Can Rick Perry Get His Groove Back? (The Note)

VIDEO: John Berman reports on the GOP candidates meetings with the business mogul.

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

A CNN poll out yesterday that showed Rick Perry maintaining his lead in the GOP primary hasn’t stopped the hand-wringing by many GOP elites about Perry’s shaky debate performance last week. Nor has it helped ease the intense pressure many big Republican donors are putting on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to jump into the race.

So, what can Perry do to take the focus off his stumbling and back on his swagger?

Make It About Mitt: The Perry campaign can’t hope for Mitt Romney or his team to commit many unforced errors. Those folks in Boston are a very disciplined group. Instead, expect the Perry campaign to start a daily dose of attacks on Romney’s record. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce where these attacks will go. Romney’s biggest weakness is the perception that he’s an opportunist willing to change his mind and his positions as quickly as the political winds shift. I’d expect to see some examples of those policy shifts this week.

It’s The Economy Stupid: Perry’s greatest asset is his record of job creation in Texas. While that record is far from flawless, it’s the one thing he’s got that no one else has. But, Perry’s been talking about everything but jobs these days, getting caught up with Social Security, the HPV vaccine and illegal immigration. If he’s going to make this race about the economy and jobs, he needs to find a way to turn every issue into an economic one. For example, Perry needs to make the case for why his decision to allow children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition isn’t just compassionate, but it makes good economic sense too.

Get Specific: Romney has a 59-point jobs plan. Cain’s has his “9-9-9? plan for economic recovery. Perry needs to lay out something more than just rhetoric. He needs to explain to voters how success in Texas will be able to translate nationwide. Of course, the most important thing Perry can do is turn in a decent performance at the next scheduled debate on October 11 in New Hampshire. That, and a solid fundraising report on October 15.

But, those are still a long way away. Until then, he’s got to at least make some traction on the three points if he wants to try to get off his heels and back on offense.


CHRISTIE KEEPS EVERYONE GUESSING. As rumors that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is rethinking his unequivocal decision not to run for president continue to swirl, a New Jersey GOP source who attended a big Republican confab in the state last night tells The Note that about half the people in the room were convinced he’s running, while the other half are convinced he’s not. One thing is for sure, says this source, “Christie is having a lot of fun keeping people guessing.”

Meanwhile, Christie is scheduled to give a speech tonight at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. on the topic of leadership. The speech begins at 9 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Pacific.

And, as ABC’s Matthew Jaffe reports from Missouri, where Christie held fundraisers yesterday, a spokesman for New Jersey Republicans shot down speculation that Christie was reconsidering. “Governor Christie is flattered that his accomplishments in New Jersey have received so much support from voters across the country but nothing has changed with regards to the Governor’s decision not to run for President in 2012,” according to a statement from Rick Gorka, New Jersey’s GOP spokesman. But while the New Jersey Republican party sought to tamp down on the speculation, one top New Jersey Republican, former Governor Tom Kean, fueled it on Monday. “It’s real,” Kean said, according to National Journal. “He’s giving it a lot of thought. I think the odds are a lot better now than they were a couple weeks ago.” After three events in the St. Louis area yesterday and today — all closed to reporters — Christie heads to California before wrapping up his whirlwind tour later this week in Louisiana.


THE TRUMP PRIMARY. ABC’s Emily Friedman filed this dispatch from outside Trump Tower in New York City yesterday: “It was perhaps the least-televised meeting Donald Trump has ever had. GOP candidate Mitt Romney managed to sneak in — and out — of a much talked-about meeting with The Donald this afternoon in midtown Manhattan, disappointing a scrum of reporters anxiously awaiting the governor’s arrival. There was no pizza (Sarah Palin got a trip to a pizza parlor when she met with Trump in May) and there was no table at Jean-Georges, where Texas Gov. Rick Perry was treated to fancy fare at the restaurant last week. There wasn’t much of anything, other than a Romney aide’s pacing the street in front of Trump Tower, appearing to be looking for Romney’s motorcade. There were also the hurried phone calls made by the aide, appearing to be checking on the arrival time to warn the press that Romney was close. But his motorcade never showed, and nor did Romney, at least not in front of the glare of the media cameras, poised for action.”

TRUMP SPEAKS: “Both Governor Romney and I very much enjoyed the meeting. Many things were discussed of national and international interest. We both look forward to future meetings,” Trump said in a statement to ABC News after his meeting with the former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate.

And ABC’s John Berman weighed in on the Tour De Trump on “Good Morning America” today. Why are so many presidential candidates flocking to New York to kiss The Donald’s ring?

ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Amy Walter and Zach Wolf interview former Rep. Martin Frost, D-Tex. Also on the program The Brookings Institution’s Carol Graham, author of “The Pursuit of Happiness.” Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.


GEITHNER: WHAT IF ‘GOVERNMENT DOES NOTHING’? Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner didn’t dispute a Harvard economist’s estimate that each job in the White House’s jobs plan would cost $200,000, but said the pricetag is the wrong way to measure the bill’s worth. And he also pointed out, in an interview today with ABC News’ David Muir, that there is no other option on the table for getting the economy moving and putting more people back to work. “You’ve got to think about the costs of the alternatives,” Geithner said when asked about Harvard economist Martin Feldstein’s calculation that each job created by President Obama’s American Jobs Act would cost taxpayers about $200,000. “If government does nothing, it does nothing now because they’re scared by politics or they want to debate what’s perfect, then there will be fewer Americans back to work, the economy will be weaker,” he said.


WHITE HOUSE WATCH: HEADING FOR THE ROCKIES. From ABC’s Mary Bruce: President Obama wakes up in Los Angeles this morning and will spend the final day of his three-day western swing in Denver. Obama will continue to promote his $447 billion jobs bill at Abraham Lincoln High School, where he will focus on investments to modernize the nation’s schools. While the president carried Colorado by 9 percentage points in 2008, his support in the swing state might be waning. Today marks Obama’s first visit during the 2012 campaign season to the once-predictably red state; his last visit to Colorado was in February 2010. Obama will return to the White House later this evening.

RE-ELECTION WATCH: “Stephanie Cutter, one of President Obama’s top White House advisers, will be leaving her post before the end of the year to assume a new role as deputy campaign manager of Obama for America in Chicago,” a campaign official told ABC News, Devin Dwyer reports. “Cutter, a veteran communications manager who helped shape the administration’s 2009 strategy for health care reform, will work closely with campaign manager Jim Messina to oversee communications, messaging, policy and research through 2012. The high-profile departure comes as Obama’s advisory team fills more top staff posts and expands state-by-state operations in anticipation of an accelerating campaign early next year.”

ON THE WHITE HOUSE T.V.: Here’s what President Obama had to say about what the First Lady and the Obama girls like to watch at home: “Michelle and the girls love them some Modern Family. They love that show,” Obama said at a fundraiser in Los Angeles last night.



SOLYNDRA DEBACLE: ‘COMPLETELY PREDICTABLE’? “Long before the politically connected California solar firm Solyndra went bankrupt, President Obama was warned by his top economic advisors about the financial and political risks of the Energy Department loan guarantee program that boosted the company’s rapid ascent,” reports the Los Angeles Times’ Tom Hamburger, Kim Geiger and Matea Gold. “At a White House meeting in late October, Lawrence H. Summers, then director of the National Economic Council, and Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, expressed concerns that the selection process for federal loan guarantees wasn’t rigorous enough and raised the risk that funds could be going to the wrong companies, including ones that didn’t need the help. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, also at the meeting, had a different view. Under pressure from Congress to speed up the loans, he wanted less scrutiny from the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget, or OMB. The divisions foreshadowed a question that has emerged since Solyndra’s bankruptcy: Was the program’s vetting process thorough enough? … ‘It was completely predictable that there would be a colossal failure among the bets,’ said one person familiar with the internal debate.”

MEET THE ‘DRAFT CHRISTIE’ COMMITTEE. “They are rich. They are unattached. They are looking for a little excitement. Meet the Draft Christie committee, a small but influential group of Republican-leaning donors and activists, many based in New York, united by a shared desire to see Gov.  Chris Christie of New Jersey run for president,” writes The New York Times’ Nicholas Confessore. “There is Kenneth G. Langone, the billionaire Home Depot founder who is perhaps Mr. Christie’s most fervent booster; Paul E. Singer, the publicity-shy hedge fund magnate and Republican activist who is among the most-sought-after Republican donors in the country; and David H. Koch, the industrialist, Tea Party benefactor and, according to Forbes, the richest man in New York. Charles R. Schwab, the personal investment guru, is also among those who have shown interest in seeing a Christie presidential bid, according to published reports and people familiar with the discussions, as is the financier Stanley F. Drucknmiller. So are the hedge fund managers David Tepper and Daniel S. Loeb, a onetime supporter of President Obama. In recent months, Christie enthusiasts have lighted up the phone lines between Manhattan and Trenton trying to persuade the governor to enter the Republican field amid growing concern about the current contenders.”

ROMNEY RAISES BIG ON WALL STREET. “Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has raised more than twice as much money from Wall Street as Barack Obama – an edge gained in part by luring away at least 100 donors, mostly investors, who backed the president in 2008, according to a Bloomberg News analysis,” Bloomberg’s Lisa Lerer and Jonathan Salant report. “The former Obama donors are helping the former Massachusetts governor lock up Wall Street dollars as Romney races to financially outpace primary rival Texas Governor Rick Perry in advance of the Sept. 30 third quarter deadline for campaign fundraising. … While Romney works the financial services industry, Perry is picking up support from prominent Republicans who had planned to back Republican Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, had he run. Perry and Romney are holding competing fundraisers today, as they try to bank closing cash for reports that historically have established the candidate pecking order in the run-up to the early primaries or driven some hopefuls from the race.”

FRED THOMPSON ON PERRY: ‘THERE’S NO OFF BROADWAY.’ The Washington Examiner’s Chief Political Correspondent Byron York gets Fred Thompson’s take on Rick Perry: “The last Republican who was a late entrant to the presidential race was former Sen. Fred Thompson, who declared his candidacy on Sept. 5, 2007. Coming in as a front-runner after months of buildup, Thompson’s campaign experienced difficulties from the very beginning, and the media glare seemed to exaggerate even the smallest problems. Thompson finished third in Iowa, sixth in New Hampshire, and left the race after a third-place finish in South Carolina. ‘There’s no off-Broadway,’ Thompson says as he recalls the campaign’s early days. ‘It’s all compressed. You don’t get a chance to knock the rough edges off.’  Starting late brought a variety of troubles. ‘If you as a candidate have not spent the last year or two putting together your organization and lining up the key people, that’s a problem,’ says Thompson. ‘It’s not a date on the calendar as much as it is what you’ve done over the previous year. By definition, a person who is getting in late and making up his mind late has not done some of those things.’”

PALIN THREATENS TO SUE. Sarah Palin’s family attorney John Tiemessen has written a letter to Maya Mavjee, the publisher of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, that Palin may sue her, the company, and the book’s author Joe McGinniss “for knowingly publishing false statements” in his book released last week, “The Rogue,” ABC News has learned, according to Shushannah Walshe and Jonathan Karl. “The book was widely panned by critics for using unnamed sources to criticize Palin and her family. Tiemessen cites an email they have access to in which McGinniss writes that attorneys from Crown Publishing told him “nothing I can cite other than my own reporting rises above the level of tawdry gossip. The proof is always just around the corner, but that is a corner nobody has been able to turn” and that McGinniss “ran out of time” to sufficiently source the book. A source close to the Palins tells ABC News that the “Palins are fighting back and demanding answers from Random House.”


RICK SANTORUM’S IOWA STRATEGY. Santorum has essentially moved to Iowa, and he hopes that some big moments at recent debates in Florida and South Carolina — along with his strong social conservative credentials — will start a brushfire of support in the plains, much like it did for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee four years ago. … “There’s no question that doubts have been raised about Michele [Bachmann] and her electability, and certainly we clearly benefit from that,” Santorum said. “We are picking up people, not just [Tim] Pawlenty people in Iowa, but also folks who had supported Bachmann and we know that folks, even some of her key people are coming to talk to us, let’s put it that way.” Santorum says his approach to the Hawkeye state is “slow and steady,” and he’s intent on surprising the country — as Mike Huckabee did in 2008 — and winning the Iowa caucuses.  He says the narrative of a two-man race, which Santorum sees as “the media shoving down their [voters'] throat[s]” is now out the window with Herman Cain’s win in Florida adding the GOP electorate has problems with Romney’s “lack of consistent conservatism.”

–Shushannah Walshe

CAIN’S ALL ABOUT THE 9-9-9. Call him the 9-9-9 candidate. That’s his economic plan, and he says it — 9-9-9 — just about every time he gets a chance to speak at a debate or during an interview, drilling it in like an ad jingle. … Praised by supporters for both its simplicity and its specificity, Cain’s plan drops the current 35 percent corporate tax rate to 9 percent, swaps the 6-bracket personal income tax system for a 9 percent flat tax and creates a 9 percent national sales tax. “Our tax code is the 21st century version of slavery,” Cain said in a campaign video publicizing his 9-9-9 plan. “We will replace oppression with prosperity.”

–Amy Bingham

BACHMANN: ‘WE CAN TURN THINGS AROUND’ With her poll numbers plunging to the point that pundits are now questioning her relevance in the GOP race, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann tonight defended her chances and questioned rival Rick Perry’s support after his rocky debate performance last week. “Sure, we can turn things around,” Bachmann told Bill O’Reilly from Iowa in an appearance on FOX News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.” “I won the Iowa straw poll. We had a wonderful response with that. Then, of course, Gov. Perry came into the race and there was an assumption that he was going to walk away with the nomination, but now there’s a re-look at that. People are looking after the debate and they’re saying that they think now they need to look for their champion and I am the constitutional conservative in this race and I’m running to be the people’s champion and their voice in the White House.

–Matthew Jaffe

JON STEWART’S ADVICE FOR RON PAUL. “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart offered some advice tonight to Rep. Ron Paul on how he can gain traction with the media: become a flip-flopper. Stewart also suggests gaining several hundred pounds and renting a really swanky tour bus. The comedian was obviously poking fun at all the gushing media attention paid to Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, and Sarah Palin while virtually ignoring Paul’s perennial third place in national poll. Despite that, Paul remains upbeat. “I believe we are on an explosion of interest,” said Paul. The U.S. Congressman from Texas was marking his first appearance this campaign season on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

–Jason Volack



@ reidepstein : Texas Lt Gov David Dewhurst — running for US Senate — says he wouldn’t have signed immigrant tuition law.

@ mattyglesias : Great piece by  @RyanGrim on what’s likely to actually happen when the Supercommittee deadlocks:

@ cbellantoni : While you slept, the Senate designated 2011 as the “International Year of Chemistry.” Oh, & they struck a deal on the CR.

@ KatrinaTrinko : Romney camp releases video comparing Perry’s immigration stance to Obama’s, Dem. MD. gov. O’Malley’s:

@ RealClearScott : “Just because Trump has the biggest ring, doesn’t mean it deserves to be kissed.”



* Mitt Romney holds fundraisers in New York City.

* Rick Perry holds fundraisers in Baltimore and Washington, DC.

* New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks at the Perspectives on Leadership Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. at 6 p.m.

* At noon, Ron Paul holds a town hall at Northeast Iowa Community College in Dubuque, Iowa. At 2 p.m., he holds a town hall at the Technology Center in Clinton. At 4 p.m., he holds a town hall in Muscatine, and at 6 p.m., Paul attends the Story County Republicans Chili Supper in Nevada, Iowa.

The Note Futures Calendar:


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