Liveblog: A Conversation About the 2012 Presidential Race

We liveblogged from The Texas Tribune Festival's closing session, A Conversation About the 2012 Presidential Race, with panelists Gwen Ifill, the moderator and managing editor of Washington Week and senior correspondent for PBS NewsHour; Hendrik Hertzberg, senior editor and staff writer at The New Yorker; and Julie Mason, host of Sirius XM's "The Press Pool with Julie Mason."

For a recap of Saturday's events, visit our liveblogs, where Tribune reporters followed every panel in each of our six tracks: 


Liveblog

by David Muto
We're about 10 minutes away from the start of our closing session! Jay Root (who has a new e-book on the Rick Perry campaign, by the way) will be providing coverage.
by Jay Root

Evan is up there, about to introduce panel.

by Jay Root

State of race? Hertzberg: "It's still really close ... I think an awful lot rests on the debates." Could be some outside event that shakes up. But barring a disaster for Obama, it looks likely that it will be a narrow victory for president.

by Jay Root

Gwen Ifill: Obama campaign is worried about lack of excitement, depressed turnout. "They are terrified about the idea of complacency."

by Jay Root

Julie Mason: national polls don't matter that much. Battleground states favor Obama.

by Jay Root

Ifill: "Debates matter because voters matter."

by Jay Root

Ifill: should not set bar that debates will change outcome, but they can influence it.

by Jay Root

Hertzberg says debates can make difference: just look at Perry's collapse. There could be a gaffe.

by Jay Root

Julie Mason: Republicans have great opportunity here. She said you have to wonder if another GOP candidate would make race closer.

by Jay Root

Mason says Obama and Romney have very similar demeanor, predicts they will get under each others' skin in debates

by Jay Root

Ifill: Romney forces left nothing to chance, took out challengers one after the other.

by Jay Root

Julie Mason about Romney: "Why is he running? I still don't know."

by Jay Root

Hertzberg: convention was very important for Obama. Before that there was a down sense, a "dreary" feeling. Convention "lifted the mood." Called it a "joyful explosion."

by Jay Root

Mason: Surprised that more isn't made of Romney flip flops. Hertzberg says conservatives won't let him go to the middle, forcing him to draw back.

by Jay Root

Ifill: Romney like a businessman trying to close the deal when he made the 47 percent quip

by Jay Root

Ifill: says disappointment in Obama from base is almost as big a threat to his re-election as economy

by Jay Root

Julie Mason says Obama hasn't sold nation on health care. And yet so much 'hubris." Of Obama: "He has sold himself as a good guy" but not sold policy ideas.

by Jay Root

Hertzberg of Obama: He is "such a singular creature." After saying, "he's a black American," Ifill chimes in: "So they say."

by Jay Root

Discussion about racial politics. Hertzberg says "the viciousness" against Obama is not much different from that leveled against Clinton. But Mason says race is strong undercurrent in race, the fact that "this black man is in charge" is hard for some people to swallow. Ifill says "there is a stream of hostility toward him" that is different from other races in past

by Jay Root

Mason: Both campaigns running on hypotheticals. Romney's tack is it should have been better. Obama's is "it could have been worse."

by Jay Root

Ifill says VP's "can only harm you ... look at Joe Biden. God bless him ... Mr. Gaffe-meister."

by Jay Root

Julie Mason gets biggest laughter and applause for far. Says of GWB: "The Republicans have  a restraining order on him."

by Jay Root

Ifill predicts "nasty hand to hand combat" in final days of prez race.

by Jay Root

Ifill says Romney won't let up:  "He's still close enough to make this a fight"

by Jay Root

Mason says there is a "furious debate" within GOP about where party is headed.

by Jay Root

Hertzberg: ratio of reporting to commenting is a lot lower than it's ever been, mainly because of churning in social media.

by Jay Root

Mason says Americans want more substance out of campaign coverage. Said to much focus on silly distractions.

by Jay Root

Ifill: downballot candidates are nervous. Trying not to get dragged into prez race.

by Jay Root

Hertzberg on Romney: "Ideology is something that is foreign to him." Compares him to George H.W. Bush.

by Jay Root

About how far GOP has shifted to right: "I don't even think Reagan could get nominated now."

by Jay Root

Gridlock on Capitol Hill is the "new normal," Mason says

by Jay Root

Hertzberg says "huge avalanche" of money will come in last weeks, and says Citizens United ruling is outrageous and "mind boggling."

by Jay Root

Panelists take pass on predicting outcome of race. Hertzberg: "I don't have a gut feeling this time."

by Jay Root

Longhorn band comes out. This is kind of surreal but I LOVE it. Am also a UT grad.

by Jay Root

They just played Deep in the Heart of Texas. Now on the Eyes of Texas. If that doesn't get you pumped ... just sayin.

by Jay Root

All panelists shaking and grooving. Evan, not so much.

by Jay Root

This is downright patriotic.

by Jay Root

Evan was singing along. All holding up hook 'em sign.

by Jay Root

And that concludes this panel and Trib Fest. Thanks y'all!

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