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Video: Paul Ryan stumps in Mansfield, Ohio

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Katy Perry performs in Las Vegas dressed as a pro-Obama ballot // AP Photo

President Obama is hitting Wisconsin hard in the next few days, including a planned Saturday concert Katy Perry and there's talk about a Bruce Springsteen appearance with Obama on Monday in Madison.

Springsteen famously held a concert in downtown Madison for John Kerry in 2004, drawing tens of thousands of people.

A recent Rasmussen poll showed the state's 10 electoral votes still a toss-up at 49 percent for each candidate.

Bill Clinton has been through the state this week as well as Joe Biden.

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, is planning a Friday visit and Paul Ryan has had a more consistent presence in his home state.

WASHINGTON--Hurricane Sandy has forced President Barack Obama to cancel more campaign activities--on Tuesday--one week before the election--Obama scrubbed a rally in battleground Wisconsin, in Green Bay. Mitt Romney stumps in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis on Monday night. Romney tapping Janesville Rep. Paul Ryan to be his running mate helped put Wisconsin in play.

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Two statuettes depicting President Barack Obama, left, and Republican rival Mitt Romney are backdropped by the Stars and Stripes in a shop which sells Christmas nativity figures in Naples, Italy, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, hours ahead of their third and final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida. (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta)


After a whirlwind three weeks that's seen just about everything we thought we could see in an election, the two major party candidates for President of the United States - Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney - hold their final debate of the election season tonight. Going into the first debate less than three weeks ago in Denver, Obama was poised for a runaway win barring any major speed bumps. But that's what happend in Denver when Obama put forth a listless, lackluster performance by the president plus a new populist approach from Romney turned things around and put the wind at Romney's back, changing the entire course of the race. A testy, fiery Vice President Joe Biden turned up in the VP debate against GOP nominee Paul Ryan. And last week, Romney and Obama engaged in a heated, electrice debate, the candidates stalking the stage, often circling one another as they unleashed attacks on the other.

Tonight's moderator, CBS' Bob Schieffer, has experience with debates, having moderated one in each of the last two presidential election, and has already announced his list of topics for tonight's debate, centered on foreign policy:

  • America's role in the world
  • Our longest war - Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Red Lines - Israel and Iran
  • The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - I
  • The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - II
  • The Rise of China and Tomorrow's World

Tonight should be a lively debate and we've got our best columnists and pundits along to provide live commentary. Below you can find both live video via YouTube of the debate and, below that, the running commentary from the Sun-Times staff. Before we go live at 7:30 p.m. and throughout the debate, take some time to check out some of our other posts about the upcoming election and check out even more coverage at our Election Page.

Bears or Debate? What are you watching?
Roeper: Presidential circus continues
Ghosts of Elections Past: Ohio and Florida
Sifting through presidential endorsements
Googling the next president
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama at last week's Alfred E. Smith dinner
Obama campaign rolls out new "Romnesia" stump speech
FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver on The Daily Show

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FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics are two sites that have garnered acclaim and traffic during the election season as voters try to get a leg up of the latest prognostications. While we can't know exactly how the election will turn out, these sites have forecasting down to a science. But there's another website that could give us a peek into who will win this year's hotly contested presidential election: Google. The megabeheamoth search engine is actually a source of tremendous - and entertaining - data and some it of can actually correlate with election outcomes as Seth Stephens-Davidowitz explored at the New York Times.

While so much of the information gleaned from the search data is either ridiculous - the popularity of "Paul Ryan shirtless" - or superfluous - how the number of searches of a candidate in a region corresponds to their popularity in said area - there are some useful tidbits to be pulled for the campaigns, particularly in terms of voter turn-out. Says Stephens-Davidowitz:

If search rates for voting information were higher in the first half of October 2008 than in the first half of October 2004, voting rates tended to be higher in 2008 than in 2004. It's true for midterm elections, too. If search rates for voting information were higher in the first half of October 2010 than in the first half of October 2006, voting rates tended to be higher in 2010 than in 2006.

This predictive power was significantly stronger than that of other variables we might use to predict area-level turnout, like changes in registration rates or movement in early voting.


Of course, there's plenty of garbage to sift through as well, as Stephens-Davidowitz notes, including searches about Romney and Mormon underwear as well as Obama and racist epithets. Still, once you look past the noise, there may just be some patterns worth teasing out, adding to the stacks of numbers already being crunched for November 6.

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It's been just shy of two weeks since President Obama gave a half-hearted showing in the first presidential debate against GOP challenger Mitt Romney. A listless president didn't challenge a fiery Romney in a debate that was further bogged down by a lackluster Jim Lehrer as moderator. The result? A huge swing for Romney who, in the days leading up to the debate, saw his deficit behind Obama swell. With the two candidates almost even, Obama got a small boost from Vice President Joe Biden who was seen by many pundits as besting GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan in last week's VP debate, but barely so. With Obama still holding a slight edge over Romney, at least according to FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics, the incumbent is still looking to take the momentum back from Romney.

Tonight's debate should be an interesting one as it's a town-hall style forum and both campaigns have already gotten squirrelly over how tonight's moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley, will handle the questions and the candidates.

So to review: an incumbent aiming for an aggressive outing to change the rolling momentum of a fiesty challenger who's found his second wind answering questions from undecided voters with a wild card moderator. Should be a fun time so follow below as we live-blog the debate including insight from Sun-Times pundits and other bright minds. Also, sure to check out this pre-debate fact check.

In case you missed the full, fiery debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan - or the Sun-Times live blog - here's the show.

Who do you think won this, the only vice presidential debate?


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Tonight's Vice Presidential debate between Joe Biden and GOP challenger Paul Ryan is fast approaching - kicking off in less than two hours - but that won't stop us from getting prepared for all of the bluster we're sure to hear from both candidates tonight. So what better way to follow than to have a little fun? Above is WNYC's debate bingo card to keep you interested in what the candidates are saying. If you're not quite as worried about making it to the end of the debate, there are also a variety of drinking games.

But our own Richard Roeper has his own drinking game he's sharing with us and with you.

You often hear about supposed 'drinking games' tied to the viewing experience of popular TV shows, e.g., when you're watching Homeland, you have to take a shot every time Carrie exclaims, "Abu Nazir!" (Be careful, you might kill yourself.)

Not that we'd ever advocate drinking beyond moderation while watching the vice-presidential debate, but if you WERE going to engage in such a ritual, how about taking a drink when either candidate:


  • Tells a folksy anecdote about a real-life person, e.g., "Our plan is designed to help people such as Mimi Anyvoter, a 47-year-old schoolteacher from Cincinnati who has a son stationed overseas. Mimi recently approached me at a campaign rally..."

  • Mentions a swing state. (It could very well be a 'two-fer,' in which the individual featured in the Regular Person Anecdote just happens to be from a swing state.)

  • Crowbars in a reference to Big Bird or some other character or personality from a Public Television program.

  • Tells a self-deprecating or moving story about himself and/or his family, designed to illustrate how Americans can overcome challenges and preserve if only given the chance.

  • Recites a pre-written joke with a slightly dated pop culture reference.

  • Concludes the proceedings with some variation on, "Thank you and God bless America."

Follow Richard Roper on Twitter.

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Vice President Joe Biden and contender Paul Ryan have been hard at work prepping for their debate in Danville, Ky., tonight. Congressman Ryan has been even harder at work.

The Republican's workout habits are well documented. Richard Stengel, managing editor for Time, justified releasing the images of a buff VP hopeful just hours before the two vice presidential combatants squared off in their only debate on "news is happening" grounds.

Some in the Ryan camp and many in the conservative press are crying foul that the Gregg Segal photos, shot in 2011 when Ryan was a runner up in the Person of the Year issue, shouldn't have been released this soon before the debate. Reactions to the images range from calling him a "Jersey Shore" wannabe to ridiculous and unflattering.




Meanwhile, the Tumblr Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan, barely had to even try for snark.

You can see some more of the images Segal shot here.


Source: Paul Ryan Chicago fund-raiser moved

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A source tells the Chicago Sun-Times that there's a new date -- and place -- for the early October fund-raiser for GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

The new date, according to the source, is Oct. 7 instead of Oct 5th.

It's been moved from downtown to the Hyatt by the airport at 11:30 a.m.

Presumably, that's so Ryan can fly in, do an event and get out again.

Fund-raiser still costs $2,500 to $75,800.