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Sahil Kapur

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.

Articles by Sahil

In a Sunday interview, Mitt Romney spoke out for a popular provision in the Affordable Care Act that guarantees coverage for people with preexisting conditions. But his campaign later clarified that he supports a scaled back version of the policy with much weaker protections.

"I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform. Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place," the Republican nominee said on NBC's "Meet The Press." "One is to make sure that those with preexisting conditions can get coverage."

His campaign later told TPM he wasn't signaling a shift in policy and was instead referring to his existing stance in favor of protections on preexisting conditions only for those with continuous insurance coverage -- not for first-time or returning buyers.

"He has a comprehensive reform plan; for instance, his own plan will deal with preexisting conditions but not in the same way that Obamacare does," a campaign aide said.

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Mitt Romney went there.

So far, the Republican nominee has mostly -- though not entirely -- steered clear of the culture wars, relentlessly framing the election as a referendum on President Obama's economic policies. But on Saturday, days after the Democratic National Convention ended and a new round of punditry gave the president higher odds of winning re-election, Romney hit the campaign trail with televangelist Pat Robertson and all but accused Obama of turning his back on God.

"That pledge says 'under God.' I will not take God out of our platform," Romney told a roaring crowd in Virginia Beach, after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. "I will not take God off our coins. And I will not take God out of my heart. We're a nation bestowed by God."

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In separate interviews Sunday, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan refused to identify which tax loopholes they would close in order to pay for their large tax cuts.

On NBC's "Meet The Press," Romney dodged multiple questions about which deductions or credits he'd target, saying only that he'll get rid of "some of the loopholes and deductions at the high end" while seeking to "lower the burden on middle income people."

Pressed for one specific example, Romney replied, "Well, the specifics are these which is those principles I described are the heart of my policy."

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Mitt Romney said Sunday that he likes parts of 'Obamacare' and will keep key provisions involving pre-existing conditions and young people.

"I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform. Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place," he said on NBC's "Meet The Press. "One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like."

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On ABC's "This Week" roundtable Sunday, conservative columnist George Will questioned the mathematical soundness of the Romney-Ryan tax cut plan. It's estimated to cost trillions of dollars but Mitt Romney vows that it will be revenue neutral by closing unspecified loopholes on high-income taxpayers.

"There is uncertainty surrounding the Romney-Ryan tax cut plan, because they have not specified the deductions that will be closed," Will said. "And we know where the big money is: mortgage interest deductions, charitable deductions, taxing that's compensation, which it is, employee-provided health insurance, and state and local taxes. All of those, you either hit only the rich, in which case you don't get much money, or you hit the middle class."

Asked to provide details of their plan in separate interviews on Sunday talk shows, Romney and Paul Ryan repeatedly declined.

On ABC's "This Week" roundtable Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) agreed with liberal columnist Paul Krugman's charge that Republican leaders are hypocritical in backing higher military spending for the purpose of creating jobs.

The transcript:

KRUGMAN:  Right now, Mitt Romney has an ad blitz where he's accusing Obama of cutting defense spending, which is actually, you know, that's not really true, but and then he says and the reason this is terrible is it because it will eliminate jobs.  So the Romney campaign's position is government spending can't create jobs unless it goes to defense contractors in which case it's the lifeblood of the economy... 

PAUL:  And that's an inconsistency.  That's an inconsistency.

KRUGMAN:  It's pretty major.

PAUL:  And it's wrong.  They are accepting Keynes with regard to military spending... 

KRUGMAN:  Weaponized Keynesianism. 

PAUL:  ... but not with regard to domestic spending.

Conservative columnist George Will said on ABC's "This Week" roundtable that the economic situation is so favorable to Republicans that if they can't win on Election Day, they should find another line of work. 

"[I]f the Republican Party cannot win in this environment, it has to get out of politics and find another business," he said.

The exchange between him and host George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: George, let's talk about Paul Ryan first, I'm going to get to the conventions later, but you saw him jump right on that jobs report.  Probably the best news Republicans had in a couple of weeks.

WILL:  The two numbers he stressed deserve stressing again.  368,000 dropped out of the job market, which means that for every job created, four people quit looking for jobs.

This means that if the work force participation rate today were what it was in June 2009, when the recovery began, we would have an unemployment rate 11.2 percent.  If you add in the involuntarily unemployed, you're approaching 19 percent, which is why I should think from here on in, on the basis of these numbers, the Romney campaign slogan should be the title of Paul Krugman's book which is, End This Depression Now, because these are depression level numbers.  And if the Republican Party cannot win in this environment, it has to get out of politics and find another business. 

Appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Paul Ryan did not rule out a deficit reduction deal with a 10:1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases.

"You know, it depends on the quality of the agreement. It depends on the quality of the policy," the Republican vice presidential nominee said. "Our negotiators in the super committee offered higher revenues through tax reform. John Boehner did as well."

Romney said he'd walk away from such a deal during the Republican primaries, arguing that tax hikes are unacceptable. Ryan didn't go that far on Sunday.

"There's no deal to walk away from," he said. "The point is, you're not giving me a deal to look at. You're giving me ratios."

Newt Gingrich argued that former President Bill Clinton's well-received speech at the Democratic convention could be construed as a "condemnation" -- not an endorsement, as it was -- of President Obama.

"Think about it," Gingrich said on CNN's "State of the Union," summing up how he interpreted Clinton's message: "I had the longest period of economic growth in economic history; you didn't, Mr. Obama. I got to four balanced budgets by working with Republicans; you didn't, Mr. Obama."

"You can take his speech, spin it not very much, and it's actually a condemnation of the fact that Obama learned nothing ... out of the 2010 election."

Between Aug. 26-28 and Sept. 5-7, the Gallup economic confidence index rose by 17 points -- from -33 to -16 -- a remarkable jump in just over a week.

It's the highest level of economic confidence in the Gallup tracker since earlier this year when jobs were growing more quickly.

The measure could be an outlier as there's little other evidence to suggest a spike in economic confidence. But if it's accurate, changing views on the economy could have a major impact on the election.

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