President Barack Obama kicked off the general election campaign Thursday, when both he and Vice President Joe Biden took to the campaign trail. Their speeches gave us a good idea of how they're going to try to frame the election: This is an election about the future versus the past, and we're the team that wants to move forward. I thought the President had a good line yesterday, when he said that if Republicans had been around when Christopher Columbus was preparing to sail to the new world, they'd have been in the Flat Earth Society, hollering, "You'll fall off the end of the earth!"
I think there's no question that with the Republicans - no matter who their nominee is - they'll do their best to try to frame the election as a referendum on the President. But it seems to me that the Democrats have concluded the Republican race is going to go on and on, so they've apparently decided to go ahead and try to frame the campaign in their own terms, even though they don't know yet who the nominee is going to be.
On Sunday, I'll talk to chief Obama strategist David Axelrod about their message. I'll also ask him about one of the big stories this week - Afghanistan. With last weekend's killing of 16 Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier, some Republican candidates have been reenergized about the issue of Afghanistan and an accelerated withdrawal. I think at the end of the day we're going to see a somewhat faster withdrawal, but what does the White House and Obama's campaign think? How will the campaign respond to candidates like Newt Gingrich saying it's time to get out of Afghanistan now? On Face the Nation last Sunday, Gingrich told me, "We're not prepared to be ruthless enough to force them to change," and he's repeated that idea on the campaign trail, and Rick Santorum's expressing doubts about the mission now too.
I'll also talk to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus for the party's take on this unpredictable primary. He's told me before on Face the Nation that "tough primaries and a little bit of drama are a good thing for the challenging party." Does he still believe that? And will he be saying the same line in July or August - if this really does go all the way to Tampa like Gingrich continues to insist?
Then, I'll turn to former RNC Chairman and Mitt Romney supporter Ed Gillespie, the editor of National Review and TIME Magazine contributor Rich Lowry, and CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Norah O'Donnell for their take on this week in politics and what to expect over the coming days. In a column for TIME this week, Lowry wrote, "[Gingrich] should get out to give Santorum a clean shot at Romney, to save himself further embarrassment--and to stick it to the press, which loves nothing more than having Newt Gingrich to kick around." I'll be curious to see what Gillespie, a Romney man, thinks of a Gingrich exit.
Check your local listings so you don't miss a minute of the news this Sunday.