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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.
And finally this hour, it's time for a literary take on one of our top stories today. Reporters step aside. Spin doctors drop those talking points. We've asked two writers to reflect on last night's debate in poetry. One from the right and one from the left. This is still politics, after all. First up, conservative commentator Mark Steyn, author of the book, "After America: Get Ready for Armageddon." He was inspired by the fact that last night's debate coincided with the president's 20th wedding anniversary.
Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 3:03 pm
Despite President Obama's celebrated gift for oratory, the Obama supporters least surprised by his underwhelming performance against Mitt Romney may have been two of his top advisers.
Senior strategists David Plouffe and David Axelrod have long doubted Obama's debating skills. Their concerns date back to the 2008 presidential campaign, as Plouffe wrote in his book, The Audacity to Win. He put it plainly: "Historically, Obama was not a strong debater."
Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 4:44 pm
In case anyone was wondering, this week's presidential debate demonstrated why incumbent presidents and others leading in the polls used to refuse to debate their challengers.
After John F. Kennedy used the first TV debates to boost his campaign against incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon in 1960, there simply were no debates until 1976. Running again with a big lead in 1968 and 1972, Nixon declined to debate and won both times. Lyndon B. Johnson also demurred in 1964 without damage en route to a landslide.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Lynn Neary. Mitt Romney proved he could go head-to-head with President Obama in the first of three presidential debates last night in Denver. Romney's strong performance gave Republicans renewed hope for his chance at the White House.
Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 4:43 pm
If you think substance trumps style, the analysis of last night's presidential debate might come as a shock. There seems to be a lot more talk today about things like temperament and facial expressions than the facts.
Here's a sampling of opinion:
Writing in Forbes, Frederick E. Allen says President Obama "looked defensive and uncertain," while GOP challenger Mitt Romney "may have said things that were clearly untrue ... but he said them convincingly."
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning.
President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, shared a stage last night for the first time in his presidential campaign. The debate in Denver, moderated by PBS anchor Jim Lehrer, focused on domestic policy, which meant there was lots to debate, from health care to energy, though much of the time was devoted to taxes.
NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.
Compared with 2008, far fewer American troops are asking for absentee ballots this fall. A new report blames the Pentagon for failing to provide enough help. The Department of Defense says the figures do not reflect the efforts it's making. NPR's Larry Abramson reports.
Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 10:47 am
I have spent the past few days sequestered with a crack team of political pros — actually, curled into a fetal ball, clutching a fading 1980 John Anderson poster — to gird myself for the vital first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney.
So many questions lingered:
Would Romney offer to wager Obama $10,000 on who wins the race?
Would Obama tell Romney, "You're taxable enough, Mitt"?
Originally published on Wed October 3, 2012 11:09 pm
We headed to Virginia's Prince William County, a swing county in a swing state, to watch Wednesday night's presidential debate with four undecided voters — three of whom voted for Barack Obama in 2008, one who voted for Republican John McCain.
They gathered in the Occoquan home of Kim Deal and Jim Drakes, and were joined by Connie Moser of Dale City and Al Alborn of Manassas.
Workers prepare Wednesday for the presidential debate at the University of Denver. Experts differ over whether even a televised debate is a good forum for sharing very specific details about policy proposals.
Originally published on Wed October 3, 2012 4:19 pm
Responding to calls that the Republican presidential ticket provide more detail about some of its policy proposals, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan says TV isn't always the right medium for such specifics.
"I don't have the time," Paul Ryan told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday this week, when asked about his proposed revenue neutral tax cut. "It would take me too long to go through all the math."
Fox News and other conservative media outlets claimed to have a scoop on Tuesday they called "Obama's other race speech." The tape that was supposed to turn this election around, however, was documented and reported on in 2007 by the very same news outlets.
A new analysis shows that the Obama campaign continues to have superiority over the Romney campaign and its allies when it comes to TV ads. The report also finds that political ads are the most negative since 2000, and that the leading advertiser in congressional races is Karl Rove's tax-exempt group Crossroads GPS.
When the Libyan consulate was attacked and the American ambassador killed, the immediate word from the administration was that the strike was a spontaneous reaction to a controversial film. In the immediate aftermath, Republican challenger Mitt Romney harshly criticized the Obama administration and soon found himself at the center of controversy. In the weeks since, however, the administration story has evolved and now a congressional hearing on the matter is scheduled for next week.
And you can listen to tonight's debate live on many NPR stations. We'll also have analysis and fact checking at NPR.org. Now, our next story looks not at the differences between the candidates, which we're sure to hear about tonight, but at a similarity. President Obama and Mitt Romney share something that goes to the core of this campaign. As NPR's Ari Shapiro reports, it comes up in every stump speech they give.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. The stage is set in Denver for the first presidential debate tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. The candidates are suiting up, reporters are gathering, live tweeters are sharpening their virtual pencils. And NPR's Mara Liasson is in Denver and she joins us for a preview. Welcome, Mara.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.
CORNISH: So what is the format for tonight's debate?
President Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney face off in Denver Wednesday for the first of three presidential debates. The president continues to hold a slight lead in many swing states, but Romney's been able to close the gap in the weeks since the conventions.
A Pennsylvania judge Tuesday blocked the state from moving forward with changes to its voter ID law until after the presidential election. This news comes just days after some suspicious voter registration activity in states like Florida, North Carolina and Nevada. Host Michel Martin discusses voter issues across the country with two reporters.