The Campaign Spot

Tonight: Pats-Dolphins, Raiders-Broncos, Perry-Bachmann

In the opening Morning Jolt of the week, there’s a lot of discussion of the 9/11-centered comments of Trumka and Krugman, and some of yesterday’s sillier triggers for high alerts… but also, a look at tonight’s other big competition besides football:

Are You Ready For Some Monday Night… Debate?

You know, I’m not saying I don’t want to watch another debate, but… did they have to put it opposite the beginning of Monday Night Football? Even Barack Obama knew better than to go head-to-head with the NFL.

But we may see some hitting in this one, early and often. Our old friend Byron York reports, “Mitt Romney and his advisers have been pushing hard against Rick Perry over the Texas governor’s description of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme.”  Now, another Republican rival, Michele Bachmann, is preparing to hit Perry on the same issue.

“Bernie Madoff deals with Ponzi schemes, not the grandparents of America,” says a Bachmann adviser.  “Clearly she feels differently about the value of Social Security than Gov. Perry does.  She believes Social Security needs to be saved, that it’s an important safety net for Americans who have paid into it all their lives.” Bachmann is in Florida for private meetings and to prepare for Monday night’s GOP debate in Tampa.  It’s no secret the Bachmann camp was unhappy with the moderators of last Wednesday’s Republican debate at the Reagan Library, a debate which began as a Perry-Romney showdown and gave less time to other candidates.  This time, in Tampa, it seems safe to predict that moderators will ask at least some other candidates whether they agree with Perry’s characterization of Social Security.”

The New York Times gets some Bachmann folks admitting that the pressure is on: “Her advisers acknowledged that she had a disappointing night Wednesday. She failed to seize opportunities to contrast herself with Mr. Perry, her chief rival for evangelical and Tea Party support, or with Mr. Romney, who at one point said that every candidate deserved to take “a mulligan” or two on bad decisions from the past — a missed opportunity to scold him that presidents do not get mulligans. “Debates are the best chances to move the needle,” said Mark McKinnon, who helped prepare Senator John McCain for debates in the 2008 race and thought that Mrs. Bachmann “was surprisingly cautious” last week. “True, she didn’t get many questions,” he added, “but she should have realized that the debate was going to be all about Perry and, therefore, taken him on.”

If the debate turns into a three-way fight, doesn’t that help Romney, in the sense that Perry and Bachmann would theoretically split the same demographic?


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