We had a pretty great conversation this morning during our must read op-eds segment today. It was between the Center for American Progress' Christie Hefner and Pat Buchanan, and it was mostly over this here poll that's getting a lot of attention this week. According to the Washington Post-ABC News poll, Mitt Romney is a few percentage points ahead of Obama with registered voters.
Buchanan and Hefner debated about Romney's shot at getting the GOP nomination.
Willie Geist: Christie, where do you think the president is right now? You've been a supporter of his. We've talked about being out of options on the fiscal side and Chairman Bernanke saying i don't have much left on the monetary side. What can the president do here?
Christie Hefner, Center for American Progress: If you look at it from a political perspective since we're already in campaign mode, it's probably worth noting he’s not going to have a primary challenger. And that was not necessarily predicted. We've talked on this show about the left particularly, as we remain engaged in foreign wars. That's clear. But at the other side of the spectrum, it's going to be a messy Republican primary. That's going to make a big difference. Pawlenty was in Chicago yesterday and presents his view, which cap has calculated would be a $7.8 trillion cost to those tax cuts. So you have to run somebody against somebody. i think honestly right now the president's biggest advantage is how messy the primary is going to be and what some of the ideas are bubbling up on the republican side.
Buchanan: Looking at 49 to 46, Romney is beating him right now. Looks like the Republicans do as of now have an acceptable alternative.
Hefner, Center for American Progress [to Pat Buchanan]: Are you confident Romney is going to be your nominee?
Buchanan: No, I'm not confident, but it does look like if he is going to be the nominee, he's got a fighting chance to be president of the United States.
Hefner: I think he would probably be your strongest nominee but the question remains in a world in which we know who the primary voters are and caucus goers on the Republican side to somebody more moderate the way Romney is, can he go all the way in the primaries?
Nicole Wallace, commentator: I think that's a real consideration. If you look at 2004, not having a primary isn't always a political advantage because the other party's primary is all about who can beat you up in the most brutal capacity. When you're a sitting president in the White House, you have to take into consideration the challenges you face. I'm not sure he will have an easy time staying quiet or remaining presidential during a messy presidential GOP primary.
Hefner: I wouldn't say he would have an easy time no matter what, I agree with that. It will be a tough re-election. They just had top fund-raisers in Chicago two days, and they’re talking about needing to raise between three-quarters to a billion without a primary challenge, a staggering sum of money. I do believe they will raise it but that won't be an issue. I think it will be a tough one. The last numbers I saw were 70 months in a row of people questioning whether we're on the right track. I share the view that the joblessness side of things more than the deficit will affect how people vote.