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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Rick Perry's debut gives MSNBC top GOP debate ratings so far


You could call it the Rick Perry bump.

Fox News trumpeted its ratings after the Aug. 11 Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa, and now MSNBC is snapping its suspenders about its numbers for Wednesday's GOP debate from beneath the wings of Air Force One inside the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

Wednesday was the much-anticipated debate debut for Texas Gov. Perry, who announced his candidacy Aug. 13 and is already the field's front-runner. The debate aired on MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo, and streamed live on

It drew 5.4 million viewers for MSNBC, with 1.7 million viewers in the key Adults 25-54 demographic. It's the highest-rated of the four Republican debates aired so far in 2011, with two previous ones on FNC and one on CNN.

MSNBC's predictable main post-debate "analysis," which spanned the cable channel's ideological spectrum from Ed Schultz to Al Sharpton, lost half the viewers, down to 2.7 million total, with 817,000 in the target demographics.

Also on hand were Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and, for hAmericas-Got-Talent-Silhouettes-Dance-Troupeumor, Chris Matthews, who got no tingle from Perry.

But while MSNBC fielded its "A" team on analysis, no MSNBC personalities participated in the debate itself.

Moderators were Brian Williams of "NBC Nightly News" and John Harris, Politico's editor-in-chief, with a cameo question period by Telemundo's Jose Diaz-Balart for the immigration interrogations.

By contrast, June's CNN New Hampshire debate featured anchor John King, and both Fox News debates -- May in South Carolina and August in Iowa -- featured FNC anchors Bret Baier and Chris Wallace.

The next GOP debate is Monday at 5 p.m. Pacific in Tampa, Fla., co-sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express. It will be carried live on CNN, CNN International, and CNN Radio. Also available via live-stream in the CNN Apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.

While MSNBC got the Wednesday numbers, NBC was actually Politico's co-sponsor.

Since it's summer, it's a bit surprising that NBC didn't air its own debate -- except that Wednesday is the night of the "America's Got Talent" results show, which easily trumps choosing a presidential nominee.

The "AGT" show drew 7.9 million viewers, giving NBC the win for the evening in total viewers, and tying it with second-place CBS for the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo.

When it comes to competitions, Americans are still more interested in who will wind up with the $1 million and headline a Las Vegas show than who might move into the White House in January 2013.


GOP debate scores big ratings for Fox News

Rick Perry grins, shrugs and swings away at Reagan Library GOP debate

Presidential debate: The most entertaining, unexpected, weirdest and awkward moments

-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH.

Speaking of 2012, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the retweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Rick Perry on a monitor at the Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library; dance group Silhouettes on "America's Got Talent." Credits: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images (Perry); Trae Patton / NBC (Silhouettes).

961 days in, Obama becomes sick and tired of someone dawdling about jobs

Obama Jobs address to Congress 9-8-11

Speaking on behalf of millions of Americans who've grown angry and frustrated over the president's 32-month ineffective inactivity on the job creation front, President Obama on Thursday told members of Congress they really have to do something about the crummy employment situation -- and do it quickly.

Citing the plight of millions of struggling Americans whose wishes for jobs Obama ignored for most of the 961 days he's been in office while chasing shinier healthcare and financial reforms, Obama said it was time that Congress stop blaming others. He said it was time members take responsibility for their inaction and halt their phony partisan games and political circus acts that pervade Washington culture.

Because the Americans Obama hasn't been listening to are really hurting now. And -- who's....

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Obama jobs speech to Congress: Providing 'a jolt to an economy that has stalled'

Capitol Bldg on a Rainy day 8-11


President Obama's remarks to a joint session of Congress, as provided by the White House

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and fellow Americans:

Tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse. 

This past week, reporters have been asking, “What will this speech mean for the President?  What will it mean for Congress?  How will it affect their polls, and the next election?”

But the millions of Americans who are watching right now: They don’t care about politics. They have real life concerns. Many have spent months looking for work. Others are doing their best just to scrape by -- giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage, postponing retirement to send a kid to college. 

These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off.   They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share –- where....

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Relax, America, California's not worried about terrorism

Mickey and Minnie in the happiest place on earth

With that awful anniversary of 9/11 arriving soon, the thought of terrorism might well be on the minds of many Americans.

But not to worry, not with sunny California setting the nation's trends.

According to a new Los Angeles Times/USC Dornsife poll, two out of three California voters aren't really concerned about a terror attack at all. So, why should anyone else be?

Californians, who know it's winter somewhere when they see football fans in stocking caps on TV, watched the 9/11 attacks like everyone else. But now, a decade later, fully a third are not at all concerned that they or family will be involved in a terror attack. Only 11% were very concerned, likely transplanted New Yorkers.

Of course, Californians being Californians, they overwhelmingly approve of President Obama's handling of the war on terror, by a 2-1 margin, in fact.

However, when it comes to the decade-long war in Afghanistan, the most visible anti-terror battleground and now the nation's longest military conflict, Californians disapprove of Obama's leadership there, 52% to 41%.

Forty-six percent of voters in the most populous state have somehow convinced themselves that the United States is winning the war on terrorism. Fifteen percent are unsure, but they're probably from Arizona.


Texas Supreme Court is good with naked pole dancing

Obama's job approval now lower than his uncle's blood-alcohol level

Somehow many media miss James Hoffa's S.O.B. quote, but not Jake Tapper

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse, two carefree California rodents, appear in a parade at Disneyland. Credit: Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP/Getty Images

Kindly Dick Cheney's advice for Hillary Clinton: Run!

Former vice president Dick Cheney's Book In My Time

Ever eager to offer helpful political advice from his long Washington experience, former Vice President Dick Cheney thinks former first lady, former senator and current Secretary of State Hillary  Clinton should challenge Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2012.

Cheney is doing more interviews than he would like these days. He'd like to do zero interviews.

Dick Cheney 9-11But he's selling a book, "In My Time," which as the former high school wrestler promised, settles some scores from that long Washington experience.

This time Cheney was on ABC News with Jonathan Karl.

Part of the silent understanding in these book promotion deals is that the author tacitly agrees to answer some questions that have nothing to do with the book but might make news in return for some questions that do have something to do with the book.

Karl asked Cheney if Hillary Clinton would have made a better president than the Real Good Talker who gets a national stage again tonight to talk to Congress.

Cheney acknowledged that she hasn't expressed any interest and called her a "pretty formidable individual," high praise in Wyoming.

He added:

I think she’s probably the most competent person they’ve got in their– in their cabinet. And, frankly, I thought she was gonna win the nomination last time around.

Maybe if the Obama record is bad enough -- and these days it’s not very good, given the shape of the economy -- maybe there will be enough ferment in the Democratic Party so that there will be a primary on their side.

Then Cheney added:

I think it'd be good for the country. It'd be good for the Democratic Party.

And then he added something else:

And it might even help the Republicans.


John Phillipd: Why Hillary must run in 2012

77% now say Obama leads nation onto the wrong track

Obama White House downgades its own economic forecasts

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Michael Reynolds / EPA; Price Chambers / NBC Dateline.

Presidential debate: The most entertaining, unexpected, weirdest and awkward moments

presidential debate Reagan library Nancy reagan 8-9-7-11

Quick take-aways from last night's Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Presidential Library:

BIGGEST WINNERS: Rick Perry, who did much better than not bomb, and Mitt Romney, who looked presidential again and magnanimous.

BIGGEST LOSER: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who wasn't there, but will learn this morning that he'll be joining the 14 million unemployed if virtually any of these Republicans get to the White House.

BEST PRESIDENTIAL PUT-DOWN: Romney calling the president a nice fella but one who's clueless about economics.


MOST ELOQUENT: Newt Gingrich warning moderators probing for differences among the eight Republicans that any minor distinctions pale in comparison to their unity over defeating Barack Obama.

LOUDEST APPLAUSE: See Most Eloquent.


PINKEST TIE: Rick Santorum.


WARMEST FAMILY MENTION: Michele Bachmann, as message-disciplined as ever on Obama killing jobs, also recalling raising five biological and 23 foster children.


BEST FINANCIAL TIP IF THE GOP WINS NEXT YEAR: Buy stock in border fence companies.

MOST UNEXPECTED APPLAUSE-GETTER: NBC's Brian Williams asking Perry about Texas executing 234 convicted murderers.

BEST FIVE-WORD ANSWER: Perry asked to explain that applause: "I think Americans understand justice."


MOST AWKWARD MOMENT: Moderator John Harris introducing a gotcha video clip of Romney that wouldn't play. So, the gotcha guy got got.


WEIRDEST SUGGESTED ECONOMY MOVE: Ron Paul's idea to save billions by bringing home air conditioners cooling troop tents in Afghanistan.

BIGGEST UNANSWERED QUESTION: What in the world did Telemundo's Jose Diaz-Balart do to be denied a chair on stage like Williams and Harris had?


Ron Paul's federal disaster relief plan: Kill FEMA

Rick Perry grins, shrugs and swings away at GOP Reagan Library debate

Gov. Jon Huntsman's jobs plan: 'Straightforward and common sense'

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the re-Tweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Chris Carlson / Associated Press (Nancy Reagan and the eight Republican presidential debaters in the library's reconstructed Oval Office).

Rick Perry grins, shrugs and swings away at Reagan Library GOP debate

Texas Gov. Rick Perry came under fire as Republican aspirants to Ronald Reagan's old job gathered under the wings of his former Air Force One tonight, for another debate aired on national TV.

Fresh from surveying wildfires in his home state, Perry was the shiny new toy at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. It was his first presidential debate, and moderators Brian Williams of "NBC Nightly News" and Politico editor-in-chief John Harris called on him at most every opportunity.

And he didn't disappoint, particularly in pointed exchanges with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was the presumptive front-runner until Perry entered the race on Aug. 13, the day of the Ames straw poll in Iowa.

Consider this exchange on the question of job creation:

Perry: "Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt." (A grin and a "whaddya Rick-Perry-Mitt-Romney-GOP-Debate-Reagan-Library gonna do?" sort of shrug followed.)

Romney: "George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, Governor."

Perry: "That's not correct."

Romney: "That is correct."

Williams: "Nice to see that everybody came prepared for tonight's conversation."

Or, when Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said Perry wrote a letter in the '90s "supporting Hillarycare."

Perry countered that he was his state's agriculture commissioner during the Clinton administration and that he was urging Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the first lady, not to forget rural healthcare in her proposal to overhaul healthcare policy. Then he looked at Paul and said, "I was more interested in the one you wrote to Ronald Reagan, saying, 'I'm going to quit the party because of the things you believe in.' "

"Oh," said Paul, "I need an answer on that!"

He went on to explain how he'd supported Reagan in 1976, and supported his....

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Last minute poll in New York City's special House election finds Republican leading

anthony Weiner

Remember New York's disgraced Democrat Anthony Weiner, the representative who shared his junk online with too many people?

Well, forget him. He's gone now, resigned.

Next Tuesday is the special election in New York's reliably Democratic Ninth congressional district to replace him.

And, breaking news, the Ninth seems to be no longer reliably Democratic. Whether it's Weiner or Obama's fault or a combo, we don't know. And who cares?

If the latest poll numbers from Magellan Strategies hold up six more days, the new New York representative from Brooklyn/Queens will be Republican Bob Turner . And the GOP will have at least temporarily turned its tide of special election losses.

The news this week will be President Obama's meaningless jobs speech to a joint session of Congress tomorrow evening. None of what he says he seeks will happen, which he knows and hopes. Because how's he going to run against a Republican House next year if he asked for something now he knew they'd give him?

It's Kabuki theatre at its most amateur. But that's where we all are right now because while Obama is still saying 'Yes, We Can,' he can't explain why we haven't these last 32 months. Obviously, it couldn't be his fault. Nothing ever is.

Anyway, Magellan surveyed 2,055 likely voters in the Ninth and found Turner leading Democrat David Weprin by four points, 44.6-40.4, with 36% firmly committed to Turner and only 28% firm for Weprin.

Interestingly, Obama's job approval there is 36%, compared with 52% disapprove.

If Turner wins, a Republican will soon sit in Weiner's presumably sanitized House seat. And a week from this morning the news will be all about what the latest defeat means for Obama.

Honestly, not much, just more bad PR to endure along with the sagging poll numbers. A loss won't change the balance in the House, which is overwhelmingly GOP now thanks to the historic voter turnaround in last November's midterms.

But the No. 9 would become the latest symbol of mounting political trouble for president No. 44.


Nancy Pelosi's vocabulary alert for Democrats in D.C.

77% now say Obama leads nation onto the wrong track

Obama White House downgrades its own economic forecasts

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the re-Tweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Meagan Broussard / ABC News (Weiner).

Somehow, many media miss James Hoffa's S.O.B. quote, but not Jake Tapper

jay Carney at white house media briefing 9-6-11

Quite a few national media outlets must have missed Teamsters President James Hoffa's Labor Day speech introducing President Obama in Detroit. (Not the L.A. Times, of course.)

Because they neglected to mention the union boss' canine quote about the tea party:

Let's take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.

Let's assume for the moment, that the son of the still-missing Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa, who was taken out somewhere once never to reappear, was not suggesting the enthusiastic union crowd start dating tea party members.

The living Hoffa's statement doesn't seem to quite fit Democrat Obama's past pleas for and promises of a new civility in the nation's political discourse.

You won't be surprised to learn that the media rep who tenaciously pursued this....

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Tonight's Republican debate may really be between 2 Texans, Rick Perry and Ron Paul

Republicans Governor Rick Perry and Representative Ron Paul of Texas

Eight Republicans will line up for the debate in the shadow of Ronald Reagan's Air Force One in his presidential library this evening.

But the most interesting debate dynamic will likely be between the two Texans onstage with the same pair of initials -- Rick Perry, the governor, and Ron Paul, the representative.

This was supposed to be the second GOP panel for Perry, the late-comer and new front-runner. But he pulled out of Sen. Jim DeMint's values forum in South Carolina Monday to fly home and be governor during the giant state's wild wildfires.

Tonight, everyone will pay verbal tribute to Ronald Reagan, who might have some trouble winning the presidential nomination of the new Grand Old Party these days. The debate will be carried live on MSNBC at 5 p.m. Pacific.

Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman will be asked about their jobs plans. Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich will chime in. For an interesting look at the surviving GOP field, check out Chris Stirewalt's perceptive rundown here.

Obama will be a certain target but less so because Republican House Speaker John Boehner saved the Democrat from himself. Obama wanted to talk jobs tonight too to a joint session of Congress. Boehner suggested Thursday was better and the president acquiesced.

Cross-state rivals Perry and Paul have already been sniping at each other. The 11-term congressman has criticized the nation's longest-serving governor as not a real conservative and dismissing him as more of the status quo.Texas Republican governor Rick Perry listens to wildfire victim Cindy Cruz in Bastrop 9-5-11

Tuesday Perry's surprisingly well-organized camp fired a salvo at Paul, citing his 1987 resignation letter from the Republican Party in which he criticized the president now entombed just steps from tonight's debate site.

"There is no credibility left for the Republican Party as a force to reduce the size of government," Paul wrote near the end of Reagan's second term before Paul ran for president on the Libertarian ticket. "That is the message of the Reagan years."

“It will be interesting," a Perry spokesman suggestively suggested, "to hear Rep. Paul explain why Reagan drove him from the party at tomorrow’s debate on the grounds of the Reagan Library."

Recent polls have confirmed Perry's rapid surge to the front of the Republican field. He appears to have most hurt Bachmann, another tea party favorite who can be expected to attack. A Gallup Poll this week found Perry and Romney to be about equally well-liked among Republicans (seven-out-of-ten).

But Gallup's intensity score gives Perry twice the rating of Romney, 25-12.

A larger question many ask is how good is Perry at debating? Put another way, how bad can he be? He's never lost an election.

It's still almost a year out from the GOP convention in Tampa. Ahh, Florida in August. Who wouldn't want to wear funny hats in that weather?

But this month is already crucial. It's the last in the second quarter of campaign fundraising. We'll soon see how big a money bump Bachmann got for winning the Ames Straw Poll. If Paul's $1.6 money-bomb was a one-day explosion?

And how big are the bundles being assembled by Perry's reputed hundreds of newly-recruited, enthusiastic bundlers, including some well-connected folks in California, where Perry will forage for cash all day Thursday.


Here's how President Obama wants 9/11 observed

77% of Americans say Obama leads nation down wrong track

Obama's approval now lower than his uncle's blood-alcohol level

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: David J. Phillip / Associated Press (Perry, left); Mary Ann Chastain / Associated Press (Paul); Alberto Martinez / Associated Press (Perry listens to wildfire victim Cindy Cruz in Bastrop, Sept. 5).


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
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