On NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, campaign surrogates representing both parties discussed the most notable issues of the week regarding American foreign policy, the vice presidential debate, and the current political environment in anticipation of Tuesday’s presidential debate. Special guest Stephen Colbert from Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report joined the program and showed that humor may be the best way to approach the campaign season. While other guests analyzed the messaging of the campaigns, Colbert summarized Romney's recent rise in the polls simply, saying the first presidential debate put Romney “on a rocket ride to plausible."
The roundtable began with a discussion of the presidential candidates’ current standings in the polls, with Romney gaining in both polls estimating the popular vote and in key swing states following his strong performance in the first presidential debate. The roundtable guests attempted to answer the question on both parties’ minds this week: will Romney’s gains last until the election?
Former Governor Jennifer Granholm (D-Mich.) called Romney’s surge in the polls “temporary” and rooted in his disingenuous policy proposals given during the first presidential debate. The Romney ticket is like “a Trojan horse coming in to occupy the city of D.C.,” Granholm said, “But inside the Trojan horse are trickle-down generals and neo-cons, the same people who wrote the Bush plan.”
Prominent Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.) disagreed, calling the shift in voters’ perceptions “a sustainable trend,” based in Romney’s success at communicating his stances on the issues that matter most in this election: jobs, the economy, and the national debt.
Thoughts on the vice presidential debate were generally split along party lines for the roundtables’ guests. Granholm called Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) “as good at obfuscating his platform as his boss [Mitt Romney],” unable to describe specifics of the Romney/Ryan platform. NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw said the vice presidential debate was a “draw” on substance, with Republicans believing Vice President Joe Biden’s aggressive performance may have disenchanted some independent viewers.
On foreign policy, the commentators’ turned their focus to Libya.
Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said world leaders see weakness in Obama’s “leadership from behind,” echoing concerns that Romney voiced this week when describing the administration’s response to Libya as “doubling down on denial.”
McDonnell and Brokaw both criticized the politicization of the attack in Libya, with Brokaw suggesting the investigation should be directed toward our national intelligence efforts rather than the president.
The show took a lighter turn during an entertaining interview with Colbert where Meet the Press moderator, David Gregory, asked the comedian his views of the election.
As a performer assuming the role of a conservative pundit, Colbert said he was “pleased … Mitt Romney got his sh*t in line.” Before the first presidential debate, Colbert said Romney “was just a walking, shambling mound of weakness … Even the people who liked him didn’t seem to be behind him that strongly.”
Following the interview with Colbert, the roundtable’s participants representing both sides of the aisle praised Colbert’s work. “People want authenticity,” said Atlanta Mayor Kamsin Reed (D) when commenting on Colbert’s success. “We want things that bring us together,” said Castellanos, and humor does just that.
As Americans gear up for this week’s presidential debate and the continuance of the campaign season, it seems all agree that a little humor can go a long way.