Field Of Dreams: Obama, Palin, Bachmann Cut A Path Through Iowa (The Note)

Despite all the chatter about whether Iowa continues to hold the sway it once did in presidential nominating contests, the state has once again found itself at the center of the political universe.

President Obama travels to Eastern Iowa today to keep the focus on the economy and, in particular, manufacturing jobs. He plans to tour an Alcoa plant in Davenport and talk to workers there.

“Iowa is clearly a special place for the president,” White House Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki told reporters yesterday. “He’s going to really focus his visit on talking about the growth of manufacturing … and will probably leave the politics and the campaigning to the Republicans.”

Iowa remains a critical swing state. Gore won it in 2000, Bush won it four years later and Obama prevailed in 2008.

Though the White House insists that the president will stay on message today, one of his newly-minted Republican opponents, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., didn’t have quite as much luck in the Hawkeye State during her presidential rollout yesterday.

She got warm welcome in her childhood home of Waterloo, but she also had to endure a spate of embarrassing news stories about mixing up one John Wayne (the actor) with another John Wayne (the serial killer John Wayne Gacy). We’ll leave the details to genealogists.

And today, Bachmann tangled with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos during an interview on “Good Morning America” about whether John Quincy Adams was a Founding Father (she said he “most certainly was a part of the Revolutionary War era”) as well as her 2005 assertion that getting rid of the minimum wage could “virtually eliminate” unemployment (“I think we need to look at all regulations,” she told Stephanopoulos).

Bachmann is moving on to New Hampshire and South Carolina, but joining the Iowa fray today is Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor will be in Pella this evening to attend the premiere of a glowing documentary about her, “The Undefeated.” She plans to screen the film and, later, attend a cookout with locals.

What she doesn’t seem to be doing is reaching out to Iowa political activists or operatives during her short time on the ground in the Hawkeye State.

A top Republican operative in Iowa told ABC News yesterday that “not only have I not heard from Governor Palin regarding meetings, I am unaware of anyone who has been contacted regarding private meetings.”


On John Quincy Adams and slavery: “He was a very young boy when he was with his father serving essentially as his father’s secretary. He tirelessly worked throughout his life to make sure that we did in fact one day eradicate slavery.”

On eliminating the minimum wage: “If we could lift that then I think we’d see more people get higher wages, better benefits and more jobs because what we want is more job growth in America rather than to see jobs transferring overseas,” she said, adding, “I think we need to look at all regulations, whatever–whatever ones are inhibiting job growth.”

Read more of George Stephanopoulos’ interview with Bachmann:

ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter speak with Fred Karger, the first openly gay man to run for president. Also on the program, more from our Jonathan Karl’s interview with Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. on debt ceiling negotiations and 2012 politics. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.

PAWLENTY TAKES ON OBAMA’S FOREIGN POLICY. “In the latest installment of his ‘hard truths’ campaign that has lately fallen on hard times, Tim Pawlenty Tuesday will warn about the pitfalls of President Obama's foreign policy, as well as what could happen to his fellow Republicans if they fail to take a tougher stance,” ABC’s Matthew Jaffe reports. “In a speech to be delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York at 9:30a ET Tuesday morning, the former Minnesota governor is set to outline an aggressive approach foreign engagement that is likely to resonate with some of the GOP's more hawkish members. ‘What is wrong is for the Republican Party to shrink from the challenges of American leadership in the world. History repeatedly warns us that in the long run, weakness in foreign policy costs us and our children much more than we’ll save in a budget line item. America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment, and withdrawal; it does not need a second one,’ Pawlenty will say in his speech, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks. In the speech, billed as a rebuttal to President Obama's address last month, Pawlenty will hit out at the president for America’s response to the Arab Spring and his approach to Israel.”


OBAMA WOOS BIG-DOLLAR DONORS. “President Obama and top White House aides are waging a behind-the-scenes push to win over skeptical big-dollar donors — whose early money is needed to help fund a dramatic summertime expansion of his battleground-state machinery,” the Washington Post’s Peter Wallsten reports. “Campaign officials are working to broaden Obama’s network of “bundlers,” the well-connected rainmakers tasked with soliciting big checks from wealthy donors, while seeking to preserve the aura of a grass-roots movement by luring back the kind of small Internet donations that helped shatter fundraising records four years ago. To do so, Obama and his aides are leveraging every asset available to a sitting president — from access to top West Wing officials to a possible food tasting with the White House chef. Much of the fundraising in recent weeks has occurred at targeted events designed to appeal to specific groups, many of which have expressed frustration with administration policies, including Jews, gays and business leaders. Obama has attended 28 fundraisers from coast to coast — a pace that could continue, or even accelerate, over the next several months. The West Wing charm offensive shows how Obama’s White House, which has eschewed Clinton-style traditions of feeding donor egos with Lincoln bedroom overnights and frequent phone calls from the president, is adjusting itself for a campaign that needs to overcome low approval ratings and a sour economy.”

GOP KEEPS BACHMANN’S SEAT WARM. “Michele Bachmann is training her sights on the loftiest of political targets: the White House. If she falls short, it’s increasingly clear she’ll have a soft landing spot back in the House if she wants it,” Politico’s Alex Isenstadt notes. “Bachmann has said she is no longer ‘actively seeking reelection’ to the St. Cloud-based seat she has held for three terms. But she has never explicitly stated she won’t wage a reelection campaign, and there are few signs a succession race for her 6th District seat is under way. Not a single Republican has launched a campaign for the seat or, for that matter, indicated plans to run — even though the conservative central Minnesota district would provide a comfy home to any of several high-profile Republicans, including former gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer, state Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and state Senate President Michelle Fischbach. ‘She’s in the catbird seat in terms of running for reelection,’ said Scott Cottington, a Minnesota-based GOP consultant and a former top staffer at the National Republican Congressional Committee. ‘I think everyone who is thinking about running for her seat is on hold.’ … In the event she runs again, Bachmann would be the overwhelming favorite among the grass-roots activists and delegates who will determine who wins the endorsement at the Minnesota Republican Party convention next year — an influential precursor to the August 2012 primary.”

ROMNEY SEEKING EARLY UTAH PRIMARY. “Mitt Romney’s Utah advisers are working to try to get the state’s Republican presidential primary moved up, from late June to earlier in the spring where it might play a bigger role in the nomination process,” The Salt Lake Tribune’s Robert Gehrke notes. “If the Romney camp is successful, it could set up an early showdown between Romney, chief of the 2002 Olympics in Utah, and former Gov. Jon Huntsman in Huntsman’s old backyard — and it is a contest that, according to recent statewide polls, Romney would likely win. … However, it could also end up costing taxpayers between $2.5 million and $3 million to stage the primary. … GOP Chairman Thomas Wright said the scheduling was a function of efficiency, so the state would only have to stage one primary election next year instead of two. … But Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, who is a Romney backer and the state’s elections supervisor, said he has had discussions with the Romney campaign about moving the election and that, from his perspective, the change could still happen.”

NOTED: TEAM ROMNEY RESPONSE: “We look forward to the primary and will be competitive there whenever it is held,” a Romney spokeswoman told the Note.

WHITE HOUSE STRATEGY EMERGES IN DEBT LIMIT TALKS. “The White House, seeking an agreement to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2, on Monday said it would not insist that any deal include an end to former President George W. Bush’s controversial tax rates on the wealthy,” The Hill’s Alexander Bolton and Sam Youngman report. “Before a meeting Monday between Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), White House officials said the president would push to close tax breaks for major oil and gas companies; end tax loopholes for corporate jets; and impose regular income tax rates on the carried interest earned by investment fund managers. The White House said the president is pushing the GOP to agree to eliminate some tax breaks for businesses and loopholes for wealthier taxpayers, but is not seeking to eliminate the across-the-board rates introduced by President Bush. That means taxpayers who earn more than $250,000 annually have gotten a reprieve. Obama still wants to scrap the Bush-era rates, but with time running out on the debt-ceiling talks, he made clear Monday that he has a new range of targets. The president made little progress in an early evening session at the White House with McConnell. The Senate leader panned Obama’s plan to raise tax revenues, even by closing special tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. He also dismissed Democrats’ demands for additional stimulus spending to boost the faltering economy.”

NOTED: PUSHBACK FROM OIL AND GAS. “American oil and gas companies employ millions of Americans and provide affordable energy that powers our daily lives. Just like every other business that produces jobs in this country, the industry takes advantage of deductions in the tax code,” Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research said in a statement to the Note. “Instead of taking aim at one particular industry for the sake of political expediency, Washington should replace our convoluted, burdensome tax code with one that provides equal treatment for all American companies and encourages job creation and economic growth.”

NOTED: PUSHBACK ON CONGRESS. Supporters and leaders of the nonpartisan group, No Labels, descended on the U.S. Capitol yesterday to protest the House of Representatives’ decision to recess before resolving the debt crisis. “The numbers are on our side,” No Labels co-Founder Nancy Jacobson said in a statement. “Eight of ten Americans agree that Congress should stay in Washington until the debt crisis is resolved. Now our leaders just need to listen up and get the job done. … The House and Senate are only scheduled to be in session at the same time for 11 days before we could default. That's beyond irresponsible. The American people deserve better.” No Labels has posted a “No Deal. No Break” petition on its website asking Americans to urge elected officials to stay in Washing until a deal is reached.

END OF EARMARKS? NOT SO FAST. “The House might have sworn off earmarks, but that didn’t stop the chamber from essentially passing one last week that would allow a single drug company to avoid generic competition while saving a powerful law firm from paying out $214 million in a malpractice suit,” Roll Call’s John Stanton writes. “The amendment, authored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and added to the patent reform bill Thursday, would have a direct benefit for the Medicines Co. by essentially ensuring it retains control of the patent for Angiomax, a blood-thinning medication and MDCO’s flagship product. The provision would also be a financial boon to WilmerHale, which since February has had a malpractice settlement with MDCO hanging over its head that would require the firm to pay $214 million to the drug company — $115 million out of its own pocket and $99 million from malpractice insurance — if a generic drug is introduced before June 15, 2015. Although the amendment does not obligate taxpayer funds be spent on a specific project, by virtue of its narrow scope it falls within the broad definition of an earmark and is a classic example of Congress taking pains to assist powerful interests, Taxpayers for Common Sense Vice President Steve Ellis said.”

GIFFORDS MAKES FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE SINCE SHOOTING. “Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made her first public appearance in front of a crowd since being shot in the head Jan. 8, rising from her wheelchair to hug and kiss her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, when he received the Spaceflight Medal,” ABC’s Gina Sunseri reports from Houston, Tex. “Giffords, D-Ariz., entered, being pushed in a wheelchair, to a standing ovation from a crowd of hundreds at the awards ceremony auditorium at Space Center Houston, which is next to the Johnson Space Center. Her hair was much shorter than in previously published photos. She was wearing glasses, a beige scarf, a light shirt, jeans and sneakers. She smiled and waved to the crowd. Giffords and Kelly held hands for most of the event. She appeared to chat with people sitting around her, and laughed when the crew of STS-134, the Space Shuttle Endeavour's last mission, was introduced. Kelly commanded the mission. Giffords left during home movies of the crew, shown during the event. … Giffords, shot in the head at a meet-and-greet event with constituents in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8, was released from TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston on June 15 after showing months of ‘clear, continuous improvement,’ a hospital spokesman said. She continues to be an outpatient at the hospital.”

A GRANITE STATE COUP? “The New Hampshire Republican State Committee is in disarray and Chairman Jack Kimball is reeling under the strain of a job he thought would be a piece of cake,” the New Hampshire Journal’s Shawn Millerick writes. ”As the Journal first reported last week, Kimball has drained state party finances to such an extent that it has a mere $1,300 left in its federal account, the account from which is pays most of its expenses. And on Monday, WMUR’s James Pindell reported that Kimball is now aware of a ‘coup attempt’ within the party to dethrone him. … Some Republican sources have defended Kimball, however. The problem, these sources say, lies in his selection of Will Wrobleski as executive director of the party. One source claims that Wrobleski frequently rejects innovative fundraising ideas in favor of costly events with the presidential candidates, which have failed to meet revenue expectations to date.”


@Jordanfabian: RT @MPOTheHill: Bristol Palin on her mom's 2012 decision: “She definitely knows.” Bristol says she'd like to see her mom run.

@amieparnes: My story today on a couple of ‘regular' Joes: The Bidens.

@ MPOTheHill: Hmm, Huntsman spox @Timodc takes a shot at the TPaw speech (full quote here):

@shiratoeplitz: My look at the Top Five Member vs. Member races for 2012. Think House race on steroids. #redistrict

@evale72: R Tommy Thompson takes to @huffingtonpost to support the state based health exchanges; implicitly criticizes R govs


* Sarah Palin attends the premiere of a documentary about her life, called “The Undefeated” at 5 p.m., at the Pella Opera House in Pella, Iowa.

* Michele Bachmann attends a meet-and-greet in Raymond, N.H. at 9 a.m. Bachmann then goes to a meet-and-greet in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

* Jon Huntsman tours Nelson Labs in Salt Lake City, Utah at 12:15 p.m. Tonight he attends a private fundraiser in Texas.

* Tim Pawlenty speaks about the Arab Spring and U.S. involvement in Afghanistan at the first session of the Council on Foreign Relations' Campaign 2012 Series in New York City at 9:30 a.m.

* Rick Santorum attends a meet-and-greet with Republicans in Spirit Lake, Iowa at 8 a.m. Santorum then speaks at a meet-and-greet in Spencer at 9:45 a.m. At noon, Republicans in Algona host a luncheon for Santorum at the town Country Club. Santorum attends another meet-and-greet in Clear Lake at 3:30 p.m.

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