Despite the splash he made on the campaign trail last week, Rick Perry's entrance into the 2012 presidential race has done nothing to stop the speculation — even longing — among many Republicans that the field of candidates will continue to expand.
In fact, if anything, Perry seems to have accelerated it with his recent comments on everything from the Federal Reserve to evolution to global warming.
As Republican pollster Frank Luntz said in an interview with ABC’s Jake Tapper yesterday on “This Week,” GOP voters “look at Rick Perry, and they say this guy's got an incredible record in Texas, in terms of job creation and the economy. But they're wondering, has he said things or will he say things that — that don't help him come November?” http://abcn.ws/pJSBAO
Also adding to the sense of urgency is the fact that Labor Day is right around the corner and filing deadlines for ballot access are coming up soon as well.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., are getting lobbied hard to jump in and both are seriously considering or reconsidering it. Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani are still flirting with a run. Giuliani confidantes say not to expect to hear anything from the former New York Mayor about 2012 until after the Sept. 11 anniversary.
Even former New York Gov. George Pataki is getting into the act. The New York Daily News reported Sunday evening that, “Those close to the three-term former governor said he was expected to enter the race for President, though no date has been set.” http://nydn.us/qLQXtz
As for Palin, a campaign-style video recap of her recent trip to the Iowa State Fair released on Friday stoked speculation that she may still enter the race. Over the weekend, Real Clear Politics’ Scott Conroy reported that a Tea Party group is “launching a major radio blitz” in Iowa starting today to promote Palin’s attendance at a rally in Indianola, Iowa on Sept. 3. http://bit.ly/pNeIgM
And a pro-Palin organizer in Iowa, Peter Singleton, who has been helping to put the rally together and lay the groundwork for Palin in the Hawkeye State should she decide to run, told the National Review’s Robert Costa: “I believe that she will run. I can’t see her sitting this election out.” http://bit.ly/rrVJyN
The White House has to love uncertainty and the potential for some serious infighting among the GOP. The Democratic National Committee was clearly relishing the attacks that presidential candidate Jon Huntsman lobbed in the direction of his rivals on “This Week” yesterday, sending out an email missive titled “Don't take our word for it” highlighting Huntsman’s comments about his fellow Republicans.
“When asked about specific candidates, Huntsman said that Romney is a flip-flopper with a weak economic record as governor of Massachusetts and that Perry didn’t sound ‘serious on issues,’” DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said. “We couldn’t agree more.”
Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller accused the DNC of “shilling for a President who has failed on the most important issue to Americans — the economy and job creation.” http://abcn.ws/oJjy2b
BOTTOM LINE: All the clamoring by and for other Republicans to get into the contest is also a huge slap at Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, who has been spending a few days in California raising money.
Given Obama's vulnerabilities, it would seem that Republicans would or should just circle the wagons around the guy who's a proven — if not exactly inspiring — commodity. Question is, will they be able to do so if and when their “white knights” fail to appear?
LIBYA UPDATE: GADHAFI REGIME CRUMBLES. “Top diplomats say Moammar Gadhafi's regime is now part of Libya's past, despite not knowing the dictator's whereabouts as his 42-year reign crumbles,” write ABC’s Kevin Dolak, Jessica Hopper and Olivia Katrandjian. “‘I think what's clear is that the rebels are winning, that it's only a matter of time before Gadhafi has to step down, before Gadhafi loses the entire country,’ said Jeffrey Feltman, assistant secretary of state for near Eastern affairs, told ‘Good Morning America’ today. ‘People don't have a good sense of where he is right now … but it almost doesn't matter,’ Feltman said. Rebel forces in Libya have taken control of much of the Gadhafi stronghold of Tripoli. They are attempting to take over Gadhafi's presidential compound, Bab al-Aziziya, but have been met by tanks. Firefights are also raging in Green Square, the symbolic heart of Gadhafi's regime, and outside the Rixos Hotel, which houses several journalists. On Sunday, rebels renamed Green Square, calling it Martyrs' Square. Diplomats said that the rebels have taken control of 95 percent of Tripoli. ‘The rebels are clearly taking over the city, taking over the institutions … taking over state television. He [Gadhafi] has become for all intents and purposes of Libya's past and now people need to look to building Libya's future,’ Feltman told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.” http://abcn.ws/pwwMK8
Follow ABC’s Jeffrey Kofman (@JeffreyKofman) for updates from Libya.
@JeffreyKofman: Clear that while Gadhafi regime is over, the revolution isn't finished. Still pockets of danger and resistance.
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Amy Walter and Rick Klein speak with PolitiFact’s Bill Adair about what the 2012 Republican candidates are saying on the campaign trail. Also on the program, Elizabeth Wydra, The Constitution Accountability Center. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc
“THIS WEEK REPLAY”: JON HUNTSMAN TAKES ON RIVALS. In an exclusive Sunday morning interview with ABC’s Jake Tapper, GOP presidential candidate pulled no punches.
HUNTSMAN ON ROMNEY: “You know, if we were to talk about his inconsistencies and the changes on various issues, we'd be here all afternoon. But if he's in favor of a flat tax now where he wasn't before, at least he's moving in the right direction.”
HUNTSMAN ON PERRY: “I think there's a serious problem. The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party — the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people that would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012.”
HUNTSMAN ON EVERYBODY: “I wouldn't necessarily trust any of my opponents right now who were on a recent debate stage with me, when every single one of them would have allowed this country to default. … So I have to say that there was zero leadership on display in terms of my opponents, zero leadership on display in terms of the president, who should have used the bully pulpit well ahead of time.”
Full transcript: http://abcn.ws/necou9
Video and Web extras: http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/
THE FIGHT OBAMA WANTS. ABC’s Rick Klein says it’s time to get ready for another big Washington fight — but this one’s going to be different:
“This time, it's the president who wants lower taxes. Republicans are threatening to line up against him, in a stand that would leave them open to charges of favoring higher taxes on the vast majority of the nation's taxpayers. At issue is the expiring cut to the obscure but impactful "payroll tax," a tax reduction approved with little fanfare as part of a broader tax deal late last year. Normally, workers pay 6.2 percent of their income into a Social Security fund, with employers paying a matching 6.2 percent. But this year, workers' share has been cut a full 2 percentage points. That means an extra $1,000 in the pocket of a taxpayer who is earning $50,000 this year, up to a total savings of $2,136 for those who make $106,800 or more — the threshold beyond which earnings are not taxed for Social Security. The president wants that tax cut extended by another year, a proposal he mentioned in his weekend radio address and that will be part of the White House's larger job creation package this fall. Some congressional Republicans, meanwhile, are vowing to oppose another temporary payroll tax cut, even as they pursue other tax cuts that would affect far fewer — and far wealthier — Americans. That situation has leading Democrats sensing an opportunity for the president to turn the tax tables on Republicans. Their calculation: that voters will see Republican tax-cutting efforts as giveaways to special interests, while Democrats fight against them for tax cuts that would actually put dollars in the pockets of families.” http://abcn.ws/qkRgxw
ROMNEY GOING BIG…. “Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is planning to nearly quadruple the size of his $12 million California beachfront mansion,” The Washington Post’s Phil Rucker reports. “Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and the nominal front-runner for the GOP’s 2012 presidential nomination, is planning to bulldoze his 3,009-square-foot home facing the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, Calif., and replace it with an 11,062-square-foot home, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Union-Tribune reported late Saturday that Romney has filed an application with the city for a coastal development permit, but that no date has been set to consider the project. A Romney campaign official confirmed the report, saying the Romneys want to ‘enlarge their two-bedroom home because with five married sons and 16 grandchildren it is inadequate for their needs. Construction will not begin until the permits have been obtained and the campaign is finished.’ … The couple still maintain a vacation home along Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, as well as a townhouse outside Boston that they consider their primary residence.” http://wapo.st/nQyUhx
…AND NOT GOING AT ALL. “GOP 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been busily fundraising in California, and making plans to expand his $12 million La Jolla mansion here — but don't look for him to attend the gathering of the nation's largest Republican party in the state,” writes the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci. “We're told the former Massachusetts governor has no plans to attend the three day convention expected to attract about 1,000 activists of the California GOP, slated for Sept. 16-18 in Los Angeles. …While Romney will apparently be MIA at the California gathering just down the coast from his home next month, Rep. Michele Bachmann has already agreed to be the keynote speaker on Friday night, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul also intends to be on hand to meet and greet supporters on Saturday. Romney was expected by many to at least drop in on the California gathering because other GOP candidates (hello, Rick Perry) are furiously being wooed, and the state GOP is holding a straw poll that weekend aimed at whipping up enthusiasm among the grassroots for the GOP presidential candidates.” http://bit.ly/n2zyPF
RON PAUL RAKES IT IN. “When it comes to donations, Texas Rep. Ron Paul believes small is beautiful. In a 24-hour fundraising push over the weekend, GOP presidential candidate Paul scooped up more than $1.6 million in small donations. It was Paul's 76th birthday and his loyal band of dedicated campaigners came through again for the inconoclastic Texas libertarian,” reports the Los Angeles Times’ Andrew Malcolm. “This happened despite a cyber-attack on the campaign Website, announced on Paul's Facebook page, that shut it down for a few hours. A press release quoted campaign chairman Jesse Benton as saying, "Our campaign is surging, and today's money bomb results show the strength of our grassroots support. We've just come off an impressive finish in the Iowa straw poll, and our growing poll numbers and strong fundraising proves that our message is resonating with people.’” http://lat.ms/nbQOgk
ANTHONY WEINER LEAVES ANGER AT OBAMA IN HIS WAKE. “Of all the places to hear fulminations against President Obama, one of the least expected is the corner of 71st Avenue and Queens Boulevard, in the heart of a Congressional district that propelled Democrats like Geraldine A. Ferraro, Charles E. Schumer and Anthony D. Weiner to Washington,” The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro notes. “But it was there that Dale Weiss, a 64-year-old Democrat, approached the Republican running for Congress in a special election and, without provocation, blasted the president for failing to tame runaway federal spending. ‘We need to cut Medicaid,’ she declared, ‘but he won’t do that.’ She shook her head in disgust. ‘He is a moron.’ After nodding approvingly for a time, the Republican candidate, Bob Turner, signaled for an assistant to cut off Ms. Weiss. Frustration with Mr. Obama is so widespread, he explained later, that he tries to limit such rants to about 30 seconds, or else they will consume most of his day. … The Sept. 13 election for the Ninth Congressional District seat became vacant this summer when Mr. Weiner quit over an online sex scandal. The race was widely viewed as a sleepy sideshow — a mere formality that would put David I. Weprin, a Democratic state assemblyman and heir to a Queens political dynasty, into a seat known for its deep blue hue. … Instead, the race has become something far more unsettling to Democrats: a referendum on the president and his party that is highlighting the surprisingly raw emotions of the electorate.” http://nyti.ms/r3idey
(all times local)
* Mitt Romney fundraises in California.
* Gary Johnson visits Northern Forest Heritage Park in Berlin, N.H., at 1:30 p.m. Johnson stops by Chutter's Candy Store in Littleton at 4 p.m.
* Newt Gingrich discusses the American founding with the students at Seabury Hall prepatory school at 7:30 a.m. in Makawao, Hawaii.
The Note Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV
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