Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Luntz sounds off on Edwards and more

Frank Luntz, the Fox News pundit and Republican pollster who helped invent the Contract with America and the term "death tax," sat down with us Tuesday night before speaking to a Novello audience at Imaginon. He talked about the presidential race and problems Republicans face. Here's an edited version.

So who's the Democratic nominee?
"Hillary Clinton. She is the most disciplined candidate I have ever seen. She has the right answer for the right question every time. You could cook a minute egg or listen to the Minute Waltz based on her response to a typical debate question. She stops at 59 seconds every single time. She is so well trained. It’s almost inhuman. She’s a machine."

And the Republican?
"Rudy Giuliani. I’m less sure about that one and I do believe the Republican race is up for grabs. I believe Mitt Romney wins Iowa New Hampshire and Michigan... South Carolina is make or break for Fred Thompson. You cannot discount Romney. You cannot discount Thompson. Rudy is raising a lot more money than Romney is. Romney’s money is coming from Mitt Romney. Rudy has a better name ID and most importantly, voters think Rudy Giuliani is the best candidate to defeat Hillary Clinton."

Who would be the toughest Democrat for Republicans to beat?
"Joe Biden or Bill Richardson. Biden because he is the smartest Democratic candidate running, and Bill Richardson because he’s got by far the best resume of any Democrat running. But neither of them have gotten traction."

Which Democrat fades first?
"John Edwards. Sorry Mr. Edwards, but you can’t claim you care about poverty when you get a $400 haircut. He’s got the smartest team around him. Joe (Trippi), Paul (Blank) and Chris (Kofinis) are the single most talented operatives on the Democratic side. They just picked the wrong horse."

What about Elizabeth Edwards?
"Elizabeth Edwards is the best First Lady candidate by far. When I would do my focus groups in Iowa, they would tell me how she would be at these cookouts and making the food and talking politics and engaging in personal discussions all at the same time. She would hand you a burger and talk about the war in Iraq and still get the mustard and ketchup on perfectly. She’s better than he is. She should be the candidate."

And Obama?
"I'm a big Obama fan. I think Obama’s non-partisan, non hostile, non-negative message is exactly what America needs right now. John Edwards goes after corporate America. Hillary Clinton loves to attack the so called vast right-wing conspiracy. Obama would have none of that, rejects that style of politics. He would rather bring people together than tear people apart. And with this country so divided along partisan lines, I hope he does well."

How badly will the war hurt Republicans next year?
"It's not the war that's hurting Republicans so much as Katrina. Democrats have tried to take advantage of the war (but) the American people have seen what the Democrats have proposed and realize they're playing politics.

"The failure for the GOP goes back to Katrina. Republicans were always the party of competence. You may have thought they lacked compassion. You may have thought they lacked kindness and caring. But you always knew that they could do the job well. You did not choose Republicans to be abysmal failures in New Orleans.

"There's more -- wasteful Washington spending. The 'Bridge to Nowhere' was singly the most destructive vote for Republican congressional candidates in 2006. But that's not all. You also have the disaster that is immigration: Latinos who think Republicans are bigoted against them and conservatives who think Republicans won’t protect the borders. You're losing on both sides. Add the war to that and you’ll understand why I'm very pessimistic about Republican hopes."

How will Stephen Colbert do in the S.C. primaries?
"Archie Bunker got some votes when he ran in 1972. Pat Paulsen ran in 1968. Will Rogers was a political player in the 1930's. Colbert is one of the smartest political humorists, if not the smartest, and he will attract some voters. Usually the people who vote for people like him are younger, and younger people tend not to vote in primaries."

Can Hillary win?
"Absolutely. She can win because of her success. She is most likely to win because of Republican failures.

"Right now the Democrats have a 13 point edge over Republicans in generic ballots. And she’s beating Giuliani by only two points. What happened to those other 11 points? They want to vote for a Democrat but they don’t want to vote for her."


Anonymous said...

Why would you ask Frank Luntz anything concerning the democrats or John Edwards? You know the answer before you ask the question. This person is nothing more than a belligerent bully whose expertise is probably selling used cars to people who can't afford them.

Anonymous said...

Oh please. That comment is laughable. When asked to rank the Democrats, pretty obviously he can't put them all in first place, can he? It is hardly a knee jerk Republican response to that question to prefer Obama to Edwards.

As it happens, his comments regarding Edwards are not exactly cutting edge stuff. They're closer to conventional wisdom among the Democrat insiders. The guys working for Edwards have been acknowledged since the beginning of this cycle as among the very best, and Edwards has been seen as the weakest and most vulnerable Democrat candidate.