The Note: Stirred — But Not Shaken

Aug 24, 2011 9:07am

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

Most of the 2012 presidential candidates are using the last weeks of August to regroup and raise money before the campaign kicks into high gear after Labor Day with a busy schedule of appearances and debates.

But we’re already seeing glimmers of what comes next. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has been trying to catch up quickly to his competitors, has shaken up the race but still needs to prove he’s got the skills to win it.

To that end, he’s checking off many of the boxes he’ll need to shore up conservative support. Today, Perry becomes the newest Republican presidential candidate to sign on to the Susan B. Anthony Lists’ pro-life Pledge.

“I not only pledge to protect unborn life, but have a record of doing so in Texas,” Perry said in a statement. "I have signed legislation requiring parental consent for a minor to obtain an abortion, and have long advocated adoption as an alternative to abortion in order to protect unborn children."

And among the conservative chattering class, his candidacy is picking up steam. Erick Erickson, the founder of the blog, Red State, wrote in a post today that Perry is “rapidly” becoming the front-runner and “consolidating the lead.”

The Texas governor is heading back to Iowa this weekend to speak at a county Republican gathering in Des Moines, he’ll be at a major Republican gathering on Labor Day and he just signed on to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida next month.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, from whom Perry is trying to wrest the front-runner mantle is holed up in the place he knows best — New Hampshire — where he is campaigning for the next two days, holding town halls and business roundtables, staples of the Romney campaign diet.

Romney is taking comfort in the routine. As they do many mornings, his campaign team released a new web video today bashing President Obama (this one is titled: “Obama Isn’t Working: Right To Work”) and just minutes later circulated the endorsement of former New Hampshire State Senate President Tom Eaton.

And potential presidential candidate Sarah Palin doesn’t seem ready to shake up the presidential race just yet. The former Alaska governor will headline a Tea Party of America event in Iowa on Sept. 3, but SarahPAC put out a statement this week warning that “DC pundits” are “citing false information that she has made a decision and set a date regarding a future campaign.”

“Any professional pundit claiming to have ‘inside information’ regarding Governor Palin’s personal decision is not only wrong but their comments are specifically intended to mislead the American public,” the statement said.

As for President Obama, who is on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard this week, Libya should be a big winner for him, but as questions linger about what’s next there, the latest Gallup tracking poll shows his approval rating hovering at 38 percent.

WHAT’S PALIN TRYING TO TELL US? ABC’s Shuhannah Walshe and Sheila Marikar report that whether or not Sarah Palin makes a presidential announcement on Sept. 3, her speech in Iowa will offer a “substantive, big-picture vision of America”: “Peter Singleton, the head of the Iowa chapter of the independently run group Organize4Palin who moved to the state almost a year ago to volunteer for the non-campaign, said he doesn’t think Palin will make an explicit announcement Sept. 3.  But he believes it will be ‘clear’ from her ‘major’ and “’important’ speech that Palin is getting into the race. Singleton said he thinks the speech will start a ‘conversation with the American people’ and focus on ‘who we are as a people and what’s at stake in this election and what the primary debate will be on our side.’ He said he believes the speech will ‘lay out her vision for the country, returning to the vision of the founders,’ something Palin often speaks about.”


MORE ON PERRY’S PLEDGE. Perry becomes the seventh presidential candidate (including Tim Pawlenty, who dropped out of the race after the Ames Straw Poll) to sign the Susan B. Anthony Lists Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge. “Governor Perry has been a long-time friend of, and leader for, the pro-life community,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. Perry joins Michele Bachmann, Thad McCotter, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrinch, who have also signed on. Candidates who sign the pledge are expected to “select only pro-life appointees” for Cabinet and Executive Branch positions and nominations to the federal bench and “advance pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion,” among other things.

@waltershapiroPD: More than any Republican since 1950s Red Scare, Rick Perry embodies the fears in liberals' anxiety closet. My latest:


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE. ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter interview Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Select Intelligence Committee who has been sounding alarm bells about what happens to the stockpile of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s weapons in the aftermath of his regime. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. 

“TOP LINE” REPLAY: PERRY AND HIS EGGHEADS. Journalist and author Sasha Issenberg spoke with the “Top Line” crew yesterday about his new e-book chapter, “Rick Perry and His Eggheads: Inside the Brainiest Political Operation in America” in which he documents how Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s longtime political guru, Dave Carney, used research by a pair of Yale professors to rethink Perry’s gubernatorial campaign strategy, brushing aside traditional campaign methods based on meticulous polling and research on what actually works. “This is an organization that is built on a real, rigorous skepticism about how campaigns work,” Issenberg told “Top Line” yesterday. “They’re ready to question everything.” Carney ran extensive field experiments — the “political-world version of pharmaceutical trials,” Issenberg said — to test what types of advertising and retail politicking has the biggest impact. “He’d grown just kind of skeptical of everything a campaign did,” Issenberg said of Carney, who’s serving as Perry’s chief strategist on his presidential bid. “He didn’t really know what worked, and was looking for tools that would allow him to measure effectiveness.”


THIRD-PARTY TREMORS? ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd explores the “increasing probability that a serious independent third-party run might just occur”: “Today President Obama’s Gallup approval ratings are at an all-time low (38 percent). … For the last 60 years, an incumbent president running for re-election has basically received in national vote share the same percentage as his Gallup rating going into Election Day. If a president’s approval was 50 percent or more, it didn’t matter who his opponent was, he won. And if a president’s approval was below 45 percent, it didn’t matter who his opponent was — he lost. We have not had a president in the in-between numbers in the modern era, so we don’t know that territory. If the election were held today in a two-person race, Obama would lose his re-election bid. In addition, if his approval rating drops much further, he could easily face opposition within his own party. If Republicans nominate an extremely polarizing figure who has a difficult time getting independent votes (especially in the crucial Midwest states) or one who instills no passion at all in the base conservative vote, and Obama’s approval numbers stay low, then we basically have two unelectable candidates facing each other in the general election. Further, in an analysis I did a few years back on the composition of a general-election electorate, it signals an opening for a more moderate independent candidate as well.”



MARCO RUBIO STEPS UP… “It might look like tea party hero Marco Rubio waded into enemy territory with stops in San Francisco and Beverly Hills this week. But rubbing shoulders with a different crowd is the point of the freshman senator’s three-day swing through the Golden State,” Politico’s Scott Wong reports from Simi Valley, Calif. “The Florida Republican is out to prove he can appeal beyond the activist base, introducing himself to the state’s political and corporate elite, raising cash for his party from some of George W. Bush’s top donors, and paying homage to one of Republicans’ most venerable icons – Ronald Reagan. It’s the second act of a well-orchestrated national rollout that began this spring for Rubio, who insists he has no immediate national ambitions. But if the tea party favorite makes a strong debut and can win over establishment Republicans outside his home state, he could emerge an irresistible choice for the No. 2 spot on the GOP ticket in 2012. ‘Two words: vice president,’ Jack Pitney, a Claremont McKenna College political science professor, said of Rubio’s visit. ‘On the one hand, he wants to remain a favorite of the tea party faction. On the other hand, he wants to reassure the party establishment that he isn’t the warm-weather version of Sarah Palin.’”

…AND STEPS IN. From the AP: “Former first lady Nancy Reagan is said to be doing fine after stumbling as she was escorted into an event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley. KNBC-TV video shows the 90-year-old Reagan walking into the room on the arm of Florida Senator Marco Rubio Tuesday night when she apparently lost her balance. The crowd can be heard gasping as Rubio catches her before she falls to the floor. Several people in the crowd then swarm her, and Rubio and the others help her get to her seat.”

RUBIO ON V.P. SPECULATION: "The reality of it is I'm not going to be the vice-presidential nominee, but I look forward to working with, for whoever our nominee is.”

JEB BUSH MAKES NICE WITH PERRY CAMP. Since Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the presidential race much has been made of the similarities — and differences – between Perry and his predecessor in the Texas governor’s office, George W. Bush. There has been no love lost between the Perry and Bush camps in recent years with sparring among their top advisers and public criticism leveled against the former president’s record by Perry, himself. But when asked in an interview on Tuesday whether there was any pent up hostility between the two big Texas political families, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush insisted that there was not. “I’ve never heard anybody in my family say anything but good things about Rick Perry,” Bush told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. Cavuto noted that former top Bush adviser Karl Rove “didn’t waste a nanosecond” before criticizing Perry’s recent assertion that the actions of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke border on treason. “Karl probably would have said that if any candidate said it,” Bush said. So, is there any lingering friction between Rove and Perry? “Maybe with Karl,” Bush acknowledged, but added: “not with my brother, with my dad, not with me at all. I admire him. And I think Texas has got a great story and he can legitimately talk about that story as a candidate for president.”



@dgordon52: New ad by @DFAaction hits GOP for "killing the American Dream". Check it out: #p2

@ ThePlumLineGS: Rick Perry's campaign STILL struggling to define his position on repeal of 16th Amendment, flip-flops again:

@TheAtlantic: As Qaddafi falls, K Street lobbyists rush to make nice with #Libya's rebels

@ jameshohmann: Tito the Builder was the big loser in last night's Virginia state Senate primaries.

@HotlineReid: Levi Johnston has dropped his bid to become mayor of Wasilla. Tragic loss of a would-be public servant, clearly #HotlineSort



(all times local)

* Mitt Romney holds town hall meetings in Keene and Lebanon, N.H. today as well as a business roundtable in Claremont.

Gary Johnson breakfasts with voters in Newmarket, N.H., at 9 a.m. At 5 p.m., he visits Al's Gun and Reel Shop in Derry, then he hosts a "Get to Know Gary Johnson" Town Hall in Derry at 6 p.m.

Glenn Beck will hold a "Rally to Restore Courage" in Israel.

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