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CBS: Obama 'On A Hot Streak' As He 'Scores Political Victories' in Congress

On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, substitute co-host Russ Mitchell announced that "the lame duck session of Congress could hand President Obama yet another victory" with possible passage of the START nuclear arms treaty. Moments later, Mitchell declared that "The President seems to be on a hot streak."

Mitchell got analysis from Republican strategist Dan Bartlett and Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. Bartlett hardly offered an opposing viewpoint, as he completely agreed with Mitchell's assessment of Obama: "It's a great streak he's on. He's on a hot streak....this is a narrative now that the President can stitch together going in to the new year....they've got a lot to crow about going into the new year." The headline on-screen throughout the segment read: "Obama's Rebound?; President Scores Political Victories During Lame Duck Session."

Turning to Simmons, Mitchell wondered: "By his own admission, the President said he took a 'shellacking' in the midterm elections. What did he do to turn this around?" Simmons argued: "You know, the one thing the White House has certainly done is they've become so much more disciplined....Right now he's targeted and people are starting to pay attention to him because they think he's focused on the issues that they care about, which is jobs and economy." On Saturday's Early Show, Mitchell claimed Obama was "the comeback kid."

Following up with Simmons, Mitchell asked: "What does he [Obama] need to do, in your opinion, to keep this momentum going?" Simmons explained: "What does the city on the hill look like for Barack Obama? He needs that kind of promising vision that we need to hear from....What are the things that the President is sort of drawing lines in the sand, he's not going to compromise with the Republicans over?"

Mitchell continued to push the idea that Obama was on a winning streak as he questioned Bartlett: "Dan, when you're on a roll like this, what do you think, is it easier to keep going or is it very easy to make a misstep at this point?"

Turning to the 2012 election, Mitchell queried: "What does the President have to do, what's the one issue he has to do to not ensure himself re-election, but put himself in a good position?" Simmons spoke of focusing on the economy, but also used the opportunity to take a shot at conservatives: "The one thing that will also benefit him, is once those Republican primaries get started you're going to hear a lot of people trying to go further and further right, appealing to that Tea Party base....people trying to appeal to the Sarah Palin voter will make Barack Obama look a lot better in comparison."

Mitchell didn't challenge Simmons's assertions, nor did he ever raise the possibility that Obama may not be on a political rebound.

Here is a full transcript of the December 21 segment:

7:06AM ET

RUSS MITCHELL: Let's turn now to politics. The lame duck session of Congress could hand President Obama yet another victory. They are set to vote this week on the START treaty with Russia and supporters believe they have enough votes to pass it. Earlier they passed the tax bill, and overturned the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. Joining us with their take are two CBS News political analysts, Republican strategist Dan Bartlett, and in Washington, Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. Good morning to both of you guys.

DAN BARTLETT: Morning, Russ.

JAMAL SIMMONS: Morning, Russ.

MITCHELL: Dan, I'll begin with you. The President seems to be on a hot streak. What does this mean for him?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: New 'START'; Arms Control Deal Could Be Victory For Obama]

DAN BARTLETT: It's a great streak he's on. He's on a hot streak. And if you take the tax bill, you take the START treaty that looks like it's going to pass, you take the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' this is a narrative now that the President can stitch together going in to the new year that a lot of people, quite frankly, just a couple months ago, or 60 days ago after the election, didn't think was really possible. So they've got a lot to crow about going into the new year.

MITCHELL: Jamal, let me ask you about that. By his own admission, the President said he took a 'shellacking' in the midterm elections. What did he do to turn this around?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama's Rebound?; President Scores Political Victories During Lame Duck Session]

JAMAL SIMMONS: You know, the one thing the White House has certainly done is they've become so much more disciplined. If you take a look at presidential statements over the course of the last few weeks, he really hasn't talked about anything other than the economy, jobs, trade, those things, and national security. The AF-PAK review and don't - the AF-PAK review and then the new START treaty. He's been very focused. Unlike earlier in the presidency, where the President kind of went out on every single issue that came up. Right now he's targeted and people are starting to pay attention to him because they think he's focused on the issues that they care about, which is jobs and economy.

MITCHELL: Well, Jamal, what does he need to do, in your opinion, to keep this momentum going?

SIMMONS: Well, now I think where we need to go is the President has yet to really lay out a consistent sort of vision statement. Where does he want to go with the country? What does the city on the hill look like for Barack Obama? He needs that kind of promising vision that we need to hear from. And also, he has to layout his values. What are the things that the President is sort of drawing lines in the sand, he's not going to compromise with the Republicans over? Those will - that will help hold on to core Democrats who are looking at all this compromise, but they don't see a lot of context. So he's got to give vision and values so people know what it is he's standing for.

MITCHELL: Dan, when you're on a roll like this, what do you think, is it easier to keep going or is it very easy to make a misstep at this point?

BARTLETT: Well, this is a glimmer of hope if you're one of those skeptical and cynical people out there in the country who are worried that nothing gets done in Washington. The issues that he faces going in to 2011 are very substantial. So, the reason why he's having success right now is he's shown an ability to compromise. He was able to compromise on taxes. That was a signal I think a lot of independents across the country wanted to see in the aftermath of the shellacking. So going into the new year, I think setting a tone of not where he wants to fight, but where he wants to reach across the aisle and work with the other parties, that's what will get him political success going in to 2011.

MITCHELL: Very quickly to both of you. It's not too early to talk about the 2012 election. I see the first. Republican debate is set - already set for next October. Jamal, what do you think? What does the President have to do, what's the one issue he has to do to not ensure himself re-election, but put himself in a good position?

SIMMONS: Well again, people are focused on jobs and the economy. They want him to stay focused on jobs and the economy. The one thing that will also benefit him, is once those Republican primaries get started you're going to hear a lot of people trying to go further and further right, appealing to that Tea Party base. And whether Sarah Palin's in the game or not, she's certainly going to be a factor and people trying to appeal to the Sarah Palin voter will make Barack Obama look a lot better in comparison.

MITCHELL: Dan, what do you think?

BARTLETT: Well, the President can't control who he's going to run against. The two biggest issues that he has to worry about going into his own election is the economy and the war. On those two measures, if he shows discipline and focusing on job creation - the meeting he had with the leaders in the business community was an important signal to send that he gets it, that he understands that job creation is going to be out in the country. Afghanistan, really tough slogging going on there. How he holds his base together on that issue, whether the troop withdrawals start next summer as well as demonstrating to independents that he's going to do what's right for the national security interests of this country. Those are the two big issues that will shape the narrative of his re-election.

MITCHELL: And Dan, it's December 21, 2010, who's going to be the Republican nominee?

BARTLETT: Oh, gosh, I knew that was coming. Oh, it's way too early to tell. I think it's going to be somebody maybe who we're not even talking about. I bet it's not Sarah Palin. I know that's what everybody wants to hear, that it's her. But my guess is it's not going to be her.

MITCHELL: Jamal, do you agree with that?

SIMMONS: We'll see on the Sarah Palin question, although I think she's making a pretty good living doing what she's doing. You know, take a look at some of these other folks that are out here, like Mitt Romney and some others and we'll see. I'm not that good at picking Republican nominees. I'll stick with the Democrats.

MITCHELL: Alright. Wanted to give you a shot. Jamal Simmons in DC and Dan Bartlett here in New York. Thank you, both.

BARTLETT: Good to see you, Russ.

SIMMONS: Thank you.

MITCHELL: Happy holidays.

BARTLETT: Thank you.


- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.