tv Campaign 2020 Covering the Presidential Campaign During a Pandemic CSPAN December 8, 2020 6:48pm-8:03pm EST
pandemic campaign. hosted by baker institute this is one hour and ten minutes. i'm john williams co-director of the program, today we have two panels i think you will enjoy, and the first one is always my favorite. that's because i was a newspaper reporter for longer than 25 years, before i took a job with secretary baker more than 16 years ago the title of the first panel is a view from the campaign bus ironic because there was no campaign bus this year, covid-19 prevented that. the panel includes the journalist allen to cover the
2020 election season including an award-winning journalist and new york times best-selling author covering national politics for nbc news. and the two of them are teaming up this year with an inside look at the 2020 election. a political reporter covering national state and local elections including the campaign of george w. bush and barack obama for president. another columnist who is a native of san antonio her biography of nancy reagan which comes out next spring will be a read about the first lady. this panel will be moderated by an award-winning correspondent. she has profiled george h bush, bill clinton, george w. bush,
gerald ford, jimmy carter, and barack obama. congratulations on your scoop last night of former president obama and bush and clinton will take covid-19 vaccine. john mentioned the lack of a bus this year. so let's ask each of, you how this campaign was different because it wasn't so many ways. from what we are used to but
karen, let me start with you. how was it different for you because of covid? >> at the washington post, we were all sent home the second week in march, and unless you could make an argument that your travel was absolutely crucial, you know the paper put a lock down on it, and we are not even back in our office until next june at the earliest. those who were out there for the primary season, this is the very moment it fits into the general election. we know for the democratic nominee will be. i felt it was really difficult to get a sense of what was going on. we were not the only ones to have that problem. in the middle of march, jenna o'malley dylan join the biden campaign as a new campaign manager. she was supposed to gear up the whole thing for the general
election season, and she goes into the philadelphia headquarters for her very first meeting with the staff, and her first meeting she has to tell everybody there, that they are going home for the duration. so she ended up, running the campaign from the attic of her house in suburban maryland, with a seven year old twins actually seven year old twins in a two year old. it was not only just the journalists, but the campaigns trying to figure out how to adjust to all of this. >> i think, you and you are one of the few people in the press corps you went to debates, he went to rallies am i correct? >> yes, i wanted to i go to the second debate, and trump traveled a little bit. i was able to catch him on a couple of panel discussions. and then, they sort of the social distance rallies, that
kamala harris and the incoming vice president had, so i saw a couple of those. but it was tough, and as karen said they set the scene, you know march was the texas primary right, and you had this extraordinary moment, when we pete buttigieg, and amy klobuchar, and they all dropped the race and met joe biden in dallas, to rally around him and it became clear after winning texas, that he would you know and other states he would become the nominee. usually as karen pointed out, we are all ready to go now, you know all the players and we're ready to get into it the conventions are there and, you know yet we got sent home and it's like we're still not back at the news and our offices yet. but it had this weird few weeks
and months, where is there going to be a convention? you know will they get this all straightened out in time. you know and when will they get out there campaigning, and when we get back out there? so of course it never really happened the way it traditionally happens. and that was in a way, it was kind of sad. because we get this every four years right, and it's kind of our super bowl, for political folks. and we didn't have it and the goal was for everybody to be safe, and stay well. and we understood that. but in a way, much like a sporting event, our season was severely altered and changed. >> jonathan, i want to get back to the conventions. particularly, you know you had two very different conventions with each candidate, but where were you for those?
and what was it like watching them? >> i think you need to unmute your muted. >> hi i was in the best place possible to watch conventions, which was my living room. and the conventions were wonderful, but as the other folks on the panel say in no every four years especially when the conventions are backed back you know you're trying to get through those journalists and survive and maintain your sobriety, and all of those things. that's all very difficult. so at some level, it was very refreshing to be able to sit in quiet, and pay attention to the speeches, pay attention to you know and not have all the outside aggravations that you have. on the other hand, it's a huge loss in terms of sourcing. the conventions are great place, to talk to people who are on the campaigns, who are often inaccessible, to talk to other
political officials who are often inaccessible. to build your rolodex. so there is a loss on that level. cook but these were scripted, and we don't normally see that. everyone can remember 2016, when ted cruz walks down on the convention floor, and says vote your conscience. and everyone remembers democratic conventions torn apart, by which delegation was going to be seeded, you know a little before my time but, the mississippi freedom delegation, versus the non mississippi freedom delegation. and what was going to happen with the delegates, for the reagan race in 76. carter carter and kennedy on funding. basically these conventions can be unpredictable times. >> you really don't just run into people do you? i mean that is the big thing
that happens. and i want to ask the three of you, justin let's just start with you, you know i like numbers. today's december 3rd, a month ago was election day believe or not. november 3rd. the tally, at least as of last night, was joe biden, 80 million and the 942,000 and more. donald trump 74 million. so biden wins, but almost 7 million. and the electric college 3:06, two to 72. but here's what i want to ask you jonathan, a month leader is over yet? >> yes it is over. >> it is over. >> yes it is over. i look at the motive for donald trump, and that went out on early wednesday morning, and he started talking about fraud.
and at that moment, you can tell that he thought he had lost. certainly was moving in the direction of that. you don't come out and talk about fraud, if you think you want. and from that moment on, i think it became more and more clear that biden had won and even though no aspersions were cast from anybody you know they were very careful, and i think that was possible you know was very cautious. but it took them a week to call the election. but i don't think there was a point during that period, where it looked like donald trump was going to make a comeback, you know based on what was outstanding. the votes that were outstanding. but even since then, there's not a question about who won the election. was a close election. yes from a historical perspective absolutely. but not one where there was a question about it. >> karen talk a bit about you know, we've been through bush v. gore, well literally
recently not recently, but talk a bit about what the last month has felt like from big pitcher historic perspective to be going through this. >> well, i mean, it is, you know, donald trump continues to sort of dominate the stage. but, his antics, i think leading up to that 47 minute video yesterday seemed to be getting more and more desperate. his legal team, and i use that phrase loosely, is getting thrown out of every court that they are taking these challenges to. they have produced absolutely no evidence for their challenges. so you really do get a sense that it is almost like three street theater. the election result was not in
doubt and it was not really all that close. i do think that to me, the great mystery of the 2020 election is why the polls and the expectations were so correct about the presidential race and why they were so wrong about everything else. all polls, all the expectations would have suggested that the democrats were going to pick up seats in the house, that the republicans had a better than 50/50 chance of losing the senate. i have covered a lot of presidential elections. i think 1988 with my first. this is the first one where you have seen a new president come in with absolutely no coattails. whatever a reverse coattails, i don't know, socks? i think that that is what is going to be sort of studied
about this election in years to come. i think there is something fundamentally flawed in the polls and i think there will be a lot of analysis maybe that can explain that to us. there are some real mysteries about the outcome of this election that, you know, the outcome of the presidential election is not a mystery, but there was a lot going on in the electorate that i really think we did not understand. >> just to talk a little bit about what karen just raised with the polls. there are two words you hear a law and washington, d.c. and conventional wisdom. some of that is based on experience and history and, i think a lot of it is also based on the polls. considering what karen said about down ballot, what surprised you? what do you think when looking back? >> well, i think a lot of
ticket splitting went on. there were people set on going to the polls to vote either for or against donald trump and that's to say there were a lot of people who voted against donald trump who then said, you know, i want to vote against donald trump, but i don't want to send my party or the republicans a draconian message, so i am going to vote for senator drawn coney in texas as well. i will go down to the ballot vote for a republican texas house member. karen was right. in texas, democrats thought they had a chance of taking control of the texas house. that would be for the first time since 2001. and, maybe, when a state tried race on the strength of biden winning, or challenging trump in texas. they thought maybe that biden
could do that and it did not happen. a lot of it was because people perhaps were number one, voting against trump, trying to get trump out of office, but at the same time, we like our state rep, we like our congressman, we like our republican senator. perhaps some of that went on. >> jonathan, looking at the numbers that we have seen for both biden and trump, were you surprised at these record turnouts? >> i mean, if you had told me 81 million people were going to vote, i might have believed to, but i would've thought it would be both sides, but not 81 million for one candidate. looking at roughly 135 million people voting, i think in the last election, we were at the 120 some mark, 125, 128, something like that. the increase was surprising to me. i expected that more people
would vote for trump then ended last time. i expected that more people would vote for biden, but certainly not in terms of the level of increase. people want to devote. and just briefly, to address the other question that you had just asked, i think one of the things that you saw here with the split at the presidential level and at the congressional level was there is so much anger and chaos and sort of attention to extremism going on. i think what you saw was an electorate that collectively, you know, kind of rejected both of those things. so, on the republican side, you had trump as the sort of lightning rod extremism. on the democratic side, you had trump battling against what he said was socialism, people did not buy that about biden. he was battling against defunding the police, people did not buy that about biden. but they may have thought at
the congressional level with the state legislative label. i think that message penetrated. would i look at is the electorate collectively. let's lower the volume a little bit. >> jonathan, just a follow-up on the numbers, considering covid, considering the economic fallout in the country, were you surprised at how many votes donald trump did get? >> i was surprised at the number. i was not surprised that there was increases. the entire campaign philosophy was to find people who agree with him already and get them to the polls, so to try to increase with this base only strategy. i figured that would work to some degree, i did not expect it to work to quite the level that it did. you know, i think what we watch happen on both sides is some of that. you know, the amping up of the bases. we got to a point where there was a think 4%, the modeling
right now, the numbers that we were told right now about 4% of the people were truly undecided, sort of down the stretch. i think those 4% actually made a difference. but, i also think that candidates and parties have figured out the game of getting more votes, to get people to the polls and sort of fighting it out at that level. i'm not surprised to see the numbers increase on each side. >> karen, were you surprised by the numbers? >> i was surprised by some of the numbers within the numbers. for instance, trump did much better among latinos overall, i think, than most people expected him to do. he did very well in places like miami-dade and rio grande valley. you know, that probably made a difference in, for instance, in democratic numbers in florida who, i think we're on nobody's
radar screen to be in danger and he lost. i think it's the best analysis i have heard as to why that would be, it's a couple of things. one is that immigration was not as high-profile an issue in this election as it was in 2016. it was a reminder as well that latinos as a whole are younger than the population at large, which means they are less likely to be you know, struck down by covid. also, in a lot of the industries that were hardest hit by the shutdowns, you know, the hospitality industry, the hotels, restaurants. as a result, you know, economic issues for a lot of latino voters, those were survival issues. so that drew them, i think in a way that the polls were not
picking up to trump's message and, i think that is one of the things, for instance, that is going to be studied about this election going forward. >> same question. i mean, to me, by the time we got to election day, 250,000 americans had died. broad woodward's reporting had come out. the audio of president trump privately telling him back on february 7th that he knew it was airborne and how dangerous it is. were you surprised at all that he got such big numbers considering just his handling of covid? putting other things aside. >> not really, because we have kind of been here before with that in 2016 with the access hollywood tape and he looked
into the comey announcement about reopening the clinton investigation. he looked like a dead man walking in that election as well until that moment happened and he performed quite well. so, i figured that he would get his face back out and, i did not think the numbers would be as high as they were, but i think that maybe he would get a little extra, like he would get the base back out again. where he made his mistake is that, from the beginning, as a sitting president, coming in in 2016, you sort of have a clean slate and inability to sort of expand that base and he really did not do a whole lot to expand the base. if you look at the 2016 election, they close margins in michigan, pennsylvania, wisconsin suggested or should have suggested to him if he did not do some expansion of his base, even if he got him back
outing had a margin increase, that the democrats would be ready this time, they would not have apathy, they would not sit on biden like they sat on him, hillary clinton somewhat. maybe that's what happened. they were coming for him, he knew that, but he did not expand the base. he got his base back out, but he did not do enough to sort of again, when michigan, wisconsin, pennsylvania or some other places and maybe he could've won if he had been a president that was not just a base only president. >> right. we saw that for three years. let me go back to covid to all three of you and the difference between what might have happened, which i think is always dangerous for trump. there's a lot of could have, would have, should have with him. if on february 8th, instead of
not telling everyone what he told bob woodward, he had said let's all be superheroes, let's all wear masks, i'm going to make maga masks, i will sell them like maga masks. if he had handled covid differently, let me just start with you on this, do you think he would have won a month ago? >> probably. much closer race. the economy, he got credited for, you know, building an economy that was humming. you know, in times of crisis, americans want to rally around their leader, typically. and if they think you are trying, they think you are making moves that are based on a logic and science, they give
you the benefit of the doubt, even if there is some rocky patches. but, if you just go aside and say hey, you know for instance a mock people, mock biden for wearing a mask and don't take it seriously. then, in the late summer months, sort of kind of abandoning, even fighting, at least that's what it looked like. yes, that is when people will say, you know one? maybe we need a change. and, if you saw how he suffered with senior voters, senior voters are usually with what the president is, with the republican candidate. i think he took a dip in senior voting and it could have hurt him in the election in large. i think that is because of his handling of covid. it was the last straw, so to speak. don't i mean? all of the chaotic years,
people could have forgotten that, but then he could not be forget his handling of covid. i think an offer that, he could've won. >> jonathan, i see your hand, you start. >> again, i don't know how many errors he would have made with the different shortstop. you know. it is impossible to play out, but i do think that the president, more than anything talked him self walk out of his presidency. there was a rally around the flag was during a crisis. think about 9/11, pearl harbor, nothing was used quite the same as an attack on american soil. i think the public gives the president a lot of latitude to make the errors that growler was talking about. you know, kind of walking the path a little bit. everybody was scared and i think what you saw from the
president started as overly rosy and then he decided that he was going to issue a stay at home guideline, which made a lot of sense. then, struggled with reopening. foreign himself in public on the podium every day saying how much he wanted to reopen the economy. he was having this fight with himself. i don't think that helped him, but i think it was really like when he started to get into the territory of i am going to prescribe one high dropped so chloroquine. and inject bleach into yourself. the loss of trust and finding it comical because we all know that it's an idiotic thing to do, but i think the loss of trust that he even had a handle on seriously dealing with this disease was a problem for him. it's like, he could have looked at covid from a political perspective as an opportunity to show leadership and to walk
out a bit stronger. kind of in the way that he did with the economy. he saw this huge economic dip and he was very confident, smartly so that there would be some rebound at some level that he can show and he just did not do that with the pandemic. he never figured out how to deal with it. he dealt with it as a problem politically instead of an opportunity for him politically. of course, as we all know, and no matter how many times we go through crises, the best politics is to simply feel as straightforward louis and as effectively with the crisis in front of you as you possibly can. he did not appear to be doing them. i actually think it is more rhetorical almost than the actual substance of what he was going on. no one can argue about pieces of the covid response. i think it was the things that he was signaling about his leadership style, his lack of seriousness about it that were typical for many voters. >> karen?
>> well i think he was also hurt by his willingness to politicize things, like wearing a mask. and, you know, whatever is the opposite of virtue signal. you know, turning things that should have been basic public health measures. you know, trusting science into signifier's, of whether you were a democrat or a republican. i think that people watch that. people also understood that as much as he kept saying, you know we only have more cases because we have more testing, it made absolutely no sense to people. they could also see that, you know, responses in other countries were more effective. is it as much as the president would deny this? i think this was a time when reality did catch up with him. i do wonder, however, as he is also wondering, what might have
happened if the pfizer vaccine announcement had happened two weeks earlier. >> so, just a follow-up on that at our house today, secretary baker, he ransom famous campaigns and white houses in his time and, thinking back, there were two things, discipline. i mean, they were known for many things, but discipline and process. this was a presidency filled with some pretty wild and dramatic moments. but, there was one this fall that i really would have liked to have been sitting next to secretary baker, watching his face. that was when president trump went to walter reed and then got into his car and drove around and was waving and then
finally, when he returned to the white house, with the big helicopter scene and going up to the balcony and taking off his mask, what were you all thinking when you watched that moment? because each of you have talked about sort of the big picture. his handling of covid. but that was october, it's not that long ago. karen, when you are watching that, what's did you think was going on? >> i think it was one of the most bizarre things i have ever seen in the time that i have covered politics. i mean, at least they were able to talk him out of his idea of pulling off his shirt and revealing he was wearing a superman t-shirt underneath. one thing is, americans, including, at that point, i
think it was over 200,000 people had died. people understood that donald trump had access to treatments that their loved ones did not. and, while trump seemed to want to signal that covid was not that big of a deal and, you know, he had some sort of super constitution that made him superhuman or something, that was so at odds with the reality that people were seeing and feeling in their communities in their homes. i don't think it quite sent the message that he thought it would. >> gromer? >> a lot of the times, the president's first instinct is to go to his showmanship background. this was not the last 15
minutes of the apprentice or celebrity apprentice, you know? this was a real situation, a serious situation where you are trying to set a tone for the rest of the country. you just had covid-19, you had, as karen pointed out, treatment that other americans cannot get and here you are in the moment where, and jonathan talked about the opportunity to be presidential or used the moment in a way to be a face or show leadership. he could've emerged, made a speech about hey, i have dealt with this, no one should want this, please wear your mask, social distance, do what you have to do not to get this disease because you don't want to get it like i did. he could've shown some sort of compassion and leadership, but he took the showmanship route.
he took the reality tv route with going up to the top and looking out there and all of that. i had people, one of the things about being a political reporter, your family and friends call you when things are happening, right? they are like what is going on? and they mentioned that it seemed like it was the last 15 minutes of a reality show where you got someone doing something that is really more spectacle than substance. >> jonathan, this is one of those, like you said, could have, should have, would have moments. i remember four years ago, we used to say oh he will pivot. all the time! even covid did not seem to make him pivot. what did you think when you are watching them? >> i mean, to gromer's point about showmanship. i was watching and i kept
thinking this stagecraft is excellent. it is reagan-esque in its use of the power of the presidency and the trappings, all of those things, except for this president seems completely out of touch with the moment. that is not what is called for. you know, what ronald reagan would not have done and what bill clinton would not have done and george w. bush, or george h. w. bush, or clinton, is in danger other peoples lives for the benefit of the stagecraft. so, it seems so screeching lee dissident to me that i am watching the president behave in this manner that seem so presidential from that trapping standpoint, from that stagecraft standpoint and from the level of how do i protect the american people so deeply unpresidential? >> so, one of the things i just realized as i look at the time
that we have been talking. we have been talking for 40 minutes about donald trump. not about president elect biden. so, let's just go back to the campaign a little bit. the campaign strategies on both sides and, if you would each talk to me. karen, let's start with you about joe biden and what messages worked, what's strategies worked, how did he get to be president elect, apart from what donald trump is doing? >> well, for those of us who are following this very large democratic field around in iowa, new hampshire and nevada, you know, joe biden looked like a dead man walking. i mean, he got his clock cleaned in iowa, he went to new hampshire and it even worse.
he barely, barely pulled out the second place finish in nevada. he was really limping into south carolina. it really was a, you know, it was a testament to his own tenacity because he ran on the same message given to him that this was an election about character. he was not allowing himself to be drawn to the left, as some in his party were trying to pull him. he was this extraordinary moment, a single endorsement that of james clyde burn, congressman from south carolina, that essentially pulled joe biden's campaign out of a ditch and put him on the road to the nomination. and, at that point, that campaign was out of money, it was really not at all equipped
for a general election campaign, which was a completely different endeavor then a primary campaign. the degree to which the biden campaign was able to rebuild itself, not only for a normal general election, but one that was going to be conducted in this environment is such an extraordinary story and i hope there are going to be good books written about this because, you know, the discipline that that campaign showed. you know, as i gromer was saying, there was a lot of talk about will they play in texas? they made some modest advise in texas, they sent kamala harris down to texas near the end, but they knew that there was a block of states they really needed to win. most of them in the upper midwest and they really kept their focus where they knew they needed to win.
they won those states and they got a couple of bonus states and their. they are georgia, they got arizona, they blew it in florida. but they did with they needed to do and, you know, we have also seen that kind of discipline in his operation as they are beginning to build their team for the presidency. the people who are being picked for these key jobs, they are breaking a lot of glass ceilings when it comes to gender, when it comes to race, but at the same time, these are all people coming to these jobs with very deep backgrounds in the issues that they will be dealing with. this is so different from the trump transition, which sometimes felt like a casting call for celebrity apprentice. >> it really has looked different. remember trump tower and the elevators? gromer, you know, looking back
at the biden campaign, what do you think was, you know, apart from the clyburn moment, what made it work? >> he caught a couple of breaks. one, he had a long established connection to communities of color, particularly black voters, vice president under barack obama, that the other front runners did not have. so, after buttigieg, he emerge from mostly white states in iowa and new hampshire, he pretty much had nowhere to go. 0% with african-american voters. you cannot win that way. most of the other contenders struggled as well and then, bernie sanders became the front, while he was the front runner, which kind of helped biden as
well, because people were rallying around him because they knew that sanders nomination would be a disaster for the party. so he benefited from those things. i do think he had the wherewithal to survive and hold on because you know you are going to get rough media coverage coming out of iowa and new hampshire and score points in nevada. the campaign struggled. i mean, they were not raising money, the strategy was kind of off, but he was able to hold on and develop a message that allowed him not to get put in a trick box or a trap with the socialist message and other messages that republicans, jonathan mentioned this earlier, but republicans were throwing it other democratic candidates. people were not able to be able to say hey, i know joe biden, that is not the joe biden i know. so, he had discipline. i think jen o'malley dickson,
that was a great choice to sort of pull the campaign out of the ditch and put it on the course where, if you just did not mess it up, i think he knew that he had trump on the other side and if he did have a core coherent message and let it play out, that he would have success and that is what happened. sorry just trying to unmute there. so general molly his name is been brought up a few times it's you know there is a column that karen wrote in august, about general o'malley. and i felt like just want to malpeque your interest. i take a look at this, as a strength of biden like going
this old school route of campaigning. having written a book about the 2016 election. and i thought one of the big things, that was a mistake for hillary, that was over arching, for her campaign was a failure to connect her biography, through a message that told voters what she was going to do for them. i think that was a thing, that biden succeeded on. probably more than anything, he sent the message very early, and karen talked about the character piece of it, and i look at this as kind of these three seas character competence and compassion. and i thought he did a job a good job with that earlier. and i think he would've won, heavy rain in 1980, 1984, when he ran in 1980, eight or i think this was like the seventh presidential campaign, where he dipped his toes in the water. i don't think any of them would have worked a whole lot
different, but largely it was getting the democratic primary, without getting yank so far to the left, that you have problems in general. i think if you go back to the very beginning of his campaign, when he rolls out the soul of the nation, and his shorthand, his slogan for things i talk about, like the competence and compassion and character, i think that was a big difference from what you saw for clinton, and i think it's a big difference for what you saw in the other democratic candidates. and it's a lesson of teddy kennedy, failing in 1982, to explain why it was that he wanted to run for president. and the imaging of that for him. biden moved through that time, and if you look at the lesson, that he had to a connect his personal to that message there. >> and jonathan let me say to,
all dylan, stayed the course you know, he was saying in his basement biden, and was not getting out there. and there was some comments in the party that they weren't doing enough. especially when trump started campaigning. i was impressed how they still stuck with the plan. you know it i mean? >> although for those of us, who have seen a lot of joe biden, keeping him in his basement, and keeping him in his basement, is not really a problem. another big moment, was that first debate. where donald trump comes out on the stage and the only thing that could have made that debate any wilder was if somebody had released a rabid squirrel on the stage and i think that was also a turning point in this election.
what >> none of you have mentioned kamala harris. which i think is interesting, because after all of this time, now that a woman is very basically has one as part of the ticket, and a woman of color. i feel as if, a lot of people just take it for granted all of a sudden. what do you think karen? >> i think that, on inauguration day people are not going to take it for granted. i have actually been, surprised and jamie i will be looking at your network tonight, who will be interviewing the two of them biden and harris together, is i've been surprised, that they have not as they are building their administration, done a bit more to flesh out what her role is going to be.
what will be her portfolio? there are so many different models, for a vice president to be a presidents governing partner. and i think that, that people are to the point, they're starting to wonder, what's exactly in a word she fit in all of this picture? and they will be asking that, but i think on an odd ration day, that will be a very powerful picture that we see. >> so how big a role, do you think it was in the victory? having kamala harris there? >> it played a significant role, in that he made the best choice. sometimes you get in trouble when you don't make the best choice. and you take a chance, and there have been reports, that he was strongly considering other folks, and sort of like
someone else but it is heartfelt that senator harris was the right choice and he stuck with that. and i think that is what worked out, that it was the right choice and it didn't create problems with his base, it didn't create problems with african american voters, or black women, and it check the boxes, and now it sets up a situation where she can be an historic partner, in this process. you look at george w. bush, and cheney whatever you think about it it was a novel concept. right. well biden, can create a role for senator harris, that sort of moves forward the role of the vice president, and then that makes it you know modern basically modernize the role of vice president. and create, some really cool
things for her to work on that. and in that situation, move the party forward, because the message to democrats right, is that this is the party of inclusion. and if you deploy senator harris in the right way, i think that that would bode well for the future for a number of reasons. most notably, how the party looks and the image it projects to the democrats. >> so one more thing to, is to remember that there is a strong assumption here, that joe biden will be a one term president. if that is the case, kamala harris goes into the league position to become this country's first woman president. and i think that is also going to be a strong dynamic for the next four years. as people scrutinize her. and imagine her in that role.
that >> jonathan? that >> i think that, it is really amazing that you have this moment where we seem to have gotten closer to where we probably should have been a long, which is that the first black woman, first south asian woman, to be nominated for vice president was seen as a safe pick. and the reason she was seen as the safe pick, with sort of this she basically did no harm. she's not hurting him with anybody. you know she is probably, likable i think she provides cover for biden, in some areas where he has problems, or at least questions that trump could use against him, in terms of his record on the crime bill. and you know some of the things
he is said in the past. on school busing and so forth. that old era of race. and she provides for some cover for him there, and she provides cover with women's group, who have not been happy of some of the things he's been on. it makes it harder for trump to attack in there. makes it harder for it was something that might have happened had joe biden not been in the race, which is black women became very unified unified behind her, and that was not the case in the primary, but when she became a nominee, i think that was helpful in terms of organization and turned out energy for the ticket. she was in every sense, as they reported, she was the right pick for biden. at the same time, is historical and i speak i think that speaks jamie to why there might not have been as much attention, in the media to this
groundbreaking moment. i don't think it's lost on any person of color, or any women of color. i think it's a huge moment. that and i spoke to -- who was the political director at the clinton white house, and when that nick was made she said that she cried when it was made. and i talked to her within an hour. and she was like this you know it's choking the up. that and there was not many prominent black women at the time, and she basically said what joe biden has done just by putting her on the ticket, is to edge the names and the images of women of color, into the history books. that is something for which joe biden, should basically he will never be forgotten. so whatever is going on in our media conversation, i think in the real world on the ground, it really has been quite the moment, and then on integration day, i think we will see that.
>> jonathan let me add that, that senator harris is not a darling of the progressives. there were some progressive democrats, and progressive women, who are on the other side of her on issues. criticized her, for what she did as a prosecutor in california. who are still overwhelmed, but the moment. and she had tears as well. and appreciated the moment. and thus supported her on the ticket. so you're right about those things. i mean and the motion that some people had when she was nominated. >> we just have a couple of minutes, before we're going to take questions from people who have been watching this. but i did want to ask you, a little bit about, press coverage. because we have had existential
dysfunction, i would say over the last four years. i think as reporters were used to normal dysfunction, but reporters generally, do not like to say the president you know they don't like to use the el word. we fact check. we don't like to say he lied. that el word. but it has changed a lot in the last four years, and i'm just curious. basically as reporters i feel is if even now we are dealing with two realities. to realities in this country. people who see or believe the election was stolen, and people who don't. so karen as a reporter, as a
columnist, what are the challenges with dealing with that? >> well the challenges i think are that people have gone into their media silos, and those of us who work for legacy news organizations, are not even part of the conversation in some of those worlds. i think in the fact checking, robust fact checking, and to call things out when they are not true, the ability to build context into things, even if they are just questionable. i think we are doing a lot better job, then we were doing when donald trump first appeared on the scene. and everything he did, was covered as though it was the second coming but, i think where we have really fallen down, in the trump years, is
that we have not distinguished well enough for our readers and viewers, that he creates 15 distractions a day. and we swing at every fall he is throwing every ball he's throwing under the plate, we don't say we're going to ignore that one, and i think that people in the country, just get exhausted with the whole thing. i think they just turn us all out. >> you know i see you going i understand. >> yes i think one of the criticisms i get from discerning voters, discerning readers, discerning television viewers, is that when can i have my normal news back. when can it not be all about trump every day every hour all day. and karen just mentioned swinging at everything. knuckleball's curveballs. and i got to the point where,
and this came from a viewer and reader, that there it's trump, hurricanes, mass shootings and now covid. and that's pretty much what you get when you turn on the news people want to get back to a regular news flow, where there are other players, other folks. just normalcy. i have to say as well, karen is also right about this. the problem is the public has basically put on an r jersey or d jersey and they are going to watch what they are going to watch. that usually justifies the positions that they hold. how do we get out of that? i don't know.
i don't know. decades in the making. how do we get out of people being more finicky, or discerning viewers saying hey, i'm a republican, but that's wrong, or i'm a democrat, and that's wrong, so i will hold my guy accountable for. that is the big problem, i think. i just don't have an answer to that. >> jonathan, i know you have a solution to this. >> i do. i totally have a solution. you know, the good old days were probably not as good as we remember. i always -- >> you froze for a minute, so you are back, good. >> i was just going to say the good old days are not always good as billy joel said. i remember when i first started covering capitol hill, there was a new congressman from iowa named steve king, who you may be familiar with him. he says a lot of bombastic things and things that are offensive to a lot of people.
i just remember, i would interview him and he often had insight into where the extreme wing of his party was. he would say things that were like highly offensive. i would always look at my notebook and be like, you know what? i don't need to give airtime to this patently offensive thing because it is not adding anything to the conversation. however, he would sometimes they say things in memorable ways that were simply reflective of what the thought process was we. there is a judgment at the individual level of like, what are you going to highlight? it is very difficult. i think we have all sort of become local news in terms of if it leads, it leads and donald trump is spraying water everywhere. i generally think that they responsibility for the individual is to try to kind of
a limit the scope of wet they are promoting and what they are writing about to things that are more reflective of the mainstream thinking that is actually influencing decisions, instead of who said what crazy thing. with trump, there is a real challenge in that because he is the president of the united states, so typically anything that comes out of the mouth of the president of united states is news and is treated as such. trying to, you know limit that or defined that and to only chase the things that actually matter, or trying to figure out what the policy process is in the white house and it's very, very difficult because there is not really that substance abuse that you would look for. this is the thing that matters and this is the thing that doesn't. trump treats them all the same. >> let me try to take some questions now. forgive me, i will try to read
these with my glasses. so, we have the first question is from, i hope i pronounced his name correctly, but david newburger. did the democratic problem with the congressional waste arise from their failure to continue to emphasize health care in 2020 as they did in 2018? he feels instead in 2020, they focused on other issues, such as black lives matter and the environment and the pandemic. so, who wants to take that on? >> well, i do think that the inability to come up with a clear position on the social justice issue.
let me just say this, the inability to fend off the tax that, if you are a democrat, you are for defunding the police and it's just related to that and it was a problem. i do think democrats wanted to talk about health care in a way that they did in 2018 and they try to tie the health care issue to the pandemic because now, more than ever, people need to be ensured. but, they were thrown off course by the defund the police and other socialist type messages out there. unlike biden, they did not have a clear position on it, or are they allowed themselves to be exploited in a way where. there were candidates who were not for defunding the police, but spending money defending
themselves against charges that they were for defunding the police. that was a problem for a lot of candidates across the country. >> we have a lot of questions here, so we will try to do a lightning round and go through some of them. do you think that the increase in early voting will change how presidential candidates will campaign? who wants to take that on? jonathan? >> yes. i think it will change the way that presidents campaign. number one, the ability to bank votes early in some places and you will be able to see behavioural, even if there is early voting everywhere, where do people vote early by mail? where they show up on election day? it will affect where the candidates go, it will affect the messages that they use in different parts of the country and a different times. going down the stretch, it will affect how they raise money and spend it. how it will affect all those things, i cannot say, but
absolutely it will affect a little bit the way that people campaign. we saw at this time. the trump campaign trying to reserve money for the end, while the biden campaign, which of course had more money, was essentially spending it and they were trying to bank all of those groups by mail as early as possible to have a better picture of where they needed to go. we already saw a difference in the way that the two campaigns were. of course, voting by mail-in voting early became weaponized as an issue, which i don't know that i would have anticipated ahead actually. the short answer of the question is yes, absolutely, it will change. >> karen, here's one for you. do you think a significant factor in the biden win was that he really did not need to say much? that, for many, it was enough that he just was not donald trump. >> well, i do think one, again,
joe biden is not the most, under normal circumstances, disciplined candidate you would ever see. i think he was able to demonstrate the contrast with donald trump in ways by wearing a mask, by running his campaign differently, by expressing empathy, which is not something that president trump ever does. so, yes, i think there was a lot in this campaign, but he was good to be in contrast with his incumbent. when you have an incumbent president on the ballot, the race is going to be about him and, in donald trump's case, that was more the case probably the normal. >> i will ask the three of you to do a little predicting because we are not at january 20th yet. let me start with gromer. will donald trump pardon
himself was? where do you think what? >> how, i will split it in half. i will say what i will take half of that. i will say i don't think he will pardon himself, but he will pardon one or more of his team. >> jonathan? what >> i am actually with gromer on this. i think there will be pardons in the trump administration, but not the president himself. some of the things that he's facing or not couple by federal law, therefore it's just not an issue. i don't think he's worried that joe biden's justice department to prosecute him. i think he's worried that joe biden can prosecute his kids or somebody else and his team. >> karen? >> here is a title out of the box scenario that i have absolutely no basis to believe, but i mean, what if donald
trump were to resign on january 19th and have vice president pence become president pence and pardon him. that would get you out of the president pardon himself and it would also get him out of having to go to the inauguration. >> that actually leads to my next question, which is i think that you have had some reporting at cnn that he is unlikely to go to the inauguration, but as we know with donald trump, five minutes from now, that can be completely different. so karen, do you think president trump will attend the inauguration? >> i cannot even imagine what that would be like, so what we have had three presidents in our history decide not to attend inauguration. so he may be the next one to do
that. >> gromer? >> i don't think so. the rumors and reports are that he may hold a rally somewhere to announce his 2024 presidential bid. it's more likely. let me just add quickly, one of the great moments in politics was when george h. w. bush attended the inauguration of bill clinton. that was a tough race for him, but he stood up and was acknowledged and did the right thing and it was a powerful moment, i will remember that. >> gromer, do you think that the trumps will invite the bidens to the white house for any of the usual transition welcomes that we have seen in the past? >> wow. i don't know. it is unlike him, though. it would be unlike him. but maybe melania trump, the first lady will do something in that regard.
>> jonathan, both questions. do you think he will attend the inauguration? and do you think there will be any invitation over to the white house ahead of time? >> i will go, because we are in prediction mode and i am not normally in that state, but i will go against the panel here. i think he will go to the inauguration. i think that after four years of acting unusually for a president, it might be a good moment for him to the remembered. he is going to move into legacy area. where he is thinking about his legacy. the other thing is, i don't remember a time when donald trump, he had the opportunity to be on television, and he turned it down. even as the former president, you have cameras on you. you have attention on you and inauguration and, generally speaking, if you behave like a normal president, people say nice things about you because you are going out and it does
not really matter. i would think he would have incentive to do that. as far as inviting the bidens to do things, it really does not look like that. it does not feel like that, although the one set of people that trump seems to have some respect for our people his age and, you know, i don't know that you would always say the thing that you would say about joe biden sleeping general was respectful, but i do think he was a little less nasty about joe biden that he then he has been about other people and he tends to be, again, more respectful of people his own age. maybe he will think that it is the right thing to do to act, you know, normally for a president. people who are around him say that he is actually pretty gracious one-on-one, so there would not be a reason for him not to do that. >> i see john williams popping up, but i will ask one last question, john, because i think i have a minute. for each of you.
karen, do you think donald trump will run in 2024? >> i actually don't. >> gromer? >> i say no. i don't either. i think he will start running, first couple year, maybe first year and a half he will signal that he's running and then it will just change. it's hard for someone to come back after losing the presidential, and incumbent losing a presidential election. i don't see it happening, but i think he will run initially. >> jonathan? >> politicians tend to have a combination of shamelessness and ego and donald trump has both of those to the extreme. i would rule nothing out in terms of him running again. >> there you go. so with that, i wish all three of you a wonderful 2021. my wish is that it's a little
joints tour guide eric finley, to learn about the early history of mobile alabama. and to visit africa town founded by former slaves who were captives on the ship clotilda. the clotilda smuggled 110 kidnapped west africans to mobile in 1800s. this is part one of two parts. >> my name is eric finley, and i am the docent for the african-american heritage trail. this is our 14th year for doing the tours in mobile. they got started five or six years prior to that when one of our african-american city councilman took a trip to boston on city business, and while he was there, he saw a sign that said african american heritage trail. he thought it sounded interesting because it was kind of a novelty, it was prior to most of the museums we see today. he
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