Facebook Live: Insider’s Look at the 2020 Election


for that. And I thank you for being here.
How many parents do we have in the room? Thank you. for being here. How about students? Nice. Nice. It’s early for you. I appreciate you being here. [Laughter] We have a saying that these 2020 election is our Super Bowl. We all think about what
we are doing to prepare our students that can inform them about what’s coming and to get them involved and active in a way that makes sense for them. And if that’s our
Super Bowl this is the best pregame show you’ll ever be at. We are just so happy today to bring you this fantastic panel. I’m so proud to
call the people up here our alums, our faculty, our friends. And it’s just really
an exciting day so thank you for being here. I’m only going to do very top line
introduction so we want to leave all the times the great conversation. But, I want
to introduce right next to me, is Betsy Fischer Martin. Betsy Fisher Martin was the executive producer of Meet the Press with Tim Russert for many years and she
is also a proud as SPA alumna and also a faculty member in our school as well as
the executive director of the Women and Politics Institute she has transformed
what’s going on in this full in one year that she’s been hearing I’m just so
grateful to have her with us next to her we have Michael Steele. You probably know Michael Steele from the work he currently does and we see him on TV but
more importantly he’s the former director of the RNC and we’re grateful
to have him here. Next to Michael is Bob Costa. You know Bob. He is, of course, a political reporter with The Washington Post, the
moderator of PBS Washington Hour and a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He went to another school that we don’t like to mention. [Laughter] He
is an honorary doctorate from us a couple years ago. So, I can claim him as an actual alum. Next to him is Amy Dacey, also an alum the School of Public Affairs at American
University. She has joined us just recently as the executive director of
the Sine Institute of Policy and Politics. The Institute is co-sponsoring this
event with the School of Public Affairs today. She has come in and got that
institute up and running, exciting things. Please be watching for it. Amy of course
was the former CEO of the Democratic National Committee, the DNC. And next Amy we have Chris Donovan, also an SPA alum. There’s a theme here. And he is the
executive editorial producer for ABC News. So please join me in welcome the panel. We want to hear your questions so we’ll leave some time for questions at the end. So thank you for being here. Thank you. Welcome everyone. We’re so glad that you’re here with us. So, I’m going to give a
shout-out to my class over there. I’m teaching a Saturday class on the women’s
vote. And so, they’re over here and so this morning at the beginning of our class I
crowdsourced some questions for today from the class and you won’t
be surprised about this but the number one topic that everybody wanted to talk
about was the big elephant in the room impeachment right. And, how that is going
to impact 2020 and so I want to start with that bullet. Bob, set the table for
us, if you don’t mind, doing a little opening of Washington Week here for us
and give us a sense of where we are now and what’s sort of around the corner with this impeachment inquiry. Thank you to Dean Wilkins and the entire
American University community. It’s great to be here and great to be back. To
understand where we are right now, let me take you back four weeks from today.
Four weeks ago I was full of regret I was sitting in the middle seat on an
airplane Air Force II, heading from Andrews Air Force Base to Warsaw, Poland
and I was covering Vice President Pence and I thought you could not get a more
boring assignment be covering Vice President Pence’s trip to Poland. And I said to myself, I started to
question my life choices, I was hoping Vice President Pence would
air a good documentary or movie on the plane and when he put the movie on, I
recognized it was a documentary about Pope John Paul the second. Now look I’m Catholic I love the good Pope but it was so boring. And, you can’t
use Wi-Fi in the Air Force II because it’s a military aircraft, so I land in Poland
in early September and I’m the pool reporter that means you chronicle the
trip for the rest of the press corps because the rest of the press corps
doesn’t want to go. And, I think to myself maybe this will be an uneventful trip. I
can kind of enjoy it a little bit walk around Warsaw and so we’re staying in a
Marriott hotel in Warsaw, and my first assignment that next day after we land
is this meeting in a windowless conference room at the Marriott, and to
me it seems humdrum nothing of a meeting the bilateral meeting as they say with
President Zalenski of Ukraine so I go into this meeting and I think
immediately this is going to be an easy story for me to write Vice President
Pence will announce, as I expect, that he’s going to give $250 million dollars
in military aid to Ukraine. That doesn’t happen. Instead, I see
President Zalenski as close as you are to me start bouncing
his needs nervous this 41 year old comedian and actor who just won the
presidency in Ukraine in May unhappy with the Americans sitting right in
front of him John Bolton, Vice President Pence… there’s no guarantee from Vice
President Pence that this military is going to go to Ukraine. And the Ukrainian
delegation looks bewildered. And so, the press corps we start shouting out as the
pool: “Are the Ukrainians going to get the money?” And, Vice President Pence tells us
then and the next day: “We’re still making a decision on that, but we need to see
Ukraine address quote ‘corruption.” And so I came back to my editors and scratch my
head. And I said what is going on here? By no hurry Giuliani
has been making all these moves in the summer talking about you creating
corruption but this military is truly being held up. And that was just four
weeks ago, two weeks from then The Washington Post scoops that there’s a
whistleblower complaint and now have two weeks from that report we’re here facing
an impeachment inquiry on Capitol Hill. All because of President Trump holding
this military aid hostage. It’s allege that he maybe had a quid pro
quo that’s going to be up for Congress to decide. But every minute now Vicky
called my show Washington Hour but it feels like Washington Hour. A barrage of
news and headlines and every day Republicans now are being confronted
with choices. Democrats are trying to also make choices about whether they can
keep this in process but this process narrow and you are all as American
University students living through history. Thank you, Bob. [Applause] I told Bob that his show last night
Washington Week we could have been like a 2 or 3 hour special edition like there’s
so much to talk about. Amy, I want to turn to you… and you spent many years at the
DNC so if you can put on your DNC hat for a minute, and give us some insight as
to what the party right now is thinking about how far to move on this …there was
some hesitancy at first, you started to see things change… Just from a political
standpoint, what’s at stake at this moment? Thank so much Betsy. I think it’s a it’s a good question because this is a
hard needle to thread, because for many especially in the committees that, you
know, have jurisdiction over this is what are they responsible to do? Like, what is
constitutionally what their responsibility is? You know we not only
elect representatives, we have to hold them accountable so it’s like what is that
question but then there’s this political aspect you know you’ve got a lot of house races up, you know there are a lot of Senate races up. What is the timing? Where are people thinking? And, I think a lot of it as a party you have to
remember and I’m sure you’ll appreciate this Michael is we talk about the party
as this big umbrella but it’s really a series of different committees that are
not really held accountable to each other that focus on the Senate, or they focus
on the House races, or the state legislative races. So trying to get
consensus on the path forward can sometimes be very difficult from a party
perspective. I think what the party is also thinking about certainly the
Democratic Party’s thinking about looks back to 2015 and saw the
Republicans go through its what is the focus on trying to get a nominee in
place trying to make sure that we’re thinking about in a national election
how do we mobilize some of these campaigns within the congressional
districts within these state legislative districts national campaigns are very
important but we’ve got a lot at stake and as a party so we’re trying to think
this through and I think the other thing that we’re
thinking about is you could look at this you know, impeachment decisions and
what’s coming forward as an operative you always know it’s a hundred and
twenty-one days till the Iowa caucus we have 395 days till the general election
so a lot of what we’re thinking about is what do we people care about in those
four early states that actually get to make some of these decisions early on
about who they’d like to see is their leader and I think that’s one of the
things that we’re thinking through as you’re threading this very hard needle:
What are the responsibilities? And then, what are the implications politically
and trying to pull together. Thanks Amy. So Michael, how happy are you that you’re
the former chair of the RNC? [laughter] I want to get your thoughts though… are
Republicans I want to ask you just thinking about the political component
of this? At what point do Republicans start getting nervous about Trump and
stop defending him, and it seems like there may be a little bit of… where do
they shift to… sort of… he’s done something wrong… yes… but he does something wrong, but we shouldn’t impeach him. What/how do they… what’s the political comeback
on this, if there is anything? First off, thank you very much, and for those of you
to who did not give that my answer to the question about being the former it’s
it’s very good to be the former. I get that question a lot now, you know: “What
would you do?” I told them I wouldn’t last probably past the first three months of
the administration. Certainly would not have lasted as national chairman after
Charlottesville because of my views would have been rather striving in very
different from the administration’s and I think that’s a reflection generally of
where things are right now within the party as a whole. There is this conflict
that they have in my view created for themselves because it was a lot easier
to abandon principle and values and ideals that have been espoused for
generations, than it was to stand up to a rogue president, someone who as I like to
remind my fellow conservatives and Republicans, was not until the year in
2015, a Republican, has never been a conservative, and certainly does not now
act in that capacity in this current political iteration. So the Republican
Party finds itself sitting in this space Betsy where it is trying to navigate in
this moment very much as as my friend and colleague Mr. Costa put on the table
the global as well as the domestic political implications of a decision by
the President of the United States to say to the president of Ukraine: “I have a favor
though..” those words will go down in infamy in this in this moment and
from this moment because it does indicate a lack of appreciation of the
very delicate dance and balance between your political duty and your
presidential responsibility. And the political duty is ok yeah we’re going to
leverage what we got. That’s what you do with politics. You try to run with what you’ve got but at some point your presidential responsibility kicks in and says but in
this moment we will not apply the political duty
we will not leverage politically for ourselves an advantage. And that’s not
happened.It has not, and it won’t happen. I think we need to disabuse ourselves
with a notion that the Republican Party as a whole is going to come around and
stand against Trump. What you can look for is maybe some chipping away at that
particular armor maybe you know he’s at 80% approval a lot of rank-and-file
Republicans. Who are these people? I mean I honestly… I mean… I have a lot of friends… [shouts from the audience]… We have to, we have to, get out of the cult of personality. The
party was not this sycophantic about Ronald Reagan who was the, you know, the
ending that moment where it all became clear for a lot of conservatives around
the country for someone like me watching this move away from our global
responsibilities and our domestic responsibilities but more importantly
stepping away from the values that we said were so important as Republicans, it
is problematic, I mean look: I could speak with a lot of clarity on this
because I had worked with Donald Trump I know Donald Trump personally. I talked to him many times throughout the presidential campaign, and I’ve said to
him exactly what I’m saying to you, so I’m not talking out of school. So when
you see me even hear me say something about Trump know that at some point the
campaign I said it to him. And so it I have to be honest and consistent
in that respect because of my journey and so when I look at the party as a
whole it’s concerning to me how we get to this moment with any degree of
honesty if we don’t admit that right now we have a real problem. So, I want to bring in my friend and
former colleague Chris and I would have taught you first since is Alumni Weekend
Chris used to intern for me when I was at Meet the Press and the way I got to
know Chris because all things are related to 8u when I was an undergrad
here visiting sorority Delta Gamma yay and my little sister and the sorority
after I graduated was the TA for an American help political class a
government class that Chris was in and so she made arrangements with me to
bring her class in for a special showing of me the press we let them come in and
watch the show on a Sunday morning and Chris came in in her class and he was
completely enthralled at a total political junkie and said I wouldn’t
intern and so sure enough he did and then the rest is history and now he
spent many years with us that meet the prostitutes our great producer terrific
research and now he is leading all of the research efforts that go into the
very big political interviews that go on in ABC so he is attached with George
Stephanopoulos and his the brains behind a lot of this
great question that you could hear asked if debates in another interview so I’m
hoping Chris you can take us with a peek behind the curtain at coming from a
place like ABC News now and the beat interviews that you guys are doing the
debate and whatnot what what goes on sort of
behind the scenes as you try to make sense if you guys try to make sense of
the import of this moment and impeachment and getting the facts out
and in doing some of those big interview questions have a big Pelosi interview to
write did I get to do behind the scenes and I spend all my time all week just
reading and trying to reach out and learn from diverse group of people on
both sides of the aisle and that’s why were both kind of disciples of Tim
Russert we have a strong belief in history and going back and looking back
and trying to be reflective on the current events and how history either
sometimes repeats itself or famously consists of a rhyme the history actually
doesn’t always repeat itself a lot but and and also from this school of trying
to sit down and be as fair as you can possibly be looking at all sides of
issues when we approach a guest of trying to try to think of all the good
challenges for that guest of what people are saying what they said in the past so
we did our debate on the third democratic debate we did
the beginning of the last month or September 12 and 2 to Robert’s point
impeachment had kind of died down this Speaker Nancy Pelosi had repeatedly said
what she had been saying about we’re gonna let the bats go but there was no
rush to do anything so we did not ask one question about and because we were
focused more on where the Democrats were to meeting each other and where their
petition is in the gang stuff and then obviously in the last couple weeks
the is especially speaker Pelosi’s position has changed with a lot of the
news that came out so George has interviewed Georgian interviewer so I
work mostly with George and the luxury of what my job is I work on all his big
names we use good and most anytime anyone almost everyone have been Network
doesn’t need to be I get involved and either just send a few suggestions or
think about from besting those we keep files I still keep clipping files which
not like my nurse does of all the candidates and all the politicians going
back and we had interviewed both mayor who do not meet on Sunday and we kind of
like Tuesday at 5 o’clock that used an interview speaker Pelosi Wednesday any
morning so stayed up until really late and came up with some try to come up
with challenging questions and things and then we flew there anything
interviewer so the trying to think about like I said there’s a lot of noise on
both sides there’s extremes of both sides and in having to kind of lead
through interviews how Robert topic stories all and what everyone does
there’s it’s subjective right now while you’re just giving political opinions
but it is rejected on what’s important and stuff I told Bessie I’m obsessed
with the fact that the last two times anyone that’s living lived through an
impeachment inquiry or an impeachment process was was President Clinton and
President Nixon in both of us in the second term of their presidency
the returning limited they could not run again the only remedy that critics of
theirs are people that thought they went too far was to impeach them or censure
them or or do anything like that this is a unique situation in that case in the
last two that we are destined thirteen months from the next election and I
think you’re going to hear and I just actually heard this morning some
Republicans Twitter talking about and me trying to make a convincing argument to
people that all the facts will be out there and the people should vote on a
patient in caused them to be impeached and someone can factor any one of the
journalists I work with last night and I just thought of this told me that in a
constitution that says if you’re a peach you cannot run again which I actually
didn’t know and may be wrong so we should check that but uh it’s an
interesting I think it’s going to be an interesting discussion interesting
debate and I brought this up with someone and they pointed out that Andrew
Johnson the only President Clinton defended Andrew Johnson were the only
two presidents to be impeached that happened in that election or 1868
but I would argue in some ways I don’t think it was in the heart of the
election year but in election year in 1868 II is a whole lot different
election year 2008 through 2020 so just to pick up on that let me ask you since
it is an election year and Republican members will be you know
reelected or not this is the cycle as well Republicans that you’re talking to
privately on the panel what are they saying right now and is
there a difference between what they’re saying privately and what they’re saying
publicly as far as you can tell there’s a stark difference a few days ago I was
ruling the Senate hallway is down by the trainings in the basement and I went up
to Senator Ernst of Iowa Republican who’s up for re-election in 2020 and I
said senator have you read the whistleblower complaint she says Bob I
have not I said well can we talk about the impeachment proceeding she said did
you want to talk about ethanol and I said no senator I don’t with all respect
to corn and ethanol she said well if you want to talk about ethanol I’ll talk
about ethanol and then she got on the train and left and now they’re on recess
and she was just facing constituents on Thursday in Iowa and one of her
constituents as some of you may have seen asked her in a frustrated way where
is the line where is the line the Republican Party which I’ve covered for
ten years has been so consumed by President Trump that the ideology that
has been the connective tissue going the back beyond even President Reagan has
been replaced by this belief that President Trump is the only one who has
political capital to win states like Wisconsin Pennsylvania Ohio and there’s
a real fear inside of the Republican Party of fear of president Trump and Bob
Woodward and I interviewed President Trump then candidate Trump in March of
2016 that’s what he told us his whole
operating principle was in terms of power we asked him what drives you and
when you make decisions how do you see power this is I don’t even want to say
the word I don’t even want to say the word but it’s a fear and what we remain
that the title is based on that quote and we see a
Republican party with senator Romney of Utah having some standing as a former
nominee Senator sass of Utah retiring Republicans that will burn in Texas
there are some voices in the wilderness whether the the most likely Republicans
to crack will be those four retiring senators or retiring House members or
then at the next level would be suburban House members who fear they could get
swept out in 2020 what’s most striking to me as a reporter is how much of this
moment for many Republicans where my source is on the hill and elsewhere this
moment for them is a political calculation when I ask them about the
moral and legal considerations they don’t really want to engage on those
questions and the Republican Party if President Trump whether you love him in
this room or you detest him he will be a historic figure because he is overall in
a major American party in fundamental ways not just in terms of making
protectionism on trade and hardline immigration use the center of the
parties entire ideology but he has made the party all about him at its core and
is now the party of Trump and just ten minutes ago I was just finally in the
story of her Sunday’s Washington Post about the Republican Party pick it up
tomorrow morning I think it’ll be a one you’ll see and I felt my colleague Phil
Rucker because ten minutes ago President Trump tweeted I hope I’m saying the word
he tweeted it’s the president he called Mitt Romney a quote pompous ass and so
this is what they’re facing they’re facing the wrath of voters but just one
final point of the GOP when we talk about the GOP it’s not just the
Republican National Committee here in the congressional ranks the GOP in terms
of the power structure within the both party is really Fox News talk radio the
whole serving of infrastructure that provides
all these new figures like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson real political
standing that makes them almost more powerful within conservative politics
than elected officials and so with Richard Nixon had to face Barry
Goldwater and elected Republicans that was what he was really facing down in
1973-1974 Republicans now aren’t really thinking about the pardon for thinking
about the wider world of media and activism that confronts them yeah I
think I’ve hit it right out of the park there I can recall and you probably
remember my infamous entanglement with Rush Limbaugh when I referred to Rush
Limbaugh’s of national chairman newly newly minted as an entertainer and the
backlash was that the party was mammoth in fact we lost income over a three-week
period we watched our contributions take a nosedive
that’s how powerful that piece that voice is within the party and what was
ironic about that was when I talked to rush about it he laughed and said yeah
basically true I am that’s what I do but the politics and the power that was
realized was what was most important and that has just grown exponentially over
the years and it really you know I think in the main we can get caught up in the
politics and we can get caught up in the partisanship and you know we could
scream out of a truck or a we can scream I’m I never Trevor
have any folks it walls down – are you an American because the three most
powerful words in our founding documents are we the people that I’m a Republican
or on the Roberts point about the consumption of an apolitical mindset by
one individual to the point that is sick of panic to the point that rational
facts and evidence are dismissed the fact that the leader of the free world
can refer to the former nominee of his party sitting united states senator as a
pompous ass because that senator disagrees with his behavior in his job
that reflects back on us so we can we can point fingers at our neighbor and
not go to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving because you still haven’t figured out
why she voted for Trump or talk to your cousin because you don’t understand what
she was thinking when she decided to support Hillary Clinton you can have
that fight but then you at some point have to turn that mirror around and look
at yourself because we are where we are and we will remain where we are until we
decide something different and if the election is held today I
think Robert will agree and I think a lot of the leading indicators are Trump
gets reelected and Wisconsin and Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania
are you know Rick’s in that blue wall that he successfully took out the
question is how do we respond to that if you know we have some problems and again
our problems aren’t necessarily policy and the actor on TV I’m not debating
healthcare policy not debating immigration policy I’m debating I’m
debating about Donald Trump’s behavior and the question and the question is one
of you know not being rude like the president we listen to someone complete a thought
without emoting a reaction and I remember growing up in the city where
that was not the case I remember when Democrats when Republicans went to
dinner and had conversations over there even though they meet each other not
during the day politically we all like to lionize the behavior between Tip
O’Neill and Ronald Reagan who beat the crap out of each other politically but
at the end of the day had a glass of scotch and talked about the next day
well I mean to that point Michael I remember when I was pretty see me
depressed in the early 90s they would routinely have the majority leader the
Minority Leader of the US Senate on the show together for a half an hour
substantive policies solution-driven discussion when was the last time in the
last 10 years you’ve seen leaders sit down like that and have a policy focus
discussion it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen and I think that again goes to
the state of where we’ve allowed our politics to go so we have control over
this at the end of the day folks I really do
it is not one person who gets to dictate how this democracy this republic unfolds
I’m sorry it just doesn’t work that way despite how but catching people I know the man I don’t know if you do
sir but I do and so I can tell you that the course we’re on right now it ain’t
good all right and you’re either going to say it ain’t good and do something
about it or you’re going to accept it and I don’t want to hear you bitching
afterwards because that’s where we are and you need to understand that you need
to appreciate that you need to go to that space honestly and stop pretending
that some elected official in the Republican Party is going to go down to
the White House and tell the president you need to change your behavior that’s
not happening or that this is all going to get resolved because you know Adam
Schiff is going to do an investigation at the end of the day it comes back to
our door stuff because we the people are the government only a few teeny because you are running
a center here now based on policy and what are your thoughts on you know
whether this election I think obviously seen a preview of that will be one of
focus on you know these you know issues about the president versus policy
discussions and what are your plans for the center and trying to have more
policy focus you know it’s great when I sit here and I can say yeah yeah you
know I mean and that’s a people like if he you know he hit the nail on the head
I worked in Congress and I remember my Democratic member of Commerce Congress
working with Republicans all the time so the question is how do we find consensus
eleven is just trying to get together to have a conversation
the interesting thing on the Democratic side right now is we are talking about
policy alive and a lot of that is because in this field that’s very large
you everybody’s trying to position themselves you know to their their
Democratic primary voters about how they would attack that with these issues and
what they would do to try to do things differently at the end of the day
there’s probably that much space between them I think it’s hard in these cities but that’s the conversation that I would
hope would go carry through in general and concern that it might not be simply
because the leadership here is not talking about issues and is not talking
about you know what the solutions are just some of the biggest problems facing
us as a nation so the question of what the Institute certainly wants to look at
is where are these pockets of innovation happening where are these pockets
happening you know around the country and this is why so much of the focus and
I understand because I sit there you know watching about day talking you know
to former colleagues into journalism on that hill is this natural national
election what’s happening and what’s really important is we have elections
that are not just for the president and without the respect the president is a
very important part of our process but who is making decisions for us at the
federal level who is in our state legislatures deciding the issues that
matters to us on a daily basis this is the place where I think we can find
consensus there’s really good examples of people trying to work together and
various chambers throughout the country these are some of the things that we’re
trying to highlight and shine out of the Institute there’s examples from history
huge you know policy debates in the past where people have had to come together
to find you know consensus and that and it’s happening
around the country and sometimes internationally which they think we have
an opportunity to push our leg to the officials in this election I want to
remind everybody here because there’s probably a lot of in Virginia we have an
election this year so don’t forget that open sea when you have local elections
when you have a virginia kentucky there’s elections this year eise matter
and I think sometimes we may not report years to vote for you know one branch of
our government when it matters all the time and this is our responsibility to
force the issue with our elected officials about what are the issues that
we care about and I think the really interesting thing is what are people
talking about and what are they concerned about in Iowa I’m sure you see
it a lot and you know the question you know for me is what are the issues that
they want to talk about and I like when you have a healthy primary and a lot of
people are trying to get people’s vote than these partners they do have to go
to these states and talk about the issues whether they can still force that
conversation to happen throughout the election thank you so Chris mr. New
Hampshire Christmas pumpkin Hampshire so in fact we Chris was an intern for us at
meat the process is pre-google just to date ourselves but during the
summer or when he was home he would clip the articles before that up leading up
to the presidential race he would clip the articles out of the New Hampshire
papers which is a vanilla envelope and mail them to me at the show so he knows
a lot about New Hampshire so talk about those early stage crafts and how they
are so important in the primary process and butcher tape and somebody from New
Hampshire on this side the influence that they play in the presidential
primary process yes things I actually thought out of this
morning was we always talk about the first website thing that a local website
we would pay attention to it was Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign
website and about a month ago I hate loosening the shares all their
information on distribution and email lists so I get thousands of emails a day
and I had been there five years and I still haven’t figured out how to sort
through everything but I’m on everything I’m on Good Morning America let’s talk
about more pop culture stuff and someone I’m a Good Morning America and around
hey the Bob Dole website from 1996 is still around I was like oh my god I was
a really cool kid you know I’m from New Hampshire that’s why I think even
interested in politics is why I wanted to come to Washington to come to America
and just being able to go out in and see the candidates and talk to talk to them
meet them I was on a panel with Bill Clinton in September 1991 ask me a
question stuff and what I think has been a I think everyone would agree is a
positive development over the past decades is used to the Iowa and New
Hampshire and less focus on you know very very concentrated to very very
white states very you know like very same kind of in some cases rural parts
of New Hampshire and Iowa and they had in order in about in order to know how
power to choose people so in both parties recognized
started South Carolina and one of the 9,000 reasons I’m not on TV is I never
know how to pronounce things right and I think Nevada Nevada and you know there’s
a right way but but it is early I think they I went back and what I was
fascinated you know it’s cliche and politics to say
it’s still early you never know what’s going to happen but it’s true and the
last two election cycles you know Donald Trump took the lead in the Republican
primary and they never gave it up and and Hillary Clinton was way ahead at the
start and Bernie Sanders had challenged but in 2012 the same thing
Obama was way ahead and Romney kind of led for most of the campaign him stuff
especially at this time I went back to look in 2008 the last bit bit open in
both parties and in this week ABC news/washington post poll showed Hillary
leading by 33 points over Barack Obama so if you just I know a lot has changed
in 12 years and a lot about Twitter a lot of media and a lot about how people
do stuff going on the Republican side Rudy Giuliani who is leading by 17
points over the leaf Fred Thompson so we both know we all know in 2008 Hillary
Clinton was not the nominee and there was never a Republican nominating
Giuliani or Fred Thompson you know like it has changed a lot those states are
going to play a huge role yeah and the people in those states take it very
serious with it hey I was in New Hampshire a couple weeks ago
and wait to check out of a comely Harris rally and she was like a house party you
know in someone’s backyard where they’re talking to people and she does her stick
and then she makes them stay believing right afterwards well there was a line
of people up at the volunteer table saying wait a second she needs to stick
around this is New Hampshire and you know very upset they didn’t do a selfie
then he’d get a personal conversation with her I mean it’s the biggest you
know it’s lessons learned too many politicians just like people have
experiences they learn stuff they learned what worked or didn’t work
and Bernie Sanders is a perfect example of that when he ran four years ago he
didn’t really want to deal with selfies and really want to deal with like he was
going to just give a big speech and then talk to people unlock code for the next
thing and he learned from the B importantly keep people’s hands and
talking to people and and now both him and Elizabeth Warren tell how many
selfies the UN constantly stuff it makes a huge difference between you know
there’s again it’s kind of a cliche but a lot of people say Ohio in New
Hampshire when reporters like Robert go up to them and ask them you know what do
you think getting them stuff would you think of this person this candidate they
say well I don’t know I’ve only seen them three or four times I’m gonna have
to beat them a lot a lot more before I decide because it is a lot true those
things happen they do take it seriously and to your to your point about policy
which what’s really interesting is the they asked although mostly policy
questions you know for the first six months of this first year this
Democratic primary almost twenty all the Republican Democratic candidates hit
look no one in the country is talking about the model report they’re talking
about they we have to do that but I’m talking about
they kept repeating that over and over again it’s one of the unknowns that
we’re going to find out if the Democrats keep saying that or if they you know and
that’s what Nancy Pelosi and all the Democrats in Congress I think have been
Tom Robert and other reporters this week that they’re going to go back they’re
going back to their district and the the smart ones are saying that they’re
listening other people are saying I’m going to explain it right but it’s
putting most of we’re gonna be listening to what people think about what’s
happening the last couple weeks the candidates are just so much more
accessible in those early States and in fact I’ll put a plug in for a class that
I’m co-teaching next semester that we did last Michael as well on the
presidential primaries where we actually take students to New Hampshire during
the primary and this year would also take students to South Carolina so it’s
a it’s a great time for them to be on the ground there the candidates are
accessible they can see so much to learn so much from this early stage Bob do you
want to say something just a quick point in addition to Christa great points do
you think about the age we’re living in the age of Trump where the president is
ubiquitous in the news every day is 24/7 relentless and nationalized I would
argue based on my reporting on the 20/20 raise over the past six months that the
early states matter in terms of deciding who gets delegates and who gets momentum
but this entire race is nationalized and what really matters more than Canada
performance or connecting with earlier state voters is your message and the
biggest story of the Democratic race right now is the ascent of senator Orrin
and when you try to understand why that’s happening as a reporter you see
an immense overlap with the message of President Trump let me explain when I
was on the campaign trail in 2016 I was on the Bernie me I was on the Trump
theme there was this grievance politics economic populism pervasive in the
country reacting to disappointment about the global economy about the lack of
opportunity perceived lack of opportunity the fracturing of the family
the rise of the opioid crisis that led President
to break through with many independent voters by saying I am radical change
against the global economy and I blame the immigrant a Senator Warren is
essentially saying to those same voters I too in Braddock will change but
instead of blaming the immigrant I am blaming the corporation and that is
cutting through in a democratic party that has long praised establishment
messaging on health care and the economy and when I’m talking to people inside of
the White House they are alarmed at times at senator Warren’s ascend because
when they look at Vice President Biden they see someone and they argue they
could run against as the establishment the president Trump would once again be
in their eyes to change candidate but when they see senator Warren drawing
20,000 people in New York they see a competitor in terms of movement politics
and so she has an economic populist message that speaks to voters in these
times and she’s poised to do well in New Hampshire we have in Iowa New
Hampshire’s her neighboring state of Massachusetts
the real question facing her candidacy right now between the now and the early
2020 is can she went over minority voters in places like South Carolina and
peel away at Vice President Biden’s coalition and if she can do that she’ll
head into that California primary in March and others well poised to be the
nominee the interesting thing about the California primary is that come on
Harris the the native daughter is running fourth in California
doing a program called EMS by the year ago a little less now about the fact
that I thought someone like Kamala would have a problem in our home state for a
whole lot of reasons and and the Elizabeth Warren campaign I think has
made it very difficult for the Democrats to do a much more sort of emotional kind
of connective campaign which we’ve seen in the past because she’s come up she’s
got a plan for pretty much everything and you have to as a competitor at some
point address her plan and as we’ve seen in the run-up to this debate next week I
think Pete many people to judge it is prepared to go after her on her plan I
think a few others are prepared to do the same so the next test for her as the
the klieg light gets brighter and the focus of that light gets narrower on her
how does she respond not from an attack from variety from Republicans or Trump
but from her left and that’s going to be interesting particularly given that yet
again when asked about whether or not the middle class would have to pay for
her health care plan she averred she has yet to answer that question directly and
that’s going to be while it’s a great posture and a great position to kind of
do the you know the dime with on a stage with you know fewer than ten people one
staring at your face looking at it it’s gonna be hard to get around that so
that’s gonna be the testimony of her she passes back that I think you’re gonna
see a widening of the gap between her the others as as folks we settled one
other point real quick don’t get confused by the money people all right
because raising money is easy all right because it speaks a lot to popularity it
speaks a lot to your article an ability to reach people because your true seeing
is Bernie Sanders twenty five million dollars he’s trailing Elizabeth Warren
all right but you also see buying 15 million and
he’s second or first depending on the ploy you’re looking at so what what
you’re seeing happen in the in the primary promise says is folks saying
with the money and of course people footage as is a good example you know
raising all this money but he’s running 5% 6% I people scratch their head well
what that says is yeah give me some money
but I’m vote for her and that’s and that’s perfectly candid so I don’t think
we could you hear reporters and others out there kind of making a big deal
about the money as an indicator or something all it indicates is a lot of
people wanted to write them a check and what you need to look at is and I think
Bob made a very good point about the national poll these candidates are now
running in four states but they’re being polled as if they’re running in all 50
states and so it doesn’t matter what their polling
it doesn’t matter what they’re pulling in Maryland my home state it doesn’t
matter what they’re pulling in Florida what matters is how they’re folding it
was in Iowa New Hampshire South Carolina and Nevada Nevada but I wouldn’t just
follow up with you one quick point on Elizabeth Warren Michael if she is the
nominee given what you know about the Republican Party do you think that she
her message is would be appealing to sort of the disaffected Republicans
because she is obviously more progressive okay can she resonate can
she get both of the anti-trump vote in a general election
that’s a little bit harder to really digest right now I have actually seen
Holly that reminded me of polling that was done in the bush President Bush 41
reelect effort and that was polling this shown that when you laid out the policy
a significant number of voters like the policy you attach the name and really it
cut in half it’s like Obamacare and the ACA we hold people on the ACA 55 60 %
support me attach the bottom of the main and drop to 30 percent so I think with
Elizabeth Warren there’s a little bit of that going on there are some some
features of what she’s saying going back to what what Bob was saying about the
Bernie Sanders Donald Trump voter in 2016 and that was actually a person I
met a lot of them because of the very way that circle kind of completed itself
around globalization in the economy and how people were being treated I think
she can make that case but where I think she will fall down with a lot of those
so center-right independent Republican Motors is the explicit nature
of what she’s going to do on the water what she’s going to do with her
healthcare plan whether or not she’s actually going to require me to give up
my health care plan to go into her health care plan and so I think that’s
where we’re gonna wait and see whether or not that really resonates but where
she can pull those voters and then of course like you said the whole minority
piece as well it’s going to be interesting so let’s take some audience
questions yes right here can you introduce yourself
absolutely good morning my name is Ellie bell Krasner I’m an SBA loan from 2012
and member a use Alumni Board thank you so much for being here this morning
Amy thank you very much for your leadership of the sine Institute which
is really fantastic Robert and Chris thank you so much for what you do
freedom of the press America is incredibly important one of
our absolute most important rights and thank you very much especially with
everything going on and mr. chairman thank you very much for your honesty
because I remember the days when you were had a critical of the Obama
administration and some of the things that the party said back then and here
you you know being able to criticize the party now is refreshing to be perfectly
honest my question is this it’s really aimed at the chairman but more you know
overall so you know for all of you given what
president has done recently with some of his actions and how blatant he has been
and saying that it’s perfectly acceptable for him – he says
investigating corruption but essentially use the power of his office to
investigate one of his chief political opponents going into the 2020 election
cycle no matter who the nominee is what does this mean for the election and what
does it mean for our democracy to have an election cycle where you potentially
have a president using the power of his office to try to influence the election
in a way that our democracy was not designed to deal with I think there’s a
incredibly good and important question and it really relates back to what I was
saying before about how we respond to this this is all very new we have an
expectation of individuals who hold that office to adhere to the principles and
the ideals of it but most importantly uphold the Constitution the Constitution
is is and some at once explicit other times they about certain things
certainly relating to the behavior of the occupants of office there is no real
clue but we sort of you know intuitive and youth a certain attitude if you will
so I think this is the artist and how we digest what we’re seeing and whether or
not when the president says I had the absolute right to fill in the blank
never in the history our modern history I don’t know what Jefferson said when he
was president I don’t know what Adams may have said but I know that in our
modern hearing we’ve never had a president stand up before the American
people say I have an absolute right to do whatever I want to do what’s the
appropriate check on that you when you have a party in one side that’s too
scared to move and the party on the other side and
times is to sell us to move the appropriate check is you how do you hear
that and that’s that’s going to be ultimately the answer I think was a very
interesting point directly you raised a crystal the election cycle in next year
and whether or not voters you know if we should wait let this play itself out of
the ballot box I kind of fall more in that camp because I really want to test
us I really want to test us that’s the stress test the ballot box I’ve heard a
lot of people in the life on the Left a moaning and groaning about what happened
in 2016 and then you look at the number of people who stay home and didn’t come
out to vote and so I want a stress test that I want a stress test on the right
as well that when the president says I have an absolute right to do something
what’s your response to that you believe that really you believe that and so when
that absolute right begins to infringe on your right are you okay with that so
that for me is going to be an interesting dynamic in this next cycle
and I think you know to your question it’s it really is going to rest on us
ultimately to decide how this story ends Michael right thing keeps talking about
the election being a check but the first check on the executive is supposed to by
our Constitution be Congress in Congress you got to refrain from what it needs to
be the oversight branch Congress in the last ten years has already broken down
as a legislative branch almost nothing is accomplished with significance in
terms of big bipartisan deals we saw the collapse of the fiscal deal in 2011 the
collapse of the immigration discussions in 2013 I could go on and on less a
party has total control at the Republicans in 17 and 18 for the
Democrats in Oh 9/10 nothing that gets done and you’re seeing now Congress
being refused from the executive subpoenas witnesses and you’re also
seeing in an unprecedented way members of president Trump’s inner circle the
Attorney General of the United States conducting his own investigation of the
DOJ and the butler investigation the Secretary of State being involved in
these political and diplomatic arrangements and pursuits of President
Trump vice president pence and I said at the beginning being told to be a
messenger to president Solinsky the executive branch beyond just the
president who’s beyond the mainstream and combative is now being pulled into
this Riptide without any guardrails that were there when I was covering president
Trump early on the John Kelly’s of the world the Jim Madison’s they’re gone
and you now have a cabinet is working in lockstep with President Trump as he
pursues different diplomatic political ambitions and you have a Republican
Party that is historically weak as it does not know how to navigate in this
moment with its own voters right so the question for anybody didn’t
hear and how do we get from just snippets of sound bytes to more
substance and also you know what mold is sort of mainstream media versus sort of
the more immediate media playing that I am I think one of the biggest concerns
for being as I’ve seen in the trajectory of my career is when I worked for
members of Congress when they had a local media outlet that actually on a
day-to-day basis either held an accountable and ask them the right
questions or also helped to highlight the good things they were doing within
their own community I think the biggest concern for me is
that a lot of that has broken down and you think about if we had these local
news outlets today these members you mentioned we’re going back to their
districts would they be ask the hard questions about impeachment with DPS the
hard questions about what is your job and what is your responsibility
I appreciate that we have to go to where people are consuming information and
again it’s you know we all feed into you know Twitter and some of these you know
places where they get information I think the biggest challenge is when I
first started working as an operative in campaigns what we would do is throw
information out and the people would come increase it and now what we have to
do is go where they’re consuming it and give them you have the ability to do it
give them exactly tailored information to what they’re most concerned about I
do think that we have to find a way in communities to find some kind of new
stores partnering with national media or something so that they aren’t held
accountable or they are asked the questions when they are at home and I
think reinvesting in that and in finding ways to do that whether it’s a social
channels or you know it’s with the community it’s a big concern because
members say they don’t even have to talk about what they’re doing because there’s
no I think the other big challenges and I have respect for everybody you know on
the stage and especially for you using your voice out there Michael but I think
what we’ve done is put journalism and pundit Treat in the same category and
even when we’re having a panel on CNN we never differentiate between who’s giving
their opinion and who’s reporting the facts and I think we can do a better job
to make sure we’re being very clear about that and so when people are
consuming that in these various places they’re getting it to make sure they’re
understanding that it’s opinion versus reporting
yeah and I’ll put a plug in for Bob show Washington week because you have
journalists around the table and you’re doing analysis no condom tree on Fridays
so if you want to see real journalists talk about journalism I think I would
appreciate watching me to only have reporters no economist no newsmakers so
sometimes congressmen will come up to me in the hall they’ll be like so
Washington we gonna be on and I’ll be like you don’t understand show but I
think one that’s real challenges is they talk about constitute that Congress
being tested as an institution the press is being tested as an institution and I
try so much as a reporter at the post at PBS and NBC to be very careful to stay
down the center because as much as half the country seems to come up to me on
the campaign trail and say thanks so much for what you’re doing you all are
heroes I’m very aware that 50% is not more I don’t know what the numbers or do
not see the press in that way at all that the institutional credibility of
the press has been significantly eroded by the attacks from the right fake news
but also attacks from the left senator Sanders same corporate media and
those types of things and so we as is you have to wake up every day I believe
it’s reporters and not pat ourselves on the back to not act like we’re political
actors at all to resist being politicized to stick to reporting and
let the story tell us that politics into the media space and to your point oh my
gosh the line gets blurred so quickly but to the journalism students in the
room and those who may see this if you want an example and that I’m not blowing
smoke here and then say this is because I’ve known this guy a long time but
right here no no no I’ll give you an example
I’m gonna give you an example whenever you hear Casta on air whether it’s on my
network or his own program he starts the conversation this way according to my
reporting and what you hear next is going to be based on his factual
understanding and representation of those facts he makes it very clear this
isn’t my opinion this is according to reporting that you can go check me on a
good reporter will start their conversation and even necessarily in
their conversation by letting you know according to my reporting according to
the sources that I’m speaking with according to the notes in front of me
then we’re dictated but you know by the conversation I had with Senator X so for
those of you who are looking at journalism as profession you have the
opportunity to learn by watching those men and women are out here every day
like Chris and like Robert and even those behind the scenes like Betsy who
put that integrity how by saying to the public first according
to my needs the fact is the Dean here I think is giving me the hump I think
we’re gonna have to end it there but I wanted to thank you all very much for
being here and thank you to the

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