Monday Catch-up: News You May Have Missed
Policy + Politics

Monday Catch-up: News You May Have Missed

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Top Story/ Perry In, Pawlenty Out, Bachmann Up, Obama Down

The shape-shifting Republican presidential race continued to evolve:

  • Texas Governor Rick Perry threw his ten-gallon hat into the race and immediately became a formidable candidate because of his strong fiscal and social conservatism, his evangelical Christian following, and his prodigious talent as a fund-raiser (oil money, including that of the right-wing Koch brothers, is behind him).
  • Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who had bet the ranch on winning the weekend’s straw poll in Ames, Iowa, dropped out of the race. As the left-wing blog Daily Kos said: “We won’t have T-Paw to Ignore Anymore.”
  • One big reason Pawlenty lost was the surging candidacy of fellow Minnesotan Rep. Michele Bachmann, who won the straw poll by 152 votes, squeaking by libertarian Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Bachmann did the Bionic Woman routine on the Sunday morning talk shows. Here’s a smattering of what she said:

The Bachmann Moment

On Meet the Press. Bachmann said she didn’t think America could afford to extend jobless benefits and vigorously defended her staunch opposition to raising the debt ceiling. Moderator David Gregory read her a quote from Top Story/ Perry In, Pawlenty Out, Bachmann Up, Obama DownBill Gross, chief of major bond trader Pimco: "Washington hassles over debt ceilings instead of job creation in the mistaken belief that a balanced budget will produce a balanced economy. It will not."

Her response: “The way that you get revenue is by growing the economy, and the way you grow the economy is to have the federal government get its hand…out of your pocketbook.”

Gregory also showed this statement she made in 2004 about gays: “It's a very sad life. It's part of Satan, I think, to say that this is gay. It's anything but gay. ... It leads to the personal enslavement of individuals. Because if you're involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it's bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement. And that's why this is so dangerous.” He asked her is she would appoint an openly gay person to her Cabinet or Administration or appoint them as a judge.

Bachmann said she isn’t judging anyone, and her criteria would be: “…Where do you stand on the Constitution, are you competent, and do you share my views….”

In a later roundtable discussion, GOP strategist Mike Murphy said of Bachmann: "She is not going to be nominated, and she's not going to be president of the United States. And…if you like Michele Bachmann, you're going to love Rick Perry. Because now there's another cheeseburger on the menu with some Texas hot sauce. He's a governor, and he's got the best first sentence in American politics, which is, ‘I created one-third of the jobs in America in the last two years.’ His problem is, the second sentence is they're all at Burger King or the government created them, which could be a headache in the general election where I think he's a weak candidate. But…this guy is a barracuda; he's going to eat her for lunch.

On Face the Nation: Bachmann told moderator Norah O’Donnell that as president she would work to repeal Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and the tax code. The former IRS tax attorney said: “We need a tax code that is job friendly…. When you have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, 34 percent, that is not going to incentivize people to start new businesses. We need to make sure we lower our tax rate and there are a number of things in the tax code that I would change and that would help job creation.”

On Fox News Sunday: Moderator Chris Wallace, who once again publicly apologized for a previous interview in which he suggested Bachmann is a “flake,” pointed out that “Rick Perry has 10 years of experience as the governor of Texas. He has a strong story to tell about job creation since the recession. Why should voters go for you over Rick Perry?”

Bachmann’s response: “I've demonstrated that I have been a fighter in Washington, D.C. And also just through life experience. I am 55 years old; I'm a federal tax litigation attorney. My husband and I own and started a successful company. I get job creation. I get how the economy needs to work, because I have seen how devastating high taxes are.”

When asked if she thought she could really win, Bachmann said: “…What I've seen from people all across the country is, they really do want to take the country back. They want a new direction, and they want someone they can believe in. I think they see in me a champion for their values and their voice….”

On ABC’s This Week: Bachmann said that as President she would reform entitlements. “We're going to reform them for anyone who's currently not on them. We're going to change them so that they'll work…. Medicare, Medicaid, they have to be changed. Why should we continue to run these programs the way we did 45 years ago? …We can make these far more efficient than what they are. Social Security is another program, 80 years old. Why would we continue to run it in the same way we did 80 years ago? Let's modernize it so it's there for people who depend on it.”

In a roundtable discussion later, former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd said: “Many people say, ‘She can't win, she can't win.’ I have heard that song before…in Washington, D.C. They said that about Ronald Reagan, actually. …I'm not saying she's Ronald Reagan. But this is the first time a woman has ever won a straw vote, a caucus, or a primary in the Republican Party. And while we can question her experience in all of that, she [ran] a steely, well-put-together, disciplined campaign, and you cannot underestimate that in this race.”

Obama’s Dog Days; The Perry Factor

Barack Obama’s approval rating has reached the lowest point of his presidency—just 39 percent of Americans think he’s doing a good job, according to Gallup. “We usually don’t know exactly what causes presidential job approval to go up and go down,” The Daily Caller quoted Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport as saying, “but it’s a reasonable hypothesis that the proximate causes are the same factors that are affecting most measures we put in front of the public…the disapproval of how Washington has been handling the debt crisis, increasing worry about the economy, and the gyrating stock market – perhaps coupled with the Republicans and their criticisms of Obama occupying a lot of news space with the Iowa straw poll and Perry’s announcement.”

On Meet the Press, Mike Murphy said: “…The economy is a huge thing in politics, it is really hurting President Obama. We see it in his poll numbers, and it is bringing a populist anger to the Republican primary…which [makes] old Republican pragmatists like me wonder, “Are we going to nominate our own McGovern, or are we going to nominate somebody who can win a general election?” And that's unclear.

On This Week, conservative columnist George Will said: “Barack Obama's best hope is the Republican nominating electorate. He does not want this to be a referendum on his record. He wants it to be a referendum on the fitness for office of the Republican nominee. ‘Should this person have control of nuclear weapons?’ is the threshold question in any presidential race. And I think they're going to find that, in this question between Perry and Bachmann, that's an easy choice. Furthermore, Texas is to Republicans what California is to the Democrats, the largest reliable source of cash and electorate votes. In six of the last eight elections, there's been a Texan on the Republican ticket; 17 of the last 48 years there's been a Texan president.”