More Swings At The Perry Piñata (The Note)

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

Here’s what we learned from last night’s Republican presidential debate:

Rick Perry is going to continue to be the 2012 field’s biggest punching bag for the foreseeable future. Mitt Romney is going to try to land as many of those punches as possible. And Michele Bachmann isn’t just going to fade away while Romney and Perry turn this thing into a two-person contest.

Here’s what we still don’t know:

Will Perry’s obvious vulnerability on issues like Social Security and the HPV vaccine cause him irreparable damage? Will Romney’s electability-centered arguments mean much to the Republican primary electorate? Will Bachmann’s performance have any effect on her standing in the polls?

The Minnesota congresswoman’s weakness has been her inability to prove she can expand her appeal beyond her Tea Party base. This debate only reinforced that perception. Meanwhile, Perry is learning why it’s no fun being the frontrunner. He was under attack from all sides.

Romney dismissed Perry’s success as a job creator in Texas, suggesting that it had more to do with luck than skillful governing.

“If you’re dealt four aces, that doesn’t necessarily make you a great poker player,” Romney said.

Bachmann accused him of endangering the lives of “innocent little 12-year-old girls” by issuing an executive order — later overturned by the Texas legislature — requiring young women to receive inoculations against a virus that can lead to cervical cancer.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum added, “This is big government run amok. It is bad policy, and it should not have been done.”

The Perry campaign sent out no fewer than seven “Setting the Record Straight” statements last night on everything from immigration policy to health care.

The Tea Party crowd in Tampa initially stood behind the Texas Governor, cheering him on during his defense of his jobs record and Social Security positioning. But as the debate wore on, Perry was clearly exhausted by having to play defense for almost two hours and the crowd seemed to tire of him too.

The question now is how much more pummeling can the Texas Governor take before it starts to take a toll? There’s another debate in Florida just over a week from today. Can Perry get back on offense during that one?

Romney, meanwhile was speaking beyond the room. His attacks on Perry’s record on job creation, at times, fell flat — even eliciting a few boos among the audience. However, as one GOP strategist put it, the former Massachusetts governor may still have “a problem on the right,” he “escaped with a clean jersey” last night. (More analysis from ABC Political Director Amy Walter:

ABC’s John Berman recaps last night’s Tea Party debate in Tampa on “Good Moring America.” WATCH:

IS NY-9 ANOTHER REFERENDUM ON OBAMA? Today’s election in New York’s 9th congressional district has Republican Bob Turner facing off against Democrat David Weprin, but on the campaign trail Monday in Queens the words Obama and Israel were heard almost as much as Turner and Weprin,” ABC’s News’ Shushannah Walshe reports from Forest Hills, N.Y. “The race to replace former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner is too close to call, with Republicans trying to frame the contest as a referendum on President Barack Obama — although turnout is usually low in a special election — and Turner and his supporters are hoping to send a message to the White House on both economic and foreign policy issues. Weprin, a state assemblyman campaigned at a senior center, held a rally at his Forest Hills headquarters and greeted voters at a subway stop, while Turner — a retired media executive — held a rally with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. At both events the issue of Israel, as well as the economy, was the focus of the candidates and their supporters. Weprin is an Orthodox Jew, while Turner is an observant Catholic, and both groups are heavily represented in the district. Despite being a heavily Democratic district, Israel has become one of the biggest issues in the race for Jewish voters who are upset at President Obama’s call to return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Giuliani, standing with Turner outside the Forest Hills train station, spent a large portion of his comments talking about Israel. He said a Turner victory would have the White House ‘thinking about a new policy with regard to the state of Israel.’”

OBAMA: ON THE ROAD AGAIN. President Obama will continue selling his $447 billion jobs bill to the American people today with a visit to Columbus Ohio, where he will highlight his proposals to rebuild and modernize schools, ABC’s Mary Bruce reports. The president’s trip to House Speaker John Boehner’s home state carries political implications as well. Today’s visit to the swing state comes just four days after Obama visited House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s district in Richmond, Va. Tomorrow, the president heads to the battleground state of North Carolina to pitch his jobs plan in Raleigh-Durham.

BOTTOM LINE: Even as Obama makes his jobs pitch this week his unpopularity is a big factor in New York’s 9th district. If he can’t sell in New York, how can he sell in Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina? To be sure, this is just a snapshot in time. But at this point the picture is this: Obama is drag on Democrats, even in blue Congressional districts.


DEBATE SPIN ROOM. With reporting from ABC’s Matthew Jaffe in Tampa, Fla.

 “If you watched tonight’s Republican debate, you saw Rick Perry defend his decision to mandate a vaccine for young girls through an executive order while he was governor of Texas. As a mother, I have raised three biological daughters and 23 foster daughters, and I believe taking away a parent’s right to direct the health care of their children is flat out wrong. It’s a violation of liberty and everything you and I stand for.”

–Michele Bachmann in a post-debate fundraising e-mail with the subject line, “I’m offended”

“I don’t think any Republican candidate should be engaging in the same kind of demagoguery, the same kinds of negative political attacks we would expect to see from the Democratic Party.”

–Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who endorsed Rick Perry before the debate on Monday

“The media is attempting to boil this down to a two or three-person race. That’s what the media is trying to do. … However, I know first-hand that the American people aren’t going to allow the media to pick the next nominee or I wouldn’t be getting the reception that I get all over this country.” –Presidential candidate Herman Cain

“While others on the stage evaded the tough questions and pandered for votes, Jon spoke directly and truthfully to the American people on issues like the national debt, jobs and Afghanistan. Voters may not agree with Governor Huntsman on every issue, but you’ll always know where he stands.”

–Huntsman campaign manager Matt David in a post-debate e-mail message

If you care about making sure that we help the middle class, help working families, create jobs, and get our economy turned around, you didn’t hear anything from any of these candidates tonight except more worship at the altar of the Tea Party.”

–Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz


David Axelrod on the GOP candidates: None “have much to say.” President Obama’s top political strategist discusses GOP front-runners on “Good Morning America.” WATCH:


ABC EXCLUSIVE: GABBY GIFFORDS. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Space Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly will share their remarkable story for the first time since the tragic shootings in Tucson, Arizona in January. In a broadcast exclusive, Diane Sawyer will chronicle Giffords’ courageous, step-by-step journey to recovery from her near fatal injury, with her husband by her side. The broadcast will also document the couple’s courtship, marriage, and extraordinary careers in public service. The Diane Sawyer special will air on Monday, November 14 at 10:00 PM ET on the ABC Television Network. The broadcast will air in conjunction with the publication of ”Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope,” a memoir by Congresswoman Giffords and Mark Kelly, co-written by Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow. The memoir is being published by Scribner on November 15, 2011.


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE. ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter interview Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, with President Obama in her state to promote his jobs proposal. Also on the program, Jessica Taylor, politics reporter for the National Journal, previews today’s special elections in New York and Arizona. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.



PALIN SPEAKS. Sarah Palin is still not ready to reveal whether she’ll get into the presidential race, and though she’s said in the past that she’s happy with the current Republican field, following last night’s debate, she voiced a dissatisfaction with the current crop of GOP contenders,” reports ABC’s Sheila Marikar. “‘They haven’t tackled debt and deficit spending to the degree that they should, so they don’t have a record to stand on,’ Palin said of the GOP candidates on Greta Van Susteren’s Fox News show, immediately following the Republican presidential debate in Tampa, Fla., Palin is a paid contributor for Fox News. Despite her misgivings, Palin stood up for one candidate: Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who during the debate criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry for allowing a state law that required HPV vaccinations for adolescent girls. According to Bachmann, Perry supported the legislation because one of his top staffers was a lobbyist for Merck, the drug company that manufactured the vaccine. Merck also donated to Perry’s gubernatorial campaign. ‘I knew there was something to it,’ Palin said about discovering that Perry had approved the use of the vaccine. ‘Now we’re finding that now, yeah, something was up with that issue. It was an illustration or bit of evidence of some crony capitalism.’”

@ JasonEmbry : One of Hutchison’s main criticisms of Perry was that his HPV vaccine was cronyism. Palin campaigned for Perry in that race.

ARIZONA SETS A DATE. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has set Feb. 28 as the date of her state’s presidential primary. No surprise here as Brewer had indicated she was interested in moving Arizona ahead in the primary process, ABC’s Political Director Amy Walter notes. While this does not threaten the status of the four officially sanctioned “early states” — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — it does violate Republican National Committee rules that no other state can hold a primary in the month of February. The penalty for the violation: a loss of half of Arizona’s delegates to the Republican convention. Arizona’s decision is also likely to spur some other states that have been itching to move up in the calendar to schedule their primaries in mid to late February.  One possible scenario would be Iowa on Feb 6, New Hampshire on Feb 14, South Carolina and Nevada on Feb 18 and Arizona on the 28th with states like Florida, Georgia, and Michigan coming in sometime between Feb 18 and 28. Another scenario posted by Davidson College political scientist and obsessive GOP primary watcher/analyst Josh Putnam is this: January 30: Iowa; February 7: New Hampshire; February 11: Nevada; February 18: South Carolina; February 21: Florida, Georgia; February 28: Arizona, Michigan. Either way, it’s clear that the primary calendar remains fluid. However, it looks likely that the process will start later than it did in 2008, when the Iowa caucus was held just two days after New Year’s.

NEVADANS GO TO THE POLLS. “Voters in a rural Nevada district are electing a new member to the U.S. House,” write Real Clear Politics’ Cristina Silva And Sandra Chereb. “Results of the state’s first special election to fill a House vacancy are expected to be released after the polls close Tuesday night. The winner will replace former Rep. Dean Heller, who was appointed to the Senate in May after Republican John Ensign resigned amid a sex scandal. Republican Mark Amodei and Democrat Kate Marshall are the top candidates to beat. Also on the ballot are Tim Fasano, the Independent American Party candidate, and Helmuth Lehmann, an independent businessman who gathered signatures to get on the ballot. The GOP-leaning district, which includes northern Nevada and a slice of Clark County in the south, has never elected a Democrat. Of the more than 75,000 people who cast a ballot in the early voting period, at least 40,000 were Republicans. That made Amodei the perceived front-runner as Election Day began.”

ABOUT THAT REVOLVING DOOR. Nearly 5,400 former congressional staffers have left Capitol Hill to become federal lobbyists in the past 10 years, according to a new study that documents the extent of the revolving door between Congress and K Street,” reports the Washington Post’s T.W. Farnam. “The data published by the online disclosure site LegiStorm found close to 400 former U.S. lawmakers also have made the jump to lobbying. The report, which tallies a greater number of workers moving between Congress and lobbying than found in previous studies, underscores the symbiotic relationship: Thousands of lobbyists are able to exploit experience and connections gleaned from working inside the legislative process, and lawmakers find in lobbyists a ready pool of experienced talent. Of the 5,400 lobbyists with recent Hill experience, the study found that 2,900 were registered to lobby on behalf of clients this year. Twenty-five powerhouse firms and organizations employ 10 or more former Hill workers. The largest number are at the Podesta Group, followed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which employs at least 21.”


Jim Manley , former chief spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, begins a new job at the Washington, DC firm of Quinn Gillespie this week. Manley will be senior director and work with John Feehry and his team to build the firm’s public affairs practice. Manley tells the Note, With 21 years in the Senate under my belt, I will of course be helping the government relations team as well with strategic advice as well.” Earlier in his career, he spent more than a decade in the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Office. Manley worked for two majority leaders — George Mitchell and, most recently, Reid. “I had the luxury of taking my time once I left,” Manley said, “but good things come to those that wait.”

Teddy Davis , former ABC Deputy Political Director who most recently worked for the Service Employees International Union in Southern California, starts a new job today as press secretary for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Villaraigosa is also the head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Facebook’s DC Office is ramping up its policy team to ensure they “have the resources in place to demonstrate to policymakers that we are industry leaders in privacy, data security and safety. … Erin Egan will join Facebook in mid-October as Senior Policy Advisor and Director of Privacy. Erin is widely recognized and respected as a leading privacy and data security lawyer. She is currently a partner and co-chair of Covington & Burling’s Global Privacy and Data Security practice group … Louisa Terrell will join Facebook at the beginning of October as a Director of Public Policy. Most recently, Louisa was Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs at the White House where she helped develop legislative strategy and guide President Obama’s agenda in the U.S. Senate.”



@ waltershapiroPD : This was the “Not So Fast, Governor Perry” debate in which all of Perry’s vulnerabilities were on display. My latest:

@ TimAlbrechtIA : Perry will never have an easy debate. The Romney rapid response/research team is the best there is.

@ Kennedy_School : Anchor Christiane Amanpour talks about public service and Harvard Kennedy School.  #hks75

@ AriFleischer : On my way 2vote in NY GOP primary, I passed a wild turkey on my road. Reflection on candidates, or a sign I need a drink?

@ timkmak : LUXURIOUS: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iranian prisons “like staying in a hotel”



(all times local)

Jon Huntsman speaks at a town hall at New England College in Henniker, N.H., at 6:30 p.m.

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