By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
Michele Bachmann made it official on Monday night — she’s running — and although Rick Perry has yet to do so, he seems headed in that direction, saying in an interview yesterday that he’s “giving it serious thought.”
What the Minnesota GOP congresswoman and the Republican governor of Texas have in common is that their candidacies — real and potential — have been sending shockwaves through the party and the rest of the 2012 field.
In many ways a Perry candidacy is a no-brainer. He fills the Tea Party niche well. He'd be the most prominent southerner in the contest. He doesn't have to give up his current job to run. He's got a good story to tell about the Texas economy. And his potential weaknesses aren't disqualifying. Top questions for Perry include whether he'd be able to raise the money and whether he can build organizations in the early states from scratch. http://abcn.ws/l2HLyq
As a nominee for the party, however, he's got more serious liabilities. His Tea Party rhetoric and Texas swagger can turn off independent swing voters. And, if you close your eyes and listen to him speak, you'd swear it was George W. Bush. His accent, cadence and pronunciations are almost identical.
Yesterday, Perry gave his first national interview since he began hinting at a presidential run, assuring Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto that six weeks ago the presidential race was “not on his radar screen.” Now Perry said, he is “giving it serious thought.” But there’s no hurry, he added, saying that a decision could come within the next month. “We have some time,” he said. http://abcn.ws/lKRIQl
Perry was in New York City on Tuesday speaking at a GOP Lincoln Day dinner and he planned to meet this morning with former mayor and once and possibly future presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.
Meanwhile, Bachmann, the firebrand Minnesota congresswoman, proved that she's ready for a big stage at Monday night’s debate in New Hampshire. But, can she translate that to success on the ground?
She’s going to try. As Roll Call’s David Drucker reports, “Supporters said the outspoken Minnesota Republican, periodically engaged in public disagreements with party leaders, was moving Tuesday to accelerate the formation of her presidential campaign team. Bachmann's top political hand in Iowa, state Sen. Kent Sorenson, said in a telephone interview that he and a handful of deputies were free to begin assembling a statewide volunteer network — much of which had been waiting in the wings — now that the Congresswoman has filed her candidate papers.” http://bit.ly/l7Cs0a
"Michele will be able to perform well and will catch fire,” Sorensen said in an interview with Roll Call. “It's just a matter of getting her message out.”
Bachmann is a mercurial candidate. Totally on one day — way off the next. Finding a consistent rhythm will be crucial.
IS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN FATTENING GINGRICH’S WALLET? “In Presidential politics, winning is no longer everything. Especially for Newt Gingrich, who has used his run for President as a kind of savvy marketing campaign built around his political persona,” ABC News’ Brian Ross, Matthew Mosk and Angela M. Hill report. “In the last five years the former Speaker of the House has lived a life of luxury built around his empire, including millions in private jet travel, paid for with donations to a political group he founded. Gingrich's lifestyle also includes a million-dollar home in suburban Washington and jewelry from Tiffany's. ‘You can do very well by running for President,’ said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist. ‘You don't always have to win.’ … Part of Gingrich's empire, a kind of Gingrich, Inc., includes several for-profit businesses. Gingrich Communications oversees his paid speaking engagements and Fox News contract. Gingrich Group provides consulting services. Gingrich Productions makes feel-good documentaries with themes grounded in religion and American tradition. This week Gingrich also released his 24th book, with many of his upcoming campaign stops doubling as marketing events for his book and movies, raising more questions about the true intentions of the campaign. … Also raising questions from independent watchdog groups is the operation of a charity Gingrich founded, called Renewing American Leadership. Its website contained ads for Gingrich's books — taken down after ABC News asked about them — and posted his positions on political hot-button issues.” http://abcn.ws/iI0MP6
More from ABC’s Brian Ross on whether Gingrich’s charitable organizations have promoted his career: http://abcn.ws/mqpMcc
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: SENATE DOUBLE-HEADER. ABC’s Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl interview Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D- NJ as well as Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., about ongoing budget negotiations and other Capitol Hill priorities. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG SEES OPPORTUNITY FOR ‘BI-PARTISAN BREAKTHROUGH’ ON IMMIGRATION REFORM. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the co-Chair of The Partnership for a New American Economy, will deliver a speech today at the Council on Foreign Relations urging lawmakers to focus on immigration reform efforts that could help shore up America’s economy. “We will not remain a global superpower if we continue to close our doors to people who want to come here to work hard, start businesses, and pursue the American dream,” Bloomberg plans to say according to excerpts of his remarks prepared for delivery. ““It’s what I call national suicide – and that’s not hyperbole. Every day that we fail to fix our broken immigration laws is a day that we inflict a wound on our economy.” He also plans to highlight a report being released by the Partnership for a New American Economy that examines the impact of immigrants on Fortune 500 companies. “American companies founded by immigrants or their children have revenues that are greater than the Gross National Product of every country in the world outside the United States, except two: China and Japan,” Bloomberg will say. “The reason is simple: immigrants are dreamers and risk-takers who are driven to succeed…because they know that in America, hard work and talent are rewarded like nowhere else.”
BIDEN CONFIDENT ON BUDGET TALKS. “Even as Vice President Joe Biden gave his most optimistic assessment yet of budget talks he's leading, President Barack Obama's Democratic allies in the Senate signaled Tuesday a harder line on Medicare. That stance is complicating any effort to produce a deal to cut the deficit by $2 trillion or more over the coming decade or so,” according to a dispatch from the AP’s Andrew Taylor. “Biden said that he's confident that the talks will produce an agreement on cutting the deficit "well beyond" $1 trillion over 10 to 12 years. The talks are aimed at finding spending cuts to accompany must-do legislation allowing the government to continue to borrow to finance its operations and avoid defaulting on U.S. bonds. Senate Democrats promised that any Medicare cuts in the measure would come from health care providers rather than cutting back benefits. The hard line came even as Republicans showed at least some willingness to kill special interest tax breaks this year with a vote on ending the annual $5 billion ethanol tax subsidy. Leaving the Capitol after the group's seventh negotiating session, Biden said he's convinced that the group can come up with an agreement that increases the so-called debt limit and makes significant headway on Obama's promise to cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade or so.” http://yhoo.it/k13tmM
WILL HUNSTMAN’S CHINA BUSINESS DEALINGS COMPLICATE WHITE HOUSE BID? “An early 1970s photo in a Huntsman Corp. (HUN) annual report shows a smiling young Jon Huntsman Jr. holding a dozen eggs in polystyrene packaging, an innovation that helped make a fortune for the family business,” Bloomberg’s John McCormick notes. “The chemical company and Huntsman name would later help the family scion win Utah’s governorship, make him a multimillionaire and position him for White House appointments, including as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China. The company also is fodder for opponents as Huntsman prepares to formally announce his Republican presidential bid next week. Huntsman Corp.’s revenue in China surged 57 percent from 2009 to 2010 during his ambassadorship, almost two decades after its entrance there, data compiled by Bloomberg shows. The company’s expansion in the world’s second-largest economy offers a target for rivals when U.S. unemployment is shaping the 2012 presidential race. ‘China has become a bigger and bigger issue in recent elections, especially exporting jobs to China,’ said John Feehery, a Republican strategist in Washington who isn’t working with any of the presidential campaigns. ‘If I were an opposition researcher, I would have a field day with this.’” http://bloom.bg/iyJ4ey
PAY FOR PLAY ON TALK RADIO. “If you’re a regular listener of Glenn Beck’s radio show and you wanted to contribute to a political group that would advance the populist conservative ideals he touts on his show, you’d have plenty of reason to think that FreedomWorks was your best investment,” Politico’s Ken Vogel and Lucy McCalmont note. “But if you’re a fan of Mark Levin’s radio show, you’d have just as much cause to believe that Americans for Prosperity, a FreedomWorks rival, was the most effective conservative advocacy group. And, if Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity are who you listen to, you’d be hear a steady stream of entreaties to support the important work of the Heritage Foundation. That’s not coincidence. In search of donations and influence, the three prominent conservative groups are paying hefty sponsorship fees to the popular talk show hosts. Those fees buy them a variety of promotional tie-ins, as well as regular on-air plugs – praising or sometimes defending the groups, while urging listeners to donate – often woven seamlessly into programming in ways that do not seem like paid advertising. ‘The point that people don’t realize,’ said Michael Harrison, founder and publisher of the talk media trade publication TALKERS Magazine, ‘is that (big time political talk show hosts) are radio personalities – they are in the same business that people like Casey Kasem are in – and what they do is no different than people who broadcast from used car lots or restaurants or who endorse the local roofer or gardener.’” http://politi.co/kNL0mH
OBAMA CAMP CIRCULATES MISLEADING VIDEO. “At Monday night’s Republican debate, the seven candidates talked about unemployment, taxes, regulations, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s talk of a goal of 5 percent GDP growth, the individual mandate in the health care bill, the Independent Medicare Advisory Board, welfare reform, the Tea Party, currency policy, the National Labor Relations Board, Boeing, TARP, the auto bailout, Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal, former Gov. Mitt Romney’s health care program in Massachusetts, raising the debt ceiling, raising the retirement age for Social Security, the role of religion in public life, the 10th amendment, Libya, Afghanistan, and so on,” ABC’s Jake Tapper notes. “But President Obama’s 2012 campaign is sending out a DNC video suggesting the candidates spoke only about sharia law, an anti-gay-marriage amendment, repealing health care, Sarah Palin, and the space program. ’You should watch this,’ says campaign manager Jim Messina in the email to supporters, ‘if you or anyone you know is wondering where the leading GOP candidates want to go, this clip makes it clear.’ … But the video, which Messina calls a ‘highlight reel’ and the DNC titled ‘What in the world are they talking about?’ selectively uses clips from the two-hour forum suggesting that the candidates were focused on idiotic issues, or battles from the past, when all of the topics the video hammers the Republicans for talking about were ones they were asked about at the forum.” http://abcn.ws/jPSlM8
RUBIO STEPS OUT. “With a speech in which he said the word 'America’ sixty-five times and was entitled ‘The American Century,’ Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio made his formal Senate debut today, giving his ‘maiden speech’ on the Senate floor yesterday afternoon,” ABC’s Sunlen Miller writes. “The Junior Senator from Florida’s inaugural address focused on recapturing the American dream, in which he described his own story — from a ‘hard-working’ and ‘humble’ family yet a long way — both literally and figuratively — from where he came from. ‘It is the story of a bartender and a maid in Florida,’ the Senator said, ‘Today their son serves here in the Senate, and stands as a proud witness of the greatness of this land.’ Rubio said that the American dream is dreamt up and lives by countless people whose stories will never be told — withstanding sacrifice and hard work — and personalized it to some who are in the halls of the Capitol every day.” http://abcn.ws/lHEMOp
@markknoller: A spokesman says the WH is in the "final stages" of "preparing extensive information" for Congress about US military involvement in Libya.
@evanmc_s: DWS says 'we're going to send a lot of time talking about health care as an accomplishment' in 2012.
* Horizon PAC will host a fundraising event for Jon Huntsman in Washington, D.C., at 6 p.m.
* Rick Perry will meet privately with New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The Note Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV
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