tv Sen. Chris Van Hollen at Christian Science Monitor Breakfast CSPAN May 24, 2018 1:04pm-2:11pm EDT
and on american history tv c-span3 starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern, all tai marking the centennial of world war i. this memorial day weekend on the c-span net woshes, go to c-span.org for more programs and times. >> maryland senator chris van hollen chairs the democratic senatorial campaign committee and spoke this morning about his rty's attempt to pick up seats. the breakfast meeting this morning was hosted by the "christian science monitor"," it's about an hour.
>> ok, i think we're a couple minutes after 8:30. i'm linda feldman, washington bureau chief of the "christian science monitor." our guest is maryland senator chris van hollen, chairman of the democratic senatorall campaign committee. this is his 11th appearance at a monitor breakfast but his first as a member of the senate. welcome, senator van hollen. first a little background on the senator. he was born in pakistan where his father was serving as a foreign service officer. the senator has a b.a. from swarthmore, a masters in public policy from harvard and a law degree from georgetown he started in politics as an aide to maryland senator and then
served four years in the maryland house of delegates, followed by eight in the state senate in 2002 he ran for the u.s. house and won and served for the next 14 years, including four years as chair of the house democrats campaign committee. i detect a trend. in 2016, he succeeded longtime senator barbaramy cullsky and was immediately handed the terrible democrats mid term map and told to work some magic which is why we're here today. we are on the record, no live blogging or tweeting no filing of any kind while the breakfast is under way. there's no embargo when the session ends at 9:30 but please know, don't do anything before 9:30. we'll email pictures from the breakfast tulle reporters here as soon as the breakfast ends. as you know if you'd like to ask a question, send me a signal,
i'll call on as many of you as time permits now senator value honnle -- van hollen if you'd like to make some brief opening remark the floor is yours. chris: thank you for those opening remarks and thank you to the "christian science monitor" for bringing us together again. thank you for joining us this morning to talk a little bit about the 2018 election and i would sum it up by saying that senate democrats are very bullish about the direction of 2018 elections. but, we know that there are going to be lots of very tough, very competitive, very close races and we are taking nothing for granted. but the signs are good. you can see the results of those signs in the november 17 elections in virginia and other places around the country. in doug jones' victory in
alabama. in the house special election in pennsylvania. where you have lots of voters, democrats and independents, energized, mobilized, engaged, including lots of voters who stood on the sidelines before. and so you're seeing all of that happening, you're seeing what started as marches and a movement actually translate into victories at the ballot box and the question is, how will that momentum continue? but all signs suggest that democrats and independent voters remain very engaged going forward. at the same time if you look at the trump republican agenda, it's very clear they have not delivered, especially on the pocketbook issues. if you look at president trump's agenda, he promised he was going to bring down the rapidly rising cost of prescription drugs.
he put out a plan the other day that can be charitably described as toothless. the pharmaceutical industry essentially cheered, many of you wrote that they had a big sigh of relief. stock prices went up. the efforts to sabotage the affordable care act are leading to increases in premiums and upward pressure on health care costs so americans are being squeezed with rising health care costs. at the same time, the -- one issue he spoke about, the president, the night he was elected, which was a massive infrastructure modernization plan, has gone absolutely nowhere. small plan he proposed met bipartisan resistance on capitol hill largely because it would have increased tolls and costs to peoplearound the country. when it comes -- to people around the country. when it comes to china, the
president talks a good game but then retreats. most recently we saw him tweet out that he wanted to save jobs in china. at z.t.e. a chinese telecom company that's repeatedly violated u.s. laws and lied about it. and then republicans hope that by passing this tax plan last december that would be their salvation at the polls. it's pretty clear the longer that sitz out there, the worse it looks to millions of americans. we borrowed $2 trillion, that the con -- that's the congressional budget office number, in other words, we added $2 trillion to our debt over the next 10 years. where did it go? overwhelmingly to big corporations and wealthy americans. as of today, since the beginning of the year, as of today, we've seen $430 billion in stock buybacks. that's money going into the pockets of c.e.o.'s, executives,
shareholders, including, by the way, 35% of that stock is owned by foreign shareholders. so increasing taxes on a lot of middle class families in my state of maryland going into the bank accounts of foreign stockholders. and at the same time, the promised $4,000 a year raises have not materialized in any way. instead people see costs going up. the oil companies got a huge tax windfall but they're raising gas prices. pharmaceutical industry, big tax windfall, raising pharmaceutical prices. bottom line a lot of promises that have been made by the president and republicans on pocketbook issues have just not materialized. in fact, costs people are facing are going up in many areas. that's the environment we're experiencing as we head into the november elections.
an energized group of democrats, independents, moderate republicans, and on the other side a failure to deliver by republicans. thank you for the chance to make a few remarks. happy to try to answer any questions. linda: i'm going to start with a few questions, then we'll move to reporters around the room. so first of all, as you know, president trump's job approval has been inching upward and the percentage of the public that believes the country son the right track is actually now at an almost 10-year high. it's still kind of low but inching close to 40%. so are you seeing the democrats' prospects fading at all as the climate becomes more hospitable to trump than erepublicans? chris: we are not, and that's because even though we've seen obviously more people back to work, and that trend, that trend started under the obama administration. the trump administration is
benefiting from trends that were set in place under the obama administration. but the challenge has been that even as you have people at work, their wages have been flat and their costs are going up. cost of health care going up. we're seeing gas prices going up. and so people are still feeling very squeezed out there. the number we keep a close eye on is really the -- where voters who are considered sort of enthusiastic, enjer -- energetic voters, where are they? in the most recent cnn poll you see democrats having a 12-point advantage in that area. because mid terms, as we know, are largely about turnout. who is going to come out to vote. and so what we look at is among those energized voters where they are coming down in this next election. and again, the trends remain
strong for democrats. linda: the 3.9% unemployment, stock market is doing well, that doesn't hurt your cause in any way? chris: we all obviously want the economy to do very well. so we've, you know, again, a lot of the benefit here on the economy is put in place from the plcies of the earlier administration. i think what people are looking at are the promises that president trump and republicans made and whether or not they've delivered on them. and the reality is, on the pocketbook issues, they simply haven't. the ones i mentioned. prescription drugs done nothing. health care costs, actually made things worse. by trying to sabotage the affordable care act. and you see that across the board rising expenses for american families. >> i want to ask you about the impeachment issue. you've been saying for months that progressive candidates
should mute their call for impeachment. now you've got billionaire tom country wide tour drumming up support for impeach. what's your strategy? chris: my view, i've said if the begin, the best thing we can do to stop the worst part of about the trump jade ageneral da is to win the 2018 election. and let's just let mueller continue to do his work. let him find out what the facts are. here. but the issues that people care about around the country are the ones i talked about. they care about rising health care costs. they care about trying to modernize our infrastructure. these are issues they care about and we should be focused on those issues. >> have you ever talked to tom stire about what he's doing? chris: not about the ads being run. linda: or the tour he's doing?
chris: i have not. i've talk uhed to him before but not about that. linda: ok. ok. all right. from bloomberg. reporter: i want to ask you about the role of the investigation, is this a compromise issue for voters? [inaudible] chris: the mueller investigation is important because it's important to enforce the rule of law. to make it clear that nobody is above the law. to find out what happened in terms of russian interference in the elections. in terms of a big issue for voters, i don't think it's a big issue for voters. but that's not to say that it's not important for the country that we have an investigation and get@bottom of things and get the truth. i think the biggest issue for
voters right now are the issues i mentioned. they are definitely being squeezed. higher health care costs are top of mind to voters. in fact, what we're seing is, and this is reflected in both polling and reflected in all the anecdotal information we're get back from our candidates as they go out and talk to their constituents. is that health care costs remain one of the very top issues in every state in the country. and when you look at that issue, the most recent polling that i've seen on that, which was a cnn poll a few months ago, shows a 20-point advantage for democrats. in other words, when people are asked who do you trust more on health care issues, by a margin of 20 points, voters say democrats. and you're getting that result obviously not just from democratic voters and
independent voters. i think one of the fallouts from the efforts to blow up the affordable care act was a sense of distrust among voters. with respect to both the administration and very much republicans in congress on health care. if you remember, rural hospitals were really warning about the harmful impact that would have had. you would have seen prices go way through the roof in rural hospitals. would have seen many of them close. you see these patient advocacy groups that are not partisan, right. the american cancer society they can american lung association. every single patient advocacy group in the country, and there are lots of them that weighed in on the bill, weighed in against blowing up the affordable care act. at the same time, the republican budget on capitol hill, while they proposed and followed through on, you know, reducing taxes for very wealthy people,
it calls for dramatic cuts to medicare. $435 billion in cuts to medicare. and about $1 trillion in cuts to medicaid. that's in the budget that every single republican senator voted for last year. that is not aligned with what voters want. they don't want to see their medicare costs go up. they don't want to see their prezrippings drug costs go up. so bottom line, i think people are very focused on these pocketbook issues. reporter: [inaudible] are they moving forward on medicare and prescription drugs? chris: we've been very clear that we will strongly oppose the efforts to cut medicare. and cut medicaid. because millions of seniors depend on medicare and when it comes to medicaid, i think, you know, the country learned a lot
more during the debate over the affordable care act about how medicaid is important to people in nursing homes, it's important to people with disabilities. it's important to kids. with disabilities. 10 yes, we will fight those efforts. when it comes to prescription drugs, we have put forward a plan. the senate democratic caucus has put forward a plan to actually reduce the cost of prescription drugs, to give the medicare program and the federal government the power to negotiate prices. just like a big insurance company negotiates prices. with prescription drug companies. we don't know why we'd tie the hands of the federal government. we, as you know, give that authority to the veterans administration. it's good for the veterans and we should do the same thing for he this medicare program. we have a very clear plan out there on that and other thins. we have put forward a very robust infrastructure modernization plan. that the entire democratic
caucus supports. so on each of these issues where the trump administration and republicans have fallen down, we've actually advanced proposals that we think have ery broad support. reporter: i was wondering if we could -- a lot of proposals you mentioned some of your colleagues in the senate are embracing this year everything from universal health care bills to a federal job guarantee to free college, infrastructure plan you mentioned. often add up a lot. we don't know the exact cost always but they add up a lot. some democrats suggested that the party needs to get away from caring about the deficit so much. and should just say, let's just let it ride, it's not actually that damaging to the economy, and level with voters on that if we're going to pass any of this. you've been around for a lot of budget fights where the deficit has come up a lot. do you think the party needs to loosen their attitude on it? chris: well, first of all, i
think all americans should care about the deficit and debt. i think the democratic party definitely is the party of fiscal responsibility here. we just saw folks like my friend and former committee seat mate paul ryan who lectured repeatedly about the dangers of debt lead the charge for a tax plan that's going to add $2 trillion to the national debt. i think if you look at the proposals that have been put forward by the senate democratic caucus and embraced the consensus of the caucus, there are actually fiss -- they are actually fiscally responsible. the infrastructure plan we put forward is paid for. let's get back to the tax plan for a second. a ean, democrats supported tax plan that would provide middle class tax relief.
we did not support a tax plan that would increase taxes on anybody in the middle class which the trump plan does. just look at my state of maryland. 350,000 maryland households will see tax increases as a result of this plan. but we did not support a tax plan that gave huge corporate average lls and an annual $60,000 tax cut to people who make over $1 million. we did not support that and we don't think we should be blowing a big hole in our debt and deficit, you know, in order to do that. the last thing i will say thbtea -- about the tax plan, i don't know if you remember the one problem with our current tax code that candidate trump railed most against, i actually think it was a breakfast when this we
came up, was there anything you agree with candidate trump about, and i said there's part of his tax plan i agree with. we should get rid of the carried interest loophole. get rid of the part of the tax code that says if you're a hedge fund manager you pay a lower rate than the people who work for you. we had a massive tax cut plan that added $2 trillion to the debt. guess what? carried interest loophole is still there. exhibit a that was used by candidate trump about what was wrong with our tax code. still in it. so there are things we can do to get rid of these special interest tax breaks in our tax code. we can also reduce costs in the health care area by reducing what medicare pays for with respect to prescription drugs. so there are lots of things we can do to make investments and do them in a fiscally responsible way.
reporter: i have a budget question. seeing that you're the democrats' budget guru in the house when you were there, there are several efforts under way to reform and fix the budget process on the hill. i would like your assessment about the prospects of those efforts. can congress fix itself when it comes to the budget and appropriations? chris: i've always been open to budget process reforms, but i will say in my experience, all the tinkwerg process will not solve the larger budget issue. the larger budget issue is a tter of political will and willingness to make tough decisions. and unfortunately, this tax plan just showed we're heading the opposite direction. i mean, really you had people who have years, for years have rightly talked about the deficit
. and then it was, we don't care about it. i remember at the republican convention, what was it six years ago now? it was when the romney-ryan ticket, at their convention they had a debt clock. you know what? that debt clock were up today, the day they passed that tax [making would have gone buzzing noise] because of the debt no budget process will be prevent that. i've never seen tinkering with the process resulting in a significant difference. >> can they do the budget on time? that's one of the issues, doing budgets on time. chris: well, as you know, there's no budget this year. we did -- they did do -- we have a two-year budget deal in place
but in terms of the actual budget for this year, we're way past the deadline and they're not planning to do a full budget for this year. i don't know of any process reform that gets people to be more on time. i just think that that's a result of a deliberate decision not to do it. and as you know, there are other process reforms. going through a two-year, you know, appropriations. process. so you know, again, i would -- some of them have strength, some have weaknesses. even if you adopted all of them, it doesn't fundamentally address the real problem with the budget. these are driven by policy and political decisions and no budget process reform would have stopped republicans from blowing through the cap. i mean, look, the original budget process was designed to
prevent growth in the deficits, that's why it has a 10-year window. in 2001 the bush tax cuts were structured to end after 10 years. it didn't stop them from doing something. ame with this version. i think this goes beyond inkering with the process. linda: jonathan from the new ersey star ledger. eporter: the -- how is the ethics rebuke of senator menendez affecting that race and is there concern given the republican willingness to spend to oney that the dscc has intervene? chris: first let me say with respect to senator menendez, he's a proven, passionate
fighter for new jersey and the ople of new jersey know that as you know, his opponent is a guy who made all his money in the prescription drug pharmaceutical area. time know, at the same that senator menendez has been a leader in the fight to try to reduce the cost of prescription drugs you've got somebody who actually has done very well by increasing the cost of prescription drugs. and i would just point out, jonathan that a jury of his peers rejected the charges that the government threw out and they came at him full force, a jury of his pires jected it. so look. bob menendez is out there talking every day. to people in new jersey. it's going to be a fight. he knows it. but i think he's confident and
we're confident he's going to do very well. reporter: you think you'll have to help him financially as his opponent spends $10 million, $20 million, $30 million? chris: we look at all the races. this is true of any race. the dncc gets involved where necessary to help a challenger over the finish line or make sure that an incumbent stays ahead. but i will say, i have great confidence that bob menendez will be -- he's ahead in the polls now. he's ahead in the polls now. i have great confidence he'll remain that way because of his track record for the people of ew jersey. reporter: senator can you speak to the challenges of having 26 seats to defend and if having all your senators running again is a mitigating factor or
something you expected when you took the job? chris: so, it is a tough political map. there's no doubt about that. look, the good news is, we have a lot of political energy and enthusiasm. the challenge is a political map where you've got 26, you know, seats that are -- of the seats that are up, 26 are democrats. and the good news is that every one of our incumbent members is, number one, working hard for their states, and number two, working hard in their campaigns to go out and talk to people throughout their states. so obviously we look most closely at the states that donald trump carried. in the last presidential election. but we also look at states where we have pick up opportunities, including places like nevada and arizona, and there are some
others, and of course nobody expected us to pick up alabama. that was a very important victory for the country and for decency. if i didn't answer your question let me know but i think i tried. reporter: did you expect all your senators to run again? is it a mitigating factor? chris: i think it's been a good thing for our prospects that we have our senators decide to run for re-election. because these are individuals who are battle-tested. they're people who are known and respected in their state. they're known as fighters for their states. and i think that, you know, they're -- their reputation for working for their constituents and putting their constituents first is going to put them in very good standing as you go into the leches. >> do you see mississippi as a
possible pickup opportunity? d if so, might you investigation in mississippi? chris: there's a terrific candidate in mississippi, mike espy, he's been on the ballot before in mississippi and gotten broad support in the state of mississippi. you have there a special election as you know. on the republican side you have least two candidates, the incumbent senator and chris mcginn necessary. so we're keeping a close eye on mississippi. d we do think mike espy is a very strong candidate and he's a strong candidate for, you know, everybody in mississippi. just like doug jones was a strong candidate for everybody in alabama. doug jones ran as somebody who was, you know, willing to work
with the president. if it helped alabama. but he would oppose the president if it didn't help. bem. -- alabama. and mike espy and a lot of other candidates are in the same position. reporter: so you're waiting to see who wins the republican primary before you -- chris: it's a special election so -- linda: election day is the primary. chris: right. as i said, we think that mike espy, he's got a strong record from when he was previously representing a part of mississippi. and you know, he's reaching out to everybody in mississippi. this is not about democrats or republicans. it's about what's good for mississippi. linda: janet hook from "the wall street journal." reporter: because of that tough map that you've got, the cycle started out give you almost zero chance of taking the majority.
i wonder how you'd see your chances now. and could you talk about how you see the lay of the land in arizona, and in montana i'm wondering if the attacks on jon tester for his role in the v.a. investigation have had any impact. chris: sure. if we were holding this breakfast a year ago, certainly we ry a year ago, i think would not have the same degree of optimism that we do now. because as you just said, we were talking about, there's a very difficult political map. but what we have seen since then is this incredible momentum and energy which is clearly -- which has clearly changed people's views of what's going to happen in november, 2018. so i'm not going to make any overall predictions. other than to say that we are in
a strong position, not taking anything for granted. you seen some very bitter republican primaries. and you've seen a lot of candidates come out of that process. weaker than they went in. and that is on top of the fact that nofe people they originally ried to recruit decided not to run. so i think that, you know, again, we think we're in a strong position but not making any predictions as to the exact outcome. now in arizona, kirsten sinema is running a very strong race. she's been a terrific member of the house of representatives. d she's out there telling -- she's done a good job in her congressional district. now she's talking to people of the entire state, campaign very
hard. she's, you know, got ak; -- ads on the air right now. nd on the republican side, you obviously have three candidates ght now including joe ar pay yow. and we'll just have to see how all that plays out. kirsten sinema is running her ce on her record and i think she's going to be in a very strong position. in terms of montana, look. yesterday in the united states senate we just passed with an overwhelming vote a piece of legislation to strengthen the veterans administration. and to strengthen veterans health care. the champion on the democratic side for that is john tester. and if you go to montana, i think you'll find that republicans and democrats, independents, agree that jon
tester stands up for veterans. and it's his job to vet any nominee for the veterans administration. and he's doing his job. and most of all, he's standing up for veterans. which is why, you know, you have vote vets and others that are standing in his corner. as well as the veterans of montana. you know. jon tester is mr. montana. and i think that -- i think, you that here's a real risk onthese attacks keep coming, jon tester, they'll totally backfire. people in montana, people in most states, don't like others coming in and telling them what to do. even others they might agree with on certain issues. so again, i think it's -- his
reputation for sticking up for mt. first that's going to continue to stand him in very strong position. linda: philip crowder from red's 24 television. reporter: what role do you see former senators on the campaign trail, those former senators being barack obama and hillary clinton. do you see each of them getting involved? duchte either of them to get involved on the campaign trail as surrogates? chris: so, look. we welcome support from everybody who wants to help ncluding secretary clinton and president obama. what usually happens in these situations is that every campaign will decide for themselves.
you know, whether they want somebody to be out on the campaign trail. and i think it's really important that we've got lots of individuals who have offered to help candidates wherever they can be of help. again, this is, you know, this is -- those are not decisions the dncc gets involved in. those are decisions that are left toe every campaign and they can talk to anybody who wants to help and decide, you know, who should come to the state. and when. linda: what about hillary clinton in particular? what's her best use for the democrats? fundraising? chris: he's been active, she's -- she has her organization now to raise funds to help get out the vote. and i think that's a very --
this is an important effort. and i think she's going to continue to reach out to candidates and let them know that she is ready to help in any way that she can. so again, these are really conversations that go on between secretary clinton or president obama and a particular campaign. linda: all right. al weaver from the "washington examiner." reporter: good to see you. want to ask about one race in particular. florida. it's -- when you talk to republicans that's a race that they feel better about by the day. rick scott, i think he's spent about $6 million so far. he obviously put up a prolific number in his first three weeks. where do you see that race and what's your level of concern there? is that slipping below the radar screen for you guys? chris: republicans should not be feeling better about the
situation in florida. look, bill nelson knows he's got a tough race on his hands. that's not a secret to anybody. but you mentioned the amount of money that rick scott has spent and we expect him to spend a lot of money. rick scott has got a ton of money. that's kind of what he's known for. spending his own money to try to get himself elected. and if you look at his prior races, what's interesting is that in each case, he dramatically, dramatically outspends his opponents. but won by just one point. and i want to emphasize this, those were both in election years that were very good for republicans. around the country. so spent a ton of money in really good years for republicans. and just barely scraped by. now he's -- now rick scott is facing bill nelson who is
beloved in florida. and it's a year when clearly the energy and momentum support the democrats. and then there are the issues. i mean, when rick scott first ran for governor, he said he was going to accept the medicaid expansion plan. then he reneged on his promise and didn't d it. if you look at health care costs in florida. people are hurting. people are really hurting in florida. his -- the governor's job creation performance numbers are low. wage increases are low. and then on some issues that are very important to people in florida, rick scott is trying to do a total makeover. so he was for drilling off the coast of florida. before he was against it. now he's pretending that, you know, he was against it. he was scheduled to give a big
speech before the n.r.a. in texas. before the awful shooting in parkland. and now he's working to pretend he's for commonsense gun vol. -- control. i can tell you the students in florida involved in that shooting are registering voters now because they're mad and they don't like two-faced elected officials. and that's what rick scott has been. and bill nelson has been fighting to block the republican efforts to cut medicare. he's been fighting to block the plup efforts to cut medicaid. and he stood up for florida. so i know, you know, republicans are happy they've got somebody who can pay his own way. but that's about it when it comes to rick scott. and i don't think his money is going to buy him another election. reporter: if i can follow up on
that, you mentioned the money. ow did that affect the fund, you got to allocate funding. if you want to play in florida, you got a lot of money on your guys' end you wouldn't be spending in west virginia or indiana or somewhere a lot less expensive. how do you figure out how you're doing that? chris: what we do is look at our budget. and by the way, we have a $16 million cash on hand advantage over the republican senate campaign committee. so we look at our budget. and we have to make decisions and we will make decisions that protect our mens where they need protecting. and on top of that of course you've got a whole other universe since citizens unit united of super p.a.c.s that are involved. if you look at the last senate elections, look at some of the
most con tethsed senate races, more than half of the total moneys spent in the races was spent by super p.a.c.s. more on the republican side than the democratic side. that's also a part of the equation. if you look at florida, we'll see that the senate majority p.a.c. is on the air. i think it's over $2 million buy. right now. dfcc know, there's the resource and other players. our job, we're the triage organization. our job is to deploy our resources to help protect incumbents and get challengers in competitive races over the finish line. linda: zach cohen from "national journal" at the end. reporter: i wonder if we can continue to talk about the difference between helping
incumbents versus helping challengers. e -- it's primarily an incumbent protection program are there resources to invest in arizona and november, especially when you have florida and other states where trump won by double digits? chris: the answer is yes. we will make our decisions based on winning. and if you look at the races around the country now, the good news is a lot of our senators who, people might have thought were very vulnerable now are less vulnerable. that's not to say that the dscc won't be there for them if needed. but clearly there are those that are really doing very well.
look. bob casey in pennsylvania is -- has been an incredible senator for the state. he's been, you know, whether it's, you know, jobs for steelworkers, whether it's health care. he's been there for the people of pennsylvania. and if you look at the results of the last primary election, both on the democratic side and the republican side, i mean, all signs show that bob casey is in a strong position. he's not taking anything for granted. the dscc is not making any assumptions at this point but what i'm saying is that these things evolve. these races evolve. to the extent that races that were sort of, you know, on the list to keep an eye on, come off the list. it obviously frees up resources for other races. but we're determined to take advantage of every opportunity hat's out there.
linda: scott from npr. reporter: going back torely in the trump administration when democratic senators were being heckled for not vote against every sickle trump nomineic we would have been surprised to see the lack of primary challenges this cycle. i'm curious, did the dscc do anything, work actively, to tamp down on challenges or do you think senate democrats did anything strategically in the senate to create an environment where in the knot that many people wanted to run against incumbents? chris: i think it was a combination of factors. with respect to incumbents, you know, these are people who have proven track records. they have been fighting for the people in their states. and i think it was very clear to voters, democratic primary voters, that it did not make sense to have a challenge in those races. with respect to challenger
races. you know, there's always a discussion. you have people who want to run. and you know, the final result was a good one. which is that in those challenger races, we have one candidate, right. we have jackie rosen in nevada. we have kirsten sinema in arizona. and you know, that's partly the result of potential candidates being able to work with one another. these are all people who want to very much represent these states. and now they're out there on the campaign trail. it is as you say very strong contrast. to the republican side where you have very, very bitter primaries and lots of -- in lots of these races. reporter: not having a tear down from the left primary to deal
with before having a tough general? chris: i think the main advantage we've got in those states is the fact that you've got senators who number one thing on their mind every day when they wake up is fighting for the interests of their state. i think that's what resulted in hem not facing challenges. linda: mary ellis parks from nbc news. reporter: you talked about how some senators in some races were maybe less vulnerable now than you had thought they might have been a year ago. but which races two or three races are you most worried about? which of your colleagues do you think will need the most protection? chris: so, may not be surprised to hear this. we worry about all the races. we're taking nothing for granted. and it's because things can, you know, things go up they go down. and so, you know, i'm not going to get into ranking them all
right now. as i said earlier, our starting point, of course, was looking at the states that donald trump carried. in the last election. those are 10 states. but as time has gone on, clearly some of our senators in those states are doing very well. they're very strong. they're all doing well. some of them are, you know, outpace ignificantly anything potential opponents. i did mention bob casey. i do want to stress, i mean, he's -- he's not taking anything for granted. he's going to every single party in the state of pennsylvania and the dscc is not taking anybody for granted. with edon't take anybody off our list. we don't take off our list somebody who may not be part of those 10 state. we're try auge organization. our goal is to -- we're a triage organization. our goal is to major sure we win
and deploy row rr -- resources where necessary. bob casey is an example, especially in the aftermath of the pennsylvania primaries of somebody in a strong spot. lou barletta is their candidate that emerged. lou barletta lost in his primary in the media market he lost in erie media market. he got like, you know, did not get a strong showing. and then you had a slew of store iries from republicans talking about how bad his campaign was. so again, we're not taking our eye off the ball in pennsylvania. that's an example of senator who was on the list of 10. still on the list of 10. ut we're feeling good. linda: which campaign do you think will be the most expensive? senator manchin said he expected $80 million to be spent in that state.
how much do you think your group will spend and where will you spend the most? chris: we -- those decisions are made much later in the process. again, based on what the state of play is in all those races. i mean there are clearly states that are more expensive than others. we talked about florida. florida is an expensive state. but in terms of how exactly we allocate it, it's all based on, as i said, trying to make sure that we win, you know. kennedy's it was father said, you don't want to pay for a landslide, you want to pay for enough to win. we will deploy our resources in that way. i mean you mentioned, you know, manchin. if you look at that race, the republican that emerged from there, pat morcy, a former --
morrissey a former lobbyist, tried to run for congress in new jersey and lost in the republican primary. and i don't think the folks in west virginia are going to want a new jersey reject when they got someone like joe manchin whose tennessee is sull -- is all about west virginia. >> is there anything you can do do help mr. blankenship with his third party effort? or do you just sit back and watch? chris: i will say. was a little amused to see republicans trying to sell the fact that blankenship did not win ss a -- as a big win for them. that's a low bar. you've got a convicted criminal who did not win the primary and republicans are declaring that a big victory. that's actually an example of just how low a bar they've got in this election. look, blankenship will decide to do what he decides to do.
going forward. he obviously has strong differences with the nominee. on the republican side. and has, you know, reached the same conclusion some of us have, which is that nominee can't win. we'll see what blankenship does. inda: nicole from "usa today." what do [inaudible] you see as a winning message, single payer specifically a winning message? and what should voters expect rom democrats? chris: we have a very broad spectrum of views on lots of issues within senate democratic caucus. there are some issues that clearly unite us 100%. we were united 100% in stopping
the effort to blow up the affordable care act. every senator was there because it clearly would have been very bad for rural hospitals, urban hospitals, that would have been bad for suburban hospitals. would have been bad for cancer patients. would have been bad for patients. and every was united on that. everybody is united on our plan to actually reduce prescription drugs. not the toothless plan that the president has proposed. we've put that forward. everyone is united on stopping the republican proposals to cut medicare and medicaid. with respect to, you know, where we go forward, obviously there are lots of different ideas. in the democratic caucus. and each of our senators will be, you know, talking about the issues and solutions that they think are best for their state. that they think best fit their
state. so you know, obviously when you get beyond the mid terms and get into a presidential cycle, you know, there's a whole different kind of discussion. but in the mid-term election, we have all the things that unite us, we think that's a very strong set of issues that i and a very good contrast with republicans who don't have a plan to cut prescription drugs or modernize our infrastructure and have got a budget that cuts medicare and medicaid. reporter: is medicare for all winning that message? senator van hollen: the idea of making sure we have universal coverage has broad support in the country. ow you get from is a matter of debate and discussion.
there are a number of different proposals for how you get there. and so those are issues that i think will continue to be a matter of good and important discussion. but there's a very clear contrast between every democratic senator and republicans when it comes to the effort to blow up the affordable wall,ct and sabotage that which is leading to increased prices. c.b.o. reported 15% average increase in premiums in the individual market. that comes on top of either higher increases last year and voters are not fooled by this. all the polling shows that republican voters -- great majority of voters, as i said, by 20% do not trust republicans on the issue of quality
affordable health care and that issue is on top of mind for voters as well. that will be one of the many important pocketbook issues. linda: list and haguen from the hill. [indiscernible] reporter: arguably, so far, there is a bar on the republican side with senator corker getting back in. is this something you consider to get involved in? senator van hollen: we have a tough political map, but we have good candidates, challengers in every state. a in tennessee, you've got two-term governor who served his state really well and wants to
serve his country. d if you look at the governor's record and the way he is running his campaign, it's all about tennessee. and he is talking to people about solutions and the ads that he's running are very clear. he says that he's not running against donald trump if donald trump has a good idea for tennessee, he'll work with him. if he has a bad idea for tennessee, he'll fight him. what we are seeing in states for or against donald trump, people want a senator who stands up for their state first and that means holding the president accountable. and we talked about montana. people want somebody who is going to stick up and fight for
veterans. and i think that if you look at tennessee or these other races, that's going to be a continuing and i think important thing. i mean in alabama, doug jones, he talked about issues that people cared about. he didn't get involved in the big polarizing partisan fight but talked about the children's health insurance program and how it was important to people in alabama. it goes to these kitchen table bread and butter issues that are on the top of minds of voters and unfortunately, president and republicans in congress have just not delivered on these issues, prescription drug costs. their plan is toothless. plan to cut medicare and medicaid. these are not things that are popular around the country. you go back to tennessee. the governor is talking about
what he can do for the people of tennessee. linda: are you sean? sean sullivan at the "washington post." reporter: you said you would welcome the support of hillary clinton and barack obama. would you welcome the support of bill clinton as well? nator van hollen: as i said, we welcome those individuals and everybody who wants to help. the issue in terms of any particular state is left up to the candidates in that state, right? and the -- any outreach would be done directly with those campaigns. so, look, every campaign has to decide on what their strategy is and decide how they want to campaign. so we're not involved -- from my perspective, the more people that offer to help, the better.
but then each senator and each candidate will decide how to make the best use of all the offers of help. linda: we have reached the end of the hour. i think you have survived. you are a pro. i hope you will come back again maybe before the elections. senator van hollen: sure. absolutely. thanks for being here. linda: take care. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org
2:30. ao tary of state mike pom testified before the senate foreign relations committee. you can see that hearing tonight on c-span beginning at 9:00 eastern. his weekend on "after words" former national intelligence director, james clapper, "facts and fierce" and interviewed by democrat jim himes. >> what do you think the risks and opportunities of the trump foreign policy which is radically different than the obama foreign policy? >> i looked in areas to be supportive of president trump and his foreign policy whatever it turns out to be. for example, i agreed with where he came out on afghanistan. and i know it was a teleprompter
speech. but he said the right things and we need to stay there as undesirable many may view that. i thought that was the right call. i supported president trump's acceptance of the invitation to have a summit with kim jong un. i don't know where that is going to go and there are potential pitfalls here but why not try something different. >> watch 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2's book tv. the house failed to pass the farm bill last week. next up, a conversation on the future of the $867 billion legislation, from "washington journal."