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First Thoughts: Five reasons to take Bachmann seriously

Five reasons to take Michele Bachmann seriously… 1) she’s running, 2) she’ll raise lots of money, 3) she’ll stand out at the debates, 4) she could be the only female in the field, and 5) she can fill the Tea Party void… What about Rick Perry?... Is Giuliani about to get in?... Romney gets tough welcome in Detroit… White House mulls business payroll tax cut… The Biden talks continue… Answering why Ensign and Vitter didn’t get the same political pressure to resign as Weiner is currently receiving… And with McKenna in the race for WA GOV, it’s now or never for the GOP to win a governor’s race in the state (in a presidential year).

*** Five reasons to take Bachmann seriously: In the next week, Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, thanks mostly to her decision to participate in next week's Republican primary debate, is going to be getting her first big moment in the national political spotlight. For the last two years, she's been a caricature -- a spoof on "Saturday Night Live," a political lightning rod, and an easy target for some folks to try and use her as a way to drive independents or moderates away from the GOP. But here are five reasons to take Michele Bachmann seriously in the race for the Republican nomination: One, there's clear evidence she's running (hiring Ed Rollins, participating at the debate). Two, she's going to able to raise money, lots of it (take a look at what she raised last cycle). Three, she will stand out at the debates. Four, she's going to be the only female in the field (if Palin doesn't run). And five, and most importantly, she has the ability to win over the sizeable number of Republicans who were cheering on Donald Trump (for a while) and who are listening to Herman Cain (right now). This segment of the GOP wants a candidate who will carry the Tea Party banner, who talks strongly about his/her religious faith, and who will take the fight to President Obama.

*** A female Huckabee who can raise money? In this respect, Bachmann has the POTENTIAL to be this cycle's female version of Mike Huckabee -- and she can do something Huck never could do: raise lots of money. An instant player in Iowa and South Carolina? Check. A key attraction at the debates? Check. Will take the fight to Obama, as well as Romney, Huntsman, and Pawlenty? Check. Of course, this doesn't mean she WILL catch fire come next year. But if we're thinking about candidates who could be the lone alternative still standing against Mitt Romney after Feb. 2012, Bachmann has to be on the list.

*** What about Perry? Another Republican who could be on that list: Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The Wall Street Journal: “[O]ver the past two weeks, political advisers and friends say, Mr. Perry has changed his tune on a possible presidential campaign. In private conversations, they say, the three-term governor said he worries that the current GOP contenders have yet to stir real excitement within the party and may struggle when facing President Barack Obama. ‘He thinks there is a void [in the current field of candidates], and that he might be uniquely positioned to fill that void,’ said one Perry confidant who talked to the governor last week.” Perry is making SOME moves, and don't forget the big prayer day he's organizing for later this summer. It's worth noting that two of his key campaign aides for the past are both with Newt Gingrich, and Gingrich has actually spent a lot of time courting Perry. If Perry gets in, how much does that hurt Gingrich?

*** Rudy, Rudy, Rudy: Yesterday, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol reported, per “two reliable sources,” that Rudy Giuliani intends to run for president and that he might announce soon.  Privately, as we've reported here a few times these last few weeks, we’ve heard that Giuliani is thinking hard about a run. And in his mind, he’d like to do it; think redemption. But whether or not that means he actually runs is anyone’s guess. If he does make a bid, Giuliani realizes -- unlike in 2008 -- that he’d have to camp out in New Hampshire. Yet that would make the Granite State a crowded place, with Romney, Jon Huntsman, and even Ron Paul staking their candidacies on the state. By the way, many of the smarter money and strategic folks who did work for Rudy in 2008 are sitting on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to run: Chris Christie.

*** Romney’s tough welcome in Detroit: Meanwhile, Romney remains in Michigan, where he’s already met with voters in Livnoia and holds a roundtable discussion and tours a business later this morning in Detroit. The DNC greets Romney with a Web video entitled “Welcome to Detroit, Mitt Romney,” playing up Romney’s Nov. 2008 op-ed on the auto industry entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” (which was the paper’s headline, not Romney’s). The local headlines are rough for Romney. The Detroit Free Press: “Romney defends his stance on U.S. auto rescue as he courts Michigan voters.” The Detroit News: “Michigan politicians hack Romney over auto bailout stance.”

*** White House in “do anything” mode on the economy? As yet another national poll (CBS’s) finds President Obama’s approval rating returning below 50% --due to the recent spate of bad economic news -- the White House is looking for something, anything, to do. Here’s Bloomberg News: “President Barack Obama’s advisers have discussed seeking a temporary cut in the payroll taxes businesses pay on wages as they debate ways to spur hiring amid signs that the recovery is slowing, according to people familiar with the matter. The idea, which is in preliminary stages of discussion, is among several being talked about at the White House as the economy holds center stage for the administration and Congress.” Advisers remind us this is not a "new" idea, per se, and aren't ready to agree with the premise that there is ramped UP talk about this idea. But the president himself hinted earlier this week that there are SOME things (which are designed to get through a Republican House) that he's considering.

*** The Biden talks continue: At 12:30 pm ET, on Capitol Hill, Vice President Biden holds the latest round of deficit-reduction talks. The other participants: Sens. Daniel Inouye (D), Jon Kyl (R), and Max Baucus (D); Reps. Eric Cantor (R), James Clyburn (D), and Chris Van Hollen (D); and administration officials Tim Geithner, Jacob Lew, and Gene Sperling.

*** Answering why Ensign and Vitter didn’t get the same political pressure Weiner is receiving: Turning briefly to Weiner-gate, liberals and progressives have asked this question: Why is there a political drumbeat for embattled Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner to resign when that didn’t exist for scandal-plagued Republicans like Sens. John Ensign and David Vitter? But there’s a simple reason for the difference. With Weiner, the entire Republican Party has leaned its shoulder into putting the Democratic Party in a box. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has gone on “TODAY” to demand Weiner’s resignation, while a top aide to House Minority Leader Eric Cantor has tweeted the latest developments in the story. By contrast, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued press releases for a week when the Ensign news first broke. But after that, Democrats let go. You didn’t see then-DNC Tim Kaine (who as a Senate candidate has now called for Weiner’s resignation) go on “TODAY” to demand Ensign’s ouster.  And you didn't see other Democrats do the same thing with Vitter. Republicans are much more disciplined at the drumbeat than Democrats have proven to be. Of course, there may be ONE big reason Democrats tread differently on sex scandals: Bill Clinton.

*** Now or never for the WA GOP: According to our research, Washington happens to be the state that’s gone the longest without having a Republican win a gubernatorial race there (since 1980), while South Dakota has gone the longest since a Democratic gubernatorial candidate won (1970. But now that Republicans got their top candidate in Washington state to run for governor next year -- Attorney General Rob McKenna -- it’s now or never for the GOP to take back the governor’s mansion in a presidential year. If McKenna can’t win, after Dino Rossi’s three failed statewide bids, then it’s hard to envision when Republicans will ever win it back.

Countdown to Iowa GOP straw poll: 65 days
Countdown to NV-2 special election: 96 days
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 152 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 242 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up

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