Perry gets another debate chance and previewed his attacks yesterday… Will Romney once again emerge unscathed?... FOX-Google debate begins at 9:00 pm ET from Orlando, FL… Obama visits bridge linking Boehner’s Ohio and McConnell’s Kentucky and delivers remarks on his jobs bill in Cincinnati at 2:30 pm ET… Per Gallup, for first time, a majority blames Obama for the nation’s economic problems… House GOP unable to pass spending measure… Issa -- for green energy before he was against it?... And GOP presidential candidates participate at the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition kick-off in Orlando beginning at 3:00 pm ET.
*** Another debate chance for Perry: If debates determined the eventual primary winner, then Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, or even Joe Biden would have captured the Democratic nomination in '08, and Mike Huckabee would have won the GOP nod that year. But Rick Perry's debate performance last week in Tampa was enough to worry some Republicans (especially donors) already eyeing the general election against President Obama. He was imprecise with his language (did he really want to suggest that he could be bought for a campaign contribution more than $5,000?). He seemed unprepared (particularly in the discussion about HPV). And he wasn't quick on his feet (when Romney said Perry inherited four aces with the Texas economy, he could have responded, "Gov. Romney, now that you're talking poker, you've been bluffing your way as a conservative for way too long").
Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
*** Perry previews his attacks on Romney: So all the pressure for tonight’s debate -- the sixth of the GOP race and third one in 15 days -- is on Perry. And it’s about more than convincing Republican viewers and voters; it’s about convincing donors that he has what it takes, with the Sept. 30 fundraising deadline just around the corner (and with the chatter in the donor world that Perry’s struggling a bit). Perhaps previewing his debate strategy tonight, a more aggressive Perry came out swinging against Mitt Romney yesterday. One Perry press release charged, “As he has so many times in the past, Mr. Romney seems to forget he's a Republican.” A second one stated, “In his second false, desperate attack of the day, a flailing Mitt Romney helped expose his near worst-in-the-nation jobs record and his job-killing RomneyCare plan.” And he said this on FOX last night, per NBC’s Carrie Dann: "We don't need to nominate Obama Lite. We don't need to nominate someone who's going to blur the lines between President Obama and our nominee."
*** Will Romney once again emerge unscathed? Of course, we’ve been here before -- remember when Tim Pawlenty previewed his attack on Romney, but failed to deliver at the New Hampshire debate back in June? In fact, one of the themes so far this cycle is how Romney has emerged unscathed (and sometimes has been entirely forgotten) at the GOP debates. He has talked about the issues he wants to discuss (Obama, the economy), deflects the questions posed to him (like on health care), and moves on. Will that change tonight?
*** Nine at 9:00 pm: Tonight’s debate, co-sponsored by FOX and Google, takes place in Orlando, FL beginning at 9:00 pm ET. And it features nine GOP candidates: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Perry, Romney, and Rick Santorum. This will be Johnson’s first debate since the May FOX debate in South Carolina. The event also comes as a new Quinnipiac poll shows Perry leading Romney in Florida, 31%-22% (and has Romney beating President Obama in the state 47%-40%, and Perry trailing Obama 44%-42% -- so a nine-point swing; but will GOP primary voters buy electability argument, especially in FL when they were told Rick Scott was unelectable?). Meanwhile, the Democratic Super PAC Protect Your Care is going up with a TV ad in the Orlando market (from Thursday through Sunday) seizing on the “Let him die” moment at last week’s GOP debate.
*** Bridging the gap? In addition to tonight’s debate, the other political story is Obama’s visit to Cincinnati, OH -- and to a bridge linking the home states of House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "It says a lot that the bridge [the Brent Spence Bridge] that would connect the states of two such powerful leaders would be considered functionally obsolete," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told the Cincinnati Enquirer earlier this week. "The president believes that we need to pass the American Jobs Act as soon as possible and in a divided government, the only way to do that is for Republicans to be willing to work with Democrats.” The RNC is pointing out, however, that the bridge isn’t “shovel ready” and that Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown was pushing for the bridge to be included in the 2009 stimulus. Obama delivers his remarks at 2:30 pm ET.
*** The economic blame game and a potential tipping point: Per Gallup: “A slight majority of Americans for the first time blame President Obama either a great deal (24%) or a moderate amount (29%) for the nation's economic problems. However, Americans continue to blame former President George W. Bush more. Nearly 7 in 10 blame Bush a great deal (36%) or a moderate amount (33%).” In our recent NBC/WSJ poll, a majority (56%) said Obama inherited the current economic conditions, though that was down six points from June. That’s compared with 33% who said that Obama was mostly responsible for the economy. This is one of those “perception” tipping point moments. Of course, the White House believes the proper new question on this score should be comparing the president to congressional Republicans for current economic situation. That’s their foe and challenge.
House Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), right, with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.
*** House GOP unable to pass spending measure: Turning to Capitol Hill… Demonstrating -- once again -- their inability to count votes and corral their most conservative members, House GOP leaders yesterday were unable to pass a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open after Sept. 30. The measure failed, 195-230, NBC’s Frank Thorp reports. The New York Times has more: “The unexpected outcome illustrated how the intense fiscal fights of recent months had transformed the politics of disaster relief, which in the past has typically been rushed out of Congress with strong backing from both parties. Democrats remained nearly united against the measure because they saw the amount of disaster assistance — $3.65 billion — as inadequate, and they objected to the Republicans’ insistence on offsetting some of the cost with cuts elsewhere.”
*** For green energy before you were against it: At 9:30 am ET, Darrell Issa’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing entitled, “How Obama’s Green Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs.” Yet Bloomberg News reports that Issa has sought his clean-energy aid in the past. "Republican Representative Darrell Issa, who said government subsidies to specific companies can encourage corruption, sought U.S. help in the past for clean- energy projects in his home state of California."
*** On the 2012 trail: Before tonight’s debate, Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Huntsman, Paul, Perry, Romney, and Santorum will all participate at the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition kick-off beginning at 3:00 pm ET in Orlando, FL.
*** Thursday’s “Daily Rundown” line-up: Former State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin on the president’s week at the UN … Marist’s Lee Miringoff joins for a special announcement … Jonathan Martin and Chris Cillizza preview tonight’s GOP debate … And our panelists, MSNBC.com’s Vaughn Ververs, National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru, and USA Today’s Jackie Kucinich, join to break down the president’s jobs push in Ohio as the Republican candidates debate.
*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and former Sen. Norm Coleman (who is now backing Mitt Romney).
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 47 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 137 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.
Click here to sign up for First Read emails.
Text FIRST to 622639, to sign up for First Read alerts to your mobile phone.
Check us out on Facebook and also on Twitter. Follow us @chucktodd, @mmurraypolitics, @DomenicoNBC, @brookebrower