The Note: Benefit Of The Bully Pulpit: Obama Up, Romney Down

Jul 21, 2011 9:04am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone) and AMY WALTER (@amyewalter)

President Obama is holding onto a 7 point lead over his chief Republican rival, Mitt Romney, in the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll.

If the 2012 election were held today, 51 percent of adults said they would pick Obama compared to 44 percent who would support the former Massachusetts governor. (They were tied in early June.) Important to note, however, is that among registered voters, Obama's lead over Romney narrows to 49 percent to 47 percent. No other Republican challenger fares as well as Romney in head-to-head matchups against the president.

But there’s a bigger take away from the new numbers than just the 2012 horserace.

“Obama looks to have turned the budget debate to his advantage,” writes ABC pollster Gary Langer. “His position on the deficit is more broadly popular, he’s taking less heat than the GOP for unwillingness to compromise and he’s got a sizable lead in the view that he cares more about protecting the middle class.”

Does it last? 

First, there’s the question of debt ceiling resolution. Will we see a last minute deal or will Republicans roll the dice and test out the "Armageddon" theory? GOP strategists we spoke with were divided on whether Republicans would share the blame for any economic fallout. 

“The economy is always the president's economy, regardless of party and who controls Congress,” one strategist said. While another noted, “If they mess up the bond market it'll be Republicans fault and then both parties will own the bad economy.”

Then there is the story in today's Wall Street Journal headlined, “Layoffs Deepen Gloom,” which should serve as a reminder to those of us in the Washington bubble just what is at stake in 2012.

“Companies are laying off employees at a level not seen in nearly a year, hobbling the job market and intensifying fears about the pace of the economic recovery,” the Journal’s Conor Doughterty notes.

BOTTOM LINE: Ultimately this election is a referendum on the president and the economy.  In a local television interview the president himself offered this candid self-assessment, according to the AP:

“President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he’ll be re-elected for a second term if voters feel like he’s been on their side, working as hard as he can and getting things done. ‘If they don’t,’ the president said, ‘then I’ll lose.’ ‘That’s not to say that the other candidate is irrelevant,’ Obama said, ‘but it does mean that I’m probably going to win or lose depending on their assessment of my stewardship.’ The president made his comments in an interview with KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Mo. … The president said that when voters go to the polls, ‘what they’re going to be asking themselves is who’s got a better vision for moving the country forward.’”

2012 GOP HORSERACE. Here’s how some of the GOP presidential contenders (Sarah Palin and Rick Perry are included) stack up, according to today’s ABC News-Washington Post poll. These percentages are for Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

Mitt Romney: 26%              

Sarah Palin: 18%           

Michele Bachmann: 12%              

Ron Paul: 9%              

Rick Perry: 8%               

Herman Cain: 6%               

Newt Gingrich: 5%               

Jon Huntsman: 3%                

Tim Pawlenty: 2%              

Rick Santorum: 2%               

Other: 1%               

No one/None of them: 1%              

Would not vote: 1%             

No opinion: 8%                


COUNTDOWN TO DEFAULT: 12 DAYS. Where do we stand? “President Barack Obama called congressional leaders back to the White House Wednesday, still chasing his big deficit deal but knowing, too, that with each passing day, the focus is less on policy than the more practical tactics and political muscle needed to avert default next month,” Politico’s David Rogers reports. “By late Wednesday, close to a third of the 47 Senate Republicans had signed a letter supportive of a fragile bipartisan plan that combines new revenues and major spending cuts akin to what Obama wants. But the House GOP showed no sign of relenting, having come off a tough, almost party line 234-190 victory Tuesday on the same debt-and-tax question.”

WHITE HOUSE LINE: From ABC’s Jake Tapper: “White House press secretary Jay Carney signaled for the first time today that President Obama would sign a short-term extension of the debt ceiling if it was needed to finalize the details of a larger agreement. ‘We would not support a short-term extension absent an agreement to a larger deal,’ he said. ‘That's not acceptable.  Obviously, if both sides agree to something significant, we will support the measures needed to finalize the details of that.’”

WHO WE’LL HEAR FROM TODAY: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference at 10:45a.m. ET. House Speaker John Boehner follows shortly after with his own news conference at 11:15a.m. Speaker Boehner would not comment at all on his meeting with the president last night at the White House. Meanwhile, a group of Republican senators, including Sens. Lee, Graham, Barrasso, Blunt, Corker, DeMint, Hatch, Isakson, Johnson, Paul, Vitter, Alexander and Thune will hold a press conference at 12:45 p.m. urging the Senate to follow the House in passing the “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan. Senate Majority Leader Reid has announced there will be a vote on the Act on Saturday. It almost certainly will not pass. (via ABC’s John R. Parkinson and Sunlen Miller)

DEAL OR NO DEAL? STUDENTS FIRED UP. “[Oklahoma State University Student Body President Ashley Leonard] and student body presidents from eight other colleges will gather Thursday afternoon at the National Press Club to tell the Federal government what they and over 1.5 million students think of the stalemate over the debt limit negotiations,” ABC’s Sarah Parnass reports. “These student government officials will present a letter, signed by presidents at colleges and universities in 41 states and D.C., calling on President Obama and legislative leaders to come to a consensus on raising the debt ceiling, while supporting the Gang of Six’s deficit deal.”



ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”:  ABC’s Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl hear from House Assistant Minority Leader James E. Clyburn, D-S.C. Yesterday, Clyburn released a statement praising the Gang of Six’s plan to reach an agreement on the debt ceiling, calling it a “serious proposal.” Also on the program, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. The freshman senator has supported raising the debt ceiling, even while many of his colleagues do not. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.

“TOP LINE” REPLAY: SANDER LEVIN. The Michigan Democrat emphasized the ticking clock that is injecting a sense of urgency into debt talks. “‘We have to work on these issues, but the main thing we have to do is to step to the plate on the debt ceiling,’ Levin said yesterday on “Top Line.” “The full faith and credit of our country is on line. That's just a simple fact, and this place has to step up to the plate. I think the Gang of Six have presented some ideas. We need to look at them, but I don't know that we can act on that before these 13 days are up. Actually, we need to act way before the 13 days.”  


RICK PERRY WATCH: CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’. ABC’s Arlette Saenz reports: Rick Perry spent Wednesday in California courting potential donors in private meetings during his third visit to the state since June. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that some close to the Perry camp say they have set a fundraising goal of $10 million in the opening months of his campaign.  Perry will spend the next two days in Aspen, Colorado leading quarterly meetings for the RGA’s executive roundtable, putting him in contact with some of the organization’s top donors.  Meanwhile, the pro-Perry group, Americans for Rick Perry, has recruited volunteers in South Carolina, who previously were urging Sen. Jim DeMint to run, after seeing a setback in Iowa when the state Republican Party refused to let the group purchase a spot for Perry at the Ames Iowa Straw Poll. More from the Texas Tribune:  



WHAT MITT ROMNEY SAYS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. “Mitt Romney was back in New York City Tuesday evening trying to reel in more cash for his campaign, holding top dollar events at The Pierre and the Mandarin Oriental hotels at events hosted by a banking exec and a banking heir,” ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe writes. “So what does Romney say to these big money donors to make them fork over their cash and convince them he's going to be the one to face off against President Obama in the general election? According to a top donor who also has knowledge of the campaign-and was in attendance Tuesday night-said Romney repeated his consistent pitch to the crowd, ‘Obama was a nice guy and America did something they like to do and that is trust a likable guy, well spoken guy, handsome guy, and well meaning guy, but it turns out he's clueless about handling the sophisticated economics stuff.’ According to the donor Romney added, ‘Obama has never had a business job, never had to lead an organization. Never, not once.’ But his pitch also veers away from what he says on the stump. When Romney gets into the room with potential donors trying to lure them to his campaign, he's consistently asked how he's going to win. According to several donors, Romney tells the crowd that his strategy will work: they will win New Hampshire and Nevada and are hoping to ‘get lucky’ in Iowa and South Carolina. They believe if they win 3 out of those 4 contests they will sail to the nomination. If they only win two they believe they will be one of two candidates left in the race and he'll push his jobs message to victory from that point on and they think he'll have the cash to last, unlike last time.”

PAWLENTY CAMP LOWERS STRAW POLL EXPECTATIONS.There was a time not too long ago when Tim Pawlenty was actively positioning himself as the No. 2 heavyweight in the Republican presidential race of 2012 and the obvious alternative to the front-runner, Mitt Romney. Not so much anymore,” The New York Times’ Michael Shear reports. “Now, with national polls showing him stalled at the bottom of the pack, Mr. Pawlenty and his staff are busy trying to lower expectations for the former Minnesota governor. The new Tim Pawlenty has his sights set on placing ‘sixth or seventh’ in the Republican straw poll in Ames, Iowa, on Aug. 13, even though barely that many candidates are competing in the early contest. And Mr. Pawlenty’s advisers now openly concede that their candidate is not running a ‘national campaign’ for the White House. Rather, Nick Ayers, Mr. Pawlenty’s campaign manager, says, ‘we’re focused on the early states.’”

@stevebruskCNN: Tim Pawlenty, part of push ahead of Ames Straw Poll, plans 17 stops in Iowa next week in 2nd full week of touring

ROMNEY DEFENDS BACHMANN ON MIGRAINES. "There is no question in my mind that Michele Bachmann's health is … in no way an impediment to her being able to serve as president," Mitt Romney said while campaigning in Los Angeles on Wednesday."She and I have differing views, I'm sure, on some issues. We'll campaign in various states and express our views. But her health should not be an issue in a campaign,” he said. “I have no question about that in my mind.”

NOTED: “Questions about mental fitness ring especially true with one Bachmann rival,” writes the Boston Globe’s Glen Johnson. “Mitt Romney saw the 1968 presidential campaign of his father, the late Michigan Governor George Romney, peter out after the elder Romney reversed course over the Vietnam War. He had been a hawk but then turned doveish, saying his original position stemmed from a visit to Southeast Asia in 1965 where he was subjected to ‘the greatest brainwashing’ by US generals and the diplomatic corp. That statement quickly morphed into allegations that Romney had been ‘brainwashed,’ and then into questions about his mental fitness. He never recovered.”

FORMER LOUISIANA GOV JUMPS INTO 2012 FRAY.Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer is kicking off his longshot presidential campaign in New Hampshire, where he is taking up temporary residence in advance of the state's first-in-the-nation primary,” the AP’s Holly Ramer reports. “Roemer planned to announce his candidacy Thursday at Dartmouth College. A Democrat-turned-Republican, Roemer served as Louisiana governor from 1988 and 1992. In Bedford Wednesday, he told a group of business leaders that he accepts the fact that no one knows who he is and argued that America needs a new kind of leader.”

HOUSE DEMOCRATS TRUMPET RECRUITING EFFORTS. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee officials say they have exceeded internal benchmarks for 2012 recruitment, and today they will roll out a list of highlighted candidates running in a sample of the 41 open or Republican-held districts where a Democrat has filed or committed to run,” Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad notes. “That was a goal that the DCCC hoped to reach by the end of September, putting the committee ahead of schedule in its effort to have strong candidates in 60 open or GOP-controlled districts. This recruitment push, led by DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), who chairs the DCCC's recruitment and candidate services, is part of its Drive to 25 campaign to win back the majority next year. ‘Democrats' path to the majority begins with strong candidates running solid campaigns and fighting against the Republican plan to end Medicare while protecting tax breaks for Big Oil and billionaires,’ Israel will say in a release that the DCCC will distribute today. ‘Stay tuned, there will be more strong candidates making announcements in the weeks and months to come.’”

NOTABLE: ON THE AIR. The advocacy group, Americans United for Change, is teaming up with the Service Employees International Union to go on the air with TV spots in four Republican House districts today "urging these members to stop recklessly risking defaulting on our nation’s debt and driving the economy off the cliff — a risk they’re willing to take for no other reason but to protect tax breaks for jet-owners, hedge fund managers, Big Oil and companies that outsource US jobs," according to the groups. The ads will air on broadcast television stations on Thursday and Friday. The targets are: Reps. Sean Duffy, Wisc., Dave Camp, R-Mich., Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., and Richard Hanna, R-NY. Here's an example of the ad against Duffy:



@rickklein: daylight? @GroverNorquist: "Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase." @taxreformer

@pwire: Rick Santorum tries the Chris Dodd strategy in Iowa…

@maghabepolitico: With @benpolitico and @ByronTau, Obama '08 bundlers replaced by "machine"

@BrianBolduc: Rick Perry received $4,812 in conservation subsidies and $637 in commodity subsidies between 1995 and…

@MichaelDNC: On my way 2 work I felt like Lawrence of Arabia trekking thru the desert to Aqaba.#NoNotReally #ItsHot



(all times local)

* Tim Pawlenty attends a meet-and-greet in Ames, Iowa at 8 a.m. Next he goes to Webster City at 11 a.m. before he heads to the Fort Dodge Town Hall at 1 p.m. That evening, Pawlenty attends the Perry Town Hall at 6:30 p.m.

* Gary Johnson gives interviews in Manchester, N.H. from 8:30-10 a.m.In the afternoon, Johnson meets with the Conway Daily Sun Editorial Board. At 4:10 p.m., Johnson visits Zeb's General Store in Conway. Then from 6-9 p.m., Johnson attends a dinner party in Freedom.

* Herman Cain speaks at the Hellenic Center in Dover, N.H., from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

* Fred Karger hosts a fundraiser at a private residence in San Francisco from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Mike Manning of MTV's The Real World: Washinton DC is expected to attend.

* Mitt Romney's wife, Ann Romney, meets with voters in Myrtle Beach, S.C., at 9:45 a.m.

* Rick Perry speaks at a two-day RGA Executive Roundtable quarterly meeting in Aspen, Colo. 200 of the party's top donors are expected to attend.

 The Note Futures Calendar:


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