Guest Host: Katherine Lanpher

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks with police officers on guard in the Times Square subway station in New York, March 22, as security measures have been tightened following the series of bombings in Brussels, Belgium.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks with police officers on guard in the Times Square subway station in New York, March 22, as security measures have been tightened following the series of bombings in Brussels, Belgium.

The U.S. reacts to terrorists attacks in Brussels. Congressional leaders call for stepped-up airport security. And while all the presidential candidates condemned the attacks, individual responses range from tightening borders and visa systems to heightened monitoring of Muslim neighborhoods. Many Americans wait in long lines to vote in so-called “Western Tuesday” contests in Utah, Idaho, and Arizona. Republican party leaders map a strategy to deny Donald Trump the GOP nomination. Joe Biden repudiates the Republican-dubbed “Biden rule” to blockade Supreme Court nominees in an election year. And reaction at home to President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba. A panel of journalists joins guest host Katherine Lanpher for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.


  • Susan Davis Congressional reporter, NPR
  • Neil King, Jr. Global economics editor and deputy Washington bureau chief, The Wall Street Journal
  • David Rennie Washington bureau chief and Lexington columnist, The Economist.

Live Video


  • 10:06:54

    MS. KATHERINE LANPHERThanks for joining us. I'm Katherine Lanpher sitting in for Diane Rehm. Republicans criticize President Obama for his reaction to the Brussels attacks. GOP leaders roll out a plan to stop Donald Trump. From winning their party's nomination. And Supreme Court justices appear divided over a birth control mandate.

  • 10:07:14

    MS. KATHERINE LANPHERJoining me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, we have Neil King, Jr., global economics editor and deputy Washington bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, David Rennie, Washington bureau chief and a columnist at The Economist and Susan Davis, a congressional reporter at NPR. Before we go to our guests, I do want to remind you that you can see all of them on our live video stream at drshow.O-R-G.

  • 10:07:45

    MS. KATHERINE LANPHERWe will be right back with questions, okay. Susan, I want to start with you. Congress turned to airport security almost immediately after the attacks in Brussels. How fast are things going to move?

  • 10:08:01

    MS. SUSAN DAVISWell, if the response following the Paris and San Bernardino attacks are any indication, they will probably move fairly quickly. If you recall, after those attacks, Congress moved forward on changing what was known as the visa waiver program for people who had traveled to Iraq and Syria to enter the country and they moved within a matter of weeks on that.

  • 10:08:18

    MS. SUSAN DAVISI think there's a similar interest in response to these attacks to be seen as moving swiftly and taking this very seriously. Already underway in Congress is a reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration, which could be used as a vehicle to maybe do some changes for airport security. Chuck Schumer, who's the senator from New York, said he's like to see more funding in there to beef up security at American airports.

  • 10:08:42

    MS. SUSAN DAVISMajority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the House says the House will also vote soon on a bill that will require the Department of Homeland Security and its foreign counterparts to sort of share intelligence better about security at airports and the House passed a bill on Monday that would require the Department of Homeland Security to put out an annual scorecard ranking global airports and their security.

  • 10:09:03

    LANPHERSpeaking as passenger, will anything change? Will I still have to take off my shoes?

  • 10:09:10

    DAVISI can't imagine that they're going to make security at airports less strict in response to these attacks, but the FAA has not put out anything specific yet in response to this affecting U.S. airports.

  • 10:09:20


  • 10:09:20

    MR. NEIL KING JR.What's difficult, I mean, whenever there's a big attack and it exposes vulnerabilities -- we live in a society that's just filled with every imaginable vulnerability, we then try to find some way to address that. And, you know, the idea that we're going to make the check-in area of airports, particularly, secure so that you'll have to go through a whole range of security before you even get into the airport seems pretty far out there.

  • 10:09:43

    MR. NEIL KING JR.And then, so they come and blow up a parking lot at an airport or some other sort of thing and then we make it more difficult to get into the parking lots. I mean, in the end, there isn't really a clean legislative fix to this sort of thing. And there was a lot of talk after Paris, and they have moved forward on few things, but yeah, I think with each of these, it just mainly accentuates how difficult it is to actually go after clamping down on the vulnerabilities that exist.

  • 10:10:10

    LANPHERContinuing with Brussels as the topic, there was a lot of criticism of President Obama's reaction to the attacks.

  • 10:10:19

    KING JR.Well, a lot of the criticism, in part, was where he was when the attacks occurred and there was immediately the call among some on the right that he should come back. He was -- it overlapped with his time in Cuba. And then, he, you know, he was at a baseball game.

  • 10:10:32

    LANPHERWell, it wasn't just his time Cuba. I was going to say, it's baseball and tango, right?

  • 10:10:36

    KING JR.Yeah. I mean, it was, you know, we talk about optics. The optics were truly bad. I mean, particularly, not just the baseball, which is actually an important U.S./Cuban thing and there was a legitimate kind of diplomatic element to that. But all the same, the president was hanging around at a baseball game and then, the next day -- or was it that night, that he ends up in Buenos Aires and they bring some tango dancers out at the state dinner.

  • 10:10:59

    KING JR.And it wasn't his idea, but all of a sudden, he's tango dancing and so the idea that he's tango dancing when, you know, people have been killed -- and the numbers have now come out that there are at least two Americans that died. It could be, actually, quite a bit higher than that. There's still a lot of people that we don't know. That's not going to make the memory of it any better.

  • 10:11:16

    MR. DAVID RENNIEI don't think that it, you know, it was always going to be tricky politics when any president is abroad. This was also going to be a difficult trip because 70 people on the Republican trip didn't think he should've gone to Cuba. But I think what you could see was this sort of fascinating sort of symbolic moment. Obama's view is that essentially you make the world a safer place by lowering the drawbridge, by talking to people, by engaging with them.

  • 10:11:39

    MR. DAVID RENNIEYou have a Republican field, but certainly the frontrunner, Donald Trump saying pull the drawbridge up, that you can have this kind of moats and drawbridge approach to making American safe in the world. And that kind of clash, you could see incredibly directly. Just as President Obama was, you know, at the baseball game and then flying down to Buenos Aires, you had Donald Trump talking about closing the border, but in his usual very vague terms.

  • 10:12:02

    MR. DAVID RENNIEIt's not quite clear how you close a border. You know, America has a lot of borders and a lot of people crossing the Atlantic. But I think that you can see that there's different camps in the America election. A lot of people want to believe that you can seal America off and pull the drawbridge up and make the outside world go away.

  • 10:12:17

    LANPHERYes, Susan.

  • 10:12:18

    DAVISI'd also say that Ted Cruz and Donald Trump also seem to be in a contest among themselves to see who could respond the hardest to these attacks and seem the hardest on defense. And Ted Cruz received a little bit of criticism on his own because one of this response, he said, was that the American security forces should patrol Muslim neighborhoods in response to this.

  • 10:12:34

    LANPHERNow, but didn't he sort of walk back on that?

  • 10:12:36

    DAVISHe did walk back from that, but that was in sort of -- in the initial response, he came -- sort of echoing Donald Trump's calls to sort of monitor Muslim's more closely and notably the New York police commissioner came out publically and criticized Ted Cruz and said, you know, Muslim Americans are part of our strongest allies in this fight. Muslims abroad are part of our strongest allies in this fight. And this language to alienate them -- but it's good for the Republican primary.

  • 10:12:58

    DAVISI think Donald Trump has sucked up so much oxygen in this fight and what he's done to the party, but issues of national security are probably one of the most motivating forces for Republican primary voters, particularly in the rise of the Islamic State. When you talk to voters, this is something that really concerns them.

  • 10:13:15

    LANPHERBut what's interesting, however, is that voters usually aren't interested in foreign policy.

  • 10:13:20

    DAVISThey are interested in terrorism and they view this as terrorism and they view this as a terrorist threat that is coming to the United States.

  • 10:13:25

    LANPHERSo we had Trump and Cruz and their battle. What about on the Democratic side?

  • 10:13:30

    KING JR.It's interesting just to go back just briefly to Trump. You know, Trump had given this interview to The Washington Post a few days before the attack in Brussels where he had violated probably the 15th, you know, core principle of the Republican party by saying that we should kind of rethink our commitment to NATO. And then, we have a terrorist attack in the very place that NATO was first formed, which gave Hillary Clinton this opportunity to say, wait a minute, you know, no, we do not need to pull back or reconsider or stance on NATO.

  • 10:14:02

    KING JR.We need to try to recraft NATO perhaps to go after these sort of terrorist things. She gave a big speech out on the west coast in which she talked about both the NATO thing, but also, you know, we must intensify our air campaign in Syria and things like that, but also very strongly going after her primary rival at the moment, Donald Trump, on the this is not -- there's not a military solution to this and talking a lot about how there needs to be better screening of internet recruitment, for instance, of terrorists, which is something that a lot of people have talked about and is a real problem, the addressing it is different thing, difficult.

  • 10:14:38

    RENNIEAnd I think that's right. To your question about, you know, mostly we tend to say voters are not that interested in foreign policy in elections. That probably remains the case, but as Susan says, what voters want is to feel safe and so what you have is these very, very clear contrasting views on how you keep Americans safe. And Hillary Clinton's speech, as Neil says, at Stanford University with some members of the sort of high grand poobahs of the foreign policy establishment, like William Perry, a former defense secretary, and George Schultz, former secretary of state, sitting in the audience kind of offering their silent endorsement of her view, she's talking about classic state craft, coalition-building, working with Muslim allies, talking about the internet.

  • 10:15:17

    RENNIEYou can't build a wall that keeps the internet out. That kind of rational, you could call it, fact-based kind of approach to keeping America safe. But it's incredibly tempting for the Republican primary electorates to feel that if America's just more frightening, if America's more intimidating, if America's more violent, if it's torturing people and cutting, you know, taking these people who cut heads off and frightening them into submission, that that will keep the world at bay and that's, as Neil says, absolutely the post-Reagan Cold War sort of view of foreign policy in the Republican party, but this isn't Ronald Reagan's Republican party.

  • 10:15:51

    LANPHERI wanted to go back just for a moment to Ted Cruz's suggestion of monitoring neighborhoods. To have the New York police department who had, you know, had to roll back their own monitoring program after it was discovered that they had been listening on people, it's sort of ironic that they're the ones chastening Ted Cruz.

  • 10:16:11

    DAVISHe did also note that he's -- and this is according to the police who shared that there's over 1,000 Muslims in the NYPD.

  • 10:16:17

    KING JR.And we also just don't have neighborhoods in the same way that they're dealing with neighborhoods in Belgium and in Paris. We don't have big, dense, seething, discontented Muslim neighborhoods.

  • 10:16:26

    RENNIEAnd one of the things -- and I've done quite a lot of reporting since 9/11 from (unintelligible) a Muslim American FBI agent years ago in the New York field office. America has historically, since 9/11, been much better than a lot of European countries at working with mosques, working with Muslim communities. Imams will immediately go to their local FBI contact who they know really well and say, there's somebody's turned up in my mosque. I don't like how they're talking. You should keep an eye on them. That sort of relationship has historically worked much, much better in America.

  • 10:16:55

    RENNIESo that's all the more tragic to see someone like Ted Cruz kind of playing parlor maniac really and sort of trying -- doing stuff that is likely to damage those community relations.

  • 10:17:04

    DAVISRepublicans also, in the current field, like to say that this is a conversation that Barack Obama started, but Barack Obama is actually much closer to George W. Bush on this. I mean, Bush had similar view on how you talk about Muslim Americans, how you talk about Muslims in the country and it's more of a continuation of the previous administration than something that Obama started independent.

  • 10:17:22

    LANPHERYou are listening to "The Diane Show" and the Friday News Roundup. We'd like to have you join this conversation. It's 1-800-433-8850. You can also join us by email, drshow@wamu.O-R-G. And if you go to our website, you can see a live stream of this conversation. That's drshow.O-R-G. I'm Katherine Lanpher sitting in and we'll be right back.

  • 10:20:02

    LANPHERWelcome back. I'm Katherine Lanpher sitting in for Diane Rehm. It's Friday and that means it's News Roundup. This first hour, of course, we're looking at all the domestic issues that have been in play for the week. And I am joined by Susan Davis, congressional reporter at NPR, Neil King, Jr., global economics editor and deputy Washington bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, and David Rennie, Washington bureau chief and a columnist at The Economist. And we'd also like to be joined by you. It's 1-800-433-8850. 1-800-433-8850. You can also join us, Facebook or Twitter or by email, And a reminder that you can see all of us here in conversation at the stream on the Web,

  • 10:20:56

    LANPHERAll right, panelists, while we were reeling from the attacks in Belgium, many Americans went to the poll on last Tuesday, the so-called Western Tuesday. Any indication from those results that the terror attacks had an effect?

  • 10:21:13

    KING JR.Yeah, I don't think so. For one -- some of -- one of the things -- I mean, there were two caucuses in Utah and Idaho, so those were above the moment things...

  • 10:21:19


  • 10:21:20

    KING JR....but with a -- usually a very specialized slice of either party. And then Arizona, of course, there was a primary...

  • 10:21:25


  • 10:21:25

    KING JR....where there was a lot that was just baked in, in particular, because of this early-voting dynamic, which an interesting thing to see it play out across this election.

  • 10:21:33

    LANPHERAnd how long do people have to vote? Is it like a month before, something like that?

  • 10:21:36

    KING JR.Yeah, so, which is odd. Because in this case, in Arizona, there were, like, Marco Rubio beat John Kasich, but Marco Rubio's no longer in the race. You know, it was a day that highlighted the dynamic that we're seeing playing out where the two frontrunners, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, both won Arizona handily. And then they both lost in the caucus states to the people, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, who happen to be good at caucus-style events.

  • 10:22:02

    KING JR.In the end, Bernie Sanders actually got more delegates, if I understand that right. I think he did. He has this huge gap that he has to try to cover, which is not likely to happen. Ted Cruz also did fairly well on the delegate side. But he's got a huge gap. Somebody was saying to me the other day, if you like baseball analogies, that he's basically -- it's like Labor Day and he's 25 games out trying to get a baseball pennant. It's basically impossible.

  • 10:22:27

    DAVISCould you give me a culinary...

  • 10:22:30

    DAVIS...instead of a baseball?

  • 10:22:31

    KING JR.He has one egg and he needs to make an amazing soufflé.

  • 10:22:34

    DAVISOkay. Thank you. Thank you. Tuesday did not do anything to upend the narrative of this race that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the frontrunners for their nomination. What is interesting coming out of Utah is how well Ted Cruz did there. He won all of the state's delegates. It's probably the...

  • 10:22:50

    LANPHERWhat kind of a surprise is that though?

  • 10:22:53

    DAVISIt is a bit of a surprise that he did as well -- I mean, it does show you one thing, that the anti-Trump forces in the party, I think, Utah was very symbolic in that I think they are really getting onboard.

  • 10:23:03

    KING JR.Hmm.

  • 10:23:03

    DAVISAnd that Utah was behind Marco Rubio -- the congressional delegation had all endorsed Marco Rubio prior to this event, which I think shows you that their establishment Republican there were more in that lane and that Ted Cruz is seen by those who would like to defeat Donald Trump as the best alternative. And I also think it shows you on the Democratic side that, you know, Bernie Sanders is probably not going to win the nomination. But you can't discount the enthusiasm and attention and votes he's getting in this campaign. I would say, on the flip of it, when you talk to Bernie's voters, they get very angry that, you know, his wins seem to be diminished.

  • 10:23:37

    DAVISBut it is interesting that, you know, it does show you -- Clinton's victory in Arizona -- is how strong she continues to perform among minority voters and how little support Bernie Sanders has among minority voters in the Democratic Party. And if he were to be the nominee, how hard that would be for him in the fall. You know, he just doesn't -- he has not been able to show that he can win that part of the coalition.

  • 10:23:56

    RENNIEAnd we shouldn't discount the -- Hillary Clinton's success with Hispanics. Because, if you remember, go back just a few weeks to the Colorado caucuses, there was a question mark as to whether Hillary Clinton was going to do well. Because, if you remember, we had this weird exit polling out of Nevada where it looked as though maybe Bernie Sanders had done really, really well with Hispanics and that surprised everyone. Then you had, very shortly after that, Colorado -- big Hispanic state -- and there was a question mark as to whether Bernie Sanders was going to do well among Hispanics, whether -- the question was, are Hispanics going to be as much of a firewall for Hillary Clinton as African Americans are.

  • 10:24:31

    RENNIEAnd that was still up in the air. And in Colorado, Bernie Sanders won Colorado but, as far as we know, Hillary Clinton took Hispanics quite handily in Colorado nonetheless. Arizona seems to have answered that question. That, for the moment, Bernie Sanders' base -- and this will probably get some angry calls -- does seem to be very liberal, often quite well-educated college kids, whites basically -- whites, liberal whites is his absolute kind of core vote. And he doesn't seem to be able to break out of that.

  • 10:24:56

    LANPHERThat is as compared to, say, working-class whites, working-class anyone who's angry about money, about the economy?

  • 10:25:04

    RENNIEWell, that was interesting, wasn't it? Because when you see some of the firsts of Rust Belt primaries, it looks as though Bernie Sanders was doing pretty well in places like Michigan and Illinois. But then Hillary Clinton actually came back in Ohio and did really well with most of the union votes, seem to have gone to her, most of the union country. So there -- she clearly has a disastrous problem with young people. That, I think, is now at this point -- 20-something primaries and caucuses in -- she has a really serious problem with enthusiasm and energy among young people. But, as Susan said, you know, Arizona is the kind of classic big state where she just seems to have sort of crushing superiority.

  • 10:25:42

    DAVISAnd the problem that Bernie Sanders also brings for Hillary is, she wants to win the nomination without the need for super delegates to get to her. She's like to win it outright with pledged delegates in these contests. The super delegates give her that buffer that will get her there. But as long as he's in and keeping to win these pledged delegates, it does make it a little bit harder for her. And he is very clearly going to stay in this race till the very end, through the primaries in June.

  • 10:26:03

    LANPHERAt the very least for a message campaign.

  • 10:26:05

    DAVISYes, absolutely. And I'm sure that, in the end, Bernie Sanders, if he's not the nominee, will at least be given a very prominent speaking role at the convention. I mean, they're going to have to be very respectful of him and the voters who supported him.

  • 10:26:16

    LANPHEROther news that came out from so-called Western Tuesday, people had to wait in very long lines. What does that say about voting access?

  • 10:26:25

    KING JR.This election campaign has highlighted a lot of strange moments just in our political structure overall to say the least. But the voting apparatus is really broken in a lot of places. And it's -- I mean, for the most part, the returns have come in fairly quickly. But the fact that people would have to wait in great lines -- in a lot of the states we've seen this, like, we're going to keep the polls open or we're bringing in these provisional ballots -- it's a very rickety structure and it hasn't -- it needs to improve.

  • 10:26:53

    RENNIEAnd there seems to be some evidence that the structure has been made more rickety. And if you're a Democrat, you would say that, on the whole, Republican-controlled state legislatures have set out to make the structures more rickety. So if you look at a place like Maricopa County in Arizona, which obviously are a heartland for Donald Trump on the Republican side, but it's also full of minority, particularly Hispanic voters, on the Democratic side. And you had, I think, four- or five-hour waits for some people to cast ballots in Maricopa County. You saw some reporting from there that, in this election, the number of polling stations has been dramatically reduced by the Republican state legislature.

  • 10:27:27

    RENNIEAnd there is a clear allegation on the Democratic side, including from Hillary Clinton, that this is part of a deliberate pattern of trying to have low turnouts. That the Republicans believe they do better when there are small, low turnouts and it's difficult to vote.

  • 10:27:40

    DAVISAnd part of the problem is that every state sets its own election rules and how they vote. So there is no federal standard for how ballots are cast, whether -- what kind of machines they use. I mean, it is 50 separate states, often operating under 50 separate systems. Some states only do mail-in ballots. Some states do a combination of electronic voting. I mean, the standards are so scattered that it's really hard to put order into a system like that.

  • 10:28:01

    LANPHERI'm wondering if we're going to see a call for perhaps a federal standard for voting. Everyone's shaking their head.

  • 10:28:07

    DAVISThere's long been a call for a federal standard of voting in this country. And as long as, I would say, Republicans control Congress, it does not have a chance.

  • 10:28:15

    LANPHEROkay. Before we leave politics, where does John Kasich go from here?

  • 10:28:21

    KING JR.You know, so...

  • 10:28:22

    LANPHERRemember him?

  • 10:28:23

    KING JR.Very well, yes. You know, we are now in this moment where, when it comes to the Republican side, there is this huge, somewhat long, you know, difficult effort to try to get it so that they will block Trump going into the convention in Cleveland. And he -- and the numbers there, there's still some tension, there's still some drama there. But the likelihood is that he will get over that number. All the effort is to try to bar him from doing that. John Kasich, the Ohio governor, cannot get the nomination outright. That's been the case for some time. His only hope would be on a second or third ballot, where he would hope to win the party back.

  • 10:28:57

    KING JR.And it's interesting, one thing we've seen this week is Jeb Bush and similar people sort of, you know, biting -- holding their nose and whatever else and saying, I'm with Ted Cruz, which is -- was a moment few of us saw coming. But all of this isn't really -- I don't think that Jeb Bush, if there were a contested convention in Cleveland, would still support Ted Cruz. But that they want there to be a process by which the party can attempt to pick somebody other than Donald Trump. And that is what Kasich thinks might be his moment.

  • 10:29:27

    RENNIEI think this sheds a fascinating light on the whole question of electability in this cycle. I mean, I'm sure a lot of us to this but, you know, I go to a lot of rallies, I go and interview a lot of voters at these things. And I'll often ask them, you know, do you think your guy or your woman can win the general election? And a surprising number of people are sort of, that's not my top priority. You know, I want someone who's going to, you know, make me feel good about this or that. And sometimes it's Bernie Sanders supporters and sometimes it's Donald Trump supporters, sometimes it's Ted Cruz supporters.

  • 10:29:54

    RENNIESo they tell themselves a story about how there's a kind of secret majority out there. That if you could just sort of turn out the turnout in ways that have never been seen before and completely reshape the electorate, you know, there will be a different result. But certainly there's polling as well, it's not just sort of (unintelligible) people, there's polling that people are not putting electability at the top of their list. Now call me a kind of old-fashioned, kind of logic guy, if you lose, you lose. I do not see how electability isn't your top issue.

  • 10:30:19

    RENNIEAnd John Kasich is a very interesting example. The pitch for John Kasich is, apart from being the only guy who, in polls, is capable of winning against Hillary Clinton, what's he got? That's the kind of Republican thing. And you saw some interesting editorials in your paper, The Wall Street Journal, this week, saying actually he is the guy who, in polling -- I mean, general election polling is obviously is very early, it's a long way out. But that seems to be completely discounted by the vast majority of the Republican primary electorate, is that he's the guy who can beat Hillary in head-to-head polls.

  • 10:30:47

    KING JR.I mean one thing we've seen play out through this is, as Donald Trump has continued to do well in primary after primary, his negatives have crept up every month in our polling. So that, now, the number of people who are very negative -- when you, you know, you say how are you predisposed towards this candidate -- 54 percent. And his overall negatives among suburbanites, women, blacks, Hispanic, is just like off the charts. I mean, it's the kind of thing that we've never seen before in a presumptive candidate at this point in the election. And speaking of electability, you just can't be elected if large numbers of people don't like you.

  • 10:31:20

    LANPHERI find it interesting, the whole question of gender. I know that there has been some thought that many of Donald Trump's supporters just won't elect a woman.

  • 10:31:32

    DAVISI'm not sure if I've necessarily heard that. Although I do think that the crux of his support is seen as white, working-class men. I think that that is his core base of support. Although I would say that I have talked to and met women who, at Donald Trump, you know, that are equally as supportive of Donald Trump. I think the interesting thing about Donald Trump is when you do talk to a voter who's a Donald Trump voter, there is nobody else but Donald Trump. Where he may have an electability problem, he also has an enthusiasm and a level of support for a candidate that is remarkable in the election.

  • 10:32:05

    DAVISAnd he has drawn a lot of people to the polls this year that don't normally vote, that felt abandoned by both political parties. And he has absolutely tapped into something. Where I think the women question comes into play, as Neil alluded to, is if you look at his number, if you dig into these numbers and look at the way suburban women think about him, millennial women think about him, woman over 65 think about him, you have to ask yourself, could anyone win the presidency and have these numbers? And he doesn't -- it doesn't seem possible.

  • 10:32:31

    LANPHERYou are listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I'm Katherine Lanpher sitting in for Diane. I want to remind you that you can join us and we are going to get to your calls in just a moment, 1-800-433-8850. You can also email us, And of course, if you're just joining us, you can also watch us live. There is a streaming video of our show at I have three journalists in the room. I would like a show of hands, who would love a brokered convention?

  • 10:33:04


  • 10:33:05

    KING JR.We're not meant to call it a brokered convention. It's a...

  • 10:33:08

    LANPHERNo one voted? No one voted, yes?

  • 10:33:09

    KING JR.No, I think it would be fascinating. Absolutely. It's something we haven't seen in generations.

  • 10:33:12

    LANPHERWait a minute. You see -- did you see that sort of hapless wave from David Rennie?

  • 10:33:16

    RENNIENo, because I'm, you know, I'm not meant to want to see kind of total destruction in your politics. I'm the friendly foreign observer her, though I have lived here many years. But, you know, I'm -- yeah, of course. I'd love to see it. It'd be phenomenal. It'd be like the chimps' tea party at London Zoo.

  • 10:33:29

    KING JR.And the contestedness of this primary is already playing out. We had a really good story today about various machinations by Ted Cruz' people in Louisiana, even though he lost Louisiana, has made it such that he's going to emerge with 10 more delegates than Donald Trump had. This is a whole below-the-radar battle now starting to play out to actually win over those delegates in a sort of person-by-person way. It's going to be like a gorilla war going on wherever.

  • 10:33:52

    RENNIEYeah. And you're seeing this fascinating briefing by the Trump campaign that if you vote for him, if you stick with him as a delegate, you can get to know Donald Trump. So, you know, will we see, in the run-up to the Cleveland in July, you know, Donald Trump turning up in kind of incredibly obscure backwaters of America, kind of, you know, having barbeques with various county chairmen who's day has come.

  • 10:34:12

    LANPHERWe're going to go to James, who's calling us from San Antonio. James, welcome to "The Diane Rehm Show."

  • 10:34:18

    JAMESGood morning to you. Good morning to your panel. How are you all doing today and am I coming in clear?

  • 10:34:23


  • 10:34:23

    DAVISGood morning.

  • 10:34:23

    KING JR.Yeah.

  • 10:34:23

    LANPHERYes, you are.

  • 10:34:24

    JAMESI have two real quick questions. I don't see -- what is this deal about blocking Donald Trump and trying to get him from running for president or winning the election? I thought everything was based on the peoples' vote. And it sounds to me that it all has to do with Washington, the people that like you, the people that don't like you. Now, my dad had an old saying, you can have a boss and work for this man. You don't have to like him if he's fair. If he's fair, that's the good thing. But you do not have to like him. My dad was in business 40-some years. Never made friends with his employees, but he was always there for them. And they stayed with him -- some guys, there was a gentleman retired after 40 years working for my father.

  • 10:35:11


  • 10:35:12


  • 10:35:13

    LANPHERWe're going to get back to you, James. But I'd like to give Neil King a chance to answer you.

  • 10:35:17

    KING JR.Well, I'm just going to point out, the party primaries and the nomination process is a process that's led by the parties. And they have sort of rules that are fairly malleable. And it was interesting, last Sunday, Reince Priebus, who's the GOP Party Chairman, spent -- I think he went on basically every talk show, primarily to make the point that some kind of contested convention is a distinct possibility. And by the way, Republicans, it's not a nefarious thing. This is the way it's built. If you come into that thing and you do not have a majority of delegates, it could be thrown open. And the rules will essentially be made up, in part, on site, which is also the way that it's actually made.

  • 10:35:55

    DAVISThere is just no way, to me, that I think the average American, who has voted in the primary process and in the Republican primary, could have cast a vote in this and then go into a contested convention and have the winner not be the person that won the most votes. I mean, I -- Neil is absolutely correct by the letter of the law. Parties have the prerogative to decide the nomination. But I think it would alienate voters in a way that we have never seen.

  • 10:36:19

    LANPHERI want to give James the last word. Very quickly, James, you had another question.

  • 10:36:24

    JAMESYeah. I think everybody up in Washington is scared if Donald Trump gets in there because I think he's going to cut the fat.

  • 10:36:29

    LANPHEROkay. We'll leave it there with James. And we're going to take a quick break. If you want to join us, it is 1-800-433-8850. You can also join us by email, We'll be coming back with our guests Neil King, Jr., from The Wall Street Journal, Susan Davis, congressional reporter at NPR, and David Rennie, a columnist at The Economist. And remember, you can also see us streaming live on video at I'm Katherine Lanpher sitting in for "The Diane Rehm Show."

  • 10:40:01

    LANPHERWelcome back to The Diane Rehm Show. I'm Katherine Lanpher, sitting in for Diane. A reminder, of course, that you can join our conversation with our panelists here today on the Friday News Roundup. It's 1-800-433-8850. You can try Facebook or Twitter or you can email us, Neil King Jr. is here from the Wall Street Journal, Susan Davis from NPR where she's the congressional reporter. David Rennie, Washington Bureau Chief and Columnist at the Economist.

  • 10:40:34

    LANPHERLet's talk for a moment about the fear some Republicans have about the impact Trump, Donald Trump could have on what's called down ticket races.

  • 10:40:45

    DAVISI would happy to talk about that as the Congressional -- I've been talking to a lot of reporters, Republicans about this this week. There is a division among Republicans about whether Donald Trump helps or hurts and we are seeing a small but increasing number of Republicans get behind his candidacy. One notable endorsement this week was Tom Reed, he's a Republican from New York. He was the first Republican in a swing seat to endorse Donald Trump.

  • 10:41:08

    DAVISAnd I talked to him and I said, aren't you worried that, you know, everyone's talking about the down ballot effect and he said, you know, in my district, he has got a manufacturing based district, a lot of jobs have been lost there, and Donald Trump's message on trade and on bringing jobs back to America is totally resonating in a district that Barack Obama won. So, he said he was, you know, he was very enthusiastically supporting Trump. I also talked to Carlos Curbelo who is a Latino Republican who represents the south of Florida, whose District is 70 percent Latino.

  • 10:41:34

    DAVISAnd he's part of the Never Trump movement. He has said, even if he's the nominee, he won't support him. He doesn't think he can win his district, he doesn't think he can win nationally and he doesn't think he's a Republican, which is this other debate that's going on among Republicans is that Donald Trump doesn't only pose maybe a down ballot negative effect, but a philosophical threat. You know, Donald Trump is a candidate who has supported tax increases, who has harsher views on free trade, who has harsher views on a number of issues that are not traditionally conservative positions.

  • 10:42:05

    DAVISAnd so, if he were to win the Republican nomination, it challenges what the Republican Party even stands for.

  • 10:42:12

    KING JR.There are basically two kinds of elections in the United States, national ones. There are Presidential elections and then there are off cycle elections and Republicans have largely built the majority, particularly in the House on the off cycle elections and they've built their -- added seats in the Senate on the same thing. If you look at Wisconsin, for instance, Ron Johnson, who's running for re-election, won when Barack Obama wasn't running for President. He's now going to have to try to protect his seat and I'm willing to bet that he will not do it successfully.

  • 10:42:37

    KING JR.Running in a state where -- it is a Presidential cycle and where you have a whole different turnout machine, where tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people step out to vote that didn't vote in just the Congressional cycle elections. And Donald Trump is almost certain, if he is the candidate, to have a real negative impact on that. It's interesting, one of the things that we're seeing in our polling is people saying, we'll ask them, will you support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or have you not decided? And people saying, you know what, I have decided. I'm not going to vote.

  • 10:43:05

    KING JR.Can you put that down please? An actual, like, affirmational not going to vote category, which, of course, the question there is are those more Trump not going to vote people or Hillary Clinton not going to vote people?

  • 10:43:17

    LANPHERAll right, that's Neil King from The Wall Street Journal. David Rennie.

  • 10:43:20

    RENNIEWell, Neil just touched on something incredibly important, which is the difference between Presidential elections and mid-term elections in Congress or even for Governors of states. And the big difference there, for years, has been turnout. The Republicans win low turnout elections because there's a low turnout election, the election tends to skew older and more affluent, and that helps Republicans. I have sat with the Chairman of a state party in a blue state, which sometimes elects Republican governors.

  • 10:43:47

    RENNIEAnd he explained to me, off the record, that when he's choosing Congressional candidates, he does not want particularly good quality, high quality Republican Congressional candidates. Because he knows they can't win, but if they're too good, that then fires everyone up and you get a higher turnout. And his only interest is a low turnout election to get Governors elected. He told me that in great detail. So, that was a fairly kind of candid moment. It's a well-known blue state. So, that has been the rule book.

  • 10:44:14

    RENNIELook at someone like Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin. He wins in a state which has twice voted for Barack Obama. He talks about Obama-Walker voters. There are basically a tiny handful of Obama-Walker voters. The big difference is that Scott Walker's elections, there are three million voters. Barack Obama's Wisconsin elections, there are four million voters. There's literally an extra million voters. What Republicans are facing this time, and Susan clearly talks to these people every day, is assuming that the effect of Donald Trump is a high turnout.

  • 10:44:39

    RENNIELots of people who don't normally vote on the Republican side turning out because they like his message, perhaps a backlash on the Democratic side among Hispanics and African-Americans and young people who don't like Donald Trump, Republicans just don't know whether they can win in high turnout elections. Because they haven't tried for a long time.

  • 10:44:57

    DAVISAnd regardless of Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, the Senate was in play. Republicans control the Senate, the Senate was in play from the get go. Democrats have an advantage there. What is interesting is we have not been talking about the House being competitive in several elections and we are at least having this conversation now, which does show you that Donald Trump is fundamentally changing the political battlefield. What we don't know is whether it's going to be hugely bad for Republicans or potentially driving new voters to the polls that allow Republicans to win in places we didn't necessarily expect.

  • 10:45:26

    LANPHERAll right, Susan, I want to go to you first on this one. Let's talk about the GOP controlled Congress and the so-called Biden Rule. What is, for folks who don't know, what is the Biden Rule?

  • 10:45:39

    DAVISOkay. Let's step back for just a second.

  • 10:45:42


  • 10:45:42

    DAVISWe're talking about the Supreme Court fight and the fight over leaving the seat vacancy of Justice Antonin Scalia empty until the next President. And the Republicans in the Senate have said they're not going to let Barack Obama appoint to the Supreme Court, that the American people should weigh in on this, and what they use as part of their justification for this is something they call the Biden Rule. And it is from 1992, I believe, and it was when Joe Biden was then a Senator and he was the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which is what goes -- has the hearings for Supreme Court nominees.

  • 10:46:14

    DAVISAnd on the floor, in that speech, he argued that if President then H.W. Bush were to nominate a judge to the Court that was a conservative ideologue, that he would recommend that the Senate not take it up and they let the voters weigh in. And so, Republicans are saying, hey, this isn't us. This is the Biden standard.

  • 10:46:33

    LANPHERAnd it has provided them with great glee, I might add.

  • 10:46:35

    DAVISWith great glee. And it is so explicit and part of the floor speech, which Biden defenders and Biden himself will say, the whole speech gives it more context. And that he was talking about a theoretical vacancy. They did not actually have a vacancy to confront at the time, and so, as part of that pushback against the Republican offensive on this, Biden gave a speech this week in Washington at Georgetown Law University and said, you know, there is no Biden Standard, pushing back on this idea that we can let a Supreme Court vacancy languish for what will probably be at least a year.

  • 10:47:05

    DAVISAnd trying to push back -- although, I would say there is nothing to indicate that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is going to change his mind on this strategy.

  • 10:47:13

    LANPHERNeil King.

  • 10:47:13

    KING JR.Well, no, it is funny, because of course, I think we all heard that Scalia had died and about an hour later, Mitch McConnell came out with saying, we will not, under any circumstances, weigh a nomination put forward by this President. And then, they stumble, a few days later on this speech from 1992 and they're like, there's a Biden Rule. And now, the Biden Rule has become like the law of the land, mainly because of a couple of sentences. The one sentence that Biden highlighted yesterday was also from the same speech. If the President consults and cooperates with the Senate or moderates his selections, then his nominees may enjoy my support as did Justices Kennedy and Souter.

  • 10:47:50

    KING JR.So, it was very much of a provisional kind of thing. The other thing I'll just point out is that they've been so in search, the Republicans, of a precedent, some sort of thing that they can hang their hat on to say this is the norm. When, as Biden was pointing out yesterday, if they actually stick by this promise to not even consult with him, have no hearings, that in itself would be totally unprecedented and would set a very bizarre precedent in its own right.

  • 10:48:13

    RENNIEWell, that said, I have to say, so we have this kind of big Democratic push and the White House has brought in sort of former Obama kind of top campaign people to try and craft this message that if Republicans don't do their job and hold hearings on this nominee that this is going to cost them in November in things like Senate races. Personally, I think that's hooey. I think, you know, people keep sending me opinion polls, various pressure groups keep sending all of us, I'm sure, opinion polls saying, 54 percent of the American people want Senate Republicans to hold hearings and stuff.

  • 10:48:42

    RENNIEThe problem is that these opinion polls don't measure intensity. So yeah, you know, you ring someone up, you ask them do you think that the Republicans should hold hearings? 54 percent will say yes. But a very large number of those people, it's not their top voting issue. But there are a group of people for whom Supreme Court nominees is an incredibly important issue and they are often people like pro-life social conservatives. They are very, very important people to Republicans looking to get re-elected. And I see no reason on Earth, if you're a vulnerable Republican Senator, why you would risk being tarred as having helped Obama get a liberal Supreme Court.

  • 10:49:15

    RENNIEVerses a bit of embarrassment on having sort of not done your job. Because they also have the perfect response. They say, I'm doing my job. My job is to protect America from a bad Supreme Court Justice. And the vast majority of voters just shrug and they say, you know, this is partisan, he said, she said.

  • 10:49:30

    LANPHERLet's go to Joshua who's joining us from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Joshua.

  • 10:49:35

    JOSHUAHi, thanks for taking my call. I was actually just calling to ask yourself and the panel what their overall thoughts are on the concept of super delegates. And that it's almost ironic, or if you find it ironic as I do, that there's factions in the Democratic Party that are clamoring against super delegates and the Party on the right, the Republican Party, almost seems like they would be in favor, at this point, in something like a super delegate to protect them.

  • 10:50:04

    LANPHEROkay, you have Susan smiling.

  • 10:50:07

    DAVISHe is exactly right. And I've heard this conversation a lot. Super delegates are only exist in the Democratic nomination process and they were essentially created to protect the Party from itself. To make sure that the Democratic Party did not elect someone that was unelectable in November. And I have heard many people say that this is an election cycle in which Republicans probably wish they had more of a super delegate system, because it is the super delegates that would probably help inoculate the Republican Party from a candidate like Donald Trump.

  • 10:50:36

    LANPHERI want to go back to the Supreme Court for a moment. We have eight Justices now, and they appear divided over a contraception case. If one of you could address that.

  • 10:50:48

    DAVISWell, sure. I mean, this is -- it's another challenge to the Affordable Care Act. It's a contraception -- the challenge is to contraception, and as I understand it, it is not -- it is a challenge by religious organizations that say that they -- it's a violation of their rights to even provide insurance plans that provide contraception.

  • 10:51:05

    LANPHERIt is a, like a, much more narrower...

  • 10:51:08

    DAVISYes, it's very narrow.

  • 10:51:09

    LANPHER...Hobby Lobby case.

  • 10:51:09

    DAVISIt's very narrow and that the administration had created what they thought was a work around in that they could get these workers contraception coverage without the employers having to pay for it, but the fact that they would even have to provide it, and that it's a violation of their moral beliefs. So this is going to the Supreme Court now. It's -- what is very interesting about it is it's one of the cases that will be decided by a four -- potentially 4-4 Court. And if it is a split decision, what happens in that event is it reverts back to the lower court ruling and the lower court ruling sided with the workers who -- with the administration, essentially, saying that they have to provide this contraception.

  • 10:51:45

    DAVISSo it would be a victory for the Obama Administration in the short term, if, to have a 4-4 ruling. But, and part of -- when you talk to Democrats who are trying to draw attention to this vacancy on the Court is they think we may have a summer of potentially split 4-4 decisions that will continue to remind Americans that there is a vacancy on the Court and that maybe they should care.

  • 10:52:05

    LANPHERYou're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. And we're continuing our conversation with our panelists here on the Friday News Roundup. Let's take another call. Let's go to George who's calling us from Del Rey Beach, Florida. Hello, George.

  • 10:52:23

    GEORGEHello, thank you for taking my call. Yes, I'd like to make a comment and a consideration. My first comment is after hearing this panel, I kind of feel like a marginalized Hispanic Bernie Sanders supporter. And from my perspective and my community, it doesn't seem that that's -- that there's anything against Bernie Sanders. And my consideration is going to be that Hillary Clinton has had over 20 years of national coverage and national exposure. And everyone knows who she is.

  • 10:52:58

    GEORGEBernie has had less than one year since he announced his Presidential run back in April of 2015, so I would like there to be more consideration in the media, especially, that this could be a name recognition issue and also a misinformation of his issues. Because every headline you see is Bernie is a socialist. Bernie is a socialist. Bernie likes Castro. Bernie this. And that's sometimes all the older people see. That's all they see is the headline, so that could also be driving them away from a candidate who could actually be helping them political issues. I'll take my answer off the air. Thank you.

  • 10:53:38

    LANPHERThank you, George.

  • 10:53:39

    KING JR.It's an interesting issue, because, you know, the Democrats have a long tradition of going for the latest thing. You look at, you know, Barack Obama was the new thing, Bill Clinton was the new thing. That tends to be the way -- Jimmy Carter. They want somebody to come roaring out of nowhere. And he's right, except in this case, the name recognition has actually been somewhat of a burden for Hillary Clinton. It's the fact that she's so familiar that a lot of people, even on the Democratic side, don't really like her that much. Particularly among the youth.

  • 10:54:05

    KING JR.Young voters because they want something that feels new, that's saying something new. And, you know, everybody, I think, early on, was sort of shocked by the fact that the youth vote really was going as strongly as it was for Bernie Sanders. In part, because here's this old crotchety guy from Vermont that is really exciting -- people that have heard from, about him, probably, really, for the first time.

  • 10:54:24

    DAVISAnd part of what is hard for Bernie Sanders in minority communities is that, you know, he's been in public office his entire life. I mean, he's been in the Senate for several, I think at least a decade. He was in the House before that. Is that there isn't really any minority voters in Vermont, so it's not a constituency that he ever really had to cultivate in his home state. If he was from a place like Ohio or Pennsylvania or Florida, he would probably have a higher level of name recognition among Hispanic voters. And in the primary, he only really started to engage with Hispanic Democratic primary voters as they headed towards Florida.

  • 10:54:51

    DAVISIt was not an early concerted effort that he had to even try and win these voters. And on a lot of issues that I think are very important to the Latino community, he has not been a huge player on.

  • 10:55:01

    LANPHERI want to go back to President Obama's visit to Cuba for one moment, because tango and baseball aside, there was something very serious that happened there, and that is that he addressed race. Both in, you know, racism in Cuba and racism in this country. I can't remember the last time a sitting President gave a speech in another country and talked about race.

  • 10:55:24

    RENNIEAnd it was a great speech. I mean, there's things you can criticize about the Cuba visit, but the heart of it was this live address on Cuban State television, which was very widely watched in Cuba. And he pitched himself as this example of someone who, you know, his own election, which we know stirs up foreign audiences like nothing else does. The story of his election and how that couldn't happen in Cuba. And that really touches on a very raw point in Cuba. I've been to Cuba a bunch of times as a reporter and the revolution takes immense pride in having done away with formal racism and segregation on beaches and all of those things.

  • 10:55:55

    RENNIEBut it remains a very white government, a very white controlling top elite in the Repub -- in the Communist Party. And he, I think, he sewed seeds of subversion in that speech were actually pretty impressive. I thought it was a very, very smart, very good speech. And also, his press conference with the President of Cuba, Raul Castro, he made Castro look like a crotchety old guy who doesn't know how to handle questions from journalists. I think that was a brilliantly subversive thing to do.

  • 10:56:21

    KING JR.Yeah, it was a fascinating visit. I think if it succeeds in the way the President wants it to, these things that David just talked about will trickle out over time through the populous. In the end, it was funny, I was talking to the people who were on the trip, the Cuban government went so out of their way to make sure everyone basically stayed indoors. That it was like a kind of a ghost town, Havana. When you came in from the airport, there were no crowds along the way, which I've been on other Presidential trips, particularly in Latin America, where you'll have huge crowds coming in from the airport.

  • 10:56:50

    KING JR.People -- the others that went down, you would go to the various squares and there was essentially no one there. But the big question, and you said that was widely viewed was the fact that a speech like this was aired on national television, where I have to assume it was watched by the vast majority of the people, was itself a pretty revolutionary thing.

  • 10:57:07

    LANPHERI like to think that we've been listened to and watched by the vast majority of people. I'm afraid that our time is up. I want to thank you all for being here today. Neil King Jr., Global Economics Editor at the Wall Street Journal, Susan Davis, Congressional Reporter at NPR, David Rennie from the Economist. I'm Katherine Lanpher sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thanks for listening.

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