The time for pining for another “perfect” candidate is over. Yesterday’s firm “no” from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sent a clear and simple message to Republicans donors still waiting in the wings: It’s time to stop speed dating and start planning for the wedding.
Members of the Romney team have been working the phones hard since learning of Christie’s no-go, reportedly getting a significant number of commitments from folks who were holding out for Christie. But Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s more-than-respectable $17 million fundraising haul in the third-quarter means it’s far too soon to count him out even though he’s been slipping in the polls recently.
“I want you to know that Governor Romney just called me a little while ago, and I’ve sworn my allegiance to him,” Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone, one of the donors lobbying most aggressively for Christie to run, said in an interview with Charlie Rose yesterday.
Halfway across the country in Iowa, Bruce Rastetter, an Iowa energy executive who met with Christie twice over the past few months to urge him to jump into the race, told ABC News that soon after the New Jersey governor’s news conference in Trenton yesterday, his phone was lighting up with calls from Romney supporters, trying to woo him to the their side.
Rastetter said he would “take a couple of days” to think about it, but he sounded persuadable.
“We all recognize that the guy running the country is destroying it, and support will move toward the Republican candidate — whether that’s now or later,” he said. “Obviously, I respect Governor Romney and believe he would make a great president.”
But what about Republican voters? Our ABC News-Washington poll out yesterday showed they weren’t exactly holding out for Christie. In fact, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain was the top pick among Tea Party supporters, taking 19 percent of the vote. Christie came in fourth with 9 percent.
Even so, there’s also evidence that while conservatives are restive, they aren’t demoralized. Sixty-eight percent of Tea Party supporters and 77 percent of strong Tea Party supporters say they are satisfied with the GOP field.
And while Romney isn’t their top pick, he is running stronger among Tea Party supporters than Palin, Bachmann and Gingrich and is tied with Perry. Not only that, but the Romney campaign sees the former Massachusetts governor’s steady backing among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents overall (Romney was winning 25 percent support in the ABC News-Post poll in both September and October) as a sign of the candidates resilience.
“There have been seven different candidates to lead the GOP primary battle,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse told The Note. “Each candidate gets a boomlet, then they slip and voters move back to Mitt. This is like the ‘whack-a-mole’ game kids and adults play on the boardwalk in Ocean City. After every GOP candidate surges to the top, Mitt surfaces once again to lead the pack.”
Newhouse may be right, and by all accounts, it looks like we’re looking at another boomlet this week: Enter Herman Cain.
As ABC’s Jonathan Karl points out this morning, Herman Cain is a contender, this week we have seen three national polls that have Cain either tied or ahead of former front-runner, Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Today there’s a new CBS News poll that has Cain tied for first place with Romney. That poll shows Cain and Romney both with 17 percent of the GOP vote with Perry in third place at 12 percent.
Karl explored what Christie’s no-go means for the rest of the GOP field on “Good Morning America” today.
OBAMA VS. CONGRESS. “Barack Obama has jumped to a 15-point lead over the Republicans in Congress in trust to handle job creation, a sign the beleaguered president’s $450 billion jobs package has hit its mark in public opinion. Fifty-two percent support the plan – and most say it just might work,” according to ABC pollster Gary Langer. “Overall approval of the U.S. Congress, meanwhile, has dropped to its lowest in polls dating back to the mid-1970s. And of the eight in 10 Americans who are dissatisfied with the way the country’s political system is working, more blame the Republicans in Washington than the president. For all of Obama’s well-documented woes, these and other results in the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll underscore that politics are comparative, the public’s economic ire is omnidirectional — and it’s possible to move the bar. … The president’s hardly out of the woods. This poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, finds that just 35 percent approve of his handling of jobs, and an identical 35 percent approve of his handling of the economy in general, both new lows.” http://abcn.ws/pvNKhE
REPUBLICANS POUNCE ON OBAMA’S ‘GOOD BET’ President Obama told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview on Monday that he did not regret touting the solar company Solyndra as a model of his jobs program, or loaning $535 million in taxpayer money to the company before it declared bankruptcy. “Hindsight is always 20/20,” Obama told Stephanopoulos. “It went through the regular review process and people felt that it was a good bet.” http://abcn.ws/pHH5I0
Today the Republican National Committee is launching a new website using the president’s “good bet” language against him. “Now it’s your turn to follow Obama’s lead and recklessly gamble with taxpayer dollars in support of questionable business ventures supported by the President’s campaign donors,” reads a message on the site, which features an interactive slot machine. “See if you can create more jobs for the American economy than were created under President Obama in the month of August — ZERO.” The website also features the RNC’s new web ad “No Regret” which hits President Obama on the Solyndra fiasco. http://www.gop.com/GoodBet/
WHITE HOUSE WATCH. From ABC’s Mary Bruce: “This morning President Obama signed into law a measure to fund the government through mid-November. The president signed the Continuing Resolution ‘which provides FY2012 appropriations for continuing projects and activities of the Federal Government through Friday, November 18, 2011,’ the White House announced overnight. This afternoon, Obama will welcome President Porfirio Lobo of Honduras to the White House.”
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Rick Klein talks to Rep. Steny Hoyer, D- Md. and Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc
PERRY PLAYS IN THE DRUDGE PRIMARY, RAISES $17 MILLION. After a series of scathing banner headlines on the Drudge Report, the Perry campaign sought to make things right on Wednesday by leaking their third-quarter fundraising numbers to the popular site. Here’s the report: “EXCLUSIVE: Republican White House hopeful Rick Perry raised over $17 million in 49 days, DRUDGE has learned. $347,000 per day; 20,000 unique donors from all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam. With more than half of donors living outside of Texas…” Drudge’s headline reads: “PERRY POWERHOUSE: PULLS IN $17 MILLION”
ABC News has confirmed the Drudge report. As our Arlette Saenz notes, “When Perry entered the race over seven weeks ago, he was six weeks behind his competitors in fundraising. The Perry camp reportedly set an initial fundraising goal of $10 million in the opening weeks of the campaign. The Perry campaign has $15 million cash on hand.”
DEMOCRAT WINS WEST VIRGINIA GOV’S RACE. “Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin prevailed over Republican Bill Maloney in Tuesday’s special election in West Virginia to fill the last 14 months of now-Sen. Joe Manchin’s gubernatorial term,” ABC’s Amy Bingham reports. “The Associated Press called the race in Tomblin’s favor just after 9 p.m. With 84 percent of precincts reporting, Tomblin led by 6,108 votes, beating Maloney 49 percent to 47 percent. Tomblin has served as acting governor since Manchin vacated the seat last November after winning a special election to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s seat. Though Democrats held on to the governor’s mansion Tuesday night, there was a silver lining for the GOP. Republicans were able to draw on the unpopularity of President Obama to make the contest much tighter than expected. Democrats hold a 2-to-1 voter registration advantage over Republicans in the state, but low turnout for mid-October, off-year election virtually erased that Democratic edge. There has been a Democrat in the governor’s mansion since 1996, although West Virginia has voted strongly for Republicans in the past three presidential races.” http://abcn.ws/pq1lBY
CAIN SKETCHES OUT HIS PATH. “Herman Cain’s hitting New York City, promoting his new book and meeting with Donald Trump and former mayor Ed Koch. But Manhattan is far from any of the early states and although it may help him sell books, it’s the voters of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that help choose the president,” ABC’s Shushannah Walshe notes. “The pizza magnate and businessman told ABC News he’s not “ignoring” the early states and he’s not afraid the momentum he’s riding from his Florida straw poll win and surging poll numbers—he came in second, tied with Texas governor Rick Perry at 16 percent in the ABC News Washington Post poll released Tuesday, behind Mitt Romney with 25 percent—will slip if he doesn’t get back to the Hawkeye state. ‘If we finish in the top three in Iowa, in the top three in New Hampshire, we will have achieved our expectations. If we finish higher than that, we will have exceeded our expectations because we are fully confident that we can win South Carolina, Florida and some of these other states,’ Cain said told ABC News in an interview after his appearance on ABC’s ‘The View.’ Cain said he’s been to the first caucus state, Iowa, 18 times and has a “good solid base” in the state, adding he plans to return in the ‘next several weeks.’ He’s not afraid of one big early win and running out of money, which is what happened to Mike Huckabee in the last cycle, because his supporters ‘don’t defect.’ ‘Our strategy involved hitting South Carolina and Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, and some of these other Southern states. We didn’t want to wait too long to create a presence there. We have succeeded at that so now we are going to re-focus on Iowa and New Hampshire as part of our overall strategy,’ Cain said.” http://abcn.ws/py6V4P
NOTED: From ABC’s Susan Archer: “Not only is Cain climbing in the polls, his memoir is climbing up the Amazon.com list, landing in the top 10 Best Sellers. Yesterday Herman Cain’s memoir, ‘This Is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House’ hit book shelves. Kicking off his book tour last night on the ‘Sean Hannity Show,’ Cain will, in the middle of his campaign for the White House, spend two weeks promoting his book. The book chronicles the pizza CEO’s rise from rags to riches. It details his early life in the segregated South, meeting his wife, Gloria, and his battle with stage 4 liver and colon cancer. He also gives an in-depth view of his many years in business, moving from the Coca-Cola Co. to Pillsbury to Burger King and then to Godfather’s Pizza. Cain isn’t shy about portraying what the first 90 days of a Cain administration would look like.” http://abcn.ws/pu13Xk
ANN ROMNEY LAYS IOWA GROUNDWORK. “Ann Romney, wife of Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, was in Iowa Tuesday laying the groundwork for her husband to make a real play for this state’s caucuses, a vote that typically goes to more conservative candidates,” according to a dispatch from ABC’s Russell Goldman in Iowa. “‘Iowa is a great state. I’m happy to be here again and happy to participate in this process. We will be back, and we will be here, because Iowa is important,’ Ann Romney told a small gathering in Adel, Iowa. Her husband, a former Massachusetts governor, had earlier in the campaign shied away from Iowa, focusing instead on the first primary state of New Hampshire. But those close to the campaign say Romney is looking closely at Iowa now too. Ann Romney, a mother of five who has spent 42 of her 62 years married to Mitt Romney, said she hoped to tell Iowans who her husband really was. A breast cancer survivor who has also been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Ann Romney wants to make her husband – often caricatured as a robot – appear more human.” http://abcn.ws/rhlVlg
HUNTSMAN TO GIVE FOREIGN POLICY SPEECH. ABC’s Sarah Kunin reports: “Jon Huntsman will deliver his first major foreign policy speech in New Hampshire next week, ABC News has confirmed, at Southern New Hampshire University’s Walker Auditorium Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. The event is hosted by the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire. ‘At a turbulent time on the world stage, Gov. Huntsman is the only candidate in the race with hands-on foreign policy experience,’ Huntsman’s New Hampshire spokesman Michael Levoff told The Union Leader. ‘He will offer a visionary, modern and nimble foreign policy that will both make us safer and expand our economic interests, creating jobs here at home.’” http://abcn.ws/ocubEc
* Mitt Romney holds a “meet and greet” in Tallahassee, Florida.
* Herman Cain is on book tour in Florida.
* Ron Paul gives speech to National Press Club Luncheon in Washington, D.C. at 12:30 p.m.
* Gary Johnson gives a speech at the Milford Rotary Luncheon in Milford, N.H., before heading to the Milford Downtown Oval to begin his “Ride for Freedom.” His first stop will be the Concord State House. He’ll also hold a town hall that evening from 7:00-8:30p.m.
* Ann Romney attends a lunch for Senate special election candidate Cindy Golding in Marion, Iowa.
* Newt Gingrich leads a town hall meeting with residents of the Sun City Hilton Head retirment community in Blufton, S.C. at 2:30 p.m. Local GOP groups host Newt & Callista Gingrich as they screen their documentary A City Upon a Hill in Hilton Head S.C. at 7 p.m.
The Note Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV
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