This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
The latest national polls show the presidential race tightening in some of the all-important battleground states, with Republican Mitt Romney gaining on President Barack Obama's lead. We've been talking with political reporters in these swing states and this morning, we focus on New Hampshire. President Obama won the state back in 2008 with 54 percent of the vote to John McCain's 45 percent. The state's four electoral votes could be crucial this year.
Despite its liberal reputation, the home of Jack Kennedy and Tip O'Neill has never elected a woman as governor or senator. And in Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's tight re-election race with Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, gender could prove the difference.
When Brown won his Senate seat in a special election in 2010, he came away unscathed by something his female opponent at the time would have had a much harder time explaining away. He posed nude for Cosmopolitan when he was 22 to help pay for law school.
Afghan children run to school on Sept. 24. Whoever takes over as the next U.S. president will have to determine how many troops will remain after the December 2014 deadline to help with long-term security.
How does a president bring the war in Afghanistan to an end? There are 68,000 American troops serving in the country as the war enters its 12th year.
The war hasn't been a major issue in the presidential campaign, and polls show American voters are tiring of the war. But the next commander in chief will find the Afghan war among the most difficult of many foreign policy challenges.
Both President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney appear to agree on a date: the last day of December 2014. That's when the Afghan security forces are scheduled to takeover.
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney squared off in their first debate this week. Some pundits say the debates don't really matter in the final outcome of the election, and yet polls show Romney got a big bounce following his performance. Host Guy Raz talks to Jim Fallows, of The Atlantic, about what, if any, effect debates may have on undecided voters.
Air Force F-22 Raptors, made by Lockheed Martin, are prepared for flight operations at Langley Air Force Base. Despite the looming defense spending cuts that would go into effect in January if Congress does not pass a deficit reduction plan, Lockheed Martin and other defense contractors announced this week they would not issue layoff notices.
Major defense companies said this week they will not send out layoff notices to warn of big job cuts in January, taking away the prospect of embarrassing layoff notices right before the November elections.
That's led to charges that the White House overstepped when it told the industry the notices are not needed.
Moderator Jim Lehrer sits at his desk before last Wednesday's debate between President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Denver. For third-party candidates, getting into a presidential debate is practically impossible.
What's it like to be a third-party candidate running for president? Ralph Nader can tell us.
"You're excluded from the debates," he says. "You spend an exhausting amount of time, until Labor Day, trying to get over the ballot access barriers. Your petitioners are harassed in the streets; you're subjected to baseless lawsuits by one party or another."
Nader has run for president three times – four if you count the time he ran unofficially. In 2000, he managed to win almost 3 percent of the national vote.
Nov. 6 is 32 days away, but for millions of Americans, there is no longer an Election Day.
Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia now have early voting, which is under way even now in eight states. Hundreds of thousands of votes have already been cast, most before this week's presidential debates or Friday's jobs report, and all ahead of the three future debates and any unforeseen October event that might test the mettle of a candidate.
And Mitt Romney a little more than a day to savor his presidential debate win before the September unemployment figures forced him to recalibrate. High unemployment has been Mitt Romney's number one argument for why voters should replace President Obama. Now, the jobless rate is still high, but it is below the important psychological threshold of 8 percent. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports on how the Republican presidential nominee reacted to the news.
Independent fact checkers have not been particularly kind to Mitt Romney since Wednesday's first presidential debate in Denver. But one of the candidate's claims turned out to be so far off the mark that he had to be corrected by his own aides — a fact not unnoticed by the Obama campaign.
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: I'm Ari Shapiro, traveling with the Romney campaign. The Republican presidential nominee had been chugging along on momentum from Wednesday's debate performance when this morning's unemployment numbers changed the story. At a rally near Virginia's border with Tennessee, that did not faze voters like Nancy Lemieux(ph). She says the statistics are bogus.
NANCY LEMIEUX: Because they twist the numbers to suit the politicians and right now, it's Obama's cronies. So I don't believe anything I hear on TV.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Another page turned today in the presidential campaign. After a day of debate analysis giving Mitt Romney a leg up, President Obama got some news he can play to his advantage - the jobs numbers, which show the unemployment rate dropped sharply to its lowest level since he took office, 7.8 percent.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. In the 2008 election, Indiana was a surprise. It voted for Barack Obama by a tiny margin. Typically, it's a solidly red state. And this year, Indiana seems on the verge of a Republican sweep, that is, except in the race there for U.S. Senate. The campaign to replace longtime Republican Richard Lugar is heating up in the Hoosier state.
Though Lugar is out of the running, that doesn't mean he's out of the race as NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.
President Obama takes the stage Friday during a campaign event at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
Credit Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Supporters of Republican Mitt Romney during a campaign rally Thursday in Fishersville, Va.
Credit Liz Halloran / NPR
Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta, a Democrat
Credit Liz Halloran / NPR
Wendy Leedy, John Gaugush and 3-month-old Isabel at the annual craft fair in Occoquan. Says Gaugush: "I think most people in America are not far right, and not far left, but are forced to pick one or the other."
Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 12:50 pm
Barack Obama made history in Virginia four years ago when, on his way to winning the White House, he became the first Democratic presidential candidate to capture the state in more than four decades.
His surprisingly comfortable 53-46 percent win over Republican John McCain mirrored more closely than any other state the 2008 national result and provided potent evidence of demographic and economic changes that have been sweeping the Old Dominion.
It's more diverse, wealthier, better educated than ever before.
Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 11:09 am
To become president and to be re-elected president takes much luck (among other factors, like money and political skill.) And President Obama appears to be one of the most fortunate presidents in recent memory with the release of the latest employment report.
Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 1:22 pm
With a new report showing the nation's unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, the Obama administration got good news Friday: Jobs are indeed growing. But, as Republicans noted, the pace remains well below the level needed to provide paychecks for the 12.1 million people seeking them.
The truth is, each party could find evidence to support either a positive or negative spin on the labor market, which is recovering — yet weak.
Republican Mitt Romney delivers a needed jolt to his campaign at the first presidential debate. Ron Elving and Ken Rudin dissect the memorable moments and look ahead to next week's matchup between Vice President Joe Biden and Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Join NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin for the latest political news in this week's roundup.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, the sweeping move to modernize the Catholic church known as Vatican II turns 50. We'll talk about that in Faith Matters in just a few minutes.
But, first, it's still all about the economy. The economy is still center stage this election season. This morning's jobs numbers are providing fresh material for the ongoing contest between the candidates and their philosophies and records.
President Obama's campaign acknowledges that GOP challenger Mitt Romney had the stronger performance in this week's debate. One of Obama's closest advisers acknowledges the president will "have to adjust" his approach to future debates.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
For the first time since the start of 2009, the nation's unemployment rate is below 8 percent. Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics put the number at 7.8 percent in September.
MONTAGNE: Employers added 114,000 new jobs overall. The government also revised the job estimates for July and August, reporting that more jobs were created than previously known, and putting a different cast on the entire summer.
Here's one thing President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney could agree on during their first debate this week: Something has to be done about the enormous gap between what the federal government collects in taxes and what it spends.
But the two men fundamentally disagree on what to do about that budget deficit.
If you want to vote in the November elections and you aren't registered yet — you'd better hurry. The registration deadline in five states is this weekend. By the following weekend, the deadline will have passed in more than half the states.
Among the most animated exchanges last night was a disagreement between the candidates on the cost of Mitt Romney's tax proposal. Romney forcefully defended his plan, saying, among other things, that it would not add to the deficit. He also offered a few more details to a plan that has been relatively short on details up to this point. We've asked NPR's John Ydstie to walk us through what we do and don't know about Romney's broader tax policy. Welcome, John.