CHAUTAUQUA - Humor infused politics. It may not have been the plan going in, but Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy - the respected one-two managing leaders at Time Magazine - certainly played it that way Friday at Chautauqua Institution.
Signaling the end of the 2012 summer lecture series, the guest speakers managed to blend dry humor and politics in topics ranging from Mitt and Ann Romney and President Obama to a super-charged comment from a Senator-hopeful in Missouri.
The duo briefly touched on their roles at the magazine - Gibbs is deputy managing editor and a Chautauqua-native while Duffy is assistant managing editor and Washington bureau chief. Both have written numerous front-page cover stories, and together they have published several New York Times best sellers regarding the White House.
Starting the lecture, Duffy broke down the upcoming presidential election. He touched base on current and upcoming issues of Time Magazine that explore both candidates and their platforms. Duffy, in particular, noted the Romney campaign and lack of appearances from Mitt Romney's wife, Ann.
"We've seen so little of Ann Romney," Duffy said. "Everything about her seems to work."
It wasn't long, however, until focus changed to U.S. Rep. Todd Akin and his recent remarks on rape and abortion.
Nancy Gibbs, deputy managing editor, and Michael Duffy, assistant managing editor and Washington bureau chief, both of Time Magazine, speak politics during a lecture Friday at Chautauqua Institution.
P-J photos by Eric Tichy
"Maybe you would be better explaining what Todd Akin meant to this (presidential) race," Duffy said to Gibbs, drawing laughter from the amphitheater crowd.
Gibbs said the remarks were the "last thing" the Romney campaign wanted to hear. She noted that Paul Ryan, Romney's vice presidential pick, co-sponsored a bill with Akin regarding federal funding and abortions.
"A majority of Americans identify themselves as Pro-Life," Gibbs said. "That happened two years ago."
However, she said, Republican lawmakers have leaned more toward a constitutional amendment that would outlaw abortions with no exceptions. That counters current beliefs of Americans.
"That's not where an increasingly Pro-Life American public is," Gibbs said.
As far as Mitt Romney and his campaign goes, Duffy said the presidential hopeful is banking on his business background but lacks details on how to trim the federal deficit.
"He wouldn't tell us what tax reductions he would remove in order to increase revenue," Duff said. "Not a lot specificity but currently he now has turned to the general election."
Meanwhile, for Obama, a slim margin a victory is in sights. At least, that's how it appears.
"I think he is in the lead because all the numbers and metrics would tell you he should be," Duff said, noting that Time recently interviewed the incumbent president.
"He's talking, again, about all the things he has done," Duffy continued. "'I saved auto industry; I've saved the banking industry; I re-stimulated the economy when it was about to go off a very large cliff.'"
Duffy, however, noted that not all of Obama's accomplishments are being met with approval, most notably his health care reform law.
Gibbs said a communication breakdown has limited the public's perception of Obamacare. Duffy asked the crowd if anyone could name two aspects of the bill. No one obliged.
Discussions also hit on the country's increasing Independent voter, which both speakers agreed may ultimately determine the next president. Those undecided, however, is much smaller.
A quick show of hands in the audience showed only "two or three" out of a few hundred were uncertain who they would vote for in the general election.
"That, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of the 2012 campaign," Duffy said, prompting laughter. "Most people already know who they're going to vote for, which makes you wonder why they're spending so much money."