By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
2012 LIKE IT’S TODAY. It’s likely far too early to draw any real conclusions from polls of the 2012 presidential election right now, but it’s still fun to speculate. A new Quinnipiac University poll out today lets us do just that. The poll shows the usual suspects — Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich — as the top contenders for the GOP presidential nomination. No surprise there, but check out the order: Palin comes on top with 19 percent of Republican support, slightly ahead of Romney, with 18 percent. Huckabee gets 17 percent and Gingrich, who rounds out the top four, pulls in 15 percent. And when it comes to a general election matchup between President Barack Obama and some of those possible GOP hopefuls, Obama looks vulnerable. He’s in a dead heat with both Romney and Huckabee but leads Palin 48 percent to 40 percent. “The Democratic base remains squarely behind President Barack Obama when it comes to his re-election, but his weakness among independent voters at this point makes his 2012 election prospects uncertain,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “At this point, former Alaska Gov. Palin runs the worst against President Obama. … She is very unpopular among independents and although she recently said she thought she could defeat Obama, the data does not now necessarily support that assertion.” http://bit.ly/a6c7AT
SARAH’S WORLD. If you thought the airwaves and the Internet were already saturated with Sarah Palin news, just wait. Tomorrow Palin’s new book, “America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag,” hits store shelves and the former Alaska governor and 2012 presidential tease, kicks off a national book tour in Phoenix, Ariz. Palin will travel to several states that will be crucial to ambitions if she decides to jump into the race — Iowa, South Carolina and Ohio — and which will certainly help drive the will-she-or-won’t-she story line through the Thanksgiving holiday and beyond. Also fueling those rumors is a report in The Guardian newspaper suggesting that Palin aides are not only preparing for her book signing visits in Iowa but also checking out office space. http://bit.ly/avtsSd
The New York Times Magazine ran its lengthy profile on Palin and her inner-circle on Sunday, another episode of her Learning Channel reality show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” also aired over the weekend, and Palin will be watching her daughter, Bristol, compete in the finals of ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars,” tonight. But as ABC’s Rick Klein points out, “[Once] again, the Republican establishment is left simultaneously fascinated by and dreading the GOP's biggest star. Former first lady Barbara Bush was channeling that establishment with her characteristic frankness when CNN's Larry King asked an innocuous question, seeking her ‘read’ on Palin. ‘I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful. And I think she's very happy in Alaska — and I hope she'll stay there,’ Bush said.” http://bit.ly/cVlIKR
NOTED: Another phenomenon of the Palin hype — about as often as they get asked about their own presidential ambitions, all of her potential rivals end up talking about Palin too. The Des Moines Register’s Tom Beaumont caught up with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee over the weekend: “‘No question, she will be a very, very strong presence and force, if she gets in,’ Huckabee told reporters in Des Moines Sunday. ‘You know, she may run away with it. And that’s one of those things everyone needs to be prepared for.’ ‘If I get in, I prefer she not and that she endorse me,’ Huckabee then joked.” http://bit.ly/9iwhGz
THE TOUR. Palin’s book tour focuses on Midwestern and Southern states, mostly leaving out the coasts, and she’ll be appearing at a mix of large book store chains, including Borders, Barnes and Noble, as well as big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Costco. Although her publisher, Harper Collins, said the book would include “portraits of some of the extraordinary men and women she admires and who embody her deep love of country, her strong rootedness in faith, and her profound love and appreciation of family,” excerpts of “America By Heart” that have been leaked indicate that Palin seems just as interested in settling scores, defending herself and her family from criticism and igniting her base. Her first stop is at a Barnes and Noble in Phoenix at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday. http://bit.ly/bC6RfT
It’s Sarah Palin’s world, and we’re all just living in it. Watch John Berman’s “Good Morning America” report on Palin-mania. http://bit.ly/c5YaPB
STATES VS. FEDS ON MEDICAID. ABC’s Huma Khan reports on tensions between states and the federal government on Medicaid: “Faced with a budget deficit of more than $1 billion, Arizona's majority Republican legislature has slowly been cutting Medicaid benefits. At the same time, the newly elected president of the Arizona State Senate, Russell Pearce, has said he would reject federal grants, even though it means the state would lose about $7 billion in federal help. … Republican lawmakers in Texas are threatening to eliminate Medicaid altogether. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed an executive order in August forbidding state agencies to apply for grants under the new health care law. Twenty states have filed a joint lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services, challenging the constitutionality of the provision that requires all Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014. The feud over health care between states and Washington is not new. It has existed since the program was created in 1965, but the current partisan climate in which political jockeying is on the rise just further exacerbates that tension.”
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter speak with former GOP New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, a member of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission. Also on “Top Line,” Jackie Gingrich, author of “The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches that Every American Should Own.” Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine
MIKE LEE GETS SERIOUS. ABC’s Jonathan Karl interviews Utah GOP Senator-elect Mike Lee, who Karl notes, “is about to become the youngest member of the United States. He may also be the most conservative. In a Subway Series interview with ABC News, Senator-elect Lee staked-out a no-compromise, hard-line stand on the national debt that may soon put him at odds with his own party leadership. Lee told us that when Congress is asked to vote early next year on raising the national debt limit – a usually routine vote that allows the government to borrow the money needed to finance annual budget deficits – he will vote no. ‘I’m as serious as they come,’ Lee told ABC News. ‘I could not be more serious when I say I’m not going to vote to increase the national debt limit.’” http://bit.ly/92hlzh
ANGLE, AGAIN? Political Daily’s Tom Kavanagh picks up on a local Nevada news report indicating that erstwhile GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle may still be considering higher office: “She told a reporter Saturday she might run for a U.S. House seat in 2012 if the incumbent, Dean Heller, challenges Sen. John Ensign. Or she might try to unseat Ensign herself if Heller chooses not to. ‘I have a lot of options next cycle," the tea party-backed candidate told the Lahontan Valley News. ‘Lots of options.’ Angle told the paper she's in no hurry to make a decision. And Heller has not indicated his plans either. (Angle lost to Heller in the 2006 GOP primary by just 421 votes.)” http://aol.it/cE3fYM
DEBATING SECURITY. ABC “Nightline” correspondent John Donvan will moderate a debate tonight at NYU’s Skirball Center about airport security. It’s being organized by Intelligence Squared U.S. and will tackle the question: Should airports use racial and religious profiling in passenger screening? The debate features former CIA official Robert Baer, former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Q. Nomani, former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff and Columbia University Professor Hassan Abbas, among others. It starts at 6:45 p.m and is broadacast on NPR and Bloomberg TV. http://bit.ly/cTICzJ
@markknoller: In the written statement, Pistole pledges to work to make screening "as minimally invasive as possible" without sacrificing security.
NOTED: Chicago residents will know all of the candidates officially running for mayor today. 5 p.m. is the deadline to submit nominating petitions. Former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun became the latest candidate to formally announce she was running this weekend. From Fox Chicago: “Meantime mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel spent time this weekend talking about fighting crime and economic development. Emanuel met with police officers, small business owners and community leaders at BJ’s Market and Bakery on Stony Island Avenue.” http://bit.ly/aAy1R0
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