Evening plenary: Below are practically verbatim summaries of what the following panelists are saying in today’s last session about American politics today..
Frank Sesno, moderator
Mike Murphy says Tuesday is going to be big. Sees surge for Romney in Virginia. Vermont, Mass., Idaho will be won by Romney. Ohio is close margin of error. Tennessee will be big. Next Alabama and Mississippi. He thinks Romney could win Tennessee.
Donna Brazile: Says Romney will get enough delegates to be winner. Romney only has fifteen percent of delegates needed. By Tuesday night Romney will see about 280 but needs much more.
Bill Kristol: headlines depend on Ohio. Romney is a weak front-runner. Foolish to say it was inevitable. It was a foolish message to give the voters. Thinks Romney will be in front but will be Santorum and Romney fighting it out. He doesn’t think this is the best Republican Party can get and hopes for another candidate.
Paul Begala: Says Romney is strongest candidate in a weak field. President can be beat but it’s a 50-50 deal. Says many Republicans are crazy and Santorum came out against college sex and JFK, a “holy trinity in my family.”
Kristol: Says will be a normal ticket and Republicans need a candidate that can reach regular middle-class America.
Brazile says Gingrich can’t win because he can’t pick up enough although he can win 76 delegates in Georgia and he should pack it up and endorse Romney. Says that Republican turnout is down by double digits in many states and many don’t seem excited about their candidates.
Begala: ideological primary. Michael Moore would get one out of 5 votes in Democratic primary.
What are prospects of brokered convention? Begala: delegates chosen and instructed whom to vote for. If they can vote for what they want it could be madness. Thinks more likely for Romney scrambling to get last 100 if he loses Ohio. Could win a district in Georgia and then some in Illinois.
Begala says that Romney has been pushed to far Right by primaries and will lose Latinos and women’s vote as a result. Kristol disagrees — says Obama has only gained a few points against the Republican nominees. Says he has changed position to placate extremes in party and stuck with his positions and can’t move away from them later.
What about Obama? Sesno says isn’t his fate tied to unemployment rate? Murphy says independent vote is all over the place. Will they stick to Obama or the other way towards the Republicans? Murphy thinks they have the time to get them back. They are hard to predict because they make a 45 degree switch in a few years. It will be a referendum on the economy which gives Republicans an excellent chance to beat Obama.
Brazile: Economy is improving; Obama has great organization in battle ground states, and Republicans can’t match it. Stronger as economy grows better. She feels good about his prospects.
Kristol: politics is now volatile more than before and you can’t predict things. Huge swings on both sides more than past 80 years.
How will Obama’s claims about foreign policy play? Brazile says he has done “phenomenal job in defense and foreign policy.” Murphy says it could suddenly count. Kristol says depends on outcome of Iran crisis and others. Will it be seen as failure of US to act if things don’t work out?
Begala says it isn’t in the bag for president, but he can show he’s a leader and got Bin Laden. Murphy says election isn’t about the past but the future and will someone else be better and it will be a close election.
They don’t think Middle East will be a big issue, unless Iran becomes a big issue in the middle of the campaign. Kristol: Is US stronger than four years ago? What happens in the world is crucial. Brazile says she would tell the president to stick to the issues and how he handled things. Says AIPAC speech was “unequivocal and strong.”