Judy Woodruff is excited for Tampa and Charlotte, N.C., and remembers conventions past.
Join the NewsHour on our home page at 11 a.m. ET for a special live-streamed announcement.
Guess who's benefitting from the skinny-dipping scandal? The nudist lobby, of course! wapo.st/QXek4v— Emily Heil (@emilyaheil) August 21, 2012
Aside from DC neighbors MD & VA, Ohio is Pres Obama's 2nd most visited state behind NY. Reflects political import of OH to his re-election.— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) August 21, 2012
OUTSIDE THE LINES
Tim Kaine released his first ad in the Virginia Senate contest.
GOP Sen. Scott Brown took the lead in a new Public Policy Polling survey of his matchup against Democrat Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts.
The Wall Street Journal poll has Congress sitting at a 12 percent approval rating.
The Huffington Post's Jen Bendery gets into the nitty gritty when it comes to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's chocolate addiction. Her favorite ice cream flavor? New York Super Fudge Chunk.
Christina Bellantoni and Cassie M. Chew contributed to this report.
ON THE TRAIL
All events are listed in Eastern Time.
Paul Ryan attends a campaign event in Roanoke, Va., at 9:15 a.m. and another in Raleigh, N.C., at 1:30 p.m.
President Obama will participate in a roundtable discussion with teachers in Las Vegas at 12:05 p.m. and speaks at a campaign rally at a high school at 12:40 p.m. He then travels to New York City for two fundraisers at Lincoln Center at 7:35 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.
Vice President Biden spends his day in Detroit. He attends a campaign event at 1:15 p.m., visits at a high school at 3 p.m. and speaks at a fundraiser at 5 p.m.
Mitt Romney attends a campaign event in Bettendorf, Iowa, at 1:35 p.m.
All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.