The Live Fix with Chris Cillizza

Jun 11, 2010

Every Friday, The Fix goes live, as Chris Cillizza discusses the latest news about Congress, the Obama administration, upcoming elections and all the latest political news.

Hello everyone...I am taking a break from my plan to relentlessly watch the World Cup for the next few days to spend an hour chatting with you all.

So, let's make this a good one! To the questions...

Chris, Chris, I read an article in Politico the other day that gave Palin all the credit for primary wins in California and Iowa by candidates who were both well ahead of their opponents prior to Palin's endorsement. I know you have a wonderful sliding scale for endorsements, so I was curious if you think she made any real difference in these primaries or if undeserved credit is being given. For the record, I do think she helped Haley in South Carolina, but the other ones seem a lot more questionable.

Good question and thanks for the grautitous plug for the Fix Endorsement Hierarchy.

I am, as people who read the Fix know, somewhat skeptical about the power of almost all endorsements -- including those from Palin.

But, in SC and CA, I actually think Palin made a difference.

In SC, Palin had endorsed Nikki Haley a little while ago -- amid the state Rep's meteoric rise in the governor's race -- but her real value came when Haley was under attack for alleged infidelities. Palin not only stood by her woman but also compared the attacks against Haley to those leveled against her during the 2008 race. That badge of honor mattered/mattered to conservatives.

In California, Palin's endorsement of Carly Fiorina also, I think, mattered in that it served as a validator of Fiorina's conservatism and made it a heck of a lot easier for voters on the ideological right to support her.

Palin's support for Terry Branstad, which came at the last minute, was far less meaningful.

They say that South Carolina is too small to be its own country, but too big to be an insane asylum. Now I'm not so sure. I'm still waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop out of the corner. Did that really just happen?

The whole last 10 days or so in South Carolina reminded me of one of the best album titles ever: :"Nothing's Shocking" by Jane's Addiction.

(Sidenote: That album -- and Jane's Addiction generally -- were freaking awesome. "Mountain Song". Good gosh.)

In doing research and reporting for a Fix post I wrote on the five nastiest races in SC history -- Live Fix superproducer Andrea, can you link? -- I was reminded that they really do play VERY rough in the Palmetto State.

What's fascinating about the gov primary is that the attacks on Haley actually strengthened her hand rather than weakened it. Political jujitsu!


Jerry Brown reportedly compares Meg Whitman's campaign message(s) to the propaganda invented by Joesph Goebbels and Carly Fiorina disses Boxer's hair! And it's only June! BRING IT ON!


Don't forget that California is also the biggest state in the country and, in one of my favorite one-liners, when California sneezes the rest of the country catches a cold.

California -- with a real gov and Senate race -- is going to be absolutely fascinating over the next few months.

Hello, thanks for taking my question. Since Barbara Boxer has a $10 million bank account to fund her Senate race, isn't it more logical that a wealthy Carly Fiorina could match her spending and thereby level the playing field? It makes sense to me, what do you think?

Republicans believe that Fiorina's personal money will have something of a leveling effect on the race.

And, in California, without money you are nothing politically because the state is so big and communicating with voters is done almost exclusively on TV.

Fiorina has major hurdles -- most notably her dismissal from HP -- to deal with but Boxer is not a great fit (longtime incumbent who can be painted as carrying a sense of entitlement to political office) in this political climate either.

California didn't break into the top 10 in our Friday Senate Line -- new this morning on the Fix! -- but it's definitely one to keep an eye on.

BREAKING NEWS: Apple has just informed me via email that my iPad has shipped.  This is HUGE.  I wonder if the networks will break into their regularly scheduled programming....

Politico is reporting that candidate Brown compared his opponents advertisements and actions to those of 'Goebbels.' While Carly Fiorena's comments regarding Boxer's hair got lots of coverage, the press seems to be mostly silent on Brown. Which comment is likely to get traction as days go by?

To be fair, the Jerry Brown "Goebbels" comments broke late last night and myself as well as Politico's Ben Smith (among others) immediately tweeted on it.

You're Senate Rankings sorta assumed Roy Blunt will be the nominee, but isn't some rando Tea Partier out there that is surging and getting closer and closer to knocking Congressman Blunt out? Also I can them Teabaggers because I actually like the Boston Tea Party of 1773 and won't let take over that symbol. When I was protesting before the invasion of Iraq, I didn't run around calling myself the Continental Congress.

On Blunt: he is going to be the nominee. No real tea party uprising against him.

Also, nice use of the word "rando". Much like "book it" (as in "We need to book it out of here") I would like to bring those great 80s phrases back into the vernacular.

Hey Fix, I'm a huge fan so please don't take this as criticism of you. You do a great job. But as a political historian who sees many more parallels to an anti-incumbent election vs. an anti-Democrat election, it is frustrating to see how even the best analysts such as yourself and NBC's Chuck Todd seem to buy into the conventional Republican story line. Why are Democrats destined to lose seats? You can make a compelling case that 5-8 Republican seats are in play. And yet, every development seems to be read through Red color glasses. Two examples, Sharon Angle gets nominated against Harry Reid. While Reid's numbers are low, he just got reelected. He has $10 million to go negative while Angle is broke. He will define her. And there is no way a candidate who wants to outlaw alcohol, is connected to scientology, encourages police officers to promote anarchy, wants to CUT regulation on Wall Street in this environment, etc. is electable. Yet Reid remains high on the line. 2nd example, you added Washington to the Line at 10. But the last poll had Patty Murray up 6 points. Yet, no one has mentioned Iowa even being a little competitive, but Grassley has been up +8, & +9 in the last two reputable polls. He also has the right profile to get ousted in an anti-incumbent wave.

My basic point: There are three Senate seats currently held by Democrats -- ND, DE and AR -- where Republicans are clear favorite in the fall.

So, you start -- probably -- with a R+3 pickup. Then you have places like Nevada, Illinois etc where the GOP probably has an even money shot.

Democrats best pickup chances are in places like NC, LA and, maybe, IA. The first two are not exactly friendly territory for Democrats right now and in Chuck Grassley remains pretty formidable -- although., admittedly, Roxanne Conlin has run a very good campaign to date.

Make sense?

Am I helping Crist behind the scenes? Food for thought: Nobody in either party would touch Charlie, but now a Dem firm Knickerbocker SKD - Which is headed by Schumer Alum and close mentee Josh Isay! Schumer is willing to venture across the aisle more than Durbin to get things done - this may be an insurance policy on getting Crist to caucus with dems - And Vote Chuck as Majority Leader! As you mentioned earlier - Crist removed some pro-life language from his site - perhaps an early first step in anticipation of caucusing with the Dems ALSO: Chuck n Charlie may be kindred spirits: two uberpols who live for the game of politics more than anything - and who have an uncanny instinct for how it's played. Charlie n Chuck sitting in a tree... K-I-S-S-I-N-G

SO GOOD. This may be my favorite "question" in recent memory.

Also, is there ANY doubt that if Crist wins he would caucus with Democrats?

I have wc on my pc--since you stepped away--zero-zero at the half. I am wc obssed also--Vamos Argentina!!!

Teams I am really looking forward to seeing play:

1. Argentina (messi!)

2. Spain (all around awesomeness)

3. USA (Rampant homerism)

4. Ivory Coast (Drogba plays with broken arm; the Willis Reed of soccer)

5. England (Two words: Wayne Rooney)

I submitted this comment last week, but you mysteriously disappeared. Anyhoo. I'm as much into schadenfreude as the next snarker, but could you also do a Best Week in Washington feature? It would give some much--needed lift to my news. Speaking of which, I'm awfully glad they found that 16-year old girl who was attempting to sail around the world alone. A perilous task for anyone of any age to take on.

Best week in Washington: Stephen Strasburg. 14k's!

Also, in case you missed it, organized labor won Worst Week in Washington.

So Alvin Greene...I'd like to think the people involved in a would-be plot in SC wouldn't be dumb enough to try it, but it does seem like the perfect spot for a dirty trick: open election, organized Tea Party people, a guy in a tough spot, and an African-American to be made a mockery of. What is the general consensus about a well-executed conspiracy vs. fluke electoral result?

I think Alvin Greene is much ado about not much. It's an interesting story but the simple fact is that even if the other guy had won the primary this is not a race we would ever be talking about in the fall.

Jim DeMint's conservatism is a very nice fit for the state of South Carolina and he is in absolutely no danger of losing. And, never was.

Your colleague Ezra Klein said that South Carolina Democrats should have ran at least a credible candidate. You might like to mention Vic Rawl to him next time you chat at the WaPo water cooler. Vic Rawl's $186, 000 in donations, actually campaigning, having website with his platform, endorsements of folks like former Sen. Fritz Hollings. My friend told me two reasons Alvin Greene might have won is that 'Greene' is known African American surname within South Carolina so African-American voters might have just vote for him since they didn't know either candidate. Another reason is that South Carolina has open primaries so Republicans can vote for the Democratic nominees and there are some initial reports of that happening around the state.

To reiterate: Even if Vic "Don't call me Lou" Rawl had won, it wouldn't have mattered. People may not like DeMint nationally but he is a very good fit for SC -- particularly in what is shaping up to be a good year nationally for Republicans.

On the latest Senate Line, FL has dropped off. With Crist ahead or tied in the polls, what's the justification for dropping FL? Or are you counting Crist as a de facto Repub & thus 'holding' the seat?

Good question and one I struggled with.

Everything I hear -- from Crist allies and detractors -- is that there is MUCH more to come on the Jim Greer story and what comes out will not look good for the governor.

That, plus my belief that Democrats will ultimately leave Crist and come home to the party nominee, makes me think that the race is shaping up pretty nicely for Marco Rubio.

But, given the twists and turns that the race has already produced, I hesitate to predict.

I think I've earned that." How much of an impact will military voters have in California, now that Boxer has publicly dissed their commander?

I think that episode -- a general referred to Boxer as "ma'am" and she corrected him to say "Senator" -- will be used heavily by Fiorina as an attempt to illustrate the idea that the Democrat believes she is entitled to the office.

Not sure if it has special resonance for military voters or not but it's clearly a negative that will be used against Boxer in the fall.

Is he really a serious candidate? I am old enough to remember when he still was Governor Moonbeam. Did he do a credible job as mayor of Oakland? I'm sure that city's problems may be used in a campaign commercial.

He is absolutely a serious candidate. Don't forget that he drive rising star (and SF Mayor) Gavin Newsom from the primary and scared everybody else who was thinking about running away.

Brown has one thing going for him that is golden in the Golden State: name ID. Everyone knows who he is. Don't underestimate that.

For the rest of the chat, can we end every question/answer with the pejorative, "fool"? It just seems like the best way to achieve your objective, fool.

That's a pretty good idea, fool.

Also, should I be excited about the new A-Team movie? 

Vic Rawl or Alvin Greene might not win in November against Jim DeMint, but you could say the same thing about Bill Halter and Blanche Lincoln, but you spend SO MUCH time and energy covering that race. Wonks and diehard politicos don't really seem to care about this Democratic primary in South Carolina, but I think it's the most interesting to folks who don't really follow politics or have much interest in it to begin with. I mean let's face it, Alvin Greene and his win is weird. Not politics weird, but weird in any sense.

Sure. Fair point.


I was sorry to miss you when you came to BA last year and please consider coming back for the greatest sporting event in the planet: the Field Hockey World Cup to be held in Argentina next August. Early handicap question: Wouldn't you say that Scott Brown is emerging as the go to guy for VP for whatever conservative candidate captures the GOP 2012 nomination?

Oh man. That would be fun. Might have to organize a Fix family trip....

As for Scott Brown, I am not sure about that. His votes since coming to the Senate suggest he is positioning himself to run for re-election in 2012 and remember that while he is a star, he is also VERY new on the national scene.

Remember we were talking about Bob McDonnell as the sure-thing VP six months ago? That talk has quieted. 

These things have seasons..

One of the under-reported aspects of the 2010 elections is the impact gubernatorial and state house races will have on redistricting. In the Line or future Fix articles, can you PLEASE, PLEASE focus on this? What states' governor's races are crucial for redistricting? What state houses are potentially at risk for switching majorities and thus influencing redistricting efforts? Thanks!

States where the govenor's race matters alot in 2011 redistricting:

Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan.

Just curious, are Roxanne Conlin, who won the primary for Senate from Iowa and probably just as much of a shot of looney tunes Sharron Angle, or Libby Mitchell, who also won her close primary and frontrunner to be the first female Governor of Maine, not getting more attention in the "Night of the Women" primaries?

Good question.

I think it's because in the most high profile races of the night (California, Nevada Senate, South Carolina Gov.) Republican women emerged victorious.

And, in Iowa, Conlin didn't really have a serious primary. Victories by Libby Mitchell and Blanche Lincoln should not be overlooked though....

Might Greene winning the Democratic nom be a good thing for the national party? They weren't going to win anyway, and now they can save the money and spend it elsewhere. Every dollar counts.

Again, the national Democratic party was NEVER going to spend a dime in SC no matter who won the nomination on Tuesday. Never. Not ever.

Saw latest polling out of FL-Senate Dems... is Meeks toast?

It's Meek, as in Kendrick Meek and I don't think he is "toast" but he's also not in the most advantageous spot at the moment.

Billionaire Jeff Greene has dropped $4 million on TV ads and quickly caught up with Meek who is husbanding his more limited resources in advance of the Aug. 24 primary.

Greene is likely to have another month in which to run television ads ucnhallenged by Meek.  How those ads do in terms of defining Greene will go a long way to determining whether Meek can win.

I can't see your video, work blocks streaming vids but I don't understand some of the White House people dissing labor. They're one of the major reasons they're there. Dumping on labor to prove you're tough can be kinda stupid when you need boots on the ground.

Blocks streaming video? What is this, Russia?

I am not sure the White House's decision to attack labor for its decision to go into Arkansas whole hog (ahem) makes that much sense.

Labor is already not thrilled with what they've gotten (or, more accurately, haven't gotten) from the White House and Democrats in Congress over the past 18 months.

This sort of back and forth won't help to heal those wounds.

My guess? The White House believes that labor may complain but ultimately will be with them because Republicans are not a viable alternative for the union agenda.

Mr T in Your Pocket Talking Keychain

I have one, and it's great for pointless meetings...especially the "Don't gimme no jibber-jabber!" button.

Wow, fool, that is awesome.

Mr. T cannot be replicated. That is why I worry for this A Team movie.

The primary in Arkansas between Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln was easier to broaden out to a national audience, right? I mean it was about the relationship of labor unions with the Democratic party, the relationship of the Netroots with the Democratic party, Barack Obama influence within the African American community with his robocalls, Bill Clinton's power as a surrogate, etc... Alvin Greene and Vic Rawl is really a story that's contained within South Carolina and hard to really say how this is important to other major elections in other states. While I agree with folks that Alvin Green's win is totally interesting, I also get why The Fix isn't covering it as much as Arkansas.

Thanks, Mom.

If he throws them out the Second Story Window of the White House, will that be considered "Angry Enough" for the Pundits?

Not sure but that would make GREAT TV. Nothing but ratings!

Could a Greene win be good for Dems in the long run? He would certainly be the weaker candidate and would help Crist win the AA vote in the general.

He would also spend all of his own money and relieve the national party of a debate over whether they should put money into Florida to try to win a seat they probably can't win.

In a state as large as CA, it is beyond my comprehension why the Dems would choose a tired, rather out-of-the-loop person like Brown to be the governor nominee. Can you explain to me why he was the choice? I am a Dem, and if I lived in CA, I would not vote for him.

So, there's this....

Whitman will try to define him, but Jerry doesn't fit into any box. He was a very credible mayor for a city that many saw as un-governable. He's also been a very credible Atty. General. So, he's a law-and-order, fiscal non-dogmatic conservative, social progressive. Will California voters be able to hear his message over a 40-60 million dollar TV campaign (81 million spent in the primary) from the personal coffers of Meg Whitman? Not likely, but stay tuned.

And then there's this.

Better than "fool." End all sentences with "not." Example, "Crist is a lock to wrap up the FL race by Labor Day...NOT!!!" Mixing politics and ninth grade humor is sure bet to boost your web traffic....NOT.

My gosh. I LOVED that.

I am also going to start "pegging" the cuffs of all my pants, wearing Eastland deck shoes and talking about how Robert Smith (of the Cure) is the biggest musical genius since Lennon/McCartney.

This Rick Scott guy is on the verge of knocking off career-politician Bill McCollum. My wife had an interesting point of view: "He's run a large business, and he screwed the federal government. I can appreciate that in a governor."

I wrote yesterday about how the rise of Scott and Jeff Greene in Florida is evidence of two things: 1) Money talks in big states and 2) voters really are in a throw the bums out mood.

Are you booked on MSNBC tonight? If yes, when and where? If no, it's their loss.

Have to answer the questions from my agent/Mom....

No, I am not. Whether it's their loss or not is up for debate.

But I WILL be on Andrea Mitchell today at 1:50!!!

Whoever approved the Veep's red blazer needs to be fired, immediately.

Biden is a king among men. How many politicians could pull that off? Answer: Bill Clinton and Joey B.

I'm really worried if The Karate Kid will win the tournament against the kids who bullied him. Do you think he has a chance?

The Cobra Kai are tough. That said, "Johnny" must be 55 years old by now, a fact that could give Jaden Smith an edge.

Also, Ralph Macchio will always be MY Karate Kid.

Any good stuff coming out of my homestate of Rhode Island? I'm so out of the loop, I just heard this week that Patrick J. Kennedy is retiring and not seeking re-election. WOW! Who's the likely nominee to replace him?

Good things out of Rhode Island: Seafood, beaches, Del's Frozen Lemonade.

Mark Kirk had 2 things going for him: 1) Ethics advantage, and 2) Perceived moderate bona fides. Illinois voters were so turned off by Springfield and Alexi's bank scandal that they were willing to go "R" with Kirk by default. His lying now opens up voters to look at, gulp!, issues, and Illinois is still Democratic. Kirk is in big trouble.

I think IL has gotten a lot more interesting lately. Kirk's struggles to stop the bleeding on exaggerations/misstatements in his military resume has handed Democrats a PERFECT opportunity to change the topic from Alexi Giannoulias and his family's failed bank.

Attention will turn back to it at some point but Democrats now have the ability to muddy the water on ethics.

Jim DeMint won't lose in November. I'm 100% positive you state the same thing about Martha Coakley in a previous chat last autumn. Just saying, stranger things have happened then Jim DeMint losing.

Yes they have. But, by and large, politics plays out the way we expect it to. And, I expect Jim DeMint to win easily.

As a faithfully follower of the Fix (and Hyper Fix!), I cannot believe I haven't seen a picture of Fix Jr. in so long. What gives? You keep talking about, like, politics and stuff. HELLO, priorities!

Fix Jr. is AWESOME. 15 months old. Smiley.  Great laugh. Reddish hair like his momma. Likes to read (or, more accurately, frantically flip through) books. Fav foods: applesauce, hummus. Least fav foods: whatever daddy is trying to feed him and peanuts to which he is allergic (booo!)

Seriously, have Fix Jr in our lives is the most incredible blessing.  Thanks for asking.

That's all folks! Make sure to check out the Fix for our rankings of the 10 Senate races most likely to switch parties in the fall and for our "Worst Week in Washington" writeup!

See you next Friday!

In This Chat
Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza 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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