Sanders, left, and Clinton at Tuesday night's debate Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas.

Sanders, left, and Clinton at Tuesday night's debate Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders see a boost from their performance in the first Democratic debate of the 2016 race. An advisor to Joe Biden says the vice president is nearing a decision on whether to join them on the campaign trail. A second lawmaker says the House Benghazi Committee was designed in part to go after Hillary Clinton. Jeb Bush announces his plan to replace Obamacare. Planned Parenthood changes its policy on payments for fetal tissue research. And attorneys for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert say he will plead guilty in a hush-money case. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.


  • Neil King, Jr. Global economics editor and deputy Washington bureau chief, The Wall Street Journal
  • Susan Glasser Editor, Politico
  • David Rennie Washington bureau chief and Lexington columnist, The Economist.

Could John Boehner Have A 'House Of Cards' Moment?

Who's Next To Drop Out Of The GOP Presidential Race?

Full Video


  • 10:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton ride a wave of support after the Democrats first presidential debate. Republicans wait as Congressman Paul Ryan ponders a run as Speaker of the House. And Jeb Bush offers an alternative to Obamacare. Here for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Neil King, Jr. of The Wall Street Journal, Susan Glasser of Politico and David Rennie of The Economist.

  • 10:07:27

    MS. DIANE REHMI do invite you, as always, to be part of the program. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send an email to Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And welcome to all of you.

  • 10:07:47

    MS. SUSAN GLASSERGood morning.

  • 10:07:47

    MR. NEIL KING JR.Hello there.

  • 10:07:48

    MR. DAVID RENNIEGood morning.

  • 10:07:48

    REHMYou know, you've all had time to reflect on and write about the Democratic debate. Tell me what your thoughts are now and especially as it relates to Vice President Joe Biden thinking about getting in, Neil.

  • 10:08:09

    KING JR.I mean, it was a clear -- I've watched a lot of debates. I think all of us have here at this table. I thought it was one of the most clearly dominant debates in terms of the performance of Hillary Clinton. She had a lot of doubts she needed to allay within her party. She did a very good job of allaying them. She was cheerful. She was upbeat. She was in command of the facts.

  • 10:08:29

    KING JR.Her tone felt right. She hit a lot of the notes that she really needed to. I think the early numbers have shown that to what extent there's been a slipping away of support within her party and a lot of ambivalence about whether she was really going to be as dominant as everything eight, nine months ago, that there's already movement back in her direction. I thought one of the most fascinating things watching it play out was, you know, she had come out in her position with the Pacific Trade deal last week.

  • 10:08:57

    KING JR.There'd been all this indication and people had written about it, that she was really trying to put daylight between herself and the administration. In this debate, whenever given the chance, she hugged President Obama. She talked about how close they were, how he had turned to her at a time of need to be his Secretary of State. And in a way, he boxed -- she was, I think, doing other things, but kind of boxing out whatever lane Joe Biden might ever have hoped to go down.

  • 10:09:22

    KING JR.My take, just briefly, on Joe Biden is it's sort of a man standing on the beach watching a big sunset, basking in its warmth and its fading light and not wanting that sun to go down. And the minute he says, no, and I think he will in the end, the sun sets on what's been a great career, but his hopes, which have gone on for a long time, of being president will be over and all light and all attention will turn elsewhere.

  • 10:09:45

    REHMWhat about Bernie Sanders? He seemed to do quite well, Susan.

  • 10:09:51

    GLASSERWell, you know, Bernie Sanders is very, very consistent. He makes the case that he has to make the case. I think that he struggled a bit in the first hour, clearly he's not as comfortable talking about foreign policy, talking about national security as he is in talking about his traditional themes of income inequality, injustice in America, his domestic political program. Clearly, Hillary Clinton came prepared to attack him on guns. Gun control is probably one of Bernie Sanders' weakest points for a Democratic primary electorate.

  • 10:10:25

    GLASSERAnd Clinton almost seemed joyful to me at that question being teed up so early on in the debate for her to whack away at Sanders. And it was particularly ironic, right, because then Sanders gave her the very unexpected gift, at least it appeared to be a gift, of seeming to dismiss her email controversy. Remember, he's tired of those damn emails. My guess is, a year from now, we may remember very little about this debate except for the damn emails line from Bernie Sanders and the fact that Hillary Clinton came in, needed to do extremely well against a less than intimidating field, let's be honest, of other Democratic primary candidates, and that she did so.

  • 10:11:09

    GLASSERI think the problem for her, as a front runner, though, right, is that winning the debate, as most who watched it seemed to acknowledge that she did, doesn't necessarily radically change things in her favor. Losing it would have significantly hurt her, but it's the paradox of the front runner, right, that winning doesn't necessarily mean that the campaign is over.

  • 10:11:29

    REHMDavid Rennie.

  • 10:11:31

    RENNIEI think that's right. And I think one of the odd things about this debate is, you know, typically a presidential debate is a chance for pundits like us and the public to look at who is a viable national candidate. But that wasn't what was going on here because -- and I'm probably going to annoy some Bernie Sanders fans here -- I don't think he's a viable nominee. So there really was only one viable nominee on stage so this felt less like debate than an audition for Hillary Clinton and, in which case, it was kind of Hillary vs. Hillary 'cause there's a good Hillary and there's a bad Hillary.

  • 10:11:59

    RENNIEAnd on Tuesday night, good Hillary turned up. Now, I think what was also really interesting and, to me, sort of impressive is I thought the best question of the night was one of the ones that came from members of the public where someone said, President Obama has struggled to get his agenda through with the Republican-controlled Congress. How would you do better? That was put to Bernie Sanders and he gave the answer that he always gives, which his supporters love, but which I think it nuts, which is there's a different electorate possible.

  • 10:12:26

    RENNIEIf we can engage and energize and excite a completely different electorate, then there's a kind of silent progressive majority out there that can deliver our agenda and we could -- and the Republicans will give in. Hillary, I think, addressed the electorate that actually exists and turns out to vote every time. She was addressing the world in which there will be Republicans with whom she will have to work. And it struck me that she was anchored in reality in a way that Bernie Sanders was just not.

  • 10:12:50

    REHMAnd what do you think about that debate and what it could mean for Vice President Biden?

  • 10:12:58

    RENNIEWell, I think it was the second punch. The first punch being, as Neil said, Hillary Clinton's decision to come out against the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership last week, which was a brilliant, if entirely cynical, move by here because she hugged Bernie Sanders tight on the left, gave him no room on trade, but more importantly, in some ways, she blocked Joe Biden because, of course, as Vice President, he is obliged to defend his administration policy.

  • 10:13:22

    RENNIESo he cannot breathe a word of dissent about the TPP so his entire base with the trade unions, the labor unions who are one of this strongest supporters normally, he could not say what they wanted to hear. So she blocked Biden off to the right and I think that that was a very deliberately timed move when he was deciding whether to run.

  • 10:13:40

    REHMI do want to remind our listeners they can see the Friday News Roundup this hour, going to and watch the program live. So do you expect everybody who was on that stage to be on the stage for the next debate? What do you think, Susan?

  • 10:14:08

    GLASSERWell, look. Let's be real. Lincoln Chaffey gave one of the most poor performances on national TV I think I've ever seen in a national political conversation. It just seemed like he had sort of wandered mistakenly into someone else's debate and, in fact, you could argue that that was one of the problems for Hillary Clinton is that she won, but against a field that potentially is so weak that it might diminish her. So...

  • 10:14:34

    REHMWhat about Jim Webb?

  • 10:14:35

    GLASSERLook, Jim Webb, what are people going to remember? He killed a man, you know. It had a feel of Hillary and the very, very not ready for primetime players.

  • 10:14:47

    REHMAnd what about Martin O'Malley?

  • 10:14:48

    GLASSERAnd so Martin O'Malley had been touted -- remember, a year ago, we thought it was going to be O'Malley and not Bernie Sanders who would be sort of the main sacrificial lamb against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. O'Malley has consistently failed to step up. I think his debate performance was pretty weak the other night. I spent four years in Russia and I'll tell you that to a cynical Russian political eye, one would actually have to ask, this field is so weak against Hillary Clinton, did she personally recruit them?

  • 10:15:17

    GLASSERI mean, come on. Her main opponent is a socialist who refuses to endorse capitalism.

  • 10:15:21


  • 10:15:22

    JR.It really makes a difference whether you're in training and whether you are really fully, you know, in the water, so to speak. And it was clear that there were two competitors, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton that are just steeped in everything. They're out on the trail. They're talking all the time. They're in full campaign mode. They are very serious about trying to become the nominee. The others aren't really. I mean, Jim Webb, you could just tell there was something so kind of clunky about his verbiage.

  • 10:15:46

    JR.It was clear that there was a lot of things he was talking about that he hadn't talked about recently.

  • 10:15:50

    REHMHe felt he didn't get enough time.

  • 10:15:53

    KING JR.Well, even there, though, you know, I don't think for the audience they necessarily were saying, oh, I want more Jim Webb, Jim Webb. But when they do get Jim Webb, they want unadulterated straight out Jim Webb making his case and not whining about how he hasn't been on TV for five minutes. So he was actually, as Anderson Cooper kept pointing out, squandering the time that he did have.

  • 10:16:09

    KING JR.I just want to, you know, we have this criteria for the debates about you have to have 1 percent or 2 percent of our -- I actually think they should have that, plus you have to have this sort of standing in the money side to show that people -- actual people are giving you money, real people, $20, whatever, and that you are traveling around the country and campaigning 'cause otherwise you can have people like Chaffey and others that aren't really actually candidates in some ways.

  • 10:16:31

    REHMI'm glad you brought up the money because that debate brought a lot of money into both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

  • 10:16:43

    GLASSERWell, that's right. You know, actively, Bernie Sanders was already strong with small donors, the sort of everyday little people, that's the strategy he's been pursuing in fundraising. He immediately put out a press release the next day saying he raised, I think it was, over $3 million. Last night, actually, interestingly enough, at midnight, was the deadline for us to find out how well all the presidential candidates did over the summer in their fundraising at the Federal Election Commission.

  • 10:17:08

    GLASSERAnd, you know, here, too, I think it's very interesting, kind of similarly to the debate, Hillary Clinton won in both the good news and the less good news. She has, by far, the most money raised of any of the candidates in the bank. She has $33 million left, far outpaces both other Democrats and the Republicans. But at the same time, she has, along with Jeb Bush, the very highest burn rate of any of the candidates, which means she's raising more, but she's spending a lot more in a big front runner campaign.

  • 10:17:40

    REHMJust one last point, that is that Bernie Sanders raised $2 million within 24 hours so the money race goes on. We'll take a short break here. Remember, you can watch this hour of the Friday News Roundup. Go to Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Stay with us.

  • 10:20:02

    REHMAnd welcome back. Here with me for the Friday New Roundup, Susan Glasser of Politico, David Rennie of The Economist, and Neil King of The Wall Street Journal. During the break, we were talking about why this drip, drip, drip on Joe Biden. And I certainly understand the heartbreak that the family has endured over the loss of his son. But, Neil, why do you think it's taking so long to make this decision?

  • 10:20:40

    KING JR.I just think it's a very wrenching discussion within the family, which of course has been a diminished family since the death of Beau Biden. And there was the stories that were out there that Beau, as kind of a deathbed wish, had allegedly turned to his father and said, I really want you to run for your own sake and the sake of the country. And this has been a life-long passion of Senator -- or Vice President Biden. I think it's a very difficult thing, in the end, to say no. I'm not predicting he's going to say that he won't run but that's my hunch. And I just think it's difficult to finally end his career essentially.

  • 10:21:12

    KING JR.But it's also -- if he were to say yes and go in, it would be a very traumatic thing for the family. I mean, his surviving son Hunter has had various difficulties. There would be scrutiny placed on that. There would be -- families go under a lot of strain, if...

  • 10:21:25

    REHMOf course. David.

  • 10:21:27

    RENNIEThere's another point, which is, if he was going to get in and he's serious about getting the nomination, he will at some time have to try and take Hillary down. And one of the things that is very striking about the Democratic movement at this moment is that they are in a very disciplined place. They really want to beat the Republicans. And I wrote a column about Senator Sanders a couple of weeks ago -- a few weeks ago. You speak to the people who go to his rallies and they're very fired up about Bernie Sanders. And they don't like Hillary Clinton. They think she's too close to Wall Street, she's too right-wing for them.

  • 10:21:57

    RENNIEBut then, if you ask them -- and I asked all of them -- do you want Bernie Sanders to tear Hillary to pieces and destroy her, if that's his pass to the nomination? They go, oh, no, no, no, no. That'd be -- we wouldn't -- because she might have to be the nominee eventually.

  • 10:22:08

    REHMInteresting. Interesting.

  • 10:22:10

    RENNIESo I think that Bernie is kind of a self-indulgence for other people. They would love to hear him say more. They would love to think he could be the nominee. But, sort of, that's their heart but their head tells them they may need Hillary.

  • 10:22:22

    REHMBecause much of what he says, they agree with.

  • 10:22:26

    RENNIEYeah. But they also know that he's not really -- and his whole plan is essentially to transform the American electorate...

  • 10:22:31


  • 10:22:32 bring millions of people in who don't normally vote and to sort of create this new majority that no one else can see, the sort of false consciousness thing that the working classes are voting against their interests. But Biden, let's not forget, he would have to take on Hillary and try and beat her. And where's the root and where's the appetite in the Party for that kind of fight?

  • 10:22:50

    REHMAll right. And here's an email from Bob, who says, how come all the focus groups gave the debate to Bernie Sanders but the mainstream media give the debate to Hillary Clinton? Susan.

  • 10:23:05

    GLASSERWell, I think this goes back to what we were talking about initially, which is that the expectations were so high for Hillary Clinton. She, in a way, could win but how much she won by is unclear. Bernie Sanders has a very passionate group of fans. He's coming out and telling a Democratic primary electorate a lot of what it wants to hear. In fact, that's why Hillary Clinton has moved many of her policy positions closer to Bernie Sanders'. And so I was not surprised at all that you would find the more passionate interest on the part of Sanders. Remember, it's a minority within the party, but it's one that's more excited about its candidate right now than the broader but shallower support that there is for Hillary Clinton.

  • 10:23:46

    REHMAll right. Let's talk about the latest on the House speaker's race. David Rennie, there is a remaining reluctance on Paul Ryan's part to run for that office or even to take it. Is he holding out for one thing or is he truly reluctant to take it on?

  • 10:24:11

    RENNIEI suspect it's something of a fool's choice. I mean, you can clearly make a cynical case -- and people make it -- that, you know, he has higher ambitions. Maybe he wants to, you know, be president one day and he doesn't want this kind of millstone. I think you can also make a case that, sincerely, if you look at what he thinks about how to run the country, he, you know, essentially, this dispute about the speaker, the reason that Speaker Boehner lost his job is that that 40- or 50-strong group of Republican Congressmen, they just have a tactical difference with the leadership.

  • 10:24:41

    RENNIEThey think that this president is an illegitimate leader who is leading America off a cliff, that he's going to destroy America and that this is like a resistance fight. They're like the resistance fighters in the hills, kind of, who need to come down and every weapon is legitimate in this fight to save America, including shutting down the government and not raising the debt ceiling. Now Paul Ryan is a very conservative guy but he does not want to shut down the government and he doesn't want to crash through the debt ceiling -- not raise the debt ceiling and see some gigantic international fiscal crisis.

  • 10:25:13

    RENNIESo given that he doesn't want to do that, and given that he knows that you have this blocking minority on the hard right of his caucus who are demanding precisely that tactic to use...

  • 10:25:23


  • 10:25:23

    RENNIE...because they want to see all weapons used, it's very hard to see why he would put himself in that situation.

  • 10:25:29


  • 10:25:29

    KING JR.I -- if he were to come forward after his deliberations with his family out in Janesville, Wis., and basically say to his party, okay, I'll do this for a year or a little more. I'll go through January of 2017. But my main condition, you know, John Boehner, the current speaker, who's talked about cleaning out the barn, if the condition was, you leave me an extremely clean barn. You get rid of the things, the -- of course, first of all, the debt limit, which is coming up like three weeks from now and is no small thing.

  • 10:25:59

    REHMEven two days earlier or three days earlier than thought.

  • 10:26:02

    KING JR.Yeah, every week it seems to creep a little closer...

  • 10:26:04

    REHMI know.

  • 10:26:05

    KING JR....while the days go by. Were to get a highway bill through, were to get any number of these things that have stacked up that are the very things that David's talking about that this, the whole group are willing to go to the mat over, and push those things into next year and allow him to do other things, which he would love to do. He would love to have some sort of tax reform push, the things that are at his wonky heart, maybe he could do it. But otherwise, it really is a fool's errand because it is just the grimmest job in Washington.

  • 10:26:32

    REHMSo if he doesn't take it, who else is out there, Susan?

  • 10:26:37

    GLASSERYou know, that, in many ways, really is the question of the week. And of course the longer people ask it, the more Paul Ryan has leverage. And certainly, if he's seriously considering it, leverage is what he wants to make sure that he can try to find some way to contain these folks. But I'm struck by the fact that a full week of chaos later, since Kevin McCarthy shocked Washington and pulled out on the eve of the vote and people already being convened in what they thought was going to be the caucus to elect him, given that it's been a full week and no other viable candidates have emerged, I think we have to look at -- I don't even know if you would call it Plan C, I would call it almost more the "House of Cards" plot line, which is that John Boehner may be the next candidate for speaker.

  • 10:27:19

    REHMExcept that he has said he's going to retire from the Congress October 31.

  • 10:27:27

    GLASSERWell, I don't want to be a spoiler in the most recent "House of Cards" season, but, you know, it is -- it wouldn't be the first contemplation, at least in a fictional sense, where somebody quit in order to return and strengthen his hand that was quite weakened among his own people.

  • 10:27:42

    REHMSo you're saying he hasn't put his name on the line that says, I'm out of here the 31st of October?

  • 10:27:52

    GLASSERYou know, his poll numbers have gone up. We had a story yesterday morning saying, since he announced that he was leaving, his poll numbers have gone up. You can imagine a scenario, certainly -- and, again, I have no inside information here -- but the fact that there are no viable candidates right now suggest that either it's going to be Paul Ryan or there will, in fact, at least be calls and lots of discussion around whether Boehner should stay longer.

  • 10:28:14


  • 10:28:15

    RENNIEI think what's also really interesting is, if you take a step back from the kind of inside beltway process that, you know, we all have to grapple with, what's really going on is a gigantic dispute within the conservative movement about, how do conservatives win elections? Because fundamentally, the leadership -- so Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell in the Senate -- they believe that the American public will look at this dysfunction and think this reflects badly on Republicans. And they need to show that they can govern, even reluctantly, with President Obama.

  • 10:28:47

    RENNIEThe real problem is how many people in the conservative grassroots and their envoys in the hard right in the House think that the real problem is that Republicans don't win elections because they're not pure and principled enough and that they're not firing up their own base enough and that, as long as they keep compromising in Washington, they will not keep winning elections and that the way to take power in the White House, the Senate and the House and get conservative things done is to be as tough and conservative now as possible and fire up those extra millions of voters. And in some weird ways, it's a sort of echo on the right of the Bernie Sanders pitch on the left, that there is a majority for their kind of pure vision out there.

  • 10:29:25

    KING JR.Yeah. This has been a running trope for some time now and it is very much the opposite of what Bernie Sanders is arguing, that there's this big silent but seething majority of Americans angry about everything that President Obama has done to the country, but who have sat out past elections because of John McCain, because of Mitt Romney, not their kind of person.

  • 10:29:43

    KING JR.One of the things that went -- circled around this week a bit -- I think Stu Rothenberg wrote an interesting piece making this case in The Hill, I think, if I remember it right -- basically saying this is a sort of 1964 moment all over again for the Republican Party. And the best thing that the party could do would be to nominate maybe Ted Cruz and just see where that takes them and do something that would essentially break the fever within the conservative movement and insert some reality about what it is that the country looks like.

  • 10:30:10

    REHMAll right. Let's talk about Benghazi. And, David Rennie, Representative Richard Hannah of New York has now admitted his party's Benghazi panel was designed to target Hillary Clinton.

  • 10:30:28

    RENNIEWell, of course, this is very unwelcome news for people like Chairman Trey Gowdy of the committee. You know, next week he's got Hillary Clinton coming to testify. This is a big moment for the committee. And it's the third blow. You've had -- I mean, there was a little blow of a guy who was sacked by the committee as a Republican staffer who said similar things about this is a partisan -- he dropped this of course. Follows the amazing gaff, the Washington gaff for telling the truth by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy that this was a fantastic committee because it had torn down Hillary's poll numbers.

  • 10:30:57

    RENNIEThe only thing I would say though is, if you are a Democrat kind of partisan out there, cheering all of this and saying fantastic, this is all good, that this is proof that this is just a fishing expedition and Republicans are now admitting that this is just a fishing expedition, well, fine, you know, celebrate that. But don't forget that the fishing expedition did catch a fish. I mean, this commission is the thing that found out about Hillary's email server. Now, that may, in its turn die away. It may be that there isn't anything there. But it's striking.

  • 10:31:26

    RENNIENow if you talk to senior Democrats, they think she's home clear with the emails. They don't think that there's some top-secret information that was sent to the wrong server that will get her indicted but they're not sure. They live in terror of the fact this country has very strict laws about how you handle classified information. And people as senior as General Petraeus fall foul of these laws and get indicted. And, you know, people are not completely, 100 percent sure that Hillary is home clear on this.

  • 10:31:51


  • 10:31:52

    GLASSERIt's all such an incredible echo of the 1990s, isn't it? For those of us old enough to remember how the Clinton scandals played out, which is to say that White Water might not have been the thing that trapped Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton in the 1990s, but it begat Paula Jones, which begat the investigation of Ken Starr, which begat, you know, the impeachment of the President of the United States. And so, you know, we don't know where it's going to go.

  • 10:32:18

    GLASSERAnd I think David's point is very well taken, we -- especially when you get the FBI and federal criminal investigators involved. It doesn't mean that they're explicitly targeting Hillary Clinton with any kind of criminal probe right now, as The New York Times found to its chagrin in the summer. But that doesn't mean we know where it's going to end up. And the use of classified information in recent years hasn't snared many people. More importantly, it has clearly undermined Hillary Clinton's political standing with people because it has reinforced preexisting concerns about her judgment, her political calculations and the extent to which she was doing things in order to withhold information from the public.

  • 10:32:56

    REHMQuick comment, Neil.

  • 10:32:57

    KING JR.Yeah, I -- it's interesting mentioning the '90s. I mean, it is the case with the Clintons that they just feast off these things. They're able to turn bile or even outright legitimate criticism -- particularly from the right -- into fuel for their efforts. And she does it well.

  • 10:33:11

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show."

  • 10:33:16

    GLASSERAnother point to make...

  • 10:33:17

    REHMI want to open the phones here. 800-433-8850. Neil, you'll need those headphones. Let's go first to, I think it's Ben in Hudson, N.H. You're on the air.

  • 10:33:36

    BENHi. Thank you very much.

  • 10:33:38


  • 10:33:39

    BENSo I had a quick comment. I wanted to say that, in general, the population changes happen that millennials, my generation, are the new majority in the country and that, that, in general, of course, as people know, is going to be Bernie Sanders is going to turn out primarily. And I think that, I know that people are saying that they're not sure if that real silent majority is there but I believe it is. And it's really -- people haven't been voting because of how disenfranchised they are with the system, not simply because they're nonvoters.

  • 10:34:14

    BENSo I think that -- because a combination of things and like they were saying, Bernie Sanders said that he would win more congressional seats if he was in the general election. Because, in general, if they turn out to vote for Bernie, they'll vote Democrat in all the other races.

  • 10:34:29


  • 10:34:30

    KING JR.I think he's certainly right that the numbers are there. They're actually rather striking. I mean one of the big parts of Obama's coalition was young voters. They have really switched over on the Democratic side to Bernie Sanders. The numbers are striking. I have tons of kids basically of that age who have never voted in a presidential election and they're kind of would-be Democrats there in Bernie's camp for the most part. The big question is, despite the fact that they are kind of the new majority, is with what willingness, with what readiness do they go out and vote?

  • 10:35:02

    KING JR.You know, the thing that's just fascinating about this election, I think, is just how totally unpredictable it really is on both sides. And, you know, are we going to see Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump in the general election? I don't think so. But I wouldn't be willing to put it out of the question altogether.

  • 10:35:17


  • 10:35:18

    RENNIEThe thing is -- I mean, I don't want to sound kind of like a grumpy, middle-aged guy, kind of saying millennials don't turn out and vote but here's the thing. I think that when you're trying to work out who is going to be the next president -- a useful exercise is to imagine the next president taking their seat behind the oval office desk the first day -- they will basically have been elected with 63 million votes. Now the Electoral College complicates things but, basically, the next man or woman behind that desk will have 63, give or take, million voters put them in that desk. So you have to tell me that there are 63 million people willing to vote for Bernie Sanders' policy program. And I just don't think there are.

  • 10:35:58

    REHMAll right.

  • 10:35:59

    RENNIEI think Bernie Sanders' policy program is just not a national winning policy program.

  • 10:36:03

    REHMLet's go to Cincinnati, Ohio. Matt, you're on the air.

  • 10:36:08

    MATTHi, Diane. Thanks for taking my call.

  • 10:36:10


  • 10:36:12

    MATTI, you know, I turned the radio on kind of right in the middle of this conversation. And I guess, I've heard some things that feel like opinions but they're kind of being put out there as facts. And I'm wondering where they're coming from, you know, regarding Hillary Clinton having a majority of supporters from voters. I'm -- I guess I'm just confused about all of this. When I look at the CNN polls that were deleted from their website after the debate Tuesday night, it was showing Bernie Sanders with 80 percent or more of, you know, the who-won vote, with Hillary less than 15 percent.

  • 10:36:51

    REHMHow did those numbers get up there?

  • 10:36:55

    KING JR.Was this something that they did as a sort of flash poll during the debate itself?

  • 10:36:59

    REHMI wonder.

  • 10:36:59

    KING JR.Because there've been -- I don't know -- there have been two polls that have come out that I'm aware of since the debate and both of them are more or less aligned with one another, where they've gone out, sought Democrats who watched the debate and they were giving Hillary Clinton something like 52 percent and Bernie Sanders got like 32 percent or something like that.

  • 10:37:16

    REHMInteresting. All right. And I'm sure polls are all over the place out there. We'll take just a short break. When we come back, we'll talk about Jeb Bush's alternative to Obamacare. Stay with us.

  • 10:40:01

    REHMAnd welcome back. And remember, you can watch this hour of The Diane Rehm Show, Friday News Roundup, just by going to and click on watch live. Let's talk about the Jeb Bush alternative to Obamacare. Neil, Republicans have been after Obamacare since it first came out. How many votes did they have to try to overturn? 47? Yeah.

  • 10:40:38

    KING JR.Something like that.

  • 10:40:39

    REHMBut so, now Jeb Bush has an idea. What is it?

  • 10:40:44

    KING JR.This has been a space that Republicans have had some trouble filling. You know, it's all been repeal and replace and the replace has been left largely blank. Jeb Bush, I think it's fair to say, is among the candidates, the one to step forward with something that amounts, at least so far, to the kind of clearest idea of what would be the replacement. He would repeal it. There would be various transition things for people that were actually relying on it. So, certain sorts of plans.

  • 10:41:10

    KING JR.Some of these things aren't perfectly well known. It would be much more kind of catastrophe based, where people would have much more limited healthcare, that there would be tax credits to help them acquire. It would put a heavy, much heavier reliance on tax savings accounts so that people would have money saved up in case they needed things beyond that. It would be much more heavily relying on deductibles. It puts a heavy emphasis on people looking at their healthcare with more of a kind of market based cost sensitive way that they might look at repairing their car or something.

  • 10:41:47

    REHMSounds heavy.

  • 10:41:49

    GLASSERWell, there's another thing, too, which is it would not have the pre-existing condition stipulation that was a key part, of course, of Obamacare.

  • 10:41:56


  • 10:41:57

    GLASSERAnd it specifies only something called continuous coverage. But look, it does suggest one different approach between Jeb and many of the other candidates in the Republican field, which is that he has made a much more of an effort to act like an actual would be President. A lot of the others are really what you would call, almost protest candidates. Whether it's Donald Trump, or even someone like Ted Cruz, they're running against something, not so much for something. And Bush, we reported the other day, he has, by far, the largest, most expensive policy shop of the campaign.

  • 10:42:29

    GLASSERHe's running like a real front runner now. Of course, that's a pretty risky thing to do for somebody who's hovering around 10 percent in the polls. And so, we'll see how that, you know, plays out for him over the next few months. But it is striking that he is trying to be the sort of guy who would actually tell you what he aims to do when he's President.

  • 10:42:45

    REHMThere is some kerfuffle about CNBC and the next debate and who's going to be on the stage. And whether Trump and Bush are actually -- what's going on?

  • 10:42:59

    GLASSERWell, you know, there was this super contentious phone call, of course, immediately leaked to reporters from Politico and other news outlets. And, you know, to me, it underscores how much we're living in this convergence of the sort of reality show campaign. Where basically, Donald Trump and Ben Carson didn't like the terms that CNBC was proposing for this debate and basically, Donald Trump said, I might not come. And of course, that would be a terrible ratings thing.

  • 10:43:26

    GLASSERNow, this morning, and I haven't checked since we've been in here. This morning, Trump came out and tweeted and said that CNBC basically caved in to his demands. I'm not sure where the script ended up.

  • 10:43:38

    RENNIEAnd it's not just the kind of the reality show thing. Remember, Donald Trump is a businessman. He's made a lot of money from licensing his name to bottles of vodka, to hotels that he didn't build. You know, this is his -- this is one of his business models. And he clearly thinks of these debates in somewhat similar terms. It's a licensing deal. And he repeatedly complains that CNN before, and now the NBC networks, they sell a lot of advertising on the back of the ratings that he is going to bring them.

  • 10:44:03

    RENNIEAnd as a kind of businessman who knows the value of his brand, he's like, well hey, you know, his specific objection was, you know, if you do these extra opening and closing statements, it's because you want to sell advertising during the break, you know? So, he has a very keen sense that someone is making money off his name.

  • 10:44:18

    REHMSo, it's going to be interesting to see who's on that stage. Do you expect any of the Republicans who were on the last debate to drop out before the next?

  • 10:44:31

    KING JR.You know, it goes back to this whole burn rate thing that Susan brought up. And it's interesting, cause of the ones that we have seen drop out, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, you see the people who actually, for whatever fleeting moment, really thought they would be the nominee. And really were trying for that, and so they have the organizations and they spent their money and they were basically devoured by the fact that they were spending more than they were bringing in.

  • 10:44:51

    KING JR.Then you have these candidates, Lindsay Graham or a whole variety of others, Mike Huckabee, who have raised almost no money, really. And are just kind of like living off the fumes so that they can be -- and everything is about being on that stage. And one of the funnier numbers that came out last night, when everybody revealed their overall spending and the money they're taking in, is that Donald Trump had spent 700,000 dollars on hats and tee shirts, which was more accumulatively, than a bunch of these other candidates who will be on the stage, have spent for everything.

  • 10:45:20

    KING JR.So, there's a make believe quality. Do I think that -- I think we are coming, I don't know if it will be by the end of this month, but to the phase, toward the end of the year, where a whole bunch of these people, Rand Paul, for instance, who had to say the other day, I think it was reported in Politico, like, no really, I'm seriously, I actually am running for President.

  • 10:45:36

    KING JR.I want to hear what else Rand Paul said. His comments on the LGBT community.

  • 10:45:44

    GLASSERWell, you know, he's been all over the map on this one. And he's been saying, I think, crazy things in the last few days. I can't remember the exact quote on this, but did you all see when he live streamed his own day the other day? And he said, it was a campaign gimmick on the day of the Democratic debate. He said...

  • 10:46:02

    RENNIEWhile grumbling that he didn't want to be doing it.

  • 10:46:02

    GLASSER...yeah. Well, and he was caught on mic basically saying, like, I wouldn't be doing such a, you know, dumb, that wasn't the exact word he used for it, thing if I weren't actually running for President, basically. And so, he's just entered, sort of the crazy phase here. Although, at the same time, insisting he's not going to drop out. There's something important to flag though about Rand Paul and whether he will drop out, which is that unlike Marco Rubio, who's not running again for the Senate, Rand Paul has insisted that he is still going to run for re-election to the Kentucky Senate as well.

  • 10:46:34

    GLASSERAnd he actually forced the state party to switch from a primary to a caucus in order to enable him to do this. But he said he would pay 500,000 dollars. It's not clear whether he's going to ante up the money to cover the cost of the switch or not. So, we might still be looking at an exit point of some sort for Rand Paul.

  • 10:46:51

    REHMI'm still wondering what he said about the LGBT community.

  • 10:46:56

    RENNIESo, it was interesting, because it was similar, in some ways, to remember before he became a US Senator, he did an infamous interview with Rachel Maddow in which he said that businesses should not be forced to -- that the Civil Rights Act should not have applied to private businesses and sort of lunch counters. And then he kind of rolled that back. This is the logical end point of his purer forms of Libertarianism. You know, and this is the problem with the Rand Paul pitch, is that he's trying to reach out to a broader electorate, to speak to African Americans about, you know, excessive sentencing for drug policy.

  • 10:47:26

    RENNIEAnd to try and be a sort of, break the mold Republican. But the logic of his very pure Libertarianism position is that the federal government, in particular, has no business trying to make private businesses, you know, more benevolent or follow some kind of liberal agenda. And that, he took a position on race a long time ago. This time around, he said he's not sure that what people do in their bedrooms should have any bearing on what happens in the workplace. And in today's day and age, this was this crazy phrase he said at Drake University in Des Moines.

  • 10:47:56

    RENNIEHe said, in this day and age, you know, if you lose your job because you're gay, there's plenty of other people who will employ you. But I mean, essentially, that's like saying, there's another lunch counter down the road. Or the back of the bus is pretty comfortable. I mean, it's just, it's not a good place to end up.

  • 10:48:09

    KING JR.You know, there was a time, I think a lot of people saw thought if anybody was going to catch some interesting, you know, lightning in a bottle, it might be Rand Paul, especially before ISIS. Before the world overseas got as menacing as it is now. And his kind of more, sort of, pacifist view of foreign policy seemed more in favor within his party. But now, as Susan's alluded to some of these things, he just seems out of step. And his poll numbers show that. There, he's something like two percent, thereabouts. He's not catching any lightning in a bottle, that's pretty clear.

  • 10:48:40

    REHMAll right, let's talk about Planned Parenthood's announcement that it will no longer sell fetal tissue. Susan.

  • 10:48:50

    GLASSERWell, of course, there's been this running controversy all fall that Republicans have even threatened to shut down the government over this. This week, Planned Parenthood announced that it was making this policy change while at the same time emphasizing that they had only been doing this in California and Michigan. It spawned not only a national political debate here in Washington over its funding, there's a court case going on right now in which a state government, basically, is trying to shut down payments for Planned Parenthood.

  • 10:49:18

    GLASSERThey're saying, well, this didn't even occur here. And, you know, really, I do think it's a good example of how when these issues become nationalized, you have an entire sort of, there's the policy on the one hand. On the other hand, there's the politics of this. Republicans, at least this group of Republicans, the Freedom Caucus in the House that's taking down Speaker John Boehner have decided to basically nationalize this as an issue. Even though the actual number of people, of course, involved in this, are very few.

  • 10:49:47

    GLASSERThere have been this release, serial release, I think it will be studied, right, in many ways, as a case study in the use of new media right now to generate and create an issue. Every single week, I believe it was on Fridays, right, over the entire summer, more or less, you had a new clip coming out of this very sensationalistic footage. It's a really interesting example of how to place something on the national political agenda.

  • 10:50:13

    REHMThat footage is being closely examined, isn't it David?

  • 10:50:17

    RENNIEThat's right. And if Planned Parenthood was sitting here, I think they would take issue with the word selling fetal body parts. They would say that it was always just covering their expenses and it was small amounts of money. But I think the politics of this is very interesting. I think that what you have seen is the pro-life, anti-abortion movement, I think very successfully, deciding that the way to win this argument with the people at large is to make sure that the extreme camp is the pro-abortion camp.

  • 10:50:43

    RENNIESo, you know, it was not so long ago that people like us who lived in Washington. Every year, there would be an anti-abortion march and you would see people walking around with very gruesome, sort of, fetus photographs and stuff. Now their game is to try and make the abortion providers look like the extreme blood soaked extremists. And I think it's a successful campaign, to some extent.

  • 10:51:02

    REHMAnd you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. All right, let's go back to the phones to David in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Hi there. You're on the air.

  • 10:51:17

    DAVIDHi. Thank you so much for taking my call. Long time listener, first time caller.

  • 10:51:22

    REHMGood to have you. Thank you.

  • 10:51:24

    DAVIDYou guys do a great job.

  • 10:51:25

    REHMThank you.

  • 10:51:25

    DAVIDI love listening to you. I just wanted to -- this is much more of a comment. Just to draw the parallels I see, a mountain between previous elections, where you had, say, a candidate within a party that was not accepted by the party. Ron Paul, now you have Bernie Sanders. And in both parallels, you see a lot of money being raised and a lot of enthusiasm. And even though within this particular election, it's highly doubtful that one of these exterior/interior candidates goes anywhere, but as far as the future goes, I mean, there's just so much, it seems like, potential of I don't know where it would form into a third party.

  • 10:52:16

    KING JR.You know, it's interesting. I would go against the idea that Bernie Sanders is somehow or other being rejected by his party. I actually think, in some ways, more than anybody that I can think about for decades, he's revitalizing a very old part of the Democratic Party or of just American politics. I mean, he is breathing life into the more left side critique of American capitalism.

  • 10:52:39

    REHMAnd certainly affecting Hillary Clinton and the other Democrats, as well.

  • 10:52:42

    KING JR.Yeah. And he's doing an extremely good job. But the funny thing is, I think if any party is actually probably planning right now to figure out a rejection strategy of a candidate, it would be the Republican Party, trying to figure out if it really looks, in January, that Donald Trump is going to be the candidate, what are we going to do to start leaking, you know, opposition research or whatever to make sure that doesn't happen.

  • 10:53:00

    REHMI want to ask you all about Dennis Hastert. Yesterday, we heard that the former House Speaker is going to plead guilty on hush money charges. What's it all about, Susan?

  • 10:53:16

    GLASSERWell, you know, it's one of those real Washington shockers. Dennis Hastert was the longest serving ever Republican Speaker of the House. He had risen from a former high school wrestling coach in a small town in Illinois. And these allegations appear to stem back from his time as a wrestling coach in Illinois. You know, and he's alleged to have basically paid this hush money, as you said, to an individual not named. Individual A in the indictment. That information hasn't come out, but there has been someone who's come forward to say that her late brother had been abused by him.

  • 10:53:51

    GLASSERIt's a very, kind of, shocking scandal. There was not really -- we've done extensive reporting on this. We found a very few people, in the course of Hastert's political career, who now tell us, well, we heard some whispers. We heard this, but really, it was never seriously pursued. The Feds appear to be insisting upon some jail time for this. The terms of the plea deal were not announced yesterday. Later this month, he'll come forward. But that's what our sources have told us.

  • 10:54:22

    GLASSERThey've only said in court that there is a plea arrangement. Clearly, this was taken very seriously, and it involved, basically, how he was trying to cover up those transactions are the actual basis on which the charges.

  • 10:54:33

    REHMAnd there is at least the allegation that during one meeting, Hastert agreed to pay a former student three and a half million dollars not to reveal information. Looks pretty serious, and by pleading guilty, he avoids a long and very embarrassing trial.

  • 10:54:59

    RENNIEBut to be clear, as Susan says, he is not on trial for alleged abuse of young people. This is don't lie to the Feds. That's what's going on here. He's accused of lying to the FBI as he tried to break banking regulations to conceal payments by withdrawing amounts in small enough doses that he could make these payments without getting caught. So, it's kind of an Al Capone tax evasion type scenario.

  • 10:55:21

    KING JR.Yeah, it is. It's, yeah, I mean, in the end, these were laws put in place for drug dealing, for money laundering and really, it certainly was never envisioned for anything remotely equivalent to what Dennis Hastert evidently did. But he ran afoul of the federal law. He seems to have misled the Feds and they're going to make him pay for that.

  • 10:55:39

    REHMAnd one last comment. The final US Airways flight is taking off today from Philadelphia. And when it comes back, it will have the brand new American Airlines logo on it. It's flight 1939, named for the airline's founding year. And from Twitter, Planned Parenthood never sold fetal body parts. They negotiated a price to cover handling and transportation for tissue to users. Clarification there and a very important one. Neil King, he's Global Economics Editor, Deputy Washington Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal. Susan Glasser is Editor at Politico. David Rennie is Washington Bureau Chief and the columnist for The Economist. Thank you all so much.

  • 10:56:48

    GLASSERThank you, Diane.

  • 10:56:48

    KING JR.Good to see you, Diane.

  • 10:56:49

    RENNIEThank you.

  • 10:56:49

    REHMAnd thanks all for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

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