Stories by Andrew Romano

  • The Likeability Factor

    The chattering classes may have declared last night's Nashville debate a draw,...
  • Factcheck.org: Nonsense in Nashville

    (Jim Bourg / AP)According to the nonpartisan researchers at Factcheck.org (a NEWSWEEK partner), Obama and McCain delivered a few "misleading statements and mangled facts" last night in Nashville, with McCain coming out on top in terms of untruths. Here's the skinny: McCain proposed to write down the amount owed by over-mortgaged homeowners and claimed the idea as his own: "It's my proposal, it's not Sen. Obama's proposal, it's not President Bush's proposal." But the idea isn't new. Obama had endorsed something similar two weeks earlier, and authority for the treasury secretary to grant such relief was included in the recently passed $700 billion financial rescue package. Both candidates oversimplified the causes of the financial crisis. McCain blamed it on Democrats who resisted tighter regulation of federal mortgage agencies. Obama blamed it on financial deregulation backed by Republicans. We find both are right, with plenty of blame left over for others, from home buye...
  • The Filter: Oct. 8, 2008

    A round-up of this morning's must-read stories.THE HARDEST VOTE(George Packer, New Yorker)When will the class war ever finally drown out the culture war, if not...
  • The Belmont Stakes

    [youtube:buyVS9fRqkw] With only an hour to go, the question on the tip of every pundit's tongue is how John McCain can "win" tonight's town-hall debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. A few things are clear enough. If "winning" means positioning oneself for victory on Election Day, McCain has a much harder night ahead of him than Barack Obama. Judging by the polls, Obama would win an election held today in a landslide--which means that he can afford to coast, to not make any mistakes. McCain, meanwhile, has to change the dynamic in order to catapult himself back into contention. And tonight's debate--an unfiltered encounter with 60-70 million potential voters--is one of his last opportunities to do it.Given this rather inconvenient truth--and the nasty tenor of the past few days--many observers have assumed that McCain will come out swinging. "There should be drama aplenty, writes the New Republic's Noam Scheiber. "If anything, too much." But I suspect that...
  • Time Capsule: The Power of the Press

    Perusing my copy of E.B. White's The Points of My Compass this morning on the subway--it's a terrific collection of the author's New Yorker "letters"; highly recommended--I stumbled on a passage that resonated nicely with the nation's attitude toward what it now calls the "mainstream media," especially in light of the report by Dana Milbank on Sarah Palin's recent rally in Clearwater, Fla. in today's Washington Post. According to Milbank, "in Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the ...
  • The Filter: Oct. 7, 2008

    A round-up of this morning's must-read stories.CAMPAIGNS SHIFT TO ATTACK MODE ON EVE OF DEBATE(Adam Nagourney, New York Times)Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama...
  • Is Obama Actually Like Lincoln?

    Over at his new, must-read "Race to the Finish" blog--bookmark it if you haven't already--my NEWSWEEK colleague Howard Fineman has an excellent post up comparing Obama to Lincoln. The Illinois senator has long encouraged such comparisons; as early as 2006, for example, he likened his "reflective" temperament to Lincoln's in an interview with Jacob Weisberg. Superficially, it's easy to see the similarities: like Lincoln, Obama is a tall, lean, relatively inexperienced Illinois lawmaker who writes well, delivers uplifting speeches and represents racial progress. But Howard's item asks an important question: is the life that Obama has led--and the capacity to cope with crisis that he's developed as a result of it--actually like Lincoln's? His answer is no:In the life Lincoln led before his victory in 1860, he was tested as perhaps no leader in America had ever been--by financial struggle, personal loss, public humiliation and political defeat. He had risen above all of that--from the...
  • The Filter: Oct. 6, 2008

    A round-up of this morning's must-read stories.ECONOMIC UNRESTS SHIFTS ELECTORAL BATTLEGROUNDS(Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny, New York Times)The turmoil on Wall Street and the weakening economy are changing the...
  • Contemplating 'The Apocalypse': 269-269

    Earlier today, I reported that John McCain's campaign is withdrawing from Michigan--and planning to send staffers and resources to Maine as a result. The reason: the Pine Tree State awards two of its four electoral votes by congressional district--meaning that if Barack Obama adds Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado to John Kerry's 2004 states (which is likely), but loses New Hampshire (which is possible), a McCain victory in Maine's rugged, northern Second Congressional District could break a 269-269 Electoral College tie and propel the Arizona senator to the presidency. Now comes word that Team Obama has opened another field office in Nebraska--the only other state to divvy up its electors by district. If Obama wins Nebraska's Second (which includes Omaha, the site of his new office) and McCain wins Maine's Second, then the two regions will cancel each other out--and we'll be right back where we started. From now on, Stumper will officially refer to this scenario--a 269-269 stalemate--...
  • Joe Lieberman: Man of the People

    Spotted on American Airlines Flight 840 from St. Louis to New York-LaGuardia: Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. Fresh from representing close friend and favored presidential candidate John McCain last night at Washington University's "Spin Row"--he told reporters that Sarah Palin "did great"--the independent legislator was seated (gasp!) in the middle of the coach cabin. (Fox News's Alan Colmes, on the other hand, was in business class. The indignity.) Here's the best shot my BlackBerry could muster (Lieberman's the fuzzy figure stowing his luggage in the overhead compartment):     "It's weird to see him sitting in coach," one flight attendant said to another. "Why?" the second attendant replied. "It's not like he's Madonna or something."   Indeed. That said, flight attendants don't usually praise Madonna for her "bipartisanship." So there's always that.  
  • Why McCain is Leaving Michigan--and What It Means for Nov. 4

    Last night's debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden may not have "altered the basic contours of the race." But that doesn't mean nothing important happened yesterday. It's just that it was happening 365 miles to the northeast, in the great state of Michigan.Lost amid all the Beltway blather and bloviation about the Showdown in St. Louis Thursday evening was one of the most significant revelations since the start of the race. John McCain, it seems, has decided to pull out of the Great Lakes State. As Politico's Jonathan Martin reported first, "McCain will go off TV in Michigan, stop dropping mail there and send most of his staff to more competitive states." The information leaked after McCain, who has watched Barack Obama surge to a sizable lead in national and swing state polls over the past few days, canceled a local event scheduled for next week. "It was always a long shot for us to win," said an aide.That's probably accurate. But the truth is, without Michigan--which the...
  • The Filter: Oct. 3, 2008

    A round-up of this morning's must-read stories.IN DEBATE, REPUBLICAN TICKET SURVIVES ONE TEST(Adam Nagourney, New York Times)Gov. Sarah Palin made it through the vice-presidential debate on Thursday without doing any obvious damage to the Republican presidential ticket. By surviving her encounter with Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. and quelling some of the talk about her basic qualifications for high office, she may even have done Senator John McCain a bit of good, freeing him to focus on the other troubles shadowing his campaign. It was not a tipping point for the embattled Republican presidential...
  • The Tale of Two Debates

    First things first: they both survived.For accuracy's sake, though, we should probably consider referring to tonight's "Showdown in St. Louis" as the "Showdowns in St. Louis." It was the Tale of Two Debates. In one ring we watched Sarah Palin battling Tina Fey's impression of Sarah Palin. In the other we saw Joe Biden jousting with John McCain. They both delivered somewhat uneven performances--but both "won" their individual bouts. The question is which one moved his or her boss closer to victory on Nov. 4.Palin's plan was simple: deliver your talking points and pivot to an attack on Barack Obama--regardless of what moderator Gwen Ifill asks. The results of this strategy were mixed. For one thing, Palin's frequent attempts to bait Biden into making one of his famous "gaffes" or saying something "condescending"--she repeatedly sought to provoke his ire by pointing out issues (i.e., Iraq war funding, experience) on which he and Obama have parted ways in the past--did not succeed. No...
  • Liveblogging... and Beyond

    NEWSWEEK editors Carl Sullivan, Mark Coatney, Arlyn Tobias Gajilan and Patrick Enright are liveblogging tonight's vice-presidential debate HERE.For my preview, click HERE. I'm in St. Louis, watching live--from the press file. I'll be back after the show with my analysis.  
  • Two from the Road...

    ITEM! When Sen. Joe Biden's campaign plane landed at Signature Flight Support in St. Louis this afternoon around 4:00 p.m Eastern, Gov. Sarah Palin's plane was still on the tarmac. How did I know? Because Palin's plane actually says "McCain-Palin"--unlike Biden's, which features the name of Minneapolis's low-cost Sun Country carrier: Wasn't Obama supposed to be the candidate with all the cash?ITEM! The meal on board Joe Force One this afternoon was the appropriately named "Philadelphia Executive Pack": a cheesesteak or chicken cheesesteak with a soft pretzel and Tastykake on the side: Clearly this was some sort of pre-debate comfort food for Sen. Biden, who lives well within the suburban orbit of Philadelphia. (As it was for Stumper, who grew up on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River.) My only question is whether it was the "Breakfast of Champions" sort of comfort food--or more like a last meal. Hotcha! Thank you ladies and germs. I'll be here all week. 
  • From the Department of Preaching to the Choir

    Spotted last night around 9:45 p.m... in Brooklyn, NY... on Bravo... during "Project Runway"... Obama's preemptively defensive new health care ad, which casts his plan as the moderate middle ground between "government run health care, higher taxes" on the left and "insurance companies without rules denying coverage" on the right:[youtube:jnk8minM3Qg]Who knew that Obama was targeting upscale, Bravo-watching Brooklyn fashionistas? A bold move, I say. A bold move.Next thing you know John McCain will be going after the military vote. In Oklahoma. 
  • No Doubts in Delaware

     WILMINGTON, Del.--After climbing into a taxi outside Wilmington's Amtrak station just now--I'm flying out to St. Louis with the Obama campaign--the first thing I did, naturally, was ask my cab driver about the depot's most famous customer: Joe Biden.Have you ever seen the senator in person? I said, assuming he had. Biden never fails to mention--in what's become stump shorthand for his blue-collar roots--that he rides the train home from Washington every night the Senate is in session.I wasn't disappointed. "All the time," said Calvin Peters, a wide grin spreading across his face. "Just last night, in fact. Sometimes I see him at the 7-Eleven, sometimes he's shopping at the grocery store. At the station, he talks to the cops or even the other cab drivers. And he always makes sure to say hello to Mr. Chen, who owns the Presto! Cafe."So I'm guessing you're going to watch tonight's debate? "Oh, yeah," said the 29-year old. "Absolutely. I can't wait." When I asked who was going to...
  • The Filter: Oct. 2, 2008... Veep Debate Edition

    A round-up of this morning's must-read stories.BIDEN VS. PALIN: PITFALLS GALORE(Jonathan Martin vs. Ben Smith, Politico)Between Sarah Palin, with her repeated missteps in a series of...
  • The Audacity of Blame

    [youtube:bsSo7sC9M2s]John McCain's latest ad is a marvel of modern political audacity. ...
  • McCain's Iowa Interview: More Pointless than Peevish

    [youtube:kHcPXfgD4jM]It's all the buzz this afternoon among Beltway types: video clips of John McCain speaking to the the Des Moines Register editorial board yesterday that objective observers are billing as "a hard-edged McCain that is rarely seen on film"--and that more partisan reviewers are calling "shocking... mean... nasty... rude... [and] arrogant." According to them, it's rated R--for really, really enraged. "Wow!" says one commenter over at the Politico. "Wait till this shi...hits the [mainstream] press!"Did McCain make a mistake in the DMR interview? Absolutely. Does it have anything to do with his performance? Not in my view.It's not that McCain doesn't get kind of peeved in the clips. He does. It's just that I don't think he seems surly enough to even marginally impact what moderate, undecided voters think of him. Will die-hard Obamans see evidence here of McCain's "temperament problem"? Sure. But that's what they want to see. Clearly hoping to stoke the "McCain is...
  • Could Indiana Go Blue?

    Picture a swing state. Got it? Good. Chances are it looks peninsular, like Florida. Or triangular, like New Hampshire. Or maybe even amoeboid, like Ohio....