Texas Toast: What A Tea Party Candidate's Win Means For Washington (The Note)

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By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone ), CHRIS GOOD ( @c_good ) and ELIZABETH HARTFIELD ( @LizHartfield )


  • VEEP DAY DRAWS NEAR: Mitt Romney's campaign won't say anything about when a vice presidential announcement will be made, but here is a hint: ABC's Jonathan Karl reports that two potential candidates who have been told to stand ready for an announcement any day now that Romney has returned from his foreign trip. The messages were delivered before Romney returned. The candidates were told to be prepared to jump into action anytime after the end of the trip. Only Romney ultimately knows when he will pull the trigger, but the widespread expectation of those close to him is that it will happen well before the Republican convention - although likely not before next week. As for who the pick will be, Karl notes that the shortened short list comes down to three names: Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. WATCH Jon Karl's "Good Morning America" report on veepstakes: http://abcn.ws/NIRiSY
  • FUELING THE SPECULATION: Romney is back in the U.S. after an international trip plagued with gaffes, and at an event tomorrow in Colorado, he will share the stage with a number of Republican governors and veep potentials, ABC's Arlette Saenz notes. Romney will appear with Governors Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell and potentially others at the event in Basalt, Colo. NOTED: A number of potential running mates, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez head to Aspen today for the Republican Governors Association quarterly meeting and a few will participate at a conversation at the Aspen Institute.
  • OBAMA GETS A SUMMER BUMP: New polls from Quinnipiac/New York Times/CBS News give President Obama the lead over Romney in Pennsylvania (53 percent to 42 percent), Florida (51 percent to 45 percent), and Ohio (50 percent to 44 percent). The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Dalia Sussman write: "While independent voters break strongly for Mr. Obama in Pennsylvania, a state that Mr. Romney has been trying to make more competitive, they are closely split in Florida and Ohio. Of the coalition that Mr. Obama built to win the White House, independent voters remain a hurdle, with a little more than half in Florida and Ohio saying they disapprove of his job performance." http://nyti.ms/OCzJ7c


He's already being called the next Marco Rubio.

Conservative Republican Ted Cruz, who scored an upset - but rock-solid - victory over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in yesterday's Texas U.S. Senate runoff is being hailed today as the second coming of the current Florida senator and vice presidential short-lister.

"Just like the upstart Rubio, who started with long odds but defeated long time incumbent Florida Governor Charlie Christ in the 2010 GOP Primary with major support from the Tea Party, Cruz did exactly the same thing in Texas," the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody wrote in an analysis of last night's results. http://bit.ly/PokGJf

By Election Day, Cruz, a former Texas solicitor general, had already overtaken Dewhurst in recent polls. Cruz had the backing of Tea Party stalwarts like Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint whereas Dewhurst won the support of establishment figures like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the erstwhile presidential hopeful.

As ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield points out, Cruz was also getting outspent. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Dewhurst poured $11 million of his own personal fortune into his campaign, spending a total of $19 million, compared to the $7 million Cruz's campaign spent. http://abcn.ws/NI5w6B

So, what does one Republican's victory over a fellow GOPer in the bright red state of Texas mean in the grand scheme of things?

As Brody noted: "Eventually the media and others will realize that the Tea Party is not only far from dead it's just warming up."

But regardless of who wins control of the Senate this November, we know that the upper body in Washington is going to be as polarized and uncompromising as ever, notes ABC News Political Director Amy Walter. Conservative Republicans like Cruz and Richard Murdouck in Indiana won because they insisted they wouldn't be part of a "go along, get along" culture.

Ultimately, it also means that even if Romney is elected President he can't expect to win votes on "team spirit" alone.

To put it another way, as one smart Republican strategist told the Note: "The fact the Tea Party can win is the 2010 story; whether they can govern and what the 'establishment' will do to retool is the question."

SARAH PALIN SEND 'CONGRATS'. ABC's Shushannah Walshe points us toward Sarah Palin's Facebook page, which includes this note: "Congratulations to Ted Cruz! This is a victory both for Ted and for the grassroots Tea Party movement. This primary race has always been about the kind of leadership we need in D.C. Our goal is not just about changing the majority in the Senate. It is about the kind of leadership we want. Ted Cruz represents the kind of strong conservative leadership we want in D.C." http://on.fb.me/Pr4eb8


ABC's RICK KLEIN: Has a race ever had such wild shifts in momentum without the dynamics really changing at all? Now it's President Obama's turn on the upswing, coming off of a rough foreign trip for Mitt Romney and three battleground state polls that show Obama topping 50 percent. But lest you think anything is really different, the messaging is back to expected form. A new Obama ad accuses Romney policies of exploding the deficit; a new Romney ad blasts Obama over closed GM dealerships. So yes, those ads with the candidates looking to camera to lay out their visions won't be all we're seeing for the next three months.

NEW FROM ROMNEY H.Q. ABC's Arlette Saenz notes that Mitt Romney's campaign is out with a new ad hitting President Obama over the auto bailout this morning. The ad features a former auto dealership owner who lost his business during the bailout. WATCH: http://bit.ly/OnEFv

-The campaign also released this new web video hammering Obama over unemployment. "President Obama proudly proclaimed that his economic plan had 'worked.' Though with a decline in median household income and forty-one straight months of unemployment above eight percent, it's hard to see how it has been a success," according to a release accompanying the spot. WATCH: http://bit.ly/T2ll7F

-And while President Obama does not campaign in Florida until tomorrow, the Romney campaign has started the attacks in Florida with 13 large electronic billboards running today and tomorrow featuring real business owners upset with Obama's "You didn't build that" comment. The Tampa Bay Times reports on the campaign's billboard effort: http://bit.ly/OACwdD

Also, ABC's Gregory Simmons notes, this morning the Romney campaign is pushing an Op-Ed written by Ohio Sen. Rob Portman in the Akron Beacon Journal. The narrative Portman constructs is familiar: Obama thinks the government builds everything and is out of touch. Mitt Romney spent his life in the private sector and understands how to use government to create a business friendly environment. "By claiming that small business owners are not responsible for their own success, the president validates Washington's taxing them at the higher levels he is proposing to pay for an unprecedented level of federal spending," Portman writes. http://bit.ly/QoQ52h

ROMNEY WRAPS UP HIS JOURNEY OF GAFFES. With Mitt Romney returning from Europe, The Washington Post's Philip Rucker and Dan Balz write: "Romney flew home leaving two questions in his wake: Would the gaffes that dogged him abroad cause political damage at home, and did the trip speak to deeper problems in his campaign that could significantly hamper his hopes of winning in November? … What he lacked was a strategy designed to draw attention to his role in turning around the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which is generally regarded one of the highlights on his résumé. That left it to the British and American media to fill the vacuum with reports about his Olympics comments-which had some Republicans shaking their heads." http://wapo.st/OBm5O1

IN OHIO, OBAMA FLIES INTO AIRPORT CONTROVERSY. With President Obama traveling to Mansfield, Ohio today, ABC's Ann Compton reports: "If President Obama has his way, his Air Force One arrival would be one of the final flights into Mansfield-Lahm Airport," claims Sen. Rob Portman, who is often a surrogate campaigner in Ohio for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The Mansfield News Journal has run a series of stories and editorials expressing local worries that the air mission of the 179th Airlift Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard will end if proposed Pentagon budget cuts close it down. The local paper quotes Vice Commander Col. Michael Howard as saying he will park the wing's C-27J aircraft on the tarmac in full view of Air Force One to make a point to the visiting president. http://abcn.ws/MbtJMU


with Chris Good ( @c_good)

NEW OBAMA AD: MITT ROMNEY, DEFICIT DRIVER. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: President Obama has presided over three consecutive years of historically high federal budget deficits and the addition of more than $5 trillion to the national debt. Yet, in a new television ad for his re-election campaign, Obama casts himself as the only candidate for president with a plan to narrow the budget gap, while suggesting GOP rival Mitt Romney would make deficits worse. … "You watched … and worried. Two wars. Tax cuts for millionaires. Debt piled up," the narrator says, over images of the Bush era. "Now we face a choice." http://abcn.ws/R4aFSU

IT'S CHICK-FIL-A DAY, BROUGHT TO YOU BY MIKE HUCKABEE. Yahoo! News' Dylan Stableford reports: "The still-simmering controversy sparked by the Chick-fil-A president's public comments against same-sex marriage is set to reignite this week, as more than 500,000 people say they will join former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's 'Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day' on Wednesday by 'simply showing up and eating' at one of the company's 1,600 restaurants, while protesters backed by gay and lesbian groups plan to participate in a same-sex 'kiss-in' on Friday at the same stores." http://yhoo.it/T32KbB

NEW ABC/YAHOO! VIDEO: CAN ROMNEY STOP THE GAFFE TRACK? In the latest installment of "Top Line," Yahoo!'s David Chalian and ABC's Rick Klein break down Mitt Romney's gaffe problem and the 2012 race's turn toward the positive in new TV ads from both candidates. Klein: "It almost seems reversed to me … you start by introducing yourself, then you try to attack, attack, attack-it seems like we went to the attack part first." Chalian: "[Romney] comes back, turns the page, there's the bio push with the new ad, there's the VP rollout, there's the convention, and I think they're going to start doing sort of a three-dimensional Mitt Romney." http://yhoo.it/M3l3Nr

HOW OBAMA RATES IN SWING STATES. Thirteen states gave President Obama an approval rating of over 50 percent in the first half of 2012, while 16 delivered ratings of under 40 percent, according to a new state-by-state data from Gallup. Obama is most popular in D.C. (83 percent approval) and Hawaii (63 percent); he's least popular in Utah (26 percent) and Wyomong (28 percent). Here's how the president fared in swing states: Florida (46 percent), Virginia (46 percent), Pennsylvania (46 percent), Nevada (45 percent), North Carolina (45 percent), Ohio (44 percent), Colorado (43 percent), New Hampshire (43 percent). http://bit.ly/M3gMtp

ROMNEY MEETS WITH GOP MONEY MEN. Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel and William Bergsrtom report: "Mitt Romney will hold a fundraiser with some of the biggest donors in GOP politics in Aspen on Thursday night on the sidelines of a closed-door Republican Governors Association high-rollers event, sources tell POLITICO. After attending public events during the day at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds and Basalt High School, Romney plans to join mega-donors in town for a retreat hosted by the RGA's so-called Executive Roundtable program, which will draw some of the biggest names in GOP politics, including several high-powered governors, a top adviser to Romney, Karl Rove, and other representatives of deep-pocketed political spenders, including a top lieutenant of the Koch brothers." http://politi.co/MYN2NG

ROMNEY OP-ED: 'CULTURE DOES MATTER.' After offending Palestinian officials with his comment about economic disparity and culture, and after later saying he hadn't spoken about Palestinian culture specifically, Mitt Romney last night posted an op-ed at National Review's The Corner, entitled "Culture Does Matter": "In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy. But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture? In the case of the United States, it is a particular kind of culture that has made us the greatest economic power in the history of the earth. Many significant features come to mind: our work ethic, our appreciation for education, our willingness to take risks, our commitment to honor and oath, our family orientation, our devotion to a purpose greater than ourselves, our patriotism. But one feature of our culture that propels the American economy stands out above all others: freedom." http://bit.ly/Naj8Tn

A PARTING GAFFE? ROMNEY PRAISED ISRAELI HEALTH SYSTEM. The Boston Globe's Matt Viser writes: "'We have to find ways, not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to finally manage our health care costs,' Romney said during the fund-raiser at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Romney's praise for Israel's health care system was greeted with some surprise. 'We're laughing - for a Republican to praise the Israeli health care system, which is managed care, universal coverage, with no small amount of federal government control and oversight,' said Karen Feinstein, president and chief executive of the Pennsylvania-based Jewish Healthcare Foundation, which has been studying the differences between the Israeli and US health care systems." http://b.globe.com/NIN5yX

ROMNEY TRIES TO TURN THE PAGE WITH PRESS. After one of his traveling press aides told reporters to "kiss my a**" at a Polish holy site, The Hill's Amie Parnes and Justin Sink report that the campaign will reset its media strategy: "Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is promising to become more media-friendly after headlines during the Republican candidate's weeklong foreign trip highlighted an increasingly fractious relationship with the press. Fewer than 100 days out from the election, the campaign is expected to provide more press briefings and heightened access to the candidate in the coming days, and to make changes to the travel pool that will make it more media friendly." http://bit.ly/QdN0T6

BY THE NUMBERS: WHO'S MORE ACCESSIBLE? ABC's Shushannah Walshe writes: Obama has held five press availabilities plus answered shouted questions from the press during at least two other White House events, equaling seven times. Romney's number is similar. He's held eight press conferences since Santorum got out of the race. http://abcn.ws/Qv4Pzq

CHECK YOUR MAIL: SOME WILL GET HEALTH INSURANCE REBATES. ABC's Julie Percha reports: A new provision of the Affordable Care Act - called the Medical Loss Ratio, or the "80/20? provision - could mean some Americans will see a rebate from their health insurance companies tomorrow … Under the law, small-group and individual-plan insurance companies that annually spend less than 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care owe their customers a rebate. For insurers to large businesses, the percentage split is 85-15. http://abcn.ws/Plqvqw

USPS TO DEFAULT ON TREASURY PAYMENT. The Washington Post's Lisa Rein and Ed O'Keefe report: "The U.S. Postal Service, facing a $14.1 billion loss this fiscal year amid plummeting mail volume, will default for the first time Wednesday, on a congressionally mandated $5.5 billion payment to the U.S. Treasury. Postal officials said Monday that without close to that sum in the bank, they can't make the payment, which is part of a 10-year plan to set aside health benefits for retired postal workers." http://wapo.st/Qv2XGZ

HARRY REID SPECULATES WILDLY ABOUT ROMNEY'S TAXES. ABC's Sunlen Miller reports: Here's a totally unsubstantiated rumor: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that he's heard that Romney did not pay any taxes for 10 years. … In an interview with the Huffington Post , Reid said that a month ago someone who invested with Bain Capital, called his office to say that Romney, "didn't pay any taxes for 10 years." … "He didn't pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that's true? Well, I'm not certain," said Reid. "But obviously he can't release those tax returns. How would it look?" http://abcn.ws/R7HAug

PFEIFFER APOLOGIZES TO KRAUTHAMMER. ABC's Mary Bruce reports: "On Friday, Pfeiffer slammed Krauthammer for repeating "this ridiculous claim" that President Obama had removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy. It was later discovered, as Jake Tapper reported, that there are actually two Winston Churchill busts … "I take your criticism seriously and you are correct that you are owed an apology," Pfeiffer wrote Krauthammer. "There was clearly an internal confusion about the two busts …" http://abcn.ws/NamBRW

CALLISTA GINGRICH'S ELEPHANT IS BACK. Politico's Ginger Gibson reports: "Ellis the Elephant will soon be making a return to book shelves. Callista Gingrich, wife of failed presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, is releasing a sequel to her book featuring the time-traveling title character, her publisher Regnery confirmed. 'Land of the Pilgrims Pride: Ellis Discovers the 13 Colonies' is set to release in October. The first book, 'Sweet Land of Liberty,' followed Ellis the Elephant as he traveled through time to learn about American history." http://politi.co/NIPQjG

REID, BOEHNER STRIKE 6-MONTH DEAL TO FUND GOVERNMENT. ABC's John Parkinson and Sunlen Miller report: "We've got an agreement," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday following the Democrats weekly caucus lunch. "This is very good, because we can resolve these critical issues that directly affect the country soon as the election's over and move on to do good things. It puts this out of the way, and that's very important." Congress will not pass the legislation before the August recess, but leaders said they expect to vote on it shortly after returning from a five-week recess September 10. http://abcn.ws/T32ut5


with ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz)

-FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER PUSHES PAUL RYAN: Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, wrote Tuesday that Romney needs to select a runningmate like Dick Cheney, suggesting that Rep. Paul Ryan would fit the mold. "That is precisely what Mitt Romney needs: someone who, like Cheney, is seen by conservatives as one of their own, and, like Cheney, will be taken seriously from the get-go as a potential president of the United States," Thiessen wrote. "But Romney also must shore up his right flank, and generate enthusiasm for his ticket that is currently lacking with the GOP's conservative base. He needs a pick who will give conservatives a reason to vote for the Romney ticket and not just against Obama-Biden. So the question for him becomes, is there anyone among the current vice presidential contenders who can meet both tests? One obvious choice here is Paul Ryan. Ryan is serious, substantive - wonky, even - and is clearly ready for the presidency." http://bit.ly/OISDYy

-McDONNELL: 'I LOVE CHICKEN' Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell waded into the Chick-Fil-A controversy Tuesday, saying people should be allowed to open and grow businesses regardless of their political beliefs and also declared his affection for chicken, WTOP's Paul Shinkman reported. "The governor of Virginia became the latest politician to offer his perspective on a controversy that could banish Chick-Fil-A from jurisdictions nationwide," Shinkman wrote. "When asked about the backlash stemming from the fast food restaurant's public opposition to gay marriage, Gov. Bob McDonnell said, 'I love chicken.' Following a pause, the governor continued: 'If we start having governments issue permits or zoning changes, or withholding those because of someone's political or religious beliefs, we are going down a very bad road.'" http://bit.ly/OITOaa


NEW: @RomneyResponse : Follow @RomneyResponse for the latest on @BarackObama's failed record, his campaign's false attacks, and our response.

@jaketapper : RIP Gore Vidal. I interviewed him 12 years ago > http://www.salon.com/2000/09/20/vidal_5/ … Quite an experience!

@HuntsmanAbby : Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for president. One hopes it is the same half->Gore Vidal

@jonward11 : my guess is the Romney "ad" on auto bailouts is a head fake, but it certainly got Chicago to jump http://huff.to/PlwRpK

@ckanal : 5 must-watch #olympics events today, August 1 http://huff.to/NIBMqp via @HuffPostSports


-President Obama hits the campaign trail in Mansfield and Akron, Ohio holding two grassroots events in the battleground state. First Lady Michelle Obama will also leave the White House for the day speaking at two campaign events in Greensboro and Raleigh, North Carolina.

-Mitt Romney is back in Boston, Massachusetts after his foreign trip and has no campaign events scheduled.

-On the Veepstakes front, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, and Bob McDonnell are all in Aspen, CO taking part in a conversation at the Aspen Institute.

ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)

Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV