tv Newsmakers Alex Smith CSPAN August 3, 2018 9:58pm-10:34pm EDT
we have had terrible political times. >> there was one role in 1858 -- one brawl that had 80 members rolling around on the floor fighting one another. pulled hismembers wig off during the fight. someone else yelled " they him"t -- they sculpalped that was enough to stop the fight. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. the of the coming up next on newsmakers, alex smith from "america rising," talks about the upcoming midterm elections. how dataiscussion on
coryfecting -- submitters booker, senators kamala harris and elizabeth warren are among some of the speakers. >> joining us from new york on c-span's "newsmakers" program is alexandra smith, the executive director of the pac "america rising." here in washington with the questions, james homan, national political reporter for the "washington post," and al weaver, he covers politics for "washington examiner." at the outset, let us talk about the organization. what is your mission and what role do you plan to play in the midterm elections? tox: our sole purpose is fight and defeat the democrats. we are the gop's premier opposition research organization . we spend countless hours reviewing videotape, going out in the field ourselves, reading countless pages of
material to really shape the narrative on democratic candidates. in the 2018 cycle, we will be playing the same role as we had in our inception during 2013. we will look at democratic targets, particularly our friends running in the trump states, the 10 democratic senators running in states that 2016, along with a host of other house and state candidates. america rising really covers it all. does opposition research include following candidates around with cameras, monitoring every statement they make, every media appearance behalf? alex: it does. there is a caricature of opposition research, you can either go with the very sexy james bond type caricature, or you can think about it as dumpster diving, neither of which are true. really, the opposition research
that we do is take all of the information that a public citizen -- an average citizen, could access and put together a narrative format. we use devices like the freedom of information requests, we follow candidates with cameras at public events to capture what they are saying, to see if it is different from what they have said on the record elsewhere. we are doing what any citizen could do, we are just doing it in a very organized and .ethodical way host: you are also doing a lot 2020. how does your america rising experience in the 2016 cycle hel ship your approach? it seems that you are starting very early and aggressive? alex: we started in march 21, 2013, the first day of the first page of what would become a 1000 page research book on hillary
clinton. we had researchers from that very day particularly dedicated to just researching hillary clinton, evaluating all her public statements, going out into the field and doing research, at libraries, courthouses, where ever we needed to go to compile this incredible document that was used throughout the gop ecosystem in the 2016 campaign. america rising was there when hillary clinton started her book tour. if you remember the shadow campaign that she had started when she was going around the country and talking about her book, america rising was there with the freedom of information showed for example, that that she had made huge sums of of speaking at taxpayer-funded universities. we were also the ones to be unwinding the very complex ties between the clinton foundation and the state department. so, we were there early and often, which i think was the
lesson from 2016. -- it is nothink one anymore that simply gaff or instance defines a candidate, you really need to build that narrative. that 2016 is way in forming efforts is starting the process early. unfortunately for us. , we have many more candidates evaluating, although, bernie sanders definitely can mother in 2016 and our researchers work getting information compound on him. in 2020 -- information compiled on him. in 2020, we have candidates from running.e spectrum whether it is traditional candidates like elizabeth warren or nontraditional candidates like ceos like howard schultz, we are really seeing a huge field starting to develop in 2020. james, we see to
that there are already running. they are very much in the game, taking positions now, which is causing a lot of heartache for those 2018 democrats who are trying to survive in those red states. hasamerica ris rising studied our initiative which involves the tracking and , field research that will go into ultimately developing the books and the entire compendium on these various individuals. we already have a dedicated team that just looked at 2020, if you can believe it. our 2018 researchers busy themselves on work on the house and senate side. >> how weaver joins us from the washington examiner, he covers politics. the manyentioned candidates who will be running 2020.
you mentioned the opposition book on hillary clinton, i would like to get into that a little bit. how many opposition books do you plan to come out with in 2020? how many candidates are you looking into as you begin this endeavor? what does that look like? tox: i think we will looking anybody who expresses interest in running, including traditional and nontraditional candidates. anything, itt us is that president trump was able an otherwisegh very traditional group of politicians, and ultimately win the republican nomination. it wouldnow, i think be unwise of us to simply look at elizabeth warren or cory booker. i would say at this point, we are really eyeing about a dozen books that will be looking to seriously -- that we will be looking to produce. we are not limited to that obviously. if interest fades in certain candidates or interest perks up in certain others, we are
certainly interested in expanding that. we announced our 2020 initiative two weeks ago. we will be going around the country asking donors to contribute to this very important effort for america said, inecause as i 2016, the lesson we took from that was defending hillary clinton early and often, was the key to making her an absolutely unacceptable alternative. host: are you also looking at republicans, such as ohio governor john kasich or arizona senator jeff flake? alex: our only mission is to focus on the democrats and defeating them in the general .lections james: you mentioned a dozen. who do you think is a most overrated democrat in terms of electability and also the most
underrated in terms of those not much out there to hit them on? locali will start with initiatives we launched prior to our 2020 initiative. we had started with elizabeth after 2016,ink that she was perhaps the most aggressive in making it known that she wanted to run for president. america rising was actually the first to obtain a copy of her book through our trackers in the field, which i don't think she was very pleased about, because we released excerpts ahead of the, so it sort of took wind out of her sales in the initial book pitch. at elizabethooking warren, we have been following her and tracking her and she is undoubtedly taking positions that are way to the left of where i think most of the country is, and she is bringing the rest of the field along with her in many ways. i think she is someone who is
absolutely interested in running, she is attempting to create this brand of herself, she is using it for every cause out there, whether it is talking about pride month, or the boston marathon, she is doing her best to make it her own, with the unique tohat is elizabeth warren and the elizabeth warren store, i might add. another person we focused on last year around this time was cuomo. the reason we looked at him was of a slick, he is governor of one of the larger states in the country, he had a funny $5 million war chest at the time we launched our initiative. he is also someone who faced a challenge in the 2018 primary an unexpected challenge. he has of course been primary by faced inixon -- he was the primary by cynthia and extend, which i think is
devastating to andrew cuomo, who i think try to desperately to throughout the 2017 to shed some of the progressive criticisms of him. he dripped his arm around bernie sanders and talk about free tuition. he has been trying to put himself out there as a more progressive candidate, because he kind of has a rep for being more establishment, not playing well with the 2016 democratic primary process. and out of nowhere comes cynthia nixon. only -- sheng not is showcasing the fact that his positions are not as progressive as people would like them to be, i think, in the democratic merry base, but he is also showing a think, what thin skin he has. -- democratic primary base. but i think he is also showing what thin skin he has, he has a real issue talking to the press.
he frequently gets angry in the face of tough questions. i am not sure how well that attitude would play out in iowa, 2019-20 so20. certain people have advanced and in some ways, retreated. >> how thankful are you guys for cynthia nixon? alex: [laughter] she has been a source of great joy and great fun in america rising, particularly during that new york democratic convention, ago.ple of months our research team, and i mean this genuinely, had so much fun watching this. because what we saw play out was right inke a mini 2016 new york state. you had sort of the establishment that was shoving andrew cuomo through, of course, the presumptive favorite, as was hillary clinton and this insurgency candidacy from
cynthia nixon coming out there from the activists who were in the crowd as well. so, when tom perez, the dnc chair got up at the convention after vowing after 2016, not to get involved in primary battles and endorsed andrew cuomo, [laughter] i think you could hear an audible gasp from the america rising war room. we were all pretty shocked about that, but also pretty elated. we had a lot of fun about that. i think it is good for cynthia nixon, for showcasing andrew cuomo for who he is, which is a very small person, someone who really has a lot to answer for in terms of the corrupt ties he has in his state and state contracts. there is a lot going on with andrew cuomo. >> you obviously have successfully used cynthia nixon to highlight andrew cuomo's problems on the left. one of your initiatives is sort
of trying to sew the division in the democratic civil war. alex: us? no. [laughter] ames gorman can highlight how huge a factor it will be in ?he campaigns alex: i think it will be a huge factor. when you look at the field of candidates, people like senator elizabeth warren, cory booker, senator gillibrand, senator kamala harris, neither of them are traditional candidates senator: the kind of look like a homogenous group. some like senator gillibrand used to be a blue dog democrat, and senator cory booker who has ties to bain capital and previously defended them, then you have kamala harris who was
-- i think he she has some ties to corporate issues in california, her background in makes some oft them was problematic for some other progressives out there. you have a group that is largely taking the same position. so i think a great example of this is the refusal to take corporate money. elizabeth warren was first out there with that. she declared early that she was not going to take donations from corporations. had kirstenow, you gillibrand many moons later come out with a very random facebook video where she said, i am not taking corporate contributions. so, cory booker not to be undone, he must've been breathless, his people must've been running to get a video camera together. he gets other a couple hours later and says, i want either! and kamala harris's on stage, this is a live stream on america
rising that we were watching at a pretty sleepy hour for the rest of the country, we were watching this, and somebody asked senator harris, would he be taking corporate contributions? and she says, well, it depends. yet another siren moment for america rising remember the meeting we went into action and put the video out there. she wasweeks later, forced to retreat and say, no, no, no, i will not do it. so we have this group of people who are all the same, presumably, on this issue. except now, it is really getting -- thee new oss of -- ho nuances of, help you or are you on this issue? for example, senator cory booker took quentin missions from the pac.ance where do they get their contributions from?
from corporations. how pure was that pledge, corey come away you are taking conjugations from the insurance they're all really turn to fit themselves into what they think progressives will want in 2020. i think it is a good illustration of how the race for the left works. i think certainly in terms of issues, medicare for all -- this was a prominent bernie sanders proposal, which now we know from costercator center, will us $32 trillion over 10 years. i mean, this is just like -- [laughter] is 30 extreme for most americans. but you know, you have bernie sanders out there with this proposal. -- it is pretty extreme for most americans. almost all of the 2020 hopefuls have tried to hang their star on the proposal as well, so we see aese issues, there is demonstrable attempt to shed past associations with anything that might be considered
establishment or mainstream, or even conservative. adopt flagrant attempt to a new position that is more liberal and progressive. there is alsodly, a deeper position in your party. we saw that play out with the koch brothers, president trump is very critical of them. tosaw a potential challenge the president from governor kasich and senator jeff flake. as you look at the democrats come at your own party is also facing some internal divisions as well? alex: these divisions are not new to the republican party. watching the 2016 presidential primary process play out, chief among the examples of that. these aren't new. -- what is that the different about the democrats, and again, that is our sole focus, i spend my days watching democrats, not republicans these
that-- what i would say is this paradigm is no when looking at the democrats. it is amusing to have such a wide field of candidates moving so markedly to the left. where is i think the divisions within the heat, although they there,l and they are they are not so much unexpected. where's the democratic party i think, is breaking in ways that are a little bit new to our political ecosystem, here. al: who is the one democrat that keeps you up at night, if anybody does. but you arey -- concerned about? alex: may all keep me up at night, i cannot keep their voices out of my head, i am always watching them. [laughter] at an think i have one democrat yet who has presented himself or
thatlf as someone who is viable as a contender? . i think what keeps republicans up at night more is the unexpected, the x-factor. is there a nontraditional candidate who just like in the 2016 republican field can come in and totally upend what the democrats are trying to accomplish, through more traditional channels. i want to say is a policy matter, it does keep me up at night the idea that we are marching so far to the left, that someone who will eventually be the standardbearer for the number credit party will be a for thepositions -- democratic party, will be adopting positions that are so far outside the mainstream. -- forre deeply about someone who cares about the size of the national debt and the size of government, i worry
about the kind of standard bearers the democrats will produce in 2020. >> but another trillion dollars was added to the depth and supported by the republicans? alex: look, as someone concerned about the debt, that was a legitimate criticism, and something that as a younger person, i absolutely had concerns about. but we are talking about i think -- what democrats are trying to do here is a fundamental redefinition of who we are as americans. look no further than the dsa, there are increasingly playing a role in these primaries, their membership has grown tremendously. i think what the democratic socialist have done, is try to rebrand the failed soviet style socialism into this shiny new packaging. they think that it is going to full everyone. look no further than venezuela to see socialism's great failures, even in present day.
so i think that what i do worry about is a paradigm shift on the left that is taking the country -- the democratic socialists for example, support o abolishing the senate, a position that is totally antithetical to our system of government. i think it is just really this shift.us paradigm >> there are obviously a lot of places where you cannot hit democrats. -- in some ofrats these red states, you have obviously, 10 democratic senators who are up for reelection in states that the president carried. the you think about how president sucks up all the oxygen, how hard does it make it to place negative stories about a joe donnelly or a heidi heitkamp, or a joe manchin, given that these stories have it ?omes so much more nationalized
is it harder than in 2014 or 2016? naturalizationhe of the best the nationalization of the presidency and what is going on in washington, is somewhat confined to the washington bubble just because i think -- i am from pennsylvania originally, so i have a lot of , inly and friends ekholm the county where the president was last night -- family and , and some ofhome my family and friends who work to time obama voters who ended president.or the whenever i get a chance, i ask them what they think is going on, what it is they feel about what is happening in america today. i think in terms of what is going on day today in washington and the latest controversy or is notest tweet, that necessarily the case out there in these red states. i think what the voters in these states, what i hear most often from family and friends and other people, other political
operatives that i work with, is that there is a real desire from the constituents in these red states to have their democratic senators work with the president, reach across the aisle, work with him. them, tosanship behind out.lly reach in some of these places like in missouri for example, with senator claire mccaskill, she is somebody who voted against the confirmation of justice gorsuch. people who were voting had the supreme court as their top issue, they voted heavily for trump. this is a big reason why people voted. she voted against justice gorsuch and against repealing obama care, against the tax cuts and jobs act. now, it is looking like the confirmation of judge kavanagh,. we don't really know where she is on that i find it really hard -- we don't really know what she that.
i find it hard to understand how she will go back to her constituents, or even someone like bill nelson, in florida, how they will go back to their constituents and say, yes i may to washington -- i went to washington and made a difference on your behalf. there was a clear signal in 2016, for both parties, i think 2016 was distinctly not about partisanship. both parties, whether it was the bernient candidacy of sanders or that of donald trump, both parties were tired of washington as usual. >> something is about 2018, you mentioned how you obviously do not train your fire on republicans at all or anything like that. races,rioritization of you look at arizona, mississippi, brother could be republicans in the general election who are not necessarily desirable for major slots of the republican party.
mcconnell allies, people like that area and are there races not america rising will play in, such as if a republican gets into the race, for example kelly in arizona, do have races where you are not playing so much in? standpoint, wec are solely focused on the democrats. rather than looking at the democrats in the primary process, which is of great interest to us, we are not really looking at the republican primaries. although, we do see them playing out and we are looking at them. in terms of where our resources go, it goes where the right? ace is, we are focused like a laser on the democrats, not so much on the republican primaries. james: i guess my point is, if you have the opportunity to shift resources from arizona if
kelly ward or somebody gets through the primary, to a place like north dakota or missouri or something like that, is that something that is on the table for you guys? alex: of course, you know, resources are finite and we will put them where they will be of great use. i think this has been sort of an unpredictable cycle in so many ways. . there have been surprises in some of these primaries, a lot of fluctuations after 2016. so i think those are judgment calls that we will make into the really late fall, looking at the viability of different candidates and the state of the races, and looking at where will send our resources. host: alex smith, executive ." ector of "america rising former chair of the college republicans, we thank you for being with us here on it newsmakers. alex: thank you so much for having me. host: james, she mentioned
democratic socialists. what was your reaction? james: they want to emphasize the division and the democratic party, and as you know, there -- obviously seven wars civil war is going on in the democratic party. my take away from listening is she washink -- even criticizing the president and republicans on deficits and a host of different things, sort of nodding that these disagreements existed, but saying that the real story is the divisions on the democratic side. i think that telegraphs the shift of how negative the 2020 be.s will we saw that in 2016, where the only way that donald trump could win was being approved usually by americans on election day was to make hillary clinton be viewed even more unfavorably. that is way -- that is how i think they will play an .portant role in 2018
host: she pointed out everything they do is in the public domain. you said vicious, some would say that that is what makes politics dirty? al: at him blame them for going out in doing this, i remember in 2014, it was on my first cycles. "america rising" really made a big imprint at the end of that, they kept asking folks, did you put for president obama? no democrats wanted to say that. i think you will see a continuation of that as we head into the 2020 cycle. they started a long time ago, going back to last year, their 2020 operation is here to stay, and it is not going away anytime .oon james: it has really changed the dynamic on the campaign trail. electricians are more guarded on both sides, at political events.
if somebody's walking around with a camcorder and her face all the time. -- the reason "america rising" was started was that democrats were doing this first. they had footage of republicans saying embarrassing things in 2012 and cost republicans some senate seats. i think republicans played catch-up and it are probably ahead of the game on this. in theot entirely all republican domain, it is not wrong, but they are out there at event. it is illuminating as a reporter sometimes, because both the democratic and republican groups are posting videos on youtube that we wouldn't see otherwise. one of. 's" big wins in 2014, there was a big liquor cart next to a politician who was giving a speech and he started talking about how if republicans won the senate, senator chuck grassley, respected senior senator of chairman would be the of the senate judiciary
committee. how crazy is that, a former from iowa? this was a candidate from iowa in a fundraiser in texas, and they found that video. they put it up and i think that video may have cost democrats that senate seat. : there was also the same situation with mitt romney in 2012. i think that is a world we live in right now, the new norm. host: what is your take away and terms of their role in 2020, you kept pressing her on that? james: they are looking at a dozen democrats, and also, they don't want to be caught offguard. i think if democrats were making opposition research books on republicans going into 2016, nobody would have bothered to make one on donald trump. be the republican nominee because i thought you can never win. it is interesting she said they are paying attention to the unorthodox candidates. she mentioned the outgoing ceo of starbucks.
a billionaire who might run. and then some of the other names she mentioned are the people who would put on any list. cory booker, elizabeth warren, bernie sanders, joe biden. it would be interesting to see who they are. after the on anything last couple of years, the list will change. some people who seem hot right now, who seem like front runners will not be a year from now. people that are not on our radar, members of the senate, will probably on the radar. it is interesting because they are sitting there, sometimes i find as i talked to oprah -- operatives in both parties, republicans don't understand democrats and democrats don't understand republicans. you have a bunch of republicans trying to guess how the democratic party is going to pick their nominee. they might not be the best situated to decide that. right now, it sounds like they have a vacuum cleaner and they are trying to download as much information as they can and they are trying, unsuccessfully, to get democrats to attack each other by highlighting some of
the areas of this grievance. it does aid to pick up those scabs. frankly, she is talking about finance -- campaign finance. pushing democrats to say they will not take corporate money, that could be significant in 2020 when they have to break the promise in a pragmatic way to get elected or when they feel like their hands are tied and they are leaving money on the table that republicans are happily taking. the final give you word. i guess we are embarking on an uncertain campaign cycle. >> the word is 2020. it will be a fluid process. nothing like 2016 where we saw hillary clinton and bernie sanders. superdelegates are used. it will be a big year for democrats in 2020 in every way shape and form. weaveroth of you, our who covers politics and james coleman, who sets up shop at the washington post, we appreciate you being with us. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute,
which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] nominated to the supreme court by president ronald reagan, in 1987, justice anthony kennedy is retiring after 30 years on the bench. monday, we will take a look at his legacy and the supreme court and its impact on the nation. with each on baba, clerk for justice kennedy from 2011-2012. and former assistant to the solicitor general, nicole starsky. argued 29 cases before justice kennedy and the course paired watch the legacy of supreme court justice anthony kennedy, monday night, at 8:00 p.m. eastern. on c-span, c-span.org, or listen on the free c-span radio app. coming up on c-span, the communicators is next with a look at european efforts to protect personal data and how it is affecting tech companies are google and facebook. that is followed by the
progressive group, net roots nation, hosting at annual conference in new orleans with senators cory booker, elizabeth warren, and kamala harris among the speakers. later, white house senior economic adviser larry kudlow talking about his early career and his role within the trump administration. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television company. and today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of theress, the white house, supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> this week on the communicators, a discussion of the new privacy rules put into place in europe, who