tv [untitled] CSPAN June 7, 2009 10:30pm-11:00pm EDT
was a key test as well as being an extraordinary speech. >> so you think having a long primary helped barack obama the calls keep in mind in 2004 john kerry wrapped up shortly after a couple of early primaries and caucuses. >> guest: i think given the choice i am sure any of the obama folks would say they prefer it shorter but he needed the time and this is something they discussed early. he needed the time to get known and raise the money and build the organization and they needed time to be a better candidate. they tested his personal skills and his management. remember this is the biggest operational he had ever run and undertaking of his life and not only was it important for the voters to see this person being tested but it was important for him to understand the kind of pressures just in a sort of laboratory form, the kind of pressure you get as president absolutely i think it was
necessary. >> host: baton rouge on the independent line with richard wolffe. good morning. >> caller: good morning. how are you this morning? well, i have heard a lot, and the only thing i hear is how great he is, which may be he is, i don't know but there was a lot of it with the reason that mccain lost was because of the media. the media was square behind obama and they never denied it for crying out loud. everything, they pour palin , everything that came up the media went after. >> host: let me do my for you right now, number one, if you
think the media was always in love with him and only gave positive coverage you must have forgotten the two month period for basically all the way through the pennsylvania primary and beyond which was dominated by one man called jeremiah wright and i assure you remember him. it was compounded by candidate obama singing people were bitter in small towns in america and this was two months of the worst coverage of any candidate in any election. so i guess if you set that aside and say well, that never happened, then you could make the case. but then you also have to set aside the absolute fascination for sarah palin because for the initial week or two of her rollout, she was a superstar and in candidates obama made jokes about fact she was getting more
magazine coverage than he was. there were, let me scale this back a little bit and say when you are winning things generally the coverage gets a lot better. you know, it's true in sports and politics. obama won more than he lost but when he was losing that coverage was bad and painful and negative and the negative period lasted a very, very long time. >> host: the speech in philadelphia on march 18th as a result of the reverend jeremiah wright, what led durham giving that address? >> guest: he always wanted a grace speech, this is something he thought about a lot and he knew what he wanted to say. his campaign advisers never thought it was the right time. they didn't want him to touch, but when jeremiah wright can along with his sermons, which shouldn't have been an expected, when that came that was his
moment and by the way the reason they shouldn't have been unexpected is because the sermons were something that popped up right at the start of the campaign. there was a story in rolling stone magazine that referred to one of them and the candidate at time, obama told the staff to research the summons, i want to know what is in them, tell me what you can and let's see if there's anything more controversy. that work was never done and it was a mistake and they were lucky if only emerged when it did after he had one a bunch of primaries. so, the summons pop out and it dominates tv as a 72 hour period when they are on a total loop. the candidate and his people know this is a moment of real apparel and he sits down and starts writing this speech and he does it after a long day of campaigning and shooting tv ads and he ends finishing up maybe two or 3:00 in the morning before he is giving this speech and the speech, people like it,
they like the fact he put it in context and again they were watching him respond. i think people want to see politicians especially candidates respond to a crisis and that is what he did but of course it wasn't enough because jeremiah wright came back and that was an even less powerless time. >> host: here is what can date obama said march of last year. >> the remarks that caused the recent fire storm were not simply controversy of. they were not simply efforts to speak out against perceived injustice. instead, they expressed profoundly distorted view of the country. the view that sees white racism as an dennett, that elevates what is wrong with america above all that we know is right with america. a few that sees the conflict in the middle east as rooted primarily on the actions of stalwart allies like israel insist that emanating from the perverse hateful ideologies of radical islam. as such, reference right's
comments were not only wrong, but divisive. deficit at a time when we need unity, racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems. to worse, terrorist threat, falling economy, chronic health care crisis, and potentially devastating climate change. problems that are either black or white or latino or asian, but rather problems that confront us all. >> host: richard wolffe, this is one of what you call pivotal moments in the campaign. explain. >> guest: well, people obviously were paying attention to see how he responded, but here's a guy that actually wants to be a game change. he wants to change the way politics are played. the reason i take "renegade" as the title of the book isn't just
because it is a secret service code name. it is there is something deeply unconventional about the guy, how he wants to break rules of politics, touching a race in this way was audacious, deeply risky. you could say maybe he had no choice to do it. but look how he responded to that and mitt romney responded to questions about his mormon faith. this was a really head-on attempt to address a lot of those issues and explain it in a pretty nuanced way. there were not a lot of sound bites at that speech and i wrote them at that time and was tough to pull out something. so the on conventional piece of it was important. that doesn't explain everything about him because there was something deeply disappointed and conventional about him when he wants to win, because he is so competitive if he needs the rules he will play by them. it is a contradiction, the sort of disciplined renegade, doing this kind of speech -- remember
that time the controversy is why don't we get rid of him? why didn't he act out of a sort of impetuous desire to say well, that's it, i'm going to cut him loose. of course that moment came later, but i think the combination of these two things, this rule breaking aspect with this cautious, deliberate process is really what helped him to be successful in what shapes his presidency today. >> host: our guest is richard wolffe and david is on the line from milwaukee. good morning. >> caller: my question this morning would be barack obama is an office during the best he can and it's going to take a long time with what has gone on the last eight years. she won't be able to make everybody happy but as long as he is doing what is best for the american people and the united states how long do you think it will be before america can get right, 20, 50 years? >> host: how much time do you have, david? [laughter] >> guest: that is a great
question. we don't know how long things are going to take to turnaround. and that's going to be the key question. if this presidency really comes to an end it's going to be because the economy doesn't turn around quickly enough and it hasn't turned around quickly enough to make a difference in the midterm elections, so there isn't much time for them to show some progress otherwise he's looking at a repeat of the clinton era and if he loses authority or even a majority in cullom chris, then the weakened presidency can go on a long time and severely curtailed anything you can do so his claim to greatness sort of lives and dies on the elections next year. >> host: an e-mail from garrey in maryland says i've been trying to recall former president and the reliance on the teleprompter and cannot remember a president who is so reliant on the device for delivering a speech. is he less capable of a speechmaker than he is given credit for? >> guest: no, he's a perfectionist who doesn't have
the time or effort or willpower to memorize the stuff or he doesn't want to read. he obviously is pretty busy and the teleprompter has been -- absolutely right, the e-mail was absolutely right, this is an enormous amount of teleprompter he uses. it doesn't seem to harm him people are responding to all of his speeches. they've sort of taken it in stride. i think times maybe have changed. i personally don't like it but i can understand if you would like to get a perfect speech why you'd want to have it in front of you. >> host: one of the viewers that sent a tweet wonder when your book will be available as an audio book. >> guest: it is available as audio. i recorded an abridged version. there's also an unabridged version but yes, you can purchase that now. >> host: smartness next from ann arbor michigan independent line. >> caller: good morning, c-span, and good morning, richard.
>> guest: good morning. >> caller: first i have to compliment you on writing a fantastic. >> guest: thank you. i appreciate that, really. >> caller: i need to preface that by saying i help teach political science in the high schools, and it is a very detailed description of how a candidate is now grown from someone who is semi obscure and then develops, running on to that, and someone made about a prolonged primary. the development just weeds to happen especially with someone who doesn't have those long resonates. >> guest: thank you. i appreciate that. thank you for taking the time to read it. >> host: we will go to kevin who is next from new york. good morning.
>> caller: good morning. congratulations, mr. wolffe on your book. i enjoy your appearances on msnbc, and i have one question and one favor to ask. >> guest: go ahead. >> caller: the question is through the course politics starting brumbaugh time of nixon, i realized it's something that's been done in politics since time immemorial, but i became aware of presidential politics during the nixon elections and hearing about all the dirty tricks there was the mentioning of one person by the name of donald is a gritty and then in the period after that, the next successor seemed to be the atwater who infamously had a rather come office at the end and then there was karl rove, again the succession of these people must be read out in the bushes somewhere and i'm wondering who is the next toward blossom, the next one in line in some little institute waiting to
be capped by a new presidential -- the favor i need to ask and this is very important. >> guest: go ahead. >> caller: during your process interviewing nominees in the next presidential election, anyone who comes up for the process singing the or religious like huckabee or palin would you please, you and your colleagues ask one question for me, do they believe in the rapture? i'd love to hear the answer to that and i will take your response is offline. >> guest: look, this candidate, senator obama also professed to have his deep religious faith and one of the best interviews i did with him was actually with "newsweek"'s religious right her and she pressed him on all of these religious issues and concepts and honestly she had a knowledge of the subject i didn't and it blows in lightning. you do want to push candidates. you actually do want to see whether they can go beyond their
talking points and their policies make sense and they fit the real world and whether their professed commitment to one cause or another are more than just a slogan. you asked about dirty tricks. i don't know who the next person is quite sure they are out there and by the way it isn't just republicans who played these games. candidates want to win. they spend a lot of money sadly now it is a lot of money and frankly it is going to be even more money now because with the obama campaign did. they changed the way campaigns will be operated and conducted moving forward. and you know, if you have that much money and desire to win, someone somewhere will do something that is excessive, and in this campaign early on, the obama folks put out this press release research paper about clinton's fund raising from indian americans and they presented she was the senator from pune shop, while then candidate obama told me that was
the angriest he had ever gotten in the campaign i guess up to that point because i am sure he got angry afterwards because it was xenophobia and he had to go and apologize to his college friends and personal friends who were actually from the indian subcontinent, you know, even a guy who mostly ran a positive campaign, his operation could fall into that because, you know, operatives are designed to compete and win. democrats or republicans. maybe it's not lee atwater but it's easy to relax. >> host: mary, good morning. >> caller: i just want to follow-up on some of the questions made about the media coverage. i know there was a press conference party where mr. obama made a joke, west people voted for him. usually in humor -- i found this to my personal life as well as other places and also you said
the press coverage was large about sarah palin. that was short lived before they started attacking her and i know brian williams even asked for her medical records and of yet i don't think mr. obama as medical records, educational records, birth certificate, etc., there's a lot of things missing we haven't seen and i guess my third point and my question is in the press conference, there was no question about the economy and the plane. it was supposed to be for publicity. what was it for? >> host: are you talking about air force one in new york? >> caller: i am. >> host: which goes to the issue of the biggest mistake this for. can you point to anything big or small that -- >> guest: in the presidency so far? >> host: either the candidacy or the presidency. >> guest: let's deal with the presidency so far.
i think that tom daschle situation -- let's not say the pig, but the way that developed and the way it was handled has caused no end of problems in getting the right people in the right jobs. in defining what the line is, lobbying or making money or taxes, it has become a sort of mashaal of the litmus tests for who should get what job and what the line is and what they are willing to defend and of the lack of quality has been getting this moving to read in the campaign the biggest mistake apart from losing in new hampshire i would say not dealing with reverend light earlier. it was luck. they felt there were going to lose indiana or north carolina. members were collapsing after reverend light speed i've come back that was a apparel that
extended. caroline kennedy played a critical role in the vice presidential selection. she grew very close to senior figures in the obama circle including david axelrod and then candidate and of course ted kennedy now i think there is the determination really to get health care done and have ted kennedy's name on it in part because of that emotional link but obviously they all want to see universal health care or something approaching it. but the personal element, doing it for ted kennedy is very important. >> host: the phone calls between bill clinton and senator kennedy were somewhat frosty. >> guest: they were frosty and they were not just between the two. the conversations were going back and forth any time one of these people peeled off. in fact it was john kerry that was the establishment figure to pilaf and indorse obama. but the kennedys decided look, they're had always been tension between the kennedys and the
clintons. there was a sort of rival claim to being the spiritual leaders of the party, and that rupture was very real and painful at least on the clinton side. i think it was difficult for the kennedys, too. >> host: did the selection of july and as barack obama is running mate surprise you? >> guest: i will admit to being surprised. yes, i will. knowing they had tension in the senate, senator biden was the chairman of the foreign relations committee. he didn't really treat this young senator with a big profile very well and he fairly treated him with disdain and that can help in the campaign and the primary process when biden himself was a candidate. they obviously set that aside. the candidate himself, obama wanted biden from the get go. the process unfolded and came out the end but as i explained in the book he was frustrated with the short list and while biden was his pick i think he wanted something more.
and look at them today. biden, you know, generally they think inside the white house he has his heart in the right place but is now often is it and that, in this plan, which has come out post election has been a problem, has been a source of tension. when you have a disciplined president also during the campaign they thought he did a fabulous job completing what he was setting out to do which was of reaching older white working folks in the states and he did a fabulous job. >> host: herber is on the phone on the republican line. good morning. >> caller: good morning. i have a couple of questions for mr. wolffe and then make a comment. i'd like to ask where does mr. wolffe come from. he appears to have an english accent, how long has he been in the country, where was he educated and how long has he been a united states citizen? the question is where does obama come out of the political system of the united states, chicago, the other system worker optus de
kansas city during the 20's and 30's and he went to jail. so i think the country ought to know what type of system this man comes out of. >> host: door back routt -- >> guest: i was born in england, raised and educated and went to oxford university. came out to washington posted by the financial times and moved from the financial times and to "newsweek" and i left "newsweek" early this year. so that makes about 12 years in the united states, three presidential elections i have covered, and proud father of three american children. >> host: and chicago? >> guest: chicago, look, he is a chicago politician but as people in the circle tommy there are two strands to chicago politics and illinois politics. there is the reformists and party machine. and obama was never part of the party machine. in fact he lost his first
national race, the race for the house of representatives in 2000 because he was a bad at that kind of machine and ethnic politics that characterize as chicago. it was a disastrous race personally and politically and frankly when he ran for the senate four years later even his own friends laughed and said you just lost the race for the house badly. how can you be serious. >> host: we are showing the cover of the book and we have the tweet from a viewer that says how was the cover photo chosin? >> guest: i chose it after back and forth about five different covers. we wanted a couple of things. for a start, everybody is familiar with him and his smiling face. i didn't think it was appropriate to have smiling barack obama even though it was proper and would have sold better. i wanted a picture that showed him as at work as president. i like the fact the sleeves are rolled up. this is taken by a fabulous
photographer, the best i've ever worked with at newsweek and it was taken in florida. it was a press conference. i think charles is probably somewhere a round knee-height taken on an excruciatingly hot today and i think at that moment, then candidate obama was saying how he opposed to offshore drilling, a position he actually did a flip-flop on. so to the earlier call, there were some flip-flops'. >> host: there was a couple of moments the race tightened between john mccann and barack obama. for the most part, he was ahead or slightly ahead in the campaign. there was one moment though i want to share at the dinner, the tradition for the party nominees. this took place on october 16 the waldorf-astoria on new york city and this is senator john mccain. >> a copy of the senators, the protein was left on the table this evening, and i have to confess i looked at it. [laughter]
now, of course it would be on fair and even a little unkind to put my opponent on the spot before he gets up here. but to throw him off his game with on a reasonably high expectations. [laughter] but i do need to warn you, ladies and gentlemen, you are all out about to witness the funniest performance -- [laughter] in the 63 year history of this event. [applause] let's not add to the mounting pressure he must be feeling. [laughter] just prepare yourself for nonstop hilarity. [laughter] the funniest 15 minutes of your life or any other. [laughter] i think he knows anything short
of that -- [laughter] -- would insult our host -- [laughter] and perhaps even cost several swing states. [laughter] senator obama, the microphone is all yours. [applause] [laughter] i have to say tonight's venue isn't really what i'm used to. i was originally told we would be able to move this outdoors to the yankee stadium. [laughter] can somebody tell me what happened to the greek columns i had requested? [laughter] [applause] the president's better half, senator henry rodham clinton is here and i'm glad to see that you made it, hilary. [applause] i'm glad to see that you made it because i heard chuck schumer tried to tell you that we really
did move this event to yankee stadium. [laughter] >> guest: you have to love the al smith dinner. it is a unique moment. and seeing the funny side of mccain is something maybe what have helped him if people had seen it more often. look, there were frustrations with the kind of attention and performance obama was doing. but i just think it is healthy people can laugh at themselves and poke fun as well. >> host: final question on election day in chicago, will cost drew events that led to his speech in grant park. >> guest: being inspired by teddy white's but i wanted to capture the last 24 hours, 36 hours of the campaign which is the opening of the book, and it was an extraordinary time of change for this individual where he transitions from being a semi normal person into this institutional figure of a president.
well spent the time in this hotel room at the top of the hyatt hotel, and things move very, very quickly on the night. david axelrod, his chief strategist, called early on in the evening to say things look pretty good and axelrod didn't want to say congratulations, mr. president, as bob had set in 2004 because they were hesitant within a few minutes effectively virginia went, the whole election was done, and i think it took them all by surprise. one key moment though, he canceled the fireworks on the night, an executive decision to tone things down and a sort of supernatural ability to step outside the moment and say let's be disciplined because people are watching. >> host: the book is called "renegade", or just for the last hour, richard wolffe, thanks for joining. please come back again. richard wolffe covered presidential campaign for