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The Live Fix with Chris Cillizza

Chris Cillizza
Friday, February 25, 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: Sorry for the lateness...I was on DIANE REHM this morning. (That sound u hear is the name dropping alarm going off.)Armed with a venti black tea/lemonade I am ready to make some magic. So, let's chat

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John Thune: I'm not sure I understand why Thune would pass on the chance to run in 2012. If Obama wins in 2012, then Thune may face a far more stacked field in 2016 and have to give up his Senate seat to run in 2016. If Obama loses in 2012, then Thune likely can't run until 2020 when he'll be 60. Not to mention, he may have to face a sitting VP for the nomination. I don't understand how he can pass up the opportunity in to run in 2012. Yes, there's his TARP vote, but in such a flawed field where other potential candidates like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Sarah Palin supported the bailouts, how is that going to be an insurmountable obstacle? I call Republican Party's version of Mario Cuomo.

Chris Cillizza: I agree.Timing is everything in politics -- see Obama, Barack -- and the 2012 Republican field is as wide open as at anytime in modern history.Thune's TARP vote would have been a problem but all of the major candidates have flaws they would have needed to work through with voters. TARP was no worse or better than any of them.But, being president or at least the GOP nominee gives you a lot more influence of the direction of the country than being in the Senate minority.

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The Republican Field: The potential candidates, serious and not, for 2012 seem to be Romney, Pawlenty, Daniels, Barbour, Palin, Gingrich, Santorum, Paul, Johnson, Huntsman, Bachmann, Cain, and Trump. Besides guys who have already said they aren't running (e.g. Christie, Perry), are there any other names out there that we should be looking out for?

Chris Cillizza: I still think there is a chance -- although not much of one -- that Christie reconsiders and ultimately runs. Same for Perry.But I think the field you outlined above is roughly right. Remember that the largest field in modern presidential history is 12 people...this field could go higher than that.

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Haley Barbour: Please take this one Chris! In 1976, Haley Barbour was instrumental in delivering the Republican presidential nomination to Gerald Ford over Ronald Reagan, as Mississippi was the deciding state at the convention. Given Barbour's role and the subsequent veneration of Reagan, do you think this may come back bite him in 2012?

Chris Cillizza: Probably not.Barbour's biggest hurdle is the perception within the GOP that a southern governor with a thick accent and a history as a lobbyist can't win the nomination.He hasn't helped himself much in the last few months with his comments (or lack thereof) about the civil rights movemement during his youth but I still believe Barbour is an all but certain candidate.He, like many others that are going to run, seems to think "Why not me?"

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2012: Rumors of a Springsteen/E Street Band tour in 2012. Awesome or Awesomer?

Chris Cillizza: Awesomest.

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Kelly Ayotte: One of the new senators is Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire. Is she going to be a big "get" for the 2012 presidential race in terms of endorsements? Any idea about whom she might lend her support to?

Chris Cillizza: Maybe.I tend to think almost all endorsements are less important than they are made out to be.Remember that Judd Gregg, the Republican Senator who Ayotte replaced in 2010, endorsed George W. Bush in the 2000 NH primary and Mitt Romney in the 2008 race.And we know how that worked out for them....

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Retirements: Any more senators should we keep an eye out for in terms of retirements?

Chris Cillizza: I keep hearing Daniel Akaka, Dianne Feinstein and Herb Kohl mentioned but I think that may be as much wishful thinking on Republicans' part as reality.Democratic retirements are already a problem -- New Mexico, Virginia and North Dakota are all likely to be real race -- and the party needs to keep future retirement to a minumum to keep hold of the Senate in 2012.

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New Mexico Senate: How competitve is the seat really going to be? Outside of Wilson and Pierce, I don't think the GOP bench here is all that deep.

Chris Cillizza: Good question.I think Democrats start the race with an advantage since the state has a demonstrated Democratic tilt. (PResident Obama won it by 15 points in 2008.)That said, New Mexico voters did elect a Hispanic Republican woman -- Susana Martinez -- as their governor in 2010 and, depending on the national political environment, the GOP could be competitive in the Land of Enchantment.But, it's certainly not the pickup opportunity that either North Dakota or Virginia is.

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2012 New Mexico: Who is the the nominee the DSCC is looking the closest at? Is it Martin Heinrich? He won reelection in a competitive district and is considered to be a young rising star. Not to mention, he kind of looks like he could be a younger version of Bingaman.

Chris Cillizza: I hear Heinrich's name alot but there is also some real DC interest in state Auditor Hector Balderas. And, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan will take a hard look too as will former LG Diane Denish.The Republican primary is likely between Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson, a rehash of the 2008 race that Pearce won.

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Springsteen themes: A commenter on a previous chat suggested President Obama's theme song for the 2012 campaign should be "Born in the USA". Given what is happening at the state level, should the Democrats adopt "Born to Run" as their anthem?

Chris Cillizza: Heyoooo!

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Tom Carper: Any sign that Delaware senator Tom Carper will be stepping aside for Delaware AG and son of the VPOTUS, Beau Biden?

Chris Cillizza: Not even one. Beau Biden passed on a golden opportunity to be in the Senate in 2010. Not sure as good a chance as that one will come along any time soon.

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State-by-State Third Rails: Now that you've got your list of best state tweeters, how about a list of state-by-state third rails? For instance, in Washington state, it's "Don't mess with Boeing" and Iowa, "Don't touch ethanol subsidies." Any more?

Chris Cillizza: Oooh....good idea...stay tuned later today for our list of the best political tweeters in each state....

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Utah: If Jim Matheson ends up the loser in the redistricting out in Utah, do you think he would try a statewide run? Is there any chance such a run wouldn't be futile?

Chris Cillizza: There is A chance. A bloody primary fight between Orrin Hatch and Jason Chaffetz could give Matheson a chance to win.The better opportunity, however, might be a run for governor. Matheson's father, Scott, served as governor of Utah in the 1970s and there is some history of Democrats being elected governor of strongly Republican states. (Dave Freudenthal in WY, Kathleen Sebelius in KS, Brad Henry in OK.)

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Contrary View on Thune: In the question about Thune not seeking the presidency in 2012, you mentioned that he would have more influence as president or as the GOP nominee as opposed to being in the Senate minority. Even though he's in the Senate minority now, he probably won't be for long since the GOP only needs to net 3 Senate pickups to gain the majority (4 if Obama wins reelection). When you factor in Jon Kyl's retirement, Thune has great potential to move up the leadership ladder. He could arguably serve longer as Senate Majority Leader than he would as President even if he was in office for two terms.

Chris Cillizza: True enough. But:1. Senate Minority leader Mitch mcConnell isn't showing any signs of leaving any time soon.2. John Cornyn and Lamar Alexander are already in the race to replace Kyl as whip.

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Diane Rehm!: I grew up listening to Diane Rehm. I think she is, hands down, the best interviewer out there. And classy through and through. I think I caught you on her show the last time I was down in Virginia, when I was sitting outside a truck rental place in Falls Church.

Chris Cillizza: This question has it all! Praise of Diane Rehm and a gratuitous Falls Church reference.Well played, sir. Well played.Also, did I mention I was on Diane Rehm this morning? (What IS that alarm sound I keep hearing?)

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Which candidate benefits most from Thune's withdrawal?: Who is the majority beneficiary of the less than 1% of voters that were supporting Thune for President?

Chris Cillizza: I wrote this earlier in the week.While your (noted) sarcasm about Thune is right -- he wasn't anywhere in national polls about 2012 -- he had the potential to make a serious run in Iowa.http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/eye-on-2012/john-thune-is-out-who-benefits.html

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Your secret dream...: Given how much you like covering this stuff, have you ever (even secretly) yearned to hold public office? And be honest--it seems that most die-hard fans of anything (think sports, or musician for instance) fantasize from time to time of being that superstar. What office could you see yourself holding?

Chris Cillizza: Head coach of the East Dillon Lions.And, no. Never. Not once.I admire the people who run for office. It's an incredibly difficult job. But I kind of like my observer role.

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Neglected Delaware voters: We of the Delaware Wicca community remain disappointed that candidates continue to fail to address our concerns. That is all.

Chris Cillizza: O'DONNELL!

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"Dancing With The Stars": Why can't they get a liberal political figure this time? Enough with Tucker, DeLay, Bristol and rumors of Christine!

Chris Cillizza: O'DONNELL TIMES TWO.I have filled the Christine O'Donnell quotient for this week and next week's chat.Phew. That's a load off.

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Nebraska: Can you break down the Nebraska Republican Senate primary between AG Jon Bruning and state treasurer (and former AG) Don Stenberg? I know Stenberg has been a perennial candidate, though, he has won a few offices, while Bruning was apparently an avowed liberal in college. Who ya got?

Chris Cillizza: Absolutely.Bruning, if polling is to be believed, is the favorite.Stenberg, who has run for office more times than Randy Jackson has said "dog", will attack Bruning as insufficiently conservative and highlight some comments Bruning made it college to illustrate that point.But Bruning is the more energetic of the two candidates and will likely drastically outraise Stenberg.Either one would likely be a favorite in a general election against Ben Nelson given the state's major conserative bent.

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Sherrod Brown: Why aren't Republicans jumping at the chance to challenge Brown?

Chris Cillizza: I don't know....and it's fascinating.I think, ultimately, Josh Mandel, the 30-something newly elected state treasurer, will be the nominee and give Brown a real race.Brown is surprisingly strong despite the fact he is probably too liberal for the state. He is a terrific campaigner and channels the economic populism that many Ohio voters respond to.

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Arizona: Who do you think will challenge Trent Franks in the primary? If a more conservative candidate wins (Hayworth), will that give democrats a leg up?

Chris Cillizza: Well, Rep. Jeff Flake is already in the race and is the favorite.Given his relatively moderate statements about immigration in the past, he may well face a challenge from his ideological right in the primary but it remains to be seen how serious that challenge will be.

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Hawaii: Would Democrats be in a stronger position in 2012 if 86-year old Daniel Akaka ran or if someone else did? I worry that if Akaka has a "senior moment" or something like that, then a Republican like Linda Lingle could take advantage.

Chris Cillizza: Not sure.The state is SO Democratic that I think Democrats will be favored either way.Lingle, a former two term governor, is the best possible candidate Republicans could have but in a presidential year with favorite son Barack Obama at the top of the ticket it's hard for me to see her getting 50+1.

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Prank Call: You seem pretty dimissive of the Gov. Walker prank call?I thought it was interesting.

Chris Cillizza: Not dismissive.The actual conversation I found to be relatively innocuous. Walker didn't commit any giant gaffe or say anything that he hasn't basically said in public.The appearance the call created, however, was very problematic. Spending 20 mins on the phone with someone you thought was a major donor to GOP causes is not good.

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Well played, sir. Well played.: Actually, it's "Well played, ma'am." But that's ok--I didn't identify myself.

Chris Cillizza: MY mistake! Ladies first!

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Tell her Live Chatters said "Hi.": Just wondering how Ana Marie Cox is doing these days?

Chris Cillizza: I saw AMC at CPAC. (Acronyms!)She is doing great. Writing for GQ...and lording her massive Twitter following over me.

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Mapping the Future: Just wanted to thank Fix Aaron and say how much I'm loving the redistricting feature. Hope you make it through all 50 states!

Chris Cillizza: Agree! If you have not checked out Aaron's state by state redistricting series, you really should.It's the equivalent of snorting a pixie stick (who would do that?!) to political junkies.

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Josh Mandel giving a "real race"?: Sorry Mr. Cillizza, I don't see it.

Chris Cillizza: Well, at least you called me "Mr.".

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GOP Candidates : is anyone ever going to announce their candidacy? The do realize that the election is less than two years away, right?

Chris Cillizza: Preaching to the choir!I think the next month will be VERY active on the announcement front.I would guess that by this time in March, Newt Gingrich and Tpaw will be in the race and maybe even one or two others.I think we still have a few months to wait before Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin make their plans known though.

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Thune: The reason why so many DC types liked the idea of Thune is that he balanced the different strands of conservatism that make up the GOP. Huckabee and Palin don't have much appeal outside social conservatives. Romney and Daniels don't have much appeal outside fiscal conservatives. Thune, in theory, did. And Republicans win when they unite those strands (Reagan, Bush 43) and lose when one takes a back seat (Dole, McCain).

Chris Cillizza: Absolutely. Nice breakdown of Thune's theoretical appeal.Also, he is a good hoops player -- raising the possibility that he could have played President Obama in one on one for the presidency.Am I the only one that thinks that would be a good way to decide things?

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Your twitter following: Do you really care about that? Does it keep you up at night?

Chris Cillizza: No...I mean, that would be ridiculous and frighteningly insecure...jeez....who thinks like that...

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"I called Tim Pawlenty -- former gov of Minnesota -- as the obvious beneficiary of Thune's no-go decision. ": Great, so instead of polling at 1%, Tim Pawlenty will now poll at 1.5%.

Chris Cillizza: Remember that the best known candidates at this stage of the game don't always win presidential races.I give you President Giuliani and (Hillary) Clinton.

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Reid v. Ensign: Reid. Ensign. Hookers. Discuss.

Chris Cillizza: I found Harry Reid's prostitution speech to the Nevada state legislature to be one of the most baffling addresses in recent memory.The only thing I can conclude is that he genuinely believes outlawing prostitution is the right thing to do for the state's economy.

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Its not a gang its a Club.: Why the penchant on the part of the media to always refer to bi-partisan working groups as gangs (gang of six or gang of fourteen). It sounds so nefarious and malevolent when really it is often the opposite. It is usually a group of politicians trying to find common ground on an issue to resolve a problem. Language matters.

Chris Cillizza: Which is why the Fix team is a "posse". I thought about maybe a "gaggle" or even a "horde". But posse seemed to have the right feel.Deciding on the official Fix crest for the mandatory tattoos was more difficult...

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Walker didn't commit any giant gaffe : "Walker didn't commit any giant gaffe " -- Except for the part where he admitted they'd thought about sending rabble rousers to rouse rabbles in the protest crowd. That was pretty big.

Chris Cillizza: Decent point.But, remember Walker didn't send the rabble rousers...thinking about it wasn't great but actually doing it would have been far worse.

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NOT Newt: First of all, Gingrich has so much personal baggage from his adulteries and divorces alone to preempt a viable Presidential run. Then, if the Federal government shuts down again this spring, voters are just going to be reminded of how unhappy-making it was the last time it occurred, when Newt was Speaker of the House. So, no, Newt can't win.

Chris Cillizza: Again, you can make the case for why every one of the GOP candidates can't win.And u could have easily made that case against Sen. Barack Obama in 2008. (Too inexperienced, can't beat Hillary Clinton in a primary etc.)So, let's let the process play itself out before making grand pronouncements about who can't win.

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Shut-down: Hi Chris,What are the odds the Govt. will shut down? My spouse is a Fed and I want to know what to prepare for!?!?!?!

Chris Cillizza: Not all that likely. I think both parties are worried about the unpredictable political consequences that a shutdown might have.Remember that the public is already very disenchanted with Washington and the government. A shutdown would fuel that sentiment and could well hurt both parties in 2012.

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GANG VS. CLUB: And I thought I was the only one to use that obscure John Leguizamo reference on this chat. A fellow sister/brother in arms!

Chris Cillizza: YES!

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A New Jersey Sized Drink: Have you tried any with that new Trenton size, or whatever it is called?

Chris Cillizza: TRenta!And no. I am not a brave enough man. I am also not sure my bladder could handle that sort of liquid assault.

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Gingrich has so much personal baggage from his adulteries and divorces alone to preempt a viable Presidential run: I think that alone is enough to do Newt in. It has been before, and there's nothing he can do to un-ring those bells.

Chris Cillizza: http://njnnetwork.com/2010/03/ring-them-bells-bob-dylan/

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Ohio: Actually the earlier poster is probably right, Mandel would be an exceedingly poor candidate to run against Brown, the latter of whom has the advantage of his last name: a historically popular name in Ohio politics, unless your name was OJ Brown). Mike DeWine will not run again, he is going to have way too much fun as AG, although his nephew (or son) who is the party chair in Ohio, may have a good shot (as well as the attractive last name).

Chris Cillizza: The race will be a referendum on Brown and the president. The Republican nominee -- unless it is someone entirely unelectable -- makes little difference.Or at least I think so...

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Chris Cillizza: And that's a wrap!Thanks for chatting folks!And don't forget that I'll be back on Monday at 11 am with our live video chat -- Fix Faceoffs in which you propose a matchup of political or pop culture figures and I offer a ruling.

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Chris Cillizza: Have a GREAT weekend.And go Hoyas. BEAT CUSE!

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