Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mitt Romney ad in Spanish attacks health care law

 August 06, 2012

Daniel Montalvo, with his wife, Marina, and two daughters, does not have insurance. He is a manager at Salon Hispano in Woodbridge,             Va., and is shopping around for coverage.
Daniel Montalvo, with his wife, Marina, and two daughters, does not have insurance. He is a manager at Salon Hispano in Woodbridge, Va., and is shopping around for coverage. (JAY PREMACK FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE) 

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — In his first Spanish-language spot heading into the general election, Mitt Romney vowed to end “Obamacare’’ on Day One of his presidency — a bold and risky message he continues to deliver to Latino voters, who overwhelmingly back the federal health care law.

President Obama, meanwhile, hopes the intense concern over health care issues expressed by Latinos will help coalesce his support among the critical voting bloc. To extol the benefits of his health care law, the president’s reelection campaign has rolled out Spanish-language ads in states where Latinos make up a significant portion of the electorate, including Florida and Colorado.

Both campaigns will have much to say about the state of the economy, which stands out as the most pressing issue among most Americans. But for Latinos, the availability of health care is also deeply important — and that concern ­fuels their strong support for Obama’s health care law.

A Quinnipiac University Poll — released just days after the Supreme Court upheld the bulk of the law — showed 37 percent of whites and 52 percent of Hispanics supporting the law. That echoed a Latino Decisions poll in January that showed that 57 percent of Latinos believe the president’s health care law should be allowed to stand, with just 28 percent saying that it should be repealed.

Latinos have much at stake — nearly 1 in every 3 Latinos is medically uninsured, a rate higher than blacks, whites, or Asian Americans, according to the Census Bureau, making the group receptive to the health care issue. In 2010, 30.7 percent of Latinos lacked insurance, compared with 11.7 percent of whites.

The 15 million Latinos without insurance include Daniel Montalvo, a manager of Salon Hispano in Woodbridge.

“You cannot be a first-world country without providing health care,” said Montalvo. Because his wife has diabetes, procuring private health insurance is unaffordable. “I was so happy to see somebody have the guts to do something about it.”

He is again shopping around for coverage, he said, hoping to find premiums well below the $900 a month he had previously been quoted.

“I’m happy the [Supreme Court] upheld the law,” he said. “I can’t afford health insurance because the premiums are so high. I’m expecting things to get better, for premiums to get more affordable.”

According to Matt A. Barreto, a political scientist and a cofounder of Latino Decisions, a polling firm specializing in tracking Latino attitudes, health care is inextricably linked to the financial well-being of Latinos and other families coping with spiraling costs.

“The economy is a concern, but it does not absorb 100 percent of people’s attention span. They are thinking about a lot of other things, including health care,” he said.

“You’re already seeing the president use health care in his Spanish-language ads,” Barreto said. The Obama campaign knows “that health care is an important issue and that Latinos care about it.”

Some of Obama’s Spanish-language health care ads have begun airing in Virginia and Ohio, even though Latinos make up fewer than 5 percent of voters in each state, two of the most heavily contested and where the winning margin could be decided by a sliver. “We’re not taking any votes for granted,” said Gabriela Domenzain, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign.

With both sides aggressively courting Latino votes, it struck some pollsters as odd for Romney to attempt to use his opposition to the new health law in Spanish-language ads to pry away votes from Obama.

In an e-mail to the Globe, the Romney campaign branded the federal health care law as a jobs killer that has done little to lower premiums, while adding financial burdens to the federal government and families. “Instead of driving up the debt and imposing burdensome new taxes, Mitt Romney will undertake real health care reform that empowers families and their doctors, not bureaucrats in Washington,” said Valentina Weis, a Romney spokesman.

But acknowledging Latinos’ concern about health care issues, even some Romney supporters caution the former Massachusetts governor about campaigning too aggressively against the health care law within Latino communities.

“If he’s going out to the community and tells people he wants to repeal Obamacare, he needs to say what he’s going to replace it with,” said Jennifer S. Korn, the executive director of the Hispanic Leadership Council, a self-described right-of-center group promoting Latino empowerment. “Otherwise, they are going to adopt the message from the Obama campaign — that the Republicans are going to take away the health care that we have.”

She said boosters of the health care law are too optimistic about how its provisions will benefit Americans and the economy.

For undecided Latino voters like Elquin Reyes, the health care issue could be a key factor in deciding between Obama and Romney.

“Health care . . . is a big problem,” said Reyes, who immigrated to the United States as a teenager from Honduras and now lives in Woodbridge, a Virginia community with a booming Latino population just outside the Washington beltway. “Insurance is too expensive. I spend a lot of my money paying for it,” he said, noting that at least $600 of his monthly salary goes for coverage he gets through his employer for himself, his wife, and child.

Until the former landscaper landed a mechanics job that offered health insurance, Reyes said he had to endure untreated sickness because of the high cost of medical care. “Sometimes you don’t go to the doctor because you’re so scared about the bill,” he said.

Though Reyes is now insured, the concerns persist: Friends, relatives, and neighbors remain without coverage, he said, just one sickness away from economic ruin.

Bobby Caina Calvan can be reached at Follow him on twitter @GlobeCalvan.

How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking

Meet Mat Honan. He just had his digital life dissolved by hackers. Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired. Illustration: Ross Patton/Wired
In the space of one hour, my entire digital life was destroyed. First my Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next my Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. And worst of all, my AppleID account was broken into, and my hackers used it to remotely erase all of the data on my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.
In many ways, this was all my fault. My accounts were daisy-chained together. Getting into Amazon let my hackers get into my Apple ID account, which helped them get into Gmail, which gave them access to Twitter. Had I used two-factor authentication for my Google account, it’s possible that none of this would have happened, because their ultimate goal was always to take over my Twitter account and wreak havoc. Lulz.
Had I been regularly backing up the data on my MacBook, I wouldn’t have had to worry about losing more than a year’s worth of photos, covering the entire lifespan of my daughter, or documents and e-mails that I had stored in no other location.
Those security lapses are my fault, and I deeply, deeply regret them.
But what happened to me exposes vital security flaws in several customer service systems, most notably Apple’s and Amazon’s. Apple tech support gave the hackers access to my iCloud account. Amazon tech support gave them the ability to see a piece of information — a partial credit card number — that Apple used to release information. In short, the very four digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification. The disconnect exposes flaws in data management policies endemic to the entire technology industry, and points to a looming nightmare as we enter the era of cloud computing and connected devices.
This isn’t just my problem. Since Friday, Aug. 3, when hackers broke into my accounts, I’ve heard from other users who were compromised in the same way, at least one of whom was targeted by the same group.
‬The very four digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the Web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification.‪
‬Moreover, if your computers aren’t already cloud-connected devices, they will be soon. Apple is working hard to get all of its customers to use iCloud. Google’s entire operating system is cloud-based. And Windows 8, the most cloud-centric operating system yet, will hit desktops by the tens of millions in the coming year. My experience leads me to believe that cloud-based systems need fundamentally different security measures. Password-based security mechanisms — which can be cracked, reset, and socially engineered — no longer suffice in the era of cloud computing.
I realized something was wrong at about 5 p.m. on Friday. I was playing with my daughter when my iPhone suddenly powered down. I was expecting a call, so I went to plug it back in.
It then rebooted to the setup screen. This was irritating, but I wasn’t concerned. I assumed it was a software glitch. And, my phone automatically backs up every night. I just assumed it would be a pain in the ass, and nothing more. I entered my iCloud login to restore, and it wasn’t accepted. Again, I was irritated, but not alarmed. 
I went to connect the iPhone to my computer and restore from that backup — which I had just happened to do the other day. When I opened my laptop, an iCal message popped up telling me that my Gmail account information was wrong. Then the screen went gray, and asked for a four-digit PIN.
I didn’t have a four-digit PIN. 
By now, I knew something was very, very wrong. For the first time it occurred to me that I was being hacked. Unsure of exactly what was happening, I unplugged my router and cable modem, turned off the Mac Mini we use as an entertainment center, grabbed my wife’s phone, and called AppleCare, the company’s tech support service, and spoke with a rep for the next hour and a half.
It wasn’t the first call they had had that day about my account. In fact, I later found out that a call had been placed just a little more than a half an hour before my own. But the Apple rep didn’t bother to tell me about the first call concerning my account, despite the 90 minutes I spent on the phone with tech support. Nor would Apple tech support ever tell me about the first call voluntarily — it only shared this information after I asked about it. And I only knew about the first call because a hacker told me he had made the call himself.
At 4:33 p.m., according to Apple’s tech support records, someone called AppleCare claiming to be me. Apple says the caller reported that he couldn’t get into his .Me e-mail — which, of course was my .Me e-mail.
In response, Apple issued a temporary password. It did this despite the caller’s inability to answer security questions I had set up. And it did this after the hacker supplied only two pieces of information that anyone with an internet connection and a phone can discover.
At 4:50 p.m., a password reset confirmation arrived in my inbox. I don’t really use my .Me e-mail, and rarely check it. But even if I did, I might not have noticed the message because the hackers immediately sent it to the trash. They then were able to follow the link in that e-mail to permanently reset my AppleID password.
At 4:52 p.m., a Gmail password recovery e-mail arrived in my .Me mailbox. Two minutes later, another e-mail arrived notifying me that my Google account password had changed. 
At 5:02 p.m., they reset my Twitter password. At 5:00 they used iCloud’s “Find My” tool to remotely wipe my iPhone. At 5:01 they remotely wiped my iPad. At 5:05 they remotely wiped my MacBook. Around this same time, they deleted my Google account. At 5:10, I placed the call to AppleCare. At 5:12 the attackers posted a message to my account on Twitter taking credit for the hack.
By wiping my MacBook and deleting my Google account, they now not only had the ability to control my account, but were able to prevent me from regaining access. And crazily, in ways that I don’t and never will understand, those deletions were just collateral damage. My MacBook data — including those irreplaceable pictures of my family, of my child’s first year and relatives who have now passed from this life — weren’t the target. Nor were the eight years of messages in my Gmail account. The target was always Twitter. My MacBook data was torched simply to prevent me from getting back in.
I spent an hour and a half talking to AppleCare. One of the reasons it took me so long to get anything resolved with Apple during my initial phone call was because I couldn’t answer the security questions it had on file for me. It turned out there’s a good reason for that. Perhaps an hour or so into the call, the Apple representative on the line said “Mr. Herman, I….”
“Wait. What did you call me?”
“Mr. Herman?”
“My name is Honan.”
Apple had been looking at the wrong account all along. Because of that, I couldn’t answer my security questions. And because of that, it asked me an alternate set of questions that it said would let tech support let me into my .Me account: a billing address and the last four digits of my credit card. (Of course, when I gave them those, it was no use, because tech support had misheard my last name.)
It turns out, a billing address and the last four digits of a credit card number are the only two pieces of information anyone needs to get into your iCloud account. Once supplied, Apple will issue a temporary password, and that password grants access to iCloud.
Apple tech support confirmed to me twice over the weekend that all you need to access someone’s AppleID is the associated e-mail address, a credit card number, the billing address, and the last four digits of a credit card on file. I was very clear about this. During my second tech support call to AppleCare, the representative confirmed this to me. “That’s really all you have to have to verify something with us,” he said.
We talked to Apple directly about its security policy, and company spokesperson Natalie Kerris told Wired, “Apple takes customer privacy seriously and requires multiple forms of verification before resetting an Apple ID password. In this particular case, the customer’s data was compromised by a person who had acquired personal information about the customer. In addition, we found that our own internal policies were not followed completely. We are reviewing all of our processes for resetting account passwords to ensure our customers’ data is protected.”
On Monday, Wired tried to verify the hackers’ access technique by performing it on a different account. We were successful. This means, ultimately, all you need in addition to someone’s e-mail address are those two easily acquired pieces of information: a billing address and the last four digits of a credit card on file. Here’s the story of how the hackers got them.

By exploiting the customer service procedures employed by Apple and Amazon, hackers were able to get into iCloud and take over all of Mat Honan’s digital devices — and data. Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired
On the night of the hack, I tried to make sense of the ruin that was my digital life. My Google account was nuked, my Twitter account was suspended, my phone was in a useless state of restore, and (for obvious reasons) I was highly paranoid about using my .Me account for communication.
I decided to set up a new Twitter account until my old one could be restored, just to let people know what was happening. I logged into Tumblr and posted an account of how I thought the takedown occurred. At this point, I was assuming that my seven-digit alphanumeric AppleID password had been hacked by brute force. In the comments (and, oh, the comments) others guessed that hackers had used some sort of keystroke logger. At the end of the post, I linked to my new Twitter account.
And then, one of my hackers @ messaged me. He would later identify himself as Phobia. I followed him. He followed me back.
We started a dialogue via Twitter direct messaging that later continued via e-mail and AIM. Phobia was able to reveal enough detail about the hack and my compromised accounts that it became clear he was, at the very least, a party to how it went down. I agreed not to press charges, and in return he laid out exactly how the hack worked. But first, he wanted to clear something up:
“didnt guess ur password or use bruteforce. i have my own guide on how to secure emails.”
I asked him why. Was I targeted specifically? Was this just to get to Gizmodo’s Twitter account? No, Phobia said they hadn’t even been aware that my account was linked to Gizmodo’s, that the Gizmodo linkage was just gravy. He said the hack was simply a grab for my three-character Twitter handle. That’s all they wanted. They just wanted to take it, and fuck shit up, and watch it burn. It wasn’t personal.
“I honestly didn’t have any heat towards you before this. i just liked your username like I said before” he told me via Twitter Direct Message.
After coming across my account, the hackers did some background research. My Twitter account linked to my personal website, where they found my Gmail address. Guessing that this was also the e-mail address I used for Twitter, Phobia went to Google’s account recovery page. He didn’t even have to actually attempt a recovery. This was just a recon mission.
Because I didn’t have Google’s two-factor authentication turned on, when Phobia entered my Gmail address, he could view the alternate e-mail I had set up for account recovery. Google partially obscures that information, starring out many characters, but there were enough characters available, m•••• Jackpot.
This was how the hack progressed. If I had some other account aside from an Apple e-mail address, or had used two-factor authentication for Gmail, everything would have stopped here. But using the .Me e-mail account as a backup meant told the hacker I had an AppleID account, which meant I was vulnerable to being hacked.

Be careful with your Amazon account — or someone might buy merchandise on your credit card, but send it to their home. Photo: luxuryluke/Flickr
“You honestly can get into any email associated with apple,” Phobia claimed in an e-mail. And while it’s work, that seems to be largely true.
Since he already had the e-mail, all he needed was my billing address and the last four digits of my credit card number to have Apple’s tech support issue him the keys to my account.
So how did he get this vital information? He began with the easy one. He got the billing address by doing a whois search on my personal web domain. If someone doesn’t have a domain, you can also look up his or her information on Spokeo, WhitePages, and PeopleSmart.
Getting a credit card number is tricker, but it also relies on taking advantage of a company’s back-end systems. Phobia says that a partner performed this part of the hack, but described the technique to us, which we were able to verify via our own tech support phone calls. It’s remarkably easy — so easy that Wired was able to duplicate the exploit twice in minutes.
First you call Amazon and tell them you are the account holder, and want to add a credit card number to the account. All you need is the name on the account, an associated e-mail address, and the billing address. Amazon then allows you to input a new credit card. (Wired used a bogus credit card number from a website that generates fake card numbers that conform with the industry’s published self-check algorithm.) Then you hang up.
Next you call back, and tell Amazon that you’ve lost access to your account. Upon providing a name, billing address, and the new credit card number you gave the company on the prior call, Amazon will allow you to add a new e-mail address to the account. From here, you go to the Amazon website, and send a password reset to the new e-mail account. This allows you to see all the credit cards on file for the account — not the complete numbers, just the last four digits. But, as we know, Apple only needs those last four digits. We asked Amazon to comment on its security policy, but didn’t have anything to share by press time.
And it’s also worth noting that one wouldn’t have to call Amazon to pull this off. Your pizza guy could do the same thing, for example. If you have an AppleID, every time you call Pizza Hut, you’ve giving the 16-year-old on the other end of the line all he needs to take over your entire digital life.
And so, with my name, address, and the last four digits of my credit card number in hand, Phobia called AppleCare, and my digital life was laid waste. Yet still I was actually quite fortunate.
They could have used my e-mail accounts to gain access to my online banking, or financial services. They could have used them to contact other people, and socially engineer them as well. As Ed Bott pointed out on, my years as a technology journalist have put some very influential people in my address book. They could have been victimized too.
Instead, the hackers just wanted to embarrass me, have some fun at my expense, and enrage my followers on Twitter by trolling.
I had done some pretty stupid things. Things you shouldn’t do.
I should have been regularly backing up my MacBook. Because I wasn’t doing that, if all the photos from the first year and a half of my daughter’s life are ultimately lost, I will have only myself to blame. I shouldn’t have daisy-chained two such vital accounts — my Google and my iCloud account — together. I shouldn’t have used the same e-mail prefix across multiple accounts —,, and And I should have had a recovery address that’s only used for recovery without being tied to core services.
But, mostly, I shouldn’t have used Find My Mac. Find My iPhone has been a brilliant Apple service. If you lose your iPhone, or have it stolen, the service lets you see where it is on a map. The New York Times’ David Pogue recovered his lost iPhone just last week thanks to the service. And so, when Apple introduced Find My Mac in the update to its Lion operating system last year, I added that to my iCloud options too.
After all, as a reporter, often on the go, my laptop is my most important tool.
But as a friend pointed out to me, while that service makes sense for phones (which are quite likely to be lost) it makes less sense for computers. You are almost certainly more likely to have your computer accessed remotely than physically. And even worse is the way Find My Mac is implemented.
When you perform a remote hard drive wipe on Find my Mac, the system asks you to create a four-digit PIN so that the process can be reversed. But here’s the thing: If someone else performs that wipe — someone who gained access to your iCloud account through malicious means — there’s no way for you to enter that PIN.
A better way to have this set up would be to require a second method of authentication when Find My Mac is initially set up. If this were the case, someone who was able to get into an iCloud account wouldn’t be able to remotely wipe devices with malicious intent. It would also mean that you could potentially have a way to stop a remote wipe in progress.
But that’s not how it works. And Apple would not comment as to whether stronger authentification is being considered.
As of Monday, both of these exploits used by the hackers were still functioning. Wired was able to duplicate them. Apple says its internal tech support processes weren’t followed, and this is how my account was compromised. However, this contradicts what AppleCare told me twice that weekend. If that is, in fact, the case — that I was the victim of Apple not following its own internal processes — then the problem is widespread.
I asked Phobia why he did this to me. His answer wasn’t satisfying. He says he likes to publicize security exploits, so companies will fix them. He says it’s the same reason he told me how it was done. He claims his partner in the attack was the person who wiped my MacBook. Phobia expressed remorse for this, and says he would have stopped it had he known.
“yea i really am a nice guy idk why i do some of the things i do,” he told me via AIM. “idk my goal is to get it out there to other people so eventually every1 can over come hackers”
I asked specifically about the photos of my little girl, which are, to me, the greatest tragedy in all this. Unless I can recover those photos via data recovery services, they are gone forever. On AIM, I asked him if he was sorry for doing that. Phobia replied, “even though i wasnt the one that did it i feel sorry about that. Thats alot of memories im only 19 but if my parents lost and the footage of me and pics i would be beyond sad and im sure they would be too.”
But let’s say he did know, and failed to stop it. Hell, for the sake of argument, let’s say he did it. Let’s say he pulled the trigger. The weird thing is, I’m not even especially angry at Phobia, or his partner in the attack. I’m mostly mad at myself. I’m mad as hell for not backing up my data. I’m sad, and shocked, and feel that I am ultimately to blame for that loss.
But I’m also upset that this ecosystem that I’ve placed so much of my trust in has let me down so thoroughly. I’m angry that Amazon makes it so remarkably easy to allow someone into your account, which has obvious financial consequences. And then there’s Apple. I bought into the Apple account system originally to buy songs at 99 cents a pop, and over the years that same ID has evolved into a single point of entry that controls my phones, tablets, computers and data-driven life. With this AppleID, someone can make thousands of dollars of purchases in an instant, or do damage at a cost that you can’t put a price on.
Additional reporting by Roberto Baldwin and Christina Bonnington. Portions of this story originally appeared on Mat Honan’s Tumblr.
Next week: How I put the pieces of my digital life together again.
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Mat Honan
Mat Honan is a senior writer for Wired's Gadget Lab and the co-founder of the Knight-Batten award-winning Longshot magazine.
Follow @mat on Twitter.

Video: Mat Honan Details His Post-Hack Paranoia

If you’re a regular reader of Wired, or just a curious tech enthusiast, you’ve certainly already heard about the hacking attack suffered by Mat Honan, Gadget Lab’s senior writer. Honan himself documented how hackers assumed control of his digital life in an exhaustive report on Monday, but now we have him on video, describing what happened in greater nuance and detail.
In the video above, Honan assumes partial responsibility for losing irreplaceable family photos in the attack. “Because I wasn’t backing up makes me feel a lot of this stuff I could have prevented, stuff that was my fault,” he says. “I’m a technology journalist — I’ve been a technology journalist since the ’90s — I know better than to not be backing up.”
Honan also describes his direct online interactions with the hacker. The very person who assumed control of his Amazon account and AppleID also proved to the best source of information on what actually occurred in the hacking attack. “Of course I was mad,” Honan says, “but I also wanted to try to be really rational about it. I wanted to understand exactly how this had happened and what the extent of the damage was, and I felt like a better way to apprach that than saying, ‘Oh, you son of a bitch you, just ruined my life’ was to try and engage and do it in a dispassionate manner. And that turned out to be pretty effective.”
The video provides unpublished details of Honan’s hacking attack, but also reveals a bit of the psychological damage that occurs after a digital violation. Says Honan: “I’ve been wary of the e-mails I’ve been replying to. I’m paranoid.”

The Morning Buzz | “Right to Pray” Amendment Passes in Missouri

Welcome to the Morning Buzz, PRRI’s morning dose of religion-related news with a shot of data – because what doesn’t liven up a morning round-up like some public opinion numbers? An almost intact Roman ship has been found off the coast of Varazze, Italy, complete with a full cargo of ancient foodstuffs. First-century pickled fish picnic, anyone?
The Republican National Convention will feature three Latino speakers: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Tea Party darling and Senate candidate Ted Cruz, and Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño. This is a change of pace from previous conventions, which were criticized for a lack of diversity.
The “right to pray” amendment to the Missouri constitution passed by a wide margin earlier this week. The amendment, among other provisions, allows for schoolchildren’s “right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools.” The measure was so popular that embattled Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill said that she had voted for it. The bill’s opponents, however, say that it will face court challenges. Last March, 23% of respondents who said that religious liberty was under threat identified the cause as the removal of religion from the public square.
In a new survey, nearly 4-in-10 (37%) social psychologists report that given two equally qualified candidates for a job, they would support the hiring of a liberal candidate over a conservative candidate. Now, many academics are wondering if this is true of their field as well.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who seems increasingly fed up with American politics, says that Obama should just raise taxes on everyone.
In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a scholar of theological studies and a nonprofit director take the Catholic hierarchy to task for criticizing the American nuns. The bishops, they argue, should be focusing on poverty and income inequality, rather than culture war issues like same-sex marriage and contraception. The the issue of same-sex marriage and abortion rank relatively low among the priorities of most Catholics.
In weird campaign news, the third-to-last paragraph of a New York Times article on the Senate race in Missouri reveals this gem: “Kerry Bentivolio, a libertarian-leaning reindeer farmer and a holiday Santa, defeated Nancy Cassis, a former state senator who formed a last-minute write-in campaign.” Thanks to Arnie for unearthing this!

“The Life of Julia” Vs. The Tea Party

Screen Shot 2012 08 07 at 10.16.48 AM The Life of Julia Vs. The Tea PartyOne of the most prominent women to be discussed in the 2012 presidential election so far, oddly enough, is virtual. In its“Life of Julia” feature, the Obama’s campaign illustrates how one fictional woman,  ”Julia,” benefits over her lifetime from government programs that Obama supports, such as Head Start, Pell Grants, Medicare, and Social Security, and how these programs are threatened by spending cuts proposed by the Romney campaign.
Not surprisingly, the Life of Julia has received harsh criticism from conservative activists, especially Tea Party women. At last month’s Smart Girl Summit, sponsored by Smart Girl Politics Action (a leading Tea Party organization for conservative women activists), speaker after speaker refuted the Julia campaign as sexist propaganda, which they argue portrays women as helpless victims in need of government largesse.
August 6 post graph 1 The Life of Julia Vs. The Tea PartyInstead, these Tea Party women believe that federal policies aimed at helping the poor and the middle class are often detrimental to America’s families. Many Tea Party women frame their commitment to lowering taxes and reducing the size of government as a moral obligation to reduce the debt burden passed down to the next generation. As Sarah Palin wrote, “Moms can be counted on to fight for their children’s future.  And when politicians start handing our kids the bill for their cronyism and irresponsibility—when they engage in generational theft—moms rise up.” This line of reasoning echoes recent work by some conservative evangelical activists (a key constituency of the Tea Party,according to PRRI data), who argue that fiscal responsibility and deficit reduction have a Biblical justification.
However, whether such a framework holds larger appeal to the American electorate, and especially women voters, remains debatable.  In November 2011, PRRI found that an overwhelming majority of Americans say that the government needs to do more, not less, when it comes to reducing the gap between the rich and the poor. A majority (53%) of Tea Party supporters and a surprisingly large percentage of Republicans (43%) agree that addressing income inequality was a job that entailed more government involvement. Nearly three-in-four (71%) women (compared to 62% of men) and (55%) of white evangelical Protestants also believe that the government should be more active on this issue.
August 6 post graph 2 The Life of Julia Vs. The Tea Party
Americans also broadly support government policies designed to aid the poor: nearly 7-in-10 (69%) Americans oppose making cuts to federal funding for social programs that help the poor as a way to reduce the deficit, a view that is shared by a strong majority of men (69%), women (66%), evangelicals (58%), and married folks (67%). PRRI found that nearly half (49%) of Tea Party supporters oppose cutting federal funds that help the poor as a way to reduce the deficit, while a slim majority (52%) oppose cutting federal funds given to religious organizations that help the needy. By contrast, most Americans (69%) support the “Buffett Rule”—increasing taxes on people making more than $1 million a year—as a means to control deficit spending.
It is not for naught that the Obama campaign chose to highlight the fictional life of Julia as opposed to Julian in its online campaign graphic: historically, women have been more supportive of social welfare programs than men. That divide has driven the gender gap in American politics, characterized by women’s greater tendency to voter Democratic. Women’s views on social and tax policy tend to be more liberal than men’s, although many men have reservations about cutting federal programs for the neediest, too. The PRRI data show the uphill battle that Tea Party leaders—especially those Mama Grizzlies, as Palin likes to call them—face in targeting their message to women voters.

Published on May 3, 2012 by 
President Obama's composite American woman, Julia, tells her REAL backstory. Narrated by Kelly Maher 

Published on May 5, 2012 by The Great Peter Schiff eviscerates the liberal fantasies contained in "The Life Of Julia" as featured on Barack Obama's Re-election campaign website. 
Published on May 5, 2012 by 
The Great Peter Schiff eviscerates the liberal fantasies contained in "The Life Of Julia" as featured on Barack Obama's Re-election campaign website.

CNN/ORC poll: Obama up 7 over Romney

By David Sherfinski - The Washington Times
August 9, 2012, 04:52PM

Photo by: Pablo Martinez Monsivais
**FILE** President Obama speaks Aug., 6, 2012, at a campaign fundraiser in Stamford, Conn. (Associated Press)
President Obama holds a 7-point edge over Mitt Romney in a new CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday, up from the 3-point lead he held in a poll conducted about a month ago.
Fifty-two percent of registered voters say they would vote for Mr. Obama if the election were being held today, compared to 45 percent who would vote for Mr. Romney. Mr. Obama held identical 49 percent to 46 percent leads in the previous two CNN/ORC polls, though he did have an 11-point advantage in March and a nine-point edge in April.
The poll, conducted from Aug. 7-8, includes 911 interviews with registered voters; that sample has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. Mr. Obama notably has an 11-point lead among independent voters, though that sample has a margin of error of 5.5 percentage points.
Forty-nine percent of registered voters approve of how Mr. Obama is handling his job, compared to 48 percent who disapprove.
In a problem that has been dogging Mr. Romney in recent polls, Mr. Obama also outperforms the Republican on favorability. Fifty-four percent of registered voters view him favorably, compared to 44 percent who have an unfavorable opinion. That compares to 48 percent who view Mr. Romney favorably and 47 percent who view him unfavorably.

Poll: Obama holds 13-point edge over Romney in favorability

By David Sherfinski - The Washington Times
August 8, 2012, 09:25AM

Photo by: Evan Vucci
President Obama greets the crowd after arriving for a campaign stop at Loudoun County High School on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in Leesburg, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A new Washington Post/ABC poll released Wednesday shows President Obama holding a 13-point favorability edge over presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has the lowest personal popularity levels for a major-party challenger in such midsummer election-year polls dating back to the Reagan administration.
Fifty-three percent of voters say they have a favorable opinion of Mr. Obama, compared with 40 percent for Mr. Romney. Forty-nine percent hold negative views of Mr. Romney, compared with 43 percent for Mr. Obama. Mr. Romney has been underwater in 10 straight Post/ABC polls this year, and his favorability among independent voters stands at just 37 percent, compared with 53 percent for Mr. Obama.
Dating back to 1984 in ABC/Post and Post polls, every single presumptive nominee had positive favorability ratings — except for Mr. Romney. One 1984 poll was conducted by the Los Angeles Times, which showed Democrat Walter Mondale with a 53 percent favorability rating, compared with a 40 percent unfavorable one.
Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, countered that people are still getting to know Mr. Romney and that voters still say they would be better off if he was elected.
"They trust him most on the economy and to turn things around," she said on CNN's "Starting Point." "And that's what people care most about, is getting a job, having more pay come back in their paycheck, and under this president, we've seen his policies just haven't worked. Sure, he's a nice guy, but that doesn't mean that people are being able to meet their bills, get a job, and those are the things that Americans care most about."
But do people have to like Mr. Romney to vote for him?
"Well, I think the more people learn about Mitt Romney, the more they are going to like him, and the more that they see that they can trust him to turn this economy around," she said. "President Obama has not been able to get the job done, and that's why middle-class Americans are suffering so much."
Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign, disagreed.
"People don't trust" Mr. Romney, she said later on the program. "They now understand that this private-sector experience that he's talking about was all about making profits for himself at any cost, at any consequence to anybody else, and they're questioning whether that's the type of experience they want of somebody running the country. And I think that they're concluding no."
Ms. Cutter, though, said she agreed with Ms. Saul that the favorability numbers are about voters getting to know Mr. Romney.
"They are getting to know Mitt Romney, and they're not liking what they're seeing," she said.
The poll was conducted from Aug. 1 to 5 among 1,026 adults, and the margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

NYT/Quinnipiac/CBS polls: Obama leads in Va., Wis., trails in Colo.

By David Sherfinski - The Washington Times
August 8, 2012, 07:53AM

Photo by: J. Scott Applewhite
**FILE** President Obama talks Aug. 3, 2012, at the White House about taxes. (Associated Press)

President Obama leads presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the key states of Virginia and Wisconsin, but trails Mr. Romney in Colorado, according to new swing state polls released Wednesday.
Forty-nine percent of likely voters, including undecided voters leaning toward a candidate, favor Mr. Obama compared to 45 percent who support Mr. Romney in Virginia, according to the Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS polls on swing states. Mr. Obama also gets 51 percent of the vote in Wisconsin compared to Mr. Romney's 45 percent.
Mr. Romney, however, leads 50 percent to 45 percent in Colorado. Mr. Obama carried all three states in 2008.
A plurality of voters in each state all rate the economy as the most important issue in their decision, however — a split that could augur well for Mr. Romney. Fifty-one percent in Colorado say they think Mr. Romney would do a better job on the economy compared to 41 percent who favored Mr. Obama. Though Mr. Obama leads in Virginia, voters there give a 2-point edge to Mr. Romney on the economy, 47 percent to 45 percent. And Mr. Obama holds just a 1-point lead, 47 percent to 46 percent, on the issue in Wisconsin.
However, strong majorities in each state favor Mr. Obama's plan to reduce the deficit by raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 per year. Fifty-six percent support it in Colorado, compared to 40 percent who oppose it. In Virginia, the gap was 23 percentage points — 59 percent support it and 36 percent oppose it. In Wisconsin, the split was even greater — about two-thirds support the concept, compared to 30 percent who oppose it.
But Quinnipiac pollsters cautioned that the electorate remains fluid with months to go before the November vote.
"History tells us that many voters who say they are sure will change their mind in the next 90 days," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
In Colorado, 32 percent of those polled are self-identified Democrats, 27 percent are Republicans, and 37 percent are independents, with independents essentially split between voters leaning more toward either party.
In Virginia, the sample is 23 percent Republican, 30 percent Democrat and 40 percent independent, although 46 percent of independents say they are closer to the Republican Party compared to 32 percent who say they are closer to the Democrats. Likewise, Wisconsin has a greater Democratic sample size: 34 percent say they are Democrats, 27 percent are Republicans and 33 percent are independents. Among independents, 45 percent say they are closer to the Republican party, compared to 37 percent who say they are closer to the Democratic party.
But Mr. Romney also appears to be siphoning off some of the support Mr. Obama received in 2008. Forty-eight percent in Colorado say they voted for Mr. Obama in 2008, compared to 46 percent who voted for Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican. Fifty-one percent in Virginia voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 while 42 percent voted for Mr. McCain, and 53 percent voted for Mr. Obama in Wisconsin compared to 40 percent who voted for Mr. McCain.
Results are based on surveys of 1,463 likely voters in Colorado, 1,412 in Virginia and 1,428 in Wisconsin conducted from July 31 to Aug. 6.
• Sarah Freishtat contributed to this report.

Poll: Obama leads Romney in North Carolina

By David Hill - The Washington Times
August 7, 2012, 03:31PM

Photo by: Susan Walsh
**FILE** President Obama campaigns July 16, 2012, at the Cincinnati Music Hall in Cincinnati. (Associated Press)

North Carolina voters favor President Obama by a slim margin over Mitt Romney, according to a poll released Tuesday.
The poll by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm based in North Carolina, shows Mr. Obama with a lead of 49 percent to 46 percent over the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
The results are a slight departure from recent polls that have shown Mr. Romney to have a narrow lead in the state, one of several traditionally Republican states Mr. Obama "flipped" in 2008. A poll this month by Rasmussen Reports showed the former Massachusetts governor with a five-point lead.
The PPP poll echoes sentiments seen in other swing states, where voters are somewhat discouraged by the president's performance but have not warmed to Mr. Romney.
The poll showed that 48 percent of North Carolina voters approve of the president's job performance while 49 percent disapprove. By comparison, only 42 percent of voters have a positive opinion of Mr. Romney while 50 percent have a negative opinion.