Bob's blog: No Summer vacation on the campaign trail
It's been a busy two weeks. First we had a big leak on the Supreme Court where it turns out Justice John Roberts changed his mind and sided with the liberals to uphold most of the president's Affordable Care Act. And then we had this Mitt Romney back-and-forth over the mandate being a penalty or a tax. Well, he told Jan Crawford "They concluded it was a tax. That's what it is... It's now clear that his mandate, as described by the Supreme Court, is a tax." So now he's forced to admit, in a way, that he put a tax on the folks in Massachusetts when he passed his health care plan as governor.
So it's been quite a week, especially considering the governor and his family were supposed to be enjoying a quiet week of family time at their lakeside home in New Hampshire.
But all this excitement aside, the real news, I think, is these jobs numbers that came out today. The jobs report show unemployment unchanged from last month at 8.2 percent. That's not good news for the president, and I'm sure the Romney campaign will keep hammering him for it.
I don't offer advice to candidates (my job is to watch what they do and report it, not tell them what to do) but the challenge for Romney, I think, is that he has got to tell us more than this is bad news. People know that. I think people want to hear him lay out what he intends to do about it--in the words of Peggy Noonan, the conservative columnist at the Wall Street Journal, he needs to give voters some sort of program, some kind of proposal that people can "put their arms around." We know he wants to keep taxes low on business but I would guess that people are anxious to hear some specifics.
That being said, President Barack Obama hasn't given us any real insight to the agenda he will pursue in the next term. I think people want more specifics from his team as well.
On Sunday I'll talk to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who knows a thing or two about the economy's effect on elections. In 2008 when the bottom fell out of the economy, it left him with virtually no chance to win the election. People blamed Pres. George W. Bush and his party for that, and Sen. McCain's chances were buried by the bad economic numbers. He's a Romney surrogate, but it seems we're hearing the president invoke his name a lot--about how he and McCain agreed on some of the big ideas in 2008, saying things like, "In some ways, this election is more important than 2008 -- because in 2008, as much as I disagreed with Mr. McCain, he believed in climate change. He believed in campaign finance reform. He believed in immigration reform." So Sen. McCain will be our guest and I'm anxious to see what advice he has for Romney.
I'll talk to the Senator from Monaco where he's attending a big conference as part of an overseas trip. By Sunday he'll have been in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Libya and I know he'll have lots to say about some of those world hotspots.
Then we'll turn right back to the Campaign with Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and former Mississippi Gov. and former RNC Chairman Haley Barbour.
I'll turn to a terrific group of CBS News folks for their analysis on all of this, including CBS News making machine Jan Crawford who got the leak on Roberts' switching his mind, and then talked to Romney about the penalty-versus-tax debate. Plus, White House Correspondent Norah O'Donnell who did a great job filling in for me last week, and our Political Director John Dickerson. About half the news made last week came out of Jan's reporting so my first question to her will be, "So what else do you know?"
Finally we'll finish up with something I'm very excited about: a conversation about baseball. It's the All-Star break, but if you're like me you can't get enough of our favorite pastime. I'll talk to historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin who wrote Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir, Sports Illustrated' s Frank Deford author of Over Time: My life as a Sportswriter and a number of other books about baseball, MLB TV's Harold Reynolds and ESPN's Jayson Stark, author of Worth the Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies and The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History. We'll talk about trends in the game, what to look for in the last half of the season, what it is that keeps Americans going back to the ballpark year after year. And, what will be the fate of some big name players linked to various steroid scandals--Bonds, Clemons, Sosa et al--who for the first time will be eligible for the Hall of Fame next year?
I do hope you'll join us (local listings) and remember, staying in to watch Face the Nation can be a good way to beat the heat during this blistering summer. (And of course remember to drink plenty of water!)
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