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Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the Web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 11 days in Philadelphia.

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Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

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Can Romney Debate As Well When Not The Underdog?

Oct 16, 2012
Originally published on October 16, 2012 7:06 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

For Mitt Romney, this moment is a peak in a campaign that has had more than its fair share of valleys. During the Republican primary campaign, Romney suffered a number of close calls as the nomination and the presidency seemed about to slip through his fingers. The most recent of those close calls came just two weeks ago in Denver when Romney lagged far behind President Obama going into that first debate.

But once again, Mitt Romney pulled out a performance that silenced the naysayers. Now that the candidates are about to meet for another debate, the question is, can Romney perform just as well when he is no longer the underdog? NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: In late January, things were looking grim for Mitt Romney. Political junkies all assumed he'd be the Republican presidential nominee, but then he lost Iowa to Rick Santorum by a few votes and Newt Gingrich buried him in South Carolina. The only state he managed to carry was New Hampshire, and the Romney family owns a house there.

Heavy clouds hung over the campaign as it entered the Sunshine State, then something surprising happened. The Mitt Romney who touched down in Florida, turned out to be a candidate nobody had seen before.

MITT ROMNEY: Eighty-eight percent of his Republicans voted to reprimand Speaker Gingrich. He has not had a record of successful leadership.

SHAPIRO: The analytical businessman was gone, replaced by a scrappy fighter on the stump. And in debates, the Massachusetts governor who had floated above the fray took off the white gloves and bloodied his knuckles.

ROMNEY: If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I'd say, you're fired.

SHAPIRO: Newt Gingrich's lead in the polls disappeared and Romney won Florida. But the primaries weren't over. A month later, Mitt Romney started to flag again in his birth state of Michigan. Rick Santorum whipped crowds into a frenzy, while Romney described his economic policies to a nearly empty football stadium in Detroit.

ROMNEY: I guess we had a hard time finding a large enough place to meet and this certainly is.

SHAPIRO: At that same event, Romney took heat for saying his wife drives a couple of Cadillacs. So it was all the more surprising when the man who showed up in Kalamazoo a few hours later was relaxed, funny and more genuine than he'd seemed in months. He talked about his father's strange decision to buy a gravesite in the town of Brighton.

ROMNEY: Because we didn't live in Brighton. It's like, how did you pick Brighton, dad? Well, best price I could find in the whole state. So if you're looking for the best deal on a gravesite, check Brighton. They got a good spot and you're near the former governor and the former first lady.

SHAPIRO: In Michigan, Romney came through again. Finally, he arrived at the general election where soon enough, things started to go wrong. His vice presidential pick provided no bounce. The Republican convention was a muddle and a series of campaign gaffes made everything worse. Just two week ago, Mitt Romney walked into the first debate so far behind in polls that news organizations were already publishing premortems, explaining why he'd lost the race. But he hadn't lost yet.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE)

JIM LEHRER: And I welcome you to the first of the 2012 presidential debates...

SHAPIRO: Once again, when the challenger was at his lowest, he performed at his highest. In that 90-minute debate, Mitt Romney erased President Obama's lead in polls.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE)

ROMNEY: Mr. President, you're entitled, as the president, to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts.

SHAPIRO: This moment now is different from Florida and Michigan. In those states, a short term sprint put Romney over the finish line. But now, there are still three weeks to go until Election Day. The polls are virtually tied. Romney is no longer a clear underdog and that puts the Republican candidate in a difficult spot, says Jennifer Donahue. She's a political scientist at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

JENNIFER DONAHUE: Romney needs to stay hungry. They need to pretend they're 10 points behind even when they're not, especially in states where it matters, like Ohio. They have to fight like it's their last fight every day for the next month.

SHAPIRO: Romney campaign advisor Kevin Madden says that's the plan.

KEVIN MADDEN: There is a certain mental aspect to running like you are behind. If you do so, then you'll never take anything for granted.

SHAPIRO: Until now, Romney's grand slams have come when people are writing him off for dead. His challenge tonight is to do it again while he's very much alive and kicking. Ari Shapiro, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.