The Cook Political Report's Amy Walter discusses why President Biden's popular policies haven't translated to popularity among voters.
Guest Host: Indira Lakshmanan
Last night, as Hillary Clinton became the first woman to accept a major party nomination for president, she called out to a diverse and optimistic nation, in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s America. She urged Democrats to look to the future with courage and confidence—not fear. But she warned that the nation was at a “moment of reckoning.” Her call for unity closed out a convention that began with a cyberhack that points to Russia and forced the resignation of Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Donald Trump says he was being sarcastic when he urged Russian hackers to hunt down Clinton’s missing emails. And charges are dropped against police officers in the death of Freddie Gray. A panel of journalists joins guest host Indira Lakshmanan for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Lisa Desjardins Political director, PBS NewsHour
- Naftali Bendavid Editor and reporter, The Wall Street Journal
- Jeff Mason White House correspondent, Reuters
- Juana Summers Editor, CNN Politics
MS. INDIRA LAKSHMANANThanks for joining us. I'm Indira Lakshmanan sitting in for Diane Rehm. Hillary Clinton gives her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, capping off a week that started out tumultuously, But ending on notes of hope and inclusion. On the stage last night, one of the strongest rebukes yet to Donald Trump came from the father of a Muslim American soldier who died fighting in Iraq. And in news outside the convention, a judge says John Hinkley, Jr. the man who shot President Reagan can be released from jail.
MS. INDIRA LAKSHMANANJoining us for the Friday News Roundup, Lisa Desjardins of the PBS NewsHour, Naftali Bendavid of The Wall Street Journal, Jeff Mason of Reuters and Juana Summers of CNN, thank you to all of you for joining us today.
MR. JEFF MASONGood to be with you.
MS. LISA DESJARDINSGreat to be here.
LAKSHMANANAnd we want to hear from you, our listeners. You can join our conversation any time throughout the hour. You can call us on 1-800-433-8850. You can send us your email to email@example.com or you can join us on Facebook or send us a tweet to @drshow. All right. I want to start out with the convention last night where we saw the images of Hillary Clinton beaming with emotion as she made history saying she was happy for women and girls, but also for boys and men, too, because when any barrier falls in America, it clears the way for everyone.
LAKSHMANANWhen there are no ceilings, the sky's the limit. Juana, you were there. What did that moment feel like?
MS. JUANA SUMMERSWell, first of all, good morning, thank you for having me. This was just a really remarkable moment on a number of levels seeing -- this is 90-some years after the first woman received a vote for president in a Democrat convention and to see Hillary Clinton, who has spanned decades of public life, step onto that stage and say that she accepts the party's nomination was quite remarkable. And I think that the phrase you just quoted was really important because Hillary Clinton's trends, if you look at polling, she does very well with women.
MS. JUANA SUMMERSShe gets a lot of support from them, particularly educated women and white women, but she does have a problem with Donald Trump, her Republican rival, when it comes to attracting men. So I think the fact that she warmly embraced the history and the historic moment that she was stepping into, but also extended it and said this isn't just about our American women and girls. This is about making sure that everyone is a full participant in their democracy, that young men and women, our children can all be swept in this moment, I think was a really important messaging point and a smart one by her team as they drafted this -- probably the most important speech of her life.
LAKSHMANANWhat I thought was really interesting was, you know, the -- I think the strongest speech she's every given in my mind is the 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling speech, which was actually ironically her concession speech in 2008. But she, of course, establishes this metaphor of the glass ceiling and last night, she brought it full circle saying when there's no ceiling, the sky's the limit. And I imagine, you know, there were not a lot of dry eyes in the house, Juana, were there?
SUMMERSNo, there were not. The amount of emotion on supporter's faces, you could really just feel it, a lot of tears. And as I scrolled through my Facebook feed last night and this morning, and it's interesting because I think there were a number of not just Democrats, but independents, Republican women as well, well, whether or not you like Hillary Clinton, don't like her, plan to support her in November or not, I think this is seen as a very important historic moment. This is something we haven't seen in recent history and I don't have kids, but if you have a daughter, she won't live in a country where a women being president is a hypothetical.
SUMMERSIt's a reality. And I would say that this speech bookended really well. I think it was natural progression on that glass ceiling because I would agree with you it's one of the strongest moments in Hillary Clinton's career. It shows just how her politics have evolved in the last eight years as President Obama's been in the White House and now she looks to become his natural successor.
LAKSHMANANAll right. Well, of course, whether that's a reality will depend on whether she wins in November. But Lisa, I was struck that Clinton was also, in this speech, trying to address at least, you know, a little bit head on, the likeability, relate-ability critique that has dogged her throughout her career. And she said, in her long career of public service, she's always found the service part easier than the public part. I want to know, sure, she definitely seems to strum along with policy more than making inspirational speeches.
LAKSHMANANBut does acknowledging that alone dispel the problem that many voters have, thinking she's cold?
DESJARDINSI'm not sure that Hillary Clinton acknowledging that last night solves the problem, but that was the end of a long, well-planned buildup from Democrats over the course of the last two days, especially, trying to say, here is who she is as a person. Chelsea Clinton's anecdotes about the notes her mother left her. And I think also talking about Hillary Rodham's family, what her mother learned from her mother's tough struggle growing up, what Hillary Clinton learned about who makes it in life and who doesn't, the values she learned and even her story about saying, you have to go out and take on bullies. That's what her mother told her.
LAKSHMANANOh, my goodness. And that her mother used to shut the door and not let her escape the bullies. That's like a...
DESJARDINSDon't come back until you've figured this out.
LAKSHMANANWhoa. That's like some mid-century tough love parenting.
DESJARDINSRight. I've got a small child and I was looking at him thinking, oh, my kid, what happened -- okay.
LAKSHMANANOh, my goodness.
DESJARDINSBut I think that it was part of a bitter narrative. I think Hillary Clinton has had trouble telling that story herself. She did it last night, but I think the more the people around her tell that story, the more it will help Democrats in this area.
MR. NAFTALI BENDAVIDIf I could jump in on that. I mean, I actually do think she missed an opportunity there. I think her speech didn't address that as much as she could have and I don't think it would've been that hard. It was interesting that she didn't. I mean, she had this line, I get it. People wonder what to make of me. And then proceeded not to give them any information that would help them answer that question. It was a lot of policy stuff. It sounded to me almost a little bit like a state of the union and, you know, where they feel like they've got to hit every single policy point.
MR. NAFTALI BENDAVIDBut there was very little of talking about sort of, you know, what motivated her inside, you know. Her daughter brought up this moment when she lost the '94 healthcare bill. Hillary could've talked about that and what it made her feel like and why she decided to keep on persevering despite that and instead, she kind of acknowledged the problem and then I thought didn't do anything to address it.
DESJARDINSSee, now, I differ -- oh, go ahead, Jeff.
MASONWell, I was gonna the flip side to that is, you know, she acknowledged the fact that she's wonky and she acknowledged the fact that she gets into the details of policy, be it healthcare, be it drug prices, be it air pollution, be it water quality in Flint, Michigan. And that was deliberately a contrast to Donald Trump. And I think she probably felt and her team probably felt we've had the husband, President Bill Clinton, we've had the daughter. We've even had President Obama come up and talk about who she is as a person and what motivates her. Tonight, and in this case, last night, she needed to show, A, that she is that warm person, but also that she can lead.
MASONAnd that if she gets the job, she has a plan for how to proceed and they really wanted that to be a contrast to Donald Trump.
LAKSHMANANYou know, I'm struck that, as Americans, we somehow expect our mayors and our presidents to open up to us in an emotional way that we don't expect from senators and congressmen, for example. And I, you know, I'm thinking, Naftali, about what you said. This speech was very seemingly true to who Hillary Clinton is. Her comfort zone is talking about the ten-point policy plan, but that she didn't try to be something that she's not. You know, maybe she figured that's not my strong suit so why go there and try to be the soaring orator.
LAKSHMANANI don't know. Juana, did you hear from her campaign? Did they wrestle with that question of whether trying to make her humanize herself or whether to just have her, you know, work in the zone where she's most comfortable, the detailed policy analysis?
SUMMERSYou know, I haven't had a chance to speak to representatives of the Clinton campaign about this, but the way that it sounded to me and after hearing some more of the clips that were played on the morning news shows, is that it seems to me that the campaign orchestrated this in a way when they concede that she has a likeability problem. I think there's something like 7 in 10 voters who say that they believe -- they don't believe that she's honest or trustworthy and that's a really hard thing to sum out. So it sounds like they instead have focused hard on portraying her as someone who is competent and capable to do the job in contrast with a candidate who is a loose cannon who can be moved to excitement and unpredictability just by a tweet.
SUMMERSI think they feel like that's where they could win. Someone said it to me this morning. They were saying, you know, they may have concluded that you don't like Hillary Clinton. You may not love her. You may not want to go and have a beer with her, that test that we talk about all the time. But at the end of the day, they hope that voters understand just that she is capable of doing the job, given her decades of long experience in policy, her service as a senator and a secretary of state and they hope that that is where they can win these voters over, given the fact that (unintelligible) Hillary's not an unknown commodity, right?
SUMMERSWe have been scrutinizing this woman for decades now. She is a household name. So the ability that, like, you would have to change public opinion of a candidate who's less well-known, something that isn't there with her.
LAKSHMANANWell, Lisa, let's follow up on that, this whole question of trust. It's not just likeability. It's trust. And as Juana says, a majority of Americans, polls show, don't actually trust her. Can she convince them otherwise? Did she go some way to convincing them last night or is she just sort of leaving that issue on the table and attacking on a different front?
DESJARDINSI think they are nodding toward that issue. They recognize that issue. But what the Democrats have been doing with this convention, what Hillary Clinton was trying to do last night was to change the question, you know, to ask a different question. And it's several questions. One of them, the largest one probably was national security. And we saw from Republicans on Twitter reacting say, I'm hearing things in this speech tonight, I'm hearing about patriotism, I'm hearing about the founding fathers, I'm hearing a vision for America that reminds me of the way we used to talk.
DESJARDINSDick Cheney's former spokesperson said he was in his kitchen crying, wondering how am I weeping at a speech by Hillary Clinton?
LAKSHMANANAnd he said, what has happened to my party?
DESJARDINSThat's right. And so I think that that is what the Democrats are trying to do. Now, the issue, I think, for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is we're still talking about their bases. You know, has either one of them really reached the voters in between who are uncertain about both candidates.
LAKSHMANANWell, in the way that some voters don't trust her, she's trying to turn that on its head and say, well, you shouldn't trust Donald Trump with the nuclear codes, right, Naftali?
BENDAVIDYeah, absolutely. There was a lot of that. But also the whole of the convention was to create a contrast with the Republican Convention, a broader, inclusive, more optimistic message and I think that's something that they actually did pretty well with a remarkable amount of thematic coherence between the speakers.
LAKSHMANANAll right. Well, we are going to take a short break, but when we come back, we're going to start going to your calls and your questions and comments so stay with us. There's much more coming up.
LAKSHMANANWelcome back. I'm Indira Lakshmanan, Washington columnist for The Boston Globe, sitting in for Diane Rehm. Joining me here today are Jeff Mason, Washington correspondent for Reuters, Juana Summers of CNN, Lisa Desjardins, political director of "PBS NewsHour," and Naftali Bendavid, editor and reporter for The Wall Street Journal.
LAKSHMANANWe're talking about all the week's domestic news and especially the Democratic National Convention. Jeff, I want to come back to you. We were talking about how the -- Hillary's speech was very much a policy speech. Naftali made the point that it was almost like a State of the Union and that she was ticking the boxes of every issue that she had to name for every constituency. What were the biggest applause lines? What do you think was most effective in that laundry list?
MASONWell there -- yeah, there were a lot of policy issues in there. And they are policies that she clearly has adopted and now believes in. Some of them are shifts from where she was eight years ago and represent where the party is. One of them was on gun control. She said, I'm not here to repeal the Second Amendment. I'm not here to take away your guns. But I would like to make sure that nobody comes and shoots you who shouldn't have had a gun in the first place. And that was a big applause line.
MASONShe got applause for saying that she would consider a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United. Big, big applause for that in the room. Very wonky, but very important to the Democrats.
LAKSHMANANMoney in politics.
MASONMoney in politics is right. Trade, where some people probably on the left are skeptical of her. She talked about, you know, objecting to trade deals that don't work, also very popular with the Bernie Sanders crowd. And she talked as well about sort of more populous themes about corporations and Wall Street, saying corporations need to be patriotic too. And that got a lot of...
LAKSHMANANBy paying higher taxes.
MASONBy paying higher taxes.
LAKSHMANANAnd having business at home, right?
MASONBingo. And making sure that they're not taking tax breaks that are offered by the government and then sending jobs overseas. So that's -- those are some populous themes, certainly popular with the Bernie Sanders crowd. Not particularly popular on Wall Street, but ones that the Democratic Party is embracing.
LAKSHMANANWall Street from whom she has, of course, taken money, as have most of the other candidates. Lisa, let's delve a little deeper on that foreign policy issue. Because, as you point out, that was a big theme. She tried to switch, you know, do the jujitsu of putting the trust, then don't trust him on Donald Trump, particularly saying no nuclear codes. This is a man who says, she said, that he knows more about ISIS than the generals. And then she takes this dramatic pause and says, no, Donald, you don't. You know, and it became a sort of laugh line. So, you know...
LAKSHMANAN...she also said this thing about you -- a man who you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons. Did that whole approach work?
DESJARDINSThis is, again, trying to change the question to the stakes in this election. The Democrats are arguing the stakes are too high to take a risk on someone like Donald Trump. And, you know, I think that that was, again, part of a longer buildup. She actually talked about foreign policy less than I expected. Because it had been a question over this convention each day, when are we going to talk about Islamic State? When are we going to talk about the very serious threats around the world right now? And it wasn't really until late last night that we saw General Allen and sort of a more security shift. It was in her speech. She did say what her plan is. But it wasn't a main focus of her speech. And I think it's still something that we need to watch carefully.
DESJARDINSThose -- I think Americans are more nervous about that than you would get from watching this convention.
LAKSHMANANWell, to that point, we have an email from a listener named Millicent, who says, what about the impassioned support from the military, especially the retired Marine general? She's talking about John Allen, who is the former deputy commander of CENTCOM, who worked with her. I found that he addressed the commander-in-chief issue head on and very powerfully. She wants us to comment on this. I mean, I was struck by John Allen saying, you know, I'm confident that if Hillary Clinton is president, she won't force us to torture people and she won't treat foreign relations like a business deal.
BENDAVIDYeah, absolutely. I mean he was -- I thought he was one of the more powerful resident speeches. First of all, he looks like a guy, if you're envisioning a Marine general, what he'd look and sound like, it was this guy. And so having him speak at a Democratic convention with these kinds of terms, I thought was a powerful message. They were trying to do, throughout the convention, go at the temperament issue with Donald Trump. And, yeah, on a day when I think Donald Trump was again talking about waterboarding, if I'm not mistaken. John Allen talked about how we're not going to let the military be an instrument of torture.
BENDAVIDAnd he also said, we are going to be there for our allies, which I thought was a direct shot at Donald Trump, raising the question about whether we'd come to the aid of a NATO ally. So that was a very important message and point that they felt like they needed to fill and that he was the guy to do it.
LAKSHMANANAll right. Let's take a call from Peter in San Antonio. Peter, you're on the line.
PETERAs I'm listening now, you have touched on some of the things -- some of the themes that I'm calling about. But I'm -- in San Antonio, I'm in the print industry as well. And so it seems that, you know, I'm a Democrat. I put up with the Republican conversation last week, the convention last week, so I can be informed. So then I listened to the Democratic convention and it seems like so many critics, including people on the air, they give a list of what Hillary needs to do, what she needs to talk to in this speech coming up. She needs to be personable. She needs to be humorous. She needs to reach out to the middle class in swing states.
PETERSo I'm listening last night with the same ears everyone else is listening with and I hear her do those things. I hear her make jokes. I hear her be a little lighter than normal. And for a public speaker of her nature, I'm sure that was very difficult. I hear her be humorous. I hear her reach out to voters in swing states and to middle-class white male voters. And yet, now I hear critics afterwards change those lines.
PETERWell, she should have done this. She should have done this. She should have done this. She's only got so much time. I mean, based on what I hear, she should have spoke for three or four hours last night. It doesn't make any sense to me. It really doesn't. It just seems like...
LAKSHMANANAll right. Thank you, Peter. It's a really interesting call. He's basically saying that Hillary Clinton's being held to a different standard. She hits all the things that she's supposed to do but then somehow the criteria changed. Juana, do you agree with that?
SUMMERSI think the caller makes a really good point. I think that he is correct, that we heard a much different from Hillary Clinton than we are accustomed to hearing from her. I do think that she is more personal than I have heard her been in the years that I have covered her. I think that she did reach out to the middle class. She reached out to independents and those who feel left out of a political process and feel that a system, that's rigged. And I do -- I believe though that she has to continue to do those things. And I think that's the point that a lot of the analysis is trying to make this morning. This was one speech in time. It was probably the most (word?) of her life, next to that speech about the cracks in the glass ceiling that we talked about earlier.
SUMMERSBut -- and it was highly watched and it was a speech for the base in the room. But convention floors are filled with diehards. They're filled with people who are so engaged in the party process that they are -- end up elected delegates. And they travel from their homes to be a part of an event like this. Those people, we know, are most likely to go out to the polls in November. The people that Hillary Clinton needs to reach, and to a different extent that Donald Trump needs to reach, are the people outside the room, people who are watching the speech and the race half and the highlights on cable news, or listening to this program or reading about it on the front page of their local newspaper.
SUMMERSSo she needs to take the themes that were spoken about in that room and, as she can, given the limited amount of time given on the campaign trail and televised radio interviews, and bring them out of the arena so that they speak to the people who she hasn't won over yet.
LAKSHMANANSo your point is basically that there are two standards, in this case not just for her but for any candidate. One is what you say to your party faithful, your diehards, and the other is a different kind of messaging that has to reach those undecided voters, who may or may not even be watching on TV it sounds like.
SUMMERSAbsolutely. I think that's the case for all candidates. They way you speak to people who already have your back and are already on your team is simply fundamentally different than the way you try to persuade and argue with someone who you haven't won over yet. And I think that's just the reality of politics for any candidate.
MASONI think the caller also, though, makes a good point about the expectations that were set up for ahead of time, in terms of her demeanor, her ability to deliver a speech like that, in contrast or comparison to Barack Obama, to Bill Clinton. And she, in many ways, I think met those expectations that had been set. She was confident. She was funny. She laughed a little bit when she talked about Donald Trump having spoken for 70-odd minutes and then said, and I do mean odd.
MASONBut, you know, the crowd laughed at that, she laughed at that, which is a strategy that Obama sometimes uses. He'll laugh at his own joke and then the rest of the crowd will laugh with him. She hit a lot of those notes that some people were not sure she would be able to do.
LAKSHMANANFunnily enough, I noticed on Twitter, though, that a lot of male commentators were saying, smile Hillary.
LAKSHMANANWhy don't you relax and smile? And then that started its own Twitter storm of other people, women saying, don't tell us to smile. You smile.
BENDAVIDI mean, I think some of this is addressed to me, so I just wanted to respond. I mean, I do think that, you know, nobody's talking about her sort of pouring out her soul. We know she's competent. Nobody has any questions about that. Even her opponents, I think, respect her experience and what she's able to get done. But there's just no question, there's just no denying that people aren't sure if they can trust her. They feel like she's tightly wound. They feel like she's calculating. They feel like there's a lack of connection. And I think a few lines of sort of self-recognition, you know, in an hour-long speech, I just don't think that would have been that hard.
BENDAVIDAnd she's done it in the past. It's one of the things that puzzles me about it. And what she said, look, I'm not the kind of natural politician that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are. You know, but I speak from the heart. There was a moment during a debate in 2008 when she even teared up a little bit. She can do it. And this was a moment to do it. And the audience -- sure there was the audience that's a couple thousand people in the convention, but the real audience was the millions of people across the country who, even if they weren't watching at 11 o'clock last night, were going to see it on YouTube and see it replayed. And I just thought it was an opportunity that she could have grabbed and didn't.
LAKSHMANANOf course, the most memorable moment where she teared up was in 2008 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in that coffee shop where the woman asked her, how do you do it? How do you get through every day? And genuinely, she teared up before saying, you know, I couldn't do it if I didn't believe in this country, et cetera, et cetera. But, you're right, she didn't seize it in this moment.
DESJARDINS(word?) find my voice. I think we may be splitting hairs a little bit. But I actually did hear some of those lines in the speech last night. Now, maybe not -- it's a question of priorities. How much time did she spend on those things? I also did hear her talking about why she is motivated for public service, her concept of a village, whether you like it or not. I heard those things in the speech and you read them in the speech. But I think it may be more a question of delivery. And it may also be a question of the way people perceive Hillary Clinton obviously could be probably an entire college semester worth of discussion.
DESJARDINSBut I think that there is a difference between Hillary Clinton when she's in a job and Hillary Clinton when she is running for office. And right now she's running for office and her speeches are heard in a different way. She delivers them in a different way.
MASONExcuse me. I also think, I mean, there was clearly a lot of emotion there on that stage. There was emotion when she saw her daughter, when -- after Chelsea Clinton made that introduction. And it does seem, I mean, I think the critics, perhaps, of the critics would say, how can you ask for a candidate to tear up? If that's really the criteria, that doesn't make sense either.
LAKSHMANANI'm Indira Lakshmanan and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." You can join our conversation by calling 1-800-433-8850. You can send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or find us on Facebook or send us a tweet. Let's take a call from Vickie in Clanton, Ala. Vickie, go ahead.
VICKIEGood morning. I just wanted to tell you I love this show.
VICKIEI do not feel like my day is started until I listen to "The Diane Rehm Show."
VICKIEI listened to the conventions last night. I tried to listen to last week and I was nauseated most of the time. I don't get it, why we have to like Hillary. We didn't have to like Nixon. We didn't have to like LBJ. We didn't have to like Daddy Bush and Baby Bush. Why is it so important that we like her? She is so overqualified. She works. She is diligent. She is intelligent. She's well prepared. Why do we need to like her?
LAKSHMANANOkay, Vickie. Vickie raises an interesting question which has come up many times about whether women politicians are held to a different standard, whether we want to -- we expect a certain behavior from leaders and a different behavior from women. But there was also this with George W. Bush, if you remember, against his two opponents. It was, he was the guy who people wanted to have a beer with. Right, Jeff?
MASONYeah. I mean, I think the answer to that is, because many voters use that as a criteria when they go in the voting booth. I think the Clinton campaign would be delighted that you don't care whether people like her or not. But they're reaching out to people who do care about that. And that has been, as, Indira, as you just said, that has been a criteria that people have used in previous elections and that's why it's an important aspect now.
DESJARDINSAnd I think with her, her approval ratings are historically low. And so are Donald Trump's. Likeability is an issue for him too. But for her, it's been an issue because her likeability factor is so low. And people are wondering, why is this race so close? Democrats are -- don't get it. And so they say, oh, well where's the weak point for Hillary Clinton? They look at her approval rating.
LAKSHMANANI want to read two listener emails here that represent two very contrasting views, many others like them. Brian says, I'm sitting here at work surrounded by liberals and no one here believes what you're saying or believes in Hillary. It's a crying shame that she got nominated. There's another email from Margaret who says, the reason people don't trust Hillary is because Republicans have been trying to convince us that she's untrustworthy since before Bill was even elected. So two very different perspectives. It feels like people are sort of in their corners on that issue.
LAKSHMANANLikewise, Patricia from Charlottesville says that after 55 years of working Democratic campaigns, including at the DNC, she can't vote for Hillary. But the Democratic establishment knows that Trump can't win in November and that's why they're attacking him. All right. So clearly that, what we may not, in this one hour, resolve the polarized feelings about Hillary Clinton that are a quarter century old. 1
LAKSHMANANThere's a wonderful tweet here from Carrie that I think is really instructive. Carrie says, why aren't you talking about the wonderful speech from the father of the fallen Muslim-American soldier? That speech was gripping. All right, Juana, tell us about it.
SUMMERSOh, I thought that speech was actually the best moment of the Democratic convention. I would go as far as to say I thought it was a better moment than Hillary Clinton's speech. It -- that father spoke to, I think, the challenges around Donald Trump in a really human, powerful way, and just rebuked all of Donald Trump's controversial policies surrounding immigrants. He has talked about building a ball -- a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border. He has discussed banning, temporarily, Muslims from entering the country. And Mr. Khan put a face to that in his son, who proudly fought for this country, and spoke really emotionally about that in a way that worked well.
SUMMERSAnd I spoke to a lot of Republicans actually, last night and this morning, who also said, you know, they teared up during this speech. They found that speech as a moment of what is so great about this country and what is so shameful about the fact that their party has nominated a person like Donald Trump, who espouses views that they find contrary to what it means to be an American. I think it was a really interesting moment. I think the (word?) back plan of his speech was, when Mr. Khan was sitting there and he's talking and he pulls out that Constitution that he holds close to his heart and asked Donald Trump, had he even read it?
SUMMERSGoes on later to say that Donald Trump has sacrificed nothing and no one. And clearly his son has given the greatest sacrifice that anyone can give. And I think it's just a moment that crossed the party lines, obviously a political speech but by a non-politician that just speaks to some of the very deep divides that have been unearthed in this election.
LAKSHMANANOne of the most powerful tweets I saw last night in real time, as he was giving his speech, was someone tweeting a picture of the gravestone of his son from Arlington National Cemetery, you know? And he -- and as Mr. Khizr Khan said, you know, I will lend you my copy of the Constitution, Donald Trump. So people really exploded about that.
LAKSHMANANAll right, let's talk a little bit about Chelsea Clinton's speech. That was much anticipated. She ended up talking about dinosaurs and bedtime stories and her mother always being there for her. Did she succeed, Naftali?
BENDAVIDI think she did. I mean, I think that, you know, there was a real attempt to, again, humanize her and talk about her as a person. And very hard for somebody, you know, other than a family member to do it in quite the same way. And I think that it's something she pulled off very well. We haven't seen a lot of Chelsea recently and so to some people this was sort of a revelation.
LAKSHMANANWell, she was pregnant until five weeks ago to be fair. All right. Well, coming up, we're going to have more of your calls and your questions. Stay with us.
LAKSHMANANWelcome back. I'm Indira Lakshmanan, Washington columnist for the Boston Globe, sitting in for Diane Rehm. Joining me are Jeff Mason of Reuters, Naftali Bendavid of the Wall Street Journal, Lisa Desjardins of the PBS NewsHour and Juana Summers of CNN Politics. We're talking about the convention, and I want to read this email from Amy, who says that for her the most important and relevant speech was Michael Bloomberg's. He's of course the billionaire, former mayor of New York, independent and former Republican.
LAKSHMANANShe says his message was that while he may not agree with Hillary Clinton on everything, it's crucial that we all vote for her to keep the dangerous and monumentally unqualified Donald Trump from winning, and that's a message that needs to be heard. What do you guys think?
BENDAVIDWell, Mike Bloomberg did a couple things that almost no one else there could do. First of all, he was speaking as an independent, and so he was saying look, this isn't even between a Democrat and a Republican, it's between a reckless person and a sane person. Those are terms that he used. But I thought even more than that, the fact that he himself is a self-made successful businessman, multibillionaire, he can sort of take on Trump on his own terms. So when he says, you know, Trump says he wants to run the country the way he runs his own business, God help us, that's not sort of a Marco Rubio saying it or a Hillary Clinton, it's somebody who has done what Trump says he values, that is to say outside of government build up this extremely successful business.
BENDAVIDSo I thought his speech actually was a very important one, one of the more important ones at the convention.
LAKSHMANANOkay, I want to remind our listeners that you can watch our entire conversation, as well as listen to it, if that appeals to you, online at drshow.org. You know, Juana, I want to ask you, one of the most important things to close out this week that began really tumultuously was bringing everybody into the tent, and Clinton made an appeal directly to Bernie Sanders. She said I want you to know I've heard you, your cause is our causes. Did the Feel The Bern supporters hear her, Juana?
SUMMERSI think certainly some did. You had some folks that I spoke to in Philadelphia who said that they're glad that they stuck with their candidate all the way through the convention, but now they want to turn their focus to making sure that Donald Trump, as Michael Bloomberg said, is not elected president in November. That said, there are still quite a few Bernie Sanders supporters out there, folks that spoke with Philadelphia and that I'm seeing on social media over the last few days, who aren't buying that.
SUMMERSI was on another program with a Vermont delegate, who is a supporter of Bernie Sanders, and she said something really interesting to me. She said that she rejects the fact that she's being told to vote for Hillary Clinton, who she does not support, who she does not respect, out of fear of Donald Trump. And she didn't really like the fact that she felt like Clinton supporters were trying to chide her, saying you must be scared of a Trump presidency, so you should vote for Hillary Clinton.
SUMMERSSo -- but I think that ultimately you're probably -- polling shows that a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters are likely to support Hillary Clinton in November. Our most recent poll put the number of Sanders supporters somewhere in the 80 percent mark that would support Hillary Clinton. So I think that you're hearing a vocal number of people who will not vote for Hillary Clinton in any way, shape or form, they're not interested. And something I'd be interested in, to see it scored more, and I haven't seen yet, is how many of those people are people who have been Democrats and voted Democrats in the past, and how many of those people are independents that Bernie Sanders really brought into the political process with his very populist campaign.
LAKSHMANANInteresting. All right, you know, I wonder about that, but I also wonder about this question of, you know, she's made this appeal, she's still facing the boos and the chants of liar that are coming from the crowd there. You know, we have one listener who tweets us, his name is Chris, and he says if Hillary Clinton would just own up to some of her snafus and say she was wrong, it would go a long way to repairing her image.
LAKSHMANANWell, hasn't she already done that? I mean, she said her Iraq War vote was wrong, she said the emails were a mistake. Is the problem that she doesn't do it quickly enough, that it takes her too long to get there, Lisa?
DESJARDINSI think there's a spectrum of how much different people want to hear, and I've heard that in what Naftali and I have been saying today. You know, did -- has she done that enough? I don't know. You know, I do think there's a sense that Hillary Clinton, especially in the email issue, put off and did not want to apologize, did not want to admit wrong for a long time. I think that's still hovering. I think that's still a taste in people's mouths that maybe this is what that tweet is about.
DESJARDINSBut I think back to the Bernie Sanders questions and this idea of what happens to the Sanders supporters, I heard an interesting pivot. I heard Sanders supporters in the last day, some that I talked to, some that I heard in coverage, say we now think our job is to keep Hillary Clinton in this direction. We're going to support her, but we're also going to be the ones sort of watching her. Now not every Sanders supporter is pivoting that way, but that's a way that I think these Sanders supporters, who don't feel entirely comfortable, are trying to reckon their own shift and say actually maybe this can be consistent, not all of them, but I think that's something Democrats are probably happy to hear.
BENDAVIDAlso, I mean, this is the single most raw moment, arguably, for the Bernie Sanders people. It's this convention, this moment, where they hoped their man would be nominated, and instead Hillary was nominated. Three months from now, things might feel very differently after three months of campaigning by Sanders, by Clinton, by Elizabeth Warren, by a lot of people. So the way it feels right now isn't necessarily the way it's going to feel to some of these folks on November 8.
LAKSHMANANAll right, well, we can't possibly review every single speech of the last week, but for a couple of the highlights, Jeff, I know you were there in the room for President Obama's speech. I'd love to hear what you think his most effective lines were.
MASONI think his -- the White House before that speech told us it would not be a valedictorian speech, that it would be about Hillary Clinton. They also told us, and this is kind of an interesting little bit of color, that after watching his wife's speech on Monday night, which went over so well in the room, that the president promptly stayed up until 3:30 am working on his.
LAKSHMANANEating his seven almonds.
MASONEating his almonds.
LAKSHMANANAs we know from the New York Times, that he limits himself to -- although he has come out and said no, I am willing to eat more than seven almonds.
MASONThat's right, he shed a little bit more light on his snacking habits since then. But he -- he obviously worked pretty hard on that speech, and it was also interesting that it was 12 years to the day from the 2004 speech that he gave at the Democratic convention that really launched his career and put him on the national stage. So his, you know, his -- he also worked hard or tried to work hard to assuage people's concerns about Hillary Clinton. He gave a testimony to what he had seen working with her and the competition that they had.
MASONBut, you know, and a lot of the other lines that were popular were about his record and what he had done, even though that wasn't necessarily the main readout that the White House wanted people to take from his speech. But there was a lot of excitement in that room when President Obama came on the stage, and the symbolic gesture of him sort of passing the torch to Hillary Clinton when she walked out on the stage, I think the first time that she was on the stage during the Democratic convention like that, was also very moving to people in the crowd.
LAKSHMANANAnd the vice president, Joe Biden, of course a Scranton boy, originally from not so far from Philly, came onto the stage to the theme from the iconic movie set in Philly, "Rocky," you know, the fight song. I kind of thought that would've been a good choice for Hillary instead of that, you know, constant Katy Perry and the -- this is my fight song. But anyway, he took that song, and he came out fighting for Hillary. Was he effective, Naftali, and are we going to see him on the campaign trail?
BENDAVIDI think definitely yes to both. I mean, he came up with a line that's been quoted sing, that Donald Trump just takes way too much pleasure in the phrase you're fired, and what kind of a person is this. And it was a bit of a rhetorical device but I thought a pretty effective one, and I thought that President Obama, too, was fairly effective in sort of saying Trump talks about a lot of people as being un-American, he's really the one who's un-American. His approach of elect me, and I'll solve all your problems for you is not what the country is about, I think was the point that...
LAKSHMANANThe I only can fix it, was his line.
BENDAVIDExactly, and so he said, you know, he said we're not looking to be ruled, which I thought was an interesting take on it.
LAKSHMANANThe president said.
BENDAVIDThe president said that, and he also had this line, anyone who threatens our values, whether fascist or communist or jihadist or homegrown demagogue, meaning Donald Trump, can never succeed or something like that. So he was sort of framing trump as one in a long line of threats to the American way of looking at the world and the American approach. And so I thought that was effective, too.
BENDAVIDAnd in general, this was a very well-choreographed convention, and I don't mean that in a negative way, but people had their roles to play, and by and large they played them very well, I thought.
LAKSHMANANWell, you know, you mentioned Donald Trump, and of course he did not take lightly to being out of the spotlight. He made sure that even though it wasn't convention week that he was tweeting, he was having press conferences, he was holding forth live on TV. And one of the things that he talked about the most was this incredible story this week, this kind of 21st-century Watergate burglary, except this time it's not being done by the Republican Party against the Democrats but by a foreign adversary against the Democrats, if what U.S. officials say that the Russians were behind it hacking and releasing the emails of the DNC.
LAKSHMANANNow the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has this morning publicly confirmed that they also have been hacked, and an investigation is going on into that. What did you think of Donald Trump's remarks when he was asked about this?
DESJARDINSThis was at a press conference, and he said -- it was very Trumpian in that he was -- you know, gave his statement that I think perhaps he had thought about beforehand, and then he kept talking. And I think through that, at the end of this, he said, Russia, if you're listening, you know, I hope you find those 30,000 missing emails, referring to Hillary Clinton's personal emails that were deleted before the State Department investigation, hope you find them. If you do, I believe our press will reward you mightily. Now...
LAKSHMANANIs that legal to call on a foreign government to hunt down a candidate, an opposition candidate's emails?
DESJARDINSThere is a debate over where this falls in sort of the definition of treason or inviting treason, but Donald Clinton -- Donald Clinton, geez, Donald Trump has -- and his campaign have said that he was joking, can't you people take a joke, I was just, you know -- but however you see it, it was certainly a cavalier thing to say, and it has certainly brought attention to that aspect of Donald Trump at a time when the Democrats are more than happy to talk about here's a man who says things in the moment that may not be good for the country.
LAKSHMANANWell, this is a man who...
DESJARDINSHe doesn't think them out.
LAKSHMANANWho has spoken admiringly of Vladimir Putin, and when he held his beauty pageant in Moscow, he tweeted, maybe he'll come visit, and he'll become my new best friend. And people are using that against Donald Trump now.
DESJARDINSThe Trump campaign does say, and Donald Trump himself says, I don't admire him, but I have -- he has spoken admiringly of his leadership qualities. Now if that's an important difference, that's a debate, but he says there is a big difference there.
LAKSHMANANWe've gotten several listener emails from people who want Donald Trump banned from U.S. intelligence briefings until his ties to Russia are cleared up. I'm Indira Lakshmanan, and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Is there any possibility that might happen, Jeff? Could they ban a candidate, or are the briefings that they give so general in any case that if he has some ties to Russia that we don't know about that it wouldn't be relevant?
MASONI think it's hard to imagine them banning it. I also think it's not necessarily a topic that the Hillary Clinton wants to bring up because there are also calls for her not to receive intelligence briefings as a result of her handling of classified information with her emails. So I expect they'll want that piece to sort of be brushed aside. But the other issues that came up at that press conference also related to Russia. He kind of left the door option to accepting Crimea as being Russian territory, which flouts U.S. and European policy.
MASONAnd he did, you know, despite coming back the day -- a day later, saying oh, I was being sarcastic, he did essentially encourage cyber-espionage from a foreign country, and that -- you know, those comments were very, very unusual.
LAKSHMANANAll right, well, another big story this week that we can't forget, the remaining charges were dropped in the criminal case against police officers in the death of Freddie Grey in Baltimore. It was of course a case that highlighted the nationwide clashes between police and African-Americans. Juana, what's your take on the dropping of those charges?
SUMMERSWell first of all, just to the full disclosure, I actually live in Baltimore so have been watching this story. So I actually moved to Baltimore the weekend as the uprising and the revolts in Baltimore after Freddie Grey's death. I lived there for the last year and a half. And I think that for a lot of Americans, and particularly black Americans, who live in Baltimore, what I'm hearing is a lot of resignation.
SUMMERSA lot of folks I talked to, including DeRay Mckesson, the mayoral candidate who has been tweeting about this and talking about it rather openly, is that people weren't surprised, especially after you saw that the (unintelligible) hung jury of one trial, other trials did not result in any sort of conviction. They were unsurprised by this. But this is one of the most high-profile cases of someone trying it, and state's attorney Marilyn Mosby quickly moving to charge the police officers in Freddie Grey's death.
SUMMERSAnd I think there was some hope that perhaps there would be some sort of justice among activists in Baltimore. They were hoping to see it. That hasn't happened. The victims of violence and police brutality have been in the spotlight, to bring it back to politics, this campaign cycle. We saw that at the DNC with Hillary Clinton bringing up the mothers of the movement, who have campaigned on her behalf, who have lost children to acts of violence (unintelligible) as well, the nation obviously focusing on this quite a bit more.
SUMMERSWe've had the death -- the horrible deaths of officers in Baton Rouge and in Dallas. So I think that how this conversation continues, as those candidates are looking to talk about police brutality, to talk about the conflict of race in America right now, is going to be really interesting, and I'm looking forward also just to see how Baltimore continues to grapple with what -- what did happen with Freddie Grey.
LAKSHMANANWell, the prosecutors seem to have blamed the Baltimore police, saying that they mishandled the case, didn't serve search warrants, and that this basically made it impossible for them to be prosecuted. What, I mean, have we got the inmates guarding themselves in this, you know, metaphorically? What's the situation here?
SUMMERSYeah, you know, it's not really clear to me how that is going to play out. There is some, I guess, shaking of heads among people who do believe the police did something -- who believe that the police did act improperly and perhaps that a crime is committed. But these cases are, as (unintelligible) saying, are just really hard to try and really very hard to convict on.
DESJARDINSI think wrapping this together, this ties into what we've been talking about, the Democrats versus the Republicans in these two conventions. Donald Trump -- we can talk -- just like the speeches, but overall, Donald Trump is saying, and Republicans are saying, we have a law and order problem in this country. They look at this, and they see disorder. Democrats look at what's happening with these uprisings, whether it's police who are concerned or Black Lives Matter who are concerned, they're saying, no, these are American values, and we need to have a conversation as a group about these things. They are two very different visions of how to deal with a difficult time.
LAKSHMANANAll right, last issue that's taking us back many years in history, John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, has been ordered by a federal judge to be released. Naftali?
BENDAVIDHe has been -- we should add that there are a lot of restrictions in that release, in terms of his travel, in terms of his use of the Internet and so forth. And so, yeah...
LAKSHMANANHe's going to live with his mother, right?
BENDAVIDHe's going to live with his mother, and he can only travel, you know, certain distances, depending on what he's trying to do and so on and so forth. I mean, on the one hand, 35 years later, it's the closing of what was a very traumatic chapter in American life. But it's also a reminder of how much that event changed things. The whole use of the insanity defense completely changed after that. You know, presidential security, the Brady push for handguns, even celebrity stalking was something you didn't hear about as much before then, and then with John Lennon and then with Jodie Foster being part of the Reagan thing, you heard more. So...
LAKSHMANANMeaning he was stalking Jodie Foster, as well.
BENDAVIDHe was, and I believe...
MASONHe wanted to impress her. He was wanting to impress her with those...
BENDAVIDBoth, and so it was in many ways a turning point, and so this an opportunity to kind of look back and remember, maybe even more than was apparent at the time, how much that did change things.
LAKSHMANANThe DOJ is reviewing the ruling. Reagan's friends and family are outraged.
MASONYeah, and I think that there's also concern in the community. That said, it's important to note that he has been able to go spend time with his mother, I think 17 days out of every month, from the psychiatric hospital where he was -- where he had been staying, for some time now. And this is not a surprise. I mean, the judge did say that he was no longer a danger to himself or to others, and that's why he's being released.
DESJARDINSAnd that he hasn't been a danger for 20 years, the judge said.
BENDAVIDFor some, yeah.
LAKSHMANANAll right, I want to quickly read a short email from Frank, who says there are more silent Hillary supporters than you realize. Especially the Bernie supporters, want to talk about their political leanings. The rest of us don't, but we're here and ready to vote for Hillary. And on the other side, Lance, who says I'm a Bernie supporter, and the people who are refusing to play along, actually, he says they have valid concerns, and they're not just a bunch of ridiculous idiots.
LAKSHMANANAll right, well, thank you all for listening and for your calls and comments, and thank you, too, to Jeff Mason of Reuters, Lisa Desjardins of the PBS NewsHour, Naftali Bendavid of The Wall Street Journal, Juana Summers of CNN. Thank you all so much for listening. I'm Indira Lakshmanan, and this is "The Diane Rehm Show."
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