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NBC's Todd Talks Fiscal Cliff, Elections at Chamber's Annual Meeting

Todd predicts 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race between Cuccinelli and McAuliffe will be 'nasty.'

Arlington resident and NBC Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd said Friday that he wasn't looking forward to Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe dominating Virginia's airwaves next year.

He predicted the 2013 gubernatorial race would be "nasty." It'll likely be between Cuccinelli, a Republican and Virginia Attorney General, and McAuliffe, a McLean businessman and former Democratic National Committee chairman.

"They're both going to see their path to victory as not being that other guy. And you know what kind of rhetoric" the two are capable of, Todd said.

Todd, speaking at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce's 88th Annual Meeting at the Sheraton Pentagon City, analyzed the recent presidential election and dissected the debate surrounding the fiscal cliff.

On the latter, Todd said neither President Barack Obama nor Republican House Speaker John Boehner was willing to own the entitlement reform component that would be necessary to avoid the so-called cliff.

Any deal, he said, is likely to fill in the cliff but dig two more trenches. Even a big deal would look like it could come undone at any minute, he said.

Todd blamed gerrymandering when he said House Republicans are too far to the right and Senate Democrats are too far to the left. Members in those districts can — and usually do — win on party-line platforms. In other words, they have no incentive to be bipartisan. In fact, they have an incentive not to compromise.

"If you want to say what's broken in this process, that's what's broken: There isn't a reward for compromise," Todd said. 

After pointing out the crowd's education level and thanking them for not putting him in the position of explaining sequestration, Todd said he had friends in the defense industry who were unable to budget for next year or undertake major projects. CEOs are starting to speak louder, he said.

How the fiscal cliff is resolved will set the tone for the remaining years of Obama's presidency, Todd said.

If the president fails, his chances of pushing through immigration reform or an energy policy become more difficult.

"My wife's demanding that the cliff be done before Christmas," Todd said, shrugging. "What can I say? I hope Ms. Obama and Ms. Boehner feel the same way."

Todd also spoke on the 2012 election, calling it the year the "demographic time bomb" went off for Republicans. He cited a Friday Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal calling for over-the-counter birth control as a direct reaction to the GOP's loss of the female vote in November.

He said Republican Mitt Romney was "charismatically challenged" at times, and discussed the changes to the electoral collage, the decline of the white male demographic, and the rise of special interests.

Obama has built an "incredible" organization outside of the Democratic Party, he said, but hasn't yet learned how to use that to govern more effectively.

Todd said he's lived four different places in Arlington. He said when his colleagues give him a hard time about living "across the bridge," he replies that living in the district would mean he'd have a smaller home that costs more and he'd have to pay higher taxes.

"My favorite part of Northern Virginia is that it takes 30 miles to get to the welcome sign," Todd said, to laughter.

Todd's two children, in kindergarten and third grade, attend Arlington Public Schools.

Chamber President Rich Doud said members were excited when they found out Todd would be the keynote speaker to this year's annual meeting.

"Chuck Todd and his insights… I didn't expect him to teach me, and he did," incoming Chamber Chairman David DeCamp told Patch.

State Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, said he disagreed with Todd's analysis of Romney but was interested to hear his thoughts on what the Democratic Party would need to do post-Obama.

"It's always great to hear serious newspeople in an informal setting," Ebbin told Patch. "But he always seems to tell it like it is on air anyway."

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