Roland Martin and the Washington Watch roundtable discuss who has the momentum entering into Tuesday’s presidential election?
This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features “The Washington Post”‘s Michael Fletcher; Republican strategist Lenny McAllister; : Dr. Chris Metzler of Georgetown University and “The Black Eagle,” Joe Madison.
MR. MARTIN: All right, folks. As we said at the top of the show, three days left, three big stories – the other two super storm Sandy, which devastated the Northeast with nearly 100 deaths, millions without power and billions of dollars in damages.
Our prayers go out to the victims and their families and the folks trying to help them recover.
President Barack Obama had a politically powerful commander in chief moment. His love fest with New Jersey governor and top Romney surrogate Chris Christie didn’t hurt either. And, of course, the third story: Mitt Romney fighting desperately to win Ohio releases radio and television ads on the auto bailout that are declared false and misleading by GM and Chrysler, as well as the fact checkers.
Will they work? Or, was this one lie too many?
Joining me today in the roundtable are: “The Washington Post”’s Michael Fletcher – no pocket square. Goodness! Republican strategist Lenny McAllister. Same thing.
MR. MARTIN: Dr. Chris Metzler of Georgetown University. Oh, he stepped up his game!
MR. MARTIN: And “The Black Eagle,” Joe Madison.
All, welcome to “Washington Watch.”
Joe, Chris said he was at Union Station. The brother said, “You the bother Roland always talkin’ about!”
DR. CHRIS METZLER: Yessuh!
MR. MARTIN: That’s what – he said that’s what made him go get some new – new outfits. So –
MR. JOE MADISON: Oh – [crosstalk].
MR. MARTIN: — yeah. Yeah, he ha- —
DR. METZLER: [Laughs.]
MR. MARTIN: — he had to step his game up.
MR. MADISON: At least you contributed to the economy.
DR. METZLER: I did.
MR. MICHAEL FLETCHER: That’s right.
MR. MARTIN: All right. I had mostly women last week. Now I got all brothers this week. So, let’s just get right into it.
Three days left in this campaign. It has been back and forth for quite some time. The Romney campaign has been trying to present this whole notion that when – the momentum has at – been at their back.
I disagree with that. I think – you look at the polling data. I think you look at this week, with Hurricane Sandy. I believe the President goes into the final three days with more momentum with him, as opposed to Mitt Romney. Agree? Disagree?
MR. FLETCHER: I would agree with that narrative. I mean a week ago, I may have challenged that, but I think Hurricane Sandy kind of presented the President in the best light. You see him and Chris Christie working together, working on a problem – kind of the very picture of bipartisanship. And I think that’s the kind of thing that’s at the core of the President’s, kind of, political identity; and that’s been on center stage this –
MR. MARTIN: Speaking –
MR. FLETCHER: — week.
MR. MARTIN: — of the New Jersey governor, check this out. He was very effusive with his praise of the President this week.
[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP.]
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: I spoke to the President three times yesterday. He called me for the last time at midnight last night, asking what he could do. I said, “If you could expedite designating New Jersey as a major disaster.”
The President was great last night. He said he would get it done.
At 2 a.m., I got a call from FEMA to answer a couple of final questions, and then he signed the declaration this morning.
So, I have to give the President great credit. He’s been on the phone with me three times in the last 24 hours. He has been very attentive, and anything that I’ve asked for he’s gotten to me. So, I thank the President publicly for that. He has done, as far as I’m concerned, a great job for New Jersey.
[END OF VIDEO CLIP.]
MR. MARTIN: Now, to our panel, I want you to re- — respond to this, where Chris Christie had to put Fox News in check when it came to Mitt Romney.
[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP.]
MR. STEVE DOOCY: Is there any possibility that Governor Romney may go to New Jersey to tour some of the damage with you?
GOV. CHRISTIE: I have no idea. Nor am I the least bit concerned or interested.
OFF CAMERA: Right – [crosstalk] –
GOV. CHRISTIE: I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics, and I could[n’t] care less about any of that stuff. I have a job to do. I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power. I’ve got devastation on the shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.
[END OF VIDEO CLIP.]
MR. MARTIN: Ooh! Gut punch from Governor Chris Christie to Fox News there.
To me, this was a case where the Governor [was] making it clear “I have to look out for my constituents,” as opposed to playing the game.
He was just questioning the President’s leadership a couple of weeks ago. I think his tune changed this week.
MR. LENNY MCALLISTER: It definitely did change, and it – what Fox News was trying to do was give Mitt Romney an opportunity to look as presidential as the President. One problem: only one person can be in that office at one time. And Chris Christie – his concern is cons- — constituents – right? He’s looking at death and destruction straight in the face. He is not in the studios of Fox News, where he can continue to play the political game. He has to look at his constituents and say, “You are suffering. You are crying real tears. How do we get things going?” And it gave him an opportunity to say, “Listen, I’m more worried about leadership than I am worried about presidential politics.”
Now, interestingly enough, that will help him in 2016, if he ever wants to run, versus trying to help Mitt Romney right now in 2012.
MR. MARTIN: Chris and Joe, this – Sa- — Sandy, frankly, took Romney and Ryan off the stage for at least four days. And when you’re inside of a week of a campaign, that is a critical period to make the final sell to voters.
DR. METZLER: It is, and the pathetic – in my view – attempt by the campaign to – by the Romney campaign to try to get back on the stage by hosting this so-called –
MR. MARTIN: “Relief effort” –
DR. METZLER: — “relief effort” –
MR. MARTIN: — in Ohio –
DR. METZLER: — in Ohio –
MR. MARTIN: — to get canned goods, which the Redge [sic – phonetic] – whi- — which the Red Cross makes clear “we don’t need. We prefer money” –
DR. METZLER: — yeah. And – and – then when you say, “I know about how to do these things because I cleaned up after a football game” – I mean come on! You know, tha- — that’s not very helpful.
I – Lenny’s absolutely right. What we’ve got here is we have one president at a time. We have Chris Christie saying, “Okay, this is what it’s like to govern and lead.” And that’s the issue here. So, we need to stop all of this nonsense. Tha- — that – that attempt was absolutely pathetic on the Romney campaign’s standpoint. If they think that’s going to help them, it’s not.
MR. MADISON: You guys haven’t left me anything to say.
MR. MARTIN: And that’s too conservative, Joe! [Laughs.]
MR. MADISON: That’s right. I mean I’m sitting here, amazed, but – but I – I will make a point, ’cause we talked about this earlier during the week. I – I thought the same thing. If I’m governor of a state – a former governor of a state – Lord knows I’ve had a disaster or two, you know –
DR. METZLER: Yeah.
MR. MADISON: — during the four years.
Well, they did. They had some floods, and we – we found out about a flood in a small, middle-class, blue-collar town where the mayor said they couldn’t even get then Governor Romney to return the call. They cou- — they – as far as they could get was a s- — the sec- — I guess the head of the staff of the lieutenant governor, and that was it. And – and the town floods every year, and Romney wouldn’t talk.
I think you’re absolutely right. And, look. The reality is – and we’ve said this before. President Obama’s got to be one of the luckiest politicians –
MR. MADISON: — you know, I think, in the 20th century –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MR. MADISON: — And – and – but – but at the same time, I will say this. It’s also how you handle it. You know, remember. George Bush, during Katrina, had an opportunity to step up; and we still talk about the flyover –
OFF CAMERA: Yeah.
MR. MADISON: — that he – that he did. So, the reality is that President Obama stepped up to the plate and did what he had to do.
And I have a[n] entirely new set of respect for Chris Christie.
MR. MARTIN: We saw the jobs report come out on Friday. Clearly, both campaigns were scared to death. One was probably scared to death what the report said. Well, actually, I’m going to say both because if you’re the Romney campaign, the last thing you want to see [is] unemployment go down – I’m quite sure. And then, of course, the Obama campaign didn’t want to see it go to 8 percent.
What effect will it have for those late folks who have yet to decide, who’re trying to flip a coin and say, “Romney or Obama?”
MR. MCALLISTER: Not as much, considering Hurricane-superstorm Sandy, because President Obama has looked presidential in the midst of a crisis that is a multi-state crisis. And so even though these numbers came out – unless if they were going to be –
MR. MARTIN: So, you –
MR. MCALLISTER: — catastrophic – [crosstalk]- —
MR. MARTIN: — think Sandy supersedes the –
MR. MCALLISTER: — absolutely –
MR. MARTIN: — jobs report?
MR. MCALLISTER: — bec- — unless if –
MR. MARTIN: Okay.
MR. MCALLISTER: — these numbers would’ve been –
OFF CAMERA: Catastrophic.
MR. MCALLISTER: — catastrophically high. If it would’ve gone from 7.8 to, let’s say, 8.2. Then we start talking about, “Hey, this is not getting any better. People are jumping in, can’t find work,” and they go from there. The minutiae of the details as to what’s good, what’s not good gets behind the story of Sandy when people still don’t have power and still don’t have –
MR. FLETCHER: But –
MR. MCALLISTER: — resources.
MR. FLETCHER: — but – [unintelligible] – this is a really good report for President Obama. Think –
MR. MARTIN: How so?
MR. FLETCHER: — back – think back a month ago, when unemployment went from 8.1 to 7.8, and there were these allegations that BLS had somehow “cooked the books” and that “the unemployment rate really isn’t that low.” It maintained itself. It went from 7.8 to 7.9 percent, more people coming into the workforce –
MR. MARTIN: But the key was 171,000 jobs.
MR. FLETCHER: — right.
MR. MARTIN: And also, Mike, talk about – and Secretary Solis already did, though – the reforecasting of August and September upward. One month went 142 to 192.
MR. FLETCHER: Right.
MR. MARTIN: That’s – that’s a pretty good number.
MR. FLETCHER: That’s pretty good. I mean particularly in – in this new kind of economic we have. You know, people talk about, you know, wanting to have a quarter million jobs a month – which would be great, I mean –
MR. MADISON: And –
MR. FLETCHER: — considering [that] when the President –
MR. MADISON: — and – and –
MR. FLETCHER: — took office –
MR. MADISON: — look at the –
MR. FLETCHER: — we were losing –
MR. MADISON: — categories.
MR. FLETCHER: — 800,000 jobs –
MR. MADISON: And look at the categories. You had increase in healthcare –
OFF CAMERA: Yeah.
MR. MADISON: — and s- — and there’s a cornerstone of the Obama admins- — administration. The automotive industry.
MR. FLETCHER: Yeah, construction –
MR. MADISON: You –
MR. FLETCHER: — is up –
MR. MADISON: — construction –
MR. FLETCHER: — which is –
MR. MADISON: — is – is –
MR. FLETCHER: — significant because –
MR. MADISON: — up. So –
MR. FLETCHER: — it’d been so down.
MR. MADISON: — so, you know, this – and I think the minutiae is what you’re talking about. This little one tick is – and you o- — look, we only have – what? Sunday, Monday, for all practical purposes, to even talk about this. It’s not going to be able to register as much [as] if we had a whole week to discuss –
MR. FLETCHER: But I think –
MR. MADISON: — it.
MR. FLETCHER: — the significance is it doesn’t contradict the President’s narrative, you know, about the economy.
MR. MADISON: That’s r- —
MR. MARTIN: ’Cause we —
MR. FLETCHER: You kind of –
MR. MARTIN: — also saw this week’s –
MR. FLETCHER: — you continue to have –
MR. MARTIN: — consumer –
MR. FLETCHER: — continued growth.
MR. MARTIN: — confidence also at its –
MR. MARTIN: — highest level since he came into office.
MR. FLETCHER: Exactly. A four-year –
MR. MARTIN: That’s also –
MR. FLETCHER: — high.
MR. MARTIN: — major.
DR. METZLER: Well –
MR. FLETCHER: Exactly.
DR. METZLER: — well –
MR. MARTIN: About 30 seconds before we go to break.
DR. METZLER: — ye- — yeah. From – from a – as a social scientist, what I’ve got to say is that you have to look at trends. And if we look at the trend line relative to the jobs report, we can discuss whether it’s bad one month, what – if it’s good the other month or not. The trend is that it is consistently getting better, so we have to look at the trends. And tha- — you know, those are the numbers. The numbers aren’t lying. The trend is upward. That’s –
MR. MARTIN: I’m – [crosstalk]- —
DR. METZLER: — the reality.
MR. MARTIN: — I’m ’bout to trend to a commercial break –
DR. METZLER: [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: — so hold tight one second.