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The Live Fix with Chris Cillizza

Chris Cillizza
Friday, January 28, 2011; 11:00 AM

Get your Friday Live Fix as Chris Cillizza discusses the Friday Line, the Worst Week in Washington, Congress, the Obama administration, the recent elections and all the latest political news.

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Chris Cillizza: Good morning! Sorry for lateness...but I'm here now and that's what matter, right? Right?Let's make magic.

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GOP parts?: Hi Chris, It seems to me the biggest loser from Michele Bachmann's response to the STOU speech was Paul Ryan. No one is talking about what he said. Moderate, or even less media interesting GOP voices seem to get drowned out. Do you see this as a problem right up to the 2012 election?

Chris Cillizza: Yes. It's a major problem for Republicans.While Ryan and Bachmann are about equally conservative on most issues, Bachmann is tonally the more conservative and, as a result, will offer a more full-throated and controversial criticism of President Obama than Ryan will.And, television love controversy so Bachmann will get more coverage -- drowning out what I thought was a solid if unspectacular performance by Ryan.It's especially a problem for Republicans if Sarah Palin runs for president. She will suck up almost all of the media oxygen, making it tough for any other candidate to break through in a meaningful way.

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Who's Jay Carney?: I'll tell ya who Jay Carney is...he is a spoonful of sugar. Yum!

Chris Cillizza: Um, whoah.As I said in today's "Fast Fix" about Carney, he does have a tremendous head o hair (he says jealously.)Fast Fix: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/the-fast-fix/

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Chris Cillizza: When you go home home every night, do you say to your wife, "finally, the Cillizza has come back home"

Chris Cillizza: Yes, I do. Are u spying on me?

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Mike Pence: How surprised were you that Mike Pence announced he is not running for president?

Chris Cillizza: Not all that surprised. The fact is that with Evan Bayh and lt. Gov. Becky Skillman both not running, Pence has the closest thing to a free shot at being the governor of Indiana in 2012.That's tough to pass up for any politician, particularly one as ambitious as Pence who knows that a few years of "executive experience" on his resume would do wonders.Pence will run for president at some point down the line. I think him taking a pass on the 2012 race was the right move -- assuming he runs and wins the governorship.

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Poor Man's Example: Meghan McCain stated that Michele Bachmann is a poor man's Sarah Palin. Is Dana Milbank a poor man's Chris Cillizza?

Chris Cillizza: I think you have that equation reversed.

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Winter: Are you snowbound?

Chris Cillizza: If sitting in a Starbucks in upper Northwest DC is snowbound, then yes.So, no.

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Palin and the GOP Nomination: How critical is it for Palin to win the ongoing silent presidential primary for advisors, staff and donors at this stage of the GOP nomination fight (assuming that she will run)? Also, could should plausibly skip the Iowa caucus and the NH primary and remain a viable candidate for the nomination?

Chris Cillizza: Less critical than you might think.I wrote earlier this week that Palin probably has 20-30 percent support in every early state whether she does nothing or whether she runs a serious presidential campaign.It's both her floor and her ceiling. It's hard to imagine her growing much but's its equally difficult for me to see her losing all that much of her core support simply because she doesn't hire as many operatives or send as much direct mail as her competitors for the nomination.As for Iowa, I am writing about the calculus of skipping it in today's Fix....stay tuned.

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GOP Primaries: What's the over/under for number of Republican presidential candidates?

Chris Cillizza: And I would probably take the over.

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re: sarah palin sucking up the media...: Until you start watching Herman Cain, that is.

Chris Cillizza: Back to back Herman Cain references! Live Fix chat history has been made.

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We all know who the real "The Cillizza" is at your place: I figure your wife would be THE Cillizza at your home unless she kept her maiden name...

Chris Cillizza: So true. Mrs. Fix=boss. Fix=humble servant.

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Huntsman: Huntsman seems like an intelligent and serious guy with a great resume. But could he win any early state caucus or primaries?

Chris Cillizza: I think Huntsman's profile is better for a general election race than a primary given the current nature of the Republican primary electorate.Huntsman allies insist he is very conservative but three things make that a difficult sale: 1) he currently serves as an Obama Administration appointee -- granted as the ambassador to China 2) He is pretty moderate on environmental issues 3) he is, tonally, quite moderate -- not a sharp elbows or bomb-throwig rhetorician.Is "rhetorician" a word? Should it be?

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Free shot?: So you're stating that are no negative factors or positive factors for potential Democratic candidates (Brad Ellsworth, Jonathan Weinzapfel) in the race to succeed Gov. Daniels? You're calling the election now (I'm goating you since you tend to always hedge your bets on my election).

Chris Cillizza: HA! (In my best Chris Matthews voice).I don't think the race is over. I do think that if Pence runs, he is a clear favorite given his candidate skills, fundraising capacity and the GOP-tilting nature of Indiana.Is that hedged enough for you ;)

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You can't be objective on Jay Carney: Considering Jay Carney was born and raised in Falls Church, Va., can you REALLY be objective about him?

Chris Cillizza: Ah, fair point.FCF (Falls Church Forever)

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Seems to be the most important politics question of our times: Have we seen Jay Carney's birth certificate yet?Seems to really matter in present-day political discourse.

Chris Cillizza: Oooooh.

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'12 Nevada Senate Race: Between Shelley Berkley, Catherine Masto or Ross Miller who's the best shot to flip that seat from red to blue? I think Masto is the best candidate for the Dems, Berkley seems a little bit too liberal for Nevada.

Chris Cillizza: Well, I think Berkley is the most likely of those three to run but I am not sure how she would fare as a statewide candidate.The Republican nominee will almost certainly work to paint her as a "Las Vegas liberal" and remember that the vast majority of Nevada is outside of Vegas -- so that attack could cut.That said, if John Ensign winds up as the Republican nominee all bets are off. HEYOOOOO!Ensign is badly damaged by the scandal surrounding his affair with a former campaign aide but seems determined to test his luck.Ensign is essentially daring Rep. Dean Heller to primary him. Heller passed on a very appealing race against Harry Reid in 2010 so it's not clear if he has the intestinal fortitude to face Ensign down.If he doesn't, Republicans could struggle to hold the seat no matter who Democrats nominate.

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Traffic: Were you stuck in the unending traffic on Wednesday?

Chris Cillizza: 2 hours from the Post to Falls Church with a rapidly filling bladder. It was, um, not fun at all.

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Snow Storm: How did you survive Snow Thunder Storm 2011?

Chris Cillizza: I'm doing this chat, aren't I :)

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Rhetorician: Um, I'd go with "orator."

Chris Cillizza: Fine. But rhetorician sounds cooler.

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I'm doing it now!!!: I'm declaring that I am not running for president. It must be a big news story, right?

Chris Cillizza: Well, it's likely to be dwarfed by my announcement that I am leaving college to test my prospects in the 2011 NBA Draft.

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Romney: There seems to be talk of Mitt Romney not devoting a lot of resources to Iowa in 2012. That seems to make New Hampshire a critical state for him to do well in. Who does Romney not want to see emerge out of Iowa with momentum and buzz?

Chris Cillizza: Almost anyone.That's the risk Romney takes if he does skip Iowa -- he allows it to be a launching pad for someone else.Much more in the Fix later today. Don't want to use all my A material...

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0K: Politicians aren't born, they are made. Are you a made guy?

Chris Cillizza: "Meet the Fix. He's a friend of ours."

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Pence for Guv: Give me some hope... how exactly could Mike Pence lose his gubernatorial bid? If you can't make that case, then why the heck are you hedging your bets?

Chris Cillizza: Because I am a relentless bet-hedger. I need help! Is there a bet-hedgers anonymous?

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Pence Passes: Hey, Sizzle Man. Don't you think one reason Mike Pence passed on the presidential run is that, well frankly, O is going to be hard to beat? Even at the lowest level of frustration over Recession and Health Care, Obama's job approval held in low to mid forties. If economy continues to improve, won't he be sitting rather pretty, given his personal attractiveness? Won't a lot of Rs think twice before throwing their hats into the ring? Thanks. (And I'm saving a Ted Drewes for you next time you come through STL)

Chris Cillizza: 1. Tremendous Ted Drewes reference. That. Place. Rocks.2. I think that one of the reasons that the 2012 presidential race for Republicans has been a bit slow starting is that some of the candidates are wanting to see just how vulnerable President Obama looks this summer.It's always tough in politics to project 18 months forward to what the political environment might look like and how vulnerable an incumbent will be -- just ask President Cuomo -- but I think some of these people want to see what the economy is doing and what Obama's numbers look like this summer/fall.Of course, the danger in waiting is that you wait too long and get boxed out by other candidates who were ore willing to get into the race early on.

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New Jersey: Bob Menendez isn't exactly the most popular guy in New Jersey, but with so many other targets in 2012 and the expensive media market, do you see him facing a top tier challenger?

Chris Cillizza: I don't think menendez will ultimately be a top tier target for Republicans. Here's why:1. They have 23 Democratic incumbents up for reelection. Lots and lots of them represent states that are more friendly for Republicans than NJ.2. Polling is NJ is a funny thing. Because they don't have a media market of their own, people tend to have very little sense of who their politicians are which leads to incumbent scoring low name ID ratings and poor ballot performance. But, ultimately, New Jersey is a blue-ish state and performs like it in statewide races.3. NJ is covered by the Philly and NYC media markets -- two of the most expensive in the country. It's hard for me to see Republicans spending the tens of millions it would take to beat menendez unless he becomes drastically more vulnerable sometime very soon.

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Do you still watch wrestling?: Or are you, like me, trapped forever in the days when Monday night meant flipping back and forth between TBS and USA?

Chris Cillizza: I watch it occasionally when Mrs. Fix is not around. (She HATES wrestling.) Call it a guilty pleasure.But, I still pine for a classic Piper's Pit or Hogan slammingh Andre the Giant or a Flair "Wooooo!".In others words, I am romanticizing wrestling. Which is weird.

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Palin: If Sarah Palin announces she isn't running for president in 2012, then the media coverage of her will decrease dramatically, right?

Chris Cillizza: Yes.

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Retirement: The next Democratic senator to announce his (or her) retirement will be ___________.

Chris Cillizza: OOOH.Ben Nelson? (I am guessing.)I would keep an eye on Nelson, Her Kohl (wisc.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). I think all three are genuinely undecided about whether or not to run in 2012.

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New Hampshire: With only the GOP primary likely to be competitive, how much does that change the electorate for Republicans? Are there any common traits among New Hampshire independents?

Chris Cillizza: Well, it SHOULD mean that a more modereate candidate could have a path to victory ala McCain in 2000 and 2008.But, Romney is a dominant force in NH right now and could well remain so. If that's the case, look for a few candidates to essentially skip NH -- going directly from Iowa to South Carolina to rob Romney of the momentum of a contested primary victory.

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O: Mark Salter as the author of "O" -- who cares?

Chris Cillizza: Not me really.Most interesting Salter fact. He is a HUGE Hoyas fan just like me.

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Hoyas-Villanova,: GU is totally going to win and make my weekend, right?

Chris Cillizza: Is this my internal monologue going public again?Golly, I hope so. But Nova is VERY good and VERY well coached.I worry. But that is my default position to life so...

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GOP Prez Primaries: I can't help but wonder at what point the gloves will come off and all of this defference to Palin will stop... I cannot imagine going through a number of debates with everybody 'playing nice' to her and slamming each other. Seriously, from an intellectual perspective there have to be some candidates who cringe when they hear her--and think if only they could go head to head against her. How do you think she would fare in this type of environment?

Chris Cillizza: I think that if she runs people like Romney, Pawlenty, Huckabee etc will have to attack her at some point.The question is whether it works. Remember that the establishment attacked Christine O'Donnell in the Delaware Senate primary and instead of hurting her, it actually strengthened her with the activists who comprise the majority of primary voters.That could happen with Palin in 2012. I emphasize "could".(BET HEDGING!)

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Gary Johnson: Hi Chris. Do you think Gary Johnson has any shot at all of winning the Republican nomination should he decide to run?

Chris Cillizza:

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Chris Christie: What are his poll numbers looking like lately? I heard he had started dropping, but on Morning Joe yesterday they said his numbers were up. Is this just TV commentators habit of remembering the data points they like, no matter how out of date? Or are his numbers getting better again?

Chris Cillizza: Christie's numbers among Republicans nationally are quite good. His numbers in New Jersey are less strong although not bad at all.I do think that Christie is sincere about not running for president in 2012. I also think he could be missing his window of opportunity as he has a real chance of losing reelection in 2013 given New Jersey's Democratic tilt.

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Debates: Do you think top tier candidates (e.g. Palin, Romney, Thune, etc.) might skip these early spring debates, or will they have declared their candidacies by then?

Chris Cillizza: I think Romney and Palin (and Huckabee) have the luxury of waiting a while before getting in.I am not sure Thune does, however. If he is running, he needs to say he is and start doing the sorts of things -- trips to Iowa, New Hampshire etc. -- that unknown candidates do in the early stages of a presidential race.Romney did it in 2008. Tim Pawlenty is doing it now.

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Pence Follow-up: So who benefits from his 2012 absence? It seems like Huckabee should be sending him a thank you note.

Chris Cillizza: Chris Christie!But seriously folks, there IS an opening for a candidate who can appeal to tea partiers who care primarily about fiscal issues.That slot is currently vacant in the 2012 field -- weirdly, Mark Sanford pre-hiking the Appalachina Trail would have filled it perfectly -- and waiting for a candidate to step into it. Expect Newt Gingrich and maybe even Sarah Palin to try to unite social and economic tea partiers if they run.

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Thune: One of your Fix Afternoon pieces mentioned John Thune saw some "big opportunities" ahead. Does that lead you to believe he's decided to run for president (or at least leaning more in that direction)?

Chris Cillizza: Honestly, I don't know. Thune is sending mixed signals.If I had to guess, I would say he gets into the race to test the waters and sees whether he can make a go of it between now and the fall.Thune has never been a national candidate before and I think will want to see what it might be like if he was to run.

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O: A Presidential Novel: I read the review in WaPo and know there a David Axelrod stand-in named Avi Samuelson and an Arianna Huffington stand-in named Bianca Stefani. I love when authors create fake names for real public figures... Just curious if there are characters like Senate Majority Leader Larry Mead or DNC Chairman Jim Kent?

Chris Cillizza: I am perturbed there was no Fix stand-in. Like Chris Chillizza, a nerdy yet elegant political reporter. No? Too much?

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Retirements: Why is it that so many politicians seem to retire when faced with a tough re-election? In a lot of instances, those incumbents seem to be the best/only chance for their party to keep the seat. Is it purely a pride thing (i.e. I don't want to go out a loser) or does it impact their ability to find work after leaving office in some D.C. lobbying shop?

Chris Cillizza: Um, because they don't like to lose?I believe it's a little thing called human nature.

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Were...: Kirsten Gillibrand and John Thune the king and queen of Tuesday's prom?

Chris Cillizza: No. The memory of Tom Coburn's Beard was both the prom king and prom queen.

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Who is Mark Salter?: Who is Mark Salter? Besides being the alleged author of "O," that is.

Chris Cillizza: Hoya fan, co-author of "Flags of my Fathers" with John McCain. Longtime McCain aide. Seen as McCain alter ego.Also, Hoya fan. Did I mention that?

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Hardball: I saw you stand up to one of Chris's rants yesterday on Hardball. Keep it up!!!!

Chris Cillizza: HA!Thanks. I love Chris -- he was the first person to put me on TV...but we agreed to disagree on that one.

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Chris Chillizza: Yes, that political reporter will be obsessed with women's lacrosse, Maryland football, and MMA fighting.

Chris Cillizza: Seriously though: I was snubbed. I want answers.

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Tracy Morgan: Tina Fey must feel a little awkward at work now, eh?

Chris Cillizza: In the immortal words of Tracey Jordan: "Live every week like it's Shark Week."

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Politics and Pints: When's the next one?

Chris Cillizza: THANKS for asking. It's Feb. 7 from 7-9 pm at the Cap Lounge on the Hill.Facebook event to come. Spread the word.Politics + trivia + chicken tenders + beer + snarky hilarity = nirvana

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Chris Cillizza: Have to run out a few minutes early folks. Apologies. For penance, I will do a 10 minute longer "Live Fix" chat next week.Don't forget to check the Fix 15-20 times a day (or more) for the latest and greatest in political reporting and analysis.Later today: Our latest 2012 presidential rankings!Have a great weekend.Chris

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