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tv   Newsmakers Guy Cecil Priorities USA  CSPAN  March 15, 2020 10:01am-10:32am EDT

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"newsmakers." then, president trump holds a press conference declaring a national emergency to deal with the coronavirus, bringing up $50 billion to help fight the pandemic. after that, house members debate a coronavirus economic aid package that provides testing and paid sick leave in response to the outbreak. jordan is on newsmakers is guy cecil, the chair of priorities usa and droning us with the questioning, susan page of usa today. , what a weekend it has been, upending the lives of all americans, the stock market now in their territory. how does this change in the political landscape from your point? there is a lot of short-term changes, just the way that the candidates for president or senate all around the country are campaigning, changes in their fundraising apparatus, changes in the winter primary looks. if you are a governor or an
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election official in illinois or it changes the dynamic of how you are administering those elections are in most importantly what it does is it messaging the primary and issues we have been raising about donald trump and his administration's ability to move away from impulsiveness and arrogance and chaos and to andally solve the problems not simply be about the politics of the election. i think we are going to be living with the consequences of this for a while, but there's no question in the short term it is fundamentally changing the way that we are running campaigns in the country. host: the president is blaming the obama administration on testing kits. is nothing new, everything good that has happened in the country is because of donald trump, and everything terrible in the country happened because of barack obama. the reality is donald trump has been president for three years. if there was an issue with the cdc, he should have solved that problem, he shouldn't have been
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eliminating government officials dealing with pandemics, he shouldn't be sending mixed messages. it was just a couple of days ago there were plenty of test kits, according to the administration. now there aren't enough and the reason is barack obama. i think we have to understand that this administration is engaging in a massive disinformation campaign which is ultimately going to cost american lives and i think we you compare the leadership being displayed by nancy pelosi in terms of the legislation she is putting on the floor today, you look at the speech is put forward by bernie sanders and joe biden, it is a pretty stark difference between how this administration is handling a crisis and how the democrats are handling a crisis. guest: i know that we all think of this as a public health crisis and we are thinking about the people who are sick. issue,lso a political and i'm sure you watched president trump deliver his oval office address this week and i wonder what you thought about
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that. guest: i think the primary purpose of an oval office address is twofold. at first it is to clam fear -- calm fear, and then it is to provide information. on both counts, the president failed. within five minutes, the administration was forced to put up multiple corrections based on the information he was sharing, and a lot of this is around coverage of the nba and the nhl and all of these events that are being canceled. my church service this sunday is going to be a livestream instead of in person. but let's remember that there are waitresses and janitors and grocery store clerks that don't have the option of social distancing, they are working in fields that require interaction with people. where is the advice and direction and the ease being provided to the people really being forced to still work and interact with people because
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their job requires it? that's what we should have been hearing from the presently, not misinformation about shutting down travel and a lack of information around testing. we who covered president trump over and over again for the past four years have said this is a defining event and it turned out to be things that really changed the attitudes toward president trump. is this a defining event? is this something that will fundamentally change president trump's standing with americans and his process that prospects for reelection? the arguments that democrats and others have been making about the president is that his impulsiveness, his arrogance, the chaos because by the administration is doing real harm. but a lot of that isn't seen right away. if we make the argument that the regulating environmental standards is harmful to
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americans, we may not see the consequences of that for a year, or five years, or 10 years. the courts, we don't necessarily see the consequences of the they people are dying, people are sick, the economy is hurting. the immediacy of the consequences of the misinformation and the poor administration and the response effort makes it different than some of the things we have seen before. host: you mentioned have this as affecting both the politics as well. people are supposed to vote in four days. resources do voters have to go to the poll safely? in at least a couple of the states, they've made pretty significant changes. there are nursing homes and nursing centers that are off at polling locations. the average age of a poll worker or a volunteer is probably older
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on average, so i know in places like illinois, the governor has taken some pretty aggressive stands and made a lot of decisions around making these types of changes that will allow people to vote safely but will also address some of the concerns of the people involved that are administering the elections. my hope is obviously that people will turn out, that they will vote, and that each of these states will provide the overall administrative structure. clean, wemachines are are not piling people up in lines one next to another. there are things we can do to make sure they're safe. host: how about the campaign, biden famously likes to give hugs and shake hands. bernie sanders has large rallies. what is the long-term effect? guest: the near-term effect is that if you are behind in the polls and behind in the delegate count, this really is a big challenge because you need momentum changes in order to
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deal with the fact that you are behind in the delegate cap. this disproportionately hurts bernie sanders in that regard simply because you've got to find ways to make up the new delegates long-term, we will be dealing with these consequences for a while. i don't know all the ways, but clearly that in person context, likes,nkly, that trump is going to be a challenge. host: with the coronavirus in the democratic convention in july, we don't know exactly where we will be by july, but shouldn't the democratic national committee and democrats in charge be making contingency plans to have a convention that is virtual? guest: obviously we are still several months away, and most of the events that have been closed, most of the activities that have been closed really have been on a short-term horizon than the convention, but i have no doubt that the dnc will make alternative plans if we find that this is continuing.
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look at the time horizons in other countries. they have been able, through mitigation, to reduce the number of folks who are testing positive. we are not at that point yet. we need to give it a couple of weeks once we get a sense of the full magnitude of this and once we get closer to the convention. but obviously if we are in this current situation, then changes will have to be made. host: conventions are big moments for political parties, a your footintroduce soldiers and others. this year, we have is unusually wide gap between when the democratic convention is held and when the republican convention is held. republicans have a much better chance of being able to hold their convention despite the pandemic. is that a big deal? would that be a significant disadvantage for democrats? guest: in this particular case, probably not. it's not like the country doesn't know who donald trump is. i don't know that they are going to do a particularly interesting job of redefining donald trump.
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in some respects, it has less of an impact. versus the democrats where we are going to be introducing a vice presidential candidate that most of the country, it will be new to most of the country. i'm not sure that the conventions themselves are having any long-term impacts other than maybe some organizing milwaukee gives us an opportunity to organize a pretty important battleground state, but outside of that, i'm not sure. host: from south carolina super tuesday, the democratic primary really changed. why so quickly, why, lessing really almost -- why, lessing= -- coaslescing almost overnight with joe biden? guest: a candidate who has support and loses it versus somebody who is trying to get a support to begin with. joe biden, when we started the selection 20 years ago, he was already at 30 5, 40, 45% of the democratic primary vote in
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obviously we have had a long, contested primary. those voters started to accept that they were not quite sure whether or not they were going to stick with their first or second choice. many of those choices dropped out. i think it is important easier to get those voters back up and it is to get them to begin with. the south carolina message was pretty simple, joe biden can win. he had gone through a couple of early states or the campaign struggle but once they demonstrated that they can win with a diverse democratic party, that really changed the dynamic of people with georgia three candidates instead of 15. host: were there any concerns getting behind joe biden? we are still relatively early, biden's lead is large, but not insurmountable. that: one of the things was important to us from the beginning is that when it came to the primary, we were going to be in control. we have not spent one dollar in the primary, we won't spend a
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dollar in the primary, but for the trump administration, the general election began the day after they were inaugurated. they were the earliest president history to establish every election. we can learn -- a reelection. we can learn from john kerry to bill clinton and bob dole, against that romney during his election against president obama, we don't have time to lose, and the math is pretty straightforward. the favorite and likely nominee. if the trunk campaign decides to bring the fight to joe biden, we are going to make sure we are there to respond, but we are not going to be involved in litigating the primary in any way. week, you tweet this declared by menominee. guest: i think it is the most likely scenario. we would have to see a change of 15, 25 points.
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florida,look ahead to i strongly suspect that the vice president will have anywhere from a 20 to 25 point victory. we will see him pick up wins in ohio, could pick up a win in arizona. the math only gets harder, not easier for bernie sanders. to perspective, he's going be the nominee and we are going to do the things necessary to make sure we are defending him against the trump administration or the trump campaign. host: in response to that attitude that biden is now the all but certain nominee, you're seeing resistance from bernie sanders, you were seeing #neverbiden. in the exit polls in michigan, one of the key primaries that was held, you saw four out of five center supporters saying they would be dissatisfied with biden as the nominee. how big a concern is that you? guest: first of all, i thought that joe biden struck exactly the right time in his speech
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inviting sanders folks into the fold, not calling on bernie sanders to drop out of the race, not canceling the debates which some democrats were saying we should do. i'm confident of the campaign understands the challenge and i think we will see them not adopt all, but adopt some of the policy positions and approaches that the sanders campaign manager made. the second point i would make, i was around in 2008 when people were making the same argument about the hillary supporters who were never going to support barack obama because of the primary, but ultimately that changed. it's our job to make sure we are reaching out to the broadest including bernie sanders supporters. at the same time, we need to get this process a little time to play out a bit of the other side of the primary. i'm optimistic will have a unified party. host: we all remember what happened in 2004. from our callers and if you watch foxnews, you are hearing joe biden is too old, he may be suffering from early stages of alzheimer's, dementia.
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how do you respond? guest: this is a tried and true tactic of donald trump. when hillary clinton called him a puppet of the russian regime, his response was, you are the puppet. when people talk about his temperament, his response was no, it is your temperament. this is what they do. we just have to be prepared. donald trump has regularly to be relatively incoherent in his rallies and this is all an opportunity for him to try to push away the criticism. host: but how do you respond to that, because it is out there? guest: having joe biden on the pretty strongng a campaign operation, that response to these critiques by picking a vice president that is going to be a strong partner with them, and by highlighting the fact that donald trump is a liar. at the washington post has said he has lied over 16,000 times, pre-existing conditions, the coronavirus, and now he is lying about joe biden.
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i think you will see a pretty strong response in that regard. host: some people see some risks ahead for democrats and one is the controversy over hunter biden and ukraine and elsewhere when his father was vice president. has joe biden done enough to put that to rest or do you think he needs to do more? guest: i think they've address a pretty effectively. it doesn't mean it won't come up again, but i would remind folks we have a trump organization that is currently making millions of dollars off of donald trump's presidency. that jared kushner pushed for a -- tax rebate in the current tax bill that directly benefited his company. some of his i believe is just a distraction from what the real issue is, that the real corruption has been by the trunk his son-in-law, and my people serving in the current administration. everybody that has looked at the hunter biden situation, everyone has said there was nothing done wrong. we are going to continue to
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prosecute the case as best we can, focusing on the fact that this administration has been engaged in a massive amount of corruption and quid pro quo that have benefited the trump administration. host: you said when hillary clinton said that donald trump, you are a russian public, he said no, you are the public. isn't that what you are doing here? you get a question about hunter biden and you say no, there are more corrupt. guest: there has been a review of this issue, and no one has found anything wrong. optics or weith can deal with facts. the facts are pretty clear that what the trump organization has been doing is using this to distract from the fact that they are making millions of dollars off of the taxpayers, making money off of the federal government, and engaged in a lot of activity that under normal circumstances, and i realize we are not in normal times, would getting a lot more attention. i don't equate the attacks and the lies on hunter biden with
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what i think are very legitimate critiques of the trump organization and the trump administration, which have actually been covered in the press in a way that i think could be amplified a lot more. and by the way, we will. this is not going to be something that sits on the sidelines during we are going to make sure --. we are not going to sit on the sidelines. host: is this more of an , or is itcampaign more defending joe biden? which is more important? guest: for the short term, our number one responsibility is to make sure we are holding trump accountable. if you look at what we've done so far, we have been online advertising since july of last year. wisconsin, michigan, pennsylvania, florida, we have been online in arizona since december, and we've actually been out in the the trump campaign in those five states online. most of the stuff we have been talking about is about the issues that affect people's real
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lives. pre-existing conditions, medicare, social security, health care at large. i think you'll find that most of the work we do is providing a contrast between a biden campaign and a biden administration that will work to cover every american versus a trump administration that has literally kicked millions of people off of their health care. that will be the predominant focus of our efforts. second, other attacks go unanswered and we will be sure to respond when we you like it is important to do so. host: those five states that you mentioned, is that reducing the bow around? five were democrats need to focus. guest: those are the first five we have started with, i think north carolina will end up in a battleground state. it was obviously, president obama won the state, we have a democratic governor. i would not be surprised. the one thing i wanted to say, it's important to notice if democrats continue to not take
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anything progressive. we learned some of those lessons in the last election. host: you worked in support of hillary clinton's election watcher years ago, she carried the popular vote in the country. what role would you like to see her play this time around, and why are many democrats, why do they seem so reluctant to invite her in as a surrogate, as a speaker, and advocate? guest: we have been in a pretty contested primary and one of those candidates was someone who ran against hillary last time, so there has been some reluctance in terms of getting involved in the primary but i think she will be a great surrogate as we move into the general election rally. i hope she has a speaking slot at the convention. i think you will see some of that change when we get to the other side of the nomination and the primary process. you think bill clinton has
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a sneaking spot at the convention question mark guest: former think all of our presidents should have a speaking spot. host: you talk about lessons learned, what are the lessons from the clinton campaign? what did they do with bernie sanders that you think joe biden biden should do in 2020? guest: you mean the general election? host: in terms of this period. guest: one of the things in that joe biden and bernie sanders actually have a good working relationship and i think that will be helpful in the process. i think you'll see the biden campaign to a lot of proactive outreach, not just the bernie sanders and his campaign, but to his supporters. i also think going back to your point about the convention, there's more time. it was really smart of the dnc to move the convention of because it frees up general election money to give us more concerns,dress consolidate and the party moving
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for, so i think you will see organizations like ours and other supporters of by the continue to do that type of outreach. host: president barack obama, when is the proper moment for him to get in? guest: not yet, is what i would say. tuesday,lections on the primary calendar is going to move pretty quickly. twitter ban certainly a lot of us anticipated, we will have a definitive nominee that passes the 1900 votes mark. this plenty of time for barack obama to get involved. in terms of what his role is, there is no better surrogate for joe biden than the person who chosen to be vice president. he is still enormously popular democrats and independents and many of these out and states that he won. i expect we will see him a lot going into the late summer, early fall. at least i hope so. host: we are heading into a new chapter.
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what has been the biggest surprise for you so far in the democratic contest? guest: just going back to our discussion earlier, the speed at which this election moves from south carolina to where we find ourselves today. i've think in politics a little while, i have ever seen polls move that quickly, that definitively here it that i think has been probably the biggest surprise in all of this, we went from a really large field, hundreds of millions of dollars to make the stages, to be competitive, and despite all electionwe saw the move really, really quickly in the course of the last couple of weeks. i think the other thing that is important is i think the remarkable thing about the sanders campaign manager the thing that i have an enormous amount of respect for is how are,tted his supporters how engaged they are in the process, knocking on doors, showing up at rallies and being engaged online.
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i think it's going to be really important as we move through this process that we recognize not just the mechanics of the campaign, but a lot of the policy issues that have been moving young people to be more engaged in politics, not just electoral politics, organizing, movement-building. is sustainability of that something we should recognize going forward. host: you mentioned sanders supporters, one of the biggest divide has been young voters. they have overwhelmingly backed senator sanders. how does someone like joe biden make sure that voters show up to him? guest: it's important to recognize why that is happening. it's not just because of a policy position, a lot of young voters grew up in the shadow of the great recession. they are the ones who have dealt with the consequences of wage growth, the consequences of rising college costs, some of the really current policy issues
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that they are going to be around a lot longer. so i think that is a recognition that we need to see some real systemic change, not just nibbling around the edges. frankly, i want of a proposals that joe biden has put forward will be some of those strategic, structural changes, and we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can not to make some bogus political argument, not to present some tired campaign slogan, but to really get at the heart of the policy issues that they want to see addressed in the administration going forward. host: and final question, percentage-wise, chances that the nominee will select a woman as vp? guest: pretty high, 80%? 75%? obviously we need to make sure that we have a ticket that reflects the diversity of not just our party, but the diversity of the country going forward and from my perspective, there is no better time to have a woman on the ticket. host: guy cecil, we thank you
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for joining us. guest: thanks for having me. host: we continue the conversation with susan page of usa today. let me begin with you. 9/11 affected the psyche of all americans, it changed our lives. feels andcoronavirus seems very different because of the impact across the board with all americans. guest: we think about the big events that you and i have covered over the years, 9/11 is certainly one that was a financial meltdown. another one shifts the ground for americans. the coronavirus will turn out to be that kind of event because it is going to affect so many lives. it has already affected so many people's lives where they are going to work and school, and how concerned you are about the older people in your families. this has a big effect on american life and culture generally and because of that, it also has a big effect in a presidential year on our
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politics. i think it has changed in some ways the ground on which the 2020 presidential election is going to be fought. host: and if we are in a recession, which now appears likely, how concerned are republicans? >> at the primary methods that president trump has had, and how strong the economy is. if the economy is not strong anymore, that is a fundamental building block that has moved. nobody really knows what this is going to look like. a month ago the president was acquitted of being impeached and that feels like a lifetime ago. this all could be in the rearview mirror, but it probably won't be. look at the battles in the senate, a severe recession could hurt republican chances of flipping the house. this is something not only affecting presidential races, but changing fundamentals in the senate and house. host: so many voters i've talked to say i don't really like
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president trump's tweets, and i don't like his rhetoric, i don't like this and that, but i like what i see happening with my 401(k) and i like the unemployment rate and that has convinced a lot of people who might otherwise not support president trump to support him. if you take that away, it creates enormous problems for him, and he has become the republican party. the republican party is now the trunk party and that is one reason it has had such consequences for every other republican on the ballot in november. guest: if you take from the presidents speech on wednesday in the oval office and the event that unfolded on thursday where every major sporting event has been canceled, the country is essentially shutting down. host: i've never seen something like this before. i mean, it is like times. maybe this is what it was like during world war ii. it is a test for the country. and as we said during the we don't withguy,
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lose sight of the fact that is primarily a public health crisis that is going to affect people in big ways, but that does mean it also affects politics. republicans are quite worried. it was the underpinning of president trump's reelection strategy. we have never defeated an incumbent president for reelection when the economy was as good as it was two weeks ago. we have never reelected president with an economy that is really in the tank, so it is an existential crisis for trump presidency. host: where were the mistakes? guest: so early right now, but look at who has taken leadership so are. the presidents speech earlier this week really did not belay many of those concerns. he had several errors he needed to correct. where is the white house and the administration?
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if not state governments taking control, if the federal government that hinges on the response. out of the federal government respond, and not a patchwork in the country? we should keep in mind that we have got months to go before the elections. we've got a long way to go in terms of the pandemic, a long way to go until election day. the very first campaign i covered was in 1980 and the incumbent president had various problems but he was doing ok until the iranian hostage crisis. i think the iranian hostage crisis devastated his reelection prospects not because people blamed him for the fact that americans are taking hostages in iran, they blamed him because they did not think he was handling it in a competent way. trump, that is the risk that he now faces with the coronavirus. you, thanks for joining us here. guest: thank you.
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announcer: washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up monday morning, we will discuss the latest on the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and federal .olicy options to respond to it washingtonn's journal live at 7:00 eastern monday morning. join the discussion. it is easy to follow the federal response to the coronavirus operate at avirus. track the spread with interactive maps and charts. watch briefings and hearings with public health specialist anytime unfiltered at


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