The man who helped craft President Obama’s Russia reset policy explains what went wrong. Then, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. discusses the surprising results of his country’s recent elections.
Guest Host: Derek McGinty
In the final presidential debate, Donald Trump dominated the headlines after refusing to say he’d honor the results of the election if he loses. Now, Trump is fading in the polls, as Hillary Clinton is gaining support in some previously reliably red states. The GOP is turning its efforts toward hanging onto control of Congress, as Democrats respond to newly-released video that appears to show two DNC operatives discussing plans to incite violence at Trump rallies. And in wake of recent shootings, a police chiefs group apologizes for ‘historical mistreatment’ of minorities. Guest host Derek McGinty and panel discuss the week’s top national news stories.
- Neil King, Jr. Global economics editor and deputy Washington bureau chief, The Wall Street Journal
- Ed O'Keefe Reporter, The Washington Post; covering the 2016 election
- Susan Davis Congressional reporter, NPR
MR. DEREK MCGINTYWell, thanks for joining us. I'm Derek McGinty, sitting in for Diane Rehm. She'll be back sitting in this chair on Monday. Well, after Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton squared off in their final debate this past week, Trump has now clarified, he will accept the election results, if he wins, that is. Meantime, officials are investigating the firebombing of that Republican Party headquarters down in North Carolina, and one police chiefs organization is apologizing for what they call historical mistreatment of minorities.
MR. DEREK MCGINTYA lot to talk about, and joining me for our domestic hour of the Friday news roundup, Neil King of The Wall Street Journal, Susan Davis of NPR and Ed O'Keefe of The Washington Post. Welcome to all three of you, and I'll note for our listeners, you can join us, as well. The number here, 800-433-8850. As I mentioned, a lot to talk about. We'll begin with this, latest poll numbers that basically seem to saying -- seem to be saying that this election is very close to being decided, even though most people haven't voted yet, Neil King.
MR. NEIL KING JR.I would say that's right. I mean, the suspense has ebbed out of this race in many ways. I can't think of a worst October that any presidential candidate has had in living memory. Lots of things have gone against Donald Trump, whether it be things that have leaked out or self-inflicted wounds. And what we're basically seeing, I think, is a movement against him, strongly in the suburbs and very much in the states that he desperately needs to win. Colorado has been gone for a while, Virginia is gone, North Carolina appears to be gone. There was a poll out today that shows the race basically tied in Georgia.
KING JR.It's -- Arizona now appears to be up for grabs. I mean, there are states that are turning either very pinkish now or even light blue that are kind of unimaginable in recent history. And we'll see, but there is a strain that seems to be ebbing out of this race at the moment.
MS. SUSAN DAVISSue Davis?
MS. SUSAN DAVISI agree with what Neil said. Hillary Clinton seems very close to putting away this race, even beyond the six-point, six to eight-point lead she has in national polling at just the basic electoral vote map level. Very conservative estimates already have her at about 272, and that's not including places like Ohio and Florida. One state I think is important to look at is Pennsylvania, which in the beginning had been a swing state, excuse me, and the most recent polls in the last month or so have her up eight to 13 points.
MS. SUSAN DAVISIf Hillary Clinton is winning Pennsylvania by that margin, she is on pace to be the next president.
MR. ED O'KEEFEAnd we don't pay as much attention to this, but the mechanics of voting and getting people to vote is something the Democrats, at least every four years, are quite good at, and they've been very good at it this year so far, them plus the groups that love them, in essence, that have been registering record numbers of new voters in places like Arizona, even in Texas and California.
MR. ED O'KEEFEThere's polling that suggests she's probably not going to win but will get very close in Texas, of all places, which makes Democrats probably think about two and four years from now. And if she wins Georgia, it's because Democrats, you know, saw that Obama lost it four years ago by just a few points, saw a potential to grow there and have done so.
MCGINTYOkay, so even as Democrats may be celebrating a little bit, Republicans are now refocusing on the down-ballot issues, right, can we hold the Senate, we think we'll hold the House. But will they?
DAVISYou know, the Senate is very much in play, and the battlefield certainly tilts towards Democrats at this point. They're halfway to the number of seats they need to pick up with Democrats favored to win all along in Illinois and Wisconsin. And the remaining seats on the table are all tilting towards Democrats. That said, Republicans down the ballot have been able to do -- to hold their own or do very well despite Donald Trump, and I think part of that is so many voters in this country, particularly Republican voters, look at Donald Trump and the Republican Party as two distinct brands, that it has been hard to tarnish some Republicans down the ballot by linking them to Donald Trump because a lot of their voters don't buy it.
DAVISOne Republican who's run incredibly well this year is Rob Portman, the senator from Ohio. He is without a doubt going to win that race regardless of what happens at the top of the ticket, and that's because he's been able to so clearly distinguish himself from his nominee.
MCGINTYWhat is interesting, you bring up Ohio, because Trump was just there, which you would think that's one of a couple of states where he's still doing pretty well. Is it because Trump is still so strong in Ohio that Portman is strong?
DAVISWell no, I don't think so. I think what Rob Portman has done is completely distinguish himself as his own person and his own brand, separate from Donald Trump. And in Ohio now, that race, which he has been -- Donald Trump had largely been leading in, is also a statistical tie, and this is what's going to be interesting I think in Ohio is what Ed referred to, is what we commonly call the ground game, that the Hillary Clinton operation and the Democratic Party has had a more old-school, data-driven concerted effort to find and turn out voters than the Trump campaign.
DAVISAnd if this a -- if this is a statistical tie in Ohio, the advantage goes to Clinton in that regard.
KING JR.The big question in these things when it comes to the House is whether there's any evidence of a real building wave. They kind of -- they need to pick up 30 seats in the House, the Democrats, to take it. The prognosticating at the moment is they might take 15, 20, maybe get somewhere into the 20s. There's always a lot of looking at what they call the generic ballot, when you go out and ask people, if it were up to you, which party would control the House, or Congress for that matter, and at the moment it's like two or three, maybe even four points.
KING JR.In our most recent WSJ poll, it was two. It really needs to be like seven, something like that, for us to see the sort of wave that would knock out a bunch of seats in unforeseen places. But the thing that's interesting is you have, Ed would know this better even than I, a lot of really prominent House members on the Republican side that are now imperiled in the states like California, Darrell Issa in Florida, again in the kinds of places that the Trump effect seems to be the most pernicious.
O'KEEFEThey -- Democrats are going after a guy named Kevin Yoder in Kansas. Democrats don't win House seats in Kansas, but they think they can get it because, you know, the combination of Trump's unpopularity plus the unpopularity of the governor there, Sam Brownback. They think they can win the Simi Valley, California, seat. This is where Ronald Reagan's library is. But they now think it's in play. It's a Northern Los Angeles County. They believe enough Democrats or independents now live in that district that it could come their way.
O'KEEFEThere are seats they think they can retake in central western Upstate New York that often flip back and forth, especially in presidential years, and they look at potential gains in the Philadelphia suburbs. If you're seeing an eight- to 13-point win for Clinton in Pennsylvania, sure bet that Democrats take those seats.
O'KEEFERight now leaders would tell you they're probably close to 20 but not yet at the 30 seats they would need.
MCGINTYAnd if they were to take 20 seats from the House and not take over, does a weakened Paul Ryan actually hurt a Clinton because she can't -- he's unable to bring his caucus along for much?
O'KEEFEThe question is whether Paul Ryan is still speaker in January at that point. I mean, the conference may be so fractured, and he may be unable to win a majority of his members or may just opt to get out of the way and say I don't want to mess with this anymore because why should we continue to have these prolonged leadership fights. There's a real possibility that as their majority shrinks, as the margin shrinks, the power of the ultra-conservative members really starts to grow even bigger. And of course they have no real interest or desire to work with a President Clinton should she win.
MCGINTYLet's talk a little bit about the Clinton side of this. There are more and more emails coming out of this WikiLeaks dump, and it's going to take who knows how long for reporters and others to get through these things, but there are these little stories that continue to come out, and you've got to wonder why this hasn't hurt the Clinton campaign.
KING JR.You know, there has been such an extraordinary avalanche of emails in general, the ones that have come out from her own private server that the State Department has released, that have come out from the FBI side, and then here's this huge dump of emails that WikiLeaks got from John Podesta, longtime Democratic operative and her really chief campaign person, inside the campaign, that have shown us all kind of things that we haven't really known before, but on the other hand, none of them have been, like, wow, huge, sort of, you know, bomb going off, a lot of things that are not so favorable to her when it comes to the operation of the Clinton Foundation.
KING JR.The sort of sense that there is a kind of pay-to-play culture there has been illustrated a little bit more vividly. There's been a lot of somewhat disparaging things, I think in some ways the things that have made the campaign the most uncomfortable, things that they've been saying in these emails about other groups on the left, like liberal groups, being dismissive towards them and their interests or then on the other side her being very cozy and warm and agreeable with Wall Street and with big banks.
KING JR.And I don't think any of this stuff -- obviously if we look at the poll it hasn't had a huge impact on her. I do think that it's possible that it will make things uncomfortable going forward, and more than anything it's just given us this amazing insight into how these people think behind the scenes in ways we're not aware of.
MCGINTYOkay, but what about this videotape that's out that seems to show Democratic operatives planning ways to perhaps violently disrupt a Trump campaign rally?
DAVISRight, this comes from Project Veritas, which is driven by James O'Keefe, who is known for past sting videos that his outfit has done against ACORN in 2008, against -- Planned Parenthood sting videos.
O'KEEFENo relation, by the way. (laugh)
DAVISThat show -- that show two Democratic organizers appearing to say that they had found and paid people to go into Trump campaign rallies and instigate. And we have seen these images of violence at the Trump campaign rallies throughout this campaign, of people being punched or thrown out who are protesting his actions.
DAVISBoth -- neither of those people worked for the Hillary Clinton campaign, but they were Democratic operatives that were contracted through the DNC. One of them is the husband of Illinois Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. The question that is raised about this videos and past sting videos, they have been selectively edited to show people saying things that they may not have said.
DAVISThey have not released the full, unedited videos of these, but it did result in both of these operatives stepping down and saying we've been a distraction to the campaign. And Donald Trump also brought this up in the third and final debate. He said that there -- he suggested that there was proof that -- and he brought Barack Obama into it, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton paying people to disrupt his rallies. There is no evidence of that.
DAVISOne of the people had -- one of the people that had stepped down was a subcontractor through the DNC and had been paid to do some of that work. It is unclear if it's tied to any of that kind of activity.
MCGINTYSusan Davis is congressional reporter for NPR. Neil King is global economics editor and deputy Washington bureau chief at The Wall Street Journal, Ed O'Keefe is a reporter for The Washington Post. He's covering this 2016 election campaign. I'm Derek McGinty, and you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. We'll be back.
MCGINTYWelcome back to "The Diane Rehm Show" and our Friday News Roundup. We are in the first hour talking domestic issues. And of course politics is dominating our discussion. Neil King is with The Wall Street Journal, Susan Davis, congressional reporter at NPR, and Ed O'Keefe is at The Washington Post. We did get some Twitter messages in the time away. And one person says, "I'm not a huge fan, but be fair. Trump says he'll concede a clear result but reserves the right to challenge, no different than Al Gore."
KING JR.He said that if it's clear, if the results are clear, he would concede. The likelihood right now is the results will be truly clear. If they're anything like what we saw in 2000, when that was an incredibly close race going right down to election day, then all the amazing drama that we saw afterwards, with a few hundred votes deciding the matter in Florida and Florida being the state that would determine it all, if that actually happened, he would have every right in the world, of course, to contest the election. And he should.
KING JR.And the way Al Gore did it was the way the system was meant to work and it worked pretty well. And then Al Gore stepped forward in early December and gave an extraordinary speech conceding the race. And that, I think most people -- look, it was unruly, but it worked well.
DAVISYeah. And many states have automatic laws that would trigger a recount if the result of the election is within sometimes half a percentage point, a third of a percentage point. So if it were to come down to -- which is I think all of our (laugh) nightmare scenarios -- a half of a percentage point of a vote in one state, I don't think there's any doubt that either nominee would fully contest that through legal channels. The difference I think is that Donald Trump, in the weeks and months leading up to the election day, has planted the seed that, no matter what happens, the outcome will be rigged.
DAVISThat voters cannot have trust in the system. And has repeatedly raised questions that voter fraud in this country is rampant. And I think that you -- this has bore fruit. If you look at polls, that as many as 30 percent of Americans doubt the integrity of their vote in the system right now.
DAVISAnd that number is much higher among Republican voters.
MCGINTYWell we do have the specter of this idea that I think was also in the emails that they would drive voters across the border with the license tags of that state or try to, you know, somehow work some election fraud to help the Democrats.
DAVISThere is absolutely anecdotal evidence of voter fraud in this country. But it is absolutely impossible to rig the outcome of a presidential election. Period. Full stop. That our elections are too decentralized. We have -- there are too many protections built in, state by state by state. That the suggestion that an entire national election could be rigged, it's maybe not impossible but it is absolutely improbable.
KING JR.You know, it...
O'KEEFEIt would require cooperation between Republicans and Democrats. We don't have much of that these days.
KING JR.You know, if I -- just to engage in a tiny bit of psychoanalysis, I mean, this is basically -- you look at Donald Trump, who has applauded the polls, talked about them extensively in his rallies when they've been up, when he's been up. Now that things are looking rather dire for him, he's gone all in on this rigged election thing. The worst epithet that Trump has ever been able to throw at anybody throughout his career is a loser. You're a loser. Look through his tweets. He talk -- calls people losers all the time. The concept of him being a loser in this prominent of a contest I think is an extremely hard thing for him to deal with.
KING JR.And this is mainly him sort of, you know, lashing out at the idea, the mere possibility that he could lose this race. I think it's going to be a very hard thing for him to stomach if it actually happens.
MCGINTYAnn-Lynn (PH) in Bar Harbor, Maine, thanks for waiting. You're on the air.
ANN-LYNNThank you very much. I have been phone banking and canvassing for local Democrats and for Hillary Clinton all summer. And I've knocked on a lot of doors and spoken to a lot of people. And I have three concerns. One is, we've seen Donald Trump discounted and his support underestimated before. And although, you know, there's a lot of talk about the -- actually nonexistent voter fraud, there's very real voter suppression and voter intimidation.
ANN-LYNNAnd the third thing that I'm most concerned about is there's a real lack of enthusiasm among many people who, while Trump seemed ascendant, were -- felt compelled to vote for Clinton against, you know, their better thoughts and their better instincts. And I fear that if there's premature celebration of a Trump defeat, that many of those people might not vote for Clinton. And that might contribute to a Trump victory.
O'KEEFEAnn-Lynn nails it right there. I think that is the growing worry privately of a lot of Democrats. A, that you will have instances of either weather, long lines or, you know, maybe even, as he has encouraged them, you know, Trump supporters showing up at certain polling places in certain cities and certain states and potentially just causing ruckus. Not necessarily blocking people from voting, but doing enough to perhaps dissuade some to show up.
O'KEEFEAnd the other bigger concern, because Democrats have a real problem with this, is the idea that with, you know, two weeks and change left to go and all this talk that she's pulling away, a lot of people just say, ah, you know what? I don't need to show up. She's going to be fine. And that's where you get into situations where it's a less than two point game. Or where there are questions about, you know, well, if it's only two points, was everything done, you know, properly in this state? Should we sit around and wait for a recount or ask for some kind of a challenge.
O'KEEFEAnd so Democrats right now very eager to make sure that not only is her win decisive, but that she also demonstrates that she can win in states that Democrats have not won -- Georgia, Arizona, maybe draws up the score in Utah and Texas, or make sure that she can win Nevada again -- so that there is no question that she has the mandate to win.
MCGINTYZane in Kalamazoo, Mich. Thanks for holding.
ZANEHi. Thank you for taking my call.
MCGINTYYou're on the air.
ZANESo regarding the emails being leaked from a presumably Russian source, which as of now all the evidence seems to be pointing to, I would like to know the panel's thoughts on how they review reporting on content that is, at least in my view, very relevant and important, but it's coming from such a polarizing and political volatile source like a foreign government.
MCGINTYYou know, we were talking about WikiLeaks and what their agenda is and how that plays in to the interpretation of this trove of emails that's come out, Susan.
DAVISWell, this is certainly the argument that the Clinton campaign says, that if you're going to report on these campaign -- on these emails, that in the same breath you should say that they are the result of a Russian hack of U.S. systems in an attempt to manipulate a U.S. election. And every intelligence estimate in this country agrees with that assessment, that this was the result of Russian hackers.
DAVISWhat is interesting -- and Marco Rubio, the Republican Senator from Florida and a former primary rival of Donald Trump, is one of the few Republicans who came out this week with a statement -- now, I don't want to say he was siding with Hillary Clinton, but he was at least sympathetic to that argument. And it was sort of a warning to his fellow Republicans -- he's also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee -- saying, you know, we shouldn't be too gleeful about the results of a hack by a foreign government, particularly from the Russian government.
DAVISBecause, sure, it's against our political enemies today. But what's to say in the future it won't be against us? And so watch what we're saying and how we're treating these emails, because it is the result of essentially a cyber-attack.
O'KEEFEAnd you know if the shoe were on the other foot, Republican response would be vitriolic at this point.
MCGINTYThey would be mad and the Democrats would be celebrating.
KING JR.I found the whole thing fascinating just in terms of kind of where our culture is going and how we weigh these things. In the first place, that within our news organizations, none of us have really had an open debate about what is the line that would be crossed that we would no longer report on, if it was like, look at the mail -- the letters I got out of the bedside table of X. Would we report on that? Look at the tapped phone conversations that we got out of this person's cell phone. Would we report on that? If this comes to...
MCGINTYI think you would, quite frankly.
KING JR.I know. And basically, we just -- it's just like it's out there. It's -- now that it's all on the web, why not put it in your paper or on your own paper's website? The moment I think that things might change, there was this WikiLeak suggestion that they had been inside The New York Times' email system or inside The Wall Street Journal, if all of our emails all came out and people were dissecting them in the way that we are, it would be an interesting turning point.
KING JR.But it's -- but just to go back to the Russian thing, I mean WikiLeaks, this morning, tweeted this tweet saying, there is no U.S. election. Basically fully siding with this idea that the election is so rigged and that their leaks show this, that the system has been discredited, which is interesting. Not only is it Trump's line to be saying that, but that is very much the desire of the Russian government, to try to undermine faith in the U.S. electoral system. So there are some dubious motives at pale here.
O'KEEFEAnd, Zane, I'll just say this. I spent at least two days last week as part of a team looking at some of this stuff. And I'll tell you how we try to verify it. We verify it by doing reporting. We found, in a few instances, that there were people who also received the email, who are still actively engaged in politics. And we emailed them and we called them. And they said, do you recall this message? Do you recall what this was about? Can you give us some context and perspective about what this conversation was about?
O'KEEFEAnd to a person, because they had I think been in touch with the Clinton folks about this, they made clear. I cannot a thousand percent recall this and verify that this was actually what was said in the message. However, I do recall -- and then they laid out, you know, the instance. And that allowed us to sort of get a better sense of whether or not it was valid. So I think I would just suggest to you, if you're going to read up on this kind of stuff, do it with a trusted news source, who probably, and in our case -- in the case of the Journal and the case of NPR -- is taking the time to figure out, you know, what exactly was being discussed here and not necessarily just posting it and talking about it in a vacuum.
MCGINTYYou know, but you -- you have to look, to me, at the historical context of publishing things that you got from somebody who may or may not be shady. Where did the Pentagon Papers come from?
MCGINTYWhere, you know, these are things that came out in ways that weren't necessarily entirely legal or above board. But it was important information and journalists have quite often reported this sort of thing.
KING JR.That's true. But one of the things that difficult about these, for one, they are totally controlling the timing. And they, you know, a bunch of stuff came out right before the DNC convention. And then they were, you know, saying, oh, Hillary is going to be dead early October when we release our first. Oh, it's very much intentional. The other thing is that a lot of these things, like one of the things that was brought up at the debate is, had Hillary Clinton actually called for open borders trade agreement across the Americas. Well, she gave a speech to a Brazilian bank where -- and they just put in a couple of fragments of the speech.
KING JR.They didn't -- WikiLeaks didn't release the entire speech, they only released the portions of the speech that they found might draw attention. And they -- and we don't know what things that they're not releasing. So it's not exactly like the Pentagon Papers, where you're given the whole thing and then say, make sense of this whole thing. You're -- we're just sort of sitting back as these things are being released in a very calculated way.
DAVISAnd being released in a way that their intent is very clear. The intent is to be against Hillary Clinton. The argument isn't even this is a public right to know and the people of America should know these things. WikiLeaks has been very upfront about the fact that this is with the intent to take down the Hillary Clinton campaign.
MCGINTYI want to shift gears for just a second to talk about the debates in general. And I wonder, after seeing three of these, how big of an impact did they have on this race?
KING JR.They had a huge impact. I mean, you look, FiveThirtyEight, the website put out their calculation showing that, in terms of the advantage -- polling advantage gained after each of these debates, that she had shown the biggest gains of anybody since polling started that also had three debates. They've turned the tide of this election. There have been other factors, big ones -- the release of his tax return, the videotape of him saying the various things he said about women.
KING JR.But, you know, the thing that I found so fascinating about the last debate this week was Hillary Clinton had studied so closely his own debating technique, it -- I kept thinking of like the Muhammad Ali, like, you know, rope-a-dope technique, where she just like totally took what he was all about and then just used his own tactics against him. And he was great for the first 30 minutes, which is the other way that -- in each of these debates, his -- he's been so focused for a while, and then it just started to give way. And the other day, he was like so focused for 30 minutes, and then she just started needling. And then she's -- I think it was when she said, and you went to Mexico City and you choked, that he just kind of lost it and things started to go against him. And she was really adroit, I thought, in just landing those punches.
O'KEEFEI think it's -- the live -- I've had a lot of friends and I've seen other people comment that it's really amazing that all "Saturday Night Live" has had to do in some situations is just literally reenact what was done...
O'KEEFE...during the debate. Exactly.
O'KEEFEExactly. And then he did it again the other night. The other thing...
O'KEEFEThe other thing I think that is interesting about this series of debates versus the past is how quickly folks are responding to it online and the way that certain phrases and name calling is really resonating in ways it never has before.
MCGINTYI'm Derek McGinty and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's get back to our phones therefore and talk to Sharon in Kent, Ohio.
MCGINTYHi, Sharon. You're on the air.
SHARONOkay. Yeah. I take issue with the Rob Portman distancing himself from Trump. I mean, he did endorse him, then he unendorsed him when it was comfortable. I live in Ohio. I watch TV. All you have to do is see Americans for Prosperity, i.e., Koch brothers and their allies, billionaire Libertarians. They have run ads that the local newspapers have all called very misleading against Ted Strickland since June. Ted Strickland did not have the money to counter those ads. I say that's the biggest reason he's behind, because of the Koch brothers.
DAVISWell, she does -- she raises a very good point, that part of what Rob Portman's advantage is in this race is that he organized very early. And he went in on the air with the assistance of outside groups, including Americans for Prosperity, and just absolutely went negative on Ted Strickland. And he did not have the resources to compete. So, yes, she's absolutely right. But I would say that's one piece of a puzzle that was part of a broader campaign strategy that now has Rob Portman in many polls 15 to 17 points ahead of his Democratic opponent.
O'KEEFESo Democrats need to win or pick up a total of five seats to have total control of the chamber. At the beginning of the year, they would have Ohio and Florida in that calculation. Chuck Schumer, who's going to be the next Democratic leader, told me about a week or two ago said, we don't count Ohio and Florida in the calculation anymore because the Koch brothers have spent so much money -- north of $10 million against Ted Strickland, several million down in Florida on behalf of Marco Rubio. They look now to Wisconsin and Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada, places like that where the Kochs and other outside groups have not necessarily spent as much money.
MCGINTYIs it all about the money now? Because remember, Donald Trump, even at the times he was doing very well, wasn't spending a lot of money because of the -- he was able to use the media so effectively.
KING JR.It's hard to say. I mean, these kinds of races, when we're talking about state races for the Senate or for House seats, I think the money does make a really big difference. It -- I think it's made lots of the difference in the presidential. I think Hillary Clinton and her campaign and others have been pretty systematic about bombarding Trump in a bunch of states with the ads that most of us have probably seen, that are basically using his words against him. And in that front, his own organization, whether it be television advertising or in the kind of get-out-the-vote sort of things has just been way, way far behind hers.
KING JR.And I think, who knows what point difference that, in itself, has made. But I'm not sure that, at this point, it's really going to matter much who spends what down the last -- down the stretch.
DAVISAnd I would also still say that it's remarkable to me that Rob Portman, who was a Bush-era economic adviser and a former U.S. trade Republican has been able to recast himself as one of the most prominent voices against trade, against the TPP, the controversial trade back, and has received the endorsement of many Democratic labor unions, who have traditionally endorsed Democrats. I mean, he is...
MCGINTYThat is a weird combination.
DAVISThat is a good campaign.
O'KEEFEBut it's also the kind of combination that if he wins decisively, we will be talking about him as a potential presidential candidate…
O'KEEFE...in four years.
MCGINTYWell, you know, the interesting thing to me is Republicans had always been the free traders, right?
MCGINTYI mean, back -- even in -- any trade deal that came through, at least in the '90s and the first part of this century, did it with the help of free trade Republicans.
DAVISAnd there is probably no one in the Senate more associated with -- or formerly more associated with free trade than Rob Portman, who is still winning in a state, despite Donald Trump's advantages, campaigning against those very trade deals.
KING JR.And with a governor who is actually on the other side of the trade...
DAVISExact, yeah, John Kasich.
KING JR.Yeah, John Kasich.
MCGINTYAll right. Neil King is global economics editor, deputy Washington bureau chief at The Wall Street Journal. Susan Davis is congressional reporter for NPR. And Ed O'Keefe reports for The Washington Post. He's covering the 2016 election. We're going to get -- go away for a minute. When we come back though, we're going to shift gears to a certain police chief's organization that has issued an interesting apology. We'll be back.
MCGINTYWelcome back to The Diane Rehm Show. I'm Derek McGinty, sitting in for Diane. She'll be back in the chair on Monday. And I've been told I must mention that we are live streaming even as we speak on Facebook. I was trying not to bring it up because I forgot my makeup and therefore, I'm not looking as good as I might.
O'KEEFEOr a tie.
MCGINTYThere you go.
MCGINTYYou even shaved. Okay. Let's shift gears away from politics for just a minute, to the head of a major international law enforcement organization. This week, Monday, apologized, and I quote, "for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society's historical mistreatment of communities of color." This, of course, being especially significant right now when we have so much controversy around the shootings of black men by police officers and Black Lives Matter and so on and so forth.
KING JR.So this was at a gathering in California of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Terrence Cunningham, who happens to be the head of that organization that represents several thousand prominent police officers, mainly police chiefs, gave this speech and it was a statement by the organization of apology for historical past practices of discrimination against minorities. It was an important moment and a big one at a time when there's been so much debate, also within the presidential campaign, of where does the police stand on all of this?
KING JR.His statement was very interesting. He went on to talk about the history of policing has had darker periods requiring police officers perform many unpalatable tasks. The interesting thing though, that I found, is he said while this is no longer the case, this dark side of our shared history has created a multi-generational mistrust. I question that a bit. I mean, this whole idea that police officers have to do unpalatable tasks and that's now in the past. I mean, we look at the Michael Brown -- one of the things that the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson illustrated so vividly was that the police were involved in all kinds of unpalatable tasks.
KING JR.That the city required of them to pull over people for silly traffic infractions. Which is itself, part of raising money for the city. There are all kinds of ways, and this is all over the country, and a lot of people have written about it, is where the police have now become actively part of the like revenue raising entity for all these towns. And imposed these fines on people, oftentimes who have done very little and can't afford to pay the fine. And then the fine grows and all kinds of things. So I just question whether these unpalatable tasks are really a matter of past.
O'KEEFEAnd I think it's important to point out that Cunningham didn't, didn't reference any of the specific recent cases in Baton Rouge, or in Ferguson or elsewhere. Nor did he really say anything about the actual shooting deaths of police officers themselves. But, you know, he's not the only law enforcement leader to do this. James Comey at the FBI has conceded that his agency has also been a part of this and that policing in general needs to really think about the issues of mistrust in their communities.
O'KEEFEAnd so, you know, I think what's encouraging is that the professionals and the guys at the top are conceding this. What this now needs to be matched by is the elected political leaders now sitting down and sorting out are there ways we can do something about this in one way or another? And I just worry that partisan nature politics these days is going to poison that debate.
DAVISWell, what's interesting too is his comments were pretty quickly applauded by the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP. But on the other end of this, the Fraternal Order of Police, which I think is more representative of like the rank and file, the officer on the street, put out a statement. It wasn't critical, but it was more skeptical of what he said, saying like, we need actions and less words. And it seemed to be standing more in defense of the officers, where the FOP in a lot of these shootings in a lot of the past year has been defiant that, you know, part of the problem is that police aren't given the support they need.
DAVISAnd they have not really engaged in the same kind of conversation about race and racism and racist policies. And so, in some ways, it also shows the divide between maybe the management of the police and the rank and file police.
MCGINTYAm I wrong or did the FOP endorse Donald Trump?
DAVISThe FOP endorsed Donald Trump. When the FOP, I have brothers who are police officers, so I'm more familiar with their union rules. When it's two thirds of the members vote for an endorsement, that the FOP has to endorse. So two thirds of the rank and file support Donald Trump, which prompted the endorsement. Which also shows you that, you know, management and the rank and file sometimes have very different views of these things.
MCGINTYLet's take another phone call. Robert in Winston Salem, North Carolina. You're on the air.
ROBERTYes, good morning. I was just -- one of your earlier callers talked about voter suppression, the problem of that and I think one of the things that's interesting is how there's been a lot of talk about voter fraud and allegations, but one of the things, I think, that's more difficult to sort of ascertain is the fact that, I'm in North Carolina, that we've had a reduction in polling places. A reduction of early voting days. But I tried to vote the last two days early voting, and the lines were so long that, being a working person, I had to go back to work.
ROBERTI could not take the time to do so, and, you know, as a Constitutional right, I think it's interesting that there seems to be attempts to make it more difficult for people to vote. The lines were out there and I saw -- I was not the only person that had to leave.
MCGINTYYou know why, Robert? It is interesting that early voting, which is supposed to make it easier, sometimes is actually harder to do. Like, you get a longer line to vote early than you would if you actually showed up on Election Day. But his larger point is also in play.
DAVISYes, and particularly in North Carolina, where earlier this year, a -- the North Carolina judge ruled against voter laws and that the Republican Party was trying to put forward, saying that it specifically limited the voting access and rights of minorities. So the North Carolina has a very long history and complicated history of ballot access, voting rights and voter suppression.
KING JR.You know, it's been a fascinating evolution when there's been so many movements in so many states driven primarily by Republicans to impose a lot of restrictions, a lot of identification laws, et cetera on voting, and to make voting more difficult. And in doing that, have pointed to this idea that there's widespread voter fraud that needs to be counteracted. And then they have a presidential nominee who has made that at least in the last final weeks, like the main issue of his campaign. Much to the aghast of so many within his party.
MCGINTYLet's move back to politics then, since we...
KING JR.Let's do it.
MCGINTY...that phone call -- the Republican Party headquarters was actually firebombed over the weekend. The investigation goes on. How political is it? It was interesting to me to see people from both sides of the aisle condemning the violence.
KING JR.Yeah, it was in Orange County, North Carolina, which is a very liberal area of the state. It's where Chapel Hill is and the University of North Carolina. Evidently, this was, I think Saturday night. Someone threw what was basically like a Molotov Cocktail through the window. It burned the place somewhat badly. You know, they were soon back in action. There was a fundraising campaign that was begun by some of the local Democrats to help rebuild the place. It was let's just hope that this is not a precursor to things we may see going down the final stretch.
KING JR.Or any of the sort of things that some fear might happen, even on election night or around that time. As you said, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both came out and condemned it. It's hard to know, the FBI is investigating as to who was behind it is unknown.
DAVISAnd no one's taken responsibility for it, so it's an active investigation.
MCGINTYYou know, but it maybe it does point out something that I've kind of taken note of as I've tried to understand both sides of this thing, is that -- and I don't know if this is the first election where this is the case. But you see that if you listen to what people are saying, voters on both sides of the argument cannot believe that the people are dumb enough to vote for the other guy. That is really -- no one can say I kind of understand why you like Trump. And the people on the Trump side don't say, I kind of understand why you like Hillary Clinton.
KING JR.The bitterness is really disturbing and none of us really know or have really begun to talk yet that much about what's the lay of the land after the election. And what it will look like both in Congress but nationally. One of the things we haven't talked about was this dinner last night, the Al Smith dinner in New York where it's supposed to be a lighthearted moment that goes back decades where the candidates come together and do some light hearted banter and make jokes at their own expense.
KING JR.And the event last night was really became emblematic of how bitter this is, where both candidates stood up and made really very harsh jokes about one another in ways that just weren't really funny. And for the most part, it was like they came in there scarred by all of this.
KING JR.And understandably so.
DAVISI, oh, go ahead.
DAVISI've sat in on some focus groups this year, and we've seen this anecdotally, talking to voters and in polling. But that so many voters talk about that this election has challenged their personal relationships. And sometimes even in their own immediate families. And I've heard from a lot of people say I had to delete my Facebook account or social media in particular. And that it has really tested friendships and marriages. Because one of the other anecdotal things about this election is the spouse divide. That husbands and wives are voting very differently.
MCGINTYI actually know a couple and they are going through that.
MCGINTYAnd it is very real.
MCGINTYOne wants Trump, one wants Clinton and they -- there is no, there's no, there's no bridging that divide, it feels like.
O'KEEFEThanksgiving's going to be really awkward this year for a lot of families. I'd say about last night's dinner, Cardinal Dolan there, that runs the archbishop, or the Archdiocese of New York was on the Today Show Friday morning saying that, apparently, backstage he, he asked the two of them to join him in a prayer before they went out. And that the two of them exchanged some somewhat kind words amongst each other, saying, you know, I guess Trump, he says Trump said that, you know, you're a tough woman and you've been a tough fighter and this has been a really interesting experience.
O'KEEFEAnd she said something to the effect of well, I hope that whenever this is over, we can find a way to work together. And one would hope they would do that onstage in front of all of us, but if the Cardinal is saying it happened, so be it. And frankly, he should probably be put up for sainthood, because he had to endure sitting between the two of them last night.
MCGINTYBut, but I think Neil brought up something important. He said, I think Neil said it, they appeared scarred by what's gone on so far. That it's really so bad that as a human being, there's a level where you can't put aside your anger to shake the other person's hand.
O'KEEFEBut they did shake hands last night.
O'KEEFEWe should point that out.
MCGINTYShake hands. I mean, metaphorically shaking hands is really what I was speaking of, but...
KING JR.Yeah, I agree. I mean, we've seen in, I mean, these debates have been truly nasty.
KING JR.I mean, towards the end of this last one, he called her a nasty woman, which the Clinton campaign has decided to embrace.
MCGINTYAnd now they've got a shirt, I think. Don't they?
KING JR.It's become a big moment.
MCGINTYLet's go back to the phones. Mel in Niceville, Florida.
MCGINTYIs that the right way to pronounce it, Mel?
DAVISThat's a lovely place.
MELYes. Yes. It's Niceville, Florida. And it's an actual real place.
MCGINTYOh good. We need -- we all need to move to Niceville this week. Go ahead.
MELI was just wondering, like, how probable do you think it is that we're going to have a convenient last minute dump right before the election of some more unsavory emails on behalf of the DNC and Hillary Clinton? And what do you think about the prospects of more accusers coming forward?
MCGINTYAll right. Let's talk about that.
DAVISWell, in terms of WikiLeaks, what we do know is that they have a cache of about 50,000 emails, and they've only released about half of them. So, there is more to come. I can't speculate on what could possibly be in it. What I would say is that if they're holding onto something big, they would probably want to get it out there before Election Day, because it's important to remember that a lot of the vote in this country -- Americans are voting right now.
DAVISAnd by the time we get to Election Day, as much as 40 percent of the vote may already be cast. So, sitting on, sitting around and holding on to your op-o at this point is probably not the smartest thing to do.
MCGINTYSo you're thinking if they had...
DAVISIf they had good stuff, it would be...
MCGINTY... they would let it out.
KING JR.Yeah, I mean, you want them to come in, however these things were released when it came to the tape of Donald Trump talking about women. I mean, that came out two days before a debate, so it became itself a huge topic of the debate. When people talk about October surprises, particularly deliberate ones like what we're talking about here and not a war or something. They talk about them happening generally in the first half or the early part of October. So, the other side can use it, particularly in the debates.
KING JR.We're now past that, we're now past any moment where a lot of attention is going to be focused on one event.
O'KEEFEAnd just real quick, -- I mean, part of the dump yesterday involved emails from President Obama to Podesta. There's an email address that he at least at the time was using that's printed right there. And there are exchanges between Obama and Podesta over people that could potentially join the Obama Administration in the first year. You know, Mitt Romney got made fun of for talking about binders full of women back in 2012. The President was receiving attachments full of the names of women who could potentially serve in his cabinet.
O'KEEFEAnd it just shows you sort of the transactional nature of it all. But if they've got something from the President, one would think there's stuff yet to come from either him -- maybe even Mrs. Clinton.
MCGINTYEd O'Keefe of the Washington Post. Susan Davis of NPR. Neil King of the Wall Street Journal. You're listening to the Derek McGinty Show. Oh. I said the Derek McGinty Show. Diane's not going to like that. I apologize. I apologize for that. It's obviously the Diane Rehm Show. Let's go back to the phones. Joe in Greensborough, North Carolina. You're on the air.
JOEYeah, talking about the political climate that we have now, I feel like the mainstream media also has contributed a great deal in that, you know, when Donald Trump says I will not, I'm keeping you, going to hold you in suspense. I don't think that is something that we all have to take and begin to just make it look like this man is so mean spirited. No, it's not something worth even reporting. You know, when he talks about a woman, that we make, we exaggerated what they look like. All women.
JOENobody spoke -- Donald Trump didn't demean my wife. It's a few women, so let's keep the (unintelligible) the way it is, is don't, let's don't just take...
MCGINTYAll right Joe, I want to get a chance to talk about what you're saying, because a lot of people feel that way. That the media has been unfair to Trump, that takes everything he says and takes it in the worst possible light. Neil King, anything to that?
KING JR.Well, I sympathize. I mean, it's been an interesting election cycle, to say the least, where I think the press has been under unusual strain to try to figure out, kind of how it positions itself in a campaign where there has been so much said. And where, in the case of Donald Trump in particular, so much of what we've all had to report, and in the end what his opponents have used, have been things that he himself has said. So, yes, the press criticism and the negativity of the press treatment over the last few months has been, particularly in the last few weeks, particularly, has been quite intense.
KING JR.But a lot of it has been just trying to report on the things that have come out about Donald Trump or the things that he's said about those things as they've emerged. I mean, his whole attacking for days on end about -- of a former Miss Universe. And on and on, so it's been a difficult bind that a lot of people are in to go out and find the other side, the more positive side of the story has been a difficult thing.
MCGINTYI was drawn to the idea that the criticism that came at the media when people said look, you guys aren't being hard enough on Donald Trump, that you're equating the things he says as though a regular politician was saying them and they're not.
O'KEEFEYeah, and I look forward to the years of debate we will have over whether we were responsible for his rise and whatnot. But I think, Joe, what you're getting at there is the idea that perhaps we take him too seriously. I'd say this. He's running for President of the United States. He's running to be the most powerful man in the world. In that context, his words have a lot of consequence and meaning. And if he's uncomfortable with that, look, you know, welcome to the NFL. This is how it is.
O'KEEFEAnd the reason we have to pay so much attention to what he's saying is because he's running to be president. And if he were still just one of 17, if he were still just flirting with it a year ago, that's one thing. But now that you have the nomination...
MCGINTYBut even when he was one of 17, he got all -- the lion's share of the attention.
O'KEEFEYeah, and again, that's, to me, is a different debate than now when you are the nominee and when you're one set of elections away from getting the job.
DAVISYou know, he also referenced women and the way Donald Trump spoke about women, and I think that that's one of those things that I think has really driven Donald Trump sinking in the polls, particularly after the debates. Because it's not just about the tape and what he said, it's how he responded to it.
DAVISAnd that Donald Trump, in the closing weeks of this campaign, has tremendously alienated women voters, particularly swing suburban type women who tend to vote Republican, or back and forth. Both on his comments on sexual assault, about abortion. And even in the closing debate, that nasty woman remark. I mean, time and time again, the way he has spoken to women voters has been incredibly alienating and one of the really interesting things about this election that we've also seen is the polarization among men and women.
DAVISAnd that the women are voting for Hillary Clinton and men are voting for Donald Trump.
MCGINTYSusan Davis is Congressional Reporter for NPR. Neil King, Global Economics Editor and Deputy Washington Bureau Chief at the Wall Street Journal. And Ed O'Keefe, Reporter for the Washington Post, covering the 2016 campaign. Thanks to all three of you for joining us. You've been listening to The Diane Rehm Show.
Most Recent Shows
A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian explains why looking to America’s past should give us hope for overcoming today’s divisions. Then, 90-year-old author Mary Higgins Clark on her decades-long career writing best-selling suspense novels.
Can President Trump be forced to testify as part of the Mueller investigation? Then PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff on life in the anchor’s seat after fifty years in journalism.
Tensions over teacher pay and school funding intensify as protests spread to Arizona and Colorado. Then, how prisons replaced psychiatric hospitals as America’s new asylums.