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

Enjoying leads in key swing states with the presidential debates less than two weeks away, the Obama campaign is actively working to lower expectations by talking up Mitt Romney's skills.

"I think it's always a big moment when two candidates get to sit side by side and answer the same question," said Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to the campaign, on "Fox News Sunday." "Mitt Romney I think has an advantage, because he's been through 20 of these debates in the primaries over the last year. He even bragged that he was declared the winner in 16 of those debates. So I think, in that sense, having been through this much more recently than President Obama, I think he starts with an advantage."

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Appearing on two Sunday shows, Bill Clinton addressed the controversy surrounding Mitt Romney's newly unearthed remarks that the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes are essentially freeloaders.

"You know, I know a lot of higher income people, a lot of whom help me do my work and they're supporting Governor Romney. And a lot of people say things like that," Clinton said on CBS' "Face The Nation," before taking on the premise.

"First, they do pay taxes -- they pay Social Security taxes, they pay Medicare taxes, they pay state and local taxes," he said. "Second, they are out of the income tax pool for two reasons: one is the economic crash, which lowered a lot of peoples' incomes. ... Now the second reason is interesting, it's a bipartisan reason in the past: it's because of the combined impacts of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit."

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Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said Sunday that Mitt Romney's longstanding strategy of making this election a referendum on President Obama's first term will fail.

"They need to focus on the next four years," he said. "If this election is just about the last four years, that's a muddy verdict. Bush was president during the financial meltdown. The Obama team has turned that around pretty well. The Clinton speech at the convention was very important in that way -- how horrible was it four years ago."

"He's got to make it a referendum on the choice of the next four years, and explain what Obama would do over the next four years that would be bad for the country, and what he would do that would be good for the country."

The Romney campaign has hinted that it will pivot to presenting the election as a choice between two visions and increasingly highlight the Republican nominee's blueprint for America.

McCain 2008 campaign adviser Nicolle Wallace said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" roundtable that Republican criticism of the Romney campaign will probably continue, but she argued that it's less severe than what John McCain was facing at this stage in the 2008 campaign.

"The Republicans that feel angst feel less today than they did four years ago this week," she said. "So they don't view this campaign as much of a calamity as the campaign I was part of, the McCain-Palin campaign. But they are deeply worried."

Appearing Sunday on CBS' "Face The Nation," Bill Clinton addressed the possibility of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016.

"I don't know," the former president said. "She wants to take some time off. ... I think we ought to give her a chance to organize her life and decide what she wants to do."

"I have no earthly idea what she'll decide to do," he said. "I've never met anybody who I thought was any better than her at this. ... Whatever she does, I'm for her first, last and always."

Appearing Sunday on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Bill Clinton weighed in on the state of the presidential race.

"I think the president has the advantage now," he said. "We did have a very good convention. He got a good boost out of it."

"The real question is who's got the better plan for the future. I think he'll win that argument."

Appearing on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS, Bill Clinton was asked whether he sees any truth to Mitt Romney's characterization that the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes are dependent on government.

"No," the former president responded. He noted that much of those 47 percent pay payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare as well as state and local taxes.

"The money we spend is not out of line with other advanced countries," he said. "In fact, we spend a smaller percentage of our GDP than almost any other country."

Asked if the uneathed remarks are a "game changer" for Romney, Clinton said, "I think it puts a heavier burden on him in the debates to talk about what he meant."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) dodged a question Sunday about whether Harry Reid should apologize to Mitt Romney in the wake of the Republican candidate release of more tax data on Friday.

"Nobody's going to vote based on Mitt Romney's tax returns," Graham said on CNN's "State of the Union," before praising Romney for giving some 30 percent of his earnings to charity in 2011.

"I'm sort of amazed at the generosity of the Romneys," he said. "And he has paid his taxes lawfully."

Sen. Dick Durbin (IL), the No. 2 Democrat in the chamber, on Sunday touted President Obama's lead in the polls but said the president's reelection campaign will not to become complacent.

"The momentum has shifted in Obama's direction and that's a good thing from out point of view," he said on CNN's "State of the Union." "We're not taking anything for granted."

He said Mitt Romney's woes "have given the president more traction" in battleground states.