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Carolyn Kaufman

CK: Rick Santorum has said that President Barack Obama is a snob for encouraging all Americans to attend college and that university campuses are liberal strongholds that are hostile to conservative students, something he has vowed to change. Is there any truth to these statements? Why or why not?

JC: Well, the first part of the statement … even by the rules of cable television, I can’t say what I really think about it. Actually, what President Obama said was people have to do something beyond just high school – maybe go to trade school, community college, college … The economy requires something more than high school education, which would seem to any person to be an imminently non-controversial, sensible statement of political tact if you will … Even by Hullabaloo standards, I’m going to hold back on what I really think about it. But I can say that the statement is patently and utterly asinine. That’s the nicest thing I can say about it.

CK: The entire statement, or just the first part?

JC: Oh, just the part about President Obama being a snob because he said that people had to do something after high school. Yeah, most colleges have liberals on faculty – so what? Most businesses have a lot of Republicans. So what would I say … I’m going to tell my students, “Whatever you do, when you get out of here, don’t go work for a business because there are a lot of Republicans”? Well, that would be really stupid. It’s just too stupid for words. You know at some level, you’ve got to wince … If somebody from Japan saw that who isn’t American … you’ve just got to go, “Ah, this is embarrassing for all of us.”

CK: Do you think these statements are ultimately going to help Santorum win more votes or cause him to lose votes?

JC: Look, like I said in my piece, [“Carville: GOP adults want ‘children’ to behave themselves,” published Feb. 24 on] … the problem that they have is the quality of the person that’s voting in these primaries and caucuses. If you find that appealing, there’s really something wrong with you. Now if you wanted to win an election – if that was your goal – why would you run against education and sex? Those are actually kind of two popular things out there. I don’t know why they think that there are votes in that.

CK: Does Tulane graduate Newt Gingrich still have a shot at winning the Republican presidential nomination?

JC: No.

CK: Why do you think he’s still in it?

JC: You know, I think he’s probably enjoying the attention. And why give out if Sheldon Adelson keeps writing him checks? Neither does Rick Santorum have a chance at the party.

CK: Santorum doesn’t have a shot at the nomination?

JC: No. But he’s got a chance to just cause hell. He’s just a difficult child, as I said in my piece.

CK: In your article, you distinguished between the “adults” of the party like Mitt Romney and the “children” like Gingrich, Santorum and Rick Perry, among others. Do any of these adults or children have a chance of beating Obama in the presidential election?

JC: I mean, look. They don’t. Events could beat President Obama. But I don’t think Republicans can.

CK: But does Romney have the best shot?

JC: He’s the only person that really has any shot to run against Obama. None of these guys in the end are going to get picked.

CK: As most people know, you coined the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid,” which reflects the idea that the state of the economy concerns voters more than any other issue. How will the economy play into this year’s presidential elections?

JC: You know, it’s going to play a big role if people see some improvement and progress. But I think that the Republican brand has so drug itself through everything that it might have mildewed here for awhile. It’ll be tough to get it back.

CK: So the economy won’t really matter much, then?

JC: Well, if the economy goes bad, people will make a change no matter what, but they’re not going to go to this.