Carrie Dann writes:
9:57am ET: And that concludes Meet the Press. Thanks for following along and enjoy the rest of your morning.
As always: If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.
9:54am ET: Some of the Watergate Babies, by the way: Sens. Chris Dodd, Tom Harkin, and Max Baucus; and Reps. George Miller, Henry Waxman, and Jim Oberstar.
9:53am ET: A dive into the history books: Democrats picked up a whopping 48 seats in the House in 1974. The class of newcomers would later be dubbed the "Watergate Babies."
9:50am ET: From a partial transcript - Bush's name mentioned seven times in 10 minutes.
9:47am ET: Sessions predicts "slightly over 40" House seat pickups for the GOP.
9:46am ET: Cornyn: "If the election was held today, it'd be a pretty good election." But he won't say how many Senate seats he thinks Republicans will pick up.
9:44am ET: Sessions: The Tea Party is made up of "one-third Democrats, one-third Republicans, and one-third Independents."
9:41am ET: Cornyn: It's "slanderous" to accuse the Tea Party of racism. "There's no basis for it."
9:37am ET: Optimistic: Here's what Vice President Biden said on ABC this morning regarding the midterm elections: "I don’t think the [Democratic] losses are going to be bad at all. I think we’re going to shock the heck out of everybody."
"We're going to be in great shape," he said.
9:34am ET: Cornyn won't say directly if the financial regulatory reform bill should be repealed, but he points out that even Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd admitted that it's not clear how exactly the bill will impact the economy in the long run.
9:32am ET: Smaller government "is a positive agenda," Cornyn counters.
9:30am ET: Sessions said the GOP agenda should include "living within our means" and "making sure we read the bills."
Gregory responds: "That's a pretty gauzy agenda so far," asks Sessions to name more specifics.
9:27am ET: The NRCC's Sessions has set his personal goal high for 2010, saying that if the GOP does not retake the House, he will have failed to fulfill his “misison statement.”
Sessions was reportedly so gleeful to hear Gibbs’ admission that the GOP could potentially win back control of the House that he played a tape of the comment during a Republican meeting last week to fire up his colleagues.
9:26am ET: We're in a commercial break.
9:25am ET: No hesitation from Van Hollen: Obama is "absolutely an asset," not a liability for 2010 Democratic candidates.
9:22am ET: Guests discussing this POLITICO piece from Thursday, headlined "Why Obama loses by winning." Here's the lede paragraph:
Thursday’s passage of financial reform, just a couple months after the passage of a comprehensive health care overhaul, should decisively end the narrative that President Barack Obama represents a Jimmy Carter-style case of naive hope crushed by the inability to master Washington.
Yet the mystery remains: Having moved swiftly toward achieving the very policy objectives he promised voters as a candidate, Obama is still widely perceived as flirting with a failed presidency.
9:22am ET: Cornyn: "One party rule" is "scaring the living daylights" out of Americans.
9:19am ET: Van Hollen, describing the policy philosophy being articulated by Republicans, mentions Joe Barton's apology to BP and Minority Leader Boehner's statement that the recently-passed financial regulatory should be repealed.
9:18am ET: Sessions: GOP candidates are campaigning with this message about government spending: "We must live within our own means."
9:16am ET: In the first 15 minutes of this debate, former President Bush's name has been mentioned almost as many times as President Obama's. (UPDATE: Bush's name was mentioned 10 times and Obama's was mentioned 9 in the first 15 minutes, according to a rush transcript)
9:15am ET: Van Hollen: "We know we have a long way to go on the economy."
9:14am ET: Menendez of the DSCC said that Republicans have used the filibuster "in an unprecedented way in American history."
9:13am ET: Cornyn said that, while many of Obama's major legislative initiatives have passed, Americans don't believe the president has done enough to spur the economy and reduce unemployment.
9:11am ET: So, how many House seats are in play? Pundits and lawmakers have varying estimates of how many House seats could potentially change hands in November. Van Hollen estimated 70 in a recent interview. Republican House Leader John Boehner has said that number is more like 100.
Republicans need to win 39 seats this fall to win back the majority.
Can they do it? The Cook Political Report projects that Republicans will pick up 30-40 seats, while the Rothenberg Political Report sees about 25-30 pickups for the GOP.
9:10am ET: Van Hollen on Gibbs' statement: "This is the distinction between a mathematical possibility and a probability." He's made a similar point throughout the week since Gibbs appeared on Meet last week. From The Washington Post:
"It was mathematically true, but he failed to complete the sentence," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said of Gibbs's assessment. "For 18 months we at DCCC and I specifically have made it clear that we are facing a very tough political season. We've also made it clear that at the end of the day we will retain our majority in the House."
9:08am ET: Sen. Cornyn of the NRSC: Americans "want to restrain this unprecedented spending binge."
9:06am ET: Rep. Van Hollen of the DCCC: "It's pretty fresh in [Americans'] memory what Republican policies did to the economy."
9:04am ET: Gregory asked Rep. Pete Sessions of the NRCC to respond to Obama's stump line that his policies will lift America out of the 'mess' created by the Republican policies of the Bush era. "I think change is in the air," Sessions responded.
9:01am ET: Opening the show, David Gregory notes how the president lashed out at the GOP during his weekly radio address yesterday. Here's an excerpt of what Obama said about Republicans in the Senate:
This week, many of our largest corporations reported robust earnings – a positive sign of growth.
But too many of our small business owners and those who aspire to start their own small businesses continue to struggle, in part because they can’t get the credit they need to start up, grow, and hire. And too many Americans whose livelihoods have fallen prey to the worst recession in our lifetimes – a recession that cost our economy eight million jobs – still wonder how they’ll make ends meet.
That’s why we need to take new, commonsense steps to help small businesses, grow our economy, and create jobs – and we need to take them now.
For months, that’s what we’ve been trying to do. But too often, the Republican leadership in the United States Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress. And that has very real consequences.
9:00am ET: And, we're on the air.
8:50am ET: Our guests this morning will be discussing the likelihood that Republicans will regain control of the House or the Senate after the midterm elections. Last week on Meet the Press, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that there are enough seats in play for Republicans to win back the House. He later said that he had only been stating the 'obvious,' but the comment nevertheless touched off a flurry of commentary from pundits and grumbling among Democrats demoralized by Gibbs' calculation. Here's the video of that exchange from last week:
8:30am ET: Good morning from the NBC News Washington bureau. Today, on NBC's Meet the Press, the chairmen of the four campaign committees responsible for the House and Senate midterm elections are making their first ever joint appearance. To mark the occasion, we'll be live-blogging the show right here on First Read.
Starting at 9am ET, watch our play-by-play coverage of this exclusive debate between National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).