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Epic Political Photo Op Flops

What was supposed to be a charming photo op of Paul Ryan and his family at an Ohio soup kitchen turned ugly when the director of the charity that runs the soup kitchen insisted that the vice-presidential candidate barged in without permission and proceeded to wash clean dishes. But Ryan staffers shouldn’t get too depressed over the bad PR, it’s only the latest in a long line of political photo op disasters. From Sarah Palin’s turkey pardoning while one was slaughtered right behind her to George H.W. Bush being caught on camera not knowing how a grocery scanner works, see more pictures that did more harm than good.
Getty Images (top left); AP Photo (3)

Paul Ryan was slammed for staging a photo op at a soup kitchen. See other political photo op disasters.

11 Questions Debate Audience Members Should Ask Romney, Obama

Readers of The Daily Beast offer the 11 questions audience members at tonight's town hall-style debate should ask Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Win McNamee / Getty Images

Earlier this afternoon, we asked readers to send us questions they would ask if they found themselves sitting at tonight's presidential town hall-style debate. From questions about how to save the planet to healthcare hypocrisy, these are among the best.

Graham Site Scrubs Mormon Cult Ref.

After meeting with Romney.

It seems a meeting with Mitt Romney over cookies and soft drinks at his mountaintop retreat has changed Rev. Billy Graham's views on Mormonism. Shortly after the legendary evangelical preacher's date with the Republican presidential nominee, the "What is a cult?" section was erased from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's website.

Duggar Family Stumps For Akin

Along with Mike Huckabee’s wife.
Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images

Todd Akin’s campaign is getting a boost from one of the biggest—literally—families in America. The Duggar clan, known for their TLC show 19 Kids and Counting, will hit the campaign trail in Missouri on Tuesday to help the embattled GOP nominee who recently came under fire for his comments about how a woman’s body can stop conception in cases of “legitimate rape.

Kochs to Employees: Vote for Mitt

Warn of “consequences” if Obama is reelected.
Getty Images (2)

A company owned by the Koch brothers sent letters to its employees warning them to vote for Mitt Romney or “suffer the consequences.” The letter, which was sent to the 45,000 employees of Georgia-Pacific and was signed by Koch Industries President Dave Robertson, warned of “higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills.

Can Obama Be a Superstar?

The pundits say the president needs a huge come-from-behind victory. Howard Kurtz on the overwhelming odds against that happening.
Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

Now Barack Obama has to be LeBron James.At least, that's what Joe Scarborough said on his MSNBC morning show. The president must act like the NBA superstar in Tuesday night's debate, pouring in points as if it is Game 7 against the Lakers.

Ryan Ramrods Way Into Photo Op

Washes pots and pans that are already clean.
Mary Altaffer / AP Photo

In what appears to be a pit stop for Paul Ryan’s never-ending quest to find objects to lift and make his sublime biceps even bigger, the Republican vice-presidential candidate did some dishes in an Ohio soup kitchen last week.

The Town-Hall Tightrope

Romney may be better behind a podium, but can he connect with an audience of uncommitted voters? Brett O’Donnell, America’s premier debate coach, on what Obama needs to do to avoid the ‘incumbent trap.’
Lucas Jackson, Reuters / Landov

In 2004 George W. Bush lost the first presidential debate to John Kerry. He sighed, had bad posture at the podium, and seemed generally disengaged. Sound familiar?  President Obama followed in the same footsteps in what we might call the “incumbent trap” of presidential debates where the sitting president doesn’t take the debates as seriously as he should and turns in an uninspired performance.

Crowley: I’ll ‘React’ at Debate

While Obama gains small lead.
Stan Honda, AFP / Getty Images

Time for round two. Candy Crowley, the moderator of Tuesday night’s debate at Hofstra University on Long Island, said that she won’t be “a fly on the wall” during the town hall–style evening. “I’m going to react organically to what’s happening,” Crowley said on Monday.

Obama Has to Dumb It Down

Here’s where Obama went wrong in Denver—he spoke at an academic comprehension level, targeted his message at Romney instead of the audience, and used less tonal variety. Mark McKinnon on how to turn it around tonight.
Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

Is President Obama too smart for debates?We know his energy was low in Denver. That he looked like he wanted to be anywhere else. That he looked churlish and peeved. And that he missed countless opportunities to raise issues or counter Mitt Romney’s assertions.

I Hate Town Halls!

There’s no such thing as an undecided voter! And neither candidate this year can compete with Bill Clinton’s empathy! Matt Latimer on the five things he’ll be screaming at the TV during Obama-Romney 2.
Emmanuel Dunand, AFP / Getty Images

I don’t believe in the undecided voter. Let me be clear on this: I am not saying that I doubt the sincerity of someone who declares today, three weeks before an election that we’ve all been hearing about for years, that they have no idea for whom they are going to vote.

The 8 Things Obama Needs to Do

With the president still reeling from his last run-in with Mitt Romney, the stakes on Tuesday night are enormous. Michael Tomasky lays out Obama’s surest path to victory.
Brendan Smialowski, AFP / Getty Images

So here we are. Let’s get right to it. Here are Barack Obama’s eight tasks tonight:Be a fighter for beliefs. I wrote this already, but it needs to be on this list. Obama must communicate that he wants to spend four more years fighting for the things he believes in and the people he represents.

The Paradox of Moderate Mitt

Mitt Romney is a Rorschach test, with voters seeing what they want to see. And that, writes John Avlon, is the secret to his surge in the polls since the first presidential debate.
Evan Vucci / AP Photo

It’s a conundrum for conservatives—Mitt Romney couldn’t get traction while he was playing to the base with his vice-presidential selection or his convention speech.  But once he broke out the big Etch A Sketch in his first debate against President Obama, Mitt started soaring in the polls.

Romney Beats Pennsylvania Retreat

A top staffer pulls out as the Republican nominee diverts resources to other states. Ben Jacobs on the implications for the presidential race.
Charles Dharapak / AP Photo

Is Mitt Romney giving up on Pennsylvania? The Keystone State has long been considered one of the crucial swing states up for grabs this year. In fact, the state’s blue-collar Democrats were the ones who Barack Obama famously described as sticking to their guns and bibles.

Stewart: Florida Does It Again!

On 'The Daily Show's first post-election episode, Jon Stewart questioned the Sunshine State's relevance. Sorry, Florida, we elected a president without you.

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