Tamara Keith and Amy Walter on Booker’s background, Biden’s launch

Tamara Keith and Amy Walter on Booker’s background, Biden’s launch


JUDY WOODRUFF: And with that, let’s bring
in the analysis of our regular Politics Monday
duo, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report
and host of “Politics With Amy Walter” on
WNYC Radio, and Tamara Keith, White House
correspondent for NPR and co-host of the “NPR
Politics” podcast.
Hello to both of you.
It’s Politics Monday.
You have just heard from one of the 20 candidates
for the Democratic nomination.
Amy, what are you — what’s your reaction
to what the Cory Booker is saying?
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Cory
Booker, it’s really fascinating, because he
talked a lot in that interview with you about
his time as a mayor and his time as an executive.
But, of course, now he’s a senator.
And there’s another young mayor who’s getting
a whole lot of attention named Pete Buttigieg,
right?
And there are some times when I wonder how
much it would be better sometimes for Cory
Booker actually to be running as Mayor Booker
when he was the mayor of Newark, than as Senator
Booker.
JUDY WOODRUFF: An outsider.
AMY WALTER: Being more of an outsider, exactly.
And he’s no longer the shiny young mayor of
this city that he talks a lot about the success
he’s had there, but there’s also been a lot
of criticism, a lot of it from the left, on
how he governed and who he chose to partner
with while he was an executive there, namely
folks from Silicon Valley or finance, folks
in the charter school movement.
So he is — in many ways has a similar path
to what Pete Buttigieg has had, but he doesn’t
have the shine that Pete Buttigieg did, in
part because he’s now part of Washington,
and also because of all the time that the
criticism has had to build up for his record
as a mayor.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you make of his message?
TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: One thing
that stood out is that he is, I think, trying
to draw a contrast between himself and some
of the other candidates, namely Joe Biden,
by not going after President Trump in quite
the same way.
You know, he talked about some people want
to fight fire with fire.
I don’t think we need to do that in this campaign.
He has definitely chosen a different path,
which is to be sort of a calming presence
on the campaign trail, someone who — you
know, his campaign launch video had the drummers
and it was all about, you know, America can
be this great place where we come together
and we have civic grace.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we watch him, and we’re,
of course — you know, we hate to come around
to it, but we look at the polls.
There are some out there about the candidates.
Cory Booker is running — sharing seventh
place.
You don’t even see him on these numbers we’re
putting up here from The Washington Post and
ABC, Amy.
But, actually, that’s better than about a
dozen of the other Democrats.
And what’s interesting here is that, yes,
Joe Biden is at 13 percent, but no opinion,
47 percent.
Joe Biden just rolled out.
And, granted, this poll was wrapping up as
he was announcing, but what does that say
about what Democrats want?
AMY WALTER: One really important things to
know about this poll, especially when you’re
comparing it to other polls, they asked you
— it’s an open, so-called open-ended question,
where they ask, who would you support for
president?
And then you have to put forward a name?
They’re not reading a list of names for you
to say, oh, yes, I have heard of this person,
I will support that person.
So this is really literally for people who
have enough knowledge about the field and
who’s running and it gives an indication of
where they are.
But that also says to you, for somebody like
Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, who do have almost
100 percent name identification, they’re not
rolling off the top of people’s tongues as,
of course I want this person to serve as president.
It is amazing to me, too, to think this field
could still be growing.
I know.
I can’t believe it either.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.
AMY WALTER: But there are still a number of
other high-profile or at least high-level
officials, Democratic officials, senators
and governors, thinking about jumping in.
So those two candidates, Joe Biden and Bernie
Sanders, not really scaring anybody out of
this race.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But Biden is in the race now,
Tam.
And are we getting an overwhelming sense of
why he’s running?
Is his message coming through?
TAMARA KEITH: He gave a speech today in Pittsburgh.
And he did have three pillars to why he was
running.
The three pillars — and I’m going to get
the words wrong here.
And, hopefully, I will remember all three.
But the three pillars were basically taking
on President Trump and, you know, returning
America’s reputation.
The second was an economic message about rebuilding
America’s backbone.
And the third was about bringing Americans
together.
So he came out.
He had a stump speech.
You know, the thing about Biden, he got into
the race late compared to some of the other
candidates, but he came out with a fully fledged
campaign.
He is immediately acting like a front-runner,
in that he has a large staff and he had this
big fund-raising push, and he’s coming out,
you know, acting like a man running for president.
At the same time, he’s also continued to have
to deal with questions, including about Anita
Hill and how he handled that hearing all these
years ago.
And this is not going to be the last of times
that Joe Biden is going to have to answer
questions about things that happened, you
know, before some voters were ever born.
AMY WALTER: There was something about that
speech today, too, in Pittsburgh.
There was a nostalgia there for a time when
Biden was first running.
But also it sort of sounded like a Donald
Trump speech in some ways, obviously very
different, two very different people, but
the focus on the backbone of America, America’s
middle class, the backbone of America here
in Pennsylvania, with these laborers and union
members.
These are the people…
JUDY WOODRUFF: And getting a union endorsement.
AMY WALTER: Getting the union endorsement,
basically going after those very people who
have been defecting from the Democratic Party,
not just to Donald Trump, but over the last
10 or 15 years have been moving more to the
Republican side.
But Donald Trump really captured a lot of
those types of voters who felt like they had
been left behind by the new economy and the
Democratic Party that was obsessed with Silicon
Valley and the coasts and not with them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And just quickly, speaking
of the economy, new economy, and I asked Cory
Booker about this, Tam.
Donald Trump is — at this point, he’s got
a good economy going into this election.
What’s the Democrats’ return message?
TAMARA KEITH: Their return message is — and
you heard it in Booker’s interview and you
heard it from Democrats as they were speaking
to union members this weekend — their message
is, the numbers may look good, but does it
feel good right now?
And the fact that Democrats are talking about
a $15 minimum wage, that they’re talking about
child care expenses and college expenses,
they’re keying in — and prescription drug
expenses — they’re keying in on aspects of
American life that middle-class people — make
middle-class people feel like the economy
doesn’t — isn’t reflected in the numbers
that are really quite good.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tamara Keith, Amy Walter, Politics
Monday, thank you.
AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.
TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

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