tv [untitled] CSPAN June 7, 2009 8:00am-8:30am EDT
the yes, we can speech. a critical moment of testing for his speech writers, too. fascinating seeing them react and seeing him react. when they realized that the numbers weren't coming in, especially around the man chester area, there's this obviously stunned reaction inside his circle. and a handful take the long walk through the hotel to obama's suite where he and michelle obama were staying. david axel rod, the senior strategist, his campaign manager and otherors. and they knock on the door, david says, we've come up short. it looks like we're not going to make it. and they're all looking to see how he is going to respond. and they were surprised themselves.
now, these guys were not exactly short of respect and adulation for their candidate. but they were surprised. his reaction was, what happened? what do you think happened? so they go through it and they say, well, there was a massive flip roonched. the undecided voters went for her. he said, well, let's pretty much give the same speech. obviously we need to tweak it. but this was the test. and that became the message as he spoke to donors and key supporters. the initial reaction was, it's not supposed to be easy. people want to see us being tested. and i think that moment gave his inner circle and by extension his campaign, head quarters and the millions of people supporting them a lot of confidence that he could deal with a failure. because i do think you learn more from failure than success. he screwed up many times.
new hampshire was the most visible. but the question is how do you respond to that failure? and that moment was a key test, as well as being an extraordinary speech. >> so you think having a long, drawn out primary helped barack obama? because keep in mind in 2004 jacques wrapped it up early. >> i think given the choice, i'm sure any of those obama folks would say they prefer it shorter. but he needed the time. and this is something he discussed early on. he needed the time to get known, raise the money, build the organization, and to be a better candidate. it tested his personal skills, his management. remember, this is the biggest operation he had ever run, the biggest undertaking of his life. and not only was it important for the voters to see this person being tested, but i think it was important for him to understand the kinds of pressures, just in sort of a laboratory form the kind of pressures you get as president.
absolutely, i think it was necessary. >> jim is joining us. caller: good morning. how are you this morning? well, i've heard a lot, and i've never -- the only thing i hear is how great he is, which maybe he is, i don't know. but there was a lot of it, the reason that he mccain lost was because of the media. the media was square behind obama and they've never denied it. for crying out loud. everything they tore palin down. everything that came up, the media went after him. host: well, let me deny for you
right now. number one, when you, if you think the media was always in love with him and only gave him positive coverage, you have got to have forgotten the two month period all the way through the pennsylvania primary and beyond, which was dominated by one man called jermimia wright.
i'm sure you remember him. it was compounded by candidate obama saying people were bitter in america. this was the worst coverage of any candidate in any election. so i guess if you sit at that side and say that never happened, then you could make a case. but then you would also have to set aside the media's absolute fascination for sara palin, because for the initial week or two of her rollout, she was a super star. you know, and then candidate
obama made jokes about the fact that she was getting more magazine covers than he was. there were -- let me scale this back a little bit and say, look, when you are winning things, generally the coverage gets a lot better. you know, it's true in sports, it's true in politics. obama won more than he lost. but
when he was losing, the coverage was bad, it was painful, it was negative. and that negative period lasted a very long time. host: his speech in philadelphia on march 18 as a result of the reverend jeremiah wright was what led to him giving that address. guest: he always wanted to do a race speech. this is something he thought about a lot. his campaign advisers never thought it was the right time. they never wanted him to touch it. but when wright came along with those sermons, which should not have been unexpected, really,
when that came along that was his moment. and, by the reason it should not have been unexpected, the sermnls came up at the beginning of the campaign. and canned t candidate at the time told his staffer go research those sermons. tell me what you can, let's see if there's anything that's more controversial. that work was never done. it was a huge mistake. and they were very lucky it had only emerged when it did after he had won a bunch of primaries. so it dominates tv, there's a 72-hour peerpped when these are on a total loop. the candidate and his people know this is a moment of real peril and his sits down and starts writing this speech. he does it after a long day of campaigning and shooting tv ads. he ends it finishing up 2:00 in the morning before he is giving
the speech. and the people liked it. they liked the fact that he put it in context. again, they were watching him respond to a crisis. and that's what he did. but of course it wasn't enough because wright came back. that was an even more pair lust time for them. -- perilous time for them. >> the remarks that have caused this recent fire storm weren't simply controversial. they weren't simply a religious leaders' efforts to speak out against perceived injustice. instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country, that sees white racism as endemic and elevates what is wrong with america above all that we know is right with america. a view that sees the conflicts in the middle east as rooted primarily in the actions of stallwart allies like israel, instead of emanating from the per verse and hateful ideologies of radical islam.
as such, reverend wright's comments were not only wrong, but divisive. divisive at a time when we need unity, racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems towards a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis, and potentially devastating climate change. problems that are neither black nor white or latino or asian, but rather problems that confront us all. >> and this is one of many what you call pivot moments in the campaign. explain. guest: well, people were obviously paying attention, seeing how le responded. but here's a guy who actually wants to be a game changer. he wants to change the way politics are played. the reason i take renegade as the title of the book is not
because it's a seek red code name, but because there is something deeply unconventional about the guy, be how he wants to break the rules of politics, touching race in this way was adashese, deeply risky. look how he responded to that and how mitt romney responded to the questions about his mormon faith. this was a really head on attempt to address a loot of those issues and explain it in a pretty nuanced way. there wasn't a whole lot of sound bites on that speech. and it was tough to pull out something. so the unconventional piece of it was important. that doesn't explain everything about him because there was something deeply disciplined and conventional about him. when he wants to win. because he is so competitive. but if he needs the rules, he will play by them. there is a contradiction here.
doing this kind of speech, remember, the big controversy was why didn't he get rid of him? why didn't he act out of a desire to say, that's it, i'm going to cut him loose? of course that moment came later. but i think the combination of these two things, this rule breaking aspect with this cautious, deliberative process is really what helped him to be successful and what shapes his presidency today. host: our guest is richard woof. caller: my question this morning would be, barack, he is doing pretty much the best he can. it's going to take a long time to correct what's gone on in the last eight years. he isn't going to be make everybody happy. but as long as he is doing what's best for the united states and for the people. how long do you think it's going to take america to get right? guest: how much time do you
have? >> that's a great question. we just don't know how long things are going to take to turn around. and that's going to be the key question. if this presidency really comes to an end, it's going to be because the economy doesn't turn around quick enough and it has to turn around quick enough to make a difference in the mid-term elections. so there really isn't much time here for them to show some progress, because otherwise he is looking at a repeat of the clinton era. and if he loses authority or even majority in congress, then weakened presidency can go on for a very long time and severely curtail anything you can do. so his claim to greatness kind of lives and dies on the elections next year. host: an e-mail from gary, i've been trying to recall presidentses and their relie nt on teleprompter. is he less capable of a speecher than for which she given credit for?
>> no. she a perfectionist who doesn't have the time or asset or will power to memorize the stuff. he doesn't want to read. he obviously is pretty busy. and the teleprompter has been absolutely right, your e-mail is absolutely right. this is an unusual amount of teleprompter that he uses. it doesn't seem to have harmed him. people are responding to all of his speechers. but they've sort of taken it in stride. i think times maybe have changed. i personally don't like it. but i understand if you like to give a perfect speech why you want to have it in front of you. host: one writer tweets when will your book be available? guest: you can purchase that right now. caller: good morning, c-span, and good morning richard.
guest: good morning. caller: first, i have to compliment you on writing a fantastic book. guest: thank you. i appreciate that. >> caller: vi to preface that saying i teach political science in the high schools and it is a very detailed description of how a candidate is grown from someone who is semi-obscure and then develops, someone or a comment someone made about a prolonged primary, the development just needs to happen, especially someone who doesn't have those bona feedes or that long resume. guest: thank you. i appreciate your taking the time to read it. host: we'll go to kevin from
new york. caller: good morning. congratulations, mr. wolf, on your book. i really enjoy your appearances on msnbc. and i have one question, and one favor to ask. guest: go ahead. caller: the question is throughout the course of presidential politics, starting nixon, i realize dirty tricks is something done in politics since time in memorial. but i became aware of politics during the nixon election. but there was a mention of one perned called donald segretti. then the next suck saysor was lee atwatter who had a come upance at the end. and then there was karl rove. again, these people must be bread out in the bushes somewhere. and i'm wondering, who is the next turd blossom? who is the next one in line who
is out there in some little institute waiting to be tacked by some new presidential? now, the favor i need to ask of you, and this is a very important one. during your process of interviewing nominees in the next presidential election, anyone who comes up with a whole process of saying they're religious and like a hucka by or a palin, would you please, ask them one question for me. do they believe in the rapture? i would love to hear the answer to that. and i will take your responses off line. guest: look, this candidate, senator obama also professed to have this deep religious faith and one of the best interviews i did with him was actually with news week's religious writer and she pushed him on all of these shuss and concepts. -- issues and concepts. and she had a knowledge that i didn't and it was enlightening. you do want to push candidates.
you want to see whether they can go beyond their talking points, whether they fit to the real world or professed commitments to one or another is just a slogan. you asked about dirty tricks. i don't know who the person is but i'm sure they are out there. it's not just republican whose play these games. candidates want to win. they spend a lot of money, it is a lot of money and it's going to be even more money because what the obama campaign did. they changed the way campaigns will be operated and conducted moving forward. and if you have that much money and desire to win, someone somewhere will do something that is excessive. and in this campaign, early on the obama folks put out this press release, researched paper about clinton's fund raising from indian americans and they titled it -- they pretended it
that the senator was from punjab. obama told me that was the angriest he had ever gotten. up to that point because it was zen phobic. because he had to go and apologize to his college friends, to his personal friends who were from the indian subcontinent. so even a guy who mostly ran a positive campaign, his operation could fall into that because op ratives are designed to compete and win, democrats or republicans. maybe it's not lee atwater, but it's easy to laps. host: mary, good morning. caller: i just want to follow up with some of the comments made about the media coverage. i know there was a press conference party where mr. obama made a joke about how most people voted for him. usually in humor there's some truth. i've found that through my
personal life other places. and also you say the press coverage was largely about sara palin. that was pretty short lived before they started attacking her. and i know brian williams even asked her for her medical records. and i don't think mr. obama's medical records, educational records, birth certificate, et cetera. there are a lot of things missing that we haven't seen. and then my third point here and i guess my question is in the press conference, there was no question about the committy and the playing. i mean, it was supposed to be for publicity. for who? what was it for? >> are you talking about air force one in new york? >> i am. >> which goes to theer issue of biggest mistake thus far. can you point to anything small or big that -- guest: in the presidency so far
host: campaign or presidency. guest: i think the tom daschle situation, let's not say that the pig, but the way that developed, the way it was handled has caused them no end of problems in getting the right people in the right jobs, in defining what the line is lobbying or making money on taxes, it's become a sort of mush bowl of litmus tests for who should get what jobs and what the line is and what they're willing to defend. and i think the lack of clarity has been a serious impedment to getting this moving. in the campaign, biggest mistake, apart from losing in new hampshire, i would say not dealing with reverend wright earlier. it was luck that really got them over that line. they thought they were going to lose in indiana and north carolina. the numbers were collapsing after reverend wright's
comeback tour. that was a moment of peril for them that could have sunk the campaign and they thought that was the case. host: first, the endorsement of senator kennedy in late january of 2008. why did that come about? guest: senator obama told me that really meant a huge amount to him. why did it came about? through carolline kennedy and her conversation through her children. again this is children talking to adults. i think that was a fairly unique thing. and of course the passing of the torch aspect to it. for someone who idealized the civil rights movement as obama did, he wanted to be a community organizer because he dreamed of a civil rights movement in that era and was too late. so it was emotional for him. it was a huge deal not just because it was the kennedies, because here the party establishment was saying this is the guy to back in the
primaries. we're a long way from being over. the relationship obviously extended. carolline kennedy played a critical role. she grew very close to senior figures in the obama circle including david axel rod. and of course ted kennedy now, i think there's a determination really to get health care done and to have his name on it in part because of that emotional link. but they all want to see universal health care or something approaching it. but the personal element doing it for ted kennedy is very important. hoich but the phone calls were somewhat frosty. guest: they were. and those conversations were not just between the two. conversations going back and forth, jacques was the first establish -- jauk was the first to -- john kerry was the first. but the kennedies decided there
had always been tension between the kenddi's and the clintons, really. there was sort of a rival claim to being the spiritual leaders of the party, and that rupttur was very real and painful, at least from the clinton side. i think it was difficult for the kenddi's too. >> did the selection of joe biden surprise you? >> i will admit to being surprised. knowing that they had tensions in the senate, senator biden was the chairman of the foreign relations committee, been there for decades. he did not really treat this young senator with a big profile very well. he treated whim some disdain. and that came out in the campaign and the primary process when biden himself was a candidate. they obviously set that aside. the candidate himself, obama wanted biden from the get go. the press unfolded. he was frustrated with the shortness of the short list. and while biden was his pick, i
think he wanted something more. and look at them today. biden generally is they think inside the white house that his heart is in the right place but his mouth often isn't. and that indiscipline which has come out post election has been a problem, has been a source of tension. when you have a very, very disciplined president. though during the campaign they thought he did a fabulous job of completing what he was setting out to do, which was reaching older white working folks in the rust belt states. host: good morning. caller: good morning. afe couple of questions for mr. wolf and then i will make a comment. i would like to ask him where he comes from. it appears he has an english accent. how long has he been in the country? where was he educated at? and is he a citizen? host: your question? caller: mr. obama comes out of the most corrupt political system in the united states, which is chicago, cook county.
the other system that was more corrupt was in the 20's and 30's and so i think the country ought to know what type of a system this man comes out of. guest: background, sure. i was born in england, raised there, educated there, went to oxford university. came out to "washington post"ed by the financial times and then moved from the early this week. so that makes three presidential election that is i've covered. the proud father of three american children. look, he's a chicago politician. but as people in the circle tell me there are two strands to chicago politics and illinois politics. there is the reformists and the party machine. and obama was never part of the party machine. in fact, he lost his first
national race as it were, his race for the house of representatives in 2000 because he was bad at that kind of machine and ethnic politics that really characterizes chicago. he lost to bobby rush. it was a disaster rust race for him personally and politically. when he ran for senate later even his own friends last. you lost the race for the house, how can you be serious? of course he proved everyone wrong there. >> we are showing the photograph. we have a tweet, how was the cover photo chosen? >> i chose it. after a back and forth about five different covers. we wanted a couple of things. for start, everyone is familiar with him and his smiley face and i didn't think it was appropriate to have a smiley barack obama even though it's popular and would have fit better. i wanted a picture that showed him at work. so i love the fact that his
sleeves were rolled up. this was taken by the best photograph i have ever worked with, works at newsweek. i think charles is probably somewhere around knee height so it's taken from below and it's a small press conference on a hot day. at that moment, then candidate obama was saying how he opposed offshore drilling, a position he did flip flop on. so to the earlier caller there were some. >> there were a couple of moments in which the race tightened between john mccain and barack obama. for the most part he was ahead or slightly ahead in the fall campaign. there was one moment though that i want to share with you at the al smith dinner, the tradition for the party nominees. this took place october 15th in new york city. this is senator john mccain. >> now, a copy of the senator's comedy routine was left on the table this evening.
and i have to confess, i looked at it. now, of course it would be unfair and even a little unkind to put my opponent on the spot before he gets up here. or to throw him off his game with unreasonably high expectations. but i do need to warn you, ladies and gentlemen, you are all about to witness the funniest performance in the state. in the 63 year history of this event. let's not add to the mounting pressure he must be feeling. prepare yourself for nonstop hill laret. the funniest 15 minutes of your life or any other.
i think he knows that anything short of that would mar the evening, insult our hosts, and perhaps even cost him several swing states. senator obama, the microphone is all yours. >> i have to say tonight's venue isn't really what i'm used to. i was originally told we could move this outdoors to yankee stadium. can somebody tell me what happened to the greek columns that i requested? [applause] the president's better half, senator hillary clinton is also here. and i'm glad to see you made it, hillary. i'm glad to see that you made it becau