Obama: Buttering Up The Base, Expanding The Map (The Note)

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

Isn’t it ironic?

The candidate who ran against the war in Iraq and for a “post-partisan” political atmosphere is now the president who killed Osama bin Laden and, as of today, Anwar al-Awlaki, but who is presiding over one of the most poisonous and partisan political climates we’ve seen in recent times.

And the atmosphere is just as toxic for his chances of winning a second term. The New York Times’ Jackie Calmes and Mark Landler report today that the Obama campaign is “charting an alternative course to re-election.”

“There are a lot of ways for us to get to 270, and it’s not just the traditional map,” David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist told The Times. “That’s why we’re laying the groundwork across the country to compete on the widest possible playing field next year.” http://nyti.ms/nv3ncK

Calmes and Landler write that Obama will be “fighting hard for Southern and Rocky Mountain states he won in 2008, and some he did not.”

But, for a reality check, the Republican pollster Glen Bolger responds to new Census data that shows the economic downturn has  landed “some of the heaviest blows…on states that may loom the largest in the 2012 presidential election,” as the National Journal’s Ronald Brownstein and  Scott Bland put it. http://bit.ly/mWmB0c

“It will force him to play defense and put into play states that he didn’t expect to have to defend,” Bolger said of Obama re-election strategy.

And even today’s killing of the terrorist leader al-Awlaki is unlikely to give Obama much of a political boost. Killing bin Laden gave the president just a nominal — and short lived — bump in the polls.

Also confronting the president is a base as demoralized as we’ve seen in at least the last 11 years. According to new Gallup numbers, 45 percent of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic say they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual, while nearly as many, 44 percent, are less enthusiastic. http://abcn.ws/qojNeG

This “enthusiasm gap” has been evident for some time now. It was as a major factor in the Democrats’ loss in the special election to replace Rep. Anthony Weiner in New York City. These numbers may explain why President Obama has been spending more time courting/shoring/imploring his base

Once a GOP nominee emerges that’ll do more to energize Democrats than anything Obama can do.


TERRORIST NOTCHES IN OBAMA’S BELT. ABC’s Jake Tapper points out: “The list of senior terrorists killed during the Obama presidency is fairly extensive. There’s Osama bin Laden,  of course. Anwar al-Awlaki as of today. Earlier this month officials confirmed that al Qaeda’s chief of Pakistan operations, Abu Hafs al-Shahri, was killed in Waziristan, Pakistan. In August, ’Atiyah ‘Abd al-Rahman,  the deputy leader of al Qaeda was killed. In June, one of the group’s most dangerous commanders, Ilyas Kashmiri,  was killed. In May, al Qaeda’s number three commander, Sheik Saeed al-Masriwas killed.” And the list goes on and on… “Remember when Rudy Giuliani warned that electing Barack Obama would mean that the U.S. played defense, not offense, against the terrorists? If this is defense, what does offense look like?” http://abcn.ws/pQrfQZ



CHRISTIE ‘SWAYED’? Gov. Chris Christie is seriously rethinking his months of denials and may launch a campaign for the White House after all, a source close to the governor said tonight,” reports the Newark Star-Ledger. “In the last week, Christie has been swayed away from his earlier refusals to run by an aggressive draft effort from a cadre of Republicans and donors unhappy with the GOP field, said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity. Christie has a small window of opportunity to make his final decision, and some political experts think he has only days to declare.”

STEERS CLEAR OF PRESIDENTIAL TALK. At his second and last public event of his four-day fundraising swing across the country, Christie told a crowd in Louisiana on Thursday that it has been a “really special week.” “I’ve had a slow week,” Christie joked. “I’ve been very low key. You haven’t seen me around at all.” As he contemplates whether to jump into the 2012 presidential race, Christie appeared at a rally in Baton Rouge to support Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s re-election effort. He referred to his speech on Tuesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California where several members of the audience begged him to run. He did not mention those who offered up their pleas, but he did fondly recall the time he spent that night with Nancy Reagan. Christie called her “a woman who continues to be inspirational.” Less inspirational, Christie said on Thursday, is President Barack Obama. “If you’re looking for leadership in America, you know you’re not going to find it in the Oval Office,” Christie said. “You’re finding leadership in America in the statehouses — with 29 Republican governors — in the statehouses across America.” He continued, “We’re the ones who are making the difference. We’re the ones who are telling you the truth.” http://abcn.ws/mXwj2O

CLOCK IS TICKING. “It’s getting harder every day,” Timothy Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa told ABC News’ Amy Bingham. ”If he’s going to compete effectively, it’s all going to be very, very fast. You have to come in with a lot of support and a lot of money; otherwise it’s just going to be a flash in the pan.” … It has been more than 20 years since a presidential contender waited this late to announce his candidacy. During the 1980 campaign then Sen. Ted Kennedy launched his White House bid in November 1979, giving himself 75 days to officially campaign before the Iowa caucuses. … Fast forward a decade and the late-bloomer story takes on a vastly different tone. In the 1992 election, then Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton waited until 129 days before the Iowa caucus to officially jump into the race on Oct. 4, 1991. Clinton managed to snag the nomination despite his late campaign kick-off, in part because, unlike Christie, the Arkansan had launched his presidential exploratory committee in August. The unofficial bid allowed Clinton to build a support network for 165 days prior to the first caucus. … The biggest challenge this cycle for a late entrant like Christie would be the logistics of setting up campaign offices, recruiting talented and well-connected staff, and building a base of volunteers necessary to have a successful ground campaign in the early primary states. http://abcn.ws/oDrQ0h

ABC’s @ joelmsiegel : Chris Christie: Would Weight Be Obstacle To Winning?  abcn.ws/pYBFNl

Friend of The Note: @ waltershapiroPD : Bored already with Perry vs. Romney? Why it isn’t too late for Christie, Palin or even King Farouk to run. My latest:  bit.ly/qkPgF1


THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’ On Sunday, presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks to “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour about whether he can keep the momentum going and break into the top tier of the GOP presidential contest. Does the conservative radio host turned candidate have a shot at challenging for the nomination? What prescriptions does the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO have for the ailing economy? And can he compete with President Obama? http://abcn.ws/peTTMB


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter talk to Rick Tyler, a GOP strategist and former spokesman for Newt Gingrich. Also on the program, Ariane DeVogue, ABC News’ resident Supreme Court expert. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.  http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc  


PALIN FLASHBACK: ‘DO YOU HAVE A TIMELINE?’ Sarah Palin at the Iowa State Fair in August: 

“I have said that that August/September timeframe is important for logistical and legal reasons to jump in there … I think that just practically speaking that has to be kind of a drop dead time. Also, in fairness to supporters, who are standing on the timeline, and this is what I have told Todd over and over again, I don’t want to be seen as or perceived as stringing people along, asking supporters, ‘Oh don’t just jump in there on someone else’s bandwagon because I may jump in, so hold off a little bit.’ That is not fair to them. After another month or two goes by, they need to know who it is that they can jump behind..” http://bit.ly/r93052


NOTE’S INBOX: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee , a liberal group, is announcing today three endorsements of House candidates who are “strong allies” of Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. “In 2012, we can’t just focus on electing Democrats. We need to focus on electing bold progressive fighters.  Today, we’re proud to endorse 3 bold progressives who vow to be strong allies of Elizabeth Warren in Congress. 1) Chris Donovan (CT-5)  2) Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2)  3) Ilya Sheyman (IL-10)” The PCCC 800,000 members donated over $375,000 to Warren this quarter and over $70,000 to their first endorsed House candidate, NM-1's Eric Griego.



ROMNEY RAISING $13-$14 MILLION FOR THE QUARTER. “Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney anticipates taking in between $13 million and $14 million in the third quarter for his presidential campaign, according to a person close to the campaign,” notes Bloomberg’s Jeanne Cummings and Kristin Jensen. “The total is still being tallied for the period that ends today, and may vary depending on proceeds from New York fundraisers, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the campaign hasn’t authorized disclosure of figures. Polls show Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry are the frontrunners for the Republican presidential nomination, and the so-called money primary may provide momentum for one of their candidacies. Ryan Williams, a Romney campaign spokesman, wouldn’t comment on specific fundraising estimates, saying only that officials expect to bring in ‘considerably less’ than the $18 million haul from the second quarter. Perry’s campaign didn’t respond to a phone call and e-mail requesting comment. The campaigns have until Oct. 15 to report their third-quarter tallies to the Federal Election Commission.” http://bloom.bg/rtEwKt

IS HERMAN CAIN FOR REAL? “The former Godfather’s Pizza executive, in his double-breasted suits and gold-colored ties, has wowed debate audiences with his preacherly cadence, his humor and his pizza slogan-worthy 9-9-9 approach to tax policy. (That would be a 9 percent income tax, 9 percent corporate tax and a new 9 percent national sales tax.),” writes the Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson. “Cain’s mini-surge comes as the GOP presidential field still lacks a front-runner, with many pining for Christie, and the more conservative and libertarian wings of the party still searching for a consensus candidate and split among Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.). Cain’s showing in Florida has helped his case among donors, an aide said. ‘We are consistently raising several hundred thousand dollars a day,’ said Ellen Carmichael, Cain’s press secretary. Over the next few days, Cain will begin touring to promote his book, open offices in early states and meet with former New York mayor Ed Koch and Donald Trump, who has also met with Perry and Mitt Romney.” http://wapo.st/qkZMy1

TEAM HUNTSMAN HEADS TO NEW HAMPSHIRE. “The Huntsman campaign announced today that it will be moving its headquarters from Orlando, Fla., to Manchester, N.H., next month. A spokesperson for the campaign confirmed the move, which will include several staff layoffs to eliminate redundancies as well as reopening the Florida offices in Miami,” reports ABC’s Sarah Kunin. “‘As evidenced by recent polling Jon Huntsman’s support with New Hampshire voters continues to grow every day and this move will ensure that we have the resources necessary to win the First in the Nation primary,” campaign manager Matt David said in a statement. … The campaign has already begun shifting their resources from Florida to New Hampshire, moving several staffers and adding four senior advisors to the New Hampshire offices in early September. … During that time, a source close to the campaign told ABC News, “There is enough time for New Hampshire voters to understand exactly who he is. They don’t know anything about his pro-life, pro-growth, pro-gun record, that combined with a global understanding of the world and his record of a job creator is a big package that we have to present to voters in New Hampshire.”

IS RON PAUL STUCK IN SECOND GEAR? “Since July, Rep. Ron Paul’s poll numbers have been hovering around 8 percent. That’s right where he was when he ran four years ago. And since the general election in 2008, the economy still remains the No. 1 issue on voter’s minds, according to ABC News polling. Paul was asked by ABC News back in August what he would specifically do on day one to create jobs. He pointed out the need to end the Federal Reserve, control the regulatory system and reform the tax code,” writes ABC’s Jason Volack. “However, his message is still not resonating with voters. In the latest ABC News poll, only 8 percent of likely Republican voters mentioned Paul’s name as the one best to handle the economy. Rick Perry and Mitt Romney each topped the poll with 22 percent. In fact, in all of ABC News’ polls, there are no issues that Paul can claim as his own. … Paul is trying to tap into a more ticked-off electorate with his unorthodox views and possibly open the door to a third party run. But third party campaigns have historically fallen flat. Ross Perot finished off the 1992 election cycle with only 20 percent of the vote.” http://abcn.ws/oXiUZF


AMY WALTER’S ADVICE for staying healthy on the campaign trail: “At the Republican debate in Orlando, Fla., recently, I asked ABC’s Amy Walter, a veteran of the campaign trail, if she had any tips I could add to my already growing arsenal,” writes the New York Times’ Ashley Parker: “The best way not to get sick when you travel,” she said, with a grin, “is not to travel.” http://nyti.ms/pkG9DN




@ HuffPostPol : Rick Perry plagued by protesters and hecklers at campaign stop huff.to/qN1c7A

@ sppeoples : Ron Paul off and running at Politics & Eggs: “Regardless of the rhetoric, both parties have been irresponsible in spending.”  #fitn

@ murphymike : Romney immigration attacks may be a handy tactic in the primary but they are a big strategic mistake in the overall race.

@ RyanLizza : The Economist on 1 of 2 gravest mistakes after ’08 financial crisis: “an overwhelming emphasis on short-term fiscal austerity over growth.”

@ thejointstaff : To the troops & families of the armed forces, Deborah & I our deeply honored to have served with you. Full msg @  tinyurl.com/2bvqucw



The Note Futures Calendar:  http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV


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