Slatest PM: Mitt's-Rough-Day Edition

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 17 2012 5:49 PM

Slatest PM: Mitt's-Rough-Day Edition

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***NOTE: We've revamped our afternoon Slatest newsletter to deliver a text-heavy recap of the day's top stories to our subscribers' inboxes. Monday's edition is below. You can sign up here to receive the Slatest PM in your inbox daily before it is published online. ***

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

DETAILS! (OR AT LEAST THE PROMISE OF THEM): Team Romney vowed today to get more specific on the campaign trail, a move that comes as many GOP powerbrokers have lamented the lack of policy details they have seen from their presidential candidate.

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"We know that [voters] know he has a plan, which is a good thing, but we also know they would like to know a little bit more about the specifics, and we're going to meet the demand," senior adviser Ed Gillespie told reporters on a conference call, stressing that the new game plan wasn't a pivot or change in direction, but instead a "natural progression" of the campaign.

"We are not rolling out new policy," Gillespie said, "so much as we are making sure people understand that when we say we can do these things, here’s how we are going to get them done and these are the specifics."

WHAT ELSE ROMNEY'S STAFF WAS SAYING: The conference call came less than a day after Politico went live with a blistering off-the-record attack on Romney's chief strategist, Stuart Stevens, courtesy of unnamed "Romney aides, advisers and friends" who blame him for pretty much any and all of the campaign's recent missteps—from Clint Eastwood's performance-art-meets-stump-speech to the candidate's own controversial late-night statement in the wake of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE: Stevens is the one left bruised and battered by the end of the nearly 3,000-word piece, but his boss doesn't escape unscathed. From the story: "But whatever Stevens’s shortcomings, presidential candidates get the campaigns they want. And Romney ... has taken a very active role running his own campaign. In a way, that’s the problem. Romney associates are baffled that such a successful corporate leader has created a team with so few lines of authority or accountability."

THE TAKEAWAY: The Politico story is noteworthy for its inside-baseball details, of course, but perhaps more so because it paints a picture of a campaign willing to air its internal disputes in the press with less than two months left in a tightly contested presidential election. This is the type of finger-pointing one expects to see from a campaign only after it loses.

A CLOSER READING: Dave Weigel, meanwhile, spots a familiar character in the Politico story: Republican speechwriter Matthew Scully, who has a history of throwing his fair share of stones: "In Scullyworld, every Republican has the makings of greatness until he's undone by bad staffers who—in his one, telling character flaw—he's unwilling to sack."

Happy Monday, and welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow the entire @slatest team and @JoshVoorhees on Twitter, or fill your host's inbox with whatever is on your mind at josh.voorhees@slate.com.

'MY JOB IS NOT TO WORRY ABOUT THOSE PEOPLE' : "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney told donors at private fundraiser earlier this year, which was captured in a video that was obtained by Mother Jones. "All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what …These are people who pay no income tax. ... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

PAUL RYAN, UBERMENSCH: Bill Gifford explains why the VP hopeful—who has already caught some flak for his marathon and mountain climbing claims—is probably lying about having 6 percent body fat, too. Or, at best, wildly exaggerating.

OCCUPY ANNIVERSARY: NYT: "More than 100 arrests were reported on Monday, the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as protesters converged near the New York Stock Exchange and tried to block access to the exchange. Demonstrators had planned to converge from several directions to form a 'human wall' around the stock exchange to protest what they said was an unfair economic system that benefited the rich and corporations at the expense of ordinary citizens."

MEASURING SUCCESS: It's too early to tell if OWS's birthday push will recapture any of last year's momentum. But protesters appear to be succeeding in the short-term when it comes to two possible metrics: arrests and press coverage.

SURPRISE PARTY: Zookeepers at the National Zoo in D.C. were stunned last night when the zoo's female panda gave birth. The news caught pretty much everyone off-guard, in large part because it is apparently more or less impossible to tell for sure whether a giant panda is pregnant ahead of time. Making things that much more of a shock in this case was Mei Xiang's past history with false pregnancies dating back five years.

EVERYONE LOVES PANDAS, RIGHT? Nope.

SO MUCH FOR THE 'DISAPPOINTING' NEW IPHONE: WSJ: "Apple Inc. said customers placed more than 2 million preorders for the iPhone 5 on the first day it was available, doubling previous results and exceeding initial supply of the smartphone. ... The Cupertino, Calif., company said that while the majority of preorders will be delivered to customers on Friday—when the phone becomes available in stores—many are scheduled to be delivered in October."

ANOTHER BOMB SCARE: AP/CBS: "Louisiana State University's main campus in Baton Rouge was evacuated on Monday after a bomb threat, LSU police said. The evacuation was prompted by a threat phoned into 911 about 10:32 a.m., university spokeswoman Kristine Calongne said. Calongne said the caller didn't direct the threat to any specific area of the campus."

CHECKING THE TRAPS—

AP: "Hezbollah's leader has made a rare public appearance at a rally in Beirut denouncing an anti-Islam film that has provoked a week of unrest in Muslim countries worldwide. Hassan Nasrallah does not usually appear in public for fear of assassination. He called for Monday's protests in Beirut, saying the U.S. must be held accountable for the film because it was produced in America."

Reuters: "An amateur video appears to show Libyans trying to rescue U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens from a room filled with smoke at the U.S. mission where he was found unconscious after last week's attack by a mob protesting against a film that denigrates the Prophet Mohammad."

NYT: "President Obama, under renewed fire from Mitt Romney for not standing up to China on behalf of American workers, used a rally in [Ohio] on Monday to announce a new trade case against Beijing. He said it was Mr. Romney who had sent jobs to China through his zealous practice of outsourcing at Bain Capital."

WSJ: "Reeling from anti-Japan protests that struck parts of China over the weekend, some of Japan's largest companies shut down their factories on Monday, advised their employees to stay home and closed their shops, in a move that has raised broader questions about the ties between the world's second and third-biggest economies."

See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe here or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.

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