TOPICS > Politics > Politics Monday

Clinton camp wrestles with gender and generational divides

February 8, 2016 at 6:30 PM EDT
On the night before the New Hampshire primary, Gwen Ifill joins Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR to discuss the collision of gender politics and generational politics in Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the influence of the latest Republican debate, overlapping interests of Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders and how all of the candidates are tempering expectations.


Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and NPR’s Tamara Keith join Gwen Ifill to preview the presidential race as primary voters prepare to go to the ballot box in New Hampshire.

They discuss the generational divide among feminists after former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem criticized younger women for failing to support Hillary Clinton this election.

And at Saturday’s Republican debate, the candidates gave their closing statements before primary votes start to roll in. Can Sen. Marco Rubio use the momentum he gained coming out of Iowa to propel him to victory in New Hampshire? Did Gov. Chris Christie make up lost ground? And there are obvious differences between Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, but there are more similarities when it comes to policy than you might think.

Watch this week’s Politics Monday to find the answers!

Read the full transcript below:

GWEN IFILL: The eve of the New Hampshire primary is the perfect time for Politics Monday.

I’m joined by Tamara Keith of NPR in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

Amy — Tamara, I’m going to start with you, because you are sitting in the cold in Manchester, New Hampshire. And you’re covering up close what looks to me like a collision between gender politics and generational politics involving Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but mostly self-inflicted wounds from Hillary Clinton’s people.

TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Absolutely. Her surrogates and supporters said some things that are not going to make young feminists happy, that have upset young feminists, in fact, and it sort of counter to the message that Hillary Clinton herself has been trying to get out there, which is, I know that young women support Bernie Sanders, but, she hopes, she says, to win them over.

This is not a new collision among young feminists and older feminists. It played out in 2008, and it’s happening again.

GWEN IFILL: Amy, did Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright step in it?

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: By — trying to shame women into supporting a woman is not usually the best way to entice someone.

That’s what I find, personally, especially when you’re a candidate. That’s not the best way to get somebody to vote for you.


AMY WALTER: But I do want to make a really important distinction, which is we’re talking about women in New Hampshire and Iowa right now who are overwhelmingly white.

When you look at how Bernie Sanders does in New Hampshire and Iowa among young people, huge gap. But when I went and looked at the polls that were taken in South Carolina, which is a much more diverse electorate, Hillary Clinton holds her own among younger voters. So, what I’m very curious to see is if this generational gender collision continues once we get into states that are a lot more diverse.

That said, it’s the challenge that Hillary Clinton has had really since 2008, which, is you know, they say you like to campaign in poetry and govern in prose. She campaigns in prose and governs in prose. And there is very little poetry there and. We saw that poetry problem again this week.

GWEN IFILL: Tam, let’s stick with the Clintons for a moment, because Bill Clinton, who is no stranger of the highways and byways of the Manchester pre-primary, came out last night and said some pretty hard thing. He kind of piled on and seemed kind of irritated at the idea that Bernie Sanders would criticize his wife.

TAMARA KEITH: Yes, I think that Bill Clinton feels like Bernie Sanders has had sort of a garden path here, that Bernie Sanders hasn’t been put to the same scrutiny as Hillary Clinton.

And it seems like Bill Clinton is saying, all right, well, if nobody else is going to do it, I’m going to do it. And, again, it’s not clear how well this is going to play. The Sanders camp and Sanders supporters are pretty upset with Bill Clinton. Of course, that is Bill Clinton’s right to do that, and he did something — some similar things in 2008.

I think that, as it’s clear that Hillary Clinton is going to have a — I mean, she’s, in all likelihood, not going to win here, and not even close, as it’s clear that she has a tougher path. I think Bill Clinton is — as they say, the big dog might be getting off leash a little bit.

GWEN IFILL: Boy, it feels like we have had that very conversation, 2008 especially. And that was when he was critical of Barack Obama for the same reason, saying that he felt like he hadn’t gotten enough scrutiny.



GWEN IFILL: But let’s move to the Republicans. Saturday night, big debate in the old town, and Marco Rubio was generally seen initially as not having done terribly well because he came off as somewhat robotic. Was that real or was that kind of overblown, Amy?

AMY WALTER: Well, we’re going to know a lot more tomorrow night.


But, look, I think that where Marco Rubio was headed before that debate was on a big wave of momentum after Iowa. When you talked to people privately, they said they could see his numbers move up in New Hampshire. It was all about closing strongly, right, which is what he wanted to do, is build that momentum and then close strong, and then maybe even win New Hampshire, or at least come very close to Donald Trump.

That momentum at best has been stalled. Maybe he’s even gone backwards. But I do agree that we sometimes make too much of these debates, right? It’s not just the people that are watching them. It’s a small subset. But many people in New Hampshire are doing other things, are thinking about other things.


GWEN IFILL: Including the Super Bowl, perhaps.

AMY WALTER: Perhaps.

And what we think is really important, this — or the media thinks is very important, this idea that he’s robotic, that he never changes his message, is actually not a problem for a candidate. We talk about candidates needing to be message-disciplined. Most voters are spending .000005 percent of their time hearing politics, listening to politics. If you say the same message over and over again, it gets through.

GWEN IFILL: That’s what sticks.


GWEN IFILL: Well, let’s talk about the larger question, because you had a good story on NPR today, Tam, about Trump, Donald Trump and his similarity to Bernie Sanders, talking about message and the things they actually say and their appeal, not just how they do in a debate.

TAMARA KEITH: Absolutely.

And there are many things where they are nowhere near each other. Let’s just establish that. But there are surprising areas where they overlap, things like preserving Social Security or even expanding Social Security, not cutting Social Security benefits, infrastructure, and simply the way they talk about this feeling that the American dream is maybe not within reach in a way it was in the past.

They are tapping into many of the same things and using many of the same phrases to talk about those things, also trade.

GWEN IFILL: Well, let’s be completely clear about something, and that’s that we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow night. As a matter of fact, Dixville Notch starts voting at midnight. I love this part of the year.

But there is a big expectations game under way. And 24 hours out, Amy, what is the expectations game? How would you sum it up?

AMY WALTER: On the Democratic side, it’s that Bernie Sanders wins, but by what margin? And on the Republican side, Trump wins, again, what margin, and, more important, what happens to the non-Trump, non-Cruz candidates, the Kasich, Rubio, Bush, Christie?

Will one or more of those candidates drop out after New Hampshire, and then the rest of those folks coalesce around the one who’s left?

GWEN IFILL: How does the expectations game feel on the ground, Tam?

TAMARA KEITH: Well, Ted Cruz today was actually trying to lower expectations, which is not something that he did before Iowa. Of course, this is a very different state and less friendly territory for him.

And Hillary Clinton has been for months saying, well, you know, Bernie Sanders is from a neighboring state. I think that the Clinton camp is prepared to lose in Iowa — is prepared to lose here in New Hampshire. It’s not clear how much that will be by. And also Bernie Sanders is also tempering expectations, saying, you know, New Hampshire has been very friendly to the Clintons. I think nobody wants to lose the expectations game.

GWEN IFILL: And they’re perfectly aware of how volatile last-minute voting is in New Hampshire.

Tamara Keith, get out with those voters. Amy Walter, start reading those exit polls. And we will talk to you both tomorrow night.

Tune in on Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, when Judy and I host a PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential debate in partnership with Facebook from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.