Lawfare's Quinta Jurecic on what's next for the January 6th Committee and the steps Congress can take to safeguard American democracy.
Guest Host: Derek McGinty
The Democratic National Convention kicks off today in Philadelphia after a weekend of headlines – some welcomed by the party, some not so much. On Saturday, Hillary Clinton celebrated her chosen running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, in front of TV cameras in Florida. But the mood turned darker just a day later, when Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned after the release of nearly 20,000 leaked party emails. Some of them indicated favoritism toward Clinton as she battled Bernie Sanders for the party nomination. We talk about the email controversy, the vice presidential candidate and what to expect at the convention this week.
- Neera Tanden President and CEO, Center for American Progress
- Norman Ornstein Resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute; co-author of "It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism"
- Yamiche Alcindor Reporter, The New York Times
MR. DEREK MCGINTYThanks for joining us. I'm Derek McGinty sitting in for Diane Rehm. Well, this convention week was supposed to be a home run for Democrats. Following up on a GOP convention that was rife with mistakes and apparent disunity, this was a chance to say to America, this is how it's done. Oh, well. A scandal around leaked emails, the resignation of the Democratic National Committee chair and the rage of some pro-Bernie Sanders supporters have all combined to make this week just a bit more challenging than Democrats expected or wanted.
MR. DEREK MCGINTYIt all gets off the ground today up in Philadelphia. Joining me now in the studio to talk about the controversy and what Hillary Clinton and the democrats hope to get done this week at their nominating convention, Neera Tanden of the Center For American Progress, a liberal think tank, Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and on the phone with us from Philadelphia, Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times. Good to have all three of you here.
MR. NORMAN ORNSTEINGreat to be with you, Derek.
MS. NEERA TANDENGreat to be here.
MS. YAMICHE ALCINDORGreat to be here.
MCGINTYAll right. Norm, I'm going to start with you. What a weekend them Democrats had and it wasn't good.
ORNSTEINIt was not a good weekend with the release of these emails and the discussion of perfidy on the part of the Democratic National Committee. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair announcing she'll be leaving after the convention and the stories were about the turmoil, but also the word email kept getting repeated. Having said that, Derek, it's going to be very interesting to see this week how much of the focus -- I noticed right before we came on, Cable News Network talking about the Russian hacking, how much that story becomes a part of it.
ORNSTEINAnd to be perfectly frank, if I were Democrats and I could trade Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Donna Brazile, I'd be pretty happy about it.
MCGINTYWell, maybe, but Yamiche, I wonder what the mood is in Philly. As I said, thinking that you were going to come into this looking strong and now you've got to sort of play catch-up, put out fires.
ALCINDORThe mood here in Philly, I think, is much -- I think it mirrors what happened throughout the whole primary process. You had 16 or 17 Republicans running and the Democrats are -- some were, I think feeling really good about the fact that they had really three candidates and Hillary Clinton was in the lead so much and they thought, you know, our primary process is going to be so much shorter than theirs. And then, we realized, in the middle of it, that Bernie Sanders was still running and is still, "an official candidate."
ALCINDOREven though he's endorsed Hillary Clinton, he hasn't dropped out. So even though we thought that the Republicans were going to be the ones that went to the convention and there was all this talk of a brokered convention, we're starting to see that the Democrats really can't let their hair down and say, oh, you know, the Republicans, they had their crazy convention. We're going to be -- you're going to see how unified we are because there are thousands of Bernie Sanders supporters here that are still marching in the streets that are still very much behind him.
ALCINDORAnd you also have people that feel like even though Debbie Wasserman Schultz will resign that she was just one person in a whole system that they feel like was rigged against Bernie Sanders.
MCGINTYYou know, they were saying it was rigged all along and this just plays into the idea that the DNC really wanted Hillary Clinton, the powers that be, Neera Tanden.
TANDENYeah. I think we have to separate out two things, which is the emails and what they show and the actually primary process. So when you actually go through these emails, these emails are troubling. They're wrong. I'm glad steps were taken. I'm glad Debbie Wasserman Schultz decided to step down because they do show a bias. The question is about the actual voting. If you go -- move to a question about the actual voting in these states, there's really no evidence that there was bias in voting that moved against Bernie Sanders.
TANDENThere are definitely problems in particular states. Those problems actually seem to affect both Hillary and Bernie Sanders. So, you know, what I think we should really look forward to today is Senator Sanders' remarks. He's going to be on tonight. I think he had the right view of things yesterday. He was on the Sunday shows and really stated that he was concerned about the DNC and wanted the chair to step down.
TANDENBut also, looked at the bigger picture, which is that we face a real threat with Donald Trump. This is going to be a competitive election and if you care about the values that Bernie Sanders was articulating in the primary, really strong progressive values, then he's going to call on his supporters to support Hillary Clinton.
MCGINTYIt sounds like, Norm, this speech from Bernie Sanders tonight may be the most critical of this convention, even though it comes early in the process.
ORNSTEINThere's no doubt that Bernie is going to set a signal out there for a lot of people. The convention's gonna start, at least as of now, with Debbie Wasserman Schultz opening it up. And there are a lot of stories suggesting that a number of the more ardent Bernie delegates are going to orchestrate immense boos. It'll be interesting to see if she has enough sense to basically say she's got a stomach problem and is going to have to leave for Florida.
ORNSTEINBut after that, that'll happen before prime time. When the prime time moment comes, it's going to be a Bernie Sanders night. He'll be proceeded by a number of -- in fact, just about the only significant elected officials who endorsed Bernie. A couple of members of Congress, Raul Grijalva, who's the head of the progressive caucus, Keith Ellison of Minnesota. And I would guess that they're gonna give the same kinds of speeches that Bernie will. And what Bernie is going to do is talk a lot more about the danger of Donald Trump becoming president.
ORNSTEINI think you're going to see this convention pivot. The Republican Convention never pivoted off of Hillary Clinton is a disaster. My guess is, is that by tomorrow, the focus is going to be much more on Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine and what they would do for the country. And then, it's going to be question of how much the focus of the news and what people are watching and seeing and reading about is about inside the convention hall and how much is whatever turmoil there is outside or with a small number of delegates inside.
MCGINTYWhat do we know -- and any of you can address this, about Bernie Sanders campaign's response to the Wikileaks emails?
TANDENWell, yesterday, he did call for her to resign, but then after she resigned, he issued a statement that said, essentially, it was the right call. There's a need for new leadership. And, you know, throughout the day yesterday in a series of Sunday shows, he talked about the importance of not only defeating Donald Trump, but also supporting Hillary Clinton. And I think there's been some write-ups of what he's going to discuss tonight and I think he's going to focus on the issues that he championed and how important it is to elect Hillary to make some progress on them.
MCGINTYYamiche Alcindor, I know you are in Philadelphia, as we mentioned. Are you seeing protests up there and do they seem to be satisfied with the explanation, even if it comes from their boss?
ALCINDORI don't think that the people who showed up here in Philadelphia are going to be very much moved by Bernie Sanders' speech telling them to get -- if he then goes and says, you need to go vote for Hillary Clinton. A lot of the people that are here are Bernie or Bust and Bernie supported -- Senator Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton now several weeks ago and people that I talked to said that they felt betrayed. They felt like he was being pressured to do this. They felt like he was kind of going against his values.
ALCINDORBecause I was on the trail with him for hundreds of events and he laid out, in every single event, all the reasons why he was different from Hillary Clinton and a lot of the people that are supporting Bernie Sanders are very staunch progressives. They're also young people who, unlike Bernie Sanders who thinks, in some ways -- I think the long view, he's thinking about the party, he's thinking about Donald Trump, he's thinking about kind of the lesser of two evils in some ways. He said that once and then kind of backed away, but I think that's what it really comes down to.
ALCINDORSome of these younger supporters, though, they don't look at this as party loyalty. They are not people who are longtime Democrats or longtime people or people who are -- know the party structure and understand that supporting the party is going to be the -- even if you don't like the person that's on the nominating ticket, you still want to support the party. So I think that's going to be tough. And even if his speech tonight says, we have to defeat Donald Trump, we have support Hillary Clinton, I think a lot of the people, the Bernie or Bust people, aren't going to follow that because they're going to say, okay, Bernie, you haven't really gotten anything that we really wanted.
ALCINDORAnd they're not into symbolic wins. They're not into platforms.
MCGINTYSo we saw Donald Trump actually suggest that some of these voters should come and get on his bandwagon. Are you saying that that is what might happen if they don't like what they hear from Bernie Sanders?
ALCINDORI don't think so. I don't think that -- I think that the polls -- in poll after poll show that even with all this talk, the majority of Bernie Sanders supporters will vote for Hillary Clinton. When I interview people, most of the time, when they say that they're gonna vote for Jill Stein or they're gonna vote for a third party or they're gonna write Bernie Sanders in, it's very rare to find someone who says they're now gonna pivot toward Trump. But I should say that people also, that I've interviewed, they understand the geography of the country.
ALCINDORThat means that they understand that it's really 10 to 12 states that are going to decide this election. So if you talk to a Bernie Sanders supporter in Ohio or Virginia or Florida, they will tell you #IGuessI'mWithHer. And it's idea that even though I don't like to support Hillary Clinton, I'm going to support her because I know in Florida, she needs my vote. But a lot of the people here I've talked to that are from New York and California and Massachusetts, it's a blue state and they can say till their faces turn blue that they're going to vote for Jill Stein because they know that they can afford to give that vote away.
ORNSTEINYeah. So in Philadelphia, Derek, there are two types of people. There are the delegates and there will be some Sanders delegates who are Bernie or Bust. The vast majority of them, I think, will not be that way. And my guess is, inside the convention hall, once there is not a trace of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, you're not going to see a lot of turmoil. Then, there are those outside who are going to be protesting. But just as in Cleveland, where you had a lot of protesters, but they were kept far away from the convention hall, here you have a four mile area, basically, where nobody's gonna be able to get in.
ORNSTEINSo there may be protesting, they're going to be protesting quite a distance away. And the real question is going to be what's it like inside the convention hall. You know, you had some protests on the Republican side, the Colorado delegation walking out and all of that. Didn't make a lot of waves. And my guess is that's probably what'll happen here.
MCGINTYNorm Ornstein with the American Enterprise Institute. Neera Tanden's here in the studio as well, president and CEO of the Center For American Progress. And on the phone with us, Yamiche Alcindor, reporter for the New York Times. She's in Philly where the convention will kick off tonight. I'm Derek McGinty in for Diane Rehm. We'll be taking your questions and comments at 800-433-8850. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show."
MCGINTYWelcome back. I'm Derek McGinty, sitting in on the Diane Rehm Show. We're talking about the Democratic national convention, just kicking off today in Philadelphia, under some troubled circumstances. An email scandal, the resignation of the Democratic national chair and other things have made it a little tougher than Hillary Clinton and company thought. And I want to turn to you, Neera Tanden, but I got a couple of emails expressing, well, I don't know, incredulity about the circumstances.
MCGINTYSome -- Damon says I'm shocked that people are shocked that the DNC favored a Democrat over an independent for the Democratic presidential nomination. Michael says about the same thing. Why is no one talking about the fact that Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat, he's an independent? There are some of us in the party who believe he shouldn't have been on the ballot anywhere as a Democrat, he should run as an independent, which is what he is by his own admission.
TANDENYou know, I actually Bernie Sanders raised a whole series of incredibly important issues, focusing on inequality in the country, and I think that was all to the good. Now as we go into the general election, I think it's really important that we all recognize the issues at stake. And I would just say, I served on the Democratic Platform Writing Committee, I went to the Democratic Platform Committee. I know that there will be some of Senator Sanders supporters who actually are Bernie or Bust and may vote third party, but I think the campaign, the Sanders campaign is now actually working pretty closely with the Hillary Clinton campaign to ensure that you have the strongest turnout for Hillary Clinton.
TANDENAnd there will be people, activists and people who are still focused on voting third party at the end of this process, but I actually think will be -- if you look at the public polls today, Jill Stein is at one, two, three, four percent, still a lot of people in the country but actually relatively low number, and I think Senator Sanders is going to do great work to try and build that vote up. It's important for the presidency. It's also important for the Senate.
MCGINTYAll right, let's go to our phones, 800-433-8850 is the phone number, and Steven in Bethesda, Maryland, you're on the air.
STEVENHi. Yeah, I just had responded myself to this WikiLeaks story with a focus more on how the press seems to me to, you know, be consistently losing any sense of proportion in terms of these so-called scandals. And I particularly, by the way, wonder what Norm would think about this, that it seems like that the biggest story should be about this possible Russian connection. To me that is highly disturbing, whereas from what I've read about the WikiLeaks emails themselves is that it just seems like people have biases, but I haven't heard any real evidence that they did anything to the Bernie Sanders campaign to actually injure them.
STEVENIn other words, it just seems like people have their natural biases, and I feel like they should be allowed them, and, you know, some of the comments from the emails sounded frankly stupid, but again just the sense of proportion in the reaction to the press...
MCGINTYAll right, let's get to that -- let's get to that, Steven. I mean, the DNC is supposed to be neutral, and that I think the origin a lot of this -- a lot of the anger about this thing. But he also raises a good point about the Russian angle.
ORNSTEINAnd there's no -- little doubt that now we're getting a lot of stories, I read one yesterday in Defense One, which is a publication that has very good ties to the intelligence community and elsewhere, that bolstered the story in the New York Times, which makes it very clear that this came from high levels in the Russian government. And that is going to be a fascinating story, not only that Vladimir Putin's Russia is intervening to try and sway an American election but of course the ties that Donald Trump and his campaign manager Paul Manafort have to Russia.
ORNSTEINSo that's the story. Now I think Steven has another important point. Cable news now especially fills 24 hours, and focusing on a scandal is a way to keep it going, whatever that scandal may be or purported scandal, and that's become a dominant story at this point. If you look at those emails, and I haven't read all 19,000 of them, but I've talked to people who have read them all, there are a couple that are just cringeworthy, in particular one that is a firing offense, which is the speculation about challenging Sanders' religious beliefs.
ORNSTEINBut most of this was the typical chatter that you would get inside, and I think the earlier email's point that this is a party committee, and Bernie Sanders ran outside the party, explains some of it. Now, you know, no excuses here, and I think it was appropriate, the intent of the chair was to tilt it towards Clinton, the vote she won by three million votes or more, and she won in big states and small states, it wasn't that the process was rigged that gave a guy who was going to win more votes and more support the nomination, but it's fodder for a lot of people who are in a populist anger at all elites.
MCGINTYBut I want to ask Yamiche in Philly why you think as a reporter we haven't seen more traction for this Russian angle.
ALCINDORI think this election cycle, I was talking to someone about it, I think we are running from scandal to scandal to scandal, and this Russian angle, I think it's lost in the idea that the -- that Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned, and then you have to, like, collect all the reaction and the fallout from Bernie Sanders. And I think we also -- so I think that in some ways, if I had to really think about it, in some ways it's almost a failing of the media. We've gotten so used to kind of going to thing to thing to thing that, like to have someone kind of dig in on this Russian angle, it just seems like there's -- in some ways there's no bandwidth for it. But I think in some ways that says that maybe as journalists we really need to think a little bit more about whether or not we're really digging into things and really kind of figuring out whether or not we're going past just like the day of stories because this election cycle has been such a whirlwind.
ALCINDORI mean just the RNC, like, when Melania Trump spoke, the fact that she, like, plagiarized from the -- from the first lady, that dominated the conversation, but there was so much there to talk about, Sheriff Clark and all these other kind of law and order speeches that had been given that night that we kind of didn't dig into that, either.
TANDENWell, I guess I want to agree and then perhaps slightly disagree. First of all, on the Russian angle to this, we are just getting news as we speak. The New York Times broke the story really wide open last night or yesterday. I do think more and more folks are focusing in on it today on cable. You basically -- the New York Times basically shows that Russian agencies, agencies of the government, were the ones who -- who hacked one party and not the other. They -- information was released via WikiLeaks two days before the Democratic convention, just days after the Republican platform was changed in order to soften its stance towards Russia, and you have the chair of the -- of Donald Trump's campaign, his most senior advisor, who is -- has been working with previous Ukrainian governments that were very close to Russia.
TANDENSo there's a lot to dig into this, and I hope -- I hope -- there are a lot of questions that are unanswered, and I hope that the press will focus on these questions because they -- whether we have Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chair or not does not seem as significant a question for the election going forward as an adversarial country trying to shape our elections and support one candidate over another. I think that's a major set of issues.
TANDENHaving said that, you know, I do think we should focus on some of the other news that happened this weekend, like Hillary naming her vice president.
MCGINTYWell, that was going to be my next topic, Neera Tanden. But since you brought it up, I'll let you delve into it. A lot of people happy, a lot of people go meh when they see Tim Kaine.
TANDENYes, so I actually think this will be another pivotal speech this week. There's a lot of questions of whether progressives support Tim Kaine. I think he moved -- he's moved the needle dramatically over the weekend. Obviously he has, you know, he has opposition in the NRA and elsewhere. I think he did a great job on his speech on Saturday, and you'll see -- his "60 Minutes" interview with Hillary and his speech this week will be a pivotal one.
ORNSTEINYou know, months ago I wrote a little something about what you want in a vice presidential nominee. One, you want somebody who is, you know, in the proverbial way, ready on day one to be president. That means somebody who also has some grounding in foreign policy. Two, you want somebody who is going to be loyal to you, where the staff will be fully integrated with yours. Three, you want somebody who you get along with personally, and you're happy when they walk into the room, and you look forward to the weekly lunches you have with them.
ORNSTEINAnd of all the potential nominees, Kaine was the one who ticked off all of those boxes, with the additional advantage that he speaks fluent, colloquial Spanish, but that was a little side benefit. So he seemed to me to be a logical choice. And the others, who might have been terrific candidates and might have excited a lot of people, didn't have the foreign policy. He's been on the Foreign Relations Committee, he's got...
MCGINTYWell, doesn't Hillary Clinton have that? I mean...
ORNSTEINBut you want somebody who if you are not there is ready to be president. And in a world that's in turmoil and with Donald Trump, who didn't even know what Brexit was before he went over to Scotland and kind of blew up their politics, it's even more important to have that kind of grounding. So he ticks off the boxes, and I watched the speech on Saturday, and I don't think anybody would have said it was boring.
MCGINTYYeah, I always thought the number one box to tick off was do no harm, that your vice presidential pick doesn't hurt you. And I think you can safely say that he probably doesn't hurt her.
ORNSTEINI think that's right. Now you're going to get, we're already getting some pushback from some progressives, and Bernie on television yesterday said, you know, he's more conservative than I am. And that's probably true, but by almost any objective standard, Tim Kaine is a progressive.
MCGINTYAnd he plays the harmonica, from what I'm told. Let's go to Jordan in Toledo, Ohio. You're on the air. Go ahead, Jordan. Jordan, are you there? Jordan has left us. Well, you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. This is Derek McGinty, sitting in for Diane today, and joining me here in the studio, Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and joining us via the telephone from Philadelphia for the hour, Yamiche Alcindor, a reporter for The New York Times.
MCGINTYAgain, our phone number is 800-433-8850. That's 800-433-8850. All right, let's continue to talk a little bit more about Tim Kaine and his impact on this. Yamiche, how much is at stake when Tim Kaine speaks in New York -- I mean, I'm sorry, in Philadelphia.
ALCINDORI mean, I think that when -- I've been calling progressives and asking them, especially some African-American lawmakers, because there was this story out there about the fact that Tim Kaine had been supporting mandatory minimums and had been supporting kind of stances that people thought now led to mass incarceration of African-American men. So I think that one, his speech is really, I think, going to have to talk about how he sees some of the changes that need to be made in 2016, how he really wants to in some ways reach out to progressives.
ALCINDORI think his speech needs to be able to say that while he's a centrist in some ways and while I think he will back Hillary Clinton, I think that if he doesn't say something that kind of riles up people and riles up those progressives and makes them feel like even if he had a past doing one thing, that he really sees the error of his ways because I've talked to some people who were pointing to the fact that they had their reservations because he had had some of these stances in the 1990s.
ALCINDORHowever, I'll say the vast majority of progressives I've talked to have kind of already pivoted to the fact that they really need to defeat Donald Trump. So when I've talked to people and asked them, you know, how do you feel about this mass incarceration thing, they say, well, you know what, a lot of Democrats in the '90s have this in their background. I mean, we obviously all talk about Hillary Clinton and the crime bill, but so many people, even members of the Congressional Black Caucus, supported some of the measures that led to mass -- the massive arrests and massive incarceration.
ALCINDORSo I think his speech is going to really be really important. However, for these Sanders supporters that showed up here, I should say the ones that are protestors and are in the streets, I don't think whatever Tim Kaine says is really going to move them. I think they're either going to be moved by Bernie Sanders, or they're not going to be moved at all.
TANDENI would say I think the -- I think that Tim Kaine is someone that there's a lot of perceptions about, and his speech will actually help address those perceptions. And so, you know, he's from Virginia, he's a Democratic senator. I think a lot of people sort of assume he's a centrist. And I think this is an opportunity for him to talk about his record. I mean, he left law school and became -- and could have gone to a law firm but worked as a civil rights lawyer for, you know, almost two decades, worked at -- his biggest cases were housing discrimination cases.
TANDENHe was in the city council, then he was mayor of Richmond, really focused on addressing some of the huge disparities between African-Americans and white students. This is a person who, by any measure, is a progressive in a more conservative state and has succeeded on a whole series of issues, including -- and taken on some really tough fights, challenging the NRA in Virginia, working to defeat them. That is a tough position.
TANDENBut I think he'll have a real opportunity to talk about these issues, and I should just say, you know, in Hillary and Tim Kaine's "60 Minutes" interview yesterday, which is a really important interview, I do think he serves an important role, which is, you know, there are questions of character that people have been watching for a very long time. Having a vice president working with you or a nominee out there can help defend against some of these attacks in a way that Hillary herself can't easily do. I think he did a great job doing that yesterday.
MCGINTYYou know, speaking of that "60 Minutes" interview, Donald Trump and Mike Pence did a similar interview last week, and then we had the contrast of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine this week. Norm, give -- can you give us a sense in your experience as to what you see are the different dynamics in those two relationships between nominee and the running mate?
ORNSTEINSure. Well first, Derek, let me say, you know, I kick around the Hill quite a lot, and I know both Pence and Kaine. They're both really nice people as individuals. Pence is extraordinarily conservative, he's at the right edge of the spectrum, but he's not an angry conservative in the way that Donald Trump is angry. And Kaine, I don't know anybody in the Senate who is more liked or respected, and you can see that, for example, in the tweet that Jeff Flake, a very conservative Republican, did, saying after Kaine was picked, I'm looking for really bad things to say about Tim Kaine, but I can't find any. He's a great guy.
ORNSTEINNow in the relationship, there were other potential nominees who were closer to Hillary Clinton personally, Tom Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture, where they've had a very close relationship for decades. She hasn't had that close relationship with Kaine, but she's had a good relationship with him, and it's clear that they're very comfortable together personally, and that's not clear with Trump and Pence.
ORNSTEINAnd of course the contrast here is all the stories emerging from the Trump campaign that he was desperately looking for ways to get out of it the Saturday night before he picked Pence, and that didn't happen with Clinton. I want to -- just one other point about Tim Kaine, which is his wife, who is an extraordinary person, the daughter of a Republican governor of Virginia, Linwood Holton, and Linwood Holton, who was a giant of a man, who actually got hounded out of his job because of what he did, he sent his kids to a predominately black school in Richard, Kaine's wife among them, to make the point that we needed to do away with segregation in segregationist Virginia.
ORNSTEINAnd she's now the secretary of education in Virginia.
MCGINTYAnd on that note we'll take a break. This is the Diane Rehm Show.
MCGINTYWelcome back to the Diane Rehm Show. I'm your substitute host, Derek McGinty, and I'm joined here in the studio by Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress, Norm Ornstein, resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute and co-author of the book "It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism," and on the phone with us from Philadelphia, where the Democrats will take center stage, as they say in Cliché Land, Yamiche Alcindor, a reporter for The New York Times.
MCGINTYGood to chat with all three of you. We're of course talking about the Democratic convention. One thing we haven't brought up yet is the trust factor. This is the thing that seems to be standing in the way of Hillary Clinton, and as we even now note there are CNN polls showing that Trump has surpassed her in a poll of registered voters. How does she attack that issue, Norm Ornstein?
ORNSTEINSay that again, Derek.
MCGINTYThe trust issue. How does Hillary Clinton attack that this week?
ORNSTEINYeah, that is the biggest challenge that Hillary Clinton has going forward, and it's a challenge that gets reinforced with the DNC problem because the word email keeps coming up again and again. And it's something where the convention is an important part of it. It's going to be her telling her story, and it's also going to be others framing that story for her and the films that will be shown. And I think -- my guess is we're going to see a convention where plenty of people will make fun of Donald Trump, but there's an understanding here that this should not be a convention about mostly attacking Donald Trump but about creating a different level of trust for voters and comfort with Hillary Clinton, and that's a tough challenge right now.
MCGINTYIt's a very tough challenge. I mean, can Hillary Clinton fix the trust issue without really taking head-on this email issue, which she has not done?
ALCINDORI, it's a hard thing to tell because I once wrote -- I once wrote a story about Bernie Sanders supporters really hoping that she was going to be indicted because of these emails. And we all -- most people watched the press conference, where the FBI director said she wasn't going to be -- that they weren't going to recommend charges. But he also kind of in some ways really, really laid out a case of her being -- of her and her staff not doing -- not using the email properly and really being in some ways just -- you just felt like he was very -- it was a very harsh press conference. So even though she didn't get charged, people still walked away from that feeling like she had done something wrong.
ALCINDORSo whether or not she talks about these email issues is one thing. I think when I think of Bernie Sanders supporters that I've talked to, they are interested in the emails, but because Bernie Sanders kind of threw that to the side so much, they're way more interested in the trust issues that have to do with her changing her stances on issues, so talking about her -- in talking about her support of the crime bill, talking about her support of TPP, talking about kind of her in some ways adopting language from Bernie Sanders.
ALCINDORI think while she could talk about the emails and say yes, this is something that happened, I think she would make a lot more traction and a lot more progress if she just said, you know, here are some of the issues that -- here are -- here's why I changed my mind, here's why I'm not going to change my mind on these specific things. For example, people really believe, at least some of the supporters I've talked to, Sanders supporters, believe that once she gets into office that she's probably going to change her mind about TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is a big deal with trade, and a lot of people saw -- feel like they saw factories leave America because of these bad trade deals.
ALCINDORSo people don't trust her on that issue. People don't trust her when they talk about the -- her stances on college. She came out with this plan to say, you know, I want to have working-class people be able to have college for free. Some people say that's disingenuous because that's something that was very much pulled from Bernie Sanders' platform. So I think if she -- if she did more about the actual issues and how she was going to fight for people and how she wasn't going to change her mind, I think that would do more for her.
TANDENYeah, can we -- I'd like to just separate a few issues out here. First and foremost, you know, I think the -- I think we need to separate out Senator Sanders supporters and the broader public on some of these issues related to trust. I mean, if you look at the polls, senator -- in most of the polls that I've seen, between 80 and 90 percent of Senator Sanders supporters are supporting Hillary Clinton.
TANDENThe real problem she has, there is a real trust deficit in the country, and a lot of that is with independent voters, independent leaners, maybe some of them were Sanders supporters, but it's -- it's the broader public. And that I think is why this convention is so important, and the speeches, I think, that will really relate to this are not going to be Hillary Clinton's speech on Friday, although she has a lot to do there, but I look at Michelle Obama's speech, Elizabeth Warren's speech and most importantly President Obama's speech to lay out why he has faith in her, why he trust her, why he trusts her to be an excellent president.
TANDENAnd I think you see this -- you saw this in the Kaine, the Hillary, Kaine interview in "60 Minutes." It's hard for someone themselves to say this is why you should trust me. It's a lot easier for someone else to say why you have faith in that person. And I agree with Norm the emails are an issue. I think Hillary has said, and she needs to say this more regularly, she made mistakes, it was a mistake, but, you know...
MCGINTYBut wait, wait a second.
TANDENThere is this blur out there, and I think this is a real issue. People are, like, well, I don't trust her, I don't really know why I don't trust her, and I think she has to answer that, but I think it's going to be important for other people to answer, as well.
MCGINTYWell, when you say she has to answer that, and maybe I'm being a little self-serving as a member of the media, I feel as though she owes us a press conference, you know, that -- to stand up and take the questions until there aren't any more questions. And you just don't see that.
ORNSTEINWell, I have to say, Derek, back when she as first lady, and there were these questions about the records in the family quarters in the White House, she did a press conference where she sat there for hours and answered all the questions, and frankly it didn't do a damn thing for her because you have a press corps that's not going to be satisfied.
ORNSTEINSo I think she made a mistake months ago not having a press conference or having a series of press conference, but if I were advising her now, I wouldn't tell her to have a press conference because it would be an unmitigated disaster. The press would come down on her over and over again, not asking questions that are going to be ones that they will -- will be answered to their satisfaction. So she can skip by that. She has to reach out, I think, much more directly to those independent voters that Neera was talking about.
TANDENClearly you don't like the interviewers who are interviewing her because she sat down for multiple interviews in the last couple of weeks, and they asked questions about emails, but then they move on to other topics.
MCGINTYLet's get some more phone calls in here. Dolores in Tampa, Florida, you're on the air. Go ahead.
DOLORESThank you for taking my call. What I don't like is how they talk about not trusting Hillary, yet they're going to trust Bernie when he's not even a Democrat. Most of the time he has been an independent and why -- only changed to be a Democrat every now and then if he feels like it. All the issues that he's tried to put forth to be part of his campaign and on the platform were issues in 2012, 2008, 2004 and 2000. And yet he didn't bring out all these issues then. He only brought them out when Hillary seemed like she was going to be the nominee.
MCGINTYWell, you could make the argument there that there was a critical mass of discontent that may -- fueled his campaign. But you make an interesting point. Let's go to Louis in Orlando, Florida. You're on the air. Go ahead, Louis.
LOUISHey, you brought it up a few minutes ago, your guest, TPP. I'm a member of Communication Workers of America Local 3108, and I work a, you know, 50-, 60-hour week with a telecom company, and I've been a political activist my whole life in the union, and if Hillary hadn't changed her tune about TPP, we would not have backed her.
LOUISBut as it is, our national union in Washington did back Bernie, and they've got someone now, and they've known about Debbie Wasserman Schultz' bias. We have a guy named Tim Canova that we're backing right now in a primary race against her. That's how bitter we feel about her and about TPP, and she's a strong TPP supporter. And my main point is a lot of white, working-class voters that the Democrats need, a lot of them, my co-workers, some of them, have talked about voting for Trump, which I will never vote for that guy.
LOUISBut there are -- because he's just ripping the trade deals that have screwed us over badly over the last 25 years, he's getting the eyeball of union people that would have never thought of voting for a Republican.
MCGINTYYou know, Louis, I'm glad you called. Let's address that. There is a split in the Democratic Party about free trade versus protectionism.
ALCINDORLook, when I was covering Bernie Sanders, and I go back to that only because I as a reporter hadn't really looked into trade, I hadn't really understood trade deals in a real, I guess, broad way, every single city, almost every single city that he went to, he could tell, like, personal stories about factories that had left and had gone to Mexico. And at first it was -- I thought okay, this happens in a couple different cities, but then it really became this recurring theme where it wasn't just to say, you know, oh, you know, over -- we know that there are 50,000 factories that have closed.
ALCINDORHe can say here, in this city, you remember when your grandfather worked for this factory and this factory and this factory, and that factory is gone. And he did that over and over again. And I started talking to people, and I realized that trade really did destroy a lot of people's lives, and I think that that's something that wasn't very much captured and that when I watch Donald Trump, and I hear his speech on trade, I think this is how Bernie Sanders won Michigan.
ALCINDORAnd that's a really strong message, the idea that Donald Trump can maybe make these deals. Also Hillary Clinton has the -- one of the most problematic demographics is white men in America, and a lot of these blue-collar white men, who used to work at these factories or saw their dads work at these factories and now are scared to death about their futures, it's -- I think it's something that definitely could resonate and could definitely pull people into supporting Trump.
MCGINTYSo the question is can Hillary Clinton pivot to take this on in a way that's going to satisfy some of those same people you're talking about.
ORNSTEINYou know, whenever we have a populist moment, and we had it back in the 1992 election, where trade became a dominant issue, Ross Perot, the giant sucking sound of jobs going to Mexico, it emerges. It's actually in many ways a bigger challenge on the Republican side, which used to be overwhelmingly for trade, Democrats were more deeply divided. Now you have a very different dynamic there, which probably dooms TPP.
ORNSTEINFor Clinton, choosing Kaine, I think one of the requirements was that Kaine say I've looked at this treaty now, and I can't support it. So I think you're probably going to see for most of the people who would vote for her, that issue will be neutralized during the course of the campaign. It's also important to emphasize, though, Derek, that those jobs going to Mexico were much less about NAFTA and trade and more about the broader issues of globalization.
ORNSTEINIt's the fact that you can mechanize. In many of these plants, you go to the auto plants in Detroit, they're having less people not because they've shipped the jobs to Mexico but because robots are doing the jobs that high-paid union workers used to do.
MCGINTYSo the trade deal is sort of a straw man here?
ORNSTEINWell, it matters, but it's -- there's a much larger problem, and doing away with trade deals is not going to make it work, and the challenge for the next president is going to be figuring out how you can thrive in a global economy if you're not doing the trade deals.
TANDENYou know, I just -- I think it is important that we recognize what Hillary Clinton has said on trade. And, you know, I think that there's a lot of anger justified about the rising levels of inequality, about how much wealth is going to the top. These are issues that Senator Sanders will address tonight and I believe Hillary Clinton will address on Thursday night. But she has stated very clearly that she opposes TPP. She opposes the Senate taking up TPP in the lame duck.
TANDENAnd I appreciate that there are lots of folks who don't want to take her on her word on this, but we should just be clear about what she has said.
MCGINTYAll right, this is the Diane Rehm Show. Let's continue our conversation now as we roll in on Philadelphia and what's going to be the beginning of the Democratic national convention. Kevin in Vernon, New Jersey, you're on the air.
KEVINHi, I have, I guess, two comments that are kind of interconnected, one relating to Hillary's relationship with Bernie supporters and one to a broader issue of Hillary's trust. It just kind of feels as if Hillary -- she has said that she's not taking any voters for granted, but she seems to be voting Sanders supporters for granted in a way. With Debbie Wasserman Schultz, I think, the perception is that Sanders supporters are glad that she stepped down, but it feels like kind of salt on the wound that Clinton has apparently asked Debbie Wasserman Schultz to be an honorary chairperson in her campaign.
KEVINAnd, like, I can look into that, and I can see that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is important to Florida, she's -- I read the political article that apparently the Clintons wanted her...
MCGINTYSo Kevin, are you saying that there should have been a complete divorce between Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic Party, that would've made you happier? Is that what you're saying?
KEVINI think it's less about what would make me happy. I think it's more that -- I can look at it, and I can see that she's keeping Debbie Wasserman Schultz as part of her campaign for political reasons because she's important to Florida, but I can say that the majority of Sanders supporters are not going to see it that way. They're going to see her embrace of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as some kind of corrupt deal, whether it is or not. And...
MCGINTYAll right, let's talk about that for a second, folks, Neera?
ALCINDORI think the polls show over and over again, as you other guests have noted that, like, the majority of Bernie Sanders supporters have already said that they're going to support Hillary Clinton, even though a lot of them also say that they're reluctantly doing so. So I think that people might be -- may be a little uneasy about Hillary Clinton embracing Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but they also -- I go back to that idea that I said at the beginning, that people understand battleground states. Voters are very, very educated on how important different states are.
ALCINDORSo I think to say that the woman -- a woman and someone who's a sitting person, member of Congress, in Florida, should be completely divorced, when Donald Trump is going to have his eyes on Florida, I think most people will understand that, and even though it will make them uneasy and maybe a little -- most people -- the other problem is, though, that when I ask, and kind of what you just did, you asked, well, what would make you happy, how could this be resolved, I ask that question a lot to people that say, well, what could Hillary Clinton do, and people don't really know what they want to do in some ways, at least the majority of people that I've tried to interview and asked that question to, they kind of go back to what the caller just did, which was, you know, well, it's not about what I want, but it's about kind of how this makes people feel.
MCGINTYWe've only got a couple of minutes left in the broadcast, and I'm curious as to how likely you think it is that Hillary Clinton gets the same kind of bounce after this convention that Donald Trump has apparently gotten, where now some polls show him leading nationally.
ORNSTEINSo what I would say, Derek, is one thing we have to keep in mind is parallels. In 2008, John McCain led after the Republican convention for a few days. And he had this sense that he could win. I think his bitterness afterwards was because he was lulled into believing that he had momentum. That went away within just a few days. And so we're going to be watching, I think, a week from now, 10 days from now, to see where we are.
ORNSTEINAnd I'll be surprised at that point if we don't have at least some Clinton lead given the fundamentals here. She's doing better among college-educated whites than Mitt Romney did. A lot of these polls that show 30 percent Hispanic support, including the CNN one, probably 30 percent after Joe Arpaio, I don't take to heart very much. So my guess is she'll get a bounce, which is what usually happens.
MCGINTYNeera Tanden, you get the final word on that.
TANDENYeah, I think she'll -- I think she'll get a bounce, but we should recognize this is going to be a close election, and it's really important that everyone focus on the election itself, and I think that's, you know, it's not impossible that Donald Trump could be president.
MCGINTYNeera Tanden is president and CEO of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and co-author of "It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism," and on the phone with us from Philadelphia, Yamiche Alcindor, reporter for The New York Times. I'm Derek McGinty. You've been listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Thanks for being here.
Most Recent Shows
Susan Glasser and Peter Baker are veteran political journalists who closely covered the presidency of Donald Trump, he as the New York Times chief White House correspondent, she as a…
For months it looked like Russia was waging – and winning -- a battle of attrition. But last week Ukrainian forces made dramatic gains on the battlefield, retaking vast areas…
From McCarthyism to January Sixth, best-selling author David Corn says the G.O.P has a long history of using paranoia, grievance, and tribalism for political gain. His new book is "American Psychosis."