The Washington Post

The Fix Live

Feb 24, 2012

Chat live with The Fix's Aaron Blake about the latest political news.

Hey everyone!

Welcome to the latest edition of The Fix live chat.

Before we get started, I have a bone to pick with each and every one of you. Last week, despite Lin-sanity having captivated the nation AND my efforts to goad you into a discussion about Jeremy Lin, I did not get one question about the Super Lintendo phenomenon. I expect all of you to over-compensate this week with a deluge of Jeremy Lin questions.

Also worth talking about: the Michigan primary, Super Tuesday, Wednesday's debate, Chris Cillizza's mysterious whereabouts, and just how adorable my puppy is.

So have at it. Fire away...

Hi Aaron, Do you think anyone will care that at one time Marco Rubio was Mormon? Now he is a Catholic that attends a Baptist church. Is covering all the bases a good thing for potential VP choice?

The primaries have proven that this is an issue for evangelical voters -- I don't think many people would dispute that.

But given that this occurred when Rubio was 8 years old and that he soonafter became a Catholic, I doubt it would be a problem on the scale of Romney's problem.

The Fix's Rachel Weiner had a good take on this yesterday.

Does he realize he's fast approaching the magic line where he won't be needed anymore?


What percentage would you give Christie on winning reelection in New Jersey? Should he consider going the Romney route in order to not risk losing and ace that hanging over him if he ever runs for the presidency?

Romney had a better excuse, because his reelection race would have been two years before the presidential race. It makes more sense that he didn't want to win reelection just to start campaigning for president right away.

Christie's situation is a bit more complicated. His election is three years before the GOP contest, and it's also a very high-profile governor's race, given that it's basically the only game in town that year (along with Virginia). I think Christie pays a bigger price if he doesn't seek reelection and try to hold a tough state in the GOP column. But is it a game-changer? Not necessarily.

I will say that Christie remains popular in New Jersey. A recent poll had him over 50 percent approval, which is great in a state that is very hard on its politicians.

Your puppy is very cute. So is your purse.

It's a European carry-all!

Did you have to get approval from Chris Cillizza to get that puppy?

No, and while the boss is away, I'm also christening my dog's new nickname: Fix Dog.

She'll never hold political office again, right? What do you see as her future? I'm thinking it looks something like Oliver North's, after his failed run for Senate in 1994. Speaking engagements, radio and TV appearances, maybe a ghostwritten column, but generally irrelevant to anyone not in the most conservative 5-10 percent of the electorate.

The one thing I was struck by is how she said in her e-mails that it was all just too much for her family to handle. That to me shows that she'll never run for office again. If she thought being governor of Alaska was hard on her family, she will never be able to run a presidential campaign.

Do you think Republican backers are kicking themselves for not providing Tim Pawlenty with $$$ and a pep talk when they had the chance? He was similar to Rick Santorum in likeability and other factors but without the extreme cuture war opinions. (Huge overgeneralization, I know.) I could imagine a parallel universe where Tim Pawlenty is cleaning up as the anti-Romney.

This is a popular hypothetical right now, but I'm not sure it holds water. Santorum is much more of a contrast to Romney, which is why he has caught on like he has. I'm just not sure Pawlenty provided that contrast; I don't think he was a great anti-Romney candidate -- which we found at at that New Hampshire debate.

What do you see as his chances as a VP for Romney? Does he have any obvious positives? Negatives?

Lots of positives. The party establishment loves him. But that's also his biggest negative.

Daniels's biggest liability is his past calls for Republicans to accept a "truce" on social issues. We saw in Virginia this week what happens when a Republican (Bob McDonnell) doesn't toe the line on social issues, and Daniels doesn't exactly play ball with the GOP base on that stuff. It would be something he has to deal with.

Interesting that evangelicals have such a problem with a Mormon candidate, but none with two Catholics (Santorum & Newt). Back in 1960, evangelicals were the voters with the most objections to JFK's Catholicism -- that's why Kennedy had to struggle so much to perform well in the South.

My how things change.

The main hang-up here is that evangelicals don't really see Mormonism as a Christian religion, whereas they do see Catholicism as Christianity.

I think an argument could be made that, much like how protestants began to accept Catholics after JFK won the presidency, the same could happen with Mormons if Romney is president. But for right now, the uncertainty is palpable.

Jeremy Lin--76 TO, 506 min Derrick Rose--73 TO, 882 min Settle down, Knicks fans and/or East Coast political reporters who know nothing about basketball. I'm excepting you from this though, young Blake.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Jeremy Lin is Tim Tebow if Tim Tebow threw for 275 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs every game.

Rank the Republicans by degree of damage suffered: Michelle Bachmann Chip Cravaack John Kline Erik Paulsen

Most damage to least:

1. Kline

2. Cravaack

3. Bachmann

4. Paulsen

From your picture WaPo uses for the Live Chat, you do resemble the newest cast member of 'Downton Abbey' IMHO

Still better than that kid from Glee.

Weren't you in that car insurance commercial? Your wife bought the "carry-all", right?

Wasn't it a Bud Light commercial? But it was Seinfeld first...

Are Republicans *insane* to talk about them as presidential candidates? The brother of a widely despised former president? The author of a generally loathed Medicare plan? Why not just dig up Nixon and run him again. He'd get more votes.

I'm very skeptical that either of these guys would do it or that they would necessarily solve the GOP's problems.

We certainly are great at idealizing people who aren't running for president, aren't we?

How do we know that you are who you say you are? For all we know, you could be Cillizza writing behind a pretty face and a pseudonym to ferret out his enemies...

Cillizza couldn't possibly go through a whole hour-long chat without a Georgetown basketball reference or talking about one of his fancy-pants new bands.

If that's not proof that I'm not him, I don't know what to tell you.

I've reading some of these articles about how Republicans are going to win control of the U.S. Senate, but it seems a bit flawed to me. Nearly all of them elections where the Democrat isn't really in that much trouble such as Klobucher in Minn., Casey in Pa., Cantwell in Wash., etc...

The thing is that, while the GOP might have to win seats in MN, WA and PA in a normal year to win the Senate, that's not the case this year. This year, all they have to do is win states that are likely to go for the GOP presidential nominee -- NE, MO, MT, ND -- and they've already gotten to the majority (assuming they don't lose a seat). There are twice as many Democratic seats up this year, which is why we're still talking about the GOP competing for the Senate majority even though momentum has returned to Democrats a bit.

How badly have his VP chances been hurt by the ultrasound controversy? What does this tell us about the power of the entertainment media to drive the political conversation?

There is still a lot of time, but if there is a social conservative backlash over this, then it would make him a less-attractive running mate, for sure -- for the same reason I mentioned when we talked about Mitch Daniels.

Totally anecdotal, but I find people in New Jersey are a bit sick of the bully stuff and I don't think he'll have a cake walk to reelection which if he loses then his presidential ambitions will go the route of Sen. Allen.

I don't think it was ever going to be a cake walk; he's a Republican in New Jersey. But he's regarded pretty highly right now.

The big question is whether Cory Booker runs against him. The two of them are pretty buddy-buddy, but they could be opponents in 2013. Either way, people like The Fix are anxiously awaiting Booker's entry on to the national stage. Should be fun to watch.

A few months ago I asked Chris what his favorite redistricting story has been so far. His response was the Berman-Sherman showdown in the San Fernando Valley. Do you agree? If not, what's yours?

I think that's a fascinating story -- former House chairman against more of a grassroots guy.

I'll throw another one out there, though: the matchup in New Jersey between Reps. Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman. It's another establishment (Pascrell) versus grassroots (Rothman) kind of campaign, and knowing New Jersey politics like I do, I'm sure there will be some very interesting (ahem) moments.

It was a Progressive Insurance commercial featuring Flo (man, I can't stand her!) Go JLi (for Jeremy Lin)

Do people actually like Flo? Does she test well in focus groups? I just don't see it...

And to your point: Yes, I think this has been done many times by a few different advertisers.

You'll notice that all the women carry purses and all the men carry backpacks. There's no reason for the dichotomy except sex differentiation.

Offered without comment.

Begs the question, do you assume not one Republican incumbent will lose his or her seat next November?

I think, right now, it's hard to give either Scott Brown or Dean Heller much better than 50-50 odds. The GOP could pick off a few seats and still lose one or both of these -- more likely Brown, IMO.

I think your analogy is correct, except when the path from college to starting in the pros is considered. I can't really fault Tebow for the circus and criticism that came with a first round draft selection and ensuing preemptive fan adulation, but Lin's story just seems universally more compelling. I think he is not unlike Kurt Warner. Thoughts?

Agree totally. The Warner comparison is much more apt, especially since he was a gun-slinger type more than a "just-win" type, which is what Tebow is. If Lin was scoring only 10 points but approaching a triple-double every game, then he would be Tebow.

My expectation: Romney wins narrowly statewide, but Santorum picks up a fair number of delegates in congressional districts in conservative western Michigan. How would the media cover such a result?

Right now, the delegate race is secondary. The moment that changes is if and when they really split up the Super Tuesday states, thereby making it clear that this will continue for a long time.

For now, it's still about winning.

Any chance Andrews makes a run at Christie? He seems to always want to run for higher office.

I think Andrews spent his political capital when he ran that ill-fated primary against Sen. Lautenberg. I doubt the party power-brokers would stand by and let him win the nomination.

Why do DC residents freak out over lobster rolls?

I don't get it either. Not nearly as good as Lobster Macaroni and Cheese.

Come on now, you know better than to drop a picture without a name...tsk, tsk

His name is Mauer -- as in Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins.

Interesting race to watch. Centrist Democrat -- but with strong ties to Obama and to feminist causes -- running in a purple-to-red state against a large, but not-that-impressive Republican field. You have any insights?

The GOP field here has really struggled, but the national GOP is extremely confident they will still pull this one out.

This state, more than others, has drifted towards the GOP since 2006, and they are counting on the GOP presidential candidate scoring a big win. If that happens, it will be very tough for McCaskill to win, regardless of who her opponent is.

This race reminds me a little of Arkansas, where back-bench congressman (John Boozman) beat a moderately popular Democratic incumbent by a huge margin in 2010 just because of the environment. Missouri isn't as conservative as Arkansas, of course, but the point stands.

Will Frank Lautenberg retire? If so, who runs to replace him?

He was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and will turn 90 in 2014, so retirement is a good possibility. You've got to look at a few people: Booker, state Senate President Steve Sweeney, Rep. Frank Pallone on the Democratic side, and Rep. Leonard Lance on the GOP side.

What are her chances as a presidential candidate? She has been ALL OVER the contraception controversy, which is a huge issue for a lot of feminist-minded women.

This is the topic of much discussion in the Washington Post newsroom these days. She's banking huge amounts of money for a less-than-difficult reelection campaign this year, and she's got a great profile.

When you look at which women could run for president in the future, I think she's got to be on that list.

So your puppy is cute but you only see him 25% of the time?

Ouch. Just ouch.

We know the usual contenders -- Rubio, McDonnell, Daniels, Martinez, Christie. Any dark horses?


John Thune?



And why is nobody mentioning Mike Huckabee?

Thanks everyone for coming out!

Lots of great questions today, and I'm sure there will be even more next week when The Fix Boss will be back to answer them.

In the meantime, stay tuned to The Fix for our coverage of Tuesday's primaries in Michigan and Arizona.

Have a great weekend!

In This Chat
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake covers national politics at the Washington Post, where he writes regularly for the Fix, the Post?s top political blog. A Minnesota native and summa cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota, Aaron has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Hill newspaper. Aaron and his wife, Danielle, live in Annandale, Va.
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