Rick Perry Punches Back (The Note)

VIDEO: Pastor introduceding the Texas Governor puts the religion in the spotlight.

Jim Cole / Associated Press

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

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Will New Hampshire make Rick Perry the comeback kid?

The Texas governor, whose rapid rise to front-runner status proved fleeting, arrives in this key early primary state this week in the hopes of recapturing some of his early momentum. And his campaign is already on offense against rival Mitt Romney, who according to a recent poll, is still the favorite candidate in the Granite State.

Today the Perry campaign is unveiling a new ad that hammers Romney on health care (specifically) and flip-flopping (generally), ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports. Karl notes that it’s the harshest and best-produced attack ad of campaign 2012 so far.

The ad opens by calling Obamacare, “America’s most damaging prescription” and then substitutes “Romneycare” for “Obamacare.” It closes with Romney’s own line from the last debate — one that the former Massachusetts governor will undoubtedly hear over and over again:  ”There are plenty of reasons not to vote for me.” http://bit.ly/pNomrx

While Perry goes for Romney’s jugular in the chilling new spot, on the campaign trail he’s finally figured out a more effective way to explain his views on immigration policy. “Are we going to create a class of tax wasters or are we going to create taxpayers?” Perry asked at a campaign event this weekend in Iowa.

Perry characterized his decision to provide illegal immigrants with access to in-state tuition in Texas as one based on economics more than compassion.

“The issue was really driven by economics because of the federal government’s, again, failure to secure that border and us having to deal with it,” Perry told a crowd in Spencer, Iowa on Saturday. http://abcn.ws/pRgD0V

But Perry faces a crucial test this week: After previous stumbles, Tuesday night’s Bloomberg News-Washington Post debate at Dartmouth College is likely to be a pivotal moment. Will he be able to match Romney’s skill as a word warrior and deliver clean hits rather than rambling answers?

The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny reports that Perry’s “aides have staged practice sessions, complete with a stand-in for Mitt Romney” and  ”his advisers have devised another way to help: requiring Mr. Perry to get more sleep.” http://nyti.ms/nGRusz

We’ll see if allowing the Texas governor to hit the snooze button will help wake up some of his supporters who have defected to rival candidates in recent weeks.




IS NEW HAMPSHIRE REALLY A BATTLEGROUND? According to the latest WMUR Granite State Poll out on Friday, Mitt Romney still has huge lead in New Hampshire. He won the support of 37 percent of likely Republican primary voters, followed by businessman Herman Cain, with 12 percent, and Ron Paul at 9 percent. Also about 57 percent of independents said they will vote in the Republican primary, which could be good news for Jon Huntsman (who’s at 8 percent in the poll) and has staked his entire campaign on a strong showing in the Granite State. But, there’s an important caveat: the poll shows 68 percent of voters say they are still deciding who to support. According to WMUR, “Pollster Andy Smith said this isn’t surprising. He said primary voters typically wait until the end of the campaign to settle on a choice, so early poll numbers are a better gauge of a candidate’s popularity and visibility now than an indication of who voters will eventually support.” That could be bad news for Romney. http://bit.ly/qdSaQC


JON HUNTSMAN UNVEILS FOREIGN POLICY PLAN: ‘ERASE THE OLD MAP.’ Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman will unveil his foreign policy plan at Southern New Hampshire University today, ABC’s Sarah Kunin reports. It will focus on a combination of trade expansion, adjustments to defense infrastructure, and “a more judicious approach” toward international conflict. This morning’s speech will also highlight tax and regulatory reform proposals from Huntsman’s jobs plan in an effort to “rebuild America’s core.” “We will establish a foreign policy doctrine that reflects our modern world,” Huntsman is expected to say, according to prepared remarks obtained by ABC News. “Simply advocating more ships, more troops, and more weapons is not a viable path forward. We need more agility, more intelligence, and more economic engagement with the world.” Huntsman will propose the passing of trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which he says “could boost American exports by more than $10 billion and create tens of thousands of American jobs.” Huntsman will also suggest redirecting military expenditures towards counter-terrorism efforts. “We must be prepared to respond to threats — from al Qaeda and other terrorist cells — that emanate from a much more diverse geography, including Yemen, the Horn of Africa, Pakistan and the Asia-Pacific,” he will say. http://abcn.ws/nEigZ3


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” Top Line goes to the movies! ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter interview documentary filmmaker Carl Colby about his film, “The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father CIA Spymaster William Colby.” Also on the program: Ken Burns who talks about his new film, “Prohibition.” Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.  http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc  

“THIS WEEK” REPLAY: NANCY PELOSI ON OCCUPY WALL STREET. House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she supports the growing nationwide Occupy Wall Street movement, which began on the streets of downtown New York City in mid-September. “I support the message to the establishment, whether it’s Wall Street or the political establishment and the rest, that change has to happen,” said Pelosi in an exclusive interview with ABC News “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour. “We cannot continue in a way this is not relevant to their lives.” Pelosi sees the protestors’ anger stemming from unemployment, which remains above 9 percent. Pelosi added that the failure of TARP, commonly known as the bank bailout, to add liquidity to the Main Street marketplace is fueling Americans’ animosity towards Wall Street. “The thought was that when we did that [pass TARP], there would be capital available and Main Street would benefit from the resources that went largely to Wall Street,” said Pelosi. “That didn’t happen. People are angry.” http://abcn.ws/qrhO6a


THE MORMON CARD. After Robert Jeffress, pastor of Dallas’ First Baptist Church, lambasted Mormonism and Mitt Romney to reporters on Friday after introducing Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC, several of the GOP presidential candidates dismissed the pastor’s words over the weekend. ABC’s Katti Gray reports: Perry, who has been falling farther behind in the polls, said his own views diverged from Jeffress’. “I don’t think the Mormon Church is a cult,” Perry told the Des Moines Register that he welcomed political endorsements, even if he disagreed with some of the endorsers’ public statements. “To make this a big issue is just ridiculous right now because every day I’m out on the street talking to people, this is not what people are talking about,” Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said today on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “None of us should sit in judgment on someone else’s religion,” former House Speaker Gingrich said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Rev. Jeffress’ comments, Gingrich added, had “no place” in the campaign. The other Mormon in the race, Jon Huntsman, told a a New London, N.H., town hall crowd today that it is “the most ridiculous sideshow in recent politics.” “Discussion of Mormonism doesn’t create additional jobs … doesn’t expand our economic base,” Huntsman said, according to CBS News. Herman Cain said of Mormons: “I believe that they believe they are Christians.” Cain, running in second place behind Romney, according to national polls, also said he was “not running for theologian in chief” during separate appearances on CNN and CBS. http://abcn.ws/qj0poq

BACHMANN: I HAVEN’T GIVEN UP ON NEW HAMPSHIRE. “Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann said Sunday that her unsuccessful fight against raising the federal debt ceiling kept her away from New Hampshire for nearly four months, but she’s still committed to winning over voters in the key early primary state,” according to a dispatch from the Associated Press. “Before starting a four-day bus trip Sunday, the Minnesota congresswoman had only campaigned in New Hampshire once since announcing her campaign in late June. Speaking to a small but enthusiastic group at a North Conway restaurant, she blamed the debt ceiling debate for her absence. Bachmann last visited the state June 28. The vote on raising the debt ceiling happened Aug. 2. ‘You didn’t see me a lot here in New Hampshire and I’ll tell you why: It’s because my first duty was to go back to Washington, D.C.,’ she said.”

NOTED: Bachmann campaigned in Iowa for 42 days during the summer, holding 79 events and she managed to miss every vote in the House of Representatives in September, according to ABC News’ Bachmann watcher, Russell Goldman.

DEBATE PREVIEW: IT’S THE ECONOMY…. Bloomberg News’ John McCormick, whose number one health tip for the campaign trail is: “stay hydrated,” previews Tuesday night’s debate: “Most states would look enviously at a 5.3 percent unemployment rate. By New Hampshire’s standards, times are still tough. ‘Everybody is nervous,’ said Charlie Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market research group based in Concord. …That such anxiety permeates even a state where the jobless rate is less than half that of other battlegrounds like Nevada, South Carolina and Florida underscores how thoroughly the economy is eclipsing other issues in the presidential campaign. So far, that’s helped former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who has made New Hampshire the cornerstone of his bid for the Republican nomination and dominates polls in the state, the site of the party’s first primary. Concern about the economy will be raised at a debate tomorrow sponsored by Bloomberg News and the Washington Post at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. The debate, featuring Romney and seven other Republican presidential candidates, will be the first of the 2012 campaign to focus solely on the economy. The session will be broadcast on Bloomberg Television, Bloomberg Radio, WBIN-TV in New Hampshire and on Bloomberg.com and WashingtonPost.com.” http://bloom.bg/pqMLIc

GOP CANDIDATES STEER CLEAR OF SPECIFICS. The Republican presidential candidates are offering a series of one-size-fits-all economic pitches that fall short of addressing important nuances and competing demands posed by the nation’s diverse fiscal landscape, analysts say,” reports the Washington Post’s Michael Fletcher. “The two earliest voting states — Iowa and New Hampshire — also are gripped by economic worries, even though they have among the nation’s lowest jobless rates and relatively few housing problems. Those divergent circumstances call for the kinds of tailored economic strategies that the GOP candidates have mostly avoided in the campaign’s early stages. As the candidates seek to harness the economic anxiety eating away at President Obama’s popularity, they have focused on items central to Republican orthodoxy: reducing taxes, cutting government spending, jettisoning regulations and promoting free trade. ‘So far, the candidates have been playing it a little bit safe and have been tapping into the general anxiety that people feel,’ said Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party. ‘They have been mostly sticking to Republican canon.’” http://wapo.st/qmvzGU

ROMNEY GETS GREGG. The New Hampshire Union-Leader’s John DiStaso scoops: “Former U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg and his wife, Kathy, will endorse Mitt Romney for President today and will be with Romney and his wife, Ann, in appearances in the state.” http://bit.ly/nWrepe

DEMOCRATIC COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. The Democratic National Committee is launching a new website today, www.WhichMitt.com, which features “Mitt Quiz” showcasing what the DNC calls, Romney’s “many and contradictory positions on a range of issues.” DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said, “Mitt Romney, in his nearly 20-year pursuit of various public offices, has changed positions on everything from a woman’s right to choose to gay rights to TARP, Health Care and beyond.  It makes you wonder — which Mitt would we get in the White House?”



“‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest stakes out spotlight at GOP economic debate”: The Daily Caller’s David Martosko reports: “Barely 48 hours before nine Republican presidential hopefuls are scheduled to debate at Dartmouth College, signs began appearing on campus Sunday evening announcing a demonstration in support of the Occupy Wall Street protests. A ‘Students Stand With Staff’ organization with ties to the Service Employees International Union is organizing the event. The group plans to hold its rally on the center of campus during the four hours immediately preceding Tuesday evening’s high-profile debate.” http://thedc.com/oFyqe2

Romney’s Fundamental Problem”: Potomac Strategy Group’s Matt Mackowiak writes on TownHall.com: “Romney’s second bid for the presidency is best summarized by the following: he has a high floor and a low ceiling.  For most of 2011 he was the national frontrunner, until August 13, when Perry seized the moment in Charleston.  Did Romney falter?  No.  His support has always been narrow and shallow.  As CNN’s Peter Hamby wryly noted this week, Romney has polled below 26% nationally in all but three polls this year.  This is the very definition of a weak frontrunner. There is little enthusiasm for Romney anywhere but in New Hampshire, where he and his wife live on Lake Winnipesaukee; it’s a state where 80 percent of the electorate is covered by the Boston media market.” http://bit.ly/qWDyJx



@ buddyroemer : My campaign is about real reform. Fighting Special Interests. No Tax Loopholes. Fair Trade. Energy Innovation/Independence.  #freetolead


@ DMarkPOLITICO : David Mark on “Will Mormon attacks help Mitt?” politico.com/arena/perm/Dav… via  @POLITICO

@ KatrinaTrinko : It’s over for Perry: just received press release titled “Perry Under Fire for Wild Burro Slaughter.” Sure voters will never forgive.

@ USATOnPolitics : @THEHermanCain feels like Moses, says he’s ready for ‘gotcha’ questions.  usat.ly/pZwy3v


Mitt Romney holds a town hall meeting in Milford, N.H. at 11:45 a.m. At 3:45, he makes a stop at Robie’s Store in Hooksett. At 5:30, Romney holds a town hall in Hopkinton. Ann Romney attends a dinner event in Plymouth, N.H. at 5:15.

* At 11 a.m., Jon Huntsman delivers a speech on foreign policy at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett. At 1 p.m., he holds a town hall in Northfield/Tilton with Gov. Tom Ridge. He delivers the keynote address at the Grafton County GOP Columbus Day Dinner in Plymouth at 6 p.m.

* Rick Santorum campaigns across New Hampshire. He visits The Old Country Store in Moultonborough, N.H. at 11:45 a.m., attends the 100th year Anniversary Sandwich Fair in Center Sandwich at 12:35 p.m., will be the featured guest and keynote speaker for the Carroll County Golf Tournament in Center Ossipee at 2:20 and will host a town hall meeting at Concord Christian Academy in Concord at 7.

* Michele Bachmann holds a town hall meeting at New England College in Henniker, N.H. at 10 a.m.

* At 9 a.m., Gary Johnson makes a bike ride from Concord to Miles Smith Farm in Loudon followed by stops in Northwood, Durham and Dover.

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


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* For breaking political news and analysis check out The Note blog:  http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/ and ABCNews.com/Politics:  http://abcnews.com/politics

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