The moderator of Meet the Press gives his analysis of the Romney decision, and who is helps the most.
HH: And joining me to talk about the day’s events on the political side and all the other news is Chuck Todd, host of Meet The Press. I want to begin by thanking him for having me on his show last week, which Chuck, congratulations, the show did very well, and I’ve been telling people all week that with you and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar there, I felt like Chuck Nevitt on the background there the way that he must have felt on the Lakers’ bench in ’85.
CT: I don’t know. I kind of feel like it was, I’ll take the role of Magic. I feel like you were my James Worthy.
HH: Oh, well, that, I’ll go with Worthy, but Kareem was something to watch, and quite an interesting interview. And I’m sure you’ve been getting feedback on that interview all week long.
CT: No, it was, I definitely have, and you know, everybody’s got Hugh Hewitt buzz around here. It’s like oh, who broke the news? Who’s got it? So you know…
HH: Well, let’s talk about that news. I was genuinely surprised. Were you surprised?
CT: You know, this morning, I was surprised. Three weeks ago, it never made sense to me, I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t, you know, I didn’t see it. I just, you know, because I thought that this was, I just couldn’t imagine him wanting to go through this gauntlet again. And ultimately, my gut is, and you know, that this was, I think he did a sober analysis of this, and said is the cost of going through this primary gauntlet worth it? And it was going to be, it was going to take a heavy toll. I mean, it was going to be not a fun three or four months for him, I think, if he got in, because there would have been a lot of, he would have had to have dealt with a lot of negative feedback first – look who didn’t sign up with him again, look who’s not fundraising. You know, they were would always be a, and oh, my God, the poll numbers are eroding, which of course would have been just natural as more candidates got in the race. But you know, it would have been a rough period, and the question is where would he be by Labor Day? And would he be in a position, you know, did he have it? Could he do what John McCain did, right, which is you know, go from hero to zero and back up again? And in a field like this, it would have been tough to do.
HH: I talked to Jake Tapper earlier, and Jake actually was the first person all day, and I’ve been on the phones like you all day talking to people who said look, it’s not a Shermanesque statement, he could be back. I have heard that from no one else. What do you think, Chuck Todd?
CT: I’ve actually, it’s funny you said it. No, I have heard it from Romney people. I have had a very close Romney person who said don’t miss the last part of his statement. I hope you emphasize that last part of the statement on Meet The Press, you know, which sort of, it’s that tiny bit of opening in there that look, I think this is a head/heart decision, right? I think in his heart, he wants the nomination. He’d love the nomination. He’d love a path to the nomination that look like Hillary Clinton’s path, right, which is everybody sort of clearing the way. If the party implodes, if Jeb fails to launch, if Walker and his problems, and all of a sudden it looks like 2012 without Romney, right, with all those other guys, you know, I think Romney says hey, in March, April or May, he could raise his hand again. But I thought that was fascinating that I’ve had Romney people tell me don’t miss the end.
HH: Interesting. I’m going to call them, I haven’t heard that, yet. I’m going to call them the Masada Romneyites, because they’re really up on the hill there.
CT: It is, but guess what? Masada, that’s not a bad metaphor if you want Romney to be president, because guess what? That’s one of my people’s great warriors.
HH: It is, and it held out the longest. Now the other analogy I’m using is now candidate watch goes to Marco Rubio, because everybody else we know it either in or out. And you know, Kasich, I guess…
CT: I feel like the field’s set.
HH: Well, Kasich and Rubio are the only ones, right, about whom there’s doubt. So what do you think about Rubio? Does he get in? Do we have, as I’ve been saying all day, Godzilla Mothra in Florida with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio going at each other on March 15th?
CT: Here’s, so if you’re Marco Rubio, you say to yourself, do you want to run for reelection? Or did you want to run for president? And this is before Jeb Bush got in. It’s my understanding if you talk to people who know him well, and he really is more animated about a national campaign than he is reelection. So I guess my gut is I think he runs. I actually think he does get in. I know it’s harder for him. I know the money, but with Jeb in the race, there’s no expectations for him. I think he would like to be sort of the…
CT: …serious, because think about it. He has no expectations. He becomes Mr. Issue, Mr. Foreign Policy. And you know, if you talk to my pal, Steve Hayes, and Steve, you know, Steve believes, he moderated a discussion out there at the Koch Summit, but you know, he believes that Marco cleaned everybody’s clock on foreign policy, and that, and has this, you know, at least on that wing, and now everybody, you know, especially obviously Rand Paul and Marco Rubio don’t see eye to eye on foreign policy philosophy. I could see, if I’m Rubio, I could be the issue guy, run a very, you know, stay out of the way, and if Jeb falters, he’s there. If Jeb falters and somebody else gets the nomination, maybe Rubio makes sense as the perfect running mate for say a Scott Walker. So I still think there’s plenty of upside for Rubio to run and not get the nomination, but still go ahead and run. I don’t think he’s scared of Jeb as long as he doesn’t run and start attacking Jeb and vice versa. I think if it gets nasty, then it’s not good for anybody.
HH: You know what would be great for the Republican Party, Chuck Todd, is if Marco Rubio declares, and Jeb Bush declares, and they agree that they are going to conduct their first forum in Spanish on Univision as the only two national candidates of either party who are competent and capable of doing that. Wouldn’t that be a culture changer politically?
CT: Well, I’ll tell you, I don’t, and knowing the Republican Party and their views of Univision, I think they’d end up doing it on Telemundo…
CT: And by the way, Telemundo is an NBC property, so I’m going to put out my friends at Telemundo. But I know Univision has the wider reach now. But it’s funny you bring that up. I actually think that’s why, I think the party should want Marco Rubio to run simply to, it’s good for the party to have an Hispanic voice in this debate, at the debates, as a fresh face of the party, regardless of whether he can get through this. And you know, look, I can tell you this, the Jeb people don’t want Marco to run. They are already trying to get him, they, I’ve had one person telling me that he’s been courted to, hey, have you thought about running for governor in 2018? Would you like Jeb Bush’s support if you decide to run for governor in 2018, things like that? So they’d like to see Marco not run. I don’t think they’re going to play the hardball tactics against Marco that they were doing against Romney. You know, that’s something else that has not been talked about enough. It was pretty, they were, I mean…
HH: It was rough.
CT: Jeb Bush were putting a lot of pressure, Bush people, on folks to sort of hey, you’ve got to pick. You’ve got to pick a team now. You’ve got to go. Let’s go. You’ve got to do this. And I can tell you this, a lot of the people closest to Romney are very bitter about that. They don’t like some of the tactics that the Bush people did, in their mind. Now you know, look, you know, all’s fair in politics, right?
HH: Well, we’ll see where Spencer Zwick goes. If he goes to Bush, I guess feelings will be mended quickly. If he doesn’t, I’ve got to conclude by asking you, on the panel last week…
CT: I think Spencer doesn’t go anywhere, by the way.
HH: Oh, you don’t? You think he stays on the sidelines? Interesting.
CT: I think he’s pretty loyal to Romney. I don’t think, I don’t think he goes anywhere. I really don’t.
HH: Now last week on the panel, we talked about Scott Walker, and everyone was agreeing he had a great weekend. I don’t know who you have on the panel this week or who your guest is, but I hope he doesn’t disappear from the debate. Who are you going to bring on to analyze all this, this weekend, Chuck Todd?
CT: Well, it’s funny, I booked Paul Ryan three days ago.
CT: And he’s going to, you know how you sometimes you stumble in with, like, if can’t get Romney this week, you know, it’s not bad to have his running mate, right?
HH: Oh, you’re stumbling into another Kareem Abdul-Jabbar weekend.
CT: So anyway, no, no, I have Ryan and I have Bob Gates. I want to talk a lot about ISIS and Russia, actually, with him, as well. And I’m going to do some football as well. But look, I think the Scott Walker, I think look, Jeb Bush is a big winner today, because it ends this fight with Romney with all these staffers. Scott Walker is the other big winner. And you know, Chris Christie, very minor. You know, Christie’s got a lifeline at least in the New York media market and with some money and things like that. But this is a big moment for Walker. I think Walker has an opportunity. How will he do in these donor rooms? You know, the donor primary is on now, right? And Jeb’s going to win a lot of him just because of the Bush name. But how well does Walker do with them? And I think it’s going to be interesting to watch. Big moment for him.
HH: It’s going to be fascinating, and so it will be interesting to watch Meet The Press this Sunday. Check your local listings. Don’t miss Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, reacting on Meet The Press with Chuck Todd to the decision of Mitt Romney not to run again in 2016. I wonder if Ryan will lean towards Walker on this race? We’ll find out.
End of interview.