Inflation is high. The GDP has shrunk. But the job market has never been better. The Washington Post's Damian Paletta helps make sense of the U.S. economy today.
Guest Host: Tom Gjelten
The 12th Republican debate of the 2016 presidential campaign took on a more civil tone as the candidates face another round of crucial primaries. The Democratic candidates clash over trade and immigration in their debate a day after Bernie Sanders upset Hillary Clinton in the Michigan primary. Congressional lawmakers cross party lines to consider new sanctions after Iran conducts more missile tests. The Senate passes a bill to fight the U.S. opioid epidemic. And we remember former First Lady Nancy Reagan. A panel of journalists joins guest host Tom Gjelten for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Susan Glasser Editor, Politico
- Gerald Seib Washington bureau chief, The Wall Street Journal
- Juana Summers Political editor, Mashable
MR. TOM GJELTENThanks for joining us. I'm Tom Gjelten of NPR sitting in for Diane Rehm. Presidential candidates prepare for decisive primaries in Florida and Ohio. Congress considers new sanctions after Iran tests ballistic missiles. And Nancy Reagan is laid to rest beside her husband at the Reagan National Library.
MR. TOM GJELTENJoining me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Susan Glasser of Politico, Jerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal and Juana Summers of Mashable. Susan, Jerry, Juana, good to see you all.
MR. JERRY SEIBThank you.
MS. JUANA SUMMERSThanks.
MS. SUSAN GLASSERHi, Tom.
GJELTENThis is a special hour of "The Diane Rehm Show," you know, the one hour each week where you can watch us. We have a live video stream on our website so you can check us out. And then, you can call in, 1-800-433-8850 is our phone number. Our email is email@example.com. You can also find us on Facebook. You can send us a tweet. We'll be waiting for you. So the big news today, Juana, is that Ben Carson has just endorsed Donald Trump and Donald Trump turned that occasion, of course, into a press conference.
GJELTENHe seems to turn every occasion into a press conference, at which he announced, I think we've had enough debates. Maybe the one statement that Donald Trump has made this campaign that finds widespread agreement.
SUMMERSThat's right. There's certainly been a lot of them, more than dozen now. You're hearing some of that fatigue on the Democratic side of the aisle, too. It's not just Republicans that have had this slew of debates. It'll be interesting. Donald Trump and his aggression at times and his distaste for the media across the political spectrum has been one of the biggest points of his campaign. Of course, it's going to hurt a politician to say they don't like the press. We're a favorite punching bag of theirs.
SUMMERSBut it'll be interesting to see will there be more debates? This field could win out dramatically, also, after Tuesday depending on if John Kasich of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida have losses in their home states. This could actually be a two-man race. So will there be a need for more debates is the other question that strikes my mind as I heard Donald Trump say that this morning.
GJELTENWell, we only have two candidates on the Democratic side and we've had just as many debates on the Democratic side as we've had on the Republican side. There's still a lot of room for disagreement, even between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
SEIBThere certainly is. Look, there's an ample case to be made for more debates, I would say, on both sides because one of the things that I think happens is, you know, people have tuned into these debates in remarkable numbers really, but they keep tuning in so there must be some thirst out there to see it, to hear it again and as the primary schedule moves from, you know, state to state and region to region, I think different parts of the country tune in.
SEIBBut on the other hand, you know, I kind of thought Donald Trump might pull the plug on debates two debates back, you know. There was a sense that he -- once he got out front, he was going to say, I don't need this anymore and here we are. But I don't think either candidate on the Democratic side quite has that option at this point.
GJELTENWell, it was, Susan, certainly a sort of a less entertaining debate in Miami between Donald Trump and the other candidate and a little bit more policy in this debate -- policy discussion than we've seen in previous debates.
GLASSERWell, they've succeeded in lowering the bar to the extent that this is what we're now calling a policy debate. You're seeing a couple things happen right now, right? Obviously, Trump is sitting on lead. He doesn't want to blow it. You've seen, over the last several debates, in fact, that he's become somewhat more conservative as a result of that. He's also pivoting to the general, it seems to me in the effort to make himself appear more like a credible president and not just a credible candidate in a Republican primary.
GLASSERSo I think that's driving things. But, you know, the inexorability of two things, the calendar and the math, are starting to kick in. And when you look at the math and you look at the calendar, it seems that Donald Trump is sitting on a lead that if, at this point, it's not completely 100 percent overwhelming and in the bag, it is very clear that he has the only realistic path left to the Republican nomination.
GJELTENYou know, and it was interesting, Susan, what Ben Carson said this morning in endorsing Donald Trump. He didn't really talk so much about Trump's position on anything or his personality. What he said is that he objected to the Republican party establishment trying to thwart the will of the people. That, I thought, was an interesting way to frame that endorsement because he's basically saying, look, you know, and he actually said, explicitly, that if you try to block Donald Trump, you're going to destroy the Republican party.
GJELTENAnd that probably is an argument that might resonate.
GLASSERI do think that increasingly, of course, that is the signaling coming from Trump and all of his allies, which is "no" to a brokered convention, "no" to a contested convention. You, Republican establishment, may be unhappy with the results but the people have spoken and that, of course, is going to be the argument that the make over and over again. I think it is a very compelling one and I've always been very skeptical that Trump, if he amasses the required 1237 delegates needed for the nomination, you know, then that's it, period.
GLASSERI think that there's just an overwhelming tradition in American politics that if you win the primaries, you win the caucuses, no matter how problematic that may be, you're very likely to come away with the nomination. Now, how divided will the Republican party be in the wake of that? Perhaps a better analogy here is to think about times when we've had deeply disrupted or divided parties as opposed to one in which the outcome of the voting is overturned.
GLASSERLook at how Ted Kennedy went all the way to the convention in 1980 against President Carter. He wasn't going to take the nomination away from him, but that party was deeply divided in ways that clearly did affect Carter's ability to challenge Ronald Reagan in the fall of 1980.
SEIBYou know, there are a lot of variations on this question. The party coming together means a lot of different things at different levels so, yes, I mean, Reince Priebus made a point last night, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, of saying, we'll support whoever wins the nomination, which is kind of an obvious statement, but does that mean the Republican donor base will support the party if Donald Trump is the nominee?
SEIBThey're not too happy. Will Republican senators running for reelection embrace Donald Trump or run away from him? You know, one of the things that they have to worry about is that there are going to be a lot of really nasty anti-Donald Trump commercials run against them, as Republican nominees, whether they embrace Donald Trump or not, taking incendiary comments he's made about, you know, immigrants or women or whatever it is.
SEIBSo, you know, the question of the party embracing Donald Trump is a pretty complex one. It's not a yes or no answer.
GJELTENJuana, is it your sense that the NeverTrump movement is dead?
SUMMERSI don't think that's the case. I was speaking to some Republicans yesterday who were saying exactly what Jerry was just eluding to is that they're really worried about these down ballot races. They're concerned that the Trump Effect, so to speak, could hamper their party's chances, to possibly lose competitive seats across the country if they've got Trump at the top of the ticket.
SUMMERSTo get back to what Susan and Jerry were talking about, though, one thing that I'm kind of watching is that even if Republicans think that it's essential to prevent Trump from winning, they might be looking at better means to accomplish that. I was talking to some Republicans today who suggested possibly a conservative third party ticket wouldn't be completely out of the question, even if Trump does, in fact, win the nomination.
SUMMERSSo I think there are still a lot of possibilities out there. The question of whether or not the Republicans can actually deny Trump the nomination is a really, really tricky one to get into. It's a kind of a choose your own adventure mashup if you will.
GJELTENWell, Jerry, you know, it's not just a matter of, you know, what kind of impression he makes on voters. It's also his policy positions. I was struck by the headline -- a headline in the New York Times this morning, "Trump is Breaking With 200 Years of Economic Orthodoxy on Trade." I mean, he has -- the positions that he has staked out on globalization and trade really are way out of the Republican mainstream, right?
SEIBWell, or what we thought was the Republican mainstream. I mean, certainly, it's not the Reagan message. You know, the Reagan message was embracing of immigrants and enthusiasm for free trade. Donald Trump has gone 180 degrees in the opposite direction on both of those things. And, you know, I think this has been true -- this has been building in the Republican party on trade for a while, actually. It's been amassed a little bit at the national level.
SEIBBut what happened in Michigan was -- and we wrote about this in The Journal as well, that, you know, the cover was blown off of this trade question on the Republican party 'cause you saw in the exit polls, much more support among Republicans or much less support for free trade among Republicans than opposition to free trade among Republicans. And Donald Trump moved into that space. He's emphasized that more and more, I think, in his messaging over the last few weeks.
SEIBAnd in the debate in Miami, he was very explicit about it. Trade deals are killing us. These trade deals -- it came up over and over again. So he's clearly seized that message and is going to drive it hard.
GJELTENAnd you know, Susan, the fast track authority for President Obama passed by a very narrow margin in Congress. The TPP, the Transpacific Partnership, has not yet been voted on. Have we seen the end of trade deals being negotiated by a president and approved by Congress? Are we in a new era, you know?
GLASSERThere's an old saying, right, among the foreign policy pundits. They pray that no one will mention foreign policy during the president campaign because the only things they say will be bad or have to be overturned once a president turns to governing. And that certainly has been the case, I think, around trade. Remember that even President Obama, back in the 2008 campaign, you know, talked a much more anti-trade message than in the White House.
GLASSERHe's the one, as you said, who's negotiated the TPP, still trying to get it passed. Just this week, he had in town the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and he's looking very much, and lobbying the Canadians to help get TPP passed on the Democratic side. It's not just, by the way, a Republican talking point in this election year. This might be really where left and right converge, which is in anti-free trade rhetoric and I think that probably was part of what powered Bernie Sanders' upset victory in Michigan.
GLASSERIt's hard to believe so much has happened this week, but that was just this week, too.
GJELTENOh, yeah, right, Juana. And, of course, Miami might be -- Florida might be a very different situation for Clinton and Sanders than Michigan was.
SUMMERSIt absolutely will. It does not look like we'll see a repeat of Michigan unless the polling there is absolutely disastrous. There is a CNN/ORC poll that came out that said Hillary Clinton's getting 63 percent support there to Bernie Sanders 33 percent. That would be a hugely uphill climb for them, obviously. Bernie Sanders has struggled to connect with voters of color and the primary results in those last dozen or so states have really borne that out.
SUMMERSBut Hispanics are one area where he actually seems to be doing well. So I'll be interested to see what the margins look like there.
GJELTENWell, who knows about polls? I mean, polls were really wrong in Michigan, weren't they? And, you know, that might be one takeaway from the campaign that, you know, polls don't mean as much as they used to. Juana Summers, political editor at the digital media website, Mashable. We also have Jerry Seib from The Wall Street Journal, Susan Glasser from Political. She's the editor.
GJELTENI'm Tom Gjelten. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, we'll pick up with a little bit more of this political news. We don't want to spend the whole hour on it, but there is a lot to cover. Stay tuned. We'll be right back.
GJELTENHello again. I'm Tom Gjelten from NPR. I'm sitting in for Diane Rehm. And this is the first hour of our weekly news roundup. This is the hour where we discuss the week's top domestic news. My guests are Susan Glasser, she's the editor of Politico, Jerry Seib, Washington bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, and Juana Summers, political editor at the digital-media website, Mashable. And remember, if you're just joining us, you can also watch us for this hour. This is the one hour of the week where we actually stream live video of our show at drshow.org. You can see what a good looking panel I have this morning.
GJELTENI want to go back to you, Juana, because you didn't have a lot of time to finish your point before the break. You were talking about Clinton versus Sanders in Florida. And you made the point that Bernie Sanders has done a little bit better with Hispanic voters than with African-American voters. We did see a little bit of a bright -- I mean, one of the things that's interesting to me about Bernie Sanders' appeal, he's been talking a lot about trade and how trade hurts American workers. That actually, that concern goes very closely with concerns about immigration and whether immigrant workers are hurting American workers. And, in fact, between Clinton and Sanders, we actually saw some daylight in this debate, didn't we, in their views on immigration.
SUMMERSWe absolutely did. There was a really fascinating exchange, actually. The candidates are very deeply divided on this. And I think it's probably one of the big substantive differences between how Clinton would be as a president and how a President Sanders would look. I thought it was very fascinating to listen to Clinton, particularly criticizing the senator over his 2007 opposition to immigration overhaul and pointing to his inconsistency of explanations.
SUMMERSBut the bigger thing that struck me was listening to just how different the debate that we heard between Clinton and Sanders on Wednesday was from some of the debate that we hear on the Republican side of the aisle, where you have multiple Republicans who have endorsed these mass deportations. And it just tells you just how forceful of a general election issue this is going to be.
SUMMERSAnd it's just really linked, I think, over every other issue in the race.
GJELTENYou know, Jerry, I -- it was -- there was a couple of columns this morning that I saw that were interesting because they made precisely the opposite arguments and each one was pretty persuasive I thought. Greg Sargent had, in his blog post, he was predicting that when Trump turns to the general election, he will run into a buzz-saw of reality otherwise known as the general election. And he may not know how badly mangled he'll get.
GJELTENMeanwhile, Chuck Lane writing in The Washington Post says that -- his column is headlined, "How Trump Could Attack Clinton," Hillary Clinton either personally or by association with the past two democratic administrations has been involved in many of the most fateful and controversial policy decisions of a difficult quarter century. Trump may be the Republican best positioned to turn that history against her. She'd better be ready. It just goes to show you, you just can't anticipate what this election is going to turn out to be, right?
SEIBAnd, oddly, I think both those columns are right in their own way.
GJELTENThat's what I'm saying.
SEIBI mean, look, I think that Hillary Clinton is -- she's a vulnerable candidate or we wouldn't be having the Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton conversation in the first place. So that's true. And she carries a lot of baggage in. And Donald Trump has shown that he knows how to go for the jugular. He's very good at it and he is relentless. And he's also, you know, vicious in some ways. And so you're going to see some of that. You're also going to see through, by the way, Donald Trump making an appeal to blue-collar workers and trying to peel off some Upper Midwest industrial states from the Democrats.
SEIBAt the same time, though, the one thing he can't run away from or even shade a little bit is his position on immigration. And when the effect of that is going to be to energize and mobilize Hispanic voters, I assume, on behalf of whichever Democratic candidate is out there. So those things are going to be in the balance.
SEIBAnd who knows how they actually balance out in the end?
GJELTENWell, Susan, sort of set up the next week for us. Are we going to, at this next Friday, when we get together again, you know, with the next Friday News Roundup, are we going to basically know what's going to happen for the rest of the year in terms of, you know, who's going to be the candidates for each party?
GLASSERWell, this is a year when making any predictions are definitely to be taken with a grain salt. But, that said, Tuesday, Super Tuesday III, if you will, Super-Duper Tuesday...
GLASSER...whatever you want to call it, we have three big states. They have winner-take-all primaries. And the result is that, basically, the biggest single delegate pot of the year is available on Tuesday. We've already talked a little bit about Ohio and Florida as being key, not only to whether Marco Rubio and John Kasich staying in the race but, really, does it definitively tell us that Donald Trump is on the way to locking up the Republican nomination. I mentioned the math. We have a big look at that on Politico today. Donald Trump needs 1,237 delegates to claim the Republican nomination. Basically, what that boils down to is he needs about 50 percent of the remaining delegates. No other candidate is anywhere near close to having a viable path forward.
GLASSERTed Cruz, who is the strongest of the three remaining candidates, would need to get over 70 percent of the remaining delegates in order to win the Republican nomination outright. That's not going to happen. So, if Rubio does not win in Florida, if Kasich does not win in Ohio, I think we are going to be having a conversation next Friday about Republican presidential nominee...
GLASSER...Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton, the math is very strong for her as well on this. She's been racking up even in contested places or even where she's narrowly lost to Sanders because of the Democrats' rules for how delegates are apportioned. She more or less has double the number of delegates that he has at this point. So she also seems to be on a pretty strong path toward the nomination -- if you just do the math.
SEIBOne of the things that's not well understood is how hard the Democratic rules make it to come from behind because all states are proportional. You can win a state narrowly, as Bernie Sanders did in Michigan, but you don't -- you get marginally more Democrats, she gets her share of Democrats -- delegates, rather. And that's going to be true throughout the calendar. And so if you start out with a huge disadvantage at this stage of the campaign -- unless there's a collapse by your opponent -- it's very hard to catch up.
GJELTENBut the super delegates are not necessarily pledged to Hillary, right? I mean, didn't a lot of those super delegates who were allegedly pledged to Hillary in 2008 switch over to Barack Obama after they saw him winning?
SEIBThat's true. But I think a lot of them switched when it was clear that the outcome was decided and they were just, you know, sort of going with the direction of the flow. I find it hard to imagine a lot of those super delegates switching away from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders.
GJELTENOkay, Juana, let's just finish this kind of horse race discussion. And I just dissed the polls, so I don't even know why I'm asking this question. But the polls do show Kasich running very well actually against Trump in Ohio. Not so encouraging for Rubio. I think he seems to have closed the gap a little bit but he's -- that's going to be a tough one for him in Florida. But Kasich does seem to be doing pretty well in Ohio, right?
SUMMERSHe does. I think he's certainly within striking distance. If I'm in the Kasich camp right now, though, I'm looking at how Donald Trump fared in Michigan as kind of a model as to how he could take on some of these other Rust Belt states and the rhetoric that he used there and that we'll see him use in Ohio over the weekend. I think it'll be tough for Kasich. But even if Kasich does -- Kasich has said that he will not stay in the race if he does not win Ohio. I think that he could perhaps come close and frighten Trump.
SUMMERSBut to the Rubio point, one of the interesting storylines I'm watching is, what happens if Rubio does in fact lose Florida? This is somebody who was seen as having a lot of national aspirations. He's a young guy. He's obviously a very talented politician. He's got a -- as a 44, 45-year-old man, a lengthy political resume, what is Rubio's 2.0? What comes next for him after this? Does a loss in his home state, after effectively being shut out for this entire contest, does it dampen his chances on the national stage for the future? And I'm just not sure what the answer to that is.
GJELTENAnd he's not running for Senate, right? He's not going -- he's not able to run for reelection to the Senate. So he might be completely out of the picture.
SUMMERSAbsolutely. So it'll be interesting to see what his legacy is and what he does and if we'll be talking about when we do our postmortems on the Rubio campaign one day, is this the thing that kind of condemned his chances altogether. And I'm just not sure.
GJELTENWell, yeah. Let's not do the postmortem just yet. We don't want to write him off just yet. Speaking of writing off candidates, Jorge Ramos, Jerry, asked Hillary Clinton a very pointed question at this debate which she clearly did not like, which was, will you drop out if you are indicted?
GJELTENAnd he was talking about, of course, the email controversy.
SEIBRight. And it was a pretty stark moment. I mean, I don't -- to my knowledge, she's never been asked point blank that question. There have implications. It's been in the background of some questions she's been asked. But he just asked it straight up. I don't think she expected it. She didn't look, to me, as if she expected that question quite that -- in the black-and-white terms like that. And she gave, I think, the only answer she could give, which was to dismiss the whole idea and say, I'm not going to answer the question. It's ridiculous.
SEIBBut the fact is it's not entirely ridiculous and it's lurking in the background. I think that question serves, if nothing else, to keep the idea live in the minds of not just Democratic voters who want to stick with Bernie Sanders for a while longer, but also tees up lots of Republican dreaming, I believe.
GJELTENWell, is it just dreaming, Susan? I mean, what -- you know, I don't have any sense of how serious to take this stuff because it has become so politicized on both sides.
GLASSERWell, that's right. There's two things, right? There's the political conversation around it. And already, I think, reinforcing what Jerry was saying, Donald Trump has already been making reference to this. He's already talking about the cloud over Clinton. He's mentioning indictment. You'll hear that from other Republicans as well. And so I think there's a political conversation around it that's probably outpaced where the legal conversation is. It's very hard to know.
GLASSERIt does seem that perhaps it might be some of Clinton's aides, not Clinton herself, who might be facing some legal jeopardy for forwarding her classified information or writing, themselves, some classified information in the course of those emails on the private server. It really go down, though, when you look -- when you do do a postmortem, one way or the other, on this election -- as an extraordinary sort of own goal on the part of Hillary Clinton. It was just one year ago, this week, actually, that Clinton gave that press conference at the United Nations about the email controversy. So basically it's a full year of self-imposed scandal that we've had on the basis of this, in hindsight, clearly ridiculous decision to have not had an official State Department email.
GLASSERIt's hung over her. Remember, every single month, basically, over the course of that year, we've had this release of the emails and therefore our continuing set of stories over it. We've had these disputes where speculation about an indictment for Hillary Clinton can flourish, even though there actually is no evidence...
GLASSER...that she is in that kind of legal jeopardy. And I think it is important to mention that to people. There is no one who has been quoted on the record...
GLASSER...or on background, from the FBI, from the Justice Department, who has suggested that there is serious consideration of any kind being given to Hillary Clinton being indicted in this election year. That doesn't mean that we're not going to keep talking about it.
GLASSERBut I think it's important to note that.
GJELTENYou know, in any case, I mean, Jerry, do we want a president who commits own goals? I mean, you know, errors of judgment, you know, sort of the higher you get in terms of responsibility, errors of judgment become more serious.
SEIBIt's a good point. And that's -- that is an argument that has been used when people want to take this conversation down to a less-incendiary level. They do say, well, judgment, judgment. Let's talk about judgment. And the backdrop of this, though, is kind of -- and this is unspoken but I think it's in the minds of a lot of people as this issue is discussed -- is kind of the seemingly endless series of Clinton scandals or mini-scandals or at least controversies. It seems to always be something. And I think there's a weariness with that, that transcends the narrow legal questions.
SEIBBut I agree with Susan. I don't know that the case that she's going to be indicted, based on what you can see publicly, is really all that strong. It's the fact that there's now a Judicial Watch civil lawsuit seeking more access to Clinton people to explain this. It's just not going to go away between now and November.
GJELTENJerry Seib is Washington bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. I'm Tom Gjelten. This is "The Diane Rehm Show." And, Juana Summers, so in the midst of all this hyper partisanship, we had two developments on Capitol Hill this week that indicated -- that reflected bipartisanship, something that we don't see all that often. We had the opioid bill and we had the bipartisan leadership on Iran -- reconsidering Iran sanctions. Tell us what happened on the -- with respect to the opioid bill, what that was all about and why did we see such bipartisan support for that? What was it, 94 to 1 or something?
SUMMERSNinety-four to one and a very divided Congress. That's about as good as it gets, just one no vote against that bill. This is a bill that would help create grant programs for state and local governments to improve education and treatments for drug abuse. It provides for a broad swath of addicts. And it just shows just how seriously politicians are coming around and taking what's really become a public health crisis in this country. I was looking at the facts and figures in that bill passed in New Hampshire, one of the states where this has really played center stage, even in the presidential race. More than one person a day dies of an opioid overdoes. In Ohio, they say there is one death every three hours.
SUMMERSThis is something that for folks between 25 to 64, more people die of these overdoses than die in car crashes. So it's a really big deal. And it's -- in the middle of the primary season, it's been really rough and messy. It's been nice to see Congress getting serious about it. All that said, this is a bill that still has to pass the Republican-controlled House. And so far, there have been few indications from lawmakers as to whether or not it can actually make it out the door.
SUMMERSBut it's something that you saw Republicans and Democrats in the Senate come together on and say that this stops now, that we have to start taking seriously these issues of states across the country and their local governments have done a number of treatment avenues and whatnot, but seeing a first federal push from the government. This is also something the Obama administration has talked about and that the president had said, I think back in February, that he was going to ask Congress for more money to divert towards -- to devote towards these issues and devote -- to make sure that these deaths can stop.
SUMMERSSo it'll be interesting to see if that bill is able to make it out of the gate. Those issues played center stage on the presidential race as well, with a number of former presidential candidates -- Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie -- coming out forcefully and personally, speaking about the impacts of addiction on their own life and their children's lives.
GJELTENMm-hmm. Yeah. Well, and there are still some funding issues attached to that consideration, isn't there?
SUMMERSAbsolutely. This is a very, very broad policy bill and it would have a lot of implications. But it's also rather expensive. So figuring out how to fund it is going to be the lynchpin, I think, for seeing if it can be passed in the House.
GJELTENJerry, the other bill that I mentioned -- or it's not actually, as I understand it, even a introduced bill yet -- or you can fill us in -- on the Iran sanctions. We had the ballistic missile tests, which we're going to talk about in the international hour. But meanwhile, in Congress, you've got Democratic and Republican leaders agreeing that they want some sanctions, at least on reserve, to deal with Iran.
SEIBYeah. And, you know, the Iranians seem intent on keeping a case open for renewing and extending sanctions in spite of the Iran nuclear deal because they had -- they do something provocative every couple weeks. This week the provocative act was to fire off a bunch of ballistic missiles, which probably isn't an act that's in violation of the Iran nuclear deal, but probably is in violation of U.N. sanctions that were imposed for other reasons and in other avenues. So there's a case to be made for doing something in response. And I think there is, as you suggest, there is -- this is one of those issues where there is bipartisan support. A lot of strong supporters of Israel in the Democratic Party...
SEIB...are no more happy with the Iran nuclear deal than Republican supporters of Israel are. And so this gives both sides a chance to shoot through a gap that the Iranians, all on their own, have created for them.
GJELTENYeah. Susan, very quickly, one other issue I want to mention before we go to the break, and that is climate change. We saw, for the first time I think -- and I might have missed one before -- but the first time a question about climate change in the Republican debate. And we also had, as you mentioned earlier, Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada and President Obama talking about it. So at least, for a brief moment, we had a little discussion of climate change and what could be done about it.
GLASSERWell, a little discussion. It'll be interesting to see actually in the general election whether that returns as a theme. If Hillary Clinton is hitting hard, I do think that there's a -- the Republicans have a certain vulnerability on their skepticism in general over climate change. But, you know, Obama is really seeking to make common cause. I think that's probably what's brought him and Prime Minister Trudeau together. Remember that Trudeau made a real upset in his campaign, in part based around the notion of a clean energy driven platform. And that was probably the biggest single shift between Trudeau and the Harper government that preceded him.
GLASSERNow, of course, Canada's economy, like the U.S. economy, is very much an oil-and-gas producing economy. And so they've really been suffering as the oil prices have plunged. And so I think Trudeau's agenda in Canada -- I know this is not the international hour -- but Trudeau's agenda in Canada potentially risks having some difficulty actually implementing a clean energy plan, given that the economics have changed pretty dramatically. It becomes much more expensive and less worthwhile, with the prices of oil and gas falling so low. That's good for consumers. But this is probably the single area where Obama and our neighbor to the north have the most common cause.
GJELTENCommon cause. Susan Glasser is the editor of Politico. My other guests are Jerry Seib from The Wall Street Journal and Juana Summers from Mashable. That's a digital-media website. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, we'll go to your calls. I'm Tom Gjelten. This is "The Diane Rehm Show." Stay tuned.
GJELTENHello again. I'm Tom Gjelten. This is The Diane Rehm Show. And this is the first hour of the weekly news roundup. This is the hour we talk domestic news. And our panel today consists of Susan Glasser, the Editor of Politico, Jerry Seib, Washington Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal. And Juana Summers the Political Editor at the Digital Media website, Mashable. A couple of emails here, panel, about the Trump rallies. Susan in Dallas writes, why is no one discussing the black woman who was assaulted at a Trump rally a few weeks ago?
GJELTENShe was walking through a tunnel of people being shoved from all sides by all different people. Old, young, but all white, mostly men. And a related tweet, from someone who calls himself or herself proud Democrat, am I missing something, or is violence at Trump rallies a new low for US Presidential campaign rallies? Well, I've seen a lot of Presidential campaigns over the years. Jerry, you're up in my generation. You have too.
SEIBWe're in the same demographic. Yeah, that's true.
GJELTENJuana wouldn't know. She's way too young. But I think it's fair to say that this is a new low.
SEIBYeah, I've never seen anything like this. I mean, you know, I cannot remember violence at any rally, much less a whole series of rallies and I've been bouncing around Presidential campaigns since 1980. I just -- there's nothing like it that I can think of. And I, you know, I'm, you have to go back to the 1968 Democratic convention.
GJELTENThere you go.
SEIBChicago, I see, I think, to see something like this, where there was just open, seething anger, pushing, shoving, violence on the streets and in the halls. That was a moment. But I don't -- since then, I don't think we've seen anything like this.
GJELTENYeah, Juana, you've been -- I bet you've been in some Trump rallies, right?
SUMMERSI have. I just remember -- I haven't been at some of the ones that have gotten a bit shifty and the ones that have made headlines. But I remember going to a Donald Trump rally back in Burlington, Vermont. And it was just -- his supporters were pointing to people who may have been standing silently, who may not have even been protesting, or doing anything, and saying, get them out. They don't support Trump. This is the same rally, if you recall, where people, as they were entering this venue in downtown Burlington, were asked -- they had to say that they were loyal to Trump or else they couldn't get in.
SUMMERSAnd it's just really a new low and I fear, sometimes, I was talking to some reporter friends about this. There's a real concern someone could, in fact, get seriously hurt. We saw the man who was charged after so-called sucker punching someone at a rally just a day ago.
SUMMERSThat these are very serious incidents and you've seen both -- you've seen Bernie Sanders, you've seen Hillary Clinton come out and talk about them. The level of violence is deeply concerning, but just as a public citizen, who doesn't want to see someone else get hurt, but it's also just really galling that now we're seeing, literally, slugfests going on inside Presidential campaign rallies. It's just -- it's a new to me, and this is my third Presidential campaign.
GJELTENAnd Susan, you know, I mean, we were talking during the break. I mean, the last, the latest incident yesterday involved a Breitbart reporter, who's a reporter for one of the few of many news organizations that's been sort of friendly to the Trump campaign. And Donald Trump just came out and said, she's making this story up. I mean, he's alienating -- he's getting a lot of support from somebody, but he's also alienating some news organizations and other people by doing this, right? Or by seeming to sort of create an atmosphere where this stuff happens.
GJELTENMaybe that's too strong.
GLASSER...he has not been strenuously condemning up until now, either the violence at the rallies or the climate of threat and intimidation that forces around him in this incident that you're referring to, a young woman reporter from Breitbart, a conservative news organization that broadly has been quite supportive of Donald Trump, tried to ask him a question the other night and there happened to be a reporter for the Washington Post standing right next to her. She says, and he says, and was witness to this, that she was shoved very aggressively, bruises on her arms as a result of it by, actually, not just some person at the -- at this event, but the campaign manager himself for Donald Trump.
GLASSERCorey Lewandowski. There is an audiotape, which we have and posted on Politico yesterday. It was contemporaneous. It appears to, you know, show the two reporters talking in shock and amazement at what's just happened here. Lewandowski has tweeted and said that she's not telling the truth and she's making it up. Donald Trump is also attacking the veracity of this reporter. It seems almost extraordinary. Not only is it just outside of the script of any campaign any of us have covered, that the campaign manager for the frontrunner for the -- a nomination would be personally, physically assaulting a reporter.
GLASSERBut the idea that they would then deny it in strong terms and sort of double down on this tactic seems -- seems really unbelievable.
GJELTENAnd of course, what Donald Trump says is that many, many people, thousands and thousands of people come to his rallies and he can't be responsible for the conduct of every, every person there. I'll just leave that comment at that. Okay, let's go to the phones now. Tom is on the line from North Carolina. Hello, Tom. You have called the Diane Rehm Show. Do you have a comment or question? Tom, you're on the air. Are you with us, Tom? Okay.
GJELTENSometimes people call and then they get tired of waiting and they hang up or turn their attention elsewhere. So, let's go, instead, to Steve who's on the line from Massachusetts. Hello Steve. You're on the air.
STEVEGood morning. I'd like to make an observation. And it's about Donald Trump. Everybody's talking about Donald Trump and there's a lot of other things going on in the world too, but I think he knows he has to get to a certain point before he can go on. I think he knows he has to win the primary. And to win the primary, to get to the general election, I think he has to appeal to his base, a certain base. And it's basically white people who are a certain age bracket who feel a certain way towards minorities.
STEVEDonald Trump can't win the general election without the minorities, but he can't get to the general election without getting to the, you know, beat -- you know, getting the primaries out of the way.
STEVESo, he can't try to say, you know, sound like he is for the minorities of any -- in any way. I don't want to sound like I'm going on about this, but I think he taps into a very angry part of his base that is very prejudice. You know, a lot of these people, and I can say this, you know, I'm a veteran. I'm around other veterans, and, on a weekly basis. And they don't support Barack Obama and when I ask them, even if with his policy, when I'd say, what don't you like about him? It's generalized, but basically, I tell you very honestly, and I say this as a white guy who's 60 years old, it's because he's a black guy with a very un-American name.
STEVEAnd I think Donald Trump basically knows he has to appeal, and even if he's going to alienate a base, it doesn't matter if you can't get to there anyways, and then he'll probably do what he has to do.
STEVEAnd I point...
GJELTENOkay, Steve. Juana, you know, it's interesting. What Donald Trump is saying is that he's bringing new voters into the party, and we have seen evidence that he has brought a lot of independents in into the campaign. This might be the last election where we see whether somebody can win an election just by appealing to -- by appealing primarily to white voters. I mean, I've been hearing this for years, that you can't win an election that way. And yet, he is, he is bringing in people who apparently haven't voted before.
SUMMERSYou're absolutely right. Anecdotally, I've probably been to, what, half a dozen, a dozen Donald Trump rallies at this point. And when I'm out in the crowd, as much as you can be, given the press restrictions that the Trump campaign has, and I'm talking to these people who are standing in line, I would say, probably 75 percent of the people I talk to are people who either have not been involved in the political process. They don't identify as Republicans, necessarily, but they like what Donald Trump's saying.
SUMMERSTo the caller, Steve's point, though, anecdotally as well, I think he does have something of a point here. Donald Trump has really tapped into a lot of the anger and anxieties on a number of issues. People who are concerned about their safety. They're worried about immigrants coming over the border to take their jobs. They're worried about safety, security, how they're going to feed their kids. And those are the things that people in his rallies are talking about. And if you listen to Trump's rhetoric and what he says, and if you were to go through and do a textual analysis of his speeches, this isn't hopeful talk.
SUMMERSIt's not about the buoyancy and just how great America is. It's about anxiety, it's about fear, it's -- people are scared. And that's really what he seems to have triggered and when I talk to people, that's really what comes across to me. So, it will be interesting to see if he can win on that strategy.
GJELTENWell, you know, the other thing he has done is he has personified or -- what's the word, he's done a, you know, he has turned Islam into a person. And he says, Islam hates us. But, you know, which is a kind of a grammatically or syntactically a very strange thing to say. And yet, as Juana suggested, taps into something, doesn't it Jerry?
SEIBNo, it does. And look, I mean, the campaign started with him saying, essentially, Mexican immigrants are, you know, many of them are rapists and drug dealers. And, you know, that tapped into something. I think that, for a long time, that was the one and only thing that people knew about Donald Trump is he's gonna stop illegal immigration, he's gonna build a wall to do it. But I think now, as we discussed earlier, he's tapped into something much broader, which is kind of underlying economic and cultural insecurity among a lot of people and, you know, principally males.
SEIBHe won the male vote easily in Michigan, lost the female vote. So, there's a lot of evidence that suggests it's an angry white middle class people. People who think they've been left in the margins, both culturally and economically in the country.
GJELTENSusan, we lost that guy, Tom, who was calling from North Carolina, but I want to sort of represent him here, since he wasn't paying attention when we went to him. He wanted to ask about why no one is talking about the Supreme Court vacancy and the prospect of Obama nominating someone and then that becoming an issue in the campaign. Where candidates could sort of debate about the merits of such and such a candidate or the arguments pro and con of, you know, giving the candidate a fair hearing.
GLASSERWell, you know, I think had he gotten on the phone with us, it was a good point to make. There have been reports this week that suggest that President Obama is nearing a decision on someone to put forward for the Court sometime in the next couple of weeks. And I think that's likely, both to re-ignite public conversation here in Washington. It already is the subject of robust debate and there are many people who do believe that in the general election, it's likely to be a significant factor with -- when you look at the age of many of the Justices who are still on the Court.
GLASSERMany of the Democratic appointed or more liberal Justices, in particular, it seems that it's an issue that may well motivate Democrats when it comes to the fall campaign. Just a final point, as well, on this previous discussion around Trump and his racially based appeal, we already have racially motivated and racially partisan voting in the United States. And in fact, Republican nominees, have more or less already been collecting something more than six in 10 white votes in the last few general elections.
GLASSERWe recently ran a piece last week that suggested that Trump, to win the general election against Hillary Clinton, would need to have more than seven in 10 of all white male voters in order to win come the fall. Now that is suggesting an extraordinary gap, an extraordinary partisan gap that very much is around racial issues. Can he do that? No one really knows, number one. Number two, we don't know the exact model and makeup of the electorate. He may well -- this may be a historic turnout election as both sides motivate voters who haven't previously shown up.
GJELTENSusan Glasser is the Editor of Politico. I'm Tom Gjelten. You're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. And let's go now to Ryan who's on the line from Maryland, from Gaithersburg, Maryland. We've been talking about Trump and his appeal to different categories of the population. Ryan, do you have something to add?
RYANI do. Thank you for taking my call. There's a few different things that I would add to that. First, I think that it's remarkable, the logic as a whole, for the sitting two US Senators to come out and say that they want the American people to give them a promotion to the highest office in the land. While telling everybody that they intend to not do their job while they're a Senator by voting for the nominee.
GJELTENYou're talking about Supreme Court now.
RYANThe -- now, secondly, about Donald Trump, I'm a lifelong, I've never voted for a Republican, but the fact that Donald Trump engages some of these, you know, potentially hostile issues, you know, and kind of without abandon, and so that's the thing. I think that we probably -- what I think is really necessary is a Constitutional Amendment. Because there's a major immigration problem, not just amongst the Hispanics, but amongst a lot of other races and even the English who are here, you know, illegally.
RYANThere's a boatload of them in Florida who are working in bars and things like that. So, it's -- really, what happens is everybody's so terrified, especially the Democrats, of ostracizing these potential would be voters that, you know, nobody's talking about it.
GJELTENOkay, Ryan, I want you to respond to what our previous caller, Steve, said, which is that he thinks that Donald Trump is appealing to a certain sort of animus toward minorities and touches into sort of the -- you know, this animosity that a lot of people feel towards people of color. And he thinks that's a big part of his appeal. Sadly, you know, or not. What's your response to that?
RYANI think there is some degree of fear involved with this. Now, me personally, I'm a white male. And I am in the construction business. And cheap, immigrant or illegal immigrant labor has helped to keep the wages stagnant in this field for like two decades. Okay, because there are alternatives to paying people who are licensed, insured and legal. And so it does nothing to improve the status of the middle class and so there is some fear associated with that amongst people in my profession or in -- tradesmen in general.
RYANAnd so I think that that has a lot to do with peoples' party affiliage.
RYANAnd some of it is just, you know, pure racism and things of that nature. But a lot of it has to do with their, you know, with their livelihoods.
GJELTENOkay, thanks very much Ryan. Well, you know, immigration is probably, I would say, of all the issues that have been discussed in this campaign, it almost seems to me that, certainly on the Republican side, immigration has gotten more time than anything. Right? Would you say that?
SUMMERSI would absolutely agree with that and you've seen -- Donald Trump says all the time, you know, we wouldn't be talking about this issue if it wasn't for me. And to Jerry's point earlier in the program, it's the first thing you heard from Donald Trump when he entered the race and it has been a mainstay. And I think that it's an important issue, certainly, but we've had all these callers call in about it. But it will be fascinating to see in the general election, the gulf between where Democrats are on this and where Republicans are on this, is just so vast.
SUMMERSThat I -- the general election debates on this issue are going to be just fascinating and polarizing.
GJELTENOkay, we're coming up to the end of the hour and I do want to mention Nancy Reagan. Her memorial service is today. You know, what strikes me, panel, there's been so many pictures, so many images this week of the Reagans as a couple. And in all these pictures, they seem so happy and so close. And more than anything else, it seems to me, Jerry, it seems to me that this is really about marriage. It's about what a marriage can mean.
SEIBYeah, and it's also what a political partnership is. You know, I think that a lot of people who knew Ronald Reagan and were close to him said there would have been no President Reagan without Nancy Reagan and I think he may have said that himself from time to time. And it wasn't really a political partnership in the sense that Nancy Reagan was a First Lady like Hillary Clinton was, deeply involved in policy or -- but, I think that she basically made it possible for him to be the political figure that he always aspired to be. And I think that's -- it may not be unique, but it's certainly remarkable in American history.
GLASSERShe was a real power center in the Reagan White House in a way that, arguably, even Michelle Obama has not played as significant a role in the Obama Presidency, for example, as Nancy Reagan has. It's very well documented in fascinating and terrific biographies and portraits of that period of time that Nancy Reagan, at key moments, in Reagan's career, she intervened, of course. She was responsible during the disastrous period of time when Don Regan was Chief of Staff in the White House. It was Nancy Reagan.
GLASSERShe was the person whose favor was actively courted by Reagan's aides as they sought to run even the more successful first term of the Reagan Presidency. So, it's a big moment, a big passing.
GJELTENIt is a big passing, indeed. Susan Glasser from Politico. Jerry Seib from the Wall Street Journal. And Juana Summers from Mashable. Thanks so much for coming in.
GJELTENAnd thanks to our callers, thanks to our listeners. I'm Tom Gjelten. You've been listening to "The Diane Rehm Show."
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