- - Monday, October 15, 2012

The United Auto Workers gave $1 million to President Obama’s super PAC and another million to super PACs working to elect Congressional Democrats last month, filings showed Monday. And the union received more than $5 million from its Detroit affiliate, meaning it has millions more to spend before Election Day.

Priorities USA has come from behind to outrages and outspend the Mitt Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, in recent months. But maintaining money in the bank among Democratic groups will be important because Mr. Romney has opted for a last-minute advertising blitz rather than the sustained blows Mr. Obama has levied.

Michigan is among the most anti-Romney money sources in the country — despite Mr. Romney having been born there — in large part due to his opposition to the auto industry bailout.

CAMPAIGN

Ex-N.Y. mayor: Obama’s first term a disaster

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said Monday that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s purported shifts in his positions on a host of subjects is no longer an issue for him and that Mr. Romney, a “practical businessperson,” would not be an “extreme ideologue” if elected president.

“He has changed his position on virtually everything,” Mr. Giuliani said in February on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “He was a traditional, moderate Republican and he changed all that.”

Mr. Giuliani, however, said Mr. Romney’s changes no longer give him pause.

“I looked at President Obama, I said four more years of President Obama, a disaster for our economy, a confused foreign policy, a Middle East that’s falling apart — my goodness, Mitt Romney‘d be a lot better than that,” Mr. Giuliani said Monday on CNN’s “Starting Point.”

MONTANA

Democratic governor makes impression in red state

MARYSVILLE — A day spent with Montana’s Brian Schweitzer makes it easy to understand why he’s one of the most unusual and effective governors in the country.

At his ranch or wherever, the popular Democrat in a conservative state never misses a chance to leave a lasting impression.

He is proud of his ranch and the spring-fed fishing ponds 40 miles from Helena, with no cellphone service.

But he adds that he’s well armed.

It’s not often that a governor from a rural state is considered potential cabinet level or even presidential material. But the 57-year-old Mr. Schweitzer is creating that kind of dark horse buzz with a mastery of current affairs and a unique capacity for self-promotion.

Some Democrats hoped he would run for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat this cycle, which he spurned. Others worry he could mount a primary challenge in 2014 to Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, with whom he has a prickly relationship. But he says neither fits.

STATE

Clinton heads to Peru amid domestic drama

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is headed to Peru to talk women’s empowerment amid political drama in Washington over the handling of last month’s deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Mrs. Clinton left Monday for the long-planned event in Lima after a weekend of more criticism from Republicans over the Obama administration’s initial explanation of the Sept. 11 attack and security at the consulate where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans died.

Republicans have seized on the attack as a sign of weakness in President Obama’s foreign policy. They accuse the administration of mishandling security at the consulate and then misrepresenting the nature of the attack.

Mrs. Clinton has vowed a full and open investigation into the incident.

FLORIDA

Political ads in high gear, but tuning out a worry

ORLANDO — Is there any escape from all those political ads in some of the most hard-fought states in the three weeks before the elections?

The TV ads come in rapid succession and at all hours — in the middle of newscasts, soap operas and talk shows. It’s enough to turn off voters.

One analysis estimates the campaigns and independent groups will have spent about $1.1 billion on television advertising this year, with $750 million already allocated in states likely to determine the outcome of the presidential contest. Those are Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

At least some voters tuned out long ago, partly because of the negative ads and a lack of specifics in the commercials. Other voters may already have made up their minds.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Annual benefit boost to be less than 2 percent

Social Security recipients won’t be getting big benefit increases next year, but the small raises they will get are playing an important role in helping seniors grow their incomes. This comes as younger workers lose ground.

Preliminary figures show the annual benefit boost will be from 1 to 2 percent, which would be among the lowest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. Monthly benefits for retired workers average $1,237, meaning the typical retiree can expect an extra $12 to $24 a month.

The size of the cost-of-living adjustment will be made official Tuesday, when the government releases inflation figures for September.

How important is that adjustment? From 2001 to 2011, household incomes in the U.S. dropped for every age group except one: those 65 and older.

From wire dispatches and staff reports