First Read: “For the Clinton campaign, Night Three went about as well as it could have hoped — it featured some of the most credible Democratic and independent voices (Obama, Biden, Bloomberg). And so if this convention can’t move numbers for Clinton, it’s hard to see if anything will. Next week’s polls will be fascinating.”
Archives for July 2016
First Read: “As soon as President Obama finished his speech here Wednesday night, it was immediately clear that Donald Trump and Republicans made a fundamental mistake by abandoning a hopeful, optimistic message in Cleveland. And Obama and the Democrats seized that message.”
Noted former George W. Bush spokesman Tony Fratto: “Watching Democrats talk about America the way Republican candidates used to talk about America.”
“Oof. Over the last seven and a half years, Republicans have criticized Obama for not believing in American exceptionalism. But last night, Obama and the Democrats owned the optimistic message about the country.”
“The chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign urged U.S. intelligence agencies on Wednesday to get an ironclad agreement from Donald Trump that he would not leak information to the Russians before providing him with presidential candidate briefings,” the Huffington Post reports.
Said John Podesta: “I think it’s an issue that… Jim Clapper’s going to have to come to grips with. And I think they’ll have to find a way to negotiate with him and with his campaign to get … more than assurances ― sort of some proof that they can be able to hold on to that information.”
Politico: “Vice President Biden didn’t even make prime time on Wednesday night, because his boss and his potential successor had to speak. It was a stark reminder of one crucial difference between the two conventions: The big Democrats almost all showed up in Philadelphia. A lot of big Republicans skipped Cleveland, creating a huge disparity in star power.”
“The GOP no-shows included former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, former nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney, and 2016 candidates Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina. The only prominent Democratic absentee was Al Gore.”
“I guess I take it a little bit personally. You can’t let it get you down. You have to go out.”
— Donald Trump, quoted by Politico, on the attacks on him from Democrats.
“Hillary Clinton has so far been putting on a better television show in Philadelphia than Donald Trump did in Cleveland,” the New York Times reports.
“Expectations had it the other way around. Mr. Trump is the bona fide television sensation, a former maestro of a hit reality series, and he had promised to bring some ‘showbiz’ to the proceedings. Yet it’s Mrs. Clinton who has had the celebrities and musical acts that ‘Tonight Show’ bookers’ dreams are made of — Alicia Keys, Meryl Streep, Paul Simon, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz and Lena Dunham. It’s Mrs. Clinton who has had the more professionally produced show.”
This will bother Trump: “And at least for the first two nights, it’s Mrs. Clinton who has had the bigger ratings, by several million people.”
President Obama “delivered a stirring valedictory address at the Democratic convention Wednesday night, hailing Hillary Clinton as his rightful political heir and the party’s best hope to protect democracy from ‘homegrown demagogues’ like the Republican Donald Trump,” the New York Times reports.
“Taking the stage to rapturous roars of ‘We love you’ and ‘Yes we can,’ Mr. Obama acknowledged that Democrats were still divided after a bruising nomination fight and that Mrs. Clinton had made ‘mistakes.'”
“But he vouched passionately for Mrs. Clinton as a trusted and reliable ally not just for him but for all Americans who need a fighter to improve their lives and keep them safe.”
Politico: “Before the speech, Obama’s aides had said that it would be more of a positive testimonial for Hillary Clinton than anything else. But Obama also delivered a passionate indictment of Donald Trump, casting him as a menace whose positions aren’t just on the other side of the political spectrum, but on a different spectrum all together.”
Politico: “It’s become a cliché to say that the more optimistic candidate usually wins presidential elections, but there isn’t much doubt which party stands for optimism these days. Trump has tried to make November a referendum on the state of the country, describing America as a disaster area that only he can clean up. Obama essentially said: Bring it on.”
“The big story at the Democratic convention for most of Wednesday was not the Democrats — not Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine or even President Obama, the evening’s star speaker. It was Donald Trump, whose loose and provocative talk about the Russians and Clinton’s emails seemed exponentially beyond even his standards for creating turmoil and controversy,” the Washington Post reports.
“Trump thrives on chaos and above all else demands attention. When the spotlight falls elsewhere, such as on the Democrats this week in Philadelphia, he looks to shift it back in his direction. He is a candidate who uses disruption as a strategic force. Wednesday was a textbook example — whether for good or ill.”
New York Times: “After a wrenching yearlong nominating battle with searing debates over the influence of Wall Street and the ability of ordinary citizens to be heard over the din of dollars changing hands, the party’s moneyed elite returned to the fore this week, undeterred and mostly unabashed.”
The featured speakers tonight are President Obama, Vice President Biden and Sen. Tim Kaine.If you’re enjoying Political Wire, please consider becoming a member to support the site. Use coupon code “LovePW” for a 10% discount.
Add your own observations in the comments.
Just for members: Leonard Steinhorn, Professor of Communication at American University and a CBS Radio News Political Analyst, offers this report from Philadelphia.
It’s day three of the Democratic convention, and so we must ask: Has the party missed its opportunity to define Donald Trump, who he is, and what he represents?
What the convention has given viewers so far is light fare — an Elizabeth Warren address, a few Trump critiques embedded in speeches, and short video snippets showing Trump’s bigoted statements and business duplicity. These do well on Facebook and are both easy and fun to share, but with all due respect to social media, sharing is not persuasion and linking is not repetition, and the Democrats seems to be violating a fundamental principle of political communication, which is to define an opponent more powerfully than the opponent defines himself. Democrats certainly want Americans to embrace what they see as the real Hillary Clinton, but even if they succeed at that, campaigns are also about framing an opponent, and if they were hoping in part to make this election a referendum on Donald Trump, they’re not doing too well at this task.
“I come from the Sixties,” Hillary Clinton said in one debate, and there’s actually a refreshing Kumbaya tone to this convention, one bound together not by anger but appreciation for how America has become more inclusive, open, free, and equal since the segregationist, McCarthyite, and organization man era of the 1950s — and how our goal must be to advance those values to include more and more of us, and to make sure we don’t succumb to divisiveness and bigotry. Emblematically, in the 8 p.m. hour, we will hear a stirring rendition of the classic 1965 Jackie DeShannon anthem, “What the World Needs Now is Love.”
Don’t get me wrong — there’s something wholly uplifting about affirming our values and better angels. Cynicism and resentment offer no oxygen for a thriving society. But politics is about strategic communication, and as much as we might not like to embrace it, this is a contest that will be determined in part by how much people distrust the other candidate.
So the key for Democrats is to define Donald Trump in a way that’s consistent with the dignity of the convention. It can’t come off like the hyperventilating Chris Christie or the mouth foaming Rudy Giuliani when they attacked Hillary Clinton at the Republican convention. But it also can’t come off as snark, which is the tone of the current DNC Trump videos and makes them appear a dash arrogant. The Democratic knock on Trump almost seems too clever by half.
Instead, consistent with the Sixties feel of this convention, what’s needed is a speaker who plays the role of a great professor teaching Trump 101, someone who knows how to open eyes and help people understand what they might sense inside but don’t know how to express. And go the whole classroom here — the giant video screen should have a PowerPoint listing facts and links, one that the party can make available to anyone who wants it. And cover the most important points: Trump’s nativism and bigotry, his reckless statements, his willingness to exploit September 11 and the housing crisis, his failed businesses, how he has fleeced customers and shortchanged employees and contractors, and why he seems so implacably opposed to releasing his tax returns. Ground it in fact, make it compelling, don’t distort, and respect the intelligence of viewers seeking to understand this man who is running to become their president.
I often wonder if those who live on the East Coast don’t fully appreciate the appeal of Donald Trump to the rest of the country — much like the famous 1976 New Yorker cover of Manhattan as the center of America and there’s no need to see things the way others do. Easterners who grew up with the Trump brand see him as a charlatan, narcissist, and crude self-promoter, which may explain why many in the press for way too long trivialized his chances of winning the Republican nomination.
But those outside the East associate Trump with skyscrapers, luxury buildings, vacation resorts, golf courses, and an entertainment empire — in other words, as someone who epitomizes success in America, someone who knows how to get things done. If Democrats don’t fillet this image of Trump, if they don’t undercut his infomercial pitch, if they don’t cast doubt on who he is and what he represents, then voters fed up with Washington gridlock and desperate for change may pull the lever for the man who promises to aim his wrecking ball at our political institutions and rebuild them in glitter and gold.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager challenged Donald Trump’s claim that he could be competitive in Democratic strongholds, urging the Republican nominee to stump in traditionally blue states, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Said Robby Mook: “I absolutely encourage Donald Trump to spend time campaigning in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.”
Open Secrets: “Email exchanges involving top officials at the Democratic National Committee released along with private documents by WikiLeaks show that DNC officials hoped to reward top donors and insiders with appointments to federal boards and commissions in coordination with the White House.”
“The revelations give an inside look into how the Democratic Party attempted to leverage its access and influence with the White House to bring in cash.”
Ezra Klein: “This isn’t normal behavior from a major American politician. It’s not even particularly normal behavior from Donald Trump. After he picked Mike Pence, empowered campaign chair Paul Manafort, and gave a structured convention speech, there looked to be a chance that Trump was unveiling a new, more sober persona for the general election. But he can’t do it. He can’t suppress his own mania for even a week.”
“It’s weird to keep saying this, but this is not okay. This is not a man with the temperament, the steadiness, the discipline to be president. The issue here isn’t left versus right, or liberal versus conservative, or Democrat versus Republican. It’s crazy versus not crazy. Donald Trump, of late, has been acting pretty crazy. That’s not acceptable in the job he’s running to fill.”
Sen. Marco Rubio told WGN that his “sense” is that Donald Trump’s positions on issues will more fully develop as he takes on the role as president.
Said Rubio: “I view the Senate as a place that can always act as a check and balance on whoever the next president is. I also think there’s something to be said for, once you’re actually in that position, once you’re actually working at this thing, and you’re in there, and you start to have access to information that perhaps you didn’t have before, especially for someone that’s never been in politics, I think it starts to impact your views a little bit.”
Donald Trump said that he “hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton’s email, essentially encouraging an adversarial foreign power’s cyberspying on a secretary of state’s correspondence,” the New York Times reports.
Said Trump: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Politico: “The discussion of Putin comes amid Democratic accusations that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails. Trump said that’s a “sideshow” to distract from the contents of the emails.”
“So many times, white — non-college-educated — white males have voted Republican. They voted against their own economic interests because of guns, because of gays, and because of God. The three G’s –– God being the woman’s right to choose.”
— House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in an interview with PBS.