What happens if Christie doesn’t run?… And what happens if he does?... Here we go again: Another Tea Party-fueled Republican jumps up in the polls, while another one falls down… Team Bachmann’s staff departures… Will we see an upset tonight in West Virginia?... If we do, will Democrats (especially those in red states) start running for the hills?.... Polls close at 7:30 pm ET… Obama delivers remarks on his jobs bill in Texas at 3:55 pm ET, and he hits fundraisers in Dallas and St. Louis.
*** If Christie doesn’t run: So what happens if Chris Christie, as so many in GOP circles assume, decides against running for president? We see essentially three scenarios. The first is that much of the GOP establishment -- after watching Perry struggle over the past few weeks -- begins to coalesce around Romney (just see David Brooks this morning). That doesn’t mean Romney’s a sure bet to stroll through the primaries, but he becomes the obvious man to beat. “You are going to see the flower bloom on Romney” if Christie takes a pass, a GOP strategist unaffiliated with any of the presidential campaigns tells First Read. A second scenario: The conservative vote coalesces around Perry (or another anti-Romney conservative), which becomes dangerous for Romney. Just look at the new Washington Post/ABC poll, which shows the combined Perry-Cain-Bachmann percentage (39%) beating the combined Romney-Gingrich percentage (32%). (Gingrich seems to be an “establishment” placeholder in many of these polls, despite the TYPE of campaign he’s running, so that’s why we include him with Romney.) A third scenario if Christie doesn’t run? Perhaps someone else tries to get into the race. But with most likely some 90 days until Iowa, that person’s chances of impacting the GOP contest become less and less as each day goes by.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaking in Paterson, N.J., Monday, Oct. 3, 2011.
*** But if he DOES: Yet if Christie decides to take the presidential plunge, here’s what you can expect. One, the rest of the fall will be all about the New Jersey governor -- his record, his position on the issues, even his mini-controversies (that NY-NJ tunnel, the helicopter ride, the Disney World trip during the East Coast blizzard). Two, his performances at the debates in October, November, and December will matter (just ask Perry). And three is an unknown: Does he, in the short run, compete against Perry (and possibly Cain, too) for the title of anti-Romney alternative? Or is he competing with Romney for the establishment vote? It all depends on how some of his less-than-conservative positions get framed in the presidential prism. And this is where things get tricky. While the conservative ELITE might get behind Christie and excuse some of his conservative positions, don’t be surprised if there’s more room for a Perry or Cain to keep/gain traction on the more conservative side of the aisle. So then it becomes a true three-way race going into the early contests.
*** Here we go again: As mentioned above, there’s a new Washington Post/ABC poll, and it shows Romney in the lead at 25% (which is identical to his score a month ago and is about the same number he’s been getting for a year!), followed by Perry and Cain tied at 16%, Paul at 11%, and Bachmann and Gingrich at 7%. According to the Washington Post, that’s a THIRTEEN-point drop for Perry in one month, and a TWELVE-point increase for Cain. So here were go again: Last spring, we saw Donald Trump soar in the GOP horserace; then it was Michele Bachmann; then Rick Perry; and now it’s Herman Cain.
*** Team Bachmann’s staff departures: By the way, this is the sign of a presidential campaign running out of money. “Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is losing her pollster and senior adviser in a staff exodus that raises questions about the viability of her White House bid and her campaign finances,” the AP writes. “Pollster Ed Goeas plans to leave the campaign after upcoming debates in New Hampshire and Nevada, and senior adviser Andy Parrish is returning to the Minnesota congresswoman's office where he served as chief of staff.” The statement from Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart: "Given the changing caucus and primary schedule, we will not be utilizing full-time polling consultants and (will) concentrate heavily on retail politics in Iowa.” More Stewart: "Ed will work on several projects with us this month, then we shift focus to Iowa and he will shift to other projects not associated with the campaign."
Republican presidential candidate businessman Herman Cain in New York City, Monday, Oct. 3, 2011.
*** On the 2012 trail: Romney holds a town hall meeting in Florida… Bachmann campaigns in Iowa, as does Romney’s wife, Ann… Buddy Roemer is in New Hampshire… And Cain, remaining in New York, meets with former Mayor Ed Koch.
*** Will we see an upset tonight in WV? When we wrote about West Virginia's gubernatorial race last week, we described it as a contest where the Democrat (Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin) was the favorite, but where we wouldn't be surprised if the Republican (Bill Maloney) won. Well guess what: As the race takes place tonight, Democrats are increasingly nervous they might lose it. A hard-hitting TV ad the Republican Governors Association has been airing in West Virginia -- as well as in the DC market -- has had an impact on the race. The only question is how much. The ad ties Tomblin to President Obama for implementing the federal health-care law (which happens to be the law of the land). “I still think Maloney falls just short,” says Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report. “But the odds of an upset are better today than they were a week ago.”
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., speaking to reporters at the Statehouse in Boston, Monday, Oct. 3, 2011.
*** Running for the hills? And if there is an upset? Think what happened after Scott Brown’s Jan. 2010 victory in Massachusetts -- but bigger. An upset would provide further evidence that Obama is toxic in red states -- a stark reversal from 2008, by the way -- and you’ll see Democrats start running for the hills, which could produce a self-fulfilling outcome 13 months from now. In September, you could dismiss the GOP’s congressional victory in New York (because of Anthony Weiner’s problems, because of the Democratic candidate’s poor campaign, and because of the district’s unusual concentration of Orthodox Jewish voters). But it will be hard for Democrats to spin away losing this race. Keep in mind: The Democrat in this race has the support of labor AND the Chamber of Commerce. There’s only ONE explanation for a loss. No one needs a win worse in West Virginia tonight than Team Obama. Polls close at 7:30 pm ET.
*** Obama’s day: Speaking of Obama, he travels to Dallas, TX, where he hits two fundraisers and then delivers remarks on his jobs bill at 3:55 pm ET. A White House official emails First Read, “President Obama will travel to Eastfield College, a community college in Mesquite, Texas, to tour the campus’ Children’s Laboratory School and meet with students and teachers before delivering remarks urging Congress to pass the American Jobs Act now to keep teachers in the classroom and rebuild our schools across the nation.” After that, he heads to St. Louis, where he holds two more fundraising events. By the way, it’s really quite remarkable that the president is doing ONLY fundraising in Missouri; not a single public event in a “competitive” state (though, Team Obama knows Missouri is a state that probably can’t win, see 2008).
*** Tuesday’s “Daily Rundown” line-up: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, on President Obama’s jobs plan and 2012 outlook… Politico’s Jonathan Martin and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza on Christie, Perry and the 2012 calendar… NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo with the latest on the Wall Street protests… Roll Call/Rothenberg Report’s Nathan Gonzales on today’s West Virginia gubernatorial election… And more 2012 news with USA Today’s Susan Page, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, and former RNC Chairman Michael Steele.
*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews NBC’s Chuck Todd (on Christie and Obama), the Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka (on Perry), CNBC’s Steve Liesman, CNBC’s Ron Insana, Bob Wright, and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 35 days
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