Nightly News | August 12, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: political editor and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd is in Des Moines , Iowa , tonight. Chuck , where does the GOP stand now going into this crucial but again very early weekend?
CHUCK TODD reporting: Well, look, if it wasn't clear before last night, it is crystal clear today. Thanks to the entrance of Rick Perry , Mitt Romney 's front-runner status, the two Minnesota Republicans, Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty , believe that tomorrow's straw poll is the last chance for one of them to stay relevant in this presidential race.
Former Senator RICK SANTORUM (Republican Presidential Candidate): ...lost by 10 points.
TODD: The mad dash to the Republican straw poll in Ames tomorrow brought many of the contenders to the Iowa State Fair today.
Sen. SANTORUM: It's hard to get things done to move this country in the right direction. I've done it.
Mr. HERMAN CAIN (Republican Presidential Candidate): Here's something they don't know about Herman Cain . I have been going against the odds all my life.
Representative RON PAUL (Republican Presidential Candidate): We have to endorse a very basic principle and it's called freedom.
TODD: But today's buzz wasn't about anything said on the state fair soapbox, it was the repeated tense exchanges last night between Minnesota Republicans Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann .
Representative MICHELE BACHMANN: You implemented cap and trade in our state, and you praised the unconstitutional individual mandate, and you called for requiring all people in our state to purchase health insurance that government would mandate. That sounds a lot more like Barack Obama , if you ask me.
Former Governor TIM PAWLENTY: She led the effort against Obamacare , we got Obamacare . She led the effort against TARP , we got TARP . If that's your view of effective leadership with results, please stop because you're killing us.
TODD: Tomorrow's straw poll could settle this battle of the Minnesota twins . A first place showing could establish either as a top challenger to Mitt Romney and Rick Perry , neither of whom are attending the Ames event. Romney's already back in New Hampshire and Texas Governor Perry announces his candidacy tomorrow in South Carolina .
Offscreen Voice: Are you a potential candidate?
Former Governor SARAH PALIN: Still a potential. Still thinking about it.
TODD: And Sarah Palin couldn't stay away. She stormed into the state fair today, reminding Iowans she still might run. But she also had nice things to say about Rick Perry , whom she campaigned for extensively in 2010 .
Gov. PALIN: There is still plenty of room in that field for common sense conservatives who have executive experience.
TODD: Now a lot of Republicans out here, Brian , are nervous that Sarah Palin is somehow going to pull a surprise and not run, but pull a surprise and endorse Rick Perry . They're actually pretty close personally. We'll see on that front. By the way, keep an eye on Ron Paul . He could end up spoiling this whole thing with the Minnesota folks and end up winning the straw poll . And then we start all over watching Perry v. Romney .
WILLIAMS: Boy, are politics in the air this summer of 2011 . Chuck Todd at the state fair tonight. Chuck , thanks.