Will Shake-Ups Shake Out The 2012 GOP Field? (The Note)

Jun 10, 2011 8:52am

By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER

Over the course of just a few hours yesterday afternoon we saw some pretty big shake-ups in the Republican presidential field: Newt Gingrich’s campaign suddenly imploded; Mitt Romney dismissed himself from the Iowa Straw Poll, and the Rick Perry for President “campaign” turned more serious.

But will these events, while interesting, really alter the course of campaign 2012?

While breathtaking in its speed and scope, no one can be surprised that the Gingrich campaign flopped. A disastrous roll-out, followed by a series of self-inflicted gaffes had already taken a huge toll on Gingrich’s standing.

In fact, in the most recent ABC News-Washington Post poll 39 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said Gingrich did not have the kind of personality and temperament it takes to serve effectively as president — a large group to lose on so basic a qualification. And, while Gingrich was also almost universally known, he took just 6 percent of the vote in the GOP horserace poll. http://abcn.ws/lwjRwo

But, while many inside the campaign have been quick to point the finger at Gingrich’s wife Callista, it really comes down to the candidate’s lack of discipline. As one staffer who was part of the 16-member exodus told us yesterday, Gingrich “lacked the discipline” and “was not willing to work hard enough” to raise the money needed for a presidential level campaign. Moreover, the campaign is in deep financial debt. http://abcn.ws/k87WeI

And, while Sen. John McCain proved during the 2008 race that you can survive these staff shakeups, he also had the discipline and focus to make it happen. It's not clear that Gingrich will be able to summon either. But, it's the staff part of the shakeup that gives the Gingrich story added importance.

Rumors are already swirling that two of those ex-staffers, Dave Carney and Rob Johnson, are headed to Texas to help their old boss Gov. Rick Perry. Johnson managed Perry's 2010 campaign and Carney has been a long-time adviser.

So will Perry, the fiery Texas governor, run? The Austin-American Statesman writes today that “what remains unclear, even deep within Perry's universe, is whether he actually wants to run and thinks he can win.” http://bit.ly/k7UcCR

To be sure, his entry would shake up the race. He's got instant appeal to the Tea Party constituency and comes from a state deep with big dollar donors. But, he’s also had a mixed record in Texas and his recent actions on education have alienated even some of his traditional supporters.

Meanwhile, Romney's decision to skip the Straw Poll in August is both a big deal and not at the same time. Lowering expectations for Iowa has always been the name of the game for the Romney campaign. And, like any serious businessman, Romney wants to get the most bang for his buck. Spending heavily in Iowa this summer isn't worth it for him.

Last time, Romney was the long-shot desperate for any attention. This year he's the frontrunner who gets to set his own pace and schedule.

 

THE NOTE ON THE ROAD: SARAH PALIN E-MAILS TO BE RELEASED. JUNEAU, Alaska — Nearly 25,000 pages of emails from the administration of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are about to meet the prying eyes of reporters and the public on Friday. The document release is part of a Freedom of Information Act request filed in 2008 by news organizations and private citizens shortly after Palin was chosen as Sen. John McCain’s running mate on the Republican presidential ticket. Friday’s release will cover all of the emails Palin sent, received or was copied on using her official state address from her inauguration in December 2006 through September 2008 — the month after McCain tapped her to be the vice presidential nominee.

It is unknown what document divers will find in trove of messages, but the time period covers her early legislative achievements as the youngest and first female governor of Alaska — including her efforts to increase taxes on oil companies and develop a natural gas pipeline as well as passing stronger ethics laws.  It also includes the so-called Troopergate scandal, an episode that became a minor national issue on the 2008 campaign trail but turned into a major potential abuse of power scandal in her home state. Friday’s release will also include emails that are deemed “state business” sent to and from Palin’s private Yahoo accounts to the official state government accounts of 50 of her top aides and cabinet members. Emails sent from Palin’s personal accounts to other aides’ personal accounts may never see the light of day although a lawsuit is pending to try to release those as well.

Local and national journalists have descended upon Juneau, a town of about 30,000 whose population fluctuates in the summer based on the number of tourists docking in cruise ships at its port, to get a first look at the messages. ABC News will be mining the documents for interesting information and other nuggets from the 24,199 pages of emails, which requesting organizations will be receiving Friday morning at 9 a.m. Alaska time in six boxes weighing 55 lbs each.

Check the Note blog throughout the day for live updates from Alaska from our ABC News team on the ground in Alaska. 

 

ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: RICH GALEN. ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter interview Rich Galen, former adviser to Newt Gingrich and Republican Strategist. Also on the program, an update on the release of the Palin emails from Michael Falcone, ABC’s deputy political director, in Juneau, Alaska. Finally, Hank Disselkamp, an ABC News’ cameraman takes us behind the scenes at the White House. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine

Preview of camerman Hank Disselcamp's "backstage pass" to the White House: http://abcn.ws/lSDvQ0

“TOP LINE” REPLAY: SEN. RON JOHNSON. “A payroll tax cut has emerged this week as a possible way for Washington to seek to spur hiring, as concerns about the sluggish economy are impacting deficit-reduction talks between the White House and congressional leaders,” notes ABC’s Rick Klein. “But even some staunch supporters of lower taxes say this is a dangerous idea, since it would take even more revenues away from the federal government at a time of spiraling deficits and debt. On ABC’s ‘Top Line’ yesterday, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. — who spent more than three decades in manufacturing before being elected to Congress last year with tea party support — said it would be a mistake to lower the payroll tax paid by businesses. ‘I would love to be talking tax decreases — I mean I really would — but right now we've got to focus on providing the structural reform for entitlement programs and just [spending] caps, to discipline Washington once and for all,’ Johnson told us. http://abcn.ws/lYkOVn

 

THE BUZZ

ROMNEY’S RATIONALE. Mitt Romney's aides said yesterday that the former governor will not only bow out of the Iowa Straw Poll but will not take part in any straw polls during his campaign, a nod to their vows to run a "wiser" and "leaner" campaign this time around, ABC’s Emily Friedman notes. Campaign manager Matt Rhoades said tonight in an email statement, "Our campaign has made the decision to not participate in any straw polls, whether it’s in Florida, Iowa, Michigan or someplace else. … In the last presidential campaign we were both strengthened as an organization and learned some important lessons by participating in them," wrote Rhoades. "This time we will focus our energies and resources on winning primaries and caucuses. We look forward to bringing Mitt Romney’s strong pro-jobs message to every part of the country." http://abcn.ws/kglWQC

GOING GREEK: BEHIND THE GINGRICH IMPLOSION. Things took a turn for the worse when Gingrich, whose campaign got off to a rocky start, went on a vacation to the Greek Isles with his wife. He took two weeks off from campaigning, including skipping an important social conservative conference attended by every other presidential candidate, claiming it was his previously scheduled "time off,” according to ABC’s Jake Tapper, Amy Walter, Arlette Saenz and Huma Khan report. The decision shocked much of his staff. Gingrich "lacked the discipline" and "was not willing to work hard enough" to raise the money needed for a presidential level campaign, a former campaign staffer said, and even though he has a long track record of straying off message and off topic, his aides thought he had changed his ways. His staff, one source said, would have quit while he was away, but decided as a group, "You don't quit while your candidate is out of the country. You quit to his face." Tyler told ABC News the former House speaker's recent cruise to Greece "wasn't helpful." Tyler said he admired Gingrich and thinks he'd make "a terrific president." "Key people were going to leave," but Tyler "held out hope we could change direction. I want him to do what it takes to win." Ultimately, the team could not prevail upon Gingrich to do that, Tyler said. http://abcn.ws/k87WeI

SARAH PALIN DOCUMENTARY GOES NATIONWIDE. “The Undefeated," the film that chronicles Sarah Palin's curtailed term as governor of Alaska, will open in AMC theaters across the country on July 15, ABC’s Sheila Marikar reports. Cities and regions featuring the film include Dallas, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Atlanta, Orange County, Calif., Phoenix, Houston, Indianapolis, and Kansas City. In a statement released by ARC, a co-founder of the production company behind the film compared "The Undefeated" to the "Rocky" movies, with Palin filling in for the fist-swinging Sylvester Stallone. "We are thrilled that AMC will give The Undefeated a national theatrical release this summer," said Victory Film Group co-founder Glenn Bracken Evans. "The documentary is made to be seen on a big screen. With its story of a small-town girl who, against all odds, rises to the pinnacles of American government, the film plays with all the drama of a Rocky picture, only with a woman as the central figure and with politics instead of boxing." Select media organizations, including ABC News, have screened the two-hour-long film. In addition to chronicling Palin's growing up and governorship, it features soundbites from her critics and gruesome video, including war footage and a scene in which a pack of lions hunts down and devours a zebra. Filmmaker Stephen Bannon told reporters it's an “amazing American story of American grit" and said he hopes to "drive a stake in the heart of Caribou Barbie," by portraying Palin as equally as smart and savvy as the best politicians.

NEW DNC CHAIR PUSHING THE LIMITS? “Democrats knew they were getting an outspoken partisan when Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz took over the reins of the Democratic National Committee a month ago. But they might not have known just how outspoken,” Politico’s Molly Ball reports. “In the four weeks since she succeeded Tim Kaine, Wasserman Schultz has been called out by four nonpartisan fact-checkers for mischaracterizing the GOP’s Medicare plan. She’s accused Republicans of wanting to reinstate segregation and of waging a ‘war on women.’ She has asserted, somewhat nonsensically, that the GOP wants to make illegal immigration — by definition against the law – ‘a crime.’ She’s also been mocked for driving a foreign car after pounding Republicans for not supporting the American auto industry. A rank-and-file member of Congress typically wouldn’t get noticed for inflammatory language and rhetorical slip-ups. But Wasserman Schultz has a higher profile now — and was hired precisely because of her skills as a communicator. No one seems ready to declare her the Democratic version of Michael Steele, the gaffe-prone former Republican National Committee chairman whose rhetorical and administrative missteps led numerous party leaders to publicly insist he had to go. But some Democrats are already privately fretting about the media-loving Wasserman Schultz’s tendency to put her foot in her mouth — after all, her ability to be the party’s frontwoman and messenger was a major reason President Barack Obama selected her as chairwoman.” http://politi.co/irjk1N

WEINER ATTEMPS TO MOVE ON. “Even as top Democrats intensified pressure on him to resign, Representative Anthony D. Weiner of New York tried to power through the day on Thursday and suggest things were getting back to normal. ‘I’m going to go back to my community office and try to get some work done,’ he told a reporter before jumping into a waiting car in Manhattan,” The New York Times’ David W. Chen and Raymond Hernandez. “So far, a number of leading Democrats, including Tim Kaine, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, and a half-dozen House colleagues, have called for the congressman to leave office. … Mr. Weiner seems oddly unmoved, according to those who have spoken to him. That is in part because of the unusually distant relationship Mr. Weiner has with many of his colleagues. The scandal swirling around him has revealed a truth about his personality and his place in the Capitol: He does not care much about those he serves with, and they do not care too much about him. In a body full of ambitious and egotistical people, Mr. Weiner, 46, stands out for his brash and sometimes even impulsive style. …But he also possesses what friends and associates say is a troubling trait: his tendency to take things just a little too far — whether on the House floor, where he badgered colleagues; on the ice in a hockey game, where he was a relentless trash talker; or in his office, where his demanding managerial style sometimes crossed the line into bullying.” http://nyti.ms/mcMRmP

SENATE KILLS TIME. This year — even as Washington lurches closer to a debt crisis — the Senate has spent a historic amount of time performing this time-killing ritual. Quorum calls have taken up about a third of its time since January, according to C-SPAN statistics: more than 17 eight-hour days’ worth of dead air,” the Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold writes. “On Thursday, the Senate was at it again. At least on ‘Seinfeld,’ doing nothing came with a funky bass line. ‘It’s not even gridlock. It’s worse than that,’ said Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University who once ran for the Senate himself as a Democrat. He said ‘gridlock’ implies that somebody was at least trying to get legislation passed. Instead, he said, this year ‘they’re not even trying to get something done.’ To an outsider, a quorum call looks like a serious — if dull — piece of congressional business. A clerk reads out senators’ names slowly, sometimes waiting 10 minutes or more between them. But it’s usually a sham. The senators aren’t coming. Nobody expects them to. The ritual is a reaction to what the chamber has become: a very fancy place that senators, often, are too busy to visit.” http://wapo.st/mcBPEu

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@TheLloydGrove: When will Chuck Schumer throw Anthony Weiner under the bus? Maybe never. Schumer is Weiner's Dr. Frankenstein.http://tinyurl.com/3blz8xy

@JohnCornyn: Joe Lieberman has the courage to suggest a way to save Medicare http://fb.me/T2iBESbq

@mkraju: Adam Jentleson, deputy spokesman, will take over for Jon Summers, Reid's com director who is leaving for a political consulting gig

@ron_fournier: Facinating Brownstein read on why Millennials can't find work and their parents can leave workforce: http://njour.nl/jtLCMP

@HuffPostMedia: Keith Olbermann talks about what his new show, and channel, will look like http://huff.to/jySJLM

 

POLITICAL RADAR: 

The Note Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV 

*Tim Pawlenty will be at the Barley House Restaurant in Concord, N.H. Starting at 2 p.m., Pawlenty will take voters' questions in an appearance that is open to the public. He also plans to attend and speak at a house party in Stratham, N.H.

* Ron Paul campaigns in New Hampshire, stopping at local businesses in Portsmouth, N.H. In the evening, he attends a House Party at the home of Ovide Lamontagne in Manchester, N.H.

* Jon Huntsman will meet with voters at the home of New Hampshire State Representative Adam Schroadter (R) in Newmarket, N.H. at 2 p.m.

* Get The Note delivered to your inbox every day.

* For breaking political news and analysis check out The Note blog: http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/and ABCNews.com/Politics: http://abcnews.com/politics

 

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