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First Thoughts: A trap for Republicans?


President Obama holds up his jobs bill during a speech yesterday at N.C. State University.

Is Obama’s jobs plan a political trap for Republicans?... But even if that’s true, are congressional Democrats already self-destructing?... Boehner unveils his own jobs plan at 12:30 pm ET… Romney hearts Cheney, suggesting he’s a model for his VP choice… Newt wants a safe exit from Afghanistan… Missouri and the GOP calendar… And is Gov. Lynch (D) not going to seek re-election in 2012?

*** A trap for Republicans? Yesterday, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint summed up the potential political peril for Republicans on President Obama’s jobs legislation. “If we vote for this plan, we’ll own the economy with the president, and he desperately needs someone else to blame it on,” DeMint said. “If we vote against it, he’s going to try to say Congress blocked his ability to create jobs.” Indeed, on paper, the politics on this job bill potentially is in the White House’s favor. The question is whether Democrats unite around it and whether -- as DeMint puts it -- Republicans allow themselves to get trapped. While that Bloomberg poll we cited yesterday found a majority (51%) doubting the jobs bill will create jobs, a new Gallup poll finds that 45% want their member of Congress to vote for the legislation and just 32% want their member to vote against it (23% didn’t know enough about it). And a recent CNN/Opinion Research poll shows a plurality liking the president’s jobs plan outline by a 43%-35% margin, but with 22% undecided. The frustrated public simply may want “something” over “nothing.”

*** But are Dems already self-destructing? So the politics appear to be on the White House’s side. But are Democrats going to self-destruct? Just check out these quotes on the jobs bill from Dem members, per the New York Times. “I think the American people are very skeptical of big pieces of legislation,” said Sen. Bob Casey. “For that reason alone I think we should break it up.” Here’s Sen. Mary Landrieu: “I have said for months that I am not supporting a repeal of tax cuts for the oil industry.” Rep. Peter DeFazio: “I have been very unequivocal: No more tax cuts.” Sen. Joe Manchin: “I have serious questions about the level of spending that President Obama proposed.” And Rep. Heath Shuler: “The most important thing is to get our fiscal house in order. Then we can talk about other aspects of job creation.” (Um, didn’t Congress just pass some serious budget cuts back in August?) The Democratic griping is well under way, and it undercuts the White House’s message -- no matter how good the politics are. Republicans never panic the way Dems do. Just look at how Republicans handled the Ryan budget plan.

*** Boehner unveils his own jobs plan: Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner is delivering his own jobs speech today at 12:30 pm ET. In remarks to the Economic Club of Washington, per NBC’s Frank Thorp, Boehner will say that while the House will consider Obama’s proposals -- some of which offer opportunities for common ground -- they are no substitute for the pro-growth policies needed to remove barriers to job creation in America. He will discuss the GOP’s “Plan for America’s Job Creators,” which is focused on streamlining and reforming the tax code, stopping regulations, and cutting Washington spending. Moreover, Thorp reports that Boehner also will offer a path he believes the “Super Committee” should follow: advance tax reform, and address the structural problems in entitlement programs. But the speaker will stress that tax reform should include closing loopholes -- but that tax increases are not an option.

*** Romney hearts Cheney? Over the past couple of weeks, Mitt Romney has done a very good job of positioning himself to win independent votes -- if he becomes the GOP nominee. For example, he’s cast himself as the protector of Social Security (in his contrast with Rick Perry). And his overall jobs/economic message is very indy-friendly. That’s why it came as a surprise to hear Romney go out of his way to praise someone that isn’t exactly held in high regard by the political middle: former Vice President Cheney “Whether you agree or disagree with him, this is a man of wisdom and judgment,” Romney said, according to NBC’s Garrett Haake. "That's the kind of person I'd like to have -- a person of wisdom and judgment."


Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich speaking at a town hall in Florida, Wednesday, September 14, 2011.

*** Newt wants a safe exit from Afghanistan: Following a town hall event at an Orlando public library, Newt Gingrich told NBC’s Jamie Novogrod that American troops should come out of Afghanistan as soon as the U.S. military can arrange a safe exit. "I don't see us creating a stable government in Afghanistan in the foreseeable future," Gingrich said.  "I think that we'd be far better off to get out as early as the generals can figure a safe way to do it." Meanwhile, Perry said this yesterday, which seemed to contradict his remarks at Monday’s debate about wanting to exit Afghanistan: “Our response cannot be to isolate ourselves within our borders, but to engage our allies and the quest to build these enduring allies around the world for freedom,” he said.

*** On the 2012 trail: Perry stumps in Iowa, speaking at a Greene County GOP fundraiser in Jefferson at 7:00 pm ET… Huntsman continues to campaign in New Hampshire… Rick Santorum’s in South Carolina… And Bachmann is out in California.

*** Show Me the Calendar: Per NBC’s John Bailey, Missouri could be the latest state to jump toward the front of the Republican primary calendar. A bill to move Missouri’s primary from February back to March stalled in the state Senate yesterday. Any state other than Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina that holds its primary or caucus before March 6 is stripped of half its delegates, according to GOP party rules. Arizona has already jumped the March 6 cutoff and will lose half of its delegates, and Florida is likely to follow. Michigan and Georgia, meanwhile, have left the door open to jumping the deadline, and Missouri may now be on that list as well. (Hat tip: Josh Putnam at Frontloading HQ.) More on the calendar craziness on “Daily Rundown” in minutes.

*** Is Lynch not going to run for re-election in NH? Are Dems going to have to deal with a key gubernatorial vacancy next year? “The state's only governor to serve four consecutive terms, Gov. John Lynch, will discuss his future plans Thursday at Manchester's Northwest Elementary School,” the New Hampshire Union Leader reports. “There has been much speculation in Concord this summer about whether Lynch would seek a fifth term as governor, or if he would step down after his fourth term as most observers expected after he won his last election in 2010. WKXL's Chris Ryan tweeted Wednesday evening that the radio station had learned the governor will not run again. A handful of other media sources also reported Wednesday that Lynch would announce he would not run. ‘Anyone who is saying anything about it right now is merely speculating,’ Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said Wednesday night.”

*** Thursday's "Daily Rundown" line-up: Former Bachmann 2012 Campaign Manager Ed Rollins on the state of the race… Sen. John Thune (R-SD) on President Obama’s jobs bill and Boehner’s jobs speech today… One of us (!!!) and Davidson College Professor Josh Putnam, who runs frontloading.blogspot.com, on the evolving GOP 2012 calendar… Plus more 2012 news with National Journal’s Beth Reinhard, New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny, and former Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL).

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Chuck Todd is guest-hosting, and he will interview Time’s Rick Stengel (on the magazine’s interview with Perry), National Journal’s Ron Fournier, and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza. The show also will cover Boehner’s jobs speech.

Countdown to Election Day 2011: 54 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 144 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up

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