As the debt ceiling debate continues to rage in Washington, another 2012 battle is brewing in Iowa. Over the weekend, the presidential campaigns of Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty engaged in the first real skirmish of the GOP primary.
The two Minnesotans have never been particularly close and now, as they both vie for the support of Hawkeye State voters ahead of the Aug. 13 Ames Straw Poll, theirs is shaping up to be one of the fiercest rivalries of the Republican primary field.
Over the past few weeks Pawlenty has called Bachmann’s record in Congress “non-existent," ABC's Matthew Jaffe notes. And when asked about her struggle with migraines, he warned that a president has “got to be able to do the job every day, all the time.”
Yesterday, Bachmann struck.
“Governor Pawlenty said in 2006, 'The era of small government is over … the government has to be more proactive and more aggressive.' That's the same philosophy that, under President Obama, has brought us record deficits, massive unemployment, and an unconstitutional health care plan," Bachmann said ticking off a list of Obama-backed policies that she said Pawlenty also supported, including an individual mandate for health care, cap-and-trade and TARP.
“Real world actions speak louder than the words of career politicians,” she added.
Why the push back? Bachmann’s campaign manager Ed Rollins told the Washington Post that “his candidate ‘just [got] tired of [Pawlenty] taking cheap shots’ and decided to respond … Even if he’s at 2 percent in the polls, we are not going to let anyone take free shots at us.’”
Pawlenty’s camp fired back: “When Governor Pawlenty was scoring conservative victories to cut spending, pass market-based health care reform, and transform a supreme court from liberal to conservative, and was elected twice in a very blue state, Congresswoman Bachmann was giving speeches and offering failed amendments, all while struggling mightily to hold onto the most Republican house seat in the state,” the former Minnesota governor’s spokesman, Alex Conant, said in a statement. http://abcn.ws/oJmNjF
WHAT IT MEANS. First, it indicates that Bachmann sees Pawlenty as a real threat in Iowa. Their war of words comes as reports out of that state suggest that while Bachmann enjoys the momentum and top poll standing there, she lacks the organizational strength needed to succeed in the Straw Poll.
Pawlenty, of course, should be ecstatic to see someone finally engage him. His ability to succeed in Iowa depends in large part on other candidates like Bachmann and Romney collapsing. Getting Bachmann off-script is the best chance he has to make that happen.
National front-runner Mitt Romney has to love this as well since it allows him to continue his above-the-fray, “Rose Garden” strategy, which so far, seems to be working.
STRAW POLL BALLOT SET. While Bachmann and Pawlenty will both be on the Aug. 13 straw poll ballot, two wild-card candidates — Rick Perry and Sarah Palin — will not. The Iowa Republican Central Committee met over the weekend to finalize the ballot and they kept Perry and Palin off while putting Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich on, even though they are not officially competing in Ames. The final ballot will include: Romney, Huntsman, Gingrich, Bachmann, Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Thad McCotter. And the Iowa GOP confirms that write-in votes will be allowed and they will tally those votes by name.
@RickSantorum: Caravan leaving Pgh at sun up with the whole family. Hope to be in Oskaloosa, IA by sun down.Then 3 wks traveling IA b4 Straw Poll. #fb #tcot
DEBT SHOWDOWN: GOING THEIR SEPARATE WAYS. Democrats and Republicans are now pursuing separate plans to raise the debt ceiling, but for all the sound and fury, the bottom line is that both sides have now moved decisively in a direction that should avoid default, ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports. The two plans differ in important ways, but both have these things in common: Significant spending cuts; No tax increases; Avoiding default. Karl runs down the broad outlines of both plans: http://abcn.ws/qGUACp
JAKE TAPPER’S CRYSTAL BALL. “A senior White House official says that there's a 50/50 chance that the current deficit reduction mess will not be resolved by this time next week, the day before the federal government may officially run out of money to pay all its bills,” ABC’s Jake Tapper reports. “‘We may be here as we tick down to midnight,’ the official said. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said August 2 the federal government runs out of funds, with incoming revenues far less than outgoing bills. The official said in that scenario Congress would figure out some resolution and raise the debt ceiling before August 1 became August 2. Democrats close to the negotiating process say there are several solutions to the dilemma, though all would require House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to stand up to conservative Republicans and be willing to compromise.” http://abcn.ws/mOLfpx
ON THE HILL: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to release the details of his debt plan later today. It's a deal that would last through 2012, cut spending by the same amount as borrowing increases and contain no new taxes. House Speaker John Boehner is expected to present his own framework today and it will likely be posted online later this afternoon. (ABC's Sunlen Miller and John R. Parkinson)
HOLDING THEIR GROUND. A spokesman for the coalition of groups that have been backing the “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan, which failed to make it out of the Senate last week, tells the Note that the groups look forward to hearing the details of Speaker Boehner’s plan. “However, it is important to note that Cut, Cap, and Balance are criteria for support of any plan, not just policy elements of one plan,” the spokesman said. “Any solution that does not cut spending immediately, cap it over time and provide a permanent fix via a balanced budget mechanism will not be supported by this coalition. These are our principles and we will not dilute them or negotiate them away. We expect the Cut Cap and Balance Pledge signers in the House and Senate to be just as resolute.”
OBAMA CANCELS FUNDRAISERS. “President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have canceled a string of re-election fund-raising appearances these past weeks — which would have reaped millions of dollars — to stay in Washington for negotiations to raise the debt limit as an Aug. 2 default deadline looms,” reports the Chicago Sun-Times Lynn Sweet. “The Obama campaign confirmed Obama scratched a planned West Coast swing in northern and southern California and Seattle. Last Tuesday night, Obama postponed an event at the Manhattan home of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Biden has pulled the plug on fund-raisers in Atlanta, Nashville and Dallas. … Tonight, Obama had been scheduled to attend two fund-raising events in Washington, and the events were on his schedule released on Friday. Because of the down-to-the-wire negotiations, one of them — in a private residence — has been called off. Biden will substitute for Obama for the other event, at the St. Regis hotel, a few blocks from the White House. While organizers are working on an Aug. 3 fund-raiser at the Aragon in Chicago — tied to Obama's 50th birthday on Aug. 4 — if the default deadline is missed, the event will not take place.” http://bit.ly/qy9A8U
ABC NEWS’ COUNTDOWN CLOCK: 7 DAYS TO DEFAULT: http://abcnews.go.com/politics
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Amy Walter and Jonathan Karl hear from Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., a member of the House Budget Committee. Also on the program, Georgetown University’s student body president and his counterpart from the University of Maryland stop by to discuss a student-initiated campaign to urge members of Congress to reach a deal on the debt ceiling. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc
RICK PERRY WATCH: AUGUST ANNOUNCEMENT? “Texas Gov. Rick Perry is all but certain to launch a presidential campaign and is nearing an announcement set for the second half of August, according to sources familiar with his political team's planning,” according to Real Clear Politics’ Erin McPike and Scott Conroy. “For months, Republican activists, donors, elected officials, and even voters have dithered about their choices in the 2012 presidential primary contest. This is especially true of grass-roots conservatives who have clamored for someone else to enter the fray, only to be disappointed by the likes of Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — all of whom declared this year they would not be candidates, in that order. … Potential donors to Perry's presidential effort met Tuesday in Austin, and those familiar with what transpired there told RealClearPolitics that key players in Perry's orbit indicated the 61-year-old Republican will announce a campaign between Aug. 15 and Aug. 31. Perry himself said on Friday that he'll at least make his intentions known within the next three to four weeks. In the past month Perry's team has moved swiftly to put the parts in place for a campaign.” http://bit.ly/nXMrNQ
THIRD-PARTY GROUPS ON THE RISE. “[Advocates] of a third party — or at the very least another viable option in the 2012 presidential race — seem to be sprouting up all over,” the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza notes. “The two most prominent are Americans Elect, a group aimed at winning ballot access for an eventual third-party candidate, and No Labels, an organization filled with high-profile names — including former George W. Bush media consultant Mark McKinnon and former Kentucky state treasurer Jonathan Miller — designed as an online home for the politically disaffected. “If you build it (ballot access), they (candidates and voters) will come,” McKinnon said in an e-mail. No Labels says it advocates for bipartisan solutions to problems and not a third-party presidential candidate. There are others. Votocracy allows virtually anyone to run for president. Ruck.us, a site developed by two former Democratic operatives, sorts people by common interests rather than political leanings. The Centrist Alliance, the newest entrant into the field, formed officially on July 4. Those who closely monitor these third-party efforts say that not only is there an array of groups with similar goals but there also is money flowing to them from wealthy individuals trying to change the two-party dynamic.” http://wapo.st/p0YNmz
BRIDGING THE CONSERVATIVE DIVIDE. Roll Call’s Janie Lorber reports on how former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese is helping social conservatives connect with fiscal conservatives in an attempt to “prevent their movement from fragmenting.” From her story: “The strategy sessions — held at the headquarters of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. — bring together some of the old guard’s familiar figures, including Meese, who ran the Justice Department under President Ronald Reagan; Tony Perkins, the president of the council; and Alfred Regnery, head of the conservative publishing house bearing his family’s name, according to sources familiar with the gatherings. For the past two years they have served as ambassadors to the days when advocates for conservative social causes and fiscal causes were united at the hip — and the ballot box. The group is trying to reinforce the notion in conservative circles that issues such as faith, gay marriage and abortion are inherently tied to deficit reduction and limited government. … The breakfast meetings, led by Meese, began in 2009 as an outgrowth of the Council for National Policy, a group founded 30 years ago by the Rev. Tim LaHaye, an evangelical minister, with the help of Paul Weyrich, an iconic conservative political organizer, sources said.” http://bit.ly/mYbgXj
WILL WARREN RUN? “Elizabeth Warren might still be weeks away from deciding whether she wants to run for the United States Senate. But with the news last week that Ms. Warren would be returning to Massachusetts, where she teaches law at Harvard, a sound-bite war about her potential candidacy started in earnest,” notes The New York Times’ Abby Goodnough. “Republicans have branded Ms. Warren a Harvard liberal and an outsider, stressing that she was born and raised in Oklahoma. Democrats have intensified attacks on Senator Scott Brown, the Republican facing re-election next year, as a compliant pet of Wall Street — contrasting him with Ms. Warren, who set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington. … Democrats salivate at the thought of unseating Mr. Brown, a popular freshman who shocked them in 2010 by winning the seat that Edward M. Kennedy held for 47 years. … Mr. Brown has already raised nearly $10 million for his re-election race, but many Democrats say Ms. Warren could easily match him in fund-raising by tapping into national networks. … So will she? Ms. Warren declined through a spokeswoman to be interviewed, but she said in television appearances last week that she would think about her future only after leaving Washington next month. She will also take a family vacation — to the Legoland theme park in California, she said — and will probably not announce a decision before Labor Day, several friends said.” http://nyti.ms/raOvEi
WU WON’T GO, BUT WILL BE INVESTIGATED. “Defiant and dug in, Rep. David Wu said late Sunday that he would not resign, declaring instead that he will complete his term and then retire from Congress in 2012,” the Oregonian’s Charles Pope reports. “The surprising decision came one day after senior Democratic leaders urged the seven-term Democrat to resign quickly after reports that he was accused of an unwanted and aggressive sexual encounter with a young woman last November. … The news did not sit well with Democratic leaders, who have been pressing Wu to step down after concluding he can no longer be effective and that the continued presence of a lawmaker accused of inappropriate sexual acts could damage the party's chances going into the 2012 elections. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi immediately called for an ethics investigation into Wu's encounter with the daughter of a longtime friend and campaign donor in California during a visit over Thanksgiving. … She said she would send a letter to the Ethics Committee today asking for a formal review.” http://bit.ly/qBbiEz
@llerer: Clinton reassures china: “political wrangling” is part of process, she sez in HK. “I am confident that Congress will secure a deal.”
(all times local)
* Tim Pawlenty attends a Town Hall meeting in Davenport, Iowa at 12:30 p.m. At 4:15 p.m., he visits the Muscatine Town Hall. That evening, Pawlenty attends the Henry County Republican 29th Annual Hog Roast Fundraiser in Mount Pleasant.
* Michele Bachmann attends the "Join Me in Ames!" Countdown Rally at 1 p.m. in Manchester, Iowa. At 4 p.m. she attends the Maquoketa Town Hall.
*Jon Huntsman holds a fundraiser in Boston.
The Note Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV
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