Congress expert Norman Ornstein on what the debate over the debt limit says about dysfunction in Congress, and his ideas for how to fix it.
Guest Host: Derek McGinty
The presidential campaign takes a particularly nasty turn this week as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump take turns calling each other racists. Trump, meantime, seems to be going in a new direction on immigration. But exactly where he’s headed has been tough to pin down. The Republican nominee continues to trail Clinton in several battleground states. But in others, like North Carolina, voters remain divided. President Barack Obama surveys flood damage in Louisiana. And lawmakers demand answers after outcry over the skyrocketing cost of life-saving EpiPens. A panel of journalists joins Derek McGinty for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Neil King, Jr. Global economics editor and deputy Washington bureau chief, The Wall Street Journal
- Josh Kraushaar Political editor, National Journal
- Julie Pace White House correspondent, AP
MR. DEREK MCGINTYFrom WAMU and NPR in Washington, I'm Derek McGinty in for Diane Rehm. Speaking in Nevada, Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump is allowing the "radical fringe" to take over the GOP. Trump's response saying that Clinton is attempting to bully the voters and that she's a bigot. Meantime, President Obama visits flood-stricken Louisiana after being criticized for not making the trip sooner. We have much to talk about today, much of it around Donald Trump.
MR. DEREK MCGINTYJoining us here in the studio for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Neil King of The Wall Street Journal, Julie Pace of the Associated Press and Josh Kraushaar of The National Journal. Thanks for being here, guys.
MR. NEIL KING JR.It's a pleasure.
MR. JOSH KRAUSHAARGood to be here.
MS. JULIE PACEThanks for having us.
MCGINTYJosh, I promised myself I was gonna get it right and then I struggled with your name. It's Kraushaar.
MCGINTYOkay, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Now, let us talk about Donald Trump whose position on immigration has seemed to, as you said, Julie, gone a 360.
PACEIt really has. He started off this campaign talking about a really hardline position that involved not only building a wall at the border, but also deporting everyone who was in the country illegally and then allowing some of them to come back in. Then, we saw him talk about softening that position, talk about working with people.
MCGINTYAnd we should say, he used the word soften.
PACEHe used the word soften. That wasn't a media creation, talking about wanting to work with families who are here illegally. And then, just as quickly as he raised that possibility, he seemed to go back to his original position of deportation.
MCGINTYPutting his surrogates in really odd position on television trying to explain whether or not Donald Trump is actually changing his position or not, Neil.
KING JR.This isn't just a position. This is like the fundamental starting point of his campaign. When he came out in June of last year, it's been a long campaign, this was the main thing that he talked about and the main thing that resonated among people that were astonished by what he was saying, rapists coming over the border from Mexico, et cetera.
KING JR.But also, the main thing that really catapulted his campaign so that he was atop the polls within a matter of weeks. I think what's going on, myself, behind all this is that the Trump campaign itself is looking at the numbers, their own numbers, the polling numbers that are out there for all of us to see and they're realizing that their electorate is just too narrow right now. They cannot go forward and win a general election with the 38 or 39 percent of the American electorate who likes the hard position.
KING JR.And not just on immigration, but on his other views that he's been doing, the whole minority outreach to blacks in the cities and all this other sort of stuff. So he's tried to reposition himself and soften his overall image and, you know, we're gonna see -- there's a feeling, I think, that it's just too late, that you're not going to bring around blacks who, in some cases in some of the polling that we've done, for instance, he gets, like 1 percent support, like basically no support when Mitt Romney, going back four years ago, got, you know, certainly in the low double digits.
KING JR.It's not that hard for a Republican to get 10 or 11 percent. If you're getting none, you're in trouble.
KRAUSHAARWell, this is the type of episode that even makes his core supporters anxious because the rap on Trump is that he doesn't really have an core beliefs. He doesn't have -- he'll say anything to get what he wants. And the immigration issue is where his base is. That is the one issue where even, like, the alt right folks have found common ground with Donald Trump and yet, he's now starting to backtrack and starting to do a 180.
KRAUSHAARI think you look at the campaign management, the new team that Donald Trump put in place. You have Steve Bannon, the CEO of the campaign who is much more of a hardliner on immigration. He's connected to these alt right types. You know, Kellyanne Conway, who's been urging him to soften his tone on immigration, so this confusion, this 180, it all goes to the heart of the campaign, I think, that even his top strategists don't really have a consensus on what to do.
MCGINTYThis is the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup and if you want to join our conversation, the number is 80-433-8850. But you've brought up an important point and that is that if he shifts this unpopular position, he risks losing his core supporters. Isn't that in some ways an example of where the entire Republican party has been as it has tried to reach out to minorities and so forth? There's a bunch of folks in the Republican party who, frankly, joined the party because they didn't want to be with minorities.
PACEI mean, the reality for Republicans is that whether Donald Trump wins or loses this election, they have a huge internal problem on their hands that they have to solve. There is a massive disconnect between what party leaders think they need to do to win national elections, be a party that can win the White House and what others in the party want them to do at the Senate level, at the House level, at local level.
PACEAnd Donald Trump has, more than anything, exposed that, but he's not solving it by any means. He's actually, in some cases, I think you could argue, making it worse.
MCGINTYAny evidence that black voters are responding to Donald Trump's pleas?
KING JR.I'm not aware of any. I think we're, in some ways, in need of yet the next batch of national polling that will show whether he's making some inroads on this. I think, in the end, even all of his discussion, which was awkward, to say the least, about the inner cities and the plight of the inner cities and the fact that he was using this rhetoric that was like -- seemed to be about 30 years old, is that he's talking largely to white audiences about blacks in a way that I think really is meant to appeal to white voters, particularly suburban white voters, that he might not be the racist or the bigot or whatever that the Clinton campaign is portraying him to be.
KING JR.That, in the end, these national (word?) really do come down to where the people live and they primarily live in these big, huge suburban counties that surround the nation's cities. And right now, he's doing really badly in those areas, among educated people, among white women. He's way off of the numbers that even Romney had and Romney didn't do too well in 2012.
MCGINTYWhat about the Hillary Clinton pushback we saw this week? They got in a bit of a scrump this week, right? We had, you know, she called him a racist and sort of laid out in a speech all his, you know, things he's said. And in the meantime, Trump comes back, well, Hillary's a bigot herself.
KRAUSHAARWell, I mean, the Trump campaign knows that a lot of even people who might want to support the Trump campaign are worried about him and the perceptions that he's a racist. And even in their own polling at -- The Washington Post reported this week that almost two-thirds of voters view him as a racist or having racist comments. So they're trying to, at least, get past that, that blockage that they need. They know there are a lot of people that don't like Hillary Clinton, that may want to vote Republican.
KRAUSHAARBut given the fact that they don't think Trump is qualified to be president and given his tendency to make these racially insensitive comments, it's a major challenge. It's why he's losing Republican women. It's why he's losing college-educated white voters. And if he can't win even close to the numbers that Mitt Romney performed with in those groups in 2012, there's just no path to him to win the presidency.
PACEAnd this is actually a really interesting debate that's been happening within the Democratic party about whether you try to paint all Republicans on the same light as Donald Trump or whether you try to cast him as so outside the mainstream that he's not even really a part of the Republican party as we think of it. And she has made this strategic choice to leave an opening for these Republicans that Josh is talking about who don't like her, but can't vote for Donald Trump, basically saying, you can side with me for four years.
PACEThen, you can try to figure this out and move forward.
KING JR.Yeah, she has been portraying, I think fairly effectively, a kind of hostile takeover of the Republican party and that was the way that she portrayed it in her speech on Thursday, which was that there's a sort of radical fringe, in part, emblematic of -- or illustrated by Breitbart and Steve Bannon and the person that Trump brought in to be the CEO of his own campaign and speaking to these same kind of suburban Republicans who are, in many cases, wondering what is going on with their party.
KING JR.And I think -- what was the word you used, that Hillary Clinton go into bit of a scrunch?
MCGINTYA scrump, a scrump, a scrump.
KING JR.A scrump. So she did. She got into a bit of scrump this week and had, actually, according to the people at Republican National Party, the worst week that she's had in months. And yet, she's managed to end the week by, again, shifting the subject back onto Donald Trump and some of the views that he's espoused and gotten out of, in many ways, out of her scrump. But there's lots to talk about on that...
MCGINTYWell, Neil, you mentioned the bad week that she had regarding some of the things that she's had to deal with and this is your news organization, the Associated Press, Julie, that put out the story saying, basically, that about half of the people that she had met with as the secretary of state, at least in the first half of her term as secretary of state, had been contributors to the Clinton Foundation and there's allegations that this is somehow a pay for play sort of thing.
PACERight. Basically, what we did is we looked at the people who she met with who were outside of government. And the reason that this group is important is because these are the meetings that she would have the most discretion over. It’s not as though a foreign leader is coming through town, a foreign minister who would naturally get on the secretary of state's schedule. This is where she would have more control about who gets access and who doesn’t. And in looking at calendars from her two year -- two of the years that we've been able to get access to these calendars, half of those people had connections to the Clinton Foundation.
PACEAnd it's not as though we found examples where you can see a direct quid quo pro, someone donates to the Foundation and then gets a favor from the state department or a decision that leans in their direction. But it does show that -- and, again, this is, in a lot of ways, the way that Washington works. When you have financial ties to an organization, you get doors opened for you. It is just the reality of Washington and it's something that the Clintons have to own because they are very much part of this system.
MCGINTYNow, part of the pushback on this did not come from the Clinton campaign. It came from other journalistic organizations that said your methodology was bad and the article basically was not well-founded.
PACEAgain, I think it's just important to be clear about the group that we were looking at here. We're not making the case that she was spending all of her time meeting with people who were Foundation donors. This is a subset of the meetings that she took as secretary of state. And also important to note, though, that this is based on calendars that the Associated Press had to sue to get access to. This is not as though these were publically available documents that anybody could dig through.
PACEAnd we haven't been able to get the full calendars for her full four years. So I think that that's an important thing that, hopefully, journalistic organizations can side with us on.
MCGINTYSo Josh, how badly does this hurt her?
KRAUSHAARWell, it hurt -- it confirms the negatives that a lot of voters already have about her and this is an issue about secrecy. I mean, why did she have a personal email server in the first place? I mean, there was some negative side effects that came as a result of it that she's been having to deal with ever since the reporting has been done. But, you know, there's a lot of smoke. The fact that she's felt the need to keep these emails private and trying to obstruct and obscure what is in these emails -- they're not yoga emails.
KRAUSHAARThey're not personal emails. And the news organizations like AP are really trying to dig and find out. And when they do find a pretty glaring statistic, whether you agree with the methodology or whether you don't agree with the methodology, it raises some serious questions that have been dogging Clinton throughout the campaign.
MCGINTYI'm Derek McGinty. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show."
MCGINTYWelcome back to "The Diane Rehm Show." I'm Derek McGinty in for Diane today. This is the Friday News Roundup. We're talking about the week's top stories. And of course politics is at the top of the chain today. Our guests, Neil King of The Wall Street Journal, Julie Pace of the AP and Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal. I want to get back in to the discussion around Hillary Clinton and this foundation. Because the question becomes, how does the foundation have to or does it have to change if she does win the election? Julie.
PACEWell, the Clintons have started to map out what would change if she does win the election. We saw an announcement from Bill Clinton that he would step down from the foundation board. Though it's worth noting that Chelsea Clinton would stay on the board. The foundation also would stop accepting foreign donations and donations from corporations if she is president. So you are seeing them start to take some steps to answer some questions about how this would work if she's president. There are obviously some people who wonder, why not just do it now, since you're getting all of these questions and criticisms two and a half months before election day?
KING JR.I think the thing that drives people a little crazy in this, even her supporters, is that they just always remain squishy on these things. So not -- they won't separate the family entirely, so they leave Chelsea on the board. They've -- they said that they would cut off all contributions from foreign governments or foreigners and from corporations, and yet they've already hinted that there could be some exceptions. The health initiative part of their organization is based in Canada, where our access to the information on what comes into that organization isn't very clear either and it may be the case that they continue certain practices there.
KING JR.I mean challenge of this thing has -- it's dogged her since she ran for election in the Senate, ran -- became secretary of State, that this thing has been out there in part because, as we were talking about before, it's -- this is the sort of thing that presidents or politicians do when they leave politics.
KING JR.So -- but the problem with them is that they're this duo where one has left politics essentially. He's not obviously running for elected office or won't hold it anymore. And his wife is running for the highest office in the land. And yet they want to live this sort of dual life that is just extremely complicated to not have it overshadow you in the way that it has.
MCGINTYI think that the -- even Hillary supporters say, why not just come clean? Just tell everybody what's going on. Let the chips fall where they may. And then you get past some of these things.
KRAUSHAARIt does feel like we're almost past that point, at least politically, for Hillary Clinton. But, you know, the big question about the Clinton Foundation is, can the Clinton Foundation be the Clinton Foundation? Can it be successful without the Clintons? And I think that's why Chelsea is sort of hanging on at the foundation.
KRAUSHAARBut then that raises the same questions about access and pay to play and so on. So, you know...
MCGINTYBecause I think she'll -- they'll take her calls regardless of what happens, right?
KRAUSHAARShe's becoming a bigger power player in the Clinton orbit. So yeah, but the same conflicts of interest still apply.
MCGINTYLet's talk to Lynn in Houston, Texas. You're on the air, Lynn.
LYNNHi. I just wanted to say a couple of things. Something that disturbs me is that you look at Hillary Clinton and you look at all the things that she's done, and then you look at Nixon and you look at what he did, which was awful. And yet he was impeached. She's secretary of State and she did what she did and deleted all those emails. No one seems to be doing much about it. And they -- every -- society seems to be numb. Like a whole different type of people that...
LYNN...we associate with today. And I'm not saying Trump is great or anything. I'm just saying that every week there's something with Hillary Clinton. And if people think that she's such a great person and that she's for, I don't know. I'm -- I've lived in New York for 17 years but I'm from the South. And I don't -- I listen to NPR and I hear the left, the left, the left. And this is National Public Radio. I never hear anyone really for the right.
LYNNAnd it just seems that everybody has their blinders on about Hillary. You hear all these Democratic supporters for her and they always want to cover up what she's doing or saying. It wasn't so bad. And the FBI says it's not bad. And it just amazes me how people can't see through this woman and tell that she's really not a good person.
MCGINTYWell, Lynn, you may be right about some of what you say there. I'm not going to dispute everything. But let's put this out there. There are a lot of people on both sides of the aisle who know that if the Republicans had nominated almost anyone else, they would be beating Hillary Clinton right now. But they didn't.
KRAUSHAARI also think it's important to note that Hillary Clinton has the -- outside of Donald Trump -- the worst favorability ratings of any presidential nominee in our generation. So these attacks have hurt her. That, if it -- like you said, if it was any other Republican, the Republican challenger would probably have an advantage. It's because Republicans chose to nominate Donald Trump that has sort of mitigated some of the problems the Clintons have.
KING JR.Yeah. I'm interested in her thought about that there are these blinders. Because a lot of people argue that actually, instead of there being blinders, there's been this just like incredible, persistent, now over two decades drum beat of negative press coverage and just sort of a negative portrayal of Hillary Clinton from the outset. And aggravated by the fact that they just deal with things often in ways that are different, unusual, slippery. Are they illegal? Is it Nixon-quality transgressions that might, you know, draw the ire of the FBI? Well, no. I mean, because so far the FBI looked at the...
MCGINTYAnd in fact the FBI said, we're not charging her.
KING JR.Yeah. But they -- but she always adds just enough element to fuel the suspicions, the distaste, the distrust. And that is her plight.
MCGINTYAnd not talking to the press for the last several months has not helped her much.
PACEIt, you know, it doesn't help. And I know that people sometimes look at this and think that it's just reporters complaining and wanting more access. And, you know, sometimes that is the case. But I really think that it's important that people understand why we want that access and why it's important that she's not taking questions on a regular basis. And that's because we can't actually get answers to these, as Lynn puts it, problems and controversies that come up on a weekly basis. It's almost as though weeks go by and you have no access to her. And by the time you get access to her, something else has come up. And it...
MCGINTYOr the old thing's not a story anymore.
PACEIt's not a story. And I think that if she's going to be president, she will have a responsibility to the American people, like any president does, to be transparent much more than she has been during this campaign.
MCGINTYLet's look at this email we get from Rebecca, who says, you've considered the Clinton Foundation. Would you enlighten us about how Trump's children will handle his businesses differently...
MCGINTY...if he is elected.
PACEI think that's a really important question. It's something that we've been asking Donald Trump for months. He says that the children will have control of the businesses. He will hand them over to them. But we don't know what kind of firewalls there will be that would be in place to make sure that people who are investing in a business don't have open doors into the West Wing. And I think he does need to answer that. And I assume, in the debates this fall, that that will be a line of questioning.
MCGINTYMore trouble for Hillary Clinton. And I don't want to spend too much more time on this today but -- because there are other stories. But the FBI has got another 15,000 Clinton emails beyond the ones that were turned over by the State Department earlier. And now they're going through them. A federal judge has said speed it up. And a conservative watchdog group is obvious in emails again showing big donors to the Clinton Foundation seeking access to Clinton when she was secretary of State. How serious is this one?
KING JR.It's hard to say. It's just something that isn't going away, clearly. And the fact that it dribbles more into the fall where things can matter if they blow up and they're big. There was a thought, I think, within the Clinton camp that she had sort of escaped the worst possible consequences in July when, you know, federal -- the FBI director came out and said we're not -- there are no -- we see no reason for any kind of criminal charges. And then all of a sudden a whole 'nother window has opened up which doesn't have to do with the handling of classified information but about this possible giving access to donors sort of element.
KING JR.And it's this -- it's troubling obviously for them and for her and for any of her supporters that there are things that are out there that could still blow up. And there's even, you know, we've lost touch a little bit with the WikiLeaks and the fact that there's been this hack of the DNC. And Julian Assange and others are talking about how they're going to drop some bombs in September or October that will, you know, impugn Hillary Clinton. So who knows what surprises await.
KRAUSHAARThe way this could get worse is if those emails suggest some kind of quid pro quo, that there was something illegal that took place. Some people have speculated that's why she's going to such great lengths to conceal what's in the emails. We don't know. But that's the thing that could get -- make this from a political problem into a legal problem.
MCGINTYElizabeth in St. Louis, Mo., thanks for waiting.
ELIZABETHOh, no problem. I had a comment and a question. The comment was, I saw a Trump rally and a lady who owned a construction company was stating-- was asked about the illegal immigration stance of Trump. And she was like, we're both in construction, he knows how much we rely on these folks and he is not going to do what he says. And that kind of reminded me of a person who's dating a bad boyfriend saying, oh, he doesn't mean what he says. Oh, she -- he doesn't, you know, what he, you know, it's justifying a bad boyfriend. And then the question was Pence. What's his endgame? I mean, how do you get this normal looking guy, you know, to run with this dead horse? I would believe it out of Christie or Newt. But, you know, what did the GOP promise him? Those are my two things.
MCGINTYAll right. Thank you.
KING JR.It's an interesting thing, the question this raises on Trump and his own interactions with the immigration system himself. Because, as she was saying, if you're in construction, or in his case with the Mar-a-Lago Resort that he has in Florida, he has had to interact intimately with all of this. And he has actually relied, every summer, on bringing people in. This is legally but through this H-1B visa program, which itself actually is fairly controversial, bringing people in that are often paid slightly less or, people argue, depress the wages in that particular area. So whether he's going to change his conduct later, that remains to be seen. And I see her point.
PACEAnd on the question of Mike Pence, I think that's a really interesting question to explore. Because Mike Pence is someone who has been seen as a real rising star in Republican politics, someone who actually was looked at for a potential presidential run himself. He will no longer be able to separate himself from Donald Trump in the way that you've seen some Republicans try to do in this election. He's actually on the ticket.
MCGINTYHe's already had to do a bit of a dance.
PACEHe has. You've seen him -- particularly when some of the conversation came up about Russia and what Russia's role has been in meddling in U.S. elections -- you've seen him separate himself a bit from Trump. But in the long run, separating himself on these individual issues I don't think will be enough. Because his name is on the ticket. This is the Trump-Pence ticket.
KRAUSHAARYeah. Pence has gotten the double whammy from being Trump's running mate. First of all, he's getting the baggage that comes with being Trump's running mate, as Julie was saying. And no one still knows who he is. In fact he was at a barber in Philadelphia this week and the barber didn't know he was the running mate for Donald Trump. So he's getting all of the baggage, none of the positive stuff that comes with being on the national ticket.
MCGINTYWell, it'll be interesting to see when he and Tim Kaine have their debate later on in the fall as to whether or not they -- perhaps his name recognition or face recognition goes up a bit. Those two, though, are so much less controversial, I'll say...
MCGINTY...than their two -- than the tops of the ticket. It could be kind of a bland debate.
KRAUSHAARYeah. I think it's safe to say that ratings for the vice presidential debate won't come close to the Palin-Biden debate in 2008.
MCGINTYYou know, there are some new polls out there showing Clinton with a double-digit lead now. Is it too early to start really looking at this and going, it's starting to get out of reach?
PACEI don't think it's too early if you look at it in this context. In 2012, when Obama was running against Romney, the numbers that we saw in the summer really stayed pretty consistent through election day. There were spikes and dips here and there but the fundamentals of the election were set in the summer. And I think that that, looking at the fundamentals more than an individual poll here or there is most important. We have not seen Donald Trump identify a pact to 270. We've not seen him pick up support in these industrial mid-western states. We've not seen him be able to expand his base and draw support from African Americans, from Hispanics, increase his support from women.
PACEAnd until you see him do that, I'm just not sure that we can discount some of these polls right now.
KING JR.The reality is that we've never seen in modern times, in modern polling, a candidate come back in late August when they were down by an, you know, an average -- running average of 5 percentage points and go on to win the election. It just doesn't happen. There's people...
MCGINTYA lot of things have happened this year that just don't happen.
KING JR.Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No, I know. That's true. The thing -- the challenge with Trump is that in -- right now, this race is focused on Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania...
KING JR....above all. And that's where, so far, he's finally come out spending money (word?) spending it. If he loses one of those states -- and at the moment he's either tied or trailing in all -- there's basically no way that he can win the election.
MCGINTYI'm Derek McGinty in for Diane Rehm. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's get back to our phone calls. Robert in Dallas, thanks for calling.
ROBERTYou bet. Just two questions. I feel like it seems like we talk about all of these, quote, unquote, "scandals" of Hillary Clinton over the years. But when we're discussing it, we never end with, it was investigated and nothing was found. We -- so it seems like the media works hard to perpetuate the quote, unquote, "question mark." And the second question I had was, I'm hearing a new term this morning on your show, alt-right. And I'm curious, what is that?
MCGINTYYou know, I'm glad you brought that up, Robert, because I meant to get more into that when we began to talk about it. Four years ago it was the Tea Party. Right? That was the new face of the Republican Party, the conservative side of the Republican Party. Now we're hearing about this alt-right. How is it different from the Tea Party? Where did it come from? What's going on?
PACEWell, the alt-right is a term that's been used to essentially separate a piece of the Republican Party from what's widely viewed as the mainstream conservative movement. And this is a piece of the party that has some white nationalist elements, that feels like, quote, unquote, "traditional American values are being undermined." If you go onto the Breitbart website, you will see a lot of pieces that reflect the tenor of the alt-right. Donald Trump, of course, has hired the head of Breitbart to now run his campaign. And you're seeing another, in other ways, a merging of the Trump campaign and the alt-right.
PACEIt has been interesting to hear Republicans in the last couple days say, I don't know what you're talking about with the alt-right. Even though we all know what has been going on.
KRAUSHAARWell, it's fair to say that the alt-right's bark is worse than its bite. Because if you look at the percentage of Republican voters that -- Trump supporters even -- that share Breitbart's worldview, I think it's a pretty small percentage. But there is a more benign view of what the alt-right is, which is sort of a anti-immigration, anti-free trade and against foreign intervention, anti-war, movement. Rand -- Ron Paul was actually sort of alt-right in a way.
MCGINTYAnd you could -- well, if that's what it is, then you could almost say that it has -- it's got some core supporters that could have voted for Bernie Sanders.
KRAUSHAARWell there is -- and there is a little bit of overlap. But, you know, that's why you see some of this overlap and why Trump is going to the lengths that he's done to court Bernie Sanders supporters. So it is sort of a -- I mean, some people may have identified as Democrats, you know, not that long ago. But it is a very populist and the people that are, you know, again, this is the more benign definition, not the Hillary Clinton version that she spoke about yesterday. But there is sort of a populist, anti-trade, anti-globalist worldview that dominates.
KING JR.It's also very identity based though. And it very much is about, as Julie was saying, this, like, what's happened to our country, all this political correctness, won't stand up for the traditional values, and sort of the traditional white way of life? It's fascinating. If anybody's on Twitter, there's been a really interesting hashtag over the last couple of days, hashtag, #whataltrightmeans -- no, sorry -- #altrightmeans. And then people would complete the sentence. Alt-right means this, this, this. And so some people have, you know, disparaged what alt-right means. But there's been a lot of people who are saying, this is what the alt-right is all about.
KING JR.We did a story yesterday -- actually that ran yesterday, when she was -- Hillary Clinton was giving her speech, about how overjoyed the alt-right was by the fact that a major presidential candidate was going to be devoting her speech to them, essentially. And they are overjoyed because, just as the caller says, what is this thing? And all of a sudden people are like, what is this thing? They're looking it up, they're Googling it. And so this movement...
MCGINTYIn other words, they're glad for some attention, is what you're saying.
KING JR.Yes. Yes. Precisely.
MCGINTYAll right. Neil King is a global economics editor and deputy Washington bureau chief at The Wall Street Journal. Josh Kraushaar is political editor at The National Journal. And Julie Pace is White House correspondent with The Associated Press. We're having our weekly conversation on the big national stories, dominated this week by politics. I'm Derek McGinty and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show."
MCGINTYWelcome back to "The Diane Rehm Show." I'm Derek McGinty sitting in for Diane as we continue our conversation around the top news stories of the week, domestically anyway. The number here, 800-433-8850. 800-433-8850. And I should note for you that we are streaming video of this hour's Friday News Roundup live on the web on drshow.org. Forgive me if I look a little scruffy. I didn't shave this morning, so you know. But in any case, let's go back to some poll numbers that come out.
MCGINTYThat say 52 percent of Republicans, according to Gallup, wish that they had nominated somebody else. Buyer's remorse?
PACEA little bit of buyer's remorse, but, you know, we were just talking about this in the break, that Trump did not get the majority of Republicans to vote for him the primary. You had this huge Republican field, 17 candidates at its peak, and the vote was really dispersed throughout a lot of those different options. So, he has had a struggle uniting the Republican Party from the very beginning, and I think that's what you're seeing reflected in that number.
KING JR.It's worth noting that the same poll found 42 percent of Democrats wish they had someone other than Hillary Clinton. So, better number than Trump had, but still not great. I don't know if it was in the same poll, but considering that this would mean, like, well, are people going to turn their attention to the other candidates? And there are other candidates out there, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein. Found that about two thirds of voters had never heard of either of those two people.
MCGINTYOh, that doesn't bode well.
KING JR.So, there's a real name recognition problem.
MCGINTYWell, you know, speaking of other candidates, one person who seems to be benefitting from some of the discord around Clinton and Trump is the guy who's got the job now. President Obama's approval rating's been up over 50 percent for the last couple of months, but this is the first time it's been consistently that high in quite some time. But he took some heat this week, because he didn't go down to visit the flooded portions of Louisiana as quickly as some would have liked. Trump blasted him for it. Did any of that stick?
KRAUSHAARI don't know if it will stick. I mean, that fact that the President's approval rating has been consistently around 50 percent for the last few months is a good sign for Hillary Clinton. If people believe Trump's sort of dystopian view of the country, you probably would see the President's job approval lower. But I will say, on the Hurricane cleanup, if this was George W. Bush, I think it would be -- he'd be under a lot more scrutiny. And the fact that he went after the Governor of Louisiana, the Democratic Governor of Louisiana, said it would only distract from the cleanup efforts.
KRAUSHAARAnd then, the next day...
MCGINTYHe showed up.
KRAUSHAAR...Obama came like the next week.
KING JR.The challenge with the flood there is it's been this incredible thing. People say the worst natural disaster since Superstorm Sandy four years ago, almost exactly four years ago. And yet, much to the chagrin of the Governor of Louisiana, it has received unbelievably little attention. In part, because there was no buildup of hurricane coming ashore, had no name like Katrina or Sandy and yeah, there was some criticism. And there is a real point to be made. The idea that a President swoops into a disaster area and thereby improves things, I mean, the reality is that he thereby distracts and causes a big fuss and confusion by being there.
KING JR.And I'm not trying to defend what he did, because he was up in Martha's Vineyard golfing, and of course, a lot was made of the fact that instead of being there, he was golfing. But the idea that a President landing in a disaster area is going to make things better is disputable.
MCGINTYBush took so much heat for flying over Katrina at the time.
MCGINTYBut was that more about the performance of the federal government at large?
PACERight. I think that -- I think that the Katrina example has become a little bit warped. You know, I've covered this President in the White House for eight years now, almost. And every time there is a flood, a hurricane, a tornado, name a natural disaster, there's a conversation that starts about whether he should go, and if he decides to go, when he should go. If you have ever seen the Presidential motorcade roll through the streets of Washington D.C. or your home town, you know the enormous man power that it takes.
PACEI mean, this is not really a spin line. It actually does take enormous law enforcement resources to prepare and protect a Presidential visit. And you're then taking those resources away from the actual recovery. And I think that the Bush criticism, now we look at that picture of him flying over and we think that that's what it was about. Him not being on the ground. But it was more about what was happening on the ground, that the federal response was not fast enough, that it seemed to be bungled. That Bush seemed to be crediting people who actually were not fulfilling their responsibilities.
MCGINTYAnd the other problem was you had video like no one had ever seen of all these people on the roofs of their homes.
MCGINTYWith signs begging for help. None of us had ever seen anything like before, and we couldn't believe that the government didn't seem to be able to ameliorate the problem fast enough.
KRAUSHAARThere's another critique that, you know, when you have a big city or something on the coast like Superstorm Sandy and it gets inordinate and deservedly so, inordinate media attention. There was flooding in West Virginia in July and actually, someone came up to me and said, why aren't you covering the flooding and the displacement of thousands of people in West Virginia? We're not a swing state, we're not a, you know, a big political battleground.
MCGINTYWas it also because it wasn't, didn't have a lot of big cities?
KRAUSHAARAnd you don't have -- yeah, it's in rural parts of the state, but it affected a whole lot of people, and it hasn't gotten that degree of media attention. So, I think this also kind of fell under that same category. It was in Baton Rouge and it didn't get nearly the same initial coverage that the New Jersey storm, Superstorm Sandy or Katrina got initially.
MCGINTYBack to our phone lines. Kathy, she's in Charlotte, North Carolina. Thanks for holding on.
KATHYThank you. I just want to say it's an honor to be talking to all these learned people. And I listen to the show daily. My first point/and you can wrap a question around that is is nowadays, with all the media, the instant access to what anybody says and the ability to dig in electronically and find things on Hillary Clinton. If you back, all the way back to George Washington and going forward, when the politics really started heating up in our founding country, every President, every Vice-President, if you really look.
KATHYAnd if we had the ability to go back digitally and look, you would find all sorts of things that she's getting blasted for. Number two, she is trying, I feel, she is trying and can you fault somebody who goes, okay, this might have been a mistake. I'm going forward, but I'm still trying, I'm still trying to get to the people. Next thing, with Donald Trump. Anybody watched any of his shows, anybody look at any of his business dealings all over the world, he is a businessman through and through.
KATHYIf he, and he's at the top, he rules his empire. He does not even listen to his own advisors. If he can't get and listen to his advisors to get things done within his own campaign, what makes anybody think that he can get people in Congress together, listen to them and be able to get things that he wants passed passed.
MCGINTYLet's talk about some of what you said, Kathy. I want to stop you there so we can get to some of the points you make. First of all, she says, hey, Hillary's trying, she's doing the best she can, but I think the argument might be, well, has she said I'm sorry, I've made some mistakes and now I want to move forward.
PACEYou know, if you talk to people who are close to the Clintons, they make a similar point that this is a woman that is battling who is battle tested, has spent decades in the political spotlight, has been the target of a lot of criticism, and keeps pushing forward. Feels a responsibility to, to be involved in public service and fight for a lot of what she believes in. I think that that is a very valid point from the perspective of Clinton supporters. At the same time, you know, there is this thing with the Clintons when these controversies come up.
PACEIt's always right on the line, and their response is never quite clear. It's very rare to have the Clintons initially come out and say, we screwed up. I'm sorry, we shouldn't have done it this way. They may get there eventually, but it often takes weeks, months, sometimes years.
KING JR.I just want to pick up on her last point. I do think it's interesting -- so, Trump comes out -- one of his main selling points was I'm a businessman. I know how to get things done. And Romney had a similar argument as that. But Romney, if you look back at his campaign, actually ran a really good campaign, the kind of campaign, with a few glitches, that you would expect a businessman to show that he knows how to run things. In the case of Trump, it's amazing, because he had a show that was based all on his adroitness in hiring people.
KING JR.And one thing he has not been able to do is hire very good people. Because he's already fired how many of his campaign managers? I mean, he's had the most extraordinary staff upheavals, late in a campaign that we've ever seen before. And he's not running a good campaign when it comes down to the fundamentals of running a campaign. It's all based on rallies. That's all he's actually really doing.
MCGINTYYou know, I would make the argument that the idea of a businessman being a good politician is a myth. And if you look back at our great Presidents, most of them were career politicians, everybody from Abe Lincoln to Franklin Roosevelt to Teddy Roosevelt. Most of them were not businessmen. And it's, I think it's a myth that the businessman can step in and say, I'm going to run government like a business. Because government's not a business. It doesn't work that way.
PACEIt's not a business. And it is true. I mean, this is one of those things that you hear from voters a lot. And I think it's real. I'm not, I'm not casting dispersions on the idea of wanting somebody who has business experience, who thinks more like an executive, but in practice, the government just runs differently, and there are so many issues that cross your desk as President that would never land on your radar as a businessperson.
MCGINTYWell, the biggest thing may be what the caller suggested, in some ways, was that, you know, Trump was used to just telling people what to do. If you're a businessman, you fire the folks who aren't doing what you say. The President's power, really, is a lot of it's based around being able to persuade, to argue.
KRAUSHAARYeah, Trump has not been able to do that. And it's also -- there are a lot of Republican operatives that love to work on a Presidential campaign, because it's a launching pad for their own careers, but Trump has had a heck of a time. Even people he's interviewed and might have expressed some interest, to actually convince them that he's running a professional operation, one that's capable of winning this Presidential election. And so, it's not even just the lack of his persuasive ability, it's the fact that he's not able to convince the top Republican operatives in Washington that he's able to run an organization that they can be proud of working with.
MCGINTYI'm gonna shift gears very quickly, because there was a story that caught a lot of attention earlier in this week, that had to do with the life-saving EpiPen. It says -- it's to inject (unintelligible) if you have an allergic reaction that may be calling -- causing Anaphylaxis, which closes your throat. These things cost a lot of money, a lot more money than people think they should. And it was all thrown up on the desk of Congress earlier this week.
PACEYeah, I mean, what we've seen happen is a lot of attention focused on the price increase for the EpiPen and a lot of questions about why the price has increased so quickly. And I think part of the reason that this is getting so much attention, and Josh and I were talking about this earlier, is that, you know, we've had these stories about drug companies, manufacturers that have been raising prices of various medications. And often, they're medications that people don't use, that they're not aware of.
PACEThe EpiPen is something that pretty much everyone is aware of. It's something that people keep in their pocket, in their purse. And the idea that such a basic life-saving medication has a price that is just skyrocketing with no clear answer about why, I think, is concerning to a lot of people.
KING JR.The other thing that's really interesting about the EpiPen is it has nothing to do with a medication, which is just a synthetic kind of adrenaline. And, which is widely available. It's all about the technique, the technology of delivering it. And, you know, there's a lot of attention, rightly being focused on the company, but the fact is, like, there are people that have pushed forward on trying to do a generic version of the EpiPen. The FDA turned one down in February.
KING JR.Without even saying why they turned it down. The company just happens to have developed this really good way to deliver this jolt of adrenaline to counteract these problems. It should be fixed...
MCGINTYThe owner of the company, though, is the daughter of US Senator Joe Manchin, right? And does that have anything to do with the way it's been able to raise prices?
KING JR.I don't know whether it has anything to do with their ability to raise prices, but this is the kind of protection -- I mean, does it have something to do with the FDA turning down the generic version?
MCGINTYWell, that's what I was trying to get at, yeah.
KING JR.I mean, there are, and the fact, there's not a lot of transparency in these things, and there is a lot of politics involved in these. And the money is huge. The other thing, I think, in terms of the impact, people have noted that because of various changes, some brought about by Obamacare and other forces, that people have turned a lot more to these high deductible insurance -- health insurance plans. So, it sounds good. Because you're like, what am I really going to need? And then all of a sudden, it's like, whoa, I need to get these EpiPens for my kids or for myself.
KING JR.They're 600 dollars for a pair. Now I'm paying 400 dollars for that one. Before I was paying 100 dollars for it, so...
MCGINTYAnd we should note they have to be replaced every year, because the drug wears out. It fades away.
KRAUSHAARYeah, no, one of the things that makes this so potent of a political issue is that you do have bipartisan buy in. Amy Klobuchar, the Senator from Minnesota, Chuck Grassley, the Republican from Iowa are really leading the charge on this.
MCGINTYI'm Derek McGinty and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And we're going back to take at least one more phone call. Marvin in Dallas, Texas, you're on the air.
MARVINHi. My name is Marvin (unintelligible) from Dallas, Texas. I'm an African-American. I usually vote Democrat, but I'm going to vote Republican. I think Donald Trump is the man that needs to be in charge. He's trustworthy. He tells you upfront what he wants, what he wants to happen. He wants to get rid of NAFTA, he wants to get rid of this immigration stuff. The Clintons, going back to (unintelligible) thing, going back to super predator, going back to I never had sexual relations with this woman. Not trustworthy.
MCGINTYAll right. Fair enough, Marvin. Let me ask you a couple of quick questions if I can, before our time runs out. First of all, does Donald Trump's seeming change of position or whatever it is, regarding immigration bother you?
MARVINNo, because he is trying to work with -- he's just trying to work whatever the immigration is right there. But I think he's gonna -- he's gonna stay fast on it. He's gonna, when he -- he's gonna basically tell you, this is not right. This is not -- you can't just come into this country and expect to get amnesty. And just jump in front of the line. And they -- these Mexican Americans, or Mexican people, are moving into my neighborhood. And I've spoken with them.
MARVINAnd I ask them why don't they go through it legally? And they tell me they don't have to. They can do it illegally and they're going to get amnesty anyway.
MCGINTYAll right, Neil King, you wanted to respond.
KING JR.Marvin, I'm just curious if you find similar support or sentiment among friends of yours, family, do you think your views on Trump verses Clinton are widespread among people that you hang around with?
MARVINWell, when I talk to them and I tell them what I think, and we talk about it, they begin to get real quiet and start thinking long and hard about what I'm saying. And I think I hit a point. And I think they know I'm right.
MCGINTYWell, let me ask you this one further question, does it bother you at all that Trump was the leader of -- one of the leaders of the birther movement, trying to delegitimize the President of the United States?
MARVINNo, because he's upfront. He's truthful. He tells you what he's about. He don't hide it. He tells you what he feels.
KRAUSHAARI mean, there are definitely populist cross currents in this electorate. In fact, one of the strongest moods that we can see is that people want change. People are kind of tired of the same old same old. They don't like the political establishment in either party. We saw that with Bernie Sanders, we're seeing it right now with Donald Trump. But Trump's baggage, as we've been alluding to, is what really weighs him down and makes him a poor messenger.
MCGINTYHowever, when you listen to Marvin from Dallas, what he seems to be saying, and I just wonder if this is a more widespread thing is I don't care what you beltway insiders are talking about.
MCGINTYThis is my guy and he's got to really mess up for me not to like him.
PACEAbsolutely. I mean, what we have found is that Trump's supporters are intensely loyal, and there is very little that Trump can do or say that shakes them from supporting him.
MCGINTYHe even said that, right? You know, he could go and shoot somebody out on Fifth Avenue.
PACEHe, he made that point.
MCGINTYWe have been having our conversation on the weekly top stories, the domestic angle. And my guests have been Neil King, Global Economics Editor and Deputy Washington Bureau Chief at the Wall Street Journal. Josh Kraushaar, Political Editor of the National Journal, and Julie Pace, White House Correspondent at the Associated Press. I'm Derek McGinty, in for Diane Rehm. I want to thank you for listening to the Diane Rehm Show. We've gotten into all the politics and if there were some stories we didn't get to, we apologize.
MCGINTYBut you can check us out on Twitter. And on Facebook and the various other social media. Have a great afternoon.
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