In tonight's debate, however, there is One Main Thing to Watch: the performance of Herman Cain.
If Cain continues to do well in these debates -- and avoids flip statements on things like electric border fences -- he's going to have a major impact on this race.
Already, Cain has shifted the dynamic in ways Rick Perry couldn't possibly have imagined when he announced he was running for president. Perry envisioned a two-man race against Romney, but so far he hasn't gotten the head-to-head matchup he wants.
Campaign insiders and strategists say privately that Cain has surprised them all by leaping over Perry in the polls. Cain, not Perry, is now neck-and-neck with Romney.Continue »
Here are five things to watch tonight:
1. Romney vs. Perry. In one corner is Mr. Establishment, your 1950s dad who's kind of boring and always wants to follow the rules. In the other is the Anti-Establishment hell-raiser, your 1970s uncle who likes a good brawl and doesn't bother with rulebooks. These two guys couldn't be more different--in tone, style and approach--and we saw that clearly last week, even in how they talked to each other. (Perry called Romney "Mitt," while Romney more politely called his nemesis "Governor.") After their clash at the Reagan Library on Social Security, though, Romney hasn't let up. In fact, just this afternoon, his campaign pointed out several of Perry's comments about the program and how it should be handled not by the federal government, but by the states. And the subject line? "Rick's Latest Retreat on Social Security."Continue »
1. America, meet Rick Perry. It's already a clich? to say "all eyes will be on Perry tonight," but in this case (well in most cases) the clich? is true. As we like to say in Alabama, folks will be taking the measure of the man. This is his debut on a national stage. But don't expect a razzle-dazzle offense or heroics in the end zone, which we don't expect from Texas A&M, Perry's alma mater, anyway. All he needs to do is hang onto the ball and deliver a solid performance.
His advisers are saying they see this as a chance to introduce him to the nation, and they're planning to save the punches for subsequent debates. They're also are trying to lower expectations by insisting Perry doesn't enjoy debating, hasn't participated in many debates and that it's not a natural forum for him. That's a good political strategy, since short of a complete offensive and defensive breakdown, he will clear that low bar.Continue »
For Republicans candidates seeking to unseat President Obama, there's one overriding issue: the economy. Polls have repeatedly shown that not only is the economy (and the corresponding issue of jobs) the number one concern for voters--but also that a majority of Americans disapprove of how the president is handling it.
And if they needed any encouragement, there's history to fall back on: No president has been reelected with unemployment numbers this bad since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Great Depression.
So today's grim unemployment report--the economy added only 18,000 jobs in June--was like shooting fish in a barrel for Republicans, and they all fired away. Within minutes of the report's release, the GOP presidential contenders were using words like "failed" and "failure" to describe Mr. Obama's performance and his policies.
With one exception: Jon Huntsman.Continue »
There was notable and powerful moment in last night's South Carolina town hall meeting with Michele Bachmann, when she revealed she once suffered a "devastating" miscarriage that she said changed her life and priorities.
"After our second was born, we became pregnant with a third baby. It was an unexpected baby, but of course we were delighted to have this child," Bachmann said told the crowd, in response to a question from an audience member. "The child was coming along and we ended up losing our child. And it was devastating to both of us, as you can imagine if any of you have lost a child."Continue »
MANCHESTER, N.H.--After two hours of talk and lots of interruptions from a moderator, here are the five things you need to know from tonight's GOP debate:
1. Bottom line: This debate was about Barack Obama: There was a lot of speculation going in that the candidates would start slugging it out with one another to break out of the pack. Not tonight. It was Republicans United vs. Obama. Here's a sample of what they said about the President: "He's failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing." (Mitt Romney) "The Obama administration is an anti-jobs, anti-business, anti-American energy destructive force." (Newt Gingrich) "Just make no mistake about it. I want to announce tonight. President Obama is a one-term president." (Michele Bachmann)
2. Mitt Romney maintains his status: Former Gov. Romney went into the debate as the presumptive frontrunner, and he left the debate as the presumptive frontrunner. If anything, he solidified his position as king of the hill--and none of the candidates came close to pushing him off.Continue »
MANCHESTER, N.H.--With the first major Republican debate only hours away, the candidates have wrapped up their strategy sessions and are getting ready to take stage. At this point in the campaign, tonight is a chance for them to introduce themselves to voters--perhaps with a good one-liner--and try to avoid any missteps that will get replayed over and over.
But there are a few other things brewing under the surface that we could see tonight. So while we all wait for things to get started, here are the Top Five few things to be on the lookout for late on.
1. Will tonight's debate be like King of the Hill--that playground game you played in elementary school? With Mitt Romney firmly established as the presumptive frontrunner, the non-Romneys are going to have to start charging up the hill at some point to try to push him off. So far they're not running at him at full speed. If they don't make an effort tonight, Romney will be able to stay focused on taking shots at President Obama--and not get into a shoving match with the others. But there are some signals it could go the other way, which leads us to....Continue »
In the Department of Obvious Next Moves, Sarah Palin's PAC now is encouraging supporters to join forces to go through the 24,000 pages of emails to set the "record straight" and show the "hard working governor" behind the messages.
SarahPAC's site quotes a post from conservatives4palin.com, which started the effort with the following plea:
"The media went crazy thinking they were going to find a smoking gun on Governor Palin by forcing the State of Alaska to release 24,199 pages of email communications during her time in office. They were wrong and have admitted as much. After the media spent so much time and effort, they discovered no "bombshells," which of course they were hoping for all along....Continue »
CBS News Political Producer Bonney Kapp reports:
"He gave a great speech this morn in Michigan - mentioned Alaska," she told aides, urging them to release a response to Obama's campaign speech on energy policy.
She also said she said she was "glad" Obama was "flippflopping" and added that Obama "Stole out (sic) Energy Rebate $1000 check idea, stole our TC-Alaska gasline talking I points, etc. So we need to take advantage of this a write a statement saying he's right on."Continue »
With reporters coast-to-coast now frantically searching through 24,000 of Sarah Palin's emails from when she was Alaska governor, here's what we've seen so far: A governor who doesn't particularly like the press, who is engaged in energy issues facing her state and who is extremely hands-on in the day-to-day business of the office.
There have been a couple mentions of "troopergate," but nothing new or unusual. There have been a few emails that, unsurprisingly, make clear her disdain for the media and her surprise at voluminous requests for information. In one, she apologizes to her staff for having to deal with reporters. In another email to staff, she implies she had a contentious relationship with Alaska Congressman Don Young. Most them, also unsurprisingly, are on her daily work as governor: her schedules, the pressing issues facing Alaska, her correspondence--including an exchange with then-Vice President Dick Cheney over an oil pipeline.Continue »
With confirmation that Gingrich's top advisers have quite en masse, this obviously means his campaign is all but done, which frankly was only a matter of time and comes as a surprise to no one. The more interesting question for 2012 is what this means for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Sources close to Perry tell me he is now "serious" about a presidential bid. He has been talking with his big money donors for the past week, and they had a conference call on Monday to talk assembling a possible 2012 campaign.
But the rub was this: There was no way Perry would run for president without his top political consultant, Dave Carney. And it also would be nice to have his former campaign manager, Rob Johnson, on board.
Unfortunately for Perry, both of those guys were working on Gingrich 2012. Carney was advising Gingrich in New Hampshire and Johnson was Gingrich's senior political adviser. As one top Republican strategist told me on Tuesday, the canary in the coal mine for a Perry presidential run is whether Carney would leave Newt.
Now, Gingrich's entire team has up and quit. And all of a sudden Carney/Johnson are available. And Rick Perry is for real.
Rollins, who was Mike Huckabee's national campaign director in the 2008 campaign, is an experienced political operative with a well-earned reputation for his tough tactics and willingness to play hardball. He's probably best known for running the 1984 Reagan-Bush reelection campaign, which Reagan won in a landslide.
Rollins will run a campaign that already has a number of experienced advisors on board, including Brett O'Donnell, who advised George W. Bush and John McCain and is considered the best debate coach in politics. Bachmann also has brought on Bob Heckman, who is prominent in the conservative movement.
Sarah Palin is either running for President or she should be: That's the takeaway from "The Undefeated," a new movie about Palin's life and leadership set to hit theaters next month.
Billed as a documentary - though told in a fast-paced and dramatic style - the two-hour movie is an unabashed defense of the former Alaska governor that leaves the distinct impression her presidential candidacy not only is possible, but inevitable.
Stephen Bannon, the movie's creator, took on the project after Palin's aides approached him late last year about making a series of videos on Palin. He proposed a movie instead, and bankrolled it himself. The final product, which I saw last week in a screening for a few reporters, gives Palin the introduction she never really had when the Hockey mom from Wasilla became John McCain's running mate in 2008.Continue »
Like the police in suburban Kansas City, who recently responded to a rare alligator sighting and took quick action to dispatch the predator, shooting it in the head - twice - while it lay menacingly in the weeds.
Turns out they had mortally wounded a concrete lawn ornament.Continue »
Mitt Romney's announcement today that he's forming an exploratory committee may have caught some by surprise, but the timing is all about -- you guessed it -- money.
With President Obama poised to raise record amounts, Romney's camp realized it needed to start tapping into his network of supporters and raising money now, in the second quarter (which started April 1). They want this time to raise the kind of money the campaign is going to require.
Watch Romney's video below: