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What's the greatest risk Republicans face at their convention?
August 27th, 2012
12:21 PM ET

What's the greatest risk Republicans face at their convention?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With Isaac drawing a bead on the city of New Orleans, the Republican National Convention is no longer at the center of this week's media storm.

Nonetheless, the GOP needs to shine during its abbreviated three-day convention if it wants to recapture the White House.

And while national conventions these days are highly scripted affairs, there's still a little room for a politician to surprise us, in a good or bad way.

Politico takes a look at past conventions and how they've been the breeding grounds for both rising stars and unintended screwups.

Barack Obama's keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention propelled him into the national spotlight and started talk of him as presidential material.

At the other end of the spectrum was Bill Clinton's 1988 convention speech. It went on for twice the allotted time, and delegates didn't pay much attention - except for cheering when Clinton finally said the words "in closing."

As for the Republicans' Tampa convention, there are high hopes for keynote speaker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and the candidate's wife, Ann Romney.

This convention could be the Republicans' last best chance to introduce Mitt Romney to the country on their terms.

New CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll numbers show that although the race is a dead heat between Romney and President Obama, likely voters believe the president cares more about people and better understands their needs while Romney is perceived as better able to handle the economy, always the most important issue in any presidential election.

And while the temptation might be to try to make Romney seem warmer and fuzzier, he is resisting, saying, "I am who I am." At the end of the day, it's probably easier to be true to yourself than try to be someone you're not.

Here's my question to you: What's the greatest risk Republicans face at their convention?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Should failing grades on deficit, jobs and economy cost Obama a second term?
August 16th, 2012
02:54 PM ET

Should failing grades on deficit, jobs and economy cost Obama a second term?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama has some serious "issues" when it comes to the economy... and that might translate to "issues" come Election Day.

A new Gallup poll shows Americans continue to give the president failing grades on the economy, jobs and the deficit.

The president gets high marks for his handling of "terrorism"– 58 percent... and fair marks on "education" - 49 percent... and "foreign affairs" - 48%. But that's where the good news ends for him.

On immigration, Mr. Obama gets just a 38 percent approval rating... and it's downhill from there.

His worst marks come on "creating jobs" at 37%, the "economy" - 36%, and the "federal budget deficit" - 30%.

It's not hard to see why many Americans feel this way... with unemployment above 8 percent for 42 months in a row now and annual deficits topping $1 trillion dollars.

This poll also shows that the president's ratings on the economy are much worse than those of prior two-term presidents.

President Obama's 36% approval on the economy compares to 46% for George W. Bush, 54% for Bill Clinton and 50% for Ronald Reagan.

The bottom line here is millions of Americans continue to suffer under a weak economy, and if they don't get the sense that President Obama is improving their economic lives, it might be a tough sell come November 6th.

Here's my question to you: Should failing grades on the deficit, jobs and the economy cost President Obama a second term?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Deficit • Economy • The Cafferty File
Should President Obama consider replacing Joe Biden on the ticket?
August 16th, 2012
02:33 PM ET

Should President Obama consider replacing Joe Biden on the ticket?

There's a growing chorus of voices suggesting that President Barack Obama should dump Joe Biden as his running mate in light of the vice president's latest mistake.

Biden told a mostly black audience in Virginia this week that Mitt Romney's vision of regulating Wall Street would put "y'all back in chains."

And even though the White House is standing by Biden, a lot of people think those comments were unacceptable.

Former GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain told Fox News "it might be wise" for Obama to swap out Biden for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Just today – the White House said it's not going to happen, adding that the one place they wouldn't go "for advice on vice presidential running mates is to Senator McCain."

Obama told People magazine Biden is an "outstanding vice president." The president said people get "obsessed with how something was phrased," even if that's not what was meant.

But Former Democratic Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder said he thinks Clinton would be a better choice. Wilder actually called for the switch back in 2010, and he said if the president had replaced Biden on the ticket several months ago, he'd have a bigger lead over Romney now.

As for Clinton, she has made it clear many times that she's not interested, but it's probably wise to never count a Clinton out.

Legal experts tell The Weekly Standard that it's still possible for Obama to change his running mate. The Democrats have until September 6 to nominate their presidential ticket.

Here's my question to you: Should President Obama consider replacing Joe Biden on the ticket?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 4 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Who ranks higher on the charisma scale, Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan?
August 14th, 2012
01:04 PM ET

Who ranks higher on the charisma scale, Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

They looked like two peas in a pod.

When Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate Saturday morning, some people thought they were seeing double.

Writing for the Daily Beast, Robin Givhan suggests Ryan could easily be mistaken for one of Romney's five sons.

She says that the Republican running mates - in their matching white shirts and black pants - lacked dazzle or texture.

She describes them as "two white guys defined by political expedience, professional uniforms and perfectly pomaded hair."

And it's not just their appearances that are similar.

Politico suggests Ryan could just be "Mitt squared." The writers say it's easy to see why Romney - the 65-year-old "numbers nerd" - wanted Ryan - the 42-year-old "budget wonk" - on the ticket with him.

Like Romney, Ryan isn't the most exciting speaker. It's possible Romney was looking more for a youthful double of himself than for someone to balance the ticket.

Speaking of doubles, consider these two back in high school.

In his Janesville, Wisconsin, high school, Ryan was voted "biggest brown noser" by his senior year classmates.

He was also the prom king and junior class president, not to mention an athlete and in the Latin club - a pretty well-rounded guy.

As for Romney, he attended a boys' prep school in Michigan, the state where his father was governor.

According to one classmate, Romney was in the glee club and the pep club and was chairman of the homecoming committee.

What he didn't do was play middle linebacker on the football team.

Here's my question to you: Who ranks higher on the charisma scale, Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: 2012 Election • Cafferty File • Jack Cafferty • Mitt Romney • Paul Ryan
How often do you think about the presidential election?
August 14th, 2012
01:03 PM ET

How often do you think about the presidential election?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Sixty-four percent of Americans say they've given "quite a lot" of thought to the upcoming presidential election.

How can you not think about it? It's impossible to escape it.

According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll, 64% is down from the previous two presidential races, but higher than Americans' engagement in the 2000 election.

These numbers suggest voter turnout will be lower this year than in 2008 or 2004.

Republicans are more revved up than Democrats, with 74% of Republicans saying they think about the election "quite a lot," compared to only 61% of Democrats.

This 13-point GOP advantage is the highest this poll has measured in recent presidential elections.

It's possible that Democrats just haven't tuned in yet and that Republicans are more engaged because of the primaries.

Typically Americans start thinking more about the election as it gets closer - once the conventions, debates, etc. start happening. And interest traditionally really starts to rev up after Labor Day.

If the higher GOP interest keeps up, it could mean higher turnout for the Republicans come November.

It's clear Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan over the weekend has jump-started the party's base.

The crowds at Romney's events have grown larger - perhaps as high as 15,000 at one North Carolina rally - and they've also grown more energetic.

Reminds you a little bit of President Obama's crowds back in 2008. But he's not drawing those kinds of crowds this time around.

Here's my question to you: How often do you think about the presidential election?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 4 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Cafferty File
How much will Paul Ryan help Mitt Romney's chances of winning?
August 13th, 2012
01:55 PM ET

How much will Paul Ryan help Mitt Romney's chances of winning?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Mitt Romney went "bold"... doing what many conservatives wanted him to do in naming Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Many view the Ryan pick as a game-changing one, with both Republicans and Democrats cheering Romney's choice.

But it's yet to be seen if Ryan will make voters more - or less - likely to vote for Romney.

Ryan's weaknesses are pretty evident. His budget plan of drastic spending cuts includes significant changes to Social Security and Medicare. Try selling that to elderly voters in Florida.

It also gives Democrats ammunition to play on those same voters' fears, that the social programs they rely on could be threatened.

Plus, Ryan has virtually no experience in the private sector - just like President Obama. He has spent almost 14 years in Congress - a career politician at a time when America is sick of Washington.

But - Romney's selection of Ryan also carries plenty of benefits.

For starters, while voters are sick of Washington insiders, they tend to reward politicians who push for real change... see Barack Obama in 2008 or New Jersey's Chris Christie.

For Americans who grasp the critical nature of our skyrocketing national debt... now nearing $16 trillion... Ryan has a lot of appeal.

And if Mitt Romney is willing to embrace even some of Ryan's ideas... Pres. Obama won't be able to touch the GOP on government spending and deficits.

Ryan is also a clear plus for the party's base, many of whom have never really liked Romney. He appeals to crucial independent voters, Catholics and women too.

Most importantly, the choice of Ryan signals a clear choice for voters in November. More government versus less government. Runaway national debt versus painful fiscal responsibility. Ryan is a big gamble for Mitt Romney - but it's a bet he almost had to make.

Here's my question to you: How much will Paul Ryan help Mitt Romney's chances of winning?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 4 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

As the election gets closer, are you more or less confident in the U.S. economy?
August 8th, 2012
11:46 AM ET

As the election gets closer, are you more or less confident in the U.S. economy?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty

With less than three months to go before Election Day, Americans are becoming less confident in the economy. Not good news for President Obama.

According to Gallup's economic confidence index, July was the second monthly decline in a row. This after economic confidence improved during the first five months of the year.

This index measures the current economic conditions and the country's economic outlook. Americans were more pessimistic about both of these things during July.

A whopping 59% say the economy is getting worse. That's the lowest rating of 2012.

Americans' declining economic confidence is likely due to several factors including weak jobs reports, lower-than-expected GDP growth and Europe's ongoing economic problems.

Meanwhile, a new report suggests the shaky economy is hitting baby boomers especially hard. An AARP survey shows high economic anxiety – extending far beyond the issue of jobs – for pre-retirement voters aged 50 to 64.

No surprise there's a lot of worry about retirement:

– Only one-third of these boomers are hopeful or confident they will reach their financial goals.

– Almost three-quarters think they'll have to put off retirement.

– Half don't think they will ever be able to retire.

Pretty sad.

Many baby boomers are left with smaller pensions than they expected, more expensive health care... and the stress – and cost – of caring for older relatives.

The AARP also recently reported that more than 3 million Americans over the age of 50 are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure due to the housing crisis.

Here's my question to you: As the election gets closer, are you more or less confident in the U.S. economy?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 4 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Jack Cafferty • Politics • White House
Who's the worst person Mitt Romney could pick to be his running mate?
August 7th, 2012
12:30 PM ET

Who's the worst person Mitt Romney could pick to be his running mate?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's possible that Mitt Romney could do worse than Sarah Palin.

In a piece on the Daily Beast, Michelle Cottle writes that picking a "dull white guy" for vice president could damage Romney big-time.

She definitely has a point. After the debacle that Palin was for John McCain in 2008, camp Romney has vowed to pick the anti-Palin. Cottle describes this as someone who is "safe, steady, hyperqualified and without a roguish bone in his - yes, definitely his - body.”

It's why folks such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley seem to have lost favor in the veepstakes while others, such as U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota seem more likely to get the nod.

But as time ticks down on Romney's choice, some Republicans are getting nervous about what will happen if Romney goes with a safe pick - a buttoned-down, cautious, boring white guy … sort of like himself.

Some conservatives are now calling on Romney to "go bold," urging him to pick U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Rubio or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

By selecting a vanilla-flavored vice president, Romney risks confirming the worries of many in the Republican Party that he lacks enthusiasm and vision.

Cottle writes that after all this time worrying about another Palin, a greater danger to the GOP might be a VP who is "so dull that no one even cares what he says to Katie Couric."

But Romney just might be headed in that direction. Two of these less-than-thrilling VP contenders, Portman and Pawlenty, will hit the campaign trail for him in key battleground states this week. Yawn ...

Here's my question to you: Who's the worst person Mitt Romney could pick to be his running mate?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Jack Cafferty • Mitt Romney • Politics
Why aren’t Democrats as excited to vote this year?
July 26th, 2012
03:36 PM ET

Why aren’t Democrats as excited to vote this year?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

"Fired up. Ready to go!"

Or not.

Turns out that rallying cry for Democrats in 2008 may not apply to this presidential campaign.

A new USA Today/Gallup Poll shows Democratic voter enthusiasm is down sharply from the past two presidential elections.

Only 39% of Democrats say they are "more enthusiastic about voting than usual" - that's down from 61% who felt that way in 2008 and 68% in 2004.

And it's lower than the 51% of Republicans who say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting for president.

Voter enthusiasm often gives a sense of possible turnout but it also reflects voters' expectations of their party's chances of winning.

Translation: Democrats might be less optimistic about President Obama winning than they were four years ago.

When you consider the fact that Republicans are more excited at this point - and that they historically vote at higher rates than Democrats - it's not too encouraging for the Obama campaign.

On the other hand it's possible Democrats may just not be tuned into the race yet and that come Election Day, they'll vote, but won't be excited about it.

Meanwhile in another sign that Democrats aren't that revved up, the party is having some serious fundraising "issues."

For two months now, President Obama and the Democrats have lagged behind Mitt Romney and the Republicans to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

And it's not just the race for president. Nancy Pelosi is having a hard time getting Democratic House members to contribute to the party.

In June, GOP lawmakers gave more than three times as much as Democrats did to their respective Congressional campaign committee.

Here’s my question to you: Why aren’t Democrats as excited to vote this year?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

Posted by
Filed under: 2012 Election • Democratic Race • Democrats
Is it more important for a president to be able to handle the economy or to be likable?
July 24th, 2012
03:15 PM ET

Is it more important for a president to be able to handle the economy or to be likable?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With the election just three months away and the economy struggling, a new poll suggests Americans overwhelmingly trust Mitt Romney to get the economy back on track.

The USA Today/Gallup poll shows by more than 2-to-1 - 63% to 29% - Americans say Romney's business background would help him to make good decisions about the economy.

The Obama campaign better take note. This poll suggests the president's strategy of relentless attacks on Romney's record at Bain Capital and his business background could backfire - big time.

With unemployment above 8% for 41 months, Americans might not care about what Romney did 10 years ago. What they care about is someone fixing the economy today. In fact, a lot of voters probably find Romney's business background to be a plus.

Meanwhile, the president has his own strengths over his GOP rival. This same poll shows by a margin of 2-to-1 that voters say Obama is more likable than Romney. By wide margins, voters say the president understands their problems better and that he's more honest and trustworthy than Romney.

Which sets up an interesting dilemma come Election Day:

Will Americans vote for the candidate who they believe can fix the economy - the nation's top issue - or the one they like more?

Here’s my question to you: Is it more important for a president to be able to handle the economy or to be likable?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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