Debate Provides Perry Opportunity to Show Improvement

BY David Chalian  October 11, 2011 at 8:39 AM EDT

Mitt Romney and Rick Perry; photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney listens to Texas Gov. Rick Perry during the Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Sept. 7, 2011 in Simi Valley, Calif. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Hanover, N.H. — Mitt Romney is looking to continue to reassure.

Herman Cain is looking to solidify his astronomical gains. (And will likely get the chance to do so with more debate time and center-stage position.)

But it is Rick Perry who has the hardest task before him Tuesday evening. The Texas governor is looking to show improvement and upend the “he’s lost half his support in the polls over the last month” narrative that has been dominant. (Or at least has been dominant when unflattering stories about race and religion aren’t being tied to Perry and his campaign.)

Your must-read curtain raisers for Tuesday’s Washington Post/Bloomberg News/WBIN/Dartmouth debate scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET:

Jonathan Martin of POLITICO: Rick Perry’s now-or-never debate

(Be sure to note Martin’s wise look at Perry’s bank account. It is why he is still a serious contender, but it’s not likely sufficient to win the nomination if Perry doesn’t bring some goods to back it up.)

Phil Rucker of the Washington Post: Rick Perry has most at stake in latest Republican presidential debate

Aside from the Perry Watch that will be at play this evening, this will be a huge opportunity for Herman Cain to show some staying power as he comes in for more scrutiny.

He is clearly the #2 man in the race at the moment. National, Iowa, and New Hampshire polls all have him there.

We still do not know Mr. Cain’s third-quarter fundraising figures, and his current travel schedule seems more geared toward a book tour than getting caucus-goers and primary voters signed up and a ground game built to deliver votes in just 12 weeks time.

At the moment he appears to be filling that always present “not-Mitt Romney” slot in the Republican field. The question remains if he can turn that into something more fleeting than Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump, or Rick Perry were able to do when they held that position.

OBAMA JOBS BILL GETS A VOTE

Since he exited the House chamber after delivering an address to a Joint Session of Congress on September 8, President Obama has been traveling the country demanding that Congress vote on and pass his jobs bill.

Tuesday, the Senate will take him up on the former, but may have a tough time accomplishing the latter.

The Washington Post’s Rosalind Helderman explains why the Democrats are working hard to avoid defections despite not having the 60 votes required.

“There is little mystery about the vote’s outcome. Democrats hold 53 seats in the Senate, not enough to overcome unified GOP opposition and muster the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster and send the package forward.

Even if all Democrats vote for it. And all Democrats are unlikely to back it. Eyeing Obama’s dipping popularity and a mixed reception in polls for the jobs package, several Democratic senators from swing states have shied away from embracing it.

Obama’s demand for a vote has put senators facing difficult reelection bids next year in a tough position: Vote for a bill that is probably headed for defeat, and they will be painted by opponents as too closely aligned with Obama. But vote with Republicans against it, and they will undermine Obama’s claim that congressional Republicans have been the obstacle to his attempts to improve the economy.”

It is that Obama campaign desire to run against an intransigent Republican Party on the most important issue of the day that likely prompted a new memo from the president’s chief strategist David Axelrod.

“The fundamental question in advance of tomorrow’s vote is this: will Republicans put country ahead of party and pass this bill? Or will they oppose a bill that would create jobs now and that the American people support while standing by their proposals to extend tax cuts for large corporations, millionaires and billionaires while allowing Wall Street to write its own rules?” Axelrod wrote in a campaign memo Monday.

Axelrod spends most of the four-page document putting forth public polling data showing support for the president’s plan overall and its component parts.

More from the memo:

“Since introducing the American Jobs Act (AJA), the American people have rallied around President Obama’s call for Congress to pass this plan. In an early September, 43% supported the AJA and 35% were opposed (CNN/ORC Poll 9/11/11). After three weeks of advocacy by the President, support has grown by nearly 10% so that 52% support the plan with 36% opposed (ABC/Washington Post Poll 10/5/11).

And 58% of Americans believe that if the AJA passes, it will improve the job situation in the country.”

Of course, the political problem for President Obama and his team is that it may not be a clean party-line vote Tuesday evening.

The Wall Street Journal’s Corey Boles reports that Senate Democrats are still planning the path forward on the president’s jobs bill.

“Senate Democrats are mulling breaking President Barack Obama’s job-creation program into pieces and moving forward with individual components of the plan following what is expected to be a defeat of the entire package in a vote on Tuesday, aides said.

No final decisions have been made on the timing of any such move, nor on what aspects of the plan would be brought forward as individual pieces of legislation, the aides cautioned. One aide said Democratic leaders may decide to hold more than one vote on the plan in the coming weeks to further emphasize Republicans’ opposition to it.”

White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe did some whip count predicting on morning television.

“We’re going to get the vast, vast majority of Democratic senators tonight,” Plouffe told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America.”

Plouffe finally did allow for the possibility of failure Tuesday.

“Obviously, if this vote doesn’t succeed tonight — and that would be a tragedy for the country — we’re going to get right at it,” he said, without specifying what that path forward may prove to be.

WARREN’S WAR CHEST

Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren raised $3.15 million for her Senate campaign in the third quarter, doubling the total pulled in by her potential rival, incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

Warren still faces a primary contest with four other Democratic candidates, but fundraising hauls like the one she reported Monday will go a long way towards cementing her status as the front-runner to take on Brown next year and exemplify why the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee worked so hard to get her in. The Bay State contest is expected to be one of the most competitive and costly Senate races of the 2012 cycle.

The Harvard Law Professor and consumer advocate broke the news in an email to supporters.

“These are pretty amazing numbers for our first official finance report,” Warren wrote. “Thanks a million — and more…! — for this remarkable support.”

“But with the big banks and special interests lining up against us, we know it’s going to take a strong, grassroots campaign to win,” Warren added.

The Democrat’s campaign said 96 percent of the contributions were $100 or less, and that 11,000 Massachusetts residents gave to the effort. The campaign did not release how much of the total came from large donors or out-of-state contributors.

Brown’s campaign, meanwhile, reported raising $1.55 million in the third quarter, and ended September with $10.5 million in the bank.

A recent Western New England University poll found Warren trailing Brown by five points, 45-40, despite 30 percent of registered voters saying they had not heard of her.

While Warren has closed the gap in the polls, it will take a few more fundraising quarters like the last one for her to catch up to Brown in the money race.

ON THE TRAIL

All events listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama convenes a meeting of his jobs and competitiveness council at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 5 Training Center in Pittsburgh at 12:05 p.m. and delivers remarks on the American Jobs Act at 1:50 p.m. The president then travels to Orlando for a pair of evening fundraisers.

  • Rick Santorum campaigns in New Hampshire ahead of Tuesday’s debate, holding a meet & greet in Manchester at 8 a.m., touring Citronics in Milford at 10:30 a.m., and hosting a town hall in Warner at 2 p.m.

  • Jon Huntsman holds a town hall in Hanover, N.H., at 1 p.m.

  • Rick Perry attends a debate watch party following the event at 10:30 p.m.

All future campaign events can be found on our Political Calendar.

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