tv [untitled] CSPAN June 7, 2009 10:00pm-10:30pm EDT
durell. thank you, stan. thank you, booklover's. get the book whatever your party. thanks for watching. in his new book, "renegade: the making of a president," richard wolf former financial times reporter who covered the 2008 presidential campaign for newsweek magazine tells the behind-the-scenes story of president barack obama is presidential campaign. he appeared this morning on c-span's washington journal. this is about one hour. >> host: we want to welcome richard wolffe author of "renegade: the making of a president." what did you learn about barack obama and did your view change in the two and half, three years you covered him in the campaign? >> guest: it did because he changed. he struggled being a candidate
to begin with. it's easy to look back now and say well, he won and he's president so everything was wonderful and smooth and a was a single, simple trajectory all the way up but they really wasn't. and, you know, people have remarked on his coolness and calmness under fire. that's true for the most part but there are moods that track his performance and people around him. he can get angry and frustrated and again, the first year watching him at that and learn how to be a candidate in this painful crucible of national attention, international attention, was itself a fascinating journey and fascinating to watch. >> host: i want to begin where he began on the stage in july, 2004. the keynote address at the convention in boston. here is an excerpt. >> [inaudible] out of many, one. now, even as we speak there are
those preparing to divide us. the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. well, i say to them tonight there is not a liberal america and a conservative america. there is the united states of america. [cheering] there is not a black america and a white america and latino america and asia and america. there is the united states of america. [cheering] >> host: richard wolffe, interesting side, he used that same saying in his speech in cairo last week. >> guest: of his line of course but yes. there is a remarkable consistency in his message and attempt to appeal to votes will be on his own democratic party and independent voters are the ones who put him over the top in the general election and also in iowa to begin with with his campaign. and they are still the most
important ploch for this administration as they move forward with various policies. that group of voters has grown over this period. in addition to seeing him age which is quite striking when you look at that video, the eckert of disaffected republicans to make independent voters who traditionally decided elections in recent election cycles that is really the target. those are the people who gave him north carolina, indiana, virginia, and they are still the most important target for him and i think, you know, one of the people things people didn't realize it early on is how he tis people together. my story is like your story in your story is like the guy down the street. that is a technique as well as a rhetorical device. a way to bring a crowd together to connect from the podium to the people in the street and on the floor. it's something he learned as a community organizer and i think it's proven very effective for him in the white house and before. >> host: in the book you outlined the evolution he went
from being the state senator, elected in the senate, his insistence on meet the press with tim russert she wouldn't run in 2008 and then he began to hedge the statement. >> guest: he did and it's interesting watching him hedge because he's actually quite honest. he doesn't try to fake it. he doesn't say i never said that. he says well, given the response to what life seemed i am thinking about it. i haven't thought about it with the seriousness it deserves. that is what heat told him russert. he's all this tremendous public attention. he had a book coming out, he engineered a book to work where he was also supporting congressional candidates and the crowds he was seeing, you know he told me one key signal is when people started scalping free tickets to see him at a bookstore that he realized it was getting out of control. they also fueled the speculation. he went on to iowa to the steak fry and they sent a political
operative who had no real relation ship, a guy named steve to see if they could observe and bond and in theory to staff up senator obama at the time they knew that what will trigger a new round of speculation among the political media in washington and it did and it on settled the campaigns and when that was bubbling they said okay it's called down. wait until the mid term in 2006 and then let's start the process of deciding whether or not to run. >> host: said he announced in 2007 springfield, illinois. here's one of the moments. >> that's why i will have to set priorities and make hard choices and all the government will play a crucial role in bringing about the changes we need, more money and programs alone will all get us where we need to go. each of us and our own lives will have to accept responsibility. for instilling ethic of achievement and or children.
for adapting to a more competitive economy, for strengthening the communities and sharing some measure of sacrifice. so let us begin. let us begin this part work together. let also transform this nation. >> host: yet, richard wolffe, he began with that speech in l.a. and began to struggle and a lot of backbiting or concern within the campaign. >> right, he raised a lot to begin with which none of us expected, but around the summertime things started to deflate and his debate performance was weak. he didn't really prep for it, he thought debates were trivial in a way and his speech that was based on that announcement speech started to get on wielding. his aides were sort of sniping at him. he didn't like the public attention which is kind of weird. there was indolence deciding to run. he told his friends he thought the experience being a candidate
was like a public colonoscopy. and he missed his family. his family it must have been hard. in spite of the height he was raising money the old-fashioned way. it wasn't the internet. he was doing back-to-back fund-raisers as well as trying to manage the media and deal with this d8 initio and by the summer he was losing altitude a lot and frankly people in washington thought he was never going to make it. >> host: eckert campaign has a couple of moments and we want to share a few with you and give the story and remind you the phone lines are open and we will take your e-mails at email@example.com or you can send a replete but this is the dinner that took place in the fall of 2007, november 10 to be exact. here is what the intent of the barack obama had to say to these democrats in iowa. >> i ron for the presidency of the united states of america because that is the party
america needs us to be right now. what [cheering] a party that offers not just difference in policies, but difference in leadership. a party that doesn't just focus on how to win, but why we should. what [cheering] a party -- a party that doesn't just offer change as a slogan but the real meaningful change. change that america can believe. what [cheering] that's why i'm in this race. that's why i'm running for the presidency of the united states of america to offer him change that we can believe in. what [cheering]
>> host: richard wolffe, was that a defining moment in the primary? >> guest: it really was a turning point if you will be read a couple things first he needed to show he could fight and that he had the stomach for the fight and remember the person he's talking about but not mentioning by name is sitting maybe 12, 20 feet away, hillary clinton, now secretary of state. he is accusing her of tough things and the other thing to notice about that is he wasn't using it teleprompter. he had to memorize that speech and it was a tough moment of performance. he rehearsed in secret and he didn't tell his aides he was doing it. he turned the tv on in his room really loud and rehearsed the hell out of it on his own and then when he came up with a final run through the aids had no idea he had spent any time for memorizing it. he already had it. that performance is important and that the event is what helped al gore beat bill bradley and john kerry beat how word
team. tremendous amount of organization went into it to mobilize people and his performance was up to the moment. it put him on the path to winning in iowa. >> host: the guest is richard wolffe. the book is "renegade." door is on the democratic line. >> caller: good morning. i would like to ask richard, first i would like to say i watch him on msnbc. >> guest: thank you prieta >> caller: i would like to ask two questions. what does he think about the president's cabinet and what does he think about all of the flip-flops' he has done? >> guest: that is a good question. you know, the most striking thing about the cabinet is frankly hillary clinton's presence would and given the bitterness there was between the two individuals come naturally in many ways there was more bitterness of on the people and they are working together have a staff level i think it was quite an extraordinary move to bring hillary and as he told me in the
oval office this was a decision he made before the primaries were over so when ceilings were still high the wones hadn't healed so any cabinet is a mixed bag and he has a number of republicans and they've been smart about pulling in the republicans again not because they think they are going to get republican support, i don't think they believe congress is going to flip over because ray lahood is transportation secretary but they think it sends an important message to independent voters about his willingness to reach out and take the middle ground. the flip-flop side is interesting. there is when the supreme court debate is obviously live right now and as i recount in the book when chief justice john roberts was nominated to the court then senator obama wanted to vote for roberts. he was convinced by the staff not to because of the flak he would take from the democratic
base but having voted against roberts he then went out and wrote a piece saying you know, you progressives and liberals out there, don't go attacking my fellow senators that voted for john roberts. there is a desire, maybe pattern in his behavior to pick a fight with people who naturally support him and challenge them and test them and maybe show some separation but on the policy i think if you look back even the last few months his policy is from the left of center. >> host: the guest is richard wolffe with news magazine and brank is joining on the republican line from michigan. good morning. >> caller: i first want to say i thought i was listening to a paid political commercial for obama. the gentleman says obama doesn't flip-flop. i can't think of an item he has promised in the campaign that he hasn't flip-flop on.
taxes are going up. he wants to employ people. more people are unemployed. the economy is generally bad. i realize you people think most americans are stupid, maybe you're right, i don't know. >> guest: friend let me stop you there because i don't think most americans are stupid. i have a huge and deep respect and admiration for the americans i've met along this campaign and others, but i don't know how -- the economy went south before president obama took office. it isn't clear when the economy is going to come back. they've obviously spent a vast amount of money to pull back on track. it's too early to know. i don't know you can accuse him of flip-floping because the economy isn't back on track as i think anyone can agree any president would surely want the economy to recover. on taxes he said he buckling to
have this tax cut for 95% of working americans and they did that. you may disagree with how big is or whether it should be on the basic percentage rate of income tax, but he did what he said. you may not agree with it. >> host: barack obama wins the iowa caucuses on a thursday, travels to hampshire friday expecting the momentum is going to carry him a couple of days later and it was the first time in modern history we have a short period of time between iowa and new hampshire. but weekend in new hampshire and how did it come apart? >> guest: it was a ridiculously short amount of time and what happened is first they got cocky and lost track of the things they'd done through the course the last year in iowa. a lot of rebuttals in the kind of attacks they were taking from the clinton campaign for instance on which wastes the clinton campaign had an
effective operation will and roll call so where they were saying that obama had 100% pro-choice voting record in the senate was weak on twice. they didn't respond to that because they were believing their own height and they thought they had this momentum going and then they started to get suckered into this debate about the meaning of health. there was one day to wear actually obama says you are likely not. >> host: i have that. let me show that and then come back. the january 5th, the only debate before the primary sponsored by wmur and abc news. >> what can you say to the voters of new hampshire on the stage tonight lucey your reza may and like it but are hesitating on some likability issue where they seem to like barack obama more? >> well, that hurts my feelings. [laughter] [applause] >> i'm sorry, senator. i'm sorry. >> but i will try to go on. [laughter]
>> he is a very likable. i agree with that. i don't think i'm that bad. >> you're likable enough, hilary. >> thank you. >> host: richard wolffe. >> guest: look, he wasn't very likable himself and i think there was a backlash against that kind of arrogance, against the kind of approach that he had that he will send connecting with people. a number of independent voters in debt in new hampshire switching to the republican primary because i think a lot of them thought he was a done deal. there was another piece though obviously this was a volatile period. the obama campaign stopped pulling 24 hours before the voting began in new hampshire and this was a huge mistake the didn't repeat. but as i explained a lost track because it was over they were going to sail through. >> host: monday at the cafe
espresso in portsmouth and hampshire, were you there? >> guest: i wasn't there. i was with obama the whole time. this is somewhere else. >> host: this is just 24 hours before the polls opened. one of the early morning even senator clinton was conducting. here is what happened. >> it's not easy and i couldn't do passionately believe it was the right thing to do. you know, i have so many opportunities from this country adjust don't see -- want to see us fall backwards. you know? [applause] this is very personal for me. it's not just political, it's not just public. i see what's happening and we have to reverse it and some people think elections are a game and it's like who is up or who is down.
it's about our country and our kids futures and all of us together. some of us put ourselves out there and do this against some pretty difficult odds and we do need each one of us because we care about our country. but some of us are right and some of us are wrong. some of us are ready and some are not. some of us know what we will do on day one and some of us haven't thought that through enough. >> guest: look, a critical moment. when they came out of this, the obama campaign realized pretty much every single undecided woman voter when to hillary clinton. i think you can pay it to that moment. what's fascinating for me is obviously she was the emotional, there's no question about that all the questions started out as she looks so good. it was a fairly innocent question how do you look so good and do your hair every morning, she pivots from that moment of the motion to a really blunt attack on the man who ended up
being her boss singing some of us are ready to lead and some are not, some believe in change and some don't and what is interesting is the reaction inside of the obama bus was testosterone filled, a guy surrounded by other competitive guys and a lot of them were rauf tashi melted down, it was and it muskie moment in new hampshire and his reaction was different, his reaction was i think based on his own difficult period in the year before, and he said listen, you guys don't know how tough this is a think there was a certain amount of empathy. he wanted to win but i think he understood the kind of pressure that would lead you to an emotional moment on the campaign trail. >> host: we are talking with richard wolffe. clay is joining from augusta georgia. >> caller: good morning and thanks to c-span. it's sad to me when i hear
people criticize president obama. some people think he's supposed to be moses or something and take his stake and part of the sea. he adopted basically something george bush left for eight years. he left it in a big mess so they ought to give him a break. they really should give him a break. these people like rush limbaugh and i can't think of the naim on fox news that's really irritating. barack obama cannot do anything without people singing critical about him. i want to ask a question, sir. do you think he will become a great president? >> guest: it's tough to say. look, whether he is or could be a great president is something he thought about at the earliest stages of trying to decide whether or not to run and again
this is the second chapter of the book where he and his friends are discussing what makes a great president and in his opinion, he has a sort of mixture of the person and the time and that is why he thought ronald reagan and was a great president even though he opposed every single one of his policies. the character, the leadership of the individual with a time when the country was ready for that kind of change. he went public with that approach and observation around the time of the nevada caucus and south carolina primary and frankly it drove president clinton crazy. crazy is a figurative crazy. it prompted him to react in ways that were not disciplined and distracted the clinton campaign. coming back i think you can only tell the greatness of a president in hindsight and we are living in the middle of those tumultuous events. he is obviously a historic figure. i would say he is an iconic
figure. look at the world reaction and images associated with him. we haven't seen anything like it since i would probably say princess diana. >> there were other democratic candidates but the first you touch on briefly, john edwards. did the obama campaign indicate anything about the former north carolina center? >> if you are talking about his personal life i don't think so although there were plenty of rumors buzzing around everywhere the rumors were actively dismast out of hand by most people and a lot of reporters and political operatives. they were deeply concerned of john edwards to tell the truth. the projection in iowa is they would come in a good second after edberg and they thought he had this block of solid support they couldn't shift and he had a lot of union support and they were concerned about the 527 groups funded by the unions and in the end in the final week or
two of iowa edwards was the target. applause and hillary clinton so that was the area of concern and he faded off pretty quickly. >> an e-mail to your earlier point say mr. wolffe why did the press continue to say hillary cried when it's obvious she didn't? >> good question. she tears up maybe. her eyes became moist. there was a lot of hyperventilation about the moment as a spread of fire raleigh. people say she melted down. i spoke to people in the clinton campaign who said that the first response, people didn't see the video immediately and by the time they heard about it it was a full nervous breakdown and it clearly boz and so this was an intensely the dryly emotional few days and everything got it typed up and maybe didn't get corrected. >> doreen, good morning on the independent line. >> good morning, mr. wolffe. i've been following you through
cnbc. >> guest: msnbc. it's okay. >> caller: i'm sorry. i am not a democrat however, i have been living here so many years and they may clinton supporter and have a family happily debating in politics and i switched over to obama after i was persuaded by my daughter overseas. >> guest: which is a common story by the way. children convincing their parents to switchover is common through the story. please go ahead. >> caller: i was just as convinced falling hillary clinton and the statements and the obama but i was falling over the phone and it brought back memories, how very much i was going for missing hillary and
then obama came up and i haven't heard of him that much and i had to catch up on a lot of reading and i am looking forward to reading your book, sir. >> guest: thank you. >> host: y secretaries date and not vice president? >> guest: president obama told me in the oval office, i interviewed him early on and he said he picked her before the primaries were over and there is an interesting point he didn't consider her for vice president. there was no serious consideration. they met at senator feinstein's house as the primary ended and the conversation the wheeled down the to senator clinton saying i don't want to be vetted, i don't want to go through vetting unless you are serious about me getting the job because you know everything, everyone knows everything there is about me. that wasn't actively the view of obama and his team. there was plenty default wasn't known especially about her
husband's business activities, presidential, the foundation records and the donor list and that kind of thing and i think it was a feeling especially her husband, former president clinton would be difficult to control and would be a distraction through the campaign process and it would be easier to regulate that if you will inside the cabinet post election. one thing is true though he came out of the primary with deep respect how tough she was and what a great performer she was and by all accounts they are working very well and closely together and he likes the fact she is very good at executing the message and pushing forward his policies and people around the world listen to her. she has her own platform that is now being used in his purposes, so the vice presidency there was always off the table and i know that was painful for a lot of her supporters. >> host: again the time line after the new year of 2008 the
caucuses followed by the primary and hillary clinton's two percentage point win in the state, first in the nation primary in this concession speech by senator barack obama. >> we know the battle ahead will be long. but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of fleeces calling for change. we have been told we cannot do this by a course of cynics. and they will only grow louder and more dissident in the weeks and months to come. we have been asked to pause for a reality check and we have been born against offering the people of this nation false hope. but in the unlikely story that is america, they're has never been anything false about hope.
the [cheering] >> guest: the yes weekend, speech. a critical moment of testing for the president for his aides and speech writers, too. fascinating seeing them react and seeing him react when they realized the numbers were not coming especially around the manchester area there is obviously this stunning reaction inside of his circle and a handful of his closest aides take a long walk through the hotel to obama suite where he and michelle obama were staying. axelrod, david box elrod, senior adviser strategist, david plus and robert gibbs communications director at time, and they knock on the door, david axelrod says we have come up short, looks like we are not going to make it, and they are all looking to see how he is going to respond, and they were surprised themselves. these guys were not exactly short of respect and the
adulation for their candidate but they were surprised because his reaction was well, what happened, this is strange, what do you think happened so they go through and say the people have a maseth clipper now and are so weird and undecided voters went for hillary and he said well, let's pretty much give the same speech. obviously we need to tweak it a little bit, i need to get ready but this is a test and that became the message all the way through as he spoke afterwards and key supporters, the initial reaction was it is not supposed to be easy. people want to see us being tested and we are going to come out better for it and i think at that moment that gave his inner circle by extension his campaign headquarters and the millions of people supporting them a lot of confidence he could deal with the failure because i think you and more from failure than success and i have a chapter on failure. he screwed up many times and was the most visible but the question is how to