Mitt Romney's Good News-Bad News Numbers

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

Will slow and steady win the race for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney?

He’s already winning the electability argument — 33 percent of Republicans and Republican leaning independents choose him as the candidate most likely to beat President Obama one  year from now, according to the results of the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll.

Even so, our pollster Gary Langer notes “fewer, 24 percent, support him for the nomination, basically steady the past three months, and slightly down from his peak support, 30 percent, in July.”

Why? Here are a few reasons:

–Only 17 percent of GOP voters see Romney as the most “honest and trustworthy” candidate compared to 22 percent who say so about Herman Cain, who has spent the last week battling sexual harassment allegations.

–Similarly, just 17 percent say Romney is the candidate who best understands “the problems of people like you” versus 21 percent for Cain.

–Forty-eight percent of leaned Republicans say Romney’s involvement in passing health care reform in Massachusetts makes them less likely to back him, including a third much less likely.

“Romney’s overall support for the nomination, in turn, declines from 31 percent among moderates to 21 percent among conservatives and 15 percent among leaned Republicans who describe themselves as very conservative — a group accounting for nearly three in 10 potential GOP voters,” according to Langer.

So, what’s the former Massachusetts governor to do?

While other candidates like Cain tout their unorthodox campaign, so far Romney appears to be following a mostly traditional path to capturing the Republican presidential nomination. He’s raising money at a steady clip, he’s the strongest contender in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, and all of a sudden, it looks like he’s taking Iowa more seriously.

A win in Iowa and a win in New Hampshire could be the knock-out blow that clinches the race for him much earlier than many have been anticipating. Today Romney embarks on his third trip to Iowa since announcing his candidacy. He will visit the Eastern part of the state, holding events in Dubuque and Davenport, places where he performed well in the 2008 Caucuses.

One of the reasons why the Romney campaign is taking another look at competing more aggressively in the Hawkeye State is to thwart rival Rick Perry’s ambitions there. Perry is already up on the air with a significant radio and television ad buy. And here’s an interesting dispatch from ABC’s Emily Friedman, who is on the ground in Iowa: “I had the TV on for fifteen minutes here in Dubuque and saw Rick Perry’s campaign ad twice.”

ABC’s Jonathan Karl dives into Romney’s poll numbers in his “Good Morning America” spot today. WATCH:

@ ddkochel : Love it!  @EricFehrn: Employees at Giese Manufacturing in Dubuque cut a steel Romney logo for today’s event

DEMOCRATIC COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. “The Iowa Democratic Party will hold a press conference in Dubuque and media availability in Davenport to speak out against Mitt Romney’s plan to weaken middle class security.”

NOTED: Today will mark 13 public events in Iowa this year for Romney, including debates and those before he was an official candidate, according to ABC’s Emily Friedman. Romney has held 45 public events in New Hampshire.  Today will be his 8th and 9th event since launching his campaign in Iowa, including the Fox News Debate.


TUNE IN TOMORROW: ABC NEWS AND YAHOO! KICK-OFF THE ELECTION YEAR BY INTERVIEWING EACH OF THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES LIVE FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. The interviews will be a part of the “Newsmakers” series with Yahoo! News and will be live-streamed on and Portions of the interviews will also air on ABC News broadcasts and platforms including “World News with Diane Sawyer,” “Good Morning America,” “Nightline,” “This Week with Christiane Amanpour,” and ABC News Radio.

George Stephanopoulos interviews Mitt Romney in Chicago, Illinois

Jonathan Karl interviews Herman Cain in Scottsdale, Arizona

Christiane Amanpour interviews Rick Perry in Austin, Texas

Jake Tapper interviews Newt Gingrich in Washington, DC

Terry Moran interviews Ron Paul in Clute, Texas

Ron Claiborne interviews Michelle Bachmann in Charleston, SC

John Berman interviews Rick Santorum in Manchester, New Hampshire

Sharyn Alfonsi interviews Jon Huntsman in Coral Gables, Florida

Tune in on and throughout the day Tuesday, November 8th for live interviews with the republican presidential candidates. Submit your questions to the candidates at or on Twitter with the hashtag #askGOP.

WHERE THEY STAND: The Associated Press is out today with a massive roundup of where all of the major GOP presidential candidates stand on the issues. Here’s the guide, courtesy of the AP’s Calvin Woodward:

PREVIEW: BACHMANN IN WASHINGTON. Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann will discuss “the role of government in the lives of Americans and the principles that will govern her policies” at Family Research Council Action in Washington, DC this morning. The speech, which begins at 10:15 a.m., will be streamed live:

Here’s an excerpt of her remarks as prepared for delivery: “Today, President Obama appears intent on stretching, bending, and ignoring the Constitution by abusing executive power and picking and choosing which laws he will enforce. My explanation of constitutional government is for something far more important than a menu of policy details. I want you to know the principles that will govern my decision making as President. When events arise and facts change and Congress intervenes, policies have to adapt. Principles however, should be unchanging. They should be the core of one’s conviction. I will understand from Day One what the current President does not: When the American people entrust someone with the awesome power of the Presidency, they have given that person the privilege of serving under our Constitution, not a license to put themselves above it.”


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”:  ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter talk to O. Kay Henderson, a Radio Iowa reporter and a Hawkeye State reporting institution who will join us live from Dubuque, Iowa where Romney will be campaigning today. Also on the program, Christopher Lee, founder of Highstar Capital, an infrastructure investment firm. Lee recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post called “Reconstructing the American Dream.” Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.  

“THIS WEEK” REPLAY: HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER. As the struggle between the White House and Congress over how to get Americans back to work has heated up in recent weeks, House Speaker John Boehner’s relationship with President Obama has grown “frosty,” the Ohio Republican said on Sunday.. But he maintains that they still have a “pretty good relationship” and they can work together on job creation measures and to reach a long-term deficit reduction plan in Congress this month. “The president and I have a pretty good relationship,” Boehner said in an exclusive interview with “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour. “It’s been a little frosty here the last few weeks. But we’ve got a pretty good relationship. “That doesn’t mean that we always agree,” Boehner added. “But the American people expect, even though we have very different ideas, the American people want us to look for common ground and then act on it. … We’ve taken some steps in the right direction here over the last couple of months. We’ve got a lot more steps to take together.” (via ABC News’ Imtiyaz Delawala).



ONE YEAR OUT, OBAMA RE-ELECTION OPERATION IS IN THE MONEY. Faced with a deeply disillusioned electorate and sluggish economy, President Obama is hanging his re-election chances on an aggressive grassroots ground campaign in swing states, and a mountain of cash to bankroll attacks on his future Republican opponent over the air,” reports ABC’s Devin Dwyer. “Over the past six months, the Obama campaign’s state-level operations have blossomed, re-commissioning offices and volunteer networks kept warm by Organizing for America since 2008 while adding new outreach centers to help raise the president’s profile on the ground. Obama now has campaign offices in all 50 states, opening on average three new field offices each week, said campaign manager Jim Messina.  State volunteers threw open the doors to dozens more over the weekend, from Michigan to New Hampshire, in a coordinated push exactly one year to Election Day. ‘We have to ramp up our work now to create the kind of campaign we need to win in 2012,’ Obama national field director Jeremy Bird wrote in an email to supporters last week.”

WARNING SIGNS FOR THE PRESIDENT. “One year out from the 2012 election, President Obama faces the most difficult reelection environment of any White House incumbent in two decades, with economic woes at the center of the public’s concerns, an electorate that is deeply pessimistic and sharply polarized, and growing questions about the president’s capacity to lead,” the Washington Post’s Dan Balz, Jon Cohen and Chris Cillizza wrote over the weekend. “Those factors alone portend the possibility that Obama could become the first one-term president since George H.W. Bush, who was defeated by Bill Clinton in 1992 at a time of economic problems and similar anger with the political establishment in Washington. To win a second term, Obama probably will have to overcome the highest rate of unemployment in an election year of any president in the post-World War II era. … Given the public mood and the president’s standing, the 2012 election will bring a dramatic shift from the hope-and-change enthusiasm generated by Obama’s first run for the White House. The race will be not only more competitive but also far more negative. Geographically, the election will be won or lost in roughly a dozen states, beginning with most of those Obama took away from the Republicans in his first election but including a handful of traditional battlegrounds that may be more competitive than they were in 2008.”

@ rickklein : Three years after politics of hope swept the nation, anger is President Obama’s new hope. w/  @ABCWorldNews vid:

“The outlook is decidedly grim going into the final year before the 2012 election. That applies, of course, to an incumbent who’s watching sagging approval ratings and a soaring unemployment rate certain that he faces significant challenges in securing a second term,” Klein writes in his Political Insights column. “But Republicans are also suffering from the public’s ire a year out. Even as they relish the prospect of taking on a very beatable incumbent, they are grappling with an unsettled field that features weak frontrunners, and facing some of the same anger that’s frustrated the president.”

HOW NEWT GINGRICH GOT HIS GROOVE BACK. Newt Gingrich is enjoying a modest rise in polls and in fund-raising, the latest sign of volatility in the Republican presidential field as Mitt Romney struggles to expand his popularity with GOP voters and Herman Cain fends off decade-old sexual-harassment allegations,” the Wall Street Journal’s Patrick O’Connor reports. “In a race defined by unexpected shifts, Mr. Gingrich has rebounded from a widely panned start to place third in four of the past five publicly available polls of GOP voters, though well behind front-runners Messrs. Cain and Romney. The former House speaker’s campaign said it took in more than $1 million since Oct. 1, more than Mr. Gingrich raised in the three months ended September. … ‘If Cain’s problems do real damage, the next beneficiary is likely to be Gingrich,’ said Phil Musser, a GOP consultant who is unaffiliated. ‘Frankly, the race to become the chief alternative to Romney reminds me of ‘Musical Chairs: GOP Edition.’ The next round is about to begin, but nobody knows who will get the seat when the music finally stops.’”

THE NOTE’S TAKE: The spotlight has been unkind to every other candidate who has broken in to the top tier. Newt’s got plenty of baggage, but it’s also been picked over pretty well. And voters now have the chance to put that baggage into context. What’s a bigger disqualifier for Republican voters: expensive taste in jewelry or terrible debate performances?  The longer the race is defined by debates — all the better for Newt. But, when the race gets into brass tacks of campaigning — organizing caucuses, running ads, and strategizing the debate calendar — is when Newt’s lack of serious fundraising and top flight staff could doom his trajectory.

BEHIND THE SCENES AT A PROGRESSIVE POWERHOUSE. “So far this year, the [Progressive Change Campaign Committee] — part political consulting firm, part lobby shop — has raised more than $1 million for its advocacy and campaign work, according to federal filings, and has raised nearly $600,000 for five Democrats running for Congress in 2012,” Roll Call’s Janie Lorber notes. “On the trail, they shape candidates’ messages, produce advertisements and staff campaigns, hoping that when the candidates get to Washington, they will support the PCCC agenda. Two lobbyists work on behalf of PCCC’s nonprofit advocacy arm, P Street Project, and like others on K Street, make financial contributions to lawmakers who advance their cause. When Rep.Brad Miller (D-N.C.) introduced a bill to make it easier for customers to switch banks, PCCC helped raise $10,000 for his campaign. When Democratic Reps. Jared Polis (Colo.) and Chellie Pingree(Maine) wrote a letter in support of the public option during the health care debate, PCCC rewarded each with a $30,000 check. ‘When candidates are in election mode, we try to teach them how to work with progressives,’ said Adam Green, who co-founded the group in December 2008.”

HUNTSMENTUM? Here’s an exchange from Sunday’s “This Week” roundtable:

Arianna Huffington: Remember, there is a dark horse, and that’s Jon Huntsman, who does know that China has nuclear capabilities.

Christiane Amanpour: OK, but the latest predictors say that Jon Huntsman would be — I mean, if you look at the New York Times, that mathematical algorithm they came out with, they say that actually Huntsman would be the most serious challenger, but he doesn’t have a hope, it seems, because…

Matthew Dowd: The voters get to make that decision. And the voters do not like Jon Huntsman in the Republican Party.

Arianna Huffington: At the moment. At the moment. As all the front-runners are imploding, one after the other, and as Mitt Romney is so radioactive, to continue the nuclear metaphor, Jon Huntsman may be the last man standing.

@ jack_welch : Wow! Huntsman performance MTP very impressive. Thoughful and Presidential.Better 1on1 than debate. Deserves a second look

@ DStraussTheHill : Halperin: “Huntsman in New Hampshire has, I think, as good a chance as anybody to beat Mitt Romney.”



@ jimdavenport_ap : AP Analysis – Cain turmoil major distraction for GOP:

@ ehuetteman : “He’s just like people describe him: just very wooden,” passenger says of Romney after sitting next to him on flight:

@ SusanPage : Bill Clinton’s ‘bridge to the 21st century’ hits a dead end. He has some ideas what to do next. USA TODAY interview:

@ KYTrey : Harvard Gazette story re: the  @HarvardIOP restoration of JFK’s Senior Year room in Winthrop House.…

@ MelanieDNC : Happy birthday  @woodhouseb!



* Mitt Romney will speak to employees at Giese Manufacturing in Dubuque, Iowa. Later, he will also make a stop at Iowa American Water in Davenport.

* Herman Cain has no campaign events, but is scheduled to be in the Los Angeles and San Francisco area. Late in the evening, he will appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

* Newt Gingrich will be busy on the airwaves. He will be interviewed on the Neal Boortz show with Herman Cain. Later in the evening, he will also call into Bill O’Reilly’s Presidential Town Hall, and will wrap up with an appearance on Sean Hannity.

* Michele Bachmann will deliver an address to the Family Research Council in Washington DC.

* Rick Santorum will continue his “Faith, Family and Freedom” tour in Rochester, New Hampshire, where he will host a town hall meeting at the Church of Christ.

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