Mitt Romney Pivots To Foreign Policy But The Wall St. vs. Main St. Divide Dominates (The Note)

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

Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?

That’s the subtext of the major foreign policy speech Mitt Romney will deliver in South Carolina today, capping off a week when the once-again Republican front-runner has been competing for attention with two non-candidates — Sarah Palin and Chris Christie — and one racially-charged Texas rock that no one can seem to find.

But even as Romney tries to switch to Commander-in-Chief mode, today’s new jobs report is another reminder that the economy will drive this election. American companies added some 103,000 jobs to their payrolls in September, beating economists’ expectations. But the nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 9.1 percent — unchanged for the past three months.

And while President Obama may still be struggling to convince everyone he can fix the economy, keep in mind that 62 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing on threat of terrorism.

Back to your regularly-scheduled Romney programming: As ABC News’ John Berman and Emily Friedman note, in his remarks today, the former Massachusetts governor will call for a halt in cuts to defense spending, new spending on missile defense, and a review of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. And, according to excerpts of the speech provided to ABC News, Romney also plans to offer a biting critique of President Obama.

“If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your President,” Romney will say. “You have that President today.”

The speech is titled, “An American Century: A Strategy to Secure America’s Enduring Interests and Ideals,” and Romney plan to drive that point home.

“In an American Century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American Century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world,” he plans to say.

Allies of President Obama are not taking the speech lying down. One senior Democratic strategist offered this pre-buttal to the Note:

“Mitt Romney has a heckuva a feat in his seminal foreign policy speech…starting with how to untangle himself from his myriad of contradictory positions he has taken on foreign policy issues over the years,” the strategist said. “His second big feat will be to make a credible argument against President Obama’s leadership on the world stage. Romney’s criticisms of that stellar record are likely to come off petty and nothing more than politically motivated. Romney’s biggest problem though will be to show how his constant flip-flopping on foreign policy issues in the pursuit of political expediency is any different than his lack of convictions and values he has demonstrated on domestic issues over the last two decades.”

Democratic SuperPAC Priorities USA Action has also released a web video today called “Outsourcing,” which the group says highlights Romney’s “primary experience with foreign countries — shipping American jobs overseas.”

But even as Romney prepares to lambaste President Obama on foreign policy, tensions closer to home are once again dominating.

The Occupy Wall Street protests are getting the attention of everyone including the president and as the Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Weisman and Laura Meckler note, “the Democratic Party is grappling with the promise and peril of the anticorporate populism of the Occupy Wall Street movement, seeking to tap its energy without opening the party to charges of class warfare.”

At his news conference yesterday, President Obama acknowledged that the movement “expresses the frustrations that the American people feel.”

“The protestors are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works,” Obama said, added: “Now, keep in mind I have said before and I will continue to repeat, we have to have a strong, effective financial sector in order for us to grow.”

HOW ARE ‘WAL-MART MOMS’ REACTING? ABC Political Director Amy Walter offers some perspective on the Occupy Wall Street protests from focus groups, held this week, of Wal-Mart moms in Manchester, New Hampshire, Des Moines, Iowa and Orlando, Florida. These women, who ranged in age from about 25 to 55 and all had kids at home, would probably see these protests as a luxury. Like the people showing up for these protests, they are struggling economically. Almost everyone had experienced unemployment at home (themselves, husband, parent). All were struggling to find ways to make ends meet. All were worried about what the future would look like for their kids, but just making it day to day was their biggest priority. Many had raided college funds or stopped contributing to them. They are working two or three jobs and trying to find child care. If they had an extra 10 minutes they’d spend it with their kids – not on the streets. More important, they don’t blame any one thing for the current economic situation we’re in. Many pointed the finger directly at themselves – over extending on credit cards, buying a house they knew they couldn’t afford. One woman in Des Moines summed it up brilliantly: “There’s no one person to blame for getting us into this, but no one is getting us out.”


MORE ROMNEY PUSHBACK: THE HUNTSMAN ALTERNATIVE. “On Monday in New Hampshire, I will lay out my foreign policy vision and priorities, which will differ from the conventional thinking you will hear from some of my fellow Republican candidates — including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who will address the subject Friday,” presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, the former U.S. Ambassador to China, writes today in a Politico Op-Ed. “To protect American interests, we need to transform our foreign policy for the modern world. Simply advocating for more ships, more troops and more weapons isn’t a viable foreign policy. We need more agility, more intelligence and more economic engagement with the world. It’s time to erase the old map. End nation-building, engage our allies and fix our economic core. This is how we will fight the enemy we have — and renew American exceptionalism. … We are living in tumultuous times. Now more than ever, America needs a president who understands our complex and confusing world. Unlike my fellow candidates, my view of America’s role in the world is shaped by hands-on experience gained during four stints overseas and serving in foreign policy positions for three presidents — including ambassador to China.”


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Amy Walter and Zach Wolf anchor today’s edition of “Top Line,” which features Jonathan Karl’s “Subway Series” interview with presidential candidate Rick Santorum (preview below). Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.  


SANTORUM CALLS EARLY PRIMARIES AND CAUCUSES A ‘TRAVESTY’ Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum called the front loading of the primary schedule a “travesty” and placed blame for it on Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in an interview for ABC News’ “Subway Series” with Jonathan Karl. “If we are looking at Christmas Eve or Christmas day caucuses or the day after Christmas day caucuses this is a, this is really a travesty for the election nomination process of the president,” Santorum told ABC News.  “Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and we can shift it back. It doesn’t have to go back to the original schedule but at least shift it back until it is out of the holiday period. Santorum suggested that the leading candidates, especially Romney,  are trying to “disrupt” the process to have the primaries so early that other candidates simply won’t have the time to build enough momentum to take on the front runners. “Well this is clearly Mitt Romney and Rick Perry [who] I am sure are very interested in running the clock out,” Santorum told ABC News. “They are in a position where they have resources and name recognition. The shorter the time frame the less opportunity for other candidates to come up and catch them from behind.”    



SENATE DEMOCRATS GO (NEARLY) ‘NUCLEAR’ “Democrats invoked the so-called “nuclear option” to change the rules in the U.S. Senate, bypassing Republicans and evading two difficult votes, including one on President Obama’s jobs bill,” reports ABC’s Sunlen Miller. “The procedural precedent, which blocked Republicans from adding more amendments, could speed passage of a bill to punish China for currency manipulation. It could also open a Pandora’s box, forever altering the traditions of the senate and its role on Capitol Hill. The bickering was the culmination of months of arguments and fierce partisanship that revealed themselves tonight in a nasty fight over procedure that yielded little actual progress on legislation. After a marathon argument on the Senate floor for more than two hours, the precedent of the Senate was changed, none of the bills that were intended to get voted on did, votes were delayed until next week, senators have gone home for the holiday weekend with little to show for their work week, hurt feelings were on full display and there are now changes to Senate procedure that could have ramifications for years to come.”

KOCH’S ‘SECRET SINS’ “Charles and David Koch, the secretive billionaire brothers behind the Koch Industries, are a huge financial force in the conservative political movement. According to one estimate, they’ve contributed more than $100 million to conservative political causes, and a foundation that they back has trained thousands of Tea Party activists,” notes ABC News’ Brian Ross and Cindy Galli. “But now questions are being raised about the American values of the source of the Koch brothers’ wealth. This week’s edition of Bloomberg Markets reveals that one Koch Industries subsidiary was trading with Iran and that another subsidiary in France was paying bribes to get business in six different countries. In one previously undisclosed document from a French labor court case, Koch Industries admits the payments are ‘violations of criminal law.’ … David Koch declined to speak when ABC News caught up with him outside his Park Avenue apartment in New York City and asked him to respond to the magazine’s allegations.”

WHO IS HERMAN CAIN? ABC’s Shushannah Walshe digs into the presidential contender’s bio: “He’s best known as the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and often boasts on the campaign trail that he saved the Omaha, Neb.-based from bankruptcy. Cain, 65, also worked at Burger King, turning around failing stores in the Philadelphia region, was the CEO of the National Restaurant Association, and the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Mo.  He earned a master’s degree in computer science (1971) from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., after majoring in math at Morehouse College, the all-male historically black school in Atlanta. He also has ordained Baptist minister and conservative radio host on his resume. He has never held elective office but sees that as a bonus, telling voters at every opportunity, ‘the American people are ready for someone who is a businessman, problem solver, first’ rather than a politician. Cain is also a survivor of stage-four colon and liver cancer. He lives in Atlanta with wife Gloria. They have two children and three grandchildren. Unlike almost all campaign spouses, Cain’s wife of 43 years does not join him on the stump. … Spencer Wiggins worked for Cain at Burger King, following him to Omaha when Cain took over Godfather’s and says Cain is incredibly persuasive and motivational, bringing success to both companies. … At Godfather’s, Cain closed down low performing franchises as CEO, Wiggins said, but he was able to “turn the ship around.” The company lost jobs then but, Wiggins said, Cain created more than he lost under his stewardship. He hired employees who wanted to be at their restaurants, were focused on customer service and didn’t just see the position as a JOB, or ‘just on board,’ Wiggins said. Wiggins said Cain’s business success would make him a qualified president because ‘there is nothing superficial about him’ and he’s always been humble. Wiggins added that if someone tells Cain he can’t do something, it just ‘stimulates him more.’”

DO REPUBLICANS BELIEVE MARCO RUBIO? “While much of the political world had been obsessing over decisions by Chris Christie and Sarah Palin not to run for president, the freshman senator from Florida has been making a series of increasingly Shermanesque vows to turn down any offer to join a Republican ticket as a vice presidential candidate,” writes the Wahsington Examiner’s Byron York. “If Rubio sticks to his guns, it would be a crushing disappointment for many Republicans. At a recent GOP straw poll in Michigan, conducted just after the Republican debate in Orlando, Rubio was the solid winner in the vice presidential category, beating current presidential candidates (and eventual VP possibilities) Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann. … There are plenty of other Republican vice presidential possibilities, among them Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Sen. John Thune and the two governors who declined to run for president, Christie and Indiana’s Mitch Daniels. But Rubio, with his personal story, compelling speaking style and Tea Party credentials, will likely stay high on the list. And he could always change his mind. Yes, he would take some flak for it, but remember that some Republicans were begging Christie to run for president even after he said repeatedly he wasn’t ready for the job. A Rubio walkback wouldn’t be that hard.”



@ BCAppelbaum : Your monthly reminder that 25 million Americans still can’t find full-time work. A number this report does not budge.

@ lizzieohreally : These numbers make it clear: the problem is long-term unemployment.

@ pfeiffer44 : Economists tell the  @nytimes that the GOP jobs plan “won’t mean much for the economy and job market in the next year”

@ SteveCase : Can America find its entrepreneurial mojo again? @TheEconomist  @mattbish  @StartupAmerica

@THEHermanCain : Passing 100k followers on Twitter is another indication of the nationwide enthusiasm for our powerful message. Thank you!



Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann deliver remarks to the Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit taking place at the Omni Shoreham Hotel’s Regency Ballroom in Washington, D.C.

Mitt Romney speaks about foreign policy at The Military College Of South Carolina in Charleston at 10:45 a.m.

Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck host “Defending the Republic” event in St. Louis.

Ron Paul conducts Press Conference with Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) at 2:30 p.m. and delivers speech to “Restore Liberty Rally & BBQ” at 5:30 p.m. in Greenville, N.C.

Gary Johnson stops for lunch in Peterborough, N.H., before attending a benefit concert in Fitzwilliam that evening.

* Today marks the 10th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.

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