tv Newsmakers Steven Law CSPAN September 2, 2018 5:59pm-6:35pm EDT
have visiting delegations from around the state, from around the country, special interest groups, because minors, causing farmers, whatever, they would come, he would give them a short to theirostly attuned own interests, but something that would resonate with people, generally. he had his own stenographer take down what was said, and then he would go over what was said, make sure it was what he wanted people to read. he would give it to the associated press. the next morning, it was in newspapers all over the country. onhistorian charles calhoun c-span's "q&a." >> say stands "washington journal -- c-span's "washington journal" live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up tomorrow morning, as part of our campaign 28 in coverage, we will talk about radio -- 2018 covers, we will
talk with radio hosts around the nation. be sure to watch c-span's "washington journal" live every morning at 7:00 a.m. eastern. join the discussion. steve: joining us on "newsmakers" is steven law, president of the senate leadership fund. joining us, jonathan martin, the "new york times," and alexi mccammond, the political correspondent for axios. the democrats have to defend more seats than the republicans, but what are the races that were even most? steven: we are focused on dean
heller, a tough race given the nature of the state. we have arizona and tennessee. those are usually solid republican. arizona has trended more in the middle. those are two states we are focused on. those of the top three we will spend most of her effort on the defensive side. steve: there have been stories about texas. the polls show it is very close between beto o'rourke and ted cruz. does that concern you? steven: they probably do accurately show a close race at the moment. the cruz campaign has acknowledged it is a rough race. that is what you get when bernie sanders steps into the delorean from "back to the future." he is a hard left guy with strong positions that mainstream democrats in the state would find it hard to stomach. that will get litigated. steve: let me turn to leslie buchanan .>> let me turn to our
-- alexi mccammond. alexi: why do you think martha mcsally is the best candidate? steven: she is incredibly strong and has a great story, the first female pilot to lead a fighter squadron, a great fundraiser and great competitor. she was on the offense on the night of the primary and blew away her competition, despite the fact the democrats tried to meddle in a primary and dumped $3 million of negative ads against her. we think she is a great candidate. alexi: we have seen this highlighted in the attacks against her. what are the challenges she might face? what is her big challenge to overcome? steven: to consolidate the party. sheriff arpaio represents a segment of very conservative republicans in the state. she will have to unify the party. there is the mainstream in
arizona that has gotten towards the swing kind of state, so she will have to reach towards the middle while keeping a broad coalition of republicans in her corner as she heads into the general election. steve: jonathan martin of the "new york times." jonathan: steven, is it fair to say the gop will control the senate next year? steven: it is very likely. you never like to be absolutely certain about anything, because then you do not work at it, but i think of our defensive seats, i feel reasonably good about all of them and we have tremendous pickup opportunities. jonathan: out of the seats that you are attempting to win, are there one or two you feel you have in the bank? steven: i think so. north dakota at this point, it will be hard for heidi heitkamp to win. she is well behind, in some
polls, by double digits. hard to imagine her putting together a enough votes to beat kevin cramer at this point. i think missouri is shaping up to be that kind of race, where claire mccaskill won't put together a winning coalition. you would be surprised if heitkamp came back next year? steven: i would be, yes. jonathan: going back to texas is , it fair to say we will see the groups that you run make a you d if heitkamp came back next year? financial investment in the texas senate race? steven: it is hard to say. if ted cruz needs our help, we will be there. there are some other groups and we willk at it on the an, have to take some measurements of our own. he will not be for want of resources. jonathan: what does that say to you, steven, about the politics, that the mcconnell group might come to the rescue of ted cruz in 2018? steven: we protect no matter what.
i think senator cruz has become more of a partner in the senate than in the past, less the gadfly. that has helped him politically in his state and in the caucus. alexi: when we were discussing the errors in a primary, you talked about the challenge of bringing together the republican coalition. it seems increasingly difficult for republicans, and we have seen many republican candidates mimic president trump. did you anticipate that would happen in the cycle? steven: i think it is important for republican candidates to be successful, particularly winning primaries, to be in line with the president overall ideologically. i do not know if necessarily stylistically republican candidates have to do that. if you look at most of the republican candidates who are running, most may be outlined ideologically, but they are different. mike braun is a different persona, so is kevin cramer. mcsally is too.
to be out of step in critical with the president are tough to pull off and keep the coalition together, but you can also be your own person. alexi: what is one senate race where you think president trump's presence in a campaign rally would be a liability? steven: as i look at the races, there is not a single state i would take off the map. would it be better to go to the cow or what they call the counties up north in nevada than vegas? there are areas where he could make a positive difference, rally the troops, and help get the kind of turnout we will need to win these races. jonathan: i was going to follow steven.at, it sounds like the hope is to use the president surgically and bring him in conservative and
less populous markets. is donald wilkes going to use that, do you think ?steven: we ? [laughter] steven: we will see. the one thing i have to say is this president is guided by a good political team and has been doing surgical reasonably well. they took a nuanced position in the primary to make sure don blankenship didn't win. h he talked to kevin cramer into running that raise. he has done some surgical things. i think he started to recognize he does have a unique role and can strengthen the majority in the senate, and does seem to be taking advice from those in the white house. jonathan: so flag staff, not phoenix. steven: i think so. the kavanaugh nominations begin tuesday. give us a sense of these trump state, republican states, joe donnelly, heidi heitkamp, if they vote against brett kavanaugh, what pressure would you put on advertising in those
states? steven: it is a tough an important issue for democrats, particularly for joe donnelly and heitkamp and manchin. the stakes have really changed for democrats in this fight. the really high stakes , scorched-earth approach that senator schumer has taken has put his own red state democrats in a tough spot. i think they will vote to confirm to have any chance of winning reelection will hurt them more than the neil gorsuch vote with donors and activists , who they need to get enthused about their candidacy, of they are in a tough spot. alexi: speaking of messaging and advertising, what has been the most effective messaging strategy against democrats for your group? steven: an issue that had been on the sidelines that we are seeing having resonance is immigration, sanctuary cities,
abolishing i.c.e., the more extreme positions that the party democratic party has become aligned with. not all, but some. talking about those issues as residents where we are trying to be picking up democratic seats is fall. alexi: what message or topic has fired up donors? what topics? steven: in general, our constituency of donors is interested in winning races. they want to see an opportunity to change the senate in a positive direction, increase the strength of the majority. there was an early, strong interest in defending the house. that was a fairly easy sale. we have to help defend the house. republican donors were very responsive to that. what we have seen is the importance of the senate firewall in case the house is not saved in november, and the one thing about supreme court nominations is it reminds people
that is what the senate does, it is in the personnel business, so we have seen a surge in interest in the importance of supreme court nominations and making sure we hold on to the senate. jonathan: it seems like right now the house is in jeopardy of flipping. is that fair to say? steven: i would not write it off. i think we continue to see each week the scenario changes somewhat. we are competitive, but it is an uphill climb. jonathan: how does that shape what you guys do and your interaction with party strategists and donors? does the senate at some point become, if not the only game in town, the biggest game in town? steven: it has not gotten there yet. it is important to do everything you can to protect the house,
even if you think you would lose, because it easier to defend, and a 10-seat deficit is easier to make up than a 40-seat deficit. it is always important to defend the house. if in fact it starts looking more of a difficult proposition, certainly people will be concerned about making sure we have the senate, no matter what happens. alexi: the president is talking about the red wave? what do you think about that? is he talking about the house, the senate, and you anticipate a do you anticipate a red wave? steven: i am not sure what he means by that. i don't think there is much evidence of a red wave in terms of outsized enthusiasm and turnout. you could argue that there is a blue wave, a small blue wave, or ripple, where there is outsized democratic turnout, mostly in special elections. the truth of the matter, we all know the truth about special elections. if you spend $20 million on a
small target, you can make things happen that have no relevance to what happens in the fall. it is hard to see a huge surge of republican enthusiasm that would dramatically change election outcomes beyond what we would normally expect in the midterm. the primaries in florida, you saw a surge in turnout on both sides, so it could be evenly matched. but i do not think it is some sort of unilateral -- i would love to see it and want to see it, but i don't see it yet. steve: what will be the most expensive senate race this cycle? steven: i would have to think it will be the florida senate race. steve: how much? steven: oh, gosh, i would think easily $150 million, something like that, at least that. that is one state where the democrats have a quandary. you haven' have a governor in rick scott with access to personal resources and access to
money to fund everything he would need to do. bill nelson has been a laggard in fundraising, not an energetic candidate. it is starting to look like he might be expensing a deficit, and yet it will be a close race. the democrats will face the decision as to whether they spend the $27 million from labor day to the end. that is a big, tough decision. jonathan: has the nomination in florida helped nelson with his turnout challenges, especially among younger, non-white voters, or non-white voters overall, given that is typically the hardest group to turn out in the term cycles? steven: it is hard to say what the impact of the nomination is. that is one way to look at it. he does have a lot of appeal with younger voters and is part of the reason why he won his primary against establishment gwen graham. he also has a significant number of flaws.
he is an avowed socialist, has an fbi investigation around his administration. we don't know where that will end up going. you can see the ticket cratering. that is also a possibility. i don't think you can assume it helps or hurts. the other thing is, if you have gillum standing next to nelson and davis, you would say who is that tired, old guy. i do not think that looks good for nelson. alexi: what is the endorsement worth to republicans and 2018? -- in 2018? steven: in some states it is statewide. as we talked earlier, if the president is willing to play a surgical role to build up enthusiasm among voters who might not turnout in a midterm, election, that could be tremendously helpful. alexi: is it? steven: it could be helpful to
mike braun in indiana. certainly to josh holly in missouri. it could be decisive for patrick morrisey in west virginia. i think that race gets a shakeup if the president decides to park himself there for the last two weeks of october. jonathan: you have come around on josh holly, it sounds like, and think he is in a good spot now. steven: in his defense, he was caught in the quagmire surrounding governor righ greitens. the poor guy could not go to dinner, because people would say -- why are you investigating the governor? it was hard to raise money and move around in the state. i think he is an energetic candidate. i think that is a dead heat at this point in terms of where that ballot his. jonathan: two fast questions.
have you gotten any signals from senator cruz that they would like you to play in that race? have his allies given cues at all about that race? steven: we heard some other groups are thinking about hitting involved in the race, but everyone is testing how serious this is. jonathan: are you pulling there, steven? steven: we will be. jonathan: who on election night will be closer in their race? who will have higher vote share? or philourke in texas greta in tennessee? steven: higher vote share -- i think at the end of the day, he might come up
short if his record is litigated to voters in texas, it will be considered a bridge too far. bredesen is the best possible recruit for tennessee. he is fondly remembered. he has done a great job reminding people of who he is. in tennessee, people want to vote for the republican. i don't think you have to do too much to distinguish one from the other to make them realize that they really want to be for black turn. jonathan: you think he runs the more competitive race? steven: at the end of the day. jonathan: there are two different theories. one theory is the more traditional democratic theory, you run in the middle in a red state, blur differences, accommodate the conservative tilt, and you basically deflect questions about your national party.
beto does not do that. i'm curious what you think is the more effective strategy for the other side. steven: in many states, the democratic base is energized and the challenge they have, particularly in the states that are red. texas is red. timothy is becoming even more so. you have to appeal to moderate, suburban voters who vote republican. in those states, it might be hazardous to run too far to the left. steve: as you look at that moderate, suburban, educated voter, are they the key constituency for both parties? moving into the midterm elections? midterm, you will not have as a motivated base, you need to win them over. one thing i like is each state has its own unique trademarks and demographics, but certainly in a state like tennessee, the goal is to reach that middle-of-the-road, educated voter, mostly suburban, but
inclined to vote republican. got to winen has them over. at the end of the day, most tennessee voters who would want to vote for republican would say marsha blackburn is my kind of person. bredesen, but i just don't think he would be as reliable as blackburn would be for the things i care about. steve: a couple of more minutes remain. alexi: talk to me about what your life would look like in the next two months. are you going to be sleeping? are you going to be stressed out? and what is going on at the senate leadership fund after labor day? what is changing? what are you going to focus on? steven: those are all good questions. we will continue to raise money. in mid-october, you either run out of people to ask for things you are going to spend on, but that will be at 24/7 cycle of generating advertisements, digital, testing, looking at
races, figuring out if we need to allocate more resources to the state, is this state not coming online? one of the things we've seen in the last couple of weeks is we have seen some states that have been forgotten about that are now potentially competitive. i think wisconsin. i think that is a competitive race. montana, recent polls show that close. we have not done polling there, but we are going to soon. and you look at new jersey. who would have thought democrats would be spending money in new jersey in august? in august of all things. which leads us to believe the map may be shifting. texas may be something we have to look at. we are constantly evaluating every other day to figure out where the next dollar is test best spent. needless to say, it will be tremendously busy, and we've all be completely spent, but we have a great team. they do most of the work. steve: do have a number on how
much you will raise? steven: last cycle we were at $150 million. i think we will go past that this time. i do not know is significantly patst it, but we will get past it. steve: jonathan martin? jonathan: because florida his primarily self-financed by governor scott, what state do expect to spend the most in total dollars? steven: where we will spend the most? jonathan: yes. steven: nevada is a very expensive bet. that is one we are quite committed to. spend theemocrats will sen most in nevada, second after florida. they will pull out of florida at some point. jonathan: you do? steven: i think they will realize it is a money pit, and they are already unhappy with nelson. it is a tough choice for them. missouri is an expensive spend. that will be one of our top
expenses. we care a lot about north dakota, but it is a cheap date. we are committed to it, but it will be less of a drain on the treasury. alexi: what do you think senate democratic candidates are doing well this cycle? steven: raising money. part of it is they are mostly incumbents. they had six years to build up bank accounts, but democrats have cracked the code, especially on low dollar fundraising that is cheap to do, relatively low transaction costs , and yet they are able to raise large amounts of money. that matters. you look at missouri, claire mccaskill had four times as much as josh the bank hawley. that makes a difference. i think they have done a good job on that. you have seen a few candidates, and i think joe donnelly has done a pretty good job, figuring needle,o thread the
voting with trump only 40% of the time. he knows those issues. he tries to ingratiate himself with voters to win in november. steve: how much capital does mike pence have? steven: he has a fair amount. he is the former governor and can get attention. he can help support the republican candidate, mike braun. i think just as much in other parts of the state, so both the president and the vice president. jonathan: steven, as you recall from the bush-cheney era, they were constantly raising money, whether it was for the campaign committees, house and senate, individual candidates, or whether it was for the rnc. president trump does not do as much fundraising.
when he does, it is for his own reelection and the rnc. a, why do you think that his, and b, has that created a demand for folks like you to be more aggressive or creative on the fundraising front? steven: i hadn't focused on it much because it does not directly affect us, but i do sense an ever greater need for the work of outside groups like us and others, just a greater need for that kind of activity because the party committees don't necessarily have the resources they have had in the past. with george w. bush, after mccain-feingold became law, and he went to the party committees and said "i will replace what you have lost," and he did that effectively, which is why outside groups did not get formed until 2010, because president bush met the need himself. jonathan: you mentioned this earlier, but democrats do seem to have cracked the code on online fundraising, and maybe that is because trump offers the
correct motivation, the kindling they need to raise the money, but is that a deficit for your party, the fact you can't raise the money online the way that democrats can? steven: i am not exactly sure what the difference is. it is something that bears looking into. democrats prior to president trump being president, i think you're right, it probably helped put their fundraising on steroids, but they had the machinery, the list, the whole approach, and republicans have been late to that. part of it is we have been content to have party committees raise most of the money. my organization does not raise a penny at low dollar. we do not want to compete with the parties or the campaigns. typically that pipeline has done been done by the party in a traditional way over the years. it is something that democrats decided to take out of the party and have done a good job at. i think republicans need to steal a page from the playbook. steve: senate majoroity leader
mitch mcconnell -- how long do you think he stays in the job? steven: i think he stays for a good long time. he is getting ready for 2020. you will see the pieces for his long-game reelection. he loves what he does. he is good at it. i think you will see him stay at that and run for another term. you never know what happens down the road. but he is dedicated to coming back after 2020. jonathan: you think he would come back, if reelected, and remain leader of the party in 2021? steven: yeah, i mean, you would have to talk to him, but i would assume so, yeah. law, president of the senate leadership fine, thank you for joining us on "newsmakers." steven: thank you. it was great being on. steve: we continue the
conversation with alexi mccammond from axios.com and jonathan martin for the "new york times." jonathan, is this a referendum on donald trump? jonathan: it most certainly is. most midterms are. no president in modern history consumes not just the political and cultural conversation this president does. this is a unique moment in history. democrats and republicans talk about localizing races, focusing on an issue here or there, but there is no question that the views of this president will , good and bad, will drive a lot of voters to the polls this fall. alexi: that is what i will be watching, when i asked steven about candidates mimicking themselves after president trump. i think it will be a real challenge in the november elections. that is something he highlighted when he said martha mcsally needs to bring together that coalition in arizona. steve: so you have that stronger economy that helps republicans, and the trump personality that democrats run on? jonathan: if you are inclined to
like president trump, you don't see a lot of bad news on the landscape, right? abroad, a boom in the economy at home, and you are generally pretty happy. the challenge is people who vote their tribe or partisan instinct now more than their pocketbook, right? that is the trend in this country that we have seen. so even though voters in nevada or perhaps arizona might be in expensing good economic times, if they are uneasy with the president's conduct, that can be a challenge for republicans come . look no further than suburban women. that is the key group. that is where it will be difficult for republicans to separate themselves from the president. alexi: especially as the alexi mccammond: especially has
the president has made public plans to campaign as much as he can through november. republicans think that is an asset. we know there are places where that could hurt him, especially where hillary clinton one and places are more competitive and we have seen heightened enthusiasm in the primaries so far. i am curious to see how that is handled by republicans, but until then, we have seen the president work in their favor. stephen law: given how unpopular the president is with the electorate and the unmistakable good some aquatic year, that steven law even to as "the blue wave" when he was answering your question about the so-called "red wave," he said that the house is in an uphill fight now for his party. even with all that, it is pretty extraordinary that he is so calm and at ease when you talk about the gop holding the senate.
he did not have any doubt at all that his party was can a halt the senate and said they are guaranteed to pick up at least one seat in north dakota, and perhaps two if missouri hangs on. do another state florida, there are six or seven media markets in the state of florida. google i think the money aspect is part of why they might feel really confident about the senate two, they know how much money they have to pump in the races themselves. they know how much money gov. rick scott has to pump into these races himself. democrats, as he said have cracked the code with online , small dollar donations. that will not help as much in dignity markets like we see in florida. jonathan martin: i think the cany that steven's group bring is critical because as you put it out, a lot of these democratic incumbents do have a financial advantage head-to-head over their republican challengers. but that is all being did when he have -- that is obviated when
you have groups like this coming against the incumbent president. i think it will be interesting to see where the president goes this fall. i covered a rally that he did for the governor of south carolina, mcmaster, in a june in south carolina, it was in a high school gym in suburban columbia. the president made a comment that was half in jest, henry i usually don't play high school gyms, but for you, you are a good buddy. i will do it for you. you can tell that the spectrum of talking to about two dozen people in a stuffy basketball arena at a high school was not his idea. of playing a casino, to say the list. that, to me, will be fascinating to watch. can they get this president into not just b markets but c markets and some of these states, can you bring air force one into some of these airstrips and have him go to places like flagstaff? not phoenix, but flagstaff. not tucson, not phoenix, but
flagstaff. alexi mccammond: i'm curious to see a visit messaging strategy changes the closer we get to the election. i think in order to get folks to turn out because they love you too then vote for whatever republican you are supporting, he has to talk more about those candidates and less about himself. those voters know they arty like the president, they should know why they should get outside and vote for the republican candidate. >> we will close on that. both of you, thank you for being with us. alexis: thanks, steve. jonathan: thanks, steve. announcer: join us monday at 8 p.m. eastern on c-span for a profile of brett kavanaugh just before the start of the senate confirmation hearings. we look back to his previous
confirmation hearings and talk to people who know the judge. >> i do think that some of the worst moments in supreme court's history have been moments of traditional activism like the dred scott case, where the court went outside its upper bounds, in my judgment, in interpreting clauses of the constitution to impose its own policy views and to supplant the proper rules of the legislative branch. weeks beforeveral that really looking at other people, all the people on president trump's so-called short list, and i can to the conclusion, no disrespect to the others, that brett kavanaugh was the best. balance ofang in the this nomination, and brett kavanaugh's resume alone is not enough to merit a yes vote when our rights hang in the balance. eightcer: watch monday at
p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span.org or listen with the free c-span radio app. announcer: monday night, on the communicators, the cofounder and former editor in chief of wired, talks about the impact of the magazine, the early stages of the internet and being fired from the company he started. "the communicators" monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span two. sourceis your primary 2018.mpaign now, a debate in the primary race in massachusetts first congressional district. and come in representative richard neal tahirahchallenger wadud. this is about 30 minutes. >>