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First Thoughts: Perry's bleeding continues

Perry’s bleeding continues… Raising (and lowering) Herman Cain… A decision in the next 48 hours for Christie?... How Rudy Giuliani’s unsuccessful ’08 run could influence Christie’s ultimate decision… Romney the revenue raiser… Romney, Gingrich, and Paul campaign today in New Hampshire, while Bachmann and Santorum stump in Iowa… Obama camp targets GOP field in memo… And the RGA’s bank-shot TV ad against Tomblin.

*** Perry's bleeding continues: Just when Rick Perry was coming up with a stronger answer on his immigration vulnerability, just when he was starting to show progress in New Hampshire, and just before he might have some good news to announce (his 3rd quarter fundraising report), comes another damaging story for the Texas governor. As the Washington Post reported over the weekend, a racial epithet had been displayed at a hunting camp that he and his family had leased. The story got additional legs when Herman Cain, the only African American in the 2012 GOP field, piled on. “I think that it shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of that rock and renaming the place," Cain told ABC yesterday. "It's just basically a case of insensitivity." This, of course, is now the second time that Cain has elbowed Perry; last week he told CNN that he wouldn’t be able to support the Texas governor if he won the GOP nomination. Just like Mike Huckabee did everything he could to stick it to Romney in ’08, Cain appears to be doing that to Perry. And it benefits only one person: Mitt Romney. 

AP

Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry in Hampton, N.H., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011.

*** The Old South narrative: If it wasn’t for Cain, Perry’s campaign would have played the “liberal media” or “MSM” card, but Cain made that reaction harder to sell. This story also hurts Perry in the larger “is he electable?” narrative. The Republican Party is a Southern party, but can it come across as “Old South” and win national elections? George W. Bush sold himself as “New South.” And Bush 43’s Northeastern background of sorts (Connecticut schooling) also meant he didn’t actually grow up in the Old South. Perry grew up in the Old South.

*** Raising (and lowering) Cain: After his straw-poll win in Florida, Cain is getting a second look from conservative opinion-makers. The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger has called Cain “a credible candidate” who “deserves a serious look,” while Michael Barone now labels him “a contender.” And over the weekend, Cain won another straw poll, this one sponsored by the National Federation of Republican Women. One reason why he’s resonating with conservatives is that he’s a non-politician with a business record (which might explain why Cain’s getting a second look but Rick Santorum isn’t). So Cain now has his moment, and guess what: He doesn’t appear to be using it. For starters, with about three months until the Iowa caucuses, he’s going on a book tour for much of October. Second, he's not scheduled to be back in Iowa until mid-November. And third, his communications director just left his campaign -- to work for the re-election of Louisiana’s lieutenant governor (!!!). Those aren’t just signs of someone who’s unlikely to win the GOP nomination; they’re signs of someone who isn’t really trying to win, a la Mike Huckabee in 2007-2008. Cain does, however, meet with Donald Trump today. If you judge Huckabee’s 2008 campaign as a success, then Cain is on a successful path.

AP

Republican presidential candidate businessman Herman Cain speaking to reporters in Milton, Georgia, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011.

*** A decision in the next 48 hours for Christie? NBC’s Jamie Gangel reported on “TODAY” earlier this morning that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his team have asked several Republicans who were about to endorse other candidates to hold off until Wednesday. So that means we could know something in the next 48 hours or so. Gangel also matched what other news outlets are reporting: that Christie may be one step closer to getting in to the race and that he is giving it “serious reconsideration”; that he spent the weekend discussing a possible presidential bid with his family; and that his family is on board if he decides to run. 

*** Remembering Rudy: And yet, why do all the signs and body language still suggest that Christie probably won’t run? Here’s one reason why: Some of his top aides and advisers worked on Rudy Giuliani’s failed presidential campaign in 2008. And remember, Rudy was promised things by many of these same GOP donors and establishment figures -- who are currently wooing Christie -- when he got in the ’08 race. And how did that turn out for him? Also, don’t forget Christie’s own experience about holding off four years. In 2005, he was asked to run for NJ GOV… he chose to wait. How did THAT turn out? Still, the reason he hasn’t said no yet: It appears he does want to be president… some day.

*** Romney the revenue raiser: If you want to know why some conservatives are wary of Mitt Romney's candidacy, look no further than what the New York Times reported yesterday -- Romney, as governor, raised taxes and closed loopholes as a way to increase revenue in Massachusetts. “[T]he Romney administration relentlessly scoured the tax code for more loopholes, extracting hundreds of millions of corporate dollars to help close budget gaps in a state with a struggling economy. It was only after Mr. Romney was gearing up in 2005 for a possible White House bid that he backed away from some of his most assertive tax enforcement proposals amid intensifying complaints from local companies and conservative antitax groups in Washington.” Ask yourself: What’s the difference between what Romney did in Massachusetts and what President Obama and national Democrats are trying to do in DC? So who is Romney giving a wink and a nod to -- moderates and indies, or to conservatives?

*** The money chase: Don’t forget: Between now and Oct. 15 (the deadline to file with the Federal Election Commission), we’ll start seeing the news of what the different campaigns raised in the 3rd fundraising quarter.

*** On the 2012 trail: Romney holds a town hall in Salem, NH… Gingrich and Paul are also in New Hampshire… And Bachmann and Santorum stump in Iowa.

***Obama camp hits GOP field: Meanwhile, the Obama re-election campaign pens this memo to reporters: “From economics to immigration, Gov. Perry, Gov. Romney and the Republican field have embraced policies that the American people oppose. The campaign to win the Republican nomination has become a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Tea Party. They would return to policies that have been tried before and done nothing to improve economic security for the middle class, rewarding special interests who can afford to pay for lobbyists instead of looking out for working families. While the President is fighting to create jobs and put money in the pockets of middle class Americans, the Republican candidates have proposed extending tax breaks for large corporations and tax cuts for the wealthiest while allowing special interests to write their own rules.”

*** Calendar chaos: Per NBC’s Ali Weinberg, South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly will announce his state's 2012 primary date at 11:00 am ET. The SC GOP has indicated it wants to hold the primary at least a week before Florida’s Jan. 31 contest.

*** West Virginia, Mountain Mama: It’s one day before tomorrow’s gubernatorial election in West Virginia. And any football fans in the DC area probably saw the Republican Governors Association TV ad -- multiple times! -- that ties Obama (and his health-care law) to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D). Why is the RGA spending that kind of money in the DC area, which only partially touches West Virginia? Well, it has raised A LOT of money this cycle, and this is the only competitive gubernatorial contest this year. Tomblin is still favored in his contest against businessman Bill Maloney (R). Could the RGA’s bankshot work? We hear it has moved some undecided voters, and that Dems are getting more nervous. We’ll find out for sure tomorrow.

*** I am liberal, hear me roar: Starting today, liberals and progressives will gather in DC for the three-day “Take Back the American Dream Conference.” Among the speakers: Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD), Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka.

*** Monday’s “Daily Rundown” line-up: Republican strategist Charlie Black on the 2012 field… Former Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and John Sununu (R-NH) on what’s facing Congress (and the super committee) in the next few weeks… MSNBC’s Michael Smerconish on his radio interview with President Obama, and Chris Matthews on tonight’s special live 7:00 pm ET edition of Hardball debating the best strategic options the president has for a path to re-election… And more 2012 headlines with the Washington Post’s Dan Balz, Democratic strategist Karen Finney, and National Review/Bloomberg View’s Ramesh Ponnuru.

*** Monday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Paul Pillar (on his new book on political pressure post-9/11), Arianna Huffington and Rita Wilson, Nancy Brinker, and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.

Countdown to WV GOV contest: 1 day
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 36 days

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