The Last Word | February 26, 2013
>>> stop having these crises manufactured every month. seems like -- i know you guys must get tired of it. didn't we just solve this thing? now we have another thing coming up?
>> so i had one of these didn't we just moments today when i went through the new msnbc news wall street journal fallout from the sequester fight. first, the president's approval rating is dropping, down to 50% from 53% in december, while his favorability rating has dropped four points. but the republicans ' ratings are way worse, just 29% of a positive view of the republican party . well, 46%, 46%, almost twice as many have a negative view, a net negative favorability of minus 17 points, you don't want that minus on there. didn't we just see the poll trend back in 2011 . the polling on the showdown for the republicans on the sequester looks really similar to the showdown. here is a poll taken before march 2011 before everybody unfortunately had to hear about the debt ceiling. in march 2011 , president obama 's job approval rating said 49% disapprove. 50% have a positive view of the president, 36% have a negative view of him. that is a net positive of 14 points , pretty good. meanwhile, 31% have a positive view of the republican party , while 43% have a negative view of the gop. for a net view, not good. so the president, while fairly popular has a long way to fall, while congress is at rock bottom . they are not popular people. so in 2011 if you're a republican in congress and your objective is this, you said this.
>> you said the single most important thing we want to achieve is for president obama to be a one-term president.
>> well, that is true, my single most important political goal along with every active republican in the country.
>> so that is what your objective was, what you wanted to get done. the political reaction was clear, you tried to pull president obama down, mire the candidate of hope and change in the washington morass, the president's will go down more, he has further to fall. the republicans can just nominate a fresh face, an outsider not connected. and that is what exactly began to happen in the great debt ceiling debacle. but august 2011 , president obama 's job had been turned upside down, 51%, a majority, 51% disapproved. his favorability had been erased entirely. 44% a positive, 44% a negative view. it was not good for him. but the republican party 's favorability had gone down, as well, it is now negative 14, instead of 13. they didn't have far to fall, but they fell a little. if your goal was to make president obama the number one president, from 3/4, to 4/5 is a small price to pay for taking a wrecking ball for the president currently running for president. and that strategy was working, at that point in 2011 , mitt romney pulled ahead of president obama in matchup polls. he was leading, the outside poll seemed perfectly positioned to make president obama a one-time president. just like mitch mcconnell wanted. the president was reelected, he will not be a one-time president. the republicans will never have a chance to defeat barack obama on the ballot, because he will never again be on a ballot. what is their plan now? it can still be this.
>> you said "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for president obama to be a one-time president".
>> that is true, that is my single most important political goal along with every active republican in the country.
>> during the debt ceiling, i could understand republicans in congress dragging everyone down to the mud. it was a rational means to an end . now in 2013 , the republicans have a net negative of 17 points, 17 points in their approval ratings . and their party, unlike president obama is actually going to be on a ballot again, and soon. joining me now to try and figure out what they're doing is msnbc political analyst , steve schmidt, a senior adviser for the campaign in 2008 , steve , i appreciate you being here.
>> good to be here.
>> walk me through this, what is the point of taking this kind of damage, of taking unpopular positions and forcing other showdowns against president obama ? how does this sort of help in the long-term recovery of the republican party ?
>> well, just look at the politics of it, you're looking at it through the prism of the national politics, what is the standing of the party in the standing electorate, that is different in districts where president obama was defeated badly. republicans , if you look at the culture in the republican party since the 2008 election, republican members of congress are terrified of compromising. lest it beget a primary challenge that could take them out of their seat. and that fear is very much alive today. so when you look at the politics of it and you consider that if john boehner agreed to increase revenues as part of a brougader deal with the president, the compromise is probably he would lose his speakership. so the republican's brand, its position heading into the next presidential election is a very different matter than the politics driving the political decisions inside the house republican conference , for instance.
>> but how far can that go? i mean when i look at the polling on some of these issues, you often see majority of republicans saying they would approve of increasing taxes on the rich. and the big incident that came out a few weeks ago, you saw very few republican majorities for cutting spending on anything. and certainly not on the major congressional ticket items like medicare. so it often seems to me the congressional republican party is to the right of the republican party nationally, or at least to the right of people who describe themselves as republicans in national polls. or am i missing something here?
>> well, look as you go through the polls and you sit in focus groups and you watch it. and you'll have a republican respond and say is that we have a spending crisis in the country that is going to lead to a debt crisis in the country. and we have to dramatically cut government spending . but when you begin to actually look at the programs, you begin to consider the cuts that would be made, people change their tune and they say wait a second. i'm a beneficiary of that. if you look at where government money is going, a lot of it is going to rural states that are net recipients of federal tax dollars as opposed to donor states that also happen to be a big part of the republican -- big part of the republican base. so you know, there is a lot of dis dissonance between what people say and what they want. but there is another aspects of it. republicans , members of the senate, are deeply concerned about what they view is out of control spending, out of control spending during the bush administration . and out of control spending during the obama administration. and people legitimately fear the consequences of that for the next generation. so this is not all a made-up issue. this is a conviction issue for a lot of republican members of congress . and they're being responsive to their consistencies.
>> i think that is exactly right, but one thing you watch, when it is a bit to the right, in the states, you saw virginia governor bob mcdonnell , and chris christie who has a 74% approval rating in a blue state , and keynoted. is not invited to cpac, i mean, the guy who is managing to make it in a blue state as a republican governor, seems -- i can't seem to explain it.
>> well, when you look at the political consequences of the numbers that you're talking about, for the 2016 election it makes a very compelling case for a chris christie run for office. because almost certainly , the republican party is going to be better off with a nominee who comes from outside of washington, d.c. outside of the congress , which would point to a governor. and you have a governor who is a conservative governor, been very effective. popular in the blue state . and has the ability to change the electoral math for the first time in a long time to the republicans ' benefit. so i think when you look at the dysfunction that is playing out, so much of this is who is up, who is down, and so much of this fight going on, both the president and congress will be hurt. and makes the case for chris christie .
>> steve schmidt, you're one of the people who can almost make this stuff make sense