- The Washington Times - Monday, September 17, 2012

It is an unusual crossing of political paths, on a campaign trail that could only lead to New York City: President Obama and Libertarian Gary Johnson will both be in Manhattan on Tuesday. Let us start with the tenacious Mr. Johnson, who clings to his third-party status in a manner that worries Republicans concerned that he could siphon votes from Mitt Romney. At high noon, the New York University College Libertarian Club hosts Mr. Johnson and a motley crew of celebrated folks that includes Fox Business Network host John Stossel, Jesse Ventura, Andrew Napolitano and onetime “Manhattan Madam”/New York gubernatorial hopeful Kristin M. Davis.

Mr. Johnson is on a three-week tour of 15 college campuses, touting the message of “fiscal conservatism and social tolerance,” he says, and he remains grateful to fans of Rep. Ron Paul who threw their support his way when the Texas Republican suspended his own campaign last month.

Meanwhile, hip hop uber-stars Beyonce and Jay-Z host a glittering fundraiser at the 40/40 Club on Tuesday evening; Jay-Z owns the club, the price for admission is $40,000, and 100 guests are expected. Mr. Obama will also appear for the seventh time on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman,” a phenomenon that has prompted Mitt Romney and a host of conservative critics to ask why the president does not have time to meet with, say, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Last but not least, Mr. Romney will also be in New York on Tuesday by video proxy. With his wife, Ann, he’ll appear on “Live with Kelly and Michael,” the syndicated morning talk show featuring Kelly Ripa and new co-host Michael Strahan. Mr. Romney reveals that he would most like to dine with Nelson Mandela, he doesn’t like to wear much to bed and that among current reality TV stars, he prefers Snooki to Honey Boo-Boo.

ON MESSAGE

Though myriad news organizations have squawked in unison that the Romney campaign is in a state of disarray, a little practical evidence suggests otherwise. Things seem organized and on message, judging from “The Romney Plan,” one of two new campaign ads released Monday. It’s already drawn accolades for its effective simplicity from the likes of Powerline.com founder John Hinderaker.

“My plan is to help the middle class. Trade has to work for America. That means cracking down on cheaters like China, and opening up the markets,” Mitt Romney says in the 30-second spot. “Next, we have to balance the budget. We’ve got to cut the deficit. We’ve got to stop spending more than we take in. Finally, champion small business. Have tax policy, regulations and health care policy that help small business. We put those in place and we’ll have 12 million new jobs in four years.”

Incidentally, a Rasmussen Reports daily tracking poll released Monday finds Mr. Romney with 47 percent of voters nationwide and 85 percent among conservatives, while President Obama earns 45 percent overall, and 91 percent of the liberal vote.

BYPASSING HOLLYWOOD

The number of independent films that flourish beyond the boundaries of Tinseltown continues to grow. First there was “2016: Obama’s America,” now in 2,000 commercial theaters and emphasizing the state of the nation should President Obama win re-election. Now comes “The Hope and the Change” produced by Citizens United founder David Bossie and veteran filmmaker Stephen Bannon, which features 40 Democratic and independent voters in seven swing states discussing their disillusionment with Mr. Obama, and their speculation on the polling booth.

“The voters bought into that hope that Obama would be different, that he would be someone who would bring the world together,” Mr. Bossie says. “And now it’s more divided today. Those types of messages are really what’s important.”

The one-hour film debuts on HDNet Movies at 7 p.m., then airs 85 times through Nov. 6 on AXS TV, RFD-TV, FamilyNet, Rural TV and World Harvest Television, with additional broadcasts on six broadcast network in Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Hawaii and Colorado. See what’s what here: www.thehopeandthechange.com.

THE HISTORIC CAMPAIGN

“I’m conservative but I’m not a nut about it.”

— George H.W. Bush to the Republican National Convention, Aug. 21, 1984.

AIR POTUS

“On a typical presidential trip, as many as 200 hotel rooms must be booked, along with two jumbo 747s, two passenger jets, five helicopters, 35 motorcade vehicles and charter flights for the press. Hundreds of people are involved with the preparation and logistics of the president’s travel — from the administration’s senior advisers to the Secret Service, Travel Office, Military Office and medical teams, these individuals must work as one, to ensure the president’s travel runs as efficiently as possible.”

And so says the Travel Channel, which will soon air a one-hour special about all of the above. “Travel Like a President,” hosted by NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander, transports viewers to Air Force One and beyond, detailing the backstage extravaganza required to meet a commander in chief’s itinerary. Among the White House insider sources: Former chief of staff Andrew Card, former press secretary Mike McCurry, former White House travel director Gregg Pitts and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino.

The special airs Oct. 2.

POLL DU JOUR

• 43 percent of Americans are following the story about attacks on U.S. embassies overseas “very closely.”

• 48 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of independents and 41 percent of Democrats are following the situation very closely.

• 45 percent of Americans overall approve of President Obama’s handling of the embassy attacks.

• 11 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents and 75 percent of Democrats agree.

• 26 percent overall approve of Mitt Romney’s public comments after the attacks.

• 58 percent of Republicans, 23 percent of independents and 5 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press poll of 1,001 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 13 to 16.

Squawks and press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com.