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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 13, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT

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individual and creative potential. that is what this movement is about. [applause] that is why i think that is why i think the democracy issue is your issue, i really do. >> just a point here there are two more speakers that came to the line even though i was planning to close t i'm going to let you guys speak but you're going to have literally 30 seconds to make a closing comment. >> independent voice in california again. i love the discussion we are having. and particularly given the folks who are up here, it's a little heavy on the kind of electoral tactical kind of discussion. should we do top two or should we do this one or that one. i would love if the panel could speak a little bit to how you understand the necessity of building a movement for independent political reform particularly in light of the title, how do we make it popular
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with american people? i have been doing this a long time. we were involved in the first campaign in 2004 in california. it was a very wonky discussion and we got our asses kicked. only through a lot of trial and error and a lot of hard work to build the right kinds of coalitions that spoke to enough groups that it actually happened. once we passed it, we weren't done. only 25% of voters, independents, in the election cycle knew they could participate. ordinary citizens meant with all the voters we could get to in order to change the way the voter education materials worked. i'd love it if you could speak a little bit to how you understand building a movement to make these tactics basically worthwhile. >> i might give a quick comment on that. the nice thing about building this movement, you do an awful lot to try ethiopia us do it,
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almost daily, they do things inside their party that are disenfranchising the voters. that are pushing them to the outside. that are making them give up on the system. there's our danger. our danger is that the public tends to be giving up. they are starting to believe that in fact, maybe we can't make this thing any better. we have to give them hope. what we have to do is to make them believe. to believe that in 235c9 -- in fact we can make things better. that's why i'm here. i think that's why most people in the room are here. [applause] >> this is not a direct answer, jason, one of the things i -- keeps going around in my head is and in my life is that one of the lessons of being active and building together is that you don't need permission to do something. people can just do something.
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and then you can see what happens. and then you can do something else. cops and kids program is a wonderful example. after a police murder in new york literally cops and kids, which now is in partnership with the mrpd, coverage in the pass, cared about because she and fred newman said what's something we can do that's really different that might take us down a road that's not simply protesting? if we can teach americans that they can do something new together, i think that goes a long way towards getting us out of all the dead ends and boxes we are in. [applause] >> let me take this opportunity right now to say that i think what i was saying earlier that i really see this issue as a social justice issue, that we have a system that excludes
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people from meaningfully participating in an election where they can make their own choice. i say, if there's not going to be any justice, there can be no peace. [applause] >> we have seen voting past as a ballot 13, 14, 15 cities. a lot of them is just a very small number of people that said let's do this. and they found residence and were able to do it. sarasota florida basically like three people pushed it. they got it on the ballot, got 78% of the vote. so there's different places that have passed it that way. there's one state, minnesota, is an independent group that works where they passed it in minneapolis and st. paul. they created an organization on the ground as they did it and kept it and this whole issue
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that comes up about how you have to defend your system after you win it and make it work like support candidates and not directly support them but just like help them understand the system. and that kind of movement building is harder. but it is sustained in a way that i think it's very likely to expand in that state. i guess the two ways of saying that this is winnable stuff. i think you have to be smart. you can't win it everywhere, you pick your moments in a relatively small number of people can be the catalyst to do that but to sustain this and turn it into something lasting it has to be bigger. fortunately there's a lot of people here who might help do that. [applause] >> sir. >> my name is neal grimaldi, a lawyer in new york and also candidate for president independent. i have been fighting for 10 years the democratic party and the control of the judiciary and running -- fighting insurgent candidates on the balance will
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the. -- bat lot. it's very, very difficult because in some courts there's corruption. for example in queen's county, the lawyer that you're fighting against, he puts the judges on the bench. i had the real unfortunate situation of going into a united states federal court and trying to get a candidate on the bat lot, mr. wills, not a councilman, and finally after the case i found out that the judge had actually been appointed by the other side. now i have a case in the united states court of appeals to try to outlaw the new york state board of elections. new york state board of elections is really the most corrupt institution i have ever seen. you're only allowed to have -- the board directors are the most prejudiced people. you only can be on the board if you represent the republican or democratic party. and then they decide who's going to be on the ballot or who is not going to be on the ballot on technical cases.
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how could you have -- the biggest party group sinned pentz. they have no representation -- is independents. they have no representation. i just say i really applaud your movement and your efforts, but i do think that you can't get legislation passed unless you have candidates. unless you have a structure. i agree your organization, a noble organization, with the great miss catty stewart, you don't have to be part of that structure. you made a decision. you had the experience. you can't argue with the experience. there also is a need for independent party where a person can get legislation passed and hopefully change the situation. that's what i'm running on. i want to thank you very much for the opportunity to be -- one last comment. i ran for mayor last year. i had -- one last comment. i ran for mayor. here i cam aim' a revved rend, wrote two books.
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bibles. former assistant d.a., public school teach enand got excluded for the debate. how can you have such terrible corruption in the system and allow it to go on? that's my point. thank you very much. [applause] >> my name is kevin johnson, i decided that i was an independent in 199 and ross perot was running. a lot of the things he was saying because so many people didn't. anyway a large huge mark like i was talking about, miss jacky if we can organize on a real big margin at that whole lot of people, take advantage of the warm weather that's coming up. at least 100,000, we say we got to get out of the streets. the other thing is, how many people are familiar with the coast to coast a.m. radio show? i'm a fan of that show. that's a good one for jackie to go on. you can lay it on the line. jesse ventura has been on there. it's got at least 10 million
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listeners and are all smart people. we talk about -- they talk a lot of behind the scene things like this. perfect show for the coast to coast. can we help jackie get on the coast to coast a.m.? george is the host of it during the week. and there are other guest hosts on the weekend. maybe we can work on that. [applause] >> let's give our panelists another round of applause. [applause] >> thank you so much. i'm going to close us out now and thank you so much for being here and for participating in these conversations. i think some of what we pursued and opened up and talked about today are really some of the most important discussions that are going on in the country
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today. we want to continue them outside of the theater. in the ante room there. i'm going to come out there wasn't to say hello to everyone. let's keep our conversation going. let's keep our movement building, going. let's keep your leadership going and growing. thank you so very much for being here. good night. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> the u.s. house and senate are back today after their two-week easter recess. the house meets at 2:00 p.m. to work on bills dealings with the tax code. later this week, i.r.s. oversight. can you see live coverage of the house as usual right here on c-span. the senate coming in at 2:00 p.m. also. with speeches until 5:00. then there will be half an hour debate on a district court nomination. then a confirmation vote on that at 5:30. after that we could see the senate return to the human trafficking bill that's been stalled since the opening of the new congress. see live coverage of the senate on our companion network c-span2.
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and the third republican senator marco rubio of florida, announced his 2016 presidential candidacy later today coming up at 5:30 eastern. c-span is planning live coverage depending on the schedule of the u.s. house. former house majority eric cantor talks about the challenges of long-term political decisionmaking in a conversation at the harvard university institute of politics. early last year, eric cantor lost his seat in congress to a primary race in a primaries to an economics professor, david brat, who is now serving in the u.s. house. >> goonk welcome to the john f. kennedy forum at harvard university. i'm direct of the university of politics. tonight our guest and visiting fellow is former congressman eric cantor. he currently serves as vice chair of the investment bank company, but until 2014, he
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spent two decades in public service. first serving in the virginia house of delegates, and beginning in 2001, representing virginia's 7th district in the u.s. house of representatives. in 2008, congressman cantor was elected republican whip, and in 2011 he was elected house majority leader of the 112th congress. known as a smart and pragmatic player, congressman cantor called for a vision of conservatism and i quote, founded on decency inspiration and a desire to let every american have a fair shot at earning their success and achieving their dreams. end quote. last january then congressman cantor addressing congress and the obama administration, urged both to think about the eight million children who will be born before the next election and for their sake forgo
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short-term tactics that gain advantage for 2016 and focus on where they agree and what they can do to create growth and opportunity. we are proud to welcome eric cantor back to the forum. [applause] our moderator for tonight's discussion, the political editor of the "boston globe." schirra center. she's an authority on congressional races and elections, apearl frequently as a political analyst on cnn, msnbc, and fox news. shira is a former political editor of roll call and staff writer for both politico and national journal hotline. most importantly she was an i.o.p. spring resident fellow last year. welcome back.
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shira: we'll chat for a half-hour and take it to questions. start thinking of your very wise and smart questions right now. let's talk about your new job. what exactly are you doing? how does it relate to being the former house majority leader? eric: well, first of all what i'm doing now is i'm -- as maggie indicated, vice chairman, managing director of molis and company. we are a global but independent invest many bank with 17 offices around the world. about 600 employees. just went public last spring. and what we do is we advise c.e.o.'s, in terms of their strategic decisionmaking whether it is through growth by acquisition, whether it is merging with another entity, and just general decisions on how to conduct affairs. so in many ways i'm in the business of giving advice and if you look to see what i did in my
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prior role as majority leader, i guess one could say it was trying to offer advice in a very friendly way. if that didn't work, get serious. i am -- shira: talking about with the speaker or caucus? eric: just members in general and certainly as cutting my teeth as deputy whip and then whip trying to effect an certain outcome in one's voting. was very much about advice and learning and helping the education process through advocacy of a cause in terms of a bill. but it is it those sort of -- the intersection right now if you look at business today the one who is allocating capital in a decisionmaking capacity has to assess risk. unfortunately more and more sectors of our economy are being
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affected by government action which increases the unknown which increases the risk. so i see a real merging of the two worlds. now seven months back in the private sector. shira: you spoke a little bit or you alluded to this idea of short-termism when it comes to decisionmaking and making deals. what are some examples of short-termism you see in government versus business today? eric: i go back and look at sort of my career as an elected official in government. i served for about nine years in the virginia house and then served for about 14 years in the congress. over that period of time certainly what drew me to that service is, i think, what the kennedy school and the i.o.p. is about, which is trying to promote public service. trying to promote students who are aspiring to make their way
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in the world to also make their way in terms of the conduct of our government and our country. some very, very supportive, delighted to be here because i am so energized no matter what side of the philosophical spectrum or party that you're in, the fact that you care enough to want to influence the outcome of the country and its future is really really a calling that i have spent a lot of my life pursuing. but what i saw in that time in government is although one who offers himself up for elected office does so with a long-term vision in mind, to effect some good, there are forces at work in our electoral system that tend to be much more short-term in nature. just the very sense of a two-year term as a member of congress tends to be something that is countering aspirations
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towards a long-term view or a long-term goal. and i think similarly in business. what you see today is increasingly with the technology we have the availability of information about the performance of a company if you are on the board or an officer in a publicly traded organization all of a sudden quarterly reports mean a whole lot. and wall street will look at you in terms of your performance in that light. that has to have some impact on decisionmaking. and one who is in a leadership position in a company, i think, it is imperative for that man or woman just as it is for one in elected office to be very definitive in his or her long-term view in order to navigate the short-term pressures that exist both in the business world as well as the political arena. again i think that's what
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largely shapes what leadership is about today. the ability to maintain a strong view of the future and long-term value while at the same time having the practical ability to do your day job and navigate these short-term pressures. shira: government specifically in congress, were there certain issues you believe separate from short-termism more than others? mr. cantor: i can tell you right now on both sides of the aisle. i think that there is equal opportunity on this. i'll say on my side of the aisle immigration has been something that has evaded a lot of -- solutions have evaded us and we as a republican party have not had a unified position saying, hey, we want to fix this and here's how. i took the position early on that because anything comprehensive in nature in terms of legislation i'm sure you know this, that hasn't always worked out well in washington. there can be a lot of unintended
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consequences. like in so many other instances in life, perhaps maybe if we can't, it's so complex maybe we need to break it down into parts and accomplish he getting across the goal line, if you will, one by one. i for a couple years felt very strongly that although we couldn't come together on a comprehensive fix, that what you could do was deal with that which we agreed to which should be the kids. it should be those dreamers. the kids who were brought here by parents in many cases unknown. unbeknownst to that child, that they were brought here were raised in this country, didn't know any other country ever as home, to me, it would make sense to give them citizenship. what else are you going to do? i felt very strongly about that and wanted to go about passing legislation to that effect. i had a lot of difficulty in convincing some of my colleagues on my side of the aisle that it was something that we should do. and i believe the reason why that there was such resistence
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because there was short-term pressure on -- from many interest groups on the right which said, even that dealing with the kids, when they themselves did not commit any wrong, didn't break any law, that somehow conferring citizenship on them was am necessary tifment and the -- amnesty. and the siren of short-termism, the incentive to respond to that, there was a lot there for folks to say, you know what, right, i'm not taking any risk. i don't want to be accused of amnesty. i'm staying away from even helping the kids. i would say on the left there is a real commitment on the part of some on the far left to say hey, this system of ours is rigged against us and that means that the big bad corporations, i'll say that in guest, this is what i believe -- jest this is what i believe the attitude is on the left, the bad corporations they are getting theirs while you're not getting yours. so what is the bill that is
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purported to be that which safeguards and puts those big banks and corporations in their place? what the left will say is it's dodd-frank. we can't touch dodd-frank because that was designed to protect the little person. and to put the big banks in their place. well, honestly there is no perfect law or legislation. anything can be improved. and there was instances where one would want to improve dodd-frank to make it work better but yet some on the extreme left would say, we are not touching it. is a crow santh. -- sacrosanct. when you're dealing with kids that didn't break the law themselves. those are two examples i think of short-term slogans which many in the advocacy community put out there as a line not to be crossed, but thwarting in the
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end what's -- what benefits everybodier, on the immigration side to say we are a contry of laws and immigrants, on the dodd-frank financial services side we have the most successful deep sophisticated capital markets in the world which helps fuel the growth in our economy. shira: one more question about immigration reform. when you lost your pry marery, some people in my business, the media, wrote that immigration reform was dead. what's the prognosis in your opinion for immigration reform? house republicans confront this issue in a successful and productive way? mr. cantor: i really think that one needs to take a step back and see what it is that people can agree on together rather than complete nashing of teeth and not get -- gnashing of teeth and not get anymore. there are short-term pressures against doing anything for fear that someone would be accused of
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implementing am necessary tifment if you know that to be the case, that is the short-term pressure. the point is, incremently what can you do ultimately to get to a solution where both sides will have to give. it goes back to this sense of though one has a long-term view, how do you get to that long-term goal? how do you incrementally make progress? i think that is the key. my sense is right now very little prospect of that happening until there is a presidential leaks. shira: when you say incrementally, can you give an example of one of the starting points? mr. cantor: the kids. why not start with the kids? the notion is if the criticism on the right is am necessary t. these kids did not -- am necessary t. these kids did not break any laws -- amnesty. these kids did not break the laws. their parents were the ones in search of a better life. they were the ones who came here
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or overstayed a visa that brought the kids in. we have a tradition of law in this country it's biblical as well. we don't hold kids libal for the illegal acts of their parents in america. you can counter the criticism on the right and at the same time those who back what the president's trying to you can get one step there without getting everything. i think both sides have to give a little bit. you can't get everything on one side and you're going to have to start making progress on the other side. shira: let's talk a little bit about the president. you have been a critic of him in the past. fair to say you had a couple of confrontations with him, reported confrontations with him for example over the stimulus and debt limit. did you draw any lessons from these experiences when it comes to negotiating and deal making? secondly, do you think the president suffers from so-called short-termism? mr. cantor: first of all i
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think the example of the stimulus debate was a pretty instructive about where things have gone since then. it's been well over six years since that debate occurred. remember what was going on at the time. this was a historic election in the nation's first black president. he was extremely popular at the time with over 70% approval rating. had everything going for him. in addition to the fact that the country had just suffered a tremendous setback with the almost crash of the markets. and this was all post the mortgage crisis and a.i.g. and lehman brothers and the whole thing. the president was there to really be in a position to bring the country together. right before he was sworn in, he asked then leader boehner and i to a meeting with the other members of leadership and he was
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president-elect. i recall meeting in the l.b.j. room in the senate. he came over to us and said, the president said president-elect said i'm really serious about wanting to work with you. i want us to work together to bring this country back so we can move forward. and he indicated that we should bring him our ideas about what should be and what was reported to be coming which was the stimulus bill. after the swearing-in, we all went to the white house, met in the roosevelt room. i guess i was so bold at the time i brought a white paper to show the president. he said bring your ideas. i did that. and the president looked at it initially and said, there's nothing unreasonable, nothing crazy in here, i think he said. we were very careful not to be crazy in this white paper. because i know that what the asungs was -- assumption was what the republicans wanted in tax reform and stimulus was never going to sell. shira: white paper is a policy
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memo. mr. cantor: unfortunately what happened was the items on the white paper never made it into a stimulus proposal. for whatever reason, the white house would explain or not what should or shouldn't be considered a republican position the stimulus bill, nothing on the paper was there. and in the end, the white house did not get any republican support at all. however many we were strong at the time, no republican voted for the bill. and remember, this was when the president had a 70% plus approval rating. there was every indication we wanted to work together. he wanted to work with us. when you ask was there any education, was there a lesson learned there, i hope that the white house would say, and i believe this, if they had taken the time to engage, to interact on a personal level, i believe they could have easily gotten republican support. maybe not the majority of
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republicans, but they could have gotten republican support to get off on a much more bipartisan basis. and i would think you carry that through the last six years there is something about human interaction that tends to take the chill off, if you will, break the ice. and i would jump up and down and tell the white house i don't care how rock red republican district one would have, if you're invited to the white house, to have dinner with the president and the first lady in an intimate setting, you better believe that that member of congress and his or her spouse is going to be there and will want a picture with the president of the united states and his wife. so that to me shows you that the power in that office unfortunately, that's not been used to leverage what it is that needs to get done on a policy basis. shira: if you were to give the president a grade between a and f on his relations with
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congress d? mr. cantor: doing pretty badly. i do. joe biden and i -- this is to the point shira. i have a very good relationship with him and i cringe every time i say that because i have to call him and tell him i hope i didn't hurt you. again, we were brought together during the debt ceiling debate and the president had asked the vice president to sort of host a commission that lasted for about seven weeks, three times a week, 2 1/2 hours every day. and the speaker at the time boehner, asked me to go and sit there with the vice president and his team an there were others in the cabinet who were there and members. and we actually developed a relationship. it was a recognition about the political sensitivities. my wife and he and dr. jill biden have seen each other and gotten together socially. based on that experience. but that's what's missing. it's the human element.
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above all else that in the end of the day could force or at least prompt someone if they are at all reasonable into solving problems risking taking steps that may not be totally what one would want, but in the end of the day, could bring people together. that's, i believe, what's missing. shira: we reported on capitol hill, the white house, particularly the president halls hasn't been the best about reaching out to congress. what do you think it is about him? why do you think -- because he didn't serve in congress as long as joe biden? mr. cantor: i'm a lawyer. i'm a real estate developer. i'm now an investment banker. i am not a psycho analyst. i don't know. the human element is very much missing. look the congress has deinvolved a lot into that as well. there aren't enough opportunities to interact with one another.
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without congress -- cameras being in the way. in subcommittee and committee with cam ration on, you do get a chance to know others and the more intimate setting of a committee room could help facile date that -- facilitate that. shira: talk a little bit about 2016. because we are on the theme of this discussion is about short-termism. is there anyone in the 2016 field you think has a proven ability to prioritize long-term decisionmaking deal making? you have said before you kind of a four favorites among the field, right? mr. cantor: i think that the 2016 election on the republican side -- i think even the general election hopefully we'll be able to result in the election of an individual who can demonstrate that type of leadership which says, one, i got a view. i know where i want this country to go. people have elected me to do
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that. number two, back to this other discussion we were having what's missing with the white house, i've got the ability to practically on a day-to-day basis conduct my day job. to make it so that i can get along with people and get things done. so i do think on the republican side i have said before, there are really four people who i believe will -- would be one of those which will receive our nomination. shira: those were jeb bush, chris chris t. marco rubio, and scott walker? mr. cantor: right. shira: which one of those four did you last speak to on the phone? mr. cantor: you were going to get pea to say something. shira: once a reporter, always a reporter. mr. cantor: i have spoken to all of them recently. i don't want to say which one more recently something will be taken from that. it's not true. shira: fair enough. let's talk a little bit about deal making and the big deal right now in the news is home state former senator and secretary of state john kerry's
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negotiations with iran. do you think the framework they have put out, do you think this is a deal for the long-term? mr. cantor: i'm really worried about this deal. i'm really worried about the framework that's been proposed. obviously the sort of meat on the bones comes by june. several points that concern me. whether you can sort of count on it in the long term i'm doubtful. one is the whole question about iran's breakout compass i and -- capacity and what and when if that, what is it what really can be verified about that. and clearly to allow iran to have breakout capacity is a danger to us all. so i think secondly, the nature of the inspection regimes. there's a lot been discussed in the media lately about snap
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inspections. what will be the inspection regime? and how do you resolve disputes if they are deemed to be a violation of the agreement? are we in the u.s. going to have to rely on the u.n. and perhaps iran's -- the countries who are simpa this isic to iran to block any kind of u.s. response? and then what -- sympathetic to iran to block any kind of u.s. response? and then what is the response, what is the nature of the reimposition of sanctions now quickly will the sanctions be lifted is another question that needs to be asked. in the end this agreement as the president himself and his administration keeps saying it only deals with the nuclear question. what about all the other destabilizing things that iran has been undertaking over the last decade or more? hamas, hezbollah, what's going on in iraq, syria, what's going on recently in yemen. all of this can be attributed
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right back to tehran. so if you're going to lift sanctions because somehow there's a determination that iran has complied with the provisions of its deal, all it does is give a tehran that much more money to destable a's and doing all it can to reach its goals in the region. i'm very worried about this deal and i know those who are proponents of it think it's a good long-term thing. and a long-term benefit. i'm worried about it. shira: at the time when you were in congress, you were the sole republican jew in congress, right, for a period of time there. i think it's been fascinating to watch republicans, especially bringing -- when john boehner asked netanyahu to speak to the chamber, where do you think the relationship between the house and senate republicans and israel is headed at this point? compared to the other party. mr. cantor: there's no question
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the trend on the republican side of the aisle has been clearly on the upswing for support of israel. you were down to low single digits for those who who would not necessarily be there on every vote o to support israel. and i think the trend is the opposite on the democratic side of the aisle. there's been a lot of sympathy towards those who would claim the palestinians should right now be given a state. there are those who would advocate in a progressive left in america on the p.d.s. movement boycott do i vest at this ture and sanctions against -- divestiture and sanctions against israel. support the u.n. going after israel. all of that exists on the left. you're not seeing that on the right. there have been on the right indicators that some would say we don't need to be so globally engaged. we don't need to be spending money on foreign aid etc.
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noninterventionist. i don't think that's anywhere near as prominent on the right. i'm much more concerned about what's going on on the left. shira: shifting gears quite a bit. i would like to get your thoughts on the indiana governor, mike pence and the religious freedom law that passed in indiana. the governor we should also mention, is your former colleague in the house of representatives for a few terms. has received a lot of backlash from businesses about the law. i think you might have a unique perspective on this given your new industry. first, do you think it was a good idea for mike pence to go back and indiana republicans back and make changes to the law or try? mr. cantor: i think the fact the changes were made so quickly probably reflected the fact that those who supported the law didn't realize how violent the backlash would be. i am always concerned when there is some sense of exclusion that comes out of a public act. we are a country that should
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bele to rent --le to -- should bele to rent and based onle to rent. i'm a member of a majority religion and grew up as a majority in anaire that didn't have a lot of jewish people. and so i understand what it means just in terms of sensitivities. where if you're in a situation and have a religious service at a school you attend and all of a sudden you are the odd one out. and again -- but we as a country have come a long way, we are not perfect in this and certainly we are built on this notion that you have the ability to practice your religion and there's no imposition of a state religion, but we also have a country that protects people's rights. the question at the heart of this debate of the indiana law which some would say traction closely, and i have not read the law to see that it traction closely to what president clinton signed and what 20-some other states have, i think some
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would say that it is license to allow people to discriminate based on their sexual preference, and i think that that's wrong. you should not allow anybody to do t i can't say that that law is or isn't. i think the evidence is in the courts. what have the courts done to say that there is a law in place that is needed to protect one's religious rights? or has a court ever come in and said this law is unduly burdensome to one's ability to practice their faith? i just don't know where the examples are to say a court would ever come down to say you shouldn't or aren't compelled to serve someone because of their sexual preference. i do think there's a question of a ceremony and photographer and
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the intimacy of the ceremony. this is where i think one would -- on the religious freedom side says don't make me do that. i'm not so sure a court agrees with that. i'm not. shira: i mentioned that indiana businesses were quite angry with governor pence about the law. the alliance between business and the chamber of commerce and christian conservatives, many who back the law, is precious to the republican party. and long-term coalition. do you see that coalition at risk or threatened you have also dealt with this somewhat in the house had a lot of libertarian members at odds with the chamber of congress, coalition at risk? mr. cantor: coalition between? shira: chamber of commerce, pro-business, and christian conservatives in the republican party. mr. cantor: it's interesting when they say christian conservatives, i'm a conservative and jewish. i was able to be -- i don't
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think that there's necessarily a bridge that has collapsed. i do think on -- there are some issues and remember what -- surrounding a lot of the shutdowns and a lot of the libertarians it was libertarians a more fiscal hawks which said we needed to shut down the government because, unfortunately, the country has grown so bad in such a wrong direction we need to do something extreme. then you saw the business community get really upset. at the time hands of republicans somehow we is -- you saw the shut down of the government. as you know i was very much in opposition to shutting down the government. i don't think it helped anyone. i don't think it helped the conservative cause at all. i don't think it helped even a limited government cause to do that. it is about leadership. i don't think there is any permanent fraying of this coalition that makes up the republican party. if you go back to even the
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politics on the democratic side on the left, just like the republican side, there are different interest groups. there are things that you have in common. on the republican side what we have in common i believe strongly is individual empowerment, rights. it's not to say the democratic party doesn't stand for that as well. we get there a different way. and the focus on opportunity afforded to upward mobility. to me long term that's what needed more than anything else is economic opportunity and growth. it's going to take leadership so we get out of these discussions about fraying here and fraying there. there needs to be a long-term vision. i do think 2016 gives us that opportunity. shira: one question about your primary and this is it. looking back, is there anything you would have done differently? mr. cantor: sure. i think that the mistake made in my primary was the assumption
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that we had republicans only voting. virginia very unique state, i don't know how unique, but there is an open primary law in virginia and the democratic candidate did not have a primary that day. it was later uncovered that my opponent in the primary was actively engaged in recruiting the democratic voters. and the post-election polling that was done indicated i think almost 23,000 democratic primary voters came in to my primary. and whereas i still received the majority of republican votes, i didn't receive anywhere near as much as i used to because of a lot of the issues we talked about. my stands on immigration. my stance on keeping the government opened. my stance on making sure we didn't go into default as a federal government. my stance in papping the tarp bill. all the things -- passing the
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tarp bill. all the things i feel should have been done and i wouldn't -- if given where i was in those instances would have taken the same votes now knowing what i knew then, but again i think the fault was in the political calculation about who were the voters and who were really coming out to vote that day. shira: do you miss congress at all? mr. cantor: i miss the people. i really do. you think about being in a place where you work 14 years and you get to know people and you work and you convene meetings day in and day out. you grow really attached to working with people. hi a great team of people that i worked with on my staff as well. some of whom are here today. one is a fellow here, matt who is leading up the digital efforts in terms of the digital age in politics and business. i have been meeting with him and his students today.
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john, a former fellow, is also here. i'm able to at least continue the contact and relationships i've got. shira: fun question for you then we'll go to -- start with questions in the audience. i'm going to make the assumption you have a little more free time now than you used to. maybe a little bit. have you picked up any, for lack of a better word, hobbies? are you doing anything fun or new? favorite show you watch on net flicks? mr. cantor: house of cards -- i'm traveling a lot. the company a is a global business. i'm traveling more than i used to travel. shira: really? mr. cantor: because if you recall, as majority leader, you have the ability to help schedule the floor. and you knew when you had to be in washington and knew when you weren't. now you are really at the call of the clients and businesses that you work with. i will say that the netflix house of cards show is probably
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the number one question that i'm asked. especially when you go to countries in asia and elsewhere who are watching the show thinking wow, they always ask is it really like that? no. again, i think that enjoying my new -- next chapter in life. shira: terrific. he we'll -- we'll start with questions now. just a couple of ground rules. reminders for the questions. all questioners must item theffs. one brief question per person. no speeches, please. he's heard enough of those in congress i'm sure. please end your question with a question mark. as an editor i very much appreciate that. start up here. >> my name is jamarcus, i had a quep relation to the citizens -- united citizen. around $900 million that the coke brothers are spending.
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for the typical everyday american, but a person from a socioeconomically disadvantaged background, do you think that people still have an opportunity to allow their vote to count even though there is so much money in politics now? mr. cantor: i'm going to give you my view on campaign finance first then talk to you a little bit about what you have alleged in terms of the coke -- koch brothers and influence in politics. first of all, i have always taken a position that you ought to be transparent in terms of political donations. i am one who believes strongly what you do with your money is a lot about of your constitutional right to state your position. but if you're going to do that, you have a duty inure country and system to disclose that you're doing it. unfortunately the evolution of the campaign finance laws, mccain feingold and the rest, what it's done it has increased the owe pass it of the system so
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people are -- opacity of the system so people are able to give money and hide behind the organizations so people don't realize who is funding them. you cite some republican donors that are involved. i bet most the public doesn't know that so they are hearing things blindly. i do think there is a problem with a lack of transparency. when you say, should billionaires who happen to be republican have the ability to do that and does that unfairly advantage them over the working people of the country? remember the press no harm intended, the press has total license to do and opine with whatever they want on politics. and as we know and i don't think i'm crossing any unchartered ground here most of the press self-identifies as liberal. ok. i don't know, shira the latest polls i have seen, most will
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self-identify. most will self-identify. you're human beings. why is it that one industry has unfettered ability to push out online through ink every day whatever it is he or she may feel, but not necessarily one of us, a company, someone who is wealthy, someone who is poor right? no one says that they should -- that's why i come back to this. not to mention -- there's this whole debate about corporate america on the republican side and the union and labor movement on the democratic side. they have all kinds of actually deemed rights to organize their members and communicate with their members. unlimited. so it's unfair to single out say, hey we have a billionaire republican. they are having undue influence
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because there are a lot of those who have disproportionate influence compared to you and me. i think the best sort of the best m.o. or method should be let everybody give what they want but just disclose it. let people see who is behind a particular candidate and then they can draw their conclusion. shira: next up. >> peter, i'm in the civics department. thank you very much for coming. i had-different been hearing your remarks you're basically saying a fune way to compromise with the immigration and you can take both sides and look at some common ground and that hyper polarization or separation of positions is due to short-termism. what happens if it's the opposite? i would give the example of the liberate relations in the upper midwest, the governor walker, the labor movement comes in and try to define their rights and there is a scorched earth battle at the end of the republican is the republican or conservative position is won in both wisconsin and michigan being
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right to work state. quite a long-term solution. so there's a case for ier polarization to scorched earth to a policy advancement that's about as permanent as it will be on the state level. i'm wondering what you think about -- there is sort of a relationship sometimes compromise might be good. but sometimes hyper polarization might get the policy goal you want in a permanent way. mr. cantor: i'm not so sure i in a i would qualify the -- that i would qualify the right to work movement as hyper polarization. that's what scott walker was about and governor snyder was about in michigan to reinstate the right to work law in those states. it's certainly not in my region of the country would i say there is a lot of incentive, and i think to the detriment of the right to work movement, having been very engaged politically. those states they were. i think a lot had to do with the alleged abuse that was taking place in the public space with the union movement and there was a backlash.
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when we talk about -- i agree with you, right to work is not necessarily short-term pressure. it was much more of a long-term method. i think structural issue for the labor situation in those states. it's where -- if you -- the budget that we just passed that we just saw in congress pass, the budget was only a partisan budget, by and large. it was a republican budget that balanced in 10 years. now, that's a very short although one would say we need balance, and it's good for republicans to put out their model, you know that budget's not going to pass. but it was a concession to the short-term imperative to those who don't think washington is living within its means. but in the end, it's very hard
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to see the democratic president solving that problem in that way. it's not going to happen. at some point there's going to be a break down of those expectations about balancing the budget in 10 years given the political makeup. it's this short-term sort of jerk saying, oop, we are there for you. don't worry. we'll balance the budget in 10 years. at the end of this year, that's not happening. so that -- that also, i think, is actually gets in the way of long-term, the goal should be deficit reduction. you do that much more effectively through economic growth. and why can't people rally around the economic growth method rather than stay out here fighting on the polls between balancing the budget within a year and never balancing the budget. shira: we are going up a level. >> leader cantor, thank you very much for speaking to us. i'm alex, a student of the joint
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harvard county school harvard business school program. my question concerns your home state. the commonwealth of virginia has been talked about a lot it was republican and is trending blue, we just had for many people surprise where ed gillespie did fantastically against mark warner in the last election. to the extent you pare into your crystal ball what is the political future of virginia? mr. cantor: virginia being a native lived there all my life, and it's still a center right state. it's a state that has been fit interested a lot of growth. -- benefited from a lot of growth. no just in washington, but the two metropolitan areas in downstate richmond and tidewater. the state population is about 28% northern virginia and the rest 73%,p 2%, the rest of the state.
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-- 72% the rest of the state. and you have a very significant downstate minority population that tends to vote democratic. so if you're going to run statewide in virginia, you got to run up the middle. and ed gillespie was a candidate that really had not been tarnished by any kind of record or statement he made in the past that offended those sort of suburban families out there that make up the bulk of the electorate in these major urban areas. unfortunately was unable to get over the line. i think mark warner, he -- if you remember he campaigned as the quote-unquote, radical centrist. and that, again, says a lot about what the statewide electorate is. unfortunately, i think part of the analysis looking back at that race, was some who say warner was unable to generate enthusiasm in the democratic base, was because he didn't go off into the extreme.
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and when you listen to some of the extreme -- what we talked about before in terms of the dodd-frank insistence and all that and about the big bad corporations, business and everything else being against you, you didn't hear mark warner saying that. again maybe there's some fence that that's what generates the enthusiasm on the base on the democratic side. i don't know. but the fact that he stayed and said i'm a radical centrist also, i think, reflects his notion of what that state is and the fact that ed gillespie was a center right candidate attributed to his really good performance in that race although not enough. >> thank you for yoining us. i'm a fleshman at the college. hi a question relating about the future of the republican party. specifically what do you think it is, and what do you think it is regarding social issues? will the lines with issues such as immigration begin to blur between parties? will the republicans hold self
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fast on their current views? or will they be dragged by court decisions such as the future supreme court decisions? mr. cantor: i would say first immigration issue, i'm not so sure that the court's going to be able to resolve that. congress will have to resolve it. my sense is it will be resolved after the next election. i think the time has come and it will be resolved. again, for a lot of the reasons we talked about earlier. on the question of gay marriage in particular, i think the courts have drive the republican party or situation in this country back to the state level. and that those issues pretty much being resolved at the state level. i would say that there is plenty of room for diversity in both parties. and just to claim there's a monolith republican position i'm not so sure that that in the end is what it will be. because there are some very --
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you take the life issue on abortion. there are some really hard felt religious convictions that a lot of us have on either side of the issue. that you're not going to deny people those convictions. but again i think it's a question of tolerance. and a question of the culture and sort of breeding that sense of tolerance. and how that intersecretaries with the politics. -- intersects with the politics. when i was majority leader i spent a lot of time on focusing on yet of women participation and support in the republican party as well as minority participation and support. >> hi. my name's saly. i'm a freshman in the college and i wonder, kind of piggybacking off that question, what do you think is the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of the
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republican party going into 2016? cantcant i think it is really -- mr. cantor: i really it is the year for the republican party to lose. when there is a president in office for eight years, whether it's this president or the prior one, the country kind of gets tired of it. i think there is a lot of wearyness on the part of the electorate right now and things that have gone on with this administration that america likes change. whether, you know, and some in the republican circles say, we tried that, hoping change, look how that worked. but i do think this country does look forward. it likes change, new generation. i think there is a lot of sense to that right now in the electorate. so there is strength electorally. there has been a real collapse in confidence on the part of the working middle class in
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this country. it's been well reported. you look at the lack of wage growth as we begin to see a little bit of economic growth, although there is a hiccup in these last set of numbers. you really haven't seen the kind of wage growth that we need to -- for the low skilled and then up in terms of the wage earner. so there's something to -- an advantage to be gained by the republican party to say, look, we had in place one party now for eight years and look what's happened. there's been no wage growth. let's try our way. we do think that's a strength. obviously the weakness and where my party has to focus is how do we expand the appeal? how do we go about an electoral college map with very large states that are going to be impacted by minority votes? we've not been very successful with that over the last couple cycles. i think some of the candidates
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that shira mentioned before has the ability to appeal to those electorates, those constituencies. shira: you next. >> hi. mr. cantor, thank you very much for speaking to us. i'm a junior at the college. today at the forum we spoke about short-term and long-term politics. so as you start your next chapter on wall street what's your personal short term and long-term goal? mr. cantor: you're trying to make news just like shira. mr. -- i'm also a father. i have three who probably most of the students' here age and my -- personally, my long-term goal is to make sure i do what i can. i've been in public office for a long time and had a wife who's been a career-oriented prn and has been doing most of the heavy lifting as far as the future sustainibility economically of my family so
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i'm very engaged in that effort. of the economic security of the cantor family. but i think long term you know i care about this country. i care about -- the role that country plays for all of us. but also the role the country plays globally and as i mentioned before i'm getting to travel a lot internationally and i see both from a business perspective as well as the geopolitical perspective, there is real need for american leadership. you look what's going on in asia right now and the competitiveness and the environment there with, you know china on the rise and the prospects for, you know, increased interaction between that region of the asia pacific and where we are in europe what kind of rules and the norm are we going to abide by? that's why it gets me back to carrying about the trade issues. nothing i think is more
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important right now than to see a completion of these trade agreements so we can establish some type of international law and norms that we're used to, that the other, you know countries that we are allied with are used to in terms of conducting business and protecting rights. so -- and human rights as well as every other right. i care about it and i plan long term to stay engaged. >> are you planning to stay more involved in politics from the wall street perspective? mr. cantor: well, i am -- i would say that i've been given a great opportunity to join a firm that's very new. the firm, moells and company is only eight years old. very entrepreneurial. very much trying to solve problems and, you know, you say wall street but it is -- this firm is positioned at the essence of what i think makes our economy what it is.
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it is entrepreneurial so i look forward to the opportunity of being of this investment bank helping people grow their businesses, expand their businesses and ultimately growing an economy that helps everybody. >> thank you. shira: up there, please. >> hello. my name is patrick. thanks for the talk. if you could require president obama to read one book what would it be? mr. cantor: i was going to say one but, god i'm afraid of the interpretation if i say it. shira: say that one. that's the one you should go with it. mr. cantor: the "fountain head." i just feel like although -- i've read ann rand, all her books. i read that and there is this sense in those books that i think somehow could do a lot to
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bring the sort of philosophy a little bit back the other way. i'd also ask him probably to go read the dale carnegie "how to win friends and influence people." [laughter] shira: all right. up there please. >> jay gleason. why are you so quote-unquote concerned about the democratic initiative over the bds movement? it's belated justice for palestine. a very welcoming democratic initiative, isn't it, along with doing the utmost you can to defeat aipac candidates in congressional districts? mr. cantor: no, i disagree wholehearted lea. i think the b.d.s. movement is absolutely misplaced. i think it's wrong. i think for one to sit here and equate what's going on between israel and the palestinians to
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some -- and somehow equate the position of when you got rockets incoming killing innocent people -- if you been to strote and you've seen it -- there's a saying that says if the palestinians would put down their arms there could be peace. if the israelis could put down their arms there would be no israel and i think it's as simple as that. and prime minister netanyahu, you know, he's out there in a very forceful way saying if there were a partner in peace, we could make some progress. but you don't have -- and the palestinians -- in the palestinians, anyone who is willing to recognize israel as a jewish state. that's the problem. downtown have anybody on the other side of the table recognizing your existence, how are you going to get agreement? so that's why i've been such a strong supporter of the security of israel and until
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the time where there is an opponent or a partner for peace on the other side of the table i think the american public will back the position that i take. shira: sorry. one comment per person. thank you for your question. >> hi, mr. cantor. my name is rachel. i'm a senior at the college. there are a number of us here from a class about the political divide, the growing divide between the left and right. given your long tenure in congress have you noticed the divide growing? and if so how has that made your job more difficult or what strategies have you used in order to kind of combat this growing divide between left and right? mr. cantor: i think it's a good question and very apropos here at harvard. i had a discussion here at the dean here. he said it's great to be part of an institution whose mission is to solve problems. so, yes, i think that the divide has intensified. i don't know if it's grown. it's intensified. i think some of that -- schirra, i'm not goings to lump -- shira, i'm not going to lump
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you into it -- it's due to the press and the fragmentation of the press, the ability of all of us to access the kind of news we want and the perspective that we want to hear. and in many cases constituents of these members of congress they choose to watch news or read news that matches their own views. so there's very -- if you take that and put it in its extreme, how much are you going to have in common with one another? so i just think there's become a very -- the game has been uped, if you will, in terms of advocacy and a lot of times advocacy is confused with the news. so yeah, and how do you go about combating that? i think that goes to the topic of today's discussion. it is about leadership that is committed to a long-term goal that we all can get around. and i used to start, you know, weekly caucus meetings that we'd have with the republican conference and i'd put a slide
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up on the screen which would ask the question -- how is what we're doing this week on the floor in the chamber helping the people who sent us here? and if both sides could agree that that should be the goal, then we could disagree all day long on the different methods to best help. but at least we're saying that we're here to reflect that notion of helping people in terms of being elected leaders. and so i do think it takes leadership committed to that long-term view. i think it takes a practical ability to do your day job, to understand when those pressures come but not succumb to the sirne of short-termism. shira: we have a couple more minutes. >> i'm at the business school
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across the river. you said one of the reasons that president obama faced so much resistance, you said, for lack of, the personal touch and the almost unanimous rejection that the policies put forward said that dale carnegie would be hard pressed to build those connections. i wonder if you have any advice, perhaps if we find ourselves in that situation we're facing people objecting to our policies ored a vow cassies maybe not solely on the merits thereof but more kind of perverse incentive structure? mr. cantor: you're absolutely right. the response in time that what has happened is the republicans in congress took the view that there were motivated more than anything else than just to stop the president. i know that. i know that. i saw that. there was probably nothing more galvanizing for our party to be against what the president is or isn't for -- or is for. i think the point is well made. but i don't think it's hopeless because i do think starting
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today, if he were starting to invite people one by one in couples, four by four to try and make something work for the last whatever 16 months of his term, he ought to be doing that. and so when you -- you say, what do you do when you're faced with someone who's just going to reject you for who you are? it's tough. i mean, it's tough. i've also seen the difference in the business world is, you know, people are less quick to adapt that kind of mentality because you have a mutual interest in trying to do a deal or trying to close a transaction or whatever it is. i think that's what you're going to -- in everyday life, outside the political arena you'll have people a lot more reasonable because they have a shared end. and -- but in the political arena we have to work to sort of create that shared end again.
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>> mr. cantor, thank you very much for your service and for being here. going back to your theme about the tradeoffs between -- shira: would you identify yourself? >> jim and i'm a fellow in the advanced leadership initiative. going back to your theme of short-term versus long term if you look at some of the long-term challenges we have, social security reform medicare reform, things that could -- the debt with our current form of government, are we ever going to be able to solve it or is it time to actually call a constitutional convention and do something a little bit more radical to fine tune our constitution to work better on long-term issues? mr. cantor: first of all, i would be just take note of the law of unintended consequences if you call a constitutional convention so let's leave that at that. there will be some prospects after this election. the problem has been in washington -- there really are two fundamental differences
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that divide has not been bridged and they have to do with how you fund the government taxes, and how you expend or spend the entitlement moneys. on the one hand the tax question has always been the president feels much like we talked before in this populous notion you have to raise taxes on the rich, not paying enough. republicans say no new taxes. and then on the side of spending, the disproportionate cause of the deficit, as we know, the entitlements because of the demographics in the country and connection with health care costs and the republicans have always said, you know, since 2009 that what we would say is transition from a defined benefit plan to a more defined contribution plan. in order, have beneficiaries over time take more risk, not have taxpayers do it. of course, the democrats respond and the president says, that changes the nature of the
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safety. boom. those two things -- that's why you can't get agreement over the deficit. that's why you have things like the transportation bill coming up. unless you decide to fund it and curb more debt like they did with the s.g.r. bill a couple weeks ago, the health care reimbursement bill, unless they do that there will be a short-term band-aid fix at best. but i do think over time -- so it's been about six years since the ryan budget was first put forward. i think over time there's been some willingness on the part of some democrats to listen to it. as has there been some listening to closing the loopholes on tax issues. it's frustrating and you got to be patient and i'm not patient so yes, i understand -- i understand why the frustration. shira: up there, please. >> good evening, mr. cantor. i'm scott. thanks again, for coming together and spending time with
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us at the forum. i'm a former military officer and part of the business school. mr. cantor: thank you for your leadership. >> my question is in the private and public sector and specifically any differences that you see kind of key to being an effective leader and two, to more get at my question what advice would you get base on your experience in washington to your current colleague and what advice would you give to your former colleagues based on your business experience? mr. cantor: probably the most obvious example of the difference -- so when you're a leader in congress, you're a leader of members who have basically their own bosses at home. so each member of congress represents about 750,000 people. and although you would hope that they would have sort of a sense that if they go to washington and are able to
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accomplish something as a team they could go back and sort of explain what has happened for the benefit of the people that sent them there. often there are -- because of the short-term pressures and reward system that has developed, there's not as much incentive. in fact, there's perhaps a stronger draw to go off on your own and to buck what it is leadership says that they should be doing. so whereas in the private sector, you got direct accountability. people don't have the incentive. in fact, there's a huge disincentive to not follow what it is leadership has set as policy in the firm if you want to stay there. so that's sort of the differences. what would i advise my colleagues and partners at moells about the experience i had in washington -- moelis
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about the experience i had in washington -- i have a variety of things to say on this. one of the things, i think it is really -- i hear so much in terms of our clients and others with disbelief about the lack of functionality in washington. and, you know, it's almost as if i want to say, look, let me try and explain it to you. they're not all dysfunctional. there's just so much there. it's a complexity that's just gained so much ground and we have to be patient. don't give up. don't give up on this system. because i've -- again having traveled a bit i don't see any better. we just -- there's so much good about this country. don't give up. i think that's the advice i would give on the side to my new partners at moelis. and for my former colleagues i would say, listen before you
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talk. [laughter] mr. cantor: because, you know, what i've seen is we've -- and listen, i was there for 14 years and i've now been out in this new position since september. i can tell you, i had the rhetoric down pretty good. again, i was an entrepreneur and businessman and i understood what it meant to go and really literally be the entrepreneur to sign the note at the bank and have to make a the repayments and make payroll and pay taxes and pay benefits. so i get that. but it is so easy for that rhetoric to fall off your tongue in theory versus what really happens to make things work in practice. and i probably knew this then but just not as clearly as i know now, listen before you talk because you can learn something. shira: question. >> congressman cantor, thank you for coming. i'm a harvard graduate.
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so we've heard you express vividly your distaste for president obama several times during this forum. however, you've been a congressman since the year 2001. so my question to you is, is there anything the bush administration or the republican party in general could have done starting from 2001 they could have won the election in 2008 and therefore barack obama would never have become president in the first place? mr. cantor: i think i alluded to this before. i think the biggest challenge for the republican party is to be one of inclusion, not exclusion. and to welcome a diversity of demographic into our fold. and that means we got to stress policies that speak to a broad swath of the public. that means we have to be sensitive to those who may not feel that they're necessarily welcomed into the mainstream of this country.
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and i think that that's probably what we could have done early on. it still remains even more important today. shira: well, i'd like to thank congressman cantor for joining us in the forum tonight. [applause] mr. cantor: thank you. thank you very much. shira: thank you so much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> well, the u.s. house will be returning from their spring recess in about 40 minutes to get the legislative workweek under way. members will consider bills dealing with banks and financial service industry. live coverage when they gavel in at 2:00 p.m. eastern right here on c-span. until then a conversation from this morning's "washington journal" with a candidate who ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the house last year. tonight on "the communicators" on c-span 2. "washington journal" continues. host: a phase probably familiar
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to millions of americans and north carolina voters, though not enough, clay aiken joins us today on "washington journal" for the first time to talk about your run for congress in 2014 and your upcoming documentary on the esquire network. thank you for being with us. you lost to rene elders in north carolina. what inspired you to run? guest: i was always interested in politics. i tried to keep up with those things for years. my district, where i grew up in, and my congressman who i grew up with, jerry price, i was gerrymandered out of his district. i was frustrated to find the district that i was put in wasn't doing what i wanted, but was able to stay safe because she was gerrymandered into a very republican district.
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i recognize that the platform that i had, the microphone ahead, gave me an opportunity for people to pay attention. people don't pay attention to politics these days. host: your career became familiar to viewers when you were runner-up in "american idol." and did you ever think that a political arc was in your future? guest: probably not. when you go back to my mother's computer in high school, there may have been some posters that i made or something like that. i never necessarily consider that. i was going to be a teacher and made a detour to do the idol thing, but to that to happen. we change our plans sometimes because of need or opportunity. i think we certainly had a need and north carolina to hold people accountable, and i was in a position to do that. host: how old were you when you did "american idol"? guest: 24.
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host: it is more than just you making the decision, you have to get party elders involved. how did you manage that? guest: a friend of mine had been involved in the democratic party for quite a while and was the first person to discuss it with me. that friend interest is -- introduced me to people. it was entirely my idea. it was something that i had talked around casually with some friends, and based on how things go into thousand 12, maybe i should run into those of 14. someone heard that and said wait a second, would you really do that? you need to talk to these people in washington. i was put in touch with those folks and they laid out the pathway to victory and why they fell it would be a success. a lot of people were involved in the discussion. host: what happened to indicate that there was some one ability
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their? guest: the district was gerrymandered to be incredibly republican. in 2000 12, it was far smaller than it should have been for someone that had been very gerrymandered. she would not show up, she would not do a lot of things that you would expect someone to do in a race that ended up as tightly as her plastid. if you add to the fact that she was not showing up and people were not paying attention, to the fact that her margin was not nearly as big as it should have been, we felt if we could bring people to the race and shrink that margin even more, we could have an opportunity. host: clay aiken is our guest. he ran against rene elders in north carolina. remind us of the district. guest: second district. host: he is here to talk about his four-part series coming up on the esquire network. here is how to join the conversation.
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(202) 748-8001, republicans. (202) 748-8000, democrats. independents, (202) 748-8002. the four-part documentary, "the runner-up," would you have done that either way? it would have been called "the champion," or "the victor." guest: they came and asked. our focus was always on the race. i wasn't interested in having people in the way. this group came and had some connections to me in l.a. and called and said, let them make their case to you. they had won two academy awards and so forth. i listened and they said if
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you win, you will be in washington and you can affect some of the change. and if you don't, who will tell the story of the district? they made the argument that they should follow. i said, as long as you stay out of the way, then you can be here. host: let steve are -- let's give our c-span viewers a taste of "the runner-up" on esquire. [video clip] >> this season on "the runner-up," clay aiken's will face off with rene elders. >> serving the second district of north carolina is more than just a game show. >> i would have to start over with a whole new staff. >> even though claim is a democrat if we are going to win, we need to get republicans on board. clay: this is clay again. this is disgusting. this money.
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>> we have the tea party for him. clay: what in the heck am i doing here? if we win -- this is unlike the grammys where you can predict. >> it's all spinal tap, isn't it? themit is an abomination. >> and in north carolina, a federal judge struck down the federal gay ban. clay: what bill myers stated, he will never get my vote. that is a walk of shame there. host: that is "the runner-up" on
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esquire. it begins tomorrow? guest: i believe it began last week. host: you combine republican and aiken, what was your aim their? guest: i said if every democrat in the second district showed up to vote, i would still need republicans to vote. there were a number of republicans, even in the tea party, who straight up told me they would vote for me. host: why weren't they happy with her? guest: i think they're people were upset that she was not far enough right for them. also, a lot of people who were upset that she didn't show up. we wanted to be old to give republicans an opportunity to show their opportunity and still show that they were republicans. it was a portman to -- portmanteau of the two names. caller: good morning.
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clay aiken, i just want to say thank you to you. great job and running. i used to be a political scientist myself and switch to do something different. listen, a two-part question. are you going to run again? what advice do you have for hillary and the democratic party? some believe that hillary will be the front runner and will definitely take the democratic party to victory. that's my question for you. guest: thank you very much for calling. i would say that i'm not sure if i will run again. it is certainly not off the table for me. i will stay diligent about paying attention and making sure i'm involved in the political process. it is not off the table and i might. i ran because i saw a need. if i see another neat and an opportunity, i will fill it. i think the thing that worries me the most about the
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presidential race in 2016 is the fact that so many people especially in the democratic party, already feel a sense of certainty of secretary clinton and her ability to win. i think a big problem the democrats have a lot and especially in midterm elections but potentially in presidential your elections, is the fact that we become place and don't show up, don't vote. i think it's great to be excited for secretary clinton, and i am excited for her race, but people have to show up. host: you tweeted this yesterday -- i love you, but why are you the stiffest and most scripted person in this video? talking about her presidential announcement video. guest: i think my concern is that a lot of people on the
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republican side can come off as really folksy and use it to mask their incredibly far right views. we have seen in the past that presidents often be elected on who do you want to have a beer with? who do you relate to most? i think the country needs hillary's win. i wanted to challenge her in that moment to relax a little bit. she had a lot of very casual people in the video and then she seemed very stiff, almost. that is just a host: we go to newton square, pennsylvania. steve, go ahead. hello in pennsylvania? steve, are you there? you are on with clay aiken. sounds like somebody's there. one more time. we move onto santa barbara california. dam, go ahead. caller: hi, thank you for taking my call.
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this has to do with the belmar thing -- bill maher thinks it my question for clay -- you ran as a democrat, but basically ran away from the president of the united states. he ran away from the leader of the democratic party. like a lot of democrats did. why did you do that? you should've ran as a libertarian or republican. what is it about president obama that you dislike because if you look at his record he has done a lot of good things for the country ? guest: i'm going to stop you there. you probably major assessment based off one video from bill maher. if you were not from north carolina, you are probably not sure if i ran away from obama or if i did and i didn't.
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i don't think that the follow any the democrats with a good time added to create i support the president and i vocally said that throughout the campaign. anybody who is in north carolina would have seen that. anyone paying close attention to the race would have seen that. i do not agree with his education policies. i do not think we should treat schools and teachers as corporations and rewarding schools based on tenderized -- standardized test scores. i think that is irresponsible. i do not agree with his protrusion -- position on privacy and surveillance. that does not necessarily think that i don't like the president. i've to responsibilities as a candidate. one -- i have be on cement -- honest. to have to find voters on the ground. listen in a very republican district i have to say here are some things i can agree on. you may not agree with the president and i do it through the president on areas, but these are places where we can
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find common ground. the idea that anybody would go into congress and fall in lockstep with someone simply because they are in the party is, in my opinion, one of the reasons we have an ineffective congress. i'm a democrat and proud to be democrat, but i'm not going to fall in lockstep just because someone has a d behind the name. i think that is irresponsible. host: are used on the line? any response to clay aiken? caller: i think he was following the path of any democrat who thought it was a good idea based on the device -- advice of their aid toward visors to run away from obama and go as a basically republican light. guest: i think that is a less than educated assumptions because that is exactly not what happened. that is not what happened in this race. i made my opinion clear and it had nothing to do with my advisors and it had to do with what i believed in felt. i strongly believe that in republican district -- and it is
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interesting to say -- i'm not seeing all the documentary myself, but the bill maher thing will come up at some point. it is interesting to note that he did a new rules two weeks ago where he was very clear that democrats have got to stop trashing of the democrats. it is better that someone agrees with you on 90% of things than zero for that of things. -- 0% of things. i think it is better to have rene elmers out of congress that have someone who disagrees with them on everything. i was very clear in my support for aca and quite a few things the president has done including the fact that gas prices are lower in the economy is better and the job market has improved. that does not mean i will fall in lockstep with everything. host: clay aiken is a first-time guest on "washington journal." he lost to rene elmers and 2013 and did a four point -- four-part documentary airing on
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the esquire network. we welcome you and your calls. are you a native north carolina ian? guest: i am. my whole life. host: how has the state change politically in your years there? guest: a lot has changed. a lot of people who have moved in half a more progressive bent. from my perspective you can see the state going from voting for only republicans to in 2008 voting for president obama for the first time. as a state, what comes to stay government, 2010 showed the very first republican general assembly in my entire lifetime. there was a lot of redrawing of district lines by republican
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general assemblies. i think the state is very purple. at best, purple. because of a lot of gerrymandering that we have come we have 13 districts and only three of them are democrat even though 51% of north carolina people vote for democrats. host: how recently was there a majority of democratic congressional seats? guest: 2009. right before 2012 when they reach her lines for the first time. host: here's springfield, virginia. erica, good morning. caller: i want to ask the gentleman from north carolina. i'm a democrat, but i'd say independent. she speaks to us as an american, but i've not heard any other candidate being worried about
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our situation. the republicans have opposed the rise of the minimum wage. they have opposed to change the way of loans for students for college kids. at home, the prices of the house for middle-class is outrageous. why is she not running back? can someone talk to her about this? guest: i'm a very big fan of elizabeth warren. i think her positions on the banks and student loans and the amount of loan debt that students have right now. i think people decide as i did when i chose to run -- i think people decide where they feel they would be most effective. i think senator warren for
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whatever reason believe that she will be more effective staking the message in the democratic party within the senate. she has a really great platform and can state her case a maker points from a little bit safer place in massachusetts that she might be able to and a presidential run. for that reason, i think she will hopefully push any democratic candidate to places that we need them to be. but she can do that from the senate where she has a little bit more security and more stability. host: if you had one, what would be your primary issue? guest: listen, i ran a lot on the fact that we needed to start finding middle ground and that people need to work together. a policy issue from the second district -- veteran issues are very important. we still year and more than a year after the v.a. scandal in arizona and the wait times, we still see it right now. people are waiting 30, 40, 50 more days than they should need to see a doctor. i think the v.a. should be addressed immediately. education policy for me is probably the most personal issue i am attached to the most
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because i do not think people realize how much education and quality education affects every facet. it is not about getting jobs later, but making sure jobs come to our area. is this is will not come to your area if you do not have good schools for their employees and their students. host: you said you wanted to be a teacher but then the "american idol thing" thing came up. what led you to entertainment? guest: being in the right place at the right time. i was working with students in autism in the classroom. when the parents of one of the students that it worked with suggested that i auditioned. i sort of relented after some pressure from her and went ahead and audition. she and i ended up standing -- starting a foundation together for children with disabilities to find a crossroads in my life. host: what is that foundation? guest: is the national inclusion project.
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we get kids with disabilities and programs of kids without disabilities. host: we go to atlanta where joseph is on the democrats line. good morning. caller: mr. aitken, i just want to say that i recently retired from the military. this is kind of a funny story. i was station with a guy from rocky mount north carolina and he was telling everybody on the base that you are running for office and he was so proud of you. that is how i found out about you running. he was a big fan and it was so funny that every day after we mustered and were given our assignments, he would tell us that clay can is doing this and that. he said is going to be tough. you are running in a district that had a military base so it was close to the base or something. he said it would be tough for you, but he loved your life and
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i followed you after that. democrats need to go out and vote. i wish you the best in everything that you do. i love you and admire you. one of the think -- both a members and veterans of active duty have to get out and vote too. thank you and god bless you, clay aiken. guest: i wish he had been in the district. rocky mount is not in the district. for bracket is -- fort bragg is. we actually won every precinct within fort bragg which i think speaks a little bit to how much certain parties might claim dominion over the military, but people really just want to be listened to. we were able to talk to folks on base and get their votes. host: did you feel -- he came out as gay in 2008. was that an issue at all in your race? guest: it is really hard to measure that. i think i get inoculated from that simply because i have that
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celebrity part. for me, the bigger challenge seem to be overcoming the fact that people saw me as a singer. overcoming the fact that people saw me from "american idol" and didn't know i was qualified. i'm sure it has something to do with it. the fourth circuit court struck down north carolina's gay marriage ban about three weeks before the election which sort of said -- change the tone a little bit. it made people a little upset about that. it was really something that people addressed to me face-to-face. host: here's a call from new york. this is jay. caller: good morning and thank you for c-span. you have a very unique background in a very unique perspective. i think as a former teacher and popular entertainer and candidate for congress that you have an interesting perspective on who the likely nominees will be for republican and democrat
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in 2016 and who do you think will win and why? i will hang up. guest: i think that hillary clinton is probably the democratic nominee. i think that is right now -- barring on for seen circumstances. i do not think i would speculate about the republican nominees right now. we have two in and another one coming in later on today. i'm not sure. i think the republicans will build a colorful cast of characters before this is all over with. it is once be a very long primary process for them. i think a lot of them see a window and want to be the person that gets through. host: what about the road for democrats in the house and the trail that you are on in 2014 has been a high hurdle in 2016? 30 seats are so -- what are the lessons that you learned and would impart to democrats running nationwide in 2016? guest: i think the lessons i learned unfortunately is about how much money is in politics.
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i think a lot of the big troubles that we have in the u.s. right now is that the state of families and legislatures have redraw on the line so much. i think in north carolina that one of the biggest challenges right now and one of the only cases or opportunities for democrats in north carolina fortunately is to spend time fixing and working towards putting new people and the general assembly to try to get those lines redrawn for 2020. i do not think we give up. there's still some places where we can make progress if we can continue to tout how well the economy has done and see that the last six years have been successful. host: would you run for legislature? guest: potentially. the plus i live has a good -- the place i live has a good standing for democrats. there's no need to take a good democrat in legislature out. i do not think i would district
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top and moved somewhere else for that. if there were a place an opportunity, i'm not looking to be in politics necessarily or be elected office necessarily unless there's a place right thing i can help. host: how much money did you have to raise for your house campaign and how much was that of personal savings? guest: we raised shy of 1.5 million. i do not put much in. i was a little bit shy of 100,000. that is a lot. compared to my primary runners they put $750,000 of his own money. money is a huge problem and it is why we don't have good delegates right now. i do not be leave that lying a seat is -- believe that buying a seat is appropriate. i do not think that is the way this democracy should work. host: let us go to philadelphia with bob on the independent line. caller: you said one thing that really made me listen to you and i really love that you said that
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you are not in lockstep. with that being said, there are a couple points and i want to make out quick tea. first of all, you said that you love the low gas prices. obama has nothing to do with that. that puts you in category with what we call a low information voters. if you do research, you will find exactly why they are low. it is all done by the public sector. now, i want to get to another point. when you said that you are not a lemming, what does the uptake -- it take to upset a democrat like yourself? like with a obamacare -- i was in your shoes. when obama said that you could keep your doctor or plan and then all the comments by jonathan gruber and that the aca past was because of stupid voters, that is why i became independent. i've registered myself the very next day. my question to you is -- what
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does it take for you to say that is it and i've had it with his party and enough is enough? i would really appreciate an honest answer. guest: what would it take? i want to make sure i got the question right. what it would make me upset with the party? if the parties started leaving as a whole and corporations were more important than people, at the party removes itself from its core values and making sure that it recognizes that the government has an opportunity to make sure that that americans to climb out of lower classes and middle classes and approve themselves. do i agree with every single thing that the party does? no. two i agree with everybody in the party? no. that is a point i think i made earlier. i made the gas price,. you saw that new gingrich ran in 2012 was running on how gas prices would be lower in we saw
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that is something that presidential candidates believe that they could run off. even without newt gingrich, gas prices drop off regardless of what someone would say cause that to happen. i'm a democrat and proud democrat because i believe the party as a whole despite some of his specific policy issues -- the party as a whole recognizes that the government can provide opportunity for people to climb out and better themselves and improve their lives. host: a couple calls from north carolina lined up. we have kerry. caller: good morning. i've too quick comments. first of all, clay, i want to tell you that i'm going to see bill maher in durham in august. don't get mad at him. he is getting your name out there and get invited to the show. guest: i'm going to be on the show this coming friday. host: on bill maher? guest: this coming friday.
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caller: you and elizabeth warned will be part of the culture that changes entertainment and congress. i see that the people that we have been voting for have been entertainment and back corporations that have been paying them just like they pay actors in hollywood. i know you have endured a lot of bullying clay, just as i have as a light-skinned african-american women. people that site are the ones that make the change. so ron and i wish you the best. -- so run and i wish you the best. host: do you think 2016? guest: i don't think 2016 is an time for me. i need time to process. it is not quiet out of the question at all, but i don't think so yet. host: what you hope people get out of your series that esquire? guest: i hope it comes across well.
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i allow them to come hoping that we could tell the story of people in spring lake. i do not know that is attacked that they took. if anything, i hope people are able to see that there's too much money in politics and gerrymandering is an issue. people just want to be listened to. that is one thing i found more than anything. we saw in that and people and we went into the tea party form. we left with votes and people saying that they wouldn't vote for me, to pay people want to be listened to. i don't think folks do that anymore. i know it sounds like i'm campaigning right now, but i'm not. i'm not running for anything at all. that is the one thing that i discovered more than anything is lacking. too much money in politics. too many gerrymandered districts which makes politics and politicians feel like they can
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set it home and feel like they can get reelected anyway. and just sit and listen to people what the agree with them or not. host: terry, you are maligned with clay aiken. -- on the line with clay aiken. caller: i have a couple of things i would like to discuss. number 1 -- holy clinton. in 2006, her can play an was put us in power. -- campaign slogan was put us in power. we can get a fix. we put you in power and you got the house and senate and we got the great recession. you mention something of about gasoline a while ago. those not forget that obama shut down the gulf of mexico for your. take about how many jobs that destroyed. democratic party is for children. let me tell you something, clay. i have lived in north carolina for 25 years. i can go to hillcrest. the children in those places this morning before they got to
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school to go to the school bus and have hypodermic and use condoms to get to school. that is the life that the democratic party has given to the black men in this country. you ought to be ashamed of yourself to call yourself a democrat. host: some tough issues that he laid out right there. guest: one of the difficulties that you face on the trail is people not understanding the difference between what the federal government does and what the state government does. you want to talk about issues with the new school system -- a lot of times that estate. those issues are state government. i've no idea what hillary clinton's campaign in 2006 was. i did not know that she ran 2006. i don't remember that slogan either. i do know that millions and 10 millions more people have health care than they did back in 2006.
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i wish that every single thing could be done correctly, but not every single thing is going to be the last hope it is. i have to be happy about it and proud of the fact that we are in a different place today and, i think, a better place today than we were in 2004 2005. host: did obamacare help or hurt your campaign? guest: i think in certain districts it's going to hurt. our state has not expanded medicaid. there are a lot of people and hundreds of thousands of people in the state who still do not have access. i think that argument is something that works for the people there. host: tim is in littleton colorado on independent line. go ahead. caller: thank you. clay, i question and a strategic -- i have a question on a strategic level. when you see hillary answered this campaign, my question is really this. so often when you get to a presidential election, people are looking for change. at this point in time, i'm
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really concerned. i do not want to see her do what gore did in 2000 and run away from what clinton has a cop was. my thought process is that her argument should be that we need to hone and refine and get better at what has been accomplished in the obama administration. i think historians will be very good to him when you look back at everything and how he recovered the economy and save the auto industry in the inclusive nature of his presidency and even his foreign-policy. i would be advising that hillary not run from that, but let's say, let's build upon that. host: tim, let's get a response. guest: i don't disagree with you entirely. i think there is a big factor that we forget about or maybe don't forget about a lot is that the media does play a role. propaganda can play a role.
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a lot of people can tell you when someone comes from a very republican area. we had colors on this morning that would indicate as much. we have a lot of people who are not able to see past the stereotype they have about someone. and they can see successes. i think that is a challenge and a delicate dance that any democrat running in 2016, whether it is for president or house or senate or whatever they have to figure out how to dance and be able to say listen, here are the things that we had successes with and yet at the same time, figure out how to do that with -- i had people come up to me this year and i have seen tomorrow night's episode. or parts of it. host: so you are one. -- warned. guest: i am of the state fair and someone walks up to me and
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figures out i'm a democrat. and she asked if i like obama? and i said that i do and i support a lot of things that he has done. and then she said i'm done. that is where we are at right now is a country where we don't listen to other sites. that is a challenge that every democrat has with keeping people at the table. you have got to keep them there and do it in a way that makes them want to listen. you cannot say something that is going to turn them off without letting them listen to you. that is a difficult thing because it upsets democrats when you give an answer that makes them feel like you are not supporting the president, which is not the case, but you also have to make sure that you keep them at the table. there are a lot of things that hillary clinton is going to say or any democrat will say that will appeal to independents and all stripes of people, but you have got to keep them at the table and you got to stay yourself. is a very delicate dance. host: on twitter, dawn asks, what possibly could qualify clay aiken to represent 600,000
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people in congress? guest: it is our constitution. our constitution was written to be a representative democracy. somehow along the line and i don't know where, we assumed that only people who are qualified to be in congress are lawyers and career politicians. i would argue that those of the people who are least trustworthy and we need to get rid of in the first place. i'm qualified because i'm from north carolina and interested in listening. i think i want to do things that people are not willing to do. i would also argue that the person who is there is not doing a good job of that. i went because as a citizen of the second district and so >> and we're going to leave the last couple minutes of this "washington journal" segment for this house session. members will be working on bills that deals with the tax code and votes at 6:30 eastern. later this week, i.r.s. oversight.
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