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Notes on the April 1, 2012 Broadcast of Meet The Press

April 1, 2012

This morning’s Meet The Press featured Savanna Guthrie substituting for host David Gregory in the interview segments starting with former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA). Polls show him down by 7% in Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary for the Republican presidential nomination. Santorum looked and sounded very tired.

Savanna Guthrie interviews former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)Given his populist, “rust belt” appeal, Wisconsin should be a state where Santorum does well if he is to have any chance to unseat former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) as the front runner. Next up will be Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania where polls also show his support falling relative to Romney’s. Santorum says other polls give him a wider margin, and he predicts a win in Pennsylvania.

Santorum says the clamor for him to get out of the race reveals panic among the Republican establishment. He says bruising primary battles won’t hurt the party nearly as much as the damage from choosing the wrong nominee.

At this point, about 10 minutes into the broadcast, Guthrie could have moved on from the narrow track of horse race questions. Santorum tried to lead the conversation into the policies that differentiate him from Romney and might impact the dynamic of a general election race, but Guthrie would not be swayed. The broadcast was about to segue way into a conversation about the Supreme Court’s healthcare debate… couldn’t we have at least heard what Senator Santorum thought about this and how a decision one way or another would impact the campaigns?

Next up was Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) who appeared on the broadcast to endorse Mitt Romney. To be honest, I only had a vague recollection of who this guy is. I had to use Google to make sure he was a US senator, not a state senator. Again, all of the questions were about the other candidates getting out of the race, not about issues or policies or even how Romney might stack up against President Barack Obama in the general election.

This was followed by a substantive discussion with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) about the Supreme Court’s healthcare debate. He said that even though the justices asked tough questions, this does not mean they are preparing to overturn the new healthcare laws.

Next was an odd moment where Guthrie played a clip of US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli stumbling in some comments before the Supreme Court–clearly raising concerns about the style of his performance. But then Guthrie tried to say the real issue was about the substance of his argument. It is hard to have it both ways.

The roundtable was led by MSNBC’s Morning Joe host and former Congressman Joe Scarborough. There was a meaty conversation about the role of the Supreme Court, historic battles over the federal role, and the inability to reach bipartisan solutions on the biggest challenges of the day.

After a few minutes, Scarborough led the conversation back to the presidential horse race. But here, his focus was on the general election and the lead President Obama has over both Romney and Santorum in several key states.

After a commercial break, the roundtable watched a reel of Romney gaffes on the campaign trail and had a good laugh. (“Not all of his beach houses have car elevators,” said David Brooks of the New York Times.) The roundtable ended with a discussion of gas prices. Former Congressman Harold Ford (D-TN) said the president should work with, rather than against, the big energy companies in attacking this problem.

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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