By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
Though it was a coalition effort, the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi yesterday is being seen as another major “get” for President Obama and a vindication of his administration’s Libya strategy.
Even some of the president’s Republican opponents have been forced to offer up some praise. Asked by reporters in Iowa yesterday if Obama deserves credit for Gadhafi’s demise, Romney responded, “Yes, yes, absolutely.”
At another campaign stop in the state, ABC’s Emily Friedman reports that Romney acknowledged the “world is a better place” without Ghadhafi.
But as was the case with the killings of the terrorist leaders Anwar al-Awlaki and Osama bin Laden earlier this year, it’s not clear that Obama will get much out of these victories at least when it comes to his re-election hopes.
As USA Today’s Richard Wolf points out, “polls show voters believe Obama is handling the title “commander in chief” better than other aspects of his job,” but “The economy — the top issue for six of 10 Americans — is in a stall.” http://usat.ly/nyyOaM
And while it may help inoculate the president from foreign policy critiques from his GOP opponents, it’s also not immediately apparent how he can actually capitalize on this moment.
As news of Gadhafi’s death dominated the airwaves yesterday, Romney took his anti-Obama message to Iowa voters in a rare visit for the GOP presidential candidate to the Hawkeye State. Romney vowed to return “again and again,” but his strategy is far from certain. http://abcn.ws/rpO7d9
As The New York Times’s Jeff Zeleny and Ashley Parker points out, “Romney is trying to have it both ways — he wants to win, but he doesn’t want to invest so deeply that a loss in the Iowa caucuses would prove devastating. So, the game plan seems to be leaning toward competing aggressively — but with fewer people and less money than four years ago, when he spent $10 million only to finish second to Mike Huckabee, who spent a sliver of that amount.” http://nyti.ms/qEosBE
Finally, this weekend we may get some clarity on another issue: the presidential nominating calendar. As the Associated Press notes, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus “is urging Nevada Republicans to delay their caucuses by three weeks to Feb. 4. Several Republican presidential candidates and the state of New Hampshire are furious over Nevada having scheduled its contest for Jan. 14. They argue that would wedge New Hampshire’s primary too close to Nevada’s voting and Iowa’s caucuses, which are slated for Jan. 3.” http://wapo.st/nqzmQs
This could pave the way for the New Hampshire to set its primary date and, as many hope, to ensure it’s not held in December. Not everyone is happy about the pressure being put on Nevada right now, including one of the state’s long-time political observers, Jon Ralson.
As Ralson writes in the Las Vegas Sun today, “Nevada, the Battle Born State that prides itself on a combative, Western attitude toward a sometimes-overbearing federal government, is about to surrender to a miniature, Eastern monarchy.” http://bit.ly/r6kob2
CHARACTER COUNTS IN 2012. ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd’s weekly look at the primary season landscape: “After watching Fight Night in Vegas, or this week’s Republican debate, which heated up considerably, I was struck again by a truth in politics that is often missed in the coverage: Presidential campaigns are fundamentally not about issues; they are about gut values and impressions voters have of the man or woman running for the highest office. Policy points and positions and discussion on issues are merely indicators for voters of what a candidate’s values seem to be. … The Pew Research Center recently did a survey asking for one-word impressions of the candidates. When you look at the breakdown of words used about Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (especially among Republican voters), the vast majority of words used had nothing to do with issues and everything to do with character impressions or traits or even biography points. … My advice is that while issue positions and policy detail are important, in presidential elections keep an eye on the character of the candidates and the gut values that are revealed to the voters (both positive and negative). It is those impressions that will likely tell us who the nominee will be for the Republicans and whether they can defeat Obama next November. Whoever touches the heart of America, not the head, will ultimately be the victor. The head will follow wherever the heart already is moving.” http://abcn.ws/mQCgMq
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Rick Klein and Z. Byron Wolf speak with Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., live from Atlanta. Also on the program, Brian Maloney, the filmmaker behind, “Patriocracy,” which “explores the extreme polarization in America that cripples the country from tackling its most serious problems.” Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc
“TOP LINE” REPLAY: JEFF SESSIONS ON FOOD STAMPS: ‘OUT OF CONTROL.’ From ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf, who has been pinch hitting on “Top Line” this week: “The number of Americans receiving federal aid for food has skyrocketed in recent years, partly from need and partly, according to Sen. Jeff Sessions, because of abuse. Food stamps, he told ABC News’ “Top Line” today, are a symptom of a government run out of control. ‘No program in our government has surged out of control more dramatically than food stamps,’ said Sessions, R-Ala. ‘And now, nothing is being done at it, about it. Nobody is looking under the hood. It had doubled in the last three years. It had quadrupled from 20 billion to 80 billion in the last 10 years.’” http://abcn.ws/rbIpPU
SENATE REJECTS ELEMENTS OF OBAMA’S JOBS BILL. “The Senate last held two late-night votes on individual pieces of President Obama’s jobs bill, both of which were not agreed to. Both sides blamed the other for being obstructionist,” ABC’s Sunlen Miller notes. “The first cloture vote was on the Senate Democrats $35 billion aid package to help state and local governments provide funding for teachers, police officers and firefighters, which the White House and Democrats have been pushing all week. The measure needed 60 votes to advance but it was stopped by a 50-50 vote. All Republicans and three Democratic Senators (Mark Pryor, Lieberman and Ben Nelson) voted against the measure. ‘Republicans unanimously blocked a bill that would have kept 400,000 teachers in the classroom and first responders on the job because they refuse to ask millionaires to pay their fair share,’ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV said following the vote. … The second cloture vote was on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY. measure, which would have repealed a 3% withholding provision of federal government contractors. Despite having numerous Democratic co-sponsors and being an original part of President Obama’s job plan, the measure was voted down.”
RUBIO’S RESUME UNDER SCRUTINY. “During his rise to political prominence, Sen. Marco Rubio frequently repeated a compelling version of his family’s history that had special resonance in South Florida. He was the ‘son of exiles,’ he told audiences, Cuban Americans forced off their beloved island after ‘a thug,’ Fidel Castro, took power,” the Washington Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia writes. “But a review of documents — including naturalization papers and other official records — reveals that the Florida Republican’s account embellishes the facts. The documents show that Rubio’s parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than 2 1 / 2 years before Castro’s forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year’s Day 1959. The supposed flight of Rubio’s parents has been at the core of the young senator’s political identity, both before and after his stunning tea-party-propelled victory in last year’s Senate election. Rubio … mentions his parents in the second sentence of the official biography on his Senate Web site. … The real story of his parents’ migration appears to be a more conventional immigrant narrative, a couple who came to the United States seeking a better life. … Rubio’s office confirmed Thursday that his parents arrived in the United States in 1956 but noted that ‘while they were prepared to live here permanently, they always held out the hope and the option of returning to Cuba if things improved.’ They returned to Cuba several times after Castro came to power to ‘assess the situation with the hope of eventually moving back,’ the office said in a statement.” http://wapo.st/oYzgzf
RICK PERRY’S PLANE PROBLEMS. “In the final days of a fruitful fundraising quarter, Texas Governor Rick Perry jetted up and down the East Coast on a private plane with a troubled past. The Texas governor used a plane that was formerly used in a cocaine smuggling scheme, which was busted last November. An examination of flight logs shows Perry flew on the scandal-plagued plane owned by a California Mexican food conglomerate for a total of 12 flights as he attended several campaign events and fundraisers last month,” notes ABC’s Arlette Saenz. “A spokesman for Perry told ABC News the campaign was unaware of the chartered plane’s previous destinations. ‘We were chartering a plane and not aware of any of the plane’s previous flights,’ Miner said in an e-mail. The flight logs reveal that between Sept. 26 and Oct. 1, Perry flew on the plane to Baltimore, Teterboro, Washington Dulles, Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Wheeling, W.V. and Dekalb, Ga., all located near fundraisers, which helped Perry net the $17 million he raised in the third fundraising quarter. … News of Perry’s use of the plane linked to a drug smuggling ring was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. This is one in a series of controversial plane stories emerging this week for the Perry campaign.” http://abcn.ws/pqoLh0
NOTED: Rick Perry pops into Washington, DC today for a rare visit. The National Journal’s Chris Frates has the details: Perry “scheduled to meet with about 60 Washington insiders from the lobbying and trade association worlds. The afternoon event brings together Perry supporters and fence sitters to hear from the Texas governor as he continues to build inside-the-Beltway support for his presidential campaign, according to sources familiar with the meeting. The hour-long meeting at the offices of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors is not a fundraiser, though the group’s president, Dirk Van Dongen, is a prominent Perry backer.” http://bit.ly/nB42p5
DEMOCRATS IN THE MONEY. “Despite being in the minority, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outraised its GOP counterpart for the third straight month, bringing in nearly double the cash of the National Republican Congressional Committee in September,” reports Politico’s Alex Isensdtadt. “The House Democratic campaign arm raised over $6.6 million to the NRCC’s $3.8 million, according to financial filings released Thursday. Democrats are 25 seats in the minority, but their September cash edge over the newly empowered House Republicans continues a surprising trend. Over the course of the year, the DCCC has outraised the NRCC $47 million to $44 million. The NRCC maintains a $12.2 million to $9.5 million cash on hand lead over the DCCC.”
IN THE NOTE’S INBOX: From DCCC Chairman Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y.: “From polling to strong candidates, and now to fundraising, it’s clear that voters are rejecting Republicans’ extreme agenda and their Majority is in deep jeopardy. While we are in the minority in Congress, we’re with the majority of the American people and grassroots support from across the country is fueling our campaign to put control of the House of Representatives back in the people’s hands.”
WHITE HOUSE WATCH. From ABC’s Mary Bruce: This morning President Obama will sign the Korea, Panama and Colombia Free Trade agreements and the Trade Adjustment Assistance for workers. Later, the president will stop by a Rose Garden reception with business and labor leaders as well as workers who will benefit from the bills. In the afternoon Obama will honor the recipients of the 2010 National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
ABC’S THURSDAY SUDS: It was a packed house at Local 16 for the ABC News Fall 2011 happy hour. ABC’s own Jonathan Karl and a host of favorite faces from the alphabet network ate, drank and were boisterously merry at the U street bar. Cameos from 2012 campaign teams (Gingrich, Huntsman, Bachmann), think tanks, SuperPACs, the Hill and the Executive Branch. Sips were poured out in honor of the Senate staff who got stuck with late votes on the Hill. SPOTTED: Jen Psaki, Dag Vega, Michael Steel, R.C. Hammond, Tim Miller, Team FEMA (Racusen & Carroll), Ryan Rudominer, Eric Schultz, Kelley McCormick, Lis Smith, Colm O’Comartum, David Chalian, Danielle Hagen, Ty Matsdorf, Scott Conroy, Michael Czin, Audrey Jones, Russell Berman, Sarah Pompei, Daniel Reilly, Chris Harris, Abby Livingston, Courtney Cohen. ABC ALL-STARS: Rick Klein, Z. Byron Wolf, John Parkinson, Mary Compton, Arlette Saenz, Michael Falcone, Kirit Radia, Gregory Simmons, Katie Bosland, Cindy Smith, Karen Travers, Richard Coolidge, Sherisse Pham, Ben Krolowitz, Amy Bingham, Sarah Parnass. HAT TIP to the ringleader — ABC’s Jen Wlach — who delivered a flawless off-the cuff welcome speech while teetering atop a leather ottoman.
POLITICAL RADAR: Check out The Note’s Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV
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