On the morning after Sarah Palin's announcement that we have to make do without her this time around, a brief recollection from three years ago, just before her stock began to fall: It is a cold and rainy night in Wasilla, where I have spent the previous week reporting on Palin's tenure as mayor. Palin has come to Alaska to do her first prime-time interview, with ABC's Charlie Gibson.
The political class is reacting with some astonishment to the Perry campaign's announcement that it raised $17 million in the third quarter (actually, in barely more than half the quarter, given Perry's late entry.) This most impressive sum conflicts with the boom and bust story line that had settled on Perry, after his surge to the front of the pack and more recent stumbles. But really, no one should have been surprised by this figure. As I describe in my new cover story in the magazine, raising money is what Perry does better than just about anyone.
While the political circus kept spinning its what-might-have-beens around Chris Christie yesterday, there was an actual election going on in West Virginia, where Democratic governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who took over from Joe Manchin when he moved to the Senate, was up against Republican Bill Maloney.
I'll leave it to the pundits to decide what will happen in the Republican primary now that Chris Christie has decided to keep his talents in Trenton. What does seem worth some thought, though, is what we won't see happen that we likely would have if Christie had gotten in: a full rekindling of the war over public employee unions. The issue has receded somewhat in the public consciousness since the showdowns in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere earlier this year, even as the fight carries on in several states.
When Barack Obama arrives in St. Louis tonight for a couple of fundraisers, he will be greeted by a targeted media hit from American Crossroads, the outside group led by Karl Rove that had such an impact in the 2010 midterms and is gearing up for the same next year. The group's new ad, a $50,000 buy in Missouri, will attack Obama's jobs plan by invoking the recent words of the president's ever-helpful fellow Democrat: Bill Clinton.
The window for Chris Christie to climb through just got even narrower (and no, that's not a catty reference -- I'm not joining this debate just yet.) The South Carolina Republican Party announced today that, in reaction to Florida moving its primary to Jan. 31, the state would hold its primary on Saturday, Jan. 21. This means that the nominating calendar is going to be pushed back even earlier than many were predicting after Florida's move.
Amid all the talk today about what sort of place Rick Perry comes from—and how much people there clung to their appellation of a certain piece of land —it's worth calling attention to what has to be one of the most telling and eye-opening maps of contemporary voting behavior. In 2004, George W. Bush beat John Kerry with 50.7 percent of the vote. Four years later, Barack Obama beat John McCain with nearly 53 percent of the vote.
Something about Rick Perry seems to inspire conversation that is awfully elemental. First, he was praying for rain. Then there were the Texas wildfires last month, and the question of whether or not they were related to the man-made climate change in which Perry does not believe. And now comes the rock. We'll leave it to others to litigate just exactly when a certain offensive word was visible on the boulder at the entrance to piece of land that Perry and his father starting leasing as a hunting ranch starting in the 1980s.
They better start laying in the Champagne in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, because it looks like it's going to be another holiday season in Iowa for the political circus. Florida Republicans today announced that they would, as they'd been threatening to, move their primary to January 31st. This will push the traditional first four states earlier into January, with one plausible scenario putting the Iowa caucuses on January 9, the New Hampshire primary on January 17, the Nevada caucuses on January 21 and the South Carolina primary January 28.
Earlier this week, I posed what I saw as a crucial question hanging over Rick Perry's prospects in the primary: whether Republican voters nationally would show more concern than Texas voters have about the pay for play, corporate-welfare aura that has enveloped Perry's tenure as govenror.