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Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 7, 2010; 11:00 AM

The Post's Perry Bacon Jr. took your questions about the latest political news and previews the week ahead.

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Perry Bacon Jr.: Welcome to the chat folks. I"m in California today, about to start following Carly Fiorina.

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Fairfax: At what point do Democrats give up on Kendrick Meek breaking through in the Florida Senate race and start to back Charlie Crist? I mean, a Senator Crist has to be better than a Senator Rubio from a Democratic perspective, correct?

Perry Bacon Jr.: I suspect they will back Meek as long as he is viable candidate, which he certainly is right now.

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Arlington VA: Do you think the "Pink Elephants" will indeed increase the female representation in the House and Senate and if so, do you think more business-minded women are an asset for the Republican party for 2010?

Perry Bacon Jr.: I think in general, in anti-establishment, kind of years like this one, candidates who are different are helpful. I would say gender, being a non-lawyer, serving in the military, etc. would all be good factors this year. That said, candidates. Meg Whitman is doing well in part not because she is an outsider, but a very wealthy person who can dump millions into a campaign. That money is surely an asset.

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Pullman, Washington: What ever happened to Charlie Rangel? Is he still a congressman?

Perry Bacon Jr.: Not only is still a congressman, but he is running for reelection. On the other hand, he's no longer chairman of a major committee (Ways and Means) as he had been for the last several years.

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Charlottesville, VA: Re Joe Sestak -- have legal analysts concluded that a law was broken? Or should we move on, nothing to see here?

Perry Bacon Jr.: So far, no laws seem to have been broken. That said, the Republicans are making a smart play on this issue, suggesting it shows Obama, despite his pledges of changing Washington, employs "politics as usual" tactics. I don't think Obama ever promised during the campaign not to use appointments as a political tool (every political leader in both parties does this) but the Republicans are smart to highlight what might seem to voters to be too transactional.

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st paul: Hi Perry -- Thanks for taking questions today. At what point can the president shift, even if just a little bit, from the oil spill to other issues? This is starting to feel like the Iran hostage situation of 1979-1980, what with the "day 34 of the crisis" mentality that this has taken on. And does visiting there every two weeks really make a difference? Yes, it is a tragedy and the damage that it has caused and will continue to cause is appalling, but there are other important issues that demand his (and our) attention.

Perry Bacon Jr.: He is giving a speech about health care tomorrow, gave one on energy last week, etc. I think he's working on other issues. I don't know if you are an Obama supporter or not, but if you are, I would argue you should hope he works as much as possible on the oil spill. Katrina and the perception Bush didn't do enough to help effectively ended any power he had to push the public or people on Capitol Hill to listen to him. If Obama doesn't manage this crisis well, he will lose influence on other issues.

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Welcome to paradise, Perry: How much do relatively extreme statements made to play to the primary base come back to haunt candidates in the general election? Carly's been making fun of Barbara Boxer's concerns about climate change, for example, but if I remember the polls correctly most Californians view it as real and pretty important to life here.

Perry Bacon Jr.: It depends. Clearly, Rand Paul's statements on civil rights aren't helping. Fiorina in one of the debates said people on the no fly list should be able to buy guns. (There is an argument for what she said, but it's the kind of thing that will come up again)

That said, if you are the right candidate, in the right place at the right time, you can get past controversial statements. And have to say, I really don't think being opposed to the current climate change legislation is going to hurt a lot of candidates.

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Jews and the left: Going back to FDR Jews have almost always supported the Dems. As liberals increase their attacks on the Jewish state, along with the liberal Helen Thomas recent anti-Semitic remarks, any chance we would start seeing this important fundrasing block start considering the Republicans?

Perry Bacon Jr.: Jews, like blacks, have voted mainly Democratic for decades and I simply have a hard time seeing that changing dramatically.

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RE: St. Paul: Funny I have been thinking the same thing. GOP and media criticism now have forced the President to devote a lot of time, focus and energy to something he has zero control over and only has downsides. The President needs to replace whichever adviser led him to this senseless capitulation.

Perry Bacon Jr.: I would say reality and the magnitude of the situation, along with the media and the GOP, have pushed Obama to focus on this issue. Any president would have to focus on this.

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