WILL: Newt Gingrich has a piece in the Washington Post this morning saying since the Second World War, only Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton had lower poll ratings than Barack Obama now has after seven months. If that is true, it is because the independents are leaving him, and more important, the elderly are. In 2008 -- and everyone in Congress knows this number -- in 2008, 40 percent of the votes were cast by voters 50 years old or older. By 2030, when the baby boomers have all retired, there will be more Americans 65 years old or older than there are Americans 18 or under. This is the politics of gerontocracy. And what we're learning is that those to whom health care is most important are most wary of this program. STEPHANOPOULOS: You know what's interesting, Gwen, is that Senator Kennedy is one of those Democrats who would have had the most credibility with senior citizens, could sell the deal if that's indeed -- if one did indeed come together. IFILL: Yes, and there's -- there's a big debate going on about whether Senator Kennedy actually had the magic wand and could have influenced the direction of this debate. I don't think that's resolved at all.
But it's also clear that people are reaching for something. There was a great deep breath taken this August. There were, you know, no shark attacks and, you know, no hurricanes that actually...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Unless you were at a town hall meeting. IFILL: Unless you were at a town hall meeting.
Well, the town hall meetings filled the void. And maybe they wouldn't have been -- wouldn't have gotten attention. There would have been unhappy people, but it wouldn't have been so vitriolic in the way it did, consume so much time. Ted Kennedy's death made people stop and pay attention to something else for a few days. Now, we'll see what happens when everybody comes back to town, back to school, in Washington, after Labor Day, and whether they start from a different spot or whether everything keeps going downhill. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and that's the -- I was, you know, Sam, watching these two senators there, it seems like there's this sense that because, in the wake of the death, you want to be a little bit more civil. You want to try to find this common ground. But then, the closer you listen, there's still huge differences here. DONALDSON: Oh, absolutely. Two months ago I was talking to Tom Daschle, who might have been but isn't HHS secretary, but still is influential on the Obama Side about health care, who said then, we may just have to push it through with reconciliation in the Senate, meaning...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats only?
DONALDSON: Yes, the Democrats only, because, if they don't get something that is meaningful -- Ted Kennedy is right; Ronald Reagan, the same way, you take what you can get from the standpoint of half a loaf, rather than nothing whatsoever. But half a loaf, in this case, if it doesn't produce the goals, particularly of reducing the increase in health care expenses, isn't good enough.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, E.J., there's a problem with this whole Democrats-only strategy -- a couple of problems.