Washington Daybook: History Repeating

Photograph by Jewel Samad/AFP via GettyImages

Dolls depicting President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney at a gift shop at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Oct. 14, 2012.

President Barack Obama travels to Williamsburg, the colonial capital of Virginia that’s become a living museum, hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself as he prepares for tomorrow’s second presidential debate.

Doubts raised by his first subdued performance, paired with tightening polls and a fresh burst of enthusiasm for challenger Mitt Romney, have ignited Democratic concerns that the advantage is moving to the Republicans.

With early voting taking place in competitive states and the Nov. 6 Election Day just over 3 weeks away, Obama must go on the offensive, laying out clear contrasts with Romney and making the kind of personal connection with voters that helped him win four years ago, Bloomberg News reported today, citing Democratic strategists.

Reports due today to the Federal Election Commission may show how much Romney’s momentum has benefitted campaign coffers. Congressional candidates and political action committees will file their quarterly spending reports to the agency, as will Romney Victory, the joint fundraising committee for the Romney campaign, the Republican National Committee and state parties.

Obama may get a lift from economic reports due out today. Retail sales probably rose in September for a third month as demand for automobiles improved and discounters benefitted from a final rush of back-to-school shopping, economists said before a Commerce Department report.

Also today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce releases the first international index of energy security risk. The Center for Strategic and International Studies presents a report on the largest defense budgets in Asia, focusing on China, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. And Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner attends a private dinner in honor of former President Bill Clinton and poet Maya Angelou hosted by the Embassy of Kuwait.

Historical records and access to them will be discussed as military hearings resume in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The weeklong hearings include consideration of a challenge by media organizations to a government motion that statements made by the defendants should be considered “presumptively classified.”

Julianna Goldman and Lisa Lerer assisted on this report.

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