tv Campaign 2018 Christian Science Monitor Breakfast with DNC Chair Tom Perez CSPAN November 9, 2018 10:03am-11:08am EST
american cemetery in northeastern france, the final resting place for over 14,000 american soldiers. re-air p.m. eastern, the of president trump at the world war i ceremonies in paris. sunday, veterans day, on c-span and american history tv on c-span3. >> looking ahead at the midterm congress,impact on democratic national committee chair tom perez talked to the christian science monitor about the results. his conversation with reporters is an hour and 10 minutes. linda: i think we are about to start. i am linda feldman, washington bureau chief of the christian science monitor. our guest today is democratic national committee chairman tom perez. this is his second appearance at a monitor breakfast. thank you so much are coming. i think the timing is pretty good.
chairman perez is the son of immigrants from the domain can republic -- dominican republic and grew up in buffalo, new york. he attended brown university, and i am told he worked as a trash collector to help the for college. after receiving a law degree from harvard and a masters in public policy from the kennedy school, he began his career as a civil rights attorney at the department of justice. he has been active in state and local government. in 2002, he became the first latino to serve on the montgomery county council of
maryland. and two years later he was president of the council. he then worked as maryland's labor secretary for a couple of years. and during the obama administration, chairman perez headed up the civil rights division at the justice department and served as secretary of labor. he was elected chairman of the dnc in february of last year, although it feels longer to me. tom: and to my wife. linda: now for the ground rules. we are on record here. please, no live blogging or tweeting, in short, no filing of any kind while the breakfast is underway. there is no embargo once the session ends at 10:00. we will email pictures and a rough transcript to all reporters shortly after the breakfast ends. if you would like to ask a question, please send me a signal, and i will call on as many of you as time permits. chairman perez, if you would like to make brief opening remarks. tom: it is great to be back. as a native of buffalo, i have to acknowledge my friend jerry from the buffalo news, which is still on my home computer when i go home at night and turn on my computer. it defaults to the buffalo news so i can follow the bills. our motto in buffalo for the bills is false hope is better than no hope at all. as a new england are and
patriots fan, i want -- tom: please don't talk to me about that. you are bringing back my nervous tick. i came here shortly into my tenure. we were just chatting earlier about this. i talked to you about the fact i was walking into a democratic national committee that was in dramatic need of a major overhaul because we had lost not only a presidential in 2016, but we had lost roughly 1000 seats in state legislatures, we had lost seats in the senate and the house. in short we needed to rebuild. we needed to organize, modernize, and we needed to win. i come to you roughly 21 months since that day, and the democratic party is back. our goal was to build a 50-state party, to compete everywhere. our goal was to expand the electorate. our goal was to reshape the electorate, and that is exactly
what we have done. 2017 taught us, through our investments in virginia and new jersey, that we could win again. and alabama taught us we could win everywhere. i was proud to invest early in doug jones. we did so to put that down payment on. so in 2018, the issue became scale. can we scale the success of 2017 and become that 50-state party? and when you look at the results from this week, i am very proud of what we accomplished. it was a good week for democrats, and i think it was a good week for democracy. in addition to taking over the house of representatives, while the modeling isn't quite
complete, it appears democrats, when you go through the house races, people voted for democrats, it was roughly 7.5% to 8% margin. that is in play because not all votes have been tabulated, but that's a remarkable statement. we won seven statehouses and the last time, it has been roughly a quarter century since any party has won seven governorships in one evening. michigan, illinois, wisconsin, nevada, kansas, new mexico, maine. this is clearly the year of the woman. the majority of the newly-elected governors are women, women carried the day in the house of representatives. as i was reflecting this morning on the tragic, once again, tragic shooting in california that is on everybody's mind, i simultaneously got a text message from a friend in georgia telling me that lucy mcbeth had won, and i cannot help it link those moments.
once again a senseless tragedy involving gun violence, and at the same time, a mother in the movement who is now going to be a member of congress. i hope we will be able to work with lucy. so you have seven state house seats. you look at the legislative seats. we lost almost 1000. we regained roughly 350 seats this cycle, because the mission of the new democratic party is organizing and mobilizing and electing democrats from the school board to the oval office. and we paid a lot of attention to that, and i was very proud of the fact that so many of those seats have flipped. colorado, maine, minnesota house, new hampshire house, new hampshire senate, the new york state senate, and last year the washington state senate. super majorities in oregon, both
senate and house. we spent time in north carolina breaking the super majority the republicans had, and were successful in the senate and of the house there. those are really important things. in the attorney general's races, we have a majority of democratic attorneys general. and what i think folks have learned this year in the world of trump is the importance of attorneys general as a bulwark and defender of democracy. i look at some of the ballot initiatives. those are really important moving forward. we had medicaid expansion in three red states, idaho, nebraska, and utah. redistricting initiatives in colorado, missouri, and michigan. and florida, and this is something i worked on when i worked for senator kennedy in the mid-1990's, amendment 4, which addresses the voting rights of felons. when you think about it, florida has something like 21 million residents. something like 14 million eligible voters. i might be off by a bit.
and you have about one in four african americans who are disenfranchised currently. roughly half of people disenfranchised permanently because of felony records live in one state, and that is florida. this ballot initiative addressed that. think about that, the number of people disenfranchised. andrew gillum is down by roughly 55,000 or 60,000 votes. you have one million disenfranchised voters in one state alone. so this expanding and reshaping of our electorate is what we are up to, and fortifying the industrial midwest. you look at the states that donald trump won in 2016. we won reelection in pennsylvania. we win michigan, wisconsin, illinois.
so i am very excited about that, and also the mountain west, where you see nevada and mexico -- nevada and new mexico and colorado moving forward. we have more work to do but i'm excited. what is the matter with kansas? nothing. they are electing democrats. not only laura kelly, but in congress. that was something that was very exciting, but it was a function of the fact that we invested early there and early everywhere. so i look forward to this conversation and will take any questions you have. linda: thank you very much. i will start with one and then move around the room. anyone who wants a question, please wave at me. so what specific lessons can be applied to beating donald trump in 2020? is donald trump beatable? tom: absolutely. linda: how do you beat him? tom: the lessons i have learned is we have to expand the electorate. we have to compete everywhere. let me give you two examples. nevada.
the story of nevada, you may recall in 2016, the saturday night before the election, john ralston called that election for hillary at the end of early voting. fast-forward two years later, he did the same thing again for jacky rosen. he did not mention the governor's race. here is what nevada is about. it is about organizing early. it is about organizing everywhere. in 2017 there was an attempted recall by republicans of three state senators. what we did immediately was invest in organizing in those communities so we could tell the story. they were being recalled for no reason, and it was unsuccessful. what that focused us on was organizing there, organizing early, registering voters.
we had a dramatic advantage in voter registration in nevada. fast-forward to about a week out of the election, we got a call saying we have a $250,000 hole in our organizing push. can you invest? we invested a quarter million dollars within 24 hours, and democrats won up and down the ticket. that is the formula for success. in wisconsin, we looked at what we did wrong. wisconsin, mitt romney got more votes than donald trump. that is an important point to remember. we underperformed across the state. we invested early in organizing. not only in milwaukee, but across the state. we invested in a state supreme court race in which a state supreme court justice who was not supposed to win, won by double-digit margins. that taught us we could beat scott walker. we had early and often interactions with tammy baldwin,
who said, tom, you have got a come in earlier because our primary is not until august. we have double-digit candidates for governor. if we wait until august to build a coordinated campaign, it will be too late. we invested early. we invested everywhere. and you saw the results there. so we can win everywhere. when you see kansas, you see the progress we have made elsewhere. if we are organizing everywhere, if we are leading with our values everywhere, that is the formula for success. we moved away from that 50-state party model. the work we are doing not only to expand, i said reshape as well, what i mean is talking to people that we have not spoken to before. rural engagement, dramatic engagement of african-american, latino, a.p.i. in south dakota and north dakota.
we invested this cycle in native american voters. we are talking to everyone everywhere. we are taking no one for granted. and frankly, we have left votes on the table before. linda: jerry from the buffalo news. jerry: i will ask you a hometown question. nick mcmurray, the democrat down by one percentage point against chris collins is very happy that you campaigned for him, very happy that joe biden campaigned for him, and very unhappy he did not get any national support. in retrospect, do you think that was a mistake, and does he have a legitimate complaint he did not get enough support from the national party? tom: i know that district pretty well. i remember when kathy holcomb first won, she won barely. and when she lost, she lost barely. i remember calling her the day after the election and saying, your biggest challenge was when they drew the district. because the district was drawn to favor a republican.
and now we have a state senate in new york that is controlled by democrats and a state house controlled by democrats, and a reelected democratic governor. as a result i think the next redistricting cycle there is going to draw a fairer map that will give democrats up there a shake. because i know that district exceedingly well, and erie county is a place where a democrat can compete, but a lot of the outlying counties, you drive through, and it is pretty red. jerry: the national party would not invest necessarily in a district that looks like that? tom: i personally invested my time. i believe in nate. i thought he was a great
candidate, and integrity was on the ballot. chris collins will not serve out his term. he was running for reelection to use his seat in congress as a bargaining chip for a plea bargain. you can take that to the bank. duncan hunter, same deal in california, and that is a reality. i was in contact with the party officials in buffalo regularly. we did a number of things behind the scenes to help them out. and you know, we want to invest everywhere. the challenge we had in 2018, it was a good challenge to have, was that the playing field was so expensive that we did our best, and it is just remarkable how expansive the playing field is. that's a problem i want to have in 2020. linda: john from newsmax. john: thank you, linda. good morning, mr. chairman. two questions. is the dnc investing in the
recall or recount in florida in the senate race? and second, we saw some trouble tumult in the justice department yesterday in a new acting attorney general. speaker pelosi has been careful in not endorsing the impeachment moves, but if acting attorney general whitaker were to fire the special prosecutor, would dnc and congressional leaders support the impeachment move in the senate? tom: let me take your questions one at a time because they are both good questions. tom: let me take your questions if i can expand the aperture of your question slightly, you mentioned florida. i would like to expand that to georgia as well, because i had the privilege of being the assistant attorney general for civil rights.
we should make it easier for eligible people to vote, not harder. and what we have seen repeatedly is that the playbook of the republican party, and it's a playbook that goes back 40 years, if you google a guy named paul weirich, and you will hear a 41-second video from him. this dates back to 1980. he is the architect and godfather of the modern conservative movement. he says the following. i don't want people to vote. i want less people to vote. elections are never won by a majority of people. they want to make it harder for people to vote. there is no subtlety. the voter id laws have no subtlety about it. i sued brian kemp in georgia when i was assistant attorney general for civil rights. we sued him successfully. brian kemp and kris kobach, they
should be the cochairs of the voter suppression task force got the republican party. what they try to do every day is make it harder for people to vote. i applaud stacey abrams for continuing to ensure every vote must be counted. before that election i called for brian kemp to step down as secretary of state. it is grossly unfair to any fox in america to compare brian kemp to a fox guarding the henhouse. it is much worse in georgia. every vote must be counted, and the integrity of the election is at stake. when you have someone who has had a long history and their 100% match requirements, that was a simple effort to disenfranchise voters of color. there is no subtlety about that. two judges have ruled in favor of people seeking expanded access. you have not seen the end of the
georgia election, and the fact he stayed there has undermined the trust that people have in the election process. he could have stepped aside and should have stepped aside because he had an inherent conflict. so i hope people continue to count the vote in georgia. we had people on the ground in georgia. we continue to have people on the ground in georgia. and we will continue to fight there to make sure every ballot is counted, and every precinct is reviewed, to make sure that everybody was able to exercise their right to vote. in florida as well. you asked about the recount. there is an army of lawyers down there involved in the recount. i will note again -- i was looking at the governor's race this morning.
i think it was 50-some-odd-thousand votes separating andrew gillum and his opponent. i forgot the figure. it is a roughly similar figure. and i don't begrudge at all when you have a close race like that, why you would want to make sure every vote is counted. moving to doj, i will answer that question from my perspective of a person who spent 13 years of my life in the employment of the department of justice, and i am proud of the work i did there. and by the way, i started under the administration of george herbert walker bush. i served as a career prosecutor under republican and democratic administrations. the currency of the department of justice was always its independence. the protocols were set very clearly.
if an attorney general resigns or steps down, the protocols are pretty clear. you have a senate-confirmed person who comes in, in an acting position. it was clear the charge of people at the department of justice was not only to do justice but to ensure the appearance of justice. yesterday what we saw in the firing -- let's be honest. all you have to do is read the first sentence of the letter, it was not a resignation, it is a firing of the attorney general. what you saw was an effort to do an end run around decades of sound practice to ensure that a senate-confirmed candidate, person was at the helm of the justice department. now, there is a law that is implicated, and there is a test that is implicated. the law that is implicated is the vacancies act. given the fact he was fired, they will say he resigned, there
will be some discussion about whether this is proper. i think it was not proper, but put the law aside. there is a test that needs to apply. it is called the smell test. and what happened yesterday does not pass the smell test. a person who is acknowledged as a partisan, a person who has written about this in the context of the mueller investigation and has criticized the mueller investigation, has now been put in charge. it is not hard to figure out what is going on, and i hope republicans like lindsey graham, who once said there will be heck to pay if they try to do anything to mueller, this will be a test of whether they are going to live up to that. this is actually, in some ways, worse than the saturday night
massacre, because nixon went and fired all these senate-confirmed people when they refused to comply with his order, and they found a senate-confirmed person and put them in charge. i think it was bork. >> solicitor general bork. number three. tom: at least he was following a protocol of having a senate-confirmed person do the wrong thing. and here, they are not even doing that. so in this respect, it is worse than the saturday night massacre, and that is why it is so important to have a house of representatives where you have meaningful oversight. we need to give bob mueller the independence and resources to do his job, period. end of story. and he needs to complete his job first because that is so end of story. important.
the american people need to know the facts about what happened in connection with the 2016 election. >> you support impeachment? tom: no, that is not what i said. i said bob mueller needs to complete his investigation. and using the oversight process that he is given, the opportunity to complete his investigation. i hope that would be a bipartisan call because some republicans did express before, and now who knows what they will say? i hope they will be consistent with what they said before. but they indicated they agreed with the proposition. this is about the rule of law. this is about allowing a very serious investigation to come to its conclusion, and it is critically important that we allow director mueller to complete his work. linda: jonathan from the philadelphia inquirer, to your left. jonathan: you talked about competing everywhere, but
obviously you lost some senators in some rural states, incumbents. how do you go beyond the suburbs and compete in those rural states to try to build the senate majority down the line? how do you compete in those states? tom: we do what we did in alabama last year. jonathan: that was a unique opponent in alabama. tom: doug jones outperformed barack obama among african americans. when i talk about expanding and reshaping the electorate and the playing field, that is what i mean. it is about bringing out voters who have not participated. one of the heartening facts of this cycle is the number of first-time voters, the number of drop-off voters, young voters who are participating. and that, to me, gives me a lot of optimism and hope. i think the playbook in alabama
was to make sure we drew those voters out, and in an ordinary election cycle in alabama, up until last year, african americans constituted about 24.5% of the people who actually voted. doug raised that percentage to almost 30%, and he was still able to get a number of white moderate voters. in mississippi, you will see the same thing. in about three weeks, you will have an election. we have people on the ground now, and we are going to continue to invest there. not only because we support mike esty, but next year there is jim hood, the attorney general running for governor. when you build a 12 month a year party, when you organize everywhere, and when you talk about the issues people care about -- health care is the number-one issue in this
country. people in mississippi and alabama and kansas had pre-existing conditions, they care about that, they care about educational reform. that is why we can be competitive everywhere. that is why we are organizing everywhere. now, you don't reverse trends overnight. i was disappointed that beto did not make it over the finish line, but i was inspired by the back to this conversation in just a second. first, a brief pro forma session in the house. the speaker pro tempore: the house will come to order. the chair lays before the house a communication from the speaker. the clerk: the speaker's room, washington, d.c., november 9, 2018. i hereby appoint the honorable patrick t. mchenry to act as speaker pro tempore on this day. signed, paul d. ryan, speaker of the house of representatives. the speaker pro tempore: the prayer will be offered by our chaplain, father conroy.
the chaplain: let us pray. gracious god, we give you thanks for giving us another day. you have blessed us with all good gifts and with thankful hearts we express our gratitude. a few days later we are thankful that we live in a nation where a peaceful change or readjustment of government is not only expected but achieved through the electoral process. may it ever be so. in this moment of prayer, please grant the members of this people's house as they prepare to return to the capitol the gifts of wisdom and discernment during the waning days of the 115th congress. may all that is done this day be for your greater honor and glory. amen. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to section 4-a of house resolution 1084, the
journal of the last day's proceedings is approved. the chair will lead the house in the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. pursuant to section 4-b of house resolution 1084, the house stands adjourned until 2:00 >> the house wrapping up pro forma sessions for this break. they return next week for the lame-duck session next tuesday. more live house coverage when they return next week on c-span. we returned to the discussion from yesterday with dnc chair tom perez talking about the 2018
midterms. we can again compete there. we did not make it to the top in iowa at the governor's level, but we won two seats and gave steve king a run for his money. that is the foundation we have been able to lay to compete everywhere. linda: amanda becker from reuters. amanda: my question is about rural areas. how easy is it for candidates to speak to their district? are there any statewide candidates who won, a governor or a senator who you think had a really effective rural strategy and not just rely on the urban areas? tom: when i look at wisconsin, for instance, if you go to the
rebecca dallet race who ran for state supreme court, and the election was in march or april of this year, and we invested heavily in her race. we thought going into the election, best-case sonority oh was that she could maybe when by two points. -- she could maybe win by two points. she won by 11, because we were not only able to increase turnout, but we were able -- she won brown county, green bay. she held her own in lacrosse, areas of the state where donald trump won convincingly. that was the moment when i said to myself, we can beat scott walker.
if you look at tony evers, he was able to run up the score in dane county and in milwaukee county, and he was able to hold his own elsewhere across the state. and he did so because he is an authentic leader, and we were all organizing in rural wisconsin because people in rural wisconsin have pre-existing conditions. people in rural wisconsin are struggling with opioid addictions. people in rural wisconsin are struggling with the scott holes, the potholes across the state of wisconsin. the transportation infrastructure deficit. we at the dnc, we established, in addition to increasing our investment in the state parties, we established a $10 million innovation grant programs focused on three areas. base voter engagement.
millennial engagement. and rural voter engagement. so we made a six-figure investment in georgia. and by the way, those three are not mutually exclusive. we made a six-figure investment in georgia, in the rural organizing of african-american voters. why? by the way, we did this long before we knew who the nominee would be, but suspecting it would be stacey abrams. and a third of voters who are african-american in georgia reside outside major metropolitan areas. we were not touching them in statewide elections, historically, and through this we learned a lot about how to engage. in texas, we spent a lot of time in the rural parts of the state. because if you look at why democrats are losing in texas, why democrats were losing in wisconsin, it is because we were not doing enough to engage those rural voters.
so i am proud of the fact tony was able to win in milwaukee and in madison, and also compete in the rural parts of the state. and i am confident that moving forward he will continue to do the same. linda: dan from cnn. dan: you were mentioning 2020. obviously, democrats had a good night, but in florida and ohio it seems like trump's message was resilient. how much does that worry you going into 2020? it seems like he is still very resilient and viable in those two key states. tom: i will go one at a time. 50,000 votes or so separate the candidates in florida, and there
was historic turnout, as you know, for a midterm cycle. rich cordray, by the way, got half a million more votes than john kasich did when he won reelection four years ago, but there was a remarkable -- on both sides. both sides. turnout was through the roof on both sides. that is a fact. and in florida, for me, the lesson i take away from that is, and i guess my civil rights lawyer hat comes back on, which is, success is about persistence. we are 50,000 votes away. and when i look at what we did florida and what we need to do moving forward in florida, and we still have a recount to do, so putting that issue aside for the moment, i come back to what i said at the outset of my remarks.
we have to expand the face of the electorate, and when you look at florida in particular, the republicans have controlled the governorship for a quarter century. and as i said before, a big part of the republican playbook has been making it harder for people to vote, who they perceive are not going to vote for them. and when you have one half of permanently-disenfranchised felons living in -- bless you -- when you have one half of permanently-disenfranchised people living in one state, there is a bunch of different approaches to making it hard for people to vote. that was the approach that has been in place in florida. it is unconscionable to me that one in four african-americans, or one in five african-americans in florida can't vote. that has changed as of election
day. i know exactly what the organizing challenge is moving forward. if you go to virginia, a year ago one of the most poignant moments for me was talking to a voter who, as a result of courageous action taken by terry mcauliffe, was able to vote for the first time. something like 60,000 voters went to the polls in virginia last year. i know what the organizing challenge is. more broadly what we have to do in a number of states is make sure we are doing our level best to ensure we eliminate these barriers. in ohio, i have not looked at the numbers other than knowing it was remarkable turnout in the state. we will compete in ohio. >> do you consider it winnable for democrats, given trump's --
tom: i think what we have to do -- what i did when i first got the job was i get a lot of -- -- was i did a lot of listening. i went to northwest wisconsin early in the job. one voters said, i am politically homeless, because you have not shown up in years. those were his words. i took that to heart. that is why we invested early and everywhere in wisconsin. in partnership with the democratic party of wisconsin and other stakeholders. and it paid dividends. and what we have to do a better job of in ohio is talking to voters in the rural parts of the state, because i haven't looked at the cross tabs yet, but the strength of donald trump in 2016 was rural ohio. they came out, they voted for him. that was a continuing strength i suspect in 2018. and so your questions are somewhat linked. when we compete everywhere, and beto made tremendous progress in
helping democrats compete in texas. i talked to rural voters in texas who said it was literally hazardous to my health to put a yard sign for a democrat in my yard living in rural texas. one woman got a call from her local mortgage banker who held the mortgage on her house saying, i see you have a sign for a democrat on your yard. it is pretty remarkable, the world of being a democrat in certain parts of the country. and we are changing that. beto made great progress, and we obviously have more work to do in ohio. tom: cameron from talking points memo, at the outer table. cameron: first, i want to go back to what john was asking. what should be the response from house democrats if matt whitaker or whoever is ag moves to end the mueller investigation?
the second is, the rnc are out-raised in the dnc two to one this cycle of democrats across the board for raising a ton of money. i know that you guys inherited a lot of problems and trust issues given what happened in 2016, but what can you do to close that gap, and what is your biggest challenge? tom: i will take your questions in order. i hope it is not just democrats calling to make sure the mueller investigation proceeds. it is democrats and republicans. this is not about right versus left. it is about right versus wrong. the department of justice is supposed to be independent. and what occurred yesterday is incredibly troubling at a minimum. it is completely counter to the historic bipartisan practice of the department of justice under republican and democratic administrations. back in the watergate era,
eventually there were people like howard baker who stood up and said, this is wrong, because i am first and foremost an american. so what i hope is going to happen in the weeks, days, months ahead is that democrats and republicans will come forth and say, this investigation needs to continue to its conclusion. this investigation needs to continue to be independent. stay out of his way. and that is what needs to happen, and it needs to happen on a bipartisan basis. if it doesn't, democrats will continue to call for that. and now that we have the majority in the house, and i think the american people elected a democratic house because they recognize we need guardrails in washington. we need oversight in washington. we need accountability, and we will offer that, but what we have to do first and foremost is allow the investigation to be completed.
your second question, on the fundraising. if you look at fundraising going back to 2000, in 2006, the rnc outraised the dnc by about two to one, and we won the house that year, we won the senate. in 2010, the democrats outraised the republicans considerably. the dnc versus the rnc, and we know what happened in 2010. in 2018, republicans outraised the democrats. it is a dog bites man story, because they have more wealthy people. and we took over the house, and we took over seven governorships and we won all the seats i spoke about. for me, the goal has never been to match them dollar for dollar. the goal is to raise enough money to implement our game plan. and our game plan is a 50-state strategy.
our game plan is helping folks in wisconsin, nevada, kansas and elsewhere to make sure we can build the necessary infrastructure so we can succeed. today's world is a little different, because when you measure the capacity of each party to move forward, it is not just what is the dnc raising? it is what the dccc, the dscc, and the associated pacs, and when you look at the broader ecosystem, i think democrats are doing pretty well. when i look at what the rnc spent its money on, they spent it on roy moore and donald trump's legal defense fund. i would frankly rather be us than them. because while they frankly raised more money than us, i really think so many people they invest in are morally bankrupt. that is why we have been able to win a lot of seats.
linda: paul from the washington examiner. paul: do you expect to hear more calls for limits in the house? the shooter had an extended mag reportedly on his pistol which would've been outlawed under california law overturned by a few judges. do you see action in the house? tom: i hope there will be some common sense gun safety actions. for me this is personal. i get so sick and tired when i hear people talk about how their thoughts and prayers are with folks. thoughts and prayers are not enough. i was in cincinnati last weekend in the run-up to the election. i spoke to a woman who was the grandmother of one of the parkland shooting victims. she had a double whammy. she had not only lost her granddaughter, but she lost her son.
in the aftermath of 9/11, he helped first responders at fdny, and he died of pancreatic cancer because of the stuff he inhaled. i can't let her down. lucy mcbath is now a member of congress in a district that has trended republican. four years ago, price won by 20 points. that wasn't even four years ago. it was 2016. we need to do something about this. i am glad we have a democratic majority in the house. i think the second amendment and common sense gun safety can coexist. i know the american people want it to coexist, and i hope that happens. we talked about background checks. we talked about assault weapons.
barry goldwater once said anybody who needs to own an assault weapon probably has bad aim and should not have a weapon to begin with. how many more incidents do we need to have before we do something? how many more preventable deaths need to occur? linda: dave from the washington post. dave: what will the dnc invest in over the next month? will the dnc invest in any legal challenges in florida and georgia?
you kind of hinted at it. tom: we have boots on the ground in georgia right now. our southern regional director has worked before with stacey abrams and is close with stacy. stacy called me personally a few months ago and said, can jonay come down full-time? we said absolutely. when i was in georgia last weekend, i was with jonay for a period of time. we have folks who are down there. we will continue to be in contact. every vote needs to be counted in georgia. the weekend before that, two weeks ago i was in mississippi. we had boots on the ground there. we will continue to do that because not only do we have an election for senate in less than three weeks, the monday after thanksgiving or tuesday after thanksgiving, something like that, but we have elections next year.
we have invested, and our investment was months ago, in building the infrastructure in mississippi,not only to help mike espe but help jim hood up and down the ticket in mississippi. florida, there is an army of lawyers down there now that are working on the recount. i am glad they are doing that. again, the lesson in florida as i think about the next phase. florida is a great example of the necessity to make sure we are organizing 12 months a year. i know and feel acutely the disappointment that many folks have. a lot of first-time voters came out, and andrew especially and stacy have excited people in remarkable ways. what i have learned over the
course of a career doing civil rights work is that i won some cases and did not quite win some cases, but you always keep fighting. it is a marathon relay. the lesson across america is we have got to keep investing in this infrastructure. democrats, one of the reasons we got in this trouble is we were not thinking long-term enough over the course of years. fray, and we are not doing that -- we allowed our infrastructure to fray, and we are not doing that anymore. florida, we got close to the mountaintop. the remedy is not to walk down to the bottom of the mountain. it is to fortify and mobilize and keep climbing. >> do you consider -- florida democrats do not consider the races lost right now.
i am wondering what the dnc is doing in terms of ballot chasing? tom: one of the emails that came across my desk because i was asking this question -- we have folks on our voter protection team right now doing ballot chasing of provisional ballots. the problem is they claim there are 22,000 or 25,000 provisional ballots. i don't believe them. i think there are more. the problem is the fox is guarding the henhouse. i have no faith in anything the person who wants to be governor but is overseeing the integrity of the election says. there is an old andy griffith episode where a guy walks in. i want to speak to the police officer. the guy puts his police hat on. i want to talk to the judge. he opens the door and puts on his judge hat.
it was funny in mayberry, but this is voting. that is what we have people on the voter protection team. whatever help anyone needs in florida and georgia, we are going to continue everything we need to do. voter suppression is a permanent staple in their playbook. that is a lesson we have to learn. it takes a different form in different places. shelby county, tennessee, it took the form of this signature match requirement, which was ridiculous. you see the voter id laws. you see long lines. in ohio, the republicans passed a law limiting early voting. you could only have one early voting site in every county.
people in cincinnati on sunday -- or saturday, the days are melding together -- people were excited because the lines were around the corner. the lines didn't need to be around teh corner. you could've opened up multiple sites, made it easier for people to vote but they limited it to one site. someone will look at that line and say i don't have time for that. reed: you mentioned marathons for the presidential primary. some candidates seem to already be starting. how soon should we expect to see how many democratic debates and how soon should we expect to see them? when should we expect to see them to start? two, when we talked a few weeks ago, you when i prepared to take -- were not prepared to take a position on who should be the
next house speaker. has that changed after the elections? are you ready to make an endorsement for speaker of the house? tom: let me do them in order. we have been meeting with a host of key stakeholders now over the course of many months. my colleague mary beth cahill has been taking the lead. when i ran for dnc chair, i said to rebuild trust we will set out a primary debate calendar long in advance of who we know will be in the race. our job is to make sure everybody gets a fair shake. the process is fair. fair in fact and fair in perception. before the end of the year, we will outline what the primary debate calendar is, the number of debates we think will take place. when they will start, and given the expectation that we will have multiple candidates, some
initial guidance on how we will manage that potential contingency. we have not made any final decisions yet. before christmas. reed: what is your ballpark idea for how many debates there should be? tom: we are still debating. we are debating how many states debates will be a good number of debates. certainly more than the last cycle is what we think. the goal is to make sure people can kick the tires on the candidates and make sure the candidates can have a fair shake and a fair opportunity to make their case to the american people. i want to make sure that if we have a dozen candidates for president, 11 of those 12 are not going to make it to the mountaintop. i want to make sure everybody feels like their candidate got a fair shake because we have to ensure coming out of the convention is that we have a
wind at our back, we have unity and excitement. you asked a second question, the speaker issue. the democrats will resolve that now. i have great respect for nancy pelosi. i think the decision should be up to the democrats in the house. i'm sure one question people will raise is what are the most important issues confronting america and who is best situated to do it? i am so grateful for the work that she did in bringing the affordable care act to the american people. without nancy pelosi, we would not have an affordable care act. health care is the number one issue on the ballot. as members vote on who to have as our leader of the house, our speaker i should say, i am sure
that will be one factor that people will weigh because we have to make sure we deliver on our promises of protecting access to health care for people with pre-existing conditions and bringing down the cost of prescription drugs. i'm confident that people will weigh that as we go forward. again, i think it should be up to the house members to do this. i have profound respect for nancy pelosi and what she has done. i think she has been one of the most impactful speakers and minority leaders in the history of the house. she has done -- again, we would not have an affordable care act without her. that is the question that if i were a house member, i would want to know, in these turbulent times, you know, who has the requisite experience and savvy to navigate these turbulent waters? linda: all right, so it is a
little after 10:00. we started a little late. can you take one more? tom: i'm fine. >> and back to texas, beto had a dramatic impact in energizing democratic voters, but there are there are five races that dids not make it over the finish line. i wanted to ask you if you are which mayn texas 23, or may not go to a recount. then we had 4 races which surprised a lot of people that texasithin 4, texas 10, 21, 22, and 31. what i really want to know, is what will it take for democrats to cross the finish line on this after a year that was so phenomenal because of beto?
tom: persistence is what it will take. continued commitment to organizing everywhere. i get back to your question organizing. i'm heartened by what happened not only in texas, but elsewhere. new members of congress, almost added a third. the work done with the texas democratic party, what we have to do was understand that this is about persistence. this is about having a long-term strategy. we did not make it in those races now, but we are far further along now than before. we now have an election in 2020. john cornyn on the ballot for the state senate. democrats,e shown is
the right democrat on the ballot, they can give that person a run for their money. you will see a lot of prominent democrats come up and compete to run against john cornyn. when i hear someone say you don't need to worry about organizing because demographics is destiny, that is nails on me.kboards for demographics is destiny when you are fighting for the things people care about. texas,in rural and urban and across america, have seen that we stood for. that is why we won the popular 8%.e by almost we inspired so many young people and new voters to get out and established a baseline that is far higher. it.success ison
about persistence . we built the runway that allows candidates to take off and land the plane. voter files, technology investments, and so forth. we continue to build that voter file, make those investments. we have made tremendous progress this year, but we have more work to do. am i disappointed? of course. i always want to win, but i think we are on the right pathway. we will nominate a candidate for president that will inspire that much more pe participation. are we going to compete in the texas senate race in 2020? h.ll yea we are still monitoring the situation because it is unclear.
i don't think all of the votes have been counted so i don't know the spread, but we are in contact. gina spoke at a number of our events. she is a spectacular candidate. we will run across the tape and continue to run as long as there is an opportunity. >> it is 10:06. i will end the formal hour. thank you again for coming. please, come again. thank you. [indiscernible conversations]