An Economic Interlude in Michigan, Super Committee Drama, Mt. Rushmore and Christmas Trees… Since the AM Note

Mt. Rushmore Reimagined – Here’s what Mt. Rushmore would look like if every GOP candidate got their wish on who to add.

Michigan Debate – Now back to politics – If we can stop thinking about Christmas trees and sexual harassment scandals for two hours tonight, the focus will be on the economy at a GOP presidential debate in Michigan. It will be a good day for the pivot – the DOW fell more than 400 points today. We’re trying to recall a question during a Republican debate on the financial crisis in Europe. Hasn’t been one, we don’t think.

Wednesday was a day without a Herman accuser or a Herman Cain interview. All eyes are on Michigan, where the candidates will gather for a debate on the economy.

It’ll be a good opportunity to again put Mitt Romney on the spot in the state where his father was governor for his opposition to the auto bailout. He talked again about it to George Stephanopoulos yesterday.

Matt Jaffe’s preview: “Few states have been hurt worse by the country’s faltering economy than Michigan, where the unemployment rate still hovers at 11 percent, 2 percent higher than the national average. The automotive industry, so crucial to this state, has tried to bounce back after receiving federal bailout money, first under the Bush administration and now under Obama’s.”

Debate Numbers  - Notes Elizabeth Hartfield: Tonight’s debate on CNBC will be the ninth debate of the 2012 primary season. It is the sixth debate featuring the full GOP field.  After tonight there are 14 more debates left on the books, stretching into the middle of March. March 19th is currently the last debate scheduled. (The Iowa Caucus, recall, is in early January).

Super Drama – With just two weeks until its deadline to reach agreement on cutting $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit over the next 10 years, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction today reached a tense and prickly moment, according to John Parkinson and Sunlen Miller on Capitol Hill. But reports of demise are premature even though Rand Paul, who is not a member of the supercommittee, told ABC that the six Democrats who sit on the supercommittee are “no longer negotiating.”

“We haven’t stepped away from anything,” said Patty Murray, D-Wash. “There’s a lot of conversation and a lot of work going on.” More from Parkinson and Miller:

Wives Club – Backstage, there will be a sort of political “wives club” among three of the candidates’ spouses. They’ve grown friendly on the campaign trail even as their husbands have sparred. Arlette Saenz was the first to report on the bond between Mrs. Gingrich, Mrs. Perry and Mrs. Huntsman.

Hal Bruno Remembered – It was a sad day in the ABC family as Hal Bruno, longtime political director here, died in Maryland. He was a fireman and a political junkie. Read this:

Christmas Tree Tax Felled – If the subject turns to taxes, there’s one – a fifteen cent tax on fresh-cut Christmas trees – the candidates won’t be able to complain about. It took a Drudge Report banner headline and about three hours before the White House put that one on hold. Jake Tapper broke the news.

Can Cain Survive? Mary Matalin told George Stephanopoulos she thinks so… “”If he stays unequivocal and he stays as non -defensive about it. But he needs to be quit being inoperative. He needs to quit casting blame,” Matalin said.

Le Hot Mic – More from Tapper on the Obama / Sarkozy / Netanyahu hot mic imbroglio:

Only a Test – The fallout from first-ever test of a nationwide National Emergency Alert System did not go quite as planned. Perhaps a good reason for more tests, as Steven Portnoy points out.

Mandate This! – We learned yesterday that the voters of Ohio don’t like to curb collective bargaining rights. But they don’t care much for the “individual mandate” in the President’s health reform law. Those mixed messages are interesting a year out from election day. The matter will ultimately go to the courts. And a DC District Court of Appeals  upheld the mandate Tuesday. Our Ariane de Vogue took another look at the dissent by Republican-appointed Judge Brett Kavanaugh, which she said is informative:

Sherrod Brown said the results in Ohio are a win for Democrats. And he said the Obama campaign operation isn’t ignoring Ohio. Brown was on Top Line:

Rove Using Clinton v. Obama – Karl Rove and Crossroads unveiled a devilish ad that pits former President Bill Clinton against President Obama. From Devin Dwyer: Crossroads GPS says it’s spending $2.6 million across five states to blast Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on wealthier Americans and corporations to help pay for his jobs bill. The ad prominently includes a clip of former President Clinton from an Oct. 13 appearance on the “Late Show With David Letterman” saying he opposed raising taxes right now. “Should you raise taxes on anybody right today — rich or poor or middle class? No,” the clip has Clinton saying, a clear attempt to contrast the popular former president with Obama. Clinton attacked the ad today, saying it took his words out of context.

Farmer’s Kid – Rick Perry, still flagging in the polls, but flush with money, was up with a new ad in key states today touting his upbringing in Paint Creek as the son of farmers. Who else thinks we’ll hear him talk about Paint Creed at the debate in Michigan?

Federal Swag – There are lots of things President Obama can do as part of his “We Can’t Wait” campaign to issue executive orders. What’s funny is that the latest is to curtail swag – mugs and shirts and things – bought by the federal government. What’s not funny is that the order is supposed to save $4 billion. More from Mary Bruce.

NARAL Happy with Mississippi – And here’s NARAL President Nancy Keenan talking about the vote against a “Personhood” amendment yesterday even in socially conservative Mississippi: