Between the Lines By Mark Halperin

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President Barack Obama speaks speaks during a campaign stop at Bayliss Park August 13, 2012 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Team Obama has been energized by the addition of Paul Ryan to the Republican ticket. The White House will try to define the contest all the way through Election Day as a fight over issues it thinks the seven-term Congressman is vulnerable on, such as Medicare, tax cuts for the wealthy and abortion ... But there are 10 other factors smoothing the President's path to re-election ... 1 Obama's incumbency allows him to control the news cycle whenever he wants with resonant gestures like his Aug. 3 move to purchase $170 million worth of meat and fish in drought-stricken agricultural states ... 2 Chicago's research shop is patiently sitting on potentially distracting information about Mitt Romney, ready to discharge for maximum impact ... 3 Romney plans to release his 2011 tax returns soon, fueling another round of stories about his wealth and investments ... 4 There are signs that housing, retail sales and other areas of the U.S. economy may be improving ... 5 For all the Democratic fretting over potential crises in Europe and Iran, both just might stay stable through November ... 6 Obama's nominating convention follows Romney's, giving the President's side the last word and the prospect of a bigger, more durable poll bounce ... 7 The hugely popular Michelle Obama is expected to deliver a winning convention speech ... 8 The 9/11 anniversary will give the Commander in Chief another opportunity to remind the nation that Osama bin Laden was eliminated on his orders ... 9 The Chicago team still has superior internal communication and coordination compared with Boston ... 10 With a big head start and more advanced technology, the Democrats have an edge in identifying and turning out voters on Election Day.


America's Waistline Is Growing--Again

Not a single state in the union has an obesity rate of less than 20%--and a thinner population is not on the horizon. An Aug. 13 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than a third of U.S. adults were obese in 2011, and the number of states with a very high percentage of obese adults has reached 12.


Minutes added to the elementary-school day in the Chicago public system for the current year, which started Aug. 13. The district also added 30 minutes to four school days a week for high schoolers and increased the school year by 10 days. The district no longer has the shortest year in the U.S.

The (Paperwork) Burden of War

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