Why GOP candidates will be talking about the Supreme Court on the campaign trail

Judy Woodruff talks to Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR about Republican reactions to the Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare and same-sex marriage, plus a look at new presidential candidate Gov. Bobby Jindal and expected presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie.

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    The presidential hopeful list is ready to expand again, and the Republican field is divided in its reaction to the Supreme Court same-sex marriage case.

    Plenty to talk about for Politics Monday.

    Joining us this week is Stu Rothenberg of The Rothenberg Political Report — Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report — and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    Thank you both for being here.

    STUART ROTHENBERG, The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report: Sure.


    So, let's talk first about the Supreme Court. The court, in not undermining the Affordable Care Act, it upheld it. And we won't get into the specifics, but all these Republicans disagree, Tamara, with what the court did. Is this going to be an issue on the campaign trail?

  • TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio:


    They pretty much agree with each other in the primary. But this sets up a general election where there's a choice between preserving the Affordable Care Act or repeal and replace, which is the message that Republicans are sending now, not just repeal, but repeal and place — replace.

    What the Supreme Court did them a favor on is, they aren't going to have to get real specific about how they'd replace it, because there isn't sort of an imminent crisis of subsidies going away.



    I think now we have been talking about the ACA for five years, at least Republicans have.

    It's part of their DNA. They want to talk about it. The voters want to hear about it. I think there will be some additional pressure to go into details and tell, OK, if you get rid of the ACA, Affordable Care Act, then what are the alternatives?

    But I think in the next few months, between now and the nomination, I think they will talk about it. I don't think they are going to quite have the passion in talking about it that they once did, because you can only have passion for so long.


    And we see some Republicans are saying they're even relieved that the court went the way it did, because they think it will stand them — they will put them in a stronger position during the general election.

    Let's turn to the court's other big decision last Friday, and that, of course, was upholding same-sex marriage. It's interesting to see — and we're going to show the audience how the — some of the Republicans divide on this. There were a group of them who are pushing — they all disagree with the decision, but some of them are saying, we are going to push for a constitutional amendment.

    And you see some of these. It's Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum. And then there is another group that is saying, we oppose what the court did, but we accept it. And they don't seem to be making as big an issue. This is Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, interestingly, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio.

    How do you see this, Stu, playing out?


    I think this is a perfect reflection of the division in the Republican Party, not on ideology as much as tone, tenor, style, how you deal with these things.

    Look, the Republicans have a fundamental problem with about half of the electorate. That is, they do fine among non-Hispanic whites and very poorly among everybody else, gay voters included. And they have a problem with looking intolerant, cold-blooded, unwelcoming. That's the best word, unwelcoming.

    And so we have a division in the Republican Party with — half the party wants to be more welcoming. We disagree, but we want to reach out to people who we disagree with. The other half is doubling down, and trying to activate and energize the Republican base and get those people angry. They're already angry.


    What does that mean for this campaign, Tamara?


    If you look at those names, you basically have a division between those who are betting their primary win on winning evangelicals and need to be really strong on that, and those who would prefer not to talk about gay marriage anymore than they absolutely have to, because they have their eyes on the general election.

    And in the general election, 60 percent approximately of the U.S. population supports gay marriage, and approximately that percent of millennial Republicans support that. So the future of the party is already supporting gay marriage on some level.

    So, those are the ones who are not as concerned about purity and are more concerned about the general election.


    It will be interesting to see what happens in the debates.

    Let's talk about the two candidates who are either just — who just got in, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, Stu, at the end of last week. How does he fit into this campaign? What does this mean?


    Jindal is a perfect segue from the last topic.



    Bobby Jindal right now is nowhere on the Republican radar in terms of polling. He is a person of considerable assets. He is a candidate of color, 44, relatively young, Brown-educated, turned down Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School to become a Rhodes Scholar. In his mid-20s, he ran the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, on and on, incredible credentials.

    But he's nowhere. So, how does he get relevant? I think he is getting relevant by moving right, talking about cultural issues, religious issues. And Bobby Jindal knows that, if he doesn't do well in Iowa, he's out of the race. And how do you break through? How do you become the darling of social conservatives? You do what Bobby Jindal is doing right now.


    How do you see him fitting in?


    Yes, last week in Iowa calling for the elimination of the Supreme Court because of the way it ruled, coming out with big, bold statements, definitely positioning himself about as far to the right as you can get, saying that he is going to be a principled conservative on any number of things, including religious freedom, Affordable Care Act, everything.

    He does say he has a plan for the Affordable Care Act, also, for replacing it.


    Let's talk about another governor. And that's one who is going to get in the race tomorrow. I think it's going to make 15 or 16. We're losing count, but Chris Christie.

    A lot of people thought he might not run, Tamara, but he's jumping in.


    Yes, and his campaign motto is going to be, telling it like it is. And he is going to immediately after his announcement go to New Hampshire and just do a ton of town hall events, and sort of along the same model as like a Straight Talk Express that John McCain did.

    He doesn't have a ton of money. Jeb Bush locked up a lot of the big donors that Chris Christie would have wanted. But it doesn't take a lot of money to go meet and win over every New Hampshire Republican you can find.


    Yes, I think he's in the same lane as Jeb Bush, and Jeb Bush got out there early and coalesced support of the establishment. That's really where Chris Christie has got to go.

    He's kind of like a straight talk — you're right. Tell it like it is. It's not an ideological message. It's not about issues. It's about personality and style. And his style is appealing to a lot of Republicans. He will stick it to the teachers. He will tell them to sit down and shut up if they don't do what he says.

    On the other hand, you do that over an extended period and you come across as a little angry and gruff around, rough around the edges, and we will see whether that sells. I think there is some risk there for Governor Christie.


    In 10 seconds, Donald Trump today separating from NBC over the Miss America show and his programming, is this going to have any impact?


    Well, I think NBC was separating from him because of his comments about Mexican immigrants.


    Right. Right.


    And the thing to me that stands out is Hillary Clinton is already quoting a Republican and not saying it's Donald Trump.


    Let Donald Trump be Donald Trump, we won't be hearing that. He will be Donald Trump.


    We will leave it there.

    Stu Rothenberg, Tamara Keith, thank you both.


    You're welcome.



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