The Fix Live

Aug 03, 2012

The Fix's Chris Cillizza discussed the latest political news.

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Technical difficulties. But better late than never.  let's chat!

Time to update your biography on the Chat page, to include two sons.

Noted.

1. I'm guessing as a news story, this will sink like a stone due to the Olympics and many people being on summer vacation. 2. Smart people seem to be putting more stock in the payrolls number than in the unemployment rate, especially since the latter was due to a rounding of a very small change. The payrolls increase probably better reflects what "really" happened in the jobs market in July. So, slightly good news for Obama.

And the stock market -- last I checked -- is up too.

I think this jobs report is all about partisanship. If you are a Republican, you will say it was bad ebcause of the unemployment rate. If you are a Democrat you will say it's good because of the job creation number.

Given that, I am not sure it moves the needle on the politics of the economy in any meaningful way.

You're on the Diane Rehm Show from 10-11 a.m.. How are you able to host an online discussion at 11?

That -- plus the fact that our chat software is made for an Apple IIe -- made me late!

Hi Chris -- Thanks for taking questions today. So what's the overall impact of the July jobs report? In your view, does the slight increase in unemployment offset the fairly healthy number of jobs added? We know how the president is going to frame it, but what about Romney?

Romney has called it a "hammer blow" the unemployed.

So, that happened.

The election is now less than 100 days away. That means that  both parties are going to find the good for their side in the jobs report and relentlessly flack it. And there is plenty in the July report that allows both sides to do just that.

Other than just "nothing gets done because it's all about campaigns," can you specify what Congress will be like when it's back in session? Is it more symbolic votes like the last few days or is there anything big on the docket?

Nothing big AT ALL.  Preparing to not go over the fiscal cliff.

Is he setting a trap for Romney or throwing him a life jacket?

I don't know and am fascinated to figure it out.

It seems pretty dangerous for Reid to keep asserting someone, who he won't name, has told him things about Romney's taxes.

At the same time, Romney has been forced to respond and in so doing has re-litigated the whole "does he release his returns or not" thing...

Do you think he will manage to maintain the status quo? I mean, the press will ask him/his running mate about vetting and the President will bring it up at debates if it's not addressed directly.

I think President Obama will push Romney on his tax plan and cite the nonpartisan study about its inordinate aid to top earners.

I am not sure whether it will matter. The answer to that question depends on whether you think the November election is a referendum on Obama or a choice between two competing economic visions.

Politically what is worse virtually no jobs being created and unemployment rate staying steady or falling or a decent number of jobs being created and unemployment rising. Neither is great but my guess is that people focus on the rate more than anything else.

I tend to agree because the unemployment rate is the simplest and most digestible number that comes out of these jobs reports for people paying passing (at best) attention.

 

Has Fix Sean survived his initiation process?

Results still pending...

Is it just me, or is the pessimistic attitude of the July numbers and the optimistic reporting of the August numbers being driven more by the expectations game?

I think it's all context.

Because rwice as many jobs were created in July than June and because expectations for July were lower than the reality wound up being, there is a general whiff of optimism.

Of course, in January and February of this year, a month of 163K jobs created would have been a major letdown.

What has been the best part of the Olympics so far?

Two words: Boris Johnson.

Can't they do better than 'hammer blow'? My entry: Like a pneumatic bolt gun wielded by Javier Bardem

Ooh. Good one.

FixCzar: Never forget that Harry Reid was chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission; he knows how to play poker. Mitt's never going to release the tax returns; so Harry can freely poke him about them, right down to the ten-years of no-taxes thing. Every day that Mitt has to spend talking about his tax returns is a losing day for the Romney campaign. Agreed?

I tend to agree with both your analysis and you calling me FixCzar.

We miss you!

Sorry Sorry!  I am here to stay now.

How is Romney not gaining a lead on Obama after rising unemployment rate each month?

Two theories:

1. Because the Obama ad onslaught in swing states is working, casting Romney in most peoples' eyes as an out of touch rich guy who they like even less than they like Obama's economic policies.

2. Because undecided voters haven't dialed into the race and when they do -- sometime after Labor Day -- Romney will shoot past Obama in the polls.

If Romney is risk-averse, isn't Portman a bad choice? His stint as trade rep obviously has dark spots that can be used to claim he "outsourced" jobs and so forth. Sure, he won in Ohio, but a national race with two multi-millionaires who have been accused of outsourcing is a disaster. No?

You cam argue that every one of Romney's pick has a major flaw. I think Portman has the fewest although you rightly note that the Bush Administration ties are his biggest problem.

We hear all around the news today how the unemployment rate is going to be a deciding factor in this election, is it possible that if what happens today happens in the duration of this election, meaning the rate goes up while jobs being created, that Obama can still win with the rate going upward?

Sure.

As I have been saying for a while now: Obama can win but to win he will need to make history. No post-WWII president has been reelected with an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent or higher.

Why is no one reporting these numbers? If the labor force participation rate (LFP) was the same as when Obama took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate would be 11.0% Even if you take into account that the LFP should be declining as America ages, the unemployment rate would be 10.6%.

Consider them reported.

Why do you think it's such a great song?

 I've got nothing to do today but smile

Do you have an estimate as to how much is spent on elections (federal and state) annually?

Center for Responsive Politics estimated that $5.8 billion will be spent on the 2012 election. And, yes, that's billion with a b.

In this week's VP column you place Christie at #5 and say you have it on "good authority" that he is still "in the mix." Most other handicappers seem to have written him off as being too undisciplined for Romney's taste. Without going into your sources, can you elaborate on why you're putting Christie in when the conventional wisdom has him out?

Because he's in the mix.

Chris, after reading the first chapter of the Gospel a few weeks ago and taking some time to reflect, I came to an important question. Given the parameters you outline in Gospel in which nominees are eliminated in an American Idol type competition until the final four, would Mitt Romney have made the gut, given the nature of this years GOP primary?

NOPE.

I have said before and will say again now that the campaign Romney ran to win the Republican nomination is underrated

On paper, someone with his profile in this political environment should not have won.

Since you're not at your usual spots like Daily Rundown due to the Olympics, where can we see you

I am growing a James Harden-like beard and becoming a recluse.

Where is Mrs. Fix watching it?

Fix HQ.

Fix III -- now 3 weeks old! -- is keeping her busy.

It looks like they're putting up a news crawl ticker sign on the 15th st. WaPo building. Can we move this chat there?

I want to get my tweets to scroll on that ticker.  How cool would it be to walk by the post and see: "Handball is a sport I think I could pick up pretty easily"?

Ok, maybe that would only be cool for me. But it would be VERY cool for me.

Did you ever finish Battlestar Galactica?

Did. Annoying.

Was Starbuck dead? Alive? Cylon? Why did she just disappear when they found the promise land?

Also, I want to know more about Gaius and Cylon 6.

What was the point of Romney saying that? What is Reid supposed to put up - the person who told him? Its not like he can put up Romney's taxes

Yes, the person who told him.

Put yourself in Romney's shoes: it's kind of frustrating to watch Reid get a TON of coverage for citing an anonymous person, who he won't name, who said Romney didn't pay taxes.

Right?

So one explanation I heard today, about the jobs rate being up and unemployment being up as well, is that when people hear that companies are hiring, they re-enter the job market. Kind of makes sense, although I don't know how the unemployment rate can reflect that (I don't really understand how they come up with that number anyway). Anyway, most people only read headlines, so they won't hear this either. And most people focus on the number that reflects their own life, or the one that furthers the political party they identify with. Oh well.

Great and interesting point.

And, yes, nuance is lost in modern politics so most people won't grasp this fact.

Any sense as to which campaign feels more confident about the election

Weirdly, both.

Is Romney going to wait until after the Olympics to announce his VP pick? What's your take?

I am still saying the week after next. But I could be wrong -- it could be next week.

What is the most likely "October surprise" you can think of? Economic? An Israeli attack on Iran? A bombshell about one of the candidates?

Read "The Gospel According to the Fix". I lay out all the options there.

Now under $10 at Amazon!

Who is your prediction for Governor Romney's VP?

My top 5:

1. Portman

2. Pawlenty

3. Ryan

4. Jindal

5. Christie

Explanations here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/mitt-romneys-final-five-vice-presidential-picks/2012/08/02/gJQAokOgSX_blog.html

Everytime I think of the Olympics and McDonalds, I keep thinking of the spoof on the Simpsons with Krusty Burger giving away food during the Soviet boycott

Just remember: You don't make friends with salad.

Good thoughts about how the jobs reports have become political fodder. It's curious that the past several years have had August jobs growth at twice July, so today's number was right on track. In the campaign, would you agree that we have two campaigns going on: the Republicans are running the anti-Obama race and the Democrats are running the "two visions" race. Doesn't that explain why Romney won't discuss policy details? They're only important in the two visions version -- otherwise, saying "I'm not him" is plenty. Thoughts?

Yes yes, a thousand times yes.

Isn't the cover-up that he's hiding his returns now worse than anything that can be in them? Or maybe he has a few more houses he doesn't want us to know about?

I tend to believe that. I wrote a while back that he should just release a few more years of returns because the truth could never be as bad as Democrats imagination.

Here's that piece. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/why-mitt-romney-should-just-release-his-tax-returns/2012/07/17/gJQAYKsErW_blog.html

Will the powers that be in the RNC be less inclined to assign Sarah Palin a speaking role (if at all) after she dissed Dick Cheney? Do you think Cheney deliberately gave her enough rope to hang herself, since it's widely known that Palin lets no slight go unanswered?

I will be surprised if Palin has a speaking role of any prominence at the convention. Maybe on the first day/night but it's hard for me to see the Romney folks putting her up on Wednesday or Thursday night.

I don't think that Sen. Reid has anything to lose by making what, at this juncture, seems to be an unsubstaniated allegation from an unnamed source. The Romney team may be scrambling to discover who the supposed Bain source actually is (Repub. Romney antagonist with axe to grind from Bain? Bain Dem with axe to bury?). Even if McCain has offered his tepid, "I didn't see any problems in his tax returns", it all serves to turn up the heat on the Romney campaign.

Right. Very Machiavellian. And anyone who knows or has covered Reid throughout the years knows he is among the most Machiavellian politicians there is.

Wouldn't it create a problem for Christie back home if Romney chooses him as a running mate? A lot of voters in New Jersey like both Christie and Obama, and wouldn't be thrilled to hear one trash the other.

Obama would carry New Jersey whether or not Christie is on the ticket.

Played it right after we brought our baby home from the hospital...nearly cried every time. GREAT SONG!

It's freaking amazing. So underrated.

We keep hearing about how the undecideds will be deciding the election (see what I did there?). But doesn't it matter where they live? An undecided in California is not the same as an undecided in Ohio.

VERY true.

If Chris Klein (available) plays you in the movie, who plays Mrs. Fix?

Julianne Moore.

Even with these numbers, Mitt Romney is losing the election! Is there any chance the GOP will get a clue and put in a better candidate at the Convention?

Um, no.

Yes, Harry Reid is a pain-in-the-@*#, but the more pressing question for me is: Do I wear the wingtips or the cap toe oxfords with the blue jeans at the Dayton campaign rally today?

ZING.

Frankly, I view Reid's allegations much like I view the "gaffe" coverage that Romney endured: an Obama-friendly press lets Reid get away with blatant lies just like the press manufactured "gaffes" that allow them to mock Romney and ignore his accomplishments. Go ahead and claim that the press isn't biased, but the facts don't support your position.

Noted.

But for Romney, it begs the question how did he does not expect to be banged over and over about his tax situation or think its out of bounds? Especially since taxes is one of his key planks in his campaign (begs the question "how does your plan effect you?"). Its not like past POTUS candidates have pulled off not sharing this information with the public and saying that you don't want to give the opposition "ammo" - that's part of the game.

Right, which is why I wrote -- and still think -- that he should release some more of his tax returns.

What? $5.8 billion spent on this election for 130 million or so voters? That works out to $45 per vote. Why not just give me the money - I'll vote for free. Of course, I live in Maryland so my vote doesn't count much. The cost per vote for the swing states is off the charts!

Vote for free!

Last week's chat contained this response to you about you and Eugene Robinson being the only political chatters left: "Gene and I's plan of world chat domination is working..." Gene and I's? Seriously??

Boy, that hurts.

Mr Cillizza I have to disagree. 1. Chuck Berry - great lyrics and even better guitar licks where would R&R be w/o Chuck 2. Dylan 3. James Delaney Buffet and Paul Simon- two best lyric writers and writers of hooks 5. Brian Wilson- Pet Sounds etc. No 9 Springsteen Born to Run and earlier. sorry anything after born to Run is garbage in comparison. How could you leave out Chuck Berry? Maybelline, Johnny B Goode, Roll Over Beethoven. Chuck Berry is the real "King of Rock and Roll" not Elvis. Clapton, Richards, Page, et al would have had no place to start. Springsteen would have never developed if he didnt get to practice Johnny B Goode!!!!!

Argument to be made for Chuck Berry AND Brian Wilson. But impossible not to rank Dylan #1.

And Jimmy Buffett? I mean, come on.

Charlie Crist endorsed Bill Nelson. Does this all but confirm that he is now a Democrat and will be running for office soon as one?

I don't know if he will ever run again for office but he sure as heck won't be able to do so as a Republican.

He seems like a good pick for keynote speaker. Young, Hispanic, good speaker, a geniune rising star. What is your thoughts?

A smart pick by Democrats given how badly they need a strong showing in the Hispanic community both in November and in future elections.

After his keynote address, what's next for him? I think I can see the Texas gubernatorial mansion in his future followed by a run for the White House. What are your thoughts?

Yup. I think that would be the path. Maybe in 2014 (Perry hasn't said whether he will run again) or in 2018.

2018 might be the better option because Texas is still tough sledding right now for Democrats. Hispanic growth should make it more winnable for the party but maybe not for another four-ish years.

Harry Reid's accusation that Romney has not paid taxes reminds me of the old story that LBJ once suggested to an aide to leak a story that one of his politcal opponents had carnal knowledge of a barnyard animal. When the aide expressed outrage, LBJ said "Just let the SOB deny it".

Fix fav presidents (in terms of pure political-ness and joy to cover as a reporter):

Nixon

Clinton

LBJ

Why is it that the only time you engage with people who aren't journalists or famous people is when you're telling someone he/she doesn't have to follow you or thanking someone for complimenting your book? Get out of the echo chamber, Chris.

I'm in an echo chamber? That explains all the loud noises. Someone, please help me.

Now that we have reached 3 months to election, is the post going to increase the frequency of chats by yourself, the rest of the Fix team and your colleagues? Right now the only politics all week is yourself and Eugene Robinson on Tuesdays. Not to diminish the readership of the two gossip chats and the two food chats each week, but those don't really affect my life- the President and the Congress do.

WaPo bosses are you listening? The public is demanding more Fix!

:)

Do you have any evidence that Team Obama would be worried about NJ if Christie were picked?

They wouldn't be.

Pro-Wrestling as an Olympic Sport - Pro or Con?

Olympic sports I would be fine to get rid of:

Soccer

Tennis

Olympic sports I would add:

3 on 3 basketball (this is the idea of Clinton Yates of Wapo's "Lunch Line" fame)

rugby

croquet

Tetherball

Not gonna lie, miss hearing you on MSNBC, but I'm kinda loving the marathons of Dateline, Caught on Camera, and today my favorite - Lockup. Just saying...

DAMN. It stings.

What's Reid's worst case scenario in all of this? If he isn't planning on running for reelection it doesn't seem like there is much incentive for him to stop bringing up Romney's tax returns. Plus, there is a HUGE incentive at this point to keep them in the conversation.

Correct. And correct.

There is the possibility that he's paid a very low tax rate & thinks revealing that would be a crippling shot across the bow..

I guess....

I think people in Florida are assuming that he's running for governor in 2014 as a Democrat. If he's facing Rick Scott, Crist starts out as a favorite. Per the presidential election, Crist would be a good "get" for Obama. Nobody has more appeal to "swing" voters in Florida.

Fascinating. So he's elected governor of Florida in 2006 as a Republican eight years later runs for the same office as a Democrat?

Stranger things HAVE happened...

And that's all folks! Thanks for sticking with me. Sorry for late start. I will be back at it NEXT Friday when -- maybe -- we might, we could know the identity of Mitt Romney's VEEP.


Chris

In This Chat
Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza is the managing editor of PostPolitics and he writes "The Fix," a politics blog for The Washington Post. He also covers the White House for the newspaper and website. Chris has appeared as a guest on NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and CNN to talk politics. He lives in Virginia with his wife and son.
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