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tv   After Words Greg Bluestein Flipped - How Georgia Turned Purple and Broke...  CSPAN  June 2, 2022 1:31pm-2:29pm EDT

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keep up with today's biggest events on live streams of hearing from congress, white house, the courts, campaigns and more from the world of politics all at your fingertips. stay current with the latest episodes of washington journal and live scheduling information for c-span radio plus a variety of podcast. c-span now isavailable at the apple store and google play . downloadit for free today . c-span now: your front row view of washington anytime, anywhere. >> next on book tvs author interview program "after words", a editor greg bluestein looks at the events that led to georgia turning in the 20/20 presidential election and talks about significance in future state and national elections. he's interviewed by washington post national political reporter eugene scott. "after words" is a weekly
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interview program with relevant guests so's interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest work . >> greg, so graduate glad to have you to talk about this book about such an important moment in our political history and the wstate of georgia. i've been a fan for a while and obviously it bothers you a bit on social media is an honor to be able to ask you these questions that we can't fit into tweets. >> it's an honor to be here. >> and utah people not familiar with you who you are and what you do and how you got to this position. >> greg bluestein, i'm in atlanta native north of the city tand i've wanted to be a journalist since fourth grade and jumped into a starting high school as editor of the school newspaper at the university of georgia where i started covering the candidate running against the incumbent democrat back atthen. then democrats rule the state
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and he flipped the seat so maybe that was the first flip i covered in 2002 when brian one . since then i've covered the rise of sonny perdue as the first republican governor since reconstruction and documented nathan deal's two terms as governor of georgia and got into the transformation of georgia guarding with john ossoff is run which proved the suburbs of atlanta were very competitive. almost flipped a house seat north of atlanta where i live and cover the 2018 gubernatorial erace between brian kent and stacy abrams and 20/20 which was the most epic election cycle i've ever covered in my two decades of covering georgia politics culminating in the runoff sweeps of john ossoff and rafael warnock. >> you've got a few elections to go including one this year
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so that election could be trump to use a popular overused term right now. >> i want to get back to your history of political journalism . when you were a student did you know this was the path you wanted to be in? >> as a young student i wanted nothing more than to cover the atlanta braves . will force the first error ç when they went from last place the first place andthen become a dominant powerhouse . and the atlanta journal-constitution came and spoke to my fourth grade class so i became obsessed with covering the braves. my mom told me to do that that means you have to learn how to type and at that time that seems way too daunting so i want to be a doctor so for a while there i would dream of becoming a hodoctor even though i had bad grades in all my science classes and ap exams and it was in high school where i recaptured the
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drive to go cover politics and at the university of georgia the editor of the school paper i got very involved with covering campus movements, political groups, and the rise of at the time the rise of republican politicians in georgia politics. again, democrats ran everything. >> for better or worse as you know politics can sometimes very much feel like sports and you're seeing some figures from the sports world into politics as you probably predict while you were in aspen. people like herschel wash water. as that race been a surprise for you? >> that's been a great segue because it has to someone like me who grew up in georgia , i was born in wga to the first national championship in decades but i grew up hearing stories about it and that's why he had such high name recognition. even folks like me who never got to see him play grew up
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hearing stories about his athletic speech and all that. that helps with him in the position he'sin . again donald trump's endorsement and mitch mcconnell's. he had 60, 80 percent in the polls we've seen. commanding lead over his republican rivals. of course in the general election but he's in a solid position to win the nomination and it's partly because he probably doesn't need mitch mcconnell's endorsement for donald trump'sendorsement . he'd be in the same general area without their support and high name recognition but he's still a statesman and candidate. we don't know where he stands on a number of issues . we still have the atlanta journal-constitution and many other mainstream media outlets have yet to be able to talk to him because rees is reserved his interviews mostly with other audiences so there's a lot to be remains to be seen and certainly how you navigate a troubled past with these allegations of domestic
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abuse, erratic behavior and questions about his business background still 2looming very large. >> ii want to get to 2020 and your book but say august 2022 , the race for a while. how much of herschel walker's selection do you believe is the response to how the republicans did in 2020 in this scenario. >> a lot of it is a response of wanting to have a new face and as an outsider. georgia republicans or really republicans throughout the country are obsessed with the idea. of david perdue, now a candidate for governor. he ran for senate in 2014 with the outsider label and was front and center. everything he talked about it was outside the politicians. there's no outsider quite like herschel walker . he hasn't ran for state in three years. he was running for office and
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he certainly wasn't involved in conventional politics. he was a big trump surrogate but he wasn't involved in day-to-day politics in georgia. so he'srunning as an outsider andalso with the trump brand . it might not matter . but certainly he's looked at as part of this pro-trump slate coming to georgia g and a part of the former president image is his attempt to remake the republican party of georgia in his own mind and his own image. he wants to oust a lot of incumbents who either align with backend for it feels like are aligned against them even though they were lockstep in support for the former president. but a lot of those 2022 elections are hinging on the republican side at least around a fascination with 20/20 and these false claims of election fraud in georgia. >> you mentioned republicans in george's obsession with an
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outsider and then you went on to say or at least an outsider label and quite frankly you talk about that in your book of it when it comes to purdue and i think that also applies to water. these are people who aren't actually outsiders, they're very familiar to republicans in the state who been paying attention for a while. is that fair? >> their first time candidates, in herschel walker's case now but they are a namebrand figure. herschel walker has almost universal recognition among voters here in georgia because in part because of his athletic feats and david perdue even though he himself was not very well known for u.s. senate in 2014 he comes from one of the most famous families in georgia, sonny perdue's cousin was the first republican governor in georgia since reconstruction he had sonny produce network s and his political operation
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on his side as he ran his campaign but even brian can't ran as an outsider for governor against the lieutenant governor casey cagle at the time on the republican side but brian can't even though he called himself an outsider's office was directly across from the capitol rotunda from casey. he was secretary of state so you see that in politics everywhere but especially in georgia you see people who are literally elected statewide officials who still say their outsiders for the political game even though they've been in state office for years. >> was the value of that, who do you do? people know these are individuals who are not literally outsiders but when they defined themselves as outsiders who are they hoping , hoping to reach? >> their conservative base in stateslike georgia. you hear it over and over again .. just talking to voters they . want someone who can shape up
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washington. they don't want the status quo. there's the sense that there's corruption or there's the malaise for there's gridlock and they cwant someone who can help fight for them. and it has been sort of the calling card for republican officialsespecially in georgia to say that they can be that candidate who can maybe channel a little bit of donald trump . that's what voters flocked to with donald donald trump and they're trying to harness that same power . casey cagle who was governor at the time who was defeated by brian had a real challenge because he been a three term senategovernor. he was a fixture in the state capital . that was who he was and to see those forces turned against him, the same things that got him to become front runner on the republican side turned against him a few years later. >> with that appeal to the conservative base because of dissatisfaction with the
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status quo in the gop? >> it's a feeling that folks are being left behind. that they're not being, their values are not being embraced . it's a lot like donald trump's line in 2016 he's fighting for the forgotten man. there's a lot of voters especially in rural georgia who feel like they're being forgotten. even though the people in power often times are rural white georgians just like them. >> you mentioned the desire to turn out the base. that's something both democrats and republicans focus on quite a bit r understandably but it seems sometimes as if democrats are more concerned about winning people from outside their base . maybe independence and even republicans.he do you see that at all with the republican party because it seems like these candidates may not be able to be as successful in turning out people who are true believers, is that fair?
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>> republicans in georgia believe they can keep that coalition together weand the same coalition of power than in office fouryears . and they can win, that they can turn up their base. the change we've seen is on the democrat side.s for a long time in georgia especially early 2000 and late 2000 we saw democrats really try to win suburban voters who had gone to the gop. moderate middle-of-the-road voters who felt alienated by national policies and that's why we had democratic candidates who embrace issues like extending gun rights. you didn't really wage culture wars either for or against . who stayed away from obama and other national figures and they came to town. we saw that change for stacy abrams when stacy abrams ran for governor in 2018 not only did she report gun
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restrictions boasted an f rating with the nra where just four years earlier the gubernatorial statewide candidates call themselves and mra democrat. so you saw this seachange of democrats came to their base for the first time rather than ggthen. >> but that's not what happened necessarily with the democratic party at the national level andeven now . the desire for the white house to appeal to people beyond a base is something that makes biden the object of quite a bit of criticism. we see often from those in the base. have you seen that in georgia as well west and mark. >> there's a feeling among democrats that in 2020 it's really hard to re-create what happened. the magic that happened in 2030 and you had a huge surge in turnout. and suburban voters among suburban voters at the base
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showing up especially in the urban park of georgia. to re-create that it won't be easy especially without donald trump on the ballot, without the extraordinary circumstances we had during the pandemic with a surge in voting that's why dc abrams as she's running for gutter right now she's already kind of locked down the image among liberals of being this progressive icon. right nowxpher campaign is more vulnerable. it can be summed up in two words . spam dedicated. that's an issue she feels like as a broader base of support and one she ties back to every question she gets whether itbe about infrastructure, economic development whatever it is she find a way to tie that back to expanded medicare . >> you mentioned the magic of al 20/20, coronavirus pandemic, trump being on the ballot and also the social justice movements which you talk
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about in your book is really making people think differently about a lot of issues that they perhaps reflected on quite a bit but you also mentioned in your book that what happened with the democrats in georgia's success they experienced didn't come out of anywhere. there were they were strategizing and organizing just work involved and that have been on in the making for years. can you explain some of that to people? >> it's important for a national audience to know this was not some sort of overnight success that just happened to took years of work from stacy abrams but also organizers on the grassroots level that have this plan 10 years ago to build the party back upand engage with voters who got disconnected , disengaged. every day from their prospects on issues that matter to them rather than trying to run into lights or stick to the middle on every issue. they started embracing their core values and whether that be criminal justice reforms that included decriminalizing marijuana. maybe that meant the taxing
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policies that involve more income tax credits for those middle-class lower income families. all those played into this entire broader pitch that also included expanding medicaid. it was an issue in the 14th and now in 2022 in georgia so all these played together with democrats saying we can still win the middle but we don't have to necessarily aim the left by eating up the middle so they started pushing for democratic leaning core voters particularly those younger voters and voters of color who didn't fold often in the midterm elections. >> that's not the approach republicans took in terms of expanding their coalition. ithink you talk about that a bit earlier . can you explain to people who may not know what the coalition for the gop looks like in georgia and how it may look similar or different
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nationalgop coalition . >> as the democratic coalition of 20 years ago was in tatters and basically rural white democrats who were yellow dog democrats. and urban mostly minority democrats, voters of color in cities like atlanta and savannah and columbus. as that pattern republicans to those rural voters to the point now where real cronies that win 80 percent donald trump went 90 percent brian kemp two years later so republicans are basically are trying to win every vote they can and rule parts of georgia knowing that look, there's no guarantee. these are places where population they're going to struggle in the long term to keep on relying on these rural lcounties but in the short term they feel like it's enough to keep them in power. that's going to be a strategy of governor tim for purdue or
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whoever ends up the nominee. that will be part of that strategy in november as well meanwhile suburbs of god not just flipped, made on decisively. , county, gwinnett county, these are popular counties in the northeast of atlanta. where 1 million people live combined. those are counties that use to be republican fortresses. as a throne diverse for the gotten out of state residents have moved their, as the state has become more politically competitive those states have flippedsolidly blue. when it county in particular is pushing 60 percent democrats support right now. those have become cornerstones of democratic success . while at the same time the growing exerts have become much more important to republican base right now. is keeping those counties not just red but solidly red so
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that's how we seen the republican strategy sort of you all know, the republicans aren't necessarily gaining their messages or focusing their messages in the middle. they're trying to ring out as much support for the base and we're seeing that right now as georgia's session continues with a number of basically culture war issues that are meant to energize republicans . >> it's been a steady identity politics in every way possible where you have a changing demographic of georgia and the cities and rural communities over there and how that affects stateand national politics . >> the right and they used to be the same in georgia. there's urban and rural georgia and now there's four georgia's urban, rural suburban and eggs are and each have eldifferent voter compositions and different electorates read very different issuesthat's a challenge for any y state . finding the sort of package of messages that appeals to
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all those various efforts so because they're very different priorities. agriculture is still by far the number one industry in georgia and voters who are in the industry have distinct ayconcerns from voters that say on the metro atlanta suburbs. or voters in just a little further out who are rarely coming in to live in the exerts. >> what are some of the lessons learned that you witnessed from the republican party since 2020 that can influence how things turn out this fall. >> in one sense they can learn from democrats in terms of engaging voters who rarely vote. it became a trove of support for casey abrams, for rafael warnock, for joe biden in the last setwo election cycles to capture those votes and energize those voters . they skipped midterm elections who didn't find a candidate.
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that takes years of work. and the republicans know it. it's not something, they were not caught sleepingat the wheel in terms of diligence . they knew that blue wave was on their way and they were trying tobuild a big red wall to fight back . and in 2020 the big red wall was not tall enough to keep the wave from crashing. but they feel like they're already sort of work ato energize their base and reach out to those voters. that skipped 2018 and 2020. their biggest issue though still continues to be trump. the former president and doris seven n candidates in georgia including 10 challengers the governor and candidate herschel walker including a lot of challengers from down ballot races most georgians frankly are payingthat much attention to . at this trump fuel dynamic continues to impact the race. trump even at a rally a few
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days ago in the exerts of northeast georgia where he talked about voters staying home and november because brian kemp was the party's nominee so that will continue for republicans in georgia to potentially help democrats who can go across the party i'll say there's no fighting when we win. >> why do you think republicans were so anxious about a blue wave coming in 2020 ? the blue wave has been successful for more than a decade in the states when it comes to some of the biggest races. >> you're right. until 2020 they control every state office and the majority of the legislature so in one sense there's a good question, why worry? they're winning every election but in the other sense you look at the track record. in 2014 nathan deal won by eight points and was
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reelected as governor. in 2016 donald trump wins by five points and captures the state by five points. in 2018 brian kemp one point and a half so the track seems more narrow but republicans were well aware of those efforts from democrats who believe demographics is important but is not necessarily destiny. we need to find ways to energize folks so republicans were looking at david purdue who said as much. he's a corporate executive so he's always interested in what theoftrump administration he's doing so he pays attention to what stacy abrams and herallies are doing to energize their voters . to register , all those things you need to do to get a groundswell of support , they were paying attention to that. >> how divided is the state
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republican party when it comes to trump. we know the former president has endorsed a handful of candidates and walked away from some he seemed to be on good terms with back in 2020 or even before. are you seeing the party not be completely sure where they want to go in terms ofthe future of the gop ? >> i think georgia is the b biggest test of donald trump's clout and not just because of the sheer number of candidates. it's because of the nature of that candidates. he didn't just endorse a bunch of incumbents who are likely to win. endorsed a significant number of challengers going up against people with high recognition. and in some cases incumbents who have done nothing to emulate donald trump rather than be supported by brian kemp so georgia is that test case.
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if republican mainstream voters come out and endorse brian kemp or if you see this sort of groundswell of pro-donald trump support, and crash a wave over republican incumbents who are backed by him but certainly those issues continue to divide republicans and i know this story has been written a number of times and is also included that the fact that republicans now there's action of the republicans in georgia we say we need to focus on 2022. on inflation, on global supply chain issues, on healthcare, different issues that are priorities among georgia voters and their satisfaction of voters that says will look at that too but 20/20 is our main bag right now that going back to 2020 and all these conspiracy theories and falsehoods about election fraud in georgia which are all trump . there are multiple election officials who said there's no
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indication of any fraud. we got three tallies of votes, we've got points . even from stone attorney general but there is this obsession with 2020 and i saw firsthand donald trump's rally a few days ago when issues that used to be a lost line about corruption still got maybe 10 7:00 when donald trump or any of the speakers about 2020 was a roar from the crowd it showed even among trump supporters at that rally there's still significant motivation factor in talking about 2020 rather than 2022. >> but when you think of these fivoters and these elected officials who seem to be consumed with 2020, once the end result that they are hoping for and if they don't get that which isunlikely , it's likely should i say that they won't get whatever their end result is that their desire, will they let go of this focus on 2020 and 2022 or is this just going to be the new priority for these folks?
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>> i was shot in mid-november of 20/20 when we were still talking about contesting the election and republican trump supporters were fixated on that. i had no idea it would still drive on the 2022 but that's what happened. there are rallies s around the state still for people where wearing trump one shirts. i interview voters who said donald trump would be president now, not in 2024 but somehow he could re-be reinstated and you see statewide candidates for attorney general or secretary of state some of the top offices in georgia who said their first steps would be to launch tinvestigations into what happened in 2020 and to hold folks accountable. which has a number of meetings but for when david purdue says something along those lines they locked him a chance corrupted right behind him and that was in reference to brian.
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so again, it becomes this and it still becomes this energizing fuel, rocket fuel and a sense for the donald trump supporters of georgia and i'm sure beyond we still think there was some sort of fraud, rampant corruption. all those conspiracy theories donald trump has been talking about are firmly rooted itself in at least a faction of the georgia republican party. >> as someone who's been paying attention to brian kemp for time been like during his decreasing popularity some people in the gop for you? have you come as a surprise for you see that coming before this moment? >> it's been head spinning because remember, governor kemp in part poses election victory in 2018 to donald trump. six days before the runoff republican vote donald trump
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sends out to say essentially a better camp, brian kemp would be the best republican on the ticket and gave him his full throated endorsement. that changed the game. he was knocked in the lead in the polls but he was in a tightrace against lieutenant governor casey cagle . and he went from close, likely win but close a runaway rally. he won every one of george's counties but to. so that shows you even when casey cagle is home, it shows you what the trump endorsement meant in 2018. you can see their ties were starting to strain a little bit during the ulpandemic and in particularly going into great detail in the book but when governor kemp hit kelly leffler for an open u.s. senate seat against or not with the full throated approval of the president at the time, that was really strange when he started but accelerated during the election process and afterwards where trump anwanted
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brian kemp to call a special session that could have resulted in lawmakerstrying to overturn election results . he did not want brian kemp to verify and sign off on the results of the election. even though governor kemp was bound by law to do so and there's other trump supporters who felt like brian kemp should be on the airwaves talking these conspiracy theories. brian used to be secretary of state so he knows election laws than most people in georgia because he had a hands-on approach to all theseelection issues. he was already to go . that key donald trump to the point where he saw this escalating outrage continue and not only him calling for brian kemp to resign but also saying early last year that he would hold rallies back in georgia to rally against brian kemp and that's exactly what he's done based on your
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conversations with insiders, people who know kemp for a while, what's it been like for him to see someone have such a major role in their success and perhaps their failure of being going the way the former president would want. >> at first it was according to folks around him it was frustrating. it was maddening. it felt like he had done everything possible to support the president's agenda and support his time in office. now it's kind ofbaked in. now whatever donald trump says , at his rallies, anything. he's already said it all. he's already gone so far as to even say in september he rather see see stacy abrams as governor than brian kemp. so and there's not much worse you can do that say you'd the arch nemesis of georgia republicans be the governor than brian. so in that sense you still see brian kemp. you won't see brian kemp say
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a bad word publicly about donald trump when asked about the endorsement and about his opponents trump backed campaign, is no focus on purdue work is agenda to say i can't control what other people are doing. i can only control what i'm doing and that's become a sort of the standard line. you're not going to hear him bash the president, former president . you won't hear e'him try to engage. he's not going to win that fight. he doesn't have more twitter followers . maybe he does now but he doesn't have more followers overall. he doesn't have the same megaphone the former president did or the same appeal nationally but what he does have his record of conservative issues and y that's what they end up supporting . >> ospeaking of stacy abrams if that were a possibility, what is the democratic party saying as a whole in terms of ndabrams ? is she the individual that they fully support or is
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there a wing believes maybe the democrats could have been more successful in the last governor's race if they had someone who was not as associated be in perception or fact with the most regressive parts ofthe party ? >> gthat's interesting because there was a never abrams wing of the party that thought she would be an ineffective un governor that she's the wrong candidate to run statewide but you saw that pretty much effectively stamped out. very quickly. she beat she be a formidable democratic opponent in 2018 will have a more conventional approach to running for office. her opponent stacy evans ran the same sort of campaign many others did which was trying to appeal to keeping the left energized but trying to keep the middle or than anything and she was trounced in a primarycompetition .
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that was seen as a mandate from for the stacy abrams approach and when stacy abrams came with a point and a half of being brian the 5000 or so votes in 2018 and then parlayed that even more to hire national profile even governor kemp marveled out stacy abrams and her defeat seemed to become an even bigger national figurative brian kemp became in victory and certainly she did. in some sense she was on national talk shows. she wrote the best-selling books, went on national tours , sold out. i was with her ionot that long ago in san antonio texas and ballrooms that were packed to the gills. and this is the stacy dabrams i a decade ago who was anonymous and now she's selling out all over the nation. so she's become this sort of superstar nationally . but course democrats, sorry, republicans would use that against her and using the governor's office as a steppingstone to the presidency in georgia right now you're seeing sort of a
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united democratic party behind her. she has noprimary opposition . very few democrats or elected officials are willing to speak out against her. say anything negative about her because they're all saying the same things right now they're allwatching republican infighting across the island th. >> git definitely seems like one of those cases where losing was a real wedding for her in terms of everything that came from her defeat after the election. >> it really did. not long after the election chop schumer, at the time the senate minority leader was urging uher to run for u.s. senate. gave her a chance to give the official rebuttal to donald trump's state of the union she was a fixture on national tv shows, national podcast and the group she founded right after her introduction raise $100 million in just over a year so she became
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this sort of fundraisingb as she expanded her national profile. which set her up all to do what she's doing right now which we in georgia always figured , i never really thought she would run and a lot of, there's talk about whether or not she'd run for governor or not i was convinced the moment but of course the moment she ended her campaign against brian we were headed towards a rematch and here we are. >> it's interesting that kemp would suggest abrams is more focused on a national platform and higher office than leading georgia because many people have made it clear that is exactly what he wants. people who know her well and her plans when others have suggested that it's actually who had he won would have maybe wanted to do something moreoutside of georgia. is that fair or accurate ?
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>> stacy abrams has never been shy about talking about her actions . she feels like she should be shy. she wants to be an t inspiration to other young women of color and is not to be reserved for about higher ambitions so as early as this has become the famous story but as early as she was 18 years old, when she trotted out her career trajectory on a spreadsheet it included at the time at least a run for mayor. she kind of abandoned that idea and replaced it with being governor and her ultimate goal was to be president andshe stopped openly that she is has white house ambitions . , when joe biden was recruiting a running mate she made it clear she wasn't going to be shy and ho-hum about it. she was actively engaged in trying to be his running mate . it didn't work out that way. and that meant she could completely focus her attention on being governor. but that is why you see some
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of these attacks because she's openly talked about federal ambitions, white house ambitions. not running for senate, but having a role in the white house. and the executive branch one day. brian, who knows. he i know loves being in athens. it's where he's from. he likes being in georgia. i don't love those republicans seem tame washington, that's become the standard most, how much they hate washington but we've heard from a lot of congress members much they don't like washington still run every two years to get up there. >> that's very true. one of the main talking points from democrats has been that they perhaps not win because there was something wrong with the system. maybe there was site but some type of advantage that republicans had that was unfair or unethical are you seeing much conversation among the democratic party about reflecting on what they
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actually did do wrong thatled to their defeat ? >> in 2018. there was concern that the system if not use of the word rigged was set against them. because you had a republican, brian was secretary of anstate and that means he oversaw the election system in georgia. even as he was republican secretary of state he was still running for governor and would not step down despite calls from stacy abrams and many allies that he should step down that was em tthe first strike against hi in that election. but it was his use of, there was restricted hearings in the georgia election laws. that meant that provisional balance that had questions around them were thrown out. absent the ballots that didn'texactly match signatures could have been questions . that meant that if you use
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the nickname on one document and your formal name of another your vote could be questioned or scrutinized heavily. that was maybe the top concern of stacy abrams was a pool of votes was being questioned. and she filed litigation during always call it the predatory, 10 days after the vote in november and before she conceded, she ended her campaign. she filed a number of litigations trying to get those ballots counted all over again. >> ..
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for absentee ballots in georgia. it includes stricter limits on absentees ballot deadlines, request windows. it includes more limits on ballot dropboxes and a number of other changes here and would not sure exactly how that will affect the electorate. could it affect hundreds, thousands, more? we won't really know until it is stress tested. we haven't had a big stress test of that election we had municipal votes last year but those are lower turnouts. were about of millions had out in georgia and and i will by for us to see how much that this change the dynamic in georgia. >> host: assumption some liberals in the state are that it will change turn out in terms of how the election goes, disadvantaging the left, is that correct? >> guest: there is a worry
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among democrats, yes, this will target voters of color disproportionately. iter will affect poor voters who may not have photo id, but might not be aware of these changes, you know, the way things were in 2020 and four and got just the idea ballot dropboxes being in more abundance than it will be in 2022. there will be a lot of voter confusion beyond that just between districting. a lot of voters have different congressional representatives and legislative representatives and live in different districts down so that willor be a major factor. and again the outcome will help shapee this because if we are looking at a very close race like we had between president biden and donald trump in 2020 affected byvote was about 11,000, then yeah, even the mostot minor change, i'm not saying the change his mind, even
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minor changes could have affected that outcome. but it is divided by 200,000 votes, 300,000 votes 300,000 votes, that whoever is on the losing and it will be a lot harder for them to make that argument. >> host: obviously there's been a lot of attention to the gubernatorial race and even the senate races in washington braces after the 20 what the election. but based on the changes that we saw and committed last year from the republican legislature in athens, have you seen the democratic party at all put increased emphasis on the need tor vote in more local electios for their members? robust effort to recruit strong down party down ticket candidates along party lines. we have more democratic candidates involved in election system in the election elections in georgia than we've seen in in decades a number of democrats are running even in unwinnable
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races legislative districts where it's drawn to be not just safe republican, but impossible for democrats to win. you're seeing democrats raise their hand and run in part because they want to challenge and they think they're you know, maybe there's a they could pull off a miracle but really, you know from the party level to engage voters even in these unwindable races just to energize, you know, every vote count. so if the local democrat who has no chance of winning a legislative seat, but can still get 50 extra people to the polls who wouldn't otherwise vote. that can add up but look we're seeing republicans do that too. republicans are waging congressional campaigns and legislative campaigns against undefeatable democrats in such safely blew districts as you can imagine and really, you know, the interesting thing about registering in georgia is republican majority could have could have been much more aggressive in a sense. they could have redrawn lines to pick up two two congressional seats rather than one in the us
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house in multiple legislative seats, but instead they decided to play it safer in order to retain their majorities through the rest of the decade because some of those seats if they could have potentially flipped two seats in the us house this election cycle, but both those seats could have been vulnerable in 2024 2026 instead they drew one seat very safely republican. it's now democratic control and then another seat. it's now democratic control to be very safely democratic. so they're kind of hedging their bets. what are the ideas that you are seeing take center stage that there are hoping will be more winsome this year. that perhaps were not, you know primary in front and center back in 2018. on the republican side. we're seeing a return to culture wars in georgia that we really haven't seen in a long time, you know, one of the first things that governor kemp did when he took office was sign of sweeping anti-abortion law. and that was something that his
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predecessors tried to avoid and he's expected to soon sign a very broad ranging gun rights expansion into law both aimed at energizing republican voters, but we're all seeing a return to sort of culture wars the classroom. we're seeing legislation that seeks to direct how teachers can talk about race and gender in the classrooms. what what republican sponsors called divisive concepts we're seeing legislation that gives school officials more power to ban what they see as offensive books obscene books restrictions on transgender athletes from from competing in certain high school sports. so we're seeing a broad range of those issues come up in the georgia legislature that governor kemp will put front and center in his election campaign as a reason for as a motivating factor for republicans to vote on the democratic side as i mentioned earlier. it's been if stacy abrams campaign can be summed up.
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it's expand medicaid. she's talking about other issues. she still has many of the same platform ideas that she had in 2018, but she's not talking about them to the same degree that she is expanding medicaid but on the federal level. we're also seeing something different. we're seeing democrats acknowledge embrace for the fact that inflation and global supply chain problems and rising fuel prices are all going to be a major factor and how voters decide who they support november and so shortly after senator raphael warnock qualified to run for another term the first things out of his mouth where i'm going to go back to washington to help fight rising prices. so right now his top priority is a federal gas income tax break for for for gas at the full pumps. it is capping insulin. it's the price of insulin at 35 dollars. it is going after what he says or price. on the global supply chain, so
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he's going after issues like that that are you know, frankly, they're not divisive. they're not really partisan. they're more populous than anything. but we're not gives a candidate who has critics are being very aggressive and somehow trying to you know associate with identity opposed to issues and you know symbolism far more so than some type of results. have you seen that campaign push back on that in a way that could be effective with voters that maybe aren't quite sure how they feel about or not. yeah, we saw that to a major degree in the 2020 campaign with a of the same attacks. wedged against barack obama doing his senate and presidential runs were we're leveled against raphael warnock in the debate that he had with kelly leffler. no fewer than a dozen times that she call him a radical liberal and you better believe that will be the republican attack line this time around because it
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plays into the fears of republicans that that the nation is slipping down a more leftward path and certainly robert warnock has a progressive track record, of course, and and if you looked at maybe his biggest issue last year what he was most identified and associated with was federal voting rights expansion the john lewis act they got held up in legislative gridlock, but this year, of course, he has an abandoned his support for that at all, but this year you're not seeing him emphasized that issue nearly as much as he's emphasizing those other issues i talked about fighting rising inflation the federal gas tax break for fuel capping the price of insulin all those things or what he is the message that he is pounding every day and it's meant to show that hey he can work across party lines and you can embrace some of these more consensus driven nonpartisan issues. when you think about warnock and -- off were there victories
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surprising still after biden's or after or were they expected? i guess after biden's given how democrats turned out. you know the biggest challenge for all four of those candidates was trying to get the they all calculated very early if they can get the exact same coalition that helped elect biden or even voted for trump. they could get the same group of voters out they'd win because turnouts generally have lower runoffs generally have lower turnout, right but what it ended up being was basically the whole thing seemed like just a -- shoot right more than half a billion dollars for spend on tv ads. so it was hard for any individual ad to kind of stand out because there was such if you turned on a computer turned on your tv dared look at a you know, something on your smartphone you were gonna see an ad for one of these four candidates or for their allies even watching, you know christmas special or holiday movie. my kids were treated to all
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sorts of videos about rafael. we're not being radical liberal or or kelly leffler being the worst human being or whatever. it might be at the time. you know, no one was spared in georgia as much as you might have tried so it became this this all-out battle and were both both parties and all four candidates kind of again retreated to their their course. rafael warnock and jonas have made the calculation very early if they can just reach the base again and if they can get every you know as many joe biden voters as possible to come back out for them. they'd win and kelly laffler and david perdue made the same calculation when it came to donald trump supporters, but their problem was donald trump kept them moving the goal posts kept that insisting on even more tests of loyalty and that culminated in his call for both david peru and kelly leffler to object on january 6th to the electoral college vote and both of them ended up saying that they supported donald trump's
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attempt to block his opponents electoral college confirmation. it's been clear that trump's been very vocal in these races in georgia and will continue to be do you see that happening with people from washington like biden or harris or other popular lawmakers? you know be interesting to see how rafael warnock how stays abrams how other democrats treat joe biden because certainly they welcomed his support in 2020 and 2021. he came to georgia for several events. he also is here for a voting rights event earlier this year. they got a lot of attention stacey abrams ended up bypassing the event because of a personal conflict, but it was seen by some as her attempt to distance herself from the president. where as here in georgia, that is not seen really as as anything that she can possibly do because a she tried to be his running mate, right? she tried herself directly to him and be even if she tries to listen to herself.
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republicans have everything they already need to to attack her and you know, put her on every flyer and tv ads alongside joe biden's face, so i don't think there's any real effort for stacey abrams at this point to distance herself from from joe biden. i think that democrats will take the same approach republic long had which is we'll take all the help we can get and you saw john assov even take that approach with bernie sanders, you know, asaf and 17 when he running for congress. he steered clear of national politicians every chance he could and in 2020. he he said you know what now? i'm embracing their support now now he felt like now they can only help what is it that you think people outside of the state of georgia don't understand about the state's politics that your book will provide some clarity and insight on. yeah, some major things one is we talked about earlier, but this was not some overnight success this took years of work years of different approach to messaging and it wasn't because republicans were sleeping at the wheel. they saw it coming to and they did everything they could to
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stop it. another major part is the suburbs, you know people like to kind of view suburban areas as these lily white monolithic images of mostly white enclaves and in georgia and in the rest of the nation, but particularly in georgia, it's not the case at all gwinnett county just northeast of atlanta is one of the most diverse demographic areas in the not just in the state but on the eastern seaboard and suburbs are changing fast and politicians are changing their messages with it. and that's another thing is just authenticity, you know voters can smell when someone's being phony it doesn't mean that voters will always punish people for for holding views. they might not necessarily i think you they believe in but democrats embrace that authenticity they they stop running as republican lights i guess is a good way to put it and they were rewarded it took years, but they were rewarded in 2020 for that embrace of core values and republicans have been doing that in georgia as well.
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you know moderate is a bad word in the republican world and you've seen republicans sort of go back to their core values too. another kind of point that we make intentionally in the book is too is there was not this sort of lurch to the middle in 2018 or in 2020. we'll see what happens in 2022, but there was not this pivot to the middle really and either there's racist because you know, both parties realize that they would get more bang for their buck. if they tried to energize a disconnected voters voters who stayed home or voters, who weren't that who were kind of apathetic in general about the political process. they felt like if they could maximize that turnout it would be more economically and efficient efficiently worth it than going to the middle and trying to spend time and resources to win the very few swing undecided voters that there are in, georgia these days. awesome. well, greg, i greatly appreciate your taking time to talk with us about your book and politics in
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the state of georgia and not only 2020 and 2018. but this year and perhaps in the future as well. thank you so much for having me. this was a blast. >> thank you so much or having me. this was a blast. >> absolutely. >> be up-to-date in the latest in publishing with booktv is podcast about books with current nonfiction book releases plus bestseller lists as well as industry news and trends through insider interviews. you can find about books on c-span now, our free mobile app, or wherever you get your podcasts. >> c-span is unfiltered coverage of the u.s. response to russia's invasion of ukraine bring you the latest from the president and other white house officials, the pentagon and the state department as well as congress. we also have international perspectives from the united nations and statements from foreign leaders.
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