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First Thoughts: Needing a boost

Perry in need in a strong 3rd quarter boost… Expect the Romney and Obama hauls to be smaller than last quarter… Another foreign-policy success, another yawn from the American public?... Chris Christie buzz continues… Calendar chaos: We’ll find out what Florida does today… Perry to hit Romney in 10:15 am speech from Georgia… Cain’s missed opportunity… Newt criticizes reporter for asking legitimate question… DNC airs new Spanish-language ad… And Trumka speaks at Brookings.

*** Needing a boost: With the 3rd fundraising quarter ending today, all eyes are on Rick Perry's first finance numbers. It's been a rough couple of weeks for the Texas governor, but a strong fundraising showing -- say in the neighborhood of $15 million since announcing his bid in mid-August -- would give him a much-needed boost and would solidify his chances of competing financially with Mitt Romney (who raised $18 million last quarter). More than that amount would signal some SERIOUS fundraising chops for Perry, while less than that would be considered trouble for him. Back in June, Tim Pawlenty had a rough debate performance and followed up with a poor fundraising number ($4 million-plus). The question for Perry: Can he post a total that doesn't draw any comparisons to Pawlenty? Right now, Perry World is simply promising more than $10 million.

*** Expect the Romney and Obama hauls to be smaller than last quarter: Besides Perry, the other big players are expected to post fundraising numbers less than what they raised in the 2nd quarter. It's not surprising, after all: In 2007, most of the major candidates (Obama, Romney, and McCain) had lower numbers in the 3rd quarter, which includes the usually slow month of August. (An exception was George W. Bush, who raised $50 million in the 3rd quarter of '03.) Per the Boston Globe, Romney's camp “is on pace to raise between $11 million and $13 million” (down from $18 million last quarter). The campaign would not confirm those figures to First Read, saying: “We are going to raise considerably less than what we did in our first reporting period, but we will still meet our finance goals for this quarter.” Meanwhile, Obama's re-election campaign says it's expected raise a combined $55 million for the campaign and the DNC -- less than the combined $86 million last quarter. One big reason why, per the campaign: Several fundraisers were canceled during the debt-ceiling negotiations.

AP

Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-6)

*** On the Bachmann, Paul, and Huntsman hauls: As for the rest, Bachmann said yesterday that her campaign “will probably be reporting even more than we have brought in before,” NBC’s Jamie Novogrod reports. (Bachmann raised just more than $4 million last quarter.) But Bachmann’s fundraising costs a lot to maintain (direct mail), and the Iowa Straw Poll was EXPENSIVE for her, so pay attention to her cash on hand. Paul reportedly will bring in $5 million for the 3rd quarter. And don’t expect a good number from Team Huntsman; there’s a reason why the campaign moved its headquarters from Florida to New Hampshire. Note: The campaigns have until Oct. 15 to file their 3rd quarter reports to the Federal Election Commission. 

*** Another Obama foreign-policy success, another yawn from the American public? Of course, the biggest news today is the death of Al Qaeda’s Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born preacher, in Yemen. The Obama administration has confirmed al-Awlaki’s death, and NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports that it was a U.S. drone that killed him. No president since George H.W. Bush has had more foreign-policy successes happen under his watch than President Obama. The death of bin Laden. The dismantling of al Qaeda. The ouster of Khaddafy. And the end of combat operations in Iraq. Yet when you look at polls and Obama’s approval rating, he’s getting almost no credit from the American public, a la Bush 41. 

*** It’s the economy, stupid: When you ask the public about Obama and foreign policy, he gets good marks. But it’s not front of voters’ minds. In a bad economy, as Bush 41 learned, what happens overseas doesn’t matter. But at the margins, these successes can help the president slowly rebuild his “leadership” scores with the public and certainly they put the Republican presidential candidates in a bit more of a box in their attempts to attack the president on foreign policy. For instance, check out this Michelle Bachmann attack on Obama just yesterday at a fundraiser in NC: “Barack Obama has laid the table for an Arab Spring by demonstrating weakness from the United States of America. The No. 1 duty of the president is to be the commander-in-chief. After the bin Laden and al-Awlaki killings, does that quote even resonate with a majority of Republicans?

*** Christie buzz continues: Back to the GOP presidential race, the Christie buzz continues. Here's the Newark Star Ledger: “Gov. Chris Christie is seriously rethinking his months of denials and may launch a campaign for the White House after all, a source close to the governor said tonight.” The New York Post adds, “After months of hedging, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is giving serious thought to jumping into the ring for a GOP presidential run -- and could make his decision next week.” .But Politico notes the challenge for Christie if he jumps in at this relatively late date. “With the initial primary and caucus states poised to move up their contests to January, an October announcement means that Christie would immediately confront two questions of some urgency: where would he compete and how would he get on the ballot in an array of states coming in rapid succession.”

*** Calendar chaos? Today, we’re supposed to get the official word if Florida is moving up its primary to Jan. 31, which would force Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina to leapfrog into January as well. While Florida has leaned heavily into hinting they’ll go Jan. 31, don’t be surprised if some cooler heads prevail in Florida. There are plenty of Florida Republicans who believe they’ve already established the state as a BIG deal in the primary season, and holding it on Feb. 14, say, instead of Jan. 31, will still guarantee it’s a BIG deal. Bottom line: Jan. 31 is not YET set in stone. But we’ll know soon enough.

*** Perry to hit Romney in speech: At 10:15 am ET, Perry is delivering what his campaign is billing as a policy speech in Georgia. But according to excerpts, NBC’s Carrie Dann reports, the address appears to be an attack on Romney. “As Republican voters decide who is best suited to lead this country in a new direction by stopping the spending spree and scrapping Obamacare … I am confident they will choose a nominee who has governed on conservative principles,” Perry is expected to say. “Not one whose health-care policies paved the way for Obamacare, a path blazed with higher premium costs and thousands of lost jobs.” More Perry: “I have a lengthy record, and it has sometimes ruffled feathers. But sometimes you have to shake up the system.” And: “I knew when I got into this race I would have my hands full fighting President Obama’s big-government agenda; I just didn’t think it would be in the Republican primary.” Meanwhile, the Romney camp has released another Web video hitting Perry on immigration.

AP

Republican presidential candidate businessman Herman Cain

*** Cain’s missed opportunity: So you just won the Florida straw poll, and you’re NOT going to capitalize on it? NBC’s Alex Moe reported yesterday, per an adviser, that Herman Cain is not scheduled to be in Iowa again until Nov. 19. You read that correctly: Cain, fresh off of the best week of his campaign, right now has no plans to be in Iowa again until just before Thanksgiving. His spokeswoman says he’s promoting his book and won’t be back on the campaign trail until mid-October, although he will be speaking tomorrow to the National Federation of GOP Women tomorrow in Kansas City. Wow. That’s not the sign of a serious presidential candidate.

*** You also know you're not a serious presidential candidate if... :  Yesterday, Newt Gingrich criticized a reporter for asking a question about his upcoming fundraising report. “See, I knew you couldn’t resist,” Gingrich said. “I’m not going to answer you. I think you should, you should really go home and think about why you would even ask that today.” Um, the reason why the reporter asked that question is that Sept. 30 is the end of 3rd fundraising quarter. And, um, today is that day. Gingrich knows what he’s doing… and it’s not about THIS campaign.

*** No means no: The Democratic National Committee is going up with a Spanish-language TV ad in Denver and Las Vegas. Here’s the script (translated into English): “Republicans say no to Medicare… No to financial aid… No to help for the middle class. They always say no, but they never say why not… Obama is fighting on our side.”

*** Trumka speaks at Brookings: In remarks he'll deliver today at the Brookings Institution, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka will say, according to excerpts: "We don’t have a debt crisis -- we have a jobs crisis. America isn’t broke. But America’s basic promise – an ever-rising, ever-widening prosperity – is being broken. Counting all the casualties of the job crisis, our real underemployment rate is over 16 percent. Earlier generations of economists would have called this a depression." Also: “We need to rethink some of the assumptions that have distorted the debates and decisions of the past three decades or more. Today I want to talk about three:  The cult of the corporation, the faith in free trade and the addiction to austerity.”

*** Friday’s “Daily Rundown” line-up: The latest information on the killing of Al-Awlaki… Romney campaign media adviser Russ Schriefer… National Review’s Robert Costa on Gov. Christie’s pending decision… Skip Rutherford on this weekend’s Clinton-Gore ’92 reunion in Little Rock and what’s on the minds of attendees for 2012… Daily Beast contributor Zachary Karabell on how German Chancellor Merkel’s decisions in Europe could affect President Obama’s chances for reelection… And more 2012 with former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-NY), Democratic pollster Fred Yang and National Journal’s Major Garrett.

*** Friday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up:. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell will interview Pentagon Press Secretary George Little (on the al-Awlaki killing), the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, and Democratic strategist Bill Burton and GOP strategist David Winston. In addition, the show plans to simulcast Michael Smerconish’s interview with President Obama at 1:40 pm ET.

Countdown to WV GOV contest: 4 days
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 39 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 129 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up, and it’s likely that the contest takes place earlier.

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