2012 Candidates Tea Partying Like It’s 2010 (The Note)

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

For anyone wondering whether the influence of the Tea Party has waned since the 2010 midterm elections that swept so many of its acolytes into office, just look how the presidential candidates and potential candidates are flocking to Tea Party events this weekend.

Last night the Tea Party Express announced that Sarah Palin would be a late addition to their Labor Day rally in downtown Manchester, N.H. on Monday.

“We are always thrilled to have Sarah Palin join one of our rallies,” Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer said in a statement. “She is an electrifying figure in conservative politics and a hero to the tea party movement.” http://abcn.ws/oy5UQV

Palin will be coming from Iowa where on Saturday she will be headlining another Tea Party event — that one sponsored by the group, Tea Party of America. While Palin has long sought to cast herself as a leader within the movement, presidential candidate Mitt Romney has not. Not until now, at least.

Romney rearranged his schedule yesterday to not only participate in a Tea Party Express event in New Hampshire on Sunday night, but also to attend a forum in South Carolina organized by two Tea Party stalwart, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

Romney has been trying to cozy up to the Tea Party lately. When he was asked in New Hampshire earlier this month whether he considered himself a member of the Tea Party, he said, “I don’t know that you sign a membership. What I consider myself is someone who is in sync with the Tea Party.”

One of the biggest reasons why Romney might think now is a good time to start worshipping at the Tea Party altar is pretty clear: Rick Perry.

Perry, the new front-runner for the Republican nomination, gets the support of 35 percent of those GOP primary voters who identify themselves as Tea Partiers, according to a recent Gallup poll. That’s more than double the Tea Party backing of either Romney or Michele Bachmann (both received 14 percent support among Tea Party Republicans in the poll.)

It’s an even more frightening prospect for Romney when you take into account the fact that Tea Partiers are “the most engaged and committed segment of the Republican base,” according to the Pew Research Center. As Huffington Post senior polling editor Mark Blumenthal observes, “Perry has emerged as the leader with the portion of the Republican party most likely to vote or participate in party caucuses.”

Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, who broke the news of Romney’s new Tea Party-focused Labor Day weekend schedule yesterday, noted that the “Romney camp dismisses the suggestion that this is in response to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s rise in the polls.”

And a new survey out this morning from Quinnipiac University represents as much a bright spot as a warning sign for Romney backers. The numbers provide more confirmation that in less than a month as an official presidential candidate Perry has shot to the head of the pack. The Texas governor wins the support of 24 percent of Republican voters compared to 18 percent who favor Romney.

But here’s the rub: Romney does better in a general election match-up with President Obama. Right now, the former Massachusetts governor and Obama are tied with about 47 percent a piece. On the other hand, if the election were held today, Perry gets beat by Obama 45 percent to 42 percent.

@ jimgeraghty : For ten years, liberal Washington columnists barely noticed Rick Perry. Today, he’s suddenly the most dangerous man on Earth.


PERRY: WHO YOU CALLING DUMB? Questions about Perry’s intelligence have circulated through the news media this week — one political website posted a story with the headline, “ Is Rick Perry Dumb?” ABC’s Arlette Saenz notes. But the Texas governor turned the tables yesterday, telling conservative radio host Sean Hannity just what he thinks is “dumb.” “What’s dumb is to oversee an economy that has lost that many millions of jobs,” Perry said of President Barack Obama’s record in the White House, “to put unemployment numbers over his four years will stay probably at 9 percent, to downgrade the credit of this good country, to put fiscal policies in place that were a disaster in the 30's and try them again in the 2000's – that’s what I consider to be the definition of dumb.” http://abcn.ws/qIEfRI

MAN WITH A PLAN: JON HUNTSMAN. “Jon Huntsman will deliver his first policy speech at Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson, New Hampshire this afternoon, introducing a four-part strategy to resolve the United States’ jobs crisis, ABC’s Sarah Kunin reports. “A source close to the campaign tells ABC News that Huntsman’s plan is titled: ‘Time to Compete: An American Jobs Plan.’ The speech will address tax reform, regulatory reform, energy independence, and free trade. Huntsman will highlight the same core values he has tackled on the campaign trail, largely focusing on American competitiveness in the global marketplace. ‘The President believes that we can tax and spend and regulate our way to prosperity,’ Huntsman is expected to say in his prepared remarks. ‘We cannot. We must compete our way to prosperity. When I was born, manufacturing comprised 25 percent of our GDP. Today, it’s down to 10 percent. This does not reflect a decline in American ingenuity or work ethic; it reflects our government’s failure to adapt to the realities of the 21st Century economy. We need American entrepreneurs not only thinking of products like the iPhone or Segway; we need American workers building those products.  It’s time for Made in America to mean something again.’” http://abcn.ws/pF3NvU

MORE ON WHAT HUNTSMAN WILL SAY: “Huntsman will focus on American competitiveness and the need for serious leadership and serious solutions in order to turn our economy around,” a Huntsman spokesman tells the Note. “He will indict the President for his failure to lead on the most important issue of the day and his opponents for their willingness to let our nation default during the debt ceiling crisis.”


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE. ABC’s Rick Klein and Zach Wolf sit down with Neil Patel, former Senior Adviser to Former Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney out with a new memoir that reveals juicy details inside the George W. Bush White House. Later on the show, Jared Bernstein, former Chief Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.  http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc

“TOP LINE” REPLAY: WASHINGTON CRIBS: ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter took a tour of the Washington headquarters of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Frank Coleman, DISCUS’ senior vice president for public affairs, was their tour guide and historian. As Klein writes, “Coleman has a full plate of legislative business in Washington and beyond – taxation issues, import policies, Sunday sales. And your glass is never empty in his office.” http://abcn.ws/q5p8C4


WHITE HOUSE WATCH:  President Obama will focus on jobs today by calling on Congress to pass an extension of the “Highway Bill” and a longer extension of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization, claiming both measures are necessary to protect the American workforce, ABC’s Mary Bruce reports. Obama will be joined by business leaders and CEOs in a mid-morning event in the Rose Garden, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Chamber of Commerce COO David Chavern and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Also invited to the White House are workers who would be affected if Congress fails to act on these measures.



ROMNEY VS. PERRY. In a speech yesterday in Texas — Rick Perry’s home turf — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney deployed a veiled attack line against the Texas governor, one that we’re certain to hear more of during the primary season. In his remarks, Romney blasted “career politicians” — a dig aimed as much at Perry as it is at Democrats in Washington. “I am a conservative businessman,” Romney told the audience at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in San Antonio. “I have spent most of my life outside of politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy. Career politicians got us into this mess and they simply don’t know how to get us out.”

PERRY VS. ROMNEY. Perry’s spokesman said Romney’s swipe at career politicians couldn’t possibly be directed at Perry, whose resume boasts several years working outside of government. “Governor Perry was a farmer and served in the Military for a combined 19 years,” Mark Miner, Perry’s spokesman told ABC News. ”Mitt Romney must have been talking about someone else in his remarks today.” http://abcn.ws/oNQcQU

ROMNEY’S TEA PARTY BACKLASH. “A top tea party organizing group, FreedomWorks, is planning to protest Mitt Romney’s appearance this weekend at a New Hampshire stop of a bus tour intended to encourage tea party sympathizers to participate in the Republican presidential nominating process,” Politico’s Ken Vogel reports. “Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is among the leading candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, but is viewed warily by tea party activists, who believe him to be insufficiently conservative and particularly blame him for Massachusetts state healthcare overhaul he signed into law. … FreedomWorks, which had been participating in the Tea Party Express’s tour and had helped turn out activists at rallies during prior stops, decided it could no longer be affiliated with the tour, said Brendan Steinhauser, a lead organizer for FreedomWorks. Instead, it began working with local New Hampshire tea party groups to organize a counter rally set for about the same time in the same park in Concord as Romney’s speech. ‘We have to defend our brand against poseurs,’ said Steinhauser.” http://politi.co/nQPgud

SUPERCOMMITTEE LAWMAKERS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS. “Republicans on the bipartisan Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction met for several hours Tuesday, taking a quick break from their district work periods to set the foundation for what is shaping up to be weeks of negotiations,” reports Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner. “The three House Members and three Senators huddled in the Cannon House Office Building to review previous bipartisan efforts to rein in the debt, including the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which failed last year to formally advance its plan to Congress after nine months of work, as well as agreements reached over the spring among lawmakers who gathered with Vice President Joseph Biden, sources said. Under a debt ceiling and deficit reduction law enacted at the beginning of August, the bipartisan, bicameral panel must find $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion worth of savings to avoid setting off automatic spending cuts that would put a significant dent in defense spending and Medicare. Much of Tuesday’s meeting, however, was focused on administrative details and the logistics of the next few months, a task that might seem straightforward at first blush but has plagued recent working groups, including the one guided by Biden.” http://bit.ly/qPE5yZ


@EricFehrn :  Notes from Foster’s Daily Democrat ed board with Romney: “relaxed,” “personable,” “comfortable in his own skin.” tinyurl.com/43jmgwj

@ woodhouseb: . @EricFehrn kind of sad when you have to actually promote that your guy is “comfortable in his own skin.”

@ adamsmithtimes : More than 250 turned out for Ann Romney $raiser in Orlando

@ McCormackJohn : Dem congressman says some GOP congressmen “would love to see” black people “hanging on a tree”  http://j.mp/nH68H7

@ chamberflack : Watch the U.S. Chamber’s annual Labor Day press briefing LIVE at 10am ET on  @cspan -  cs.pn/edasED


(all times local)

President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness hosts a “listening and action” session at Portland State University in Oregon at 11 a.m.

* Herman Cain will address the Georgia State Senate at 10:30 a.m.

Jon Huntsman announces his jobs plan at Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson, N.H., at 4:30 p.m.

Michele Bachmann speaks at the Tea Party Express Rally in Des Moines, Iowa, at 5 p.m.

Rick Santorum tours McLanahan Corporation in Hollidaysburg and JWF Industries in Johnstown, Penn., in the morning.


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


* Get  The Note delivered  to your inbox every day. * For breaking political news and analysis check out The Note blog:  http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/ and ABCNews.com/Politics:  http://abcnews.com/politics