What we learned this week: 1) Team Obama admits they’re in trouble; 2) the GOP field is officially set… Is it Romney’s race to lose or Perry’s race to win?... Another way to look at it: Stanford vs. LSU… September jobs report: 103,000 jobs added last month but unemployment rate remains unchanged at 9.1%... Basta, Senate!... GOP presidentials speak at Values Voter summit… Romney delivers foreign-policy/national-security speech at 10:45 am ET… Dem strategist on Romney speech: “petty” and “politically motivated”… Two points on Scott Brown’s “Thank God” comment… And “Meet the Press” has Rahm Emanuel and Paul Ryan.
*** What we learned this week: We learned a couple of very important things about the 2012 presidential race this week. First, Team Obama acknowledged what all the polls suggest -- they’re in trouble and have quite a bit of work to do. In an interview, President Obama referred to himself as the underdog, and he also said the economic situation looks bleak. “There is no doubt that the economy is weaker now than it was at the beginning of the year,” he said at his press conference yesterday. “And every independent economist who has looked at this question carefully believes that for us to make sure that we are taking out an insurance policy against a possible double-dip recession.” Meanwhile, Vice President Biden gave this response when NBC’s David Gregory asked him if the Republican Party is strong enough to beat Obama next year: “Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. It’s absolutely strong enough to beat both of us.”
*** Romney’s race to lose or Perry’s race to win? The other important thing we learned about 2012 is that the GOP field is now officially set, with both Chris Christie and Sarah Palin taking a pass on the race. There are two ways to look at the Republican contest. One, it’s Mitt Romney’s to lose. Or two, as Charlie Cook puts it today, it’s Rick Perry’s to win. “Clearly,” Cook writes, “most Republican voters would much prefer a very, very, very conservative nominee to the more buttoned-down Romney. (Even if he has shed his pinstriped suits and nice ties in favor of sports shirts and khakis, he still looks like he could be a Haggar slacks model.) It’s unclear whether they want, or will end up supporting, Perry—but, obviously, they want a Perry-like conservative. But it comes down to Perry’s capacity to turn the corner, to become a national, as opposed to a Texas or a Deep South, candidate.”
*** Stanford vs. LSU: With another slate of good college football games tomorrow, here’s another way to look at the Romney vs. Perry race. Romney is like Stanford -- good starting line-up, a veteran team with a smart game plan, but with little depth and few five-star recruits. That kind of team can’t afford any mistakes. Perry, meanwhile, looks like LSU -- tons of talent, lots of depth, but prone to mistakes and some poor coaching decisions (sorry, Les). And in today’s Republican Party, Perry’s team is the home team, while Romney’s is on the road. So far in this game, Romney’s team has the lead, driving up and down the field, but ONLY kicking field goals so the lead isn’t insurmountable. Perry’s team has turned the ball over a couple of times, but just scored a TD with his 3rd quarter fundraising haul. And we’re still in the first quarter… (We know we took this analogy to the extreme and stretched it to the point the rubber band is about to break, but it’s Friday!)
*** Sept. jobs report -- better than last month, but hardly something to celebrate: Here’s the latest report: Employers added 103,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate remains at 9.1%. The AP: “The Labor Department also revised the previous two months to show that companies hired at a better pace than first estimated. Nearly half of the gains last month occurred because 45,000 striking Verizon workers returned to their jobs. Employers have added an average of only 72,000 jobs in the past five months. The economy must create twice as many just to keep up with population growth.” The numbers are better than last month’s, but hardly something to celebrate.
*** Basta! If you thought things couldn’t get worse in Congress… Per Roll Call, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) executed a rare power play to box in the GOP on Thursday night, setting a new precedent that effectively nukes a rarely used procedural motion and drawing a vociferous rebuke from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky).” More: “Reid’s move to effectively neuter the obscure procedural motion — one that has not been successfully used since 1941 and had not even been attempted this year before today — came after months of frustration over GOP stalling tactics, Democrats said.” Bottom line: Reid changed the rules that Democrats charge Republicans have been abusing. Call what Reid did the “Basta Rule.” In Italian, you use the word "Basta" when you've had enough. Someone keeps on talking and you just want them to stop, you might say, "Basta!" Or two siblings are fighting, and you've had enough and need to make a point, then "Basta!" Last night was another toxic moment in Congress, and yet another example how the once-pristine Senate looks more and more like the rough-and-tumble House.
*** When is someone going to say, “Enough”? We’re curious: When are some of the adults in the Senate who aren’t in leadership going to say enough and actually try and do something about this toxic atmosphere? That’s what these rank-and-file senators claim they want to do when they either LEAVE the body or go home for a town hall.
*** Values Voter summit: Social conservatives -- including the GOP presidential candidates -- gather in DC today for the annual Values Voter summit, sponsored in part by the Family Research Council. The line-up: Rick Santorum (11:40 am ET) speaks in the morning; Rick Perry (2:25 pm), Herman Cain (4:15 pm), and Newt Gingrich (5:00 pm) go in the afternoon; and Michele Bachmann (7:30 pm) addresses the confab in the evening. Meanwhile, Ron Paul (9:25 am) and Mitt Romney (9:55 am) will speak at the Values Voter summit tomorrow, and Jon Huntsman isn’t attending at all. Like in past years, the summit is holding a straw poll, the results of which will be announced at a 3:15 pm Saturday press conference.
*** Romney talks foreign policy: So while many of his GOP rivals will be speaking today at the Values Voter summit, Romney delivers a foreign-policy/national-security speech at 10:45 am ET at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. According to excerpts, it contains -- not surprisingly -- several digs at President Obama. “As president of the United States, I will devote myself to an American Century. And I will never, ever apologize for America.” He will also say, “As president, on Day 1, I will focus on rebuilding America’s economy and I will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts.” And: “I will not surrender America’s role in the world. This is very simple: If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your president. You have that president today.”
*** Dem response: Romney speech “petty” and “politically motivated”: In response to Romney’s speech today, a Democratic strategist emails First Read: “Mitt Romney has a heckuva a feat in his seminal foreign policy address tomorrow -- starting with how to untangle himself from his myriad of contradictory positions he has taken on foreign policy issues over the years (both sides of whether to stay or draw down in Afghanistan, both sides on Libya… His second big feat will be to make a credible argument against President Obama's leadership on the world stage - after all - what will say against killing bin Laden … ending combat operations in Iraq, transitioning to an Afghan security force lead and drawing down our troops there, standing up for Israel at the UN, strengthening our alliances, overthrowing Khaddafy and fostering Democracy movements in the Middle East. Romney's criticisms of that stellar record are likely to come off petty and nothing more than politically motivated."
*** Two points on Scott Brown’s “Thank God” remark: Scott Brown’s “Thank God” Elizabeth Warren kept her clothes on remark is still getting play today. Two quick points: 1) It’s clear that Warren has gotten under Brown’s skin a bit, and 2) sexism might not hurt you in Massachusetts as much as other states. After all, female statewide candidates haven’t had the best track record in the Bay State (see: Martha Coakley, Shannon O’Brien, and Kerry Healey). But here’s what we do know: A Brown-Warren match-up is going to be VERY entertaining.
*** Friday’s “Daily Rundown” line-up: Reaction to the new job numbers with National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and Moody’s Mark Zandi… Brennan Center’s Michael Waldman and the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund on new state voting law changes and what they mean for 2012… Plus more 2012 news with Roll Call’s Shira Toeplitz, ThinkProgress.org’s Faiz Shakir, and MSNBC’s Michelle Bernard.
*** Friday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Nobel Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman, NBC’s David Gregory, and the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus and Chris Cillizza.
*** Sunday’s “Meet the Press” line-up: And “Meet the Press” has announced its line-up for this weekend. In a special live edition from Chicago, NBC’s David Gregory will interview Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 32 days
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