Money Talks And Obama Drives The Day (The Note)

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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

LAS VEGAS — Private jets for Mitt Romney: $233,911. The fee for a National Cowboy Museum fundraiser for Rick Perry: $2,600. The lead in the 2012 primary’s money race: Priceless.

What we learned from this weekend’s third-quarter financial disclosures is that Perry and Romney are not only ahead of their competition when it comes to the money game, they are crushing them.

If you pooled together all the cash the other six major Republican presidential hopefuls have in their bank accounts, it would only a bit more than half of what either Romney or Perry have sitting in their campaign war chests.

So, while the debates have defined this primary thus far, it won’t be long before money starts to have a big influence on defining the parameters of this race. And there are two candidates with the resources to do so.

While Romney and Perry’s third-quarter haul was impressive, it was not even in the same league as the combined $70 million raised by the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

The Note is in Las Vegas this week for tomorrow’s Republican presidential debate, and meanwhile, for the first time in a long time, President Obama is driving the day.

He’s stating the first leg of a three-day bus tour in North Carolina today and the question is:  Can he rally dispirited Democrats and convince wavering independents that he’s up to the job?

Why North Carolina? Despite his narrow win there in 2008, North Carolina is no swing state. Obama can win reelection rather comfortably without the state’s 15 Electoral College votes. But North Carolina represents the electoral strategy of Obama campaign – demographics is destiny. States with large minority populations and have a younger and more transient population are the key to Obama’s re-election.

Can Obama be the first Democrat to win the White House by capturing the Sun Belt and losing the Rust Belt?

WHITE HOUSE WATCH:  From ABC’s Mary Bruce:  President Obama arrives in in Asheville, N.C. this morning. Immediately after arriving, the president will deliver remarks at the Asheville Regional Airport. The president will then head to Millers Creek, N.C., where he will deliver remarks at West Wilkes High School in the evening.


BULLS-EYE ON ROMNEY. ABC News’ Rick Klein sees clues about which GOP candidate the Obama campaign expects to be facing in the 2012 general election and its Mitt Romney: “That means Romney is coming under pressure from both sides, even as he seeks to consolidate Republican support early in the process,” Klein writes. “Romney heads to Iowa this week, as his campaign considers making a play for the state he tried and failed to secure four years ago. Investing there this time around would be a high-risk, high-reward play for Romney: a win there could make what looked likely to be along primary quite short, but a loss could diminish his aura of inevitability. Through it all, it’s telling that the Obama campaign is training its fire on one candidate, to the exclusion of virtually all the others. Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod, now in Chicago where he works full-time on the campaign, previewed a piece of what could be general-election messaging on ABC’s “This Week” today — going right at Romney. “Time and time and time again he shifts – and you get the feeling that there is no principle too large for him to throw over in pursuit of political office,” Axelrod said.Obama’s team may not get the man they’re counting on. But they don’t want him to waltz to the nomination without a taste of what’s to come – and without a first crack at the kinds of definitions Obama will need to establish if he’s going to win a second term.”


MATT DOWD’S GOP HEALTH WATCH. GOP strategist and ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd updated his handicapping of the 2012 race: Rick Perry: “His candidacy is in serious jeopardy, even though he can afford to pay for the best doctors and check himself into the most prestigious clinics in the country.” Herman Cain: “He is a very unlikely leading candidate for president at this point who has tremendous momentum and movement upon the political landscape. He seems to me to be somebody who was wandering through the emergency ward and was mistaken for a serious player, and a doctor gave him a tremendous adrenalin shot. Will he burn out and will the body of his candidacy and campaign structure survive this jolt? This question will be answered soon enough.” Mitt Romney: “His candidacy seems to be in decent shape, has passed of all its tests, and continues to perform well through the election cycle, but for some reason doesn’t get the love of the doctors, nurses, and staff of this process.” Here’s Dowd’s prognosis for the other candidates:


IF YOU’RE IN VEGAS. Project New West is holding day two of its three day “Western Summit.” Monday’s featured speakers include Ted Turner and Tom Brokaw, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Maria Echaveste, then National Journal’s Ron Brownstein, a panel discussion on the West’s 2012 political landscape and Emily’s List reception to honor “Rising Women Stars In The West.” The summit is being held at the World Market Center in Las Vegas. Visit for more information.


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter sit down with Grover Norquist,, president of Americans for Tax Reform. Also on the program, author and Boston College law professor Kent Greenfield. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.  

HOUSE DEMOCRATIC PAC GOES ON THE AIR. The House Majority PAC, which supports Democratic House candidates, is launching a six-figure paid advertising campaign against  several House Republicans today. According to thr PAC, the new campaign is meant to hold “House Republicans accountable for protecting profits for companies that ship jobs overseas and for voting to lower taxes for Wall Street and millionaires while middle class families are struggling on Main Street. The ads start today and run for a week.” Targets include Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., Rep. Charlie Bass, R-N.H., Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wisc. The ads will run on broadcast and cable television. “Whether it’s House Republicans protecting profits for companies that ship jobs overseas or lowering taxes for Wall Street while middle class families are struggling on Main Street, House Majority PAC will make sure Republicans have plenty to answer for back home next November, Alixandria Lapp, Executive Director of House Majority PAC said in a statement.

THE TRUMP PRIMARY. Michele Bachmann will host a nationwide teleconference  with special guest Donald Trump.  During the call, Bachmann and Trump will discuss “critical economic issues facing American families and businesses and they will take questions from the listening audience,” according to the Bachmann campaign. Listen in at 8 p.m. Eastern.



WHO CARES ABOUT NEVADA? When Nevada elbowed its way toward the front of the presidential calendar, the idea was simple: No longer would candidates ignore the West and its issues. Rather, they would come here and speak to the concerns of people like Victor Tingley,” writes the Los Angeles Times’ Mark Z. Baraback. “At 56, the former assistant casino manager has been jobless for nearly three years. His home in North Las Vegas, purchased more than a decade ago when the neighborhood was more desert than development, is worth less than a third of its former value. Yet Tingley, a Republican-leaning independent, has heard nothing meaningful from the GOP hopefuls about the collapse of the housing market or the resulting implosion of Nevada’s building industry, which, experts say, may take decades to recover. Not even from Mitt Romney, who took a well-publicized tour of Tingley’s foreclosure-wracked neighborhood in April and held it up as an example of the nation’s struggling economy. ‘They don’t give a [damn] about us,’ said Tingley, as he stood in his front yard surveying a gloomy landscape of empty and abandoned homes, many worth far less than their outstanding mortgages. When the Republican hopefuls gather in Las Vegas on Tuesday for the eighth in their series of debates, it will be a rare Western appearance. Should they address the bursting of the housing bubble and its devastating effects, it will be rarer still. The candidates have said little about the issue on the campaign trail and mentioned nothing on their campaign websites, save a veiled reference from businessman Herman Cain, who criticizes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the federal mortgage guarantor.”

RON PAUL TO UNVEIL ECONOMIC PLAN. Republican Presidential Candidate Rep. Ron Paul is set to unveil his economic plan today in Las Vegas, ABC News’ Jason Volack reports. The plan involves $1 trillion in spending cuts, the bulk of those cuts coming from the elimination of several cabinet level departments, including Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, and Education. Paul will also wring out more savings through the elimination of all foreign aid and wars and dial back spending to 2006 levels.The plan calls for a full audit of the Federal Reserve. Paul also proposes taking a symbolic salary of $39,336 which the campaign says is about equal to the salary of the average American worker. The proposals are nothing new for Paul who has long advocated for a more limited government. 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 compared with Romney and Perry who both topped the poll with 22 percent.

IS ROMNEY REALLY INEVITABLE? “Mitt Romney has won every Republican presidential debate. He has outraised all of his primary opponents. Polls show he’s the most competitive candidate against President Barack Obama,” Politico’s Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns note. “And most Republicans still don’t want to nominate him. For all the talk about his inevitability, after half a decade as a declared or undeclared presidential candidate, Romney can scarcely muster a fifth of the GOP primary vote. Republicans continue to cast about for an alternative – looking to Michele Bachmann, then to Rick Perry and now to Herman Cain. None of Romney’s opponents has been able to derail him for long. But the simple fact remains: Whether it’s because of Romney’s ideas, his history of flip-flops or his personal political style, much of the Republican Party just can’t embrace its frontrunner. The question now is whether the GOP is prepared to live with an unlovable nominee if that candidate has a good shot of defeating Obama. ‘People, I think, are looking for more visceral, gut issues. Mitt Romney doesn’t make that appeal,’ said New York Rep. Pete King, who is neutral in the GOP primary. ‘His record in the past on health care and gay rights, obviously, are the opposite of where most Republicans are.’ King said he would probably end up endorsing Romney, whom the New Yorker said was winning the primary on a largely tactical, incremental level.”

IN THE SPOTLIGHT, CAIN STUMBLES. “Herman Cain found out how tricky being in the national spotlight is on Sunday as he was pushed to admit that his signature economic plan, 9-9-9, would result in increased taxes for some people,” reports The New York Times’ Susan Saulny. “The Republican presidential candidate also sought to back away from fiery comments he had made just hours earlier, saying he was only joking about killing people trying to cross the border from Mexico with an electrified fence. And he said that the American people need to ‘get a sense of humor.”‘ Beyond that, Mr. Cain acknowledged that he was unfamiliar with the neoconservative movement, and was not exactly sure what the word ‘neoconservative’ meant. All this was in the space of a 20-minute interview with David Gregory on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ Mr. Cain, a former restaurant executive who has never held public office, is a candidate being tested for the first time, particularly now that some polls show him perched at the top rung of the Republican field. And his lack of experience is beginning to show itself in the form of missteps or as he confronts more pointed questions about his tax plan. After months of being dismissed as a nonstarter in the primary race, Mr. Cain is enjoying increased interest in his so-called 9-9-9 tax plan, which would set personal and business income tax rates at 9 percent each and institute a 9 percent national sales tax, eliminating all other federal taxes.”



@ ZekeJMiller : Rick Santorum is really unhappy with SNL’s portrayal of him. Says “the left is anything but tolerant”!

@ mpoindc : More establishment for Romney – this time, Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers, the chairman of House Appropriations.

@ buddyroemer : So, politicians on both sides have had a month to sit back and watch #OWS grow. Why do you think they haven’t come out in support of it?

@ TPM : Herman Cain has been “scrutinized” all summer, it’s just that no one took him seriously:

@ GlennThrush : Thanks to the Tupelo Honey Cafe, Asheville NC, for setting out the best breakfast ever provided to an undeserving traveling press corps



Mitt Romney opens his campaign headquarters in Las Vegas at 3:35 p.m.

Ron Paul will unveil his economic plan in Las Vegas at his Ron Paul “Restore America Plan” press conference at the Venetian Hotel at 3 p.m.

* Herman Cain holds a press conference with Arizona GOP Chairman Tom Morrissey and Sheriff Joe Arpaio at 4 p.m.

* Jon Huntsman files as a candidate for president on the New Hampshire ballot in Concord, N.H. at 2 p.m.

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