tv 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference CSPAN February 25, 2017 7:24pm-8:02pm EST
announcer 1: also today at cpac, political analysts discussed what president trump's victory thes for the realignment of democratic and republican parties. this is 35 minutes. ♪ [applause] matt schlapp: well that proves you really can't tell the interest. it is supposed to be simple direction, this person goes to the right this person goes to , the left. >> i have an excuse. matt schlapp: how are you all enjoying cpac so far? [applause] matt schlapp: is anybody a wee
bit tired? no, yes? this is good. coffee, we all have our liquid courage. i am really honored to have this panel here today. every person on this panel is someone i feel like i have a special relationship with. ralph hallow, who we call the little general -- always running around, telling us what to do, she is the vice chair of the foundation. i don't want to get the title wrong, but she is like right-hand person to wayne lapierre and a very special person. and susan page and i grew up together in the same town. a little different years, but she went to one rival high school, i went to the other. and we both traveled to wichita from time to time. and i want you to know, susan, i don't know if they are here, but much of my family from wichita
is here today. they all love you. let's shout out for wichita, kansas. come on, come on. and ralph -- rick ungar, i will admit, he is a little bit more left wing than i am. we know the cpac audience will be polite even with a guy that is a little off on some issues from time to time, because i think it could liven up the conversation. i want to know what the heck is going on with the democrats. rick, somewhat i get to talk to several times a week. come one, come on. and by rick and i have a special relationship because we go to the same hairstylist. byron has this -- make mine the like that too. byron york: great job with that white color. matt schlapp: i am really enjoying looking like mike pence. this is a question about
realignment, and there is a lot of realignment going on in politics. as a matter of fact if you like , politics, 2016 would have been the year you chose to be covering politics because there was so much change on the right and the left. i want to start with ralph who has been covering politics for a long time. and ralph, you have covered it from both ideological perspectives. have you ever seen a year like we had in 2016? ralph hallow: none of us has ever seen anything like this. i usually get elections wrong. i don't think i ever predicted the outcome of presidential election right, but this one, unbelievable. i didn't think from what run. i thought that was a joke. he couldn't be serious. and when he started to run, i really didn't think he could win anything. and after a while, i realized everything that i had learned over 50 years in journalism out
the window. i didn't understand what was going on, but it was fun. matt schlapp: yeah it was. ralph hallow: trump made it fun. trump said a lot of the things that many of us either thought consciously or thought unconsciously. and so, some of us, i admit this, found ourselves cheering when he said what threw off everyone about clinton. that is probably why he won. matt schlapp: some of us weren't cheering so much. susan, there is a lot of realignment. let me ask you, i put my proposition out there, because i think there is a lot of realignment going on with both parties. a lot of change very do you agree with that? susan page: i do. i think this is an election we will be seen with the benefit of more perspective as the realigning of election. with the president's speech, describing a republican party in different terms than we have
heard it described before, as the party of the working man, including the rust belt where three states that had been for nearly a quarter century had been part of the blue wall. michigan, pennsylvania and wisconsin unexpectedly went for president trump. matt schlapp: i think there is someone here from michigan. [laughter] you know you also see today some of the repercussions of that in atlanta where democrats are electing their new national chair. they are trying to figure out where the democratic party fits in a world where they are going to be more coastal and have more trouble. the south has been pretty republican for some time. you schlapp: ok, ungar, know, what is going on with this election to be the dnc chair and just generally in the democratic party? i am kind of enjoying it. it is a popcorn moment. rick ungar: it is interesting.
you talk about the election and the strangeness. in the early days of the election, all of the conversation was about the dysfunction that is going to exist in the republican party. and every now and then i would pop up and say, you know, we are not talking about it, but let me tell you about the democratic party. it is worse. it is worse. it didn't really come to light until the republicans won the election. it is factionalized in the democratic party. it is stunning. as we are sitting here, this voting has begun for who will be the next chairman. matt schlapp: are there superdelegates? [laughter] are superdelegates. [laughter] >> it is not rigged. >> it is democrats, of course it is rigged. matt schlapp: don't anybody quote that. susan page: it is just between
us. matt schlapp: we don't know what is going to happen. if it goes one or two ballots, keith ellison will probably be the chairman. they like that. it is not a good sign. if it goes six or seven, you can have strange things happening. byron. byron york: you know trump won , the republican nomination by challenging or blowing up some republican orthodoxy in some key areas, trade being one of them, entitlements being another. i went to a bunch of trump rallies where he said, we are not going to touch your social security. you paid for it, and you are going to get it. foreign entanglements his , criticism of george w. bush was brutal. matt schlapp: it was brutal. byron york: and he also exploited a republican divisions that exists on immigration. doing all that, he won. so it told you that a lot of people who vote republican are just not as orthodox as perhaps some people in washington said.
and susan mentioned the blue wall. i was a big believer in the blue wall. it was the idea that if you look at the states that had voted for president, democrat in the last six elections, and at that point 2004, 2012,2, 1996, that was 242 electoral votes. we all thought the democrats started out with 242 electoral votes. the only had to get 28, and they win. and trump blew it up. michigan and wisconsin, pennsylvania, he just -- matt schlapp: never going to happen again. byron york: and he also, he destroyed this democratic idea, and they believed with the obama coalition, that democrats are going to be elected from now on ever and ever because of demography. that idea is just gone right now. so he changed so many things that we thought of. [applause] >> i kind of like this.
matt schlapp: i was out taking the train from washington to new york to be there on election day, mercy and i were heading up. we were on a train just filled with clinton campaign operatives. you all know that pit you get on your stomach on election day. you don't know what is going to happen. this election day more than most, what is going to happen. all the chatter from the clinton folks, it was not good from my perspective. i was kind of i felt good the , day before, and started getting a pit in my stomach. let me ask each of you. you guys are such experts. at what point -- i'm not setting you up. i am not setting you up. i am not going to ask your predictions going in to that date, but at what point in the process did you realize it was going to be president trump? early thatrally morning or i guess the next morning or somewhat worked , earlier? ralph.
ralph hallow: i don't want this to go any farther than this room. this is really inside information. the night of the election, i had written and prepared to run on page one an analysis of the election. and the lead was why donald trump lost. that is how good i am at this. it doesn't mean i wasn't for him. by that time, i was hoping he would win. but i read with everyone else. there is that blue block that you really can't make a significant dent in, certainly if your name is trump, and you are saying these absurd things. i liked most of the absurd things, but everybody else -- matt schlapp: ralph you say some , of the absurd things. ralph hallow: it is not going further than this room, right? matt schlapp: i think he was channeling trump before trump decided to do this. if you read your columns through
the years, you can see these things. ralph hallow: there wasn't realignment, right? byron york: that is my next question -- matt schlapp: that is my next question. i was going to get them through answering this question. ralph hallow: realignment of the republican party is no longer the party of adam smith and free market. once it was a religious tenant that conservatism meant free market -- matt schlapp: unimpeded. ralph hallow: unimpeded. he is good with words, that word at least. and then it was pat buchanan, and he is trying to change that. he is talking about fair trade, free trade, and he gets nowhere. and along comes somebody that talks about -- that was pat began in, america first doesn't , get any worst. and the donald trump somehow manages to win an election running on things are stored --
things republicans historically opposed. americans in congress are not -- knocking the bejesus out of him in which every member of that congress has run. matt schlapp: there is a lot of time on the clock. we will ask susan. what about you leading up to the election? susan page: we don't have to do details, but election nights are humbling things, i think for , people who cover politics. it doesn't matter what you think, it doesn't matter what the polls show you, it shows what voters actually do. i have covered several election nights where i think it is a surprise. i did the analysis for usa today. the first deadline was 6:30 or 7:00. matt schlapp: oh my lord. susan page: that was one that could not predict who was going to win. it was like looking at exit polls, what does that tell us about what people are thinking.
the analysis became friendlier to the prospects that donald trump was going to be the next president. and by the last deadline, we had president trump we had donald , trump being elected president. but it was not until, you know, 8:00, that i thought, he is actually going to do this thing that we said he could not do. matt schlapp: rick. rick ungar: i was covering the election in youngstown, ohio. i think youngstown remains -- matt schlapp: what is that? rick ungar: youngstown is my hometown. that to me is the center. matt schlapp: anybody hear from youngstown? why not? rick ungar: i am doing the radio program, but we are watching local returns. i was sitting with the mayor of luck -- of youngstown. the numbers came out from mahoning county where youngstown is located, and donald trump was ahead. the mayor and i who grew up
there, we know mahoning county has never gone republican for as long as we can remember. we just looked at each other with our mouth open. that is when i realized donald trump was going to be the next president. [cheers] [applause] so i was in new york on election night and heading toward the trump on hilton avenue on 6th avenue. it is late in the afternoon, and they are depressed about the exit polls because the exit polls from florida did not look good. matt schlapp: they looked terrible. byron york: you don't win florida, it is all over. it's a very early night. and the idea even when trump seemed to be a little bit ahead, there was going to be this big group of voters and prowlers that were going to win for hillary clinton. there had been this debate before election day among republicans they wanted trump to do better than mitt romney. romney got 212 electoral votes,
and so many never trump republican said trump was going to leave the party to this devastating catastrophic historic defeat. if he does better than mitt romney, he could say, hey, did better than you, boy. then i get to the trump event. it is early in the evening, i run into jeff sessions. and sessions is very circumspect. he is cautious and doesn't seem optimistic, and he is circumspect, and he said, the good thing about this is, trump has shown the appeal of this message. even if he doesn't win it will have done a lot of good. so we go through, and the new york times had this meter of trump. matt schlapp: mercy looked at it all night. byron york: it started at a 2% chance of winning. matt schlapp: yes. byron york: later in the evening things are better. iran in sessions again, and he
said, somebody told me the new york times says trump has a 59% chance. i said, senator, it is bigger than that. i pull out my phone, it goes to 89%. sessions goes -- he is looking at it. 89%? the lord is in this thing. [applause] [laughter] shift was: the mood unbelievable. matt schlapp: i am going to answer my own question. we are -- mercy who is a big news junkie, i love traveling with her, she is reading checking twitter and everything , else. she was following the new york times, but i was like they are , not going to get it right. she said though you don't get it, if the new york times says it is there, that means it is really good. byron york: we were in trump tower hanging out with these folks. it was actually a pretty calm environment that night. after it looked pretty promising, we left trump tower,
we were going to the trump celebration. a couple things i remember, we work out on the street, and for some reason there was construction going on. it is new york. and a guy goes he's going to do it, he is going to do it, and he did it without a party, and he is going to do it. >> my invitation was apparently lost, because i was not invited to trump tower. i don't know what happened. byron york: -- matt schlapp: i don't know, we can work. we go to the celebration, and i somehow get stuck in with the donors, which is fine with me, but i am up with the donors at the trump celebration. and i will be honest with you i , have been working republican policy for 20 years. oftentimes i know a lot of the donors. you know what? i knew one donor. a very brave guy, because a lot of the institutional donors did not jump on board. these were donors who i had never met before. and i started to talk to them as the evening went on. it was awesome. to punctuate the whole evening, when the network news finally
said he was over the top, a woman, who was not caucasian, came running out of the kitchen with her kitchen outfit on, and she said, in her thick accent, he did it, he did it, he did it. [applause] matt schlapp: so that was beautiful, because i am married to somebody obviously whose parents came to this country, it was such a beautiful thing. it doesn't always get covered, which was a lot of regular joe's and jane's, they looked at this election and felt like their voice was heard. this goes back to you, ralph, of realignment. is this a permanent change in what makes us the coalition of voters who can elect republicans to the white house, or is this a temporary trump phenomenon driven by a rather unique and spectacular individual and really doesn't have lasting impact on this coalition? ralph hallow: there is no way to
answer that question, matt, with precision at this point with the 100 days. firstthe next, the midterm elections next year, there are 33 senate seats up, 23 are democrat. traditionally the party that owns the white house loses at least four seats. i suspect that if things go the way they are going, that won't happen, and the republicans will hold what they have or maybe add to it. but it all depends on what trump is able to do. so far what the president has been able to do hasn't required much from congress. in fact, almost nothing. he is added by fiat. matt schlapp: it is the easy part. i am not saying it is not significant, but it is not the hardest, heaviest lifting, so we don't know what will happen. what we do know is the following. longer, at least for the next few months, maybe
four years, is no longer committed to the religious belief in the adam smith trade, and this is truly important, because it means that the party, the republican party, has a real chance to appeal to working men and women in a way that never happened before, including with reagan. because working men and women got left out when free trade, or you can used to say, full -- or pat buchanan used to say, full baloney, prevailed. it helped lower consumer prices, but it hurt a lot of americans. and it made america no longer a nation of manufacturing. and so this has already changed. ,how long it lasts will determine -- matt schlapp: jump in here, panel. susan page: there is not a permanent alignment in american politics. american politics are constantly shifting. i know that people in this audience are very enthusiastic
about the fact that these three blue wall states went for donald trump, but they went for donald trump with a combined total of 107,000 votes. that said, i do think we are seeing the two parties realign in new ways. if the democrat party is a party of the koch's, millennials, racial diversity, a lot of women, a high proportion of college-educated voters, that is not what the democratic party was, you know, the past decades ago. and the republican party is increasingly a party of rural and suburban areas, white, more male than female. i mean, we are seeing, and it has got real strength in some of these industrial midwestern states that historically were democratic. different definitions of these two parties. just -- r: let me matt schlapp: let me just jump on to this for one anecdote that i got. i want you and byron to talk about this as well. i was shocked in these green rooms before you go on tv, you
learn so much interesting stuff. because most of us are not like donald trump. we say the most interesting stuff before the camera goes on. he does the opposite. in the agreement it is just -- and then the camera goes on he , says very interesting things. one of the things i heard from a democrat which was so blatant, which is they said, why are you guys, why are you supporting the iran deal, doing so much to introduce real panic with your jewish supporters? they are like, they are not part of our coalition anymore. we don't worry about them. if you change even what we assume is the blocks of these coalitions -- rick ungar: i have seen this movie before. we will move to the left, we will lose a lot of elections, then we will come back to the senate. i have seen this movie in my lifetime. what is happening with republican party is fascinating to me. i listened to steve bannon. on your panel. when he said economic nationalism, i just went, wow,
and i will post it as a question. i will post it as a question. while you may agree with that approach, i appreciate that, are you still the party of reagan if you are going in that direction? i am not answering it, but it is an interesting and intriguing question to think about, because i don't see that as ronald reagan. >> well there was a movement ormacons whose basic premise was if reagan was president long ago, trying to update his core values, the things that were so important to people to fit our current , conditions. trump's success or failure is going to have a huge determination on how much the republican party changes, but the fact that he won doing it was already changed. there was this debate and conversation among many republicans, never in public, about after trump loses, what is the post-trump sentiment owing -- going to be?
there would be some republicans if trump has sort of seized as their nomination, he goes on to win, they go, that is close. we can go back to being just what we were before, and then there were other republicans that said, look what happened in these primaries. look who won the primaries, the nomination. >> can i ask you this question? this kind of throws it all on its head, but would any of the other 16 have won? byron york: you mean the presidency? matt schlapp: the candidates. byron york: i personally do not believe that. hillary clinton was a terrible candidate. matt schlapp: but trump is really one who could have won, is what your saying. byron york: in my opinion. >> we had a better candidate that we didn't run that would have won who was joe biden. matt schlapp: you think joe biden really would have won? >> yeah, i really do. matt schlapp: we have a lot of people here from delaware. rick ungar: it is not whether you elect joe biden or not.
it is the numbers. i agree with byron, i think he was the only candidate, donald trump who would have beaten , hillary. byron york: i followed the candidates around iowa, i remember spending a day a couple , of days, watching ted cruz. they went up to northern iowa. around mason city. and trump -- this was in cruz's phase in which he was like, no body was going to have a bigger bible then ted cruz. he was going to carry a huge bible if he had to, and he would go to these events, some of which were in churches, and he would quote scripture. and i saw the same day, it was at the surf ballroom trump , appeared. he got a bigger vote of evangelicals than cruz did by carrying the big bible. there was something different going around. matt schlapp: you don't have to be an evangelical to get the support of evangelicals. byron york: obviously they elected rick santorum, and then
they elected mike huckabee, the last two caucuses, but what they were telling me was that they felt they were under attack in the larger culture lawsuits, cake baking all of this stuff. , they felt they were under attack, and that they felt that donald trump could protect them and their interests. matt schlapp: i agree with that. susan, let me ask you a question. >> that is absolutely right. matt schlapp: some of us believe that democratic process was not as open as it should have been, shall we say. do you think that the democrats actually harmed themselves by whatever they did, democrat -- donald trump rigging it, would bernie sanders had been a better candidate? susan page: i think all of the democrats not aligned with hillary clinton should agree that the system should have been more open. there were younger upcoming democrats who say, i should have run, maybe somebody other than martin o'malley could have done
a better job in challenging people there. i think it is hard, hard to rerun an election, but with everything we know now, if you knew trump was going to be the republican nominee, i think bernie sanders is a better counterpart. because he -- they have some overlap appeal. i can't tell you how many people i talk to in iowa and new hampshire who were trying to decide between bernie sanders and donald trump. >> it is true. susan page: i guess i think if you are going to nominate republicans are going to , nominate donald trump, bernie sanders is a great match. joe biden, he might have lost, but it would have been a good race. i think joe biden would have been afforded little desk a formidable candidate against trump. matt schlapp: when we would go to these debates, you guys remember all the republican debates all over the country, and i would always be in an uber car and asking the uber driver who they supported. and it was interesting how many
times, susan they said, i can't , decide between bernie sanders or trump. and for the first couple of times, i was just like what, , what are you talking about? and then i realized this was a real theme that gets back to the forgotten man and woman. i asked if they would vote, and they said, sir, i can't vote. i am going to be driving my uber car. this also tells a lot of the sanders-trump people actually don't get, you don't get the full amplification in the primaries. susan page: you know, the first time i was at a rally and someone told me -- i am trying to decide between bernie sanders and donald trump, i thought it was extraordinary. i wrote a tweet saying this. i am at this rally and -- and then by the 16th time i thought it would not be. matt schlapp: it wasn't news. rick ungar: what would have happened to bernie sanders was twofold. he would -- hillary did not pull enough voters from certain democratic constituencies,
bernie sanders really would have had that problem. the other problem, we are being honest with each other, bernie sanders' program didn't work. there were nice ideas, but if you actually put -- [applause] matt schlapp: i think ungar is just playing up to the crowd. rick ungar: perhaps the biggest reason that hillary clinton lost was that she did not re-create the obama coalition, black and other minority voters did not turn out in the numbers they had for president obama twice. and actually i remember going to , a bernie sanders rally at the fox theater in atlanta. and he was in a southern swing trying to appeal to black voters. well the crowd was , overwhelmingly white, but he really packed the place. when he walked out, they stood up, and they remain standing for one hour and 14 minutes that he spoke. they stood the whole time.
there weren't that many black voters, and i felt i could speak to every single one of them there which i did. , they were all young, and they all told me, they kept trying to convince their parents to vote for bernie. matt schlapp: wow. rick ungar: and they said, i just can't do it. they are with clinton. they won't leave clinton, and is because of bill. they don't like her that much, it is because of bill, and they won't change. i think bernie sanders would have had a very hard time getting those voters and might have done worse with the constituencies which are absolutely vital to the democratic victory. susan page: a totally different dynamic. i mean, and elections do not follow the path we think they are going to follow as evidenced of last year. that would have been a fun election to cover. matt schlapp: ralph, so we had this trump victory, the first 30 days. you offered what i have said about it. i can't imagine a president who knows that you, all of you are
important to him succeeding, doing a better job of letting him know how much he respects you. it has been a great 30 days, he is filling his promises, but it is 30 days. ralph, what is the one or two things that he just must turn around in the economy and society in order to be able to go to the american people, you know, three years from now and say, look, i have done what i said i would do, and we are on the right path? what is that -- we are talking about a lot of issues, but what is that one thing? ralph hallow: i don't know the one thing. he has a lot on the table. he has got to show that there is something being done with the wall. there is a huge difference he out there for the wall. for them, it is symbolism. it is really important. [applause] ralph hallow: he has also got to show, and i think he is doing this, that he is serious about it. as you put it, brian, protecting evangelical rights.
a, some public speech last week, opened it with the lord's prayer. matt schlapp: in melbourne. ralph hallow: it is really important to cut it shows -- [applause] theh hallow: -- that the trump family, the president, his wife actually believes that , religion does belong in the public square. hugely important. remember he talks -- [applause] ralph hallow: -- this man actually won a record number of evangelicals on november 8, record number, outdoing george w. bush, who then held the record and who was a true evangelical. trump never claimed he is an evangelical. they think he is an evangelical, but they do believe him, and they believe he has the power to carry out what he promised. i can't think of -- almost everything that he put in the top of his must do list is going to happen. once people begin to think that
trump isn't magical, he doesn't have all the power they think he has, then problems will begin to arise i think. ,matt schlapp: rick, your last statement was fascinating. because i agree with that, and the one thing trump isn't doing is sending legislation to congress. and it is because, at that moment in time, people figure out, he doesn't have all the power. rick ungar: important i don't point, know if that is the case, but we'll find out shortly. it may simply be he doesn't have the wherewithal -- how do i put this? he doesn't have assembled the people -- matt schlapp: he had the transition team, and every president, go back as far as you want in the 30 days of their first administration, yes there , were executive orders, but there was legislation. he has been in the executive action phase of his presidency,
and i think it is ok with republicans, because a lot of them are angry at obama for using it so much, and they want to see their god using it. >> did obama remember there was a congress? you get that obamacare thing -- [applause] >> he not only said more legislation, he had things passed. good 30 days. it is amazing what you can do with that in the house. matt schlapp: what is one thing he has got to get? susan page: i respectfully disagree. i think he has to do -- [laughter] matt schlapp: i can respect you. thank you, susan. susan page: i don't think you -- he needs to check off a lot of boxes. he needs to make people like the economy is working better for them. matt schlapp: yeah. susan page: i think that is the definition of the forgotten man and woman, that is why he wants wonhitey -- why he pennsylvania, michigan and wisconsin. when i talk to voters in rallies, they said he is a businessman, he can help the economy in a way the politicians can't. i think that is the fundamental test for president trump. matt schlapp: awesome.
what a great panel. [applause] matt schlapp: let's think ralph , susan, and rick and byron for being here with us today. thank you all very much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪ unfoldsn, where history daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service. and is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. the democratic national committee met this weekend in atlanta to elect a new chair.
that is next. then scott pruitt talks about his new role as head of the environment the protection agency at the conservative political action conference. and later, the former governors ben nelson and haley barbour discuss health care challenges at the national governors association's winter meeting. ♪ >> earlier today, former labor secretary tom perez was named the new chair after receiving 235 votes in his favor at a 435 total. his closest competitor with -- was keith ellison who is asked to serve as deputy chair. before the balloting process took place, all candidates had an opportunity to address members. we will show you that, followed by the victory speech from tom perez.
we are ready to move to the election of the new dnc chair. [applause] i have beene: informed that nominating statements were filed pursuant to the rules for the following candidates. ladies and gentlemen, take your seats. we have established in order. they were able to draw. tom perez will go first. followed by sally brown. keith ellison. each candidate has 10 minutes for speeches, which may be