The Fix Live: Analyzing Obama's remarks on the Trayvon Martin case, and more

Mar 23, 2012

What do you think of President Obama's remarks on the Trayvon Martin case? Live chat with The Fix's Chris Cillizza on this topic and more.

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Good morning everyone.

Busy day: President Obama comments on Trayvon Martin, the 2 year anniversary of health care reform, our first ranking of the 2012 veepstakes and Louisiana's primary tomorrow.

Let's go!

hmmm Is this a generic "there but for the grace..." comment, or a more racially charged "it is a black thing", or... I think we can make waaaay to much of this attempt for the Pres to be connected to the great unwashed rest of us.

My sense is that Obama knew he had to -- and wanted to -- comment about the death of Trayvon Martin.

At the same time, he knows this is an ongoing investigation and doesn't want to comment on the specifics of the case.

I thought what he said was quite powerful, as it often is when he talks in personal terms.

Here's the piece I just posted on that: Link

I'm curious as to how a person can claim self- defense when they were the aggressor. And who the heck is this guy, that police will take his word without an investigation, when someone's life has been taken ???

The investigation is I said above.

But how much of opposition to Obama is driven by factors he can never change? The color of his skin. The exotic-sounding name. The unusual background. What's the view of this within the Obama camp?

How much is Romney? Mormon. Wealthy.  Son of privilege.

I think that's what politics is about. Finding way to put the things you can't change in a positive light.

I agree with you about how appealing Obama can be when he talks about his family. People really like him as a husband and father. Do you expect we will see more of this later in the year?

I think he would be smart to pursue that course.

Obama as husband and father is far more popular than Obama the president. Republicans will keep trying to turn it back to policy, smartly, but the more Obama talks in personal terms -- even about policy -- the better he will do.

Actual possibility or just my wildest dream?

Well, she said no.

Of course, that means nothing.

Do you think President Obama's comments about Trayvon Martin were politically savvy?

Yes, though I don't think he was thinking first and foremost about politics. 

Here's my piece on it:

What do Romney and Santorum say about all this? Atfer all, they're the ones who support the types of NRA-sponsored laws that the Trayvon Martin debacle possible in the first place.

Well, now that Obama has said something, there will be pressure for Romney and, to a lesser extent, Santorum to say something too.

Is it too early to tell what effect the shooting of the teenager in FL will have on the pres race, if any? Can you game out possible scenarios or do you think this tragedy is localized to the black community ?

way too early.


As an outside the Belter, I wonder how much the process of campaign gaffes, etc.. really matter at this point. A lot of regular folks won't even start to pay attention until Sept and Oct. That being said, I could script an Obama campaign ad just off the last couple of weeks... Etch a sketch, don't care about poor people, let Detroit go bankrupt, use Mass Healthcare Mandate as roadmap for the country, Santorum's might as well stick with Obama, and to finsih with some humor, the dog on top of the car ... So how much do these gaffes matter?

I don't think any ONE gaffe matters all that much. But, sometimes little things become big things -- particularly when they play into an existing stereotype about a candidate.

Etch a Sketch has that potential. 

My piece here:

How critical is the state to Santorum and does he have a chance of winning it?


And, yes, he has a chance to win it because the state does have a strong tea party contingent. But, it's evangelical population is far lower than other plains/southern states Santorum has won.

Romney has also done quite well in the Upper Midwest -- Illinois, Ohio and Michigan -- so far in the primary process.

We've seen polls on Obama's job approval bounce around quite a bit over the past few weeks, although polling averages remain around 47-48% (especially if you drop the recent CBS-NY Times poll, which looks more and more like an outlier). Rank these views in order of popularity among political insiders: (A) Just statistical noise. Nothing to see here, folks. Still looks like a close race in the fall. (B) Gas prices are hurting Obama. (C) Don't focus on day-to-day polls, look at the economic numbers. Starting to look pretty good for Obama. (D) Middle East tensions are hurting Obama.





The economy keeps improving, and Obama's approval rating on election eve (in the RCP and averages) hits 51%. He beats Romney 52%-47% (no significant third party vote), and carries every state he won last time except Indiana and North Carolina. Colorado puts him over the top just before midnight. Ohio and Florida keep political junkies up close to dawn -- but in the end, both states go for Obama..

Man. That is terrific. Just saved me months of long nights.

And, Colorado is going to be tougher for Obama than I think a lot of people believe right now.

KC & the Sunshine Band, "Shake Shake Shake." Any others?

Romney official band: Alabama Shakes.

Was never that big into Etch A Sketch. Maybe during this campaign season, the "Slinky" will be referenced

Or Teddy Ruxpin. Or the Garbage Pail Kids.

He won't be the veep candidate. There's no way. He is more charismatic and a better attack dog than he gets credit for. It's all about Obamneycare. Sure, he held back at the debate (ruining his own chances at Pres.), but he is on video that kills him when combined w/Romney's own words about mandates.

I agree he's not the likely pick.

If interested, here's my rankings of the 10 men and women most likely to be picked:

Do people ever confuse you with Ryan Lizza?

All the time. I tell them he is the more handsome, smarter, better writing "Lizza".

Random fact: Ryan and I both had sons born on the same day in the same hospital.

Are you still in a state of mourning over Georgetown going down on Sunday?

I have now directed all of my rooting passion into the Catholic field hockey team's spring season and their Fab Five like recruiting class (for the 2nd straight year!) heading into the 2012 season.

Do you see former Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode's 3rd party candidacy gaining any traction such that he could hurt the eventual Republican nominee?

Um, no.


Please tell me...what was Romney's advisor thinking when he said this?

What he meant: That in the general election all candidates -- Democratic and Republican -- try to move to the ideological middle, often by talking lots less about the issues that won them the primary.

Of course, he didn't say that exactly. And he used the image of a Etch a Sketch. Both of which hurt him and the campaign.

What , IYO, are the most lukewarm endorsements ever given.. Would Demint's or Jeb's make the list? And can we imagine for just a moment the Rick Santorum endorsement of Romney. ... "not better than Obama, but we have to take one for the team"...

We have a WHOLE category for that in the Fix endorsement hierarchy. It's known as the "obligatory endorsement".

More here:

I have a noticed that a lot of people in the news have been calling Wisconsin "Santorum's last stand." I would think that April 24 would be his last stand since Pennsylvania will be voting that day. Does anyone really think Santorum will drop out before Pennsylvania?

Probably not. I think people cite Wisky as the last chance for Santorum to keep the "romney as de facto nominee" narrative at bay.

Will his 2012 presidential campaign have any greater legacy than he did last time

Do you think Rand Paul might be veep in 2012? Or a serious candidate in 2016 or 2020? If you answered yes to either/both, then yes.

Hi Chris! So, Mitt kinda bragged about the good ol days at Bain when he had the power and responsibility to fire people; but he can't fire the Etch-a-Sketch guy for the self-inflicted shot in the foot? Keeping the Etch-a-Sketcher around is really a "heckuva job Brownie" moment for Mitt. Why the self sabatoge?

Just not going to happen.

Fehrnstrom is one of the people who have worked for Romney longest.  Read this profile. It explains it all.

How about Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.)? He underlines Romney's business focus and is a favorite of the Tea Party and the conservative base. He's articulate and has more of a regular-guy vibe than Romney (even though he's also a millionaire). Thoughts?

Too green, I think.

Now, Pennsylvania Sen.  Pat Toomey...he could be a real darkhorse...

Chris, it used to be that a politician like Nixon could pander all day long in private rooms, fundraisers and primaries and then skillfully tack to middle for the general election. But now there is so much media involved, can Romney, who is the only candidate capable of this, move to the center when voters will be inundated with all of his past positions on the right during this primary season?

GREAT point.

The ability to immediately call up links and You Tube clips of you contradicting yourself makes the move to the middle much much more complicated today than it was forty years ago.

What do you make of Sen. Gillibrand's comments about hoping Secretary Clinton runs for President in 2016? Is it an honest hope that Clinton does run again? An attempt to misdirect the press from her own ambitions to run for higher office? A shot across the bow against Andrew Cuomo, who is widely expected to run in 2016? All of the above? None of the above?

I think she knows that HRC isn't going to run. So why not say she should publicly and look magnanimous without any possibility that Clinton squeezes her out in the 2016 race?

If you are Romney, you need a VP who is not the same as you (i.e. not wooden, not a rich, is likely Christian etc...), but also won't steal the spotlight from you, like Palin did 4 years ago Who is it?


Here's my rankings in which I compare Rubio to Lionel Messi:

So, I would guess that Obama will win the Pac-10 and Big East, but Romney will take the ACC and SEC. Does that mean the Big Ten will decide the election?

A terrific way to look at it -- and right.

Ohio State (Ohio), Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa -- all major Big 10 swing states.

Your list seems to be the general consensus except Christie is 6th instead of 4th. Totally agree on Rubio. All debate starts with him and then you go from there. Any dark horses?

Sure. Toomey. Rand Paul.  And since I published I have heard from some smart folks that we should have had Paul Ryan higher than 10th. Noted.

I'm a middle-aged white midwestern mom and I signed the petition calling for a thorough investigation of the circumstances of Trayvon Martin's death. I tried to imagine how I would feel if this happened to one of my three sons, and I would want justice done. I suspect the President feels the same way.

Me too.

Is Santorum definitely on track to win tomorrow? And will it matter in the long run?

Very little polling but seems like the answer is yes.

Won't matter. Not unless he can win Wisconsin. And even then it probably doesn't matter.

Will the President's comments cause people to focus on the "shoot first law" and the group ALEC that brought it to Fla? This group's other hits include the "Papers Please Law" in Ariz. The group obviously uses race as a foundation for the legislation that they support. What will the Main Street media do with that?

One of my deputies is working up a piece on the politics of the "Stand Your Ground Law" right now.

Wouldn't that be insane for Romney? And how hurt will he be by his embrace of the Ryan budget?

Well, Ryan is BELOVED among conservatives. And I think by picking him Romney would be sending a very clear message that the GOP wants to be known as the party willing to make tough choices on the country's debt and spending issues.

What's your sense of the likelihood that Santorum and Gingrich (and perhaps Paul) will heed the "time to unite" messages being sent by Jeb Bush, Jim DeMint et al, and what would be the consequences (if any) if they disregard those messages?

Doesn't seem like it yet. I could see Newt getting out after Louisiana.

But Santorum seems likely to stay in through PA.

Wouldn't it be fair to say that in today's landscape that unless you have a personal scandal (e.g. Clinton) that people are going to view the president more favorably as a father/husband? How many people really want to knock a guy for lacking in those skills unless there's direct evidence to the contrary?

Yup. Fair. But that doesn't take away from my previous point that Obama does well when he personalizes things.

Do you think Super PACs have been effective so far this year, or are they just throwing up a lot of white noise?

VERY effective.

I don't know that Newt or Santorum are still in the race without them.

Hasn't he already been asked the question and ignored it? Personally, I think Romney could have helped himself if he spoke earlier. Heck, even Allen West spoke out before both the president, Romney & Santorum.

I think he will say something in a more formal way soon. Could be wrong but my bet is he will.

What are your predictions/gut feeling about the upcoming primaries? Is this pretty much over or can Santorum get his mojo back with a few wins?

Pretty much over. Watch Wisconsin on April 3.

What % of American Idol viewers heard "My Life" and thought of "Bosom Buddies"? Also, you have to think about putting Jessica at the top, even over Phil. And finally, the next time you're on MSNBC, please do the hand gesture that Elise does while you talk about the LA primary.


My rankings of the top 9

1. Phil Phillips

2. Sanchez

3. Hollie

4. Joshua

5. Colton

6. Schuyler

7. Elise

8. DeAndre

9. Hee Jun

The problem is that it plays EXACTLY into the stereotype that has been created. And in all honesty, the Romney folks have no one to blame but themselves - almost all of these "gaffes" are 100% unforced errors. One wonders how the campaign is equipped to handle the general election campaign when the blows will be coming fast and furious from the Obama camp.

Yup. I did  a riff on when gaffes really matter that makes a similar point.

It's here:

Since you are not from the Fox side of the street or the MSNBC side are you treated by the regular folks when they spot you at a political event?

People are always really nice.  Complimentary. Not so on email/Twitter though.... :)

What is there to "analyze" about the President's remarks? I thought he was clear that he wasn't stepping into the investigation, and expressed the concerns that many of us share: it could have been our child, it could have been us. The bigger question the media should be analyzing is why haven't the Republican candidates had anything salient to say.

Because everything -- EVERYTHING -- happens in the context of a presidential campaign in November. All event simpact how voters think about the country and the two people the parties put forward to represent them.

You're not your usual jovial self this a.m. Primary fatigue or Trayvon dismay?

Sorry!  I am tired...long week!

In your opinion, what is the best Decemberists LP?

I love June/January song. So, "The King is Dead".

Prez Obama's personalization comment, race-based, is anything BUT "at his best." Sadly, I voted for Mr. O and he has been the most divisive president in my lifetime. Why does he continue to divide?

Another perspective.

Early in the week this was in The Fix about Romney's delegate count - "almost exactly half". Could you define "almost exactly" for me?

According to AP:

Romney: 563

Santorum: 263

Gingrich: 135

Paul: 50.

Need 1,144 to win.

I work in the same building as the Jets team store in midtown & there were people in the store a lunctime yesterday getting custom-made #15 jerseys ---- in late March!

[I am Tebowing as I type]

In the elite 8... just saying.

And the frontrunners for Nerlens Noel, I hear...

Just made a noncontroversial but necessary statement. Silence would've been terrible.

Noted. Anyone see the actual statement?

Rank these worries for the Obama team: A) Youth turnout might not reach 2008 levels B) Romney picking Rubio might enhance his appeal to Hispanics C) Romney performs better than expected as a general election D) Pro-Romney Super PACs flood the airwaves E) The economy underperforms






Is that a prediction or a preference? I know you steer clear of political bias but don't you like some Idol contestants more than others?

That's my preference.

I think Jessica Sanchez or Colton probably win.  I think Phil Phillips "I don't change for anyone" thing will, hurt him.

I am humbled by President Obama's remarks. He is right on with all of us seraching our souls to why something as tragic as this event could take place anywhere in the world. Please get to the truth

Another thought on Trayvon Martin.

If you really were Tebowing, you'd hit about the half the keys on your keyboard


Saw it on Chuck Todd's twitter feed - was it just a statement or did he make it himself?

Romney statement: "What happened to Trayvon Martin is a tragedy. There needs to be a thorough investigation that reassures the public that justice is carried out with impartiality and integrity."

Will you ever do a road trip "Politics & Pints" up in Boston? I'm always bummed that I'm not in DC when I see those events posted on Facebook!

We did one in Iowa late last year....maybe at the Democratic and Republican conventions....stay tuned.

If Newt quits the race, will he endorse a candidate? If so, who? And would anyone want his endorsement?

He might. I am not sure it matters at all though.

Almost exactly? Isn't that like "sorta pregnant"?

You asked for the #'s. I gave them to you!

Why not go with Susana Martinez? She's a woman and a Hispanic, and thereby appealing to both groups? You question whether she is ready and not, and mention that she's the least-well-known candidate, but couldn't that count as an advantage creating some king of shock-effect, while at the same time having a woman and a hispanic as Romney's running mate?

She's #5 on our Fix veepstakes rankings!


Ok, folks. I am off. If you live in DC, get outside. It's beautiful!

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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