Atlanta mayor holds his own on "Meet the Press"
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was a guest on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, introduced himself to…
Georgia (Feb 17, 2011) — Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was a guest on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, introduced himself to America and seemed to leave a favorable impression.
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The first-term mayor made his initial appearance on the long-running TV show for a wide-ranging discussion on federal spending, the 2012 election and the tea party.
The national exposure was a steppingstone of sorts for Reed. It has been clear the mayor understands insider politics and is quickly becoming a national player, even from his tiny office on Trinity Avenue in downtown Atlanta.
During his year-plus in office, he has made several key visits to Washington and has been one of the major advocates for obtaining federal aide to support the deepening of Savannah's harbor. He understands what it would mean fiscally for Atlanta.
“He was welcomed there with something to say," said Kerwin Swint, a Kennesaw State University political scientist. “People see him as an up-and-comer. His profile is becoming national and people are looking at him because he already has a reputation as a problem-solver. And this raises Atlanta’s profile, because Reed is being listened to by national sources.”
Jim Hannan, Georgia-Pacific president and CEO, said Reed during his brief tenure as mayor has been clear on his priorities, and he hoped that Reed's “Meet the Press” appearance would help translate those priorities to the nation.
“I think in a broader scale this will be great for Atlanta,” Hannan said. “The problems facing Atlanta are not unique, but the willingness of the mayor to engage and have an open debate and dialogue is refreshing.”
In his morning TV appearance, Reed sat on a round table that included Rep. Bobby Schilling, R- Ill., a tea party-supported freshman; Dee Dee Myers, former White House press secretary for President Bill Clinton; David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times, and Mark Halperin of Time magazine.
The panel spoke for about 15 minutes at the end of the show, which was dominated early by talk of Egypt and a lengthy interview with Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Reed talked about local and federal spending, saying he was willing to “take it on the chin” in his efforts to be aggressive in making hard decisions.
“What we are trying to do in Atlanta is go on with our work and set an example,” Reed said, adding that cities can work quicker than the federal government to determine spending.“We need to make hard decisions faster.”
Meet the Press host David Gregory later asked Reed about Atlanta’s pension program, which needs to be reformed because it's largely unfunded and eats up 20 percent of the budget. Reed will make changes soon based on a study he commissioned.
“We went in the first six months when I was an untested mayor and did everything we could legally,” Reed said. “I think I am doing the right thing.”
Regarding the 2012 national election, Reed, a Democrat, said if the unemployment rate drops to 8 percent, President Barack Obama would be fine, especially if Republicans continue to fight among themselves.
“Obama is a good person and we need to let him follow-through,” said Reed, who was seated next to Schilling, a Republican. “The Republican Party is beginning to feel more like the Democratic Party in terms of the lack of organization, if you will, and the openness. So I am actually enjoying this.”
Swint, who watched Reed from his home, said the mayor was funny and engaging during his brief appearance, and his biggest plus might have been how he said things, not what he said.
In one exchange, Reed said President Obama told him about six weeks ago that the flow of federal dollars coming into big cities would be cut off.
“We know that those dollars aren’t coming,” Reed said. “I just like to be told. The president told us that federal support is winding down, so we are already preparing for that in our budget.”
Swint, who has specialized in electoral politics, mass media and political history, said that Reed was telling America to “quit whining” and effective at it.
“I thought his strongest moment was when he talked about the budget and he said, ‘Just tell us,’” Swint said. “What you hear from politicians mostly is whining and posturing. But he comes at it from the other side.”
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.