LOS ANGELES — It was Texas Gov. Rick Perry who said he kind of felt “like a piñata” at last night’s presidential debate as rivals swatted at him repeatedly, but President Obama took a beating too.
“Americans are focused on the right issue, and that is, who on this stage can get America working?” Perry said at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. “Because we know for a fact the resident of the White House cannot.”
“He doesn’t have a clue how to get this country working again,” rival Mitt Romney added.
And, at a debate where the candidates spent as much time contrasting their own records as they did attacking the president, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich reminded Republicans to keep their eye on Public Enemy No. 1.
Gingrich urged his fellow candidates to “repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other to protect Barack Obama, who deserves to be defeated.”
Today President Obama, in an address to a joint session of Congress, will try to wrest the jobs narrative away from the Republicans.
ABC News’s Ann Compton reports that the president will do more than call for job creation, he will announce he is sending actual legislation to Congress.
“The President will unveil tonight The American Jobs Act,” White House Communications director Dan Pfeiffer told ABC News, “a plan of bipartisan ideas to create jobs right now and is fully paid for.” http://abcn.ws/pVLy9e
(President Obama’s speech is set to begin at 7 p.m. ET.)
But, as we noted earlier this week, he is going to have his work cut out for him — not only breaking through as the GOP presidential candidates attack him every day on the campaign trail, but also convincing the public that he is setting the right course for economic recovery.
An ABC News-Washington Post poll released earlier this week found that just 43 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president with 53 percent disapproving. Meanwhile, 62 percent of Americans say they disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy, including 47 percent who do so “strongly.”
As the New York Times’ Helene Cooper notes this morning, “By proposing a jobs package filled with items that Republicans have supported in the past, President Obama is betting that moderate and independent voters he so desperately needs in next year’s elections will flock to his camp. The trouble is, Mr. Obama has been pursuing those voters for much of the past two years, and they have continued to drift away.” http://nyti.ms/ppFDFd
BOTTOM LINE: The issue isn’t who has the “better” or most-detailed jobs plan but instead it’s about who can gain the confidence of the American public that they can actually get something done. Obama’s advantage is that he remains personally well-liked. But, another bruising fight with Congress over jobs legislation isn’t going to instill confidence in the public that he’s getting us on a path to recovery.
On “Good Morning America” today, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos spoke with White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley on the jobs plan the president plans to unveil. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/ngIfxu
DEBATE POST-GAME: WHO GOT THE UPPER HAND? ABC News Political Director Amy Walter finds that in the two-way match-up between Perry and Romney, the latter came out the winner: “Romney was confident and solid throughout the entirety of the debate, a benefit of being a two-time presidential candidate. He stuck to his strong points – economy and jobs – deftly sidestepped his weakness — healthcare — and took advantage of stumbles made by his main opponent Rick Perry. Perry’s first outing on the GOP debate stage was decent, but inconsistent. He was like a boxer who comes out strong for the first two rounds, but then runs out of stamina by the later rounds. His attacks on Romney’s record of job creation in Massachusetts during the first few minutes of the debate were sharp and crisp. But, when it came to defending his own statements on Social Security and climate change later in the debate he floundered.” http://abcn.ws/rhpIbp
EXCHANGE OF THE NIGHT: THE PERRY, ROMNEY SHOW. Early in last night’s debate, Perry charged that while Romney did a “great job of creating jobs in the private sector,” his record as governor did not match. “As a matter of fact, we created more jobs in the last three months in Texas than he created in the four years in Massachusetts,” Perry said, adding an even sharper accusation: “Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt.” But Romney came prepared to give as good as he got, implying that Perry could not claim sole credit for Texas’ job creation record, which is a centerpiece of the governor’s pitch to Republican voters. “States are different. Texas is a great state. Texas has zero income tax, Texas is a right to work state, a Republican legislature, a Republican Supreme Court,” Romney said. “Texas has a lot of oil and gas in the ground, those are wonderful things, but the governor doesn’t believe he created those things. If he tried to say that, it’d be like Al Gore saying he created the Internet.” Perry endorsed Al Gore for President in 1988, back when he was a Democrat. But Romney didn’t stop there, retaliating at Perry for his accusation that Dukakis, the former Democratic governor of Massachusetts, was a more effective job creator: “George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, governor,” Romney said. “That’s not correct,” Perry shot back. “That is correct,” Romney insisted. http://abcn.ws/pb6jxp
WHERE WAS BACHMANN? ABC’s Matthew Jaffe notes that while Congresswoman Michele Bachmann dominated the past two debates, she appeared to recede in to the background last night in Simi Valley: “It seemed, she was relegated to the second tier of candidates. The focus of the debate was clearly Perry vs. Mitt Romney. From the start, Bachmann was more low-key than she has been in the past. She did not utter a single word for nearly the first quarter of an hour. When she did speak, she did not engage the other candidates, making no attempt to go after Perry, Romney or others. All in all, it was a marked change from her aggressive stance at the previous debates, especially her display in Iowa when she repeatedly went toe to toe with rival Tim Pawlenty. And whereas on that August night her campaign furiously churned out press releases and opposition research, tonight her staff only sent out one solitary email, on her energy stance.” http://abcn.ws/q8GK15
CAN HUNTSMAN BREAK THROUGH? “Jon Huntsman might have just shrugged off his summer-long jet lag,” the National Journal’s Alex Roarty writes. “The former ambassador to China had his best moment of an otherwise struggling campaign Wednesday night: He was the only candidate on stage able to go toe-to-toe with front-runners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, trading blows with the two heavyweights not as an underdog but as their equal. Gone was the candidate who once promised civility — a strategy that got his campaign nowhere — replaced with one who taunted that he has a better conservative record than his rivals and the best chance to defeat President Obama next year. It took all of one question for Huntsman to erase doubts he wasn’t ready for his big moment. He blasted his chief opponent before pivoting to highlight his own background in business, as governor, and diplomat. ‘To my good friend, Mitt, 47 just ain’t going to cut it, my friend, not when you can be first,’ said Huntsman. The number refers to what some commentators have said was Massachusetts’ ranking among the states for job creation during the four years Romney served as governor.” http://bit.ly/ptBmLp
ABC’s Jonathan Karl reviews the candidates’ performances at last night’s debate in Simi Valley: http://abcn.ws/n0o4PJ
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE. ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter interview presidential candidate Thaddeus McCotter. The Republican Congressman from Michigan was shut out of last night’s debate. Also on the program, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who will weigh on President Obama’s jobs speech. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc
DICK CHENEY HAS HIS EYE ON HILLARY CLINTON. Hillary Clinton for president? ”So far she hasn’t said she would, but I think it’s not a bad idea,” former Vice President Dick Cheney told ABC’s Jonathan Karl in an interview on Wednesday to promote his new book “In My Time.” Cheney declined to say whether he thought the current Secretary of State would have been a better president than Barack Obama, but called her a “pretty formidable individual.” “I think she’s probably the most competent person they’ve got in their- in their cabinet. And- frankly, I thought she was gonna win the nomination last time around,” Cheney said. “Maybe if- the Obama record is bad enough- and these days it’s not very good, given the shape of the economy maybe there will be enough ferment- in the Democratic Party so that there will be a primary on their side.” http://abcn.ws/p7f3at
ON THE HILL. ABC’s Sunlen Miller notes: At 10:30am the supercommittee will hold its first full hearing. There will be opening statements and then a discussion largely about the rules and process of the committee
SUPERCOMMITTE: BUYER’S REMORSE? “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and other Democrats are experiencing some buyer’s remorse about creating the bipartisan supercommittee that is tasked with reducing the nation’s debt level,” writes The Hill’s Alexander Bolton. “The dim view of the panel held by Democrats reflects their reservations about cutting hundreds of billions of dollars in spending at a time when many on the left think the government should open its wallet to create jobs. Reid on Wednesday said he spent the first part of the August recess calling Democratic colleagues to hear their opinions about the supercommittee. He said the conversations were sufficiently negative that he began to have second thoughts about proposing the supercommittee earlier this summer. ‘I was making scores of phone calls, talking to senators, Democratic senators, about this supercommittee,’ Reid said. ‘So [after] the first week or so of that, I was not sure it was a good idea to do the supercommittee, but I’ve done it.’ But Reid quickly added that he felt reassured after selecting Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to sit on the panel. Other Democratic lawmakers are not optimistic that the bipartisan supercommittee will reach a deal.” http://bit.ly/q5R5m7
@stephenfhayes: Does Mitt Romney’s response, and the political upside he sees, ensure that he will not offer a detailed Social Security reform proposal?
(all times local)
* President Obama addresses a joint session of Congress at 7 p.m.
* Rick Perry holds a meet-and-greet in Orange County, Calif. at 11 .m.
* Newt Gingrich hosts a town hall meeting to discuss President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress in Henniker, N.H., at 7:30 p.m.
* Herman Cain stops by the Tea Party Express Bus Tour at noon in Greenville, S.C. At 4 p.m., he attends the World Magazine Presidential Forum in Asheville, N.C.
The Note Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV
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