tv Newsmakers Ben Ray Lujan CSPAN February 11, 2018 6:00pm-6:33pm EST
new mexico. followed by former vice president joe biden speaking to house democrats at a recent conference on capitol hill. president trump speaks with law enforcement about combating ms-13 gang violence. at 8:00, doug mills talks about his experience covering the trump administration on q&a. steve: joining us is ben ray lujan, he represents new mexico's third congressional district. and the chair of the democratic campaign committee. thank you very much for being with us. joining us is the washington david wigle for the washington post and alayna scheiner from politico. let me begin with news this past week that you are getting 101 house seats to expand a pickup in the midterm election. how much is that going to cost you? how much money, how much resources we put into this? rep. lujan: we set a very
aggressive budget. most importantly with the strategy behind the battlefield, i made a commitment to not concede one inch to our republican colleagues. everywhere we see opportunities, we will continue to expand. we will raise investments and most of the districts across the country. we need over 60 of these districts to be competitive. by growing the battlefield and expanding into areas that republicans are surprised by, by not just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks, we are looking at candidate's strength and how we have been able to out raise republicans. also polling is on our side in many of these districts. we will continue to go to the battlefield. don't be surprised if it grows beyond 101 districts. the one thing i would like to highlight is it's not just 101 districts we have identified. 99 of the 101 have credible candidates in them. we're still recruiting and we will continue through the
filing. we will continue to build resources. to out raiseable the rncc by $20 million in 2017. one of the secrets we have is we made a substantial investment in our online grassroots fundraising. 60% now comes from grassroots supporters. the average contribution is $18. we believe we will have the resources we need to compete in those districts even though the trump brothers, president paul ryan super pac have donated , hundreds of millions of dollars to their efforts. we will have the resources to compete. with the dnc in debt, what is the price tag you are putting on this for 2018? rep. lujan: i think the goal we have is to pass a very aggressive budget of $250 million that we believe based on how we can make investments and how we can work with our candidates to make sure those dollars stretch as far as they
can will give us the edge we need to compete. at the end of the third quarter, 35 of our democratic challengers outraised republicans. at the end of the fourth quarter, as many as 54 democratic challengers outraise republicans. we have an edge. we know these republican super pac's are out there that will be well-financed. that's no surprise. in the day and age of citizens united it's also part of what , makes people disgusted with what sampling with citizens united and this pouring in it outside secret money. elaina you rattled off some rosy : statistics for you guys for fundraising. as you mentioned, democrats out outraised those incumbents. can it's been sending
fundraising on the democratic side. you have been hesitant to call this a democratic wave in 2018. given the statistics you just listed and the results we've seen out of virginia and new jersey, are you ready to call this a wave? rep. lujan: i will let people describe it in the colorful way they can. from the get go going into this year, the history is on our side as democrats. the data is on our side. the energy demonstrated from the women's march all the way to where we are today is on our side as well. i see a clear path to winning the majority. i never said it would be easy. that's the way we are taking our approach, with the expansiveness of our battlefield, credible candidates that are out there i , think our chances are great. i am more and more optimistic every day. but i'm not going to shy away from the clear challenges that are out there. i think it's important for our supporters at the grassroots to understand what we're up against. we all have to do our part. i would argue if we all do our part, we will win back the house.
elena you see it as a failure if : you don't retake the house in 2018? rep. lujan: it's always a failure if we don't get our goal. i know we will win seats. it's going to be tough because of the gerrymandered districts we are up against and the outside republican money will be a challenge. even with that, the structural advantage we have based on the data in the polling, it gives democrats and inherent advantage to win back the house. also the retirements of some very popular republican incumbents, even with mr. royce in california, those are seats that republicans did not have on their maps they have to defend. that's going to cost them a lot of money and a couple of those republicans have not been able to find a credible republican candidate as well. that bodes well for us. i never said this would be easy and we have a lot of work cut out for us. we are working to make sure we get the job done.
steve how significant was the : ruling in pennsylvania to redraw the maps in that state? rep. lujan: what i appreciate is it was the right one. the maps in pennsylvania were deemed unconstitutional. the maps also in wisconsin, north carolina and texas have been deemed unconstitutional. but the u.s. supreme court has put those on hold. that's a conversation for another day. the state of pennsylvania has an understanding and an observation that the maps are unconstitutional. we will ultimately see what is presented. i believe in gerrymandered states like pennsylvania, for -- where democrats overwhelmingly have an advantage with voter performance but a structural disadvantage of 13 republicans to five democrats. to 99, which is a fair map, that is a plus four pickup. i think that's credible and substantial and helps us with their maps to win back the majority.
david speaking of pennsylvania, : there is a competitive race in the pennsylvania 18th district coming up in a month from when we are talking. in the first case, republicans are spending about $2 million for each of those seats. why is it not more invested in that race? -- rep. lujan: when we look at these districts, it should worry republicans, even with the special elections we were not successful with, house races this last year they , were all deep red seats that were identified by president trump that he had selected for the map. they had to spend tens of millions of dollars trying to defend those seats. that did not bode well for them. the margins shrunk from that. when you look at virginia, new jersey, all of the other special elections with down ballot races since then it does not bode well , for republicans.
the 18th district in pennsylvania president trump won , the district by 20 points. governor romney and senator mccain won with more than 15. this should be another slamdunk district for republicans. but they have a weak candidate and we have an incredible candidate, a federal prosecutor and marine. guess the community and he's running his own race. that is where you see the investment. he has support from everyone he needs support from. he's making the case with his supporters. i think that's why he is in striking distance of pulling an upset. it's a tough district, very deep red and challenging. but nonetheless because of his , story and his ability to connect with constituents at have the ability to connect, i think that's why we see the numbers shrink. same thing in arizona given that's a district that should be a slamdunk for republicans. arguably it's the most , republican of the seats held by our colleagues in arizona.
why are they putting resources there? they are worried about something. nonetheless i think that's indicative of we are seen going into 2018. if we are playing in districts where president trump won by 20 points, that map is very expensive and we are optimistic. david: you ran this committee in 2016. a lot of campaigns tied republicans to president trump. a lot of republicans like ron bloom and jason lewis feeling that backfired. how do they feel that backfired? what to do learn about how to run against trump? what mistakes did you make? rep lujan: the american people are very familiar with his mistakes. democrats are running against house republicans and we will litigate that case. i think you see the american people are tired of talking about this president. our candidates are going to be talking about what is most important to the american
people around the kitchen table. if we can continue to do that, all republicans struggle to explain by president trump is under one investigation and scandal after another that follows him that's what they , will have to explain. we are going to talk about real issues. elaine: connecticut quick follow up? you're not ready to commit money to that special election or are you still looking at it? rep lujan: i think, lamb is running his campaign and will have sport he needs. because of the strength he has out there, he is been able to communicate. it's taken all of these super pac's and outside money to give him a lift. that's indicative of the strength of him versus the public and it challenger and we will continue to see how he does. connor lamb is holding his own. he is making the case. i think he is the strongest voice we could have reaching out to the good people of the 18th district and pennsylvania.
steve as you know, the special : election is a month away. there is an ad that ties connor lamb to the house democratic leader nancy pelosi. [video] >> how do we know he is a pelosi liberal? lamb opposed your tax cut and defended obamacare. he worked in the obama administration which put illegal immigrants who commit crimes back on the street. and negotiated the iranian deal that gave billions to the leading funder of terrorism. lamb and pelosi. too liberal on it too many issues. congressional leadership fund is responsible for this advertising. steve: alayna? they have decided to distance themselves from nancy pelosi. they have said they want new leadership and not heard necessarily as leader of the party. as you mentioned, you are going to be pushing into a republican -leaning district.
when a candidate says i'm unadjusted and supporting nancy pelosi, what do you say to them? what do you think that says about the state of your party's leadership right now? rep. lujan: canids are running races across the country. they know the voices they will speak to through their constituency. leader pelosi, no one works smarter around the clock. republicans have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to discredit her. being a leader is a tough job. whoever is in that spot is going to be the beneficiary of republican attacks to denigrate those leaders. i think that is something leader pelosi understands. nonetheless, we know we need to win district across the country. we trust our candidates. our candidates know their districts better than anyone else. we will work with them to assure they have the resources to connect with their constituencies. in the end if democrats can win back the house, we will restore checks and balances and keep an eye on this administration.
most importantly we are working to earn back the trust of the american people. it has been shattered and shaken and we have a lot of work to do to restore the faith. david no one who is running for : the house will have money withheld by you if they won't support pelosi? that is not a condition for the candidate?ting a rep. lujan: i was asked a similar question by a few journalists. my response to them is the same to you. we will make investments to win these districts across the country. that is not something that will prevent me from making a -- an investment in these districts. rahm emanuel ran and endorsed candidate who lost a primary. they stepped investing in that race for the general election. there are races where an insurgent is raising more money than the candidate. which you consider that new candidate if they beat your
candidate on the radar? rep. lujan: they have structural advantages. whether it is financial resources, grassroots support for endorsements. i will continue to stand by the endorsement with red to blue as identifying the most competitive seats across the country. i believe they are the strongest candidates, number the one. battlefield is 100 to 1 strong. we need to see where we can make investments across the country and which districts for real. after the primaries, we continue to assess. i would argue based on the structural disadvantages the republicans have with history and data, we will be able to play in these districts. we will evaluate them one by one, primary after primary. david: it is possible that somebody wins the primary and you can put the resources elsewhere? rep. lujan: if we see that nominee can be a republican, it will be a race we look at and will make investments. we will evaluate one at a time.
elena: congressman rick nolan of minnesota represents the district that act trump heavily by 20 points to he plans on retiring. he will not seek reelection in can you speak to the 12 2018. democrats who are running in districts that trump won by enormous margins. how are you advising them? how should they be running differently than those that run in suburban districts? rep. lujan: there's not a member with more dignity and grit than congressman rick nolan. the way he approaches the conversation and reaches out to work with people is an example that we can all learn from. rick is someone i will continue to learn from. i am honored to call him a friend and colleague your but his district is an example where there was a shift to president trump. we also saw president obama won in 2008 and 2012.
senator klobuchar won by all 70 points in 2012. we will continue to see this district as a competitive district. rick nolan won under the toughest of circumstances. both in 2014 and 2016. even up against the wall, republicans were able to make inroads here. that is the environment we are in. the history of the data on our side, i'm confident we will hold this district. in most districts across the country, especially those that were won by donald trump, just yesterday 21 districts moved that were won by president trump that are held by republican. they all went our way. i think that's indicative of what you are seeing quick democratic seats as well. the trendlines continue to be the same. i never said it would be easy. these districts are no exception.
david some candidates and : income is like stephen lynch have voiced concerns of being connected with consultants and spending a lot of money that you don't need. are you doing anything to shrink the margins the consultants are getting? rep. lujan: stephen lynch is someone i expect very much. he has a special place in my heart. my father was also an ironworker. when i hear stephen speak to me, it's like hearing my father speak. it is like family. his call, his advice and questions matter to me very much. from a consultant perspective, i think it's important that these democratic committees earn the trust of the grassroots organizers across the country. people need to see themselves in us. if they don't, they will not
best we will not get their trust back. it's the energy that we see town to town and neighborhood to neighborhood that will put us over the top this election cycle. we have to shake things up this past year. we always do a postmortem. we also have colleagues chip in and help out. we implemented recommendations this year. by january of 2017, including the buyers that will be reaching out and connecting with the american people on our behalf. also the way the consultants were going to be compensated. this wasn't always welcome by all the consultants doing the work. i think it's important that consultants that win races and lose races are not compensated the same. the advice from mr. lynch and many of our colleagues has been implemented. i think we are stronger because of it. elena: you have a number of crowded primaries, particularly in california where you've got half dozen candidates who are against each other. you are the zynga director -- the executive director and have
said the dccc is able to intervene and i think he means through money in these primaries. at this where do you see the point primaries, particularly in california that could be locked out because of the top two system? are there any particular you are watching? what shall we take from those investments? rep. lujan: i appreciate you bringing our executive director. he is a strategist knows how to , roll of his sleeves and win races. i'm really honored he accepted the responsibility to be the executive director. many people across the spectrum , even our republican counterparts recognize his work here in number i agree with him. two, when you go back and look at one of our colleagues races, pete aguilar, we were not successful in getting him elected by providing support to him. it was the first time dccc was
humbled with this jumbled primary system in california. it turns out the top two people that perform in the primary make it to the general. if you don't have a democrat in the top two, you are locked out. we learn from that. we provided support to pete aguilar, a stellar member of the house of representatives. i see a great future in his leadership in our caucus. this lifecycle, something went unnoticed. another primary in a crowded jumbled primary. we went in and provided support to carbajal. that candidate continues to lock the race in. the work he is doing reaching out to the families of them devastated by fires in his district in california is an example. what we learned we will continue to look at these races. the retirements with darrell issa and ed royce, the math has changed.
you know have several republicans and many more democrats in these races. we have to be in the top two or we don't have a chance of winning. we will continue to look at these races, work with the california delegation and have conversations with the incredible grassroots groups we have partnerships and relationships with. over 200 in the state of california. we will work together to make sure only do we have a democrat in the top two, that we can win these districts in november. steve the republicans are going : to run on a strong economy and national security and the return of leader pelosi as speaker of the house. in a proper sticker or sentence, what is the democratic message this year? rep. lujan: we are showing the american people that we have their back. what we have seen and bill after bill, looking at republican attempts to repeal the affordable care act, republicans actually delivered was higher premiums and higher deductibles and higher out-of-pocket costs.
you counter with what democrats want to do and lowering costs to make things better for the american people. this tax scam that promise to prioritize the middle class across america delivered a tax giveaway to corporations and the top 1%. why did 83% go to them and the other 99% live with the rest. what makes it to middle-class families, it just doesn't add up. i recognize something is they are but the split is wrong. it is upside down and the , american people see through this scam. actions speak louder than words. when republican colleagues are making anti-promises and not fulfilling them, democrats are coming to earn that trust and talk about better jobs, better wages and a better future. steve would you admit that the : economy is strong today? rep. lujan: it continues to build on the success over the previous seven years. we will continue to reach out and talk to the american people. what is not happening is under
republican leadership, their decisions and the policies they are advocating are hurting middle-class families. they are not helping middle-class families. republicans continue to say they will put them first, but their actions are hurting those families. what is going to come next? republicans took us further into debt and they are going to go after medicare and medicaid and go after social security. safety nets for seniors. doingicans aren't also things to help millennials. i think there is an amazing , and that's opportunity for -- immense opportunity for democrats to connect with those values and earn the trust to show that we have their backs. david: what is your message to somebody who may have been critical of the tax bill and they are getting a higher check? should they think it democrats went congress, they will lose the tax break they got this year? rep. lujan: what republicans promised was they would prioritize middle-class families. they did not. i recognize something is there.
even paul ryan when he was trying to sell this, he had a chance to put a tweet out there that a woman was getting $1.50 more a week. i get that is something. but speaker ryan and house republicans don't understand that that is not fair. it doesn't add up. we need to fix many of the flaws that were in this tax scam. it was not tax reform promised by republican colleagues. why would these corporate giveaways made permanent and the middle-class tax cuts were not? why was the split 83% to the top 1% the other 13% went to the american people. that is not right. what you see from democrats is we will reverse that. middle-class families should be prioritized. the other giveaway was to corporations with benefits and incentives to offshore american jobs. that shouldn't be the case. there should be an incentive to
bring jobs to the united states. not a disincentive to. we need to make sure the american people can retire with dignity. the last thing is the assault they delivered that is going to raise premiums on health care. it is something we will continue to highlight. i would argue it is something we need to address. steve: in our meeting minute, elena schneider. elena: the you think the message on where you feel like the tax bill is not circling down. you are seeing this against them. president trump's numbers of gone up a little it. is the message not getting through? rep. lujan: whats not trickling down is the economic benefit. it's a failed theory. it is a cancer that continues to hurt america. my republican colleagues are celebrating that president trump is now in the 40's. think about that. he continues to be the most
unpopular president in history. i remind us that no president under 50 has ever picked up seats in their first midterm. i think that does not bode well. in the end all this data and the history matters. it opens the door. but it does not win elections. we need to continue as democrats and are candidates to connect with the american people and talk about the we are going to do. there are enough reasons to vote against the other side. devoting his this president and paul ryan and house republicans. we need to lean in and show them a reason to vote for someone. and a book or something. -- and to vote for something. that's what we will continue to do. steve we will conclude on that : note. congressman ben ray lujan thank , you for being with us. we continue the conversation. david, let's begin with the democratic message. i question is what is it? ,david: it's complicated.
we asked about the messaging. he mentioned millennials. you cannot mention particular issues like student loan payments. democrats worked pretty hard to craft a bunch of policies they would put in place if elected. they can't punch through the news cycle. they were more successful by making the tax-cut unpopular at the time. i think you republicans were surprised it passed with 25% support. i get the sense they are waiting closer to the election and we will see premium increases and -- and october. -- in october. it's tricky to run in a time of economic prosperity as the change party. it was unsuccessfully in 2006 when they ran against the iraq war. if you hear them not being coherent, they are waiting it. we have seen it before. a message does not survive more than three or four hours in the trump new cycle. elena: the republicans have a simple traditional message.
,we cut your taxes, send us back to congress. that's why they were so panicked. they were concerned that might not happen. if you did not happen they would , have nothing to run on. it's not to say they don't have to chip away at the popularity of the tax reform bill, which they have proved they can. we've seen them bounce back. but republican still have a clear and simple message. democrats are going to have to figure out a way to punch through the message. stephen how big is the pelosi : issue? going the people who are to tell you all the special elections have been in places trump won by a lot. like it montana or pennsylvania, where he won by a little like in georgia. they think that's overstated. i don't agree. taking away all of the associations of liberalism and obamacare, you're asking for a change election that would put a leader who's been there for 16
years back in power. elena: she represents all the stereotypes that people have about democrats. she's from san francisco. she is a liberal, progressive and in charge for a long time. in contrast paul ryan, although , his numbers have taken a hit, and because he speaker the , leaders always take a hit in poll numbers. easily from wisconsin, middle america. he's not from a deep southern state. he's not evangelical. that would fit with office -- with all the stereotypes people have about republicans. david the republicans messaging : on pelosi, the user for everything you they focus on her calling as follows benefit from the tax bill for middle income people crumbs. they focus on that by saying she's a rich person from san francisco. she does not think when thousand dollars israel money. that's not what she was saying. someone else is not wealthy and
from san francisco can make it more clear. you are talking about why did corporations get the gigantic tax-cut and others get a smaller one? they are so comfortable as attacking her as a rich elitist. democrats don't appreciate how many vulnerabilities she has. steve they are so comforable will attacking her as a rich elitist. democrats don't appreciate how many vulnerabilities she has. >> at the same time there is an democrats that want to distance themselves with pelosi and say things like i'm not going to support her when i go to congress. it puts into question - if they do flip the house, where is the leadership race. it opens up an avenue for democrats who are running in these districts to show that they are going to do something different when they come to
congress. >> tucson the congressman, it's not a condition. we will support you. ted murphy that had to step a test case to see how that works. >> yes. absolutely. connor lamb has come out much, he has said he would want new leadership in congress. if he is able to make that message clear to his voters, absolutely. it gets closer, this is a district that trump won by 20 points. if he loses by two or three, that would be just as much of a reason for republicans to panic win.hey were to >> david, last word. there eight years ago, was an election, democrats won by eight points in john murtha's seat. the nt back and looked at celebrations. this was the majority stronger. republicans had no chance of winning. they might overstate the value of holding that seat, even if they do. whatever the margin is, but lamb's messaging is not just
anti-parihan but what you heard from here, republicans cut taxes because they want to cut social security and medicare. that's a strong message. it might be boring to some of us, he will stay competitive for that message. win or lose, people might overrate that race. messaging, and how much that moved people who voted for trump. to volt for a democrat. >> your work is available online at the washington post, "pot na shnighter at ittico.com. thank you for being with us on "newsmakers."
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