TIME 2014 Election

Watch Obama Encounter a Jealous Boyfriend: ‘Don’t Touch My Girlfriend’

Politicans cast early vote ballots
President Barack Obama casts his early votes at Dr. Martin Luther King Community Center in Chicago Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. Antonio Perez—Chicago Tribune / Getty Images

'I really wasn't planning on it'

President Barack Obama held his own against a jealous boyfriend in Chicago on Monday.

“Mr. President, don’t touch my girlfriend,” said a man identified by CNN as Mike Jones, as Obama cast his early ballot in the Illinois state elections next to a woman named Aia Cooper.

“I really wasn’t planning on it,” Obama said, without looking up from his ballot, as Cooper laughed. A visibly embarrassed Cooper then offered an apology on behalf of her fiancé. Obama was sympathetic, though, joking “there’s an example of a brother just embarrassing me for no reason.”

After a brief conversation as the two finished voting, the video shows, Obama gave Cooper a quick kiss on the cheek, to give Jones “something to talk about.”

[CNN]

Read next: Obama Votes Early in Chicago

TIME 2014 Election

GOP Wields Romney Fundraising List in Senate Battle

A potent tool for raising cash

If Republicans retake the Senate next month, they’ll have done it with a lot of help from Mitt Romney.

The former GOP presidential nominee’s digital operation may have been a generation behind President Barack Obama’s effort, but his email list has proven to be a potent fundraising too for the party as it looks for victory this fall. “It’s easily our most successful digital fundraising source,” said Matt Lira. executive director of the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm. “As far as our fundraising is concerned, there’s the Romney list and there’s everything else.”

In the past week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has emailed the list no fewer than 16 times, many times with emails addressed from Romney himself, while the National Republican Congressional Committee, House Republican’s campaign arm, has used it at least once.

Maintained in a nondescript office overlooking the Potomac River in Alexandria by his former digital consulting firm Targeted Victory, the list is one of the Republican Party’s most valuable assets, containing millions of email addresses and records of more than 1.5 million digital donors to that campaign. “This is the largest donor base in the history of politics on the right,” said Zac Moffatt, a co-founder of the firm and the former Romney campaign’s digital director.

Moffatt’s firm maintains day-to-day control of the list and takes a cut of the fundraising proceeds and list maintenance fees, according to people familiar with the arrangement. The firm, which has been paid millions by the NRSC for its digital fundraising work, transferred more than $100,000 into Romney’s campaign account in June for the rights to use the list.

“Governor Romney is excited that Republican candidates and committees are making use of the Romney for President email list for fundraising and [get-out-the-vote purposes this cycle,” said Romney aide Kelli Harrison. “Hopefully access to this tool will make a difference in races all across the country.”

The value is clear, Lira said. “It’s the largest list of people who are predisposed to donate, predisposed to volunteer, predisposed to vote Republican,” he said. “The Romney donor base is broader, compared to some more ideological lists.” When donors give through the Romney list, it both freshens the underlying list and provides the NRSC with a new contact for its internal lists.

Renters have the option of reaching out to the entire universe of donors, or just segments, like those who purchased merchandise or participated in contests on the Romney campaign, in hopes of generating greater return on investment.

In 2012, the Romney campaign, flush with cash, rented almost every GOP email list available so it could build its own list of contacts and donors, making it the most comprehensive collection of GOP emails, outstripping even the Republican National Committee according to industry sources.

“Email is king to online fundraising,” said Vincent Harris, whose firm Harris Media works for clients like Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell. He added the Targeted Victory arrangement “brings about a big point that candidates don’t think of: who owns their data?”

Lira declined to say how much the NRSC has raised off the Romney list; the committee has been massively outraised by its Democratic counterpart.

The Romney approach differs from that used by Obama, whose campaign also maintains control of the his small-dollar donor and volunteer lists for the use of Organizing for Action, the nonprofit issue advocacy group he has thrown his name behind. Obama transferred his data and other lists to the Democratic National Committee.

While the Romney list remains fresh, don’t look to it as evidence that the two-time White House hopeful will make a third bid. The list has also been used by potential 2016 candidates like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, and Rick Perry.

TIME 2014 Election

Obama White House Finds Ebola and ISIS Crises Silver Lining

US-VOTE-OBAMA
President Barack Obama casts a ballot in early voting for the 2014 midterm elections at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center October 20, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

An excuse for why he's not campaigning for more Democrats.

President Barack Obama has found a silver lining in months of global crises: an excuse for why he’s not out on the campaign trail for Democrats this fall.

Asked Monday if it was odd two weeks before the midterm elections that Obama was not spending more time on the road for Democrats, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz pointed to all the president’s other commitments, including the twin crises of Ebola and ISIS, which have upended Senate campaigns around the country.

“I don’t think it’s weird given everything that we are trying to manage,” he told reporters in Chicago, where Obama cast an early ballot this morning and held one of just seven pre-Election Day rallies last night. “As I think we’ve said now for some time there’s a lot of significant, complex situations going on both around the world and here at home and I think a lot of those issues have dominated the president’s time. Given that the elections are a few weeks away, obviously that is a priority as well. So I think you’ll see the president as he did yesterday campaign when he can.”

Few Democrats around the country have invited Obama out on the campaign trail, given his toxic appeal in swing states this cycle. Nationwide, Obama’s approval rating, as measured by Gallup, stands at 40%, just above his historic low of 38%. In the second week of October, 41% of the country disapproved of Obama’s performance, compared with the 37% approval rate George W. Bush had at the same point in his presidency.

Last week the White House announced that Obama would appear at only seven rallies in Democratic-leaning states, and would only appear with a single Democratic Senate candidate before Election Day. The Senate appearance will be with Gary Peters, a Democratic candidate in Michigan, who has been leading by double digits in some recent polls. One of the seven rallies, for Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, was postponed last week so Obama could attend meetings at the White House on Ebola. The White House said it would be rescheduled before the election.

Republicans need to pick up six seats to win control of the U.S. Senate next year. Current polling averages suggest the party is slightly favored to win at least that many, with fifteen days to go before polls close.

TIME 2014 Election

Voters Say Events in U.S. ‘Out of Control’

Poll finds anxiety on a range of issues, from Ebola to health care costs

Call it the Freakout Election.

Two-thirds of likely voters in the most competitive states and congressional districts in the midterm election fight think events in the U.S. are “out of control,” according to a new poll. The survey by Politico found widespread anxiety about the Ebola outbreak, terrorism, health care costs and President Barack Obama’s leadership. Only 36% think the U.S. is “in a good position to meet its economic and national security” challenges.

The poll underscores how both Obama’s low approval ratings and a general sense of disarray are weighing down Democrats just weeks before voters go to the polls to decide which party will control the Senate. A majority of voters, 54%, either strongly disapprove or somewhat disapprove of Obama’s job performance.

Read more at Politico

TIME Disease

A Major Ebola Outbreak in the U.S. or Europe Is Unlikely, Says WHO

The statement comes as the U.S. moves quickly to contain the disease after the reporting of a third case

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said a widespread outbreak of the Ebola virus, which has killed thousands in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, will probably not be replicated in the U.S. or Europe thanks to the advanced health care systems in the West.

Christopher Dye, the director of strategy for the WHO, told the BBC that the potential spread of Ebola in the West was a matter “for very serious concern,” but added that an epidemic was improbable.

“We’re confident that in North America and Western Europe, where health systems are very strong, that we’re unlikely to see a major outbreak in any of those places,” Dye said.

The U.S., meanwhile, is dealing with its third Ebola case as Amber Vinson, a nurse who treated the country’s first patient who died earlier this month, was diagnosed with the disease.

It was revealed on Wednesday that Vinson was cleared to get on a plane by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official just a few days prior, despite having a mild temperature. Officials are attempting to track down and monitor her 131 fellow passengers.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who canceled two consecutive campaign events in order to take firmer action on Ebola, echoed the WHO view in a statement. “The dangers of a serious outbreak are extraordinarily low,” he said, “but we are taking this very seriously at the highest levels of government.”

[BBC]

TIME

Obama’s Leadership Shortage

His policies are fine. But the President is often a prisoner of his instincts

On the first Monday in October, Kasie Hunt of NBC asked U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat, what his feelings were about President Obama’s response to the Ebola threat. He said, and I quote, “Ahhh-uhhhhhhhhhm,” followed by two minutes of gobbledygook. Two days later, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senator from Kentucky, was asked who she voted for in 2008 and 2012. Her answer was similarly excruciating, and foolish. She cited the privacy of the ballot box. And about the same time, former-nearly-everything Leon Panetta landed a hammer blow on his old boss: “He [Obama] approaches things like a law professor in presenting a logic of his position … My experience in Washington is that logic alone doesn’t work. Once you lay out a position, you are going to roll up your sleeves and you have to fight to get it done … In order for Presidents to succeed, they cannot just–when they run into problems–step back and give up.”

All of this, especially Panetta, added fuel to the eternal bonfire of venality from the right. That Obama’s presidency has “disintegrated” or “crumbled” is now an article of faith in the Fox holes. Drudge featured an Ebola poster with the O an Obama symbol. That’s about as funny as MoveOn.org’s infamous “General Betrayus” ad. So it’s over, right? Obama’s toast, or a spectacularly terrible President at the very least, right?

Uhhhhhm. This is the part where I’m supposed to defend the President. He really did pull us out of a probable depression with an effective stimulus package; the economy continues to wheeze, but it wheezes forward. He really did make history by producing a universal health care plan that will not be repealed but will be reformed over time. The nonstop Republican critique that these programs were “disasters” has been rendered ridiculous. (In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell had to pull a Mark Pryor on that state’s very successful version of Obama’s plan.) The President has been sane and relatively moderate in his selection of Supreme Court Justices. His proposed job-growth policies would probably work, if given a chance by the Republicans.

He has been sane, too, in his foreign policy, for the most part. Those who say he should have been tougher on ISIS by arming the Syrian rebels–talking to you, Madam Secretary and Mr. Panetta–are wildly wrong. We would have wound up arming ISIS. There is precedent for this: we offered a fabulous buffet of armaments to the Iraqis, who left them for ISIS as they turned tail and ran in Mosul. Obama did cleave to the dreadful Nouri al-Maliki too uncritically–and thereby allowed a corrupt Shi’ite fragment to call its sectarian tune. That was Obama’s fundamental Iraq mistake.

But who hasn’t made an Iraq mistake over the past decade? The proof of Obama’s moderation can be found in the blundering simplicity of his critics: the neo-imperialists who think we can actually determine, by force of arms, what happens in the Middle East; the left-libertarians who don’t think we have the right to protect ourselves from terrorism by launching drone strikes, conducting special operations and tracking terrorist phone calls. Obama has stood as a bulwark against the irrationalities of both parties.

That’s the case for Obama. I really believe it. But I also believe that Panetta has a point. It is about the ethereal nature of true leadership. I remember writing a similar defense of Jimmy Carter nearly 40 years ago: a great number of the policies that Ronald Reagan was later given credit for launching–Paul Volcker’s tough inflation cure; a bristling stand against the Soviets, including intermediate missiles in Europe–were Carter’s policies first. He slugged his way to a historic peace treaty in the Middle East, but he didn’t convey two essential American qualities: forcefulness and optimism. Indeed, if you look at his infamous “malaise” speech, it’s a riveting piece of work, containing more tough truth about the country than the pile of Democratic utterances in the ensuing decade. I remember thinking, Poor Jimmy: history has led America to a rut, and we’ll never be as powerful as we once were. Reagan proved me young and foolish. Some of his achievements are illusory or attributable to Carter policies (as in economics), but the man knew how to lead.

I can’t say that for Obama. I sense that Panetta is right about his unwillingness to fight. Lately, the President’s body language has too often conveyed disgust and cynicism. He seems defeated by the trivial pursuits of the media and his opponents. He does not have the sunny conviction necessary to carry the country through a period of near biblical plagues and wars. His policies and popularity have been crippled by his dour political sense. A basic law of politics: this cannot last. But I have no idea what comes next.

TO READ JOE’S BLOG POSTS, GO TO time.com/swampland

Read next: A Troubled American Moment

TIME 2014 Election

10 People Who Will Face Pitchforks if Their Party Loses the Senate

Left: Reince Priebus; Right: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
Left: Reince Priebus; Right: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Susan Walsh—AP; Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images

The blame game is already in full swing, here’s a list of folks from both parties who’ll likely bear the brunt of the finger pointing should disaster strike

One side is going to lose, the Democrats or the Republicans. Such is the nature of most American elections. And that means someone will get blamed.

With polls showing a down-to-the-wire outcome in Senate races across the country, the blame game has already begun. The stakes, and tempers, will likely be higher if Republicans lose than Democrats, given the environmental headwinds that Democrats face. But neither side is immune from the fallout.

Below is a look at the top five folks who should, and probably already are, looking over their shoulders should their party lose the Senate this year.

If Republicans lose:

  1. Reince Priebus: The Republican National Committee chairman took over the party after the 2010 tea party wave and presided over its 2012 and 2014 strategy, promising voters and party leaders that the GOP would be resurgent. If the party falters next month, Priebus, whose two-year second term expires early next year, may find himself in the hot seat. The party’s much-publicized post-2012 autopsy remains a work in progress, and donors, who have helped the committee raise record amounts in recent years, may begin asking what he has to show for it. Working in Priebus’ favor is his firm control over the 168-member governing body of the party, but some are already threatening to abandon him if the GOP can’t take the Senate.
  2. Sen. Mitch McConnell: Even if the Senate minority leader survives the toughest challenge of his political career in what will surely by the most expensive Senate race in history, he’ll face a backlash from his conference if they lose the Senate. Not only will they say he sucked money from other races to fund an estimated $100 million battle to keep his seat, but he will now have overseen three consecutive losing cycles where odds and momentum should’ve handed Republicans control of the Senate. Sen. Ted Cruz has already refused to say if he’d vote for McConnell for leader—in the majority or the minority. Other candidates have also been muted or mum in their support for their potential leader. A loss of the Senate could mean a loss of McConnell’s leadership role if his party is outraged enough.
  3. Sen. Jerry Moran: The Kansas senator waged a stiff campaign to become the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee this cycle, promising to lead his party to the majority. In doing so, he edged out Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who was initially ambivalent about taking the post and became the vice chair of the group. But Moran’s leadership has been the subject of intense scrutiny among Republicans, many who would have preferred Portman to be in the top slot. The NRSC’s campaign against the insurgent Republican candidates has further put a target on his back should the party fail to win.
  4. Senate Conservatives Fund/ Sen. Ted Cruz: Boosting insurgent candidates against entrenched Senators forced Republicans to spend millions shoring up seats that would otherwise have been safe, waging primary battles instead of focusing on November. If Republicans lose, many moderate and business-types are sure to blame their party’s conservative elements. The Texas Senator was the face of that movement, and is hoping to capitalize on the scorn in order to boost a likely bid for the White House.
  5. Outside Money Groups: Republicans pioneered the use of Super PACs and shepherded in the rise of shadowy outside money groups in the 2010 and 2012 elections. But the groups’ outsized influence is waning, as Democrats have caught up on fundraising and have proven to deploy their resources more effectively. Republican donors were livid with former Bush political guru Karl Rove over the ineffective nature of his pro-Romney efforts in 2012. If Republicans fail to take the Senate, those calls will likely be louder and broader than ever before.

If Democrats Lose:

  1. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: The knives were already out of Wasserman Schultz’s back before early voting even began. Questions remain about how much President Obama supports the chair of the Democratic National Committee after his press secretary was asked if he has “complete confidence” in her last month and Josh Earnest responded that Obama had “strong confidence” in Wasserman Schultz. Strong does not equal complete. Though her second term does not expire until 2016, there are ways to force her out and certainly having the President turn against her publically would be hard to overcome.
  2. President Barack Obama: With approval ratings at 40%, the lowest they’ve been during his presidency, Obama was a pariah on the campaign trail. The most accomplished campaigner of the last six years, he was invited to just Illinois, Connecticut and Maine in 2014 to stump for candidates. With such stubby coattails, a loss of the Senate would be a tough referendum on the President’s legacy, especially since his astronomical popularity is what helped Democrats to historic majorities in the House and Senate in 2008. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. And oh, how angry Democrats will be with the President for dragging him down with him should they lose the Senate.
  3. Organizing for Action: The President’s historic “movement,” Organizing for Action, was supposed to be the magic bullet that could whip believers into a frenzy of electoral activity. If Democrats lose, critics will surely blame the overhyped OFA machine, which drew money early on from other needy areas and then never delivered. So much for hope and change.
  4. Guy Cecil: By all accounts the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ran the best possible campaign against the prevailing headwinds. The wizard had turned out a previous miracles, salvaging the Senate from odds and expectations in 2012. Losing it in 2014 won’t kill his career. But it may cost him his rumored next job: campaign manager of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid, especially if Democrats start blaming the lady herself for not helping enough.
  5. Hillary Clinton: The former Secretary of State is likely to declare a repeat bid for the White House in the coming months, but for years multiple groups have raised millions plotting her re-ascendance. Some Democrats have already argued that this money could have been better spent on 2014 Senate races, a chorus that may grow if the Democrats lose by a hair. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have been in demand among vulnerable Democrats all year, but she only hit the road after completing much of her book and paid-speaking tour. As Clinton gears up to run for president the last thing she may want to hear is ‘could you have done more.’
TIME celebrities

Gwyneth Paltrow to President Obama: “You’re So Handsome I Can’t Speak Properly”

Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP) Dan Steinberg—Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP

The Goop icon meets the President at a Los Angeles fundraiser

For perhaps the first time, Gwyneth Paltrow was at a loss for words.

The actress and cookbook author hosted a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at her Los Angeles home, and told guest of honor President Obama: “You’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly.”

Paltrow was reportedly composed enough in the presence of the President to remind him that she had been a longtime supporter, telling him she was “one of your biggest fans, if not the biggest.” The actress also told the assembled crowd, including Julia Roberts and The West Wing star Bradley Whitford, that equal pay was an issue “very important to me as a working mother.”

This sort of rhetoric has, historically, bothered those who find everything about Paltrow bothersome; she’s not exactly a typical working mother, as indicated by her weekly Goop newsletters advising readers on complicated recipes and luxury fashions.

But what Paltrow may lack in self-awareness she makes up for in passion. Even before last night’s fundraiser, the actress had been involved in politics, taping an ad encouraging expatriate Americans to vote for Obama via absentee ballot in the 2008 election. She lived in London at the time with her husband Chris Martin, from whom she has since consciously uncoupled.

For his part, Obama was reported to have enjoyed Paltrow’s hospitality. Following her compliment on his appearance, the President said “I’m taking her to the next event.”

TIME Peace

See the 20 Most Famous Nobel Peace Prize Laureates

On Friday, the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize will be announced. Since 1901, the Norwegian committee has bestowed 101 awards to individuals and 22 to organizations. Here are the 20 most famous figures who have received the prestigious honor

TIME ebola

Obama: U.S. Will Beef Up Airport Screenings for Ebola

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team and senior staff to receive an update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Oct. 6, 2014, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin—AP

But reassures Americans that odds of an outbreak here are "extraordinarily low"

President Barack Obama said Monday that the U.S. is working on additional passenger screenings for airline passengers flying from Ebola-stricken West Africa, two weeks after a Liberian man infected with the disease entered the country.

Officials are “going to be working on protocols to do additional passenger screenings both at the source and here in the United States,” Obama said, addressing reporters following a briefing on his administration’s response to the epidemic in Africa and efforts to keep the disease from spreading to the U.S. “All of these things make me confident that here in the United States at least the chances of an outbreak, of an epidemic here are extraordinarily low.”

The president did not give specifics on the new screening measures, and Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declined to elaborate further in an interview with CNN after the meeting.

Obama also said other countries need to “step up” to address the spread of the disease, which has already killed thousands. “Although we have seen great interest on the part of the international community, we have not seen other countries step up as aggressively as they need to,” he said. “So I’m going to be putting a lot of pressure on my fellow heads of state and government around the world to make sure that they are doing everything that they can to join us in this effort.”

The U.S. has deployed more than 100 medical professionals and is readying to send as many as 4,000 troops to help contain the outbreak in West Africa, while border agents and flight attendants are receiving training materials on how to spot potential travelers infected with Ebola.

But the disease’s long incubation period means that infected travelers may not show signs of illness for as long as 21 days after they’ve been exposed, a gap that allowed Thomas Eric Duncan to enter the U.S. last month from Liberia via Brussels.

Duncan is in “critical, but stable” condition in a Dallas-area hospital after being admitted last Sunday, and is being treated with an experimental drug called brinciodofovir. Ebola is only contagious once the infected individual shows symptoms, meaning fellow travelers were not in danger.

U.S. officials have said that it is possible that others infected with Ebola may enter the United States, but have expressed confidence that they will be quickly isolated once they show symptoms. A sick passenger on a flight from Brussels to Newark, N.J. was greeted by medical crews including officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Procedures are now in place to rapidly evaluate anybody who might be showing symptoms,” Obama said. “We saw that with the response of the airplane in Newark and how several hospitals across the United States have been testing for possible cases. In recent months we’ve had thousands of travelers arriving here from West Africa, and so far only one case of Ebola’s been diagnosed in the United States, and that’s the patient in Dallas.”

In an interview with CNN after the meeting, Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director, declined to elaborate on the potential new screening measures.

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