Obama on Budget: Let’s Cut the Right Things

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April 6, 2011, 11:10 a.m.

Doña Ana Co. DA Susana Mar­tinez (R) “has erased a fun­drais­ing ad­vant­age” that LG Di­ane Den­ish (D) “en­joyed for much of the cam­paign.”

Want More On This Race? Check out the Hot­line Dash­board for a com­pre­hens­ive run­down of this race, in­clud­ing stor­ies, polls, ads, FEC num­bers, and more!

Mar­tinez “col­lec­ted” $1.4M since 9/7 and has $1.3M cash-on-hand as of 10/4 while Den­ish has $950K cash-on-hand.

The RGA was “the top donor to Mar­tinez” giv­ing $500K.

“Labor uni­ons were the largest con­tri­bu­tions to Den­ish.” AF­SCME and NM’s NEA “each con­trib­uted” $100K. The DGA gave $50K and “sep­ar­ately re­por­ted spend­ing” $385K “for TV ads in the past month” (Mas­sey, AP, 10/13).

Den­ish “has tried to make an is­sue of Mar­tinez re­ceiv­ing large dona­tions from Texas res­id­ents. … Sev­er­al Tex­ans donated” $10K a piece to Mar­tinez” (Ter­rell, Sante Fe New Mex­ic­an, 10/13).

It cer­tainly wasn’t just me; a lot of ana­lysts got some push-back for be­ing so defin­it­ively sure that the 2012 Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee wouldn’t be former God­fath­er’s Pizza CEO Her­man Cain. As Cain surged in the polls, with many con­ser­vat­ives lov­ing both his mes­sage and de­liv­ery, many people wondered how we could be so dis­missive.

(RE­LATED: Cain Cam­paign Man­ager: ‘End of Story’)

Polit­ic­al ana­lys­is or pun­ditry (al­though I hate the term) has a rocky re­cord. We at The Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port are quite proud to be at the front of the pack — hav­ing pre­dicted both the Demo­crat­ic wave in 2006 and the GOP one in 2010. We also foresaw the 1994 wave, though we un­der­es­tim­ated how many seats Re­pub­lic­ans would ul­ti­mately cap­ture. But some­times we miss the mark. In the sum­mer of 2007, I was quite sure that Sen. John Mc­Cain‘s bid for the Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­a­tion was ef­fect­ively dead and aw­fully skep­tic­al that then-Sen. Barack Obama would beat then-Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton for the Demo­crat­ic nod. Both as­sess­ments were ob­vi­ously wrong. But we — and here I would in­clude our biggest com­pet­it­ors (and good friends), Stu Rothen­berg and Nath­an Gonzales at The Rothen­berg Polit­ic­al Re­port — are ac­tu­ally pretty good at what we do, look­ing at things as clin­ic­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally as we pos­sibly can.

Com­ing on the heels of the short-lived surge to the top of the GOP polls of Min­nesota’s Rep. Michele Bach­mann and, more re­cently, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s brief ten­ure as front-run­ner, Cain’s as­cend­ancy seemed par­tic­u­larly tenu­ous and even du­bi­ous. There is a long list of dark-horse can­did­ates who have won or come close to cap­tur­ing pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tions. And there was al­ways a nuc­le­us of real strategists, a cam­paign in­fra­struc­ture, and a strategy that had po­si­tioned the long-shot to take ad­vant­age of un­ex­pec­ted op­por­tun­it­ies.

Wheth­er you are talk­ing about George McGov­ern in 1972, Jimmy Carter in 1976, Howard Dean in 2004, or even the second com­ing of Mc­Cain in 2008, they had con­sid­er­ably more of a cam­paign ap­par­at­us than Cain. Their cam­paigns were of­ten un­ortho­dox, but their ac­tions were rarely ran­dom. They didn’t surge to the top based on seat-of-the-pants de­cisions.

In short, there was meth­od to their mad­ness. With Her­man Cain’s can­did­acy, there hasn’t been. There has been min­im­al fun­drais­ing. There has been truly bizarre schedul­ing that only seemed to make sense in the con­text of selling auto­graphed books at $100 apiece. (Why else would you go on a two-day bus trip of the length of Ten­ness­ee, which doesn’t vote un­til March 6)? My hunch is that Cain’s surge sur­prised no one more than Cain him­self.

But there was more. Sev­er­al weeks ago, word star­ted cir­cu­lat­ing that Cain’s busi­ness re­cord was not quite as im­press­ive as he claims, spe­cific­ally as it relates to his ten­ure as head of the Na­tion­al Res­taur­ant As­so­ci­ation. Some of his peers privately said that they were as­ton­ished at how he was be­ing por­trayed. They said that his less than three-year ten­ure (rather brief in the Wash­ing­ton trade-as­so­ci­ation world) was rocky and that the res­taur­ant folks couldn’t get rid of him soon enough — pos­sibly be­cause of sexu­al-har­ass­ment al­leg­a­tions. They said it took some time to get the as­so­ci­ation back on sound fin­an­cial foot­ing after he left. Some who worked with Cain said that he spent con­sid­er­able time run­ning around the coun­try giv­ing speeches and that he was a policy light­weight, both in­tern­ally and ex­tern­ally. But they hes­it­ated to be more spe­cif­ic.

Sunday’s re­port in Politico that fe­male sub­or­din­ates com­plained of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­ha­vi­or by Cain said they had re­ceived five-fig­ure set­tle­ments to leave the res­taur­ant as­so­ci­ation and keep quiet. This was little more than the shoe that many had been wait­ing to drop. Cain denied the al­leg­a­tions. But if there is doc­u­ment­a­tion of any set­tle­ment, as there ap­pears to be, his deni­al will hardly suf­fice.

This will prob­ably be the be­gin­ning of the end for Cain’s surge, giv­ing Perry something of a second wind. Perry had the fund­ing, or­gan­iz­a­tion, and net­work to sur­vive his tough peri­od, al­though he re­mains dam­aged mer­chand­ise. It’s a de­cent bet that the GOP race will re­turn to how it was after Perry stumbled but be­fore Cain picked up steam. Perry has enough go­ing for him to be the con­ser­vat­ive al­tern­at­ive to front-run­ner Mitt Rom­ney. Wheth­er he can ac­tu­ally over­take the former Mas­sachu­setts gov­ernor is an­oth­er mat­ter, even though two-thirds of the GOP is more ideo­lo­gic­ally in tune with him than with the more “old es­tab­lish­ment,” less-con­ser­vat­ive Rom­ney.

Con­ven­tion­al wis­dom holds that can­did­ates be­ne­fit when they lock down the nom­in­a­tion early. But many be­lieve that Obama was a stronger gen­er­al-elec­tion can­did­ate after sur­viv­ing and hon­ing his skills in his knock­down, drag-out fight with Clin­ton. There is no ques­tion that Rom­ney now be­ne­fits from hav­ing run in 2008, get­ting in­to this race early, and test­ing his 2012 mes­sages be­fore the de­bates and wall-to-wall cov­er­age began. Perry would have sim­il­arly be­nefited from an earli­er en­trance, a shake­down cruise be­fore the TV lights went on.

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