The U.S. economy adds 271,000 jobs in October. That strong showing increases the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates by the end of the year. The House passes a six-year transportation bill but funds it for just three. The State Department rejects a request for delay in a review of the Keystone XL pipeline. Former President George H. W. Bush denounces his son’s “Axis of Evil” speech. Marco Rubio hardens his opposition to president Obama’s immigration initiatives. Bernie Sanders takes a more aggressive tone against Hillary Clinton. And social conservatives win big in Tuesday’s off-year elections. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.

Guests

  • Sheryl Gay Stolberg National correspondent, The New York Times.
  • Chris Frates Investigative correspondent, CNN
  • Amy Walter National editor, Cook Political Report

Ben Carson vs. The Media

'The Bluegrass State ... is now the Redgrass State'

Are Sanders' Supporters More Enthusiastic Than Clinton's?

Full Video

Transcript

  • 10:06:54

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. House Speaker Paul Ryan scores an important first victory in the passage of the long-term transportation bill. The State Department rejects a delay of the Keystone XL pipeline review and former President H.W. Bush criticizes his son's White House advisors.

  • 10:07:18

    MS. DIANE REHMHere for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times, Chris Frates of CNN and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report. And we are livestreaming video of this hour of the Friday News Roundup. You can watch us by going drshow.org. You can call us on 800-433-8850. Send an email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And welcome to all of you.

  • 10:07:59

    MR. SHERYL GAY STOLBERGGood morning.

  • 10:08:00

    MR. CHRIS FRATESGood morning, Diane.

  • 10:08:01

    MS. AMY WALTERGood morning.

  • 10:08:02

    REHMGood to see you all. Chris Frates, very strong October work numbers.

  • 10:08:09

    FRATESAbsolutely. I mean, this was really good news for the economy, Diane. We had jobs were expected to come in at 205,000. They came at 271,000. Wages are up and you have unemployment hovering around 5 percent, which is very close to what economists consider a full employment for the economy. So very good news. I think what we're going to see out of this is that rates will probably rise in December.

  • 10:08:34

    FRATESThe Fed was looking at these numbers the last time they had a chance to raise the rates, they held off. We're still in crisis economy rate, essentially, and these numbers, barring some kind of huge disaster in November, I think we will likely see rates go up for the first time in a long time.

  • 10:08:51

    REHMDo you agree, Sheryl?

  • 10:08:52

    STOLBERGWell, the Fed did hint last week and it was a surprise that the Fed hinted that it was even considering an interest rate hike in December and they said, at the time, that they would, in December, assess the progress, both realized and expected toward meeting their goals of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. So now that we've got this big number, which is a surprise, and the lowest unemployment rates, pre-recession rates, in some time, I think -- look, I can't predict the Fed, right?

  • 10:09:24

    REHMRight.

  • 10:09:25

    STOLBERGIf I could, I'd make a lot more money than I do, but...

  • 10:09:27

    REHMAmy, how does this play out politically?

  • 10:09:30

    WALTERI'm glad you asked that because I started thinking about that, too. And there is still a disconnect between what we're talking about right now and what people are feeling at home. And for the last couple of weeks, I've actually sat in in focus groups with voters in different parts of the country and what I keep hearing about is the rising cost of living, the frustration a lot of people have about food costs, just basic costs of, you know, not just getting by, but why does food still seem to cost so much?

  • 10:10:02

    WALTERWhy is it so much of my paycheck? They're not as worried as they were when I sat in these groups four or five years ago about having a job or making sure that they're able to get by day to day. But what they are frustrated about is it seems like they're working hard, they're bringing in money, but it's not going as far.

  • 10:10:19

    REHMAnd which of the candidates can we say is speaking most directly?

  • 10:10:24

    WALTERThat’s right. And so that, you know, that is the challenge in this election. You have -- on the Democratic side, you have Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders who have to have a balancing act here, saying yes, we've had eight years of a president that has brought us this economy, gotten us out of the ditch, so to speak, and yet, we have to somehow also explain why, even though things are getting better technically, you don't feel better and why there seems to be a growing -- and there is a growing inequality in this country about the haves and have-nots.

  • 10:10:58

    WALTERAnd so how do you tell Americans, go vote for a Democrat again, when we know we still have structural problems in this country.

  • 10:11:06

    REHMAnd they sure didn't vote for Democrats on Tuesday, Chris.

  • 10:11:11

    FRATESThey did not. I mean, we saw, in contests around the country, you know, Matt Bevin who is the Republican running for governor in Kentucky, who lost to Mitch McConnell in the primary by 25 points, remember, just last year, upset Jack Conway the Democratic governor. Mississippi, the Republican governor there, won reelection. Virginia, the GOP remained in control of the state senate despite Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe's efforts there.

  • 10:11:40

    FRATESAnd, you know, we saw also other conservative things. No legal pot in Ohio. You know, we saw an antidiscrimination LGBT ban in Houston go down. So Republicans really had a good day statewide and that kind of is what we've been seeing for the past couple of years. In the governorships, Republicans have more governorships and we're seeing that the outsider, that played in these state races as well. Bevin was a guy who came in as the outsider, ran as the outsider, couldn't beat Mitch McConnell as the outsider last year. 2015, he was able to do it.

  • 10:12:14

    STOLBERGYeah, and so just tying those two points together. The Ohio story we should talk about later 'cause it's actually a little bit more nuanced than a conservative triumph or an anti-pot triumph. But let's talk about Kentucky. I spent much of the week there. And in Kentucky, what I'm hearing from Democrats goes straight to Amy's point, which is they are concerned that one of the reasons for their route in Kentucky, one of the reasons they were trounced is because they're not able to connect with voters on those basic economic issues.

  • 10:12:40

    STOLBERGThey're not -- they haven't been able to convey to voters that we feel your pain, that we understand and we have solutions for the economic suffering that you've experienced, despite these job numbers. And unemployment in Kentucky is actually relatively low compared to the rest of the nation, but yet, we saw this Republican trouncing of the Democrats, and not only that, a consolidation of Republican control across the South.

  • 10:13:08

    STOLBERGThese elections have effectively turned the South red. The Bluegrass State, as someone in Kentucky told me, is now the red grass state. Across the country, Kentucky -- in the South, you can call Kentucky a border state or a southern state, but if you think of it as a southern state, there's one legislative chamber in the whole south that is controlled by Democrats. That's the House in Kentucky. There's one governorship across the whole South that's controlled by Democrats.

  • 10:13:35

    STOLBERGThat's the governorship in Virginia. And those are the only two places in the entire South that Democrats control either a chamber or a governorship.

  • 10:13:43

    WALTERWell, and if you even expand beyond the South and you look at the number of state legislatures now controlled by Republicans and the governorships controlled by Republicans...

  • 10:13:52

    STOLBERG32 out of 50 governorships are Republican.

  • 10:13:54

    REHM32 out of 50.

  • 10:13:56

    STOLBERGAnd 30 out of 50 legislatures.

  • 10:13:58

    WALTERAnd it goes to this -- to Sheryl's point, it's sort of this boom/bust cycle for Democrats, which is they do very well when it comes to a presidential year where Barack Obama's on the top of the ticket, younger people turn out, minority voters turn out, women turn out, younger people turn out and they're successful. In a non-presidential year, when it's an older more conservative, whiter electorate, they don't do as well.

  • 10:14:23

    WALTERAnd, you know, if you're Hillary Clinton, you're looking at these, you say, hmm, okay, it's an off-year so you can't read too much into it, but she does have to find a way to motivate voters who turned out for Barack Obama, who may be feeling, as many voters I listened to and that Sheryl clearly listened to in Kentucky, that they're still not getting ahead and Democrats have succeeded, in part, how President Obama succeeded in a poor economy, was by making Republicans the bad guys, right?

  • 10:14:52

    WALTERThey're not gonna make it any better. They'll make it worse. Keep us in power. That may not be enough.

  • 10:14:56

    REHMHere's the thing. Bernie Sanders spoke to Steve Inskeep on "Morning Edition" and I must say, he does speak to each of those issues. He is a person who clearly feels their pain because he's experienced it. He has -- he goes back to his own background. He talks about what he believes needs to be done, which may be somewhat different from what others are saying, Chris.

  • 10:15:32

    FRATESWell, I think that's exactly right. And what he has really hit on is this income inequality argument. And that's part of, as Amy was saying earlier, how Democrats are trying to explain why things are getting better, but people don't feel like they're winning because -- and essentially, they are making the wealthy and the Republicans who support them, the enemy. They are doing better than you because Republicans are giving the benefits to the top and those things aren't coming down to the bottom.

  • 10:16:00

    FRATESAnd what Sanders has done so well is channeled that and has forced Hillary Clinton, who is, essentially, an establishment Democrat, she has close ties to Wall Street -- remember, she was the senator from New York, a senator of Wall Street, she has had to attack that way and talk about this issue. But I think for voters, there's a gut understanding that rich people are doing better, but what I've not heard anybody articulate is why that is. What exact policies are we talking about? What kinds of changes would we see?

  • 10:16:32

    FRATESAnd I know there's a lot of anger and that's easy rhetoric-wise, but I've not seen good answers from anybody, whether that's Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders or a Jeb Bush, for instance, who says everybody needs to rise up and I'm going to help the middle class.

  • 10:16:45

    REHMLike, taxation, for example, Sheryl.

  • 10:16:47

    STOLBERGWell, that's the, you know, taxation is the bid no-no. I mean, certainly you're not going to hear any Republican candidate talk about raising taxes. Taxes, you know, that is certainly off the table for them. But going back to the issue of Bernie Sanders, this is exactly what accounts for Bernie Sanders' success. You might be thinking, well, why isn't he doing better? But in fact, this is why he's doing so well. If you look at how he was viewed at the outset, he has the big magic S that he wears, the socialist.

  • 10:17:14

    STOLBERGPeople thought -- people wrote him off at the beginning and said he was going nowhere and it was Bernie's folly to even run. But look at him now. He's at roughly 30 percent in the polls. So just the fact that he's captured that much attention, I think, owes to his message about economic inequality.

  • 10:17:31

    REHMAnd where is Hillary?

  • 10:17:33

    STOLBERGIn the polls?

  • 10:17:34

    REHMYeah.

  • 10:17:35

    STOLBERGDouble. The latest Wall Street Journal poll found she's got a two to one edge over him and, you know, maybe -- Amy is the expert on this, but maybe this is due to here excellent debate performance.

  • 10:17:45

    REHMAll right.

  • 10:17:46

    STOLBERGIn which she outshone him.

  • 10:17:47

    REHMSheryl Gay Stolberg is national correspondent for the New York Times. When we come back, we'll talk more, especially about the new House Speaker, what he has in mind and what this infrastructure bill could accomplish. Stay with us.

  • 10:20:01

    REHMAnd welcome back. Just before the break, we were talking about the mid-year elections and, Sheryl, you especially wanted to talk about what happened in Ohio.

  • 10:20:15

    MS. SHERYL GAY STOLBERGRight. Well, this was a nuanced story about Ohio thinking about legalizing marijuana. And everyone thought that, if Ohio legalized marijuana, that this would be really big news -- middle America, a swing state. But the marijuana initiative there actually drew opposition from pro-legalization advocates and it's because of the way it was constructed. A political consultant recruited 10 investment group to pay up $2 million each to run a campaign to legalize marijuana and write it into the state constitution. However, this amendment in the constitution would have carved out a place where the very same people who were financing it were also going to own land where marijuana could legally be grown in Ohio.

  • 10:20:57

    REHMHmm.

  • 10:20:58

    STOLBERGSo critics called it a marijuana monopoly.

  • 10:21:02

    REHMHmm.

  • 10:21:02

    STOLBERGAnd there was a big uprising among state legislators and even long-time legalization advocates who were very, very uneasy about what they called this problematic monopoly provision. So they banded together with the anti-legalization people and this amendment was defeated two to one. But it really was partly about legalization of marijuana, but also really about who would control the marijuana business.

  • 10:21:27

    REHMMm-hmm. What about the person who had spent seven years in jail, who was elected?

  • 10:21:40

    WALTERWho are you talking about?

  • 10:21:42

    REHMOne governor.

  • 10:21:45

    WALTERThe what?

  • 10:21:46

    REHMOne governor, was there not?

  • 10:21:51

    WALTERThis election?

  • 10:21:52

    REHMYeah.

  • 10:21:53

    WALTERWho -- missing.

  • 10:21:54

    STOLBERGThis is stump the panel.

  • 10:21:55

    FRATESYeah.

  • 10:21:56

    WALTERThis is stump the panel time.

  • 10:21:57

    STOLBERGWho are we missing?

  • 10:21:58

    REHMWell, I'll get it for you.

  • 10:21:59

    WALTERAll right.

  • 10:22:00

    STOLBERGOkay.

  • 10:22:01

    REHMCasey is out there.

  • 10:22:03

    STOLBERGOh. Our crack research staff will be in soon.

  • 10:22:06

    REHMOkay. Let's talk about Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. His first full week as speaker. What about evidence of his agenda?

  • 10:22:21

    FRATESWell, he took on the transportation bill, which has -- used to be a bill that everybody funded, Republicans and Democrats, because everybody thought roads were good -- and has become a much more contentious issues. And he put that bill on the floor. And in some ways, he lived up to his promise to make the House a more open place. There were about 80 amendments that they debated on the floor. Democrats and Republicans got to offer them. There were floor votes on them. But interestingly, the one area they didn't talk about was how you would fund this bill. And they didn't allow amendments to change how leadership wanted to fund it. Leadership does not want to increase the gas tax.

  • 10:22:59

    REHMRight.

  • 10:23:00

    FRATESIt has not been increased since 1993.

  • 10:23:01

    REHMRight. And the how much would they have had to increase the gas tax?

  • 10:23:07

    FRATESI don't know the exact sum of that, Diane, but it was not a lot of money.

  • 10:23:09

    REHMYeah.

  • 10:23:10

    FRATESWhen you look at how much things have changed by inflation, the Highway Trust Fund has not kept up with that. So we were talking about, you know, a nickel or a dime, you know, some more money. But the Republicans would not do that. So there were no amendments on, hey, let's talk about other ways to fund it. And the funding has come under criticism for being kind of gimmicky. You know, they're talking about, we can sell oil from our strategic reserves for $89 a barrel. Well, guess what? It's only selling for about half that right now.

  • 10:23:38

    REHMExactly.

  • 10:23:39

    FRATESSo how to you project getting double that? So the House has to go to into conference with the Senate. They have to, you know, smooth over the differences between those two bills. But by and large, it was a victory for Ryan because he did open this up and get this bill through on a large bipartisan vote.

  • 10:23:56

    REHMBut I gather it's only for three years. It was supposed to be for six years. So where's the money coming from?

  • 10:24:06

    FRATESGreat question.

  • 10:24:07

    STOLBERGWell, I think we'll see. I think that's the $64,000 -- or the $300 billion -- actually it's the $150 billion question.

  • 10:24:14

    REHMExactly.

  • 10:24:15

    STOLBERGThey funded half of it.

  • 10:24:16

    REHMRight. Right.

  • 10:24:17

    FRATESMy favorite was, the -- there was a new way to talk about this. When reporters asked, wait, you're only funding $325 billion for three years...

  • 10:24:24

    REHMRight.

  • 10:24:25

    FRATES...you need about double that. and you need at least $400 billion for the next six years so that traffic doesn't get any worse. You're not even at that level of maintaining, you know, the traffic gridlock we have. What are you going to do? And, you know, Ryan and some of the other leaders, they said, well we're going to look to unlock other funds. And everybody said, wait, unlock other funds? And basically it was like, we need to go find it. But like they're coming up with new words to try to describe it.

  • 10:24:51

    REHMAnd what they're talking about is, and I'm quoting here, "surplus capital from the Feds' surplus capital comes from the nation's 12 Reserve Banks totaling $29.3 billion as of October 29."

  • 10:25:14

    WALTERThat doesn't get you very far, right?

  • 10:25:15

    REHMIt doesn't get you very far. Well, we'll have to see how they're going to be able to overcome hurdles as they move forward. Sheryl, the United States has formally denied a request to pause a review of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. It was the company that asked for the pause, saying it wanted to wait until Nebraska got everything figured out. The U.S. said no. How come?

  • 10:25:56

    STOLBERGWell, I think it was the company asking for a pause, perhaps with the hope that they would get a Republican president...

  • 10:26:02

    REHMIn the White...

  • 10:26:03

    STOLBERG...in 2017, who would be -- look more kindly upon their proposal.

  • 10:26:09

    FRATESMm-hmm.

  • 10:26:10

    STOLBERGOf course that wasn't explicitly stated. But this has been a seven-year quest by this company, TransCanada, to install this pipeline. It, you know, it's hugely controversial. The Obama administration has delayed and delayed and delayed. And, you know, I guess the company thought, well, our, you know, we'll hedge our bets and see if we can get somebody else to look at this.

  • 10:26:33

    REHMAnd the new Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau is very much in favor of it.

  • 10:26:39

    WALTERRight.

  • 10:26:40

    REHMWants to move forward.

  • 10:26:42

    WALTERRight. And, you know, this is a -- it's controversial in Canada as well, but it's a jobs issue in Canada, it's a funding issue in Canada. And while a lot of folks look at Trudeau and say, well, you know, he's a liberal and he's, you know, going to be pro-environment and would be on Obama's side on this. He's obviously looking out much more so for what it -- what impact it would have on the Canadian economy and Canadian jobs. And there's also talk that, you know, this is the week -- or maybe we come up in the next month -- where the president finally comes out and says, no, we're not going to do this.

  • 10:27:16

    REHMAnd here you've got a decision expected before this conference in Paris...

  • 10:27:24

    FRATESMm-hmm.

  • 10:27:25

    REHM...on climate change. So it'll be fascinating. Most Republican presidential candidates want to see this go forward.

  • 10:27:34

    FRATESRight.

  • 10:27:35

    REHMI misspoke when I said governor. It was an ex-convict, who spent seven years in federal prison for corruption, reclaimed the Bridgeport mayors...

  • 10:27:49

    STOLBERGOh.

  • 10:27:50

    FRATESOh.

  • 10:27:51

    REHM...Tuesday. And that was a stunning comeback.

  • 10:27:57

    STOLBERGYes, that is a stunning comeback.

  • 10:27:58

    REHMI thought you guys would know that.

  • 10:28:01

    WALTERI wasn't on top of that.

  • 10:28:02

    REHMYou weren't there.

  • 10:28:02

    WALTERI'm sorry.

  • 10:28:03

    REHMYou weren't there.

  • 10:28:04

    FRATESI missed that one. Although I would say, just to finish Amy's point on Keystone, I always find it's important to kind of point out that this has largely become a symbolic issue for the left and the right. And it will continue to play in the elections. I mean, it's 80,000 barrels of tar sands crude oil, which has showed to be -- emit more greenhouse gasses when it burns. But even the State Department says they don't expect that building this will create more demand for this. It's already being shipped in other ways. So largely, you know, and Republicans say it's about jobs. Well, the jobs are rather miniscule as well, compared to the total economy. So it's really become a litmus test. It's a shorthand on the campaign trail for, are you for the environment or are you for jobs?

  • 10:28:47

    REHMRight. Right.

  • 10:28:48

    FRATESAnd no matter what Obama decides, you know, we're going to continue to see that play out among the candidates.

  • 10:28:55

    REHMSheryl, let's talk about this latest book by Jon Meacham, the biography of George H.W. Bush, in which he has some pretty harsh things to say about members of his son's regime in the White House, especially Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

  • 10:29:23

    STOLBERGYes. Well, and it's a fascinating turn, Diane, in the opera of the Bush family and also a reminder that the Bush family is seeking to do what no family has ever done in American history, which is put three of its own members into the White House. I think it was no secret to those of us who covered George W. Bush, that his father was uneasy about his foreign policy, even though he never said so publicly.

  • 10:29:48

    REHMAnd certainly, apparently, never said so to his son.

  • 10:29:53

    STOLBERGRight. But -- and he always said back then that, look, I'm not going to judge because I know that, you know, I'm not the one in the oval office...

  • 10:29:59

    REHMTough decisions.

  • 10:30:00

    STOLBERG...in the mornings, getting those daily situation briefings. But in this new book, he is very tough on Vice President Dick Cheney and also Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary. Can I use the word that he used to describe them?

  • 10:30:13

    REHMSure.

  • 10:30:14

    STOLBERGIron-ass, was the word that he used to describe them both.

  • 10:30:16

    FRATESWhich is a wonderful way to drop into conversation, like, just -- it's just...

  • 10:30:21

    STOLBERGCheney said that he took that as a compliment, actually. He also chided his son for what he talked about as hot rhetoric, particularly his axis-of-evil speech, in which George W. Bush described Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the axis of evil. And I think we need to step back and think about a few things. First of all, the former president is 91. He's never written a full memoir of his own. So, hey, if you're going to say it, you might as well say it now. Number two, he's a very different character than his son. George H.W. Bush came up as a diplomat. He was the U.N. -- ambassador to the U.N. He was the envoy to China.

  • 10:30:55

    REHMCIA.

  • 10:30:56

    STOLBERGHe ran the CIA. He had deep foreign policy experience and he was much more of a moderate than his son, George W., who came up as governor of Texas, with all the kind of Texas swagger that we all remember from George W. Bush. So no surprise that their outlooks on foreign policy would have been very different. It is kind of startling though to have this book land in the middle of Jeb's...

  • 10:31:18

    REHMExactly.

  • 10:31:19

    STOLBERG...presidential campaign.

  • 10:31:21

    REHMExactly. And we must add, it is an authorized biography. So recognizing that, how does it impact Jeb Bush's campaign? Amy.

  • 10:31:37

    WALTERWell, I think that this book and the rifts that it's opening go right to the heart of where the Republican Party is in general right now, which is the big rift between the George H.W. Bush wing of the party -- that sort of establishment, this is who Republicans are, this is what we stand for -- and this new, more conservative, tea-party, anti-establishment wing. And that is, I mean, their story -- this family's story is the Republican Party in many ways too. And for Jeb, it is not only coming at an inopportune time, right? He's trying to reset his campaign. He's trying to be...

  • 10:32:11

    REHMHe's going to a new coach, to help him with debate.

  • 10:32:17

    WALTERAnd being on TV and all of those things, right? He needs to more forcefully make that case. But, look, if you talk to any voter, Republican primary voter, one of the first things they will tell you when they think of Jeb Bush is dynasty. And that is the most difficult thing for Jeb Bush to get over. It's not going to be any easier. Now this story will, like every one, it will be in the news cycle for a little bit and it will go away. But the dynasty piece for Jeb is not going away at any time.

  • 10:32:46

    REHMI gather they are going to be 10 Republican candidates on the stage. Even Chris Christie did not make the cut this time.

  • 10:32:57

    FRATESMm-hmm.

  • 10:32:58

    REHMHe's on the lower stage.

  • 10:33:00

    FRATESHe is. So we saw Chris Christie -- you needed 2.5 percent polling to make the main stage -- Christie was at 2.3 percent, so he just missed it. Mike Huckabee, same thing, just missed it. Lindsey Graham was on the under-card debate, he is not even going to participate in that debate. So we're seeing the culling here. I mean, that's tough news for Chris Christie. He was getting a little momentum. He, you know, he kind of resonated in that last debate. But I think, you know, looking at the field, when you talk about, you know, who's having a good week, you know, look at who's being attacked. Right?

  • 10:33:31

    FRATESWe had Marco Rubio coming under fire for his credit cards and for, you know, his essentially moving again on immigration, saying that he would roll back the president's policy of allowing children who came here illegally to stay, have some protections. And so it's really interesting to watch this play out. And I think we should talk a little bit more about that.

  • 10:33:56

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Tell me about what's going on with Ben Carson, Amy.

  • 10:34:06

    WALTERWell, as we are sitting here in this room and CNN is on in the background, we're seeing stories that CNN unearthed about whether Ben Carson's story of his youth, where he was -- he said he was a pretty violent kid. That, at one point, he actually almost killed someone. He had a knife and he stabbed this young person -- I think they were 14 years old -- but that, as the story goes, the young person's belt buckle got in the way of his knife. And thankfully, says Ben Carson and everybody else, that person is still alive or at least was not killed then.

  • 10:34:44

    WALTERCNN dug into this and said, well, we went back to his home town. We interviewed a whole lot of people. We interviewed childhood friends, people who graduated with him in high school. We can't find anybody who knows anything about this story. And you would think that somebody who was that violent, who had episodes where he was, you know, apparently, you know, attacking people out of the blue, that we would have heard about this. Ben Carson comes on and says, well, you know what? This is a story that happened. I'm not going to tell you who it was. I want to protect their privacy.

  • 10:35:16

    WALTERAnd so now we're in a place right now in the news cycle where we're talking about whether or not a potential candidate for president actually tried to murder someone, or tried accidentally to injure somebody.

  • 10:35:28

    FRATESAnd he's defending that I did, in fact, try to murder somebody, which is the...

  • 10:35:32

    REHMWhy?

  • 10:35:33

    FRATESBecause I think, you know, what he's trying to show is that he -- there is a narrative for Ben Carson that he's not just an ambient candidate who has just always been chill and low-key, that he had struggles of his own that he had to overcome. He came from a tough spot. He -- there was violence in his background. I mean, he talked about going after his mom with a hammer, you know, as well. So he is saying, I was -- I had these fits of rage that would come over me. I couldn't control them. And I -- when I -- after I, you know, tried to stab my friend and it didn't work, you know, I went to the bathroom and I said, please, God, help me with this.

  • 10:36:09

    FRATESAnd I opened the Bible and I saw a passage about wrath and how you should not be wrathful and I thought that was God speaking to me. And I felt the hand of the Holy Spirit and therefore, I have overcome things. It also, of course, Diane, plays exactly to some of the evangelicals in Iowa and other places around the country, where Carson is very popular. He's a Seventh Day Adventist, so he, you know, that story does a lot of different things for him. It shows that, you know, he is a spiritual, God-fearing man, that he puts his faith in the Lord. But also that he has a narrative that things weren't always easy for him. He wasn't always the -- one of the most gifted pediatric neurosurgeons in the country.

  • 10:36:50

    STOLBERGI think Chris is absolutely right and I also think there will be pressure now on Ben Carson to come up with these people. Because we do vet candidates. And this is something he went round and round with, with his interviewer on CNN today, where she said, you know, this is all about vetting candidates. And if these were composite characters, as President Obama used in his memoir, "Dreams of My Father," you know, you need to sort of come forward and say that these were composite characters or, if this really happened, who are they?

  • 10:37:22

    REHMSheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times, Chris Frates of CNN, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report. Your calls, your comments when we come back. Stay with us.

  • 10:40:00

    REHMAnd we're back. Time to open the phones, 800-433-8850. Let's go first to Cynthia, she's in Orlando, Florida. Hi there.

  • 10:40:18

    CYNTHIAHi, good morning. Yes, I'm a 75-year-old, well-informed Democrat who supports Bernie Sanders because I trust him. For years, both Bill and Hillary Clinton benefitted from Bill being called the first black president, but as a mother herself, I'd like to know why it took Hillary so long to meet with the mothers of black youngsters killed by gun violence and express sympathy for lost lives like Trayvon Martin and others.

  • 10:40:49

    FRATESI can't speak to why it took her so long, but I think when she did do it, she made sure that people saw that she was doing it. She had the meeting backstage with those young activists, and it was interesting, just last week we saw some Black Lives Matters protestors interrupt her speech again, and there was some commentary that -- from Black Lives Matter supporter that maybe that shouldn't have happened, that she is talking to the movement, that they have gotten her attention and, you know, that maybe they shouldn't interrupt, but they should continue talking.

  • 10:41:23

    STOLBERGI think it must be noted, though, that they also felt that they had to interrupt Bernie Sanders, and Bernie Sanders was also sort of prodded by the Black Lives Matter movement to pay more attention to them and in fact did earlier in his campaign. So this is not unique to Hillary Clinton.

  • 10:41:40

    REHMAll right, let's go to Raleigh, North Carolina. David, (PH) you're on the air.

  • 10:41:47

    DAVIDDiane, I love your show, and I'm calling because I'd like to hear the panel talk about the redistricting vote in Ohio rather than just the marijuana vote. This has the potential if it were to go nationwide to end the gridlock in Washington, and it's such an important vote.

  • 10:42:12

    REHMAll right.

  • 10:42:14

    WALTERYeah, the caller's right, it is an important vote. I confess I'm not familiar exactly with the specifics, but I believe what Ohio did was it created a commission to in essence take partisanship out of the redistricting process. And this is -- redistricting is extremely important. We talked earlier about how Republicans have really been gaining in state legislatures and in the governorships, but especially in state legislatures they also can gain and ensure those gains, or any party can, when the census comes out through redistricting.

  • 10:42:45

    WALTERAnd so a number of states, California included, have been moving to try to take that partisanship out of redistricting to make it a fairer process, to give us more swing districts and less gerrymandered -- fewer gerrymandered districts. And so Ohio has taken a big step forward in that regard, both parties agree.

  • 10:43:02

    STOLBERGAlthough it only affects state legislative districts.

  • 10:43:05

    WALTERRight.

  • 10:43:07

    STOLBERGSo when we talk about it being a -- it's not yet a federal issue.

  • 10:43:10

    REHMRight, right.

  • 10:43:11

    STOLBERGAnd that's an important distinction.

  • 10:43:13

    REHMJust on the point of Carson's statements, he said to reporters yesterday, do you think I'm a pathological liar like CNN does, or do you think I'm an honest person. And then he said, I'm going to leave it up to the American people to make that decision. Interesting comment. Let's go to Skaneateles, New York. Bernie, you're on the air.

  • 10:43:46

    BERNIEHi Diane.

  • 10:43:47

    REHMHi.

  • 10:43:48

    BERNIEThanks for taking my call.

  • 10:43:52

    REHMSure.

  • 10:43:54

    BERNIEI want to address, everybody says there's no clear candidate in this election. If you really sit down and look at all these people, Bernie Sanders is really the only guy. Aside from having a great name, (laugh) he knows what he's doing.

  • 10:44:09

    REHMSo you're clearly already got your mind set?

  • 10:44:16

    BERNIEI am so for Bernie that when I registered to vote in 1968, I registered unaffiliated because I didn't want the stink of either party on me. It's been that way for 47 years until this fall, when I registered Democrat so I can vote for him in the New York primary.

  • 10:44:37

    REHMAll right, I'm sure Bernie Sanders is going to be very happy to hear that.

  • 10:44:38

    STOLBERGWould be very happy about that, Bernie. In fact Bernie can just take one of the bumper stickers, that is the Sanders campaign just has Bernie 2016, he can put it on his own car and, you know, use that for a while. But I do think what the Bernie caller raises is a really important point, which is the enthusiasm on the side of the Bernie Sanders campaign is in stark contrast to that on the Hillary Clinton campaign.

  • 10:45:05

    STOLBERGWhen you see both in just the physical representation of it, who's showing up at Bernie Sanders rallies, he's getting 20,000, 30,000 people, the fact that Bernie Sanders is getting actually a big share of younger voters, that's really where a lot of that enthusiasm is coming from, it's not just folks who are older, who have been registered to vote for 47 years, so that enthusiasm gap is important.

  • 10:45:30

    STOLBERGThe challenge for Bernie Sanders, he has a couple of them. One, a lot of people still don't know who he is. So he has to introduce himself to a lot of people, especially voters who aren't living in New Hampshire and Iowa. Number two, he has not been able to introduce himself and really make a message stick with voters who aren't white. Right now, Hillary Clinton is still doing much better among African-American voters, Latino voters. She still does much better than he does among women.

  • 10:46:01

    STOLBERGAnd the Democratic electorate is overwhelmingly female, and it is still older, it skews older, and it is made of a more diverse electorate than right now is voting for Bernie Sanders.

  • 10:46:14

    REHMAll right, let's go to Houston, Texas, and hear another thought. You're on the air, Nick.

  • 10:46:20

    NICKHey, I just wanted to make a comment, and I'll listen off the air. First I want to say I love your show, Diane Rehm.

  • 10:46:26

    REHMThank you.

  • 10:46:28

    NICKEvery time they're doing -- talking about polling between Bernie Sanders, he actually does better versus the Republican. And we haven't elected a president with a 57 percent unfavorability rate like Hillary Clinton ever. So -- and there's 14 percent of Democrats that say they would not for Hillary in any way, shape or form. So as a national candidate, the first word that comes up for Hillary when you poll people is liar. And even conservatives that disagree with Bernie Sanders still think he's an honest man.

  • 10:47:03

    REHMAll right, thanks for your call. And Bernie Sanders himself has gotten a little tougher on Hillary this week, Sheryl.

  • 10:47:13

    STOLBERGYou know, he has gotten tougher, and I think he walks a very fine line in doing so. We all saw at the debate how, when the subject of her emails came up, Mrs. Clinton's emails, Bernie Sanders erupted and said, America is tired of talking about your damn emails. And she looked thrilled, as if he had given her a big present with a bow on it, taking the email issue off the table.

  • 10:47:33

    REHMBut it's not.

  • 10:47:34

    STOLBERGWell yes, again, this week he said look, there's an investigation going on about those emails. I never said we should stop the investigation. And observers are looking at this as a sign that Bernie Sanders is going to be tougher and that he will go after her on her emails. But this is problematic for him because he's positioned himself as the candidate who's going to rise above petty politics, who is going to talk about issues that Americans care about.

  • 10:48:00

    STOLBERGAnd so if he descends into attack politics, then he is in essence contradicting sort of the core of his campaign.

  • 10:48:10

    REHMAnd that's what Hillary said.

  • 10:48:11

    FRATESWell, that's what Hillary said, but watching Sanders has been interesting because he is trying to draw distinctions without attacking. He's talked about, you know, that she -- he brought up again she voted for the Iraq War. He was against it, and what he said would happen is playing out. He talked about how he was against Keystone, and she wasn't against it until September, when it looked very politically expedient to do it. So he's bringing up...

  • 10:48:34

    REHMTPP, don't forget.

  • 10:48:36

    FRATESLet's not forget the trade deal, as well. So he is trying to differentiate himself and show these differences that he is in fact the more liberal, progressive candidate who will appeal to that base and grow that base, but he has the challenges that Amy pointed out, as well, so...

  • 10:48:52

    WALTERAnd let's face it, there hasn't been a whole lot of vetting on Bernie Sanders, either. Okay, this has been a campaign that has been about Hillary -- on the Democratic side, it's been about Hillary Clinton, and we know Hillary Clinton's problems, and it is -- the caller is exactly right. She has big problems on that issue of trust, and that is going to dog her throughout the campaign and could be a big reason -- if she doesn't win, we will look back at that.

  • 10:49:14

    WALTERAt the same time, Bernie Sanders' challenge is to say, okay, how is going to take all the things that he's promoting, free college, tax plans, et cetera, that are never going to make it. All right, these are not -- this is not legislation that is ever going to make it even through a Democratic-controlled legislation, nonetheless one that's divided between Republicans and Democrats. And so how effective is he going to be? How will these policies that he's promoting go anywhere?

  • 10:49:47

    REHMYou know what? Bernie is a believer.

  • 10:49:50

    WALTERAbsolutely.

  • 10:49:53

    REHMHe believes that what he stands for is representative of what the American public stands for. Therefore, he can create the idea that what he can do, what he says he can do, he can do. There you go.

  • 10:50:16

    WALTERThere you go. Well, you have to have enough people who -- do they believe he's genuine?

  • 10:50:20

    REHMRight?

  • 10:50:21

    WALTERAbsolutely. Do they believe that this guy says what he says, and he doesn't care what anybody thinks? Absolutely. Is that what we need to have in a president? That's another question.

  • 10:50:34

    REHMAnd here's a tweet. Keep in mind Bernie never said he was giving Hillary a pass. He said he was tired of hearing about her email.

  • 10:50:45

    WALTERThat's exactly right. It was perceived as him giving her a pass.

  • 10:50:48

    REHMWell, that's our fault.

  • 10:50:50

    WALTERYes.

  • 10:50:51

    REHMThat's our fault.

  • 10:50:52

    STOLBERGBut I still think you are not going to see this, and the campaign will tell you this, you are not going to see Bernie Sanders up with campaign ads that discuss this. I will guarantee you.

  • 10:50:59

    FRATESAnd in fact, right.

  • 10:51:00

    STOLBERGAnd you will not see the traditional...

  • 10:51:02

    FRATESThat's right.

  • 10:51:03

    STOLBERGIf he wanted to at this moment, Bernie Sanders could be running a campaign that says you guys, look, Hillary Clinton, she had so many problems, this, this, this, this, look at her numbers on everything that we've just discussed on believability and the lack of trustworthiness, but he's not. He could be coming up with ads that say I've been there on these four issues, she hasn't been, but he's not. You're not going to see that campaign for Bernie Sanders.

  • 10:51:30

    FRATESAnd in fact he's going to roll out some ads here soon, and they're going to be biographical ads.

  • 10:51:33

    STOLBERGYes.

  • 10:51:34

    FRATESHillary's been up since August. He's going to roll out his introduction ads, which won't take on Hillary. The other thing to note here is that while he has no super-PAC, and Hillary does, the third-quarter fundraising numbers for Bernie Sanders were about Clinton's.

  • 10:51:50

    REHMInteresting.

  • 10:51:51

    FRATESHe raised $25 million, and Clinton raised about $28 million. So he was just off. The other thing to note about those fundraising numbers is that he had a much bigger pool of small donors. Those donors can give again and again and again. Clinton's tend to be bigger donors who gave the max and have tapped out. So he has the resources. He needs to get a strategy that is able to, as we've talked about, define him and the differences between him and Clinton and sell it because he does have the resources at this point to make that case.

  • 10:52:19

    REHMAll right, to Ted in Hampstead, New Hampshire. I gather you're a Carson supporter.

  • 10:52:24

    TEDYeah, I hope you fawn over me after I hang up, as you did for the Bernie Sanders supporter.

  • 10:52:31

    REHMNot fawning, simply stating.

  • 10:52:32

    TEDWell, you know what? That's just -- that's just how I see it, and I'm sure that's how a lot of people see it.

  • 10:52:36

    REHMOkay, and you're entitled.

  • 10:52:37

    TEDSo my concern -- yeah, I am entitled to that.

  • 10:52:40

    REHMYeah.

  • 10:52:41

    TEDSo my concern is the way in which you're talking about the Ben Carson interview, which is sort of taken out of context. I think you need to go back and really play it and/or listen to it and/or to read the transcript of what he was intending to do and especially journalists intend to do. And when they are protecting their sources, they hide behind that, and they say, I can't tell you my source, I'm protecting him.

  • 10:52:59

    TEDBut when it comes to somebody like, you know, Carson and/or a presidential candidate, you want to vet them, the media as the fourth branch feels they have the right to vet to get to that information. What's the difference? I don't understand. Why do you guys always hide behind that and not give credit to the fact that he is doing something not only trying to protect the source, but he's doing his Hippocratic oath?

  • 10:53:21

    REHMI think that's a good question, and you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. Go ahead, Chris.

  • 10:53:29

    FRATESSo to the caller's point, I did watch all the interviews and read all the transcripts yesterday. And I think, you know, part of what Carson was saying was that he made up the names of the people who he said he was violent toward, and he said he did that to protect them. Well, that's not what he had said before. So we're starting to...

  • 10:53:52

    REHMWhat did he say before?

  • 10:53:53

    FRATESHe said before I, you know, that there was Bob and Jerry, and here's what happened. And so we went looking for Bob and Jerry, as we do as reporters to vet stories of presidential candidates. And then when we asked him about it, he said, well, here's the deal. I made up names because I'm trying to protect them, and in fact they weren't my friends. One of them is a close family member. I talked to that person yesterday, but I'm not going to tell you who it is.

  • 10:54:16

    FRATESNow the caller is setting up, you know, an interesting question about, well, journalists protect their sources all the time, why can't presidential candidates. Well, I would make the argument that this is not a source of his, this is a story that we're trying to vet to see if he's telling the truth, if this is who he is. Is he who he says he is? That's our job. And by -- he's certainly within his right not to name the names, and it's certainly our job to go after it, but oftentimes we're protecting sources who are telling us things that they shouldn't be telling us because they could come in for retribution if we did not protect them.

  • 10:54:53

    REHMAll right, and finally let's talk about Fred Thompson, who died this week. He ran for president. He was in the Senate.

  • 10:55:03

    STOLBERGTruly a renaissance man, started out as counsel to the Republicans on the Watergate Committee. He was a defense lawyer later on. In the mid-'80s, he played himself in a movie called "Marie," about a woman that he had defended, did such a good job playing himself that he immediately wound up with an acting career and became an actor. I think we knew him from some movies. He had appeared with Tom Cruise.

  • 10:55:27

    REHMAnd television.

  • 10:55:30

    STOLBERGAnd television.

  • 10:55:31

    FRATES"Law & Order," "Hunt For Red October."

  • 10:55:33

    STOLBERG"Law & Order" and then came back, became a senator from his state of Tennessee, ran for president and died this year.

  • 10:55:42

    REHMWhy didn't he do better as a candidate for the presidency?

  • 10:55:48

    FRATESWell, I think he had a hard time generating that support and the establishment support when he ran back in 2008, and you kind of wonder if Fred Thompson were running now, as an outsider, he would have had a much bigger lane than he did at the time.

  • 10:56:05

    STOLBERGI also don't know that he actually...

  • 10:56:07

    FRATESWanted to?

  • 10:56:08

    STOLBERGYeah, yeah.

  • 10:56:09

    WALTERYeah, there was not the fire in the belly to do this. I think it was the sense that he'd done so many things, as Sheryl pointed out, in his career, and this was going to sort of cap it off. But the reality about it, and this kind of goes to the heart of what we've been talking about this entire hour, is running for president is really hard.

  • 10:56:23

    REHMYeah.

  • 10:56:24

    WALTERAnd it is not just going to fall in your lap. And I think he saw himself as somebody that could consolidate the base, and at the end of the day, it wasn't falling in line for him, and he didn't want to go through and -- go through the process.

  • 10:56:39

    REHMHe was only 73, which really struck me.

  • 10:56:42

    WALTERSeventy-three, yeah.

  • 10:56:43

    REHMSo farewell, and condolences to his family. Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Chris Frates, Amy Walter, thank you all so much. Have a great weekend.

  • 10:56:55

    STOLBERGThank you, Diane.

  • 10:56:56

    FRATESThank you so much.

  • 10:56:57

    WALTERThank you.

  • 10:56:58

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

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