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In an exclusive interview on The Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour with host Earl Ofari Hutchinson on KTYM 1460 AM Los Angeles on March 23, 2012 John Samples, Director, Cato Center for Representative Government. Transcription by Annette Lockett, McAl Typing Service 323-293-3244 * FAX 323-293-0404 * E-Mail [email protected] * http://McALTypingService.com EOH: Will the lengthy GOP primary help or hurt the GOP Nominee and/or President Obama? JS: You can look at how Mitt Romney, for example, does in polls against President Obama. It is in fact true that Romney is doing worse than at the start of the primary process. It looks like the extension of it, at least over time, has hurt Mitt Romney. The problem with that is during the same period, the economy has gotten slightly better and President Obama’s approval ratings have gone up. Confidence in the economy has gone up, and his approval ratings have followed. It’s hard to say the reason Romney is doing worse against Obama in the polls is just the primaries. Mostly people that look at these kinds of things say the economy matters a lot. We’ve had a lot of people going back to 2010 saying that economy is the big issue. I’m inclined to think that the dragging out of the primaries is not hurting Romney that much. It’s that the President’s position is getting better because the economy has picked up a bit. EOH: Do you think the long primary will make Romney a better candidate? JS: It could be. I don’t see any fatal flaw or bleeding wound that has been opened for Romney. I think he is certain to get the nomination at this point. I wasn’t sure about that until I learned, when you look at the delegate count, Romney has been winning about 50% of the delegates so far. He only needs to keep doing that to win the nomination. Santorum is the only real challenger. He has won 20% of the delegates, but he has to win 75% all the way out to get the nomination. I think what will happen is it will become clear that Santorum is not going to win the nomination and drop out. I think Paul may continue, but maybe not. He has good personal relations with Romney, so he might want to step aside too. Nothing has really been fatal for Romney, although there are clearly some presentation weaknesses; these gaff issues, this business about the “etch-a-sketch”. The fact that he ends up with an aide saying something like that, which is clearly not good in the media, is a little odd at this point, but it gives him a chance that this will blow over. EOH: I agree Mitt Romney will be the nominee because, among other things, the GOP main stream has put the stamp of approval on him. JS: Campaign finance is really open to question. He was and is better financed. In the past we have had well financed GOP candidates that ran and didn’t do well at all; Fred Thompson, John Connelly, and so on. Romney seems to be a hyper-organized guy and carried that through to his campaign, plus he has the experience of having run before. I do think the reason he is going to win is because he is the person the Republican voters believe is most likely to win over President Obama. The question in November will not be if Romney is the one person they would like to see in the oval office, but “do you want Mitt Romney or 4 more years of President Obama?” EOH: Do you think that Mitt Romney has the best chance of winning the nomination? JS: I think that’s right. He fits a lot of molds, he wasn’t a Wall Street type, he worked in the regular economy. He had a sense of moderation and expertise in those kinds of things. But you never can tell until you actually run it. The thing I noticed in the open Florida primary, he has consistently done better with the Independent and moderate people. It is correct to think that he is the candidate that would be the one. EOH: Who do you think Romney will pick if he wins the nomination? JS: Conventional wisdom is that he is going to pick Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. There are three reasons for that: he is from Florida, a possible battleground state; Rubio is a popular guy, had some Tea Party support when he was elected; is Hispanic and the Republican party needs to do much better with the Hispanic voters than in the past. My fourth point is that Rubio is very good in the sense that he is a natural speaker and comes across well. I think he would come across well in person and on the media. He is by and far the front runner. It’s very unlikely that Senator Santorum would be the Vice Presidential candidate. EOH: What can we look for in terms of the role of Super PACs, and the possibility of corporations and the super rich dictating the agenda? JS: It’s not recognized widely, and least of all by Democrats themselves, we are going to be living in an era in which the National Democratic Party at worst breaks even with the Republicans in fundraising. It actually has more funds available, partly because of things somewhat like Super PACs. You are in a period where Democrats are dominant. Democratic Loyalists don’t feel that way; they feel like they are always going to be engulfed by this money that the Republicans allegedly have, but it hasn’t been happening for some time. President Obama is the greatest political fund raiser in the history of the Republic. He is going to do that again, and reset his records I think. He is popular with people who are inclined to give money to the Democrats. I think Romney will rely more on Super PAC money. There’s not going to be much corporation money out there because corporations fear getting involved in this kind of thing. If Obama wins ground by winning money without the Super PACs, it may not matter much in the end.