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First Thoughts: No winners and no losers

If the debt standoff ends like it’s expected to, there will be no winners and no losers -- and the sides will have to fight another day… Obama: “It’s decision time,” as he wants congressional leaders to choose a path in the next 24 to 36 hours… President holds a news conference at 11:00 am ET… A deal gets reached in Minnesota… The 2nd quarter money chase: Today’s the deadline for the campaigns to submit their reports to the FEC… Marcus Bachmann speaks… Ron Paul hits the airwaves… David Gregory chats with Grover Norquist… And Rob Portman and Erskine Bowles appear on “Daily Rundown.”

*** No winners and no losers: With President Obama set to make remarks at yet another news conference at 11:00 am ET, the bipartisan debt negotiations are now essentially over. And we pretty much know how this thing will play out, barring a last-minute collapse: It will be a combination of McConnell’s “Hail Mary punt,” Harry Reid’s entitlement and tax commissions, and some level of the agreed-upon spending cuts. (The one outstanding question: Can this get through the House?) If that’s the eventual outcome, then you could argue that nobody won this fight, but nobody lost, either. And both sides have essentially decided to fight another day, which is 2012. To use a historical analogy, it’s the Korean War or Cuban Missile Crisis -- no one won or lost, and the bigger war (the Cold War) is years away from being decided. In this case, the Cold War is the war over the role of government.

*** “It’s decision time”: In yesterday’s White House meeting, Obama said he wants all the congressional leaders to choose a path forward in the next 24 to 36 hours that can pass both the House and Senate, according to a GOP aide. “It’s decision time,” Obama said at the meeting. “We need concrete plans to move this forward.” Per Democrats, the president also said for the congressional leaders to be on call over the weekend. By the way, this is a continuation of the presidential policy of letting Congress do the writing. Throughout these negotiations, the president never really outlined his own plan or "owned" some other plan. He laid out his principles. It's just like how he handled health care and the stimulus, and now this --- which is let Congress hammer out the details. It's going to raise a common question that's dogged this president since he came into office: Does he outsource too much to Congress? Then again, if the process gets results, does it matter?

*** The 2nd quarter money chase: Today is the deadline for the presidential campaigns to submit their 2nd quarter fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission. The Pawlenty campaign tells First Read it revised its figures, saying it raised $4.5 million for the quarter (up from its earlier $4.2 million estimate), and that it has $1.4 million in the bank for the primaries. Meanwhile, CBS reports that Bachmann, in her two-and-a-half weeks as a candidate in the second quarter, raised $4 million, but that includes a $2 million transfer from her congressional account. (The campaign, though, isn’t confirming the report.) Here are the estimates of the 2nd quarter hauls: Obama $47 million, Romney $18.25 million, Paul $4.5 million, Pawlenty $4.5 million, Huntsman $4.1 million, Bachmann $4 million, Cain $2.5 million, and Gingrich about $2 million. If that Bachmann total is right, it's a lot lower than many of her rivals feared. They smelled a $6 to 8 million direct mail mini-bombshell.

*** Marcus Bachmann speaks: Speaking of Bachmann, her husband Marcus “said in an interview with the Star Tribune that his treatment business is not focused on converting gays to heterosexuality. He also denied that he has ever called gay people barbarians.” More: “He didn't deny that he or other counselors at Bachmann & Associates have attempted to convert gay patients, but he said it is not a special interest of the business and would only be attempted at the client's request. ‘Will I address it? Certainly we'll talk about it,’ Bachmann said. ‘Is it a remedy form that I typically would use? ... It is at the client's discretion.’”

*** Ron Paul hits the airwaves: “Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul is using his first campaign television ad to promote his long-time opposition to raising the federal debt limit,” the AP writes. Of Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner on spending, an announcer in the ad says, “Will they choose compromise or conviction?” (Here’s the ad.) The New York Times: “The 65-second spot promoting his candidacy for president will start running Friday in Iowa and New Hampshire, according to the campaign’s chairman.”

*** Gregory chats with Norquist: In his weekly “Press Pass” conversation, NBC’s David Gregory chats with anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who makes clear that the deficit is NOT the driving issue for him -- it's simply spending and taxes. “Raising taxes is not part of a compromise, raising taxes is moving in the wrong direction. Somebody is drinking too much, you tell them to drink less. You don’t buy them another bottle of scotch.”

*** Friday's "Daily Rundown" lineup: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of President Obama's fiscal commission, preview the president's press conference... NBC's Mike Viqueira, Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, and Jennifer Palmieri of the Center for American Progress join the roundtable... And finally: "Last Word" host Lawrence O'Donnell, who marks 15 years (almost to the minute) since MSNBC’s birth.

Countdown to Wisconsin recall general/primaries for Dem senators: 4 days
Countdown to Wisconsin recall general for GOP senators: 25 days
Countdown to Iowa GOP straw poll: 29 days
Countdown to Wisconsin recall general for Dem senators: 32 days
Countdown to NV-2 and NY-9 special elections: 60 days
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 116 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 206 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up

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