The Live Fix with Chris Cillizza

Apr 15, 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.

Note: This chat is usually held on Fridays at 11 a.m. ET, but was rescheduled for today at 2 p.m. ET for this week only due to a conflicting commitment for Chris. This chat will resume at its regularly scheduled time next week.

Good afternoon everyone!

We pushed the chat back a few hours this week but man do we have good timing!  The House vote on the Ryan budget has just started. So far, 2 Republican no votes and 0 Democratic yes votes.

We'll keep monitoring it.

I guess I just find the candidacies of people like Santorum (and to an extent, Newt Gingrich) somewhat perplexing. They must know - on some level - that any path to the nomination is totally out of their reach. What are they aiming towards, really? Straight up ego boost?

A very good question.

Here's the basic calculation: "Why not me?"

In a field where Donald Trump is now a co-frontrunner according to some polls why wouldn't someone like Santorum get in an, frankly, just see what happens.

If you don't catch on -- and he probably won't -- you are still likely elevated as people will remember him as a guy who ran for president not a guy who lost his reelection race in Pennsylvania by 18 points.

It's a win win.  Remember that Joe Biden had almost no chance in the 2008 Democratic presidential race...and we know how that one turned out.

Alot of the most epic, down right nastiest as well as entertaining senate races comes to my mind like the '98 New York race with Schumer v. D'amato, '00 Florida race between Nelson v. McCollum, '02 Georgia race between Chambliss v. Cleland. Even more recently last years race in Illinois, and probably the most nastiest of 2010 with Kirk v. Giannoulias, and everyones favorite Webb v. Allen. But what race you think will be an epic showdown of 2012. Nevada between Berkley v. Heller, or in Virginia with Kaine v. Allen? Or do you think both?

Out of those two, I think VA will be the more epic.

Two former statewide elected officials. Two guys who have been mentioned as candidates on the national stage. Two people with huge fundraising potential. And in a swing state no less.

This has all the makings of an amazing Senate race. I don't want to get too excited for fear that I will set expectations too high.

Like when I declared Casey Abrahms the winner of Idol like 6 weeks ago.

On Twitter you had asked for recommendations for lunch in NH. Where did you end up going? And given your penchant for lists, have you compiled a Fix List of best eateries in primary states/swing states of where to get good food and meet undecided voters?

Holy cow. That is an amazing idea and I am going to do it. It will basically be a public service!

As for my eating yesterday, my and Politico's Jonathan Martin -- Jmart -- decided to go to Santarpio's pizza in east Boston on the recommendation of all around good dude (and Massachusetts native) Mark Leibovich.

Crust=outstanding. Also, they only take cash which is so old school cool.

Um, falling asleep on the boss is not best thing to do, even for Biden. Is the ice under Uncle Joe becoming any thinner with his recent power nap?

Are we SURE he fell asleep? There was no head bob! No bob!

Was the new start time an attempt to avoid competing with cupcake chat from last week?

No, I just like to keep you guys on your toes!

How funny has it been for Steven Colbert to be all over Jon Kyl for his "statement not intended to be factual"?

Really, really good.

Also Colbert formed a Super PAC today.  He called it "like a PAC that got bitten by a radioactive lobbyist."

Comic possibilities=endless.


Will Republicans really go on record to privatize Medicare?

As of right now, there are 158 yes votes for Republicans and only 2 no votes.

In honor of tax day (however delayed it might be), I bring to mind the words of the great Homer Simpson when looking at the line of taxpayers at the post office: "Would you look at those morons? I paid my taxes over a year ago!"

So. Good.

Also, in honor of sanitation commissioners everywhere I say: Can't someone else do it?

If Obama wins 2nd term, as David Brooks suggests today, won't Pawlenty benefit the most in 2016? If Romney loses again he could be tagged as a loser, but Pawlenty could be the "next in line" candidate for the next cycle. I can't see Barbour, Gingrich or any others benefiting from a losing run.... except maybe Huntsman. Is this ever a consideration when deciding to run ?

I think there are, without question, a tier of people who HAVE to run in 2012 whether they would have preferred to wait or not.

Romney is at the top of that list since he was regarded as the runner up last time and couldn't hold off another four years with any reasonable expectation that he would remain the frontrunner.

Pawlenty, too, had a timing issue. He was going to be hard-pressed to win a 3rd term as governor of Minnesota in 2010 -- possible but not probable -- and being out of office from 2011 to 2016 makes it hard to stay in the limelight.

I would say Gingrich has the same calculation -- now or never.

Huntsman could clearly wait. But the 2016 field -- assuming Obama wins a second term -- might be considerably stronger with the likes of Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal etc expected to take a hard look at the race.

Saw you at the event at Harvard on Wednesday- very interesting discussion. My question- why does Mitt Romney generate so much antipathy from the other candidates and staffers? Is it something he outwardly does or is it something about his personality?

Thanks! Always fun to speak at a school where I NEVER could have gotten in an an undergrad ;)

On your question, I'm not sure. I think some of the candidates in 2008 viewed Romney as overly ambitious and too willing to switch positions to fit the mood of the voters on any given day.

(Of course, those two charges could be leveled against almost any politician at any level.)

I'm not sure whether Romney has worked to make peace with some of his former (and future) opponents or whether he figures it's a useless exercise with no bearing on his chances at winning the nomination.

I read somewhere that Trump leads in recent polls of GOP candidates. He's not really electable, is he?


Seriously. Dana Milbank decides he's going to turn his one hour a week into comedy. You spend most of your time talking about wrestling and coffee shops. There are blowhards like Grover Norquist claiming that only he is right and all the rest of us are wrong, and fictional writers such as Congressman Huelskamp making up his own numbers to support his arguments. Outside of Eugene Robinson, will there ever again be an hour of thoughtful discussion, or are we just stuck with "send in the clowns?"

Um, ok.

As I have said MANY times...I try to do politics in a fun way. It may not be for everyone. But, I think if you go back and look at the bulk of any of these chats, it is dedicated primarily to politics.

Of course you don't HAVE to read the chat. We haven't made it mandatory....yet.

Chris it seems to me like The Donald has 3 big problems in his quest for the presidency: financial disclosure forms + his mouth and his general inability to keep it shut + the animal rights lobby which will go after him hard for carrying around a drugged rodent on his head. Does that about cover it? Does that about cover it?

I wrote on this recently and made a bunch of the same points -- except for the hair. (I am losing it too fast to throw follicles.)

Trump is a provocateur, not a politician. That's evidenced by his decision to pursue the birther issue, which has ZERO resonance outside of a sliver of conspiracy minded folks.

What Trump is doing is driving ratings through the roof for his reality show AND creating chaos in the Republican party at the moment. I bet he is deliriously happy.

Romney's announcement that he's forming an exploratory committee seems to have been underwhelming. Is this a bad sign for him, or does it not really matter since he's now essentially been running for president since 2005?

I think they were just trying to get it out of the way so he could begin raising money for the second quarter.

Romney doesn't need a big rollout like Pawlenty or some of the lesser known candidates. He just needs an error-free announcement and a really big fundraising quarter.

He got one. I am interested to see if he can get the other.

Mitch Daniels is already running for president, doing many things behind the scenes. What is your gut feeling on whether he every publicly declares for the office?

I am not so sure about the idea that he is already running.

I think Daniels is genuinely conflicted about the race. He feels like he has a unique voice on debt/spending issues that could be the perfect fit for the mood of Republican voters.

But he also knows that his call for a social "truce" would be VERY problematic in the primary and that the race would be very difficult on a family that has been reluctant to be involved in politics.

So, I am not sure where he comes down on the race. If I had to bet, I would say he stays out. But Daniels has said he will make a decision by April 29 (or so) so we don't have all that much longer to wait.

Is Shelley Berkley really the best candidate for Democrats in Nevada? Is a Las Vegas congresswoman going to play in the rest of the state?

We shall see. I will admit I was surprised that Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Patty Murray endorsed Berkley yesterday.

You've previously said that Tami Taylor is the best politician on Friday Night Lights. But given Principal Taylor's past controversies over abortion (and Connie Britton's support for Planned Parenthood), doesn't that make her unelectable in a conservative district like Dillon? Shouldn't that make me the front runner for the West Texas Congressional seat and the #1 seat on your House Line?

Hard for me to love a question any more than this one.

Yes, Buddy is clearly a solid choice -- high name ID from his time spent advertising his car dealership, potential self funder -- but remember he went through a nasty divorce. That's not going to play very well.

And, it's hard to explain how excited I am for the kickoff of Season 5 tonight on NBC.  

A no vote is against right?

That is correct. Almost exclusively party line.

I will have more on this vote after the chat but it's clear Democrats want to push Republicans out on the privatizing Medicare limb and then saw it off.

Since I just saw you on Andrea Mitchell Reports, can we assume you will be late? Just for that I am considering ruining your joy in the FNL premiere tonight by telling you the ending.

I was on time! Multitasking. And NO ONE tell me what happens this season. Seriously, it would screw up my entire year.

How optimistic is the GOP about holding 60 seats after the 2012 elections?


I think Republicans would be thrilled if they could get back into the majority in 2012.  Now, 2014 should be another good cycle for the GOP but I am not so sure 60 seats are in range for either side at the moment.

If Palin and Trump, as some suggest, run together-who is on top (of the ticket)?

I just can't answer this question. I can't do it. My finger won't type a serious response.

Does anyone actually serve on these committees? If so, who, and what do they do? Or is it just a technical step en route to running for president?

The latter.

Here's what I wrote on it earlier this week:

Check out Tim Easton's website. He has self-released two new albums, one with a band and one solo acoustic. Saw him at SXSW this year and he's as great as ever.

I know him well. Terrific.

what do you think about Ryan being mad for being invited to hear the presidents speech? Better than being mad at the president for having to deplane AF1 in the back, I guess.

I may be a contrarian on all of this but I tend to think that Ryan wound up having a great week.

Yes, he had to sit there while Obama excoriated his plan. But the working dynamic of the budget fight is Obama vs Ryan -- not a bad place to be for a member of the House from Wisconsin.

Obama has elevated Ryan in this whole fight.  On the most importance issue facing the country, Ryan is now the face of the GOP. And that's not a bad place to be for his long term political prospects.

Are you still as sure that Mr.Trump will not really be running? I understand that a lot of this is promo for his show and he won't want to do the disclosure statements, but with his ego won't his leading the group push him towards actually running? More important, what is the biggest thing happening today? (The answer should include "tonight on NBC"...)

I have NO idea about Trump's intention other than to say he is a savvy businessman and all of this presidential chatter is making the Celebrity Apprentice a must watch. (That and Gary Busey).

As for your second question: Clear eyes, full hearts...

I looked up a friend's dad in Game Change. Let's just say he thought Palin was a female Obama. Doesn't that seem absurd in hindsight?

Is your friend's Dad John McCain?

Lighten up, Francis. Oh, and I think the reason the other candidates don't care much for Mitt is that he gives off a vibe that--despite his efforts to get it--he doesn't need the job. Many of the regulars on both sides of the aisle have nowhere else to go.

I got nowhere else to go!

Not sure desperation is the right message to send to voters either...

Maybe I am clueless, but why is Tom Coburn not interested in entering the incredibly weak field of Republican presidential contenders?

I don't think he is.

If he did run, it would be a FASCINATING candidacy. Coburn is getting lots of positive press for his willingness to challenge political orthodoxies. And that is just the sort of message that seems to resound with GOP voters -- actually, all voters -- at the moment.

Is being Obama's ambassador to China going to be a non starter? Is he really running for 2016?

See above.

I think when Huntsman took the China job in the first place, he was working off of a 2016 timeline.

But, he looked at the 2012 field and thought "Why not me?"

I think he runs this time just to see if he can make a go of it but keeps an eye on 2016 too if things go well but he comes up short.

Senator Coburn is a movement conservative from one of the reddest states in the union, so what exactly has compelled him to say fiscal balance can't be restored without raising taxes on wealthier Americans. Is he not going to run again, or is he just tired of the gamesmanship? Thanks.

He's just like that. Always has been. And voters in Oklahoma love him for it.

Please don't change your chats. Makes me smile every week. But, would love to see some additional political chatters. I nominate Dan Balz. If he is too busy, important, whatever, then Karen Tumlety would be great also. Maybe they could alternate. Make it happen.

Are you subtly suggesting I am neither too busy nor too important?

Point taken.

Yes, this is the right chat. When I was in Georgetown last Saturday, I experienced beautiful weather and was horrified by the ridiculous line for cupcakes. Seriously, how long would you wait in line for a cupcake and how much would you pay for one? At this point. I feel like people will act insane if cable food shows tell them it's trendy.

The cupcake thing I do NOT get.

Also, when will cookie shops start up again. People who make boutique cookies. Now THAT I would wait in line for.

This is also true:

Baked and Wired > Georgetown Cupcake.

How will the Dems nomination process work this time? Will anyone else, however marginal, enter? Will there be any debates? Will the greatly depressed primary turnout actually hurt Obama?

No serious primary opponent.

The primary season for Obama will be focused on raising a cajillion dollars -- ok, that may be a slight exaggeration -- and positioning him in the sensible center of the country.

The longer the GOP primary fight goes on and the nastier it becomes, the better for Obama.

So was Goldwater the face of the GOP. It might do wonders for Ryan, but not for the eventual GOP presidential nominee.

Not my point though.

The idea that Ryan has somehow been diminished by what happened this week seems to me to miss the point. 

It's Obama versus Ryan. And that's a win for Ryan.

I got it: you announce you are considering running for President, but you will only make the announcement on the last episode of a TV show, and then you get "Friday Night Lights" to give you a role where you announce whether or not you are running for President. I think this just might work. It would be a ratings bonanza.

I will admit this is better than my idea of casting me as Billy and Tim Riggins dorkier uncle from the Northeast.

Sadly, your storyline is far more plausible.

Any chance the Dems will pick up Obama's Senate seat? Looks bleak.

It looks really bleak. Especially since Republicans won it in 2010.

Hi Chris. Don't they know when you need a fix you need a fix, but I guess Lou Reed was right when he said, "He's never early, he's always late. First thing you learn is that you always gotta wait. I'm waiting for my man".

Oh, all the poets they studied rules of verse/And those ladies, they rolled their eyes


I still dont understand why the GOP is outraged over the Obama speech. Of course he wasnt going to accept Ryan's Plan?

Republicans would argue that Obama set a partisan tone for the entire 2012 budget debate by going after the Ryan plan rather than simply laying out what he was for.

And, he probably did. But, remember that speech was at least as much about politics as it was about policy. 

I believe she is the only Dem who can flip that seat from red to blue. If she makes a comeback and put her hat in the ring OOHHH BOY!!!! this would probably be one of the most if not the most epic race for the U.S. senate of all time. I mean think about the media attention that race will get!! It would be one of the most hottest senate races in '12 along w/ NV and VA

I agree that a Giffords candidacy would make HUGE national news.

That said, in a rceent interview Mark Kelly said he hadn't even broached the possibility with his wife. So, I think we may all be getting a little ahead of ourselves.

Please pass on my complaint that the new webmaster has damaged the RSS feeds and turned them in spammers. In particular the new opinion feeds don't tell you who wrote what and lump in blogs. The books RSS feeds now has an average of 100 posts a week. That’s way too many.

Consider it passed along.

Also, just bookmark:

All the news you need to know ;)

Chris, is there a real chance that the GOP will vote against increasing the debt ceiling? I'm no economist, but the apocalyptic predictions I've read about the potential consequences of such a vote are alarming, to say the least. But I'm afraid that the GOP either (a) doesn't understand those potential consequences, or (b) is so obsessed with appeasing the Tea Party base that they're actually willing to wreck the entire economy just to make their anti-deficit point. Surely this can't actually happen, can it? [Note: Opening to end response with "...and don't call me Shirley."]

I can't see Boehner/McConnell allowing it to happen.

But the question the debt ceiling vote will raise is just how much power those two men have over their respective conferences.

The tea party is going to going to the mat on the deb ceiling vote and it's not clear what sort of compromise -- if any -- they will accept.

That could be big trouble.

Isn't his strength a myth? He won in 2005 on Mark Warner's coattails. The highlight of his tenure as governor was the smoking ban (hardly a big deal). And the talk of him nationally was purely as Obama's VP, but the only reason Kaine was in the talk was because he was an early Obama endorser!


George Allen was elected in 2000 because Chuck Robb was a fatally flawed candidate in a bad year to be a Democrat in Virginia.

Allen's weakness was made clear when he was unable to overcome a single flub against an underfunded and little known guy named Jim Webb in 2006.

I am not sure which case I agree with -- or which one has more of the truth. But I think there are smart people who believe in each one.

Have to go make a bourbon-infused, pecan-crusted pineapple upside-down cake. Love working at home today.

Save me a slice!

Stefano or the leader of GLAAD after Kobe Bryant's tirade?

Stefano. Nice guy but I mean COME ON.

Gut feeling, does he actually declare for the race?

See above...I am sticking with my thought of 10 minutes ago and saying no.

But, if he does run, he has a clear lane -- fiscal conservative speaking hard truths on debt/spending -- to run in. There are very few candidates or potential candidates who would have such a clear lane.

Who benefits from this late start in GOP race? Who benefits from the Donald sucking up all the media attention? who loses?

Late start SHOULD benefit the better known candidates like Romney, Huck (if he runs) and Newt.

The more abbreviated the race, the less time unknowns have to raise money and get better known.

But, presidential primaries are often unpredictable -- far less predictable than the average House or Senate race.

So, it's hard to draw too many hard and fast conclusions.

The Huckster in particular seems to dislike Romney. I have seen it suggested that it is a class thing as well as the "empty suit" label that follows him around. But if he is the nominee, won't repubs rally behind him much like they did behind McCain, who much of the GOP also dislike and distrusted. That worked out so well last time.

I think Republicans will rally around whoever the party picks as the nominee because the base dislikes the policies of President Obama so much.

So, while Romney might not light the fires of everyone in the GOP base, it's a certainty that he is closer to their views on issues than Obama.

Mark Kirk is going to be up for reelection in a presidential year in a blue , and plus the Dems are going to put up a solid candidate w/o baggage

in 2016!

I saw you on Hardball last week. I can't remember who the other guest was, but my brother and I were laughing because Chris kept on treating you like his nephew or something. Maybe the hair loss will make you seem older and Chris will treat you like the old guard.

HA!  Thanks, I think.

You and Mrs. Fix and the young'un go to Dillon, Texas, to announce that football is being replaced in the schools with field hockey!

Man. That would rock.

Sidebar: Mrs Fix recruiting class for 2010-2011 season= Michigan Fab Five.

Question: When you and J-Mart, were told you had to eat lunch at Santarpio's Pizza, and - 'muffled snicker' - DID, which one of you was wearing the "I'm With Stupid" t-shirt?

I always wear one. Just in case.

Yep, you're clueless. Kind of like all the analysts that said there was "no great team" in the NCAA tournament, until one emerged and brought home yet another trophy to Storrs. The primaries are supposed to be for determining who's the best, and a large field doesn't mean a weak field.

Oh terrific. A UCONN fan! Great. Man, that's just what this chat needed.

And, to quote Homer Simpson: "In case you didn't know, I was being sarcastic."

Coburn has always been big on term limits. He got re-elected in 2010, so 12 years in the Senate may be enough for him.

Good point.

Pundits and operatives seem put out over the Donald interest, but it is the media who is elevating him-- he us just being his usual bombastic self. Quit giving him a platform and he will go away-- or be diminished like Palin.

Doesn't this question elevate him?

Saw Barbour in NH today. He looked and SOUNDED out of place. I can't imagine him behind the desk in the Oval. What' his chances.

Saw him yesterday. Wrote about just that question.

BOOM goes the dynamite.

Ok folks...have to run. Thanks for joining me today. And enjoy the weather today before the deluge of tomorrow arrives.

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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