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First Thoughts: Six things we've learned in the debt talks

Six things we’ve learned in the debt talks… Why it’s Obama and Boehner (and not Obama and McConnell) cutting this deal: They share the same re-election goal… Obama holds Twitter town hall at 2:00 pm ET… RNC TV ad hits Obama on the economy… Romney’s second-quarter haul: $18.25 million… Gingrich’s: about $2 million… Pawlenty once again weighs in on Minnesota shutdown… Sarah Huckabee increases Pawlenty’s stakes for next month’s Iowa straw poll… And Romney raises money in London, while Paul, Pawlenty, and Santorum are all in Iowa.

*** Six things we’ve learned in the debt talks: In advance of Thursday’s White House meeting to resolve the stalemate in the debt talks, here’s what we’ve learned in the past 24 hours: The White House and Speaker Boehner appear to have talked quite a bit over the holiday weekend… Both Obama and Boehner share a goal (political need?) to prove they can get a “big” deal done and the president appeared to want to nip in the bud the Reid-McConnell chatter on the Senate side about a short-term deal (and Obama used his briefing-room appearance yesterday to make that position clear)… Define “big” deal: It appears anything over $2 trillion in cuts (+taxes?) over 10 years would fit that definition in the minds of some on one side of Pennsylvania Ave… The White House doesn't appear to buy into the idea that using the 14th Amendment as a basis to ignore the debt ceiling is a viable option… Expect the all-nighters to get a deal done to begin the week after next (so the week of July 18)… And while eight will be in the room with Obama on Thursday (Boehner, Cantor, Pelosi, Hoyer, Reid, Durbin, McConnell, and Kyl), let's be realistic, two are cutting this deal: Obama and Boehner.

*** Obama and Boehner have the same motivation to strike a deal: Why Obama and Boehner? Realize that both sides -- politically -- share the same goals. As we’ve written before, a deal is most likely good for the status quo and thus their re-election chances in 2012. If there’s a deal, the argument goes, economic armageddon is averted and the recovery continues (especially if gas prices continue to fall and as Japan recovers). But if there’s not a deal, the ensuing chaos could be VERY problematic for the Democrat in the White House and the Republicans in charge of the House. On the other hand, does McConnell have a different political goal? The chaos probably helps Senate Republicans gain the majority next year, although they already have -- at the least -- a 50-50 shot of winning control of the chamber in 2012 even in a status-quo political environment.

*** Obama and Twitter: At 2:00 pm ET, President Obama holds yet another social-media town hall -- this one on Twitter. Bloomberg News: “Promoted as a focus on jobs and the economy, the question- and-answer session already has attracted posts on topics as diverse as small-business incentives and tax rates, women working in math and science, marijuana legalization, and Libya. Obama’s 2012 campaign Twitter account encouraged followers to submit questions… Representatives of San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. will determine which questions to pose to the president... Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and executive chairman, will be the moderator.”

*** RNC hits Obama on the economy: The Republican National Committee is up with a new TV ad hitting Obama on the economy. The advertisement, which will air on cable (it’s a light buy), goes: “He promised to change direction. Eight hundred billion in stimulus. Trillions in government health care. Two million jobs gone. Left turn after left turn, America’s headed the wrong way fast. Six million foreclosures. Fourteen trillion in debt. Five hundred billion in higher taxes and the worst long-term unemployment in generations. Don’t let Obama drive us to disaster. Change direction.” Per NBC’s John Bailey, this ad will be the first of four RNC ads -- a new one coming every Wednesday over the next four weeks. (Can anyone say: "fundraising gambit"?)  Tune into MSNBC's "Daily Rundown" for an explanation of the strategy and more from RNC Chair Reince Priebus.

*** Romney brings in $18.25 million: This morning, the Romney campaign announced that it raised $18.25 million for the second fundraising quarter (all primary money) -- more than any other Republican presidential candidate raised (in fact, it appears, barring a surprise number from Michelle Bachmann, to be TWICE of anyone running), BUT it's less than the $20 million-plus he raised in his first full quarter of 2007. The campaign also has $12.6 million in the bank. “Voters are responding to Mitt Romney’s message that President Obama’s policies have failed and that we need new leadership in Washington,” said Spencer Zwick, the campaign’s finance chairman. “Our fundraising for the second quarter represents the strong support Mitt Romney has across the country.” Early goals (that Romney supporters enjoyed leaking out months ago) were $40 or $50 million for this quarter. What happened? Some speculate that all the chatter about Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie or Rick Perry slowed some of the establishment money that's still sitting on the sidelines. So if you’re Rick Perry and his team, this Romney fundraising haul probably doesn’t scare you about getting into the race. Where’s Romney today? He’s raising money in London. (Yes, THAT, London). 

*** Newt’s total: $2 million: Meanwhile, Politico is reporting that Newt Gingrich raked in about $2 million for the quarter and has $225,000 in the bank. But the more troubling news: “[H]is campaign remains about a million dollars in debt. It will be a struggle for Gingrich to put his balance sheet in the black and fund the kind of operation traditionally required to compete in Iowa, where he has indicated he’ll attempt to turn his campaign around.” Of course, that $1 million debt equals another credit line of a million dollars that's become infamous with Gingrich. Newt is desperately trying to make it to the September trio of debates, but there's a straw poll in the way. Can he make it?

*** T-Paw once again weighs in on MN shutdown: In Minnesota, the state government shutdown continues. “Hopes for a deal to end the state budget stalemate dimmed Tuesday, with Republicans saying they have reverted to a $34 billion, no-new-revenue budget proposal,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune says. “DFL Gov. Mark Dayton confirmed that after meeting with GOP leaders, ‘We've got the same gulf between us that we've had all along.’ Dayton has repeatedly said that a $34 billion budget is ‘draconian’ and wants to spend about $2 billion more.” Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty released this statement: "Yesterday, I commend the Republicans in the Legislature for sticking to their guns, even when politicians of the past call for old-fashioned high tax and spend solutions."

*** Sarah Huckabee increases the stakes for Pawlenty’s straw poll effort: In other T-Paw news from yesterday, the campaign announced that Mike Huckabee’s daughter -- Sarah Huckabee Sanders -- is joining their team as a senior adviser, and she’ll be in charge of its Iowa Straw Poll efforts. What this means for Pawlenty: The stakes for the straw poll are even higher. If he's not first or a close second, he's last. You know who finished third in the 2007 straw poll? Sam Brownback. Call it the Glengarry Glen Ross rule: It was the 2nd-place person who got the set of steak knives…

*** On the 2012 trail: It’s a busy day in Iowa… Ron Paul holds events in Marshalltown and Cedar Falls… Tim Pawlenty hits Clear Lake and Ames… And Rick Santorum’s in Cedar Rapids and Dubuque.

Countdown to Iowa GOP straw poll: 38 days
Countdown to NV-2 special election: 69 days
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 125 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 215 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up

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