Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has been knocked off his front-runner pedestal in recent polls by Rick Perry, heads to the Lone Star State for the first time since the Texas governor shook up the presidential race earlier this month.
Romney speaks this morning to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in San Antonio while Perry is elsewhere in the state raising money. The former Massachusetts governor has avoided taking direct swipes at the man who is now his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, but that's starting to change.
"I am a conservative businessman," Romney will say in Texas today, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks obtained by ABC News. "I have spent most of my life outside of politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy. Career politicians got us into this mess and they simply don't know how to get us out."
Washington Post columnist Marc A. Thiessen quotes Romney strategists today as saying that the attacks will start "at a time of our choosing." But a new CNN-Opinion Research Corporation Poll out yesterday indicates that time may be running out.
The national poll, taken Aug. 24-25, shows Perry leading the GOP field with 27 percent. Romney is in second place with 14 percent and Sarah Palin, not yet an official candidate, is running in third with 10 percent.
Perry jumped 12 points since early August, while Ron Paul dropped 6 points, going from tied for third to tied for fifth place. Without Palin and Giuliani on the ballot, Perry's lead over Romney doesn't change all that much (32 percent for Perry compared to 18 percent for Romney) and Michele Bachmann moves into third place with 12 percent. http://bit.ly/rbv0qT
In his Post column, Thiessen outlines several potential lines of attack for Team Romney, including using Perry's past statements that Social Security "is a failure" against him.
"The Romney campaign also plans to use immigration to drive a wedge between Perry and his conservative base, by highlighting Perry's opposition to a border fence and legislation he signed in 2001 allowing the children of illegal immigrants to attend Texas colleges and universities at in-state tuition," Thiessen writes. "Team Romney intends to undermine Perry's appeal on the right by painting him as the anti-government candidate who has spent most of his life in government -- first as a state legislator, then as agriculture secretary, lieutenant governor and governor." http://wapo.st/mX0DLN
Romney's reference in his speech today to "career politicians" is as much a dig at Perry as it is at Democrats in Washington.
When and how to mount a major anti-Perry offensive will be as big, if not a bigger question for the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, as it will be the Romney campaign. They've got $12 million to spend they sure won't be using it on soft and fuzzy ads.
Moreover, putting Romney, himself, in the attack-dog position a tough sell. Remember how badly he did when he tried the attack thing during the 2008 campaign? Romney is already viewed so skeptically by the GOP electorate and he may not have the credibility to do the attacking.
ON TODAY'S "TOP LINE. ABC's Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl interview Republican strategist Keith Appell about 2012 politics as well as this fall's coming battles in Washington. Also on the program, a "Top Line" tour of perhaps the best office in Washington -- the headquarters of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Watch "Top Line" LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc
"TOP LINE" REPLAY: Representative Bill Keating, D-Mass., the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security subcommittee for oversight, was on the coast at his home in Monument Beach, Mass. when Hurricane Irene hit last weekend. Yesterday, he praised the government's reaction to the disaster, telling "Top Line" that "preparation was excellent." "I'm just happy that no one was hurt in my community, no one was hurt here. Unfortunately we can't say that for every community." http://abcn.ws/n72Uad
WHITE HOUSE WATCH: President Obama will spend today in Minneapolis speaking at the American Legion Annual Conference, where he will thank veterans for their service in advance of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and discuss the status of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ABC's Mary Bruce reports.
PRIMARY MOVES: WHAT WILL ARIZONA DO? "Gov. Jan Brewer is exploring ways to put a spotlight on Arizona concerns as she considers alternatives that include moving up Arizona's presidential primary, an idea that would like reshuffle the calendar for picking a Republican presidential nominee," the Associated Press' Paul Davenport reports. "Brewer is still leaning toward moving up the state's primary to Jan. 31 to give Arizonans a louder voice nationally but is considering her options, spokesman Matthew Benson said Monday. Besides changing the primary date from Feb. 28, the alternatives include staging a debate for presidential candidates in Arizona, Benson said. 'A debate would be one way to really shine the light on Arizona issues, such as illegal immigration and border issues,' Benson said. He declined to provide details on the possibility of a debate or on other possible options. … Holding the Arizona primary on Jan. 31 would violate Republican party rules to punish states that try to leapfrog four early voting states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. And if Arizona moves up its primary, at least some of the other states are expected to move up their February dates in order to still go first. … Under party rules adopted last year, states that violate the timetable could lose half of their delegates to the party's 2012 national convention, but there's no indication that would deter Brewer." http://bo.st/r4WPiv
WHAT WOULD AMERICA LOOK LIKE UNDER A 'PRESIDENT PERRY'? "Well, if Rick Perry's Texas is any indication, the country could look forward to 85 mph speed limits, hog hunting from helicopters and a security check 'fast-lane' for concealed handgun carriers," ABC's Amy Bingham writes. "The Lone Star State will usher in about 700 new laws when its fiscal year begins Thursday that include everything from legalizing 'noodling,' a type of fishing where people catch catfish with their bare hands, to raising the maximum speed limit on some state highways to 85 mph, the fastest in the country. 'The Texas legislature is often a circus of curious legislation. You can go to any session and pull out a few things that are unusual to say the least,' said Jim Henson, the director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin." More highlights from Texas' hundreds of new laws: http://abcn.ws/mXnbvP
AS OBAMA PREPARES JOBS ROLLOUT, DEMOCRATS HAVE DEMANDS. "Many Democrats say they want to hear a forceful presidential push for new stimulus spending and middle-class tax cuts, with less emphasis on deficit reduction and government spending cuts they say could stunt job creation and hamper economic recovery," ABC's Devin Dwyer reports. "Others, rankled by the administration's willingness to compromise with Republicans during the recent debt ceiling debate, also want Obama to draw a clearer line in the sand over tax hikes for the wealthy and protecting entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, from cuts. Obama needs to stop 'nibbling around the edge,' AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka told reporters last week, as he criticized the administration's economic strategy. 'History will judge him, and I think working people will judge him.' 'Unemployment is unconscionable,' said an exasperated Rep. Maxine Waters at a Congressional Black Caucus town hall meeting earlier this month. 'We don't know what his strategy is.'" http://abcn.ws/qvNDOA
CHRISTINE O'DONNELL TO JOIN PALIN IN IOWA. "Sarah Palin will headline a tea party rally Saturday outside Des Moines, Iowa, in what will be watched for signs the former Alaska governor is slowly building a presidential campaign," notes the Wall Street Journal's Danny Yadron. "Her opening act: former U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell of Delaware, perhaps best known for her campaign ad, 'I'm not a witch.' 'We're just kind of loading up the bases, aren't we?' Ken Crow, event organizer and president of Tea Party of America, told Washington Wire. 'Hey, we got an open slot.' The Des Moines Register first reported the news that Ms. O'Donnell, who just wrote an autobiography, will also speak. Mr. Crow said his group's co-founder Charlie Gruschow was approached Monday by someone -- Mr. Crow didn't know who -- about having Ms. O'Donnell speak at Saturday's 'Restoring America' rally in Indianola, Iowa. Palin aides signed off on Ms. O'Donnell's appearance, Mr. Crow said." http://on.wsj.com/qrrbR1
NOTABLE: CWA GOES ON OFFENSE. The Communications Workers of America is targeting two-dozen House Republicans in battleground congressional districts across the country over their "willingness to shut down the Federation Aviation Administration over a union-busting provision inserted into the House version of the multi-year FAA Reauthorization bill," the union said in a statement today. "CWA's 'Countdown to Shutdown' campaign is spending over half a million dollars on efforts to educate voters about the causes and consequences of the FAA shutdown. Included in this effort is the new direct mail effort, which will target over 600,000 voters in key battleground House districts."
@GOP12: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Veep chatter: "very humbling"bit.ly/qAGI8j
@russellberman: #GOP leaders showcase freshmen proposals in jobs pushbit.ly/n8rIzF #tcot
@TPM: 5 things that killed Palin's presidential dream: tpm.ly/qSR03C
@chrislhayes: Our politics in a nutshell: bottom 95% of pop has stagnating or declining income, everyone's pissed off. businessinsider.com/us-household-i…
@KevinMaddenDC: thought same thing leaving house RT @nicklaus: Just got back from walking the dog. It's #football weather in DC this morning!!
(all times local)
* President Obama delivers remarks to the American Legion in Minneapolis, Minn.
*Mitt Romney delivers remarks at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in San Antonio, Tex. at 10:20 a.m.
* Rick Santorum holds a media availability at the Republican Party of Pennsylvania's headquarters in Harrisburg, PA at 11 a.m. and will visit the Republican Party booth at the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair at 3:45 p.m.
* Jon Huntsman fundraises in Oklahoma.
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