The 2012 Field Is Set, But The Calendar Isn’t (The Note)

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

Sarah Palin became the last major potential 2012 candidate to take herself out of contention for the presidential race last night, but that may not have been the biggest political drama of the day.

With Nevada’s decision to hold the state’s presidential caucuses on Jan. 14, 2012, Republicans there increased the likelihood that the first votes of the presidential election could actually be cast in December rather than January.

Why? Nevada’s push to keep its caucuses on a Saturday could move the New Hampshire primary as far up as Tuesday, Jan.  3. And if New Hampshire goes with that date, that means a December date for the Iowa Caucuses would be inevitable.

Primary voting in December is not a done deal. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner could choose to break with tradition and hold his state’s first-in-the-nation primary on a Saturday, but he told ABC News in recent days that he much prefers Tuesday.

Davidson College Professor Josh Putnum who studies the primary process and blogs about it on his site, FrontloadingHQ, writes that Gardner “has a hugely consequential decision to make now.”

“No, the decision doesn’t necessarily affect the candidates or the campaign overall, but depending on the decision, it could threaten the favored position New Hampshire enjoys now in future cycles,” Putnam notes.

And which state do we have to thank for all of this? Florida, which set a chain reaction in motion when officials there decided to hold the Sunshine State’s primary on Jan. 21, a violation of Republican National Committee rules.

With the dates of the Iowa and New Hampshire contests still to be determined, here’s how the calendar is starting to shape up:

Jan. 14 — Nevada Caucuses

Jan. 21 — South Carolina primary

Jan. 31 — Florida primary

Feb. 28 — Arizona and Michigan primaries

Mar. 6 – Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Idaho and Wyoming caucuses

UPDATE: IOWA GOP CHAIR WANTS TO AVOID DECEMBER CAUCUSES. Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn told ABC Political Director Amy Walter Thursday morning that he doesn’t think that Iowa has to move into December — and quite frankly would like to not see Iowa go then. New Hampshire rules say that there must be a seven-day window between “like” contests with New Hampshire. Since Nevada is a caucus, not a primary, Strawn said he believes that the rule doesn’t apply. This would allow the Granite State to hold a primary on Jan. 10 — four days ahead of Nevada. Iowa would then go the first week of January – most likely Jan. 5. Normally, Iowa waits until New Hampshire chooses its date before they pick the date of their caucus. Not so this time. New Hampshire Sec. of State Bill Gardner says he’s likely to wait until Oct. 28 before he picks his state’s primary date. Iowa may put out their date before then, Strawn indicated.

WHITE HOUSE WATCH: President Obama will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. in the East Room, ABC’s Mary Bruce notes, a last-minute addition to his schedule. In the afternoon at 1:45 pm the president will welcome the Texas A&M University Women’s Basketball Team to the White House to celebrate their 2011 NCAA championship.  Also on the White House grounds today, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will attend her husband’s retirement ceremony at 1 pm. At 4:30 pm, singer Shakira will be at the White House to discuss improving academic excellence and expanding educational opportunities.


WHY PALIN SAID ‘NO’. Sarah Palin reiterated her reasons for not seeking the GOP presidential nomination on Greta Van Susteren’s Fox News show tonight, saying that she considered whether not jumping into the race would be the end of her political career, ABC News’ Sheila Markiar notes. “If I say no to the opportunity that’s in front of me, politically speaking, will I die?,” she said, discussing her decision making process. “But no, after making the decision today and making the announcement, I know beyond a shadow of the doubt … I know that it’s the right decision.” Palin said she’s already receiving calls from the Republican presidential contenders seeking her endorsement and advice. “Good old Todd,” she said, referring to her husband. “He’s the one answering the phone and setting up meetings for us. I do look forward to hearing more personally from these politicians.” As for who’s calling, Palin said, “You’ll have to ask Todd.”

BEHIND HER DECISION. ABC’s Shushannah Walshe goes inside Palin world: “Sarah Palin kept her decision not to enter the 2012 presidential race shrouded in secrecy until the last minute — even to her closest confidantes. ABC News has learned that members of Palin’s staff were only very recently informed that she wouldn’t be running and that an announcement would likely come on Wednesday, but they were not informed of the exact details of how the information would be released. … A source with knowledge of the inner workings of SarahPAC said staff members’ initial reaction is that they don’t anticipate any major changes into how SarahPAC will be run after the announcement Their status hasn’t changed: they didn’t work for candidate yesterday and they don’t work for one today. As recently, as Tuesday afternoon Palin staffers still did not know if she was running and were keeping abreast of primary filing deadlines.”

WHAT DO PALINISTAS DO NOW? “Peter Singleton and Michelle McCormick left their jobs, homes, and families to move to Iowa to campaign for Sarah Palin. Wednesday evening they found out they didn’t have a candidate,” writes ABC’s Shushannah Walshe. “The former Alaska governor’s supporters founded a group called Organize4Palin to build a grassroots network and essentially campaign for her: go to county meetings, stump for Palin with politically connected Iowans, and form a loose campaign structure for what they saw as an inevitable Palin campaign. It turned out not to be. As the news broke that she would not run those supporters that were the most invested said they were ‘disappointed,’ but had ‘no regrets.’ McCormick, 28, left her home in Texas in March and was almost unbelievably commuting to Iowa on the weekends. In July she made it official moving to Iowa to stump for Palin believing she would run. She said she ‘respected’ her ‘role model’s’ decision. McCormick is single, but was away from both her family and career working around the clock for Palin. She said she was excited to ‘jump back to my real job’ as a title analyst for the oil and gas business and miss the Iowa winter. Her work gave her a leave of absence to come to Iowa, but she wouldn’t disclose how much of her own money she’s invested into her move to the Hawkeye state, but said she couldn’t just ‘sit on her couch hoping Sarah Palin would run.’ ‘I don’t regret doing it at all. It’s been a wonderful experience. I had the pleasure of meeting Gov. Palin and it’s been fun,’ McCormick said.”


LAUNCHING TODAY: YOUTUBE/POLITICS. Friend of The Note and Googler Rebecca Ginsberg alerts us to the launch of a new YouTube channel for the 2012 election cycle: From today’s announcement: “The new YouTube Politics site will feature the latest campaign ads, parodies, gotchas, and speeches, offering you a 360-view of the election. Wondering which candidate is surging and which candidate is falling flat on YouTube? The channel will let you take a deep dive into each candidate’s YouTube stats, so you can see which one has the most video views, subscribers and shares, as well as how they stack up against each other.  And from each candidate’s dashboard, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel to receive regular updates and videos from the campaign trail.”


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter interview Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga. Also on the program, Variety’s Ted Johnson. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.  


HERMAN CAIN: CAMPAIGNING ON HIS OWN TERMS. “On a whirlwind trip through New York City this week that marked the beginning of a nearly monthlong book tour, Herman Cain chatted with the hosts of ABC’s “The View,” promoted his new memoir on Fox News, met local titans like Donald Trump, shared ideas with former Mayor Edward I. Koch and enjoyed power lunching in Midtown,” the New York Times’ Susan Saulny reports. “Mr. Cain, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, did all but one thing — campaign. Not in the traditional meet-the-public and kiss-the-babies sense, anyway. And according to his public campaign calendar of events, where 19 of the 31 days of October are blank, there will not be much glad-handing in the immediate future. ‘I’m trying to run this campaign like a start-up business, which means lean and mean,’ Mr. Cain said in an interview on Tuesday, wearing his signature black cowboy hat. ‘There’s a new sheriff in town.’ This could be Mr. Cain’s moment.  But it is not clear that Mr. Cain, 65, has any particular plan to seize this moment, beyond using the attention to sell books. Like the other candidates vying to become credible alternatives to Mr. Romney and Mr. Perry, Mr. Cain is operating on a shoestring. He raised $2 million last spring. More money is coming in, he said, and he has 40 staff members, mostly in Southern states. Still, an adviser to the campaign said the campaign had only four people working in Iowa, and there is no plan to change strategy.”

IOWA’S WIDE OPEN SPACES. “Momentum may be the most prized asset for a presidential candidate in Iowa, but with less than three months likely remaining before caucus day, none of the Republican contenders seems to have garnered much of it,” writes Real Clear Politics’ Scott Conroy. “While Rick Perry maintains a slight lead in the latest RealClearPolitics average of Iowa polls, a reliable survey of likely caucus-goers in the nation’s first voting state has not been conducted since August. Most telling of how wide open the race remains in the Hawkeye State, not one Republican candidate has cracked the 30 percent barrier in any of the last five state polls included in the RCP average. ‘My feeling on the ground talking to Iowa Republicans is that they are still very much open to more than one candidate, and some of that is due to not meeting everyone on their list,’ said Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn. ‘It is incredibly fluid around the state. There’s still very much a dating aspect to which candidate a caucus-goer may end up with, and they’re not necessarily married to a candidate yet.’ Despite his recent slide in national polls, Perry will likely remain the top target for the rest of the GOP field to set their collective sights on in Iowa, where a victory remains a critical piece of the well-funded Texan’s overall strategy. The Perry campaign has dispatched seven field staffers to various regions of the state, and the candidate plans to ramp up his Iowa travel. Perry will make stops in the conservative western region of the state on Friday and Saturday and will return to Iowa following the next GOP debate in New Hampshire on Tuesday. Plans are also in the works for a third Iowa visit toward the end of the month.”

REID WANTS TWEAKS TO JOBS BILL. “Pressured to take up President Barack Obama’s jobs plan, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that the Senate could move forward this week on a modified version that changes the funding for the $447 billion package,” Politico’s Scott Wong reports. “The Nevada Democrat has proposed replacing the legislation’s current ‘pay-fors’ with a 5 percent surtax on those who earn more than $1 million a year. The tax increase, backed by the White House, would raise about $445 billion over 10 years, nearly the entire cost of the package. Reid’s tweaks to the American Jobs Act will surely anger Republicans who have dismissed Democrats’ attempts to raise taxes on the rich as class warfare. But he hopes the changes will help unify fellow Democrats, some of whom objected to the way that Obama planned to pay for the package. ’We’re going to move to have the richest of the rich pay a little bit more,’ Reid told reporters at a news conference.  Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who heads policy and messaging for Senate Democrats, said the $1 million threshold is their ‘preference,’ even though Democrats have pushed to end the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families making more than $250,000.”

OBAMA’S COURSE CORRECTION. In the aftermath of the debt-ceiling debate, the president held meetings to assess the damage, identify mistakes, and adjust his messaging and his team to put his candidacy on a stronger course, according to Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who is close to the White House,” reports Bloomberg’s Julianna Goldman. “The president also is trying to streamline the day-to-day management inside the West Wing. With Chief of Staff Bill Daley at the helm and senior adviser David Plouffe managing political strategy and message, it was at times unclear who was in charge of the process during the debt debate, said people aware of the internal dynamics who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly on the issue. Since then, senior adviser Pete Rouse has been re-engaged in handling more of the daily operations, said people familiar with the internal adjustments who spoke on the basis of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to discuss personnel matters. ‘There is no question that we have turned the page on what was a tough summer and are headed in the right direction,’ said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “Until we have an actual opponent where we can have a debate about the future, the president will be judged by the present.’”

DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS EMBRACE ‘OCCUPY WALL STREET’ “Democratic lawmakers have begun to embrace the Occupy Wall Street protests as they spread to Washington on Thursday, with some likening the movement to a Tea Party of the left,” reports The Hill’s Russell Berman. “Several liberal House lawmakers endorsed the protests Wednesday, and the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said they had been inspired by demonstrators who have been arrested by the hundreds in New York City. ‘We share the anger and frustration of so many Americans who have seen the enormous toll that an unchecked Wall Street has taken on the overwhelming majority of Americans while benefiting the super-wealthy,’ Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said in a joint statement. ‘We join the calls for corporate accountability and expanded middle-class opportunity.’ The fourth-ranking House Democrat, Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.), released a statement Wednesday saying, ‘The silent masses aren’t so silent anymore. They are fighting to give voice to the struggles that everyday Americans are going through.’ The statements of support came ahead of a large rally planned for Thursday just blocks from the White House. Organizers say they expect thousands of demonstrators at an event that will champion a bevy of liberal causes, including environmental activism, campaign finance reform, higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy and opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

FROM SPEAKER BOEHNER’S DESK:  House Speaker John Boehner’s office released a new infographic today on President Obama’s jobs bill: “All roads seem to be leading nowhere for the president’s economic bill amid questions the White House lacks a ‘clear strategy’ to pass it.  All roads, that is, except the House. With the White House failing to make any headway with job creators, the American people, and Senate Democrats, will President Obama finally work with Republicans to find common ground on removing barriers to job growth? That’s the question posed by a new infographic from the Office of the Speaker.”



@ jonkarl : iPhone 4s. For Steve.

@ ByronYork : In Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Palin decision is smallest story on front page.

@ Jon2012girls : Busy media day for dad! Catch him this morning on  @theviewtv at 11 am est

@ mattklewis : ICYMI: The argument against Herman Cain -…

@jonward11 :   @maggiepolitico scoops – coveted GOP bundler Paul Singer goes for Romney



Mitt Romney speaks to veterans in South Carolina. Ann Romney attends a fundraiser for Senate Representative Linda Miller in Bettendorf, Iowa.

* Herman Cain holds book tour events in Texas.

* Starting at 7 a.m. Gary Johnson kicks off his bike ride from the State House in Concord, N.H., with stops in Gilford, Alton, Wolfeboro, Moultonborough, Meredith and Laconia throughout the day.

Newt Gingrich speaks about his 21st Century Contract with America at 1:15 p.m. in Charleston, S.C.

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