The Live Fix with Chris Cillizza: Health-care reform summit, 2010 mid-term elections, Republican's Contract with America 2?summit,

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Chris Cillizza
Friday, February 26, 2010; 11:00 AM

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Chris Cillizza: The breaking political news this morning is that New York Gov. David Paterson, a Democrat, won't seek election this fall -- following a series of stories raising ethics questions about the incumbent.The truth is that Paterson's poll numbers are so low that he had no real chance of winning either the primary or the general election this fall.His struggles validate the White House's decision to try and push him out of the race last fall. With Paterson gone, expect state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to fill the void and immediately become a solid favorite to win this fall.Lots going on today and this week. Let's get to it.

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What happened to KBH: Chris, really enjoyed the blog earlier this week about what's gone wrong with Kay Bailey Hutchison's campaign. I thought her performance in the debates was dreadful; she seemed unprepared to discuss issues as related to Texas, preferring to focus on conservative talking points. Not an impressive performance in what amounts to a job interview.On the topic of the Republican primary, it's looking like there's a high likelihood of a runoff. What effect, if any, does the runoff have on the general election? Is it a positive, that more time is spent getting the candidate's message out, or is it a negative, more time focused on beating a fellow party-member and more money spent on the same?I think Perry's a lock for a plurality, but a majority seems like a stretch right now.Obligatory Music: Check out the latest from Austin's Shearwater.

Andrea Caumont: The Fix: What happened to Kay Bailey Hutchison?

Chris Cillizza: Thanks! It was a fun piece to write.KBH has struggled mightily in this race; it is never a good thing when your best day as a candidate is the day you announce but that seems to be the case for her.I do think a runoff is likely as long as Debra Medina can continue to siphon off high single digits or low double digits. My guess is that her support is in the process of eroding in the wake of her suggestion that Sept. 11 might have been an inside job but it's not clear how fast she's losing support.The Republicans I talk to don't think the runoff will change much as Medina voters are more likely to jump to Perry than KBH.As for Shearwater, I just heard them for the first time this week on XM. Will absolutely check them out more.

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If the President has lost Slate....: Love seeing you on PBS Newshour, Chris! Slate had a really good piece this AM on how the GOP looked reasonable and calm in outlining their issues. The President essentially agreed w/(I think) McConnell on the budget numbers, but didn't follow up or have a rejoinder- which sort of proves the GOP's case. Also, talking down to a senator or rep really isn't that smart if you are trying to score at least a couple of votes.

Andrea Caumont: GOP 1, Obama 1, Democrats 0 (Slate)

Chris Cillizza: Thanks. I love doing the Newshour. It bumps up my "classy" factor exponentially!As for Summitstock, I am generally in agreement with the congealing conventional wisdom which is that it was essentially a draw and, in a political environment like this one, a tie goes to Republicans.One thing I noticed yesterday: how much Democrats missed Ted Kennedy. There was no one on their side -- aside from President Obama -- who was able to be both policy advocate and partisan depending on what the circumstances dictated.Kennedy's record of bipartisan accomplishment and work for decades on health care would likely have made him the central player for Democrats in a summit like that and without him the party was at something of a loss.

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joe biden at summitstock: Joe Biden fan here -- I dipped in and out of your Hyperfix comments all day and found more there about Joe Biden's role than any other news coverage. Anyway, since I couldn't find much of anything else written about his role, can you fill me in further? It sounded like he re-engaged his internal Senator to go right into the arena on this thing (remember his "I'm a man of the Senate" farewell speech). What were the dynamics with him and Obama, too? Did they double-team? Would just like to know more from someone who watched the whole thing.

Andrea Caumont: Chris live tweets at @thehyperfix.

Chris Cillizza: Biden is just such a throwback -- an old school politician who clearly relishes the back and forth.Unfortunately, Biden played a pretty small role yesterday as he spoke only once at any length. I am sure that was planned -- Biden and a live televised event almost certainly made the White House nervous -- but I think it was to the detriment of those of us watching.

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Easton MD: Chris, I thought the democrats went a little overboard with their use of stories from constituents to make their arguments for reform. Recycling false teeth ?

Chris Cillizza: Oh, I think both sides had their fair share of "I met a man the other day in fill-in-the-blank town" anecdotes too.I know politicians do this sort of thing because they think it gives a face to what is a realtively dry policy debate but after the second or third anecdote, I just stop listening. And I bet I'm not alone.

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The Election is Over...Not?: Hi Chris -- I wasn't able to watch any of the summit, but I did hear about Obama's comment above to McCain. What did you think of that? Over the top? I for one think that McCain has not been a very gracious loser, but that might just be me, and while Obama does have the bully pulpit, did he overreach?

Andrea Caumont: Here's the transcript of that exchange between McCain and Obama.

Chris Cillizza: It was the single most interesting moment of Summitstock although it didn't deal at all with health care.McCain was clearly in a combative mood and immediately went after Obama for breaking a series of campaign promises.Obama, who kept his cool for almost the entire summit, lost his temper momentarily to scold McCain that the election was over (and, although he didn't say it, that he had won said election.)There's not much love lost between the two of them -- an animosity born of the long and nasty 2008 campaign.I don't think the episode did either man any favors but -- let's be honest -- it was fun to watch.

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What's wrong with those people?: Seriously, Chris, what's wrong with those people on the other side? They just won't listen to reason when I explain to them that all their political beliefs are laughable and all their 'leaders" are stupid and corrupt. I do my best to convince them that I am right and they are wrong, yet they continue to disagree with me. Are they evil, or just brain-damaged?

Chris Cillizza: Wait, which side are we talking about?

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Polls & Polls: Each side can cite polls supporting their position by selecting a poll that frames questions w/a certain slant. English language is great for enabling this. E Klein's previous article indicates majority public supports most if not all individual points in Obama's latest healthcare proposal. So do Obama and the Democrats have a perception problem and what will it take to solve it?

Chris Cillizza: They absolutely have a perception problem.With any major piece of legislation, it's always easier to push "no" rather than "yes" because it can be picked apart to show some of the less savory elements including within it.That said, the White House (and Democrats in Congress) have yet to figure out how to sell the necessity of the bill to those who have insurance.Those people, if polls are to be believed, see the health care bill as unnecessary and expect it to raise their costs without making any major improvements in how they get care.

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My Take on the Summit: I know how *I* feel about the outcome, but I'm also aware of my own political biases. I think at the end of the day, it will end up being nothing more than a Political Rorschach Test. Those that support the Democrats will think they "won," and those that support the Republicans will think they "won." That's about it.What say you?

Chris Cillizza: Couldn't agree more. Hard to see how any one was persuaded based on that marathon yesterday.

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Arlington, VA: So, what is today's Fix Locus, and what is the Libation of the Day?

Chris Cillizza: I'm headed to Charlottesville later today to give a speech so I am staying close to home to pack etc. (Any restaurant/coffee place recommendations are welcome.)Tea -- just plain -- is my drink of the day. Boring, I know, but I gave up sweets for Lent so my options are pretty limited.Soundtrack: "Ash Wednesday" by Elvis Perkins. Top five album of the last decade.

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Any Chance For Levy as NY Gov?: Conservative Dem Steve Levy was considering a 3 way primary with Paterson and Cuomo - the idea was they'd divide NYC and he'd come up the middle with the Suburban vote. He's also flirted with the idea of collecting other ballot lines (GOP, Indy, Conservative). You can do this in NY. He is an unconventional candidate - but this is an unconventional year - any pathway for him?

Chris Cillizza: No.Cuomo will be the nominee and barring some sort of political cataclysm he will be governor too.

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Nevada: I know everyone looking at my home state politics has their eyes on Harry Reid's reelection race, but whither Governor Gibbons? Did you see his incredible denial and then admission this week that he had, in fact, traveled to Washington with his not-girlfriend?But the really important question: is he going to win again?

Chris Cillizza: That story was amazing. Gibbons said he hadn't had company on the trip and then pictures of him with a woman were made public.I'm not sure Gibbons can do anymore damage to his political image in the state -- after all, there isn't a number lower than 0.Gibbons is going to run for re-election this fall but he's likely to lose the primary to former federal judge Brian Sandoval.Sandoval vs Rory Reid (son of Harry) in the general election will be a good one

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paterson: Um, well, I was just under the impression that the administration would PREFER cuomo - and so, well, it's kind of a self fulfilling prophecy right? They want him out so they can have their guy in. Not so surprising...they are doing it all over the country.

Chris Cillizza: The White House definitely prefers Cuomo -- he is WAY ahead of Rick lazio in general election polling -- but they had already tried, unsuccessfully, to get him out.Paterson could have stayed in the race had it not been for the devastating story in the New York Times that alleges he intervened on behalf of a top aide in an assault case.Not good.

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Kennedy, Biden and ???: Chris, I think you've put your finger on Mr. Obama's dilemma. Kennedy's gone and Biden is marginalized as everybody's lovable loose cannon. Who else is there from within the Democratic ranks to step forward and run not only the out-front rhetorical interference, but the behind-closed-doors deal closing. Sorry, but Reid and Pelosi convey little confidence in those roles.Pretty hard for the President to remain presidential when it's up to him to do all the heavy lifting.

Chris Cillizza: I sort of expected Chris Dodd to play a more prominent role but he didn't.And, with him retiring this fall, he won't be doing that going forward.I thought Obama performed incredibly well yesterday but he got almost no help from his Democratic colleagues. Republicans Members of Congress were far more effective in communicating their message. Without Obama, that summit would have been close to a disaster for Democrats.

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Reconciliation: Did I even spell that right?Will the Ds be able to come up with an effective rejoinder to the Republican's recent messaging that reconciliation amounts to abuse of the legislative process? I know that the Republicans have used it a gazillion times themselves, but the Democrats' saying so just sounds so reactionary. It always amazes me how the Republicans stay on message and can make even the most disingenuous point sound principled.On a related note, how do the Democrats address those people who support healthcare reform but only if it is bipartisan? And is that attitude born of distrust of Democratic politics, or something else?On the soundtrack here: the Blender song (or Blender Blues) by Bonnie Raitt. classic.

Chris Cillizza: Defining whether reconciliation is a) a tactic that has been used any number of times in the past to pass major pieces for legislation or b) a sharp break from the way business is done will be the fight of the next month. Senate and in the country.At the same time, President Obama seemed resolved to go down that path -- saying in his closing remarks that if legitimate philosophical differences existed then decisions would have to be made; "that's why we have elections," he added about the possible consequences.it's going to be a fascinating month. "Angel from Montgomery"?

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K St: Nice analysis of the Hill and Hoyas on the TK show. Will you become a regular?

Chris Cillizza: THANKS!It was a thrill to be on with Mr. Tony as I have been a longtime fan. And, to get the chance to talk Georgetown hoops made it that much better. Time will tell....

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Cuomo is a Sure Thing ...: Isn't that what you guys said about Coakley?

Chris Cillizza: "you guys"!True enough.Well played.

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McLean: Charlie Cook sees Republican gains in the 40s and 50s, and chalks it up to health care and unemployment.Alan Abramowitz projects a Republican gain of 37 and chalks it up mostly to the usual midterm loss and an unusually large number of Democrats in Congress due to the romps of '06 and '08.Stu Rothenberg and Larry Sabato go district-by-district and project a Republican gain somewhere in the high 20s.What do you say?

Chris Cillizza: I think, as of today, I am with Stu. 25-30 seats for Republicans.Having worked for and spent a lot of time with Charlie, I know his prediction that the House is going to flip is not based on a race by race analyis but rather on the strong environmental move away from Democrats.I agree 100% with him about the toxicity of the political environment f0r Democrats. But, I also think they have a few months -- thought not that many -- to try and make it slightly better for themselves and, in the process, limit their losses.

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Lancaster , Pa.: Now that Joe the Plumber has endorsed Sam Rohrer for Governor in Pennsylvania, anyone think that a low turnout primary with a high turnout of angry conservatives might mean a Rohrer upset in the primary?

Chris Cillizza: Nope. Tom Corbett is the VERY likely Republican nominee and is a favorite in the general election as well.That said, we said the same thing about Martha Coakley...;)

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former federal judge Brian Sandoval.: How does one get to be a _former_ Federal judge? I thought those were lifetime appoinments.

Chris Cillizza: Unless you resign your post to seek office...Sandoval was nominated for the job by Harry Reid -- a move that was seen as the always-strategizing Reid's attempt to take an up and coming Republican pol off the playing field forever.

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More Nevada: Hi Chris,I've read several articles indicating that Vegas Mayor Oscar "Show Girls" Goodman is going to stage an independent bid for Governor. Do you see him having much of an impact?

Chris Cillizza: He said he woud not run a week or two ago.Political reporters everywhere were crushed.

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Charlottesville: South Street Brewery, 106 South Street, one block off of the Historic Downtown Mall, Charlottesville -- not a beer drinker? The food is good too . . .

Chris Cillizza: Awesome...keep them coming...

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Reporters: Chris,Is the only things we have left in reporting is to relegate the "profession" to describing the theatrical aspects of politics? Why do reporters regularly forget to summarize, research, analyze, document and compare the policy assertions and implications. What we are now left with is with the reader having to do this while the reporter, tongue in cheek, smirks/jokes in his writing as if he/she were above the whole thing.

Chris Cillizza: This is the sort of criticism that bugs me.Is there ANY doubt that yesterday's summit was regarded by every participant as political theater?1. It was televised.2. Most pols of both parties basically read statements without engaging in any real dialogue3. There was NO reasonable expectation on either side that the summit would move the debate forward in any real way.For me, as a reporter, to act as if this was anything short of straight political theater would not be shooting straight with my readers.Also, let me reiterate, that the Post did TONS of great coverage on what was said, why and who was right/wrong. The Fix is a political blog and, as such, I analyze who I think won and lost in the context of campaign politics.

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Minneapolis, MN: Chris, I hate to say it, but you're the worst kind of conventional wisdom pundit. You're like a sportswriter who knows all the scores, but has no idea how a team wins or loses the game. You follow politics, but you hate policy, which makes you less than worthless.But I'm going to give you a chance to redeem yourself by answering me this question: Tell me what the Republicans plan is to reform healthcare, who they will help, and what kind of insurance they will receive, and how they plan to lower costs. You watched the summit, I assume you were following their arguments. Please explain their plan to us, and all will be forgiven.

Chris Cillizza: See above answer.I have never billed myself as anything other than a guy who loves politics and wants to share my love of it with other people who feel the same way.Also, how is it possible to be "less than worthless"?;)

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Atlanta, GA: Hey,I just wanted to say that I like the new format. How come the rest of the chats aren't using it? Are you the Test Pig?

Andrea Caumont: We're testing the new format in many, but not all of our chats now.

Chris Cillizza: A vote for the new format! And that's one!If I might quote Jack Donaghy: "They are testing the poison on me"

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Summit a disaster for Democrats: It doesn't help that at least CNN only cut away when Democrats were talking, at least for the first 3 hours. I started trying to watch it there, but every time a Democrat not named Obama was speaking they cut away for "analysis". I then switched to try and watch it on MSNBC, but they were interviewing Armstrong Williams (whose claim to fame is a seedy contract he had with Bush's Dept. of Education) instead of showing the meeting.I ended up watching it online.If no one who doesn't have C-Span3 couldn't see what the Democrats were saying, it is not a surprise that the summit was deemed to be bad for them.

Chris Cillizza: I watched it on C-span.org. Gavel to gavel -- except that there were no gavels.

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Speaking of Tony the K...: ...what did YOU think of Hannah Storm's outfit?

Chris Cillizza: Oh nice try.

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Charlottesville Eats ...: So, for the chat, what is the tipping point when someone is actually ready to call for a vote?Try littlejohn's (on the Corner) for a sub. College Inn (still on the Corner) for awesome pizza.

Chris Cillizza: Thanks!As for reconciliation votes (I think that is what you are talking about), my guess is that Democrats will use the next few weeks to frame up the debate before proceeding on actaul yeas and nays.

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paterson again: But...well...there are those who think the NYT printed its story prodded by the administration - pretty good timing (there are those who think the NYT does the WH bidding much of the time...). They didn't have to print it when there was still plenty of time left to get new candidates...

Chris Cillizza: Wow. While I generally love conspiracy theories, I doubt the White House has much power over the editorial decision of the New York Times on matters of Empire State politics.

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New Format Question--: I tend to read all of these political chats throughout the week--and even some of the non-poltical ones; yours is the only one I've seen with this format. Any reason you have been singled out?

Andrea Caumont: Chris is one of our more technically savvy hosts, so he gets the honor of going first.

Chris Cillizza: I'm special. I leave it up to you as to whether that is a good or a bad thing.

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"Less than worthless": "Less than worthless" are the people who hate your column so much, yet can't stop reading it ; )

Chris Cillizza: Page views!!! Hate away!

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"Isn't that what you guys said about Coakley?": Chris, I have to come to your defense on that easy shot. No way you can equate Cuomo with Coakley. Not even in the same ballpark. I concur, even in this perilous political environment, Cuomo rises to the top.

Chris Cillizza: Someone coming to my defense -- a rarity! I will take it.

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Western PA: What sort of a chance does Mark Critz (Jack Murtha's director in the 12th district) have against big names like Mark Singel and Barbara Hafer for the Democratic nomination for Murtha's Congressional seat? I read that Mrs. Murtha is backing Critz, but can he develop sufficient name recognition by the time of the May primary compared to those other two?

Chris Cillizza: Check out the "Morning Fix" for more on the race...Single dropped out yesterday...the state executive committee will pick betweem Critz and Barbara Hafer on march 8.Don't underestimate how many people on that committee are loyal to Murtha...

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Chevy Chase, MD.: The election is several months away. It's like the Redskins: they are behind 28 points, but it is only the second quarter. What does the coach say at half time that changes the change for the Redskins, I am, Democrats to come back and kept control of Congress after the November elections? Or is the Democratic team too deficient in skilled players to make a comeback this year?

Chris Cillizza: I am sure the Democrats would love the idea of being compared to the Skins. Why not the Wizards!I don't have an easy answers on how Democrats can change the political landscape. If the economy starts showing signs of improvement, if jobs start to be created in a major way, if the unemployment rate starts trending downward then Democrats have some reason for optimism.From a purely strategic point of view, the White House believes the only way for Democratic Members to avoid defeat is to pass health care -- allowing them to tell their constituents that they got something down in gridlocked Washington.Of course, if people don't want the bill, passing it might not be the best solution either.

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C'ville: Can't go to Charlottesville and not stop at the White Spot on the Corner. I think they let big-city liberals in there.

Chris Cillizza: Despite that attempt to glean my political leaning -- impossible! -- I appreciate the recommendation.

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Burgers in DC: I know you love Coffee joints, but DC has awesome burgers.Are you Ray's Hell fan or Good Stuff Man? Z Burger Perhaps?How about a live chat from those fine dining places?

Chris Cillizza: GREAT question.My rankings:1. Good Stuff (on the Hill)2. Z Burger (free wifi and great shakes)3. Five Guys4. Burger Joint (so expensive!)5. Elevation Burger6. Ray's (Only been once and it wasn't a good experience)

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For "Minneapolis" and "Reporters": I swear to god, Chris answers questions like these all the time. Criticizing him for not discussion policy is like complaining that your pediatrician can't fix your car. Folks, policy is not his job. His job is dealing with horse race politics. You can learn everything you want to know about policy implications from a host of other Post reporters (Paul Kane, Shalaigh Murray, etc. It's not Chris's job. If you don't care about political handicapping, please go away.

Chris Cillizza: Thanks, Dad. I needed that ;)

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The New Format: I like it a lot, especially for the elimination of the need to refresh. The Post's servers are so slow that you could grow old waiting for the next answer, so this is a big improvement.You know who else likes the new format? Raj Gupta and Bill Simmons.

Chris Cillizza: Gratuitous. And appreciated.

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Chris Cillizza: I am off to Mr. Jefferson's University. Have a GREAT weekend and spread the word about the "Live Fix" chat!Chris


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