From the Special Report All-Star Panel Tuesday, December 13, 2011
On House Republicans’ defying a veto threat to pass a bill that extends the payroll tax cut and accelerates construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline:
The major issue that the Republicans are insisting on is a pipeline that is very, very popular that would create, as they say, shovel ready jobs — and that unions support. That was something [postponing any decision on the pipeline] that Obama did to placate his left, but it has very little appeal beyond his left.
I think the Republicans hold the upper hand here. It began with a cynical stroke by Obama: the payroll tax extension, which was done entirely so that he could have it weighed against raising taxes on millionaires, and thus set the premise for the argument about the Republicans protecting the rich against the middle class.
Then the Republicans have this counterstroke, the pipeline, and say: We’ll go along with the payroll tax. You got to give us the pipeline.
Now Obama: His stroke, and it’s not a strong one, is to threaten to shut down the government, essentially. I’m not sure it will work.
On the state of the GOP primary race:
I think what is so remarkable — and if you are a Romney fan, alarmingly [so] — is the fact that the one consistency in the two polls is Romney at 17, which is quite a drop from where he was through most of the year, around 25 percent. This is a significant erosion. It shows how the vote is getting split every which way.
Perhaps — it might be early, I’m not sure — it could be a response to some of the negativity we’re seeing, attacking Gingrich, because we remember when Gephardt and Dean attacked each other on the Democratic side in Iowa. Iowans aren’t really too accommodating to negative campaigns. They collapsed and John Kerry and John Edwards snuck through. So you could see something of that.
The other thing is the slight decline in the Gingrich number. It could be artifacts. These are small samples and people are taking polls every night. But nonetheless, it could be that some of the conservative electorate is getting some more knowledge about his past apostasies and some of the business affairs, like with Freddie Mac. A little bit of the sheen might be coming off.