It’s an eventful week for Republicans: this morning, John Boehner hands over the House speaker’s gavel to Paul Ryan, after a period of uncertainty over the party’s direction. The house approved Boehner’s two-year budget deal yesterday, with Ryan saying he would support it. Last night, it was the nation’s potential leadership in the spotlight: Republican presidential candidates took to the debate stage for the third time, focusing on economic issues. With new polls showing Ben Carson in the top spot, and candidates like Jeb Bush looking to revive lagging campaigns, the event had a new sense of urgency. From the house to twenty-sixteen: an update on the G.O.P.
- Reid Wilson Congress editor and chief political correspondent, Morning Consult
- Matthew Schlapp Principal and founder, Cove Strategies; chairman, The American Conservative Union
- Lara Brown Associate professor, Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University; author of “Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants”
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Republicans had a heated third debate last night in Boulder, Colorado. The U.S. economy, taxes and immigration were among the issues the candidates discussed, alongside sharp critiques of the media and of each other. Back in Washington, a new chapter for House Republicans today as GOP House leadership changes hands.
MS. DIANE REHMHere to talk about what's ahead for the party, Reid Wilson of Morning Consult, Matthew Schlapp of The American Conservative Union and Lara Brown of the George Washington University. Throughout the hour, we'll be taking your calls, comments, questions. Join us by phone at 800-433-8850. Send an email to email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And welcome to all of you.
MR. MATTHEW SCHLAPPGood morning.
MR. REID WILSONGreat to be here.
MS. LARA BROWNThank you. Great to be here.
REHMThank you. Matt Schlapp, start with you. You were there in Boulder last night. You took the red-eye to get here. What struck you about what you saw last night versus past debates?
SCHLAPPThere was, you know, I've been to each one of these debates and the audiences have been slightly different, but in Boulder, there was a real hostility that sat in between the audience and the moderators very early. A lot of catcalls, a lot of booing. I think what Republicans, and by and large, that's a 95 percent Republican audience, they want to just allow these candidates to engage each other and they actually want very basic questions and to try to figure out philosophically where they are in questions of taxes and regulation.
SCHLAPPAnd instead, it's all this catfight stuff. Who said what about someone's wife or who's mad at someone and it's not where Republicans want to be and that audience was very upset about it.
REHMReid Wilson, what about you? What struck you about last night?
WILSONWhat I think we saw last night was a seismic shift in the way the race itself stands today. For the longest time, for most of the year, I think, we've all had this idea that the Jeb Bush juggernaut was going to raise too much money. It was gonna have the biggest organization. It was gonna have all the institutional support to, essentially, dominate -- monopolize the race. That has changed. It has changed because his donors are nervous and have been nervous for a while now about his lagging poll numbers and it changed visually on stage last night when he tried to go after Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, Jeb Bush's mentee.
WILSONRubio and Bush worked together when Bush was governor and Rubio was in the state legislature. The fact that Rubio was able to push back so visibly and so well, he was obviously very prepared for it, really looked like a generational shift. It looked like the old guard of the Republican Party being left behind and a new generation taking a step up. I wouldn't, you know, Marco Rubio has sort of been on the rise now for the last couple of weeks. I wouldn't be surprised to see him leap above Jeb Bush in the polls and really start challenging, sort of establishing himself as a top tier member of the field.
REHMLet's hear just a little of that exchange between Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.
MR. JEB BUSHAnd you should be showing up to work. I mean, literally, the Senate, what is it, like French work week? You get, like, three days where you have to show up? You can campaign or just resign and let someone else take the job. There are a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck in Florida as well. They're looking for a senator that will fight for them each and every day.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIOI get to respond, right?
RUBIOAll right. Well, it's interesting. Over the last few weeks, I've listened to Jeb as you've walked around the country and said that you're modeling your campaign after John McCain, that you're gonna launch a furious comeback the way he did by fighting hard in New Hampshire and places like that, carrying your own bag at the airport. You know how many votes John McCain missed when he was carrying out that furious comeback that you're now modeling under?
BUSHHe wasn't my senator.
RUBIONow, Jeb, I don't remember -- well, let me tell you. I don't remember you ever complaining about John McCain's vote record. The only reason why you're doing it now is 'cause we're running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.
REHMWhat do you think of that, Lara Brown?
BROWNWell, I certainly thought that Senator Rubio was strong in his defense and was really quite forceful in his taking it to former Governor Jeb Bush. I mean, there was a sense that he was bringing out the politics, kind of the backroom campaign stuff and yet, at the same time, I think most of those people who were watching really agreed with Rubio that Jeb Bush was in a somewhat desperate place and that that's why the attacks were coming.
REHMDo you agree, Reid?
WILSONI do and I think one of the ironic things, one of the things we don't sort of think about for awhile is that the Bush family is a huge political dynasty, but they weren't ever terribly great candidates. George H.W. Bush was Ronald Reagan's vice president and was the overwhelming favorite in 1988 when he won the nomination. George W. Bush was probably the best of the three candidates and was in an overwhelming position when he won in 2000.
WILSONJeb Bush now faces a very strong, very broad and deep Republican field and he's just not proving to be the candidate who's able to sort of shine through.
REHMI was interested that Donald Trump did not seem to have more attention, time, comments than perhaps he's had in the past, Lara.
BROWNWell, I think that's right. He did fade from the stage for a portion of that debate. And I think, you know, if you really look at how Donald Trump got into this race, he got in the day after Jeb Bush announced. Much of his efforts have been focused on bringing Jeb Bush down and I have to wonder whether or not Donald Trump was somewhat subdued last night because he is also partly satisfied that Jeb Bush is no longer seen as the establishment favorite or the top pick.
SCHLAPPYeah. I also think Donald Trump is changing as a candidate. I mean, he hasn't done this before and he only kind of seems to know one gear and that's to be, you know, a little outrageous and out there and what I've noticed in these debates is he's okay with the fact that he makes his couple of statements that are crowd pleasers, usually, and then he kind of recedes. And he did that again last night. I don't know if I see a maturing of a candidate, but he's definitely becoming a different candidate.
REHMA crowd pleaser on what kinds of issues, substantive or otherwise?
SCHLAPPYou know, substantive, I think one of his weaknesses as a candidate is he doesn't go deep on any of these issues, obviously. But, you know, those crowds in these debates, they love it when he takes on the media. They think that's great. They love it when he takes on, you know, people that they feel aren't giving them, you know, a fair shake. So that's what Donald Trump does and he connects with people. And by the way, he connected with people last night in his close. His close was strong for that audience.
REHMSo you think the audience liked him, even though he didn't seem to come out swinging in quite the way he has.
SCHLAPPI think he's decided that he doesn't -- in these debates, he doesn't have to come out swinging for two hours, for two and a half hours. He'll get his jabs in. He'll get his points in. And then, he does, he kind of steps back and allows the other people to talk the policy.
WILSONDonald Trump speaks to a segment of the electorate and I think it's broader than just the Republican base. I think it's people who don't vote as well, an electorate that feels like they're being left behind, that feels like they haven't been represented in politics by any -- by either of the major parties and I think largely among the Republican base who like him, those who think that recently the Republicans have drifted a little too much towards Washington, towards New York and that's sort of the Acela Corridor, if you will.
WILSONYou hear a lot from Donald Trump about fairness, about how people aren't going to treat him fairly, about how superPACs aren't fair. And I think is sort of a code word for voters who feel like politics isn't for them right now.
REHMAnd they all seem to think the media was not fair.
MR. TED CRUZThe questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media. This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions. Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don't resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues that people care about?
WILSONI loved, by the way, that in that clip, Ted Cruz's best moment of the night, the most widely shared moment of the entire debate, that he not only got to go after the media, but he got to repeat all of the attacks on all of his main opponents as well.
SCHLAPPThat's right. Well, you know, I thought that was the strongest answer of the night. If there was an applause meter in the arena, that would've gotten the biggest applause. And look, it's easy for Republicans to beat up on the media and that's not gonna get them very far and it's a little sophomoric, but I didn't think that debate really allowed voters to see where these candidate were on economic policy. It was all about the conflict between the individual. It was not going to help us in our politics.
SCHLAPPIt's not gonna help us pick the right kind of nominee and I really hope that this is a turning point in this rather out of control debate structure.
REHMSo what did you think about the kinds of questions that CNBC had prepared? What did you think about that particular media's performance?
BROWNWell, frankly, I thought they were rather foolish and weak questions. I mean, people came out and said, oh, they're tough questions. I don't think asking a question about what do you believe is your greatest weakness is a tough question. That is a question that's not even used in interviews anymore.
SCHLAPPIn Match.com, they use that question, you know.
BROWNRight. I mean, it is -- I thought Ted Cruz was really right on point in many ways about the type of questions that they were asking. And I do think that as a political scientist, most political scientists are always arguing for more substance, more policy. They didn't ask those questions.
REHMLara Brown of George Washington University and author of "Jockeying For The American Presidency: The Political Opportunism Of Aspirants." Short break. We'll be right back.
REHMAnd welcome back. We're talking about the Republicans this week. Certainly the debate last night, then we'll move to Boehner's last comments and the move to Paul Ryan as speaker of the House. But right now, emails from Catherine in Long Island. The debate last night spoke less about candidates, more about our 21st century news media. It seemed the inept moderators merely scanned the Internet for gotcha questions, most of which we had heard before. Whatever happened to asking serious questions and waiting for a response. One of those questions happened to do with Fantasy Football.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIEWe have $19 trillion in debt. We have people out of work. We have ISIS and al-Qaida attacking us. And we're talking about Fantasy Football?
REHMWhat did you guys think of that? Reid.
WILSONI thought, it was interesting. That clip was of Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey, who governs one of the only states where online gambling is legal. There is a real interesting question buried in that, sort of, the question about Fantasy Football and about the evolving economy and online gaming, as more and more of the economy moves online. But that wasn't the question that was asked and that's unfortunate. A lot of these networks are under amazing amounts of stress and strain to ask -- to make these debates entertaining. To break news about the horserace rather than to say, all right, let's dig into somebody's tax policy.
WILSONWhen you do get into tax policy -- they talked a little bit with Ben Carson about his tax plan -- it's sort of -- it's easy for all of these candidates to fudge the numbers and sort of make everything look great.
SCHLAPPLook, it was another whiff by the moderator, because it's a really interesting philosophical question for Republicans. You say you're conservative. Should there be a federal ban on online gambling? Or do you trust the states? Just like the states determine lotteries and stuff. That would have been a really interesting question. But instead, Fantasy Football? And we get all off on this strange track. Another Whiff.
BROWNAbsolutely. I think that, you know, Chris Christie was very focused, very feisty. And I think he was really speaking to the American people. And this was another moment that I thought that, you know, someone on the stage showed up Jeb Bush. Because Jeb Bush was trying to relate to people, talking about his record on Fantasy Football, that he's 7 and 0. But I think what you saw with that was that he also speaks to a more, sort of, privileged group of people who are not necessarily as worried as Chris Christie really brought the issue to the fore and made them feel.
REHMThere was a question to Ben Carson about taxes. Moderator Becky Quick challenged Carson on his 10 percent flat tax, which he then says:
MS. BECKY QUICKWhat analysis got you to the point where you think this will work?
DR. BEN CARSONWell, first of all, I didn't say that the rate would be 10 percent. I used a tithing analogy. Okay?
QUICKI understand that but, if you look at the numbers, you'd probably have to get to 28 percent.
CARSONBut the rate -- the rate is going to be much closer to 15 percent.
QUICK15 percent still leaves you with a $1.1 trillion hole.
CARSONYeah. Well, let kind of -- you also have to get rid of all of the deductions and all the loopholes.
REHMI really had a problem with people sort of overriding the comments that the candidates had to make. Let them talk, for heaven's sake.
WILSONAnd this is the network that, when they released -- when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the jobs numbers every month, they have the eight boxes across and everybody's screaming over each other. And you've got Rick Santelli on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange yelling and screaming and trying to be heard. I mean, this is a network that, I mean, if you can believe it, screams at each other more than Fox News and MSNBC.
SCHLAPPBut there's a difference in a presidential debate.
SCHLAPPLook. There's all kind of interview shows that have different styles. We are not doing our democracy any good, when the candidates don't have a chance to speak for -- look at the time they had, Diane. The most time one candidate had was 10 minutes. Some candidates had 5 minutes, in that period of time, to address voters. And when the moderator is telling the candidate they're either right or wrong on their policy, taking out their calculator, doing math, they were checking on Google to see if their facts were right. That's all -- that's gotcha stuff. And it didn't help the process. I don't think they made themselves look good. And actually, I think they've set these candidates up to be able to push for actually more reforms.
REHMHow do you account for Ben Carson's surging in the polls?
SCHLAPPYou know, Diane, people don't really know that much about Ben Carson but what they know they really love. He has a beautiful American success story, the way he grew up and the kind of doctor he became and how he pulled himself up. They love that. And believe it or not, you know, Republicans love the idea of nominating a Hispanic, nominating an African American, nominating someone like Carly Fiorina. They really love that. It's one of the reasons why these people are doing so well in the polls. The question is, the more they get to hear his answers on the policies, the more they dive down -- will he have that staying power? And that's the real question.
BROWNWell, I also think that Ben Carson has been around for a while. You know, we seem to have forgotten that he really came to some prominence when he confronted President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast. And at that moment, conservatives -- especially evangelicals -- were please with his kind of confrontation and his response. He then went on to write a book and had a whole movement sort of come underneath him. So it is not surprising to me that he has support and he has some solid support among some of the evangelical Republicans in the electorate.
WILSONAnd he's an outsider. And Republicans are really looking for an outsider right now, at a moment when Congress is deeply unpopular. I mean, we -- Morning Consult -- polled the favorability ratings of the top congressional leaders -- Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- they are more unpopular than they are popular among Republican voters. Republicans don't like their own leaders here in Washington. So add up Ben Carson plus Donald Trump plus Carly Fiorina, none of whom have elected experience, and you're well north of 50 percent of the Republican vote.
REHMBut what about the Republican establishment? What about the Republican leaders? How are they reacting to the idea of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina?
WILSONNot well. Not terribly well. The Republicans around Washington, D.C., who do politics professionally, are not terribly happy with the idea that -- with the fact that Donald Trump has led the field now for what, four months.
SCHLAPPLook, let's be clear, it's an indictment on them. And they don't necessarily want to accept that message but, I mean...
SCHLAPPWell, 60 percent -- in this recent Bloomberg poll in Iowa, 60 percent of Republicans said, we're so disenchanted by what we see and the type of candidates we tend to nominate, that we want to try something completely new and completely different. That's where Republicans are in this presidential contest. They want to try something new.
BROWNAnd they keep feeling as though they elect Republicans, they turn out, they do the work that is needed at the grass-roots level, and then they look at the policies that come out of Washington and they're shocked. And that includes some of the decisions that have come down in the Supreme Court. So I don't think that they want to be, if you will, fooled again by someone who is purporting to be conservative but really is not.
WILSONOr they do the work and they get the votes turned out and everybody shows up at the polls and they spend all the money, and then President Obama wins twice in a row against John McCain, against Mitt Romney, two guys who are a lot closer to the center of the aisle than they are to -- and you can't really call Donald Trump on the right. I mean he sort of transcends the political spectrum as sort of a linear concept.
SCHLAPPHe's appealing to people all over the spectrum.
WILSONYes. That's true.
REHMAre any of those three that you've just mentioned appealing to the whole of the American electorate?
SCHLAPPLook, Carly Fiorina is a very unique candidate. Establishment Republicans like her -- her pedigree of running business and she's a serious, thinking person. She's also someone that appeals to the conservative base of the party because she has very conservative policy positions. She's run for office, not successfully, in the state of California. She's someone who, I think, could really unite all of these factions and still claim that outsider mantle.
REHMDo you agree, Lara?
BROWNAbsolutely. I think she was pitch perfect last night. I mean, when the camera did come to her, when the questions were posed to her, what she said was very well received and it was very, you know, well crafted. I mean, even her opening statement where she joked about smiling, that she doesn't smile enough. And everyone sort of stopped for a moment and watched her smile. It was well done and it was a light-hearted moment amidst all of that kind of chaos.
REHMDo you -- does any of you really understand what kinds of policies any of these candidates would bring to the fore if elected president?
WILSONWell, there are a few significant policy positions that some of these candidates have rolled out. Jeb Bush has -- I think Jeb Bush has probably been the most comprehensive in terms of laying out, and so was Scott Walker.
REHMHow do you think he did last night?
WILSONAnd Jeb Bush did very poorly last night. He didn't, let's see, these candidates don't have the time. Matt raised a good point that Carly Fiorina, the person who talked the most on stage, got 10 minutes. But when they're standing up on the stage, they don't have the time to lay out their actual policy proposals. They do that at things like the Economic Club of Chicago, when they go to Detroit for the economic club there and the Council on Foreign Relations and things like that.
REHMBut the American people don't hear all of that.
WILSONThey don't know. I think that is going to be a big part of the message that is sent to voters in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in South Carolina and Nevada. When this paid media effort starts, you're going to hear a lot about Jeb Bush's record. His super PAC still has millions of dollars. He's going to be on air for a very long time. You'll hear about his record as governor of Florida and therefore what he wants to do with the country. But, no, broadly speaking, the issues that -- the sort of detailed policy positions, they don't get delivered on these debate stages.
REHMOne moderator asked Trump whether his was a comic book candidacy. Do you see this as the beginning of the end for him?
WILSONTrump's poll numbers have certainly declined. There have been now four polls in the last two weeks in Iowa that show him either tied with Ben Carson -- one poll showed him tied, three others showed him significantly behind Ben Carson. His numbers in Morning Consult weekly tracking polls have fallen. He is still the leader. He still commands a wider percentage of the Republican electorate nationally. But this is the part of the campaign where voters start to think about who they actually want to be elected.
SCHLAPPIt's not the job of the moderator to mock the candidates.
WILSONYeah, that was not the word choice I would have chosen.
SCHLAPPIt's the job of the candidate to demonstrate whether or not that candidate has the facility to be president. And that was -- that only makes Donald Trump stronger when they mock him.
REHMIs -- go ahead.
BROWNAnd -- well, I was just going to say that one of the things Donald Trump has is a solid group of people under him. A lot of the people who say they will vote for him, say they are also firm in their commitment and support to vote for him. I imagine his numbers will continue to decline but I don't imagine that he's going to sort of fall to single digits. In other words, I think he does have some stable support, whereas a lot of the other voters in the Republican primary are really thinking about, who do I want other than Trump?
REHMNow, did one candidate, in any of your minds, come away having sort of risen above it all and winning the debate? Lara.
BROWNWell, I do think Rubio showed himself to be a real candidate, someone with substance, somebody who is not just kind of light or attractive. I think he showed himself as more than biography and as somebody who could be serious about policy.
SCHLAPPI'm married to a Cuban American, but I have to say it was the Cubans' night. Cruz and Rubio took the night.
WILSONI agree. I thought Rubio had the most breakout performance, broadly speaking. Cruz had the best single moment of the debate. You know, throw John Kasich in there. He wasn't -- he was on the very end of the stage. He offered -- he keeps offering himself as sort of this alternative to the conservative -- the establishment pick. If he's going to go anywhere, which -- his poll numbers are pretty lousy right now -- if he's going to go anywhere, it's going to be because he is able to corner that sort of establishment lane, once Jeb Bush collapses and if Marco Rubio somehow doesn't fill that void.
REHMAnd you're listing to "The Diane Rehm Show." And moving to the House speaker now, what do you think, Lara, about how Paul Ryan got there?
BROWNWell, I think, broadly, what is sort of ironic about this situation is that there's been a lot of consternation and sort of hand wringing over the budget deal that Speaker Boehner negotiated with the White House in sort of the waning moments of his speakership. And I think, when you look at that, it's sort of, well, as I said, ironic, because the conservatives who really pushed Boehner out would have had their interests heard much more had Boehner not already been sort of relieved of his speakership. And he would have been working to try to gain their favor. And he would have been worried about being pushed out. But since he was freed from that position, he was also freed to make this deal. So this, to me, was a whole situation of, be careful what you wish for.
REHMPaul Ryan said, this process stinks.
SCHLAPPYeah. And I think he's felt this at several points in these budget showdowns that we've had. What Paul Ryan wants to do is actually govern the House of Representatives, the Republicans in the House of Representatives, like the coalition they are, Diane. We see it. There's all this -- there's fractures. There's different groups. And he wants to try to listen to each one of those groups and come to a consensus. It's the only way Republicans can actually govern in the House. And John Boehner got so sick and tired of it. And John Boehner is a good man. I know him well. He also has been there a long time and he was just tired of having to go through the diplomacy of talking to all these members and -- but, unfortunately, that is what the job is.
REHMHe shed many tears this morning in his final statement.
WILSONHe did. But I actually saw him earlier this week, when he was talking to a group of reporters off to the side and...
REHMHe must be relieved.
WILSONHe is very relieved.
SCHLAPPYeah, he is.
WILSONHe was ready to go. He doesn't have any regrets in making his decision now. You know, one of the big things that he always said was that he was going -- he was planning to make this decision to quit on his birthday, which is in the middle of -- November 17, I think it is. He decided to move that up a little bit. And, as Lara says, boy, he sure got a lot of things done. In Boehner's words, he cleared the barn for the Paul Ryan speakership. He got a lot of very contentious issues off the table. Now, I mean, the big question in my mind is what happens when Paul Ryan runs up against the first one of these things, these must-pass, must-do deals that angers the (unintelligible)
SCHLAPPYou forgot one, coming December 11.
REHMSo, what is it?
SCHLAPPIt's -- this deal does not determine how the government gets funded for the next year. So that next spending bill has still to be negotiated. So get ready.
WILSONThey've send the budget framework -- the numbers, the top-line numbers. They haven't actually decided how -- who gets what.
REHMSo is Paul Ryan stepping into the hornet's nest or does he have a clear path? Lara.
BROWNWell, I think it's a little bit of both. Obviously, as attention continues to focus on the presidential race, you will see not many people paying attention to, kind of, the policy details in Washington. In addition, I do think that this framework that has been passed provides the Republicans with a bit of a reprieve. They can go out on the campaign trail, campaign against Washington and not have to necessarily worry about some of the must-pass legislation that would have been there otherwise.
REHMLara Brown of George Washington University. Reid Wilson of Morning Consult. Matt Schlapp of The American Conservative Union. Short break here. Your calls when we come back. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. We're now talking about not only he debates last night, and John in St. Louis wants to know what you think about the second-tier debate. He says, I thought the questions were better, that all the candidates did a good job discussing their positions.
WILSONIt was more substantive than the -- a lot of the questions in the main debate. However, there were moments of silliness, is that the appropriate term, I suppose, when all the candidates were asked what three apps they used most on their phone. It says everything about the Republican Party, though, that you've got the most senior U.S. senator in the race, a two-term governor of Louisiana, a three-term governor of New York, and I guess Santorum, too. So a two-term U.S. senator.
SCHLAPPA former Senate leader.
WILSONThere you go, yeah, member of Senate leadership in the second-tier debate, while Donald Trump and Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are in the first-tier debate.
REHMAll right, and a number of people have asked, prior to now and now again, Ted in Asheville, North Carolina, represents a number of people when he says, my wife and I can't believe these debates are not available at no charge to the public. They're only available to be viewed by cable TV subscribers. Are we the only ones who find this odd?
WILSONI actually this is -- well, it is odd that there are -- that some people by nature of not having cable are excluded. However, I think you can actually stream most of these debates online. Then again, I suppose you have to have Internet access. The other thing is this just sort of speaks to how we're changing as a society in how we consume TV. We all have cable, or the vast, vast majority of us.
REHMAll right, and outgoing Speaker Boehner is -- has spoken. Let's hear a little of what he had to say.
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNERJust a regular guy with a big job. I was fair to people, both sides of the aisle, honest, and -- and remembered what my first responsibility was, and that was to the institution.
REHMNow that was from yesterday. Now this morning he was quite tearful and ready to let go, ready to turn it over to Paul Ryan, but I gather Paul Ryan, even though he's already in place, dear heaven, what is he going to face, Lara?
BROWNWell, he'll certainly face a consistently conservative Freedom, you know, House Caucus. They want to continue to push the legislation as far as right and as sort of small government as they possibly can. And I think, you know, that will conflict with the fact that President Obama is still in the White House, and the Senate is difficult to get enough votes to really go in that direction. So I do think Ryan is going to try to open up the process a bit more, allow for more dialogue and discussion.
BROWNBut what at the end of the day that means is more deliberation. It means less efficiency. So if the Republicans believe that more deliberation is going to get them more things, then they're actually incorrect in that assumption.
REHMThe entire House is voting now on Paul Ryan as speaker. The vote is official. Ryan is in. What do you expect, Matt?
SCHLAPPI think what's going on in the House is this. These rambunctious members of the House Freedom Caucus and other members, they don't like the fact that the House has its own set of rules, and the Senate has another set of rules. They want the House to run like the Senate. They don't like the speaker being able to run the Rules Committee and determine exactly how legislation comes to the floor. They want every member to have their say.
SCHLAPPIt's really interesting. They want to see two Senates. In the old days, all of us conservatives, we hated the Senate because they were slow, and they were stopping things. Now you have rambunctious House members saying, hey, we like the way the Senate works.
REHMSo how much is likely to change?
SCHLAPPIt's going to go -- I agree completely, it's going to go slower because most of this, the big questions of the legislative challenges that face us, if we have to go through and let every member have a say, that means we are going to go even slower than we're going now.
REHMWhat about the Hastert Rule?
WILSONThe Hastert Rule, which is a requiring a majority of the majority to pass any kind of legislation, first of all is probably going to be renamed at some point, given Mr. Hastert's legal problems but secondly is probably going to remain a key pillar of the House Republican Caucus and the rules. Matt, the funny thing that you just said is that the House members want things to run more like the Senate. Senators now want things in the Senate to run more like the House.
SCHLAPPI know, it's crazy.
WILSONI mean, it -- we've got this system in which the rules of the other body, you know, I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side of the Capitol, the rules of the other body look so appealing, but yet the big problem that Republicans face is that they've got a caucus of 40-or-so members of the House who simply will not acknowledge that there are 46 members of the Democratic Conference in the Senate, Democratic Caucus in the Senate, which means...
SCHLAPPThey acknowledge it. That's a little unfair. They acknowledge it, but the question is this. They want to make sure that they are heard. And they felt with the current House leadership that they were just shut out. I think Paul Ryan has a chance not to always do what they want but to hear them out and to make sure that they have an impact, and if I think if Paul does that, which I know him well, and I think he can do it, I think we'll be in a much better place.
BROWNBut -- and that's where historically this is a really fascinating moment because it is somewhat a revolt against Newt Gingrich and the centralizing powers that he brought to the speakership because what you saw prior to Gingrich was really that committee chairs and subcommittee chairs had much more power throughout the House and on legislation. You actually saw appropriations bills being passed. You saw a different party leadership and party loyalty requirement, and I think this is what you're seeing those Freedom Caucus members wanting.
WILSONThe death of Newt Gingrich. Is that what...
REHMYeah, yeah, but the question is, considering these divisions, what can you actually get done?
WILSONWell, we'll have to see. I mean, we've got a Democratic president. We've got a small Republican majority in the Senate. I think the biggest problem for Republicans at the moment is they have majorities, but one of those majorities is not big enough to actually do everything they want. So a lot of the frustration that I hear when I talk to Republican activists around the country is we were promised that the new Republican majority would roll back the Affordable Care Act, would, you know, end a lot of the things that President Obama has done.
WILSONAnd they can't. With 46 votes in the Senate, they simply can't.
SCHLAPPAnd it's the executive orders, and you've touched on it. It's the Supreme Court. Conservatives across this country felt like when they put Republicans in charge of the House and the Senate, there'd be a bit of a stalemate between the White House and the Congress. Instead what they've seen, I've got to give President Obama credit. He just kept going with his agenda with his executive pen, and the Supreme Court's been a big help to him, as well, and conservatives are frustrated, and it's one of the reasons why Donald Trump and Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are doing so well.
REHMAll right, let's open the phones, first to Mark in Traverse City, Michigan. You're on the air.
MARKYeah, thanks for taking my call. I was wondering if I saw the same debate that you guys did because I think that there were a lot of good questions asked about, as much as you don't like the fantasy football (unintelligible) at least we talked about government regulation, they talked about health plans, Social Security, immigration, Fed monetary policy.
MARKAnd personally I think some of the gotcha questions, I think those -- the debaters need to defend their wacky plans. I'd also like to say that they dodge a lot of the questions, and I appreciate it when they follow-up and try to even interrupt.
BROWNWell, I mean, I think your caller's right on in the sense that it wasn't completely void of all kind of substance and facts. There was a really fascinating debate about sort of the entitlements, everything from Social Security to Medicare and how people should be funding that, what really the changes need to be. I think you saw an interesting exchange with Mike Huckabee on that, and really at the end of the day they were talking about facing the facts that entitlement reform is something that cannot just continue to be kicked down the road.
REHMWe've gotten a lot of people writing in to say younger people do not all have cable.
REHMMany do not. And there was absolutely no free online streaming available.
WILSONThere really, there wasn't? Oh, I didn't know that. CNN, I know, I actually watched the CNN one live-streamed, but that's interesting. That's a mistake on CNBC's part.
SCHLAPPYeah, a lot of people, you know, it's the wave of the future for some folks, and they get -- they watch all their television on their phone.
BROWNBut Fox News also did not stream the debate, and I think again, really what this is about is this is about the financial models of these media companies, and we can't get away from the fact that CNBC was charging commercial ad rates, you know, at 10 times what their normal commercial ad rate in that debate. So this really goes to kind of the problems in the media and those deeper structural issues of how do you get people to watch news when they want to watch is entertainment.
REHMAll right, to Brian in Denver, Colorado. The debate took place in Boulder. Did you watch the whole thing, Brian?
BRIANYes, yes I did watch, and I think what this should prove, it will never prove once and for all for those who don't want to see it, but it really did point the hate that exists in most of the mainstream (unintelligible) against conservatives. And I know this is a (unintelligible) many of you will say this is a tired, old line, but it's so true. I mean...
REHMBrian, I'm having a hard time understanding you, but I think we get the gist, Lara.
BROWNWell, I think it is true that there is a sense that the mainstream media doesn't treat conservative candidates fairly and that many of the questions were specifically aimed at kind of undermining or ridiculing conservative beliefs. But I would, you know, submit to the viewer as a political scientist and as somebody who's studied this that most of what's going on is not really partisan bias on the part of the media, it is more this corporate bias about needing to create exchange, debate, fight, controversy and also focusing on newness and novelty.
BROWNNews is called news because it is new. And I think what we see oftentimes is this focus on the gaffe or the gotcha because that creates a newness and an excitement and brings eyeballs to your screen.
REHMAll right, and we've got two different views of -- well, perhaps not so different. Carol in Fairfax, Virginia, wants to talk about Marco Rubio. Go right ahead.
CAROLGood morning. this is really upsetting listening to the panel applauding Rubio when he hasn't been showing up to work. This -- that sounds okay? It really seems very upsetting to me.
SCHLAPPThis is a long attack that is frequently made on senators who run for office. Marco Rubio has -- I might get this number wrong, but he has missed something like 30 percent of his votes this year. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, when they ran for president back in 2007, missed something like 80 percent of their votes. Senators miss votes. It happens. These votes aren't particularly close. It's not as if any of the votes of his would change and -- would change the outcome of a bill.
SCHLAPPAnd by the way, when Jeb Bush took a shot at Rubio, it struck me as -- last night in the debate, it struck me as a guy with a lot of money telling somebody with not a lot of money to work harder and do a better job.
WILSONIt's a fair shot. It's a fair shot. If you're a senator, you ought to be voting on the big questions. Rubio has missed votes on Planned Parenthood, he's missed votes on really substantial issues. But it's also easy to knock it back, and I think that's what we saw last night.
REHMAnd you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. To Jerry in O'Fallon, Missouri, you're on the air.
JERRYGood morning. Someone once told me that Americans will elect a happy conservative or a tough liberal, but not the other way around. And when I look at past elections, I find that to pretty much be true. And I feel like both Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio tend to get, and I realize some of the questions last night were a bit inane, but Rubio especially tends to puff up when he's asked questions and almost gets this attitude like who are you to ask me a question.
JERRYAnd I thought a much better follow-up would have been -- he explained how his mother and father came here as -- to work as a maid and bartender and then a few minutes later is talking about essentially restricting immigration to people who have skills that we need. And I wish one of the moderators would have said, do you think your parents would have been able to immigrate to the United States given their potential in the economy?
WILSONWell, and there's a big problem in there for Cuban-Americans, where they have a very special immigration law that Bill Clinton even changed, wet foot, dry foot, where they don't have to go through those considerations because they're here as political refugees. But look, I think this is one of the problems for conservatives. As we looked at this big field, 16, 17 candidates, and we said, wow, we've got five or six presidents on that stage, and as you go through the process, the process tends to diminish people.
WILSONIt's hard to get through this process without people seeing your flaws, and that's what we're seeing.
REHMAnd by the way, Katie in Fayetteville, North Carolina, said she listened to the debate on radio, which is a great way to not be distracted by everything that's going on onstage. One last question for you.
SCHLAPPDiane, we're all very pro-radio.
REHMI'm glad to hear it.
REHMAnd one last question for each of you. Is anybody on that stage last night likely to drop out?
WILSONYes, I think there is no question, I think there's going to be more and more pressure on the RNC to raise the minimum percentage you have to be in these polls in order to be on that stage. And I think it's -- you know, you look at that second tier, these people have -- some of these candidates have no money. You look at Rand Paul and John Kasich, I think it's going to be increasingly harder for them to hang in there.
BROWNYeah, and I think it's going to be tough for Mike Huckabee. Even though he still has some support from his past endeavors running for the president and also his cable news show, I think what you'll see is that he really doesn't have votes in this cycle.
SCHLAPPI think that we've learned from this debate is -- or from this campaign season is that it is good to build up a campaign slowly over time. The people who built up their campaigns quickly are running out of money. Scott Walker is already out. Jeb Bush, the headlines this morning from the political press here in D.C. are -- they read like a pre-written obituary.
SCHLAPPOf Jeb Bush's campaign. However, conversely, if you're running a small, little campaign, why do you have to get out? If you're Carly Fiorina or John Kasich or Lindsey Graham, and you're not paying a whole bunch of people, and you've got a Super-PAC with a few million dollars that can keep you relevant and in the conversation, what's your incentive to pull out? It's -- the big guys are going to face the pressure before the little guys.
REHMReid Wilson of Morning Consult, Lara Brown of George Washington University, and Matthew Schlapp, he's chairman of The American Conservative Union, thank you all so much.
REHMAnd thanks, all, for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.