Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Jon Meacham on the evolution of Abraham Lincoln's moral principles and political leadership -- and what the era of Lincoln can teach us about the state of our democracy today.
Guest Host: Derek McGinty
Democrats began their convention in Philadelphia struggling to unite behind Hillary Clinton, following email leaks that showed party officials tried to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt). But by the end of last night, a series of positive and personal speeches by First Lady Michelle Obama, Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) energized the crowd and tried to turn the focus toward uniting behind Clinton and defeating Donald Trump. But Sanders’ impassioned support for Clinton still drew boos, and his supporters vowed to continue protesting today. Guest host Derek McGinty and guests discuss the latest on the Democratic National Convention and party efforts to unify behind Clinton.
- Susan Glasser Editor, Politico
- Stuart Rothenberg Founding editor of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report; columnist, The Washington Post's PowerPost
- Margie Omero Democratic strategist and pollster; executive vice president of public affairs, Penn Schoen Berland; co-host of the podcast "The Pollsters"
MR. DEREK MCGINTYWell, thanks for joining us. I'm Derek McGinty sitting in for Diane Rehm. She is on vacation. Well, the emotions overflowed at last night's opening session of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, but then again, so did the questions. Would Bernie Sanders be able to rally his troops to the side of nominee, Hillary Clinton? Which speakers could tap into and perhaps redirect the discontent of voters out there and will be begin to see the unity, that elusive unity, Democrats were desperate to put on display following the troubled GOP convention the week before and the big speech and political bump that Donald Trump managed to gain after rallying his own troops.
MR. DEREK MCGINTYHere to talk about that and provide us with an update on exactly what went down and what we can expect for the rest of this week, Stuart Rothenberg is here in the studio, a columnist with The Washington Post. And joining us from the convention in Philadelphia, Susan Glasser with Politico and Margie Omero, a Democratic strategist and pollster. Good to have you with us.
MR. STUART ROTHENBERGGreat to be here.
MS. MARGIE OMEROGood morning.
MS. SUSAN GLASSERThanks, Derek.
MCGINTYAnd anybody who wants to join our conversation, of course the phone lines are opening. We'll be taking those questions and comments, 800-433-8850. And you can drop us a email at email@example.com. And, of course, there's also Facebook and Twitter. Stuart, let's start off with the big winner of last night. It seemed like it was Michelle Obama, rather than Hillary Clinton.
ROTHENBERGYeah. Of the big three, she was the leadoff speaker and I think she did remarkably well. And, frankly, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were, in my mind, a bit of an afterthought. She was just so good. She was so personal and charismatic. You know, with Warren and even with Bernie, those were political speeches. But when you listen to Michelle Obama and you looked at her, you saw the kind of the real emotion and she was really speaking from her gut.
MCGINTYMargie Omero, I know you have your own point of view on those two questions.
OMEROYeah. I mean, she was so personal. She really not just gave voice to her own personal story. She really represented the Democratic value personified and it was very emotional. As a mom myself and moms in the audience, the way she talked about her children, I mean, it still really chokes me up to think about it. And she, at the same time, was able to cover a lot of ground. She poked -- she tweaked Trump a little bit.
OMEROShe, you know, had a line for the Sanders voters. She talked about Clinton's credentials and she also was optimistic about the future of our country and where we're going and she was able to accomplish all that. It was fantastic.
MCGINTYEverybody loved the first lady, Susan Glasser, but what about the man of the hour, Bernie Sanders?
GLASSERWell, you know, it's interesting. I was in the hall last night and I have to say there really was -- the Michelle Obama speech was, by far, sort of the one coming together moment in that hall. And it was really -- it was more excitement than you saw really almost at any moment during the Republican Convention last week. The Bernie speech was -- it was sort of up and down. It was kind of a stressful moment, it felt like, in the hall. He gave a speech that, by the time he got around to Hillary Clinton, not only was it very late in the evening, it was well past 11:00 p.m. when he actually came to his endorsement of her.
GLASSERIt was a very cerebral, almost rational case for Hillary Clinton that he managed to make. He didn't compliment her grit or character or anything like that in winning. He didn't go out of his way to do anything more than sort of the baseline of what was required.
MCGINTYWere you struck at all by the three or four minutes of standing ovation that Bernie Sanders got and that some said, and I could argue back and forth about that, that he could've stopped it at any point, but that he just was soaking it up, sort of?
GLASSERIt did seem that he was soaking it up. You know, this is a long Democratic party tradition, no question. I was in -- old enough to have been -- my convention was in 1992 at the Democratic Convention in New York and, you know, I remember being very struck by the very robust floor demonstration on that first night for Jerry Brown, you'll remember. And, you know, he didn't come anywhere as close as Bernie Sanders did, did not run as strong of a campaign against Bill Clinton.
GLASSERAnd so, you know, I don't think it was outside of the spectrum of normal Democratic party demonstrations on the floor, but I was struck by the fact that Elizabeth Warren provided a pretty powerful contrast in how Bernie Sanders might have gone about endorsing Hillary Clinton, but chose not to.
MCGINTYStuart, talk a little bit about that and also -- okay, go ahead.
ROTHENBERGWell, I felt the exact same way that Susan did. It wasn't that he didn't endorse her. Of course, he endorsed her. It wasn't that he didn't spend some time talking about issue positions and how she was closer to his position than Donald Trump and Donald Trump is wrong and we can't allow Donald Trump to be elected president. He did all that. But I just didn't get the sense that he was a character witness for her. For whatever reason. Maybe he felt he couldn't. Maybe he was not comfortable with that.
ROTHENBERGMaybe he thought it was more effective to talk about public policy positions and the movement that he has been leading. But I just thought it would've been much more effective if he had been more personal. Issues are fine and he's driven by issues and I understand that, and ideology and philosophy. But when you get down to it, politics is so much about connecting on a personal level, I think he should've tried to connect Hillary Clinton to his supporters on a personal level as well.
MCGINTYMargie Omero, should Democrats be satisfied with what Sanders did last night?
OMEROYeah, I think so. I think the speech was very much consistent with other speeches that he's given and that tone that he's used during his campaign. And I think that voters and Democrats in the hall and certainly Democrats watching at home are going to feel unified by the end of this convention. It certainly felt unified by the end of the day. It's certainly different from how people were viewing the convention at the beginning of the day.
OMEROSo there was a real marked change there. You know, I think the other thing to remember, and lots and lots of polls have confirmed this, that in the last month or two, Democrats have been far more unified than Democrats were at this same time in 2008. I mean, there's a -- and this is even before Trump had solidified the nomination, before Democrats watched in horror the Republican Convention. So I think that Democrats are going to leave here feeling very unified going forward.
MCGINTYAll those polls you mentioned were also taken before the DNC was shown to have put their hand on the scale, so to speak, in favor of Hillary Clinton. In fact, today, we see that they have apologized to Bernie Sanders. Unprecedented, as far as I know, in politics to say, look, we messed up.
OMEROYes. I think that's right. I think that's a proof point rather than the main message, you know. I mean, that's not ultimately -- I mean, there were some protesters in the hall last night. That's not really, ultimately, what the, you know, what they were -- what they wanted to talk about.
ROTHENBERGLook, I think the party is going to leave Philadelphia ultimately pretty well united. There will be a handful of Bernie supporters who are Bernie supporters and not really Democrats and they won't be happy. But, you know, you have thousands of people in the hall there and so it's not surprising that a handful of people won't come around. But, you know, this was just the first step. Let's remember, this is a four night process and each night, you get closer to Clinton versus Trump and away from Clinton versus Sanders. So we've just taken the first step there.
MCGINTYInteresting tone last night as well. We had some comedy from the senators. We had Sara Silverman.
MCGINTYAnd Al Franken.
MCGINTYAnd Al Franken, exactly. Thanks for...
ROTHENBERGAnd we had some videos. We had a couple video that were funny, clever funny.
MCGINTYYeah, yeah. Is it important for the Democrats to set a different tone?
GLASSERWell, look, they're trying to have a show, right? And that's one of the things that's always complicated about trying to understand the impact of these events is that their audience is out there on TV, essentially, and so how much are misleading ourselves when we're gauging, you know, basically the feelings of a roomful of people who ultimately, you know, may or may not matter all that much. I think last week in Cleveland, that was a big question when trying to understand the Trump phenomenon.
GLASSERHow much does it matter, you know, what's going on in the arena where you have, what, you know, 10,000 people at most and you have a national TV audience. And so there's usually a pretty big gap between how people experience the convention who watch it and those who experience all the hassles and delays and aggravations and floor demonstrations of the people inside the room. And I think, you know, that's clearly the case when it comes to this Sanders protest. How much does it reflect the fact that these are his diehard supports, his actual delegates?
GLASSERHe had 1800 of them, as he reminded us last night in his speech. Those are who were on the floor last night so it's not surprising, in a way, that they're here to, you know, sort of shout and cheer for their guy still.
MCGINTYYeah. And now, that was interesting in his speech when he noted how much he was looking forward to seeing his delegates vote for him. There was a part of me that even wondered, is this another Ted Cruz moment coming our way at this point?
GLASSERWell, I was told last night that he had shown the speech and cleared the speech with the Clinton people who, while not happy about it, you know, didn't violently object to it. And in the end, you know, it will be interesting to see. The roll call vote is the main action, along with Bill Clinton tonight. That roll call vote starts sometime after 4:30 today and, you know, will that sort of take the air out of balloon for the Sanders people or not? You know, it's not entirely clear, you know, how they go forward after this.
MCGINTYSue Glasser is editor of Politico. Margie Omero is a Democratic strategist and pollster, executive vice president of public affairs with Penn Schoen Berland. And Stuart Rothenberg's here in the studio with us. He is the founding editor of the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report. He's also a columnist with The Washington Post's Power Post. I'm Derek McGinty and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show."
MCGINTYWhen we come back, we'll take some phone calls at 800-433-8850.
MCGINTYWelcome back. I'm Derek McGinty sitting in for Diane Rehm. And joining me here in the studio, Stu Rothenberg, political columnist, Sue Glasser, editor of Politico is in Philadelphia where the Democratic Convention is, along with Margie Omero, a Democratic strategist and pollster. Let's talk to some of our listeners this morning. Amanda in Plymouth, Indiana, you're on the air.
AMANDAHi. Thank you so much. I'm so excited and honored. I'm 28 so I'm a younger and newer voter, I guess. I did vote for Obama when I could the two times. And then, I became a very strong supporter of Bernie and found myself in the Bernie or Bust movement originally just to kind of put pressure on that. But the further Hillary went, the more I realized that I couldn't vote for her. And I know that people hear this a lot, but I can't vote for the lesser of two evils because the main thing to me is the corruption was in the party.
AMANDAIf I vote for it and give them permission to do that now, I feel like in the future, it will only allow them to do that again. So I guess, going forward, all these other young voters feel -- a lot of them feel the same way. Going forward, where do I fit in? Because I can't trust the party.
MCGINTYSo then, Amanda, will you vote for Donald Trump?
AMANDANo. I would never vote for Donald Trump. Never. I'm very much against him and a lot of people say by writing in Bernie or not, you know, voting third party, you're giving a vote to him. But to me, voting for someone that has so much corruption and a party that has just rubbed me such the wrong way is just as shameful as voting for Donald Trump. And I know that's very arguable. I just don't see, going forward, how voting for someone for a party that I disagree with, even though it's the lesser of two evils, will cause any change.
MCGINTYSo, for you, it's going to be a third party or perhaps not voting at all.
AMANDAThird party or writing in Bernie, yeah.
MCGINTYOr writing in Bernie. Amanda, thank you so much for that. Let me turn to our pollster, Margie Omero. What do you think about that? Is that a large segment of the Bernie supporters who feel that way?
OMEROWell, it isn't a large segment. That's certainly not what the polls have shown. The polls have shown that Democrats are divided on whether or not that they're unified or not, while Republicans are quite unified on the fact that they've been divided. That's what the polls have shown. But Amanda's concern, that's not to say that there aren't Sanders' supporters who do feel that way because certainly, there has been. But I can tell you this, that the folks who worked for the Sanders campaign on the platform negotiations say -- and others have said this, too, that this is the most progressive platform in history on a whole host of issues, and that the process ultimately was quite respectful and that Sanders, himself, wants his supporters to support Clinton, that he was, you know, clear in that last night.
OMEROAnd by not voting, you end up -- one ends up enabling a Trump victory and the polls right now are tight. Trump is up.
MCGINTYI want to share, also, an email from Craig in Somerville, Massachusetts, which relates to this very question. And he said, "Can you ask your guests what has the Clinton campaign done to win over Sanders' supporters, most of whom are millennials who have no loyalty to the DNC?" Stu Rothenberg, what do you think?
ROTHENBERGWell, I think Clinton folks would say they have done a lot in terms of the platform and being open and trying...
MCGINTYNobody real cares about the platform.
MCGINTYI mean, let's be real about that. That's nice to talk about, but after the convention, the platform will never be mentioned again.
ROTHENBERGYou're right, you're right. I think she has tried to reach out and talk about the -- and refocus the attentions to the race, which as a general actually against Donald Trump. But wait -- but Derek, let's hold on a second. I -- it sounds like Amanda and maybe Craig have made their decisions and that's fine. That's fine. Everybody balances off their vote and they decide who can they support, who can't they support. But let's also remember, we have almost three months between the election -- between now and the election and there will be debates and Amanda and maybe Craig, was it?
ROTHENBERGCraig will be looking at the candidates and they still could change their minds. And I understand, right now, how they feel and that they may feel this way all the way right up till November. But we got a ways to go. The context will change with the general election.
MCGINTYAnother email comes our way from Ron in University Park, Maryland, who says, "Do your panelists agree with me that the success of Bernie Sanders' campaign proved to Hillary that she need not pander to the right or to big business? Now, she's got permission to campaign on progressive policies." Of course, that presumes that she's not been campaigning as progressively as she might want to. Susan Glasser, do you have thoughts on that?
GLASSERYou know, I actually -- I think that's a very interesting point raised in this because, you know, in many ways, our national elections, one of the things that's happened, you know, in recent years with the polarization in the country, is that actually Barack Obama proved you could run a campaign, a national campaign and win by playing more to your base, that turnout has become much more important as the actual persuadable, middle, genuine independents in the country have really shrunken and they're an increasingly scarce commodity.
GLASSERThe result has been that both parties, in many ways, have gone to their extremes in recent elections. And so I think that the fact that Hillary Clinton faced this robust challenge from the left that there was a real shift in the party's center of gravity as represented by Elizabeth Warren, as represented by Bernie Sanders, has certainly steered her in the direction of talking more about progressive themes, of emphasizing a different set of policies then she might if she were really running an election like her husband, Bill Clinton, ran back in the 1990s, which was aimed much more at the uncertain middle.
GLASSERAnd so I think it reflects both the state of our national politics and the move of the Democratic party to the left. But, of course, that's where Hillary Clinton does still have a very serious problem, I think, both on trade -- and remember, she's just picked Tim Kaine and we haven't mentioned that guy's name yet. You know, she just named her vice presidential candidate a few days ago. We haven't even mentioned him. He's a strong free trader. That's the issue that animates those Bernie supporters more than almost any other one, except for perhaps the role of money in politics.
ROTHENBERGWell, I agree completely that the Democratic party has moved and that gives Hillary Clinton an opportunity to move left with her party. But I would just add this. This is a very, very unusual general election because the Republicans have nominated a very unusual nominee who has significant problems within his own party, particularly among kind of an upper income, higher educated, pragmatists and people who find him vulgar, coarse, crude and not showing any great knowledge of the issues.
ROTHENBERGSo Hillary, unlike other Democrats, really does have an opportunity here to try to reach out to some disgruntled Republicans and maybe some swing voters who are unhappy with both parties. That was not the case as much in 2000 or 2004 or 2008.
MCGINTYWe've mentioned a couple of things I want to get to. First of all, Tim Kaine, the senator for Virginia, he got booed. At least his name being mentioned was booed some last night. Obviously, progressives not entirely happy with him, Margie Omero.
OMEROYou know, we did a poll, a Veep-ulator, before either nominee had picked their -- named their VP pick and we tested eight different potential Democratic picks and eight potential Republican picks and tested all the different combinations to see what was the added impact of any one candidate. And Kaine was not, you know, top tier, Warren was. Warren was clearly top tier of the Democratic names that we tested. Franken did well in a couple of different matchups because of the name ID. I mean, Kaine -- it wasn't so much that people thought he was too moderate or anything like that.
OMEROIt's simply the name ID that Kaine has and it's hard to really predict or simulate, at this stage, what it's like to be fully introduced to a candidate. I mean, Mike Pence also began not well known nationally, but really, I think, did a great job reaching out to Republicans in the hall. I don't know, you know, I think the timing of the Republican Convention made it -- that it was hard for him to make news, but for folks watching him, I think, responded well, Republicans did. And I think we're going to see Kaine as he continues to be presented nationally -- certainly the speech he gave in Florida was very well received. We'll see that turn around.
MCGINTYCarrie in Dundalk, Maryland, you're on the air.
CARRIEGood morning. My husband and I are hardcore Democrats. I chaired the Democratic committee in Occoquan when Tim Kaine was just being elected. And his last day of campaigning he chose to be in Occoquan because of the hard work my husband and I had done out every single weekend. And it has been nothing but a disappointment to me. To change his mind on TPP on the day he was nominated for vice president, I'm disgusted by this party's corruption in handing the nomination over to Hillary Clinton.
CARRIEI think that the press has grossly underestimated the ire of the people who have worked hard for the Democratic committee and are now not in favor of Hillary Clinton. My husband and I are very seriously considering Jill Stein for president.
MCGINTYWow. All right. Carrie, thank you. And I want to get back to a word that I keep hearing over and over again from disgruntled Democrats and that is corruption. Not just we disagree with you. We think you've done something unethical, something evil, something that needs to be redeemed.
ROTHENBERGWell, I think some of this is the result of the Sanders campaign. You can either give him credit or give him blame, depending upon how you feel about Secretary Clinton. But look, he's talked about the system being rigged. He said that over and over again. And when people hear that, they think that being rigged is a form of corruption and, you know, Hillary Clinton's favorable/unfavorable numbers suggest that...
MCGINTYHow do you address that? How do you address that?
GLASSERLook. There's not a complete disconnect between some of the rhetoric used by Bernie Sanders and his supporters and some of that used by Donald Trump and his supporters. And you know, there is a convergence on certain issues like trade and on -- fundamentally, this is what outsider elections are powered by, right? These candidates were both running against Washington and the system, as it exists right now, in telling voters that's that populism is. That you're not getting a fair shake. The little guy is cut out of these elite, inside deals.
GLASSERNow, both Sanders and Trump are somewhat flawed messengers for that. Trump, obviously, is a billionaire who -- hard to make the case for being disempowered, but he won his party's nomination. Sanders is a socialist, didn't even -- wasn't even a member of the Democratic party until he decided to run for president under its banner a year ago. So you know, both of them have challenges in making that case, but I think that it really -- the convention, this year, reflects the fact that you have a lot of people who are saying the system doesn't work and the Clintons, for better or for worse, have been representing the system since, you know, for 25 years, basically.
MCGINTYAnd that makes you wonder, can they consolidate that support.
GLASSERLook, the poll numbers -- I mean, Margie is an expert on this conversation on the numbers, but the numbers I've seen suggest that Hillary Clinton is getting more support from Sander supporters in public surveys than Barack Obama was getting from Hillary Clinton supporters at this point in 2008. You know, it doesn’t mean that there aren't disaffected Sanders supporters who aren't going to vote for Clinton. The question really is how much does it matter?
ROTHENBERGDerek, you know, you asked what can be done and I think you look and see what Donna Brazile did when she was made the kind of temporary chairman. Her first act was to go to the Sanders folks, to go to Senator Sanders to talk about, yes, you're right. These emails are shocking, outrageous. They show the party doing things that they shouldn't have done. When you compare that to what -- do Debbie Wasserman Schultz's reaction, which was kind of to dig in and three yards and a cloud of dust, it's a very different approach and I think Donna's tends to be more effective.
ROTHENBERGAnd if anybody can unite the party, I think she can be helpful in doing that.
MCGINTYAnd the voice of Stu Rothenberg, political columnist here in the studio with us. Joining us via the telephone from Philadelphia is Sue Glasser, editor of Politico and Margie Omero, Democratic strategist and pollster. I'm Derek McGinty and this is "The Diane Rehm Show." Stu, I want to turn to one quick thing that came up last week and that was the CNN poll that gave Donald Trump a six-point bounce after last week's convention. He was actually winning after that convention. Do you think that's going to hold up for him?
ROTHENBERGWell, I just read something about that, actually, and my advice to people is settle down, hold on here, just take a deep breath and relax. First of all, historically -- I wrote a piece in The Post in early July on this, what to kind of -- what kind of bounce to expect and historically, the normal bounce is a five to six point bounce. That's -- according to CNN, that's exactly what Donald Trump received. But it's important how the Democrats come out of this convention. Presumably they'll get a bounce. And then, there's the whole question of how long does a bounce last.
ROTHENBERGYou know, the polls -- Derek, the polls have been jumping around here. We've had very diverse polls. CBS/New York Times had the race even. NBC News/Wall Street Journal had Clinton up by five or six. How do you know what to believe? You don't. But don't believe any one poll. Wait for -- look, a serious poll. And I keep returning to the fundamentals. How are men voting? How are women voting? How are African-Americans and Hispanics voting? And if you get a sense on are the coalitions changing, then you can get a sense on where the election is going.
ROTHENBERGI don’t see the coalitions changing dramatically. I still think that coming out of the convention, former Secretary Clinton will have a small but consistent lead in the race.
MCGINTYYou know, Margie Omero, the folks who make a business out of handicapping these sorts of things and giving Hillary Clinton anywhere from a 60 to 75 percent chance of winning in November, do you think that's still holding up?
OMEROI think that sounds right. I mean, look, as a Democrat, you know, I want it to be 100 percent. I want there to be zero chance that Donald Trump can become president. He's just that dangerous, in my view, and I guess the view of lots of others. I think the polls are consistently showing that either a tie or a Clinton advantage. However, there are quite a few polls that show a post-convention bounce for Trump. In our own polling, the polling that we did before the Republican Convention, showed Trump down four.
OMEROA poll that we just finished right after the Republican Convention shows Trump up three so that's the same kind of bounce that Stu was just talking about. When we showed clips of four different speeches, Cruz, Pence, Ivanka and Trump, the vote then -- the Trump advantage goes up another three points so then he's up plus six. So the convention and then actually watching the speeches, being forced to watch them in speeches, actually makes a real difference. Not just with Republicans. With independents and Democrats as well.
MCGINTYAll right, Sue Glasser. What can we look forward to tonight at the convention?
GLASSERWell, tonight should be very interesting. It's the Bill Clinton speech that we have looked for for perspective for spouse Bill Clinton, as well as former president Bill Clinton. You know, there's a sense coming out of the campaign that he has been particularly upset and frustrated by the narrative around Trump capturing the attention of white working class Democrats who he believes are kind of his Bill Clinton base and I think you'll see him trying to speak to them in a way that will be interesting to see whether it's effective or not.
MCGINTYYou know, Bill Clinton has had some political struggles when he has tried to interject himself in recent years, even during the Obama campaign, though you might excuse that because his wife was also running. Does he still have game, as we say?
OMEROWell, you know, in 2012, remember, he gave an amazing speech and many people thought it was a key moment at the convention on behalf of Barack Obama's reelection. And, in fact, a lot of people said last night, wow, isn't that a wonderful symmetry you have Michelle Obama delivering this amazing speech on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Is it, you know, payback thank you for the 2012 Bill Clinton speech on behalf of Barack Obama? So, look, Bill Clinton could still give a great speech, no question.
OMEROYou know, there is, however, a problem that he has, which is he's never been as effective as a communicator when it comes to defending his wife. It has not been his strongest political moment.
MCGINTYAnd on that note, we're going to take a break. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show."
MCGINTYWelcome back. I'm Derek McGinty, sitting in for Diane Rehm. We are talking about the convention in Philadelphia as Democrats struggle to unify and take on Donald Trump and the Republicans. My guest here in the studio is political columnist Stu Rothenberg. Also on the phone with us from Philadelphia, Sue Glasser, editor of Politico, and Margie Omero, Democratic strategist and pollster. We want to make sure we get some of your phone calls in at 20 -- I'm sorry, 800-433-8850. That's 800-433-8850. And we just mentioned Bill Clinton and whether or not he is still on his game politically. Stu, you say there are people he can still talk to.
ROTHENBERGYeah, well, first of all he's a charismatic speaker who does come with -- he's a double-edged sword. I mean, he represents the past in some senses and all the drama of the Clinton years, and many people say, well, we did that once, do we really have to do that again. On the other hand, you know, he was always referred to as the first black president. Now I understand we have a -- we have a black president now, but Bill Clinton has -- his message, his style has always resonated in the minority community, and it's going to be important for Democrats to turn out African-Americans and Latinos and other minorities, and he's just a -- he's just a charismatic guy.
MCGINTYAll right, Diane in Houston, Texas, you're on the Diane Rehm Show.
DIANEThank you for taking my call. I just have a message to some of the Bernie Sanders supporters that have been on the air. When my three-year-old daughter is old enough, if Donald Trump wins this election, I will have to tell her that she does not have control over her body and that money is still rampant in politics because Donald Trump was able to choose at least three Supreme Court justices. That affects our country for the next 30 years. Nothing that Congress can do can keep a Supreme Court, a conservative Supreme Court, from overturning laws that those folks would like passed. So that is the major, major reason that I am supporting Hillary Clinton.
MCGINTYYou know, Diane, it's interesting you bring that up because that is, of course, the other side of the argument that Republicans are making, why you need to support Donald Trump even if you don't really like Donald Trump. Isn't that right, Sue Glasser?
GLASSERWell, that's an important point. I mean, look, there are -- it's pretty simple when it comes down to it in November. If the election is really about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is probably going to win. If the election is about Hillary Clinton, maybe Donald Trump has a chance. And I think that's what we're seeing now is both sides marshaling, you know, what's their pain point, you know, how much does fear of Donald Trump outweigh their reservations around Hillary Clinton.
MCGINTYBut that Supreme Court argument resonates, as well, though, doesn't it, Margie?
OMEROWell, I think for some activists that works well. You know, for a lot of folks, they're going to be judging their -- the election and deciding their vote based on which candidate is -- they think can best fight for people like them. And the Supreme Court appointments and things like that are a couple steps removed from people -- a lot of voters feeling that immediate impact. That's not to say that there isn't an immediate impact, of course there is, you can see that, for example, in the Texas, recent Texas abortion decision, just that one example.
OMEROBut nonetheless, I think for a lot of voters, they're going to be looking at the two candidates and saying which person here really gets me, really is going to fight for people me, who understands people like me, has policies that reflect the world that I'm living in and my daily struggles, and, you know, which candidate do they trust to be sort of the moral leader. You heard that argument in -- come out in Michelle Obama's speech last night.
OMEROSo I think if we're having that conversation that even there I think we should be, you know, thinking about Hillary Clinton, but I think voters are going to looking a little bit more at that tone rather than things like Supreme Court appointments.
ROTHENBERGAnd to just add to that, at least I hope I'm adding to that, there's this other comparison that we saw on the first day of the Democratic convention versus the Republican convention, and that's a sense of optimism versus pessimism, how are things doing now, is the country in the edge of crisis, are we -- have we fallen into this giant hole and can't get out, or while things of course need to get better, and we need to get more jobs and better jobs and more security, are things moving in the right direction. That's a fundamental difference that I sense from these two messages right now.
ROTHENBERGYou know, it's interesting to note that there are more than three -- two candidates running in this race, and we do have a Libertarian candidate, and we're getting tweets from someone named Robert, who points out that there's a 14 percent poll number for the Libertarians, which is just -- Gary Johnson I believe is the one who is running, and he's just a point or two below what would be needed to get him into the national debates come the fall. How much of an impact does a third-party candidate running over 10 percent have on this election, Margie Omero?
OMEROWell, you know, that's a good point, and I think it's something that you're going to see evolve and people pay closer attention to. In our poll, when we did the different VP picks and did different simulations, Gary Johnson, the Johnson-Weld ticket, won in every single matchup. There was no combination of DNR VP picks that didn't end up giving Gary Johnson a boost. So he could very well, as the race continues, get to that 15 percent threshold where he ends up being part of the debates, where he's given more coverage, which would then sort of be, like, I guess, a virtuous circle for him.
OMEROSo that could happen, may happen, add up that folks have been responding to. And it's not clear to me yet who that helps or hurts more. I think currently it's probably a little bit of both. You have maybe some millennial Bernie supporters who would pick Johnson, you have some, sort of the quote-unquote never-Trumpers, the Republicans who find Trump too distasteful who might support him. But I don't think any of that has really fully congealed yet.
ROTHENBERGAt the risk of getting negative tweets, and I will, I would simply point out that Gary Johnson got one percent of the vote four years ago, he ran four years ago. Jill Stein got a third of a percentage point four years ago, she ran four years ago. And while I think the nature of the major party nominees guarantees that Johnson and Stein will -- their showings will improve, it's a long way from one percent or a third of a percent to 15 percent.
MCGINTYBut polls say 14 percent right now for Johnson.
ROTHENBERGHey, Derek, I can show you polls showing eight percent or 14.
ROTHENBERGAlso what we find out is the later in the cycle that we go, the more there tends to be a drop-off in support for third party candidates, as some people say, well, I don't want to waste my vote. Now this is an unusual year with unusual nominees, and that may not happen, but 15 percent is a very tall order for a third party.
MCGINTYAll right, fair enough. If we're talking about unusual years, I remember maybe 10 or 12 years ago, there was a line of thinking, and I may have bought into this, that political conventions were sort of going to be obsolete, that everybody had seen these people before, and, you know, it's -- we don't need to go through three or four days of this, maybe it only needs to be two days, maybe it should be, you know, much less important. Now it appears that at least in this election cycle, the conventions are perhaps more important than they've been in decades. Would you agree with that, Sue Glasser?
GLASSERYou know, that's a very interesting argument. I would agree with that in some ways. I feel like, you know, the reality show aspect alone of the Trump campaign has sort of renewed our engagement. And I have to say, like, having been in Cleveland last week, that Wednesday night with Ted Cruz and his vote your conscience...
MCGINTYIt was must-see TV for sure.
GLASSERIt was unbelievable. That was -- there are very truly unscripted kind of wow moments like that in politics, and that was -- that was some good TV, I would say.
MCGINTYAll right, let's go to Joe in Dearborn, Michigan. You're on the air, Joe.
JOEYes, hello, I'm 74 years old, I contributed to Bernie's presidential campaign and before that his senatorial campaign. But I'm old enough to remember in 1968, the people who took a walk on Hubert Humphrey gave us Richard Nixon. In 2000, the people who voted for Ralph Nader gave us George W. Bush, who I consider the worst president of my lifetime. Once the primaries are over, it's a binary choice in this country, you have this one or that one. So if you don't vote for Hillary, you're voting for Donald.
MCGINTYAnd that would be the argument of the convention as we speak. Am I wrong, Stu Rothenberg?
ROTHENBERGNo, I mean, I think what we've heard from callers is some people saying the lesser of two evil is the choice I’m presented with, I have to make a choice or else I've got the more evil one, and other people saying no, it's not that kind of choice, I can't allow myself to vote for this person, whoever the nominee is, whether it's Donald Trump or in this Hillary Clinton, because they are unacceptable, they do not clear the bar. And, you know, we'll see how many of each there are. I think more Democrats will fall in Joe's camp of the lesser of two evils, but there will be some people thinking back to Amanda and the first caller who say I just can't do it.
MCGINTYBarbara in Arlington, Virginia, thanks for waiting.
BARBARAHi, good afternoon, or good morning.
BARBARADerek, you and I went to school together.
MCGINTYOh my goodness.
BARBARAI'm now a professor at American University.
BARBARAHow are you all?
BARBARAI'm concerned about what I sense is a little bit of smugness or elitism on the part of the journalists on this show, particularly the Politico editor. I think you've missed the point of what Bernie Sanders represents. I think his campaign really comes out of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and that's what he was trying to say last night, that this is much bigger than any one candidate or any one person. And he actually said that in his remarks last night, this is not about Hillary, it's not about him, it's not about Donald Trump. He has galvanized and mobilized millions of young people...
MCGINTYAll right, Barbara, well let me let Susan respond to that, since you pointed the comment at her. Susan Glasser?
GLASSERWell, I think the caller makes an excellent point about sort of the roots of this dissatisfaction, and clearly to me I do think that both the Sanders campaign and, in a very different way the Donald Trump campaign, are reflections of this long-running, post-2008 financial crisis, unease in the country. And Occupy Wall Street was an early manifestation of it. I think the Sanders campaign is definitely a part of that continuum. So I don't disagree with the caller at all when it comes to that.
GLASSERI think all I'm suggesting is that you have to look at the numbers, and the bottom line is that both Bernie Sanders lost the nomination, he lost it fair and square. He wasn't able to really say that in his speech last night, in the way that Elizabeth Warren and other people who support a very similar progressive policy agenda, have been able to say, in the end our system is actually about making a choice between two candidates, it is, in the end, a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, whether we would like it to be or not. And that always causes a lot of discomfort when we get to this point of the election season.
GLASSERAnd so I don't minimize that. I think it's very interesting, and it's incredible political story that Bernie Sanders was able to really outperform really any expectations by galvanizing voters and young voters. As people said, nobody would have predicted that. Anybody who says that they did is totally, you know, telling a fantasy. So I think, you know, all props to Sanders for that, but in the end, all I'm suggesting as we look toward the general election is we've got to look at the numbers, we've got to look at the demographics, we've got to look at what are the real consequences of this continuing unease among those Bernie supporters with Hillary Clinton.
GLASSERIt's real, we shouldn't minimize it, but we shouldn't inflate it, either.
MCGINTYSue Glasser is in Philadelphia. She's editor of Politico. Margie Omero is up there, as well. She's a Democratic strategist and pollster. Here in the studio with me is Stu Rothenberg, founding editor of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report. And you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. And Stu, I know you wanted to add something.
ROTHENBERGWell, yeah, thanks, Derek, yes. Of course Bernie thinks he's leading a movement, but, you know, just keep this in mind. Democrats complain about Donald Trump and the Republicans and say you reap what you sow. He's caused them to be angry, that's why they're yelling lock her up, he led them over the cliff and riled them up. Bernie did the same thing with the Democrats. He stayed in that race much longer than he needed to, California, refusing to acknowledge the inevitable. So, you know, I think he bears some responsibility for the fact that there are Democrats out there who are really still angry at the party and at Hillary and are now saying no, it's Bernie or nothing.
MCGINTYNow, but you make an interesting point...
OMEROYou know, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, Stu. I mean, I see -- I understand what Stu is saying in terms of California, but you just can't compare the severity of, you know, California exit strategy for Sanders and the racist, sexist, hateful, bigoted language that Trump encourages knowingly on a regular basis and that allow -- and at that convention and at all of his events and on Twitter. I mean, it's just a regular drumbeat of this incredibly caustic, toxic language that has no comparison to anything that comes out of the Sanders campaign.
OMEROI mean, people are talking about how much Sanders talks about policy, Trump never wants to talk about policy. Sanders only wants to talk about policy. I mean, there is really no comparison.
ROTHENBERGMargie, the two cases don't have to be identical to be similar. Of course there are significant differences in language and tone and the like, but in terms of leading a movement, both of those men, Sanders and Trump, were leading movements that were aimed right at the heart of the political parties and the establishment.
MCGINTYAnd the key thing is Trump won, and he has, as you say, gotten his base very riled up. He was able to come out of that convention with a bump because he appealed to the emotions of the folks who like basically what he's talking about. Can Hillary Clinton or must Hillary Clinton find a way to appeal to the emotions -- to the emotions of her base in order to get just as much of an emotional bump as Donald Trump managed to get?
GLASSERYou know, Derek, I'm glad you mentioned that. First of all, I think it's not really clear how much of a bump Donald Trump got. So we should be careful about that. I think that, you know, the polls are just coming out now. They are very preliminary. There's one out this morning that suggests he didn't get any. There was one or two yesterday and the day before that suggested a very modest one, lower than most recent nominees have received.
GLASSERSo, you know, I would be cautious in how much...
MCGINTYOkay, fair enough, but again I get back to the need or a perceived need of Hillary Clinton to get some sort of emotional connection with her voters the same way Bernie Sanders showed us that he still had last night.
GLASSERAbsolutely, that I totally agree with, Derek. I think that this is a huge, huge speech for her. This is -- the campaign both inside her own party and against the Republicans has really been framed, once again by the way, very much around the personality, the persona of Hillary Clinton casting judgment on her. You know, think about how much conversation there is around her likeability and other very sort of subjective criteria, as well as her actions and critiques of her judgment, critiques of the email, critiques of the nexus between the fundraising and all the other sort of unseemly Clinton scandals. She's got an enormous job on Thursday night.
GLASSERI don't even know how she could possibly satisfy all the boxes that need to be checked in that speech. So it's going to be a huge thing to see whether she can rise above that. She gave an early preview of it the night she did clinch the nomination. That was probably one of her most, if not her most, successful speeches of the campaign so far. Will she reprise that to a bigger audience this Thursday night? My guess would be something like that.
MCGINTYAll right, well, that's going to have to do it because our time has just about run out. I want to thank our guests, Margie Omero, Democratic strategist and pollster, executive vice president of public affairs with Penn Schoen Berland. Also from Philadelphia, Sue Glasser, editor of Politico, and in the studio with me has been Stuart Rothenberg, founding editor of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, also a columnist with The Washington Post's PowerPost. I'm Derek McGinty, and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I've been sitting in. I want to thank you for being here. We'll be back again in a few minutes .
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