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Notes on the January 28, 2012 Broadcast of Meet The Press

January 29, 2012

This morning’s Meet The Press was to have begun with GOP presidential candidate Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), but he had to cancel due to the hospitalization of his three-year old daughter.

Instead, the broadcast began with a lackluster “surrogate debate” between Mitt Romney supporter, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Newt Gingrich supporter, Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN). The latest poll numbers from this Tuesday’s Florida GOP primary show Romney in the lead with 42%, Gingrich next with 27%, Santorum 16%, and Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) at 11%. While many are pointing to Florida as the “last stand” for the anti-Romney forces, Thompson points out that even after Florida, only 10% of the total delegates for the Republican convention will have been chosen.

The most surprising thing about this segment was that neither of these guys seem to have any real or apparent enthusiasm for their candidates. McCain only became animated when discussing potential scandals over the tidal wave of Super PAC money coming into the campaigns. And this lead to the best moment of the morning: Thompson rebutted McCain with a joke, “Do we really want to talk about money? I understand Sheldon Adelson (big money Gingrich supporter) asked Mitt Romney for a loan.”

Overall, this segment pinballed between re-litigating 1995, dissecting the horse race, and debating who Reagan would support. Yawn.

Host David Gregory did point out that today marks McCain’s 63rd appearance on Meet The Press, tying Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) for the all time record.

Next up, David Axelrod, senior adviser to the Obama 2012 re-election campaign, who in style, tone, and content was completely different than McCain and Thompson. Whether you agree with him or not, this segment was all about issues, the future, and passion. He was most passionate about making the tax code more fair. And the horse race only intruded when Gregory brought it up.

In the political roundtable segment, the consensus was that the Florida campaign is about money, money, money. After Gingrich’s South Carolina win, the Republican Establishment roared its disapproval. And Florida will show the establishment’s power. So what’s next?

Host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough, says some potentially very strong states for Gingrich are still coming up in March and Gingrich will still be in the hunt. “This isn’t the end of Newt Gingrich. This isn’t even the beginning of the end of Newt Gingrich. This battle is going well into the summer.”

NBC Political Director Chuck Todd, on the other hand, said Gingrich could go 0-6 in races between now and the March 6th Super Tuesday primaries.

(Meanwhile over on Face The Nation, Donald Trump said he will run as an independent if the Republican nominee is someone he thinks can’t win the general election.)

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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