Ask Aaron: This week in politics

Aug 27, 2013

Aaron Blake chats with readers in his weekly Post Politics chat series.

Good afternoon, political geeks, and thanks for coming out to the latest Ask Aaron live chat.

What's on your mind today?


The RNC's African American outreach?

Steve King for president?

Defund Obamacare?

Nikki Haley?

As always, anything is fair game -- except, of course, Miley Cyrus.


Any backlash for Cruz not endorsing Cornyn? Is it simply a plus for him to be anti-incumbent? At some point, won't he want endorsements from officeholders? Just those in IA/NH/SC?

There is downside, in that this is his partner in the Texas delegation. Cornyn says he's not upset, but you have to believe it's not exactly a kumbaya moment between the two of them.

Cruz is crafting a brand as the anti-establishment conservative, and Cornyn is a member of Senate GOP leadership. I think Cruz is just trying to be as outsider-y as possible, which is a virtue in today's Republican Party. And in that wing of the party, endorsing Cornyn probably would have hurt him.

Assuming he wins in November, Everyone expects him to run for president in 2016. After seeing him cohost yesterday (and doing it well) a NYC sports show, I tend to think he may go the Ed Rendell rout, doing media and making money, rather than spending 2 years running for president. Agree or Disagree?

For the record, I think Ed Rendell would have run for president if he thought he had a chance. I don't think he became a pundit because that was his first choice.

As for Christie -- he can always take that route later in life. He's a relatively young guy and his time is now. He clearly loves being a part of the game.

But that doesn't mean he takes the next step, either. Lots of things will play into that decision.

Because Tom Tancredo did so well.

The two of them even LOOK alike!

In fairness to King, I think he might have broader appeal -- especially to evangelical Christians. A better analog than Tancredo might be Bachmann (who, let's not forget, was once leading in the polls).

PRO: Appealing to young people who might not otherwise vote. Would drive up black turnout. Would raise tons of money. Would lend some star quality. CONS: Does nothing in the Electoral College. HRC will have all the money and star quality she needs. New on the national stage, and could easily go off message. More of a "base" pick than a pitch to swing voters. Not nearly as well-known as reporters assume. The Democrats will have the most potent driver of black turnout already sitting in the White House, who presumably will stump for Hillary.  What do you think?

Good summation.

I think Booker may wind up being a lot of people's favorites for vice president. Keeping black and youth turnout up would be huge for Democrats, and I'm not sure there's anybody who could help in that regard like Booker.

I tend to dismiss the idea that these guys are picked for their home states. Better to have the one that can help you win in a bunch of swing states than just one.

And as for being a "base" pick -- I think Booker crafts a more bipartisan image. He's not a liberal's liberal, by any means.

President Obama has declared a line in the sand and has said that there will be no negotiation on the debt ceiling increase. How long until he caves to the Tea Party crowd again? We've seen the President move the line so many times that we now understand why the Tea Party puts a gun to their own head and wins the negotiation every single time. Why will it be different this time?

There's always no room for negotiation -- until there is.

Both sides start out with absolutist postures and then cave, at least a little. The question is who will cave more.

And while the left has criticized Obama for caving too much, I don't think that was the case during the fiscal cliff. 

Why do you think McAullife is ahead at this point of the race?

I'm not positive that he is. Polling has been all over the place, and I think it's still a margin-of-error race and will continue to be until Election Day.

As The Fix noted last week, McAuliffe may lead in the polls, but Cuccinelli leads when it comes to attributes like who is ready to govern. I would expect future polls to reflect a closer race.

The Electoral College factor is totally overrated. The overall narrative of a ticket is way more important.

I agree 100 percent. Even if Rob Portman helps you gain 3 points in Ohio, maybe Paul Ryan gets you 1 point in all 9 swing states. I'd rather have the latter.

I have a name for you: Amash. I don't think he'd win, but I could see him raising his profile as opposed to Rand striking while he's hot.

That is quite the dark horse. 

But if Rand or Cruz is in the race, I'm not sure what Amash's constituency is.

Let's assume that HRC will be the Democratic candidate. Which Republican is HRC most afraid to run against?

Chris Christie and then Marco Rubio.

The polls still show Obamacare is unpopular, but it seems to not resonate as an issue like it did the past two cycles. Is the public just burned out on the issue?

I think so. It's hard to keep the public interested in something for a number of years. Even when the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, the reaction wasn't as big as I thought it would be.

I also think the fact that the current debate is taking place inside the nuanced legislative processes of Congress makes it harder to follow. How many people do you know who know how the budget process works?

The U.S. doesn't have the money for it.

I think this is a huge reason people will be reticent to approve of getting involved in future conflicts. The cost of Iraq and Afghanistan were much more than people thought they were going to be (both in lives and in dollars, I would note). And once you get involved, it becomes hard to leave.

I always thought of these two as the Upper Midwest Progressive twins. What has happened in WI to spawn Ryan and Walker (and the failed repeal) while MN continues to be relatively liberal (except for Michele Bachman who is now on hiatus)?

I still think the two states are politically similar, and I would note that Obama took just less than 53 percent in both of them last year. So while Wisconsin was talked up as a swing state, they both wound up about the same.

As for Walker and Ryan, I just think it's by chance that two big figures came out of that state.  Minnesota, meanwhile, is still searching for their next Tim Pawlenty.

Has this ever succeeded in winning a candidate the Presidency? "Going rogue" only got Sarah Palin to quit midway through her term as Governor.

There wasn't a premium on being anti-establishment until the tea party came along. Now it's a thing. Unfortunately for the tea party types, they didn't have a strong enough candidate in 2012 to beat Romney.

That may change in 2016, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

My gut tells me a tea party candidate is much less likely to get someone's vote for president than for Senate or the House. I just think it's a higher threshold, and people will go for the more traditional politicians.

I think there is a pretty wide difference between Rand-Amash and Ted Cruz who is not at all a libertarian; even though they can agree on small government and less taxes

A fair point. But I think Cruz has appeal to those folks as well.

Hiya Aaron. As one of the younger columnists and newsmen at the Post, what is your reaction to would-be news organizations like CNN and others leading with Miley Cyrus entertainment stories rather than with "real" news about conditions in Syria, problems in Egypt, 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, debt ceiling negotiations, etc.? Do you or your younger colleagues view the role of the news outlets differently than your older colleagues? Is it a generational thing? I hate to sound like a "you kids get off of my lawn" geezer, but the lines between news and entertainment seem beyond blurred. Sorry to drone on. I am interested in your opinion because I enjoy and respect your columns and coverage.

Thanks for the kind words.

Look: Journalism is struggling as an industry, and Miley Cyrus = clicks. It's also irresistable because it leads to all kinds of debate about a very valid topic: sexuality in our society. The question is when does it stop being worthwhile debate and start be prurient overkill.

I think you can do both Miley Cyrus news and Syria news, as long as you give the really important stuff (Syria) it's due. I don't personally have a problem with putting Cyrus on the front page or the homepage.

Really? Minnesota had Hubert Humphrey while Wisconsin bequeathed us Joe McCarthy. Hardly twins, other than their hairlines.

A great point. Everything happens in cycles. And keep in mind that Minnesota didn't have a Democratic governor for 20 years until Mark Dayton.

How much of the likely RNC platform will appeal to African American voters? To my eyes, it seems like the RNC is about re-branding and re-messaging a largely unchanged platform in hopes that the new marketing techniques will appeal to African American voters. In your experience covering this, have Republicans really changed their focus, and if so, what type of legislation will they proffer to put their money where their mouth is?

I think Republicans have the same problem with black voters as they do with Hispanics. The GOP is very much about limited government (it's kind of their thing), while black and Latino voters see government as playing a significant and positive role in American life.

That, to me, is a philosophical difference that is very hard to get past -- regardless of your stance on civil rights issues or immigration reform.

Relocating to NM after being in VA for 20-some years. Whats the scoop there? Any competitive races to pay attention to?

Keep an eye on the attorney general's race out there. Hector Balderas (D), currently state auditor, just announced he is running. He lost to Martin Heinrich in last year's Senate primary, but I think he'll be around for years to come if he can win next year.

The media not covering foreign affairs as much as soft news is nothing new. For 25 years the morning shows have been a long form version of entertainment tonight.

I will say this also: Most readers quite simply aren't as interested in foreign news. If people read that stuff as much as they do Miley Cyrus, newspapers would be happy to provide it. To some extent, the customers need to vote with their feet.

I think there has to be a basic comfort level that a majority of voters feel before they cast a ballot for a candidate. Christie (despite his bombast) has it, but Cruz does not (IMHO). Biden maybe makes people a bit too comfortable, but Jeb Bush could scale the comfort barrier, plus appearing to be more intelligent than his brother.

This gets to my point about tea party candidates. I think the same people who voted for Ted Cruz for Senate may choose someone a little more tradition for president, like Bush.

LePage v Michael Michaud, Michaud has to be a heavy favorite for the 2014 race correct?

As long as independent candidate Eliot Cutler doesn't approach his 2010 showing (more than 36 percent), Michaud is the clear favorite.

Apparently the Land of Enchantment is redefining marriage, so one can now marry their partner of either gender there (three populous NM counties are willing to issue same-sex couples marriage licenses).

Important point.

Also, Land of Enchantment is easily the best state nickname.

Why are republicans having such a tough time finding a candidate?

Great question. It's not like they don't have warm bodies (Latham and Reynolds). And if the GOP doesn't make this race close, it will be much harder to win back the Senate.

Granted he won in 2002, but is there a more unlucky politician in recent memory as Norm Coleman? Should have won in '98, but the MN voters went temporally insane, the White House twisted his arm to pass on the '02 gov race, and lost the epic recount in '08 by 312 votes.

No. This is clearly the most unlucky politician ever,.

Is it still IA, NH, SC and then....NC? in 2016?

Nevada should be in the first four, though the calendar won't take shape until much, much later.

Not Al Gore, who won the popular vote, but wuz robbed in Florida by the SCOTUS?

Even if you don't think he was "robbed," Al Gore certainly could lay claim to this title. I'm still going with that guy who lost because his wife didn't vote for him, though.

Wondering if even in this day and age, Booker being a bachelor may be an impediment to him running for the presidency? I think the last bachelor in the White House was Buchanan, which was a longtime ago.

I don't think it's an issue. We live in a much more open-minded society when it comes to peoples' personal lives. Whether that's being gay or being single, I don't think it matters nearly as much as it once did.

It's really hot. What's your drink of choice--adult beverage and otherwise?

Thanks to everyone for coming out. That's all we have time for today.

We'll see you next Tuesday at 2!

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 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, and dog, Mauer, live in Northern Virginia.
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