For all intents and purposes, from here on out, we have to presume Rick Perry is a candidate for the Presidency of the United States until he declares otherwise. I think it is safe to conclude he's in.
As Perry rises, Pawlenty falls as does Bachmann. Cain implodes. Romney stagnates. And then there's the funny tale of Jon Huntsman. It kind of makes me chuckle. There's a lot to get into this week in the horserace for the White House.
Michele Bachmann is down again this week.
Let's be clear. I don't think the headache story is a big deal. I don't think it really hurts Bachmann. The story that hurts Bachmann though is that some of her former staffers are a brood of vipers out to get her. I have heard many horror stories myself, but most of what we're getting now is designed specifically to undermine Bachmann as she continues to gain major momentum. She raised $2 million in a day and that spooked a lot of people.
What we are seeing is what I predicted. The pile on has begun. Given her press operations thus far, I think Bachmann is going to have a tough time staying ahead.
More troubling for Bachmann, she signed the cut, cap, and balance pledge then voted against the related legislation. A number of outside conservative groups who were moving her way now tell me they have pulled back. Her rationale for voting against Cut, Cap, and Balance does not compute after signing the pledge.
Herman Cain could have been an awesome candidate. He is a turn around artist. You eat at Burger King because Herman Cain brought it back from the brink. Same with Godfathers. He could have been the outsider's Mitt Romney with a real record of job growth.
Instead, Cain became the guy who hates Muslims. And now that's all the press wants to talk about. I don't know if Cain is just not listening to his advisers or if his advisers are misleading him. But I think the first step for him to turn around his campaign is to fire Mark Block, his top adviser. He needs a dramatic overhaul to prove he is serious and not fringe.
A lot of variables outside of Herman's control must break his way for him to be viable. He can influence them, but not control them. Right now, they are breaking against him in part because of the influence he is exerting on the variables. He has no path to victory and no more shot at even the Vice Presidency as things are going right now.
Newt Gingrich's campaign is over. He came out against the McConnell "Pontius Pilate Act", but was not able to get traction from it. I'm writing off Gingrich's campaign. When the Speaker of the House who led the GOP through the last major government shutdown is unable to get media attention as Washington is now on the verge of a shutdown, he's yesterday's news.
Jon Huntsman peaked on the day in January Newsweek reported he might be running. Even the day he announced got less press. He has been unable to make headway. Yes, there is plenty of time, but the oxygen has been sucked out of the room.
Even the media that turned him into a darling has started ignoring him. Foreign policy is not the major issue. His backing Obama's stimulus in 2009 hurts him with the base. Heck, he's even losing Utah — a state in which he served two terms as Governor.
He can turn it around, but it will be very hard to do. And just today comes word his campaign manager is out. Things are not looking good. Whew!
I see no reason to keep McCotter on this list unless something changes in the next week.
Last week I reported that people close to Palin are beginning to change their mind and think she might run. Thus far, there have been no signs that she actually is running and I maintain that she is not going to run. I think Rick Perry getting in keeps Palin out, unless she's getting in to run interference for Perry.
Ron Paul will not be the nominee. However, a lot of conservatives are giving Paul, unlike Bachmann, a pass on opposing Cut, Cap, and Balance because he did not sign the CCB pledge and previously pledged to never raise the debt ceiling. It will not, however, help him.
With Rick Perry presumably getting in, I think the game is almost over for Pawlenty. He did everything right. His polling is headed in the right direction. He has gotten key support. But the slow and steady pace is about to get overshadowed.
However, we should be mindful that Pawlenty is boots on the ground in Iowa and is largely camped out there. He could surprise in a big way and we shouldn't count him out. It's great to have a national perspective on this, but we shouldn't be ignorant of what is happening on the ground. And in Iowa, folks tell me that Pawlenty is being seen plenty. The same people, however, tell me they feel like the oxygen is being sucked out of the room by Bachmann and the anticipation of a Perry run.
From here on on, we treat Perry as a candidate. News reports say Perry is meeting with donors and meeting with briefers on national issues. He has a ready supply of funders at his call based on his very successful tenure as head of the Republican Governors Association.
When Perry gets in — it is no longer an if in my book — Bachmann goes down in the polls, Pawlenty's struggles increase, Gingrich gets out, and Cain is toast. But polling also shows Perry takes votes from Mitt Romney, which must have Governor Romney troubled.
Perry will, immediately upon entry, be the subject of withering attacks he'll have to survive. I suspect he'll be able to do it.
The most important issue of the day is the debt ceiling and Mitt Romney is not leading on it as the presumed frontrunner for the GOP. He has played it too safe and refused to be out there aggressively. While Rick Perry is authoring op-eds with Nikki Haley on cut, cap, and balance, Mitt Romney is largely crickets.
Having played it too safe and held on to a lead, I think Romney is going to get hurt. He has a definitely ceiling in support and as other candidates start dropping out, I think they'll gravitate to others, not Romney.
This will be Rick Santorum's last appearance in the Horserace. I now consider him a former candidate.