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Obama campaign goes on attack

at 06:30 AM ET, 10/03/2011

President Obama’s re-election campaign argues in a memo set to be released this morning that Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney — the two frontrunners for the Republican nomination — have “embraced policies that the American people oppose” on Social Security and immigration.


U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Human Rights Campaign's annual dinner in Washington. ( REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
“The campaign to win the Republican nomination has become a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Tea Party,” writes Ben LaBolt, press secretary for Obama’s re-election effort. “They would return to policies that have been tried before and done nothing to improve economic security for the middle class, rewarding special interests who can afford to pay for lobbyists instead of looking out for working families.”

The memo, which amounts to the most direct assault against Perry and Romney by the president’s campaign to date, provides a window into the incumbent's strategy as the GOP primary season begins to heat up.

That strategy? Paint both Romney and Perry as extremists, having adopted positions on key issues outside of the mainstream of American thought.

On Social Security, for example, LaBolt notes that Perry has called the retirement program a “Ponzi scheme ... and continues to question its constitutionality” while Romney “supports turning Social Security funds over to Wall Street.”

On immigration, LaBolt points to a Gallup survey showing 64 percent of Americans support a path to citizenship for illegals but that the “leading Republican candidates” oppose a path to citizenship. “The Republican field has become increasingly out of step on immigration,” concludes LaBolt.

The stepped-up aggressiveness of the attacks on the GOP field is a strategy born of necessity for the Obama campaign.

With a still-struggling economy and a base that remains less than enthused about the 2012 election, Obama must turn the race into a choice between two candidates, as opposed to a referendum on his first four years in office.

“Try to make the GOP candidate the issue in the election instead of Obama’s handling of the economy,” summarized Neil Newhouse, who is polling for Romney’s campaign, of the president’s strategy. “Good luck with that.”

Perry keeps making news: Say what you want about Texas Gov. Rick Perry; he’s newsworthy.

This weekend alone, Perry raised eyebrows by suggesting the United States should send troops into Mexico to fight drug violence, and on Sunday, the Post revealed the Perry family long ago leased a hunting camp with a racially insensitive name — “Niggerhead.”

The former position is striking enough by itself, but we’re guessing the latter sucks up much of the oxygen in the presidential race this week.

Perry has criticized the story as incorrect and inconsistent, but businessman Herman Cain lodged some pretty harsh criticism at him Sunday. If Cain keeps pressing the issue, it could make this more painful for Perry.

S.C. to announce primary date: We’ll have a little clue about when the four early states will hold their nominating contests Monday morning, with South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly set to announce his state’s primary date at 11 a.m. eastern time.

The four early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — are all expected to move their contests into January after Florida on Friday set its primary for Jan. 31. But New Hampshire, for instance, has said it might have to put its contest in 2011.

Also this weekend, Nevada announced that, despite the GOP chairwoman’s suggestion that it would stay put in February, it would indeed move into January to get ahead of Florida.

Look for South Carolina to go in late January, perhaps a week before Florida. If it goes much earlier than that, it could push things closer to the New Year (since South Carolina is typically fourth in the process).

Brown and Warren neck and neck: A new poll shows Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is in for a very tough reelection race with former Obama adviser Elizabeth Warren (D).

The University of Massachusetts at Lowell poll for the Boston Herald shows Brown holding a slight lead on Warren 41 percent to 38 percent. That’s within the margin of error.

Brown led Warren 44 percent to 35 percent in another poll released a month ago, shortly beforeWarren launched her campaign.

The new poll shows Brown is still well-liked, with a 52 percent favorable rating and a 29 percent unfavorable rating, but Massachusetts is a very Democratic-leaning state.

Meanwhile, Warren’s first debate is Tuesday.

Fixbits:

The Huckabee-Romney relationship keeps growing better, after Mitt does Huck’s TV show.

With Texas’s congressional redistricting plan being fought in court, a three-judge panel announces it will draw an interim map, in case the court case isn’t settled in time for the March primary. Filing beings next month.

The latest on Tuesday’s gubernatorial special election in West Virginia. Perhaps most interesting: Democratic Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin won’t commit to voting for Obama.

Cain cruises in another straw poll.

Cain gets his due in the media, with his coverage increasing four-fold.

Despite his ascent, Cain loses his spokeswoman.

Northwest Iowa gets the shaft from Perry and Michele Bachmann.

Former congressman Zach Wamp’s (R-Tenn.) 24-year-old son, Weston, will challenge freshman Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) in a primary for his dad’s old seat.

Maryland Democrats will target Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R) with their redistricting map. The question is whether they also try to oust Rep. Andy Harris (R) and create an eight-member, all-Democratic delegation.

Wisconsin state Sen. Joe Erpenbach (D) won’t run for Senate candidate Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s (D-Wis.) seat.

Serious questions are raised about Koch Industries’ financial practices. Democrats have attempted to make bogeymen out of the tea party-supporting billionaire Koch brothers, and we’d expect them to push this big time.

Must-reads:

Christie decision down to the wire” — Neil King Jr. and Lisa Fleisher

Republicans hold the edge in voter intensity ahead of 2012 elections, poll shows” — Chris Cillizza, Washington Post

Candidate Christie could upend GOP race” — Kasie Hunt, AP

Paul Ryan’s second act” — Marin Cogan and John Bresnahan, Politico

In GOP contest, anything could happen” — Mark Z. Barabak and Paul West, Los Angeles Times

Paul proving to be a force in 2012 GOP contest” — Steve Peoples, AP

Ann Romney on campaign trail, helping her husband ‘get through this together’” — Ann Gerhart, Washington Post

Senate math not so simple” — Kyle Trygstad, Roll Call

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