Video: Surrogates debate economic recovery

By Msnbc.com contributor
updated 10/12/2008 5:07:05 PM ET 2008-10-12T21:07:05

Fueled by an economy in turmoil, the 2008 presidential race is careening towards November at a frenetic pace. On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” the economy — and its effect on the campaign — once again took center stage.

After another week of unprecedented fiscal turmoil, the latest election polls continue to favor Barack Obama. “Even within the [McCain] campaign I’m not sure that they really believe it’s going well,” said Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal. “They didn’t want to run a campaign about the economy … they wanted to run a character campaign, an experience campaign.  That’s been blown out of the water by events on Wall Street ... and now John McCain is now being forced to play on turf where he is not as comfortable as he is on foreign policy and duty, honor, country. It’s been very tough for him. You’ve seen the campaign move from idea to idea.”

John Harwood of CNBC and the New York Times said that the situation is changing at such a rapid pace that the problem cannot be blamed solely on the McCain campaign. “One of the problems is, not only the candidates, but also the president of the United States, the Treasury secretary and all the smart guys advising him are making up these plays in the sand. The playbook’s not there anymore. They are drawing it up in the dirt.”

Speaking during the first half of the show — which he shared with Gov. Jon Corzine, D-N.J. — McCain supporter and former Bush budget director Rob Portman, R-Ohio, offered that, “If we move and move quickly we can pull out of this, and relatively quickly.”

Corzine – formerly of Goldman Sachs — offered a different take, explaining that the stimulus ideas coming from the McCain campaign campaign were “horrible.” Money, he argued, needed to be poured into infrastructure, healthcare and mortgage stabilization that benefits the taxpayer directly. 

“What I see is an historic change in the way we do business in this country,” the Discovery Channel’s Ted Koppel somberly noted.  “One of the things that has really not been mentioned yet is that ours has been a credit card economy for some years now.  Much of what is responsible for the crisis we’re in right now is that people at every level [have] been encouraged to buy more than they can afford.  That has got to change.”

Harwood agreed, “[Politicians] all tend to [blame] greed and corruption on Wall Street, or 'Washington’s broken’.  It’s very, very difficult to look at the voters and say, ‘you’re part of the problem.’” 

Koppel took it a step further, adding, “The winners in this political campaign are going end up envying the losers, because they are going to be stuck with these problems…they haven’t begun to address them with the necessary gravitas that they can only bring to bear after the election is over.”

But Gigot offered a glass-half-full take on the options of the next president. “This will be an historic opportunity for anyone who wins,” he explained.  “Yes, you, we have a lot of difficulties, but if you’re coming in, you have the opportunity to help turn it around. If you do, and it does…then you're in a position to be able to take credit for that even if your policies didn’t do much to help it.”

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