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FOX News Political Analysts Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke Debate Before Big “I”

Association hears insights on economy, health care and top presidential election issues.



WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 2012 — Mort Kondracke, FOX News political analyst and senior editor for Roll Call, and Fred Barnes, FOX News political analyst and founder of the Weekly Standard, offered political insight on a range of issues today during the Big “I” Legislative Conference & Convention. Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO, moderated the political panel.

The state of the economy over the next six months will play a pivotal role in this fall’s presidential election, said the two political analysts who gave opposing predictions of who would win the contest.

Rusbuldt asked the commentators to give their presidential prediction: either Democratic President Barack Obama or likely Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.

Kondracke said he is “not happy” with either candidate, but predicted Democratic President Barack Obama would remain in the White House, saying he could “defend himself on the basis of what he’s done” against Romney, who he thinks “doesn’t relate to people.”
Yet that doesn’t mean it would be an easy victory. He said he expects the economy will worsen between now and the election, particularly the European financial crisis that will have “ramifications for the U.S. banking system.”

“My guess is that the world is back in crisis and Obama will suffer from it,” he added.

Barnes picked Romney over the incumbent president, saying his policies promote government spending over private investment, which would better spur economic growth and job creation.

“I don’t think Obama can dodge the fact that his record is out there,” he said.

After the election, federal lawmakers will have to resolve several financial issues, including deciding on expiring Bush-era tax cuts, the size of Medicare reimbursements and whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, Kondracke said. The end-of-year deadline for dealing with the issues is a result of elected officials on both sides kicking “all the important cans down the road,” Kondracke said.

“My guess is that they’ll push it down again,” he added.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court’s expected decision on the constitutionality of the health care law—viewed as Obama’s signature achievement—could also affect the outcome of the election.

“If it’s struck down that will be hugely harmful to his reelection chances,” Barnes said.

There are still challenges for Romney, who was governor when Massachusetts passed its universal health care law, Kondracke said.

“What I want to see Mitt Romney come up with is his alternative to Obamacare,” he said. “He says he’s going to repeal it, but he doesn’t talk about replacing it.”
 
The Big “I” Legislative Conference & Convention is the insurance industry’s best-attended, most effective legislative meeting. This year’s event was held April 25-27 in Washington, D.C.

Barnes is co-founder and executive editor of The Weekly Standard. He previously served as senior editor and White House correspondent for The New Republic, covered the Supreme Court and the White House for the Washington Star, and served as the national political correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. From 1998 to 2009, he was host, along with Kondracke, of the Beltway Boys on FOX News. Barnes also appears regularly on FOX’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” and has also appeared on “FOX News Sunday,” “CBS This Morning,” “Nightline,” “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation,” “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

Kondracke has been a journalist for nearly 50 years, 45 of them in Washington, and has covered nearly every phase of American politics and foreign policy. In 2011, he retired after 20 years as executive editor and columnist for Roll Call and remains with the publication as senior editor. Kondracke also writes a weekly column "Pennsylvania Avenue" on national politics, domestic and foreign policy that is syndicated nationally. He has been a regular commentator for the FOX News since October 1996, was co-host of the weekly political show, “The Beltway Boys,” and is currently a panelist on Special Report with Bret Baier.

Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of approximately a quarter of a million agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.

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