tv Washington Week With Gwen Ifill PBS August 26, 2016 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT
>> presidential politics went from unpredictable to unbelievable this week. donald trump and hillary clinton exchanged charges of bigotry, paranoia, and corruption. that's just the half of it. i'm susan davis filling in for gwen ifill. tonight on "washington week." the presidential race gets personal as donald trump and hillary clinton exchange insults and accusations of racism and bigotry. >> from the start, donald trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. >> she lies. and she smears. and she paints decent americans -- you -- as racists. >> he says he wants to make america great again. his real message seements to be -- seems to be, make america
hate again. >> hillary clinton is a bigot only es people of color as votes. >> we will get analysis on trump's decision to dial back his hard line stance on immigration and support for mass deportation. and the new questions about a possible connection between the democratic candidates and donors to the clinton foundation when she was secretary of state. joining us, robert costa, national political reporter for "the washington post." jeanne cummings, political editor for "the wall street journal." and jeff zeleny, your washington correspondent for cnn. >> award winning reporting and analysis. covering history as it happens. from our nation's capital, this is "washington week" with gwen ifill. funding for "washington week" is provided by --.
>> once again from washington, sitting in for gwen ifill this week, susan davis of n.p.r. >> good evening. hillary clinton did everything but call donald trump a racist during a campaign stop in nevada this week. she accused him of race beating. >> i hear and i read some people who are saying, well, that his bluster and his bigotry is just over heated campaign rhetoric. an outrageous person saying outrageous things for attention. but look at his policies.
the ones that trump has proposed, they would put prejudice into practice. >> it didn't take long for trump to push back after he called his democratic challenger a bigot. >> when democratic policies fail, they are left with only this one tired argument. you're racist. you're racist. you're racist. they keep saying it. you're racist. it's a tired, disgusting argument. and it's so totally predictable. they are failing so badly. >> both candidates stepped up the rhetoric in ways we haven't seen before. you were with clinton yesterday when she gave the speech, jeff. what is motivating the new, sharper line of attack against donald trump? >> first and foremost she wants to stop any pivot that may be going on or any attempt at a pivot that donald trump is
doing. he has changed his campaign in many ways in recent days. he is addressing small, hispanic audiences, and african-american audiences, and he is softening his tone sometimes. sometimes not. the clinton campaign, she wants to shine a light on everything that he's been saying. his greatest hits if you will. his most controversial hits. and they want to freeze this ray in place where it is right now. they do not want this race to get away from them. i was struck in the audience watching her speak. it was not an -- like any other trump speech we've heard where she mocks him and says he's not ready for the oval office. her tone was so different. we seldom heard a tone like that. and she mentioned so many republicans. bob dole. she said in 1996 he said if you're a racist leeve this convention hall. george w. bush who embraced muslims after 9/11. john mccain who, you know, said senator obama is a good family man. on and on. speaker ryan she came to his defense. ted cruz's defense saying donald trump is not a normal republican. i don't know how many republicans are going to accept
her olive branch or accept her hand, but that's who she was trying to speak to yesterday. we'll see if it worked. she definitely drew attention to the fact that this is not a normal race. >> she, in this speech, is trying to tie trump to what is called the ult right. it's a new term. what exactly is the ult right? >> it's from "the wall street journal." she could have chosen a lot of publications. she chose "the wall street journal." the ult right movement by and large is the as she said the conspiracy theorists in the darkest corners of the internet, the white supremacistsists. it's nationalists. that is not necessarily right, but it is the -- it's different than your traditional gop. it is, you know, basically what breitbart the conservative news site host who is now the c.e.o. of the trump campaign, he is a
leader of the ult right movement. so this is what she was trying to, i think, scare people with that term and definition. it is something that has given attention to a lot of conspiracy theories that she says don't exist. >> robert, we have the democratic nominee calling the republican nominee a racist this week or linking him to racist ideology. where are all the republicans defending donald trump? we didn't seem to hear a lot of that. >> a lot of republicans are reluctant especially in their own re-election races to be out there forcefully as an advocate for donald trump on these racial kind of controversies, racially tinged controversies. when you look across the map in swing states like north carolina and pennsylvania and ohio, there are competitive house and senate races. illinois and new hampshire as well. and to inject race into any of these contests makes a lot of leaders in congress and elected officials wary. that's why you see house speaker paul ryan, senate majority leader mcconnell. they're trying to run focused
capitol hill concentrated campaigns on their own tax agendas, traditional republican orthodoxy. they're fine with linking themselves to trump's -- they want to run their own races. >> we started with trump planning an outreach to minority voters who polls show he is struggling to win over. this is what he had to say. >> you're living in poverty. your schools are no good. you have no jobs. 58% of your youth is unemployed. what the hell do you have to lose? >> jeanne is "what the hell do you have to lose" a message that works with voters? >> no it's not and the initial reaction there were many influential african-american leaders offended by it. they need help. both sides know it. and the idea that we'll just vote for me because, you know,
you've got that crappy neighborhood and couldn't get worse, could it, is just really insulting. and there are many of course african-americans who are not in those neighborhoods who are also insulted. they're in the middle class. they're wealthy. and so it just kind of painted them all with a really wicked brush and so that -- i have yet to see, other than attacking the democrats donald trump put out any kind of coherent, real policy oriented -- this is a good reason for a hispanic and african-american or any other minority to vote for him. >> robert, is this conversation really about trump reaching black voters? >> there is a theory in a lot of republican circles and some democrats certainly view it this way that trump's pitch to african-american voters is in part directed to trying to increase his numbers which are in the low single digits among african-americans and latinos.
but it is really in a way also to reassure skittish suburban voters, women in the suburbs of these swing states we've blood pressure talking about who see trump as -- been talking about who see trump as intriguing because he is not a normal republican and doesn't follow traditional republican ideas. if they want to move in that direction he can't have this racial sheen on top of his candidacy. trump's making this over the pitch in part trying to wash that sheen off. >> well, the problem he's got with suburban women, though, goes well beyond this. and these kind of blunt appeals to minorities don't show compassion. they just show that he wants their vote. but they also don't go anywhere near addressing the women, the insults to women that began very early in his candidacy, went on for way too many months during the primary, and he has stopped saying things like that of late, but the clinton campaign has the clips. >> and they want to remind
people of everything. that is the goal of the clinton campaign. we've seen it every day almost there is a new web ad released. a lot of paid advertising as well simply playing back donald trump's own words. that is the sound track of this campaign on their side. her ads use his own words. i mean, markedly more than her own words which is often how it is. think how many hours of tape there is of donald trump, all the interviews he's done. and they are happy to play them. >> one thing i was really struck by in my reporting this week is trump himself has often thought of himself as a public figure who had some popularity with african-americans, with minority voters, because of his lifestyle, his wealth, and success. but when the trump campaign and the trump organization have done research they've shown themselves internally that ever since 2011-2012 when he was doing the birther crusade against president obama questioning his love country and his credentials his numbers with those specific demographic groups have plummeted and that's left him in this
vulnerable position in the low single digits. >> let's talk about another demographic group. this week we also saw what could have been a remarkable change of position from donald trump on immigration. he seemed to soften his position about what to do with the undocumented living here. is this a reflection of the new management of the trump campaign? >> you do have steve bannon the pop lift nationalist name thrower at the top of the campaign as c.e.o. you have conway, a pollster who long tried to get republicans to moderate their tone on certain issues. but i think this is a broader discussion from within the trump campaign. you have rudy guiliani a confidante of the candidate. chris christie, new jersey governor, kelly anne conway. jeff sessions, the alabama senator, steven miller the policy director. steve bannon the new c.e.o. of the campaign. there are these two camps. not exactly at war with each other but pulling and tugging at trump telling them you have to do x, fuel up your populism or maybe you have to tone down your rhetoric on immigration.
that's where trump is right now spending every weekend in new jersey hearing from these two sides. >> it seems like no matter which -- all the mixed messages just ended up making him make it worse. because he was not clear. and so he took it from the conservatives. he took it from his own party's more moderate wing. he took it from his ex-primary opponents. he drew so much criticism at the end of the week and that was self-inflicted, which is so often the case with donald trump. >> i also talked to a few republicans this week. it doesn't make him look like he is so entrenched in that position if he confuses the issue enough. he says i'm going to build a wall. voters out there like when he says that. they don't know if he will or not but like what it stands for much more than the deportation of course. that is very controversial. he has confused this issue and in some ways that could be helpful for him. the rift is if -- the risk is sarah palin and others, she was in "the wall street journal" this week sounding the alarm,
if she actually starts sounding the alarm with her megaphone that could be a huge problem with him. >> that seems to be a key question. over and over we've heard there is nothing trump can do to shake his fundamental core of support but changing his position on immigration could that hurt him with his strongest supporters? >> we always remember that line. i could go on fifth avenue and shoot someone. i would still have their support. that's been trump's view for much of the campaign. it's been striking to see one of trump's most full throated surrogates ann coulter the controversial fire brand commentator come out with a book this week about trusting trump and seeing him as a trust worthy figure. she made the remark that her book tour could be pretty short if trump keeps moderating app changing his position on immigration. for now we're seeing the right wing of the gop stick with trump. i think at the core if you listen to rush limbaugh shows or talk to different people on the right they still think trump is trump and he'll build the wall. but there is more reservation on that side. >> jeanne, clinton had her own troubles again this week. there was another story about
the clinton foundation and her time at the state department and new questions raised over the appropriateness of that relationship. where are we on that? and how much is this affecting clinton with the way voters see her? >> right. this week started out to be one of hillary clinton's worst weeks. and they brilliantly changed everything at the end with the speech that they gave on race. and he gifted her with the mistakes he made on immigration. but at the beginning of the week, what we also saw was the release of her private calendar, her meetings that she had at the state department. and cross referencing them some of those meetings were with substantial donors to the clinton foundation. so ethical questions were being raised. if you made a big -- cut a big check to the foundation, did that buy you into a state department luncheon discussion on this policy or could you gain access to a certain expert inside of the state department?
those were some of the issues that were beginning to bubble up. the campaign pushed back very hard on this by noting that she had thousands of meetings and this constitutes only a handful in comparison. some tiny fraction of the full menu of meetings that she had over the course of the two years that were under scrutiny. but those are the questions that she was beginning to confront. the conversation changed dramatically by the end of the week. however, new records are going to be released later both of her calendar and more e-mails are coming so she is not out of the woods yet. >> it is striking to me we are still almost at labor day and beyond and they still have not resolved this e-mail controversy. it is frustrating to many people inside her campaign. it's frustrating to many democrats that i was speaking to all week that this is an issue of the clintons' own making. from the very beginning when she decided to put the private soiver in her house when she was secretary of state, many
people believe because they didn't want this to come out about who she was meeting with, donors and other things, but it is frustrating to a lot of her supporters how slow they have been to distkachuk with this. there are 15,000 new e-mails and other documents being reviewed now that the f.b.i. found during their year-long investigation. the state department is going back through them again. we don't know if there is anything, any smoking gun in there. so far there hasn't necessarily been. but it creates the appearance of conflict and what the clintons, her trustworthiness is sort of in the mud, it is a problem. democrats if they're being honest will say it is a problem. it was running against any -- anyone other than donald trump she would be in a world of hurt right now. >> and these are all coming when she actually was starting to make progress on the trust worthy question. >> right. >> her convention did her some good. and she was starting to improve those number is a little bit. and here we are again. and we're going to be here again and again. >> right. >> as we sit here today we're about 10 weeks from election
day. robert, donald trump did not have a great august. what is his campaign telling you about how they want to spend the next 10 weeks? >> well, one of the most important moments will be the debates. and so you have about a month now before the first debate and they're going to be preparing but not usually in a formal mock debate style way. you'll have trump having conversations with guiliani and chris christie and newt gingrich and trying to think through his positions. they'll do the outreach, the african-american community ben carson tells me he wants to show trump around his home city of detroit in early september. you're also going to see trump try to catch up to the clintons on the ground game. on friday afternoon the trump campaign released a new application for people's phones to try to do door knocking and all these things where you move from being apprentice level to make america great again level to big league level. so it shows you the trump campaign recognizes the clintons are so ahead when it comes to advertising, when it comes to strength on the ground, and in the swing
states, and they have to do something to catch up even if they're not going to be out there matching them on point via point. >> jeanne what do the polls tell us about how many voters still don't truly know who they'll vote for this november? >> we do have a fair number of i don't know yet. it's still -- it is not unusually large. what's different that we don't see all the time is that all of us who do our outlet polling have had to add this neither question because that we were getting spontaneously from the people we were serving and so our professional pollers said we got to give them this option because there are so many of them. that hovers around 7% or 8% and that is a significant number. especially when we have a four way race and they -- the alternative candidates are drawing a little bit more, a little higher, and then you have this big batch of people that are just sort of frozen that don't know what to do. but to put some numbers on what
robert was just mentioning and here we are, labor day is almost upon us. i mean, the -- hillary has reserved $80 million in television advertising through august. donald trump has reserved $5 million. that's how -- the clinton campaign, the number of people they have on the ground in north carolina and ohio is more than trump has on the ground in the country. that's how different the two campaigns are. >> well, jeff, we know the battleground is shifting. it seems to be narrowing. where is hillary clinton devoting her resources now in the homestretch? >> they are still focusing op actually a pretty broad battleground. they are nervous in some respects that august may have been sort of too rosie for them and it is one of the reasons she gave a speech against the pivot here. north carolina is central. i think that if she wins in
north carolina, you have to say that it's difficult for trump to win the presidency. not impossible of course because mathematically it is possible. that is sort of a symbolic new battleground. ohio of course as well. but the three, florida and ohio, north carolina, are three states where she is still focusing on. virginia, which we thought would be the center of everything is not. she is up those polls say double digits. >> north carolina is a very interesting state to watch in this election cycle. thank you all for being here. >> thank you. >> we have to go a few minutes early this week to give you the chance to support your local station which in turn supports "washington week." the conversation continues online on the washington week webcast extra where among other things we'll discuss the high level negotiations surrounding the presidential debate. not as simple as you may think. while you're there have a little fun testing your knowledge of current events on the "washington week" news quiz later tonight and all week long at pbs.org/washington week. gwen will be back next week.
hello and welcome to kqed newsroom. coming up on our program, kqed investigation of the rise in inmate suicides at california county jails and a look ahead to an exciting and colorful fall season in the bay area arts world but first the city of san jose could declare a public safety emergency as early as next week over a shortage of police officers. the move is necessary to ensure that patrols are staffed. many experienced cut backs since the he recession of 2008. joining me with more on the situation in san jose are are kqed south bay reporter.