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Shields and Brooks Look at Election Strategy, Financial Crisis

Analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks take a look at candidates' campaign strategies for the final stretch of the election season and the search for answers to the global financial crisis.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And that brings us to Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    David, the experts say it's still volatile out there in the presidential campaign. What does that mean?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Do the experts say that?

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Yes, they do.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    I'm an expert. I don't say that.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    What do you say, then?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    I don't think it's volatile.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    You don't think it is at all?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    I really don't. I mean, if you look at the average of a whole number of polls, Obama has at least a 7-point lead, up to a 10- or 14-point lead.

    If you look at the swing states, not even the swing states, the red states, the North Carolinas, the Ohios, the Floridas, Obama is leading in most of those.

    And, you know, I'm — we pay attention to the day-to-day movement in the polls, the day-to-day tactics.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    That's volatility. That's volatility.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Yes, the campaigns are driven by who's won the day. Well, forget about that. Look at the fundamentals.

    If you ask people, "Who do you trust in the economy?" well, Obama has a 21-point lead. "Who do you trust on taxes?" Obama has a 14-point lead. These are built into the structure of the race based on things that are happening over the last 10 years.

    There is a fundamental structure to this race. And it took people a while, I think, to come to Obama because they were not comfortable with him.

    But when the debates happened at the same time as the economic crisis, the people who wanted change began to feel comfortable with them. They moved over to him. And I personally think that's quite solidly baked in.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    So it's over, Mark?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    No, it isn't over.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    So it's volatile?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    No, it isn't volatile, either, Jim. There's a second option.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    OK.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    The reality is as David described it. What has happened, in one of the great ironies, is that John McCain, who everybody conceded, lone among the Republican candidates, in a very difficult year, had the best chance of reaching independents, moderates, and disaffected Democrats, for reasons that he'll probably wrestle with for the rest of his life, not only moved to secure the base of his party and to resolve all problems with them, but stayed there with the choice of Sarah Palin, but then stayed there, and only now is he publicly doing — in sort of an awkward fashion — removing himself from — extricating himself from President Bush, which he could have done quite easily on substance last spring.