Tamara Keith and Amy Walter on Sanders’ Nevada victory


And that brings us to Politics Monday. I’m here with the great Amy Walter of The
Cook Political Report and public radio’s “Politics With Amy Walter,” and, also great, Tamara
Keith of NPR, co-host of the “NPR Politics Podcast.” Ladies, let’s talk about Bernie Sanders. AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Sure. LISA DESJARDINS: And I think a very fascinating
debate. On the one hand, there are some who say he
is not the most electable, maybe the least electable of the Democrats. And they point
to things like his “60 Minutes” interview this weekend. Let’s play a clip. This is what Senator Sanders
said about Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: It’s unfair to simply
say everything is bad. When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had
a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing, even though Fidel Castro did it? LISA DESJARDINS: Now, on the other hand, there
are those who say he may be the most electable Democrat, and they point to things like polling
of him up against Donald Trump, especially in some swing states. Let’s look at two, for example, Pennsylvania
and Michigan, Bernie Sanders beating Trump, in one case, beating Trump, Michigan, more
than any other Democratic candidate. Amy Walters, solve this riddle for us. (LAUGHTER) AMY WALTER: Great. LISA DESJARDINS: Bernie Sanders, is he the
most or least electable Democrat? AMY WALTER: So, right now, this race is a
referendum on Donald Trump. Most voters are not keyed into the Democratic primaries, even
though we are obviously spending a lot of time there. But how people feel about Donald Trump is
how they say they are voting at this moment in time. You like Donald Trump, you are going
to vote for him. You don’t like Donald Trump, you are going to vote for a Democrat or say
that you are undecided. Right? They don’t have a sense yet of who these Democrats
are. Eventually, they will. And if you are Democrats, you want the race against Donald
Trump to look a lot like the race in 2018 — 2018 did in the midterm elections. Make
it a referendum on Donald Trump and his policies, on what the administration has done or not
done on health care, on the tax cuts. Those were very effective for Democrats. If,
however, it becomes a choice between Donald Trump and fill in the blank candidate, it
becomes much more challenging for somebody like Bernie Sanders, who has positions on
issues that we know are unpopular. The Cook Report and the Kaiser Foundation
went into a lot of those states that you mentioned, those Midwestern states, and we asked the
question, how do voters feel about things like a ban on fracking, which Bernie Sanders
supports, Medicare for all including no private insurance? Of swing voters in those states, those are
very unpopular positions. So we know what that looks like. Candidates on the ballot
in the districts who ran in 2018, they are now members of Congress, Democrats, are not
aligning with Bernie Sanders either, because they know, the voters in their districts,
they spent all of 2018 watching Republicans trying to tie them unsuccessfully to socialism
and Medicare for all. With Bernie Sanders, it is a lot easier to
tie them. LISA DESJARDINS: Tam. TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Yes,
electability has always been sort of an amorphous thing, like — and Democratic voters… LISA DESJARDINS: And you can get it wrong. TAMARA KEITH: And you can get it wrong. And there is a history of Democratic voters
sometimes going for the most electable candidate, like John Kerry, who is not president of the
United States and never was. Or President Obama at the time was seen as the risky pick,
at least for a little while, until he wasn’t anymore, and the party consolidated behind
him. So, in some ways, it is hard to know. You
know, a lot of the Sanders supporters and even other people who are running against
him would argue that, no matter which of them ends up running against President Trump, they
are going to say that that Democrat is a communist, whether it is Bernie Sanders or someone else,
even though Sanders is a Democratic socialist. (CROSSTALK) LISA DESJARDINS: Right. Now, it is interesting you bring this up,
because we do have five other Democratic candidates still — six, actually, I think, is the right
number. But we have about five minutes left, which is why I am thinking of that number. (LAUGHTER) LISA DESJARDINS: So I want to think about
their potential paths, what they might need to do. And, Amy, I want to ask you first about former
Vice President Biden. Does he have to win in South Carolina? If he does win in South
Carolina, does he have enough to go next? AMY WALTER: What happens next? LISA DESJARDINS: Yes. AMY WALTER: Yes, he needs to win in South
Carolina. And then you look at the states coming up
on Super Tuesday, a lot of them do have a demographic makeup that looks a lot like South
Carolina, where African-American voters make up a significant chunks of the electorate. Texas, it’s about 27 percent, Arkansas, North
Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia. But he didn’t do as well in Nevada with Latino voters. And
they also make up a significant portion of the vote in places like California or Colorado
and Texas. So, yes, doing well there, if he wins, it
means it is because he did well among African-American voters, but just how well? Did he really blow
the doors off, or did he squeak by? And I think that will tell us something. And the final thing about Biden is, remember,
he doesn’t have a whole lot of money. At the end of January, he only had about $7 million
in the bank. We know he has obviously spent a lot of money since then. Does he have the
juice to go into these Super Tuesday states that, by the way, are already voting? Many
of these states have early vote. LISA DESJARDINS: What a great segue. (CROSSTALK) LISA DESJARDINS: Oh, yes, go ahead, Tam. TAMARA KEITH: Just quickly, there are a couple
things could prevent him from blowing the doors off and just completely dominating the
African-American vote in South Carolina. One is Tom Steyer, who has also really bet
his campaign on winning over African-American voters in South Carolina and has put a lot
of money in and a lot of work in. And the other is Bernie Sanders, who, in Nevada,
showed that he actually performed pretty well with black voters, and cut into what in theory
should have been Joe Biden’s lock on that part of the electorate. LISA DESJARDINS: You were talking about money. Let’s talk about the candidate with the money,
Tam, Michael Bloomberg. He has not been on any ballots yet, doesn’t have a single vote.
What is his path exactly? TAMARA KEITH: Well, and in your package leading
into this, he wasn’t a moving picture. He was a still photo, because he’s been preparing
for this next debate, which is tomorrow night. And he needed to prepare for this debate,
because the last debate was pretty bad, I think universally viewed as pretty catastrophically
bad. So, he and Bernie Sanders are the only two
candidates who truly have the resources to compete in every single Super Tuesday state,
who have the organization on the ground. Sanders obviously is — his organization is more organic.
It comes from small-dollar donations. And Bloomberg’s comes from, he just keeps spending
money. And he can keep spending money. LISA DESJARDINS: It’s sort of Bloomberg’s
do or die is Super Tuesday. TAMARA KEITH: Yes. And so his pitch is, all these other guys
don’t have the resources to compete against Bernie Sanders or against Trump. So, he has
to actually win some stuff and show himself to be truly competitive. Otherwise, after
Super Tuesday, this has been a wonderful adventure of spending as much money — he has already
spent as much money as President Obama spent in his entire reelection on the air. LISA DESJARDINS: Wow. Amazing. I want to look at some pictures from this
weekend of two other candidates, first of all, Elizabeth Warren in Seattle, Washington,
drawing huge crowds, some 7,000 there you see. She seems to be having a moment with
some of her supporters. And then Pete Buttigieg here in Virginia,
in Arlington, also thousands of people. My challenge to the two of you — we only
just over one minute left, I’m afraid to say — is to talk about Warren, Buttigieg, everyone
else here in the race. What are their paths? (CROSSTALK) AMY WALTER: Right. So we are going into the most diverse states
now. LISA DESJARDINS: Yes. AMY WALTER: And those candidates that you
mentioned — look at Nevada, the most diverse state they have been in so far — only Elizabeth
Warren broke into double digits with African-American voters. The rest of the candidates, Klobuchar, Buttigieg,
were only able to get single digits. In these states where you have really diverse electorates,
it is going to be really hard for them to get any traction. TAMARA KEITH: Yes. And we’re in a moment of a collective action
problem, where all — every one of these campaigns has put out memos saying, wow, those other
candidates in the moderate lane should really drop out. (LAUGHTER) TAMARA KEITH: Those other non-Sanders campaigns,
gosh, that candidate should go. None of them want to go. None of them see
themselves as part of the problem. But unless they can come together and figure out one
standard-bearer, then Bernie Sanders is going to be able to continue racking up more delegates
than the rest of them. LISA DESJARDINS: Well, Amy Walter and Tamara
Keith, I don’t want to go either, but our time is over. Thank you so much for joining us. AMY WALTER: You’re welcome. TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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