- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rumors that Mitt Romney’s campaign materials suffer disgraceful defacement around the nation appear to be true. And here’s one more example. Solitary pro-Romney lawn signs in a heavily Democratic neighborhood have been draped with, uh, used doggie-doo disposal bags in recent days. This news comes from a comfortable enclave of supposed civility in the Maryland suburbs near the nation’s capital.

But there’s a happier ending, and proof of safety in numbers, perhaps.

“The interesting thing is that two other houses nearby have since put up their own Romney/Ryan signs. And the dog poo stuff has ceased,” advises the affected homeowner in question.

WATCH THE SPIN

With the big debate just a day away, Vice President Joseph R. Biden will huddle in a Delaware hotel until Thursday morning with four advisers and sparring partner Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. As part of his prep, Mr. Biden has read “Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders,” the 2010 book Rep. Paul Ryan co-authored with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. The vice president is no doubt beefing up his economic rhetoric while testing the practical limits of waggish humor and/or derring-do upon the dais. The White House, meanwhile, has revealed its spin card for the event, and thus, a few more talking points for the sympathetic media.

“The question here is, which Paul Ryan is going to come to the debate later this week,” Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the re-election campaign, told White House reporters Tuesday.

“Is it going to be the Paul Ryan who has been misleading about everything from his marathon time to details and specifics he included in his convention speech? Or is it going to be the Paul Ryan who has eagerly embraced voucherizing Medicare and tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires? Of course, it’s an important opportunity to lay out the choice. We’ll all be watching. The president will be watching. And we’ll see which Paul Ryan comes to the debate,” she added.

GIPPER 101

Behold, a college course centered upon Ronald Reagan, at the former president’s very own alma mater. Eureka College debuts “Reagan 101” to the discerning public on Oct. 22; the four-day course will be taught by longtime Reagan historian Craig Shirley, at a nominal price of $101 — a figure marking the fact that the president would have been 101 this year.

The first of several “Visiting Reagan Scholars” programs on the Illinois campus, the course will parse Reagan’s presidential campaigns, how they swayed politics, plus the enduring lessons of the process. Lectures, class discussions and live question-and-answer sessions via Skype with Newt Gingrich, Joe Scarborough, Reagan biographer Lou Cannon and columnist Peggy Noonan are part of the program. For more information, call 309/467-6319.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience for students and the general public. This course comes just in time to provide an educated look at not only all presidential elections, but the upcoming one as well,” says J. David Arnold, president of the college.

Mr. Shirley is the author of “Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America,” “Reagan’s Revolution” and “December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World.”

THE HISTORIC CAMPAIGN

“If we can lower the voting age to nine, we are going to sweep the state.”

— Then-Sen. John F. Kennedy, during a presidential campaign speech in Girard, Ohio, on Oct. 9, 1960.

WRESTLING RYAN AND RAND

“We do not question Paul Ryan’s faith. We are concerned, however, that defenders of Ryan have gone beyond highlighting the aspects of Catholic moral teaching with which his political positions are laudably consistent, to argue that his Ayn Rand ‘inspired’ individualist and anti-government vision and the policies they inform are themselves legitimately Catholic. They are not.”

— (From a public letter signed by 100 Catholic theologians and scholars challenging Rep. Paul Ryan “as a vice presidential debate approaches featuring two Catholics for the first time in U.S. history.” See their complete statement here: www.onourshoulders.org).

ROMNEY FEVER

Staid, disengaged, passive Republicans? Hardly. The Grand Old Party has ground game, even as President Obama urges his fans to be “obsessive” about getting him re-elected. Republicans are there, and then some. Close to 100,000 eager volunteers have phoned potential voters and knocked on doors in 11 battleground states. All tallied, they made 35 million voter contacts — four times as many phone calls and three times as many doors knocks as were made in 2008.

“Enthusiasm affects turnout. A tepid supporter is less likely to cast a ballot,” observes Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley.

VIRGIL’S MOMENT

A third-party candidate gets his say Friday. That would be Virgil H. Goode Jr., the Constitution Party candidate for president and former Virginia congressman, who will hold forth at the National Press Club on his reasons for running. More than one political analyst says his campaign could sway voters in that pivotal commonwealth, where the contest is close indeed between Mitt Romney and President Obama.

Mr. Goode, incidentally, is on the ballot in more than half the states and on the write-in ballot in an additional 10 to 15 states. Among his strongest issues: Balancing the budget in less than a decade, protecting jobs by limiting foreign green-card holders entering the U.S., plus term limits for the U.S. House and Senate.

POLL DU JOUR

• 89 percent of Americans believe in God; 80 percent say religion is important in their life.

• 48 percent are Protestants, as are 60 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats.

• 22 percent are Catholics, as are 22 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of Democrats.

• 19 percent are unaffiliated with any faith, as are 11 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of Democrats.

• 6 percent are members of another faith, as are 7 percent of Republicans and 9 percent of Democrats.

Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 2,973 U.S. adults conducted June 28-July 9 and released Tuesday.

Spirited debate, murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com