The Note: Straw Poll Shake Up?: Bachmann Under Scrutiny, Rick Perry Backtracks

Jul 19, 2011 9:15am

gty michele bachmann jef 110719 wb The Note: Straw Poll Shake Up?: Bachmann Under Scrutiny, Rick Perry Backtracks

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

Is Michele Bachmann healthy enough to be president? That is the question raised by a new Daily Caller story quoting several former aides to the Minnesota congresswoman who say she is prone to “debilitating” migraine headaches that have landed her in the hospital and rendered her unable to perform her official duties at times.

“These episodes, say witnesses, occur once a week on average and can ‘incapacitate’ her for days at time. On at least three occasions, Bachmann has landed in the hospital as a result,” writes the Daily Caller’s Jonathan Strong, quoting sources who refused to be identified.

“‘The migraines are so bad and so intense, she carries and takes all sorts of pills,” one of the unnamed sources told the Daily Caller. “Prevention pills. Pills during the migraine. Pills after the migraine, to keep them under control. She has to take these pills wherever she goes.”

A source who has worked closely with Bachmann over the past few years confirms to ABC that Bachmann does get migraines that have put her in the hospital. This source said that the “medication part of the story is way overblown,” but does acknowledge that it will be important for the Minnesota Congresswoman to come forward with her medical history.

The Bachmann camp’s response to the story, according to the Daily Caller: “Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for Bachmann, said ‘she suffers from migraines and they’re under control with medicine.’ Stewart contested descriptions of the episodes as ‘incapacitating’ Bachmann but did not specify how the descriptions were wrong. ‘The information you have is incorrect,’ Stewart said. She declined to discuss Bachmann’s hospital visits at all, saying, ‘I’m not going to go into her medical history.’”

And for all the focus on next month’s Iowa Straw Poll and the likely entrance of Texas Gov. Rick Perry into the 2012 fray, this is an issue that could truly be a game changer. Unlike other recent controversies that she has managed to blow off or avoid talking about, she’s going to have to address this one.

The health of a president is one of the most important criteria voters should have when it comes to electing the leader of the free world.

TEXAS TWO-STEP. Meanwhile, Gov. Perry’s attempt yesterday at walking back his recent statement that he feels “called” to run for president doesn’t seem entirely serious. The smart money is on Perry getting into this race.

“There’s a lot of different ways to be called,” Perry said yesterday, according to Austin American Statesman newspaper. “My mother may call me for dinner, you know, my friends may call me for something. There are people calling from all across this country, into either me directly or people that they know and saying man we wish you’d consider doing this.”

But his interview with Des Moines Register was no slip of the tongue. (“I’m not ready to tell you that I’m ready to announce that I’m in,” Perry told the Register in a phone interview last week. “But I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. “)

Those comments were a smart play to the Republicans responsible for putting together the Ames Straw Poll ballot. He is not likely to be an officially announced candidate by July 23 — the date Republican leaders set the ballot — but the more he hints that he’s serious, the more likely that he could get included anyway.

And Perry may not have to lift a finger just yet. An independent pro-Perry group is laying the groundwork for him in Iowa hoping to snag him a favorable rating at the Straw Poll. ABC’s Arlette Saenz notes that Americans for Rick Perry — a 527 advocacy group which is prohibited from contact with the Texas governor — will open a headquarters in West Des Moines this week under a lease that runs through the straw poll.  Made up of volunteers and seven paid staffers, many of whom previously worked for Newt Gingrich’s campaign, the group will work to spread information about Perry and his record.

If you’re looking for another sign of how serious Perry is about running, here’s one from the Austin American Statesman: “About four dozen potential donors and bundlers for Gov. Rick Perry’s would-be presidential campaign will meet in Austin on Tuesday to discuss whether Perry can raise the money he needs to compete in the race for the White House, according to Republican sources.”


DEBT DEBATE. “Two weeks from a threatened default, U.S. House Republicans today plan to defy President Barack Obama’s promised veto by voting to slash spending and condition a $2.4 trillion debt-ceiling increase on passage of a constitutional amendment to balance the budget,” Bloomberg’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis reports. “The measure, demanded by fiscally conservative organizations and Tea Party groups, brings lawmakers no closer to meeting an Aug. 2 deadline for increasing the $14.3 trillion debt limit. The bill stands little chance of being endorsed by the Democratic-controlled Senate and no chance of being signed into law. The White House, in a statement conveying Obama’s threat to veto the ‘Cut, Cap and Balance’ proposal, called it an ‘empty political statement’ setting out ‘unrealistic policy goals.’ Conservative groups cheered it, pressuring Republicans to back it or risk denting their fiscal credentials with voters.”

PARKINSON’S PREDICTION: The vote on the “Cut, Cap and Balance” proposal is expected this evening (around 6 or 7 p.m.), according to ABC’s John R. Parkinson. The plan is likely to pass in the House, and then fail in the Senate tomorrow. In the House, the proposal will pass along mostly partisan lines. There was some talk initially whether there were enough Republicans to make it through the vote, but I think they’ll get at least 225 of 240 Republicans and possibly a handful of Democrats to vote for it.

BOEHNER SPEAKS. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, released a video pre-buttal to Obama’s veto threat this morning. “While the House once again acts responsibly, the administration still won’t present a plan or even say what cuts it’s willing to make to end Washington’s spending binge and the economic uncertainty that it’s creating,” Speaker Boehner says in the clip. “This unfortunate veto threat should make clear that the issue is not congressional inaction, but rather the President’s unwillingness to cut spending and restrain the future growth of our government.”


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”:  ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter interview actor Martin Sheen. This morning Sheen is on the Hill to promote Drug Courts and Veteran Treatment Courts. Also on the program, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who will weigh in on the debt ceiling negotiations as well as presidential politics in Iowa. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.

REPLAY: YESTERDAY ON “TOPLINE” Freshman Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., said yesterday that he is not concerned about what would happen if the U.S. hit the debt ceiling. Rokita said he considers any hit the economy would take to be a short-term setback in order to ensure a better future. “‘I don’t know anything more piggish — I don’t know anything more un-American than saying, ‘Oh, I’m worried about my own little handout or my own little program or my own little economy and we’ll kick this can down the road and let some future generation deal with it,’ said Rokita, a former Indiana Secretary of State.” “Rokita said he will oppose an increase in the debt limit unless Congress makes structural budgeting changes, including passing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution — something that is highly unlikely to be approved in the coming weeks.”  



RNC SEEKS PROBE OF OBAMA FUNDRAISING VIDEO. “The Republican National Committee has asked the Justice Department to investigate what it calls a matter of ‘grave concern’: President Obama’s appearance in a campaign video filmed inside the White House,” ABC’s Devin Dwyer reports. “‘If President Obama recorded the video in the Map Room, then it appears he has committed a crime under federal law,’ RNC chairman Reince Priebus wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.  The letter attempts to revive an issue Republicans first raised weeks ago but that has failed to gain much attention or traction.  Many good government groups and independent legal experts have dismissed the claims.  Still, Priebus says Obama’s use of a ‘place of official government business’ to solicit political contributions is against the law, and that all money collected in response to the video should be returned. He stopped short of calling for the appointment of a special counsel. The White House counters that the Map Room is part of the “residence,” making it a perfectly legal venue, and that ample precedent exists for filming campaign materials on White House grounds.  … “This is a disgraceful, desperate and politically-motivated attempt at getting headlines,” said DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse in a statement.”

FORMER BUSH SPOKESMAN CONSIDERING SENATE RUN. “A former spokesman for President George W. Bush is considering a campaign for U.S. Senate in Washington state,” according to a dispatch from the Associated Press. “Scott Stanzel said Monday he will look at whether to challenge Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell in a race next year. He said he won’t decide until after he gets married in September. Stanzel said he believes Washington voters are anxious for new leadership, particularly on the economy. Cantwell has been in the Senate for more than a decade. Stanzel campaigned against the proposed state income tax for high-earners last year and currently operates a public relations firm in Seattle. He was a deputy White House press secretary under Bush.”

SOUTH CAROLINA UP FOR GRABS. “In the first two presidential states, the GOP picture is clear enough: Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann top the polls in Iowa and Romney is the candidate to beat in New Hampshire. As for South Carolina, the other critical early state, it’s anybody’s guess,” Politico’s Kasie Hunt writes. The first-in-the-South primary couldn’t be any more unsettled. By this point in the 2008 campaign, the Republican contenders had the state’s top consultants locked up, expansive staffs on the ground, and extensive rosters of endorsements. Voters had already been inundated with TV ads. A variety of pollsters had been in the field for months. This time around? Crickets. There’s been very little polling, no ads have been aired, and the campaigns are barely staffed up. Just one of the state’s top consultants — who play a unique and exaggerated role in Columbia’s political culture — has signed up with a major candidate. A Fox News debate in May turned out to be a dud, since most of the best-known presidential prospects skipped it. And almost all of the state’s key endorsements — Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Jim DeMint, almost all of the state’s congressmen, most of its state lawmakers — are still sitting on the sidelines.”

ELIZABETH WARREN EXIT INTERVIEW. President Obama yesterday nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. ABC’s Jake Tapper caught up with Elizabeth Warren — the woman whose idea the bureau was, and who has helped set up the agency — to get her thoughts in something of an exit interview (though she isn’t leaving immediately). Here’s an excerpt:

TAPPER: Former head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Brooksley Born,  former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation director Sheila Bair, Elizabeth Warren. Do you see where I’m going with this? Is there something that this town has a problem with when it comes to women who are assertive running any of these financial agencies?

WARREN: I don’t know. I mean, it’s a hard question. I’ll just put it this way. I threw rocks before I ever got to this town and I’m not through throwing rocks now. So if there’re folks who don’t like what I do, so be it, but I’m still ready to fight.

TAPPER: There are a lot of liberals who want you to fight for the Massachusetts Senate seat. I assume you’re not going to be making any announcements right here, but do you think, if you ran, that you could beat Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.?

WARREN: I gotta tell you: I spent 14 hours a day for more than a year now trying to get the pieces together for this consumer agency and to get it up and running. I have focused on this with every brain cell I have. My immediate future? Take my little grandkids and grandnieces and nephews to Legoland. 


–The progressive advocacygroup, MoveOn, is announcing today that they are expanding the ad campaign they launched last week with two new radio ads targeting Republican Reps. Blake Farenthold and Lou Barletta. According to the group,  ”the ads accuse the GOP Congressmen of holding the American economy hostage just so they can protect tax breaks for millionaires and corporations.”

–”ARC Entertainment today announced ‘The Undefeated,’ which chronicles Sarah Palin’s rise from obscurity to national prominence, will roll out to additional AMC Theatres on Friday July 22. … The film will roll out to new markets including Tucson, AZ; West Palm, FL; Milwaukee, WI; Charlotte, NC; and Ontario, CA. The film will also expand into additional theatres in Atlanta, GA, and Phoenix, AZ, and will continue in theatres in Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Denver, CO; Orlando, FL; and Orange, CA.”

–Energy Secretary Steven Chu is launching a new Dept. of Energy -Ad Council public service announcement campaign built around the slogan “Saving Energy Saves You Money.”  According to a DOE spokesman the ad “highlights the little things people can do to make their homes more comfortable and save money in the process.  It’ll feature two TV spots, a radio spot, billboards, and internet ads that direct people to for helpful tips on how to save money by saving energy.”



@Amy_Bingham: Why do we even have a debt ceiling? Only one Democratic county besides the US has a limit controlled by the Legislature

@RyanLizza: If you’re not sufficiently scared about the consequences of default, read this:

@DLeonhardt: 9% jump in 1-family housing starts last month. (Usual disclaimer: One month of data does not make a trend.)

@aterkel: Wisconsin voters head to polls for first general recall election. #wirecall

@JoshuaGreen: If elected, Michele Bachmann (and her migraines + pills) would join long list of presidents with severe ailments:



(all times local)

* Michele Bachmann attends a South Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce event in Columbia, S.C., at 8:30 a.m. before attending the Rally in the Ally at 1 p.m.

* Tim Pawlenty attends a meet-and-greet in Boone, Iowa at 8 a.m. In the afternoon, he will attend a Town Hall in Marshalltown. Then at 6 p.m., Pawlenty attends the Pella Town Hall at the Monarch’s Restaurant & Lounge.

* Rick Santorum campaigns in West Virginia. He will be the featured speaker at a meeting of the West Liberty University Economics Club in Wheeling.

* Herman Cain speaks at 8 p.m. as part of the Tea Party Patriots’ Tele Town Hall series.


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