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Politico’s Mike Allen Sees Congress Only Changing A Few Seats In November

Thursday, August 12, 2010

HH: Right now, I’m joined by Mike Allen, leading political correspondent for Mike, Robert Gibbs, you know him pretty well, you’ve been in a lot of White House press corps secretary situations. He’s had a rough couple of days. Tell people what’s going on, and what you think is going to happen with Robert Gibbs.

MA: Well, Sam Youngman, a young reporter for The Hill, the Capitol Hill newspaper, sat down with Robert Gibbs, asked him about the frustrations in the White House with the left continuing to complain about what the President has accomplished. And Robert Gibbs did something shocking. It’s what Michael Kinsley called a gaffe in Washington. He told the truth. He said that they were frustrated, which they are. He said that he felt that the left was ungrateful, which they do. He coined the phrase professional left, which they say, purported to people who go on cable television. And of course, there was a lot of blowback from that. They didn’t, to their credit, they didn’t really walk away from it, and I think it’s going to pass. Robert Gibbs said something that’s obviously true. It obviously reflects what’s being said inside the West Wing.

HH: Now in terms of the professional left as you know them, Mike Allen, inside the Beltway, there are a lot of professional lefties inside the Beltway. I don’t know what they’re objecting to. They have been hammering on the President for refusing to go full Canada on health care, they’ve been hammering on the President for not doing another $860 billion dollar stimulus. I think that would be insane, but I know what they want. What do they expect Robert Gibbs to say, that he doesn’t listen to them?

MA: Well, and what they don’t get, and the reason I’m surprised that Robert took the bait, is that it’s the view of President Obama’s handlers that it’s great for the Obama brand when he goes against the left. That’s why they love taking on the teachers union, they love talking about education, because the President is not dogmatic. The President does not believe in cutting off your nose to spite your face. He’s definitely progressive, but he’s pragmatic. And so they love it when they can pick a fight with the left.

HH: Now Mike, the President’s numbers in Rasmussen have plummeted. I was on Fox News this morning taking a look at this carnage in his numbers. He’s down to negative 22 in the upside/downside numbers. And yet his press coverage continues to be quite positive according to the Rasmussen survey.

MA: (laughing)

HH: Do you…

MA: I…

HH: Go ahead.

MA: I think he would differ with that. I think the West Wing would differ with that, but go ahead.

HH: Well, it’s the Rasmussen index. I just read the index, and he covers the number of stories, et cetera. I’m wondering how low do you think he can go? What’s the bottom on the Obama blowback number?MA: Oh, it doesn’t really matter, because I think to take his bait on the November elections, I think it’s going to be very, very, very close, whichever way it goes. It’s going to be a couple of seats, one way or the other. Democrats will keep the Senate. And the President is in a very strong position going to his reelection. There’s plenty of issues to talk about, plenty of things to work about. Obviously, the map is going to be different. Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, they’ve got a lot of work to do.

HH: You think he’s going to be in a strong position going into his reelection, Mike Allen?

MA: Well, Hugh, you know this better than I do, that this is a historic statement. It’s very, very difficult, and very, very rare to knock off an incumbent.

HH: Well, I don’t know. We’ve got Jimmy Carter and George Herbert Walker Bush, two of the last five presidential elections. It seems to me it goes back and forth, Mike Allen.

MA: Okay, well, we’ll buy that, but I can tell you that’s why the White House is so excited about yesterday’s results, because they haven’t had anything good to talk about in a long time. And this Colorado result, the victory of Senator Michael Bennet, was a chance for them to say hey, we still have mojo. This president has…

HH: Well you know, Mike, I read John Harris’ piece at Politico, and I’ve got to say, the one thing I didn’t see covered well, Jane Norton got more votes losing than Michael Bennet got winning. It’s the same thing we saw in Missouri, the same thing we saw in Georgia. Yeah, the left turned out…

MA: Yeah, so you’re saying there’s an intensity issue.

HH: Yes, I’m saying that Michael Bennet’s going to get wiped out by Ken Buck. What do you think?

MA: (laughing) I don’t know, but I can tell you the press loves the fact that Ken Buck, he’ll definitely be covered. Very colorful, he definitely will be good copy. It’s just like the dream of every reporter is that the Republicans will pick up nine seats, and that Marco Rubio wins in Florida, because Hugh, you know what that means?

HH: Impeachment! No. (laughing)

MA: That’s a 50-50 Senate. That’s power sharing. Ben Nelson suddenly is huge.

HH: No, we’re hoping that that means that we will extend the Bush tax cuts. Last question, Mike, the economy is crying out for tax relief, certainty and stability. Is there anyone in the West Wing who has a clue about why the economy has stalled out, and what they have to do?

MA: Oh, sure they do. And here’s a big problem. And I can’t pinpoint exactly when this happened, but it is a momentous tectonic change. Andrea Mitchell said it in plain language on Meet The Press on Sunday, and that is the economy will not be noticeably better, there will not be a clear recovery on election day.

HH: I know, and that means that Michael Bennet’s victory party had better be short-lived, and the vendors had better get their bills paid. Mike Allen, good to talk to you as always from

End of interview.

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