Mitt Romney crushed President Obama in the first presidential debate Wednesday night, which changed everything, until a good jobs report changed everything again Friday morning. It's the last month of the presidential campaign, and here's what the candidates will be doing in the final crush to convince a couple hundred thousand people in nine states they should be elected.
Talk about the economy. As Romney has started talking about the economy less, Obama has the chance to talk about it more, with a jobs report Friday showing unemployment falling to 7.8 percent. The White House issued a statement saying, "While there is more work that remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression." Romney had been saying Obama had failed to live up to his promise to bring unemployment under 8 percent, and now he can't say that anymore.
Highlight all his money. "In a display of strength intended to offset Democratic nervousness," The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg and Peter Baker report, the Obama campaign leaked that it had raised a whole bunch of money in September. Exactly how much isn't clear, though it's more than the $114 million raised in August. The Wall Street Journal pegged the number at $150 million.
Be better in the next debate. "I’m sure he drew some lessons from it," Obama adviser David Axelrod said. "We’re going to take a hard look at this." An anonymous Democrat told Politico, "Don’t expect to see that Barack Obama again."
Send in Big Bird. Though Romney won the debate, the most memorable moment was when Romney said he'd cut funding to public broadcasting and Big Bird. Obama highlighted the comment in a speech Thursday, and the Democratic National Committee sent someone dressed as Big Bird to protest a Romney rally.
A whole bunch of ads. Obama's campaign has spent $300 million on TV ads, National Journal's Reid Wilson reports. He could end up doubling what he spent in 2008.
A real reset. Romney "reset" his campaign about three times in September, only to have those resets reset by his Libya statement, panicked conservatives, and the 47 percent video. But this time it's for real, Politico's Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei report. After solidly winning the debate, his mission is to "Sustain and complete the Romney Reinvention Project." How will he do this?
A big foreign policy speech. The Romney campaign had already decided it couldn't win with its argument solely focused on the economy before the good jobs report came out Friday. Romney had already planned to speak Monday at the Virginia Military Institute and attack the Obama administration's response to Libya.
A new slogan. Politico reports the campaign is working on a new "umbrella message" that defines the choice between Romney and Obama. The New York Times' Michael D. Shear and Ashley Parker reported Monday that Romney's campaign is jealous of Obama's slogan. "One [aide] suggested last week that Mr. Obama’s campaign motto, 'Forward,' has been more effective — easy to understand, easy to remember and easy to say — than Mr. Romney’s 'Believe in America' slogan," the Times reports.
The vice-presidential debate. Aides aren't sure whether Paul Ryan will aggressively defend his budget proposals or mostly talk up Romney and complain about the media, BuzzFeed's Zeke Miller reports. "Ryan, in turn, has pushed internally to defend his policy views in public, people around him say," Miller says.
Continue moving to the center. Romney called the "47 percent" video "completely wrong" Thursday night.
A whole bunch of ads. The Romney campaign released three ads Friday that feature Romney speaking into the camera and explaining that "We can't afford four more years." Soon they'll crib an idea from the Obama campaign, which has aired a ton of ads featuring Bill Clinton's well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention. It reminds voters of a feel-good moment, so Romney's campaign will make ads from the debate showing Romney crushing a listless Obama, Politico reports.