Campaigns Prepare to Spin Mostly Positive Jobs Report

BY Terence Burlij and Katelyn Polantz  November 2, 2012 at 9:57 AM EDT

President Obama; photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama takes the stage Thursday for a campaign rally in Boulder, Colo. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

The economic mood of the country is pretty well set heading into Election Day, but Friday’s Labor Department report showing a better than expected 171,000 jobs added in October will certainly be welcome news for President Obama and his re-election team.

The overall unemployment rate did edge up a tenth of a point to 7.9 percent, as 578,000 people entered the workforce.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised upward the jobs numbers for August and September:

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from +142,000 to +192,000, and the change for September was revised from +114,000 to +148,000.

The largely positive report will make Mitt Romney’s challenge tougher Friday to go after the president’s handling of the economy, but the Republican can at least point to the fact that the unemployment rate is higher now than it was the month Mr. Obama took office.

When the president hits the trail Friday morning in Ohio, he will likely draw attention to the number of positions created to reinforce his point that the economy is moving steadily in the right direction.

With the race still deadlocked nationally and the president holding the slimmest of margins in the key battleground states, each campaign is looking at how they can get the most numbers of their people to the polls.

They are also fanning out across the country, as Republicans say they think they can add new turf in the final stretch. Romney will make a last minute trip to Pennsylvania this weekend.

A CNN poll out Thursday showed Mr. Obama leading Romney, 50 percent to 48 percent, in Colorado, and a Wisconsin survey from St. Norbert College showed the president with a nine-point lead over Romney in the Badger State, 51 percent to 42 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

The NewsHour took a look Thursday night at the different scenarios to victory for each man. Judy Woodruff talked to Jonathan Martin of Politico and Margaret Talev of Bloomberg about the advantages and weaknesses for the Democrats and Republicans.

Watch the segment here or below:

On Thursday, Mr. Obama accused his rival of “using all his talents as a salesman to dress up these very same policies that failed our country so badly, the very same policies we’ve been cleaning up after for the past four years, and he is offering them up as change.”

“What the governor is offering sure ain’t change,” he added.

And the closing argument:

After four years as president, you know me by now. You may not agree with every decision I’ve made. You may be frustrated at the pace of change, but you know what I believe. You know where I stand. You know I’m willing to make tough decisions even when they’re not politically convenient, and you know I’ll fight for you and your families every single day as hard as I know how. You know that. I know what change looks like because I have fought for it. You have too. After all we’ve been through together, we sure as heck can’t give up now. Change is a country where Americans of every age have the skills and education that good jobs now require.

Also Thursday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg added another dimension to the closing days of the race and the political thrust of Hurricane Sandy with a column in Bloomberg View endorsing Mr. Obama, namely because of an issue that’s received little attention from either party: climate change. He cited the storm’s devastation in New York and New Jersey as catalyst enough for elected leaders to work to prevent global warming and wrote that Mr. Obama is this type of passionate force.

He also cited Mr. Obama’s Race for the Top education funding program, health care reform and social policy.

Like Romney, Bloomberg built his political career after succeeding as a businessman. He originally won his office in New York as a Republican, is now an independent and known for controversial, attention-drawing policy, such as eliminating the sale of Big Gulp sodas and barring smoking and trans fats in New York City restaurants.

He wrote:

If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were running for president, I may well have voted for him because, like so many other independents, I have found the past four years to be, in a word, disappointing….

If he listens to people on both sides of the aisle, and builds the trust of moderates, he can fulfill the hope he inspired four years ago and lead our country toward a better future for my children and yours.

Still, recent reports on Mr. Obama’s track record on climate change have been mixed. Links to Ryan Lizza’s New Yorker piece on federal-level inaction on climate policy surfaced on social media on Thursday, and Frontline aired a piece on Oct. 23 called “Climate of Doubt.”

The campaigns also are working overtime in case of any voting irregularities. Both Team Obama and Team Romney are sending schools of lawyers to battleground states to prevent voter intimidation and monitor election misdoings, the New York Times reported.

And both have briefed their supporters on what to watch for in memos.

The Obama campaign’s general counsel, Robert Bauer, wrote that the Republican Party has intimidated voters by playing up vote fraud and continues a long-standing practice of advancing voter suppression.

The Republican National Committee countered with a letter from its counsel, John Phillippe Jr., that some voting machines have malfunctioned and cast votes for Mr. Obama instead of Romney. The letter asks leaders in Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Kansas and Ohio and Nevada to ask workers to double-check polling machines on Election Day.

ARIZONA SENATE

A six-term congressman versus a rags-to-riches, well-known bureaucrat. The race for Arizona’s open Senate seat — between Republican Rep. Jeff Flake and former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, a Democrat — is yet another hotly contested question mark in the fight for control of the Senate.

But this race takes on a larger significance when lit by the backdrop of Arizona politics, the state’s immigration policies and its large Latino population. Carmona’s lack of name recognition among voters once gave Flake a boost. But his moderate political background and Hispanic heritage have helped to draw the race closer as more Latinos register to vote.

Most analysts place this Senate race into the “tossup” category. Others give a slight edge to Flake.

Reporter-producer Katelyn Polantz wrote more about one immigrant’s push to persuade first-time voters and how low turnout from Hispanics may turn around this year. Read that here.

NewsHour contributor Axel Gerdau traveled to Arizona to get the full picture on the Senate race.

Watch his report here or below:

ADS ALERT

The final NewsHour/NPR collaboration using Kantar Media/CMAG data aired Thursday. Jeffrey Brown talked with Tamara Keith about how outside group spending has made its mark on competitive Senate races.

Among the figures:

Ohio Senate spending: $41 million/62,000 spots.
Massachusetts: $38 million/more than 50,000 spots.
Virginia: $37.5 million/nearly 44,000 spots.
Connecticut: $32 million/19,000 spots.
Wisconsin: nearly $30 million/66,000 spots.

Watch that segment here or below:

Watch Outside Groups Outspending Campaigns in Senate Races on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

DAILY DOWNLOAD

On Thursday’s NewsHour, Margaret Warner talked with Howard Kurtz of Daily-Download.com about how the campaigns use data mining and last-minute get-out-the-vote tactics.

Kurtz noted he was among the voters receiving anti-Obama text messages this week.

Watch the segment here or below:

FACE THE FACTS

Friday’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA looks at the healthiest industries.

The nonpartisan organization found that the health care sector “added more jobs than any other sector in 2011, with 350,300. Next were food service and accommodation (273,700) and professional and technical services (246,200). The federal government expects health care to have gained a total of 5.6 million jobs by 2020.”

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Here’s another tidbit on the new job numbers from NewsHour multimedia reporter-producer for business and economics Elizabeth Shell:

U7 is DOWN to 16.69 percent. Last month it was 16.87 percent. This takes into account a wider net of the unemployed — those who are discouraged job seekers the government no longer counts and those who are working part time only because they can’t find a full-time job.

U7 is NewsHour correspondent Paul Solman’s more inclusive measure of unemployment than the government calculates. The government calculates U1, U2, etc to U6. U3 is headline unemployment: 7.9 percent this month. Each additional level of U adds in more and more people. We take it a step further — U7 — to see a truer picture of unemployment. We calculate that to be 16.69 percent for October — more than double what the government estimates.

  • Mary Agnes Carey and Kaiser Health News detail for the NewsHour how Mr. Obama or Romney would affect health policy as president.

  • Eric Black of MinnPost argues the shortcomings of the Electoral College in an opinion piece for the NewsHour.

  • NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels writes about the ballot questions Californians will see on Tuesday.

  • Join Gwen Ifill in her weekly blog post as she looks for signs of things to come between now and Election Day.

  • A Catholic Bishop in Peoria, Ill., is requiring priests to read a letter he wrote to parishioners condemning President Obama and the mandate for contraceptive coverage under the ACA.

  • A new Obama web video mocks Romney for his campaign tactics.

  • After Hurricane Sandy passed over Virginia, some residents woke up the next morning to a mysterious campaign flier comparing Mr. Obama with a storm.

  • Vice President Biden appeared Thursday on “Late Show with David Letterman” to deliver the night’s Top 10 list, which was devoted to the topic of good things about early voting. For example, No. 5 was: “Single and looking to mingle? Find that special someone on the early voting line.”

  • Christina hosted a Google Plus hangout Thursday and found the last undecided voter in America. Her name is Hannah and she lives in Colorado. Watch. She also chatted with a bunch of folks about the influence of social media in elections for Storify’s #socialvote discussion.

  • Tune in Friday night to PBS for our Election Special hosted by Hari Sreenivasan. You’ll see the entire NewsHour family represented for analysis and more.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • National Journal’s Hotline released its final House rankings.

  • Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski looks at the less prominent races up and down the East Coast that will be impacted by Sandy.

  • Some polling sites in New Jersey may not have power restored by Election Day.

  • Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad is on the road with the Virginia Senate hopefuls for the final stretch. And it’s still a jump ball.

  • Republican Mia Love has opened up an eight-point lead over Democratic incumbent Rep. Jim Matheson in Utah’s 4th Congressional District.

  • Two vacation properties owned by Virginia GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell were burglarized during Hurricane Sandy earlier this week.

  • Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker was all over Twitter on Thursday, answering questions, giving advice, even opening up his home to displaced residents.

  • For a slightly different take on this year’s election, the Irreverent View is out with its ballot recommendations.

Christina Bellantoni and Alex Bruns contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama spends his day in Ohio. He hits events in Hillard at 10:20 a.m., Springfield at 12:55 p.m. and Lima at 3:20 p.m.

  • Jill Biden campaigns in Asheville, N.C., at 10:30 a.m., Huntersville, N.C., at 1 p.m. and in Media, Pa., at 4:15 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney starts his day in Wisconsin, speaking at an event in West Allis at 10:55 a.m. He heads to Ohio for an event in Etna at 2:45 p.m. before closing the day at a 7:30 p.m. rally with his running mate Paul Ryan, Ann Romney, Janna Ryan and Kid Rock in West Chester.

  • Vice President Biden spends the day in Wisconsin, speaking in Beloit at 12:15 p.m. and Superior at 4:30 p.m.

  • Paul Ryan speaks in Montrose, Colo., at 12:50 p.m. and Cedar Falls, Iowa, at 4:15 p.m. before joining Romney at the Kid Rock event in Ohio.

  • Michelle Obama speaks in Hampton, Va., at 2:45 p.m. and Petersburg, Va., at 5:25 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.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.