By Torrey AndersonSchoepe | The Ticket – 10 hrs ago CHARLOTTE, N.C.—As the Democratic National Convention opens on the heels of some of President Barack Obama’s surrogates fumbling when asked if the country is better off than it was four years ago, Obama campaign aides took the question head-on Tuesday morning.”The country is better off,” declared Stephanie Cutter, the president’s deputy campaign manager.Joined by fellow Obama campaign architects Ben LaBolt and Jim Messina, Cutter sat down with Yahoo News’ Olivier Knox and ABC News’ Diane Sawyer and Jake Tapper for a live „Newsmakers” broadcast.Summing up their point, Obama’s aides reinforced the „bumper sticker” line credited to Vice President Joe Biden: „Osama bin Laden is dead, GM is alive.””We broke the back of al-Qaida,” Cutter said. „The auto industry was on the verge of bankruptcy…and now they’re creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.”Cutter also hit back at a Mitt Romney campaign aide’s contention during last week’s „Newsmakers” at the Republican National Convention that „we’re not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.””We do care about fact checks. We do care about the honesty of our ads,” she said.At the RNC last week, Romney’s wife, Ann, took the stage tasked with humanizing her husband, and the role is no different for Obama’s wife, Michelle, who speaks tonight.”I think that what the first lady can do better than anybody else is give a lens into the values that drive the president,” Cutter said.And, like their Romney counterparts, the Obama advisers were mum on yet another convention-speaker mystery: who will introduce the president on Thursday night at the Bank of America Stadium—a venue with nearly 74,000 seats that Team Obama said again on Tuesday they will be able to fill up amid questions about enthusiasm and weather.Looking toward November, Obama’s aides agreed that it’s going to be a tight race that they’re careful to characterize as a „choice” for voters.”We’re confident in the choice, and we’re confident when people understand that choice that we’re going to win this election,” Messina said.”Confident,” Cutter said.”Ditto,” LaBolt agreed.
Democrats use Kennedy ‘tribute’ video to attack Romney By Holly Bailey, Yahoo! News | The Ticket – 4 hrs ago CHARLOTTE—Democrats offered a not-so-subtle attack on Mitt Romney’s policy shifts over the years, playing a video of Romney embracing more moderate views on issues like abortion when he was running for Senate in 1994 against the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.The clips were featured in a „tribute” video to Kennedy aired at the Democratic National Convention and featured footage of debates between Romney and Kennedy during the 1994 race.
Quebec separatists win minority government, referendum sidelined By Leila Lemghalef | Reuters – 1 hr 1 min ago QUEBEC CITY, Quebec (Reuters) – The separatist Parti Quebecois won a Quebec election on Tuesday but only gained enough seats for a minority government in the French-speaking Canadian province, effectively ruling out another referendum on independence.Preliminary results showed the PQ won 56 of the 125 seats in the provincial legislature, ending nine years of rule by the Liberals. The results mean PQ leader Pauline Marois becomes the first female premier in the province’s history.”It’s a historic moment for Quebecers. Every time a PQ governmentis elected … it’s a moment of national pride,” Leo Bureau-Blouin, one of the party’s victorious star candidates, told public broadcaster RDI.Previous PQ governments held independence referendums in 1980 and 1995, but both failed.Although Marois is promising another vote when the time is right, that could be years away. The most recent poll shows only 28 percent of Quebecers back separation from the rest of Canada.The PQ would need the support of other legislators to hold a vote on splitting away from Canada and none of the major opposition parties backs the idea.Marois has in any case said she would concentrate on the economy, in particular tackling the province’s large debt, imposing higher tax and royalty rates on mining firms and making foreign takeovers of Quebec companies more difficult.The results showed the Liberals had won 48 seats, down 16 from the 64 they held at dissolution. Premier Jean Charest, who lost his seat, emphasized that the PQ had only won a minority.”The result of this election campaign speaks to the fact that the future of Quebec lies within Canada,” he told supporters.Initial results showed the PQ won 32 percent of the vote, compared to 31 percent for the Liberals.Quebec has a population of 7.8 million, compared with 34.5 million for all of Canada.Nomura Global Economics analyst Charles St-Arnaud said that given the current lack of enthusiasm for independence, even a PQ majority victory would not cause much market unrest.”I think that the election result will be more noise than anything else,” he said in an email. „We could see a slight depreciation of the Canadian dollar and a widening of spreads, but nothing meaningful. What will matter more for spreads will be the first budget.”Under the Liberals, who want Quebec to remain part of Canada, relations with the federal government in Ottawa have been relatively stable since 2003.That would change under a PQ government, since Marois has made clear she wants a quick meeting with Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper to demand he give Quebec overall control of immigration policy and unemployment insurance.Harper has often railed against Quebec separatists, and if he refuses to cooperate with Marois, that could boost support for the idea of independence.Harper issued a statement congratulating Marois and added: „We do not believe that Quebecers wish to revisit the old constitutional battles of the past.”Minority governments in Canada are usually short-lived but Francois Legault, leader of the third-placed Coalition for the Future of Quebec party, indicated he would back Marois if she focused on fighting corruption and improving the financially strapped public healthcare system.The right-leaning CAQ, on course to win 19 seats with 27 percent of the vote, wants to freeze all talk of a referendum for a decade and focus on the economy.The Liberals won three successive elections from 2003 to 2008, but became increasingly unpopular amid allegations of corruption in the construction industry that might be linked to the financing of political parties.Preliminary results of the Sept 4 election are as follows (figures in brackets show the number of seats at dissolution):PQ — 56 (47)Liberals — 48 (64)CAQ — 19 (9)Quebec Solidaire — 2 (1)Option Nationale — 0 (1)Independents — 0 (2)(One seat was vacant at dissolution)(Writing by David Ljunggren; editing by Todd Eastham)