Tales from the Trail

Newt gets his own SuperPAC

Here’s a sign that Newt Gingrich is poised to make a run in the Republican presidential race — the former Speaker of the House finally has his own SuperPAC.

SuperPACs, “outside” funding groups supporting candidates but not officially tied to campaigns, can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. They are the hottest trend in U.S. politics, after court decisions last year lifted most restrictions on political fundraising.  Texas Governor Rick Perry may be lagging in the polls, but he has at least seven.  “Restore Our Future,” favoring Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, raised $12.3 million in the first half of 2011 alone.

Newt’s SuperPAC, “Solutions 2012,” launched on Wednesday night, coinciding with a debate between the candidates vying for the Republican nomination to oppose Democratic President Barack Obama’s re-election.

Backers look to the 68-year-old Gingrich as a viable competitor for Romney, whom some Republicans see as too moderate to be the party’s candidate for the White House. Interest in Gingrich has intensified as Perry’s poll numbers have slipped after poor debate performances, and businessman Herman Cain, another conservative favorite, has grappled with a sexual harassment scandal.

Newt’s SuperPAC touts the candidate as an expert on policy who does not attack other Republicans, in a video that says “Help us show America that substance still matters.

Perry camp tries to spin “oops” moment into campaign gold

 

Texas Governor Rick Perry’s camp has found a new way to take advantage of his latest poor debate performance, while adding to his mailing list and, hopefully, donor rolls.

His website had a banner on Thursday morning reading, “What part of the Federal Government would you like to forget about the most? Click here to vote!” Nestled beside a fundraising appeal, the link let visitors to the site choose between 10 government departments and commissions — including the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and National Endowment “of” the Arts (it’s the National Endowment FOR the Arts). Voters gave their names, email addresses and zip codes to vote by submitting their answers to forgetmenot@rickperry.org.

The Republican presidential hopeful crashed during a debate in Michigan on Wednesday night when he stood on stage and struggled to remember the third of three U.S. government agencies he would close if elected next November.  Perry remembered that he wanted to shut down the Commerce and Education departments but could not remember the third — Energy — despite prompting from a moderator and some of his rivals.

Obama to middle class: Who loves you?

The middle class is back.

Amid the din of Republican cries of class warfare, the Occupy Wall Street movement and a fresh economic report that America’s rich are getting much, much richer, one phrase punctuated weekend remarks from President Barack Obama and his campaign strategists: the middle class.

As the Democratic president struggles to reconnect with his base — liberals, black Americans and younger voters — he is taking up the middle class mantra to target the crucial voting bloc.

This weekend there was no escaping who the Obama team’s message was aimed at.

Perry video batters Romney with healthcare

In his latest campaign video, Texas Governor Rick Perry takes direct aim at Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney over healthcare.

The video casts the former Massachusetts governor as a mirror image of President Barack Obama when it comes to the federal healthcare overhaul, which conservatives deride as “Obamacare.”

Obamacare morphs into “Romneycare” in the video, which links the Republican frontrunner to the Democratic president’s plan.

Some ‘Occupy DC’ protestors not happy with Obama either

By Lily Kuo

Protestors in the Washington arm of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement have another message for the 1 percent: Listen up, President Obama.

Several Republican presidential candidates have criticized the movement as anti-American, divisive, and “in search of scapegoats.” But many members of what has become known as Occupy DC are not warming up to the Democratic president either, a fact that could frustrate what analysts say are Obama’s hopes to co-opt a burgeoning movement representing average Americans.

“[Obama and Biden] may be making a bet that this thing will get real traction among the middle class and young people, who have largely checked out of politics,” said Paul Light, a political science professor at New York University.

Another reason baseball is America’s game?

A speaker at the influential Values Voters Summit had a theory about why there has not been a major attack on U.S. soil by Islamic extremists since Sept. 11, 2001. And it isn’t just the hard work of U.S. intelligence agencies or the efforts of the thousands of U.S. forces who have risked their lives for 10 years.

According to Bryan Fischer, a director of the evangelical Christian American Families Association,  baseball can take at least some of the credit.

Fischer told an audience at the meeting that he believes there has not been another such major attack on the United States for a decade because Major League Baseball started singing “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch break during games instead of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” after 9/11.

Hey, wavering Republicans – file by Halloween, or turn into a pumpkin

A January 31 Florida primary would offer a big treat for anyone tired of the ‘will she/won’t he’ speculation about possible new entries to the Republican presidential field — a hard deadline, on Halloween.

Florida officials say the state is expected to move up its primary to the January date, which means that candidates have until Oct. 31 — Halloween — to file paperwork to get their names on the ballot in the vote-rich state.

Florida is the fourth-most populous state, with more than 18 million people, and it is by far the largest of the “swing states” not strongly aligned with either political party, where U.S. elections are typically decided.

Palin asks whether ‘title’ worth joining 2012 race

Sarah Palin says the biggest thing she’s thinking about  as she decides whether or not to run for president  is whether a title would be a shackle and stifle her message.

“Through my process of decision-making with my family and my close friends as to whether I should throw my name in the hat for the GOP nomination for 2012 – Is a title worth it?  Does a title shackle a person?” Palin said Tuesday night on the  Fox News show “On the Record.”

“Someone like me who’s a maverick? I do go rogue and I call it like I see it and I don’t mind stirring it up in order to get people to think and debate aggressively to find solutions to the problems that our country is facing,” Palin continued.

Big campaign bucks don’t always spell victory

Expectations for massive fund-raising in the 2012 election may obscure one point — big bucks don’t always lead to victory. And in fact, too much spending — especially in the form of too many advertisements — can turn off voters.

There have been several notable examples of heavy, but ultimately fruitless, outspending in recent elections.

In the 2010 midterms, Republican Meg Whitman, the billionaire former chief executive of eBay, spent $140 million of her own money, or about $43 per vote,to campaign for governor against Democrat Jerry Brown.  Brown spent $7.50 per vote to defeat her by 12 percentage points, in a race that was a rare bright spot for Democrats in elections that saw most Republicans sweep to victory.

Tea party boosts Perry to top of GOP polls

Texas Governor Rick Perry has vaulted into the lead among Republicans vying for the nomination to oppose  President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election bid, according to several new  polls. And he may have the Tea Party to thank for it.

A CNN/ORC International poll released  Monday showed Perry strongly favored by Republicans and independent voters who lean Republican. Among the declared candidates, Perry has 32 percent support, followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 18 percent, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann at 12 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 7 percent, Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 6 percent and the rest of the field in the low single digits.

This could reflect shifting allegiances among Tea Party supporters, according to Gallup, which released its own poll last week also showing that Perry had replaced Romney as the early front-runner.