The Fix Live

Feb 28, 2014

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

Follow @TheFix on Twitter.

Good morning all. After last week's technical issues, I have hard-wired my brain directly into the Internet this week, a move, I hope, will prevent further problems.

Having deposited an omelette with turkey sausage (healthy, you know?) and sipping on a caramel macchiato, I am ready to rock.

Bring it.

Re you story on why Christie is not getting questions on Bridgegate. Your reasons were: 1) NJ people don't care; 2) he's swimming in friendly waters; and 3) luck. First of all, where's the kudos for the fact that Christie's actually going out and meeting with his constituents? Secondly, here's a test for your political objectivity as a journalist: could you see yourself writing the same* reasons for why President Obama doesn't get tough questions on his scandals when he makes his public appearances (never mind the fact that he rarely allows such interactions?) *In the case of Obama, with the first reason listed, swap out "NJ people" and put in "progressives."


Well, I think President Obama gets pretty tough questions from reporters.  And, President Obama isn't holding town hall events all that often.  He is doing more speeches.

My piece wasn't designed to scold Christie. Far from it. I was simply surprised that in two+ hours of questions from New Jerseyans (-ites?) he hadn't been asked anything about the bridge closures.

Here's the piece in case you missed it:

Hi Chris -- thanks for taking questions today. With Republicans coming out (as it were) to condemn the law in Arizona, how will the issue of same sex marriage play out for them in 2016? In other words, is is possible that, given where the public is at (majority support for ss marriage), we will see some moderation in their opposition or even possible support from some candidates to attract younger voters? Or should we not read that much into what happened in Arizona because in the end the economic risks (loss of the Super Bowl, jobs, etc.) were what prevailed instead of changing views?

A VERY interesting question.

Here's the conundrum for Republican presidential candidates: They know support for same sex marriage is rapidly rising among the general electorate but they also know that their base remains vehemently opposed to the idea.

Usually, primary concerns win out because, well, if you don't win the primary, you never get a chance about how you are positioned for the general election.

I would note though that the numbers among young Republicans on same sex marriage suggest that this is a generational thing as muh as it is a ideological one.

Does Gov Brewer run for any office in the future after this week's veto? She cheesed off the Tea Party but did she get some moderate/ind. votes?

I think she's done. I wrote a piece after the veto suggesting that if she did want to try to run for another term (there are major lergal questions about whther she could due to the state's term limit law) she would have signed the bill.

In not doing so, I think she gave a pretty clear indication that she is done. 

Here's the piece:

It sounds like it almost certain that Republicans will maintain the House majority and win the Senate this year. Will they have much more than 50 votes? Will holding both the Senate and House be a help for the 2016 presidential elections?

I would say it is very likely Republicans hold the House.

I think their chances of winning the Senate got better when Rep. Cory Gardner decided to run in Colorado last week but it's still a jump ball.

Remember that 2016 is a very tough cycle for Republicans because it is the class that got elected in 2010. So, I would say Republicans probably need to hold 52-53 seats after 2014 to have a good shot at holding the Senate beyond the 2016 election.

Why not a Best week in Washington? I would be interested in your take on the winner each week as well as the loser.

People propose this regularly. My belief? There's not a lot of readership for Best Week. 

If I might quote Tolstoy: All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.'

But, if you disagree, send me an email at If there's enough interest, I am happy to start doing Best Week too!

I'm curious about how these live chats work. Does a WaPo staffer forward questions on to you. Do you see all questions and pick the ones most interesting to you? How does it work, dude?

A wonderful woman named Jessica Stahl helps manage the questions. She lightly filters then and then puts a bunch in my queue where I can answer whichever ones I like.

I know prognostication is not your thing, but at this moment, what do you think the odds are that Republicans will gain at least six seats in the Senate?


Don't you think all the speculation about Republican candidates in 2016 is about who wins the nomination only? I heard recently that states totaling 251 electoral votes have voted Democratic for six straight elections. Barring a 2008-style collapse of the economy, isn't a Republican win in 2 years time a long shot?

There's no question that the electoral map favors Democrats right now.  But, things change. Remember how Democrats had an insurmountable electoral college disadvantage during the 1980s?  Since then they have two two-term presidents.

You've written before that you feel Rand Paul trumps his father in the charisma department, but I just don't see it. Ron had a whacky grandfatherly charm and Rand comes off as kind of cold. Defend yourself, sir!

Oh, I think Rand is just a more savvy politician over all.  He knows how to pivot off of issues he doesn't want to talk about and how to shade positions where he knows most Republicans won't agree with him.

Also, I don't even think Ron Paul would say he was charismatic!

how nervous should sen udall be, 0 = not at all, 10 = ordering boxes for his move?


Read this:

When Ted Cruz was brought up - was the dismissal of his name with disgust, a general belief he can't win, or both?

I didn't write the piece Wes Lowery (a terrific young reporter working on our digital politics strike force) did.

But, I believe it was disgust with his tactics and how he approaches politics.

You and me, Cillizza. Let's start a business. Caramel, Raspberry, Mocha-almond fudge mayo. Sounds delish. And we could make a mint!

I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. No, a lot bit.

That thing you said the other day?

Was it this?

"To realize that all your life - all your love, all your hate, all your memory, all your pain, it was all the same thing. It was all the same dream, a dream that you had inside a locked room. A dream about bein' a person.... And like a lot of dreams, there's a monster at the end of it"

Is in Iowa this weekend and there's a whole lotta gushing goin' on between him and IA Gov Terry Branstad. Is Perry running for something? Seriously?

OH yeah. He wants to run for president again. He's been pretty explicit about it.

Perry's belief is that he knows what he did wrong in 2012 and can fix it. I am a believer in the you never get a second chance to make a first impression theory of politics though. And that makes it really tough for Perry.

He's luckier that modern political media has such a short attention span. If nothing major happens right away, well, then, it's not a "scandal" and it's time to move on. Of course, it's silly to expect this vs. drip, drip, drip when documents are not released.

Luck is a remarkably underrated key to political success. I am going to write a Fix post on that. Just decided it.

How does the race stand as of today?

Americans for Prosperity has hurt Kay Hagan.  They have basically been spending $500K every week for quite some time with ads that hammer her.

I am still not overly impressed with the Republican field but Thom Tillis seems to have overcome a bit of a rocky start and is now the likely nominee.

I think Hagan is in less trouble than Mark Pryor but more trouble than, say, the Iowa open seat.

Who else besides Kirk is as good as done in 2016?

Tough races for: Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Rob Portman (R-Oh.), Michael Bennet (D-Co.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

"Having deposited an omelette with turkey sausage" I've never heard a bowel movement described like that.

I ate it! Gross.

Do we actually know that the questioners aren't being pre-screened?

I don't have personal knowledge of that fact. But I would say that if Christie's team is pre-screening questions they are VERY dumb.

If it comes out that he handpicked the questions, it will be a big story and make him look foolish not to mention his whole I face down my problems persona.

If I'm a Jersey constituent, why bother? The press is doing that job for me. I'd care more about bread and butter issues. And if I recall correctly, those town halls were in "friendly" areas. Bet you take him to the inner city and you get schools and services questions, not softballs.

Right. Made that point in the piece. The two counties the townhalls were held in went for Christie with 70% and 76% in 2013.

You're normally quick to point out that X or Y won't move the needle in the end, so your eagerness to throw dirt on Udall is baffling.

I am not throwing dirt on him at all.

But, he went from an easy reelection to a tough one in a single day. His numbers aren't great in CO and Gardner is a serious candidate.

Udall still has a huge cash edge and will bash Gardner's record in the House. And incumbents don't lose easy.

Can you think of one state that will be in play or possibly switch that nobody sees coming?

Georgia? Maybe Minnesota.

Mayo! Traumatized as a child? Someone told you it was mayo and it really was something else entirely?

No no. it's just disgusting.

I also have a crazed fear of baloons being popped that I do think traces back to someone popping one in my ear as a kid. When some is pressing on a full-inflated balloon, I have to leave the room. Not kidding.

Harry Reid, to me, acts like he doesn't care anymore. Do you think that he will retire at the end of his current term, especially if the GOP gains both houses of Congress and can exact revenge on him? I can really see lots of Republicans wanting to make life as miserable as possible for Reid. Thanks.

If you think Harry Reid is acting like he doesn't care lately, how would you describe John Boehner of late?

See this:

Would you be more inclined to support Hilary or Jeb in 2016 if their campaign slogan was Time is a Flat Circle?

How about this as a campaign slogan: A man's game charges a man's price.

I'm too lazy to e-mail you, but I think the BWIW is a great idea.

I love the laziness.

WWIUU (Worst Week in Upper Ukraine)?

Thanks for the nomination!

It's the song by Bronze Radio Return that's MSNBC is using in its ads. It's an awesome song. What music are you currently groovin' to?

Right now I am listening to the Josh Ritter radio station on Spotify. Josh, who I am a MASSSIVE fan of, is playing tonight in DC and me and the Mrs. are going.

SO PSYCHED. And if you don't know Josh's music, you need to.

Reading Jamie Fuller's post today about 2016 buzz in Romney donor world , I was struck by the lack of interest in Ted Cruz. Do you think that lack of interest, and his tendency to burn bridges with his colleagues, make him a weaker candidate than most people think? Or do you think he can replicate his 2012 primary strategy of a strong grassroots push with lots of outside money on a national level?

I don't think that a Romney donor and a Cruz backer/donor were ever going to be the same crowd. Cruz is drinking from an entirely different pool of donors/activists/voters than everyone else in the field other than Rand Paul.

I guess I'm not surprised because the type of people that go to midday town halls tend to be older, retiree types that are probably more apt to support the Gov. Plus they were in more republican leaning areas of the state. Now if he wasn't asked a question in a northern NJ town hall close to Fort Lee, that would certainly give validation to the "don't care" theory.

Right. And his team ain't setting that one up anytime soon.

Also, here's Christie on answering Bridgetgate questions: You folks are the only people at the moment who are asking me about this

Do we actually know that your questioners aren't being pre-screened?


I realize that Colorado is a swing purple state but there seem to be a lot of factors that are working in his favor in 2016. Starting with it's a Presidential year and the Colorado Republican don't seem to have much of a bench. He seems relatively safe on paper

Fair enough.

I would suggest that what happens in the Udall-Gardner race could be telling. If Gardner wins, Republicans will be amped up to go after Bennet. If not, then not.

Wouldn't you love to read the hypothetical letters of resignation that Boehner and Reid could write to their colleagues? Wherein they speak with all honesty about their experiences in the last five years. That would be well worth reading.

I always think a politician's last speech is his/her best one. They are honest and emotional.  Remember Gore's last speech when he conceded the 2000 election?

Best Picture: Will American Hustle (the dark horse) surprise us with a best picture win? I thought Jeremy Renner was terrific as the NJ pol with a big heart and good intentions who gets mired in the scam.

I loved American Hustle. Tghe movie I was most moved by this year was Philomena. Beautiful.

I'm with you. I'd be honored to be your running mate on the anti-mayo ticket.

And our campaign slogan? "Time is a flat circle"

A recent poll has Gov. Sam Brownback trailing his Democratic challenger. Is this just early, or is this a sign of the apocalypse?

Early. I know Democrats see Kansas as their sleeper race but it is just going to be very hard to win in a state as Republican as Kansas in a midterm election where the national dynamic seems titled against Democrats.

And, if Brownback wins, I wouldn't be stunned if he ran for president again in 2016.

Between Dingell and Levin Michigan is going to lose 94 years of congressional experience after 2014. Is there a recent example of a state losing so much seniority in one swoop?

Massachusetts lost Kennedy and Kerry in pretty short order. And if you open the timeline a little wider they lost Joe Moakley and Barmey Frank too.

Do he and the president get along? I've always wondered why the administration never found anything for him to do (I know he and Rahm Emanuel didn't get along).

Because Dean is an independent operator looking out for himself and his beliefs. He's not really a team player.

What's he up to now? I always thought he would have made a good Attorney General if he hadn't burned so many bridges. And what's his relationship to Arthur Vining Davis?

Waiting to run for something in Virginia. 

Hi Chris- will you be making the trip out to National Harbor for CPAC next week? I'll be covering it for a flamingly liberal publication and would appreciate any tips on navigating the deep end of the pool, so to speak. Also, if you could ask Ted Cruz one question, what would it be?

I will be out there. So will various members of the Fix posse.

Is Debbie Dingell going to face any real competition?


And when she wins, it will mean someone with the last name Dingell will ahve held that seat from 1932-2016.

Proof that glasses don't always make you look smarter.

So why do i have glasses then?

I don't think it's particularly sexist (or I hope I'm not being sexist) to wonder about Hillary's age in 2016 and beyond, if she'd be a two-term president. Have we had many presidents who were older than she'll be? Reagan...?

She's 66 right now. Would be 68 if elected in 2012.

And remember that Joe Biden is 71!

Also, read this Biden profile. It's outstanding.

Only 2 episodes left, and I have no idea who is the perp.

Me neither. But I love me some Rust Cohle.

Who runs when Jerry Brown retires? Or if they split into six states, would that mean six governors?

Going to be an AMAZING Democratic primary. AG Kamala Harris vs LG Gavin Newsom.

Of course, it's possible that if Dianne Feinstein decides not to run in 2016, Newsom and Harris will figure out which one wants to run fot the Senater and which one wants to be governor.

I think both want to be governor though.

Check out the TX House delegation in the 1978 election. A lot of old conservative Democrats retired that year, and TX lost something like 132 years of seniority as a result. (One of the retirees was George Mahon, the chair of Appropriations, and the Republican candidate for his seat was...wait for it...George W. Bush).

Good one

Tillis is an NC congressman from a neighboring district. He has a very crowded primary field, multiple tea partiers, and has so far ducked any and all debates. Hagan is a lackluster politician at best but the Democratic version of AFP (can't remember the name) has pounded Tillis for playing with Medicare and intruding on women's health issues (no mention of "Obamacare" though).

Tillis is the Speaker of the state House. 

Perry has got to be seriously deluded if he thinks he can suddenly get much smarter than he appeared to be in 2012. Oh wait.

Politicians who believe something that the public doesn't think is possible isn't exactly a new phenomenon.

When does she go from being coy to strongly indicating her intent to run? And when does she officially get in?

I say march 2015.

It doesn't seem like the Republicans could make his life any more miserable if they took back the Senate - if anything he would be a position to create headaches

Oh, they could. Being in the majority is still WAY better than being in the minority.

Is the fact that Scott Walker did not graduate from college a real liability or do only beltway/acela types think it matters?

I don't think it matters one bit.

Hulk Hogan is hosting Wrestlemania XXX.


[crushes beer can and then turns it around and around in hand]

Supposedly they are not a fashion statement. He was injured as a teenager when a rock was thrown at his eye and while it healed initially, he is losing vision in that eye now.


I think Duke haters are in for a long March-early April. I was a skeptic at first but Duke's bigs (including the 8th Plumlee) are helping Parker so much. And they'll play the first weekend in Raleigh.

I think Florida is going to be tough to beat.

Also, mark it down: G'town will win the tournament. The College Basketball Invitational tournament I mean.

Do you remember this '80s sitcom? The Lubbock girls were the bomb, yo.

Nope. My 80s sitcomes were all about Three's Company. I always imagined I would grow up to be Larry. 

Reasons why Romney is out there other than the insane idea he'd run again: 1) Nobody wants to be remembered as a loser 2) Repair image for potential business partners of Romneys 3) Repair image in case son(s) run for political office

Also, a documentary about his campaign came out.

While the Democrats obviously want to keep the Senate in 2014, do you think it helps or hurts in 2016 if they lose it. I think it helps being able to run against Congress, even if it hurts when it comes to governing.

Might help. People would know then that Republicans were controlling one big lever of government. Still, how Obama's legacy plays out will matter more in 2016.

I know you don't want to antagonize GOP sources and your bosses but you know that comment's true. Republicans aren't winning the WH in 2016. Still, the primary matters because Ted Cruz would drag down the ticket throughout the country.

I think making predictions like that is a fool's errand.

Would anyone have said Bill Clinton (or any D) would have won the White House in 1991?

... after he leaves office?

Works on his library. Writes a memoir.  Starts a foundation. Plays hoops. The usual stuff.

Alright folks. I have to run. Make sure to go listen to Josh Ritter. You won't regret it.

Remember that we do this every Friday at 11 am.  Spread the word.


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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