NEWS AND OPINION:
ObamaCare may not be a popular topic at the moment, but ObamaHair is proving to be a crowd pleaser on the never-ending White House campaign trail. Nimble strategists and speechwriters have turned President Obama’s graying hair and evolving image into a campaign tool and rallying cry of sorts. A little self-deprecating humor plays very well, particularly when it hints of newfound wisdom and some hope-y in the old change-y.
“I’ve said this before. This election will not be as sexy as the first one. Back then, it was still fresh and new, and I didn’t have any gray hair, and everybody loved the ‘Hope’ posters and all that,” Mr. Obama told a merry crowd at a Los Angeles fundraiser. “But this time, we’ve got to grind it out a little bit. We’ve got to grind it out.”
And at a Las Vegas fundraiser, Mr. Obama again referenced the march of time - his words again punctuated by appreciative laughter.
“I turned 50 this summer. My hair is a little grayer now. You noticed that, huh? Yes. My girls say it’s distinguished. Michelle says it just makes me look old,” the president said, later adding, “That old ‘Hope’ poster is fading. It’s getting dog-eared along the edges there. But I just want to remind all of you that we never said this was going to be easy. We never said that change was going to happen overnight. The problems that we confront didn’t happen overnight. We weren’t going to solve them overnight.”
Presidential hopeful Herman Cain’s new campaign video has his friends and foes alike all a-dither, and the press critical but flummoxed. The 60-second spot showcases Mr. Cain’s chief of staff, Mark Block, earnestly talking up the political prowess of his boss, then taking a long thoughtful draw on a Marlboro Light.
Needless to say, the video has gone viral. The mustachioed and unapologetic Mr. Block has already defended himself, telling CNN that “America needs to get a sense of humor,” and saying to Fox News, “I personally would encourage people not to smoke. It’s just that I’m a smoker and as a lot of people on the staff said: Just let Block be Block. I’m not the only one that smokes in America, for God’s sake. It’s a choice that I’ve made. It was at the end of the ad.”
Rivals notice, though. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has gleefully homed in on the caterwaul. Mr. Perry has posted the video at his own Facebook site and weighed in: “The ad was so bizarre, people thought it was a hoax.”
CAIN STILL ABLE
In the meantime, the Hermanator continues to win voters, unabated: Herman Cain just plain “trounces” rival Mitt Romney says a new Zogby poll, proof that Mr. Cain’s cheerful, plainspoken campaign still resonates. In the nine-candidate field, 39 percent of GOP primary voters would pick Mr. Cain if the election were held today, while 19 percent preferred Mr. Romney and 13 percent Newt Gingrich, now in third place.
But in a Cain/Romney matchup? Numbers were stark: 63 percent supported Mr. Cain, 29 percent Mr. Romney, though the latter still emerges the victor in a match with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul. Oddly enough, Zogby found that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie - who could do no wrong two weeks ago - is not immune from the restless dynamics of the primary race.
“Christie endorsed Romney on Oct. 11. Three-fourths of GOP voters said the endorsement made no difference to them, but it did negatively impact Christie,” says Zogby analyst Corry Schiermeyer.
While 56 percent said their feelings hadn’t changed toward Mr. Christie after the endorsement, just 10 percent felt “more favorable” to him while 34 percent felt “more negative.”
A NEWT MOMENT
“At some point I think it’s going to come down to Romney and me. Once we get down to a two-person debate, then I’m reasonably confident I will win.”
(Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, in a campaign appearance in Maquoketa, Iowa.)
HAIL TO EVANS
There are lawyers, then there are uber-lawyers. J. Randolph Evans is the uber kind. Just named the 2011 “Republican Lawyer of the Year” by the Republican National Lawyers Association, for his “outstanding professional accomplishments and years of service to the Republican Party and its ideals.”
Indeed. Republican luminaries fete him Wednesday at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington. Among them: Reps. Paul C. Broun, Phil Gingrey, Tom Graves, Jack Kingstonand Tom Price of Georgia; Darrell E. Issa of California, plus Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, Newt Gingrich, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, former RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele, former House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert and former lawmaker J.C. Watts.
Mr. Evans’ pedigree: He served as the outside counsel to Mssrs. Gingrich and Hastert during the 104th-109th congresses and still represents them, along with a spate of current and former lawmakers and public officials, including Sonny Purdue and Zell Miller. He also chairs the J.C. Watts Companies, and until Mr. Gingrich hit the campaign trail, Mr. Evans chaired several of the candidate’s business endeavors as well. Mr. Evans is currently partner and chairman of the financial institutions practice at McKenna, Long & Aldridge LLP in Atlanta.
POLL DU JOUR
• 73 percent of Americans are not confident that the White House will “produce policies to help fix the economic crisis.”
• 93 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of conservatives, 48 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of liberals agree.
• 77 percent overall give President Obama a negative review for his job performance related to the economy.
• 95 percent of Republicans, 93 percent of conservatives, 56 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of liberals agree.
• 66 percent would support a surtax on incomes of more than $1 million a year.
• 48 percent of Republicans, 85 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents agree.
Source: A Harris Poll of 2,463 adults conducted Oct. 10 to 17.
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