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First Thoughts: Holding pattern

Holding pattern in debt-limit debate… Obama to officially tap Richard Cordray at 1:05 pm ET to head Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, bypassing Elizabeth Warren -- who is now free to possibly pursue a Senate bid… NBC and Facebook team up to host NH “Meet the Press” presidential debate… Rick Perry to decide within next two to three weeks?... Breaking down the 2nd quarter fundraising numbers… RNC getting out of the Steele trap… Pawlenty begins RV tour through Iowa… And Congressman Leonard Boswell scuffles with armed intruder (and is fine).

*** Holding pattern: In the contentious and still unresolved debt-limit debate, much of the public activity this week will be meaningless. For instance, House and Senate Republicans will be voting on a Balanced Budget Amendment, which isn’t expected to garner the two-thirds vote needed to pass the Senate. (The GOP leadership idea might be to convince its rank-and-file that such an amendment can’t pass, setting the stage for Mitch McConnell’s Plan B.) So all the real action will be behind the scenes, and the story remains in a holding pattern until we have a deal, which won’t be until after the Balanced Budget Amendment votes. Perhaps the eventual deal gets reached as early as Friday. But come on: This is Washington, and it'll probably take the weekend, and then some.

*** Two-track process: As noted above, the House GOP leadership needs to show -- and not just say -- to some of its new rank-and-file members that a Balanced Budget Amendment cannot pass. So once that's out of the way (after a necessary amount of messaging to go with it), the real convincing takes place. Right now, Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell (along with White House staffers) are busy crafting a deal that will include, apparently, MORE THAN $1 trillion in spending cuts to go along with McConnell’s “disapproval” idea, in addition to the "don't call them commissions" commissions on tax reform and entitlements. Already, word is leaking out that Senate Democrats are more open to cuts than what House Democrats, as a whole, are open to (remember, quite a few Senate Democrats are up for re-election in swing or red states).

*** Obama taps Cordray to head Consumer protection bureau; Warren to run for the Senate? At 1:05 pm ET, President Obama will announce he’s naming former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Bloomberg News: “Cordray became the assistant director for enforcement at the consumer bureau after he lost his re-election bid as Ohio attorney general in November. Elizabeth Warren, special adviser to the treasury secretary and assistant to the president, recruited him shortly after the election. Warren, a law professor on leave from Harvard University, won't remain as an assistant to the president, the senior administration official said.” So where is she going? Don’t be surprised if it’s a Senate bid to challenge Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R). As one plugged-in Democrat tells First Read, "Now that there's a nominee, [Warren] can seriously and finally make a decision about running for Senate.” As we've noted before, Warren is probably the ONLY Democrat that could give Brown a real race, since she'd have a national fundraising network she could build nearly instantly. If she gets in, it could rival Kaine-Allen as the marquee race of 2012.

*** NBC and Facebook team up to host NH "Meet The Press" debate: NBC News and Facebook today are announcing they are co-hosting a GOP presidential debate right before the New Hampshire primary. Per the press release, “On the Sunday immediately before the New Hampshire Republican primary, NBC News’ ‘Meet the Press’ and Facebook will present an innovative, multi-platform forum for the GOP presidential debate.  In this unique venue, candidates will make their case to voters and viewers will be able to react and discuss within their online communities. The event will take place at 9 a.m. ET in the historic Chubb Theatre at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire. The NBC News Facebook GOP Debate, moderated by NBC's David Gregory, will air on the NBC network as a special edition of “Meet the Press” and will stream live on Facebook to create an interactive experience.” The oldest and most influential public affairs TV show in the country teams up with the largest and most influential social networking site in the world. Doesn't get bigger than that! Stay tuned into this space online and on Facebook and other social net sites for more on this debate later today.

*** Rick Perry to decide soon? Over the weekend, the Des Moines Register reported that Texas Gov. Rick Perry would likely decide whether he’ll run for president in the next two or three weeks. “I’m not ready to tell you that I’m ready to announce that I’m in,” Perry told the paper. “But I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. This is what America needs.” But he also said this: “I’ll be real honest with you, I don’t wake up in the morning – never did and still don’t today – and say, ‘Gee, I want to be president of the United States.’” Remember: Haley Barbour seemed like a sure bet to run, too. So did Mario Cuomo in 1992. And Mark Warner was absolutely a sure bet in 2006. So if you haven't announced already, there's a reason. He's not had a burning desire until now. Bottom line: No matter how many staffers are hired, nothing is done until it's done.

*** The official 2nd quarter numbers: After looking at the 2nd quarter fundraising reports, here are the actual numbers the presidential campaigns raised, as well as the amount of money they had in the bank at the end of the quarter (June 30):
-- Obama: $46.3 million raised, $37.1 million cash on hand
-- Romney: $18.4 million raised, $12.7 million cash on hand
-- Paul: $4.5 million raised, $3.0 million cash on hand
-- Pawlenty: $4.3 million raised, $2.0 million cash on hand ($1.4 million for the primary)
-- Bachmann: $4.2 million raised, $3.7 million cash on hand
-- Cain: $2.6 million (including $500,000 of his own money), $481,000 cash on hand
-- Gingrich: $2.1 million raised, $320,000 cash on hand
-- Santorum: $580,000 raised, $230,000 cash on hand
Note: Huntsman isn’t required to file until the 3rd quarter, but his campaign says he raised $4.1 million (about half of which is his own money)

*** Grassroots donors vs. maxed-out donors: Per this handy New York Times breakdown, 49% of Obama’s $46.3 million came in donations under $200, and 26% were maximum $2,500 donations. By comparison, however, just 6% of Romney’s were under $200, while a whopping 70% were the maximum. In other words, Romney appears to have already maxed out his base of donors. (Where is the rest going to come from?) The other small-dollar percentages of campaign contributions under $200: Bachmann 67%, Cain 58%, Paul 54%, Gingrich 46%, Santorum 25%, Pawlenty 11%

*** Other 2nd quarter tidbits: By the way, Romney only brought in a little over $2 million the day in May when his campaign announced they raked in $10 million-plus. His campaign tells First Read that the $10 million consisted of pledges, and the checks were processed when they were received. Some other nuggets via the Washington Post: “Mitt Romney is big into political consultants and security guards, underscoring the establishment nature of his campaign. Newt Gingrich is so fond of the Internet and luxury jets that he got himself $1 million in hock. And President Obama has devoted about a third of his $14 million in early expenditures to fundraising — suggesting that it really does take money to make money.”

*** Getting out of the Steele trap: The Republican National Committee has announced raising $19 million in the 2nd quarter – which is half of the $38 million Obama raised for the Democratic National Committee under the joint Obama-DNC fund. The RNC’s figure is a pretty good one, considering they don’t have a sitting president to help them raise money. The bad news: The committee has $17.5 debt, after beginning with $25 million in debt at the beginning of the year. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is trying to get out of the Steele trap and he’s turned the corner. But he has a ways to go…

*** On the 2012 trail: Bachmann holds a media avail in Omaha, NE after surveying flooding in Iowa with GOP Rep. Steve King; she later heads to South Carolina… Pawlenty’s in Iowa, kicking off an RV “Road to Results” tour that will end on Friday (here’s the RV)… And Santorum is in New Hampshire.

*** Congressman scuffles with armed intruder: This is a jaw-dropping story: “U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell scuffled with an armed intruder at his southern Iowa farmhouse late Saturday night before his grandson pointed a gun at the intruder, who then fled,” the Des Moines Register reports. “No arrests had been reported by Sunday evening. Decatur County Sheriff Herbert Muir said Sunday night that he doesn't think Boswell's house was targeted, either because of his job or for another reason. He said it was probably a random attempted robbery thwarted in part because the robber didn't realize how many people were in the house.”

*** Monday’s “Daily Rundown” lineup: DGA Chairman Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) and Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist on debt deal deliberations… The Cook Report’s Jennifer Duffy and Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons on Sen. McCaskill’s take that Sen. McConnell’s plan is “so that Mitch can become majority floor leader”… National Journal’s Beth Reinhard, the Washington Post’s Dan Balz, and the New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny on 2012 and more.

Countdown to Wisconsin recall general/primaries for Dem senators: 1 day
Countdown to Wisconsin recall general for GOP senators: 22 days
Countdown to Iowa GOP straw poll: 26 days
Countdown to Wisconsin recall general for Dem senators: 29 days
Countdown to NV-2 and NY-9 special elections: 57 days
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 113 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 203 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up

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