The Fix Live

Jul 20, 2012

The Fix's Chris Cillizza discussed the latest political news.

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Good morning everyone. Sorry for the delay. it's been a hectic morning. let's get going

How can you possibly think it's even remotely responsible to write a piece on gun control legislation mere hours after the death of a dozen of our brothers and sisters in Colorado? Do you have any sense of humanity that is not bound entirely to the game of politics? Finally, will you seek professional help?

Thanks for the question.

My job as a political reporter/blogger is to write about how events -- joyous, tragic and everything in between -- impact the world of politics. 

And, make no mistake that they do. 

I don't think that writing about how what happened in Colorado will impact the political debate in ANY WAY lessens the tragedy of the shootings.

As a father of two, I mourn for the families who have lost loved ones or have loved ones who have been injured. Simply because a tragedy has political consequences doesn't make it any less of a tragedy.

I think of this race as Barack Obama vs. the economy. I don't see Romney being able to win this election on his own. He needs the public's reaction to the economy to be "Yuck!," not just "Ehhhhh,,,,," And Obama is a reasonably popular human being, whose views are mostly in line with the public's. But a weak economy could easily bring him down.


I think the New York Times-CBS News poll was very instructive in showing that despite the struggles of the Romney campaig  over the last month the election is currently still all about the economy and President Obama's handling of it.

If the economy continues to struggle, Romney may not need to win the election but rather just not lose it. As in, people need not love him if they have decided they don't want President Obama anymore. Romney, under that scenario, needs only to be a credible alternative.

You never let on that your wife was expecting. It took Fix Aaron to let us in on the birth of newest Boy Fix. I trust everyone is doing well?

Thanks so much. I am pretty superstitious so I didn't want to jinx it!

Fix III was born last Wednesday at 3:37 pm. He as well as MRs Fix and Fix Jr are all doing well.

Thanks so much for the well wishes.

Does the Romney campaign have to provide specifics instead of the general way its campaigning of just hammering the President?

Not if the economy stays in its current place. Remember that no president since world war II has been reelected with unemployment higher than 7.4 percent. And that was Reagan in 1984 who benefited from the fact that 18 months before the election unemplyoment had been in double digits.

If the economy looks like it is staying the same or worsening, Obama will struggle to win -- almost regardless of the quality of campaign that Romney runs.

How many days (hours?) will it take for Beck, Limbaugh, Bachman, LaPierre et al to blame Obama for the Aurora CO shooting and say that he knew about it and alowed it to happen so that he could take our guns away? 3.2.1.

Again, this points me to the idea I outlined earlier. While what happened in Colorado is quite clearly a tragedy of grand proportions, the idea that politics somehow stops because of it is simply not true.

Given the zany reaction to the mere idea of gun control in Colorado after the Columbine shootings, I thought your post was entirely appropriate.

Thanks. And, I want to reiterate that it's an icnredibly sad day for our country.  I believe that to my core. But, the sadness over this tragedy doesn't mean that politics can be separated out from it. Politicians are already reacting and will continue to do so. How they react matters. 

How can you possibly think it's even remotely responsible to NOT write a piece on gun control legislation mere hours after the death of a dozen of our brothers and sisters in Colorado?

Well, again, thanks.

I understand the criticism. People don't want to think about politics at a moment of national tragedy like this one. I understand that.

But, as a political writer, I also have to be cognizant of the fact that everything that happens in our country can (and often does) influence our politics.  

What should we expect from your book signing tomorrow, besides your Ric Flair "Wooooooooo" yell?

Thanks for letting me plug my book signing!

It's tomorrow night at "Politics and Prose" in Northwest DC. 6 pm.  Please come. I am already worried no one will be there -- a reenactment of a few of my bday parties back in the days. (It will stun you to learn I wasn;t super cool as a kid.)

Here's the info on the event tomorrow night:

I can't believe you named both your sons Fix. That's just sad.

I am like George Foreman.

If we have a girl: Fixette.

Do you think enough voters in Michele Bachmann's district will be offended by her attack against Hillary's aide to cost Bachmann her reelection bid?

We shall see.

I don't think she has helped her cause with the allegations against Huma Abedin.

But remember that just a few weeks before the 2008 election Bachmann said that President Obama and other Democratic members of Congress might hold un-American views.

Defeating her became a Democratic cause celebre, but she won.  Her district is quite conservative though this controversy is likely to re-energize Democrats who want to beat her once and for all.

Hi Chris, Congrats on the "As a father of two" status. Keep up the good work maybe you can have enough kids to get elected to something.

HA! I now have enough to have a baseball battery. Fix Jr is a born catcher. Got to turn Fix III into a lefty pitcher.

Despite SEC documents that indicate the contrary, Romney supporters insist that Mr. Romney did not run Bain after 1999. Who do they say was running Bain? Shouldn't such a person be identifiable by name? How can this still be a mystery? Thanks for your time, -- JM

At issue is whether Romney's name on SEC documents was simply a formality or indicated genuine involvement in the business.

He has repeatedly said -- and fact checkers have generally affirmed -- that he had no day to day involvement in the business after he took a leave of absence to run the Olympics in 1999.

That's not enough proof for many people who struggle to understand the Romney campaign claim that he retroactively retired in 2002 from Bain.

In a world where Hillary doesn't run, rank the following prospects: Joe Biden Mark Warner Andrew Cuomo Martin O'Malley Kirsten Gillibrand Sherrod Brown Brian Schweitzer Amy Klobuchar And is there anyone I'm missing?

(Rubbing hands together in glee)

From most likely to be nominee to least:






I don't think Biden, Klobuchar or Brown run.

Less of a question on the campaign, but the Senate GOP filibustered a jobs bill yesterday. How does the Obama campaign show that he is putting job bills out there, but Congress won't act?

Here's what hard: Historically, presidents get blame when the economy is bad and credit when it's good despite economists always arguing that a president actually has relatively little influence over the economy.

There was a VERY worrisome number for President Obama in the NYT-CBS poll this week: 51 percent of people said that a President "can do a lot" to impact the economy. If they believe that, the burden on Obama to show progress is considerably higher.

Did Michele Bachmann have the worst week with Republicans hammering her and what are re-election prospects look like?

Don't want to ruin the surprise -- we haven't published "Worst Week" yet -- but yes.

Are these negative ads from both sides really going to help or does it make them seem desperate?

If they didn't work, campaigns wouldn't spend millions running them.

One of my thoughts after the current tragedy was how some on the pro-gun-rights side tend to argue that things would have been better had more good people been armed so they could stop the gunman... can you imagine how much worse this could have been if others started shooting in a darkened, smoky theater in confusing circumstances such as existed? Could have killed many more, IMO.

Fair point.  And, again, illustrative of the fact that separating the tragedy from the political conversation it creates is impossible.

How much does historical precedent play in your analysis of elections? I ask because Chris has repeatedly predicted this will be a very close presidential election, though historical precedent says it won't be. Incumbent presidents either win re-election with a larger share of the popular vote than they earned the first time, or if they lose, they lose decisively (only exception being Ford and he was never elected in the first place) Therefore, isn't the more correct analysis that the polls will be close into October, but then the undecideds will break one way or another and Obama will either get 53 percent+ of the vote, or Romney will?

George W. Bush won re-election in 2004 by an incredibly narrow margin -- in both the electoral college and popular vote.

That's why I think the 2012 election and the 2004 election are such close analogs. I wrote about that this morning here:

Is Mitt Romney going to speak out against Michele Bachmann's statement accusing Clinton's assistant of being connected to the Muslim Brotherhood through her family?

I doubt it VERY highly. Romney doesn't want anything to do with Bachmann.

Sad to say I can't make the book signing tomorrow evening. Are you planning any other local appearances?

I am doing an event at the Newseum in early August.

...he still had already set in place Bain's corporate mentality (including outsourcing), which doubtless continued to be practiced for a good many years.

That's the point (I think) the Obama team is trying to make.

If Obama manages a big win, will the Tea Party lose it grip on the GOP?

Not sure they have a "grip" on the GOP but unless Democrats take back the House I would bet the tea party would retain a significant voice in 2013.

You could just spell her name "Fyx" for the feminine distinction.

Ah, terrific idea.

What does she get out of stunts like these? Even her fellow conservative Republicans in Congress don't take her seriously. Her presidential campaign was a joke. She hasn't been offered a talk show yet. If he becomes president, Romney won't give her a job. What's in it for her? Speaking gigs? Book sales?

Can I offer an alternative theory? She actually believes it.

Romney event already featuring someone blaming violence in video games and movies. Will Romney distance himself from that?

And, yet more evidence of how politics can never been distanced from tragedy.

Last week, you parsed the Democratic field for 2016, but you left out the junior senator from NY. I have to think that Gillibrand is a much more likely candidate than Hillary. Her endorsement of Hillary seemed to be a smokescreen to get her some name recognition.

I wrote a whole chapter in my book profiling Gillibrand and asking whether she might be the next Hillary.

You haven't bought "The Gospel According to the Fix" yet, you say? For shame! Make amends here and now:

Is it still unlikely for Rice to be picked for VP? If not her who is next in line?

I think it is unlikely.

My top three (in order)

Rob Portman

Tim Pawlenty

Bobby Jindal

So does Romney actually think he can repeat his stance and that it will be accepted with the media moving on?

I think he does. The campaign's belief is that average voters simply don't care about Romney tax returns or, if they do care, they care a lot less than they care about the economy.

I have written before, however, that he should just release some more tax returns and be done with it. here's that piece:

Doubtless true. But won't failure to denounce Michele's latest lunacy be construed as tacit approval?

I doubt it. Not with everything else going on.

OK, imagine Romney wins without ever releasing his tax returns. Then, while in office, someone leaks them. There's damaging info in there. It will make gridlock now look like FDR's first 100 days. It sounds dramatic, but for the good of the country (at a minimum, certainty, a buzzword Romney himself uses), Romney needs to release his returns.

Interesting. Not sure if would make Congress any more gridlocked than it currently is but it's an interesting theory.

With special last names you could have Fixa Rooni. Fixo Dent. Fix T. Brakes Fix Bet Ok so I am reaching here!

Forwarding along to Mrs. Fix...

I want to "retire retroactively" but my wife won't let me.


Overrated by Acela Corridor. Pros/cons in running mate's background matter much more in era of negative ads.

Fair enough.  That's an argument for Pawlenty or Portman.

Doesn't Mitt Romney have to explain his Medicare stance? To me, his endorsement of the Ryan budget is more of a deal breaker with most people than Bain.

It depends whether you believe the election is a straight referendum on President Obama or a choice between Obama and Romney.

If you believe the former, then no. If you believe the latter, then yes.

Somehow I just can't see Sandra Lee as the First Lady.

Semi homemade!

A sign that more Hollywood money is on the way for Democratic Super PACs?

Maybe. Remember that the Obama super PAC got $1 million from Bill Maher too...

Do you see any races where they are likely to be big players?

A Democratic Senate super PAC is already playing in the Republican primary in the Missouri Senate race, which is intriguing...

Is he writing off this constituency? Or does it just look like it?

He is not.  In fact Republicans can;t afford to since if they loses Hispanics 65-35 in national elections, they will struggle to be a majority party.

Now whether he is having any success courting Hispanics is an entirely different question.

Do you expect Romney to have a document dump of taxes next Friday during the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics?

Maybe that's when he will release his 2011 taxes?

during her pregnancy with Fix III?

No. But I did.

If you grow weary of politics... for those interested in zombie films: 1. Watch "Automaton Transfusion". It's brilliant. 2. Watch "Otto; or, Up with Dead People." It's even more brilliant. The commentary is a must.

Um, ok.

Next up in the Fix family watch list: Season 3 of "The Wire".

is the book mostly text, so it's OK on Kindle or are there lots of pix, charts and graphs, which "read" poorly on my Kindle?

Mostly text. And here is the link to buy it on Kindle:

Odds that a motion will be introduced in the House to censure Michele Bachmann (and possibly her fellow letter-signers)? Might she lose committee assignments?

Not high. Because I don't think the Republican House leadership want to spend one more second thinking about or talking about Bachmann.

That's all I have time for today.

If you live in the DC area, PLEASE come to "Politics and Prose" tomorrow night at 6 pm for my book signing. You don't want me sitting alone for an hour do you?

Here's the link:

See you there!

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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