Former ABC newsman Charlie Gibson was invited to Quinnipac to speak on the following topic: "The (Im)Balance of Power in Washington: How Things Went Off the Rails and How They Can Be Fixed," and in his speech he predicted that President Barack Obama will be re-elected.
During the lecture and in the question and answer session that followed, he discussed the cultural causes of extreme partisanship, his recommendations on how to change the culture, the flaws of his former profession in general and FOX News in particular and why he has not voted since 1976. (He even does an impersonation of David Brinkley reporting on Moses receiving the 10 commandments.)
23:01 - President Obama will win
Who do I think is going to win the White House? There are 46 days until we vote. Predictions are perilous and my track record is not particularly good in making predictions.
06:38 - Impersonation of David Brinkley reporting on Moses
But folks, Barack Obama is going to win.
And I don't say that-- (Applause.) I don't say that just because Mitt Romney is running an inept campaign, which he is.
He made a very maladroit statement on the Middle East; his 47% on the dole, et cetera.
You now hear backstage rumblings from prominent Republicans that have basically written him off.
But I say it because Barack Obama won 365 electoral votes in 2008. So he can lose--he only needs... That's 95 more than he needs for election.
He can lose states like Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina, all of which he won four years ago, and still be elected comfortably.
Every electoral map that I have seen puts 237 electoral votes pretty solidly in the Obama column this year. That means he only needs to pick up 33 more.
There are nine states that are considered toss-ups. They are Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
Obama now leads in the polls, including the Quinnipac polls, in eight of those states and his lead is significant in some of them.
In six of the nine, the economy has rebounded significantly and unemployment is well below the national average. In Iowa, New Hampshire and Virginia it's under 6%
Most people focus on the national polls to try to measure the national vote but other polls I think are far more revealing.
More people blame Bush--54%--this is an ABC poll. More people blame Bush, 54% than Obama, 32% for the bad economy.
Which candidate is more likeable and friendly? Obama--a 34 percent advantage.
Who will do more to help the middle class? Obama--a 15 percentage point lead.
And who would you like to have dinner with? Which I think is always a key poll. Obama--a 19 point lead.
And while I'm a skeptic about TV ratings and I don't like them much, five and a half million more people watched Obama's acceptance speech than watched Mitt Romney's.
And then there's the issues. Funny, we talk about issues.
The Republican party has done Romney no favors by forcing him so far to the right that he may not be able to scramble back by November 6.
Polls show Obama with a solid lead among women. Is Romney's position on reproductive rights really what he had to claim in the primaries?
Polls show Obama with a solid lead among Hispanics. Is Romney truly anti
-immigration? Does he really oppose the Dream Act?
And seniors, many who now oppose Obamacare, but no one wants politicians meddling with their Medicare.
To me that all adds up to an Obama win.
David Brinkley was a pioneer in television and he used to say that if television news had been around in the day of Moses an anchor might have come on the air and led his broadcast thusly:
14:35 - On Republican obstructionism
A prophet by the name of Moses today descended from Mt. Sanai carrying two stone tablets.
And inscribed on those tablets are 10 commandments.
Ten rules handed down to Moses by God.
They are ten rules to which God wants all men to adhere as they live their lives.
Here with our report on the most important two...(Laughter)
I am going to be harder on Republicans than I am on Democrats although the current climate of polarization has demonstrable roots in both parties but it's just that currently Republicans have taken obstructionism to a new level where it's almost an art form.
54:30 - On his personal decision not to vote since 1976
There's the now famous quote from Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, the Minority Leader in the Senate. He said it was the number one priority of Republicans to make sure that Barack Obama was a one term President.
That's more important than legislating?--which, with all due respect, the Senator from Kentucky was elected to do.
In October of last year the Congressional approval rating was down to nine percent. That's the lowest in history.
My question: who the hell are that nine percent? What world are they living in?
I stopped voting after 1976 when I covered a Presidential candidate and I began to care whether he won or lost. I won't tell you who the candidate is but he lost. (Laughter)
55:35 - On the election of President Barack Obama
I came to identify with Gerald Ford and his family and I was saddened on Election Night.
And I thought, you can't do that. You can't get there.
And then I heard Leonard Downey who was a senior editor at the Washington Post give a lecture. He urged his reporters at the Washington Post not to vote and so I stopped.
I am going to go back and re-register and I am going to vote in this election year.
I will never have another election like 2008 and I carry no water for Barack Obama. I carry no water for John McCain. I'm a friend of John McCain's. I think he would have made a fine President. He's a fine man.
58:21 - On the FOX News business model
But one of the things that caused me to retire was that I began to sense that John McCain was always running for second place.
And we were going to either elect a woman or a black man President of the United States. I never thought I would see that in my lifetime.
I never thought I would see it.
As I say, I carry no water for him but--somebody said to me as I was walking into the studio that night 'what's your call going to be?,' because we knew Obama was going to win.
And our policy is that we don't call an election until the guy's actually got 270 electoral votes and we knew that would come with California, Oregon and Washington when they close, so it would be 11 o'clock at night.
I said 'what do you mean, 'what's your call going to be?' He said 'well like Al Michaels, 'Can you believe in miracles?' when the United States hockey team beat Russia in 1980.
And I hadn't thought about it, stupid me. And I didn't have much chance to think about it. But when he got over the top at 270 and you saw those crowds and the spontaneous... love that existed in those crowds and how much it meant to people, I said--I had to do some quick math, I said '232 years ago, our Founding Fathers signed a document...that said 'all men are created equal' and we have not done our best to live up to that in our society but on that night, haven't we taken a big step in that direction.
And I was really emotional. And people were crying around the studio. Even people who didn't particularly care about Barack Obama.
And I thought I'll never have another election like this. I'll never see something that's....so maybe it's time to go.
FOX News, with its business model made more money in profits last year than ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN and MSNBC combined.
1:02:01 - On Aaron Sorkin's Newsroom
The business model works and so you'll see more of it. Their audience? Tiny compared to the major networks, although Bill O'Reilly gets 25% of what the audience of the evening news gets...but people watch that who are of like political mind. And it does very well....
If a network has to tell you that they're fair and balanced, they're probably not.
I haven't seen it because I'm too cheap to buy HBO. My daughter has them all recorded
and I just haven't gotten over there to see them. Dad come on over and take a look at this.
I haven't seen them. I have heard alot of people talk about them. Sorkin is a brilliant writer. There are things that I've heard are quite accurate. There are things that I've heard that are not terribly accurate....
There are some issues that have been described to me by my daughter that are real issues in newsrooms. Sorkin was a huge Peter Jennings fan I know and so I'm glad that's it he that's writing it because I have great reverence for Peter.