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Notes from October 16, 2011 Broadcast of Meet The Press

October 16, 2011

This morning’s Meet The Press began with GOP presidential frontrunner, businessman Herman Cain. I am sure many people tuned in hoping to see a train wreck. They came away disappointed. You might not agree with everything he said, but he held his own, only stumbling once in his confidence.

In his defense of the 9-9-9 tax plan, he said some will pay more, but most will pay less. Maybe he is right, but his line that discussing state sales taxes “muddies the waters” was hard for him to defend and ultimately hard for many to swallow.

Overall, Cain is probably right that the simplicity of his 9-9-9 plan will appeal to a lot of people. Speaking of simplicity, however, Cain also said liberal’s mission is to destroy America, and stupid people are ruining America. Writing off the stupid vote can be political suicide. I am reminded of the supporter who said to presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, “You’ll have the support of all thinking Americans, Mr. Stevenson!” Adlai replied, “Not enough. I’m going to need a majority.”

On foreign policy, Cain said his thinking is informed by reading John Bolton and Henry Kissinger. He also said he does not agree with President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq. This is a bold position. I am not sure what drives it, but it clearly isn’t poll numbers.

When asked about his stated plan to build an electrified fence on the Mexican border intended to kill anyone who tried to cross, Cain claimed he was just joking. I suppose you can learn a lot about a candidate by finding out what they think is funny.

Which leads to the final point, when host David Gregory asked who he admires on the Supreme Court, Cain mentioned only one name: Clarence Thomas.

Next up were Katty Kay of the BBC and Chuck Todd of NBC to discuss the 2012 presidential race. I really liked this segment because it focused on the strategy or “keys to victory” for each campaign. This was far more informative than digging into poll numbers or dissecting specific ads. (Although it was odd to have the “observers” appear in the middle of the show rather than their typical slot at the end. Is Meet the Press about the journalists or the newsmakers?)

The final segment was something Meet The Press billed as a “surrogate debate” featuring Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) representing Mitt Romney and Gov. Bobby Jindal standing in for Rick Perry. I thought it was weird to frame the debate as Romney vs Perry when they just said Herman Cain is the frontrunner. It makes it look like Meet The Press is trying to say Perry and Romney are the only real or viable candidates.

Even worse, it turns out that surrogate debates are really, really, boring.

Today’s Meet The Press transcript will be here.

Also follow the show on the MTP Facebook page, track Twitter feeds from host David Gregory, Meet The Press, and Executive Producer Betsy Fischer, watch the midweek PressPass interview, and don’t forget Gregory’s blog.

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