TIME 2014 Election

Obama Campaigns in Maine, Away From the Spotlight

President Obama at Portland Expo
President Barack Obama and Democratic Representative Mike Michaud raise their hands at the Democratic candidate's gubernatorial-election campaign rally in Portland, Maine, on Oct. 30, 2014 Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

Rally for gubernatorial candidate is a far cry from campaign moments of yesteryear

Five days before voters go to the polls to determine the outcome of the Senate, President Barack Obama was in the 41st most populated state wading into a contentious three-way race for governor. But even before he left, the modest nature of the trip on behalf of Democrats was readily apparent.

The airport was small, so Obama was relegated to a comparatively teeny modified Boeing-757 serving as Air Force One.

If any campaign swing captured the sorry state of the President before next week’s election, it was his five-hour exile to Maine on Thursday afternoon.

Obama’s first event was a private fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at a remote mansion accessible only by a 10-minute drive down a one-lane gravel road. Inside 25 donors paid at least $16,200 to meet with Obama away from the scrutiny of the media. It was a familiar scene for the President who has devoted most of the year to raising money in private.

He followed it with a rally in a stuffy Portland gymnasium for Democratic Representative Mike Michaud, who is neck and neck in his challenge of Republican Governor Paul LePage.

Obama told the crowd he was “a little wistful” because “this is the last election cycle in which I’m involved as President, because I do like campaigning. It’s fun.”

The event was a far cry from the Obama campaigns of yesteryear, in which his soaring rhetoric and voter enthusiasm combined to cinematic effect. There were no stops for ice cream or coffee with candidates, or impromptu visits to local landmarks. Instead he delivered a rote speech highlighting his economic record and lambasting Republicans for failing to compromise. The message clashed with that of Michaud, who devoted his remarks introducing Obama to criticizing the state’s economy under LePage.

It was just Obama’s fourth rally for Democrats this cycle, with only a handful more planned before polls close on Tuesday.

“He has done everything we’ve asked,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee executive director Guy Cecil said of the President on Thursday. They just haven’t asked for much other than to get out of the way.

From delaying promised executive action on immigration reform under pressure from vulnerable Senate Democrats to holding off on nominating a replacement to Attorney General Eric Holder, Obama has spent much of the past several months trying to avoid saddling members of his party with more baggage.

Earlier in October Obama unwittingly did just that, declaring, “I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.” The line, uttered about Democrats’ policy proposals, not specifically his, quickly became campaign fodder for Republicans.

Obama has been essentially sidelined to a dual role of brining in donations and turning out a less-than-enthusiastic Democratic base, as his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden have vigorously stumped for candidates.

His only event on behalf of a Democratic Senate candidate this cycle will be this weekend in Michigan for front-runner Representative Gary Peters.

— With reporting by Alex Altman / Washington, D.C.

TIME golf

Michael Jordan Doesn’t Think Much of President Obama’s Golf Skills

Milwaukee Bucks v Charlotte Hornets
Michael Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Hornets, watches on during their game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Time Warner Cable Arena on October 29, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Streeter Lecka—Getty Images

His Airness thinks he would destroy Obama on the green

Basketball great Michael Jordan has never played golf with President Barack Obama — but if he ever does, he thinks it would be a walk in the park.

“I’d take him out,” Jordan said Thursday, in a video interview with sportscaster Ahmad Rashad. “He’s a hack. It would be all day playing with him.”

When asked if he could play golf with anyone in the world, Jordan chose golfing great Arnold Palmer and the President. Though he’d likely struggle against Palmer, he had no such worries about Obama. “I never said he wasn’t a great politician,” Jordan went on to say. “I’m just saying he’s a s*** golfer.”

Those are some bold words about POTUS. But the 14-time NBA All-Star is known for his hyper-competitive streak on and off the golf course. Sports Illustrated‘s Rick Reilly once reported that after Jordan lost a game of golf to U.S. Olympic coach Chuck Daly, he got up the next morning and pounded on Daly’s hotel room door until the Dream Team coach agreed to a rematch. Jordan won.

TIME Parenting

This Twitter Feed of a Fake Overprotective Daycare Will Make Your Day

Especially if you're a parent

Are you surrounded by touchy-feely, super-appropriate parents? Do you dread questions about soy milk in the daycare pickup line? Then the fake Twitter feed of Los Feliz Day Care is for you.

L.A. comedian Jason Shapiro gathered parenting inspiration from his girlfriend (who is getting a PhD in education) and from eavesdropping around Los Feliz. And while he originally started this genius account as a way to prank his co-workers, the results are still pretty incredible:

Shapiro doesn’t have kids, but says he would probably be a pretty hip dad. “I think that I would 100% fall into the category of dressing my kids of up in hip clothes and Beastie Boys T-shirts,” he says. “I think I would still try to make fun of it and make light of it, but this parody is really coming from a place of understanding.”

What’s the most ridiculous parenting trope he’s lampooning? The anti-vaxxers, he says. Los Feliz’s twitter bio specifies that “**we do not accept immunized children**” and Shapiro says he thinks the trend against vaccination is ridiculous. “It has the potential to be dangerous for other kids,” he says.

Shapiros says he wants his fake Twitter to be funny, but he also has an ulterior motive: to meet “comedy legend” Jon Cryer, but Barack Obama would also be cool.

“If he thinks this is funny and wants to invite me to the White House, that would be awesome”

TIME 2016 Election

Obama Political Guru Secretly Advised Hillary Clinton on 2016

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers the keynote address at the Dreamforce convention Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, in San Francisco.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers the keynote address at the Dreamforce convention Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, in San Francisco. Ben Margot—AP

Much of the President's team is already backing Clinton for 2016

A longtime top political adviser to President Barack Obama secretly met with Hillary Clinton recently to offer up his advice for how to avoid another presidential campaign loss if she runs again in 2016, according to a new report.

Politico, citing unnamed sources, reports that David Plouffe, the architect of Obama’s 2008 defeat of Clinton, met with the former Secretary of State in September. Clinton is widely expected to run again, and much of Obama’s political brain trust is already backing her. Plouffe reportedly advised Clinton to make better use of advanced data analytics, define a coherent rationale for her candidacy and stick to a defined message throughout a campaign.

The report details Republican efforts to develop a strategy to block Clinton from winning the White House in 2016—efforts that have yet to yield a clear answer.

“Everybody’s looking for a silver bullet, but in the absence of that we’re finding a lot of lead,” GOP strategist Michael Goldfarb said.

Read more at Politico

TIME Immigration

Immigration Advocates Warn Obama Not to Think Small

Immigrants And Activists Protest Obama Response To Child Immigration Crisis
Young children join immigration reform protesters while marching in front of the White House July 7, 2014 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee—Getty Images

Reformers urge the president to sign an expansive order allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S.

Immigration activists are ratcheting up the pressure on Barack Obama, warning the President that a failure to live up to expectations for executive action on immigration would jeopardize his party’s standing with the Hispanic community.

“We won’t take any more excuses,” says Cristina Jimenez of the immigration-reform group United We Dream. “What we expect from the President is for him to use his legal authority to enact a program that will protect as many people from our community as possible.”

Obama pledged over the summer to take executive action this fall on immigration in the absence of legislation to fix a broken system. That promise crumbled under political pressures, as vulnerable Democrats in red states cajoled the White House into postponing the move until after Nov. 4. Now, as the midterms draw near, some reformers fear they’re about to be brushed off once more.

As the White House begins to weigh the scope of executive action, the early whispers among immigration reformers are that Obama may fall short of the lofty targets the movement has set for him. The President is considering an order that would grant temporary protection from deportation and work authorization to a sizable number of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., a step he could take unilaterally by expanding the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The overarching question is how many undocumented immigrants he will protect. The White House signaled over the summer that it could extend administrative relief for up to several million undocumented immigrants and their families. By delaying the decision for political reasons, Obama has nudged expectations even higher.

At a “bare minimum,” said Pablo Alvarado, executive director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the immigration orders should include “an extension of work authorization to everyone who would qualify under the Senate bill and an end to the Secure Communities program and policies that criminalize immigrants. The President has the legal authority, the moral obligation, and the political capital required to take these important steps.” The Senate bill, which passed the upper chamber in June 2013 with 68 votes, would provide relief to some 8 million undocumented immigrants.

“This is an action that frankly we believe the President should have taken months ago,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “The president has broad legal authority to do this. It’s really about his political will.”

But there is growing concern that Obama may lack the will to make a bold unilateral move, especially if his party suffers sweeping losses in elections that were, in many ways, a referendum on his policies. Two anonymous sources cited by Buzzfeed, which reported Tuesday that final recommendations were being sent to Obama, pegged the number in the low seven figures. And even some of Obama’s allies worry that a President with a mixed record on immigration and an instinct for the middle ground will disappoint the Hispanic community once again.

“We’re definitely concerned,” says a Democratic source involved with the immigration-reform push, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid angering the White House. “The history of this presidency is one of trying to accommodate the opposition.”

Timing is a mystery as well. The White House continues to say that Obama will act this year. But some in the immigration-reform movement worry the deadline could push once again. On Nov. 9, Obama leaves for a weeklong trip to Asia. The Thanksgiving lull arrives soon after. Then Congress needs to hammer out a deal to extend government funding, which expires in mid-December, amid a crammed lame-duck calendar. Executive action on immigration could throw a wrench in those budget talks.

Immigration reformers urged Obama to withstand those pressures. “Some might worry the backlash against a bold program will be too great,” said Hincapié. But that backlash will exist whether the President extends relief to one person, 1 million or many more. “We’re holding the president to his word,” she added. “There are no more excuses.”

TIME John Boehner

White House, Boehner Spar Over Expletive

House Speaker John Boehner Holds Weekly News Conference
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on, Feb. 6, 2014. Pete Marovich—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Speaker calls on Obama to fire anonymous staffer

The White House and the Speaker of the House are clashing over a profanity.

A day after The Atlantic quoted a senior Obama administration official calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a chickens–t,” Speaker John Boehner called on the president to identify the offender and show him or her the door. The quote has intensified the spat between the White House and the Israeli government, and sent the Obama administration’s clean-up operation into overdrive.

“What I can tell you is that, in the clearest terms possible and the most open forum possible, that those comments as they were reported do not accurately reflect at all this administration’s view about the nation of Israel, the strength of the relationship between our two countries or the leadership of that important ally,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

In a statement, Boehner said that Obama sets the tone for his administration. “He either condones the profanity and disrespect used by the most senior members of his administration, or he does not,” he said. “It is time for him to get his house in order and tell the people that can’t muster professionalism that it is time to move on.”

Earnest fired back during the daily press briefing, referencing Boehner’s own history of “salty language.”

“It’s an interesting observation by the speaker of the House, whom you all know has a penchant for using some pretty salty language himself,” Earnest said. “So it’s a little rich to have a lecture about profanity from the speaker the House.”

In 2008, before Obama was elected, Boehner implied that Obama was “chickens–t” for repeatedly voting “present” in the Illinois State Senate instead of casting tough votes.


GOP Sees Boost in Millennial Support Before Election

Approval of President Obama drops to 43 percent, survey shows

A new poll of millennial voters finds a majority of those who will definitely vote in next week’s midterm election prefer a GOP-controlled Congress, a shift from a similar poll conducted before the 2010 election.

The Harvard Institute of Politics survey found that 51 percent of 18-29 year olds who are sure they will vote prefer Republican control, compared to 47 percent for Democrats. For all millennials — including those unsure about whether they will vote — 50 percent prefer Democratic control, while 43 percent prefer the GOP.

The results are a dramatic reversal from 2010, when those who were certain to vote preferred Democratic control 55 percent to 43 percent, and indicate that the Democratic hold on younger voters may be waning. Young conservatives are also more excited about voting this fall than their liberal counterparts, the poll found.

Among millennials, once a reliably strong block of support for President Barack Obama, the president’s approval rating has fallen to 43 percent, with 57 percent disapproving of his job performance. Obama’s handling of immigration reform has also brought his approval among Hispanic American youth to new lows. Just 49 percent of young Hispanics approve of Obama’s job performance, down from 60 percent in April, and 81 percent in 2009. The drop in support comes as Obama promised executive action on immigration over the summer, before deciding to delay his action until after the election to prevent political blowback from hitting Democrats.

Only 23 percent of young Americans have a positive view of Republican members of Congress.

“While Democrats have lost ground among members of America’s largest generation, millennial views of Republicans in Congress are even less positive,” Harvard Institute of Politics Polling Director John Della Volpe said in a statement. “Both parties should re-introduce themselves to young voters, empower them and seek their participation in the upcoming 2016 campaign and beyond.”

The survey of 2,029 18- to 29- year-old U.S. citizens was conducted between September 26 and October 9 and has a margin of error of ±2.6 percentage points.


Obama Rallies Wisconsin Democrats for Mary Burke

President Obama attends a campaign event with Democratic candidate for Wisconsin Gov. Mary Burke while at North Division High School in Milwaukee, Oct. 28, 2014.
President Obama attends a campaign event with Democratic candidate for Wisconsin Gov. Mary Burke while at North Division High School in Milwaukee, Oct. 28, 2014. Larry Downing—Reuters

Burke gambles that Obama will drive out the base more than he drives away those unhappy with him

President Barack Obama did his best on Tuesday to remind Wisconsonites why they twice elected him President, only this time he turned on the full court press for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.

“She will be your next governor as long as folks vote,” Obama told an overflow crowd before the event. “We need you to go talk to your friends, your neighbors, you coworkers. You got that cousin on the couch who’s watching the ol’ Packers games, but doesn’t always vote during the midterms. You have to go reach out and tell people that they’ve got to exercise their franchise, they’ve got to be good citizens.”

The event was at North Division High School, in a ward where Obama outpolled Republican Mitt Romney 843 to 5 in the 2012 presidential election, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The somewhat risky bet that Burke is making is that Obama, polarizing as he is, will help turn out Wisconsin’s urban Democratic base for her next Tuesday.

“Wisconsin is one of the most polarized states in the country and this race has been close for months,” says Nathan Gonzales, who follows gubernatorial races for the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report. “When a race is this close anything could be deciding factor. The Burke campaign is making a calculated risk that having president Obama campaign for her will be a net boost on turn out and we’ll see on election day if that was the right decision.”

Burke is one of the very few candidates to welcome Obama, whose unpopularity in the polls has made him somewhat of a pariah amongst vulnerable Democrats in tight races. But Wisconsin’s labor-heavy, populist base hasn’t always loved Burke, a millionaire former executive at her family’s company, Trek Bicycle. Thus the gamble with Obama, whose presence risks putting off independent and suburban voters.

Walker, who is reviled by Wisconsin Dems who tried to recall him after he pushed through union-busting legislation, was quick to note that Obama is the fourth Washington surrogate to campaign for Burke in recent weeks. Former President Bill Clinton packed a Hyatt ballroom with nearly 1,000 supporters for Burke last week. First Lady Michelle Obama has made two visits. And Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also put in an appearance.

“I think it reflects the fact that she’s the candidate of Washington. We’re not bringing Washington surrogates in,” Walker told reporters after an event Tuesday in Wausau.

At the same time, Walker isn’t without some outside help himself, though he’s been complaining about how he’d like more help. Walker, who is scheduled to campaign the Republican Governor’s Association Chair Chris Christie back in Wausau on Friday, on Monday dinged Christie for not providing enough support, only to walk it back hours later.

“Let me be clear: When I complain about the national groups that come in, I by no means am complaining about the RGA,” Walker told reporters. “Gov. Christie’s a good friend. He’s the only person I’m campaigning with this week who’s not from Wisconsin, and that’s because he’s a friend and he asked if he could come to the state and campaign.”

Walker is leading Burke by 0.2%, according to a Real Clear Politics average of Wisconsin polls. And he hardly suffered from financial neglect. RGA has spent more than $20 million for Walker. $5.2 million in 2010, $8.9 million in 2012 and $8 million in 2014. If you add up all the outside spending, Walker has a $4 million advantage, according to a GOP source.

Walker and Burke have also been fighting for the female vote. Walker announced a bus tour today for Women for Walker and began airing a television ad featuring Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch claiming that Walker supports equal pay for women. Democrats were quick to cry foul, noting that Walker signed a bill repealing the state’s equal pay law two years ago.

“We’re one week out and Scott Walker is launching his ‘Women for Walker’ bus tour and releasing a TV a touting his support for equal pay after repealing the state law,” says Marcy Stech, a spokeswoman for Emily’s List, a group that works to elect pro-choice women. “Mary Burke, however, has a real message to run on – one that provides economic opportunity for hard working families, that’s a message that is electrifying crowds across the state.”

Nationally, Democrats have focused on turning out unmarried women, a demographic that reliably votes Democratic but rarely shows up in off-presidential year elections. In some races, Democrats lead by double digits amongst women.

But Burke enjoys only a slight edge with women, 48% to Walker’s 47% according to the most recent Marquette Poll out Oct. 15. Obama, who remains relatively popular with unmarried women nationwide, could help change that. “This is one of the closest races in the country,” says Jennifer Duffy, who follows Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If the President is going to Wisconsin, it is a sign that strategists believe he can motivate drop off voters. In a race this tight, every vote is going to matter.”

It was a point Obama certainly drove home in the lively campaign event. “Four years ago, Democrats lost the governor’s race in Wisconsin by just 10 votes per ward. Ten votes. Hmm-mmm,” he said, arching a brow as the crowd laughed. “Ten votes. Ten votes could be the difference between an economy that works for everybody, or an economy that just works for the few. Ten votes could decide whether nearly 600,000 Wisconsin workers are denied a raise, or whether they get the raise they deserve. Ten votes could decide whether tens of thousands of Wisconsin families remain without health insurance, or whether they finally get a chance to go see a doctor. Your vote will decide the course that Wisconsin takes.” The crowd roared its approval.

–With reporting by Zeke Miller in Washington.

TIME ebola

Obama Rebukes State Ebola Quarantine Rules

He warned that New York and New Jersey plans could undermine relief efforts

President Barack Obama delivered an implicit rebuke to states that have imposed strict Ebola quarantine rules Tuesday, warning they could undermine American efforts to counteract the spread of the virus.

Speaking to reporters before departing the White House for a campaign trip in Wisconsin, Obama said the “disease can be contained—it will be defeated,” noting progress has already been made by U.S. military forces on the ground in West Africa assisting with the response.

“The good news is it’s starting to have an impact,” he said. “They’re starting to see some progress in Liberia.”

Obama’s comments were his first public remarks on the disease since the governors of New York, New Jersey and other states imposed strict quarantine rules Friday, before rolling them back under public pressure last week. Obama said the quarantine rules would provide a disincentive for American health workers to volunteer in West Africa where they are sorely needed. He added he plans to meet with healthcare worker sat the White House tomorrow who have returned from West Africa, as well as those who are about to depart to fight the disease.

“We don’t want to discourage our health care workers from going to the frontlines,” Obama said. “They are doing God’s work over there, and they are doing it to keep us safe.”

After the states took action above and beyond the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama cautioned against acting out of fear instead of science. “We don’t just react based on our fears, we react based on facts and judgement and making smart decisions,” he said, in a critique of the governors.

“We’re going to have to stay vigilant here at home until we stop the outbreak at its source,” Obama added.

Read next: Chris Christie Defends Controversial Ebola Quarantine

TIME Military

19-Year-Old Marine Is First Soldier to Die Fighting ISIS in Iraq

A member loyal to the ISIL waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa

Marine Lance Cpl. Sean Neal of California died in Baghdad on Thursday

The U.S. has lost its first soldier in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in Iraq.

The Pentagon announced Friday that Marine Lance Cpl. Sean Neal, 19, died in Baghdad during a noncombat incident on Thursday, the Washington Post reports. No further details about his death were available.

Neal’s death is the first in Iraq since the U.S. military began the mission Inherent Resolve, which targets the extremist group that has rapidly expanded its control over parts of Iraq and Syria this year.

More than 4,000 members of the military died in Iraq in the years following the 2003 invasion. President Barack Obama has said that the U.S. will not send troops back to the country after withdrawing forces in 2011, though the U.S. has begun air strikes and some ground operations as it tries to stop ISIS.

[Washington Post]

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