Politics Next Week: Let the Horserace Begin, Enter Huntsman and More

By Eliza

Jun 17, 2011 5:00pm

ABCNews’ Z. Byron Wolf (@zbyronwolf), Amy Walter (@amyewalter) and Michael Falcone (@michaelpfalcone) report:

508 Days Until Election Day

28 Days Unil Next FEC Deadline

Next Major Debate – 8/11 in Iowa

Iowa Straw Poll – 8/13

Who’s up, who’s down, who’s in, who’s out? With the first real Republican debate out of the way we’ve officially reached the horserace portion of the Republican presidential nomination and Mitt Romney is a length ahead right now.

Addition and Subtraction

There is one definite addition to the field coming next week: Cool Kid Jon Huntsman and his non-traditional dirtbike ad scheme. He’ll announce his candidacy where Reagan did. We might figure out what is mean by his weird online ads. And he’ll hope as he travels up to New Hampshire for a few hours Tuesday that Granite Staters don’t hold it against him that he declined to take part in their debate.  He also heads to South Carolina.   

There’s another possible addition to the field , Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is speaking tomorrow to Republican activists in New Orleans.

As for subtraction, Newt Gingrich’s campaign has survived its mass exodus. He continues on the campaign trail in Georgia and Iowa next week and all of his events include book signings and screenings of his documentary. The next question is whether it will survive our look at their books after the July 15th FEC.

On to Iowa

But for now, this race will be about Mitt Romney and whether anyone can catch him. For that, the focus turns to Iowa, where there is a deficit-free America summit featuring Cain, Pawlenty, Gingrich and Gary Johnson.  Pawlenty is still considered a favorite to challenge Mitt, but Bachmann’s strong debate performance and her fundraising ability have odds makers taking another look at here. Both need a strong showing in Iowa. It is less than two months to the all-important Iowa Straw Poll, which could serve to anoint an official Mitt alternative. Bachmann’s congressional chief of staff has taken a leave of absence and moved to the state.  And when people, ask, this is the first known use of the term ‘Bachmania’.

‘Co-Conspirator’

Pawlenty clearly regrets not taking his national stage opportunity to rough up Romney on Obamneycare and it will be interesting to see if he really gets more confrontational, sticking with his allegation Thursday night that Romney cannot prosecute a political case against Barack Obama as a “co-conspirator” in health care reform. And will he do it on the campaign trail and not just on Fox News.

More from the Note Futures Calendar is below. Bookmark it HERE.

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