1:45 p.m. The final panel today at the Humphrey Institute’s America’s Future: Conversations about Politics and Policy during the 2008 Republican National Convention is “How Would They Govern?” The panel is moderated by Thomas Mann (Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution) and Norman Ornstein (Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute). The panelists are:
* Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
* Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
* Lynn Sweet (Washington, D.C. bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times and columnist for The Hill)
* Jackie Calmes (Economic Policy reporter at the New York Times)
1:55 p.m. Mann states that Democrats are certain to pick up 3 to 4 seats in the Senate and 10 to 15 seats House in the 2008 election. Therefore, if John McCain were elected president he would face large Democratic majorities in Congress. If Barack Obama was elected he would face great expectations, with unified party government in D.C.
1:58 p.m. Senator Kyl says McCain certainly enjoys working across the aisle with Democrats, and, in fact, enjoys not checking with the Republican leadership when deciding to work with a Democrat on a particular issue. Kyl says McCain would want to reach out to Democrats if elected president – the question is whether the Democratic leadership would want its caucus to work with him.
2:03 p.m. Kyl says there’s nothing the public hates more than “wasteful Washington spending,” and although earmarks only make up a fraction of government spending, it would be a valuable symbolic fight for McCain to wage if elected.
2:05 p.m. Senator Klobuchar says Obama’s top 3 priorities will be health care reform, energy and climate change, and bringing the troops home from Iraq. Klobuchar believes if the Senate picks up 5 or 6 seats, Obama will be able to work with enough Republicans to get to 60 to get some of his bold legislation through.
2:09 p.m. Ornstein says even if Democrats got 60 seats in the Senate, conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson and Independent Joe Lieberman are not ‘sure votes’ and may peel off to prevent a filibuster-proof majority from being realized. Klobuchar now agrees this will be true on some issues.
2:13 p.m. Kyl warns that Obama would be wise not to push too much of his ‘liberal agenda’ too soon. The backlash could ‘kick you out the door.’
2:17 p.m. Mann states that whether Obama or McCain is elected, both would govern in a way – in terms of their relationship with Congress – that is quite different to George W. Bush. Kyl notes that Bush is not an extreme partisan and he came to Washington hoping to work across the aisle; however, after working with Ted Kennedy on education, “it was all downhill from there.”
2:21 p.m. Calmes said when Bush took office he and Karl Rove made a decision not to make the mistake George H.W. Bush made of alienating the base.
2:25 p.m. Sweet says the difference in 2008 is that the next President will be a Senator, and thus the relations with Congress will be different. Sweet also says Obama would not be shy about disappointing his base – he will get to 60 any way he can.
2:29 p.m. Kyl says a McCain presidency would be quite unpredictable – he goes with his instincts quite often. Kyl believes big changes might be possible with McCain, since he has worked with Democrats on significant legislation in the past.
2:33 p.m.Kyl cautions that it is “Hard to overstate how corrosive partisan politics have taken over D.C. … we all hate it, but it’s hard not to participate in it sometimes.”
2:35 p.m. Kyl says neither Obama nor McCain would be shy to go over the heads of the folks in Washington and take their agenda to the people – like Ronald Reagan – but unlike George W. Bush.
2:52 p.m. Calmes says the positions McCain has taken in 2008 to hold the base are not those that he truly believes based on his past campaigns and voting record.