The Live Fix with Chris Cillizza: GOP debate, Obama and more

May 06, 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.

Hello all! You are looking live at the Tenleytown (DC) Starbucks!  We are about 12 hours removed from the first debate of the 2012 Republican presidential race.  And we are less than a week removed from the news that Osama bin Laden is dead. So, yeah, kind of a busy news week.

Let's get to questions.

Did Hermain Cain really win the debate last night? What does that say about Tim Pawlenty?

"Winning" any debate is an amorphous thing.

Herman Cain probably won the second tier candidates debate although I also thought Ron Paul and Rick Santorum were pretty good.

But, Cain, Santorum, GJ (what I will call Gary Johnson from now on) and Paul were all fishing in different waters than Pawlenty.

Pawlenty was the only person on stage who is regarded as having a serious chance of actually being the Republican nominee for president. And, as such, he was really debating Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels and Barack Obama -- none of whom were at the debate.

I thought Pawlenty did well in the main. He was forceful and aggressive in his criticism of Obama and found ways to weave his personal story into his answers.

Far from perfect but a good start.

I'm suprised that Santorum is getting almost no attention. During his time in the Senate he was every conservative's favorite conservative. Now he is an after thought. Is it simply due to the fact that he is viewed as a loser, in terms of he lost his last race.

I think so. He lost that 2006 Senate race badly -- 18 points or so. It's hard to pivot from such a big loss to a presidential race.

I do think though that if people are looking for a "pure" social conservative in the field, Santorum is probably their guy.

Viewing the debate last night, I find it hard to believe that Sarah Palin won't enter the contest. Even adding the absent candidates, this has to be the weakest field I can ever remember.

Well, remember, that wasn't exactly the cream of the GOP crop on stage last night.

I think people like Romney, Huckabee, Huntsman, Daniels and Pawlenty are all serious folks with impressive resumes.

That said, there is clearly some room to run in this field. And that's why it seems to me that Mitch Daniels -- if there is a bone in his body that wants to be president -- needs to run. 

It's hard to imagine such a wide open field coming around again anytime soon.

What do you think will have more impact on Daniels's decision to run -- the laughable debate last night (i.e. there might be an opening for someone with Daniels pedigree) or the positive jobs report released today (i.e. is the GOP nomination even going to be worth having)?


I genuinely think Daniels' last remaining hurdle is his wife. She has been notably unenthusiastic about a presidential bid and there appears to be real concern that she would be a non entity on the campaign trail if he ran.

That isn't a campaign killer - Howard Dean's wife was not terribly visible during his presidential run -- but Daniels seems VERY concerned about doing something his wife isn't on board with.

Just for the record: I don't do anything that Mrs. Fix isn't supportive of.  Her judgment > my judgment.

Do you think Rick Santorum's sole reason for being in GOP debates is to hammer Mitch Daniels on the social truce if he jumps into the race?

I think it's to push a set of issues -- primarily social but some foreign policy -- that he doesn't think are being well represented by the other candidates.

From a reporter's perspective, Santorum's candidacy is GREAT news since he doesn't mind mixing it up with his rivals.

Do you think Tim Pawlenty will have trouble explaining Cap and Trade to the GOP primary voters?

He started to try last night, saying that all candidates have a "few clunkers" and that cap and trade was one of his.

If you go back and read or watch the rest of his answer to that question, it's clear he was going after Romney subtly -- pointing out that he faced down his mistakes and apologized for them rather than "bobbing" and "weaving". Hello, future line of attack!

Where did you take your talents for Cinco de Mayo?

My couch!

For the Fix Posse live blog of the 2012 debate!

Especially after seeing the caliber of 2012 GOPers last night, shouldn't Mitch Daniels get in sooner than later? Do you think he runs at all?

Unknowable. I think that a parsing of his recent public statement suggests he is leaning toward it but Daniels is pretty hard to read and keeps his own counsel.

I think he is either in or out by this time next week. He can only drag this decision out so long.

Why do I get the feeling it is just a photo of government employees watching a reaction video on youtube?

Maybe they were watching this:

How much sleep did reporters get Sunday night? I imagine there must have been a lot of scrambling to get information / report, etc? Also, I'm surprised they didn't send you on the raid. You seem like a logical choice for a super important, undercover special ops mission like that.

Snubbed -- yet again.

And the answer to your first question is not a lot.

What is Godfather's Pizza? Are they still around? Is the pizza any good?

They ARE still around, I believe. As for pizza quality, I have heard differing reports....

Fixistas? Thoughts?

What do you make of the ease in which Jon Huntsman has slipped into his role as Presidential hopeful? Do you think the strong and organized moves made by him and his political organization speak to his strength as a possible Republican nominee?

Thanks for being on the chat, Governor!

Huntsman has been back in the country for less than a week. I think he is running for president and announces it sometime in the early summer.

He is a candidate of considerable natural talent but also with lots of baggage -- Obama Administration ambassador, support for civil unions and cap and trade -- that will take some explaining to get past.

A year from now, Mitch Daniels looks more like which former presidential candidate: George H.W. Bush in 1988 or Phil Gramm in 1996?

Maybe neither if he doesn't run.

I think Daniels has the potential to be the Romney alternative in the race if he gets in, runs hard and finesses his comments about a social "truce" effectively.

That's a lot of ifs.

Can we institute a one Trump question per chat rule for Live Fix and Fix Faceoff? I get that it was funny for like a couple of weeks, but let's talk about something that matters now!

This is the one question.  So, quota met.

Why do you think people seem to love Ron Paul but he never seems to have a real shot?

His supporters LOVE him.  Passionately and completely. (Sort of like how Mrs. Fix and I feel about "Friday Night Lights" and "Arrested Development".)

But, much like both of those shows, there apparently are not enough of those people to make Ron Paul a significant factor in any presidential race.

What is the real reason Dana Milbank's chat is an hour after your chat?

We are like Superman and Bizarro Superman.  Yin and yang. Matter and antimatter.

Used to be amazing when I was about 10. Seems to only exist in the midwest now, and not that many of them.

Ok...a semi-rave review...

it doesn't matter how good or bad the pizza is. Mr. Cain turned a company that was on the brink of bankrupty to a company that had profits - in about 18 months. he knows business. he knows growing up poor. he knows a father who worked 3 or more jobs to make ends meet. He's brilliant, as he has a degree in mathematics.... ----from atlanta. BS in Math...

Fair point. His story IS compelling...

but herman cain - as usual - was fantastic. he's just awesome. i saw a little last night and they had a little of him on this morning. who can't love this guy? the more people see him - the more they love him...

The focus group GOP pollater Frank Luntz conducted after the debate certainly lined up with your thoughts.

I personally thought Pawlenty was the best. But, what do I know?

So, let me get this straight. You're saying that she actually ENDORSES what you do with us on Friday mornings?

I NEVER said that ;)

The Republicans have the elephant, while the Democrats have the donkey. Can someone create a Libertarian Party mascot and/or flag with Ron Swanson's face on it?

Or maybe just a picture of a steak?

As a democrat, I find both Daniels and Huntsman impressive. I don't of course agree with a lot of their policy positions, but both are serious, reasonable men who compromise with the other party in order to acheive results. Huntsman could be the Obama of the GOP. But doesn't this very quailty make it difficult for them to get thru Iowa and SC?


Daniels and Huntsman would both be very good general election candidates for Republicans -- perhaps the two strongest general election candidates.

But, especially with Huntsman, it's tough to see how he gets through the primary to have that chance.

Nice week by the area teams, Gary Williams quits and the Caps get swept

And Jerrelle Benimon transfers from G'town!

It seems to me that the Bin Laden news, while helping Obama right now, will be well out of people's minds when voting in '12. Isn't the media playing up the positives on Obama's re-election chances too much. An awful lot can, and will, happen between now and November '12. I still say the economy will be the main issue- as it is in just about every presidential election.

I don't think most people will have OBL on the top of their minds when they vote in November 2012.

But, that doesn't mean it doesn't matter for Obama.  Here's why:

1. The killing of OBL gives Obama the king of all comeback when Republicans attack him as dithering and/or leading from behind.

2. The way Obama handled himself this week should help burnish his leadership credentials long term -- particuarly with independents.


If Governor Daniels announces next week, where do you think he will announce? Thursday's State GOP dinner perhaps?

Circle May 12 (Indiana GOP spring dinner). I think if it's coming, that's when it's coming -- or at least that day.

Interesting sidebar: His wife is the keynote speaker of that event.

and I strongly recommend getting a Vizsla.

No. Chance.

Mrs. Fix is allergic.

How does it feel to finally make into a clip of The Daily Show and to be mocked by Jon Stewart?


I got about 50 emails/tweets when Jon Stewart freeze-framed my face! (Hello @humblebrag)

Chris, How does it feel to have had your talents on display on The Daily Show?

See above.

Now, if I could just get on as a guest rather than a "media pundit to be mocked..."

A boy can dream.

So is Loretta Lynn's. I don't think she should be president. How realistic is it for any person who has never been elected to public office to be the nominee for President of either major party,much less win the election? My answer. None.

Ah the age-old Herman Cain-Loretta Lynn comparison. If I had a dime for every time someone made that one...

How is selling pizza like running a country?

I would like both of them to allow me to do more of it online


Does Obama insulate himself from the GOP when it comes to debating his leadership on foreign policy with the killing of Bin Laden?

It certainly doesn't hurt.

Last night in the debate Santorum and Pawlenty both tried to cast the OBL killing as a successful but isolated incident in Obama's broader foreign policy.

That's the approach most Republicans will take. But remember this election is going to be about the economy and President Obama's handling of it NOT foreign policy.

The New York Republicans have been pathetic for years. Is there any canidate out on the horizon that may be able to take on Senator Gillibrand in 2012?


Have you ever voted for a Republican, ever? I mean you work for the liberal media, your from CT, and Live on MSNBC. Come Clean Mr. Fix!!!

I have never voted for a Republican. Or a Democrat. I don't vote.

Rank in order most likely to make a Political Comeback: 1. Gary Condit 2. Mark Foley 3. Chris Lee 4. Jim Mcgreevy

1. Mark Foley

2. McGreevy

3. Condit

5,678. Chris Lee

When did the music at Starbucks gets SO good. In the last 20 minutes, I have heard Elliot Smith, Radiohead and the Shins.

I find it interesting that in Montana Jon Tester appears to be headed for the fight of his political life. While Max Baucus has never had serious resistance. Is it timing or is Baucus a better candidate than Tester?

Tester barely got elected in a VERy good year for Democrats nationally (2006). And Republicans are going to nominate Rep. Denny Rehberg -- their best candidate by far.

I think Tester has a tough race but wouldn't count him out. All polling I have seen shows Tester and Rehberg basically tied.

You didn't vote before you became a journalist?

I did not.

There's one close to my cousins, they liked it enough to have their rehearsal dinner there and then again for their son's 2nd birthday (a few years later). The pizza was...actually quite good.


but - no one thought anyone could beat Bush I in 1992, which is why we had such a lackluster showing of candidates. Then we got Clinton - he never thought he could win and people agreed with him...he was looking for name recognition - and then he got 8 years (the first D in how many decades?). And...2012 is also a 'reshifting' if you will of electoral votes...hmmmm....

I agree that people who proclaimed Obama unbeatable in the wake of the OBL killing were WAY overstating it.

We in the media have a tendency to assume that whatever is dominating the news right now is the thing on which the election will be decided.

It's usually not true.

That said, I think the killing of OBL does matter in a meaningful way to Obama's image and attacks on his approach to national security.

What is it with conservatives and pizza? Domino's had Tom Monaghan (who sold it to Bain Capital...hmmm?) and now we've got Godfather's Herman Cain. Is there something about dough, cheese, and sauce that goes to the brain? Anyone know the political affiliation of California Pizza Kitchen?

And what about Pizza Hut?

I for one find the Frank Luntz Focus Groups to be cute. Frank, in his own sheepishly ingratiating way, prefaces the question by "I'm going to get in trouble for this" and then impishly asks the question anyway: "How many of you think President Obama is a socialist?" Like obedient schoolchildren every hand shoots up in a cute "pick me, pick me" way. Why even Sean Hannity, the scamp, chimes in with a "me too". Reminds me of when the parents came to observe class on Parents Day. Everyone so eager to please.

I feel like those immediate reaction focus groups and insta-reaction polls are like looking at the sun: you know you're not supposed to do it but it's kind of hard to resist.

Sorry for that brief interlude. Someone turned the Internet off.

Did you have no interest in politics prior to becoming a journalist? Were you part of America's vast number of disaffected youth?

I had NO interest. I wanted to be a sports reporter or novelist.

Now, I have the zeal of the converted.

I know you're pushing Mitch Daniels, but don't you think his voucher program that he just signed is going to turn off the independents? Church/State/Constitution? And also, please explain to me where Obama's "foreign policy" is so bad, and what the Republicans would do instead.

Not pushing at all.

And, Daniels definitely will have issues with his record from 8 years as Indiana governor.

My point is that the field is VERY wide open and someone has to win. If you are Daniels -- or anyone else standing on the sidelines and weighing whether to run -- it's hard not to get in given that.

If I'm voting for a pizza mogul, it's for Papa John. Have you tried their dipping sauces?

I am partial to the Dominos "we suck but we are working on it" ad campaign.

Also, my roomate in college ate Dominos pizza twice a day most days. a truly remarkable streak that will never be matched.

You will have to hold your nose, the guy went to 'nova, but he is pretty good: Lucas Carpenter. Saw him at a show in Philly, then found his past stuff on iTunes. Maybe Villanova has produced another Jim Croce.

Is Villanova still an accredited university?

And, I will check him out. Some recommended The Features to me yesterday. Also on the "need to check out:" list.

My favorite bad at the moment? Mouse Rat, of course.

In addition to the ones you cited, he, like Romney, is a Mormon--a very, very difficult sell on its own to many Iowa Republicans.

Fair point.

Since when does running a mediocre pizza chain qualify one to run the country? Really? No government experience at all? Am I the only who thinks there's only ONE REASON Herman Cain was even on that stage last night--a reason that's staring everyone in the face but no one seems to want to bring up?

Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. 

Cain was solid in the debate and did the best of the 2nd/3rd tier candidates. I don't know anyone who thinks Cain is a potential nominee or even a serious factor in the nomination fight.

Give the guy credit: he did well with the opportunity afforded to him last night. But be careful in making too many hard and fast conclusions based on a 5-person debate in May 2009.

Hey when's the next trivia night? I feel bad I missed the last few. Trying to put together a team. Thanks

Next "Politics and Pints" is THIS coming Monday. 7-9 pm. Capitol Lounge on the Hill.

Come one, come all. Seriously, these things are fun.

Where are the transcripts of prior fixes? The last one is March 18th!

We will get on that. Apologies.

If Gov Daniels does decided to run ( which I hope he does) I would be worried about his minimal FP experience. Do you think there is any chance someone like Condi Rice could be convinced to join a 2012 GOP ticket? Daniels/Condi 2012 (DREAM TICKET!)

I think, at least for the moment, that Marco Rubio is the default VP pick for Republicans at the moment.

Kind of like in pickup football when the one really good guy is permanent quarterback for both teams.

That's okay. People did the same thing to the Republican debate last night.



Will there be any backlash against the other candidates, for not even showing up?

I really don't think so. I have a feeling that when we are in the middle of the 10th GOP primary debate NO ONE is going to say "Why didn't Mitt Romney show up to that debate back in May?"

How come we're fixistas and not fixers? The latter sounds pretty darn cool, if not a touch illegal.

It's a fair point.

I do kind of like the idea of people who dig the blog being like George Clooney in Michael Clayton.

not even for American Idol? What about when they had that big vote on the next color of the new M&M?

For "Idol" I vote. Though the fact thaty Casey Abrahms is gone and Haley is still around made me die inside a little bit.

Ok, I am out!  Sorry for the brief interuption in the chat but think of it like intermission at an opera -- deep down you know you wanted the break ;)

Have a wonderful weekend. See you Monday for our live VIDEO chat aka the Fix Face-offs.


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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