2012 roundup: the day's best campaign coverage.
Rick Perry is a big threatRomney and Bachmann – as well as to Barack Obama, writes Josh Kraushaar at the National Journal: "The money line from [Perry's] kickoff speech: 'I’ll work every day to try to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can.' Those 18 words will define Perry's candidacy, and is a pitch-perfect appeal to a Republican primary and caucus electorate angry at Obama’s policies and a November electorate disenchanted about the lack of jobs and economic growth. If he becomes the nominee, it would also set up an epic general election with two divergent visions of the appropriate role for government in American life. The contest for the GOP nomination, meanwhile, is shaping up to be a compelling affair between Perry and Mitt Romney, the two heavyweights in the GOP field. Romney has run a cautious campaign, focusing more on preparing for a general election than catering to the conservative interests that predominate in Republican primaries." [National Journal]
The Wall Street Journal likes Rick Perry better than Michele Bachmann but is holding out for ...? "The fight for the Republican Presidential nomination is finally getting underway in earnest, with Texas Governor Rick Perry bull-riding his way into the race and Michele Bachmann winning Saturday's straw poll in Iowa. Both events show how unsettled the GOP contest still is, as voters search for a candidate who can beat a vulnerable President Obama .... Mr. Perry enters the race with a far more substantial record [than Bachmann], notably 11 years leading one of America's most economically successful states. ... Republicans and independents are desperate to find a candidate who can appeal across the party's disparate factions and offer a vision of how to constrain a runaway government and revive America's once-great private economy. If the current field isn't up to that, perhaps someone still off the field will step in and run. Now would be the time." [Wall Street Journal]
Gallup says there are 12 likely battleground states to watch for in the 2012 election: "Twelve states constitute the likely battlegrounds for the 2012 election, based on Gallup’s state-by-state ratings of President Obama’s approval level. The ratings, which aggregate Gallup polling done from January through June, came out just as Gallup was releasing its latest tracking poll showing Obama’s approval nationwide at 39 percent, the lowest in his presidency. If Obama’s national approval remains stuck at that level – or even in the low 40s – then state-by-state assessments probably won’t matter much. Historically, presidents don’t win re-election with that sort of approval rating. But assuming Obama can move his national numbers back upward, then the 16 states plus the District of Columbia in which he had approval of 50 percent or better this spring can reasonably be considered his electoral base. They have 215 electoral votes." [LA Times]
The next two months will be a "game of three-dimensional chess with potentially lasting implications in the race to come," thanks to five Republican presidential debates happening in the next 60 days: "In the next 60 days, there are five presidential debates scheduled – a series of standoffs that amount to a testing ground for the top-tier Republican candidates as the campaign picks up momentum... We have said time and again in this space that debates matter because they are the rare moment in an off-year where likely voters are paying attention and have a chance to compare the candidates side-by-side... Assuming Perry participates in the majority (or all) of the five scheduled debates, the dynamic between he, Romney and Bachmann will be intriguing to watch." [Washington Post]
Mitt Romney and Rick Perry – not Michele Bachmann – are the two Republican candidates to watch, writes Beth Reinhard of the National Journal: "Until now, the biggest question looming over the 2012 Republican primary was who would emerge as the leading alternative to the nominal front-runner, Mitt Romney. We now know the answer to that question: Rick Perry. Sure, Perry jumped into the race only one day ago and needs to prove he’s worthy of the national stage. Yes, Michele Bachmann is the one who boxed Tim Pawlenty out of the race with her triumph in the Iowa Straw Poll on Saturday. But it is the governor of the great big state of Texas, not the Minnesota congresswoman, who poses the biggest threat to Romney from here on out. That’s because Perry boasts that killer combination of assets: the power to grab hold of voters – which Bachmann shares – plus a concrete record of creating jobs. It’s the rhetoric plus the results, the inspiration layered on top of the perspiration." [National Journal]
Mother Jones adds its entry to the burgeoning Michele Bachmann literature: "From her days as an abortion protester and conservative foot soldier, she has climbed the ranks, at every step of the way reshaping the political dynamic around her to reflect her own frenzied style. In some respects, her career arc mirrors the president's – a restless youth, a life-changing trip abroad, a stint as a community organizer, and then a rapid rise from the state legislature to the US Capitol. Now she wants Obama's job... How far can she go? That's the question that's been on the minds of political observers since Bachmann threw herself into the presidential race. Early polls showed her tied with or even ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the consensus front-runner, in Iowa; she's been running a strong second in New Hampshire. With Iowa and South Carolina, another social-conservative hotbed, among the three earliest contests, she's well positioned to make a serious run deep into the nomination process." [Mother Jones]
Obama sets off on a bus tour through the Midwest this week, hoping to sell heartland voters on his jobs plan: "The region of the country that has seen a measurable improvement in employment in the last year is the Midwest, according to government statistics, and President Obama is heading there today through Wednesday. He will hold a series of town-hall gatherings in Minnesota and Illinois, plus an all-day forum in Iowa in which he wants to tout specific programs his administration has deployed to assist Americans living and working in rural communities, including military families and Native Americans... The White House has dubbed the Midwest bus tour “official” rather than campaign travel. But the president’s town-hall meetings and economic forum – scheduled just days after the Iowa straw poll and the televised debate among Republican presidential candidates – suggest a certain eagerness to inject a White House narrative into communities awash in anti-Obama rhetoric. Officially, the president’s aides deny there is any connection." [RealClearPolitics]