Sep 03, 2010

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

Gooood morning!!!!!

Thanks for spending part of this getaway day with me...for the next hour I will attempt to answer questions on Lisa Murkowski, Jan Brewer, the fight for control of the House, Nyjer Morgan, and the Catholic University field hockey team's 13-0 smashing of Virginia Wesleyan on Wednesday.

Soundtrack for chat: John Prine station on Pandora

Drink of choice: Caramel vanilla latte from Greenberry's


So, how bad a week did Jan Brewer, uh.......................... know?

Oh. My. Gosh.

I have seen a lot of awkwardness in my time covering politics but that Brewer's brain freeze ranks right up there.

Watching the video, I was shouting "say something...anything"; it was genuinely painful to watch.

Brewer was considered very vulnerable prior to her decision to sign the state's immigration law in the spring -- and now we can see why.

I still think she is the favorite in the fall -- thanks to the popularity of the immigration law -- but a slip-up like that debate has to be a very worrying sign for Republican strategists.

It certainly gave me pause.


 Brewer video: Ariz. governor pauses during debate

Jan Brewer looked about as sharp as James Bond Stockdale (lousy debater, but very cool name) in his debate with Gore and Quayle. I'm guessing that her performance doesn't hurt her much and she stands almost zero chance of losing no matter how poor she performs from here on out. Should the Democrats stop getting their hopes up?

I do think that it will force everyone to take another look at the race. Terry Goddard, the state AG, is a credible Democrat if Arizona voters decide that they can't stomach voting for Brewer.

Still, the immigration law has given Brewer a major boost and she is likely to ride out this storm -- assuming she doesn't have any more, um, moments like that one.

I have been hearing a lot of people make a lot of hype about the Gallup poll that shows Republicans with a 10 point edge. Don't people realize that Gallup is a very flawed poll and that it is taken daily? I am reminded of a famous saying: "Candidates who live by the tracking poll, die by the tracking poll.

I think you're right to add a bit of skepticism to any one poll. 

But, the 10 point GOp generic ballot lead is the result not of a daily poll but a weekly tracking poll -- making it potentially more worrisome for Democrats.

Remember that the generic is rightly understood as a political weathervane of sorts; it tells us which way the wind is blowing and how hard.  It isn't a guide to who will win any specific race.

Why is it that so many people stay home more during the midterm elections?

Someone put it to me in a way that seems to make sense. Here it is:

Lots of people watch the Superbowl who aren't big football fans and who would never watch a mid-season game between the Giants and the 49ers (for example).

A presidential election is like the Superbowl; it draws in lots of casual political people to vote. Midterm elections are like that mid-season game...less interest from anyone but the die hards.

What is going on in Co? Are the Republicans trying to kick out their own nominee?

Dan Maes has been something less than a success since winning the republican nod earlier this month.

Would Republicans like him to step aside so someone like, for example, Jane Norton could step in?  Yup.

Will he? I think there is a chance of that happening but Maes would need to do it soon to preserve any chance for Republicans to win the race.

Great analogy - makes a lot of sense.

Thanks. It made sense to me too.

By the way, I like pro football more than college football. Does that make me a bad guy?

Is it really possible that John Dingell (D-MI) could get knocked off this cycle?

Probably not.

Dingell represents a district that President Obama won with 66 percent in 2008.

If districts like that are competitive, Democrats would lose 80+ seats. And I just don't see any way that happens.

Morning, I'm suprised that so many states hold their primaries so late in the calendar year, like New York and New Hampshire. If one side has a divisive race, the late date appears to give the winner little time to unite the party and raise enough funds for the general. Meanwhile the other side usually has already picked its nominee, who is busy stockpiling funds and often winds up being a presumptive favorite. Why do the parties in these and other states continue this practice...or am I missing something? Thanks

The Northeast has a tradition of these late primaries. And, yes, the parties would MUCH rather have these votes earlier.

The best example of how a primary can complicate things is in New Hampshire where Kelly Ayotte is having to focus all of her time and energy on winning the GOP Senate nod (against two self funders and a conservative) while Rep. Paul Hodes (D) is free to stockpile money and bash Ayotte.

The counter argument of course is that a win in a late primary gives a candidate significant momentum heading into the general election less than two months away.

The Fix: I like pro football more than college football. Does that make me a bad guy? No. It just makes you someone who didn't attend a big-time football school. Go Bears!

Georgetown is not a big time football school? How dare you!


Why was Bill Clinton wasting his time down in Tennessee for a governor's race that is already lost? Shouldn't Democrats be putting him to maximize use in states where Democrats are likely to more competitive?

Remember that Bill Clinton prizes political loyalty VERY highly. It's why he has done so much for Kendrick Meek in the Florida Senate race; he and Bill Clinton have known one another for years and Meek was an earlier endorser of Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.

I think Bill Clinton listens to where the national party wants him to go but I also think he does his own thing a fair amount of the time.

Hello Chris! Is it too early to talk about 2016? If not, then may I suggest a candidate? I think Andrew Cuomo would run in 2016. Do you have a thoughts on this?

NEVER too early.

Much of the handicapping depends on whether Obama is re-elected in 2012.

If he is and the nomination fights are open on both sides, I would put Cuomo and Mark Warner in the mix on the Democratic side.  And maybe Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio and John Thune for Republicans?

Guess work. But fun guess work.

What do you make of Eric Cantor's new book along with Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy? Is Cantor going to challenge Boehner for the speakership, or does he have his eyes on higher office--i.e. Jim Webb in 2012 or the presidency?

I can't imagine Boehner could be beaten for Speaker if Republicans take over the House this fall BUT I think it is very odd that the book about the new generation of Republicans -- a Cantor project -- doesn't even include him.

Cantor's options for statewide office are somewhat limited. George Allen is looking more and more like a candidate for Senate in 2012 whether or not Webb runs for re-election.

And, in 2013 there is a big line of Republicans -- Bill Bolling, Ken Cuccinelli etc -- in the governors mix.

So, maybe Cantor does take a shot at the speakership. Or bides his time in a secondary role...

We have all heard that Bloomberg is not running in 2012. I think I will take him at his word, but what about 2016?

Unknowable. I think it's unlikely but Bloomberg is a billionaire who will have spent more than a decade running the largest city in the country.

So, who knows?

How has Ron Johnson been able to gain traction in Wisconsin so quickly? He was an unknown a couple of months ago, and now he's about even money to be their next senator.

1. He has spent $4 million on ads

2. The Wisconsin economy is in bad shape

3. Obama's numbers are in bad shape in the state

4. He has never run for office before, has no voting record and can cast himself as an outsider.

It's that simple. And, I can tell you Democrats are very worried.

Good morning Chris. Is there any chance Christine "They're hiding in the bushes" O'Donnell pulls a Joe Miller on Mike Castle?

I don't think so.

The best thing that happened to Mike Castle was Lisa Murkowski's loss. It woke he and his team up to the possibility that in a low turnout primary in a small population state crazy things can happen.

The increased aggressiveness from the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Castle campaign are a signal that they are taking no chances of a Murkowski repeat in the First State.

Plus, when the national spotlight has turned on O'Donnell she has been way short of impressive.

Will Murkowski run again in any future elections? Or do you think she's done with being the candidate?

Not sure. Alaska is such a Republican state that to get back into politics, Murkowski would almost certainly have to primary someone to get back into the mix.

And with her record on abortion issues, it might be difficult to win a primary given that intraparty contests almost always turn out the most conservative voters.

I've noticed that you like to emphasize phrases by placing a period after each word. Just. Like. This. I guess each chatter has their own writing quirks. Back when Anne Kornblut did chats, she would start off every answer with a chirpy "That's a great question!" and then go on to use about two or three more exclamation points. So my question is have you thought about mixing up your style? Less periods and maybe more semi-colons, ellipses? It would help to freshen up your game.

I don't know....periods are so fun to use FOR emphasis...changing things up...kind of...worries me!!!

I don't understand why that massive pause could be damaging to Brewer. Yes, it was painful to watch, but I would think most people can identify with an awful public speaking experience. I would think that saying something incredibly inflammatory (Tennessee) or untrue (Colorado) would be much more damaging. Did this gaffe feed into a reputation of a Quayle-like intellect? Then it would make more sense to me.


Fair point. Having been nervous on television before, I can definitely identify. BUT, she is the governor of the state. And, she was giving her opening's not as though she was being asked a question that she didn't know the answer to.

What is your relationship to the Catholic University field hockey team? (I'm a new reader and just curious @ your fixation on this in your discussions.)

Mrs. Fix is the head coach of the 1-0 CUA Field Hockey team.

You are number 1 in my book. BTW, I only watch the Gators and The Crimson Tide college ball.

Roll Tide!

How is Rand Paul doing? The MSM only seem to cover him when he makes a controversial statement, but how do the voters in his state view him>

The more Rand Paul stays out of the national news, the better for his chances of winning.

Paul committed a pretty major faux pas a few weeks ago when he suggested that drugs were not a major problem in eastern kentucky (they are) and Jack Conway's campaign pounced -- and continues to try and churn the issue.

But, there's a poll out this morning that shows Paul up 5.  Paul is almost certain to benefit from the conservative nature of the Bluegrass State AND the Republican-friendly national political environment.

Assuming there are no Uncle Festers lurking in McAdams background, I'm seeing polls putting him only 6 points behind Miller. A small amount of money can go a long way in Alaska...does the DSCC throw some cash into the 49th state?

That's the question.

Remember that Alaska is a pretty conservative place. And, remember that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has a lot of other things to worry about.

With such a big playing field, I am skeptical the party sends money to Alaska unless Joe Miller says or does something that casts him as badly out of step with the state's voters.

Please don't tell me that Russell Feinberg could be knocked off. He is a classic senator: measured, thoughtful, and likeable. He seems to be a workhorse in the Senate, but is he a workhorse in a campaign?

Feingold is an able campaigner (and fundraiser). But, he is running in a swing state in a year where Republicans have the momentum.

And his opponent is the perfect fit to carry the outsider message against Feingold who has been in elected office since 1982.

I know it is too early, but what do you think the odds are of Murkowski running against Begich in 2014?

That's a possibility...but would she have a Republican primary race to fight through? If so, it might be tough for her to win it.

Begich will almost certainly be a top Republican target no matter who the GOP nominee is.

Friend keep telling me there's a rumor amongst journalists and policy geeks that Obama won't run again in 2012, that he will voluntarily be a one-term president. I haven't seen a single print source suggest this (let alone any 'reputable' print sources.) Have you heard anything about this? What are the chances there is a kernel of truth to the scenario?

Not one kernel.

and the debate format isn't your forte, why agree to any debates in the first place?

She agreed to one. Probably because you are the sitting governor and you can't duck all debates...

Just about every answer you give contains some reference to money and the large sums needed to buy, er win, an office. Any reason why we shouldn't find this a tad bit depressing?

Sure...if you own a television station in any of these states, this news will be incredibly welcome.  Start building that new wing on the house!

It's FEWER periods, Mr. Language Guy. And yes, G'town is a major football school...they play tackle on the hardwood.



Do you take medications (besides caffeine and sugar) for your Hyperactiveness Disorder?

Um, what? I am just intellectually curious! (Or that's what Fix Mom tells me...)

So...if the Republicans win 30 House seats and five Senate seats, are Democrats the winners?

Probably yes.

I think the expectation now is that Republicans will take over the House and gain 8 (or so) seats in the Senate.

Those are lofty goals given where this cycle started -- a Republican party demoralized after a crushing presidential loss in 2008 -- and could set the stage for a bit of Democratic overperformance at the ballot box this fall.

Who was the biggest shock and who was the least biggest shock? Marco Rubio being over 30 points behind Charlie Crist to his win? Rand Paul beating Kentucky's secretary of state (that's the least shocking one for me) Pat Tomey forcing Arlen Spector out of the Republican party? Sharron Angle's win over Sue Lowden? Jane Norton, despite embracing the far right, losing the late-comer Ken Buck? Joe Miller's win over Lisa Murkowski? Actually if you look a year ago, there have been a couple shockers.

There have been LOTS of shockers this year.

I think Miller's win is the biggest upset. But, Sharron Angle's win is pretty amazing as is Marco Rubio driving Charlie Crist out of the Republican party.

I'm not saying you do, but how you balance on writing a balanced and objective post versus writing a post that reads like it could have been written by the Republican National Committee?

It's easy. I like the sport of politics, not the ideological elements.

So, I am naturally drawn to the personalities, the statistics and the history of campaigns and politics rather than the partisan knife-fighting.

As I recall, didn't every poll have Mark Begich behind Ted Stevens and even The Fix was predicting Ted Stevens' would get re-elected narrowly...

And remember that on election night Stevens was winning but Begich caught up and passed him on absentees!

It is Hyperactivity disorder and leave Chris alone.

Thanks, Mom!

Since Lee Fisher has imploded in the Senate race, the only action here in Ohio seems to be the governor's race. Strickland seems to be grasping at straws, then commuted a death sentence in a case where there were three eyewitness identifications of the killer. Will the DGA even bother to throw much money into this race?

The DGA has already put a bunch of money into the race as has the RGA. And each side will spend lots more.

A few months ago Democrats i talked to were optimistic about Strickland's chances but, of late, there is some pessimism creeping in to their analysis.

The RGA has spent four million dollars pummeling Strickland and the state of the state's economy isn't helping things.

Russ Feingold is such his own man that he's an outsider in his own Senate. Couldn't we use a few more like him?

That's the Feingold message for sure. And, it may work. But, he has been in elected office for the last 28 years straight...a fact Ron Johnson and national Republicans are sure to make a centerpiece of their messaging.

Meg Whitman. 150 million by November?

At least.  I say, conservatively, $175 million.

Now that the NYT has signed up Nate Silver (the Stephen Strasburg of politics, without the injuries), who is the Post going to draft to compete or do you just have to work harder?

If Nate is Stephen Strasburg, can I be Livan Hernandez?

Under Arizona's Clean Elections Law, candidates that receive public funding, such as Brewer and Goddard, must do at least one public debate.

So, she had to debate once. And, I am going to bet that she won't be debating again.

Any chances that the GOP's strong move against O'Donnell will increase anti-GOP sentiment among Tea-Partiers in other states? (It sounds like the lady is nuts, but Castle and co.'s rhetoric against her is still pretty harsh.)

I am skeptical. Plus, 80+ percent of tea parties say they agree with the Republican party more than the Democratic party so when faced with a choice between the two major parties in the fall, I think it's likely they stay with the GOP candidate.

If all else fails, John Boehner can always join the next cast of "Dancing with the Stars," since he already has the requisite orange spray tan!

Early Fix favorite for the next "Dancing with the Stars" season: David Hasselhoff.

You do not hassle the 'Hoff.

Is he ever wrong? He's predicting bad things for the Dems, and I am sad.

All prognosticators- including the ole Fix -- have the potential to be wrong. It;'s like a weatherman: you look at current trends, historical data and try to project what it all means.

But, because it's a projection, it means that things can -- and sometimes do -- change.

Is that likely this time? I don't think so.

Are rhetorical questions the crutch of a lazy writer? Definitely.

Why would she even want that job, never mind spend that ridiculous sum of money to get it? To me, never mind whether I'd vote for her (I wouldn't it), it smacks of total stupidity. If I could afford to flush that much money down the drain, I'd have much better uses for it. Philanthropy is one.

I have NO idea. But remember that Whitman is a billionaire so she can spend $175 million on the governors race AND give to charity AND have a nice house etc.


Since Nate Silver is now on NYT's payroll, why doesn't CNN wise up and make you CC the new Larry King? Politics, sports and pop culture. What else is there?

Forwarding this to the cable exec big wigs as we speak...look out Piers Morgan!

Can you please explain to me why Boehner is so unbeatable as potential speaker? I'm in his district, and have never understood his success beyond this area, which is staunchly Republican. puzzled in Ohio

Not unbeatable just not likely to be beaten.

Because he will have raised and donated upwards of $8 million to the House Republican campaign committee's efforts by the end of this cycle and have played a leadership role in crafting the strategy that put his party back into the majority.

Given all of that, Boehner will have some serious momentum within the GOP caucus. It's not a done deal but he would have to be considered the favorite.

Sure, and feel free to grab another donut.

Done and done!

I know you have weighed in to the contrary, but I still say the 2016 presidential race on the D-side will not truly begin until HRC finds her inner William T. Sherman. Until she actually says no (and means it), there is no place for anyone else on that side of the aisle.

Agreed. I don't think she would run again but the Clintons have politics coursing through their to handicap the field until we know HRC is out (and staying out) is a mistake.

What about a Petraeus 2016 candidacy?

Be nice to Chris guys.

Thanks again, Mom.

Have to run...about to publish our Line of the 10 most influential Republicans on the Fix...stay tuned for that.

Have a great (long) weekend.  Just 60 days until the election!


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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