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2010Google Politico Entire

2010Google Politico Entire

everyone, and good afternoon. I’m Jonathan Capehart of the
Washington Post Editorial Board, and also an
MSNBC contributor. On behalf of Google and
Politico, I want to welcome you to Innovation and Democracy, A
Preview of the 2010 Midterm Election. Today we’re here at the museum,
and we have a distinguished roster of guests to share
their insights with us. And not just with us here in
the room, but the entire is, you here in the room know, is
being live-streamed on YouTube, on Politico, and our friends on
the cable side are coming in and out of the interviews
this afternoon. We have asked the public to
participate in this event using Google Moderator, which is
Google’s public engagement tool that gave people between Friday
and noon today the opportunity to ask questions and vote on
others that should be asked throughout this program today. Our guests will include some of
the biggest innovators and game changers on the web
and in politics. Co-sponsoring today’s program
is Politico, and I am delighted to turn the microphone
over to Politico’s chief political correspondent. You know who he is, Mike
Allen, for his interview with the President’s Senior
Advisor, David Axelrod. Mike is the author–. Please, applaud. It’s Mike Allen. Mike is the author of The
Playbook, which is the bible of politics from the White House
to everyone else who cares about the political
conversation in this country. So please, let’s give them a
warm welcome again, while they’re getting all hooked up. Thanks, Mike. MIKE ALLEN: Thank
you, Jonathan. Thank you very much. DAVID AXELROD: The bible, huh? The bible — who can
argue with that? MIKE ALLEN: Oliver North
used to tell a joke when he was running for senate. He would say, “Every morning I
wake up and I read the bible and The Washington Post
— get both sides.” David, thank you very much
for being here, Senior Advisor to the President. You have a big responsibility
going into the fall. Your campaign was known as
the tech-savviest, the hippest campaign in 2008. How has technology
changed for this fall? How is technology going to
affect this fall’s races and looking ahead to 2012? DAVID AXELROD: Well, first of
all, just looking back to 2008, obviously, technology played
a huge part in our campaign. I’m not sure that a Barack
Obama could have been elected President of the United States
but for the fact that we were able to build a relationship
with people all over the country through the internet. Communities grew up
often self-generated to support that candidacy. We organized through
the internet. A lot of our fundraising was
done in small contributions through the internet. I think you’re going to see
those trends, and you’re seeing those trends continue here. That’s a great democratizing–. [INTERPOSING VOICES] MIKE ALLEN: The
other side has–. DAVID AXELROD: They’re
not tricks, Mike. Yes, I think you see on both
sides of the campaigns — I think some of the tea party
candidacies have been propelled by some of these
grassroots techniques. So, it is going to
have an impact. People are organizing through
the internet, as we organized through the internet. They’re raising money
through the internet. You see the Democratic
National Committee has 13.8 fans on Facebook. I think 5.–. MIKE ALLEN: 13.8 million? DAVID AXELROD: 13.8 million. 5.5 million followers
on Twitter. [INTERPOSING VOICES] This enabled us to have a–. MIKE ALLEN: Are you
allowed to tweet? DAVID AXELROD: Well, no. Gibbs is the authorized tweet
guy in the White House. But I do post things from
time to time, and we do engender a reaction. We’ve had a very aggressive
program at the White House to have the dialogue with the
American people and put the President in online press
conferences and responding to questions and so on. It is a very healthy
and positive thing. I see that our friends on the
Republican side also put this America Speaking
Out site on there. The thing about that
is when you look at– MIKE ALLEN: This was the
House Republicans–. [INTERPOSING VOICES] DAVID AXELROD: –For their
pledge that led to their pledge to America. The interesting thing about it
is in order for these things to be effective, you can’t just
establish a dialogue; you also have to listen. The number one item on their
list was to end these tax cuts for corporations
that send jobs overseas. But that didn’t find its
way into their plan. Another one was to
reform earmarks. That didn’t find a way
into their plan either. So they set up the
device to listen, they just didn’t listen. MIKE ALLEN: The House
Republican leader, now the minority leader, he wants to be
speaker Boehner, John Boehner. He was on television yesterday
and he said, “Once Americans understand how big the problem
is, then we can begin to talk about potential solutions.”
What do you make of that? DAVID AXELROD: Well, I think
what happened was they put out their solutions and the
solutions were so dismaying to so many people, that they
decided to back up a little and describe it merely as a
discussion of the problems. The fact is they did put out a
blueprint, and it looks so remarkably like what we saw
before this President took office. Pete Sessions, who’s the
chairman of their campaign committee, said several weeks
ago on television that we just want to go back to the
same agenda we had before. Of course, that was the agenda
that took Bill Clinton’s $237 billion dollar surplus and
turned it into $1.3 trillion dollar deficit that turned the
special interest loose, Wall Street loose, the oil industry
loose to write their own rules, and ultimately led to the
biggest economic disaster since the Great Depression. If you look at their plan
closely, the same precepts, the same tenets, are all there. So I think Mr. Boehner is
now distancing himself a little from that. You know, one of the
interesting things about the new technology is the people
who are the hardest on their pledge were people within the
Conservative movement in their own party who felt that
it was [? pablement ?] and went very quick on the on
the web to express themselves on it and got a real
dialogue going about this. So I’m not surprised to
see that he’s trying to back away from it now. MIKE ALLEN: Well, David, you
warned, the President warned–. DAVID AXELROD: Well, this
notion that people need to know what the problems are. I think the American people
understand what the problems facing this country are. They want to know what
direction we should go and they don’t want to go back. MIKE ALLEN: Well, they seem
to be blaming your guy for some of the problems. How bearish are you
about this fall? You clearly are bullish. DAVID AXELROD: Well, look, I
told the President two years ago when we got briefed on what
was about to happen in the economy, what was happening in
the economy, that this was going to be a challenging
election, that his numbers weren’t going to be the same
now as they were two years ago. I said all of those folks who
are being heralded as really smart guys were going to be
called idiots by the time the next election rolled around. It was all I think very,
very predictable. But I do think this is going to
be an idiosyncratic election. You know, I read the
bible, too, you know. Your bible, as well as mine. MIKE ALLEN: Amen. DAVID AXELROD: And I understand
what the conventional wisdom is about this election. Certainly when you’re the
majority party, you’re going to bear the brunt of people’s
frustration, and there’s a lot of frustration out there
and understandably so. We’re digging out from a
tremendous economic catastrophe and a lot of people are
still struggling through it. But what’s different from the
past elections, ’94 for example, is the Republican
Party brand is not strong at all. There’s no real sense of
man, if we just had the Republicans in there
things would be better. Because I think people
understand that essentially the Republicans aren’t
offering anything new. It’s the same sort of corporate
special interest sponsored party that was there before
that led to so many of the problems that we have today,
that it’s not a party that’s fighting for the middle class. And it’s not the party that
will bring the kind of growth that will lift most
people in this country. So for that reason, I think
that this is going to be an idiosyncratic election. You’re going to see Democrats
winning in places that you didn’t expect them to win. So I’m eager for November 2. I think it’s going to be
an interesting night. MIKE ALLEN: How could you
be eager for November 2? DAVID AXELROD: As I said,
I think it’s going to be an interesting night. I’m not Polyanish about it. I understand that we have a
much more exposed, in terms of seats, and we’ll
lose some ground–. MIKE ALLEN: So when you say
it’s an interesting night, are you saying that it
to be better than–? DAVID AXELROD: Yes. As I said, I think we are going
to win some races that you guys, perhaps, don’t think
we’re going to win, and the numbers are going to be
a little bit different than you guys predict. MIKE ALLEN: What’s a race that
you’re optimistic about that the conventional wisdom
has you losing? DAVID AXELROD: Well, look, I
think that you look at some of these senate races that a few
weeks ago people were suggesting were
slipping away from us. Like in the State of
Washington, for example, where Patty Murray; in California
where Barbara Boxer is running against Carly Fiorina. I think what’s happening all
around the country is as people begin to focus on the choice
and understand that this is not just a referendum on one party
or on the state of the economy, but a choice between
two directions. And they focus in on what the
direction the Republican Party is offering, which is backward
to the policies that help create the disaster
to the same formula. I think they’re concerned,
and you’re seeing some of these races open up in
favor of Democrats. MIKE ALLEN: David, we’ve been
taking questions online through Google Moderator. The first one is from Jackie
in Hamden, Connecticut. She says, “I want to know what
are the Democratic plans for heading off a watershed
in November?” She says, “Democrats,” and she’s talking
about you here, “have been short-selling our message. It’s a shame we don’t have
a way to get our message other than the President. The right has several talking
points on their side.” Why are Democrats losing
the message war? DAVID AXELROD: Well, I mean
I’m not going to sign on to that characterization. Obviously, we have a little bit
more of a burn-in in the sense that we’re the majority party
— Republican Party’s basically sat out the last 20 months and
they’ve been sloganeering while we’ve been trying to solve some
very difficult problems that they left us. MIKE ALLEN: It seems to
have worked for them. DAVID AXELROD: Well,
we’ll see, Mike. We’ll see. Politico, as important as it
is, doesn’t get to decide. The public gets to decide —
all the folks who are watching today get to decide. And I think to the extent that
people get galvanized–. Every poll suggests the same
thing, which is that if there’s a large turnout, that Democrats
are going to do well. And the Republican advantage
is largely predicated on the notion that it’ll be a small
turnout of very motivated anti-voters who will come out
on behalf of Republican candidates. I don’t think that’s the
way it’s going to be. And I don’t think that’s the
way it’s going to be because we do have a message and it’s a
message about how we rebuild this economy in a way that
lifts the middle class that promotes small businesses. The President signed a bill
that we fought for several months over Republican
opposition the senate today to cut eight different taxes for
small businesses, to expand lending for small business
is desperately needed. We think that’s part of
the prescription to move this country forward. We think things like the Credit
Card Bill of Rights to keep people from being exploited as
they have been in the past by hidden fees and penalties
is part of the formula of standing up the middle class. We think taking $60 billion in
unwarranted subsidies to the banks and giving it to kids who
need the help, working class kids for college aid
is the way to go. And By the way, one of the
interesting things about that Republican plan that was
released last week, is that among their prescriptions for
the future is to cut education by 20% and cut student aid
for eight million kids across this country. Anybody who knows anything
about the world today and the global economy in which we’re
in knows that that’s not the direction we need to go. The Chinese aren’t cutting back
on education, Europeans aren’t cutting back, the Indians
aren’t cutting back, our competitors aren’t
cutting back. We need to improve our
education system and give people more access
and not less access. So, there are two competing
visions about how you build a stronger economy, how you
build a strong country. One is being dictated by
special interests and this notion that if we just cut
taxes for the wealthiest Americans and give free rein
to the special interests that the economy will grow. Well, we tried that
experiment–. [INTERPOSING VOICES] MIKE ALLEN: –That’s not
quite how to describe it. DAVID AXELROD: Well, Mr.
Gillespie’s coming. He can describe it
in his own way. But I think that if you look at
what was done from 2001 to 2009, that’s exactly
what happened. We tried this experiment. It ended in disaster. We lost four million jobs in
the six months before this President took office. MIKE ALLEN: Now, David, you and
the President have been talking about the dangers of outside
money coming into these raisings because of the
Citizens United Ruling. Now, there’s money
on your side, too. Why is more coming in from
the Republican side? DAVID AXELROD: Well, I think
the for a very simple reason, and that is if the Supreme
Court opened up a gaping hole that said that corporate
special interests could spent unlimited amounts of money in
these election campaigns, what’s happened is that a
series of committees with benign sounding names, like
Americans for Prosperity, and the Crossroads Fund, America
Crossroads Fund, and so on, are taking in millions and millions
of dollars from corporate special interests — Wall
Street, the oil company and the insurance companies, and they
don’t have to disclose it. It’s kept secret. They’re running ads and they’re
pounding Democratic candidates across the country to the tune
of tens of millions of dollars. You could do a public service
here, Mike — I know Ed’s going to be here, and I like Ed. When I took his job at the
White House, he couldn’t have been more helpful in making
that transition easier for me, and he’s a thorough-going
professional. He and Karl Rove are running
the main vehicle for these contributions. You should perform a public
service and ask him to disclose whose funding all of these
negative ads, these tens of millions of negative ads. You know, they say the only
people who want to keep things secret are folks who
have something to hide. Ask him what they’re hiding. MIKE ALLEN: And just to be
clear, they’re not running it, but they founded
it, got it going. DAVID AXELROD: But you saw the
piece in The New York Times — Karl who is, as we know, very
shrewd Ed, a great political operative — are coordinating
all these different groups and they’re operating in The New
York Times words, as a “shadow party organization” running
negative ads paid for by millions of dollars from
special interests who don’t have to reveal their
participation. MIKE ALLEN: What is your
research showing you about how effective those are, how much a
difference those ads are making? DAVID AXELROD: Well look. I’ll give you an example. In Colorado we have a
very close senate race. Their Senator, Michael Bennet,
is running against Tom Buck, a Republican candidate. He has been the beneficiary
of a torrent, Mr. Buck, of negative ads against
Michael Bennet. Thousands and thousands and
thousands of gross rating points of negative ads week
after week after week. Michael is holding up well. I think that he will
win that race. But it’s clearly a closer
race than it would have been had there not been the
spending on his behalf. And believe me, that
is the purpose. I think you can ask Ed. I don’t think they’re spending
tens of millions of dollars on negative ads and a flood
of mail for the exercise, they’re doing it to try and
influence these elections. MIKE ALLEN: Now, speaking of
jobs in the White House, you’ve started to talk a little bit
about your future plans. How long are you going
to be in Washington? DAVID AXELROD: Well, I’ve
always had the understanding with the President that some
time after these two years, probably some time in the
spring, that I would go back to Chicago and begin working on
the next project, which is the re-election campaign. And–. MIKE ALLEN: What
would your role be? DAVID AXELROD: As you know, my
family is still in Chicago. I love many, many aspects of
this job, but the separation is not — I also love my family,
and the separation is something that’s been difficult. For those reasons, I’m
going to go back. And my role will be essentially
what it was in the last campaign as a strategist
working with the media and the message in terms of
promoting our argument. MIKE ALLEN: We’re going to
bring in another question online from Google Moderator. This from Gary
Kubiak in Chicago. There you go. “What effect will Jon Stewart’s
rally have on election day?” DAVID AXELROD: You
know, I don’t know. I think the greatest service
that he and others can perform is to encourage people
to participate. As I said, we’re in the
position where the more people–. MIKE ALLEN: Are you worried
about us sapping energy, or do you think it will help? DAVID AXELROD: The more people
who participate, I think the better off we’re going to be. And I think it says something
about our respective parties and our messages that we’re
hoping for a larger turnout, they’re hoping for
a smaller turnout. One of the great things about
this exercise here today is we’re going to reach a lot of
people, and my message–. And whether they’re for us
or for the other side, come out and participate. I think Jon’s rally can
help in that regard. But one concern I have is that
it’s right before the election and there are people who’ll be
at that rally who perhaps could be out contacting friends and
neighbors and urging them to come out. But that’s a trade-off
we’ll live with. MIKE ALLEN: So, on balance,
you believe the Stewart — their rallies will be
helpful to your side. DAVID AXELROD: I think to the
extent that they encourage people to come out to vote and
participate, I think that they will. Obviously, I don’t know
what they have planned. I know they’re both very, very
smart and clever people. But if, at the end of the day,
the notion is that it reminds people that there’s
an election–. And by the way, in most of
the country that election is already beginning. In some states early
voting has already begun. So, if people are watching us
today, they don’t have to wait until November 2 to cast a
ballot; they can do it at any time. They can go online, certainly
on our website or other websites and find out exactly
what the details are in order to cast those early votes. MIKE ALLEN: Now David,
you’re looking trim. There’s a little room there
in your collar size. You told me you were
on a strict diet. Tell us what your secret is. DAVID AXELROD: The real secret
was that I went on vacation. The first day I went on
vacation I got sick and learned that I had a parasite. So that got me going in
the right direction. MIKE ALLEN: It’s not going to
be a best selling book, like–. [INTERPOSING VOICES] DAVID AXELROD: No, no, no. And I want to make clear
that this happened outside of Washington. This is not a commentary
on Washington that I had a parasite. And then when I started losing
weight I thought you know this is not a bad idea. So I just kept going with it. I gained 30 pounds during the
campaign and they’ve been stubborn pounds, that it turns
out was related to the fact that I was eating everything
that was put in front of me. So I’ve decided to adapt
a different strategy and be a little bit more
measured in what I eat. MIKE ALLEN: How much
have you lost? DAVID AXELROD: About 25 pounds. MIKE ALLEN: So are you skipping
meals, or what’s your secret? DAVID AXELROD: No. I’m eating with
some discretion. So I’m eating healthier
food and I’m eating a little less of it. MIKE ALLEN: You said you
played basketball yesterday? What was that like? DAVID AXELROD: I did. Well, I like doing that. I had not not done
it for awhile and I went back yesterday. And it turns out that being 25
pounds lighter is helpful. MIKE ALLEN: Now, your departure
coming up, it looks almost certain that Chief of Staff,
Rahm Emanuel is headed out. A number of other changes. These are all people who
spend a lot of time with the President. The ecology around the
President is very delicate, and that’s going to
have abrupt changes. Like–. DAVID AXELROD: Well, and I
think you’ll see some people leave and some people stay. New folks will come in. Some of those people will
be very familiar to the President, some will be new. MIKE ALLEN: You said you expect
David Plouffe, the President’s campaign manager to come in. DAVID AXELROD: Well, I
certainly think that he’s highly prized and regarded
by the President. He has said in the past that he
was, and having rested up for two years and written his book
and recharged and spent time with his family, I think he’s
ready for a duty if asked. MIKE ALLEN: Will he be
essentially taking your job? DAVID AXELROD: That’s a
question for the President. I’m not here to make any
announcements about personnel. But I do believe that I think
there’s an evolution in every administration, there are
changes around this time, and I think that’s a healthy thing. I think it’s good to bring in
new energy, some different ideas of folks who spent the
last two years on the outside coming in. I think it’s very positive and
I look forward on the outside to working with some of the
folks who will be coming in now. MIKE ALLEN: Do you think we’ll
see David Plouffe in the White House before the
end of the year? DAVID AXELROD: As I said,
I’m not making any–. I would doubt that, and I’m
not making any personnel pronouncements. One thing I can tell you is
David Plouffe is as integral to the President and his
operations as anybody. We wouldn’t be here
without the leadership he provided in the campaign. He’s a person of enormous
talent and great principle. So whatever he does in service
of the Administration and the President will be
valueed and important. MIKE ALLEN: In addition to
these sorts of personnel changes, after this election,
clearly the election’s going to be close. Clearly, Republicans are going
to be stronger regardless of who has control
of the chambers. What does the administration
do to say we get it? What are you going to do to
say you’ve responded to what you hear they’re saying? DAVID AXELROD: Well, look, I
think that one of the things voters are saying is they
want to see some level of cooperation to solve problems. We have extended that
invitation repeatedly over the last 20 months. My hope is that as we come out
of this election, however it turns out, that there will
be on the other side a new willingness to participate. My concern, because we all have
a responsibility that goes beyond partisan
responsibilities, to move this country forward, and nobody has
a premium on good ideas. But here’s the thing. I get concerned when I
read Senator DeMint say his goal is gridlock. I get concerned when I hear on
the House side, the vice chair of their Congressional
Committee warning Republicans that we may have to have a
government shutdown so be prepared for that. I don’t think that’s what
the country is asking for. They want more
cooperation, not less. Because they understand we
face great challenges. And we’re prepared to do that. But the question is what will
happen on the other side? I think you’re going to see
some great struggles within that Republican caucus on the
other side because you’ve got the kind of establishment,
corporate, Republicans here in Washington, and then you’ve got
these Tea Party folks who have an entirely different view. You saw some of that friction
last week when they came up with their retro-grade pledge
to America that was so reminiscent of the things that
got us into trouble in the first place. So I think it’s going to be an
interesting time in this town. MIKE ALLEN: Now, David, what do
you believe the Tea Party’s effect will be on the
Republicans in 2012, as they start to look for
their nominee? DAVID AXELROD: Well,
it’ll be interesting. You know, look, I think that
the Tea Party movement is a grassroots movement. Some of it may be encouraged. We read the story in The New
Yorker about the Koch brothers, the oil billionaires, who were
kind of under the table and secretly funding some of the
organizing efforts for the Tea Party. But in the main–. MIKE ALLEN: It’s
not that secret. DAVID AXELROD: Well, it isn’t
anymore, but I don’t think it was meant to be–. Believe me, when the Tea Party
folks went to their meetings and no one put a sign up saying
“brought to you by a couple of oil billionaires,” I guarantee
you that wasn’t the case. But it was ferreted out
by a reporter and now it’s widely discussed. I think it’s going to be
an interesting process. Normally the Republican party
has been a top-down party. The folks in Washington decide
who’s the candidate’s going to be, and generally
is that candidate. That was true with Dole,
it was true with Bush, it was true with McCain. Now they have this grassroots
movement within the party and I think there’s going
to be a big struggle. I’m sure that Ed and Karl and
others think that they’ll be in a position to, once
again, dictate who the candidate will be. I’m not sure that’s the case. MIKE ALLEN: Who do you
worry about for 2012? Who on their side is strong? DAVID AXELROD: I worry
about you, Mike. MIKE ALLEN: No comment. DAVID AXELROD: I’m not going
to handicap their candidates. Let’s remind ourselves that at
this time in 2006, Barack Obama wasn’t even contemplating
a race or–. MIKE ALLEN: He wasn’t being
contemplated, he was contemplating already. DAVID AXELROD: Well, maybe by
this time in 2006, but just beginning to contemplate
running for president. This is an eternity, right? So we don’t really know who
all the players will be. And the thing about the new
technology and the new political reality in this
country is that you can start a race up much more quickly than
you’d done in the past. MIKE ALLEN: So you think
there could be somebody that we’re not focusing on. DAVID AXELROD: There may be. MIKE ALLEN: Now, what do you
think of the New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie? Would he be a strong candidate? DAVID AXELROD: Look, I actually
like him, so I just doomed his candidacy by saying that. But no, I think he’s a serious
person and I don’t agree with everything that he’s doing, but
he’s an attractive person. But he just got
elected Governor. He’s trying to do some
things in New Jersey. We don’t know what the
outcome of some of his policies will be. And I would be doubtful that
he would leave the work he just began and start
a race for president. I think he’s been
pretty clear on that. MIKE ALLEN: Now, the
President’s going to be out very heavily this fall. The First Lady also has
announced the heavy schedule of rallies. She’s going to be out a lot. She’s avoided
politics until now. What do think the effect will
be of having her out there? How did you talk her into it? DAVID AXELROD: Well, look, I
don’t think she’s — it’s not going to be politics in
the traditional sense. She’s not going to be out
there sort of engaging in the back and forth of campaign. She is going to go out there
and lift up principles and candidates who stand for the
things that she and the President care deeply about,
particularly as they relate to families and children. This is her focus, both in
public policy and in life. So she wants to affirm
candidates who have stood with her on some of these, and with
the President on some of these questions. And so–. MIKE ALLEN: Who does she appeal
to or what do you think her effect will be? How will she help? DAVID AXELROD: I think she’s a
very, very popular person, and not just among Democrats. Obviously, I think as someone
who is so concerned about families and the struggles of
work, family balance, and so on, I think, obviously, a lot
of women will be interested in her message, but
not just women. So I think she’ll have impact
out there, but I know there’s a lot of interest in seeing
her and she’s eager to go. MIKE ALLEN: Now , we’ve had a
question through Google Moderator, now we have Google
in person with a question hear in the audience. And if you could just
introduce yourself. PETER PASI: My name’s Peter
Pasi from Arlington, Virginia. I had a question. What will you or the White
House do if Republicans win the Senate, or if Republicans win
enough seats to slow or stop some of the legislation
you haven’t yet passed? DAVID AXELROD: Well, first
of all I don’t know if–. MIKE ALLEN: Purely
hypothetical. DAVID AXELROD: Yes. Yeah, and I’m not going to
deal with hypotheticals. But on your last point, I don’t
know if you’ve been watching for the last couple of years,
but they’ve slowed a lot of stuff down as it is. In fact, the normal course of
events in the United States Senate for the last 20 months
has been the Republicans have filibustered. And sometimes they’ve
filibustered on things that they then ended up voting for. In other words, they’ve
stopped us from getting an up or down majority vote. We’ve had nominees, we have —
there’s a record number of judicial nominees who are be
held up, many of whom have been approved on a bipartisan
basis by committees. And simply to slow the work of
the Senate down, they have stalled those appointments. The result is that we’ve got a
critical lack of people on the bench in the Federal judiciary. We’re trying to deal
with that right now. So that wouldn’t be
a new development. What we’re hoping for is
a different philosophy. And if the Republicans have
more votes, presumably they’ll have more responsibility
that goes along with it. I think the American
people will demand that. We have great challenges
as a country. I’m really confident we can
meet them, but only if we work together to do that. We haven’t seen that yet, but
perhaps with a few more seats into each chamber they’ll feel
more of a sense of responsibility. MIKE ALLEN: Thank you
for that question. Peter, now David you may not
have heard this, a little breaking news here. Bob Woodward has a book
out, “Obama’s Wars.” DAVID AXELROD: What’s it about? MIKE ALLEN: It’s about
you, among other people. I think you’re referred to in
there by the President’s National Security Advisor
as part of the Politburo. What’s fascinating to me about
this book though is it Bob didn’t have to go to parking
garages to get these sources. He came up front driveway. I saw him sitting in the
White House, the West Wing Lobby waiting for news. Why did you guys decide to
cooperate so extensively with this book? DAVID AXELROD: Well, Bob
is an excellent reporter. He’s got great sources
honed over decades. It was obvious that he had
quite a bit of information, and it was important that
that information be placed in context. So we thought it was the right
thing to do to work with him and to sit down with him and
work through some of the questions that he had. MIKE ALLEN: And how do
you feel it came out? DAVID AXELROD: You know,
obviously, the things that you guys focus on are the palace
intrigue aspects of it. MIKE ALLEN: Yes, sir. DAVID AXELROD: I know. I know. But those who actually read the
full book will find that it tells the story of a President
who ran a very, very rigorous, thoughtful and tough process
to impose in Afghanistan a strategy that we, frankly,
didn’t have for seven and a half years before this started. Secretary Gates said this is
the first time that Afghanistan and the fight against Al Qaeda
there has been fully resourced. We lost a lot of time and we’re
trying to catch up now because it’s important — that’s where
we were attacked from, we have security interest
in doing that. But I think people who read
the book will see that the President was very much focused
on the right things and finding a thoughtful way forward. MIKE ALLEN: Did
you talk to Bob? DAVID AXELROD: I did. MIKE ALLEN: How
long or how often? DAVID AXELROD: I don’t
remember how long it was. I had a few
conversations with him. MIKE ALLEN: And are
you glad you did? DAVID AXELROD: Yeah. I don’t have any regrets
about talking to him. MIKE ALLEN: What did you learn
in the book that surprised you? DAVID AXELROD: Honestly, I
don’t think I learned that much that surprised me. I think, obviously again, Bob
has written many, many books. Not only is he a great
journalist, but he’s a master marketer, so he knows what the
titillating kind of tidbits you include in order to get
press and sell books. But to me, the more interesting
stuff really had to do with what we lived through, which is
how that decision was made — the challenges
associated with it. So I just wasn’t that surprised
by what was in the book. MIKE ALLEN: We have another
question from Google in person. TIM FARLEY: Yes. Thank you for taking
my question. I’m Tim Farley with
Sirius XM, POTUS. I want to ask you about it from
the standpoint of being a strategy expert and a marketing
and a messaging expert. Candidates more often nowadays,
circumventing traditional media, we’re in an
evolving world. There are times when — well,
the White House has, at times, withheld appearances on Fox,
but there are Republican candidates who don’t want to
do interviews with traditional media. I guess the question is as
media, whether it’s internet, newspaper, television, radio,
et cetera, evolve, is this going to be easier to do to
choose your place, where you want to get your message
across, without having to go to traditional media? And if that is possible, is
that going to be a good or bad thing for democracy? DAVID AXELROD: Well, look,
I think you raised a very good question. I was on Fox a few weeks goes
on a Sunday, and I think it’s healthy to mix it up. The President raised this in
a speech that he gave at the University of Michigan. The real concern is not
just where we appear, but the viewing and reading
habits of Americans. What he said was, I hope that
people won’t just watch the stations that affirm their
point of view or read the newspaper that affirms their
point of view, go to the website that affirms
their point of view. That it’s healthy to get other
opinions, even if you don’t fully agree with them. That is an important
part of democracy. One of the concerns I have is
that we get so polarized in our, not just in our politics
but in our viewing habits, that we simply don’t hear
other points of view. TIM FARLEY: Could you still
do it and win, though? DAVID AXELROD: I
think that you can. I think you can, if you’ve
got a solid argument. TIM FARLEY: No, I mean just
go with somebody who’s just, if you will, a friend. In other words, just go
election just going to–. DAVID AXELROD:
Here’s the reality. And we started on technology. So, the reality is that people
get information from many different places now, and not
just from TV stations, but from friends, from social networks,
from a whole array of sources. I think if you want to
communicate with the American people, then you have
to communicate as broadly as possible. Actually, for someone like the
President or someone on the Democratic side, I think
there’s more of an impetus to do that. The truth is that a lot of, at
least among conservativs, Republican Conservatives, Fox
has consolidated a base. Democratic supporters tend
to be more diffuse in their viewing habits. So we have an imperative, even
from the standpoint of politics, to be as creative as
we can in touching as many different avenues
of communication. MIKE ALLEN: David, have you
found that you need the mainstream media more
than you expected? Had you expected to be able
to go around to filter more than you’ve been able to? DAVID AXELROD: You know,
I don’t know about that. I think we were aware —
certainly, the way we ran, we were aware that communications
had changed dramatically. But that you guys can still
drive a story, and that in today’s world some unfiltered
piece of information that comes up on a blog or a website can
dominate the mainstream media. So, we live in a new reality. We’re aware of it, we deal with
it, and we also understand that the day when the President of
the United States could simply stand in front of a battery of
microphones at a press conference or a speech and
command the attention of the vast majority of voting
Americans is gone. It’s not that simple. So you have to work harder
to communicate, and that’s an imperative. MIKE ALLEN: David, you know
Chicago politics, both as a recovering Chicago Tribune
reporter and as a consultant. If Rahm Emanuel runs for
mayor in Chicago, what does he need to do? What would his chances be? What would his outlook be? DAVID AXELROD: Rahm is, as you
know, a formidable person. And he would be a very
formidable candidate. He loves the city. MIKE ALLEN: Would he
be the favorite? DAVID AXELROD: Well, I’m not
going to install him before he even announces what
his intentions are. I’m not going to install him. And I think the thing that
makes Rahm so formidable as a candidate is that he would
never view himself as a front runner, nor would
he run as one. He understands that if he does
make that decision, that he’s going to have to do what he did
when he ran for Congress and go door to door. He would start off every day
at 6:00 in the morning at the L stops and he’d finish at
midnight at the fire houses. I expect he’ll do that
same thing again. One thing I know about Chicago
is nobody’s going to hand you anything; you’ve gotta earn it. He’ll be prepared to
do that if he runs. MIKE ALLEN: So he wouldn’t
run as a front runner, he would run how? DAVID AXELROD: He would run
flat out for every vote. I think it’s a terrible mistake
to impute onto yourself a front runner status. People would resent
it and they should. But that’s not his style,
that’s not his way. MIKE ALLEN: David, there have
been a couple of articles that have talked about the toll that
Washington has taken on you personally. I wonder if you could talk–. DAVID AXELROD: Look at me,
I’m fading away to nothing. MIKE ALLEN: Are you
glad you did it? Do you agree– DAVID AXELROD: Can I
tell you something? MIKE ALLEN: –That
it takes a toll? DAVID AXELROD: And I see some
of these people in this room, Republicans and Democrats. I’ve met some wonderful,
wonderful people here, and associations that I’ll value
for the rest of my life. People who I think are
well-motivated and are doing this work for the right reason
— I do get frustrated with the sort of the group pathology of
Washington sometimes — the who’s up and who’s down and
viewing everything through the prism of the latest
poll and elections. I’m not just–. I’m not staring at you
for a reason, Mike. MIKE ALLEN: But over the years,
your team has benefited from that as well. DAVID AXELROD: Yeah, but at
the bottom line, this is a very critical time in the
history of this country. We’ve got a lot of challenges
and a lot of choices to make that will really determine
whether we’re competitive in a global economy, the kind of
lives our kids will lead, and they’re serious issues. And we shouldn’t just tunnel
everything down into the kind of board game of politics. So when people ask me about
Washington, I say what my mother said to me
when I was a child. She used to say, “I love
you, I just hate some of the things you do.” MIKE ALLEN: What did you
learn about Washington that you didn’t know? DAVID AXELROD: You know, the
thing is that I didn’t come in here with any illusions. I knew that there were folks
who came to work here who had the capacity to do
very positive things. And then there was this
other aspect of it. And nothing, nothing
surprised me. I do think that the media
environment has evolved over time to the point where you
have to spend an awful lot of time dealing with these white
hot stories that a week later have faded into the rear view
mirror and nobody can remember. That takes up more
energy than you like. Let me just say one thing
about Washington, though. We ran our campaign on the
premise that change begins from the bottom-up, and that we
wanted to come here and effect some changes that would help
people in communities accomplish what they
want to accomplish. A good example is education
reform where Arne Duncan has done his race to the top. You’ve seen 48 states adopt
higher standards, not because of a mandate from the Federal
Government, but because of competition at the local level. So we try and keep our eye
on the ball and remember why we were sent here. MIKE ALLEN: So David, next
spring, will you leave Washington more optimistic
about the country or more pessimistic.? DAVID AXELROD: I’m always
optimistic about the country. I think this is a great — I’m
the son of an immigrant, and as such, ingrained in me is the
belief that this is the greatest country in the world. And I still believe that. I think we have enormous
capacities, I think we’re unrivaled in our productivity,
in our innovation. I just want to see us take
advantage of those things in a very challenging century so
that my kids can have the same sense of optimism that I do. MIKE ALLEN: So why are you
doing the re-election campaign in Chicago? DAVID AXELROD: Well, we haven’t
made that announcement or decision, and I should add that
I’m a little presumptuous because the President hasn’t
formally announced his re-election campaign either. So we’ll make that
decision later. But the argument for doing it
there is that there is an element — and one thing you
asked me about Washington. This didn’t surprise me, but
it’s something I know now more than ever, and that is there’s
a different conversation in this town than you hear at like
Manny’s, the deli where I hang out in Chicago. People don’t talk about — I
hate to say, The Politico, over lunch in Chicago. They’re talking about their
kids and how they pay their bills and how their businesses
are going, and the normal things that people care about. It’s healthy for a campaign to
be rooted in that environment and not in the hot
house of Washington. MIKE ALLEN: And, David, as we
say goodbye, you’ve become known for sneaking your iPad
into meetings in the West Wing. I wonder what you use it for. DAVID AXELROD: Well,
a variety of things. It depends on whether
my Cubs are playing. MIKE ALLEN: MLB Live. DAVID AXELROD: Yes, MLB Live. It’s really actually very
useful because you can keep track of what’s going on and–. MIKE ALLEN: What
apps do you use? DAVID AXELROD: Well,
Politico, of course. I Google things all the time. But I have many, many apps —
most of the news organizations I have on there. I do have a few sports apps on
there and keep track of that. The one thing that I have
on there that was a bad mistake is Pacman. I do waste more time than I
should, even in meetings, as I’m listening to
people, do that. MIKE ALLEN: How do you do? DAVID AXELROD: I’m breaking
my personal records all the time, which is a bad sign. MIKE ALLEN: David Alexrod,
thank you for sitting down with us today. DAVID AXELROD: Thank you. Thank you very much. JONATHAN CAPEHART: I don’t know
about you, but I think I was a little surprised that he’s
playing Pacman in meetings. But that’s just me. Thank you, Mike. And thank you, Mr.
Axelrod for your time. While they go off the
stage, and we get Jesse Friedman up here. He’s a Product Marketing
Manager with Google Maps. So Jesse get to
have a lot of fun. And I use Google Maps
actually all the time. And while you’re pulling
that up, I’m going to move over here. I know people here
are watching online. They know that they’re watching
Innovation and Democracy, the 2010 midterm election preview. But just in case, I’m Jonathan
Capehart of The Washington Post and a contributor with MSNBC. And this fellow next to
me, as I said before, is Jesse Friedman. Are you all set up? JESSE FRIEDMAN: We
lost the internet. JONATHAN CAPEHART: We
on one second. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well,
there’s a picture of the museum. You can see that. You can see that there. When we were doing this in
rehearsal, I made the mistake of thinking that Jesse was
from the west coast, but he reminded me that he was
actually in New York. While they’re setting that
up, Jesse, why don’t you–? You’re set? Can you talk and type
at the same time? JESSE FRIEDMAN: Oh yeah. No, we’re good, we’re back up. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
Oh, we’re back up? Good. Oh, you’re going to switch? All right. So while they’re switching
that, what are we supposed to be looking at? What is this? JESSE FRIEDMAN: So what you’re
looking at here is a Google Map where we’ve taken race
ratings from top-trusted, non-political sources. We’ve got Rothenberg,
Cook, CQ-Roll Call, and RealClearPolitics. We’re taking their ratings of
all the Senate, House and Governor races and letting
you compare them all in the same place. JONATHAN CAPEHART: So, you’re
just starting out with these four, but you can add to that
as time goes along, right? JESSE FRIEDMAN: We’ve got a few
weeks left before the election. JONATHAN CAPEHART: About five. JESSE FRIEDMAN: Within that
meantime, we’re open to talking to more folks. These are the ones that we
launched with last year. JONATHAN CAPEHART: So,
someone’s who’s watching online right now who will probably
be going there, let’s say someone in Iowa. What do they do? What exactly do they do
to see their races? Wherever they are, for
the race, show us. JESSE FRIEDMAN: The address
the at the top is, you go to You get what you’re looking at
now where it shows you the Senate races, and one of the
four sources is randomly pulled up and you can play
around with it. If you want to see a different
source, you just click it and it loads in right there. JONATHAN CAPEHART: So that one
you just clicked CQ-Politics. JESSE FRIEDMAN: CQ–. Yeah, from CQ-Roll Call. Now if you want to see a House
race, just click House, and there you go. You see all the 435 races. But it’s a little hard to see,
especially on the east coast. So, you can just go in whatever
state you’re from, so you’re from Wisconsin, click
that, you see the races. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Wow. JESSE FRIEDMAN: Yeah. And then you simply click on
one of them and you see what the four different sources are
all saying about that race. It might be a little hard
to see on the screen. But Rothenberg is saying that
it’s a toss-up/tilt Democratic. RealClearPolitics says it’s
leaning GOP, and CQ and Cook both say it’s a toss-up. JONATHAN CAPEHART: But you can
get more information than just that by using this site? It’s not just a place to
go to find polls, right? JESSE FRIEDMAN: Well,
these aren’t polls. These are the ratings that
these folks are doing based on polls and other things. But if you want to learn, say
— I don’t know how many people in the room know who’s
running in Wisconsin 7. But if you don’t know, you
can just click on Candidates and it’ll tell you. If you click on either of their
names, it’ll pull up a Google Search that will help you find
their campaign site, and whatever other information you
can find about them on Google. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right. That’s the point I was
trying to get to. It’s not just that you’re
looking at races. You can go, if you want to
look at Sean Duffy, you can click there and get
to that person’s site. You can click on the Democratic
candidates and go to that person’s site. It’s very — how should
we say — user friendly. JESSE FRIEDMAN: Well, the idea
is we want to teach people how to use the tools in front of
them to learn more about what’s going on in politics. If you come back tomorrow
or a week from now, it’ll look a little different. Play around with it, learn
more about what’s there. Google’s a great way to learn
about that sort of stuff. JONATHAN CAPEHART: OK,
so we’ve got five weeks until the election. So, does this go
away in five weeks? What do you hope to
accomplish with this? JESSE FRIEDMAN: Well, let’s
face it, after the election there might be a little Monday
morning quarterbacking over who might have had a better–. We’re staying entirely
out of that. We’re just showing
what’s there. But our hope with this is to
encourage people to think about our platform. Everyone knows they can search
with Google, but there’s a lot more that we offer. You know, Google Maps here,
it’s the most popular API on the internet. It’s free to use. It’s got some developer effort,
you can put something together. But even if you don’t, the
technology that we use, everything is completely
available and it’s free and you can put your own maps together. If you scroll down on the page,
there’s a link here to a tutorial that’ll teach you how
to use the same technologies we did to do your own analysis of
data by congressional district. With a couple of clicks, you
can have a map in this technology called
Fusion Tables. JONATHAN CAPEHART: So, you can
do — I don’t know if you remember during the 2004
race [UNINTELLIGIBLE] When I was in New York at the
Daily News, and every day you had people doing their own
electoral count maps. So now everybody can get into
the act, not just with the electoral, but just anything. JESSE FRIEDMAN: You’re no
longer using paint and the fill button, but you can actually
use real data just as easily as you would with Photoshop or
something and you can actually have everything work daily,
streaming — everything, you can put it all together
pretty easily now. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
That’s great. Jesse, thank you very much. Jesse Friedman is the
Product Marketing Manager with Google Maps. Thanks very much. Next, please welcome to
the stage Ramya Raghavan. She’s almost miced up. Jesse’s almost out. And again, I’d like to remind
you that this program is being live streamed on the
CitizenTube channel on and We’ll be uploading the videos
of the interviews and the panel discussions will all be
uploaded to the site and will live on YouTube, actually,
I guess in perpetuity. Which leads us perfectly
to our next guest. You’ve got the hair right. You’re ready? RAMYA RAGHAVAN: I’m ready. JONATHAN CAPEHART: All right. Good. Ramya Raghaven. We went through
this in rehearsal. She is a news and public
interest manager at YouTube. Thanks very much– RAMYA RAGHAVAN:
Thanks, Jonathan. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
–For being here. So, OK, what changes have we
noticed in how candidates are using YouTube? RAMYA RAGHAVAN: Yeah. So, since 2008, I think we’re
seeing two significant changes. The first is just in the
massive spike in the number of candidates
that are using the site. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
Massive spike meaning? RAMYA RAGHAVAN: Meaning in
2010, over 400 candidates in key hot races across the
country have official YouTube politician channels. So they’re registered with us
and they’re using all sorts of tools to get out the vote. And then shifting over to look
at government, looking at members of Congress, we see
that 90% of Republicans have an official YouTube channel,
and about 75% of Democrats have a YouTube channel. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Are
you surprised by that? I thought the Democrats
were supposed to be the technologically-forward folks. RAMYA RAGHAVAN: Yeah. Well, what we tend to see is
that the challenging party really starts to embrace
technological tools and is looking for creative ways to
get out the vote and inspire their base. So it’s not all
that surprising. JONATHAN CAPEHART: So in
2008 we saw YouTube being used during campaigns. So, how have you built off
that — that popularity then? RAMYA RAGHAVAN: Yeah. So I think one key
way is with debates. And so yesterday was actually
the 50th anniversary of the Nixon-Kennedy debates. We did the CNN YouTube
debates in 2008. Today we’re actually announcing
that we’re doing a 2010 YouTube debate series where in key
races across the country, we’re asking citizens through Google
Moderator in YouTube to submit their questions for the
candidates in both text and video. And the top voted questions
will be asked in debates. So, we’re kicking off with the
Nevada Senate race, and we’re partnering with the Nevada
Broadcasters Association. The Iowa Gubernatorial
partnering with the Des Moines register and IPTV. And the Colorado Gubernatorial
and we are partnering with The Denver Post and KUSA. JONATHAN CAPEHART: So how many
debates all together are you hoping to have before the
end of the election cycle? RAMYA RAGHAVAN: Yeah. So we’ve launched with three,
but we have more in the pipeline now that we’ll be
launching in the coming weeks. Then we would invite any of
your affiliates or anyone out there who’s interested
in hosting a debate with us, I can give you more
information about that. We actually have a great
landing page that actually walks local stations through
the process of setting up your own debate using Google
Moderator on YouTube. JONATHAN CAPEHART: And pie in
the sky, what’s the number of debates that you would hope to
have accomplished by November 2? I know you’ve got
three set up, but–. RAMYA RAGHAVAN: Hard
number is tough. I mean ideally we’d love to
see a debate in every key race across the country. But we’re going to make sure
that we have good debates planned with a good
geographic distribution. JONATHAN CAPEHART: And
the last question. The United States isn’t
the only country that’s using YouTube. This is happening
around the world. RAMYA RAGHAVAN: Absolutely. So, in the case of debates,
we’ve seen debates in Israel and Austrailia. We partnered with Facebook
on a debate in the United Kingdom this year. And taking it even from
elections, we see world leaders using YouTube to
talk to their constituents. Obama did a YouTube interview
earlier this year. And the Brazilian Supreme
Court actually has a YouTube channel, too. So some really interesting
global examples out there. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
That’s great. And you mentioned Facebook,
which is a good seguay to our next guest. But Ramya Raghavan, thank you
very much, from YouTube. Thanks for being here. RAMYA RAGHAVAN: Thank you. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Coming
up is Adam Connor. He is the Associate Manager
for Privacy and Global Public Policy at Facebook. Are we switching mics again? Hi, Adam. How are you? ADAM CONNER: Good. JONATHAN CAPEHART: He focuses
on government and political outreach and directed
the company’s 2008 election efforts. Adam, it says here you
worked on the Hill and on a presidential
exploratory committee. So you’ve seen it
from all sides. ADAM CONNER: All sides. JONATHAN CAPEHART: So, how
are candidates actually using Facebook. ADAM CONNER: Well, I think one
of the things that we’ve succeeded in the last few years
is I no longer go into meetings with campaigns to the Hill and
tell them what Facebook is. Everyone now knows what
Facebook is and many of them are using it. I think we really won the
battle of getting campaigns to use Facebook. Now, where we’ve fallen short
and I think they’re still great places to go is the candidates
themselves really embracing this technology and using it. We have staffers use it. But where you think you see
truly exceptional use of social media, like Facebook, is
when it starts at the top. When the candidate, the
senator, the governor, whoever it may be, is an active
participant in this, and once they win an election and head
into office, that just continues. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Are they all
active participants, or are they dragged kicking and
screaming into using Facebook? ADAM CONNER: You know, what
I’ve found over the years is it’s a mix, to be honest. You’ve got some people who are
very interested and charging forwrd, and I found that
doesn’t go down partisan lines, that doesn’t even go down lines
by age or anything like that. What it is is just there are
some people who are pretty interested, sometimes they’re
motivated by maybe the political realities of their
district, making them embrace these new communication
technologies maybe a little quicker than if they
were in a safer seat. But it really is interesting
and about how someone who is in touch with that, when the
people around them — grandkids or things like that — are on
Facebook and sharing photos. It helps really involve that
person, whether it’s a member or a governor,
whoever it may be. JONATHAN CAPEHART: I have
to ask this question. It’s an awfully good question,
but how many of these principles, you know, members,
elected officials, are actually the ones who are providing
information to their Facebook pages? Do you have any idea? ADAM CONNER: You know, I
don’t have a number on that. I think some people will have
varying answers to that. If you ask them or
the staffers–. What I have found is it
sometimes will take staff by surprise. So, a staff member, let’s say a
press secretary, may think that their boss doesn’t understand
what this is and goes through the whole process. He’ll walk in and you say,
well, actually I already have a Facebook profile and 500
friends, and they’re kind of taken back by that. But I do think you’re seeing
is growing acceptance. So when a member goes to the
House floor and says, it’s great, I’m getting all this
constituent feedback from my Facebook friends
on my BlackBerry. Check it out,
showing it around. That’s a great thing for
democracy and participation. JONATHAN CAPEHART: So we’ve
got, as I’ve said about 1,000 times already, five weeks until
the November 2 election. So what’s the best use of
Facebook in this time that we have before the election? ADAM CONNER: Sure. I think what you want to be
doing is communicating to voters, to media, and
the folks like that. And I think unlike some
communications technologies where it makes sense to
run everything from the communications director
and go through 10 drafts. You know, posting a photo of an
event, a status message that says, thanks for the
rally, Des Moines. Whatever it may be on the go,
mobile, that’s really where you can have a significant effect. I think authenticity translates
in social media in a way that’s almost intangible, but it’s
really something that can’t be fixed no matter
how hard we tryy. So, giving that little bit of
authenticity can go a long way. JONATHAN CAPEHART: And so, look
into your crystal ball or whatever it is you use to look
into the future, and answer this question for me. How do you think people
are going to be using Facebook, social media
in general, in 2012? ADAM CONNER: 2012. You know, I think you’ll see a
lot of people buy Facebook ads to targeted states, like Iowa
or New Hamshire, if I were just to throw some out there. Really using that to identify,
as early as possible, some of the activist base that’s
located there that’s really going to be able to give
folks the leg-up when it comes to competition. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
Well, fine then. ADAM CONNER: All right then. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Adam Conner
of Facebook, thank you very much for being here. ADAM CONNER: Thank you,
John, I appreciate it. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thank you. And we continue our Innovation
and Democracy program by bringing back Mike Allen. Is Mike here? Bringing back Mike Allen of
Politico for our next featured interview, and that is with Ed
Gillespie, the former Chairman of the Republican National
Committee, among many positions that Mr. Gillespie has had. So please — oh, here,
they’re both here. Mike Allen? MIKE ALLEN: Good job. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thank you. MIKE ALLEN: –And before that
he had been Chairman of the Republican National Committee. And it’s true you started
on Capitol Hill in a very unusual way. EDWARD GILLESPIE: I was a
Senate Parking Lot Attendant. I parked cars for
the Senate staff. MIKE ALLEN: Honest
work on Capitol Hill. EDWARD GILLESPIE: Then that
led to an internship. I also, my first job at the
RNC was I was a phoner in the basement in one of
those little cubicles. I would call people at home
and bother them for money for the Republican Party. 18 years later I was chairman
on the top floor calling people at homeand bothering them for
money for the Republican Party. So it was good experience. MIKE ALLEN: Were
you good at it? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I was
pretty good at it, yeah. MIKE ALLEN: Like what was the
typical ask in those days? EDWARD GILLESPIE: In those days
it was to make sure that we got more Republicans to help
support President Reagan’s agenda. But the nature of it
doesn’t really change. I will say that I over time
tacked on more zeroes, which was good, in the ask. MIKE ALLEN: So what’s a typical
ask for you these days? EDWARD GILLESPIE: It varies. There’s no such thing as a
typical ask these days. But I’m asking quite a bit for
trying to help the Republican State Leadership Committee to
elect State House and Senate candidates around the country,
which I think is very important. MIKE ALLEN: Also, reaching down
Governor, Attorney General. EDWARD GILLESPIE:
Attorney General. The RGA, you know, the
governors are pretty well covered. Governor Barbour’s done
a fantastic job at RGA, and the folks there. The Republican State Leadership
Committee has everything down ballot in the state elections,
essentially, from Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General,
Secretary of State, and State House and Senate candidates. It’s a very good year out
there for us for that, too. MIKE ALLEN: OK. And then let’s real quick walk
through your other hats. You’re a founder of
Resurgent Republic. EDWARD GILLESPIE: Correct. Which is a center-right
organization. It was modeled directly on
Democracy Corps that James Carville and Stan Greenberg
had set up on the left. They have done a very good job
for a decade now of gauging public perceptions and public
opinion relative to the policy debate going on in Washington
and around the country. I thought we need to take a
page from their playbook and set that up, along with a
number of other of folks. Whit Ayres is a very good
polster in the Party, as well as a number of other polsters
on the Conservative side. MIKE ALLEN: So you take
polls and then what do you do with them? EDWARD GILLESPIE:
We analyze them. Everything question we ask we
make public — put it on and make
all the findings available on the internet. We do an analysis of
what we’re seeing. Resurgent Republic was really
the first to spot the move away from President Obama
by independent voters. That was really back in
April of last year. Gallup picked it up in June. But we’ve been tracking those
independent voters over the course of the past —
since Resurgent Republic launched last April. MIKE ALLEN: OK. And then a third big hat is
your role in helping to start American Action Network,
American Crossroads. Could you just explain those
and your role in them? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, yeah
don’t want to overstate it, because other folks have
done a lot more than I have in that regard. American Action Network was
started by Norm Coleman and Fred Malek and others and
they do a fantastic job. There, Rob Collins runs it. Doug Holtz-Eakin does the
American Action forum, and that’s modeled largely on
Center for American Progress, which has been very effective,
again, on the left in helping to formulate ideas and promote
ideas from a more liberal side of the equation. This does it from the
more Conservative side of the equation. Then the American Crossroads
and American Crossroads GPS is a group that I helped to
launch, along with Karl Rove to offset much of the activity on
the left by, Moving America Forward. AFL-CIO, SEIU to try to compete
in the political arena in a way that on the right we really
haven’t since McCain-Feingold. MIKE ALLEN: Now, what gave you
the idea of trying to build a network like this to duplicate
what Democrats successfully did while they were out of power? EDWARD GILLESPIE: What
Democrats successfully did while they were out of power? They were very good at adapting
to McCain-Feingold and kind of bringing together some
institutions that helped them become more competitive over
time and re-invigorated them. I thought with us losing
control of the House, the Senate, and the White House
that it was time for Conservatives and Republicans
to take a look at that infrastructure that the left
had assembled over the course of time, and see if there was
some things they were doing that we ought to be
doing and we’re not. Some of the things we
just talked about are a number of those. MIKE ALLEN: All right. We know your hats. Now let’s take a little
tour of the landscape. Let’s start out, how bullish
are you about Republicans’ chances on November 2? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Very. And it’s hard to see with just
a little over a month to go, how the dynamic can
really change in any significant manner. But as I’ve been traveling the
country and talking to State House and State Senate
candidates and really seeing the ground game that’s going on
out there, the energy is really strong on the Republican side. I’ve said this and I
volunteered as General Chairman for Bob McDonnell’s campaign
for Governor of Virginia. I was saying back in 2009, the
most dangerous place to be in Virginia on Election Day is
between a Republican and a voting booth, and that’s going
to be the case this November. The most dangerous place to be
on Election Day is between a Republican and a voting booth. Our folks are very fired up,
very energized, and coming in, those independents
that we just talked about. They’re going to be there in
big numbers as well, and they’re going to vote to try to
put a check on President Obama and this Administration and
to make changes to the Pelosi-Reid Congress. MIKE ALLEN: Now, Republicans
would need 10 seats to take the Senate. What do think is the range of
what’s possible on your side? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I think we’re
at six to eight, but I also think it’s an Election Day
where who knows what’s going to happen at the end of the day. I don’t think there’s any–. MIKE ALLEN: So you’re skeptical
of the idea that Republicans would take the Senate. EDWARD GILLESPIE: I don’t
envision Republicans taking the center right now,
but I don’t rule it out. I think that this is an
environment — I don’t think there’s any such thing as
a safe Democratic seat. I think we’re seeing that
right now in West Virginia, among other places. Maybe even New York. I mean I think there’s
a lot going on on the ground right now. I would not be surprised
to see Republicans in control of the Senate. MIKE ALLEN: OK. So what are your 9, 10, 11, 12? What are the ones that look
out of reach that you could imagine coming in reach? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, first
of all, I start with I believe we will hold all of our opens. And then I think we’re going
to pick up a number of Democratic opens as well. Certainly, North Dakota,
Ohio — that’s one of our opens, I’m sorry. But when you look around at
some of the other seats that I think are in play today that
maybe six months ago people wouldn’t say, well, Republicans
may be able to win on Election Day. Obviously, California,
Wisconsin, Connecticut, West Virginia — all very much–. I’m sure I’m leaving
folks out right now. But I think there’s a very
good chance that we could be at eight or nine. MIKE ALLEN: So, are we going to
start to see Republican money moving to West Virginia and
moving to Connecticut? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, I read
somewhere that the Senatorial Committee had put down a buy-in
in West Virginia, so I think you’re already
starting to see that. MIKE ALLEN: So, is your
organization starting to look at broadening the field? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well,
again, just to be clear, my organization is the Republican
State Leadership Committee. We’re broadening the field all
over the place in terms of the State House and Senate race. I think we’re going to win
probably we’re going to net 10 legislative chambers around the
country, heavily concentrated in the Great Lakes. That’s very important to us
in terms of redistricting, as you know. So any gains that we make
in the U.S. House in this election — we have
talked about U.S. House. I think we’re going to win the
U.S. House — we’ll be able to have a pretty big impact in
redistricting the way that helps protect the gains that we
make in this election in 2010. MIKE ALLEN: OK, now let’s set
the scene on redistricting. How many State Houses,
how many chambers do Republicans hold now? EDWARD GILLESPIE: That’s
a trick question, Mike. I should know that and I don’t. But I know the–. MIKE ALLEN: Well, what does
the net 10 do for you? Talk about what the
impact of that would be. EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, the net
10 would be if you look at somewhere like, again, talking
about the Great Lakes, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana,
Michigan, maybe even Illinois, we could win the State Houses
in all of those states. The Wisconsin State
Senate we could win. In the New York State Senate,
if you look at New York, we could win six to eight U.S.
House seats in New York, depending on what kind
of a night it is. Pennsylvania, three or four. Ohio, three or four. Indiana, three or four. So having control of the State
Houses and the redistricting process in those states would
be pretty important to keeping those. MIKE ALLEN: We talk about the
redistricting process and that sounds a little abstract. What in very, like specific,
mechanical terms can you do if you control a State House when
you go to draw these maps? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, there’s
redistricting committees in most of the State Legislators. There are some places where
there’s redistricting done by commission. Some places the Governor has a
veto autority, some they don’t. But in most states the
Congressional District lines, as well as the State House and
the State Senate lines are drawn by the State Legislators. And having the pen in your
hand, because you had the majority being the chairman
of that committee, makes a big difference. So, and these states that we’re
talking about, being able to draw the district lines in a
way that is more favorable toward your party, which is
done on both sides of the aisle, can have an impact for
five election cycles for a decade. MIKE ALLEN: And Ed, how
much money do you expect the Republican State
Leadership Committee will spend this cycle? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I think
probably for this cycle we’ll probably do around $30 million. I think probably spend
somewhere between $15 to $18 million from Labor
Day through Election Day. MIKE ALLEN: And what was
it in the ’08 cycle? EDWARD GILLESPIE:
Probably about $22. So, about a 50% increase. MIKE ALLEN: And is there an
equivalent organization on the Democratic side? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Democratic
Legislative Campaign Committee, which is responsible for
their State House and Senate. RSLC also houses, we have their
Republic Attorney General Association, Secretary of State
Association, as well as the Republican Legislative
Campaign Committee. MIKE ALLEN: You have
quite a number. EDWARD GILLESPIE: On their side
they’re broken up a little bit more and they have different–. As I say, we have a mall here
where RAGA, and the RLCC, and Secretary of State Association
all are kind of housed. MIKE ALLEN: And in your spare
time you do the Catholic University Board, you say? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I’ve just
ducked out of a Catholic University of America Board of
Trustees meeting where I serve on the Board of Trustees at my
alma mater, but wanted to come and spend a little
time with you. MIKE ALLEN: OK. As we end the landscape here,
let’s talk about the House. You said that you win
the House, you would need 39 pick-ups. What do you expect? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I think we’re
looking at 45 and north of 45, depending on how much things
continue to build between now and November. But I would say a minimum
of 45 seat pick-up. MIKE ALLEN: OK, north of 45. What’s the ceiling? EDWARD GILLESPIE: You know
what, you get north of 45 it’s hard to say. I mean it’s a dam
break at that point. MIKE ALLEN: And do you foresee
a potential dam break on November 2 and coming up to it? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Yeah. I think so. I mean you just look at the —
all of a sudden seats that are coming into play that I think
people weren’t necessarily counting on being in play. Like I say, I don’t think
there’s any such thing as a safe Democrat today. In any election I remember
working for Haley Barbour and after the ’94 cycle, and he
would talk about Congressman Flotsam and Congressman Jetsam
who washed up in the tidal wave, and I suspect we’ll see a
few of those the Wednesday after the election in November. MIKE ALLEN: Now, Ed,
YouTube and Politico took questions online through
Google Moderator. I have one of those
questions here. This is from dukewinner123
in New York. The question is, “The boundless
expansion of online communications has caused media
to, generally, become more partisan toward the
left or the right. How is media partisanship
affected midterm races this year, and what affects
can we expect between now and November 2?” EDWARD GILLESPIE: That’s
kind of interesting. The media, the media writ
large does go through cycles. There was a time in our history
when the newspapers, a major dailies picked a side, and you
had the Waterbury Republican and the Arkansas Democratic
Gazette and everybody knew. Then it became part of the
ethos that generalists are going to be subjective
and not pick a side. You can argue how effective
they were at that one way or the other. But I think it’s pretty clear
now that folks are certainly in the online community. People are picking a side, and
voters, I think, have access to, obviously, a lot
of information. Voters are smart. I put a lot of faith in them. They filter out
bad information. They go to places, even if they
know that there’s a certain ideological slant to it. I’m sure everyone else here, I
go check out a number of websites in the course of a day
and in the morning, and they’re not all ones that are
reinforcing of my point of view. Many of them have a different
take, but I like to see what’s out there. There’s credible information,
there’s not credible information. There’s information from
the left, and there’s information from the right. And there’s not credible
information on the left, and not credible information on the
right, and credible information on the left, and credible
information on the right. I think it’s been a positive
thing in terms of generally the political process. I do think it’s probably
contributed to greater polarization in the
political process. But that’s not necessarily
a bad thing either. I mean there’s a reason
there are two parties, people disagree. I think we can do that civilly. But in terms of the internet
and its impact, I think it’s generally been hugely positive
and beneficial to voters and have given people greater
breath of information of places to go to get it. MIKE ALLEN: And the 2004
Presidential Election, when President Bush was running
against Senator Kerry, your side had the
technological advantage. Your focus on microtargeting
really put you ahead, and later the Democrats copied that. In 2008 they seemed to get the
upper hand in technology. How did that happen? EDWARD GILLESPIE: It’s
the nature of politics. Things leap frog, and the other
side, you have to adapt and react and then you move ahead. We’ve seen that time and time
again in the political arena. I think we’re seeing it now. I mean we talked a little bit
about some of the groups on the right that we talked about. In 2008, those who supported
President Obama and his election and down ballot from
him, beginning with the Obama campaign through the BNC, into
the AFL-CIO and SCIU, and other liberal-leaning organizations,
they spent $1.1 billion in expenditures to help elect
President Obama and people who supported his point of view. On the Conservative side, there
was only $634 million spent by the McCain campaign and the RNC
and folks that supported that point of view. So a $500 million gap had to
come about over three cycles after McCain-Feingold. That pendulum may be
swinging bac the other way. So you have to adapt to the
changed circumstances or you’re not going to be able to be
competitive and be a majority party. So, I believe that we are in a
position to reclaim our majority status, but we need to
adapt technologically and to the process in
order to do that. And Democrats will
respond accordingly. MIKE ALLEN: Now, when you look
outside the Party structure at the money that’s going into
these elections, clearly there’s a lot more on your
side this fall than there is on the other side. Why do you think that is? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I think it
reflects being on the outside. We saw that dynamic on the left
when President Bush was in the White House for eight years. The intensity tends to
be on the side of the folks who are out. When you’re in, there’s
contentment, and you actually get frustrated with your own
side for not doing the things you think they
ought to be doing. We’re seeing that
on the left now. But on the right it’s a
lot easier to be unified. As is the case on the left,
it’s always easier to be unified in opposition to
something, than trying to get something done. MIKE ALLEN: We have another
question that came in through Google Moderator. This once again from
Gary Kubiak in Chicago. So he wins the prize. He asks, “What effect
will Jon Stewart’s rally have on Election Day?” EDWARD GILLESPIE: I’m not sure. I don’t think a
significant effect. I think that Jon Stewart’s
show, obviously, a lot of people get a lot of
information from it. But I’m not sure at the end of
the day how much of an effect it’s going to have on
the [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. MIKE ALLEN: David Axelrod was
on this stage and he said that on benefit, he believed that on
balance will benefit his side because it would get
people excited. Again, that’s what they need
for the reasons you’ve been talking about. He said the only slight
drawback is that it may take people away from working
turnout efforts, but he said on balance it helps them. Do you agree with that? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I’m
just not so sure. I can understand him thinking
that, but I’m not so sure it’s going to have a significant
impact given the dynamics of the selection that we’re
looking at right now. MIKE ALLEN: Ed, at this point,
what do you worry about? What could go wrong
for your side? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, I worry
about intensity waning, although I don’t see it. And I think actually, as
President Obama and the Democrats seem to kind of
double-down in trying to energize core Democratic
voters, there’s a flip side of that, which is it continues to
stoke core Republican voters in response to that. So I think they’ll fix that
concern on my part themselves. MIKE ALLEN: So, the President’s
going out, he’s doing some big rallies — he has one tomorrow
in Wisconsin where they could get 5,000 to 10,000 people. Do you believe that’s
going to help your side? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I do, yeah. You know, the President,
unfortunately, and I don’t know at what point he changed from
post-partisan to most-partisan. But I’ve never seen a President
of the United States on either side of the aisle engage in the
kind of personal attacks against people in Congress on
the other side the way President Obama
has chosen to do. I don’t think it’s 1) not only
it’s good for the presidency, but 2) I don’t think it’s
politically effective for them. MIKE ALLEN: If you were him, if
you were his counselor, what would you be advising him? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I’d say
talk about the issues. Make a case for your
health care bill. Make a case for your
stimulus plan. Try to get folks to understand
why you think that it’s better than the alternative. But kind of the personal
screeds and attacks against leaders by name, Republican
leaders in Congress, I think it’s like nails on a chalkboard
to a lot of Republicans, but it also alienates a lot of
independent voters. That’s not changing the tone. Well, it is changing the
tone, it’s making it worse. So, I think that when he goes
out there and he stumps, I’m sure it has some short-term
energizing effect for core Democratic voters, but I can
assure you it has a very energetic long-term effect on
Conservatives and independents and drives independents
further into Republican arms. MIKE ALLEN: The President
himself has started talking about the House Minority
leader, the Republican leader, John Boehner who would be
speaker Boehner if Republicans get the majority. What do you think
was in their mind? What do you think is their
strategy with that? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I don’t know. MIKE ALLEN: Well, what it
clearly is is if you build him up, then you can attack him or
take him down, make him the face of the Republican Party. Is that working? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I think John
Boehner ought to send the President a box of chocolates
and say, thank you because you helped me buy this box of
chocolates, as well as a number of other ads I was able to buy. And thanks for elevating the
Minority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives in a
way that’s never been done before in the history of the
Republic, and thanks for coming on down to my level. So, I’m at a loss. Other than that I think when
you’ve got a raging river coming at you, you’ll try to
grab for any branch to try to pull yourself out of
being swept away. Near as I can tell,
they’ve [? fibbetted ?] away from that to
another strategy. MIKE ALLEN: Now, the donors to
a number these groups, because of the tax laws under which
they’re organized, do not have to be disclosed. David Axelrod said that we
should ask you a question, which I’m going to ask you now. That is that if these people
are so invested in the process, like if these groups are so
valuable to process, why not disclose who the
money comes from? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, first
of all, again, my organization, the Republic State
Leadership Committee, we disclose our donors. It’s a 527 and we have 85,000
individual donors and they’re happy to be disclosed. MIKE ALLEN: But the big money
on the outside, including American Crossroads GPS
does not have to be–. EDWARD GILLESPIE: American
Crossroads has a 527, it does disclose. There’s a C4 that
does not disclose. As is the case on the left. Center for American Progress
and their ads that they run, their donors aren’t disclosed. The Bill that Chuck Schumer and
Ben Holland have introduced, as I understand it, would exempt
the AFL-CIO from disclosing. MIKE ALLEN: But if I’m a voter,
why don’t I want to know who’s buying those ads? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I was just
trying to point out that there are geese and
there are ganders. And you know, both sides have
organizations that disclose and both sides have organizations
that don’ disclose. And historically, on the left,
they have had a big advantage in those non-disclosed donors,
and this changed the cycle. So now we’ve gotta be able
to try to change it back. MIKE ALLEN: But let’s
talk about both sides. EDWARD GILLESPIE: So let me
just say, why would a donor give and not want
to be disclosed. A couple of reasons. 1) if you look at the history
of donors on the right who have given to certain causes or
organizations, they’ve been subject to some pretty vicious
attacks from the organized left. There are people who gave to a
referendum out in California who got flooded with emails,
pretty nasty in nature, and had their jobs threatened. You saw what happened when
Target supported a candidate for Governor in Minnesota. And then all of a sudden
the organized left went after Target. The fact is, a lot of these
folks who are opposed to more government control of our
economy, and more government intervention in our economy,
are already subject to a great deal of government control and
government intervention and regulation in the economy, and
there’s fear of retribution. There’s a fear that, well, if I
give to this organization, and those who are in control and in
power and who seek to further government control of my sector
or my company or my own personal lives, they’ll
come after me. Now that’s I don’t think
paranoia on their part. You’re not really paranoid when
they’re really out to get you. The fact is that there are,
unfortunately, instances — and we just saw just recently the
news report of a Democratic member of Congress calling up a
company and saying, hey, I noticed that you weren’t
on my donor form. You haven’t given any money to
me, but I’ve seen you’ve given some other members of my
committee, and I have a lot of say over the business
and your sector. That kind of thing — I know
it’s shocking, but it happens. And believe me, it happens when
you show up as a Conservative somewhere, you’ll hear from
somebody saying oh, jeez, I see you don’t necessarily agree
with my agenda, maybe I’m going to have to change the nature of
the way your business is regulated. MIKE ALLEN: OK, if we could
just talk about these big, undisclosed checks. Do you worry that this
could get out of hand? That something could happen
that in retrospect will say, OK, that was corrupt? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, I
guess there’s always that possibility, and the media, I’m
sure, would do it very good job of scrutinizing both sides,
on the left and the right. MIKE ALLEN: You’re partly
responsible for the worry–. EDWARD GILLESPIE: Like when the
$500 million window opened up between the left and the right
and there wasn’t much consternation about
at the time. But I’m sure now that the right
has evened the playing field a little bit, there will be
much more interest in this on this front. MIKE ALLEN: So, do you think
that you’re being held to a standard that you think
is inappropriate? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Let
me deposit this. Here’s a — I think it’s a
different standard that’s applied today than was–. MIKE ALLEN: And what
is the difference? EDWARD GILLESPIE: That there
are Conservative groups now engaged in something that
Liberal groups have been doing for three cycles
is the difference. I have welcomed New York Times
to your interest in this area. But look, there’s a flip side,
by the way, in terms of those non-disclosed donors. Which is that if you’re
non-disclosed, and it’s not just that you’re protected from
being fearful of retribution possibly from those who are in
control and don’t appreciate you supporting those who don’t
share their point of view while they’re in power. At the same time, the
beneficiaries of it don’t have any idea who is participating
in the process either. So maybe there’s a virtue
that’s not often noted. MIKE ALLEN: All right. We have a question from Google
Moderator that came in online. This is from pgunn01, and they
ask, how many of the issues that are big in this campaign
were clear back in ’08? How many of these issues rose
spontaneously; how many of these issues could
you see coming? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, the
biggest that was I think started to become clear in ’08
is the economy, and the concern over jobs and the economic
growth of the country and the financial markets, and that’s
still very prevelant today. So actually, I think to a large
extent, while national security was an issue in ’08, but not
nearly as much as it was in ’06. But clearly, from ’08 going
forward, the economy has been the dominant issue set and
remains the most dominant issue set pointing to this November. MIKE ALLEN: And Arianna
asked me a question on the way in here. She wondered if we’re now in
a cycle where incumbents will never last. That the anger will always be
turned, and whoever’s there, and so if we get a Republican
in, like the Tea Party will turn on that. EDWARD GILLESPIE: I think it’s
hard to extrapolate out from one cycle down the line. Every cycle has its
own attributes. There’s clearly an
anti-Washington, anti-establishment
strong strain in the elector right now. I think it’s understandable. I think that accrues to
Republican benefit in a big, big way this year. But if I’m right and
Republicans win control of the House, and we’re not responsive
to what those voters are looking for in a new Republican
majority, we’ll be next. And there’s no doubt. Then this may tie into the
earlier question, the previous question about the impact of
the new media and the internet. You know, the cycles
have accelerated. These wave elections used to be
every 40 years and then every 20 years and every 10 years,
and now they’re like every four years. There’s no doubt that that’s
a contributing factor to it. But I wouldn’t project a
straight line out from this election year and,
say, going forward. I think this Administration has
been extraordinary in the breath and depth of government
intervention in our economy, and that’s what’s really fueled
this anti-Washington sentiment out there. If the result of that is a
change in control of the House, and the results of that is that
President Obama then moves more to the center, in the way Bill
Clinton did after losing the House in ’94, that could change
the dynamic considerably. MIKE ALLEN: Now, if Republicans
get the House as you are predicting here that they
will, the Speaker will be John Boehner of Ohio. Now, Leader Boehner’s history
has not been as a bomb thrower. And yet he’s going to have a
lot of like very aggressive, emboldened members
in his caucus. How do you navigate that? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, he’s a
very skillful leader, and he’s someone I have a lot of respect
for and admiration for. But I don’t think you have
to be a bomb thrower. He’s also a Conservative. You know, this is a guy who’s
been in Congress for over 20 years and has never sought an
earmark for his district, who’s got a pretty good record when
it comes to taxes and spending and fiscal policy, as well
as life and pretty much–. I don’t know off the top my
head, but I’d say John Boehner’s ACU rating has
to be 90 or north of it. So he’s a Conservative, and
that’s what matters most is are you going to adhere to the
principles and the policies that we believe in as a
Party, as a Leader of the House of Republicans. I believe he will, and I don’t
think you have to throw bombs to do that. MIKE ALLEN: So, do you
think he should work with the White House? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I think if
there are opportunities to work with the White House where,
like I said, the President is willing to work in an
accommodating fashion with, hopefully, Speaker Boehner. It’s hard to think they’re
going to get off on a great foot, given what the
President’s been saying over the past few weeks. MIKE ALLEN: Well,
it’s been mutual. EDWARD GILLESPIE: Did John
Boehner attack the President of the United States personally? MIKE ALLEN: There
have been plenty–. EDWARD GILLESPIE: I missed it. MIKE ALLEN: There
been plenty of–. EDWARD GILLESPIE: I
missed it if he did. MIKE ALLEN: There’s been plenty
of tough rhetoric about President Obama from your side. EDWARD GILLESPIE:
Like his policies. I think there’s a distinction
here that’s important in the political arena. So, all that to say, if there
are some areas where there’s a chance to work together,
for example, in free trade agreements. I think that that may be an
area where a Republican House and a narrowly divided
Democratic Senate and President Obama could find some common
ground and accommodation, maybe even on entitlement reform, if
the President were to try to attack back toward the middle a
little bit in response to the signal from this election. That would be an area where
I think that they could find some common ground. MIKE ALLEN: So, do you think
your side would be willing to give some ground on
entitlement reforms? For instance, if the President
were to accept some clear long-term spending cuts, would
your side be willing to accept tax increases? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I don’t think
there are many Republicans out there running saying vote for
me and I’ll increase taxes if I get to Washington. MIKE ALLEN: You were suggesting
that in a governing mode, they might be able to make
some sort of deal. EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, what I
was suggesting was if you were going to do entitlement reform
— look, and I’ll leave this to the policymakers — but to me
entitlement reform means getting control of the spending
that’s going on in Washington. And I’m not sure that there’s
a revenue problem right now. I think there’s a spending
problem right now. But that’s a debate to be
had if there’s a Republican House and a Democratic
President, I’m sure. MIKE ALLEN: Say that you have a
Republican House, Democratic White House, Democrat Senate. What would House of
Republicans be able to do? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, again,
I think trade is an area where you could get some things done. And I think, look, at the
end of the day, you have to fund the government. We saw this when President
Bush — we had a Republican White House and a
Democratic Congress. I was there for negotiating the
budget with President Bush and Speaker Pelosi and the
Democrats on the Senate side. We were able to get
accommodation on the budget. Nobody got everything
they wanted, but we were able to move forward. MIKE ALLEN: How aggressive do
you think House of Republicans, if they Majority, should be on
subpoenas on investigating the White House? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I don’t
think that’s what people are electing Republicans to do. I think they’re electing
Republicans to try to put the brakes on spending and
make sure that we get our fiscal house in order. We don’t double the debt
over five years and triple it over ten. But there’s obviously a
legitimate oversight role for the Congress, and it’s an
important one, to ensure that taxpayers money is being spent
properly, that things are being done in a — that the laws are
being implemented as Congress passed, and that’s certainly
a legitimate function of the legislative branch. But I don’t think that
Republicans should be too sidetracked by it. I think that the focus needs to
be on policy and spending and taxes and getting jobs going
in the country again. MIKE ALLEN: How much of an
opportunity do you think there is for your Party in 2012? How vulnerable do you think the
President’s re-election is? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I think he’s
very vulnerable right now. But 2012 is a lifetime away
in politics, and that pendulum can swing. I think a lot of it depends
on how does he react to the changed dynamic
after this election. President Clinton was able to
adapt because I think voters saw him as someone who had
moved too far left and he was able to come back to the
center, because he was a new Democrat and third way. It will be interesting to see
if President Obama can do that, because he did not campaign
that way, and I’m not sure that’s how he feels
about things. But that said, pendulums
swing in politics. 18 months ago, few people would
think that here would be a legitimate discussion here
today about the prospect of Speaker Boehner,
like we just had. So, I think that right now
I would say he is very vulnerable to defeat in 2012. But I would also say it’s right
now, and that could change. MIKE ALLEN: What potential
candidates on your side look strong? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well,
I think we’re going to have a great field. I mean I’m excited by it. This is always a tough question
because you end up making somebody mad for mentioning
them or not mentioning them. But, obviously, we’ve got a lot
of the governors and former governors out there. MIKE ALLEN: Tick through
Governor Romney, Governor Polenti, Governor Palin,
whether or not Governor Barbour or Governor Daniels get in. But a lot of talk about them. Out of the Senate, Senator
Thune, maybe Senator DeMint, former Speaker Gingrich,
former Senator Santorum. I think a big field is
good for Republicans. And there could be folks who
get elected now who could all of a sudden be in play
in this November. We have a very interesting
field of governors getting elected. I wouldn’t encourage of them
to get elected governor of your state and then say I’m
gonna run for President. But I think there will
be a lot of new faces– MIKE ALLEN: Who’s a
dark horse like that? Who’s on that list? EDWARD GILLESPIE: A
lot of new people. [INTERPOSING VOICES] MIKE ALLEN: Who’s on that list? Who would you mention? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well,
I mean I think when you look at some of the–. I’m mean we’re going to have
some — and women governors that I think actually could
end up on a short list. I mean for vice
president, certainly. So I don’t know. I don’t want to get anybody in
trouble who’s running to get elected governor somewhere and
then I’m throwing out their name for–. All I’m saying is it’s a
very fluid situation on the Republican side. And I think the Party is at
a point in time where very open to new ideas, new
faces, new energy. And I think that’s good for us. That’ll be helpful. MIKE ALLEN: Now, one candidate
on your side has gotten a lot of attention is Christine
O’Donnell, the Republican nominee in Delaware. What do you of her? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I think that
she is a clear reflection of people’s desire for change. In the Republican primary,
shaking things up. I hope she wins. I know the poll numbers show
that if Governor Castle, former Congressman Castle had been our
nominee, chances were better for Delaware. I don’t dispute that. But I would also say
that I don’t count that seat out at all. And I think that Christine
O’Donnell’s been pretty effective of late. Like I say, there’s no such
thing as a safe Democratic seat in this election year. MIKE ALLEN: How damaging
do you think those video clips have been of her? EDWARD GILLESPIE: You
know, I’m not sure. This environment is such where
someone who’s out there with a very clear resonate message
that if you send me to Washington, I’m going to put
the brakes on spending, I’m going to make sure we don’t
raise taxes, I’m going to try and get control of this
out-of-control debt. I think that gets heard
over and above 20 year old tapes about witchcraft. I really do. MIKE ALLEN: All right. As we say goodbye here, David
Axelrod told us about his iPad. What is your toy
these days, Eddie? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well, I have
an iPad, I have to say, but I haven’t learned it yet. MIKE ALLEN: Haven’t learned it? What is there to learn? EDWARD GILLESPIE: How to
turn it on for one thing. MIKE ALLEN: The Google. EDWARD GILLESPIE: The Google. So, I’m hoping to get a chance
to learn that here when I go on my next big trip. MIKE ALLEN: What
are your devices? Like what do use to get news? EDWARD GILLESPIE: I go on
— I just use my laptop and my BlackBerry. That’s pretty much it. MIKE ALLEN: And where do you
go for news these days? EDWARD GILLESPIE: Well,
certainly, I go to Google and Politico. NRO, and The Daily Caller, and
on the other side, Huff Post, and check out what’s
going on in the KOS. I like to see, because I like
to read what’s in the Daily KOS today because I like to know
what’s going to be in The New York Times tomorrow. MIKE ALLEN: Ed Gillespie, thank
you very much for sitting down with us, taking a break
from your board meeting. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Nice
zinger there, Ed. Mike Allen, Ed Gillespie, thank
you both for that insight into the Republican strategy for
this midterm election and for 2012. That concludes our
featured interviews. We’ll be taking a closer
look at 2012 with our panel of game changers. They will join us here as soon
as we get all the chairs and things moved around. But while they’re doing
that, I want to ask the audience a question. And that is how many of you
actually use Facebook? Just a show of hands. OK, that’s almost everybody. And how many of
you use Twitter? How many are you tweeting
reading right now? And the one person who’s been
tweeting the whole time, actually just took off. Tony Fratto. I follow Tony Fratto. He used to work in President
Bush’s press shop, and he’s been tweeting throughout
this entire program. And then a show of hands, how
many of you agree with Ed Gillespie that the
Republicans will take the House in November? That’s not many of you. How many think that the
Democrats will actually hang on to the House? That’s even fewer people than
who said that the Republicans would take the House
from the Democrats. Interesting. Interesting. Well, I want to welcome
everybody back. It looks like the
panel is seated. I want to introduce
the moderator of our illustrious panel. Arianna Huffington is
Co-founder and Editor in Chief of The Huffington Post, and the
author of 13 books, including the just published, Third World
America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle
Class, and Betraying the American Dream. She is also co-host of Left,
Right & Center, public radio’s popular political
roundtable program. She has a leading role in
utilizing the internet to advance the political
conversation. Please help me welcome
Arianna Huffington and her panel to the stage. Arianna? ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Thank
you, Jonathan, and I’m delighted to be here. This has been
fascinating so far. Now I would like quickly to
inroduce you to my very illustrious panel starting with
Stephen Hayes, who is a serial writer at The Weekly Standard,
and the author of Chaney, the authorized biography of the
former vice president, and he lived to tell about it. Before joining The Weekly
Standard, he was a senior writer for National Journal’s
Hotline, and director of the Institute on Political
Journalism at Georgetown University. Welcome, Stephen. Becki Donatelli I met in the
ladies’ room, which is how all good meetings begin. So we’re now already bonded. She’s the Founder and President
of Campaign Solutions. She’s the first person to raise
money on the internet for a political campaign. Her company, Campaign
Solutions, has more online money for Republican candidates
and public affairs clients than any other company. And she was the Chief Internet
Consultant to the John McCain campaign, raising about
$100 million online. Amy Walter. Amy Walter is the new Political
Director at ABC news. And she also provides on-air
analysis on ABC news programs. Like Steve, she’s a veteran of
the National Journal’s Hotline, and was a Senior Editor of the
Cook Political Report where she had a reputation as a top
handicapper of political races. So let’s hope that she has
her crystal ball with her. AMY WALTER: It didn’t fit
in my pocket, but thanks. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: And
speaking of spot-on election predictions, of course, Nate
Silver, the Founder of, the
popular poll analysis site that is now hearted by
The New York Times. FiveThirtyEight won the 2008
web blog award for best political coverage. Among other things, Nate
has been named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most
influential people. And has been called a
spreadsheet psychic, and a number-crunching prodigy. So, we’ll have a lot to
ask you about that. Welcome. So, let me start with something
that David Axelrod had said. He said that there’s a kind of
group pathology in Washington, which is one that the
agency looks forward to decamping to Chicago. So, you who sort of are
covering campaigns or working on campaigns, how do you deal
with a group pathology, and the way in which what is covered in
Washington does not reflect either what is happening or
what is being talked about in that real America? NATE SILVER: Well, I live
in New York and there’s no pathology there at all. But I think it’s probably
healthy to kind of get out and have conversations with
people who aren’t like yourself, I suppose. And that’s probably not a lot
easier to do in New York than in Washington. But the kind of joke Ed was
making about kind of reading the Daily KOS and stuff. I think it’s important to read
whether you’re a Liberal, a Conservative, read blogs and
all sides to the spectrum. Some of them are very good,
some of them are less good, but still give you a
sense for the zeitgeist. That seems so essential to me. You know, watch both
Fox News and MSNBC. If you just want to stereotype
them on one side or the other. But just consume a
lot of opinions. And in some ways it’s much
easier now because we do have the internet and you have
people maybe who aren’t online who don’t have as
much of a voice. But in general, you can know
what the local paper in Topeka is saying about a House race
that you’re curious about. That should make things
a lot easier in theory. AMY WALTER: I employ the
mother-in-law rule, which is if I can’t explain it to her, then
whichever side is making that argument isn’t winning it. I found that on health care. She kept saying — and I will
pause it right now that my in-laws are both
Republican-leaning. They live in Texas — also, not
a place that is known for having — they’re not sitting
in the middle of some liberal bastion. But at the same time, they’re
very thoughtful and they’re really just looking
for an explanation. Most people in this country, I
find — and I do this both talking to them and other
family members or other folks who don’t do what I do every
day or what we all do every day — they don’t read the blogs
and they don’t watch Fox and they don’t watch MSNBC and they
don’t have really strongly held opinions on some of the things
that we think are the most important issue going
on for America. So, if you can’t have something
break through with them, then the odds are that it doesn’t
matter if the right is all fired up about it or the left’s
all fired up, it’s not going to move the regular voters. To me, it just is so much,
too, about common sense. And we forget about that here
when we get caught up in some of the details of every
teeny bit of legislation. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: But in
fact, a lot of what is happening right now,
dominating the debate, is not about common sense. It is a lot of fear mongering,
and we see now the new spray of political ads. And a lot of them are playing
on fears, which seems to happen every election cyclee. And is it true that, still,
fear is the way to go — fear rather than hope? BECKI DONATELLI: It’s
either love or hate. As a fundraiser, we know we
have to have somebody really fall in love with our candidate
or be deathly afraid of the opposition. So it’s one or the other,
and I’m sure we see it all across the board. Working exclusively on the
internet, we think that we have kind of a special seat, and we
see first what the trends are. We know if our money goes
up, if our sign-ups go up. If the info box is full
of people yelling at us. I mean we are on
the first line. If you go to your new media
people, your web people, and ask them the trends that
they’re seeing today, that’s going to be what’s dominate
a few days from now. And it goes so fast, too. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: And you
have actually done a real interesting video, which was
kind of really innovative with the Michele Bachmann campaign. Would you tell us about it? BECKI DONATELLI: Well,
that’s the other thing. Everything changes
so fast online. What we’re doing today will be
passe, perhaps, a year from now, or what we’re doing a
year from now we’re not even thinking about doing today. But the whole convergence of
media is something that we’ve been talking about for
awhile and it is happening. Television sets are computers
are movie theaters, and it’s all crossing over. So, Google has been an
enabler of all of us to do interesting and cool things. So we did something for
Michele Bachmann’s campaign. Her team, Greener and Hook,
did some really great ads. They were very funny, all
centered on the Minnesota State Fair, and if any of
you have ever been to the Minnesota State Fair– AMY WALTER: It’s awesome. BECKI DONATELLI: It is. It’s got the most fried food. Fried spaghetti, fried — yeah. Anyway. AMY WALTER: Do they
have fried beer? BECKI DONATELLI: Yeah. They fry everything. So, her team did this ad that
said basically MIchele Bachmann’s opponent wanted
to tax the food at the Minnesota State Fair. And so, it was a great ad,
very funny, played on TV, blah, blah, blah. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Did he? Did he want to tax the food? BECKI DONATELLI: You’d have
to fact check the ad. AMY WALTER: They
don’t do the facts. BECKI DONATELLI: Exactly. But at any rate, so what Google
has done with some of their new innovations, is they allowed us
to draw a circle around the Minnesota State Fair, a
geographic circle, and stream ads into the people that are
only inside the fairgrounds to their Smartphones, and 2,200
people that afternoon watched an ad inside the fairgrounds
about her opponent trying to tax their corndog at the fair. So, there are no
more boundaries. We’re really able to talk
and communicate across all kinds of levels. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: But is that
a problem in terms of what we just talked about for a
second, whether this is a factual ad or not? I mean doesn’t that really
matter a lot when we have this huge breakdown of trust. The public just doesn’t trust
anybody at the moment — not the media, not politicans, not
Democrats, not Republicans. Aren’t we feeding that
mistrust, whether we are in the media or campaign consultant if
we put something out and we don’t really care whether
it’s factual or not? BECKI DONATELLI: Well, I’m the
only political consultant up here, and I will tell you, all
kidding aside, we do work for very honorable people, and
we have a standard of ethics that we hew to. We’re very involved in
our Professional Trade Association, it does have
a standard of conduct. And I think it does begin
with us to try to tell the truth all the time. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: What
else can the media do, Steve, to backtrack? STEPHEN HAYES: I think one of
the upsides of the proliferation of information
sources is the fact that you can go to places and find out
whether an ad is truthful or not. I mean you certainly have,
whether it’s someplace like PolitiFact, or whether it’s
local reporters that have teamed up with national media
outlets that are fact-checking these things on an
almost real time basis. So, really interested voters
and reporters who are just trying to sort of keep up with
all of this information, can go to different sources and get, I
think in many cases, an authoritative up or down, yes
or no, this is true or it’s not, scoring of
these kinds of ads. It’s one of the reasons I think
that having this kind of information technology at your
fingertips, whether it’s on a Smartphone, whether you’re
googling, whatever you’re doing, is changing the way that
we operate on a minute by minute basis. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: So you
think actually people are going to be less willing to just put
something out there and hope it lasts until the election? STEPHEN HAYES: Well, it
depends, I think, to what extent they get called on it. I think that they will. I mean ultimately, as a
believer in free markets, I think if you put good
information out there that follows bad, if you can
identify blatantly misleading political ads, for instance,
and call them on it, I think that people will learn that it
doesn’t pay to run those kind of ads. Maybe I’m hopelessly naive
about that — it wouldn’t be the first time people
have said that about me. But I do believe that. I do believe that if you
provide people with good information, you provide them
places to get that good information, they will
ultimately use it. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: So, Steve,
we were talking in the green room about your feeling that
they way the Tea Party’s portrayed in New York and
Washington is a very inaccurate portrayal. So, tell us the truth. STEPHEN HAYES: I do. It’s interesting. I was struck earlier by what
David Axelrod said when he was talking about the Tea Parties,
the issue came up, and the first thing that he did was
turn to this New Yorker piece about the funding of the Tea
Party and the Koch brothers. To me, it was emblematic —
now, not to criticize him since he’s not here to defend himself
— but to me it was emblematic of the problem with the way
that Washington sees the Tea Party. There’s this huge
growth of outrage. And in most cases, I would say
it’s voter outrage rather than outright voter anger, that’s
grown in the country. Everybody knows that
it’s the story of the 2010 election cycle. And yet, when you look at The
New Yorker, and certainly The New Yorker isn’t alone. A lot of people have focused on
the funding and the apparatus of the Tea Parties. The story for reporters that
are based in Washington and New York is all about the Koch
brothers, or these billionaires or how they’re raising
money or what have you. That’s not the story of
the Tea Party movement. It’s not. The Koch’s have been giving
money to Libertarian causes for 30 years, and they’ve
given money at the same levels for 30 years. The idea that what we’re seeing
in the country on a grassroots level, which I think is
incredibly organic — almost entirely organic — is somehow
manipulated by these two brothers throwing money at it
from Washington, is a total misunderstanding of the way
that the Tea Parties have come to be and are operating
on a daily basis. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: But Amy,
in fact, it’s not just the Tea Parties were angry. I have this sense as I’ve been
traveling around the country that everybody’s angry. It’s just that people
express it differently. How else do see people
expressing it? AMY WALTER: They
hate everybody. I mean any institution right
now is viewed skeptically. And that’s what makes it so
hard with these attack ads. I mean we saw this in 2006. Republicans said, well, we’re
going to hold the House this year because we’re going to run
these attack ads just ripping the face off of all
of these Democrats. We got so much stuff there,
we can’t wait to start. And they did. And it didn’t work because
people didn’t buy it. And they were already so
frustrated with the status quo, that really unless he said,
this person is cloning aliens in their basement that are
going to come out and take over the earth, and we have pictures
of those people — and even then it might not have worked. NATE SILVER: What’s next
week’s Bill Maher clip? AMY WALTER: That’s true. That could be going
on HBO next week. That wasn’t going
to work either. And so we’re now seeing
some of that coming back to Democrats, right? We’re going to run these
campaigns, we’re going to give people choice, it could be
negative, and people aren’t buying it. And partly it’s because there’s
a lack of trust of any of the messengers, right? So if you don’t trust the
messenger you’re not going to trust the message. Then I started talking to
consultants about well, who would be good third
party messenger now? So, remember there was
a time you would want Tiger Woods in your ad. Probably not now. A time you would want —
you know, I’m a successful CEO — maybe not. Hey, I’ve made a lot of
money on Wall Street. Nope, nope, don’t want
you either, thanks. I’ve used this example a lot —
and we’re starting to see some candidates do this — but
believe it or not, a humility angle could work a little bit,
as well as an acknowledgement that things are
broken and I get it. So, it was last year, Dominos
did those ads — did you guys see those — that
were really smart. It started off with people in
a focus group saying, this pizza’s terrible, the sauce
stinks, the crust stinks. And I thought OK, then I’m
going to see the Papa John’s guy jump up and go, see, we
did all these focus groups. Instead the Dominos guy comes
up and he’s like yeah. He said basically, we suck. We know we did. And we’re sorry. And we’re going to
make it better. So, we’re going to go out and
then we’re going to bring you guys back, and we’re going to
give you your pizza and we’re going to win you back over. Because we admit we screwed up. That kind of acknowledgement
is what voters have been looking for. The problem is now that every
single person who’s associated at all with politics is viewed
so skeptically that I don’t think it can break
through today. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: This is an
interesting find because — I don’t know if you saw the story
yesterday about the candidates who had financial problems and
their homes had been foreclosed, et cetera. And yet the public is looking
at them sympathetically. Maybe because they feel
at least they get it. So is that what we’re
really maybe in for? Now you want candidates who’ve
suffered themselves so that the public can identify with them. AMY WALTER: I don’t know that
the public is focusing on this. I mean I agree to Stephen’s
point that most folks haven’t really keyed in on who these
people are and they’re just a wash in all of these ads. So I don’t know if that
part’s part of it, why it’s not resonating. But there’s always that
piece in American politics. You want somebody who
can relate to you. And if you are in Washington,
whether you’ve been here for 20 years or 20 minutes, voters
are just apt to tune you out. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Does that
mean that we are aimed for continually electoral
reversals. Like whoever is in power is
going to be the next target of all the anger, the fact that
government is not working, and solutions coming out of
Washington are not working. And then the next guys are
going to seize power. Is this like what we’re in for? NATE SILVER: I think
that’s probably the most likely scenario. I mean if you look at
recessions following major fiscal crisis, they
have long-term effects. You know, three,
five, seven years. You know, it’s going to be a
long time before employment gets down to 6.5% or 5.5%. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: How long? NATE SILVER: I’m
not an economist. Or that’s my degree, but–. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: But
you’re a predictor. NATE SILVER: You know, I was
optimistic about the economy for awhile, but it seems
like, you know–. And also one thing about
unemployment, too, is it doesn’t always go down to 4%
and different kind of troughs. Sometimes you only get down
the 6.5% and that’s as good as you do in expansion. But there are enough problems
with the deficit and the environment and the
various kind of foreign entanglements we have. I don’t want to talk too much
about is this kind of the beginning of the end of
American hegemony, but these are questions our generation
might have to face, and it’s not going to be as easy to
be an American president. I’m sure in our lifetimes we’ll
have another couple of great presidents, but they’ll be also
a lot of presidents who have very difficult times, I would
think, and majority leaders, certainly, and congressmen and
senators who have even more difficult time. It’s almost like a game of kind
of reverse musical chairs. At some point the economy will
improve, and whoever kind of happens to be in power then
will benefit from it. But Republicans in 2011, let’s
say they come in with a seven seat Majority in the House. The Senate’s kind of decided
by Joe Lieberman anyway, and nominally don’t have Majority
but no one’s getting anything done. And unemployment’s still slow,
and they’re having infighting within their Party. I mean it’s not a great
situation for them exactly when people expect them
to repeal health care. Some of their voters will,
and Obama has the veto pen. So they could get themselves
in a lot of trouble by 2012. It’s good for me, right, if you
like messy, complicated, hard to predict campaigns, we should
have several of those, I think. But I don’t think we’re
going to have some resolution unless–. Who knows. I mean like Amy, I’m
thinking about third party alternatives a little bit. I think if you had maybe a Ross
Perot type figure in the 2012 election, it could
be interesting. Maybe someone can come in and
say, look, both parties are such damaged brands, I’m
the one who actually has credibility on the deficit, for
example, or an energy issue. So, we’ll see. It should be interesting. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: But it’s
not just that it’s not going to be good for the politicians. It’s going to be really
bad for the country. So, given that the scenario
that you put forward, and is really going to be very
dangerous for the country, what are the alternatives? Like where do you see the
possibilities for actually turning things around? STEPHEN HAYES: Can I
challenge your assumption? ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Yeah. STEPHEN HAYES: Why do you
think it’s going to be bad for the country? ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: No, not a
challenge, you make assumption. STEPHEN HAYES: Well, why do you
collectively think it’s going to bad for the country? ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Well,
a lot of it because if we don’t even know–. STEPHEN HAYES: I guess I think
this is what politics is about. NATE SILVER: I think we have
some long-term structural problems — the debt,
the environment. If politics behaves as it has
in the last couple of cycles, then we’re not certain to
survive, those in tact. As powerful as America is right
now, and you have some big debt kind of default issues, I think
it’s a real risk the next 20 years or so. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Also, quite
simply if we — if unemployment stays at the level that it’s at
now for a long time, wouldn’t you say that’s very
bad for the country? STEPHEN HAYES: Certainly. I guess I misunderstood you as
saying this change back and forth between political
fighting or political parties, that kind of fighting. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON:
The economic reality. STEPHEN HAYES: I think that’s
great for the country. I think, in fact, the more
intense that kind of fighting, I think it’s much more likely
to surface the kind of issues that you’re talking about where
we can have an adult conversation about entitlement,
reform and things of that nature. AMY WALTER: I wish we could. But do you really think
that’s going to help? I just keep hoping —
and again, maybe I’m like you and naive. But that in a major crisis like
we’re in right now, that’s when leaders lead, right? It’s really easy to be in
politics when we’re flush and when we’re not at war. But this should have been the
time, this should have been a time when we saw people stand
up and just say, we’re going to work together. And next year, too. Like we’re really going to talk
about entitlement reform. You want to do it? Let’s go. STEPHEN HAYES: Look, see
I would argue that we’re seeing some of that. Now we may not agree on the
ideas or the outcome of these ideas, but I would say that
when you have somebody like a Paul Ryan who’s making the
campaign for better or worse. He can disagree with his
policy prescriptions. But he’s saying this is
what we need to do. This will work. CBO scored it. Here’s where we need to
be, and let’s have an argument about it. AMY WALTER: And even
Republicans won’t go along. I mean that’s what I’m– STEPHEN HAYES: No, I
think you’re right. AMY WALTER: –Saying is
like even his own party is pushing back on him. STEPHEN HAYES: Some
of them, I think. But you’re also seeing this on
early presidential discussions with Mitch Daniels who’s asked
point blank, what we do about this? He said well, one of the things
we need to do is consider raising the retirement
age on social security. It’s the first time you’ve
heard — look, I’m not getting overly excited that we’re going
to all have this great debate about entitlements in the next
six weeks or the next two years. But to me it’s one of the first
times in recent memory that you’ve heard people addressing
this in a sort of head-on way. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Well,
let’s take a question–. BECKI DONATELLI: We are
having a dialogue. That’s just it. The whole Tea Party movement,
that’s what that’s about. There are fringe
elements to everything. But most of those people are
just concerned about taxes being too high, government not
working, they want to talk about issues, they want to
explore things, instead of just have two bland candidates with
greater lousy TV campaigns to choose from. I’m excited about
what’s going on. AMY WALTER: What happens
though if it doesn’t work? BECKI DONATELLI: What do
you mean it doesn’t work? Dialogue is good. AMY WALTER: No, no, no. If they come here
and all those– BECKI DONATELLI: Then
they will go again. AMY WALTER: –Perspectives. BECKI DONATELLI: And people
in America want change. They thought they
voted for it in 2008. They think they are
voting for it in 2010. And if whoever wins doesn’t
come here and change the way they do business, they will be
gone until we elect people who will make things change. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: But I think
what you said now, which was change the way they do
business, change the way Washington works, is very
different than the specific prescriptions about taxes,
the size of government. I mean this is a
different debate. The debate I think that the
country really wants to have is how Barack in Washington,
as people saw that. And even in these last two
years, despite the fact that the Obama Administration came
in wanting to change things. If you look at the pulse, and
I’d love to know what you think, Nate — I don’t think
that the anger is about the size of government, it’s
about how incompetent government has been. I mean if you scratch the
surface, it’s about the bailout and the fact that we bailed out
Wall Street and Main Street is still suffering? NATE SILVER: Well, something
like the Wall Street bailout was not going to one of the
more popular policies in American history. People don’t see
the upside, right? I’m someone who thinks that if
you go talk to a lot of the economists, not all by any
means, but they say, look, if we hadn’t done this, our hand
was forced, then we could have had 20% unemployment now. And in some sense it makes me a
little bit more understanding of kind of the Bush argument
about how to prevent another kind of terrorist attack. It’s kind of the same thing
where people see failure. They don’t see the prevention
of a worse outcome sometimes. There are a lot of things
that align badly for this White House. I think they’ve also made a lot
of mistakes, frankly, too. But people are — I know. People, when they’re unhappy,
they tend to be unhappy about everything, right? So if health care happens to
be on the docket, or cap and tray or the size
of government, right? I’m not really sure that
we’re seeing some kind of Jeffersonian uprising
independent from the strain the economy has put the nation
under for quite a while now. It’s been a tough decade,
going back to 9/11. It’s been a tough kind of time
for this country, especially since kind of the ’90s. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Well, let’s
quickly go to a question from the Google Moderator. It’s a question from Robert
in Lincoln, Massachusetts. “Why is it that Democrats have
a brain but no spine, and Republicans have all
spine but no brain? When will the American people
get a poltiical party that represents thoughtful and
courageous human beings?” AMY WALTER: It’s really from
Dorothy writing in from the–. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: So who
is dying to answer this? BECKI DONATELLI: Oh, I think
we have brains and a spine. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Would
you give us an example? BECKI DONATELLI: Me. No. AMY WALTER: I think it’s
sort of simplis–. I don’t know that,
Challenge the question? AMY WALTER: No. I think he’s right. He’s right in the sense that
that’s how he views these two parties and how they set up. And Nate’s point
about third parties. You would think now would be
the time where more and more people are going to start
thinking this way and move outside. We’re seeing more people
now who are identifying themselves as independents. 37% in the last pupal
identified themselves as independent voters. So that’s clearly a sign
that more people are feeling this way. I also want to go back
to the point about how people view government. I think what you have in this
country, and we’ve seen this Allstate National Journal poll
basically found this as well. Which is you have a third
of people in this country that say government’s the
problem not the solution. A third of people in this
country say we need more active government. And another third, and these
are those classic independents, who say I want government to
have a role, but I just don’t trust that they’re
doing it effectively. And that’s really sort of the
heart of where we really need to be going when we’re talking
about how politicians need to address this stuff to talk to
those people who really do want to see something moving beyond
just right and left politics. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: And in
fact, isn’t the way that the media present everything as
right versus left counterproductive
at some point? I mean I’m constantly amazed
by, let’s say the debate around Afghanistan. There are so many Conservatives
who oppose what’s happening in Afghanistan. George Will, Pat Buchanan, Joe
Scarborough, Tony Blankley, not to mention the CATO Institute. So this is not exactly the
standard left-right debate. And yet, the media reflexively
present it that way. STEPHEN HAYES: But I would
argue that they’re all part of the media and they have
platforms to make their case. George Will’s made his case
persuasively I think. I mean I don’t find him
persuasive, but he made a very strong case in the pages of
the Washington Post in the platform that he has on ABC. So I think to a certain extent
they do have their case. But I understand as sort of– ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: I’m
talking about the framing. [INTERPOSING VOICES] STEPHEN HAYES: –Your broader
point, particularly with respect to day-to-day politics
is certainly true, and I think it’s a function of our
two-party system. Now, things could change if we
see the emergence of a serious third party candidate, it won’t
feel as comfortable to sort of have these right-left
assumptions that guide the thinking on these issues. But basically I think our
day-to-day politics are run by those kind of
basic assumptions. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: But
don’t you think it makes it harder to have this debate? Like right now, the
larger debate about redefining capitalism. What’s a functioning
capitalist system? You know, you have many
capitalists who sleep with a copy of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead
under their pillow who are upset by the bailout because
they felt that you bailed out companies that took excessive
risk, and then the taxpayers on the hook. It didn’t seem to make good,
free enterprise economic sense. And yet it’s impossible to have
that debate, because it’s all, again, left and right. Do you find that at ABC when
you read stuff and it’s all the left says that,
the right says that. Or you’d never do it. AMY WALTER: I would
never do that. And we set up that brilliantly,
right, looking for the nuance. But I do think that bottom
line, you had a lot of Democrats and Republicans
vote for the bailout. And in the middle of a
presidential campaign. That’s still pretty
powerful stuff. So, in some ways it’s
worrisome, because what it says is you literally have to get to
that cliff before you’re going to get both sides
to hold hands. And maybe sometimes, in this
case, hold hands and then jump, and many of those people aren’t
coming back to Congress partly because of that vote. But it also seems to be a
truly American thing to sort of wait until it
gets really, really bad. In some ways this goes to the
of straight of American optimism, because we assume it
will never really get that bad. It’s going to always get
better because it does. We always come out
of these things. So we don’t have to do these
crazy things that they do in Europe and other places,
because we know that we can pull ourselves out. It’s only when we see the
cliff that we will do something about it. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Well,
let’s go to one more question from pgunn01. “Are sites like Wikileaks and
Twitter the future of news? How will the editoral,
fact-checking, and fairness roles/responsibility of news
be met by this new media?” BECKI DONATELLI: Do
you want me to start? Well, obviously, it’s hard to
give a lot of information in 140 characters. But the fact of the matter
is that’s how we’re talking to people these days. So the whole fairness
or fact-checking. When blogs started and bloggers
started, they were very good at policing themselves and
making sure that they were checking their facts and
checking each other. I think we’ve fallen out of
that a little bit with there just being so much information
that hopefully we go back to that self-policing. But in essence, there’s so much
media out there that people are customizing what they get and
how they get it and when they get it, and filtering the
contents that they want to receive. There was a larger discussion
earlier about the President talking about looking at the
other sides of the issue. While I personally think that’s
a good idea too, the fact of the matter is that people are
looking for either what interests them or mirrors what
they believe, and pulling in this information, rather than
going other places where it is served to them. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: But how
do you see the preponderance of social media? And in this campaign cycle,
Facebook, Twitter, how do you see it affecting the midterms? I mean we saw, for example,
how masterfully Sarah Palin is using Facebook. I mean she can bypass all the
mainstream media because she can get all her messages,
whether it’s about a desk panel or anything else on Facebook. AMY WALTER: I think that Becki
makes a great point, which is the filtering piece of it. So, when you’re in an area
where you’re not trusting any institution to tell you the
truth, then you really are looking to those people you
trust most, which usually are your friends or your family, or
people that you’ve somehow attached onto and saying, now
this person is trustworthy. I get, for work purposes,
I have a Twitter feed that is very narrow. I don’t have a ton of people,
but they’re the people that I know that I trust what they’re
writing, I trust what they’re saying, and if they do have an
agenda, I know what it is and they’re very up front
about what it is. And that’s how I’m going to
get all my information. But you’re totally right,
I’m not going out to get it anymore. That’s the real change is
instead of I used to go to my computer and go
right to the papers. Now I open my computer
and go right to Twitter. And that’s where I’m getting
most of my news first thing in the morning. NATE SILVER: Well, there’s some
data that, with the SecondTV News, that Fox’s audience
is becoming more and more Republican — it’s kind of a
4:1 ratio, and it was a 2.5:1 ratio just a few years ago. And that’s strikes
me as dangerous. I’m not saying people shouldn’t
have the right — I’m not saying any fairness doctrine,
people should consume whatever media they want, right? But if people only hear the
news presented to them the way they want it, I think it’s–. I don’t know. I mean you can’t force people
to kind of eat their spinach or read their kind of
broad-sheet newspaper. But being part of that
community, I think we should not lose sight of our real
communities, which are probably more diverse than our virtual
communities in 99% of all cases, I would say. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: And what
can we do, do you think, to strengthen our real
communities then? Because this is the problem. I find that what’s happening
online is strengthening real communities, too. There’s an enormous amount
of self-organizing online. AMY WALTER: Well, how many
times have you been twittering or forwarding something to
somebody who’s sitting in the same room with you? Because that’s happened
multiple times with me. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON:
You’re leading a very interesting life. AMY WALTER: A very,
very bizarre life. I’m an avatar, right. What’s bad about that? I like to stay out of reality. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: But if you
go online you see, for example, sites like, And then solution-based sites
where projectbouncedback. It’s just amazing how
much is going on. And there is about solutions,
there is about barring weakness or sharing stories of struggle
online that does not get into the mainstream media. BECKI DONATELLI: But that
doesn’t mean people aren’t reading it. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON:
Oh, no, absolutely. BECKI DONATELLI: Because they
are, they are consuming that. They’re just doing it in a
different path than they–. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: And not in
large enough numbers to make a difference to the real
communities that Nate was talking about. AMY WALTER: I think it’s
actually better because if you think about it in its sort of
“olden days,” the place where you’re getting advice or
information from was basically people that you could
physically see in a day. Now you get a chance to go
out and get opinions and information from a
gajillion people. Now some of it may be totally
bunk, but what were the odds that your next door neighbor
knew a lot about medicine? Oh, I have a cure for that. Really? Have you gone to
medical school? I don’t know. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Now,
I actually completely agree with that. I feel very optimistic about
what’s happening online around solutions. And the reason I raise the
point is because I feel if the media, the mainstream media,
including big sites — I mean we’re trying to do a better job
of that — covered them all, then others would
learn about them. It’s more of how we cover what
people are doing around creating their own sites or
using Facebook and Twitter. It’s really what Biz Stone
calls as the next stage. Twitter has been started as
something that was fun, and life mapping — what you’re
eating, what you’re doing. And its role during the Iran
uprising showed us how incredibly important it would
be as an instrument of democracy. And now Biz calls Twitter
another triumph of technology but a triumph of humanity. And that’s still aspirational,
but it shows how it can connect people. Are you seeing that at all? And do you have any examples of
how Twitter, Facebook, social media being used in ways that
are really positive and are countervieling forces to all
the forces of division and scapegoating that we’re seeing? BECKI DONATELLI: I think there
are as many good things happening within social medai
and with the way people are using the internet
as bad things. With everything in life, I
think we tend to hear more about the sensational, crazy
things that are going on than the every day just
connections between people. And it is virtual, and two
people might be in the same room, but they’re still
connecting, and they’re talking to each, and
they’re sharing opinions. I think I have a lot more
interaction with people, frankly, since the advent of
Facebook than I did before. So I see this all
as a positive. Being a little bit older, I do
get concerned on occasion how much information people share
about themselves, but that’s become the cultural norm. So, that’s just the way it is. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Let’s
take one more question from the Google Moderator
from Bill in Texas. “In view of the Supreme Court
ruling in Citizens United, what is there to prevent foreign
governments and international corporations who are routing
money through U.S. corporations, which are either
majority owned by or a subisdiary of a
foreign parent?” BECKI DONATELLI: I think we
had a Ben Ginsberg come up and answer that question. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON:
Ben, would you like to answer the question? BEN GINSBERG: No. The truths is, they are lost
in stuff, they’ve always been lost in stuff. There is no difference before
or after Citizens United. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Would you
like to try and channel him? Would you like to
chanel Ben Ginsberg? BECKI DONATELLI: I think
Ben said it’s OK. Everything’s going
to be all right. We’re going to prevent
against this. AMY WALTER: I was talking to
someone the other day, who was a non-partisan academic who
studies campaign finance reform, had a very good point
about this, because I said, are we seeing this flood of
Republican fundraising into third party groups. Can we say that it’s really —
there’s a cause and effect between the Citizens United
ruling and how much money they’re raising. Because to me it seems as if
it’s really generated by the enthusiasm that’s out there for
Republicans versus the lack of enthusiasm for Democrats. And that was his point as well,
which was I think a lot of what you’re seeing out there is more
about enthusiasm, it’s more about the fact you have a lot
of people with money who want to affect the elections, just
as you had a lot of people with money in 2008 who were
Democrats who saw themselves as impacting the elections. In fact, Republicans have
always complained that their folks are much less successful
in doing third party groups than the Democrats. They always sort of look to
groups like Act in 2004 or some of the other — and the labor
groups — as much better, better funded, smarter than
the Republican groups. Now you’re seeing more
Republican groups sprout up. Part of it is when you get a
chance to one, flip control of the House and the Senate,
that tends to get money into your couiffers. And the second is to learn a
lot of the lessons from those groups that have already
started doing it. BECKI DONATELLI: And as a
fundraiser, I will tell you that most of the money is not
coming in from large donors, which is what you tend to see a
little bit more on the left. This is truly a
grassroots uprising. There are people with their
contributions of $10, $15, $25 dollars, there’s
just a lot of them. So, we’re feeling it
from the grassroots. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Now
you’re also doing Carly Fiorina’s campaign. Are you finding that even for a
very wealthy candidate you are able to get small donations? BECKI DONATELLI: Absolutely. She has such massive
appeal across the board. The average donation online
for Carly’s campaign is less than $100 per donation. These are regular, every
day people who are massing to give to her. I’ll tell you, we, since the
help of the campaign, by looking at who’s giving and
how much they’re giving. And Carly is just taking off. People are really focused
on that race, and we are thrilled with the response
that she’s getting. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: So how
much has she raisd online? BECKI DONATELLI: I’m not
allowed to say that, but they’ll report it, I think,
in a couple of weeks. A lot. Let’s put it that way. They’re very, very healthy. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: You
can’t just give us an off-the-record number. BECKI DONATELLI: No. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: We
won’t tell anybody. AMY WALTER: More or
less than a million. BECKI DONATELLI:
People like her. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: We’re
not questioning that. We’re just asking how
much she raised. OK. We’ll find out. Now, Steve, you just did a
major piece on Senator John Thune, and the fact that he may
very well be a presidential candidate in 2012. What is the impact that all the
different people who are likely presidential candidates on the
Republican side, what’s the impact that they’re going
to have in the mid-terms? STEPHEN HAYES: Well, I think
you’ve seen them out and about in the country trying to raise
money for Republicans in 2010. There’s been sort of
an interesting delay. Jonathan Martin, I think, at
Politico had a piece about this a couple weeks ago, and it’s
reflected in conversations that I’ve had with political types
in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. Who say that the sort of on the
ground activity that they’re seeing is at a much slower rate
today than it has been in corresponding times the past. I think on the Republican side
that’s largely due to the fact that major candidates or
would-be candidates don’t want to be seen out there sort of
pumping up themselves, when they really want to be seen as
raising money and doing things for Party. The focus they think should
be on 2010, not on 2012. So I think you’ve seen people
sort of pull back and not be quite as active as they have
been at this time in different cycles in the past. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Although,
of course, they have Palin’s endorsement, and made already a
big difference in the primary. STEPHEN HAYES: But that I think
feeds that broader perception that she’s helping. She’s helping these candidates. She’s giving them–. There’s a raging debate I think
on the right about how much influence she’s had and has
it really led to elections. I think basically what she’s
done in some cases is take people who weren’t as
well-known and make them well-known. She endorses somebody and a
candidate who nobody has heard of or few people have paid
attention, particularly in the national media, up to that
point have to stop and say well wow, that person’s interesting. What are the polls telling us? Have there been polls? And where we go from here? She’s got I think
an uneven record. Brian Murphy lost in Maryland,
who was a Sarah Palin endorsed candidate. And Christine O’Donnell won
surprisingly in Delaware. So, I think you’ve seen her try
to do, if she — who knows if she’s actually going to run —
try to feed this perception that what she’s out there doing
now is making herself busy helping elect
Republicans in 2010. And I think other candidates
have done the same with probably not as much
fanfare and coverage. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: So, as
we’re wrapping up, any concluding comments
from any of you? Any big thoughts you
have not yet shared? Nate, your predictions? NATE SILVER: Well,
How many did you say? NATE SILVER: I guess the big
thing, I think this election’s a little bit less in the bag
for Republicans than people are assuming on the House
side, for example. I think they have cases where
they’ll win 60 or 70 seats, and it’s like totally on the table. But the campaign’s still
just taking place in local districts. Some local districts have
fairly good polling for Democrats, some have terrible
polling for Democrats. But you’re getting somewhat
more ambiguous messages. If the Democrats can narrow
that enthusiasm gap a little bit, then they might
save the House. It’s a question of whether
they want to or not. Would you rather have a
three-seat Majority in the House or a 60 Minority. I don’t really know. But I think it’s a hard
election to forecast, there are so many districts in
play at the House level. Still 100 seats probably. We aren’t quite sure how it’s
going to turn out that we’re going to be up late counting
November 2, and the night before we’re goingn to have a
somewhat better idea, but it’s going to be — we should see
more twists and turns, I think. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Amy? AMY WALTER: I like the
thought of twists and turns. That means that the
campaign will never end. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: And you
have a lot to tell, right, to your Republican in-laws. AMY WALTER: I have a lot
of stories to tell. And Nate brings up
a very good point. We saw this in 2006 as well. There are a lot of people who
thought they knew exactly what was going to happen. But these things do
tend to ebb and flow. I think the enthusiasm
gap narrowing will help save some seats. But the real question is where
independent voters are. And in so many of these
districts, if you’re losing independents 60:40, you still
can’t win, even if you get the Democrats to turn out. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Becki? BECKI DONATELLI: For the first
time in four years it’s great to be a Republican. Our year. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Steve? STEPHEN HAYES: I think it’s
actually going to be bigger than most people think. I think at the beginning of
the the Tea Party and their effects, people were talking
about the Tea Parties as astroturf, and it was a
small group of people who were really pissed off. And we’ve seen now, since I
think pretty credibly through a variety of different polls,
that that’s simply not the case. That the enthusiasm gap
that we had seen has been growing and building on
the Republican side. I don’t crunch the numbers
like Nate, I’ll never be as smart as Nate is. But I do have a big gut, and
I think my gut tells me that this will be bigger than ’94. And I don’t at all think
that the 60 plus numbers on the House side are crazy. NATE SILVER: And there
are enough seats there. But Democrats did really–. I mean the Tea Party was a
leading indicator, back in kind of April of ’09. When Obama still has 60%
approval ratings, the Democrats really kind of missed it. They kind of dismissed
it and made fun of it. And there are things
that you can criticize, of course, right? But when they had protests
in 200 different cities or 500 different cities. I did a piece — I counted
local estimates for local papers of what the turnout
had been at these rallies. They’re all tiny, right? They were all like 500 people
or 200 people or 12 or 1,000 maybe, right? But in some ways you have that
welling up in so many different places spoke to the fact that
it was kind of spontaneous. When Democrats have a rally,
they have a big 230,000 person rally in Washington or New York
or something, and those sometimes don’t get noticed
as much as they should. But that was a sign that people
weren’t just upset, they were upset enough to go out and
interact with their neighbors about it. I don’t know, Democrats should
have been — maybe there was something they could
have done, right? But that was a warning
sign, I think. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: So, OK, my
prediction is that we are moving from hop — you know,
looking to Washington and looking to politicians and
elected officials to solve problems, to looking to
communities, so from hop to hop 2.0. And I think the social media
and the actiity online around that is fascinating
and under-reported. And the same way that you are
saying that we were all kind of taken aback by the
Tea Party growing. I think we’re all going to be
taken aback by how all this disparate, little platoons,
here and there all around the country can coelesce to
sort of a big movement. It’s very American of sort
of people taking matters in their own hands. And actually for the good
turning things around. While, of course, we have
all the other forces that are more distractive. But they’re not
going to be named. But thank you all so
much, Steven, Becki, and Amy and Nate. And Jonathan, back to you. JONATHAN CAPEHART: I would say
thanks, Arianna, since I’m not hooked up to my microphone yet. Hopefully, folks at
home can hear me. This is why Arianna’s so good. She is on it. Thank you all very much. Now they’re unhooking it. All right. Mike Allen from Poltico’s
going to be up here. Now I can hear myself, so that
must mean you can hear me. Mike Allen from Politico
is going to be here in a few minutes. But before I talk to him,
wrapping up today’s events, I’m going to talk to this
fine, young lady here who’s sitting down. Jenny Hunt. She is the head — and correct
me if I’m wrong, Jenny — you’re the head of
Google’s elections team? JENNY HUNT: Yes. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
Is that right? And so of all the things we–. Let me ask the
question differently. What do you make of everything
that we heard today? JENNY HUNT: Well, I think we
heard a lot of the trends that we’re seeing already. First I’ll say that we just
celebrated the eighth anniversary of Google News. And the top story and the
history of Google News in the last eight years wasn’t World
Cup or Brittney Spear’s saga, but it was President
Obama getting elected. And so think what we are seeing
and understand is that more and more people are hungry for
direct access to information about politics and news about
the elections online, on their mobile phones,
wherever they are. JONATHAN CAPEHART: And we
should also point out that today is Google’s birthday. JENNY HUNT: Yes, 12. JONATHAN CAPEHART: The
twelfth birthday. So I you go on the Google
homepage, yeah, you get the little birthday cake. JENNY HUNT: It’s a great
way to celebrate. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
Apparently, it is. So, let me ask you. You were talking about Obama’s
election being the big news thing for Google News. But folks like me, we’re so
used to — you know, we would have to pay for
information like this. And I’ll just say personally,
it kind of — as a journalist who picks up the phone and
calls people and has to hunt and find — used to —
have to hunt and find. The idea that my own mother
can get on the computer and get the same amount of
information that I can. I’m sorry, it’s just
a little unnerving. So, people can now, where I
have to pick up the phone, they can just do it from anywhere. JENNY HUNT: Wherever
they are, and–. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
Desktop and PDAs. JENNY HUNT: Mobile devices. What’s interesting, two
things about this cycle. One, we’ve already seen 170%
growth in the number of people who are looking for political
and election news on their mobile devices. And we expect that
number to only go up. So wherever they are, they’re
plugging in and getting constant , real
time information. It’s also becoming localized. There’s an 800% growth in
statewide candidates who are using our platforms
to connect with voters. What they realize is if they
don’t have a campaign office online, then it as if they
don’t exist in their local community. So it’s really shifted to be
much more local, much more real time, where you want this
information, and free and open for anyone to access. JONATHAN CAPEHART: We’ve heard
how candidates can use YouTube, and they can use Facebook, but
maybe I’m a little slow or just hungry — I haven’t
actually had lunch. But how can candidates actually
utilize Google in the way that a candidate would utilize
Facebook and YouTube? JENNY HUNT: Well,
in several ways. One is we have robust ad
platform that candidates can use to connect
directly with voters. They can target their
ads to local areas. I think we heard from Becki
Donatelli earlier who talked about how candidates are both
using advertising on desktops through search, and also
through mobile platforms. We also have a variety of ways
that we can ensure that when people turn online to search
for candidate names, the candidates website shows up and
is relevant in those search results. JONATHAN CAPEHART: So you saw
explosive growth in 2008. You’re seeing more now,
with this election. So what are your
projections for 2012? Do you think it’s going
to spike even further? JENNY HUNT: We think so. Everything that we’re seeing,
whether it’s use of social networks and social media,
mobile technology, or the growth of online video,
everything is pointing upwards in terms of trajectory with
online engagement in a more local and relevant
and real time way. JONATHAN CAPEHART: So,
everyone’s been asked the crystal ball question. So, crystal ball, 2012. What do you think we’re going
to see in terms of political campaigns and how they’re using
social media and using Google? And two, do you think — well,
answer that question, then I’m going to ask you
another question. JENNY HUNT: I think 2012 for
folks like your mom or people across America, it’ll be very
easy for them to both receive ads directly from candidates,
but also fact-check that information directly. Receive the latest relevant
tweets from local reporters or from candidates themselves,
whether they’ve just had a campaign stop down the street
or are coming next week. I think Amy Walter mentioned
how information’s being pulled. People are going to be able
to control what information they want to receive from
candidates, issues, and news sources that they trust. JONATHAN CAPEHART: So, how
many people are we actually talking about here? Because not everybody is
linked to the internet, not everyone is wired. So, I guess the question
is how much room is there for you to grow. It sounds to me like there’s
— well, not exponential, because there’s a finite
number of people. But you have a lot
of room to grow. JENNY HUNT: Right. Well, and the number’s
already large. At least around half of
Americans are turning online and then to their mobile device
to find political news, but that still leaves another 50%. I think the frequency with
which they’re receiving that information is
going to increase. And they’ll continue to
engage in deeper ways with campaigns as well. So whether it’s platforms, like
Moderator, which we used today, which will allow campaigns to
directly have a dialogue with their supporters in
their communities. You’ll see that it won’t just
be about receiving information, but actually participating. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well,
this has been great, Jenny. JENNY HUNT: Thank you
for hosting today. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thank you
very much for sharing with us Google Moderator and
the platform today. I want to bring up Mike Allen
from Politico, because we’ve got big stuff to talk about,
or even bigger stuff to talk about. MIKE ALLEN: Great job. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
Thank you very much. And great job to you. Your two master interviews. So, we’ve got, as I’ve said,
now a gajillion and one times, five weeks to go until
the midterm elections. November 2 is Election Day. Your interviews with Axelrod
and Gillespie, do you believe either of them? You’ve got Gillespie who’s
gung-ho about the Republicans taking the House. And you’ve got Axelrod whose
attitude is, yeah, we’re going to take some losses but
we’re going to hang on. Which one’s right? MIKE ALLEN: What they both had
in common was they made it clear that the conversation out
in the country, out in the states, our in the district is
different from what’s going on here. So, our assumptions, probably
sort of one way or the other, are probably
too extreme, I think. History would tell us that as
we come into these closing days, these races are going
to close, and there’s going to be a little more drama. So I think Ed Gillespie is
right to be bullish about the friends for Republicans. But also, David Axelrod is
right to recognize that there are going to be surprises, and
that these gaps are not as dramatic as they’ve being
seen at this moment. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, Nate
Silver just told Arianna Huffington that he thinks that
the enthusiasm and confidence of the Republicans taking the
House is a bit overblown. You’re a veteran of all this. So do you think Nate is right
in his warning to GOP? MIKE ALLEN: Nate
is always right. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Good answer. MIKE ALLEN: But I’m not going
to argue figures with Nate. But I’ll tell you what
the parties say. What the parties say, and the
reason that you are right to be cautious, is that Republicans
need 40 pick-ups. You can get to–. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
In the House. MIKE ALLEN: In the House side,
you can get to 35, 36, 37, 38. You can’t sit here, we can’t’
sit here and write on a Google product what
the 40 flips would be. But if we sat here at this same
time in 1994, you wouldn’t have been either. So, Republicans are counting
on this wave to carry in a few people that they
can’t be sure of. Now, what the parties say
is that some of these seats come in clumps. So, if you get to 36, you’re
probably going to get to 38. If you get to 38, you’re
probably going to get to 45. That’s how these numbers
start to get high. If you get to 45, something
big is going on, you’d probably get to 50. So that’s why we can’t sit here
and forecast it, but it is prudent to say we can’t say
exactly how these big numbers of people are going to talk
about would look in real life. JONATHAN CAPEHART: I thought it
was a leading question that you had for David Axelrod when you
asked him is there a race you think the Democrats can win
that would be surprising. Is there a race in your mind
that you think the Democrats can win that no one’s paying
attention to, or they think that the Republican can win? MIKE ALLEN: Yeah. Everybody’s looking
to — turned back to Oliver North here. Everybody’s wondering who’s the
Oliver North of this cycle. That is 1994, huge
Republican year. He was the one prominent
candidate who lost. So who’s the big Republican
who’s going to lose this year? I think people would look at
the Senate race of Delaware, Christine O’Donnell, say that
might well be one of them. The polls right now,
as Eddie Gillespie acknowledged, are big. But what I think you’re also
seeing in polls is that there’s a real opportunity for
Republicans looking to 2012. Just today, Politico, George
Washington University has a battle ground–. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Your
big poll — your big battle ground poll. MIKE ALLEN: It shows that only
38% people are certain they want to re-elect Barack Obama. So, there’s going to be
certainly an opportunity there that something else that may
close or may change, the President’s not on the
ballot, he’s not ready running for himself. But you’re seeing a number of
Republicans saying, hey, this nomination might
be worth having. That’s why I was very
interested in the very long list that Ed Gillespie
went through of potential Republican candidates. There’s going to be a bunch of
them who think, I might be able to do something with
that nomination. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Let me ask
you really quickly this question of voters and polls
asking would they vote for President Obama again if the
election were held today. As a political watcher, do
you think that question is a helpful one? I mean the guy’s–. MIKE ALLEN: OK. The guy says, talk about
leading questions. JONATHAN CAPEHART: I’m
going to be a writer. I can lead the witness. Well, push back. MIKE ALLEN: No, I think
you make a good point. Like what is your — you have
obvious skepticism about it. What’s your skepticism? Or what would be a
better question? JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, I
just don’t ask the question. When we were focusing on
the folks that are on the ballot in 2010. But here’s my final
question for you. The president is going off to
Wisconsin, going to college campuses, trying to gen-up
those first generation voters– MIKE ALLEN: Did he bring
back the students, yeah. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
–People of color. Right. One, do you think the President
has any other option but to do this? And two, do you think
he’ll be successful? Will he get them out in
numbers, not as they came out in 2008, but at least a point
or two above where they were the last midterm
election cycle? MIKE ALLEN: Yes. He will get more of those first
time Obama voters of the Obama voters, than he would
have otherwise. The question is, the drama is
Ed Gillespi’s contention, but this also revs up the
Republican base. So, the President’s appearances
around the country in these big rallies, these 2008 sized
rallies, they’re clearly going to have an impact. The question is who is
going to drive more. So that could be the fun
story for all us to watch the next month or so. JONATHAN CAPEHART: So the
President can rev-up an already revved-up GOP base? MIKE ALLEN: Yeah. He’s going to get more of his
people to turn out, if you can get them out to work, get
them out to the polls. Ed Gillespie’s contention is
that that will also remind the Republicans that
they need to go. That it’s not in the bag. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Mike Allen,
Chief Political Correspondent. I always want to call you Chief
Washington Correspondent Chief. MIKE ALLEN: Don’t call
me late for dinner. You did a great
job, very smooth. Thank you, Jonathan. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
Thanks, Mike. Mike Allen of Politico. MIKE ALLEN: It’s a great
audience and a great team that put this event on. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right. Let’s thank Google and Poltiico
for having us here today. Thank you all for
watching at home. Mike, again, thank you,
and a big thanks to Arianna Huffington. MIKE ALLEN: [UNINTELLIGIBLE] Moderator we’ll call her. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Arianna
Huffington for the lively panel discussion. Again, thanks to David Axelrod
and Ed Gillespie for sharing their thoughts and taking time
out of their busy schedules. Again, as a reminder, all
the interviews will be uploaded to YouTube. And the entire program
will be uploaded as well. I’m Jonathan Capehart of the
Washington Post and MSNBC. Thank you for participating
in this Google, YouTube, Politico jamboree. MIKE ALLEN: Nicely done. JONATHAN CAPEHART:
Election preview. Thanks very much, everyone. Good evening. MIKE ALLEN: Thank you
guys for coming.

  • I think governments are obsolete. What we need is a meta-government: a new web technology designed to make our political capital more tangible. We need the infrastructure that can knit us together organically to focus and harvest our collective acumen into a political agenda that all governments merely implement. I think the place to begin is with an open source platform designed for local governments to foster the development and testing of new civic technologies. Let the neurogenesis begin!

  • who has so much time to waste to listen to this guy talking about politics which cant be changed. we already know how it should be, but it isnt, and it wont. and why are you allowed to upload a 163 minute long video when others arent. that aint democracy just sayin.
    Im not sayin that what hes sayin is wrong. But its pointless. Big industries, companies, share holders, all kind of mighty people will keep the politics like they are. Not only in america or any other countries. Everywhere

  • @ThunderheadNebula No it isn't you tedious uneducated boring drone. Go outside and take some pictures of chem trails you easily led cowardly dunce.

  • Obama is a joke one termer. The Democrats should be identifying his replacement because he's a worthless fucking clown and a pathetic weak stooge of the corporations. That meathead was bang on the money when he said "You lie".
    Dean 2012

  • Oh hai, awesome video. Have you tried bee4 biz (Just google this) they pay much more and they convert much better I started earning like 10 times more. You get paid to make and post short links.

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