THE MORNING LINE -- August 9, 2011 at 9:13 AM ET
Perry Looks to Steal Some Thunder
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Republican Leadership Conference in June. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr.
As soon as advisers to Texas Gov. Rick Perry confirmed to POLITICO that he would make his presidential intentions clear this weekend at stops in South Carolina and New Hampshire, the Iowa GOP Straw Poll took a bit of a hit.
There's no doubt that Thursday's debate in Ames, Iowa, and the results of Saturday's straw poll will help clarify the field of contenders and significantly shape the contest.
However, it's also true that Gov. Perry knows how to work himself into every story coming out of Iowa this weekend without being there to compete.
Mitt Romney and his campaign team have never questioned their decision to opt out of competing in the straw poll this year, but they must be feeling particularly gleeful not to have poured resources and time into an event that will have a dimmer spotlight shining on it because of Perry's moves.
"Perry has been meeting potential donors for weeks, and last weekend he helped organize a large rally, dubbed 'The Response,' at which tens of thousands came to a football stadium in Houston to pray for America. The event, in which Perry gave a short speech highlighting his Christianity, was the largest any of the 2012 GOP candidates has held this year."
Certainly, Gov. Perry has a strong fundraising base in Texas and nationally. He has also been polling in the top tier of the Republican field without having formally entered the race. But it remains unclear if Perry is prepared for the rigors of the presidential campaign trail and if the Republican electorate's seeming desire for an additional voice in the field dissipates once he joins the fray.
His coalition-building goal is to bring together business conservatives with social conservatives while delivering a message about economic success in Texas to that great swath of Republicans who continue to say they're not fully satisfied with all of their options.
"The first test of his impact on the race could come as soon as Saturday, when candidates descend on Ames for the Iowa Straw Poll, a test of organizational strength. His name will not be on the ballot, but Americans for Perry, the independent group financed by several friends and political associates, has been urging supporters to cast a write-in ballot for him. That effort could erode support from his rivals."
Voters in six Wisconsin state Senate districts will have the opportunity Tuesday to keep or reject the Republicans incumbents in a closely watched series of recall elections that will serve as a referendum on the budget priorities of Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Also at stake is control of the state Senate, with Republicans controlling a 19-14 majority.
As the Morning Line highlighted Monday, and spelled out in the story by Jason Stein and Tom Tolan of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the recall elections have become a national event, in part because of the money and human resources from outside political groups being poured into the races. Walker, one of the new Republican governors swept in by a GOP wave in 2010, successfully cut spending and taxes while also curbing the collective bargaining rights of public unions in the state.
The Washington Post's Michael Fletcher takes a look at where all that money is coming from.
Polls open at 8 a.m. ET and close at 9 p.m. ET.
Wisconsinvote.org, a service of Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television, has profiles of all of the candidates on the ballot:
Wisconsinvote.org will also have live results.
Daily Kos hired Public Policy Polling to poll four of the contests over the weekend, and it found all of the races tight.
Next week, two Democratic state senators will be up for a recall election as well, and a third Democrat has already won a recall election this summer.
HOUSE ENDS PAGE PROGRAM
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and House Minority Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have engaged in more bipartisan spending cuts by eliminating the House page program, which employed teenagers to deliver documents and phone messages to members of Congress in the U.S. Capitol complex.
"This decision was not easy, but it is necessary due to the prohibitive cost of the program and advances in technology that have rendered most Page-provided services no longer essential to the smooth functioning of the House," the leaders said in a joint statement. "Although the traditional mission of the Page Program has diminished, we will work with Members of the House to carry on the tradition of engaging young people in the work of the Congress."
Rep. Boehner's office said the page service was obsolete because members now receive messages on electronic devices and that mail can now be delivered electronically. It cost the government more than $5 million to operate the program. It spent $69,000 to $80,000 per page, according to the speaker's press release.
The Senate page program is expected to continue operation.
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