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Notes on the March 11, 2012 Broadcast of Meet The Press

March 11, 2012

This morning’s Meet The Press began once again with former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) this time live from Elvis’ birthplace, Tupelo, Mississippi. With a big news week and many meaty issues in play which might help us discern what kind of president Santorum would be, host David Gregory’s first question was, “What tips the scales to get Newt Gingrich out of the race?”

Questions two, three and four were all on the horse race and delegate math, leading up to the fifth question, “So you want Newt Gingrich out?” Even Santorum laughed that away. Along the way, Santorum made a fairly compelling case for why this race isn’t over yet.

By the sixth question, Gregory finally asked about the improving jobs numbers. Santroum pivoted immediately to energy and decried President Barack Obama’s oil policy. In reality, however, US domestic oil production is at an all time high, and oil imports are way down over recent years. Gregory did not bring this up, even after Santroum repeated his criticisms.

A question about seemingly “pro big government” votes from Santorum’s past evoked the most passionate response of the morning and concluded with a pretty big attack by Santorum on former Governor Mitt Romney’s (R-MA) record and flip-flops. Gregory tried to peel off onto a question about electability, but Santroum stayed with the theme of Romney flip-flops.

A final set of questions about Santorum’s wife and broader influences on his life brought out some very human responses from Santorum.

The middle section featured Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD), head of the Democratic Governors Association, and Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA), head of the Republican Governors Association. Neither of them said anything surprising. McDonnell batted away talk about his potential as a running mate for Mitt Romney. (If McDonnell is the vice presidential nominee, he will need a better haircut. His locks in the back looked so long they fell down far below his back collar. With the conservative cut up front, it seems like he might be working on a mullet.)

In the roundtable, Gregory said the top question of the week is, “Can Romney and Santroum expand their appeal?” The panel seemed to think the answer is no. As Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal said, Romney will likely grind the nomination out, but who knows, “life is interesting.”

They had a meaningful conversation about the need for civility in American political discourse. We all know how to have passionate disagreements and still bring civility and respect to the debate.

The most powerful moment of the program may have been the clip Gregory played from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s appearance on Meet The Press, March 28, 1965. The Selma March had just happened, and former President Harry Truman had called it “silly.” The response from King is so good because we know history vindicated his side.

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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