The race is slowly coming to a close with just 17 days before Election Day and the candidates are working their last legs to win critical votes in battleground states. According to polls, the election could very well be decided down the farm. CNN’s Miguel Marques heads to Dairy Country to what may be statistically be biggest swing state in the country: Wisconsin. He talks to female farmers and other locals in rural Racine County to gauge who they're voting for and what issues are important to them.
One night only, the 2012 candidates trade punch lines instead of insults. The competition is merely for who gets the most laughs, not the most votes. President Obama and Governor Romney were ready to compete just for that at the Alfred E. Smith Charity Dinner in New York last night. CNN Political Director Mark Preston is live from Washington with more.
While the candidates have been running an intense campaign, the atmosphere was lighthearted last night. “Mitt Romney and Barack Obama clearly don’t really like each other personally, and they certainly don’t like each other’s policies,” Preston says. “They they took this opportunity not only to take pokes at themselves, they took pokes at each other, but they also wrapped up political messages in their jokes.”
Just 19 days remain before Election Day and the candidates and their running mates are hot on the campaign trail to win over women voters. Obama and Romney are trashing each other to convince women that only one is the right choice for them. Obama’s large lead over women has declined in the last month and Romney had been making strides with them before his now infamous “binders full of women” remark. Either way, women remain a key demographic since they make up over half of the electorate. CNN Contributors Erick Erickson and Maria Cardona weigh in on the strategy. Erickson is the Editor-in-Chief of RedState.com and Cardona is Former Senior Adviser to Hillary Clinton.
Brand new polls released this morning show President Obama and Mitt Romney in a statistical dead heat. The race is seriously tight just as we head into the second presidential debate tomorrow night. Joining John Berman on “Early Start” with their expectations of the second presidential debate is Former Adviser to President Bill Clinton Richard Socarides and Former adviser to Jon Huntsman and John McCain and CNN Contributor Ana Navarro.
“I think the expectations on President Obama are not as high as they were in the first debate, Navarro says. “If he shows up and smiles and speaks up every now and then, he’s done better than he did in the first debate.” Navarro continues, “I think Mitt Romney understands it’s part of him continuing the momentum and President Obama understands it really is about him surviving to live, to fight another day."
Socarides says the president has “got a big challenge.” “He’s gotta be more aggressive,” Socarides says, especially in defining the “stark contrasts” in this election. “There are two very different competing visions for the country, and he has to really lay that out.”
The highly anticipated second presidential debate is just one day away. President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney will face each other at Hofstra University tomorrow and poll numbers show that the race is as tight as ever. CNN Political Director Mark Preston is on the scene of tomorrow’s debate and joins us live with more.
“It certainly is close,” Preston says. There is “so much on the line right now. Mitt Romney’s hoping to turn in another strong performance, much like he did two weeks ago. Well, President Obama has to make up for that lackluster debate he had.”
Mitt Romney is now doubling back on his “47%” remarks caught on camera at a fundraiser in May. He admits he was “completely wrong” when he said nearly half of Americans were “victims” dependent on government and again attempts to convince Americans he is fully committed to the “100%” of Americans. Meanwhile, President Obama is fighting back to recover from his lackluster performance in Wednesday night’s first presidential debate. CNN White House Correspondent Brianna Keilar reports the latest.
Although Romney has changed his tune somewhat, the Obama campaign has become aggressive in response. “The President found his mojo yesterday when he was campaigning in Denver and Wisconsin,” but Keilar notes that not as many Americans will have seen that version of Obama as the 67 million people who had seen him in the debate. “He’s got aways to go to sort of reverse the enthusiasm gap,” Keilar says, “that he had between yesterday and the debate.”
Election Day is fast approaching with just a month to spare. With the first presidential debate of the 2012 election now in the books, the candidates are facing their last few chances to sway voters in their favor. One key demographic both President Obama and Mitt Romney have tried to court is the Latino population. Many pollsters predict the Latino vote will make a difference in several of the most contested “battleground states”, so will Latino voters decide who will win in November? Soledad O’ Brien explores the possibility in depth in a new documentary, “Latino in America: Courting Their Vote.” She comes to “Early Start” this morning to discuss the issue.
The youth vote was a major factor in the 2008 election of “hope” and “change”. That year saw a record turnout of young voters with the most 18-29-year-olds to ever cast a ballot. But enthusiasm among that demographic has since waned and filmmaker Adam Shankman is trying to reverse that trend. Known for directing “The Wedding Planner”, “A Walk to Remember” and the recent “Rock of Ages”, he’s since directed a new PSA video for the “Rock the Vote” campaign to rally young voters. The star-studded video is meant to encourage young Americans to register and vote. Shankman visits “Starting Point” this morning with details behind the all-star PSA.
Shankman, who has been affiliated with Rock the Vote for 21 years, describes how he became involved. His late good friend started the campaign and he contacted it one day. “I got agitated by the fact that there was a lot of—there’s the notion of voter suppression, voter purging and all of that,” Shankman says. As a Hollywood member, “there’s very little I could do except write a check or put on a show,” and Shankman put on a show.
Rock the Vote doesn’t pick sides and Shankman says that isn’t hard for him although he has a side he feels more suits his principles. “I actually adore that that is one of our great American rights, is that we have a choice, is that we have two sides, is that we balance each other.”
Just like the two sides Shankman so values, there is another version of the Rock the Vote video Shankman filmed for Funny or Die. “There’s a dirty version,” Shankman jokes. “Kids wanna be talked in a way that they’re not preached to,” and politics “is so preachy.”
In a debate on domestic issues, Big Bird made a cameo. Facebook mentions of the feathery Sesame Street character spiked by almost 800,000%.
Tensions are rising this morning between Syria and Turkey after five civilians in a Turkish border town were killed by artillery fire. Three of the victims were children. Turkish troops are now firing back and adding fuel to the fire in the ongoing fight in Syria. CNN’s Ivan Watson delivers the latest on the conflict between the two countries live from Istanbul today on “Early Start”.
Turkey is "still reeling from the death of its civilians" in the Turkish border town, Watson says. "This morning, there was a funeral and scenes of grief and people carried the civilians' coffins through the streets." Residents told Watson they were up all night because of Turkish artillery "firing out from the immediate surrounding across the border into Syria." He says Turkish government officials told CNN that "Turkish artillery barrages continued throughout the night and the predawn as well." Watson says Turkish Parliament officials are now debating whether "to authorize the use of force presumably in Syria."