HARRISBURG, Pa. — A court-imposed Tuesday deadline is looming for a judge to decide whether Pennsylvania’s tough new law requiring voters to show photo identification can remain intact, a ruling that could swing election momentum with Republican candidates trailing in polls on the state’s top-of-the-ticket races.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson is under a state Supreme Court order to rule no later than Tuesday, just five weeks before voters decide whether to reelect President Obama, a Democrat, or replace him with Mitt Romney, a Republican.
Simpson heard two days of testimony last week and said he was considering invalidating a narrow portion of the law for the Nov. 6 election. An appeal to the state Supreme Court is possible.
The law, opposed furiously by Democrats, has nevertheless been a valuable Democratic Party tool to motivate volunteers and campaign contributions as other critics, including the NAACP, AARP, and the League of Women Voters, hold voter education drives and protest rallies.
In recent months, Republicans have sent out fund-raising appeals highlighting legal challenges to the law or an inquiry into the law by Obama’s Department of Justice, and the party no doubt would add a court defeat to its rallying cry.
The state’s Republican Party chairman, Rob Gleason, insisted Monday that supporting the law is about good policy, not about motivating party voters.
But then he criticized Democrats for opposing the voter ID law and for using it as an election issue.
Pennsylvania’s new law is among the toughest in the nation.
It is a signature accomplishment of Republicans in control of Pennsylvania state government who say they fear election fraud.
But it is an emotional target for Democrats who call it a Jim Crow-style scheme to make it harder for their party’s traditional voters, including young adults and minorities, who might not carry the right kind of ID or know about the law. - ASSOCIATED PRESS
Op-ed by Romney slams Obama’s policy on Mideast
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized US foreign policy toward the Middle East Monday in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, writing that “our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them.”
Romney called President Obama “a president who thinks that weakness will win favor with our adversaries” and accused him of taking too lightly the threat of a nuclear Iran and the political unrest in Libya, Egypt, and Syria. Romney also said Obama has eroded US relations with Israel.
But the former Massachusetts governor described his own Middle East policy only in general terms. He pledged “no daylight” between the United States and Israel and said his administration would “encourage liberty and opportunity” as alternatives to extremism in the Middle East.
After months on the campaign backburner, foreign policy has moved closer to the front after four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya, were killed in a terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11. On the same day, demonstrators in Cairo climbed the wall of a US embassy and took down the American flag.
Each candidate has criticized the other’s response to the violence.
In an interview that aired last Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Obama said that despite recent events, he remains optimistic that “over the long term, we are more likely to get a Middle East and North Africa that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more aligned with our interests. But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places, the one organizing principle has been Islam,” the president said.
Romney pounced on Obama’s use of the phrase “bumps in the road” and blasted it again in Monday’s op-ed, suggesting the president does not appreciate the gravity of “major issues that put our security at risk.” - CALLUM BORCHERS
On Medicare, GOP ads try to tug family ties
WASHINGTON — As they pursue an advantage on the Medicare issue in the Nov. 6 elections, Republicans are turning to personal allies for help: Mom and Dad.
‘‘Richard Mourdock cares about seniors, and he won’t let us down,’’ an elderly man says to the camera in an ad for the Indiana state treasurer seeking a US Senate seat.
‘‘I should know,’’ the man concludes, ‘‘I’m his father.’’
Ads like Mourdock’s seek to put a human face on Medicare and defuse Democrats’ criticism that Republican plans to curb government spending would hurt the health insurance program for Americans age 65 and older. Debate over Medicare has intensified since Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, an author of budget proposals to overhaul the program, became the Republican vice-presidential nominee last month.
Ryan, 42, has introduced his mother at campaign events, including the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., where he said Aug. 29, that Medicare helped a grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease and is ‘‘there for my mom today.’’
The personal ads underscore the importance of the Medicare issue in the election.
‘‘It’s just a way of communicating this sense of empathy and caring, which the public responds to,’’ John Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville who specializes in campaign advertising. - BLOOMBERG NEWS