Willard Mitt Romney: Businessman

From NBC News First Read:

From the moment Mitt Romney stepped off stage Tuesday night, having just delivered a brief concession speech he wrote only that evening, the massive infrastructure surrounding his campaign quickly began to disassemble itself.

Aides taking cabs home late that night got rude awakenings when they found the credit cards linked to the campaign no longer worked.

“Fiscally conservative,” sighed one aide the next day.

Sigh, indeed.

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Election Liveblog

7pm: Polls close in Virginia

7:02pm: Virginia too close to call. Not surprising.

7:10pm: Exit polls: Democrats outpacing Republicans and independents in Virginia.

7:10pm: Romney is toast if Virginia goes blue

7:30pm: Polls close in the big enchilada, Ohio. Too close to call. Again, not surprising at poll closing.

7:38pm: FYI. Usually rural counties come in first in Virginia. So far, thats the case. The numbers will change dramatically as Northern Virginia and the bigger counties come in.

7:48pm: Exit polls: Democrats outpacing Republicans and independents in Ohio.

7:56pm: Virginia suspends counting votes since there are still people in voting lines. They don’t want to unduly influence the vote.

8pm: Pennsylvania just closed. Obama has lead but too early to call. Florida too close to call with 41% vote in with Obama leading.

8:06pm Cuyahoga County results right now has Obama at 70%. He needs this too stay that way.

8:32pm: NBC calls it for Chris Murphy in the Connecticut senate race.

9pm: Michigan called for Obama.

9pm: New Mexico called for Obama.

9:06pm: Florida not looking good for Romney. 74% vote in but Obama leading with Miami-Dade only reporting 15%.

9:11pm: NBC calls it for Elizabeth Warren. This is a big one.

9:12pm: Indications are this won’t be a good night for Romney. We’ll see as the votes fill out on Ohio, Florida and Virginia. Also, watch North Carolina – closer than expected.

9:15pm: Pennsylvania called for Obama. So much for the Romney Pennsylvania gambit.

9:29pm: Wisconsin called for Obama. Another Romney fantasy meets reality.

9:36pm: The Nets won’t say it,  but it is near mathematically impossible for Romney to now win.

9:44pm: Joe Donnelly projected winner in Indiana senate. This is a big win for sanity, women’s rights and, frankly, humanity.

9:50pm: Obama wins New Hampshire. The door has closed for Romney.

10:10pm: Claire McCaskill wins in Missouri. Big win against another nutjob.

10:20pm: About Virginia: The big Northern Virginia counties have not come in yet. Those will all go Obama. The rural counties have come in predictably for Romney. The margin will close and Obama should overtake when Fairfax County comes in.

10:42pm: Ok, Fairfax is starting to come in. 63% in and Romney now only leads by 16,000. I think Virginia must now be said to be going to Obama. I’ll wait for the Nets to call it.

10:44: NBC News call Minnesota for Obama. Another nail in the coffin for Romney.

10:56pm: NBC News calls it for Tim Kaine in Virginia. Yay! No macacca this year :)

11:00pm: This one is for my brother. California – shockingly! – goes for Obama :)

11:03pm: Denver Post just called Colorado for Obama. Waiting on the Nets to call it. Fox News must be freaking out now.

11:05pm: Romney wins North Carolina narrowly.

11:10pm: Iowa called for Obama. I want to see Karl Rove’s face. Switching to Fox :)

11:14pm: Ohio has been called for Obama. Fox News studio is all depressed :)

11:16pm: Barack Obama has been re-elected as the President of the United States.

11:32pm: Obama now leads in Virginia thanks to Fairfax County with 91% reporting.

12:02am: Virginia called for Barack Obama!

12:06am: Nevada called for Barack Obama!

12:10am: NBC News finally calls Colorado.

12:10am: My mistake on Virginia. Thought it was called by the Nets. Not yet. Should be shortly.

12:26am: Obama now leading by 51,000 votes in Virginia with Democratic counties remaining. NYT has called it but not the Nets yet. They will wait for all the votes to come in.

12:37am: Tammy Duckworth won and beat deadbeat tea party dude Joe Walsh.

12:39am: Virginia now called for Barack Obama by the AP and CBS News.

12:42am: Karl Rove is having a meltdown on live TV on Fox News.

12:42am: Romney has still not conceded. This is getting sad.

12:51am: Romney to concede shortly.

12:51am: Waiting on Florida to make it 332-206! Come on Florida!

12:55am: Tammy Baldwin wins senate seat from Wisconsin.

1:04am: Mitt Romney concedes in a gracious speech – a graciousness that was lacking from him during the campaign.

1:17am: Its pretty clear that Florida will go to Obama giving him a 332-206 electoral victory. I’ll wait for the Nets to call it before I gloat about my prediction :)

2:00am: That was a powerful speech from the President.

2:20am: Now, unleash the Biden!

2:27am: NBC News finally joins every other Net and calls Virginia for Obama.

2:43am: Alan West defeated in Florida. Great news for sanity and civility.

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A Word About Pennsylvania (Again)

The Romney campaign has decided to make a last minute push into Pennsylvania and the political scribes are now spinning the story that Pennsylvania, long considered to be leaning Obama, may suddenly be in play since the polls have tightened. This has a number of Democrats nervous. I’m not buying it.

This is what I wrote four years ago when John McCain made a similar late play for Pennsylvania (much of the poll analysis in that post remains true this time around):

So, stop the nail biting.

As to why McCain decided to go after Pennsylvania, what choice did he have? He is trailing badly in the Southwest and is likely losing Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. He cannot win without carrying Pennsylvania, while holding Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana (not to mention North Dakota, Montana, Georgia and Arizona). A look at the electoral map makes clear that he had no choice but to go after Pennsylvania. McCain’s Pennsylvania gambit is a sign of weakness, not strength.

Now, you can make the argument that the polls are inaccurate. Perhaps. But, the polls are the best evidence we have right now of the state of the race. I am more comfortable judging the race based on the polls than on some nebulous “gut feeling”. I refuse to go into a fetal position because of a “gut feeling” or because of McCain campaign spin. And you shouldn’t either.

This is no time to become complacent, but it is also not a time to succumb to fear on the cusp of success. Until the polls close next Tuesday, leave the worry aside, work hard to get the vote out and make sure you vote.

Romney is in Pennsylvania because he is in trouble in Ohio, just like McCain was in 2008. Like McCain, Romney has barely broken 45% in the poll composites. Like McCain, Romney’s Pennsylvania gambit is a sign of weakness, not strength. You can’t win Pennsylvania if you can’t poll much higher than 45%, period.

So, go vote tomorrow and re-elect the President. All indications are that Pennsylvanians should keep Pennsylvania blue once again.

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My Election Prediction

President Obama, President Clinton and Gov. Tim Kaine

President Obama with Bill Clinton and Tim Kaine at Bristow, VA yesterday

It has been a long long time since I’ve written a blog post. However, it’s time to make election predictions. So here goes mine.

I predict that this Tuesday President Barack Obama will be re-elected for a second term. I predict a national popular vote margin of 51.5% to 48.5% for Barack Obama. I predict an electoral college win of 332 to 206 for Barack Obama.

Here are my state-by-state battleground predictions (excluding third party candidates):

Obama will win Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Romney will win North Carolina.

Colorado: Obama 51%, Romney 49%

Florida: Obama 50.5%, Romney 49.5%

Iowa: Obama 52%, Romney 48%

Nevada: Obama 53%, Romney 47%

Ohio: Obama 51.5%, Romney 48.5%

Michigan: Obama 53%, Romney 47%

New Hampshire: Obama 51%, Romney 49%

North Carolina: Romney 50.5%, Obama 49.5%

Pennsylvania: Obama 53%, Romney 47%

Virginia: Obama 51.7%, Romney 48.3%

Wisconsin: Obama 51.5%, Romney 48.5%

So, why will Obama win and Romney lose? I think the American people seldom, if ever, elect a candidate if that candidate’s campaign is essentially a bet against America. Romney’s bet was that the American economy would tank – he bet wrong. We are left now with a flailing Romney campaign that looks at positive jobs numbers and tries to spin them as something bad for America. I think the collective wisdom of the electorate can see that for what it is: a bet against America. That bet translates into a failed campaign for the presidency.

President Obama is pulling America out of an economic mess left him by the previous administration. The steady turn from losing 800,000 jobs a month when he took office to gaining over 170,000 a month as of this month is positive for America. Denying that reality was never a winning strategy for Romney. I think Tuesday will bear that out in an Obama win.

Now all that remains is for the American people to vote and make history once again. So, go vote.

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President Obama’s Afghanistan Speech Liveblog

8:58:24 PM: There is a reason Afghanistan is referred to as the graveyard of foreign armies.

9:00:48 PM: Obama gettting ready to thread the needle on Afghan policy.

9:01:19 PM: Any Afghan policy that ignores the Pak military’s incubation of Islamists is destined for failure.

9:02:25 PM: Obama takes the stage at West Point. Here we go…

9:03:37 PM: Obama: “We did not ask for this fight.”

9:04:43 PM: Obama: “Al Qaeda…distorted and destroyed Islam…one of the world’s great religions.”

9:05:20 PM: Obama: Congressional approval to act against Al Qaeda is still in force today.

9:06:08 PM: Obama: We attacked Afghanistan after Taliban refused to hand over Osama bin Laden.

9:06:59 PM: Obama: Iraq war pulled resources away from Afghanistan. We are now bringing Iraq war to a close.

9:07:44 PM: Obama building rationale – legal and otherwise – for escalating in Afghanistan.

9:08:18 PM: Obama: “Taliban maintains ‘common cause’ with Al Qaeda”

9:08:57 PM: Big mistake to conflate Taliban with Al Qaeda. That’s a recipe for a quagmire in Afghanistan.

9:10:19 PM: Obama makes weak argument for the current Afghan government. He says election marred by fraud but government is legitimate. WEAK.

9:11:13 PM: Obama: owe troops “a mission that is clearly defined”. Easier said than done.

9:12:24 PM: No serious person would fault Obama for taking his time making his decision. No need for him to defend deliberation time here. Ignore Cheney

9:14:03 PM: Is Obama LBJ or FDR? Still up in the air.

9:15:20 PM: Obama: “I am convinced our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The most important line of the speech so far – crucial point.

9:16:49 PM: When Obama says “it is from here new attacks are being plotted”, he is referring to Afghanistan AND Pakistan. Nicely done.

9:17:49 PM: Obama: recently extremists were sent here from the “border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan” to commit new acts of terror.

9:18:44 PM: Obama speaking of “partners” in the region. He means Karzai and the Pak military. Both bad bets.

9:19:39 PM: Obama: goal is to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan”. Good goal, but perhaps, bad plan.

9:20:55 PM: Hmm: Obama says “to meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives WITHIN Afghanistan”. What happened to Pakistan?

9:22:17 PM: Obama’s plan: 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to roll back Taliban and prop up Karzai. Doomed to failure.

9:23:57 PM: Flashback to Soviet withdrawal: Afghan prime minister and defence minister shell each other over skies in Kabul. I see a repeat whn US out.

9:24:52 PM: Hard to get support from Afghan people with food while there are boots on the ground killing civilians – however inadvertantly.

9:26:06 PM: The “cancer” in Pakistan is not limited to the “border regions”. Once again, American misdiagnosis of Pakistan. Same old, same old.

9:27:07 PM: Obama needs to study up on Pakistani military doctrine. Study 1971 and use of Islamist paramilitaries by Pak army. That has not changed.

9:28:05 PM: Obama says “there are a range of concerns” about Obama’s plan.

9:28:44 PM: Obama says Afghanistan is not Vietnam. He is right, but Afghanistan IS Afghanistan – and there lies the rub.

9:29:49 PM: Obama does not want to “muddle through” with current troop levels. Again, he is right. But, that again is not, and never has been, an option

9:30:36 PM: Obama rejects open-ended commitment. That is of course a good thing. But this is also why occupations are doomed in Afghanistan.

9:32:59 PM: The speech is winding down. It has been an extremely disappointing speech. In a sense, Obama punted. Disappointing.

9:35:03 PM: This is Obama trying to dig himself out of the mess GWB left him. It is not a long term strategy for South and Central Asia. Opp missed.

9:38:56 PM: Obama’s plan in a nutshell: prop up Karzai + prop up Pak army + insert 30,000 US troops = success. Plan ignores history and reality.

9:40:02 PM: Obama’s plan ignores root causes of instability in that region. Fails to excise al Qaeda from Afghanistan and stem unchecked Islamism in Pak

9:45:41 PM: Success vs al Qaeda required separating them from Taliban and creating rift between al Qaeda and their Afghan hosts. This plan does reverse.

9:51:07 PM: Closing thought on the Obama speech: The speech demonstrates a lack of vision. Clearly a product of decision by committee.

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