With much needed primary wins yesterday in Arizona and Michigan, Republican presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney is back on top. The results give him much needed momentum as the focus now shifts to next week’s votes in 10 states, Super Tuesday. Former Pennsylvania Governor Rick Santorum, who came in a close second in Michigan, had the support of Tea Party activists and evangelicals. His campaign claims his strong showing there demonstrates his ongoing appeal to conservative elements of the Republican party: What yesterday’s results mean for the GOP race ahead.

Guests

  • Neil King, Jr. national reporter, The Wall Street Journal.
  • Chris Cillizza author of The Fix, a Washington Post politics blog, and managing editor of PostPolitics.com.
  • Susan Page Washington bureau chief for USA Today.

Transcript

  • 10:06:56

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Michigan-born Mitt Romney narrowly won that state's Republican primary yesterday. He also took Arizona. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum came in second in both states. Romney's victories gave the former Massachusetts governor some much needed momentum. He's been dogged by questions about his ability to connect with voters.

  • 10:07:27

    MS. DIANE REHMJoining me in the studio to talk about the results and what to watch for as candidates head into next week's Super Tuesday primaries: Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, Susan Page of USA Today, and Neil King Jr. of The Wall Street Journal. I'll be interested in your thoughts, your questions, comments. Join us by phone at 800-433-8850. Send us your email to drshow@wamu.org. Join us on Facebook or send us a tweet. Good morning to all of you.

  • 10:08:11

    MS. SUSAN PAGEGood morning.

  • 10:08:12

    MR. CHRIS CILLIZZAGood morning, Diane.

  • 10:08:12

    MR. NEIL KING JR.Good morning, Diane.

  • 10:08:13

    REHMGood to have you here. Before we begin on Michigan, Arizona, Chris, you broke the story of Olympia Snowe's decision not to run again. Tell us why.

  • 10:08:30

    CILLIZZAYou know what, Diane? I think it's a fascinating window into where we are politically at the moment. Olympia Snowe is -- if not the most high profile moderate in either party, she's certainly in that conversation. She, in her statement in which she announced she was retiring, which was put out late yesterday, said that she's in good health, that there's no reason other than she just didn't feel like running again.

  • 10:08:56

    REHMShe's tired of the...

  • 10:08:57

    CILLIZZAShe's tired of the partisanship. I mean, she didn't come right out and say that. You know, I think she wanted to be as high-minded as possible and not, you know, say what -- everything that's wrong with the Senate. But, look, we know that the intransigence that exists in the Senate grates on these people. If you have private conversations with them, even some of the ones who are, frankly, much more partisan than Olympia Snowe, they will say it is difficult to exist in this chamber.

  • 10:09:26

    CILLIZZAMost of them -- and I know some cynical people don't believe this. But most people who are in elected office, in the Senate certainly, do so because they have a belief system and want to contribute to the public dialogue in that manner. When they feel as though they are unable to do so, I think it can be very, very frustrating. And, you know, Olympia Snowe, at 65 years old, could have easily -- this was not a decision forced on her. She would've easily won re-election.

  • 10:09:56

    CILLIZZAYou know, she would've been in her early 70s after the next term. But it seems as though -- and I think more of this will come out in the coming days -- this announcement, it's not even 24-hours old, excuse me -- will come out that the partisanship, the inability to get things done, the kind of constantly banging your head against a partisan wall, got to her.

  • 10:10:19

    PAGEAnd, you know, not just Olympia Snowe, announcement not so long ago that Ben Nelson not running for re-election in Nebraska. Ben Nelson, one of the most conservative Democrats. Olympia Snowe, one of the most liberal Republicans. There are fewer and fewer people in the middle, and, in fact, there's almost no one -- there's almost no group that crosses over. There's no -- if you look at some of the rating systems, like the one by National Journal, they're -- the most conservative Democrat is more liberal than the most liberal Republican.

  • 10:10:47

    PAGESo when you lose that center, it makes it very hard to reach a compromise. There's just no one to go to. And, I think, in the next Congress, we are going to see in both the House and the Senate fewer of those moderates from either party in the middle.

  • 10:11:00

    REHMSo more of the same, but even worse?

  • 10:11:03

    PAGEThat's right. Harder for a president to get things done, harder for party leaders to find someone on the other side willing to cross a party line to get something done.

  • 10:11:12

    REHMWho's likely to run for her seat?

  • 10:11:15

    CILLIZZAYou know, Diane, anytime there's an open Senate seat, there's usually a crowded field. The name I keep hearing for Democrats -- though I do not think she will have the primary to herself -- is a woman named Chellie Pingree, who spent time in the state legislature, is now a member of Congress, has run prior for the Senate. She ran and lost against Susan Collins, the other Republican senator from Maine, also a moderate. Chellie Pingree, I think, a good profile in a Democratic primary as a woman and as someone who is on the more liberal end in terms of her voting record.

  • 10:11:48

    CILLIZZAThe other factor, I think, that does matter in these things is she is recently married to a very wealthy man named Donald Sussman. He is either a hundreds millionaire or a billionaire, depending on who's counting. If he and she decide to bring to bear some of their combined wealth on this race, coupled with her profile, she could be -- I think she probably starts -- and, again, I always caution, we're less than 24 hours away from Olympia Snowe having said she's retiring. But I think Chellie Pingree looks like the early frontrunner as this thing gets started.

  • 10:12:21

    REHMI must say, as someone just watching, I'm very sad to hear Olympia Snowe's announcement.

  • 10:12:31

    CILLIZZAI just want to add one very quick thing. In the early 2000s, there was a group, a bipartisan group formed called the Gang of 14 senators. It was originally formed to offset this idea of the nuclear option on judges, that they would go to a straight up or down 50 votes on the judges. There were 14 of them. Five of them will still be in the Senate after this election -- five of them. And, I mean, it just speaks to the fact...

  • 10:12:57

    JR.Yeah.

  • 10:12:58

    JR....that, to Susan's point, there has just been a drastic lessening of people who occupy that middle, both in the House and the Senate.

  • 10:13:06

    PAGEOne other effect of this, likely, the Democrats pick up the seat -- not guaranteed, but likely they do -- makes it a little harder for the Republicans to take control of the Senate. You know, a couple months ago, that looked like it was a very likely scenario. It's gotten a little less likely bit by bit, so that's one other repercussion we might see.

  • 10:13:26

    REHMNeil King.

  • 10:13:27

    JR.Yeah. I mean, it'll probably be a wash, right, if the Ben Nelson seat goes to the Republican side. And, you know, this obviously is the body that was created to be sort of the compromised body but also a body where the margins are wider for what you need to get things through. And this just makes it all the more difficult.

  • 10:13:42

    JR.I mean, it is the -- looks all the more likely the Democrats will keep the Senate, but also looks a lot more likely that it'll be difficult for Obama if he is to get a second term, or difficult for anybody, really, depending on who's in the White House to move things forward going next year.

  • 10:13:55

    REHMAll right. Let's move on to the results of yesterday's primaries in Michigan and Arizona. The result seemed to be a huge boost for Mitt Romney, Susan.

  • 10:14:10

    PAGEWell, we were discussing before the show whether this was a huge boost or a narrow escape.

  • 10:14:15

    PAGEAnd I think it's probably both. You know, he -- of course, he won Arizona as expected in a walk by 20 points. But he won by about three points, percentage points over Santorum in Michigan. This is a race we never, you know, a month ago, would any of us have thought this race could be so close. And yet, I think, it stands as a victory for him because he was behind there a week or two ago after those Feb. 7 contest where Rick Santorum swept those three -- the three contests that were held on Feb. 7.

  • 10:14:41

    PAGEA big surprise to the Romney folks that that -- those contests had such an effect, created so much momentum for Rick Santorum. Clearly, some unhappiness or dissatisfaction continues with Mitt Romney as a Republican nominee. But a win is a win, and it's a big help for him as he goes to these 10 Super Tuesday contests next week.

  • 10:15:00

    REHMEconomy still the primary issue, Neil King?

  • 10:15:04

    JR.Yeah, it was. I mean, you look at the exit polls, and that's overwhelmingly what people said. They also cited the electability issue, which -- points all the more to the fact, I think, that if you just start the narrative two weeks ago when Rick Santorum was riding high, he was the guy that came in kind of working class, happy warrior guy that was going to talk up the economy in a state where that's really important. And, for a while there, it really looked like his race to win. And, I think, as much as Romney won it, I think really one could say that Rick Santorum managed to find a way to lose it.

  • 10:15:34

    JR.I mean, he went just extraordinarily off message in the last -- over the last weekend talking about, you know, JFK speeches that made him want to throw up and how Obama was a snob for thinking people should go to college, and a number of things that just trampled over his own lines, which was meant to be all about, you know, either sort of going after Romney and sort of his weaknesses and portraying him as the guy that can carry the party forward and help fix the economy and identify with the sort of blue-collar, working-class voters that you find in such, you know, abundance in Michigan.

  • 10:16:02

    PAGEIt was like a contest of the gaffes between the two of them. You know, Rick Santorum, off message as you said. But Mitt Romney's saying things like, my wife has a couple of Cadillacs, and I know some NASCAR owners. I mean, things had reinforced a vulnerability for him, which is that he's a wealthy guy who maybe doesn't really understand the lives most Americans lead.

  • 10:16:20

    CILLIZZAI think Susan and Neil are right. Look, the alternative for Mitt Romney to what happened last night would have fundamentally crippled his campaign. And so -- and my opinion is if he got one more vote than Rick Santorum in Michigan, that was all he needed because losing Michigan -- his home state, the state where his father was governor, the state where he was born -- he just could not -- in my opinion, could not have overcome that, particularly because we've got 10 states voting on Super Tuesday less than a week from now with no debate or any big thing that could change the narrative.

  • 10:16:56

    CILLIZZASo the narrative, if Mitt Romney had lost Michigan, would be he's flailing. He can't win conservatives. The weight of being the frontrunner -- and he's been the frontrunner since the second he announced in this race. And he's been a weak frontrunner at times, but he's been the front runner -- would crush him. He didn't -- he avoided that. And sometimes avoiding disaster winds up equally winning, and I think that's what happened last night.

  • 10:17:17

    REHMWhat does he gain in terms of electoral votes?

  • 10:17:22

    JR.Not many, it looks like. We don't know -- I don't think we know the exact math in Michigan, but I think it was basically a tie. Maybe -- I think maybe 14, 16, something like that. It was -- they have a somewhat arcane distribution system there. But, you know, basically, Mitt Romney won in the suburbs of Detroit, won among people that you would think would identify with him. That's where his big margin was. But Santorum did well everywhere else in the state in, I think, one half of the congressional districts.

  • 10:17:48

    JR.And, of course, then, if you look at Arizona -- that was a winner-take-all state -- he took all those. So that was interestingly his first easy win of this whole cycle. He's had to fight for every one of them. A lot of them he's had a home field advantage, and he still had to fight, as was the case in Michigan. And Arizona was an easy win, and he got 20 -- what, 29 delegates out of there?

  • 10:18:10

    CILLIZZACertainly.

  • 10:18:12

    PAGEAnd because it was winner-take-all, they didn't -- other candidates didn't contest. It was a place where, I think, the other candidates thought, you have to win there. You have to beat him in order to have it matter in the convention delegate count. And that's why he had such a free ride there. The focus really turned to Michigan, a much more competitive state.

  • 10:18:28

    JR.The one thing that's really amazing if you look at it 'cause of the very weird extended calendar that they have this year, only -- at the moment, Romney, for all of his, you know, wins he's racked up for last night has about 15 percent of the delegates needed to win the nomination.

  • 10:18:40

    REHMNeil King. And we'll take a short break. We'll be right back.

  • 10:20:04

    REHMAnd we open this program talking about Olympia Snowe, the fact that she has announced she will not run again. Now, Chris Cillizza, we hear David Dreier has said the same.

  • 10:20:21

    CILLIZZAYeah, David Dreier went to the floor of the House, I believe, minutes ago, may have been while we were speaking. This is a Republican from California, a long-serving member of Congress, chairman of the Rules Committee, which most average people don't know what it does, but it essentially sets the terms of debate for every bill that you see come on the House floor. California, in the past two decades, I should say, has been governed by a very partisan redistricting process, where Democrats control the process, and they drew lines that protected all incumbents.

  • 10:20:55

    CILLIZZAThis time around, Diane, in 2010, decennial redistricting process, the line drawing process, was controlled by an independent commission created by a ballot initiative Arnold Schwarzenegger pushed. That meant that the lines were not protective of incumbents, and, as a result, you saw a lot of incumbents homes moved into other districts, districts eliminated. David Dreier is one of those folks whose district -- he was really left without an obvious place to run.

  • 10:21:21

    REHMFaithful listener to this program, Susan.

  • 10:21:23

    PAGEThat's right. I was going to say a kind of a moderate voice, someone who had relationships with people in both parties. That's not true of everyone in the House, and a faithful listener of "The Diane Rehm Show." I was on the show -- this was maybe two years ago -- and said something during the hour. And, when I walked out at the front desk, the receptionist said that David Dreier was on the phone 'cause he wanted to discuss something I said during the hour.

  • 10:21:46

    PAGEI think he was trying to correct something I had said, although we were off the air by then.

  • 10:21:50

    REHMNow, are you surprised at that?

  • 10:21:54

    PAGEWell, it's -- you know, it's an unintended consequence of this new redistricting process. And we should note that this redistricting process is designed to help moderates, not hurt them. It's designed to prevent districts from being so overwhelmingly Democratic or Republican that only the primary matter. So if we're Democrat, the only challenge is if somebody more liberal than you challenges -- or for Republican-only, if someone more conservative than you. So that's why California and a few other states have gone to kind of nonpartisan district. This is truly an unintended consequence of that process.

  • 10:22:24

    REHMInteresting. What -- going back to yesterday's primaries, what happens to Newt Gingrich, Neil King?

  • 10:22:33

    JR.Yeah, it's extraordinary how marginal he's become. You know, he had his big win. Now, it seems like forever ago. In South Carolina, he hasn't been able to step before a podium since then and make any kind of heroic victory speech. He's barely even been on a Sunday, you know, talk show, which is the standard of political fare. I can't remember when -- the last time he did that. He gave a kind of odd speech yesterday in his own home state of Georgia, last night. It's all down to Georgia.

  • 10:22:58

    JR.He -- Georgia is one of the 10 states, you know, on Super Tuesday. He's got to win it. I don't think it's totally clear that he will. He's himself said that if he doesn't win it, I think it's clear that he'll drop out. The only thing really kind of keeping him alive is sort of the, you know, sustenance CPR kind of thing is the fact that he's got this money coming in to his super PAC, mainly from one person.

  • 10:23:19

    REHMBut how long is that going to continue?

  • 10:23:22

    JR.You know, Sheldon Adelson had said the other day, evidently, that he's prepared to put, what, $100 million into this race if it came to that. And he continues to cough up money, and that's -- there's two things that are really unusual about this election. One of them is this weirdly extended calendar that -- you know, where so few delegates have been allotted so far. And the other is the fact these super PACs can keep otherwise somewhat peripheral candidates alive way longer than they would've been in the past.

  • 10:23:46

    PAGEYou know, I think one consequence of last night's vote is that it does look like a two-person race for the nomination between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. And Rick Santorum benefited from that last night among voters in the exit polls who said they voted for their candidate because they didn't like any of the alternatives, not 'cause they like the guy. Rick Santorum got the -- a plurality of those votes, so he's -- I think he's increasingly going to be the beneficiary. If you're against Mitt Romney, the candidate you're going to be for is Rick Santorum.

  • 10:24:18

    REHMWell, here's an interesting email from Jill in Grand Rapids. "Is there any way to know how many absentee ballots went for Romney? Many, many Michigan snow birds filled out their absentee ballots not even knowing Santorum would be a viable candidate. I think that this may truly be a factor to Romney's squeaker win. This was not a big win for Romney."

  • 10:24:50

    CILLIZZAFirst, let me say Grand Rapids, Kent County, very, very important county in the state, won by Rick Santorum, but kind of a critically important thing. So thank you, Grand Rapids, fascinating place. Yes -- the answer is no. At the moment, we do not have specific numbers to quantify it. But I would say to the email, yes, this has been a trend in every state thus far, including Mitt Romney's big wins: Florida, Michigan and, particularly, Arizona -- that has a huge early vote and absentee vote program, which is -- he has been, continues to be, will always be the best-funded and best-organized candidate in the race.

  • 10:25:31

    CILLIZZAWhat does that mean? It means that he makes sure the people who are supporting him get absentee ballots. If they can vote early, they urge them to vote early. They bank as many votes as possible, and it makes a difference. Rick Santorum does not have that same organization. He won't have that same organization because we're six days away from 10 states voting on Super Tuesday. So it's not a sexy thing to talk about, and I don't think it's decisive. But it certainly helps at the margins. It clearly helps Mitt Romney bank votes before momentum gets to them, Diane.

  • 10:26:06

    JR.One of the interesting questions, I think, with Ohio, as Chris was pointing out, we've seen these kind of waves have benefited Mitt Romney in early voting in those states. I guess one question in Ohio is will this wave for Santorum be translated into early votes there that might give him that kind of boost? It's possible that that'll happen 'cause, you know, he's done well and ridden high, and he's actually now leading by a pretty good margin in Ohio in the polls.

  • 10:26:31

    CILLIZZADiane, I just wanted -- I just want to make one point because I was so struck by it. I think that if Mitt Romney winds up as the Republican nominee -- and I continue to think that's the most likely, though not certain scenario -- the person he will have to thank more than anyone else is not anyone in the Republican field. It is Barack Obama. Look at the exit polling in Michigan. These numbers are just startling. The -- most people said the most important trick for a candidate was a person who can defeat Barack Obama. Among those people, Mitt Romney won, beat Santorum, 61-24.

  • 10:27:01

    CILLIZZAThey then asked, who is the candidate most likely to beat Obama, regardless of who you voted for? 72-15. Fifty-two percent said Mitt Romney. Only 26 percent said Rick Santorum. Among that 52 percent who said Mitt Romney, he carried them, not surprisingly, by 57 points.

  • 10:27:18

    CILLIZZABut Barack Obama -- the fear of a second term of Barack Obama and the belief, whether it's right or wrongheaded, that Mitt Romney is the guy who can beat Barack Obama is, in many ways, the only positive case -- it's not really a positive case -- but the only positive point on which Mitt Romney is able to win a one-on-one race with Rick Santorum. It's just striking.

  • 10:27:39

    PAGEI think there's one other issue -- area in which he has an advantage over Rick Santorum, and that is when you go talk about the economy because you heard Mitt Romney once again last night talk about, I've been in the private sector where I was a success. I've been a governor. I ran the Olympics. I have these leadership skills and particularly in the area of creating jobs and controlling spending. This is something I have experience in. Rick Santorum has just been in the government.

  • 10:28:03

    PAGEBut I agree that the thing that will rescue Mitt Romney from the lukewarm feelings a lot of Republicans have about him is not that I'm for Mitt Romney, but that they want to unite. They want to defeat President Obama and deny him a second term.

  • 10:28:17

    REHMOf course, Santorum's campaign accused Mitt Romney of being against the auto bailout. Did that help or hurt Santorum, Neil King?

  • 10:28:27

    JR.You know, it seemed to me not to really play that big a role. It was a funny stance on Santorum's part 'cause he was also opposed to it. Santorum was basically arguing that Romney was for the bank bailout for his friends and not for the working man of Detroit at GM or Chrysler, so he was trying to do sort of a hypocrisy play. It was a big issue, and, in the end, it didn't seem to be a big factor necessarily in voting patterns.

  • 10:28:50

    JR.But, you know, one of the big sort of secondary issues, I think, that was rumbling in the background in Michigan is -- was -- you know, was Mitt Romney, in order to win that state, kind of spoiling his chances there in the general election setting? And that issue, I think, is important to a lot of people. It really activates the unions a lot. And I think that there's an argument to be made that he has done some of that damage.

  • 10:29:11

    REHMAnd then there were these robocalls on the part of the Santorum campaign. Let's hear one.

  • 10:29:20

    UNIDENTIFIED MANMichigan Democrats can vote in the Republican primary on Tuesday. Why is it so important? Romney supported the bailouts for his Wall Street billionaire buddies, but opposed the auto bailouts. That was a slap in the face to every Michigan worker. And we're not going to let Romney get away with it. On Tuesday, join Democrats who are going to send a loud message to Massachusetts' Mitt Romney by voting for Rick Santorum for president. This call is supported by hardworking Democratic men and women and paid for by Rick Santorum for President.

  • 10:29:56

    REHMHow did that work?

  • 10:29:58

    CILLIZZAYou know, Diane, Michigan is an open primary.

  • 10:30:04

    REHMRight.

  • 10:30:04

    CILLIZZASo if you're a Democrat, you can vote in the Republican primary with no penalty.

  • 10:30:05

    REHMRight. Sure.

  • 10:30:07

    CILLIZZAYou can stay a Democrat if you're an independent. The same -- so there's a history of cross-over voting. According to the exit polling, 9 percent of people who voted on Tuesday self-identified themselves as Democrats. They voted overwhelmingly for Rick Santorum. Now, you know, Rick Santorum is not usually a big Democratic favorite, so it clearly had some impact. But I would say to the history of cross-over voting in Michigan: In 2000, 17 percent of people who voted in the McCain versus George W. Bush primary in Michigan self-identified as Democrats, 17 percent.

  • 10:30:41

    PAGEBut you...

  • 10:30:42

    CILLIZZANow, again, in 2008, 7 percent did. So there is some -- to me, it's a little bit eye of the beholder. If you want to see that 9 percent as symbolic, it is certainly more than 2008. The fact that they went overwhelmingly for Rick Santorum seems to signal that there was something more at play here. But on the other hand, it is not entirely anomalous as it relates to Michigan's voting history in past elections.

  • 10:31:07

    REHMSo explain the rationale, Susan.

  • 10:31:11

    PAGEWell, the rationale is Mitt Romney is a stronger general election candidate than Rick Santorum, many Democrats believe. And so vote for Rick Santorum to promote the weaker candidate, and also just keep the Republican race going. You know, it's causing some damage for the GOP and the ratings of their candidates. So it was an effort to be mischievous. And I certainly agree that the number is an overwhelming 9 percent.

  • 10:31:33

    PAGEBut, look -- but not only did 53 percent of them vote for Santorum, which is a little surprising, but look at strong Tea Party opponents. Strong Tea Party opponents, by about 20 points, went to Santorum, and you know none of those people are actually Santorum voters. Those are mischievous Democrats.

  • 10:31:51

    CILLIZZARight. So, just quickly to Susan's point, just by the numbers, strongly oppose the Tea Party movement: Santorum, 45, Romney, 27.

  • 10:32:00

    REHMNeil.

  • 10:32:01

    JR.The great little irony, historical irony, is that Mitt Romney himself has told us that in 1988, he went out and voted for Paul Tsongas in the primary, switched parties to do it in order to pick -- try to pick a weaker candidate to go up against George Bush -- H.W. Bush. So he himself has engaged in the same dirty tactic.

  • 10:32:20

    CILLIZZAI always say one man's dirty tricks is another man's smart strategy. It just depends where you stand.

  • 10:32:25

    REHMAnd where does all this leave Ron Paul, Susan?

  • 10:32:29

    PAGEIt leaves him, really, just where he was before, which is that he's got some fervent support. You know, we talked about Democrats supporting Rick Santorum. The fact is about one out of five Democrats supported Ron Paul. Those were not mischievous Democrats. Those were Democrats who actually support Ron Paul and his agenda. He's -- Ron -- Mitt Romney has the best organized campaign. But Ron Paul is not far behind, a very smartly run campaign, focused on caucus states, not these big primaries, where he can roll up delegates.

  • 10:32:56

    REHMInteresting that Ron Paul never speaks against Romney.

  • 10:33:01

    CILLIZZAOh, it's more than interesting. There is a odd but fascinating alliance between the two of them, Diane. There was supposed to be a debate in Atlanta on March 1. Within 15 minutes of each other, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, last week, pulled out of that debate. It later came out that they had talked and decided, no, we don't want to do this. Mitt -- Ron Paul never attacks Mitt Romney in debates. He often comes to Mitt Romney's aid in debates, and he never attacks him on the stump.

  • 10:33:30

    REHMSo what rationale?

  • 10:33:32

    CILLIZZAHe -- they are personally -- we know, from reporting, they are personally close. Romney, to his credit, has gone out of his way to kind of court Ron Paul to get Ron Paul in his camp. Do they view the world in the same way? No. But Ron Paul doesn't view the world in the same way as almost anybody in the Republican Party. So he and Mitt Romney are not distinct in that way.

  • 10:33:52

    REHMChris Cillizza of The Washington Post. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." So how long does Ron Paul stay in, Neil King?

  • 10:34:03

    JR.Ron Paul has been a marathoner from the start. His plan is to be a marathoner. He wants to pick up delegates wherever he can. He thinks he may do well this Saturday in Washington State. There are other -- you know, a slew of other caucuses on Super Tuesday. He could conceivably do well in Vermont. We don't really know, but he -- there are still his targets out there, and I think he goes pretty much all the way. There's nothing stopping him.

  • 10:34:27

    JR.People love him. They give money. He has a big, small donor base. He's -- you know, runs a pretty lean campaign. He's got tons of volunteers. There's no reason for him to drop out. I think he goes pretty much all the way to the end. I don't see...

  • 10:34:38

    REHMNeil King, let me ask you about a comment Rick Santorum made over the weekend, calling President Obama a snob for wanting people to go to college.

  • 10:34:52

    JR.On the one hand, he has a point. And Obama himself, President Obama came out -- I think it was yesterday, or it was the day before yesterday, I think -- and kind of clarified what he's been saying. He said, look, I don't -- I'm not expecting everyone to go to a four-year university or Harvard. There are community colleges. There are technical colleges, et cetera. You know, Santorum's point -- to give him, just for a second, the benefit of the doubt -- is that, you know, why rack up these huge tuitions getting some liberal arts degree if you come out and you can't get a job as a result of that?

  • 10:35:16

    JR.So there's a very valid point there. But what was weird about the way he actually couched the whole thing is not only was he accusing Obama of being a snob for being aspirational and doing what presidents tend to do -- which is to want people to go on and become presidents themselves and all that -- but he was then acting as if colleges strip people of their faith and they indoctrinate them into some, you know, weird cult of liberalism or something.

  • 10:35:39

    JR.And he actually cited a statistic, which I loved, which is that 62 percent of people with faith that go into a college, when they come out, they don't have their faith anymore, which says something either about the power of the university or the weakness of people's faith. Either way, I found it an unusual statistic.

  • 10:35:56

    CILLIZZAYou know, first of all, Neil is 1,000 percent right with everything he just said. What Rick Santorum is trying to do is we know if you go back and look at the history of the Republican primary in this election thus far, what's clear is that what a certain segment -- and not an insignificant segment -- of the Republican base responds to is the candidate willing to most aggressively, both rhetorically and otherwise, take the fight to President Obama.

  • 10:36:22

    CILLIZZAIt's why Herman Cain rose. It's why Donald Trump -- I can't believe I just said that -- rose. It's why a lot of these candidates -- Newt Gingrich rose. Rick Perry -- I remember Rick Perry basically saying that Barack Obama was -- well, not basically. Rick Perry said in an ad that Barack Obama was engaging in a war on religion.

  • 10:36:37

    REHMSomebody said to me Rick Perry must be the unhappiest non-candidate.

  • 10:36:43

    JR.Well...

  • 10:36:44

    PAGEWell, unless Tim Pawlenty is. He...

  • 10:36:45

    JR.Yeah.

  • 10:36:46

    CILLIZZAI would say, though, Diane, if you look at what the Republican base is telling us it wants -- and 70 percent of them -- between 60 and 70 percent of them in every vote tell us they don't -- what they don't want is Mitt Romney. What the rest of them are telling us they want should have been a perfect fit for Rick Perry. The problem is campaigns are not run on paper. Rick Perry was a -- by his own admission or certainly the admission of people close to him -- a terrible candidate, unsteady, certainly not inspiring in any way, shape or form.

  • 10:37:18

    CILLIZZABut he had the right profile: very aggressive rhetorically against this president, a record in Texas of job creation. It's a perfect testament to the fact, though, Diane, that paper candidates do not always win. You have to go out and show and prove that you can win it in the field.

  • 10:37:36

    REHMAnd when we come back, we're going to open the phones. I also want to hear how Rick Santorum did with women voters.

  • 10:40:04

    REHMAnd welcome back as we talk about yesterday's primaries in Michigan and Arizona, which, no matter how small the margin in Michigan, Mitt Romney won and won Arizona as well. A number of our listeners, Susan, want to know how Rick Santorum did with women voters.

  • 10:40:32

    PAGEWell, actually, women voters are the ones who gave this victory to Mitt Romney. The split among men voters was almost even, Romney up by a single point in the last wave of exit polls. But women went for Romney by several points, and that gave him his margin of victory. And working women, even more solidly, went for Mitt Romney. I mean -- and I thought you could see Santorum acknowledging that point when he gave his speech last night. It wasn't really a concession speech 'cause he didn't say he had lost.

  • 10:41:03

    PAGEBut he started out by talking about his mother and said his mother, unusual for her time, had gone to college, had worked. His wife had gone to college. I mean, I thought that was an acknowledgement that he had done some damage with himself among working women, and he was trying to repair it.

  • 10:41:16

    REHMInteresting. All right. Let's go to the phones, to Birmingham, Ala. Good morning, Denise.

  • 10:41:27

    DENISEGood morning, Diane. Thanks for taking my call.

  • 10:41:29

    REHMSurely.

  • 10:41:32

    DENISEI just wanted to make a comment. I was listening early when the show first started about Olympia Snowe stepping away from -- again, for the Senate in Maine, which also saddens me. And as I've looked in -- through the last year as the campaign just started, it's just disheartening to realize that there are probably many Americans out there with leadership skills and great knowledge of how to help our country, but yet they step back and are reluctant to go to the vetting process because of the nasty way that the campaigns are handled and their personal lives are so scrutinized.

  • 10:42:12

    DENISEAnd I just wonder -- we go to the convention without a solid candidate in the Republican Party. How will we determine who should be nominated? How does that -- what is the process of that? And I'll take your panel's comments off the air.

  • 10:42:29

    REHMThanks for calling.

  • 10:42:32

    CILLIZZASo to the brokered or contested convention question, I think it is unlikely. I think it remains -- I think it's more unlikely today than it was yesterday. I think if Mitt Romney had lost Michigan, it could have been more likely. Basically, the way in which it would work is that the delegate process that you see on television during the convention in which Indiana says, Indiana, and our fill-in-the-blank votes go to fill-in-the-blank candidate, you know, George W. Bush.

  • 10:43:02

    CILLIZZAThat can be and has been, in the not that recent past, a genuine contest that we don't know who Indiana or Connecticut or certain states will go for. The way in which it could play out -- and, again, I think it's much less likely today than it was yesterday -- is March 23 is the filing deadline in California.

  • 10:43:23

    CILLIZZAYou would really need -- if you wanted to put someone else other than Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul forward as a potential nominee to the convention, I think, from a practical standpoint, you would have to get them some number of delegates to give them a foothold. But they would have to go into the convention having won a certain number of delegates.

  • 10:43:41

    REHMBut beyond delegates, wouldn't the delegates already there say nobody else has earned it?

  • 10:43:50

    PAGEWell, absolutely. I think it's very unlikely that it goes to some new person, not one of the four. And besides the state making deals, you know, you could see a deal making if -- say, if Romney was just short of the 1,144 convention delegates he needed, maybe that's where his friendship with Ron Paul kicks in, and Ron Paul gets some standing in a new -- in the Romney administration or he gets to write some planks in the platform and deals like that could be made.

  • 10:44:19

    PAGEBut to go to the caller's first point, let's not lose that one where she's saying the scrutiny of campaigns discourages people from running, and I think that is sometimes the case. But I tell you, the realities of governing is what's discouraging a lot of people, including some of the people we've talked about, like Olympia Snowe, who are now in office, and the difficulty of just doing -- of just getting things done, having debates in a civil matter whether or not you're going to win at the end of the day.

  • 10:44:48

    REHMTo Salem Township, Mich. Good morning, Eric.

  • 10:44:53

    ERICHi, Diane. Thank you for having me.

  • 10:44:54

    REHMSurely.

  • 10:44:57

    ERICI'm a 21-year-old college guy, but I work full-time. And many of my friends and those, you know, near me in age are Ron Paul supporters. And I was just curious if -- how my demographic affected the Republican primary.

  • 10:45:18

    REHMNeil King.

  • 10:45:19

    JR.Well, I'll leave to Chris the actual splicing of the numbers from yesterday. But it is amazing, when I was in Iowa, leading up to the Iowa caucuses at the beginning of the year, the number of people, and it was in the dozens. That I would -- you'd go to a bar in Des Moines, and you'd say to the waiter or the bartender, so who are you backing? And these would be kind of, like, hip-bartender guy in his 20s, and he would be Ron Paul.

  • 10:45:36

    REHMYoung people, sure.

  • 10:45:39

    JR.And you would say, well, who did you vote for last time? You know, Barack Obama. I liked him. But, you know, he hasn't got us out of Guantanamo. He hasn't ended the wars, et cetera, et cetera. And that contingent, which is really big -- and I'm sure Eric -- I don't know if Eric -- he didn't say -- voted for Obama.

  • 10:45:51

    JR.But, you know, it's a large, large contingent, which leads me to believe that Obama is having trouble on the two ends of the age spectrum: seniors and young people, who may not vote for him again because they're disappointed largely on kind of liberal things that Ron Paul really has grabbed a hold of.

  • 10:46:08

    REHMEric, who'd you vote for last time?

  • 10:46:12

    ERICI voted for Obama.

  • 10:46:14

    REHMInteresting.

  • 10:46:14

    CILLIZZARight. Eric, Neil's right. And just to your question in terms of the numbers, 18- to 29-year-olds made up 10 percent of the Michigan electorate. That was the smallest of any of the age groups. But they made up 10 percent. Not that surprisingly, given what we know with this primary, Ron Paul won those 18- to 29-year-olds, even though he finished far out of the running overall in Michigan. He won 18- to 29-year-olds with 40 percent of the vote -- 40 percent of the vote.

  • 10:46:44

    CILLIZZARick Santorum took 30 percent of the vote, Mitt Romney, 25 percent of the vote. Now, I would say, to Neil's point about the other end of the spectrum, 65-plus -- so voters 65 and older made up one in every four voters in Michigan, so 2 1/2 times the number of 18- to 29-year-olds. They went to Mitt Romney, 48, 31 for Rick Santorum, seven for Ron Paul.

  • 10:47:07

    REHMInteresting.

  • 10:47:08

    JR.Yeah.

  • 10:47:09

    REHMAll right. Thanks for calling, Eric. To Peter here in D.C., good morning.

  • 10:47:16

    PETERGood morning. Good morning to your panel. I'm calling just to correct one quick thing that I think it was -- Eric said and address a comment by Cillizza pretty quickly. I believe the study about faith and people that go to college, from what I've read, if you continue reading the study, it notes that in the same age cohort, for those who didn't go to college, the number of people who actually lose their faith is greater. So the link between going to college and losing one's faith apparently doesn't really exist.

  • 10:47:45

    PETERAnd I think that's an important point to be made. But, more importantly, getting to the point of the, you know, why somebody like Olympia Snowe would be retiring I understand the difficulties of governing in this city, but I think it's precisely because of what the Gang of 14 did that has contributed to that. It's complicated to know what -- to revisit history, but the upshot of it was that the filibuster remained. And it remained as a tool by the minority to block, not only judicial confirmations, in that case, but old confirmations in the current atmosphere of Washington and literally to block anything.

  • 10:48:21

    PETERAnd it's contributed to the fact -- the reality that nothing gets done absent 60 votes, and it's almost impossible to collect 60 votes in the Senate. And that's this teary-eyed view of the Gang of 14 being this bipartisan group that somehow saved democracy. It's the opposite. It institutionalized profoundly anti-democratic, and some people argue unconstitutional institution, namely the filibuster.

  • 10:48:46

    CILLIZZAA good and, I think, insightful point, the debate over whether to get rid of the filibuster. And some younger Democratic senators have been pushing to try to get rid of it unsuccessfully, despite the fact that Democrats control the Senate. The problem always is that the majority party who has the ability, if they would like in the Senate, to get rid of the filibuster -- it would be ugly, it would be a real fight, but they could do it -- is forever living in fear of becoming the minority party in the Senate and seeing the Senate turn into the House, where it's essentially a majority rule vote on everything.

  • 10:49:26

    CILLIZZAAnd so I think that's what always in the back of their mind. The Harry Reids of the world, the Senate majority leader, I think, he always worries that if it becomes, after the 2012 election, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and we don't have the filibuster that Democratic principles, Democratic rights, Democratic viewpoints would not be heard. It is a classic good for the goose, good for the gander situation. I think that's what keeps them ultimately from changing it, despite, as the caller pointed out, a clear argument and, I think, a thoughtful argument against it.

  • 10:49:58

    REHMAnd that statement on faith in college?

  • 10:50:01

    JR.No, I think he's -- Peter's point was an interesting one. I was only citing as a strange statistic. I had no the idea where it came from, and it seemed totally implausible. I wasn't citing it as a statistics that I was going to swear by, you know, whether colleges strip you of your faith or not.

  • 10:50:16

    REHMAll right. And one point that Kim in Rochester wants to know about the total turnout in voters in Michigan.

  • 10:50:28

    CILLIZZADiane, it was higher in Michigan. It was about a million in Michigan this time around. Now, everyone wants to know how does that compare. In 2008, which was, you know, competitive Republican primary, 869,000. In 2000, which was very competitive, Bush versus McCain, almost 1.3 million. So in between 2008 and 2000 -- Arizona, interestingly enough, which we paid almost no attention to and Romney won very convincingly and none of the candidates really spent some money, 600,000 people turned out. Again, that's...

  • 10:51:04

    REHMIs that up, down? Where is it?

  • 10:51:04

    CILLIZZAIt wasn't 600,000 exactly. The most it's been in more than a decade. In 2008, 541,000.

  • 10:51:10

    REHMInteresting.

  • 10:51:12

    CILLIZZAIn 2000, just 333,000.

  • 10:51:16

    REHMInteresting.

  • 10:51:16

    CILLIZZANow, worth noting, Arizona -- unlike Michigan, Arizona has moved itself up in the process in terms of its voting earlier now than it has in the past. So it's a little bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison.

  • 10:51:27

    REHMNeil.

  • 10:51:28

    JR.You know, Mitt Romney was starting to gain a reputation as winning by -- as the vote depressor basically. I mean, he won in Florida by depressing the turnout. Something similar happened in Nevada. Basically, in the only state we had seen so far where voter turnout was up substantially was the one state that Newt Gingrich won. And even if you look at it at county levels in Florida, you saw the same sort of thing playing out. So this, I think, is one of the things that Romney can point to what happened yesterday as, you know, he boosted turnout in the state that he won in Michigan.

  • 10:51:58

    JR.And, you know, all the more so in Arizona. So he's -- maybe, he can start to point to the fact that he's starting to stir some enthusiasm for him, which he desperately need to do, instead of just pounding down, you know, his opponents with a lot of expensive TV advertising.

  • 10:52:12

    REHMOK. To Keener, Ala. Hi, Steven.

  • 10:52:18

    STEVENYes. Yesterday, I read the current issue of Mother Jones, the feature on immigration and how it's played in Alabama with our Southern Baptist deacon governor and Kris Kobach. In Tennessee and in Georgia, it's going to be interesting to see how that -- as Kobach toured the South Carolina primary with Mitt Romney and has endorsed Mitt Romney for president.

  • 10:52:39

    STEVENIn Tennessee, some progressive Baptist friends of mine, Robert Parham of the website ethicsdaily.com has joined with the bishop of United Methodist in North Alabama, Will Willimon, the former chaplain at Duke, to stand against the Alabama version of immigration bill. And Parham had a editorial in the National Tennessean asking the presidential candidates not to discuss immigration in that state as they are facing a similar bill to Alabama.

  • 10:53:13

    REHMAll right.

  • 10:53:13

    STEVENBut with Santorum's link with Tancredo and Romney's link to Kris Kobach, that looks like it may be wishful thinking.

  • 10:53:23

    REHMAll right. To Chris.

  • 10:53:24

    CILLIZZAI mean, look, I think immigration, both legal and illegal, will be a huge issue in a general election campaign. Republicans have a massive demographic problem. They are losing Hispanic voters, 65-35 if you look at the last three elections. They can't do that. In the primary, however, they almost all have very similar points of view. If it wasn't a huge issue in Arizona where -- which was at the center of the illegal immigration and immigration fight last night, I'm not sure it will be anywhere else.

  • 10:53:52

    REHMChris Cillizza of The Washington Post, and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And let's now go to Orland, Fla. Good morning, Sharon.

  • 10:54:05

    SHARONGood morning. I am very interested in contributing this comment. I'm on the other end of the demographic. I'm a baby boomer independent, but I register because we have close primaries on whichever party I feel I want to express my vote.

  • 10:54:24

    REHMSure.

  • 10:54:24

    SHARONAnd this year, I registered as a Republican so that I could vote in the primary for Ron Paul. And I'm an issues person. I think we've all been distracted. The citizens of our country have been distracted by social issues and a number of different emotional issues. And we really need to get back on track. I believe that Ron Paul is the only candidate that can defeat Obama. And that's because those of us who are -- have been watching what's happening over the years, I think, I'm just disgusted with both parties.

  • 10:54:59

    REHMSusan Page.

  • 10:55:00

    PAGEYou know, it's -- Ron Paul's impact on the politics of this country has been interesting because I think there was a time when he was seen as kind of a French character easily dismissed. That's no longer the case. He's had a real impact on where the Republican Party stands on some big issues, although more so on fiscal issues, deficit issues than on issues of foreign policy where it continues to be pretty out step with where the GOP is generally.

  • 10:55:24

    REHMYou know, it's interesting. We've just had an email saying, "Who is to blame for the gridlock? Everyone seems to despise the American people who voted the extremist in office. What did they expect?" That's an email from Gary. How do you respond?

  • 10:55:47

    JR.I would agree. I mean, I don't think it's just who voted them in, but it's our own collective, you know, decision. Obviously -- interestingly, the other day, Mitt Romney gave his economic speech, and he used the word sacrifice a number of times, which is a word that politicians tend to avoid. And I think we collectively need to kind of figure out -- and we tried to do it through the electoral process, but it doesn't work very well -- are we ready to sacrifice in a way that we all know that we need to?

  • 10:56:11

    JR.Or do we continue down the road that we're on? And, you know, we elect people to try to express our wishes, but we do it in a very messy way. And we all kind of regret the process as we see it play out.

  • 10:56:20

    PAGEBut, you know...

  • 10:56:20

    REHMMessy is an understatement.

  • 10:56:22

    PAGEAnd also, what do we do to diffuse some of the things that are so frustrating for so many Americans? I mean, changing, redistricting is a step that over time might help. Dealing with the effect of money in politics is something that's talked about. But, boy, the way we got into this is -- has been so disheartening, and the way to get out of it looks so difficult.

  • 10:56:42

    REHMLast point, Chris.

  • 10:56:44

    CILLIZZAYou know, I always say the best thing about democracy is, if you don't like it, you have the opportunity to change it. The House and Senate we have now is, in many ways, the House and Senate what, even though they don't say it, what the American people want because that's what they voted for. If you do not like it, you have to choose different people.

  • 10:57:04

    REHMChris Cillizza of The Washington Post, Susan Page of USA Today, Neil King Jr. of The Wall Street Journal. Thank you all so much.

  • 10:57:16

    PAGEThank you, Diane.

  • 10:57:16

    CILLIZZAThank you.

  • 10:57:16

    JR.Thank you.

  • 10:57:17

    REHMAnd thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

  • 10:57:20

    ANNOUNCER"The Diane Rehm Show" is produced by Sandra Pinkard, Nancy Robertson, Denise Couture, Monique Nazareth, Nikki Jecks, Susan Nabors and Lisa Dunn, and the engineer is Tobey Schreiner. A.C. Valdez answers the phones. Visit drshow.org for audio archives, transcripts, podcasts and CD sales. Call 202-885-1200 for more information.

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