Is The Herman Cain Train On A Collision Course With Mitt Romney? (The Note)

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

It is Herman Cain’s favorite question these days: Are you the flavor of the week?

“The answer is an emphatic ‘no,’” Cain said in New Hampshire yesterday, adding his favorite comeback line: “Haagen-Dazs Black Walnut tastes good all the time.”

That may be the case, but despite Cain’s surge in the polls — the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO is out in front of Mitt Romney, 27 percent to 23 percent, in the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll — there’s a growing chatter about Romney’s inevitability as the GOP nominee.

One sure sign of that, ABC’s Shushannah Walshe and Devin Dwyer report, is that the Obama team is focusing squarely on him. On a Wednesday conference cal l senior Obama strategist David Axelrod criticized Romney’s comments in Tuesday night’s Bloomberg-Washington Post debate in which he called President Obama’s proposed payroll tax cut extension a “little band aid” for dealing with a big economic problem.

He also aimed to paint Romney as a “flip flopper” on policy issues including his health care reform legislation in Massachusetts. The American people “want to know that where the president was yesterday is where he’ll be today, is where he’ll be tomorrow, and that the commitments that he makes are ones that they can count on,” Axelrod said.

Romney advisers dismiss the “inevitability” notion — and they have reason to. A look back at ABC News-Washington Post polling finds that where candidates sat at this point in past election cycles had little correlation to where they would end up at the end of the primary season.

In December of 2007, John McCain was trailing Mitt Romney by 17 points nationally (20 percent to 37 percent). In November of 2007, Barack Obama trailing Hillary Clinton by 23 points (26 percent to 49 percent). And December of 2003, John Kerry was at 7 percent. Howard Dean was at 20 percent.

Former Hillary Clinton spokesman, Phil Singer, told Walshe that when it comes to the inevitability label:  “You want to be inevitable, but not too inevitable because it takes away a sense of urgency from your supporters.”

With the candidates’ full financial disclosures for the last quarter about to be made public, money is going to be a big factor too. Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is struggling to get back into the game, have the resources to compete aggressively. And it’s only a matter of time before the Perry campaign starts spending big. When asked by reporters yesterday how much money his campaign has in the bank, Cain kept it simple: “Enough.”


ABC’s Jake Tapper reported for “Good Morning America” on Cain’s new-found momentum and his latest polling numbers. WATCH:


OBAMA, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE RAISED A COMBINED $70 MILLION IN Q3. “The Obama Campaign and Democratic National Committee raised a combined nearly $70 million for the 2012 campaign from July through September, the groups reported today in an email to supporters,” ABC’s Devin Dwyer reports. “Obama for America brought in $42.8 million, while the DNC banked $23.7 million, a campaign official told ABC News. The figures include transfers from the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account that funnels money to both groups. All 17 fundraisers Obama attended during the quarter supported the fund, with the first $5,000 of an individual’s contribution going to the Obama Campaign and the rest, up to $30,800, going to the DNC. Obama’s robust total, surpassing the campaign’s $55 million goal, reflects the continued effectiveness of his campaign money machine, and the advantages of incumbency to help turn out cash, all despite months of sagging poll numbers and flaring economic frustration. While Obama did not best George W. Bush’s record $50.1 million raised in the same period in 2003, he demonstrated that he retains a solid and growing base of grassroots financial support. More than 606,000 people donated to Obama in the third quarter, including 257,000 first-time donors.  The campaign has now received contributions from nearly 1 million Americans so far this year.”

GOP COUNTER-PROGRAMMING . “It’s no secret President Obama spends a lot of time fundraising and is the most successful fundraiser in history,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement. “Obama’s problem is he can’t replicate that success when it comes to creating jobs.”


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter talk to Chuck Loveless, Director of Legislation, for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of the country’s largest unions. Also on the program: James Pindell, New Hampshire’s WMUR-TV’s political director who will join the show from Manchester, NH. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.  


NOTED: Donald Trump’s top political guru, Michel Cohen, made his inaugural appearance on Fox News’ Sean Hannity show this week: “People are disgusted about what’s happening in Washington and there’s no other way to describe it,” Cohen said. WATCH :


IN THE NOTE’S INBOX: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced today that the results of its candidate recruitment efforts. From DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson: The DCCC will report candidates running in 60 Republican and open districts, reaching its recruitment goal for the year and putting in play more than twice the 25 seats needed to gain the majority. The newest recruits continue to reflect the values of their districts and have both traditional and non-traditional profiles including farmers, small business men and women, former Mayors, prosecutors, veterans and even an astronaut. As part of the ‘Drive to 25' campaign to win the House, the DCCC had pledged to put at least 60 Republican and open seats in play for the year but reached this benchmark three months early.” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said: “Buyer’s remorse has set in with Independent voters across the country who are reject the Republican agenda that ends Medicare and fails to create jobs while protecting special interests and the ultra wealthy at the expense of the middle class and seniors.”



HERMAN CAIN DISMISSES ROMNEY’S ‘SO-CALLED’ ECONOMIC PLAN. On the campaign trail on Wednesday, Herman Cain did not miss an opportunity to contrast himself with the candidate he is now challenging for the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination — Mitt Romney. When asked what he thought of Romney’s suggestion at Tuesday night’s debate that Cain’s 9-9-9 economic plan was too simplistic, the businessman turned presidential hopeful called it a “put down.” “A plan can be simple without being simple-minded,” Cain said. “Someone once said, ‘simplicity is genius.’ I believe that’s why I was attacked so much.”  “I think that’s what’s driving a lot of people crazy. They keep saying it’s too simple,” Cain said of his economic proposal. “It’s simple, it’s transparent, it’s efficient, it’s fair and it’s neutral. They’re having trouble with that.” Cain went on to recall the moment when, at the debate, he challenged Romney to name the 59 points of his economic plan. “His only response had to be, ‘well, you know not everything can be solved simplistically’ — yes it can,” Cain told reporters at the Ninety Nine Restaurant in Concord. And when it came to Romney’s solutions to getting the economy back on track, Cain continued to extoll the virtues of simplicity. “His so-called economic plan throws a lot of stuff in there that he’s trying to address. The biggest thing that he doesn’t do is throw out the current tax code. I throw out the tax code right away.”

ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked some economic experts to take a closer look at Cain’s 9-9-9 plan last on “World News” and found that it doesn’t add up for everybody. WATCH:

@ JimCourtovich : If anyone thinks the 9-9-9 plan has true legs ask Steve Forbes about his flat tax and the ’96 campaign.

PERRY HITS OBAMA ON ENERGY AND JOBS. “Texas Gov. Rick Perry aimed his attacks at President Obama’s energy and jobs policies Wednesday by criticizing the president’s speech in Pittsburgh Tuesday and by painting his own forthcoming energy and jobs plan as a direct contrast to the president’s,” ABC’s Arlette Saenz reports. “‘This president would rather listen to an environmental activist than he would the pleas and the cries of the people without a job,’ Perry said at the Indiana Republican Party’s Presidential Forum in Indianapolis. ‘The question is whether the president’s going to listen to his advisers on jobs or competiveness or is he going to listen to the activists that are pushing an agenda that pits environment against the economy,’ Perry added. ‘That’s what the question is. I’m going to be in Pittsburgh Friday and I’m going to announce my own energy jobs plan, and I can promise you this: I’m going to take the side of workers and employers in America. That’s who I’m going to be standing with.’ Perry is set to deliver his first major policy speech Friday at a steel plant in West Mifflin, Pa., where he will detail his energy and jobs plan, which he claims will put 1.2 million Americans to work in the energy sector. Perry did not share any specific proposals today that he’ll outline on Friday, but he stressed the need to open access to the country’s natural resources.”

TEA PARTY TAKES ON OCCUPY WALL STREET. “The tea party isn’t about to make room for the new protesters on the block,” Politico’s Robin Bravender and Kenneth P. Vogel report. “Big tea party groups have launched an attack against the Occupy Wall Street protests, challenging the line that the anti-corporate uprising is the ‘the tea party of the left.’ Tea partiers and their allies are looking to de-legitimize the protests circulating in the anti-Wall Street crowds, hunting for evidence of union ties, fringe rhetoric and bad behavior — ranging from news of arrests, to recordings of incendiary speeches, to tales of littering, drug use and debauchery. They’re posting what they find online, like a photograph of a demonstrator apparently defecating on a cop car that has circulated widely, and are accusing the mainstream media of ignoring extremist elements. Meanwhile, tea party groups are rallying their activist members by pointing to the new threat in pitches to raise money. The tea party’s swift counteroffensive — which is remarkably similar to the left’s response to the fledgling conservative movement when it burst onto the scene in 2009 – suggests that the onetime rag-tag operation has matured and feels the need to protect its reputation as the nation’s leading grass-roots protest movement.”

SCOTT BROWN CAUGHT PLAGIARIZING. A Democratic group has unearthed a bit of inspirational autobiography on Senator Scott Brown’s official website that was lifted verbatim from Elizabeth Dole’s site, language that originated in a campaign speech,” the Boston Globe’s Alex Katz reports. “In a message to students, the Massachusetts senator uses the exact words as remarks delivered by the former North Carolina senator at her campaign kickoff in 2002. Brown’s staff acknowledged yesterday the words originally were Dole’s and said their presence in Brown’s message was the result of a technical error. ‘I was raised to believe that there are no limits to individual achievement and no excuses to justify indifference,’ said the message from Brown, which was removed later yesterday. ‘From an early age, I was taught that success is measured not in material accumulations, but in service to others. I was encouraged to join causes larger than myself, to pursue positive change through a sense of mission, and to stand up for what I believe.’ Aside from the omission of an opening line – ‘I am Mary and John Hanford’s daughter’ — in Dole’s speech, the Bay State Republican’s language is the same throughout. The matching language was disclosed by American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal ‘super PAC’ that’s been scouring Republicans’ records ahead of next year’s elections. ‘This kind of plagiarism makes me wonder how many things about Scott Brown are really genuine,’ said Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge 21st Century.”

BACHMANN BREAKS MISSED-VOTE STREAK. “Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of two members of the House of Representatives vying for the GOP presidential nomination, snapped her streak of consecutive votes missed at 88, ending a run that dated back to Aug. 1,” ABC’s John R. Parkinson reports. “Bachmann, R-Minn., had missed many of the votes while campaigning for president and participating in presidential debates over the past eight weeks. Today, she voted six times, including casting votes in favor of three free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.”

WHITE HOUSE WATCH: From ABC’s Mary Bruce: The morning after Congress passed a long-delayed trade agreement with South Korea, President Obama will welcome President Lee Myung-bak and first lady Kim Yoon-ok of South Korea to the White House today for an official state visit. The two leaders actually kicked off their visit Wednesday night, going out for Korean barbeque in northern Virginia. Obama and Lee have a full day of events planned, including an Oval Office bilateral meeting, a Rose Garden joint news conference and, of course, an official state dinner.

NOTABLE: From a Friend of the Note: “On Thursday, October 13, Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council and Fred P. Hochberg, the chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), will host a conference call to announce the Bank’s FY2011 record-breaking numbers. They will discuss how export growth is vital to our economic recovery and how Ex-Im Bank financing is supporting and creating jobs across the country in amounts never before seen in the Bank’s 77-year history.”



@ rickklein : 2 GOP primary races playing out simultaneously – one for heart, one for head. Cain surging in one, Romney solid in the other.

@ Jordanfabian : Upset over booing of gay soldier at last debate RT  @evanmc_s: ICYMI, the heckler from the NH debate has come forward

@ ThePlumLineGS : We don’t live in Tea Party Nation after all: Two new polls find support for Occupy Wall Street. In AM Roundup:

@ nickconfessore : NYT: In Nebraska, Senate Democrats testing limits of federal anti-coordination rules on independent expenditures.

@ HowardKurtz : Tired of everyone dissing Blackberry as unhip. Best email device ever created. Just happens to suck at everything else.



* Mitt Romney delivers a speech on trade in Seattle.

* Herman Cain campaigns in Ohio.

* Rick Perry’s wife, Anita Perry, campaigns for her husband in South Carolina.

Jon Huntsman speaks at a Portsmouth Rotary Club Meeting in Greenland, N.H. at noon. In the afternoon, he speaks at a Forum hosted By Senator Warren Rudman at St. Anselm College.

Michele Bachmann holds a town hall in Denison, Iowa at 4:30 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., she attends the Woodbury GOP Fundraiser in Sioux City.

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