The Note: GOP Cozies Up To 2012 Field

Aug 26, 2011 8:59am

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

When it comes to their choices for president, Republicans seem to have entered the acceptance phase.

Even as many establishment Republicans in the New York-Washington corridor continue to pine for a “white knight,” GOP voters are beginning to get comfortable with the choices they've got, according to the results of a new Associated Press-GfK poll out today.

The AP’s Jennifer Agiesta reports that “two-thirds of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents are pleased with the party's presidential field, compared with just half in June. And they're paying more attention, with 52 percent expressing a ‘great deal’ of interest in the GOP nomination fight — compared with 39 percent earlier this summer.”

The new numbers come at the end of a week that saw a shift in front-runner status among two of the top contenders for the Republican nomination with Rick Perry overtaking Mitt Romney, according to several polls.

Another one out yesterday underscored the view that Perry is going to be a major thorn in Romney’s side heading into the fall primary season. According to the Pew Research Center’s Andy Kohut, when it comes to GOP enthusiasm, Perry’s clearly out in front right now.

“Among Republican and Republican-leaning voters who have heard of each of the candidates, 37 percent say there is a good chance they would vote for Perry compared with 28 percent for Romney,” Kohut wrote of new Pew numbers. “Among Republican voters who agree the Tea Party, 49 percent say there is a good chance they would support Perry; 29 percent say there is a good chance they would vote for Romney.”

And, while some have been dismissing Perry as a flavor of month, New York Times columnist David Brooks digs into the positive poll results for Perry and declares, “The evidence suggests that Perry’s appeal will not be just a summer fad.”

“Romney,” Brooks notes in his column today, “might be able to beat back the Perry surge. In the meantime, it’s time to take Perry seriously. He could be our next president.”

For his part, Romney, who has been campaigning for the past two days in New Hampshire, steered clear of talking about the man who has emerged as his top rival for the GOP nomination. Perry, on the other hand, has adopted a strategy of engagement.

“I think Mitt is finally recognizing that the Massachusetts healthcare plan that he passed is a huge problem for him, and yeah it was not almost perfect,” Perry said on the Laura Ingraham Show yesterday.

Romney has at least two important speeches planned over the next two weeks — one to release the details of his economic plan in Nevada in early September and the other on Tuesday in San Antonio, Texas. There Romney will speak to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention and we’ll see whether he chooses to throw any elbows at his opponent while in the Lone Star State. If not then, it’s only a matter of time before Romney’s got to make a move.


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE. Amy Walter and Rick Klein interview political science Professor Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University to talk about the impact that Rick Perry has had on the presidential race and the prospects for the Texas governor. Also, ABC’s David Kerley takes a closer look at changes in president Obama’s level of support among Americans. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. 

“TOP LINE” REPLAY: 2012 SENATE CRYSTAL BALL. The Democrats’ top Senate strategist predicted today that victories over Republican incumbents in Massachusetts, Nevada, and Indiana would keep the Senate in Democratic control this year, despite an unfavorable campaign terrain. “A lot of the focus is on our seats. The reality is we are changing the map. If we win just two of those three seats it's not four seats the Republicans need to take back the majority, it's six and so we are going to play offense," the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's Guy Cecil said yesterday on ABC’s “Top Line.” But Cecil’s Republican counterpart, Rob Jesmer, said that with Republicans needing to pick up only four of the 23 Democratic seats on the line in 2012, he’s confident that the Senate will swing to the GOP for the first time in six years. “I think we're in great shape right now,” Jesmer said. “The reality is everyone running will be running in worse economic conditions than when they got to office. They promised they were going to fix them. They didn't. And I think that's why we're on offense all throughout the country.” (h/t ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Bingham)



GOP BALKS AT OBAMA TAX CUT PROPOSAL. “It is hard to find a tax cut that Congressional Republicans dislike. Unless it is a tax cut pushed by President Obama,” the New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer reports. “In a turning of the tax policy tables, Democrats are increasingly hammering on Republicans who oppose the president’s proposal to extend for a year a payroll tax cut passed last year with bipartisan support. That tax cut — which reduces workers’ contributions to Social Security this year to 4.2 percent of wages, from 6.2 percent — expires in December. The White House would like to extend it for another year. But Republicans in Congress are balking, arguing that such a cut adds needlessly to the nation’s budget deficit, and should be replaced with an overhaul of tax policy instead. ‘All tax relief is not created equal,’ said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader. ‘If the goal is job creation, Leader Cantor has long believed that there are better ways to grow the economy and create jobs than temporary payroll tax relief.’ After battles over the debt ceiling and tax policy, in which Republicans asserted that they would abide no tax increase, Democrats are equal parts incensed by this nuanced policy position and pleased with the opportunity to bang the other party over the head with it.”

NOTABLE: BOEHNER TELLS OBAMA TO CUT THE RED TAPE. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, penned a letter to Preisdent Obama today noting, according to a release from the Speaker's office, "that the number of planned Obama Administration regulatory actions with a significant impact on jobs and the economy has spiked by nearly 15 percent since last year. In the letter, Boehner requests that President Obama identify for Congress which of these regulations have an estimated economic impact of more than $1 billion." READ:

A HALEY SURPRISE. “Several minutes into a Michele Bachmann town hall meeting here Thursday, freshman Republican Tim Scott announced he had a question from an undecided voter named Nikki,” Politico’s Marin Cogan reports. “Gov. Nikki Haley walked out from behind the stage and joined the presidential candidate and fellow tea party favorite in haranguing the Obama administration. ‘Our president decided to allow the National Labor Relations Board to try to stop what Boeing is doing in South Carolina,’ said Haley, referring to the NRLB’s complaint that Boeing moved the plant from Washington state to South Carolina to punish union workers there, in violation of law. ‘It’s the most un-American thing I’ve ever seen. If you were president — knowing he is saying he can’t do anything because it’s an independent agency, what would you do?’ ‘Why thank you for asking that question,’ Bachmann said, inviting the crowd to applaud Haley, and promising she would take her calls if elected president. ‘If the NRLB would also be continuing their current stance, they may not last very long. Once they see what I do to the EPA, they may shape up.’ Gov. Haley holds a coveted endorsement in this key battleground state, and though she’s voiced positive views on both Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, she has said she will not endorse anyone for the Republican nomination yet.”

BIG LABOR’S WARNING TO OBAMA. “AFL/CIO President Richard Trumka yesterday urged President Obama to put forth ‘bold solutions’ to the nation’s unemployment crisis in his post-Labor Day jobs speech, warning of political peril if he’s seen as merely ‘nibbling around the edge’ of the issue,” ABC’s Devin Dwyer reports. “‘History will judge him and I think working people will judge him,’ Trumka told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington, according to video of the event. Trumka said Obama made a “strategic mistake” in trying to address both the unemployment situation and deficit crisis at the same time over recent weeks and must now focus solely and aggressively on creating jobs. ‘We do not have a short term deficit crisis. It does not exist,’ Trumka said. ‘We have a short term jobs crisis. And if you fix the job crisis the deficit crisis goes away.’”

PATAKI NOT RUNNING? “ Former New York Gov. George Pataki will not run for the Republican presidential nomination,” CNN’s Mark Preston reports, citing a source close to the former governor. “Pataki, who had been flirting with a White House bid for months, was scheduled to appear this weekend in the key early voting state of Iowa. Speculation was that the former three-term governor would announce his candidacy Saturday at the Polk County Republican fundraiser. But the source said that Pataki, who seriously considered running, has decided instead to forgo a run for the GOP nomination.”  



@karentravers:#FF @ABC Hurricane #Irene edition: @SamChampion @MattGutmanABC @DanBHarris @LinseyDavis @ABCAviation @niagarasquare @GMA @ABCWorldNews

@GOP12: It's been fascinating RT @RealClearScott Perry Vs. Palin proxy war heats up in conservative blogosphere:

@MPOTheHill: My story today: Romney's fighting off growing criticism that he's writing off Iowa and South Carolina

@ ZekeJMiller: Cheney’s dog was banned from Camp David lodge for attacking Bush’s dog

@SavannahGuthrie: Forecast: 100 percent chance of correspondents and anchors wearing "disaster casual" fashions #dizzcasual


(all times local)

* Michele Bachmann campaigns in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. at Angie's Sub Shop at 3:30 p.m.

* Ron Paul greets voters at Café Espresso in Portsmouth at 8 a.m. and speaks to the sheriff’s association at a country club in Gilford at 2:30 p.m.

* Gary Johnson speaks at a Rotary Club meeting in Salem, N.H. at 7: 30 a.m. At 5 p.m., Johnson addresses the Calvin Coolidge Clambake in Freeport, Maine.

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