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FixCam Week in Preview ... Town Halls vs. The Economy

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LAS VEGAS -- Since The Fix is still holed up in Las Vegas for another 24 hours (or so), we thought we'd offer you a gambling- (sorry, gaming-)themed Week in Preview.

Here's three sure bets for the week:

1. John McCain will continue to press his case for more town hall meetings with Barack Obama. The McCain campaign thinks they have a winner here as, they argue, Obama's unwillingness to meet in 10 town halls between now and the Democratic National Convention is a sign that the presumptive Democratic nominee doesn't practice what he preaches -- one of the emerging themes of McCain's general election strategy. It also helps that town halls are clearly McCain's strongest format in which to interact with voters; he doesn't deliver a big speech all that well (see June 3 and the now infamous green background) and tends to shy away from large-scale rallies. Those two mediums are, of course, strong suits for Obama.

2. Obama will try to keep the race focused on the economy with a series of events in Michigan today and tomorrow. McCain is still trying to make up ground for his comments earlier in the race that he knew far more about foreign policy than the economy, and Obama wants to make sure voters never forget those words. Obama's decision to spend two days in Michigan (a speech in Flint followed by a fundraiser in Detroit and then a public campaign event in the Motor City) shows how important his campaign believes the Wolverine State is to winning in the fall. No state in the country has struggled more in the recent economic slowdown than Michigan -- devastated by the collapse of the automobile industry in the state. Obama wants to shine a bright light on these struggles and will make the case he, and not McCain, is better equipped to restore economic prosperity to the state.

3. Always bet against The Fix when in Sin City. While there are undoubtedly scores of bad gamblers in this town, yours truly is the worst. If you see The Fix putting it all on black, move your chips to red -- ASAP.

-- Chris Cillizza

By Editors  |  June 16, 2008; 10:21 AM ET
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Those town hall meeting are moronic to say the least. Some one better tell Mccain it is not 1865. People all see you at the same time, we have a thing called TV, you don't need to do the same act over and over from town to town. After the second one what the hell would they talk about? People would already be sick of them and tuning out. Mccain is an idiot, he should worry about getting his campaign off the ground instead of annoying Obama with this silliness, Obama is busy running for president. Mccain is just a stumble bum of a candidate trying to figure out why he is even running for president.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2008 4:33 AM | Report abuse

One of the most memorable movie moments for me, is the scene in "The Pianist" (2002, directed by Roman Polanski, staring Adrian Brody) where a family and friends -- part of the Jewish Intelligentsia in 1939 Warsaw, is sitting in their salon chatting about the increased presence of Nazis in their city, assuring each other that surely no harm will come of them. These fears, they assure each other, are the fevered imaginings of the paranoid. A few days later, they have been served notice they are to be transferred to the ghetto and they are hocking their Piano and Persian Rugs to buy food. Before long most of the family members are put on a train destined for an extermination center in Treblinka.

Watch this 3 Minute Video and ask yourself if we Americans aren't behaving like the Polish of Warsaw - too sophisticated, cynical, and largely ignorant of reality.


Posted by: Bob Fanning | June 17, 2008 2:59 AM | Report abuse

I believe the best thing Obama can do is simply come clean - to have on one's website a clintonesque distinction between a "radical" Muslim school and a "regular" Muslim school is a bit ridiculous.

Specifically it appears that the Obama website is saying that Obama did NOT attend a "radical" Muslim school.

However, Obama DID attend a "regular" Muslim school. I seriously doubt the American people will accept that distinction, and instead I believe that people will find that position to be another ATTEMPT AT DECEPTION BY OBAMA.

Is Obama kidding?

Why isn't the press talking about this important issue more ? Whether Obama was a Muslim or not is an important issue - the press treats it as a taboo subject.


Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2008 1:58 AM | Report abuse

Hatred against whites is still RACISM. The Obama campaign has a hostility toward whites and white culture which is so nuts that the country is under great pains to even understand it.

It is crazy.

You see, in the POST RACIAL WORLD, the country is attempting to understand why the Obama campaing has adopted so many RACIST TACTICS AND HOSTILITY TOWARD THE WHITE COMMUNITY.

It may be fine to go through that exercise.

However, Obama should NOT be elected. The people around him will hurt this nation - the Obama people should not be in control of the policies of this nation.


Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2008 1:45 AM | Report abuse

Hatred against whites is still RACISM. The Obama campaign has a hostility toward whites and white culture which is so nuts that the country is under great pains to even understand it.

It is crazy.

You see, in the POST RACIAL WORLD, the country is attempting to understand why the Obama campaing has adopted so many RACIST TACTICS AND HOSTILITY TOWARD THE WHITE COMMUNITY.

It may be fine to go through that exercise.

However, Obama should NOT be elected. The people around him will hurt this nation - the Obama people should not be in control of the policies of this nation.


Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2008 1:44 AM | Report abuse

Obama said he would town hall meetings, but he never said ten. And so far, McCain has only done town hall meetings populated by loyal Republicans.

I hope that Obama does some closer to the general election. Then we can all see the stark difference between the 20th and 21st century thinking.

Posted by: Ann | June 16, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama has got to be kidding, he said he would do the town hall meetings.

Obama is a liar.

Do not vote for a liar.


Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Why cave in to John W McCain or any of his demands? Obama is the frount runner, and should he decide to debate McCain, it should be a venue of his chosing. Obama should make W. McCain as uncofortable as he choses. after all, it's McCain whom needs to make up ground.

Posted by: Dwayne U | June 16, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

-- Town Hall Meetings equalize, to some degree, Obama's $$$ advantage. Plus McShame basks in the reflected glow of sharing a stage with Obama. On the downside for McShame, it should be very obvious to all that he's an old fart that needs to take a nap, especially if he gets cranky with questions. Calling the vox populi, "jerks" is not a way to endear yourself.

-- Obama should continue to replay everything McShame has said in the past (almost all of it is toxic). And he should continue to replay everything McShame has said of late (not only toxic but incoherent).

-- Finally Obama needs to make lemonade out of firing Johnson (?) for his questionable dealings with... whoever... I forget. It shows that Obama is different that McShame when it comes to conflicts of interests.

-- Anyway Obama can show his "new era" campaign is different from McShame's "same old, same old" is to the good.

Posted by: Roofelstoon | June 16, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Obama should give in to town hall meetings. He needs to continue doing the things he is doing. Staying out of small gatherings (there are a lot of people in this country that do not want a black president) and this could be quite dangerous (he could end up dead before he get's elected).

Posted by: City Slicker C | June 16, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

zouk writes
"the problem with your solution is the damage that the Dems would cause during the repair period."

Please note it is not my proposed solution, but my predicted solution. I do think you overstate the risk of Dem control of Washington - the GOP will likely retain enough seats in the Senate to effectively stop legislation that they find distasteful. The question will be whether the majority & minority can figure out how to work together.

Posted by: bsimon | June 16, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

bsimon I tend to agree with you except I would amend the year range. the first few years were good ones.

and remember that Bush got elected in a moderate environment that had the voters calling for more spending on several fronts.

Bringing in all your cronies from TX to run the government does not appear to be a winning tactic. but with Bush, it was always about loyalty above all else.

the problem with your solution is the damage that the Dems would cause during the repair period. We are still not over the damage from Carter.

Posted by: kingofzouk | June 16, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

zouk writes
"I think the voters know what is going on."

Clearly. They know that the 1992-2006 GOP is a party of incompetence that needs to be tossed out of Washington on its collective ear to inspire that party to return to its roots & learn how to govern properly - first as a minority party of opposition and eventually, perhaps, gaining seats once it wakes up & smells the coffee.

Posted by: bsimon | June 16, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

anonymous coward writes (probably cut 'n pastes)
"the "changes" he's made since clinching the nomination suggest that he's less driven by the desire to reform Beltway culture than to gain political advantage by circumventing it."

But isn't circumventing beltway culture one way to reform beltway culture? As in: working inside the beltway fosters a political bubble that segregates the campaign from the people its trying to attract as voters & eventually represent as constituents - how is working outside the bubble some kind of sad/devious political maneuvering that should be criticized?

Posted by: bsimon | June 16, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

What's to compare:

Raise taxes or lower them

spend like crazy or not

Lose wars or win them

big government or little government

experience or fakery/false promises

I think the voters know what is going on.

Posted by: kingofzouk | June 16, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

JNoel02 writes
"I could be very much mistaken, but I have never heard anyone's vote being based upon the debates/townhall meetings."

You are mistaken. Debates can be very persuasive to uncommitted voters. Particularly the soundbites from debates that get played over and over again, like "I promise not to use my opponent's youth and inexperience against him." That was a huge moment in Reagan v Mondale that went a long way towards pre-empting the Mondale campaign's ability to use Reagan's age against him.

More recently, Pres Bush has demonstrated an ability to relate to voters in a way that made his opponents look less appealing. Not only against Kerry & Gore, but against his primary opponents in 2000 as well.

The sad truth is that a lot of voters will decide based not even on watching the debates, but on the 30 second news coverage of the debates after the fact. Most voters do not do in-depth policy analysis or compare/contrast studies...

Posted by: bsimon | June 16, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Chris, I'm surprised you haven't commented on the Father's Day speech. I thought it was an interesting development that came out of the blue as far as I was concerned.

I usually think of Father's Day as kind of a sappy, feel-good commercially inspired holiday to honor good fathers, but it certainly is relevant to consider the bad kind in terms of their effect on children, society, poverty issues, and the economy, too.

On the other hand, it was a bit odd that it didn't fit into an overall narrative of related appearances (like a week on social or family issues) and that it was kind of a stealth appearance with little advance notice. Was this about fathers? Was this about the fact that there is more than one black church in Chicago? Was it about respecting black churches? Or about speaking uncomfortable truths to audiences (which in this case appeared to LOVE hearing them, interestingly enough), a frequent campaign claim? Or even about conveying key biographical facts about the candidate? Women? Christians? Changing the subject from the boring and seemingly endless town-hall process debate?

I know you are in Vegas but if you could take a moment to share your thoughts on the Father's Day speech, we Fix fans would be very interested to hear them.

Posted by: Fairfax Voter | June 16, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I am not afraid of the press. If they will submit their questions at least 5 days ahead, I will have the Carter adminstration....I mean my staff, review them and answer like 8 of them. If I can memorize the answer or get it written down, I may even deliver the response personally. Provided the shot includes fainting groupies in the background.

Posted by: snObama | June 16, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

as [Obama] moves closer to clinching the Democratic nomination he is establishing himself as the candidate who keeps the most distance from the national media." Handling the first press tempest of his candidacy, a push for information about his ties to convicted political fundraiser Tony Rezko, Obama memorably walked out after taking only eight questions.

His discomfort with the D.C. press corps is notable, given how almost universally positive the coverage of him has been. But it's perhaps predictable for a candidate who never received a thorough vetting either in his three elections to the Illinois state Senate or his single U.S. Senate campaign - and who was memorably described as a "one-man gaffe machine" in a rare negative press assessment. Even minor mistakes and missteps can be poison to a candidate whose experience is open to question.

Certainly a little geographic and psychic distance from D.C. can be a big plus, if it's prompted by knowledge of Washington's ways rather than ignorance of them. But whatever his objections to D.C. are, Obama's recent statement to Philadelphia voters - "If [Republicans] bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun" - indicates that the capitol's bitter partisanship isn't among them. And the "changes" he's made since clinching the nomination suggest that he's less driven by the desire to reform Beltway culture than to gain political advantage by circumventing it.

Posted by: no press please | June 16, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I was just told that we can't drill our way out of this mess. In fact, there is nothing we can do. I am going cardigan shopping.

I told you we couldn't do whatever we wanted.

Posted by: snObama | June 16, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

"evasion of the accountability press scrutiny brings"

The press can't find Chicago?

Posted by: DDAWD | June 16, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

The truth is that this election cycle is watching the old school, common sense, small "L", liberal (like Tim Russert) be eradicated in the Democratic party by the leftists/marxist machine of Soros/Obama. Political power is worth more to them personally than practical people solutions for the millions of people they wish to "lead", "protect", and tax.

Posted by: dumber than dolphins | June 16, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Just this week, Obama announced plans to move key elements of the Democratic National Committee operation to his own home turf of Chicago, where presumably he'll have more mastery over it. The decision is revealing. As Politico put it, "Then and now, [Chicago is] a city whose central political feature - top-down machine control - is one legacy Obama has taken from his allies in the reigning Daley family."

In relocating key elements of the committee from D.C. to his own home turf, the Democrat nominee has reshaped the DNC to fit his own emerging "machine." He's also made it clear that its independent functions are secondary to what he apparently sees as its primary mission: To serve him.

Machine politics, evasion of the accountability press scrutiny brings, more of the ugly partisan rhetoric: Is this "change you can believe in," or "change you just won't believe"?

Posted by: change you won't believe | June 16, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm not very smart, so I think about things in black and white terms like "winning" or "losing"

But please don't ask me WHAT we're winning. It's something about a Sunni day in a Shiite country.

Let's make sure we lower taxes while fighting a prolonged war. The last thing we want to do is embolden our currency by making it stronger.

Posted by: mcAINT | June 16, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Virginia may not be a purple state yet. Even some top Democrats concede that the commonwealth's red -- make that Republican -- tendencies are strong. Sure, moderate Democrats such as Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, and Jim Webb can win here -- especially when their GOP opponents run terrible campaigns. But even these able Democrats found it impossible to garner more than 52 percent of the vote. A liberal like Barack Obama may find it impossible to reach 50.

The vast population of Northern Virginia should make Obama competitive statewide, but it's doubtful he will be able to run up the score against a centrist Republican with a remarkable military background. John McCain can be expected to romp in rural Virginia and fare better than recent Republicans in Hampton Roads and the Richmond suburbs. Remember that George Bush -- who offered less appeal than McCain for many mainstream suburbanites -- carried Virginia by 8 points in 2004. So it's not too surprising that the best poll so far in Virginia -- conducted by VCU's respected research center -- shows McCain with an 8-point lead.

McCain's recent trip to Richmond also gives anecdotal evidence that the Arizona senator is well-positioned here. He drew an enthusiastic crowd -- including some supporters of Mark Warner's Senate campaign -- and raised $800,000 in fewer than four hours. It's far too early to place the Old Dominion safely in the McCain column. We'll know more in the fall, when the Obama campaign will have to decide whether to commit substantial amounts of time and money to Virginia.

Republicans have taken the state for granted in presidential elections for years. They won't this time. Democrats have written it off for just as long and have not won here since 1964. This election will be different in at least one crucial respect, though. If Obama has problems in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and perhaps Pennsylvania, he may be the first Democrat in years who simply cannot afford to lose Virginia.

Posted by: excellent plan Snobama - for losing | June 16, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

you mean it's not a good idea to raise taxes in a soft economy?

you mean it's not a good idea to surrender and retreat when you are winning a war?

Despite my vast experience and long years on the job, there are a few things I still don't know. I will have plenty of time to learn after I'm sworn in by voting present and skipping meetings.

Posted by: snObama | June 16, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

so that the electorate can make up their own minds.

Posted by: smartinsen | June 16, 2008 11:53 AM

I could be very much mistaken, but I have never heard anyone's vote being based upon the debates/townhall meetings. I don't think any format is particularly informative--or eye opening. It is great spectacle, which is important in its own right, but I am not sure how useful they are in expanding a voter's knowledge of issues or candidates beyond what they already know/understand.

McCain harping on the format of these "meetings" gives me a feeling of desperation coming from his camp. Just my two cents, but I get the feeling they are having trouble finding winning issues.

Posted by: JNoel002 | June 16, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

More open campaigning is better for the process, but it hardly seems like a winning campaign theme.

Posted by: bsimon | June 16, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

- Barack Obama's campaign envisions a path to the presidency that could include Virginia, Georgia and several Rocky Mountain states, but not necessarily the pair of battlegrounds that decided the last two elections -- Florida and Ohio. ""

since I have no chance of winning OH or FL, and everyone knows you have to win them to win, I will start releasing ways for my idiots...I mean surrogates, to continue to fool the running yellow jackels of the MSM....I mean my base.

If everyone figues out I stand no chance too early, what will happen to my fundraising efforts, which I use to support all my associates...I mean people who are not the same as when I knew them.

Posted by: snObama | June 16, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I wish I wish I could get the 527s to stop running racist ads!

Posted by: mcAINT | June 16, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I can't raise any money, so I demand Obama give me free press in thirty town hall debates sponsored by FOX News.

Posted by: mcAINT | June 16, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

War is my hammer. The world is nothing but nails.

Posted by: mcAINT | June 16, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Foreign policy is my strong suit. That's why I can tell you the difference between Sunni and Shiite.

Posted by: mcAINT | June 16, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Obama's promise for a new kind of politics allows me to make outrageous demands.

Posted by: mcAINT | June 16, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Deficit spending during a war is a good idea.

Posted by: mcAINT | June 16, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I am not afraid of McCain. Debates which are not fully scripted by the Carter Administration are just a distraction.

Posted by: snObama | June 16, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I never met a problem the enormous government couldn't fix with a gigantic budget allocated.

Posted by: snObama | June 16, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I never met a tax I didn't want to raise.

Posted by: snObama | June 16, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Town Halls are a good idea.

Once we get past the obligatory bickering/negotiating between the two camps, they will likely arrive at a deal that would let the populace see them both in action at a NEUTRAL venue with a NEUTRAL MODERATER.

Not like the one that McCain just had with a partisan audience. Or the ones that W is famous for. Something like that serves no legitimate purpose of contrasting the candidates so that the electorate can make up their own minds.

Posted by: smartinsen | June 16, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"I chose to run ... because I believed that Americans of every political stripe were hungry for a new kind of politics, a politics that focused not just on how to win but why we should, a politics that focused on those values and ideals that we held in common as Americans..." (Barack Obama, Remarks At Campaign Event, Des Moines, Iowa, 12/27/07)

"If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." (Barack Obama, Remarks At Fundraiser, Philadelphia, PA, 6/14/08)

Well, well, well.... now what meaning should we derive from Obama's "gun" statement?? Hmmm, Oh I don't know, how about.....assassination???

We all know that if the tables were turned and McCain made that statement at a fundraiser or from the pulpit of a church, the Obama camp would be all over it, accusing McCain of racism and insinuating assassination. Of course, the MSM will likely totally ignore this statement.

Now, Who's Offering Distractions?
What's the deal with all Obama's whining? Now he's trying to distract the press from all his low-life associations, from the significant progress in Iraq that he won't discuss, his support for partial-birth abortions, his "dead-cat bounce" in the polls, his support for hard-left federal judges, his inability address press conferences, his inability to debate, his inability to meet McCain in townhall debates, and the list goes on.

His allusion to "The Untouchables" is bizarre and innapropriate. He seems to be overcompensating for things that he lacks-- testicular fortitude for example.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | June 16, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The joint town hall meeting, an idea first posited by Goldwater and Kennedy, was renewed by McC and JB on one of the Sunday morning interview shows nearly two years ago. It is a good fit for us, as voters. BHO should warm to it.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | June 16, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

A simple proposal for compromise: Obama agrees to a series of objectively populated Town Hall events, and McCain agrees to join Obama for an equal number of stadium/arena addresses.

Posted by: FlownOver | June 16, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

All Obama needs to do is agree to do a few town hall meetings during this period. It would be a good forum for him and a chance to re-introduce himself to the voting public. His joint appearance with McCain will starkly show the generational differences, and underline his message of change....

Posted by: RickJ | June 16, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Senator Obama is the better candidate for the presidency because he does understand the economy better. Senator Obama grew up in a family - where he and his mother once survived on food stamps. Senator Obama understands the strife of living on a budget - and he is smart about economics.

Just look at his campaign for example - he has raised more money than any other candidate and he has managed his costs very, very well. The more I read about Senator Obama's managing of his campaign - the more I'm impressed. In contrast - the other candidates have not been as successful. If we're to judge these candidates' economic outlook by their campaign - I'd say Senator Obama wins.

Posted by: Allen | June 16, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

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