An oddity of U.S. presidential politics is that candidates and their campaigns spend nearly all their time telling voters how superior they are to their rivals in virtually every area: the wisdom of their policy proposals; the soundness of their characters and judgments — everything, really.
Except for debating.
It's the old game of setting the bar high for your opponent and lower for your candidate, of course. That way, anything short of a disastrous debate performance can be claimed as a knockout victory.
A big embarrassment came this week for the Republican Party, which has made voting integrity and fighting voter fraud a major issue.
A consulting firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in five battleground states has been let go after one of its workers apparently submitted over 100 questionable registration forms in Florida's Palm Beach County.
The party severed its ties with the firm — Strategic Allied Consulting — because it has "zero tolerance" for voter fraud, said RNC spokesman Sean Spicer.
Less than six weeks to go and President Obama seems to have opened up a lead in the battleground states of Ohio, Virginia and Florida. Aside from poor economic numbers and worsening international events, Mitt Romney's best hope lies in the debates, which begin next week. Also to no one's surprise — and Sen. Claire McCaskill's delight — Todd Akin stays in the Missouri Senate race.
Join NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin for the latest political news in this week's roundup.
One of the most important seats in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate is in Wisconsin, where Democrat Herb Kohl is retiring. Early polls showed popular former Gov. Tommy Thompson might easily flip the seat to the GOP, but he's now trailing Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin. It's a race that's going down to the wire in this almost evenly divided state.
Let's follow-up now on a story that prompted some debate among our listeners when it first aired. Here's NPR's Ari Shapiro, who stumbled upon this post-script.
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: When Mitt Romney spoke to the American Legion Conference in Indianapolis last month, thousands of people from across the country were in the audience. I happened to speak with Bobbie Lussier of Virginia, who said this about President Obama...
Undecided voters in Ohio got a lot of attention this week from President Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney. Coal may be the key to many swing voters in the Buckeye State, which remains a top coal producer.
It's an issue weighing on coal miner Rick Carpenter's mind at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival in southeastern Ohio.
"Save coal — fire Obama. Yeah, I've got one of those signs in my yard," he says.
During the Republican National Convention last month, I traveled with Mitt Romney's campaign from Tampa, Fla., to the American Legion conference in Indianapolis.
Romney delivered a speech about foreign affairs and national security. Among the thousands of attendees from around the country, I interviewed one woman from Virginia whose quote sparked a conversation among NPR's audience and staff.