Washington Daybook: Attention Seeking

Photograph by Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

President Barack Obama chats with Jay Leno during a break while recording an interview on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” at the NBC Studios in Burbank, California, on Oct. 25, 2011.

President Barack Obama makes a play for ratings today with an appearance on NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” coming between campaign stops in Denver and Las Vegas. Mitt Romney holds a rally in Iowa while Paul Ryan visits Cleveland. Meanwhile, campaign surrogates battle for attention in a debate today over China policy at Johns Hopkins University.

The third and final debate between Obama and Romney attracted 59.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That’s down 12 percent from the first debate, when Obama appeared to be off his game. Monday’s debate faced stiff competition from “Monday Night Football” on ESPN and Fox’s broadcast of playoff baseball.

Whoever wins, Republicans are in a strong position to keep control of the U.S. House of Representatives as political analysts predict that Democrats will be more than a dozen seats short of a majority in the Nov. 6 election.

Defense companies communicate their quarterly earnings today. Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense contractor, said third-quarter profit rose 9.3 percent and raised its full-year profit forecast. The company projected a decline in 2013 sales because of weak revenue anticipated in its Information Systems & Global Solutions unit, and said its forecast is based “on the assumption that sequestration does not occur.”

And speaking of communications, the Federal Open Market Committee concludes its two-day meeting, the last before the presidential election, to assess the effects of a new round of bond buying announced on Sept. 13 and to discuss changes in how it communicates the direction of monetary policy. Policy makers are committed to keeping the benchmark interest rate near zero until at least mid-2015. The FOMC plans to release a statement after its meeting at 2:15 p.m.

Also today, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter speaks at the Association of U.S. Army conference. Earthworks, CitizenShale and the Natural Resources Defense Council are among groups asking the Environmental Protection Agency to list fracking chemicals on the national toxics registry. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Modernized Nuclear Risk Reduction Center at the State Dept.

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