tv Newsmakers Steven Law Senate Leadership Fund CSPAN August 25, 2019 10:01am-10:37am EDT
again tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. make sure your here for washington journal. have a good day. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] announcer: newsmakers is next with stephen law, president and ceo of the senate leadership fund. he talks about efforts to keep it republican senate majority in 2020. after that, we will have an update on president trump at the g7 summit in france. p.m., amyt 1:30 klobuchar greets visitors in new hampshire.
tonight on q&a, theoretical --sicist michio cocco that talks about our destiny beyond earth and achieving digital immortality. >> digital immortality takes everything known about you on the internet. your digital footprint, your credit card records, what movies you see, what wines you like. your videos, your pictures. and creates a profile that is digitized which will last forever. when you go to the library of the future, you will not take out a book about instant churchill, you will talk to winston churchill. law,ncer: host: stephen who is the president of the senate leadership fund, joins us. also, that she congressional correspondent with the washington examiner and the
chief congressional correspondent of the associated press. let me just begin with explain to our viewers, what is your group, how much you plan to spend, and where you plan to spend that money. guest: i represent the senate leadership fund, organizations involved in politics and policy. we are totally focused on the the 2018 elections, we were able to spend about $190 million. i think we will probably get somewhere in that range, maybe a little more. focus will be on making sure we hold the majority matter what else happens. our focus is going to make sure senators come back and pick up that one senate seat especially in alabama that we lost. we will probably talk a little bit about that today. the races are starting to shape up and we see potentially
competitive contests in colorado, north carolina, arizona, possibly maine, kentucky, iowa, maybe georgia. maybe texas. that is the range. there will be others as well, michigan is one that is a possible pickup we are hopeful about. the map is not set yet but that is the general range. you've got a really interesting situation in the senate. you need to hang on to that majority so democrats could pick is aree seats or if there democrat in the white house, the vice president could break the tie. this is a very competitive situation right now and just today, the former colorado governor john hickenlooper announced that rather than run for president, he is going to run in this very competitive race for senate where you have cory gardner, the incumbent in
basically a tossup race. it has been rated a tossup by a lot of analysts. what do you think hickenlooper will do, do you think he can hang on to colorado? >> i think hickenlooper's entry into the race is not a bad thing for republicans. he ran a disastrous race for president, he managed to make joe biden look young and spry in that race. i don't see any sign that the democrats currently in that primary are going to step aside. i think it could potentially complicate the primary. even if he emerges as the nominee, and i'm not sure he does,but even if he hickenlooper has not been seriously tested by an important republican. the last republican he defeated was like doug jones boasting about beating roy moore. that's not a big a competent. cory gardner is one of the most talented politicians on our generation and i think he is going to turn in a good race. hickenlooper being in, i don't
think changes the dynamic and quite possibly makes it more competitive for us to make sure we keep this in the r column. host: you've got a couple other competitive races, one that everyone has been talking about is maine. susan collins has been in office since 1997, a republican who has managed to present herself as bipartisan. now, there is a real effort by the democrats, they think they can pick up maine finally. what to you think of the race, had you feel like your chances are of holding onto that seat? >> susan collins reminds me in some ways of joe manchin. she represent a state that has shifted in terms of the partisan moorings. she is very deeply well known in that state, a small state like west virginia and a state sensitive to the importance of the role of the federal government that relies on federal leadership to make sure that its interests are protected
and that it gets the support it needs. with those kinds of officeholders, they are very difficult to defeat. is, you canund spend 5000 gross rating points on tv trying to tarnish a candidate's reputation and it bounces off the body armor. susan collins is that kind of officeholder. she's well-known in the state, they know her, they know what she has done for things like that in the state. i think democrats are going to mount a serious effort because they want revenge for the brett kavanaugh vote. at the end of the day, i think she's got a durable image that is going to ensure that she gets reelected assuming she runs for another term. host: did justice kavanagh hurt her at all? to be something that sticks around for a longer time in voters minds. i think the bigger challenge is the challenge that joe manchin
faces in west virginia and that susan collins basis, we live in a much more polarized political environment. known as an icon does not get you 70% approval ratings. you are going to be in the 50's or 60's because people generally are so polarized a just look at what you are wearing and that is all they want to know about you. obviously, the brett kavanaugh confirmation was a flashpoint for the country, it definitely energized the opposition. that ends up resulting in anything more than a lot of money for her opponent remains to be seen, i think. you describe the states where there are these competitive races? colorado, north carolina, arizona, maine. those are all republican senate seats right now. what is the chance that the senate flips? that you don't hold enough, and
democrats take over the majority? >> i think we got a really good opportunity to hold the senate. fight,ing to be a democrats clearly see their shot, they would like to own it all. that is their very obvious goal. if i were them, that would be too.el, to -- my goal, i think we are going to nominate somebody competitive enough to defeat doug jones. if president trump is reelected, i think there are some good reasons why he would likely be, it becomes insurmountable for them to be able to get to 51 votes in the senate. happen,that doesn't we've got a good shot in these other races and most importantly, we got really good incumbents who have been doing their work, raising the money. they don't have obvious vulnerabilities.
the main problem is that in some of these states, we got tough terrain and that is going to be the challenge. host: what is the role of the president here? the president is often somebody who can carry the other members of the party over the finish line. is that what is happening especially in these swing states? arizona, north, carolina. is the president helping or hurting these candidates? >> one of the things i really like about focusing on senate races is that senate races do exist on their own. you have sent election cycles where the president of one party has done poorly and the candidates of that same party do very well in senate races because you are able to carve out your own destiny. you get known for who you are. so, i think the president will have some impact on our candidates and obviously his most important goal is
reelection, that's what he needs to focus on. possible thatlso our candidates will carve out their own destiny and their own results based on the campaign that they run. i actually think it's important for all of our candidates to sell who they are, what they've done, what they've accomplished. those who are currently in office. and in states like alabama and michigan, and other states where we are going to try to take out democratic incumbents, we are going to have to make a case for why that candidate needs to go. will exist, to some extent, independently of how the president performs. , you havehat possible just described this tribal nature of politics were people just want to see the jersey the other side is wearing. how do these candidates divorce themselves if they need to come up from some of the president's rhetoric or policies? guest: i don't know that they need to divorce themselves. it is important that they talk about who they are. i think the mistake one might
make is assuming you can only ride on the coattails. a state like alabama, for example, where we know the president is going to win by a colossal margin, it would be a mistake for the nominee to ride the coattails and assume you are going to win. what i like about senate races is that voters make a unique decision about the election that is separate from how they view the presidential race. the house is much more impacted by those kinds of large-scale trends because you don't get to know those candidates nearly as well. that in any given state, if the president does very, very well like alabama, for example, the number of ticket splitters are not going to be that great. a state like colorado, for example, we will see how that goes at the end of the day. gardner is going to need a certain number of tickets letters if the president -- ticket splitters if the
president does not carry colorado. theeally don't know because democrats have not picked their nominee and that is going to have a huge impact on the dynamics of that race and everything else political like here. >> you talked about the senators charting their own destinies. what are the big issues that you have discussed with candidates that they are going to be talking about with voters? guest: i think it depends a lot on the state and on the senator. again, when you are a senator, you can get things done. you can push legislation through. one thing that gives me confidence about our incumbents running for reelection is that they've spent a lot of of time working hard and getting a lot done. in north carolina, the armed services committee, he has worked a lot for veterans, for military readiness, and for basis in north carolina that people care about. gets a lot of bipartisan legislation pushed through. is one of where colorado
the legalization of marijuana, he is fighting for a states rights solution that protects a state interest and he has done a lot of other things unique to that state. politicians, good senators figure out what matters in the state, what they can get done. it is going to be unique in each individual state depending on what their voters care about. host: how much influence do you think national issues will have, such as the tax cuts democrats are trying to promote as something that only helps big corporations and hurts the little guy? pushabout the most recent for new gun-control legislation? these are things people are talking about nationally. immigration reform. will those issues also be part of the conversation? guest: they may. want toif democrats spend a lot of time talking about the tax cuts, i would be happy for them to do that. i don't think that is an argument that is going to go very far. but if the flashpoint issues,
gun control, immigration, health care is another one. i think the democrat advocacy of medicare for all, these are all issues that i think could have in individual states. how they play may depend a lot on who the presidential nominees of the democratic side, are people talking about at that point nationally? do local issues matter more? i think it still remains to be seen. but i expect we will be hearing about health care, immigration, gun control, medicare for all, is like that in the national discussion and all of these candidates are going to have to figure out how they position themselves on them. the electorate that they are trying to cobble together. host: how important is it this fall in congress resumes that the senate take on some of these issues? there has been talk among the senators of trying to put forward some legislation on gun therece and gun control,
has also been talk of some work on health care with some bipartisan efforts underway behind the scenes. senators trying to push forward some fixes for the high cost of health care. haste leader mcconnell offered his main objective to be in the personal business, to have the senate take on the confirmation of the president's nominees. how important is it for these candidates that they are able to tackle some of these other issues and maybe try to make some progress on some of these issues like guns and health care? guest: i think it's important for senators to show that they are individually being constructive to find issues that their constituents care about. with divided government, the house, primarily seems to be focused on trying to put together a case for impeachment. democrats in the senate not wanting to give this president a win.
getting a lot of of major constructive legislation done on almost any topic is going to be very hard. that doesn't mean that senators should not try, and there are points that people give for trying in this business. but it's going to be hard, and i think one thing i like about leader mcconnell is he is pretty realistic. again, the chances for breakthrough legislation on many of these topics is fairly small, but the opportunity to move forward the nomination is something you can do essentially unilaterally if you want to. that is where he has been focusing lately. host: what about a vote this fall on gun legislation, you think that comes to pass? guest: i really don't know. part of this is going to be were the white house lands. i think republicans on the hill are going to be looking for some guidance. the president is clearly trying to figure out where he would want to go on it. depending on where the white
house and sup, that may impact the dynamic of the issue. at the end of the day, i'm just not sure that the democrats in the house are really playing to their base, or democrats in the senate. there's going to be a lot of resistance to getting the president a win on anything other than an extremely hard measure thatrol obviously republicans are not going to end up supporting. host: we should note the reason why you know mcconnell for many years is you served as his chief of staff. to follow up on lisa's question about nominations, the democrats pointed the agenda of the senate majority leader and say, again,, all we are doing is another judicial nomination. or hurtt strategy help your candidates, and what can they argue? naming and confirming judges to the bench?
have seen what many of our candidates are talking about, they are talking about the importance of hearing the judiciary that respects the rule of law in the constitution and it is a winning issue. particularly for conservatives, for people who are more moderate , people in government, they want a judiciary that respects the rule of law, defend the constitution. they understand why the courts matter. base has a strong appreciation for the importance of the judiciary so they feel like it is a very positive accomplishment, the fact that we have two new supreme court justices who have been rule of law, that is a positive talking point. with respect to individual issues, issues that matter back home, most of our members have stories they can tell of things they have actually gotten passaed that meet -- passed that meet local needs and issues.
there ise issues where a lot of contention, our members need to say, this is what i'm for, this is what i'm trying to do. i think that is what voters will expect to see. host: what is your message to donors? you are out there and you need to raise $190 million. when you are talking to folks who might be willing to give to your organization, what is your selling point when you try to get them to support your efforts to keep the senate republican? guest: it's a couple things. while,een at this for a we are now continuing the fight. the main thing that we talk about particularly this election cycle is that it is vitally important that we hold the senate. we assume that president trump wins reelection and if he does, he's going to need a senate to be his line of defense. least to confirm future supreme court justices as well as other things and to defend
against a house that could be in democratic hands. if we lose the white house, the senate is the last freedom, we have to do everything we can to hold the line. goes, as our organization we are very focused on mission and we put maximum resources on target, and right now, i would say that the donors are very receptive to that argument. i find that they complete my sentences when i go into the pitch. so far this year, we've raised more money than we've raised all year in 2017, and that was our last big record year. we are going to do better than we've ever done before this year, hopefully it continues next year. thus far, there's been a lot of receptive to that argument. host: what do you think the disconnect is for so many of these proposals that do have popular support, some sort of response to gun violence legislation, some sort of response to getting money out of politics?
fixing the health care system. we see polling that shows those are popular issues, yet your argument of being a bulwark against the house seems to resonate, at least according to your ability to raise money. why the disconnect? in otheru've seen it times when republicans held the house but not the senate. republicans are very productive on the house. they would pass a bill after bill and many of them were widely popular in the senate. look at each of these issues in some detail. 1 which was the first bill that speaker pelosi introduced was an election security bill. the weaponize the federal election commission, it provided for the voting age to go down to 16. it paved the way for the district of columbia to become a
state which would create two new democratic senators. there was a lot in their that certainly these republicans would find and having nothing to do with election security and clearly partisan in their intent. at the end of the day, they felt comfortable saying no to that. and some of these other issues i think the question is whether it is possible to bridge what is basically a partisan and on issues like immigration and gun violence so that we can do something that would be productive for the american people. i just don't know if setting aside where republicans are, i don't know the democrats want to give this president a win on just about anything, even if it helps to solve a problem. host: talk about how the democrats will affect the ticket. you are probably looking very array oft this democratic candidate and how it may impact your candidates. can you talk about that, knowing who is out there and who may have being the nominee? guest: sure.
obviously, i don't get a vote in the primary, but my assumption is that joe biden does not end up being the nominee. he represents more of the past as opposed to the progressive future of this party. whoever the nominee is, one thing you are starting to see is the accumulation of fairly hard left policies. at least the policy primary that is going on is way over to the left. theirfter they take nominee, these policies are going to be enshrined somewhere, part of the platform or part of what the democratic nominee has to say. i think it's that policy environment that is going to be very useful for our side. i think we are going to be able to capitalize on issues like medicare for all and packing the supreme court and allowing felons to vote and decriminalizing the border.
issues that are really gaining steam on the democratic side and it's fairly widespread. it's going to be hard for them to run from those issues after they have picked a nominee and try to appeal. in america, they are still basically somewhere in the middle. host: biden is a more moderate candidate and he has medicare for all. he's not going for that. is he the candidate that would be more difficult for a republican to follow on the ticket instead of kamala harris or a more liberal candidate? would you prefer a more liberal candidate to get the nomination because that would allow your candidate to differentiate themselves from the agenda you have just described? guest: i think a more liberal todidate would be easier oppose and defeat in a presidential race. if it were somebody like joe biden, i think individual candidates could find their way to parry that.
who has a habit that democrats don't like of saying nice things about republicans. senateend of the day, races are great because individual candidates can find their own voice. how they talk about whoever the democratic nominee is. certainly if it was a democrat who was nominated who had a very far left record, a very far left agenda they wanted to propose, i think that would certainly be better for anyone in our party. host: let's go back to the senate and talk about the majority leader and his reelection effort because he has become more of a national figure with nicknames like moscow mitch. what is the impact of his becoming more nationally known on his reelection effort? guest: well, the leader always runs as if he is honorable and that is one of the keys of these -- of his success. he takes any opponent seriously,
even the ones who look like they are not doing very well, he runs a great reelection campaign. he i think the reason why will end up being fine as he has been in the past is that he really focuses a huge amount of his time and energy on the state. getting things done for the state. he prefers to be in kentucky rather than washington, d c one of the traps that someone in national leadership can fall , you start to focus so much on that national figure that you lose sight of what is going on in your home state or district. and also, sometimes people in your home state think that you have forgotten about them. he is able to go back to the state and say i helped with this issue. we made this happen.
in lexington, the army depot. all over the state, he has stories he can tell and people back home know that he delivered. it's not just that he delivered, it's that he still cares about it. host: will your group play in kentucky? guest: i think we may end up doing so, if only because national democrats are going to be so focused on this race that regardless of whether aiming the graph ends up being a competitive candidate or not, there will be this temptation for the democrats and progressives to put money into this race. host: does that indicate vulnerability? guest: i think it only means it is going to be an expensive race. democrats will spend money to support failure and you can't let that go completely -- host: which one? if you are looking at all the races right now, where is most of your money going to go?
guest: i think it is too early to know. any of these races that we talked about or mention, colorado, north carolina, arizona, kentucky, maine. i don't know whether it will end up being in a state like georgia or in texas, certainly in alabama. all these states in the current political environment, our new these are tens of millions of dollars of investment. some of that will include us. the senatedent of leadership fun, thank you for your time. guest: thanks for having me, appreciate it. host: we are back with our reporter at the washington examiner. whatt to ask both of you does the landscape look like for the senate in 2020?
guest: it is really tough in some of these swing states. real nailbiter's, they could go either way. they only have a three seat majority right now. on winningo depend back alabama which was an outlier democrat victory a couple years ago. it really is touch and go for republicans whether they will stay in the majority. if they are in the majority and you have a democrat in the white house, then you have a full victory for the party and they can march ahead with their agenda. this is a very high-stakes election for republicans in the senate. >> i think that's right. the interesting points that stephen was telling us, the amount of money they will be raising on the senate seats. again, a lot of money. map, thelook at that states they are concerned about most are the states where republicans are now senators and they are trying to hold on to those seats. lot of pickup
opportunities for democrats other than the alabama seat. he made mention of the michigan seat but we don't really have a candidate. the republican senators in colorado, north carolina, arizona, our meeting to defend as our guestnd told us, it does not sound like they can depend a lot on the coattails of the president. the president is not necessarily popular in these states, and while they certainly will be able to enjoy some support from president trump's backers, they really need to chart their own way, and that is difficult at a time when the senate isn't really doing a lot of legislating, the senate is really stopping the democratic agenda coming over from the house. the senators running for reelection really need to run on more parochial issues that they are able to do back home and the ability to stand in the block of the democratic agenda. host: what do you think this fall looks like heading into
november in the full swing of the 2020 election? what you think the senate floor looks like? what is mitch mcconnell strategy? there is this sudden desire to consider some kind of gun control. we will see where that goes. room forot a lot of compromise, even though it sounds that way, given what the president has said. people are still fairly entrenched, to the point where it is very hard to get anything that will result in a compromise. they may attempt to that. they are always talking about addressing immigration. again, i don't think that is going to happen. but they talk about trying to make that happen. mostly what i think you are going to see happen is a lot of talk about the policy issues and a focus on trying to pass spending bills because you have that september 30 deadline. they are already quite behind on getting those appropriations bills done.
they are going to focus on the stuff and then there will be noise about gun control legislation. even though tough we are not quite in it yet, but they are getting earlier and earlier. it's very hard for them to do big policy issues the closer they get. this is going to be one major election year because it is a presidential election year. think the other issue here, our guest made that point, so much depends legislatively on what trump may want to do, and he often has shifting opinions on gun violence, on solving some of the immigration issues. again, the senate has been working on a bipartisan health care proposal, not a massive proposal, but some elements to improve the current situation. these are all potentially workable, but unless the president puts himself behind it, i don't see mitch mcconnell
haveing his neck out to any votes on anything if the president is not going to come in and back up those republican senators and say that he will find something. think it is true what he said about the democrats, they are not going to hand a wind to the president because they are trying to win themselves and made-up want to make it look like he is doing anything right this close to where they think they have a chance of retaking the white house. >> what did you to make of him saying the group will have to spend some of their money in kentucky when they are defending a lot of seats? >> leader mcconnell has been a low-key leader. he does not even really say very much. and often very tightlipped he has become a national figure and i think democrats are eager to continue portraying him as a national figure. he has these nicknames we were
talking about, moscow mitch, the grim reaper, son that he has given himself, some that others have given to him. it is a chance for democrats to go after that seat, much the way often happens to these leaders. this will be a new environment for leader mcconnell, so we see how he does again. >> always very competitive in kentucky. they always go after him hard. he has managed to prevail, always a lot of money spent. they are dying to take him out in kentucky. as he said, this is about cash being spent by the democrats. going to let democrats overspend in kentucky and saturate the market. because you can win that way when you are spending money on campaign ads and television spots. you really need to match the spending when you have a race as competitive as this one. is not a big
challenge yet, but she could become one if there is enough money spent. >> thank you both for being part of newsmakers. announcer: senator amy klobuchar attends a house party in new hampshire. atch live coverage today 1:30 p.m. eastern on c-span, online at c-span.org or listen free on the c-span radio app. at 7:45 p.m. eastern, princeton university professor on race, gender, and class in america. her most recent book. >> the reality is that i have to