tv QA CSPAN September 21, 2015 6:00am-7:01am EDT
theft and the techniques that we have whereas good as we are at them, you know, i think that part of the reason that this debate's come up again is that we're actually starting to make progress. and there is a very difficult problem in those of us who are international versus the interests of one country or her to or even countries that we share values with. >> okay. i think that's all the time we have, i'm going to turn it back over to david. [ applause ] >> thank you, everyone, for coming. thank you very much to dell for sponsoring us today. thank you technically to the department of justice
>> with the house out until thursday, the senate returns to measures to ban abortions beginning at 2:00 p.m. pope must visit to the u.s. -- live covers from washington, d.c., the first stop on his for tuesday afternoon. we are live with the president and mrs. obama to greet the pontiff. wednesday morning on c-span, c-span radio and www.c-span.org, the welcoming ceremony for the pope as he is officially welcome to the white house and live coverage begins at 845 eastern. later, the canonization at the national shrine of the immaculate conception thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. and live coverage begins as pope francis makes history, becoming the
first pots of to address a joint meeting of congress and friday morning at 10:00, live covers from new york is the pope speaks to the united nations general a summary on c-span three, c-span .adio and www.c-span.org at 11:30 a.m., he will hold a multireligious survey at the 9/11 memorial. livews the c-span coverage on tv or online at www.c-span.org. ♪ ♪ announcer: this week on "q&a," "washington post" political national reporter robert costa. he talked about the 2016 presidential campaign any similarities between donald trump and 1992 candidate, businessman ross perot. brian: robert costa of the "washington post." you are quoted as saying my political hero is robert caro,
not any politician. robert: exactly right. brian: why? robert: he studies power. i love politics. i love history. i love seeing how people use power, and how people in congress and in presidential campaign. it is hard to define. as a reporter, you are seeking out who is in action, who is controlling situations, what is the cost they are paying, what are they trying to do to use power? brian: anyone coming to your mind when using power aside from lyndon johnson that robert carol wrote about? robert: mcconnell. he understands the machinations of power and how to use congress to get things done. in presidential campaigns, president obama. he understand movement politics, how to excite a new generation. the way he campaigned in 2008
was a fresh way of using the campaign as a tool to get power. brian: i want have you been at -- how long have you been at the "washington post/" robert: january 2014. i may national political reporter. i cover political campaigns, congress, and work on the stories of the day. whatever is driving the national conversation, that is what i cover. i'd like to do some investigative on the side, the background of politicians and their aides. brian: why do you do this? robert: i love this. i did not really know what i wanted to do when i was in high school and college. i just loved politics. and i thought to myself, to me, it is like sitting in the dugout of a baseball game. big baseball fan. if you're in congress and in new hampshire, and you get to go up to these politicians and talk to them and see how they react to questions, situations, it gives me a bit of a drill. it never -- a thrill. it never gets old. to be a close, to see it, it
gets me going every day. brian: you got a masters degree at cambridge. why were you at cambridge? robert: when i was in notre dame, i did a semester in london and i worked in the house of common. andrew ansley was a tory. cameron was down the hall in the portcullis house. i loved the experience working in the house of commons as a researcher. i would watch the debates and the yelling. it was fun. one person i met during that time was a professor named andrew gamble. a socialist, actually, but a historian of the british political system and conservative party. he runs politics at the university of cambridge. he and i had some tea at westminster and struck it off. i didn't think i was going to grad school. the only graduate school i applied to was cambridge and i ended up going there. i did my masters degree, my
thesis, on churchill. churchill's archives and margaret thatcher's archives are in the same building at churchill college at cambridge. to go over those papers and notes was great. i did it for about 10 months and that was that. brian: what did you learn about winston churchill and power? robert: one thing i learned was power takes a long time to develop and it is often based on relationship. one of the things that fascinated me was the anglo american relationship that developed around world war ii. it was cultivated for decades by churchill. an american mother, but he came over in the teens and 20's and 30's. he kept building relationships with people in business, the cultural scene, politics. he recognized that power is not something you call upon or exerted when you are in a leadership position, but based on relationships and that is why
i call it the qualitative side of politics. quantitative, polling, all of that matters. there is a qualitative, personal side to power, and churchill was a genius in not how he used people, but used relationships to put his country in a position at a time of crisis, and the relationships he built himself played a big heart. -- played a big part. brian: there is a story about you that relates to the time you were reporting a lot on inside the republican party on capitol hill, where supposedly party people said stop leaking to that guy. stop leaking to bob kostas -- costa. robert: that is why i go by robert costa. it happened during 2013 during the government shutdown.
that was a fun time to be a reporter. one thing i recognized early on is to report on congress, you can't go through eight. -- aids. there are so many great reporters on capitol hill. this is just an observation and became a way of reporting on congress. you need to know the personal e-mail addresses of members. you need to know their cell phones. you can have a text relationship with them and an e-mail relationship with them. the most important thing to cover in congress is to get things directly from the source in the room. i was going directly to members. you have to be careful because some members always want to talk on the record. sometimes they just want to give off the record guides. if you can have those contacts at your tips out of 435, you could have 20-30 people you trust and build a whole scene from 5-10 people.
brian: do you remember the first time you texted someone inside a meeting and they fired back at you? robert: 2009. when i started covering congress, 2010 especially, during the health care fight. i came to washington from new york to cover congress and i remember people were shocked that i was asking all these members for the numbers. they would give me their office numbers. i would say, i want your personal number. one thing i learned as a reporter is never be afraid to ask for information. a lot of times they would be happy to give it. a lot of members don't have friends in washington. you become someone they trust, who is not going to misuse information, it was reliable as a reporter. -- and who is reliable as a reporter. i have always asked people for their contact information. i am often sharing my rolodex with reporters. not being afraid to ask, get the contacts. sometimes a member will say this
happened in a meeting and they will say to another person, did that really happen? i will go to member a and say, are you sure? that was right. boehner said this or mcconnell said that. brian: republican conservative cynics, who would be very surprised that you came from the "national review" to the "washington post." george will did it. back in the early 1970's. he was a columnist. you are not a columnist. why did the "washington post" hire someone from "the national review?" robert: i was coming out of cambridge and i wanted to cover politics. it was a great opportunity to be a william buckley fellow. they wanted to start something for journalists in the magazine. i was the inaugural buckley fellow. i read "washington post.." i was in my early 20's.
i knew i did not really have the interest in writing a column or being in editorialist and it was not my thing. you just have to know yourself. i never aspired to be some sort of big columnist. i said to rich lowry, editor of the "national review," can i cover politics? at the time, it was more colorful, and i wanted to do straight reporting. i look at it as a trade magazine. if you are working at "car and driver," it does not mean you are in love with the car industry. you are covering cars for car lovers. when i was at "nation review," i am reporting for republican inside baseball stuff.
i think the washington post recognize i never wrote a column or editorial. i was a reporter at a trade magazine. they brian: how old were you in 1992? robert: six or seven. brian: i want to show you on the screen a poll that was taken in the middle of 1992. this is a poll when ross perot was running against george h.w. bush and bill clinton. middle of 1992. in november of that year, bill clinton was elected president. what you think of that poll? robert: we are seeing the perot movement comeback with donald trump. one person i got to know, ed rollins, veteran republican consultant, he was a great resource to me as a source. he was co-campaign manager for perot in 1992.
perot brought these people in together to see if they could make this happen. there is the anger you saw in 1992 with perot, the appetite for a political outsider. it is there again. in a way, when you look at people close to trump, when did it happen? after three terms, a long republican period. even though it has been to terms of obama, we are in a post obama era. there is a lot of angst in both parties. perot was different in that he was running an independent bid. there are so similarities on the trail and you see the move. i would blend 92 perot and buchanan together. you mix what was happening with perot and buchanan in 1992 against the republican establishment, against george h.w. bush, and i think decades
later, there is another bush struggling. robert: i am 29-years-old. brian: when do you turn 30? robert: october 14. brian: we asked you lots of things, to look at perot versus trump just for the purpose of analyzing the content. we will go back to 1992 and pick up perot clips and just recently, some from mr. trump. let's run the trump first. [video clip] mr. trump: this is a self-funded campaign. we have our heart in it. we have our soul in it. we don't need money, we don't want money, and this will be a campaign like no others. i am not controlled by lobbyists. i'm not controlled by anybody. i'm controlled by the people of the country in order to make our
country great again. brian: what do you hear? robert: this has been trump's m.o. politically for the last 15 years. when i talked to him in february, my sense was trump was going to run. we put it on the front page of the "washington post." a lot of people said, what are you doing? if you look at it objectively and you don't assume anything about who he is or what that some people think he is a sideshow. if you look objectively at what he was saying, he was articulating a political message earlier this year about understanding the political class was extremely unpopular. he thought he could run as someone who wasn't in the political class and did not need the money. brian: in the middle of the year 1992, perot came back. here is after he came back. october 11, 1992.
[video clip] mr. perot: what separates me is the 5.5 million people came together on their own and put me on the ballot. i was not put on the ballot by either of the two parties. i was not put on the ballot by any pac money, by any foreign lobbyist money, any special interest money. this is a movement that came as is the way the framers of the constitution intended our government to be. government comes from the people. we have developed a government that comes after people, from the top down, where the people are more or less treated as objects to be programmed during the campaign with commercials and media events and fear messages and personal attacks and things of that nature. the thing that separates my candidacy and makes it unique is that this came from millions of people in 50 states, all over this country, who wanted a candidate who worked and no one would pay him. brian: running as an
independent, got 19% of the vote. what is your reaction compared to what he said to trump? robert: the themes are overlapping. perot has a distinct personality different from trump. the celebrity factor is not there as it is with trump. there is a power with trump's personality that perot did not have. being outside of the republican party, the republican party's relationship with trump has been rocky. they called trump and asked them to tone it down on immigration. he said, we will see. he did not tone it down. we could see it this year, what happened with perot happen with trump. he keep stock about wanting to be treated fairly. trump is, if anything, unpredictable. he could run as an independent. brian: back in 1988, here he is with larry king. donald trump.
[video] larry king: you might be classified as an eastern republican? fair? mr. trump: you could say that. i've never heard those terms. like a rockefeller republican? there are king: are you a bush republican? mr. trump: wealthy people don't like me. i'm competing against them all the time. they don't like me. i like to win. i go out on the streets of new york and the people who like me are the taxi drivers and workers and etc. robert: he is a millionaire but -- billionaire, but he has a blue collar sensibility. when people look at the trump phenomena, it is the new york toughness, the streetsmarts. trump does not talk in depth about policy, but he is one of the most social animals i have ever seen covering politics. his ability to talk in that way is what attracts people to him on the trail. he has this sensibility, in the way he talks politically incorrectly about immigration.
if he is on media everywhere now, he is accessible to reporters. i asked other republican contenders if they are adjusting to trump. we had been in a culture porous to sources in presidential politics. it is very controlled. it is corporate. trump, or better or worse, i don't have a take on it. he changed it. brian: here is ross perot. [video clip] >> mr. perot, do you think anyone would listen to you or applaud if you were poor? [laughter] mr. perot: no. [laughter] [applause] but -- my parents, my grandparents, and
everyone in my family lived in this segment of society that i have been talking about today, when you worked hard and had just enough to get by. i'll never forget one christmas, my dad had to sell his horse so that we would have a christmas. no whine, no complaint. just did it. i come from that background. i lived in that background for 38 years of my life before i got lucky. today, i am a lot more comfortable with those people who made the world go round then -- than i am with the beautiful people. can i relate to them? yes. thank you. robert: the first question is a lot like trump. perot, trump, sensitive about their wealth, believe their wealth, because they were able to accumulate them. he gives them entry to the people. when trump came out with his net worth, it was important for him to assert himself as someone who is really worth billions of dollars. on the second point, i wrote a piece recently about the tension between the bush and trump family.
trump is not like perot. fred trump was a well-to-do real estate developer. trump, in the same way perot, always speaks of himself as an outsider in the money class. he does not see himself part of it. not because of how he speaks. he does not feel except it by -- accepted by them. one said trump did not come over on the mayflower. that is the divide. brian: back in the perot years, there was a supposition that he really hated george herbert walker bush, and that was the motive to run. you have alluded to this in some of the interviews with trump, that his motive is because he does not like jeb bush. what is this about? go beyond the mayflower. robert: i've spoken to trump about this and trump that's there is a sense that if you have done it and accumulated these billions of dollars, with
trump, that he did it, that he made it happen, in his view of the bushes, things are given to the bushes. they have inherited a lot. trump has inherited much as well. he got his start through his father. the way he thinks about his wealth and access to politics, he sees himself as looking in from the outside on this dynasty, the bush dynasty. it is up and down. trump had a fundraiser for jeb bush years ago. he had a fundraiser for george h.w. bush when he owned the plaza. he likes the bushes somewhat and then revolts against them. the breaking point with trump and the bushes with the iraq war. ever since 2004 he probably broke on the iraq war and they -- he publicly broke on the war
and they have not been friends since. brian: suppose you look at some of those folks born as elitists. explain why people react the way they do. robert: there is real anger towards the washington, new york crowd. when i am on the trail, i am a capitol hill for a truck rally. i said i'm just a reporter. they think that northeast media, whether it is washington post or the new york times, whether it is politicians like boehner or mcconnell, they feel angry about what has happened the obama era, very unhappy with president obama, and they think the press is complicit, which i don't think is fair, and they see the republicans in congress as complicit. the stars of the republican party are not elected officials. they are the voices on the outside.
when you go to conservative events, phil robertson of the dynasty, sarah palin, donald trump. they get the biggest crowds. and they are not elected officials. brian: biggest claim conservatives have against the media, and is there enough conservative media out there for people to get the information they need? robert: i think, as someone who worked for "national review," there are sometimes reasons to say some things could be more straight at certain publications, but i am a fan of great journalism and i like it whether it is in "washington post," or "national review." i think the writer can have a point of view. i don't think anything needs to be clinical. in my world, i think it should be as straight as possible, especially when covering politics. i think that is the way it should be done. brian: i want to show you another slide about debt.
when ross perot was running back in 1992, two years before that, the debt in america was $3.2 trillion and the gdp was $5.9 trillion. $18.13 is not accurate. they stopped counting at the moment we're doing the issue. -- interview. they stopped counting until the budget is worked out. you see the gdp. what is your reaction? robert: there was a moment in republican politics where the debt consumed the gop, but i think that moment is over. you look at donald trump not talking about getting rid of medicare or reforming them. mike huckabee is doing the same thing. the paul ryan wing of the party has been weekend by what happened with 2012 with romney and ryan losing. we're entering a new phase, from what i can see in my working, --
in my reporting, where the debt is not front and center. national security perhaps, the economy. different questions about leadership in washington. it is the debt. -- the debt -- the activists are not as angry about it. brian: let's listen to what donald trump said in june 2015. [video] mr. trump: i will bring back our jobs from china, mexico, from so many places. i will bring back our jobs and double bring back our money. right now -- think of this. we owe china $1.3 trillion. we owe japan more than that. so they come in, they take our jobs, they take our money, and they loan us back the money and we pay interest. and then the dollar goes up, so the deal is even better. how stupid are our leaders? how stupid are these politicians to allow this to happen?
brian: throw in the fannie and freddie money that china has, is a lot more than one point 3 trillion robert: i have spoken -- than $3 trillion. that what is your point on this? robert: i have spoken to trump about this multiple times. there is an opening for trump on trade because, when you look at what happened in congress since republicans took over, very little has gotten done. they think the negotiator, someone from the outside, that is a powerful argument for trump to make. they think one thing that has gotten done it is trade promotional authority. that has irritated grassroots republican voters. they see ships coming over. trump does not always use the best figures, but there is a feeling out there among the electorate that china, japan, different nations are getting better deals with the united
states. i think that aspect of trump, the negotiator who will revamp u.s. trade policy. we have seen aspects of it with buchanan in 1992, different people having a more nativist argument, but trump is doing it in a totally different way a someone who has made these deals. brian: we first noticed ross perot in 1988 when he spoke at the national press club. listen to what he said. [video recording] perot: let's look at how the japanese banks got all the money. go home tonight, look at your electronics, see how you can find how many u.s. names him. i rest my case. go out to the parking lot and see what you drive. what you buy those products? you thought they were the best. i can't ask you to buy made in the usa unless you think it is the best. i can't ask you to do that. they make the best products. we bought their products. we are the world's biggest
customer. they make great products. we bought their products. they got our money. we have their products. [laughter] our money is in their banks. guess what? their banks are now lending our government the money so that we can continue living in this fantasyland beyond our means. brian: the difference between then and now is $3 trillion in debt and now it is close to $19 trillion. robert: a bigger theme out of perot's talk about the debt is he is talking about trade and the economy that a different class in the republican party. this is where the divide is. where i covered things every day. whether it was in the capital a few weeks ago. or whether it's in iowa, new hampshire. there is a this case for what -- a does taste -- a distaste for what they see as a push by companies to push different trade deals, who are encouraging
of comprehensive immigration reform. and they think there is an aspect of the outlook and party that is being driven by the corporations and the corporate interest. and, that is why they love when someone like perot for trump steps in as someone from the corporate world and makes the counter argument. that is where the power lies with trump. he is not being per trade as an -- portrayed as an elitist. some of his rivals are saying his real power is someone who comes from being in that world and go against it. that is what excites people who are upset about the debt. brian: we're going to look at donald trump again from earlier this year. keep in mind that as he talks, there are 12 major automobile plants owned by foreign governments in this country right now. watch this. [video recording] mr. trump: now ford announces a few weeks ago that ford is going to build a $2.5 billion car and
truck and parts manufacturing plant in mexico. 2.5 billion dollars. it is going to be one of the largest in the world. so let's say congratulations. that is the good news. let me give you the bad news. every car and every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we are going to charge you a 35% tax. [crowd cheering] mr. trump: that tax is going to be paid simultaneously with the transaction. that is it. brian: when nikki haley was at the press club, she bragged that the largest bmw plant, i think, in the world, is in south carolina. robert: i have been to that plan. i traveled around the american south. you see car plants everywhere. but, did you see how the crowd chanted, yes? yes.
trump is not always using specific data. he is using data point s -- data points that he thinks helps his own case and he is connecting with a feeling out there, not necessarily entirely factual, but it is a feeling among republican voters. people can shrug it out and look at a car plant here. they are right. that does not demean trump's case. they think the debt is rising. they don't think the future will be as good for their grandkids and kids. and so trump is connecting with them in that fashion. that is why connects with competitors. they say, it is not entirely true. they are right. but, does it matter lyrically? -- politically? we will see. brian: this is from 1992 in october 5 team. this is a well-known thing. did you ever meet ross perot? robert: never.
brian: did you watch much of what he had to say? robert: i remember the perot campaign. i was interested in a row at -- i was interested day in ross perot even at seven-years-old. i was collecting his stickers. who is this perot coming out of nowhere? i understood he even at seven-years-old, talking with my dad and brothers, why perot had a following. he was fresh. you cannot discount it. brian: we will talk about your family in a moment. there is ross perot. [video recording] mr. perot: we have got to stop sending jobs overseas. for those of you in the audience who are business people, pretty simple. you are paying $14 an hour for factory workers. you can move your factory south of the border, pay one dollar and our for your labor, no health care, that is the most expensive single element making the cost, have no pollution controls, and no retirement, and
you don't care about anything but making money. there will be a giant sucking sound going south. if the people send me to washington, the first thing i will do is study that 2000 page agreement to make sure it is a two-way street. robert: giant sucking sound. just hearing perot talk about jobs in that way, it reminds me of how i see trump all the time. if big rally at a football when i was down in mobile, alabama, this summer, at a big rally at a football field there. i was in a parking lot and people were talking about immigration not because of hispanics, and is not the usual way they interpret it is against a person, but they feel like jobs are slipping away. to them, immigration is an economic issue. they don't have the labor force anymore. there are union members and the trump rally. there are teachers. white-collar professionals, insurance people from mobile, alabama.
they see trump as someone not they are rallying to perhaps someone who is rallying against hispanic people, but someone who will provide them with a better economic climate. the problem for trump is that as much as he is exciting all of these voters who see in him someone like perot will protect the border, bring jobs back, he is at the same time alienating a lot of people by the way he speaks about these issues. brian: here is a perot ad back in 1992. listen to what folks were saying back then. [video recording] >> when i hear perot speak, it is if though i am saying the words. he is speaking for me. what he says is coming out and you know it. >> because we need someone with this is management to run this country. our country is going down the tubes. i was a clinton supporter and watching the debate has turned me completely around. mr. perot is the man for the country. >> if everyone thought like me,
decided to vote for him, i wasn't going to vote for him because i didn't think he could win. that is silly. >> i think america needs a change in the system. the system we have now isn't working and i want my daughter to have a future. brian: that was 23 years ago. robert: only 23 years ago. i could be walking into a trump event and get those exact same votes. -- quotes. that feeling is still out there among the voters i speak to every week. the question is, when i talked to a lot of voters like that, the first thing i asked them is when they last spoke, and many of them say i don't remember. they did not maybe vote in 2008 or 2012. these are politically interested people, but not politically active. this is not the ted cruz voter. this is not the hard-core conservative. this is the voter who has been disconnected from both parties. it is the same person. the working class.
they are looking for an outsider. they feel like the party has answers for them. trump is grappling with this right now. how you get these people who are excited in the summer? are they going to really come out in the primaries and caucuses? can they provide a network? can they be a reliable base. or is it really just 19% to 25%? brian: how open is trump to you? robert: very open. among the most accessible. brian: how do you get a hold of him? robert: easy. it is different. every other campaign, you have to call the press secretary, outline the story. it is a whole rigmarole. you have 15 minutes here, five minutes there, a walk and talk there. it is a pain. trump, i called his assistant in new york city at trump tower, and usually gets on the phone within two minutes.
it is just different. he does not operate like an old -- like a normal politician. sometimes i end up being the one putting the phone down on him. thank you, mr. trump. the other thing i like about trump -- almost everything on the record. as a reporter, it is refreshing because i can't stand going to background. i want to hear what these people want to say and what it out in -- and wanted to out in public. brian: your is a humorous attempt at explaining this from 1999 "saturday night live." [video recording] >> i think we all know why we are here. now the reform party needs a new, crazy later. -- leader. maybe it will be pat buchanan, or maybe donald trump, but it sure as hell won't be me. i wasn't insane enough for the american people. what we need is a real dirt bag.
>> i couldn't agree more. the american people -- >> let me finish. would you let me finish, pat? i'm going to ask you gentlemen if you question. >> go ahead. shoot. >> pat, i'm going to start with you. where do you stand on illegal aliens? that? >> we have a serious illegal alien problem in this country. foreigners in general are repulsive to me. >> whoa, whoa. hold the boat. the donald employs an army of illegal aliens in his many fine atlantic city casinos. sure they steal, but if they are fresh off the boat they will work for $.50 a week. [laughter] brian: 1999. robert: people forget about this chapter in trump's political history. he was thinking about running on the reform ticket and at the time, pat buchanan is running his anti-illegal immigration campaign.
a populist campaign. and trump was actually the antagonist to be can men in 1999, -- the antagonist to buchanan in 1999, even though in 2015 people think he is the anti-immigration campaign, in 1999 he was saying buchanan was too far to the right. trump used to be really opposed to you. he said pat buchanan would never be a serious contender. pat buchanan said, look what i'm wearing. he flipped his tie and he was wearing a trump tie. brian: you can't find those ties at macy's. robert: trump has taken a hit. he has never articulated with it, but he's in touch daily with what is happening in his business. he is still running his business for the most part as he runs for president. i don't think he expected this
wave of opposition to him. that comment, they are rapists, it hurt him. -- about immigrants. some trump associates told me that it rattled him. he persevered and he is still in the polls. brian: we are going to switch a little bit to you. robert: gosh. great. [laughter] brian: what town did you grow up in? robert: i was born in richmond, virginia, but i grew up in bucks county pennsylvania, north of philadelphia. i went to pennsbury high school. about 4000 students. it is in lower bucks county. levittown area. old steel mill town. not a lot of steel mills there anymore. a lot more walmarts and small businesses and that kind of thing. corporate offices, corporate parks. i loved it growing up there. i still have a huge affection for bucks county. i love pennsbury high school.
public school for me was great, because you interact with thousands of different students, different backgrounds. brian: why did your twin brother go to a catholic school? robert: my dad is a longtime attorney for a pharmaceutical company. mostly working for bristol-myers squibb. in 1998-2000 we were living in england. he got transferred for his pharmaceutical job. in 2000 we come back to go to high school and we had these choices of where we were going to go. we came from the same town we had been living in. i did not want to go to an all boys school. i thought the public school seemed fun, different, so i did that. it was good because i love my brother, james, but we were constant twins when we were growing up and when we went to separate schools, we were more of our own people. brian: what is your brother doing now? robert: he lives there wrigley field as a consultant for price water. brian: i have a book of yours that i sat down.
one of the main characters in here is you. robert: it is a nonfiction book. it is 2002. i am at pennsbury high school. michael bamberg said he is going to write about my high school's prom. it is well known and held in the gym. it is a special event. he thought he could capture small-town america, the suburbs in the time of 2002-2003. the iraq war is going on. it is post-9/11. as a writer at the time, i was 15 or 16 years old. i was writing for the local paper, covering concerts. i would get two tickets, take a girl on a date, get paid $50. brian: you did not have a car. robert: i didn't have a car for a long time because i couldn't pass the test. i had people drive me to school. i did eventually get a car around 17-years-old.
brian: here is what he writes in the early part of the book cost up -- costa was well-connected and unusually sharp. how did he determine you were the second-best debater? robert: we had a great debate team at pennsbury and i'm still involved with it, coaching and at judging events. there were people accumulating more points who were older. eventually i got the point record. brian: you talked a lot to this guy. robert: i did. he and i connected as reporters, i guess. when i was 17-years-old, i realize this "sports illustrated" guy, i was interested in him. he thought of me as his narrator. we had great conversations. we would go get a slice of pizza. my parents thought it was strange. bamberg and i are still very close friends.
he is a great guy, a big golf writer for "sports illustrated." my parents, who with this writer you are hanging out with from "sports illustrated?" he is probably one of the biggest inspirations in my own life. he taught me a lot about writing. bamberg did not need to get to know me, and he ended up writing a book but he also taught me as a writer to think about what you are seeing, not just cover the quote. if you ever read a bamberger article, he rarely quotes anyone. tell the story. tell what you are seeing, what is really happening. i thought about him the other day when i saw congressman coming over to watch trump. they are taking selfies. sitting members of congress. that is compelling. members of congress trying to grapple with the trump phenomenon. that comes back to him. don't cover the speech, cover what is around. he is a teacher, a friend, a mentor. brian: here is one other one i
want you to read. rejection turned robert into a 14-year-old populist. robert: i did not get into an elite school in new jersey. i was dumbfounded at the time. i think i messed up the interview. sometimes i think i'm a little too lively. i did not do well on the interview. i thought to myself, who cares? this elite prep school, who cares? i'm going to go to pennysville -- pennsbury very and do well there and love it. it was the best thing that ever happened to me, going to pennsbury high school rather than stuffy lawrenceville. brian: what about the populist? it says, before long he had renounced his parents' republican politics. robert: in high school, i thought edward dale, his love of sports, is gregarious -- his -- ed randel.
his gregarious personality, going to pennsbury high school, a much more blue-collar school. i was definitely left of center. i registered as a democrat in high school. my parents are moderate republicans. i wasn't political. i wasn't into it. i loved politics. one of my favorite things growing up was the war room documentary with clinton. a book, "first in class." keeping note cards out of georgetown. i always try to pick up things. i always try to pick up things. who are these great leaders? how do they become great? how do they work with people? how do they improve themselves? brian: what was the impact of this book, "wonderland," this book on you? robert: it was interesting to have a snapshot of your life. i did not know what he was doing with the book. i thought it would become a fiction thing. it is nonfiction. the big part of the book is judged to get john mayer to play
at prompted i did not have any connections. why not just ask? my parents are phenomenal and great people, but we never had connection to any power or great people. why not just try it? i push for him to come. i failed at first. i was a music critic and i learned about the music industry, and who has power. brian: didn't you irritate him? robert: i irritated a lot of people. he succumbed to our invitation. he was great. why not have some fun and play some songs? it was. it was pure. it wasn't about money. brian: how big was he? robert: big. it was 2004. he had won grammy awards. he played at the rock 'n roll hall of fame with paul simon the night before. he drove in and went to a burger king across the street and met him there.
it is a moment i will never forget. pennsbury high school is old brick and 1970's. i say it lovingly, people compare it to a jail. i think it was designed by someone who may have done a prison. to have mayer with his guitar on his back and to play songs about high school to my class, it was a wonderful moment. brian: here is a very bad video we are going to run. is hard to hear, so you have to listen closely. let's run this about the night of the senior prom. and you're in this. [video recording] >> for the past two years, has been doing some special things in pennsbury. [cheering] leading some special people to pennsbury. he's got that special pride. let's bring out your president, bob costa.
[loud cheering and applause] robert: ladies and gentlemen, class of 2004, i want everyone to remember the year. ladies and gentlemen, when you -- will hen you put your hands together for mr. john mayer? [wild cheering] brian: how much did you have to pay him? robert: nothing. brian: nothing? robert: i did not pay him a cent. brian: why did he come for nothing? robert: i think you can connect with people and say let's have a human moment. let's have some fun. not everything needs to be about agenda or marketing. there was no corporate tie-in. it was a musician playing songs for his audience at a high school gym. it was great.
people still talk about it in my class. it also raised expectation for future proms. if john mayer comes, what else can i accomplish? i like to think that if my whole class thought if mayer comes, anything is possible. we were normal suburban kids with no connections. mayer came to our party. brian: how many songs did he sing? robert: he sang three. "no such thing," "your body is a wonderland," and a little prince at the end. brian: he said you knew the alerts before he recorded them. -- the lyrics before he recorded them. robert: he was one of my favorite artists. i covered hundreds of concerts in high school. there was something about going downtown to philadelphia. i would go down 95 and have a girl with me or friend and i would get them to be the photographer for the "times." we would have our passes. going into the city, when i finally had a car, it was a big
part of growing up. it hurt my grades. my parents were concerned i was covering too many concerts. but i saw so many artists. i interviewed the grateful dead, the counting crows, dave matthews band. all my heroes, i got to interview them and i wrote straight reporting about them. mayer, i interviewed him. i was always fascinated by the people i would sit next to. their girlfriends, their wives. their managers. i interviewed them. that is the fascinating things about reporting on the music industry, which i may go back to, which is what is the story behind these people? the maroon five played a free concert. one of my favorite moments in my high school is that maroon five brought the bus in and i went into the home at room -- home ec room and they in all the cookies. a month later, they broke big. just do it. try. don't worry about anything else. just go for it. i can walk away from all of this
tomorrow. have fun, try, and don't be tense about it. brian: you wrote for the "national review" for a while. you wrote, since january 2015 for the "washington post." some people think the post has become more conservative, hiring people more like you that are not liberal democrats to be reporters. i'm talking about people who think they see bias. you have several columnists on the op-ed page that are conservative. do you have any sense that is being done on purpose? robert: no, i don't think so. steve ginsburg, marty baron, they want in-depth coverage and when you look at my hire, we are just people who love covering the republican party. i think they are adding depth to the ranks, which was a strong team. this is an organization that prizes its objectivity, the way it goes at things straight, and
it wants to get more information. i don't consider it an ideological paper in any way. i'm surrounded by colleagues who are driven to break news and go deep. and that is really it. whether it is the white house team, or the campaign team or congress, we want to own it. we don't want to have right, we don't want to have left, we want to own our story. we want to beat our rivals. we want to get as much as possible on the front page. my heroes, beyond caro, is bob woodward. get the documents, report on what you know. he has been a friend to me and others on the staff to say, remember at the end of the day, all this talk about our we left, are we right, is noise. get the documents, get the interviews, get the stories. ryan: not what is sure sense about people that read you? do they read you in hard copy or do they read you online. robert: mostly online. twitter has been a real tool for
me because it is my notebook. i know something is accurate, i put it on twitter. when things are hot on a campaign trail, i was breaking news all the time. i embrace social media. i will only try to do more in 2016. i think print still matters. if something is on a-one -- if something is on a-1 of the "washington post," people sit up. brian: who has been maddest at you? robert: a lot of people. one thing i tell anyone who wants to go into journalism is if you have thin skin, don't do it. at the top level, it is cutthroat, people are constantly angry at you, you will be bullied. people can be bullies one day, friends the next great i have had congressman screen any. -- scream at me. i have had aides rough me up and say they will never talk again. you can't go in think he will be fun all the time. it's part of the business. it is a rough business. it is about power. it is rough and tumble.
brian: one last question. when have you felt power the most, whether it be in high school, the national review, washington post, or any other time? robert: i think -- i don't think of it in terms of power, but in terms of moving something, i broke the story the shutdown was ending and i saw the market just take my tweet and cnbc wrote an article about it. one tweet sent the market. that was interesting to watch. i love breaking news. if i can make a political insider say i know that, that power in a journalism sense. brian: robert costa, thank you very much for joining us. "washington post" political reporter. robert: my pleasure. thank you. for free transcripts or to
give us your comments about this .orgram, visit us at qnda and these programs are available as podcasts. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] enjoyed this week's interview, there are some other programs you might like. the chief correspondent of the washington post talks about politics and media with purdue university students. carol and tom wheeler discuss working for the obama presidential campaign and syndicated columnist pat buchanan on his book. you can watch these anytime or search our entire video library at www.c-span.org. next, we are live with your
calls and comments on "washington journal." presidential candidate, vermont senator bernie sanders was in new hampshire this weekend. we will show you his town hall meeting beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span. the pope positive is it to the u.s. -- we have live coverage from washington, d.c., his first stop tuesday afternoon beginning at 3:45 p.m. we are live with the president and mrs. obama to greet him on his arrival. , the welcomingng ceremony for the pope at the 's welcomes the obama him to the white house at 845 a.m. eastern. p.m., thet 4:00 canonization at the basilica of the national shrine of the immaculate conception thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. live coverage begins from capitol hill as pope francis makes history emma becoming the
first pontiff to it address the joint congress and live coverage from new york as the post speaks to the united nations general assembly on c-span three, c-span radio and www.c-span.org. at 11:30 a.m., the pontiff will hold a multireligious service of the 9/11 memorial. follow the coverage of the processed or after to the u.s. live on tv or online at www.c-span.org. morning, mary rice the bus visitwing and the funding for planned parenthood. the former administrator of the small business administration will have the results of a recent survey finding american whoal and business leaders believe that income inequality is a serious threat to the country and their businesses. a bloomberg news reporter about federal student loan programs based onr repayment
income. we will take your calls and you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. "washington journal" is next. host: good morning it is monday, september 21 2015. a live shot of the capital this morning where final preparations are underway for an anticipated visit by pope francis this week. a visit that will include a white house welcome and a high-profile address before lawmakers on capitol hill. it comes amid a heated 2016 primary season in which some candidates are wrestling with questions of religion and the presidency. we begin this morning by asking our viewers whether you consider religion when evaluating candidates and whether you think