Tales from the Trail

Newt’s campaign contributions surge alongside his rising favorability

Newly anointed Republican front-runner Newt Gingrich has raised more money since October 1 than during the rest of his presidential campaign, as rising poll numbers have prompted his fans to open their wallets.

The former Speaker of the House of Representatives has raised at least $3 million since October 1, said campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond. The donations have averaged $100 each and he is attracting 1,000 new donors each day.

In contrast, Gingrich took in less than $800,000 in the third quarter ending September 30, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. At that point, he was trailing far behind most of his rivals for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.

Gingrich’s presidential campaign has been surging as his rivals have stumbled. Gingrich garnered 28 percent of support among Republican primary voters, besting Cain at 25 percent and Romney at 18 percent, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released on Monday.  In the poll, conducted Nov. 10 through Nov. 13, Gingrich’s backing is up 13 percentage points from a comparable survey taken a month ago.

Speaking at a winery on Monday night where Gingrich and his wife Callista were signing books and showing a documentary, Hammond said big donors are starting to come back to Gingrich, whose campaign seemed near death in July after an exodus of most of his staff.

Cain’s wife speaks out in his defense

Herman Cain’s famously media-shy wife, Gloria Cain, steps into the media spotlight to defends her husband against sexual harassment allegations in an interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.
The Cain’s have been married for 43 years and Mrs. Cain says the allegations sound nothing like her husband, who she says totally respects women.

Cain’s fundraising has grown in the wake of the accusations, hauling in $9 million since Oct. 1, according to his presidential campaign. But he’s losing ground in some recent polls as support for rival Republic presidential candidate Newt Gingrich rises.

Here’s a clip from the interview airing  Monday evening:

In the clip below, Mrs. Cain reflects on the possibility of becoming first lady:

Washington Extra – Oppo on steroids

Welcome to the new era of opposition research — one that is supercharged by SuperPACs and flung far and wide by Twitter. YouTube is soooo 2008.

In his Special Report “The golden age of oppo research”, our correspondent Tim Reid tells us that the combination of abundant money (post-Citizens United decision ) and great technology will take opposition research to a new level in 2012. Karl Rove’s  SuperPAC American Crossroads alone plans to spend $240 million on this election cycle, mostly attacking Democratic candidates.

For all those thinking about new job opportunities in this growth industry, think again. As a 32-year-old retired researcher tells Tim, this is a young person’s game, and “the hours are brutal.”

from Political Theater:

Five must-see moments from the GOP foreign policy debate

The Republican presidential candidates assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina, last night for a primary debate, the first to focus entirely on foreign policy and national security. In a dialogue that spanned assorted geopolitical challenges -- including Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, America's strategic relationship with Pakistan, and trade with China -- the eight Republicans outlined the approaches they would take to diplomacy if elected head of state. Here are five of the most notable exchanges:

1. Is torture acceptable under any circumstances? And is water boarding torture?

"I served on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War," wrote a veteran in a question submitted via email that was posed to the candidates. "I believe that torture is always wrong in all cases. What is your stance on torture?"

Perry does Letterman’s “Top Ten” excuses for gaffe

Texas Governor Rick Perry wrapped up his apology, explanation, damage control (take your pick) tour where it started — on TV with an appearance on David Letterman’s “Late Show.”

Instead of sitting in the guest seat, the Republican presidential hopeful stood center stage presenting the “Top Ten Rick Perry Excuses” for an embarrassing 53-second brain freeze live on national TV at the Michigan debate.

Here’s the Top Ten in Reverse Order:

    10 “Actually there were 3 reasons I messed up last night 1) was the nerves and 2) was the headache and 3) uh, uh.” 9 “I don’t know what you’re talking about I think things went well.” 8 “I was up late last night watching ‘Dancing With the Stars’ “ “I thought the debate was tonight” 6 “Hey listen, you try concentrating with Mitt Romney smiling at you. That is one handsome dude!” 5 “Uhhhh, El Nino” 4 “I had a five-hour energy drink six hours before the debate.” 3 “You know I really hoped it would get me on my favorite talk show but instead I ended up here.” 2 “I wanted to help take the heat off my buddy Herman Cain.” 1 ” I just learned Justin Beiber is my father.”

Anyone tuning in for another Perry moment would have been disappointed. The  Late Night performance went well. His delivery, facial expressions and hand gestures were just right — not too stiff, not too overdone.

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.

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.

Perry freezes – normal guy or doomed presidential candidate?

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry drew a blank at the Michigan debate while trying to make a point about cutting government waste.

Afterwards, his campaign spokesman said it was an error of style not substance. Tony Fratto, former President George W. Bush’s spokesman, tweeted: “Perry can end his campaign right now.”

The affable Texas governor said he would eliminate three government agencies if elected president — but he could only name two.

Introducing Reuters Elections: our new home for all things 2012

Welcome to Reuters Election 2012, our new hub for the latest political news, analysis, and opinion. With the same commitment to accuracy you’re used to, coupled with the conviction that the exchange of arguments and opinion is a vital component of political coverage, our goal is to build an online resource to help you make sense of the issues and decide which candidates win your votes.

Conceived of and executed by Jim Impoco on the editorial side and Alex Leo on the product side, the page has a number of features new to Reuters.com.

In addition to spotlighting the great homegrown work of our own journalists, we’ll be scouring the web and linking to the best news and commentary about the U.S. elections from around the globe. We’ll also be aggregating the most interesting tweets, and our Polititude widget will measure social sentiment about each presidential hopeful — powered by WiseWindow, a company that analyzes and interprets chatter on social media platforms across the web, rather than merely searching for keywords — to capture each candidate’s social favorability at any given moment.

Cain backers reprise ‘high-tech lynching’ theme

A group of Herman Cain supporters has pulled out the heavy artillery in defense of the Republican presidential hopeful against sexual harassment allegations.

“Americans for Herman Cain” — an outside group not affiliated with his campaign — released this ad comparing the media treatment of Cain to what Clarence Thomas went through during his 1991 U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. Thomas — who also faced sexual harassment allegations and a media frenzy — denounced his treatment as “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.”

The sponsors of the pro-Cain ad reprise the phrase and use video of Thomas speaking two decades ago. It urges Cain supporters not to let the “left” do it again.