The Fix Live

Sep 14, 2012

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

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Good morning everyone! 

The new Bob Dylan album is playing on Spotify and I am going to see Springsteen tonight at Nats Park. All is right with the world.

Let's chat.

So when is your "Why Obama is in trouble by leading in the biggest battleground states" post coming?

Let's start this on a partian note! I mean, why not.

I think Obama is clearly benefiting from a bit of a convention bounce both nationally and in some of the most critical swing states.

Ohio, to me, is the most interesting because no Republican has been elected president without winning the Buckeye State.

I am going to write more about the state later today on the Fix.

And, just so we are all clear, I write about what my reporting tells me.  Nothing more. Nothing less.

Arrested Development and Bruce Springsteen. Sorry, but it's true. You don't know comedy because you watch AD. You don't know good music (certainly not singing) and you're not connecting with blue collar workers just because you listen to Springsteen.

Is there a question in here?

How badly has Romney hurt himself this week? He really has seemed tone deaf to the world this week and seems like he is a person who can never bring himself to say I was wrong. Where is his outrage at the film?

I am not sure he did any catastrophic damage. Rather I would say he just wasted a week that he shouldn't have but issuing a too-quick statement on Libya.

Romney wins the election if he can make it a straight referendum on President Obama's handling of the economy. The more he talks about things not the economy, the harder it is to make that case.

Also, I did give Romney "Worst Week in Washington" this week:

Don't you feel the slightest bit guilty for fixating on Romney's comment while completely ignoring the fact that Obama doesn't know the legal definition of an ally or that Egypt is actually the US's ally? The disproportionate amount of time spent on the former clearly shows me that the Post generally, and the Fix specifically, has its priorities wrong.

I think it's absolutely worthwhile to point that out. Thanks for doing it.

As for my priorities, I try my best to keep the right.

Romney is down in key states. GOTV probably won't cut it--he still needs to drag voters to his side. The problem is that undecideds are turned off by "politics as usual" and very well could stay home. I can't see how more negative ads inspires that sort of voter to go to the polls. Just something to keep an eye on down the stretch.

I think this is VERY unlikely. Remember that to this point, Romney has been outspent by Obama on TV. But the combination of Romney's fundraising of late -- 3 straight months of over $100 million raised -- and the money that conservative outside groups have to spend mean that GOPers will be throwing significantly more TV ad weight in the final 50+ days.

The question is whether that changes the governing dynamic of the race or not.

Romney up by only 2% there?! That might be the most underrated (to go with Fix Aaron's opposite post) stat I've seen. Romney needs OH to win. He needs to run up the score with men to win. He better fine-tune his answer on the auto bailout for the 1st debate.

Agree on all fronts. As I said, stay tuned for a longer explication of our thinking on Ohio later today.

Pumpkin spice gets the attention, but don't sleep on the salted caramel (or whatever the exact name) one. It sounds weird but is worth it. And like Mitt Romney and foreign policy, I don't apologize for drinking candy-like coffee.


Hi Chris, Now that your attendance at these chats resembles that of Ferris Bueller's in high school I was wondering if you save the prior weeks questions when you can't make it. Do we need to resubmit our important questions about CU women's field hockey and The Gospel According to Fix or will you get around to them eventually?

Sorry sorry! I missed last week because I was trapped on a delayed flight back from the Democratic convention.

I pledge I will be here come heck or high water for the remainder of the election.

Speaking of the "Gospel", if you haven't bought your copy do it now! Here:

Fix this, I know you were a geography major at Georgetown so it must come as no surprise to you that South Bend, Indiana is still in the East, but now it seems to be on the Atlantic Coast. Should I invest in a new map?

English major!

And, yes, ND going to the ACC is troubling. I think it's time for Gtown to get out of the Big East. But without a real football program, who is going to take us?

I am officially depressed about it.

What breaks the deadlock in this Senate race?

Turnout driven by the presidential race.

Since the convention my Democratic friends have been on Cloud 9. They think Romney's done for, and Obama will be reelected. I'm on the fence. I think there's a lot that can happen between now and election day, and that given the not great economy, things could still go south for Obama. Why do you think his poll numbers have generally held up despite a prolonged, weak recovery (that many don't seem to think is much of a recovery)?

People like him.  His personal favorable numbers have stayed strong even as his job approval numbers have sunk.

The question is whether people will vote for a guy who they like but whose policies they don't like.

Update the Senate rankings, please! Is the McMahon surge in Connecticut for real? Does Akin doom Republicans in Missouri? Is Indiana or Arizona going to be a major surprise on election night? Can Heidi Heitkamp out-hussle Rick Berg in North Dakota? Can Harry Reid deliver another surprise victory in Nevada for Democrats and Shelley Berkley? Can Bill Nelson and Sherrod Brown survive the onslaught of Super PAC money? Can Scott Brown get enough Obama voters to return him to the Senate? The Senate, to me, is far more interesting than this presidential race!!!

Ask and you shall receive.  Latest Senate rankings coming today!

If you could ask Bruce Springsteen to play one song tonight in concert, what would it be and why?


I just love that song more than anything.

Are you going to be at Nationals Park tonight?

See above. Answer: Hell yes.

If Romney-Ryan fails to win in November, how much blame is put on Paul Ryan? He seems to have disappeared since the convention, and the press seems to harp on either the lack of detail in his budget plans and alleged occasional stretching of the truth. Are his 2016 prospects damaged?

I doubt it. Unless he pulls a Palin and goes rogue (overused term) between now and the election I think he will come out of 2012 -- even if the ticket loses -- at the top of the 2016/2020 GOP race (or close to it).

If Obama wins reelection and Secretary Clinton stays truth to her word that she's done with politics, who are the frontrunners for each party in 2016? Cuomo and Rubio? How far down the list are Joe Biden and Rand Paul?

Cuomo for Dems.  O'Malley also in the mix. Darkhorses not to be underestimated: Kirstin Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar

Rubio for GOP unless Jeb runs.  Jindal also top tier.  Ryan as well.  I think Rand Paul is top tier or damn close.

To use a golf analogy - Romney's is running like Phil Mickelson plays on Sunday when he's behind - he and the campaign are taking risks, even before the MidEast crisis this week (e.g,. veiled attacks about Obama removing God from coins, keeping the stuff people like about Obamacare on MTP, etc). To me this doesn't strike me as moves a camapign you'd make when you're ahead.

Probably not.

But, I would also say two things:

1. The election isn't for another 50+ days and even if you take the ;atest swing state polls, Romney is still well within striking distance.

2. When you are the challenger running against an incumbent, you have to take a few chances. Otherwise people might well just default to the person they know.

Did you find a decent latte in Charlotte? I'm so happy it's Pumpkin Spice Latte season at Starbucks again.

Did NOT.

And, yes the PSL is the drink to which all other drinks must be compared.

hasn't had a decent album since Born to Run. Dylan has never covered a Bruce Springsteen song either in concert or on an album. Dylan has covered several Jimmy Buffett songs at his concerts. Maybe one day Bruce will be in the same class as Dylan, Berry, Guy, and Springsteen.

Whoever you are, I admire your consistency. Every chat at least 1 question praising Buffett.

Are we witnessing a very early implosion of his campaign?

I don't think so.

I don't think this has been a good week for Romney. Only the most partisan folks would dispute that contention methinks.

But the economy is still struggling. President Obama is sitll under 50 percent among likely voters in national polling. There's still plenty of reason to think that this race is going to be very close.


The polls I have seen show Heidi Heitkamp (D) ahead of Rick Berg in NoDak, a state that has had Dems in the Senate for most of my lifetime. The most moderate Republican in the state, John Hoeven, won an open seat last election, true, but the state is less Republican for federal offices than one would assume. When will Heitkamp, who has run five times statewide and won four of them (losing only when she was diagnosed with breast cancer during a campaign get her due? [and, when will you give her her due by moving her down the list of likely seat changes?]

She is running better than anyone -- myself included -- would have thought. But I think the state's Republican bent asserts itself in a presidentil year which makes it a major uphill climb for her.

good morning chris. how worried should republicans be about the prospects of mourdock and berg? which one is more likely to lose to the democrat? both candidates have been under-whelming, to put it mildly

I think both are in closer races than they thought they would be. And I think both remain favorites -- albeit it slight ones.

Where do both the campaigns see the race both nationally and in the states? It seems Obama has a small lead in both, but what is private view of both campaigns?

That. And neither side thinks a blowout is likely.  And they are right.

Seems like the media consensus is that Romney's toast based on polls and polling trends. Is that story coming out now likely to deter or encourage R voters in November?

I am not sure that is the consensus.

I think personally that Obama has opened up a slight margin nationally and in swing states. Given the overall political atmospherics, I can't imagine Obama pulling away an my guess is the race will again tighten some as the decision day nears.

I've been waiting on pins and needles - who won the Joe Biden caption contest?

Putting together winners hopefully today! Been a busy week.

I am actually starting to think Obama has lost control over Embassies' crisis, what do you think?

I think that these sort of stories are fast moving and constanltly changing, realities that require us reporters to always be aware of the shifting landscape.

Which is what me and my colleagues at the Post are always trying to do.

Sen. McConnell announced yesterday he has hired Jesse Benton to manage his campaign. What are your thoughts on that?

My deputy Aaron said it all here:

Has Mitt shown that he is only an opportunist, not a President?

All politicians are opportunists. If they are good at least.

In the election cycles of '04 and '08 the Post had daily chats with a virtual revolving chair of hosts. This year there are only weekly ones ( when they don't get cancelled ) with just you and I'm very curious why. Is this privillaged information or will you answer ?

It's part of my world domination plot. And it is proceeding nicely I must say....

I read some of the debate discussion on The Atlantic and others and wondering how you would game the debates. The sense I get is that Pres. Obama is in a tough space because he hasn't debated in a while and that Romney is instantly debated. Also read that debates are overblown to some pundits who say that are super important. Your thoughts?

I think the debates are more important for Romney than Obama.

I think both men will start off a bit cautious -- given the stakes -- but by the 2nd or 3rd debate will warm to the task.

I think Romney is being underrated as a debater. He was regularly the best debater on stage during the GOP primaryu debates.

I think the debates WILL matter.

Perhaps, Chris, your listeners ave come to expect:, He's not there, he's got a cold, he's got a meeting, he's on the Diane Riems show.......


I will make good on my pledge!

Chris, how bad did Romney look in the Libya "scenario" and how much do you think it hurts him?

As I said above, it wasn't a great moment for him but neither was it catastrophic.

This election will still be won or lost on the economy. A majority of people still disapprove of how Obama has handled the economy. That means that writing Romney off over Libya is a BIG mistake.

You can only hope that Rosie comes out tonight! No question- just a statement of jealousy!

I would kill for that to happen.

you're going to the Boss, as am I. :-) Have you had a chance to check out the 1974 review in your paper of when he played at the Shady Grove Fair? Awesome stuff. Also a plug: I follow you on Twitter and at your advice now follow Mark Leibovich (he is hilarious.) And I always look forward to your "call your office" tweets.

Leibo rules. Funniest political person on Twitter -- bar none.

Where are you? What are you Drinking? What are you listening to?

Mocha from Greenberry's Coffee.  "Tempest" by Dylan.

Love both.

Who is Mrs. Fix playing against this week?

Yes thanks for asking.

Mrs. Fix' Catholic U field hockey team currently ranked #7 in the country -- the highest ranking in the HISTORY of the program.

Playing Rowan on Saturday then a road tilt next week against perennial powerhouse Salisbury.

Chuck Todd said this morning that at this point an "undecided voter" is someone who is saying, "I'm sitting this one out." I tend to agree? You?

I think most though not all undecideds at this point are people who pay almost ZERO attention to politics.  That means that reaching the, and figuring out what makes them vote for you or the other guy is a tough deal.

I'll look for you among the other 39,000 people. :)

I'll be the guy with the American flag bandanna on.

Time was when several Post correspondents would host chats on this page. Recently only you and the estimable Eugene Robinson have deigned to participate in chats. Why is that? No disrespect to you two, but I used to enjoy the diversity of opinion.

World. Domination.

Yes, it is "time for Gtown to get out of the Big East." You could probably compete better in the Atlantic 10, or maybe the Horizon.

I was so sad to see your convicted cheating coach retire.  Wait, no I wasn't.

Fine, just call it what it is: coffee-flavored candy, not candy-flavored coffee.

I am not into labels.

And no president has won without winning the electoral college. And no president named Mitt has become President. Some of these "statistics" are just meaningless. If you don't win in Ohio, win somewhere else. All you need is 270 electoral college votes. They don't care where they come from when they add them up.

Fair enough.


Do you see her sticking to that, or going for the Senate again? Or joining in some international philanthropy, like Bill, and Jimmy Carter?

If she runs again, it's for president in 2016.

The Minnesota senator's name popping up in the presidential mix in 2016 really surprised me. Yet, according to the Post, she was meeting with Iowa delegates at the convention. Does this smell like someone without much national recognition or national fundraising base hoping to parlay a presidential run into a shot at the VP shortlist?

She's underrated as a politician.  Not sure she could make the leap to the presidential race but she is talented.

I never really appreciated the poetry until I heard Greg Kihn's cover, in which you can actually tell what the hell he's saying. If Springsteen spit the marbles out of his mouth, he might be recognized as a great songwriter instead of an athlete.

Thunder Road is AMAZING.

Screen door slams...

I have to quibble. All presidents elected before 1803 have won without winning Ohio (you can go ahead and smack me)

Well played.

What about Arizona on that list?

I think Flake is the favorite. Carmona is an intriguing candidate but I am not sure he can win in a state where Romney should win relatively easily.

You always assert that this election will hinge on the economy, but why are you so certain that's the case? The economy is very important, certainly, but if the economy were all that mattered, wouldn't Romney be ahead by now? Even Romney now seems to realize there's more to the election that expecting voters to blame Obama for economic conditions.

Because in every poll I have seen for the last 2 years, the economy is named by a majority of people as the single most important issue of the campaign.

If the Fix hosted a Presidential Debate, what would be your first Question, and to whom?

"If you could be a bird, what kind of bird would you be -- and why?"

Does that plot also involve lots of Ric Flair "Woooooooos"


wow your ego is way out of control -- remember back in the day Chris Matthews was also bigtime but now he's really just a joke and he's got people like Al Sharpton breathing down his neck in the ratings rat race.

Um, I was joking?  Apparently conveying sarcasm is not my strong suit.

Do you think Barack Obama is going to go for a second term? Will Palin try to run?

All great questions.

Anyone who read this 2010 book about the Washington Post knows that Chris is "the future of journalism." His quest for world (or at least WP) domination has been hurtling along for several years already.


Finally reading this, after your - and many others' - recommendations. About 150 pages to go. SO AWESOME.


oh I see -- you're answering all the questions in the order they were received -- does this mean I need to get up at 4 AM to submit my question and get an answer ?


Ok folks. We got halfway through Dylan's tribute song to the Titanic during that hour long chat -- which isn't bad.

Have a great weekend. And I will see you NEXT Friday for this chat. Same time, same place.

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 sons.
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