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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton appear to have split primary victories on Tuesday, with Sanders winning decisively in Oregon and Clinton scoring a narrow victory in Kentucky. Apparent GOP nominee Donald Trump won by a wide margin in Oregon. For the Democrats, last night’s primary results didn’t change the trajectory of the race. But Bernie Sanders has come under fire for the behavior of his supporters at a Nevada state convention, where they argued delegates were treated unfairly. In the aftermath, tensions have escalated between the Clinton and Sanders campaigns and the national party. Diane and guests discuss a growing divide among Democrats and implications for the presidential race.
- Ron Elving Senior Washington editor, NPR News
- Susan Page Washington bureau chief, USA Today
- Stuart Rothenberg Founding editor of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report; and contributor to Roll Call
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders appear to have split victories in yesterday's Kentucky and Oregon primaries. Sanders notched another win with a decisive victory in Oregon but came under fire for the behavior of his supporters at a Nevada state convention. Here in the studio to talk about last night's primary results, a growing divide among Democrats and implications for the remainder of the presidential nominating contest, Ron Elving of NPR News, Susan Page of USA Today and Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report.
MS. DIANE REHMI'm sure you'll want to chime in. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send us an email to email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook, or send us a tweet. Well, thank you all for being here.
MS. SUSAN PAGEIt's great to be here, Diane.
MR. RON ELVINGSure, our pleasure.
MR. STUART ROTHENBERGGood to be here, Diane.
REHMRon Elving, let's start with Oregon, Kentucky. What happened?
ELVINGWhat happened in Kentucky may still be slightly in dispute, but it appears that Hillary Clinton has won a rather narrow victory, fewer than 2,000 votes separating them out of more than 400,000 cast. Only a few precincts were left this morning before AP wanted to call it, but they were in a county that Hillary Clinton had won, and so it appears that she has won, although the possibility of asking for a recount remains for the Sanders campaign.
ELVINGOver in Oregon, a much more anticipated result, about 55-45, roughly speaking, percentage-wise for Bernie Sanders. He won almost every county, about three counties, four counties voted for Hillary Clinton, and even they were fairly narrow. This was more or less anticipated. Oregon has usually chosen to go with a more progressive, or certainly the challenger candidate in these primaries. Also Oregon is not a state that generally fits Hillary Clinton's better demographic. And while it was a closed primary, it has very liberal rules in the sense of these mail-in ballots. So it does get a large participation, and that has also been good for Bernie in some states.
ELVINGSo we were pretty much expecting Oregon to go this way, but the bottom line is he picked up maybe four, five, six delegates against her lead of 280 among pledged delegates. So the total effect is pretty close to a wash.
REHMSo no change in where the race stands, Susan?
PAGEYou know, I think it's significant not for the delegate count but for the kind of symbolism of Hillary Clinton not getting -- not losing in both these states. You know, she lost Indiana, she lost West Virginia. That -- they didn't imperil her march toward convention delegates, but it did cast kind of a shadow over where she stands. Are there questions about Democrats, about nominating her?
PAGEI think even though she won by a half of one percent in Kentucky, it looks like, that is -- it gives her a headline. It means a win is a win, and I think that is helpful for her as she moves into this last set of primaries.
REHMAt the same time, Bernie Sanders has now won a total of 22 states, Stu.
ROTHENBERGRight, and particularly toward the end of the process here, he is racking up a number of victories, and there is a growing sense, I think, that the Democratic Party is divided, that she is not broadening -- she's not closing the deal, in spite of the significant advantage that she has. But, you know, we do have to -- I know we talk about wins and losses, and I hate to echo what Ted Cruz said at one point, but it is about the delegates when you're talking about the nomination process, and Bernie picked up a net of seven delegates, and that's not enough.
ROTHENBERGBut look, there's energy on his side, there's enthusiasm. And that's proving to be a problem for the party but especially for Secretary Clinton.
REHMAll right, so you've got California coming up on June 7. Suppose Bernie Sanders were to win California, Susan.
PAGEThat would be an earthquake. You know, that's a huge group of delegates. It's the largest state. It's critically important. And actually we think that Hillary Clinton is well-positioned to win in California. So it would not only be a big victory, it would be kind of an upset. It would be a surprise, and it would reinforce the questions that some Dems have, although not most. Most Democrats who have voted in the primaries have voted for Hillary Clinton. We shouldn’t forget that. I think about 56 percent of the primary votes that have been cast have been cast for her.
PAGESo most Democrats are supporting her, but that still means that there's about 45 percent who are not supporting her, still embracing Bernie Sanders even as all of us keep telling them it's unlikely and almost impossible for him to win a majority of convention delegates. You know, it means that the Clinton people have this awkward argument that why won't you get out of the race, you keep winning contests.
ELVINGBut this is very much like what we saw in 2008, where in the late stages of that primary, Barack Obama didn't seem to be able to catch a break. He lost in many of these same states that Hillary is now losing. And what's more, he was losing in big states. He was losing in big states that Hillary's been winning, like Pennsylvania and Texas and so on. And he looked bad. He really limped to the final finish line in 2008. He had fewer than 100 pledged delegates more than Hillary Clinton did. So it was a much, much tighter margin.
ELVINGBut in that particular instance, Hillary Clinton played a very gracious loser, she played it right out to the very end, went through California, won California I might add, and then proceeded to say, but I didn't quite get more delegates than the other guy, and so we should all get behind the other guy. Now we'll see if Bernie Sanders can do that after this contest.
PAGEYou know, she was ultimately gracious, but right after she went through the last primary, and when she won the last primary, she still didn't get out. It still took her, I think, a couple days to get her head around the idea that she really didn't have a path to the nomination. And at that point she was gracious, endorsed him, did everything she could do unite the party. Now here's the question. Hillary Clinton's a Democrat. Bernie Sanders has not been a Democrat until this year. And will he feel obliged to do the same thing for the party that she did eight years ago?
ELVINGTwo quick things. First observation is not to get too complicated a scenario, but it's certainly possible that -- unlikely but possible that Bernie Sanders wins California, but Hillary Clinton locks up the nomination even in losing the state because she would get enough delegates. That would be -- that would add to the contradiction of the whole race. And second of all, the race was really decided, at least I think, we'll hear what you -- what everybody else would like to say -- I think the race was decided very early on in the South.
ELVINGWhen I looked at the early states, Texas, Clinton 97 delegates, Florida, Clinton netted 90 delegates, Georgia, Clinton netted 54 delegates. You go off to these Southern states with the large minority populations, that's where she's won, and the rest of the race has been basically a standoff with each side picking up delegates.
PAGEAnd, you know, I think that's exactly right, and she won the race before the Sanders people I think realized that they might win in, you know, before they realized they needed a strategy to get delegates as opposed to make a point.
PAGEAnd there was a point when Sanders started to win states, and I think it had dawned on them, hey, we've really got a shot here. But at that point they had not done enough outreach to African-American and other minority voters, and they had lost a big edge in these Southern contests.
ELVINGAnd that's going to come back to haunt them, I suspect, in California, as well. I mean, let's remember California is a state that is now majority minority. There is majority race or ethnic identity in the state of California. And most of those non-Anglo voters, non-white voters, are in the Democratic Party, and if they turn out in anything like their usual numbers, we would expect to see a result much like we've seen in other states that look like that.
ELVINGNow California is a special case, and obviously Bernie Sanders is pulling out all the stops, and this will be the last chance for people who want to express themselves. Some of them are going -- they're going to be fine with Hillary Clinton in November, some of them will not vote for her, but people who want to express themselves in the Democratic Party are getting their last real big chance not just in California but all of the June 7 primaries. That's New Jersey, New Mexico, a number of other states.
REHMWhat about the super-delegates, Susan?
PAGEWell, super-delegates are delegates. I mean, we call them super-delegates, but they have the same vote as elected, pledged delegates, and they are predominately for Hillary Clinton. You know, I think that there's been either a conscious or an implicit effort to not have a lot of super-delegates come out and endorse Hillary Clinton as these votes continue to go on so that she doesn't go over the top based on super-delegates. The Clinton people would prefer to go over the top based on elected, pledged delegates. But you know what? If they don't do that, they will be happy to take the nomination with the help of the super-delegates.
ELVINGThey have a good path if they win California to win the majority of the pledged delegates. I believe that's about 2,026 delegates. If they can reach that number of pledged delegates, then they can say, look, we've got the majority of pledged delegates, we've got the majority of votes, and we've got obviously the majority of super-delegates. On what basis do you make a case to super-delegates to flip?
PAGEAnd you know what basis you make? The system is rigged.
ROTHENBERGOh, the November, well, the system is rigged, and also the November comparison.
ROTHENBERGThe rules weren't fair. The debates weren't fair. We've been treated unfairly by the Democratic establishment, which is controlled by the Clinton campaign. That would -- if you -- we're going to have a fight, that's the fight we'd have.
ROTHENBERGWell, this is a party where -- I mean, the irony is this is a party where equality and justice and fairness seems to trump everything else, and here you have these super-delegates, who -- if I told you that the Republican Party had super-delegates and the Democrats didn't, you would say of course. But here we have this odd situation. But the numbers, according to CNN, she has 521 super-delegates, and Bernie Sanders has 41. That's an -- that's plus 480 for Secretary Clinton. She -- he needed to overturn the system. That's what he was trying to do, and he has gotten caught up in that whole effort. But that's what he needed to do to win, given the super-delegates.
ELVINGSo the argument remains, as Susan suggests, that the entire system was unfair, and for people who are relatively new to the system, and many of Bernie's supporters are relatively new to it, and that doesn't just include young people, but many of them are quite young, and they're new to the system, and they don't know why there are these super-delegates or why people who are elected officials, senators, governors, mayors, get an automatic seat.
ELVINGOne of the reasons that was created back in the '70s and '80s was because they didn't want those folks to have to compete with regular rank-and-file Democrats for delegate slots. They said, look, these people are going to want to go, they're probably going to go, let's just put them in on the basis of their position and not have them compete with other people for those delegates. That's not necessarily a terrible idea.
REHMRon Elving of NPR, Susan Page of USA Today and Stuart Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report. When we come back, what happened in Nevada?
REHMWelcome back. We're talking about growing rifts within the Democratic Party, how they may affect the outcome of the general election, and specifically, Susan Page, what happened in Nevada on Saturday? Reports of thrown chairs, death threats, phone calls, unbelievable.
PAGEA really raucous state convention where delegates were being chosen. The chairman of the party was being challenged by Bernie Sanders supporters, who were in the audience. They not only shouted at her and chanted, but there was also, as you say, chairs being thrown and a really chaotic atmosphere. And the -- and one of the other things that happened was the chair of the state party had her address publicized and her cell phone number, and she was deluged with really abusive calls.
PAGEThis has prompted a whole -- this has prompted the two campaigns, I think, to walk up to the edge of a cliff because what you had happen yesterday was the Clinton -- the DNC was very critical of this, demanded Sanders speak. Sanders put out a statement that said he was against violence, of course, but basically repeated his list of grievance about how his followers were being chosen.
PAGEAnd there was a sense that the Democrats were about to face the kinds of divisions we've seen in the Republican Party this year. Now what we've seen this morning has never -- by both campaigns to walk this back a bit. Jeff Weaver was on MSNBC this morning and said...
REHMJeff Weaver being...
PAGEJeff Weaver is the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders and said this was a problem in Nevada, he didn't back off that, but he said it's not a systemic, nationwide problem. It's not that we're not claiming that the system's been rigged everywhere. And you saw Brian Fallon, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, come on right after that on MSNBC and also say the state -- said the statement that Senator Sanders made was sufficient. He decried violence, we accept that and applaud it.
PAGESo there's clearly an effort this morning to tamp down on some of the fires that were set in Nevada Saturday.
ELVINGThere are a great number of raw emotions being release by this, not just in Nevada but wherever people are tense about the Clinton-Sanders conflict. But we should also look more carefully at Nevada. This is a longstanding problem. They had a first round of caucuses back in February. Hillary Clinton won by about 53-47 percent, was committed a larger number of delegates than Sanders going to the next level, that was at the counties. At the counties, the Sanders did a really good job about hustling the Clinton folks, and they seemed to kind of reverse that ratio, and so they came to the state convention thinking they were going to get more delegates.
ELVINGThen basically the state convention process reverted to the February result, which some people would certainly say made some sense, and then the Sanders people felt they had been robbed, and they got way out of line. They got way out of line, physically out of line. The things they were yelling at the various women who were on the stage, including Senator Barbara Boxer and their own state party chair, were truly vile. So the video of this is going to keep it alive for some period.
REHMAll right, here's an email from Ditto in Arkansas. "What is the nature of these escalated tensions? Is it independents who feel marginalized by Democrats or Democrats who feel marginalized by the national leadership?" Stu?
ROTHENBERGWell, I hate to fall back on an obvious answer, but I think it's only partially right. It's the frustration of outsiders versus insiders, of people who are new to the process, who have bought into Senator Sanders' mission that he's on. It's not simply a candidacy, it's something bigger. You know, Diane, the longer a race like this goes on, the more pressure there is for the candidate who's behind to ratchet up the rhetoric, to change the trajectory. I always refer to changing the trajectory of a race.
ROTHENBERGYou know, you see where a race is and where it's headed. So the candidate behind has to change the dynamic. And, you know, Senator Sanders I think has become a bit more fiery in his rhetoric and under challenging the system and...
REHMAll right, but here's an email from Mark. "Can somebody please help me understand what Bernie Sanders' endgame is, or at least what it might be? It's clear he's not going to get the nomination. At this point it feels like he's just burning bridges as fast as he comes to them." Susan?
PAGESo, you know, I think that's a question that a lot of Democrats are asking and especially Democrats who support Hillary Clinton and are concerned about the fall campaign, which by the way looks closer than you might have expected based on the national polls that we're seeing now and some state polls.
PAGESo what could Bernie Sanders want? Well, I think Bernie Sanders wants to be the nominee, and I think some of his supporters do not yet -- do not accept the analysis that we're giving, that it's very unlikely he's going to be that. What else could he want? You know, he's ignited a movement. He is going to -- he's been the independent member of the Senate with not much authority and with -- that people didn't feel like they had to listen to. People are going to be listening to him now.
PAGEBecause he's demonstrated that there are millions of followers who agree with him and who support him. So he could go back to the Senate in a very much enhanced role.
REHMBut even before he gets back to the Senate, couldn't he have a big influence on who's selected as vice president? Couldn't he have big influence on the platform?
ROTHENBERGThe platform, sure.
ELVINGAbsolutely. There are committees that will be meeting between now and Philadelphia, there will be meetings in Philadelphia, and of course there'll be the big show in Philadelphia. Now we don't expect it quite glitter like the Trump show we're going to see the week before in Cleveland, which we gather is going to be quite gilded, but it will be nonetheless, as any national convention is, four nights of a lot of speakers on, you know, the stage getting very prime time.
ELVINGAnd, you know, let's look back to 1988, when Jesse Jackson was going to the convention in a similar position. And he had a lot of delegates, and he of course was being courted to support Michael Dukakis, who was the actual nominee that year. They basically turned over the convention to Jackson's people for one night, and they basically had the hall, and they could bring people in who weren't delegates. And they really kind of took over and had one night of the convention, and Jesse Jackson gave a great speech.
REHMWhat's the long-term impact, Susan?
PAGEYou know, I think the Bernie Sanders campaign will make an effort on the platform. I think that's not very meaningful, in a way, because it's a party platform, and after we cover the fight, then we ignore it, and the candidate is free to ignore it. But he has had a significant effect already that could be -- get even bigger and pulling Hillary Clinton to the left. I think you've already seen that happen on issues like trade or the program she came out last week with, which didn't get much attention, for Medicare for More.
PAGEI mean, that's clearly a kind of echo of Medicare for All that Bernie Sanders supports. He -- it seems to me he could try to pull her to the left on some specific positions where she would feel more compelled to follow them, even if and when she was elected president.
ROTHENBERGI think as a short-term impact, a purely political impact, I think the longer this Democratic race goes and at this level of animosity, the closer the general elections will look in survey data, in polling, because you have a whole chunk of Democratic voters who at the end of the day probably will vote for the Democratic nominee, who right now -- and these are Bernie Sanders voters -- who right now say no, I'm not going to say I'm going to vote for Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, to heck with that. No, the primary -- the Democratic race isn't over.
ROTHENBERGSo I think it's making the general election look closer, and it will continue to look this way as long as the Democratic race goes on, and the Republicans consolidate.
PAGEYou know, I think traditionally that would be the case, and to some degree that'll be the case this time.
ROTHENBERGBut you're about to argue with me.
PAGEBut I'm going to argue with you because I think the atmosphere this year is different.
PAGEAnd the possibility that Sanders voters, some Sanders will vote for Donald Trump because they are the outsiders, I think you can't dismiss that. You look at those West Virginia exit polls, four out of 10 Sanders supporters said they would vote for Trump in November. I don't think four out of 10 will, but I think some portion of them will.
ROTHENBERGDo you think those voters voted for Barack Obama four years ago, those Democrats?
PAGEWell, yeah, in West Virginia, no, I don't, I don't think so.
ELVINGI think West Virginia's gone.
REHMAll right, here's an email from Ron, who says I voted for Bernie in the Virginia primary. I know feel it's time for him to get out of the race, support Hillary, virtually impossible for him to win. While none of us really like Hillary, he says, Elizabeth Warren was my ideal choice, at this point Hillary is the only one who can possibly, hopefully keep Trump out of the White House. And yet we've got polls showing that Bernie can beat Trump.
ELVINGYes, we saw polls in previous years that said that Mitt Romney was going to be president. Back in 1992, I remember the polls in the spring said that a fellow by the name of Ross Perot was going to be president, beating not only the incumbent president, George H.W. Bush, but also...
REHMHe's got such a memory.
ELVINGThis fellow, this fellow named Bill Clinton or something like that, who was coming out of Arkansas, and my goodness, he seemed to be the Democratic nominee. But Ross Perot was leading in the polls in the spring. I don't think polls in the spring tell you much about what's going to happen in November unless you can parse them the way Stuart is doing and trying to figure out what are people really trying to say in those polls, and that's important.
ELVINGPolls are always important as a guide to what people are thinking.
REHMAnd how reliable are those polls now, Stuart, with no calls to mobile phones?
ROTHENBERGNo, oh no, the -- the professional pollsters are doing large cell phone, mobile phone samples. No, no, if you get a survey, and they don't do mobile phones, just put it right in the trash can and recycle. But I have to laugh because if I had believed the Republican polls in the fall about Donald Trump in the race, and if I had said those polls were right, I would have picked Donald Trump when nobody else was. But I said oh no, early polls don't matter. I agree totally with Ron.
ROTHENBERGNow let me just say I agree completely, but it's funny. That was the one exception that violates the rule. Yeah, early polls, nobody's -- nobody's really laid a glove on Bernie Sanders. Secretary Clinton hasn't attacked him in a way that the Republicans would. So his numbers are pretty high.
REHMOkay, let's talk about long term here. Susan, you said that Hillary is going to be pulled to the left. What's the long-term impact of that with Democrats themselves? I mean, this has been ugly. How long is this ugliness going to last?
PAGEWell, I think part of it depends on how quickly Bernie Sanders, after the final vote, which will be here in the District of Columbia on June 14, how long he takes to say I'm going to take this fight to the convention or to say I'm endorsing Hillary Clinton, I'm urging all my supporters to do the same. Part of it will depend on what he chooses to do at the convention. He's got -- you know, the DNC controls this convention but not really. I mean, the Bernie Sanders supporters are -- Bernie Sanders and his campaign are going to have a lot of sway.
PAGEAnd when convention organizers look at what happened in Nevada on Saturday night, they're going to be very concerned about avoiding that sort of chaotic scene at the Philadelphia convention.
ELVINGYou know, I don't think we should characterize Bernie Sanders supporters in general by those people at that night in that hotel in Las Vegas. I mean, there was a group that were out of control, and they do not speak for all Sanders supporters. Now they may feel an extreme version of the frustration that all Sanders supporters do. So the question is how do you appeal to the better angels of their natures and bring those Sanders people back to the idea of Donald Trump, no Donald Trump, never Trump or never Hillary, which do you really mean.
ELVINGSome people are going to go one way, some are going to go another, but most of the polling would indicate that Sanders supporters are open to the idea, if not already committed to the idea, of voting for Hillary.
ROTHENBERGYeah, I agree this was an emotional moment right now, but at some point after what I think most of us think will be a Hillary Clinton victory and nomination, Bernie Sanders will take a deep breath and will say okay, that chapter one, part one, is over, now it's part two, how do I help bring the party together, how do we stop the Republicans, Donald Trump and their movement. And so I think he will at some point bring the party together, I suspect so, but we'll wait and see how and when.
PAGEYou know, I would just say a year ago, who of us would have predicted that Hillary Clinton would still be in this difficult battle with Bernie Sanders, who keeps winning contests, and that Donald Trump would've cleared a record-sized Republican field and is headed for a convention that is clearly under his control.
PAGEEven as Republican elites continue to be, many of them, uncomfortable or distressed by nominating Donald Trump, there's no question he's going to be nominated, and there's no question that that convention will be under his control.
REHMAnd you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. And let's go to the phones, first to Portland, Maine, and to Maine State Representative Diane Russell. Hello, you're on the air.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE DIANE RUSSELLGood morning, Diane, thank you for having me.
RUSSELLMy name -- I happen to be the sponsor of the Maine Super-delegate Amendment that was designed to start the process of eliminating the super-delegates once and for all. I also was elected to be a pledged party leader, elected official, national delegate, not unpledged, which the so-called super-delegates are. Since Maine passed it, Alaska has passed a similar resolution, and other states are in the process of introducing them, countless states. California will be having a very robust debate with Hillary supporters backing a super-delegate elimination resolution.
RUSSELLBut here's the thing. Bernie's supporters have been some of the most active voters that I've seen in a very, very long time. If Hillary wins the primary, and we want those Bernie people to show up to the polls and more importantly work to get her elected, the national party has to do something to eliminate or abolish this unnecessary class divide system that has been created by the so-called super-delegate system.
RUSSELLWhat you're seeing is a real backlash from the grass roots about not being heard. And I think at the national level, one of the things that the Hillary camp and the national Democratic Party can do to really make Bernie supporters feel like they were heard is to change the super-delegate system once and for all and to eliminate it and restore the vote to the people of this country.
ELVINGWell going back a little bit again to where the super-delegates came from, part of the idea was to keep some of the pros in the game, to keep some of the people who are actually elected officials in the game.
REHMSome of the folks who used to be in a smoke-filled room.
ELVINGOh, they used to be the whole game, of course, of course. And in the, you know -- climax of the old system was 1968, Armageddon, and after that, when a nominee who had won no primaries was the Democratic nominee, after that in 1972 we got a situation where even, you know, the mayor of the city of Chicago, rather notorious mayor, was not allowed to be a delegate. So they wanted to get something that was a little bit more in the middle, and after 1972, a 49-state loss, and after 1976, the election of Jimmy Carter, a certain number of Democrats were not too happy with the system that was coming up with their nominees.
ELVINGSo they tried to get some more pros into the game. The number went way up, the number went down, the number went up a little bit. The number is definitely going to go down again, and the question is whether or not they just eliminate it, and maybe that's just the thing to make Bernie Sanders feel as though he accomplished something at the convention.
PAGEYou know, Ron, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the original group of super-delegates were only elected officials, and then at a later date they added all the DNC members.
PAGEAnd that's how the number got up so big. And I think Diane Russell, you know, I think that the efforts to curb, eliminate or curtail the number of super-delegates, I think that is one of the things that we might well see coming out of this convention.
REHMWhat do you think, Stu?
ROTHENBERGYeah, I thought the state representative, Russell, was measured, thoughtful and articulate in her comments, and it seems to me that, you know, you talk about separate but equal or two classes of delegates. It just flies in the face of a lot of Democratic ideology, and it would make sense to eliminate them or at least begin the process of eliminating them.
REHMSo she mentioned that Alaska followed on. Are we going to see a run?
ELVINGThat's another Bernie caucus, and I think most of the Bernie caucus states will go there. And I think many other states will go there, and I think a lot of Hillary people will say, well, that's not so terrible to us, either. Tougher nut is the issue of allowing independents to vote, and having closed Democratic primaries versus the Wisconsin idea, which is you all come, you can all vote any way you want.
REHMThat came up a lot.
PAGEBecause what kind -- do you want Democrats to choose the Democratic nominee, or do you want a broader electorate, like the one they'll face in the fall?
REHMAll right, we're going to have to take a short break here. I want to thank you, Diane Russell, Maine state representative, for calling in with that point. Short break, and when we come back, more of your calls, comments. I look forward to speaking with you.
REHMAnd here's a tweet from Christina, who says Bernie's path is following Obama's in 2008. There's no reason -- there was no reason for him to drop out. Hillary lost then and will likely lose this time.
ELVINGThere is one sense in which Bernie's path has been following Obama's, and that is that he has done very well in caucus situations and gotten disproportionate numbers of delegates out of some pretty small places. You wouldn't think that some of these states would matter a lot in the Democratic process, and they don't have that many delegates, but he got a super majority, just as Obama did. And Obama used that to actually offset how Hillary Clinton was doing in the larger states. But he also won some larger states.
ELVINGAnd he won a lot of medium sized states and he had more pledge delegates. Let's completely set aside super delegates. He had more pledged delegates than Hillary did in 2008. That's the inverse of where we are today. Hillary Clinton clearly has more pledged delegates than Bernie Sanders and she has about three times as many as Obama had in 2008. So, in that sense, Bernie is not following Hillary -- Obama's path.
REHMAll right. Here's another call from Mt. Desert Island in Maine. One of our new affiliates. Ann Lynn, you're on the air.
ANN LYNNYes, and thank you very much. I'm certain that Bernie Sanders will support Clinton, but I'm just as certain that his coalition -- he won't bring along his supporters, who are unaccustomed to voting and ambivalent about voting for Hillary Clinton. And therefore, I'm very concerned. I would like to hear more about the problem in this country about how few people vote. We have very poor voter turnout in general, and I'm also very concerned that if the narrative continues, that Trump can't win, that many people who are ambivalent will just stay home and that Trump could easily win.
REHMWhat do you think, Stu Rothenberg?
ROTHENBERGWell, I agree that Hillary Clinton will have trouble with Bernie Sanders' 18 to 29 year old voters. I think that is a voter group that tends to be idealistic and is looking for a movement rather than a mere candidate. And once the nomination is over, will they excited by Secretary Clinton? And I think the burden is on both Bernie Sanders to help them get motivated, but also on Hillary Clinton to somehow excite them and motivate them. And I think she'll have trouble with them.
ROTHENBERGOther, other Sanders supporters, I think, she'll be able to consolidate. Does this put Clinton at risk in a general election? Well, we're a long way from that, and it depends how this unfolds. I think demographics still favor her, but Barack Obama, one of his great strengths was voters 18 to 29 years old. And she's going to need those people.
REHMAll right, I have to tell you, we've got many, many emails wanting some further explanation about what Sanders people were upset by in Nevada. Ron.
ELVINGThe procedures that went down at that hotel in Las Vegas on Saturday night were far from -- far from what you would want to see if you were trying to be even handed, fair to both sides and you were really concerned about how some peoples' hurt feelings might play out. Now, the background to this, of course, is that there are some very deep divisions among various people, including just individual people, within the state party of Nevada. Which is largely run and dominated by Senator Harry Reid.
ELVINGAnd he's the Democratic Senator from Nevada. Of course, he's the Democratic leader here in Washington. So, he's a big deal, and the state party Chair is a person that he has approved of, and so she became a target and in handling some of the votes, particularly calling for voice votes and then after there was no clear decision in the voice vote, or perhaps even a Sanders predominance, in the voice vote, she ruled in favor of the Clinton people, who maybe had not been as loud.
ELVINGNow, at that point, what you probably want to do is a head count. It's terribly impractical. It would probably have been very disruptive.
REHMHow many people were there?
ELVINGOh, you're talking about hundreds of people.
ELVINGWho, who would be entitled to yell, and then there would also be many more people who were there and maybe not entitled to yell, but yelling nonetheless. So, you do have to do a head count and there was a lot of dispute about who should be counted and not counted and who was registered and not. And who had shown up on time and who had filled out their forms properly. And who had registered as a Democrat in Nevada by May 1st. And all that was enraging to the Sanders people.
ELVINGOn the other hand, those are the rules. This is a process. There are lawyers there for both sides who are trying the thing fair. There was a credentials committee that was five and five for the two campaigns. Not six and four, it was five and five. And yet, their report was not accepted by the Sanders people and so there was just a lot of stuff that people could be angry about.
ELVINGAnd then it got out of hand.
ROTHENBERGYou know, I think fundamentally, this is all about trust. And we've seen it on the Republican side, too. There's an element of the Democratic Party, they do tend to be Sanders supporters, they are Sanders supporters, that simply believe the folks that are in charge will do anything, say anything to produce the outcome they want. And when you lack trust, then you'll pick on some, you know, the voice vote or I heard somebody wanted to participate and they weren't allowed to participate. Once -- if there's no trust there, the system falls apart and we've seen it in both parties now.
PAGEBut of course, there are some legitimate grievances.
ROTHENBERGOh yeah. Sure.
PAGEThat the Sanders people have, including the way the debates were set up. A limited number of debates, debates held on dates in a way to try to limit the number of people who would watch, so it's not as though there are no grievances that the Democratic establishment was -- had their thumb on the scale for Hillary Clinton.
ROTHENBERGOh, I agree. Yeah.
REHMAll right, here's an email from Louis in Texas, who says the middle class is exhausted from working longer and harder, just to break even. We're searching for candidates to help reverse 30 years of income inequality. Some hope to catch up under Trump. Others hope for this in Sanders. The party that improves the economic outlook for the average American will own the future.
ELVINGWell, Amen, I would say. That is probably so, but of course, the question that we're inclined to ask, as journalists, is how are -- are either of those candidates or any of the candidates who ran for President this year going to achieve that? How are they going to reverse all of the conditions that have led to or exacerbated income inequality? Maybe they can address at least the parts of the federal tax system and other federal policies that have encouraged some of that income inequality or have permitted some of it. That is probably the most they could do, but we haven't really heard that much from the candidates, particularly not from Mr. Trump about how he would address income inequality.
PAGEThat listener, it's kind of a reminder of what the election's actually about.
PAGEYou know, and at this point, we're very into the horse race, because we're into the final stage of the nomination process. But that lament is really, I think, going to be core of this fall campaign.
ROTHENBERGBut it's not even about simply the President, the next President, it's about how the President works with the other party, which is going to have a role probably in the House or the Senate. So, sure, the President is going to be important in laying out the agenda and offering ideas, but we gotta figure out a way for both parties to work together on this.
REHMExactly. Let's go to Putnam, Michigan. Carol, you're on the air.
CAROLHi. So, you guys keep talking about how it's very unlikely that Bernie Sanders can win. So, what's the likely scenario that he could win, because I've done a lot of things that are unlikely that I could do them, but I've been able to do them. And it would be nice if somebody could just talk about that. I really don't see myself voting for the Clintons. And it's the Clintons.
REHMSo, the question becomes is there a likely possibility that Bernie Sanders could win?
ELVINGPerhaps if Hillary Clinton decided to leave the race or get out of politics or do something else with her life. Look, I don't mean to be, I don't mean to be in some sense dismissive, because I really do understand this frustration. I've heard it from so many people, but one of the things that's basic here is that you don't win all the delegates of a state when you win that state in the Democratic Party. And this is one of the egalitarian, progressive reforms that if you win by one percentage point, as in many of these states that we have seen, you don't get all the delegates. You get a proportion of the delegates equal to your proportion, roughly, of the vote.
ELVINGAnd that makes a certain amount of sense, but it also makes it impossible to catch up when you get way behind because even if he wins California, he'll only get 50, 55 percent, maybe a little over that, of the delegates, and he needs 70 percent of them to even be in the ballgame.
PAGE...but it's not mathematically impossible for him to do this.
ELVINGNot if he wins 75 percent of California.
PAGEWhat he would need to do is win the remaining contests by margins of like 70 percent to 30 percent and, you know what, if he did that, that would be the kind of explosive that might shake loose some of those super delegates.
ELVINGThat's the theory.
PAGEFrom Clinton, so that -- so it's not impossible, but think about that. I mean, how many races, how many contests have we had so far this year where either candidate won by that kind of a margin?
ELVINGNot in a primary. Not in a primary.
ROTHENBERGNo, a handful, and actually it was in some of the southern states with -- where Clinton ended up winning in Mississippi, I think, with a huge proportion. No, I mean, the obvious path is a Clinton indictment, forces her out of the race, or...
REHMIs that likely?
ROTHENBERG...of course not. No. But it's a path. There are no likely paths to his victory. There -- the only path you have to come up -- it requires some open mindedness. Or else, I suppose, he could, at the convention, challenge the whole delegate process and super delegates, but even then, she's ahead, so...
ELVINGAnd even if you attribute -- even if you allocate the super delegates according to the vote in each state, she's still ahead among super delegates and she's still further ahead than she would be just among pledge delegates, so that doesn't work either.
REHMAll right, let's go to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Heidi, you're on the air.
HEIDIHi Diane. Thank you for taking my call.
HEIDIWell, I have a question regarding the possibility of writing in your preferred candidate on the ballots. Or perhaps is there a possibility Bernie would run as an independent, because it seems that he has done very well in states with open primaries, where people who want to vote, you know, are not required to already be pre-registered as a Democrat. I think if he were allowed to, you know, if he were allowed to have all of his primaries have been open, I think we'd have a much different result and the voter turnout might be very different if he -- you know, if we're allowed to write him in.
REHMAll right. Susan.
PAGEWell, Bernie Sanders says he won't do that. He said repeatedly he's going to support the Democratic nominee. He's going to do everything he can to defeat Donald Trump. It is possible to write in a candidate's name in most states, so people could choose to do that. But it does not look like that's a path Bernie Sanders is going to take.
REHMWould you agree, Stu?
ROTHENBERGNo, I certainly agree. And trying to run as an independent, we've been talking mostly on the Republican side on that as the establishment Republicans look for an acceptable alternative. And Texas is the filing deadline. Is it possible? And North Carolina's coming quickly. No, I mean if Bernie -- the reality is if Bernie Sanders were to run as a third party candidate, and independent candidate, he'd probably hand the White House to the Republicans.
REHMAll right. Let's go to Fayetteville, North Carolina. Hi James.
JAMESHey Diane. I'm missing you already. I don't know what I'm going to do when you go off the air.
JAMESI am trying real hard, as a person over 50 and African American male to stay with substance, and I keep asking myself, if Bernie Sanders becomes President, what exactly could he do, considering he didn't seem to be too popular among his colleagues and he doesn't seem to carry a lot of the African American support, even though he did try to garner some of that support up. In North Carolina, we've got lots of problems already and I'm just becoming a little untrusting of the media and untrusting of people who say they support Bernie Sanders being really, possibly being undercover Republicans who don't want Hillary to win.
JAMESAt this point, looking at Hillary's resume, her experience, Bill's experience, because I know they would be a team, I just, I can't see what Bernie could do in four years that he wouldn't get road blocked on every single thing, and we end up with another 10 years of Republicans down the road.
REHMAll right, thanks for that call. And you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. Susan.
PAGESo, a very thoughtful call there from James.
REHMI should say.
PAGEYou know, I would say that whoever gets elected President gets a lot of political capital by being elected President. So, if Bernie Sanders was elected or Donald Trump was elected, or Hillary Clinton's elected, they're going to have -- they're going to come in with the standing of having been chosen by presumably most of the American people and we'll see what happens. You know, it's likely we'll have -- we might well have changes in the Senate. You know, we could well have a Democratic Senate take over from the current Republican controlled Senate.
PAGESo, to James's question about what would he be able to do, you know, I think that -- I think it's possible that he could get some of the things done that he says he wants to by virtue of having won an election.
ELVINGYou know, and there's also a quantum leap here as Bernie Sanders himself has many times said. If I am elected President, when I am elected President, it will be the result of a political revolution. And presumably, that political revolution would carry a few other people in with it in the Senate and possibly even to make the House competitive, at which point he might be a little bit like Ronald Reagan in 1981, when he came to town, having turned the Senate to his party and having so buffaloed the people in the House who weren't in his party, that they all voted with him anyway.
ELVINGSo that's, there's your model if you want to imagine that. I don't see it in the cards, and I don't see it happening in the 2016...
REHMStu Rothenberg, you recently wrote a column titled, "Democrats Are Headed Off Their Own Cliff." Talk about what you meant.
ROTHENBERGWell, I mean, I've written a lot of columns, some think -- said that as well.
REHMI just showed that one.
ROTHENBERGBut that was about the Democrats kind of mirroring what has been happening to the Republicans over the last eight, 10 years where the, kind of more ideological wing of the Party has -- the Democrats have looked at the Republicans and said, see how successful the Tea Party has been in pulling the Republicans to the right. We need to do that. I'm talking about the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Move On, the folks in the progressive movement. And I think they're now flexing their muscles.
ROTHENBERGAnd I think they are, to some extent, succeeding in moving the party, just the way the Tea Party moved the Republicans to the right. I just think there's some long term danger there. I continue to believe, and maybe the panelists disagree with me, but I continue to believe that elections are won in the middle. And if you get too far from the middle, you...
REHMWhat do you mean by the middle?
ROTHENBERGThe kind of moderate, pragmatic, centrist voters. People who are less ideological, people who come out every four years, but aren't immersed in politics the way most of your listeners are.
REHMBut aren't we seeing more voters out there on the edges this time?
ROTHENBERGThere are more voters on the Republican right and on the Democratic left than we have seen, but the question is whether that changes the arithmetic for winning a general election. And I still think the general election is won or lost more or less in who is able to capture the center. That doesn't mean you have to have a centrist candidate. You can have a progressive candidate or a very conservative candidate. But if that candidate is able to reach over and swing voters, and I think the Republicans have been having that problem recently. I think the Democrats are going to have that problem in the future too.
REHMGive me a quick sense of what you expect to happen at the Democratic convention.
PAGEI think there will be a big effort by the Clinton campaign to make enough concessions, treat the Sanders folks with enough respect that the Party comes together. Because I think the great unifier for Democrats is named Donald Trump.
ELVINGAnd in the end, both parties are really relying on the same strategy. You hear Republican after Republican saying, well, I'm not a Donald Trump fan, or I don't endorse him, but the most important thing for us to do is to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House. And then, of course, everyone in the room cheers and applauds. And now we're hearing exactly the same thing from the Democrats and I expect that those two weeks in July are going to sound a lot like a perfect mirror image of each other, in sound terms.
REHMCan you hardly wait?
ELVINGWell, I can hardly wait. Actually, I think it's going to get to be a little much, having them back to back like that.
REHMYeah, it really is going to be a powerful two weeks, and I'll be out of it. All right, Ron Elving, Susan Page, Stuart Rothenberg, you all are terrific. Thank you so much.
ELVINGThank you, Diane.
REHMOkay, and thanks for listening all. I'm Diane Rehm.
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