Guest Host: Susan Page

From left, O'Malley, Clinton and Sanders arrive onstage before Sunday's debate.

From left, O'Malley, Clinton and Sanders arrive onstage before Sunday's debate.

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley face off in another Democratic presidential debate. It’s the last one before the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Debate analysis and commentary.


  • Tad Devine Political consultant; senior adviser to the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign; strategist to the 2004 Kerry campaign and to the 2000 Gore campaign; director of delegate selection in the 1988 Dukakis campaign
  • Karen Finney Senior adviser for communications and political outreach and senior spokesperson for Hillary for America, Sec. Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign
  • Donna Brazile Democratic strategist; adjunct professor at Georgetown University; nationally syndicated columnist
  • David Corn Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones magazine, recipient of the 2012 George Polk Award for Political Reporting and author of "Showdown: The Inside Story of How Obama Battled the GOP to Set Up the 2012 Election"
  • Nathan Gonzales Editor and publisher of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report


  • 10:20:02

    MS. SUSAN PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page with USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm this hour. With the Iowa caucuses just two weeks away, candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination held their fourth debate Sunday night. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley were on the stage. Joining me in our studio to talk about where the candidates differ on key issues and where they stand with voters, Nathan Gonzalez of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile of Georgetown University, and David Corn of Mother Jones magazine. Welcome to you all to our show.

  • 10:20:38


  • 10:20:38

    MR. NATHAN GONZALESGood morning.

  • 10:20:38

    MR. DAVID CORNGood morning.

  • 10:20:39

    PAGEBut we're first joined by phone by Tad Devine. He's the senior strategist for the Bernie Sanders campaign. Tad, thanks for joining us.

  • 10:20:48

    MR. TAD DEVINEGreat to be with you, Susan.

  • 10:20:50

    PAGESo what did Senator Sanders hope to do during that debate? And did he manage to do it?

  • 10:20:57

    DEVINEWell, he hoped to get his message out to a big audience and he did. You know, I think Bernie had a great night on Sunday. He talked about the fact that American has a rigged economy. It's sending most new wealth to the top. It's held in place by a corrupt system of campaign finance. And that's the message. That's been at the heart of this campaign from the very beginning. We think it's the most powerful message not only in the Democratic primary process but in American politics. And it's resonating in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere.

  • 10:21:21

    PAGESo two hours before the debate began he put out details for his health care proposal, his Medicare-for-all proposal, which includes tax hikes, especially for the wealthy but also for middle-class people. Any risks in doing that? What kind of reception have you gotten from his supporters to the idea of that?

  • 10:21:41

    DEVINEWell, I think the reception has been great. I mean, Bernie believes that America should have health care for all and that Americans should have health care as a right and not a privilege. And that the 29 million Americans today who don't have health care need some help. And that he has supported a single-payer system for many years. He's filed legislation in the past in support of it. The truth is that the success of the Affordable Care Act has really pushed down the cost curve on health care. And, you know, that's why he wanted to put forward a proposal more recent than the ones he's filed in the past. It's going to allow us to expand health care to people.

  • 10:22:16

    DEVINEAnd, yes, the wealthiest Americans are going to have to pay more, you know? And if Bernie Sanders is president, that's what he's going to fight for, so we can have the resources not only to have health care for every American, not only to take a system -- a health care system which is broken right now and try to fix it, but also to make the investments in our people in education and job creation that we need to move this country forward.

  • 10:22:37

    PAGEHealth care and Wall Street have been two good issues for Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail. Front page story in The New York Times this morning, "Clinton Gets Set for a Long Slog Against Sanders." Is that your expectation? This says that the Clinton folks think this battle could go into late April or early May, that it's not going to be over quick.

  • 10:22:56

    DEVINEWell, Susan, that's the campaign we've prepared for, for a long time. We have staff on the ground in all the early states, the February states, but also all the March 1 states and states beyond that. We've been able to build a national campaign because so many people, over a million individuals, have made over two-and-a-half million contributions to the campaign. We have the resources to run a national campaign as a result. That's been our plan all along and we're executing that plan.

  • 10:23:20

    PAGESo, Tad, I don't want to get too much in the weeds. But last question, when you have the Iowa caucuses in just two weeks, Martin O'Malley will have to get 15 percent in a caucus to be viable. Otherwise his supporters have to go elsewhere. We don't think he's going to reach 15 percent in many, if any, of the caucuses. Are you trying to get those Martin O'Malley supporters to go to you in the caucuses, if they're not viable for him?

  • 10:23:44

    DEVINEAbsolutely. And, you know, and, listen, a lot of that happens though, Susan, you know, on caucus night itself. But, you know, we're organized in Iowa and every precinct will have people there. We'll try to convince people for -- whether it's for Governor O'Malley or if, in some places, Secretary Clinton doesn't have that many supporters, we'll try to convince her supporters to join Bernie Sanders' caucus as well.

  • 10:24:05

    PAGEYeah, you hope that happens. But have you talked directly to the O'Malley campaign or to the governor himself about this?

  • 10:24:11

    DEVINENo. No. And really that's not the way it would happen. I mean, the O'Malley campaign is out there working, trying to get their support up above threshold everywhere. We respect them and their process. But as we get closer and closer, sure, we'll reach out to them and to their supporters and try to convince them to join Bernie Sanders if their caucus is not viable.

  • 10:24:29

    PAGETad Devine, thanks so much for joining us.

  • 10:24:31

    DEVINEThank you, Susan.

  • 10:24:32

    PAGETad Devine is a political consultant. He is a top strategist for Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign. So let's go to our panel. We're going to be joined in a few minutes by Karen Finney from the Clinton campaign. But, first, Donna Brazile.

  • 10:24:45

    BRAZILEGood morning.

  • 10:24:45

    PAGEDid you think there was a winner?

  • 10:24:47

    BRAZILEAs vice chair of the party, I cannot pick winners or losers. But I can tell you it was a spirited debate. I thought it was a draw. If you're a Bernie Sanders supporter, you walked into a room, a room that was overwhelmingly African-American, and you made a pitch. I also heard that Bernie Sanders had, you know, tremendous support over that weekend with Jim Clyburn and others. He went to Mother Emanuel. And so I think you walk into that room and you introduce yourself. And I think Bernie has room to grow in the African-American community.

  • 10:25:24

    BRAZILEThat said, you're Hillary Clinton. You have tremendous strength, assets. You have the overwhelming support from the Congressional Black Caucus. You've been on the ground for months in those key states in the so-called deep south. And you reinforced the fact that you're the champion, you're the fighter. People know. I talked to Congresswoman Maxine Waters. She went to three churches for Hillary Clinton. She said, I'm feeling the Holy Ghost. So I thought it was a draw. I didn't see a winner. I didn't see a loser. But I saw a spirited debate.

  • 10:25:57

    PAGEYou know, this was -- this debate was sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. It was held on the weekend of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. Did it reflect that enough in your view?

  • 10:26:08

    BRAZILENo. I mean, when you think about the critical issues facing the African-American community, the economic -- so-called economic recovery hasn't really hit all neighborhoods equally. There are people who are still feeling the impact of the -- of lack of housing, affordability of housing, the predatory lending crisis. You know, and sometime when you -- look, the fact that the Supreme Court decimated the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court is now reviewing Affirmative Action. The Supreme Court is reviewing union membership. None of these issue clearly came up. I enjoyed the debate. But, you know what? I can hear some of the same questions at a Republican debate.

  • 10:26:48

    BRAZILEI thought the questions -- and the crushing impact of poverty in the black community. You know, when you think about the debate, you came away saying, if I'm a -- I'm an African-American. I'm like, well, god, yeah, they talked about crime, criminal-justice reform and one other issue. But they didn't really get into the heart and meat of what I call, what my sisters and brothers down in Louisiana would be talking about at the kitchen table.

  • 10:27:10

    PAGEDavid Corn, what did you think?

  • 10:27:12

    CORNI think, you know, putting Martin O'Malley aside because he still doesn't seem to matter much, that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders made the right pitches to their own supporters. I didn't see much of a breakthrough moment for either, when they would all of a sudden steal a large swath of supporters from the other side. And it's interesting to me, in that there very two different types of candidates here. And I was reflecting back on Barack Obama. In 2008, he ran as a candidate of high ideals, hope, change. And people saw him and had a sort of an idealistic relationship with him. But then, as president, he's governed much more as a pragmatic, progressive, sometimes cutting ugly compromises to make step-by-step improvements.

  • 10:27:59

    CORNYou know, the health care act, the Affordable Care Act is a really good example of that. And so Democratic primary voters this time around can choose between candidate Obama or White House Obama. Candidate Obama being Bernie Sanders, passion, big bold ideas, ideals, and we can change the health care system into single payer, you know, apparently with the snap of fingers. I mean, we don't have any Congress to do it. Versus Hillary Clinton, who at the debate this time around seemed to me to wrap herself more and more and more in the cloak of President Barack Obama.

  • 10:28:32

    CORNShe would defend his Affordable Care Act, his Wall Street reforms, Dodd-Frank, which don't go all the way. You know, they're modest. They have good first steps. But, again and again, particularly as she was playing to a South Carolina audience with a lot of African-Americans who may be her firewall if Bernie should win in Iowa and New Hampshire. So it's a really sort of -- it's almost like a personality test for the Democratic Party. Do they want to fall in love again, like they did in 2008? Or do they want somebody who will do the hard, you know, who knows how to do the step-by-step hard work of Washington, even if she's not sort of inspiring to a lot of Democratic voters.

  • 10:29:09

    PAGENathan Gonzales, when you look at this debate, you know, there was a time when I think a lot of us -- and I, myself, was guilty of this -- though Bernie Sanders could run an interesting campaign that would affect the debate but wouldn't get the nomination. And I wonder if that is no longer the case, if it's plausible, possible that Bernie Sanders ends up as the nominee.

  • 10:29:30

    GONZALESWell, I think that -- I think Sanders was the winner of the debate. But not because I think he gave the better answers on the issues, not because I think we're going to see a surge in the polls. But I think that he is increasingly seen as an equal with Secretary Clinton. And I think that's remarkable for the exact reason that you're talking about. Nine months ago, if we would have thought that we talk about Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton as being neck in neck and equals in this race, I think, you know, we would be laughed at. So, for that reason, I think Sanders was the winner. But I think that his support shows that his message is resonating. I think Sanders is a message candidate.

  • 10:30:06

    GONZALESWhere the difference comes, I think, with 2008, is that I don't think Bernie Sanders is the right messenger to take advantage of this opportunity. I just don't see a groundswell of support in the Democratic Party for a 74-year-old white male who's been in Washington for 25 years. He -- it's just -- there's a disconnect between the messenger and the message. And I think that's ultimately going to come. I hesitate to talk about African-American women with Donna here.

  • 10:30:36

    GONZALESBut I think the connection between Secretary Clinton and black women is strong. I remember one of my neighbors in Washington was Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Cleveland, who was one of the first, early and best supporters of Hillary Clinton -- Hillary Clinton had, before she tragically passed away. But it is -- there was a strong connection there that I think is going to play out later in the primary.

  • 10:30:58

    PAGENow joining us by phone...

  • 10:30:58

    BRAZILEThat's true.

  • 10:30:58 Karen Finney. She's a senior advisor for communications and political outreach and a senior spokesperson for the Hillary for America Campaign. Karen, welcome to "The Diane Rehm Show."

  • 10:31:11

    MS. KAREN FINNEYThanks. Great to be with you, Susan.

  • 10:31:12

    PAGENow let me ask you the same question I asked Tad Devine of the Sanders campaign just a few minutes ago. What did Secretary Clinton hope to do in the debate Sunday night? And do you think she succeeded in doing that?

  • 10:31:26

    FINNEYWell, I think, similarly, the goal is to get her message out. And I do think she did that effectively. I -- but I -- and I think, for us, you know, we were looking for her to talk about her ideas and her policy ideas and how she would, you know, get things done. You know, we think it's important that people know, not just where she stands and what she -- but also what she wants to do and how she wants to do it. And I think there was a real contrast on the stage on that -- on those issues.

  • 10:31:56

    PAGEYou know, one of the big issues that Senator Sanders raised was ties to Wall Street by Hillary Clinton, you know, speeches she's given for pay from Goldman Sachs and so on. Is that of concern to you? Do you think that raises a question in the minds of some Democratic voters?

  • 10:32:16

    FINNEYIt -- no, we don't. Because I think Hillary -- both her plan, I mean, it has been, you know, praised as, you know, the toughest plan for Wall Street and going farther than what Bernie Sanders would do. And I think anybody who knows her, knows that she is not someone who -- I think the implication there -- you know, can be bought. You know, you've got hedge fund -- a hedge fund running ads against her. I think that says a lot about who's afraid of, you know, who they're afraid of in terms of who could potentially, you know, really reign-in Wall Street.

  • 10:32:48

    FINNEYSo -- and, look, I think the important thing is, you know, the more voter -- you know, here was the thing that was sort of disconcerting in the debate. You know, I think, as you pointed out to Tad, we had this health care plan of his kind of drop just hours before, you know, after a whole week of back and forth about whether or not they were even going to release their plan before Iowa. And then, in this new plan, you know, it turns out the more we're learning about it, the more we're seeing that actually it looks like -- there's a piece out today -- that it may indeed raise taxes, and frankly may raise taxes on low-income Americans.

  • 10:33:25

    FINNEYAnd you've got everyone from, you know, Ezra Klein to Paul Krugman, Jonathan Chait, sort of the, you know, usual allies, raising real concerns. I mean, I think Ezra Klein said it's not a plan at all. And it sort of, you know, whereas it was well intentioned, it certainly feels like, you know, he was certainly feeling the pressure last week, feeling on defense going into the debate. But it kind of felt like they were making it up as they go along. And I think part of what was -- what people saw on the stage on debate night was Hillary Clinton has thought through her policy ideas and proposals. She has -- and she has, you know, we've put our plan out. It's a very detailed plan. We've talked about how we'd pay for it.

  • 10:34:09

    FINNEYAnd then, unlike Senator Sanders, I think people know they can trust that Hillary Clinton's really, you know, thought these things through.

  • 10:34:16

    PAGEAnd one last question, Karen. This New York Times story, "Clinton Gets Set for a Long Slog Against Sanders," is that what you're expecting? Are you expecting this race to go into late April or early May?

  • 10:34:30

    FINNEYWell, we always have prepared for that, certainly. I actually had spent some time on the road in the fall going to some of the March states, with the idea that we will -- obviously big focus on the early four states, but wanting to also start to ramp up in the March states. So I actually did some travel to a number of the states to, you know, meet our teams out there and volunteers out there. And so, yes, we are ready to, you know, keep going. And, you know, I think it'll be interesting in the race because obviously the farther you go in the calendar, the more diverse the electorate becomes. And so I think that'll be an interesting challenge for both candidates.

  • 10:35:11

    FINNEYYou know, I certainly think that with African-American voters Hillary has, someone was mentioning this, a real long-standing relationship. They know her. They know what she's done. They know the work that she's done. You know, everything from Children's Defense Fund, working on school desegregation, to children's health care issues to, you know, starting a legal aid clinic in Arkansas.

  • 10:35:34


  • 10:35:34

    FINNEYSo, unlike Senator Sanders, it's not a matter of having to get to know her or hear more...

  • 10:35:39

    PAGEAll right.

  • 10:35:40

    FINNEY...learn more about her.

  • 10:35:41

    PAGEKaren Finney, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 10:35:45

    FINNEYGreat to be with you, Susan.

  • 10:35:46

    PAGEKaren's a senior advisor for the Hillary Clinton campaign. I'm Susan Page and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let me go back to our all-star Democratic panel here. Donna Brazile, what do you...

  • 10:35:58

    BRAZILEI'm the only Democrat on...

  • 10:36:01

    GONZALESTalking about Democrats.

  • 10:36:01

    PAGEWell, I think it's possible that David Corn's a Democrat. Are you a Democrat?

  • 10:36:04

    CORNI may have voted for some Democrats. But I'm an independent journalist and...

  • 10:36:07

    PAGEYes, of course.

  • 10:36:08

    CORN...and there are some Democrats out there who probably have not appreciated all I've written about them.

  • 10:36:12

    BRAZILEThat's why I clarified it.

  • 10:36:13

    PAGEOkay, well let's go to the all-star Democrat on our panel. What do you think about what you heard from Karen Finney and from Tad Devine?

  • 10:36:22

    BRAZILEWell, first of all, I know them both. And I've -- the beauty of being neutral is that I've been in battles with all of the various superstars and strategists in all of the parties. Here's the thing, Susan, the reality is that we're about to enter, as you know, voting season. That was the last debate. This is going to be a classic Democratic street fight. And what I mean by that is that, you know, the establishment, with all of the endorsements that Secretary Clinton has, has piled up. I mean, she received endorsement this morning of the Human Rights Campaign. She has Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She has the support, as I mentioned, of a majority of members of the Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus.

  • 10:37:01

    BRAZILENow, what about the bodies? I mean, she has SEIU, she has ASME, she has -- what about the bodies? Are you going to be able to produce bodies? It really comes down to people who are able to go door to door, knock on doors and to get your people out. Bernie Sanders has a hell of a young, energetic team that is going to rock the house come February 1.

  • 10:37:23

    PAGEWe're going to take a short break. And when we come back, we're going to talk about that very question. Bernie Sanders' support among millennials, that was an issue that came up in that Democratic debate. And we'll take your calls and questions. You can give us a call, 1-800-433-8850. Or send us an email. Stay with us.

  • 10:40:02

    PAGEWelcome back, I'm Susan Page of USA Today, sitting in today for Diane Rehm. And in the studio with me this hour, David Corn, he's the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones magazine, Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist and adjunct professor at Georgetown University and a nationally syndicated columnist and Nathan Gonzales, he's editor and publisher of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report. Well Nathan, let me turn to you. We were talking before the break about millennial voters, the importance they are going to have in this election and in future ones.

  • 10:40:35

    PAGEIt came up at the debate Sunday night. Hillary Clinton was asked why she wasn't doing better among millennial voters. She didn't really respond. Why, in your view, isn't she doing better, and how important is that?

  • 10:40:48

    GONZALESTalk about an awkward question to be handed on the stage. I think my colleague Amy Walters said people don't like you in the polls, respond. And -- but I think that when it comes down to millennials, as someone who not only covers the presidential race but House and Senate races, whenever you hear a candidate relying on young voters to turn out, immediately I'm skeptical. But we have to leave open the possibility that someone like Sanders can tap into it because we've seen it before. Barack Obama was able to tap into young voters as -- and able to change the math of the electorate in order to get support.

  • 10:41:24

    GONZALESSo, I mean, I'm still -- I'm still skeptical that someone's going to be able to replicate it, whether it's Clinton or Sanders, but I think Clinton is running, in part, a legacy, a legacy campaign. Look what we've done for you. Look what we've done in the past as our family. And that doesn't resonate as much anymore, particularly with millennial voters, and that's a problem in the Republican Party, as well. Legacy doesn't count for what it once did.

  • 10:41:50

    PAGEYou know, it's amazing, we're doing a series of polls of millennial voters, USA Today and Rock the Vote. Our first poll came out about a week ago. It showed that among millennial men, Bernie Sanders had a four-point lead. Among millennial women, Bernie Sanders had a 19-percentage-point lead over Hillary Clinton, who would be the first woman nominated by a major party. Explain that to me, David.

  • 10:42:13

    CORNBut it's not just millennials. There was a poll that came out last week, it was the CBS-New York Times poll, that above 45, voters above the age of 45, Hillary Clinton was winning Democratic voters, was winning two to one over Bernie Sanders. And under the age of 45, this is not just millennials but under the age of 45, Bernie Sanders was up two to one. So there's like this cutoff for her. If you're born after a certain year, you're predisposed to not -- whether it's legacy, whether you don't -- you know, I don't know what it is, whether you want some more passion in your politics, and she delivers, I mean, you talk to the people on the Sanders campaign, and they talk about, you know, listen, he's older than she is, but he shows more passion, and he's creating more of an emotional bond, at least for younger voters, and I mean anyone under the age of 45.

  • 10:43:02

    CORNAnd she has not been able to replicate that. She's obviously strong with older women and with African-Americans who already have a pre-existing bond with her. But she's not expanding on that with any other demographic group. And so, you know, the question becomes what was just raised, will these younger people who are more enthused and more passionate about Bernie trudge out through the snow in Iowa and go to these caucuses? Usually older voters vote in higher numbers than younger voters. And so that may be one thing that the Hillary Clinton campaign is hoping for, but that's the open-ended question about Iowa, part of the only real question at this point.

  • 10:43:42

    BRAZILERemember for these caucuses, not only do you have to get out of your on a cold, wintery night, possibly at 7 p.m., but you also, when you show up, you have to be a Democratic or a Republican if you go to Republican caucus. If you're not a Democrat, you have to register as a Democrat, and then of course you hear from all of the three candidates, they will make an appeal, 1,691. I've done a couple caucuses in my political career. And so the candidates will have people stand up and speak and try to convince them, and then you have to reach viability, 15 percent for the Democrats, in order to accrue delegates.

  • 10:44:17

    BRAZILESo these precinct caucuses will be the first sign that we get from, you know, this political season of whether or not it's about legacy or status quo versus the quote-unquote revolution.

  • 10:44:29

    GONZALESYou can't do this online. I mean, that's what these young people have to know.

  • 10:44:31

    BRAZILEThank you.

  • 10:44:33

    GONZALESThey can't do this online.

  • 10:44:34

    BRAZILEThere is no app. You have to show up.

  • 10:44:37

    PAGEYou know, this is an issue for Sanders supporters in Democratic caucuses. It's an issue for Trump supporters in Republican ones. One thing we'll find out in two weeks is will they turn out. Let's go to the phones and talk to some of our listeners. Kirsten is calling us from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Hi, you're on the line.

  • 10:44:55

    KIRSTENHi, thank you for taking my call. I just want to make a point that no matter, you know, the Bernie campaign, as well as Hillary's, bringing up many, many issues, I think that Bernie has such a good point that if you get the big money out of politics, then the politicians who are influenced by this money will be gone, or they will not be as many. And then you actually have public servants in there, who are supposed to representing the U.S. citizens, and they are the people who are actually working on the issues that we are all talking about, that we all, you know, need help with, right, all the things that affect the everyday person.

  • 10:45:40

    KIRSTENAnd I think that's the biggest problem, and you mentioned Citizen United. You know, we need to start by getting the money out of politics. Money and politics do not mix.

  • 10:45:50

    PAGEAnd Kirsten, are you a Sanders supporter yourself? It sounds like you might be.

  • 10:45:54

    KIRSTENI am a Sanders supporters, and that is, like I said, because, you know, I like Hillary in general because she is more progressive than the Republicans, but she's still to me status quo. Bernie is actually speaking about things that affect all of us, middle class, and so many of us or so many people who are not middle class, who are, you know, lower-middle class economically, and like I said, he just actually speaks about the issues that affect us every single day, health care and, you know, everything else that, like I said, that we all -- that affects us daily.

  • 10:46:32

    PAGEKirsten, thanks so much for your call. You know, this has been a great issue, I think, for Bernie Sanders. Here's a tweet from Mike. Mike writes, can you discuss the importance of Bernie Sanders not having a superPAC? His campaign is funded by and is for the people.

  • 10:46:46

    BRAZILEI heard the other day that Bernie Sanders, the campaign, they've hosted only 11 fundraisers, and they've raised over $73 million. I'm, like, my God. I haven't seen this since, of course, Barack Obama and Howard Dean. Howard Dean had a very energetic campaign. Unfortunately, his campaign fell apart back in 2004, two weeks before the caucuses. He got involved in a very nasty fight between John Kerry and Dick Gephardt, and I think that really sullied his campaign.

  • 10:47:14

    BRAZILEBut money in politics is a big issue. It's something that all of the candidates should be talking about. It's something that voters care deeply about, and that's part of the problem, I think, with Washington, D.C., at least inside the Beltway politics. Voters perceive these candidates as being bought and paid for.

  • 10:47:29

    CORNAnd, you know, the Clintons, even though Hillary has talked a little bit, not a lot, a little bit about campaign finance reform, I think trying to catch up with Bernie on this, they've been known to be some of the biggest, best, you know, fundraisers ever. They had a little campaign finance scandal when Ben Carson was in office, you know, there's an overlap between campaign finance reform and being funded a lot by Goldman Sachs or other Wall Street players.

  • 10:47:58

    CORNAnd so it's -- I think it's very hard for Hillary to separate herself from this aspect of the political status quo. No matter what she says, there's a long history there of her being, you know, if not, you know, one of the worst players but being involved in a rotten system. And so if 40 percent of the Democratic Party are progressives who care a lot about campaign finance reform, she has a hard time connecting to them.

  • 10:48:21

    PAGEYou know, this has been so interesting in this campaign because in a way it's a debate over continuity versus change. It's of experience versus -- I mean, if you can be a 74-year-old, multi-term senator and still be a fresh face, it's kind -- you know, it's an outside in politics in many ways. Where does that -- how does that work, Nathan, if the voters in the Democratic primaries have a choice between a candidate with an incredible resume, Hillary Clinton, versus somebody who's saying I'm going to really bring about a revolution, which is a word he used several times in the debate?

  • 10:48:51

    GONZALESWell, I think it comes down to what are voters focused on and what is their priority. And if they are focused on the message, what message resonates with them the most, that's when Bernie Sanders starts to -- starts to do better and starts to become even more viable than he is now. If they're focused on the messenger, focused on the opportunity to elect the first woman president of the United States, look at what the Clinton family has done for the Democratic Party over the last -- for many decades, that's when I think Hillary Clinton starts to do better. If they look at -- if it's resume, I think they're going to take Secretary Clinton.

  • 10:49:29

    CORNAnd there's another calculation here that some voters don't want to put into their formula, which is who do you think will have the best prospect of winning in November. And, you know, a lot of Bernie Sanders' supporters are showing polls that show that sometimes -- some polls show him doing better than Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, to indicate he is electable. But I still think it's an open question because everything that can be said negative about Hillary Clinton has been said more than once over the course of 20 years.

  • 10:50:00


  • 10:50:01

    CORNBernie -- Donna is nodding here. She knows. She's lived through it. But Bernie Sanders has yet to be on the receiving end of $100 million in negative ads saying hey, he's a socialist, you know he's a socialist, this guy is really a socialist, and other than that, he's a socialist. And the question I have, and I think it's an open question, and we talked about this in 2008, can a black guy get elected president, but can someone who calls himself a socialist do well in swing states that are necessary for any Democrat to win?

  • 10:50:32

    CORNI don't have the answer to this, but it's a question that is going to be very important and you can answer during this primary process.

  • 10:50:40

    BRAZILEThat is a big question. I think that's a big question for Democrats because they understand that at the end of the day, we want to keep moving forward, and in order to move the country forward, you need a candidate who not only can demonstrate through their ideas and their ideals that they know how to push ahead but also that they have what I believe the electoral coalition that could put them over 270 electoral votes. That remains to be seen.

  • 10:51:04

    BRAZILEBut I want to say something about the Clintons and especially Hillary Clinton because she's on the ballot. She is fighting not just this progressive argument that Bernie Sanders articulates very well, but she's fighting the Super-PACs on the Republican side, they are going after her day in and day out on the ground. And during the debate, what I found amazing is that the -- some of the Republicans were tweeting, as Bernie Sanders was talking, they were tweeting responses to help Bernie Sanders. So they're trying to...

  • 10:51:34

    PAGENow what does that -- what does that tell you?

  • 10:51:36

    BRAZILEIt tells you they don't want to go up against a very formidable candidate who happens to be a woman. And I have to say as someone who enjoyed and appreciated the historic nature of the 2008 campaign, this is also a very historic campaign season, and I'm very glad that we're at a point when we can talk about a woman as a viable candidate.

  • 10:51:55

    PAGEI'm Susan Page, and you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. Now we've got a tweet from someone who's taking issue, TJ taking issue with something that we said. This person, TJ writes, why assume youth support for Bernie Sanders is about emotion? The economic situation for those born 1970 onward is devastating. It's about inequality.

  • 10:52:18

    CORNI think that's -- you know, there's an aspect to that, too. What I was saying earlier is I thought that people are having -- feeling more of an emotional bond with him, and it may be because of the issues he's talking about. It's certainly not because he's a 74-year-old senator from Vermont. So they're feeling, I think, a stronger bond, and it could be because he's talking in a way and saying things that resonate with them. And so that's what I mean. It's not just passion and emotion in his delivery, it's a passion and emotion that he's generating by what he's saying.

  • 10:52:50

    PAGEYou know, here's an email we got from Dave, who writes us from Boston. He says, Bernie, you lost me. From the day of your announcement, I supported you. I emailed 50 friends. I gave you my money, $30 and $40. I even emailed you and Tad Devine, encouraging not to criticize other candidates. You finally succumbed. You were on "Face the Nation" bashing Hillary, Trump and others. Now you've lost me. Nathan, is that fair? You know, the Hillary Clinton campaign did try to make a point about an ad that the Sanders campaign put up, which did not name Hillary Clinton but which talked about Wall Street.

  • 10:53:25

    GONZALESWell, I mean, clearly for Dave, that's a breaking point. To me, when you talk about too much money in politics or negative campaigning, everyone kind of defaults to these criticisms or arguments, but that's the system. I mean, that's -- if you are -- if a candidate or their allies are unwilling to criticize an opponent, they're probably not going to win because that opponent is just going to only say nice things about themselves, and that's the only image that they will have. So maybe, you know, maybe Bernie Sanders lost a supporter there, but it's just -- that's part of how we do politics.

  • 10:53:58

    PAGEYou know, Donna, you said this is going to be a street fight.

  • 10:54:00


  • 10:54:01

    PAGEWhat does that mean for these two candidates?

  • 10:54:04

    BRAZILEYou know, some of my friends assume that Hillary Clinton would clench the nomination after she won the Iowa caucuses. I think if she wins the Iowa caucuses, that will give her a lot of momentum going into what I believe, you know, South Carolina, Nevada and of course Super Tuesday on March 1. But when you look at the states on Super Tuesday, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado, of course Vermont, and then the big states, that Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Bernie Sanders is going to be a viable candidate, which means that 15 percent, we will -- he will accrue delegates.

  • 10:54:32

    BRAZILESo it is going to be, to your point earlier with the New York Times article, I haven't had a chance to read it, but to your point, this fight is going to go on at least until April or May, when perhaps one of the candidates will be able to secure more than 2,244 delegates to clench the nomination.

  • 10:54:47

    PAGENow that you know the number.

  • 10:54:48

    BRAZILEI'm on the Rules Committee, as well.

  • 10:54:50

    PAGEDonna brought up the map, which I think is important when we look back to 2007, 2008. Remember that Michigan and Florida were penalized for trying to move up in the calendar, and that hurt Hillary Clinton. I mean, those were two states that she -- were going to be in her column, and that hurt the math of the equation. That dynamic doesn't exist this time, but that's just one point where I know if Hillary loses Iowa and/or New Hampshire, it's going to be oop, here we go again, but that's one key point that she'll still have.

  • 10:55:15

    GONZALESAnd when you talk about a street fight, the question I have is just how fighty the candidates are going to get when they are talking about one another. Bernie Sanders' dig at Hillary Clinton for being too close to Wall Street was about as manor, or I should say as vague and as mildly put, as it could be. It's nothing like the ads and the rhetoric you see in the Republican Party. She has been attacking, or her camp has been attacking, him for wanting to throw millions of people off health care because he wants to transition to a single-payer system, which would theoretically cover everybody.

  • 10:55:47

    GONZALESSo they've each kind of inched towards being a little more vicious, but still we're at level of maybe two when with Donald Trump and the Republican, they're almost at DefCon 1, they're at DefCon 2 at the moment. So there's a lot of room for either Hillary or for Bernie to start getting, you know, a lot more vociferous in attacking the other, and I don't know if they're going to have the restraint that, you know, that they have shown so far as you get closer to these key make-or-break states.

  • 10:56:18

    PAGEDave better buckle his seatbelt for that. One last question. Martin O'Malley, does he matter? Could he be a factor? Not a factor. Okay, we don't think he's going to be a factor for the nomination, but I wonder, out of those Iowa caucuses, that 15 percent threshold, a close race between Clinton and Sanders, could where those O'Malley supporters go make a difference, Donna, or not, do you think?

  • 10:56:43

    BRAZILEHe -- I thought we've had only four debates. I know that's an issue for many Democrats. But let me just say that I've been looking for that breakout moment for Mr. O'Malley, and I don't think I've seen it on the horizon so far.

  • 10:56:54

    PAGEI mean, you have to have more than one percent or two percent of the voters, I think, to make a difference. And so I think he's going to just try to do the best he can. I don't see him as a force yet. You know, that's what they said about the pope. Well, how many troops does he have? He doesn't -- he hasn't shown many troops.

  • 10:57:11

    PAGEWell you know what? In two weeks we're going to find out with the Iowa caucuses. I can't wait for that to happen. I want to thank our panel for joining us this hour. Donna Brazile, David Corn, Nathan Gonzales, thank you so much for being on the Diane Rehm Show.

  • 10:57:23

    GONZALESThank you.

  • 10:57:23

    CORNThank you.

  • 10:57:25

    BRAZILEThank you.

  • 10:57:26

    PAGEI'm Susan page of USA Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thanks for listening.

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