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The Monday Call: On the Scene at Ground Zero

Very bumpy ride into Cleveland last night, as the periphery of Hurricane Sandy was already beginning to be felt here.  Hard to guess what’s happening on the ground here politically as the wind and rain, already considerable by last night, have blown down the lawn signs for both campaigns.  The best place to judge Ohio is probably National Review Online’s special “Battleground Ohio” tab, where the Ashbrook Center’s Roger Beckett and the great Robert Alt are holding forth with updates and inside gossip.

Now, I moved out to California in part to get away from the mid-Atlantic climate, and the twice-yearly weather-related power outages.  And also to get away from the predictable Times-Post headlines on Hurricane Sandy that “poor and minorities hardest hit.”  Oh, wait a minute, that might actually be true as least as far as the election is concerned.  Given that low income and minority voters are lower-propensity voters, if large numbers are displaced, either in shelters because of flooding, or on account of extended power outages or other disruptions, then Democratic turnout could be slightly depressed in hard hit states.  Good thing Sandy is hitting blue states hardest, where it is unlikely to affect the electoral outcome.  (The global warming lab really needs to figure out a way to target these storms to swings states.)  Still, this hasn’t stopped Bill Clinton from politicizing Sandy, or the Obama campaign from telling its phone banks to keep calling (just what you want in a storm—another call from the Obama campaign), even as Romney has called off campaign events for the next 48 hours.  (And oh yeah, my return flight to California on Wednesday has been cancelled.)

But the storm may also cause media overload.  Even in our high tech, 24/7 media age, can the media overhype two big events at once?  Already they’re doing their best to meld them.  Pretty soon I expect the clichés to be crashing ashore as high as Sandy’s waves: you might even call it a perfect storm of tipping points, or maybe the perfect storm meets the Chick-fil-A election.  It’s enough to make Joe Biden’s hair plugs stand on end, just before he pushes granny off the fiscal cliff.  Maybe we can coax Dan Rather out of retirement for his precious similes, like how the election is “tighter than Scrooge’s wallet on payday” or something.

Meanwhile, expect the charges and countercharges to come fast and furious . . . er, probably not the term the Obamanauts want to remind us about right now . . . between now and Tuesday.  For a while this morning, the Wall Street Journal was reporting that the Bureau of Labor Statistics might not come out with the monthly unemployment report on Friday.  Yesterday on ABC’s This Week, former Obama economic adviser and current campaign surrogate Austin Goolsbee seemed to be hinting that the next unemployment report might not look so good for Obama.  Does he have advance inside information perhaps?  Latest word is that the numbers will come out on time as planned, but stay tuned.

The Obamanauts are outraged over the Romney ad claiming that Chrysler is going to move some Jeep production overseas.  Buuuuutt, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchione confirms to Bloomberg that Romney is essentially correct:

To counter the severe slump in European sales, Marchionne is considering building Chrysler models in Italy, including Jeeps, for export to North America. The Italian government is evaluating tax rebates on export goods to help Fiat. Marchionne may announce details of his plan as soon as Oct. 30, the people said.

Betcha he gets a call from the White House and that October 30 announcement is put off a week.

Stay tuned.  More from Ground Zero in Ohio tomorrow.

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