Mar 04, 2011

Get your Friday Live Fix as Chris Cillizza discusses the Friday Line, the Worst Week in Washington, Congress, the Obama administration and all the latest political news.

Good morning everyone! The Fix chat is coming to you live from Texas today...so, in honor of the Lonestar State, I am eating a steak and drinking sarsparilla for this chat.

Let's get it started.

When it comes to Natalie Portman vs. Mike Huckabee, well, I have to cast my vote for the youthful, beautiful, lovely, talented and vivacious Ms. Portman! Wish her much happiness with her new child.

I have a feeling Portman is likely to win a beauty contest with Huck.

I read in Politico that Akaka's departure means that there will most likely be no more senate retirements on the Democratic side of the spectrum since it was generally assuemed that he was the last hold out. Do you think that is true?

I do think that Patty Murray, the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has been pushing wavering members to make their decisions early so it's easier for the party to hold the seat.

And that likely explains why there have already been four Democratic retirements as well as one by Joe Lieberman who caucuses with Democrats.

I am never sure that the retirement binge has ended -- there are always surprises out there that neither party sees. 

The other Democrats who are talked about are people like Herb Kohl and Dianne Feinstein -- both of whom appear to be running full speed ahead at the moment.

I cannot seem to figure out what Mike Huckabee's strategy is, after this weeks gaffes

It has been a very odd week for Huckabee -- from commenting on Natalie Portman's pregnancy to his riffs on Obama's growing up in Kenya (he didn't) and being education in madrasses (he wasn't.)

I still believe that Huckabee is not all that likely to run for president in 2012 and that by viewing everything he is doing through the lens of 2012 we may be misunderstanding his intentions.

Right now, Huckabee is a guy with a book to sell and a television show to promote -- both with a VERY conservative audience who wants to hear his commentary on, say, Natalie Portman.

Huckabee may then be making a commercial ploy as much or more than a political one.

If he is planning to run for president, this week has shown that he needs some work staying on message.

With Gingrich's sorta testing the waters announcement, what happens to his empire of 527's and 501(c)(4) organizations that don't abide by the stricter donation limits set out for candidates?

I think the large number of Newt-affiliated groups is what kept Gingrich from announcing an exploratory committee this week.

Untangling himself from his various committees will take considerable time and energy -- and that, I assume, is what is delaying the formalizing of his plan to run for president.

Make no mistake though: GIngrich is in.

Who's next? Does 77-year old Dianne Feinstein decide to pack it in? 76-year old Herb Kohl? Olympia Snowe, who has been in Congress since 1978? How about 69-year old Ben Nelson?

People I would keep an eye on:

Dick Lugar: Lugar has been adamant that he is running again but he faces a very problematic primary in the form of state Treasurer Richard Mourdock and, I think, may eventually reconsider his plan to run if it looks like he can't win.

Ben Nelson: Nelson says he's running and I believe him. But, the filing deadline in Nebraska is a long way away and it looks like it will be very tough for any Democrat to get elected in the Cornhusker State in 2012.

Why don't you think the big right-wing groups haven't more actively sought out a primary challenger for Olympia Snowe? Maine has a closed primary, and is a small state, which would seem to make it ripe for an outside group to drop some money in to beat her, one of the most liberal Republicans out there.

There's still LOTS of time before the primary...and in today's Morning Fix we report about the head of Americans for Prosperity in the state planning a run.

Stay tuned.

Most Overrated Move: The Rock Bottom or John Cena's Five Knuckle shuffle?

Neither. Hulk Hogan's leg drop. Just dumb.

Best finishing moves ever: Crossfaced crippler, sweet chin music, the Undertaker choke slam.

Do you see a serious Democrat jumping into the race against Olympia Snowe, especially now that a real primary challenge looks less likely?

I think Democrats would be smart to field credible challengers in Maine AND Indiana in the event that a Christine O'Donnell sort of scenario plays out in either/both.

A look at the 2012 map suggests there are very few offensive opportunities for Democrats outside of Massachusetts, Nevada and maybe Arizona.

Why not put candidates in Maine and Indiana then to see if the Republican primary produces someone unelectable?

Heading in the 1992 campaign, the only thing most people knew about Bill Clinton, the governor of Arkansas, was that he gave one of the most boring speeches ever in the 1988 Democratic Convention. Despite this (and a lot of other baggage), he managed to beat an incumbent president. Now, heading into the 2012 campaign, we have Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, is that he's boring, much like Clinton was perceived. So why couldn't Pawlenty emerge like a Bill Clinton in 2012?

Well, he could. (Pawlenty is #2 on our most recent Friday Line ranking the men and women most likely to be the GOP nominee.)

That said, Clinton was a tremendously charismatic and empathetics pol. Pawlenty is getting better on the campaign trail but he is nowhere near the natural that Bubba was.

Will New Jersey Rep. Rush Holt be able to save us all from supercomputer (and possibly future killing-machine) Watson?

I am really hoping....

I tend to think Watson botched he last final Jeopardy question against Ken Jennings (Toronto, really?) and then lost to Holt to throw us all off the scent.

Then, when he takes over the Internet, public transportation and the stock market simultaneously in a few months time, we won't see it coming.

It's a classic rope-a-dope strategy. I am on to you Watson. Watch your, er, back.

Press reports had it that Newt Gingrich was going to announce a presidential exploratory committee on Thursday. And then he wasn't. If he doesn't run for president in 2012, can reporters promise never to cover him again? Life is about incentives, and we need to stop giving free media coverage to people just trying to make money.

He is running...though I would say the clumsy way his semi-announcement-but-not-really-an-announcement was handled is an ill omen for Newt backers.

I've written a bunch about Gingrich lately and talked to lots of people who have followed his career closely throughout the years. And, they all come back to the same thing: He is both his best advocate and worst enemy all rolled into one.

Does Matt Drudge and the Drudge Report still matter? Can you think of the last major story he broke (that didn't later turn out to be completely bogus)?

I do think he matters in terms of ability to elevate a minor story and get members of the media to pay attention.

Whether or not you like his news judgment is a different matter.

Huckabee needs to get new advisors. He has come off lookinmg REALLY bad this week. Any canidate who wants to be taken seriously should not repeat things that a known fiction over and over again.

I think the problem is that Huckabee doesn't have a whole lot of advisers. 

He is a gifted communicator and knows it, so he tends to freelance far more than your average politician.

And freelancing leads to some of the unbelievably off message things he has said in the last few days.

Even if Linda Lingle got into the Republican primary (reports show she's got zero donations in the bank right now) and it was a clear field while Democrats have a battle royal and come out bruised and with less money, you still think Hawaii is going to vote Republican?

I think Linda Lingle gives Republicans a chance to make Hawaii competitive. But that's a very different thing than actually winning an election.

As one of my deputies -- the man known as FixAaron -- wrote yesterday, Hawaii is a steep volcano (heyooo!) for any Republican including Lingle.

The state is VERY Democratic and will be even more so in 2012 with President Obama leading the ticket.

Democrats will almost certainly have a contested (and late) primary, which gives Lingle a chance.

But she needs to do everything right and get a few lucky breaks to win the race.

I have enjoyed your series exploring redistricting in several states. Your recent piece on how the process might impact members of Congress in North Carolina is insightful. From this news article published today, the drawing of districts in the state has a good chance of being done in an aggressive manner.  North Carolina seems to be the state where Republicans will benefit the most from having control of redistricting.

Yup. These pieces -- also written by FixAaron -- have been absolutely terrific. He's going to do all of the states with more than one House district so if he hasn't gotten to you, he will.

You can check out the whole "Mapping the Future" series here: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/mapping-the-future/

With Buddy Roemer, the dragon slayer, forming an exploratory committee for a presidential run, can we use this as an excuse to write about the most colorful politician of the last half century, Edwin Edwards?

Vote for the crook, it's important.

(Still the best campaign slogan in modern political history.)

Natalie Portman got pregnant at age 29 yet she's setting a bad example? Also no way you can claim that she famous simply for getting pregnant. Yet Bristol Palin was 17 and still unwed to the father of her son and were is Mike Huckabee on her?

This is one of, literally, 50 questions that raise the Natalie Portman-Bristol Palin comparison.

So noted.

This strikes me as a dog bites man story. Was it Bush Sr. who attacked Murphy Brown? Natalie is dead to me now anyways. Emma Watson is the new "it" girl.

Meryl Streep is my new "it" girl.

So why the ultimatum to Gingrich and Santorum, but not to Palin and Huckabee? And whose [sic] your proofreader for The Friday Line?

Zing!

I take FNC at their word: the network said that both Gingrich and Santorum were actively pursuing or thinking about pursuing presidential bids while Huck and Palin were not. Hence the suspension for the first two.

As I wrote in the Friday presidential Line this morning though, I do think it's worth circling May 5 on your calendar. That's the day of the Fox-sponsored South Carolina debate and my guess -- though it's only a guess -- is that the big bosses at Fox want to know whether Palin or Huckabee are in by that point.

Here's the Line link: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/the-line/friday-presidential-line-3.html

Funny I don't remember the Republicans bashing Bristol Palin for being an unwed mom - a teenager to boot. I guess for her it was OK?

Literally, 50. Maybe more.

If I had to guess, I think the White House's prefered candidate would be Brian Shaltz. Beyond being very impressive in-person, he got his push in Hawaiian politics by being the official Obama for President spokesman in 2008. From that job, Obama himself endorsed him to be chairman of the Hawaii Democratic Party. His first big break in his campaign to be Lt. Governor of Hawaii come from an endorsement (and even robocalls) from Maya Soetoro-Ng, the President's maternal half-sister who became very well-known in Hawaii for all her surrogate work here during the 2008 campaign. Even if Brian Shaltz doesn't run, he is my pick to run if and when Sen. Inouye vacates his senate seat.

I hear a lot of positive buzz about Schatz in Hawaii.

Also, one other intriguing name is Tammy Duckworth. She ran unsuccessfully for the House from Illinois in 2006 but went to high school in Hawaii.

She also has an amazing personal story., having lost three limbs during her service in Iraq.

Duckworth is very well regarded by the White House too...

Enjoyed Jason Horowitz's article on Mitt and Huntsman. How do you view this one: Is it more East Dillon vs. West Dillon or a hypothetical match-up of Jed Clampett vs Jock Ewing?

It is an AMAZING article. If you haven't read it, you should.

LINK: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/03/AR2011030305195.html

I think Huntsman and Romney are both West Dillon kind of guys...wealthy families etc.

Are we sure Huckabee isn't just Dan Quayle in a Mike Huckabee skin suit?

Wait, there is a Mike Huckabee skin suit?

Isn't one of the reasons that more Democratic incumbent U.S. Senators up for re-election in 2012 is that there a heck of all more of them then Republicans up in 2012. Take this little factoid. As a percentage, with just one retirement, more Republicans up for re-election in 2012 are retiring then Democrats.

Good point.

Democrats have to defend 23 seats in 2012 while Republicans only have to defend 10.  More seats= more possible retirements.

Of course, the reason Democrats are playing so much defense in 2012 is because they won almost every competitive race in 2006. The wheel turns...

How does Newt make his income? Does he profit from all his fundraising personally? Can he pay himself a salary from one of his many 527's and 501's and who monitors this? IRS?

Books, speeches, TV gigs.  He is a brand and a big one in Republican circles.

If Ben Nelson retires, are then ANY Nebraskan Democrats beyond Luney O'Wacko then would run instead?

Luney O'Wacko. Well played.

And, no. While Nelson faces long odds to be reelected any Democrat other than Nelson faces no odds.

Wonder how Huck felt about Bristol Palin being paraded around during the GOP convention 2008 or on DWTS? And has Sarah Palin commented yet on Huck's Portman comment? Who needs them to declare-- we can still have fun with the wannabee's.

Up to 75...at least.

During the last go around it was clearly McCain and Romney who hated each other the most. Who will it be this time? Everybody and Sarah Palin?

I am not sure any of the candidates in the field last time had much affection for Mitt.

And I can't imagine that changing all that much though I would bet Newt -- who has always been a fly in the ointment kind of politician -- will attract his fair share of haters too.

But remember, as Willow Smith/Jimmy Fallon said, "Don't let the haters keep me off my grind."

As a lifelong, card carrying liberal Democrat, this is the best news I've heard since the passage of Medicare under Lyndon Johnson. Can't wait to see the spot where the white haired actor, shot from behind, delivers his divorce papers to his wife who is in the hospital being treated for cancer. (Man, I still can't believe that the 2nd Mrs. Gingrich didn't get a clue after that.) Seriously, this man has so many personal flaws to be picked at over and over and over that I am doing cartwheels at the thought of his possible nomination.

I know people think the Gingrich marriage/divorce stuff is a silver bullet to his hopes -- and it may be.

But, I think it's VERY unlikely that any sort of ad like that ever sees the light of day. Who would run it? Whoever did would likely be performing a kamikaze mission as voters tend to like personal matter kept private not aired in the most public of forums.

Gingrich's personal life is clearly an issue for him. But, I am skeptical that it will ever be part of the PUBLIC debate in the race.

Now, a whisper campaign is a whole other thing...

Uh, I think you're forgetting THE SHARPSHOOTER!

Oh man.  Very true.  What else did I miss?

Maine Senate Minority Leader Emily Cain is termed out in 2012, so she may have an interest and it isn't like she's got anything else to do.

Interesting...

One thing that Bill Clinton had when he run in 1992 when the love of Arkansans. They had lots and lots of positive things to say about him. Tim Pawlenty is massive bad approval ratings right now with Minnesotans (although not as bad as Mitt Romney with the good folks of the Bay State). Doesn't it matter when a presidential candidate, running on his record of a governor, not have the majority support of his own state?

Most presidential candidates struggle with being seen as presidential by their home state voters for some period of time.

That usually changes if/when they become the party's nominee as the mentality changes from "That Guy?" to "He's our guy".

We shall see.

So, he is getting press for showing up at CPAC and doing interviews but is anyone taking him seriously? I remember Howard Stern making a lot of noise about running for NY Governor until he had to fill out financial disclosure forms and then he dropped it but quick. Given that most of the other 2012ers have disclosed their finances, shouldn't The Donald have to as well before being taken seriously?

This. Is. A. Joke.

I would rather answer questions about Christine O'Donnell turning down Dancing With The Stars.

(How about that as a slick way to get our one obligatory COD reference in?)

Wow, '90s flashbacks: Newt is all over the TV (looking exactly the same -- he probably looked that way at 30), a conservative politician is tsk-tsking over an unmarried pregnant woman (at least this time she's real and not a prime-time character), Republicans are spinning wild stories about a Democratic president who drives them nuts, possible government shutdown looms... So, I guess I shouldn't invest in tech stocks, right?

I think Netscape is the web browser to bet on. And Blockbuster is fundamentally altering the way people watch movies...

I'm still not convinced. Why is Newt's bid for real this time and not just another marketing stunt?

Because he has ALWAYS wanted to run for president -- thought about in in 1996, came VERY close in 2008 -- and I think he knows this is the last, best time for him to make the race.

Maybe it is a marketing ploy but I doubt it very highly.

The real question is who has the best hair--- Huntsman is my dark horse-- Romney is just a tad too blow dried. Salt and pepper beats out a total snowcap anyday so Newt and Barbour drop down to 3rd and 4th place. Mitch is out of the running(sorry Brooks) and Pawlenty, unless he develops some silver wings in the next 9 months is an also ran. There. No need to even have debates or primaries. Think of how much Money we just saved everyone.

Huntsman clearly wins the hair primary. Full, well coiffed with just the right amount of distinguished gray.

Now that Scott Walker is becoming a lame duck Governor (let's face it, if he's not recalled he'll most likely face an impossible re-election campaign) do you think his administration will ever work with the Democrats or show any sign of bi-partisanship? It seems to me he's already interviewing for his next job as a lobbyist.

Not sure I agree with the premise.

Walker clearly hasn;t helped himself with this fight but I am not sure he has permanently damaged himself either.

Remember -- he's not up for reelection until 2014. That's a very long time in politics.

Thanks for saving me from making the point that Tim Pawlenty would need a personality transplant to be compared to Bill Clinton in pre-presidential campaign mode.

Do they do personality transplants?

Chris, Very disappointed in you but its the outlawed heart punch by Killer Kowalski. One punch to heart and his opponent was out for 3 count. Guess you aren't old enough to have watched wrestling on channel 20 here in Dc on Saturday mornings in the early 70's. mIss Chief Jay, Pedro, Bruno, et al.

Holy cow, that was a thing?

Is a divisive primary between Rep. Heinrich and State Auditor Balderas the only realistic chance the Republicans have of winning that seat in a presidential year?

With former Rep. HEather Wilson in the race, Republicans probably have their best general election candidate.

But, the question for Wilson is whether she will be primaried from the ideological right as she was in 2008 when she lost to then Rep. Steve Pearce.

If Wilson avoids a primary and Democrats have a knock down drag out battle, Republicans could win the seat. Emphasis on could.

What advantages besides saving money and time ? thank you for your expert and educated answer Mr fix.

I think people should take advantage of the candidate vacuum and get in sooner rather than later.

Heck, I wrote a whole column on it: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/eye-on-2012/post-16.html

They clearly disagree since spring is almost here and no one is the race.

I know he's Canadian. but I can't remember this much buzz for Jeopardy! between Watson and the infamous "titmouse" guess.

Sean Connery for Veep.

How soon they forget! It was Dan Quayle who decided it was a good idea to pick a fight with a fictional middle aged woman having a child out of wedlock.

This is the most Dan Quayle references in a Fix chat in history.

We have made history today people.

Also, something just occurred to me. Why did Huckabee condemn Natalie Portman but didn't say anything about Bristol Palin? Has anyone mentioned this before?

What is awesome?

Favorite answer of the day.

I'm confused. Natalie Portman's pregnancy is bad, because she's not married (although engaged), is a college (Harvard) graduate, is 29, is a well-paid and award-winning actress, and is likely financially secure enough to be able to support a child. These all make her a bad example to teenagers. But Bristol Palin's pregnancy was good because she was 18 and unmarried (although engaged, then not, then engaged again, then not again), a high school drop-out, and possibly not independently financially secure at the time, but she choose to have the child anyway and then began to preach abstinence, based on her celebrity as an unwed teenage mother and also the daughter of a politician/celebrity. These all make her a good example for teenagers. In Huckabee World, am I am for encouraging my teenage nieces and nephews to stay in school, start careers, and then start their families? Should they have been following Bristol's example instead?

I hadn't thought of this comparison. Interesting.

Do you think Tim Kaine ultimately jumps into the mix for the Virginia Senate seat?

I still think not.

But, the longer Kaine takes to think about it, the more reason Democrats have for hope.

Kaine's initial inclination was not to run. He is clearly thinking it through at the moment and exploring the possibilities of what life in the Senate would be like.

Might he change his mind? Sure. But, I am still a little bit skeptical that he will.

He is a genius. More people talking about him this week than anyone else-- and guess what-- he has a book out.

Right. This goes to my earlier point that we are viewing everything Huck does through a political lens when maybe we need to be viewing it through a commercial one.

Sarah Palin really is the Charlie Sheen of politicians, but she might have wolf or moose blood running through her veins instead of tiger blood.

Had to get a tiger blood reference in.

Also, if anyone has any extra Adonis DNA I know a guy who is looking to buy. It's friend. Not me.

I don't think either Newt Gingrich or Haley Barbour can ever be elected President (or possibly even gain their party's nomination) because there's no place in our society (other than reality TV shows) for the fat and ugly.

Um, wow.

Who cares about Huck and Natalie Portman?! Redistricting is way more important and cool.

A true Fixista. (Me, FixAaron and FixRachel agree.)

Oh, that was different, because Bristol was "respecting life."

Wait, Bristol Palin had a child out of wedlock. I didn't know. There are so many parrallels to the Natalie Portman thing here. Someone should note this.

Best Move: Stone Cold Stunner

Also, best post-finishing move celebration: drinking brewskis in the ring.

Didn't the last leader of Senate Democrats in Maine (Libby something) flame out and finish third in the gubernatorial race in 2010?

Libby Mitchell. She was the party's nominee but lost to Paul LePage in the general.

 

most of the best leaders in history have huge personal flaws. I don't say this an endorsement of Gingrich, just as an FYI. We seem to think our leaders should be saints, and the ones that are, well, they are not very good leaders. So be careful what you wish for.

Good point.

Even Coach Taylor has flaws. I don't know what they are -- too awesome? -- but I am sure he has them.

I suspect some of the animus against Natalie Portman may be due to her having attended Harvard, so being perceived as an "elitist." Now if she'd been an underage high school dropout like Bristol Palin, all would be forgiven by the right, right? Besides, mightn't Portman still marry he baby's father?

Is Harvard that school in Pennsylvania? I'm not familiar with it.

Okay, so no one would make it as an ad. But how about Saturday Night Live and every other comedy show in creation. (I can hear Jon Stewart and Colbert, especially Colbert, in my head right now.)

I agree it is something every primary/caucus voter would likely hear about by the time 2012 rolls around.

I just think assuming one of his rivals is going to run that divorce ad is far fetched.

Did you read NYT time Egan's take on the Huck. Burn.

I did, and you all should too.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/03/the-fictions-of-mike-huckabee/

It was Stan Stasiak for the heart punch

Phew. Glad we got that corrected.

If we are determining the Repub. Prez. candidate on their head of hair, don't forget Governor Good Hair, aka Rickie Perry!

Perry=excellent hair.

Butch Otter, governor of Idaho, also has A+ hair.

Do I read a touch of the snark Mr. Fix re Portman/ Huck?

What? Snark? How dare you, sir.

;)

And, time!

Thanks, as always, for spending an hour (or part of it at least) with me.  We do this thing every Friday at 11 am. So, see you next week.

And, if you are counting, it's only 42 days until the final season of "Friday Night Lights" premieres on NBC.

Tick, Tick, tick.

Have a great weekend!

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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