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Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter and Annie Linskey of The Washington Post join Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest political news, including Tucker Carlson's role in the Republican Party, a closely watched primary election in Ohio and Democrats consider revamping their midterm strategy.
Republicans will be closely watching Ohio's primary election tomorrow. And there are reports that Democrats are considering revamping their midterm strategy to draw a stronger contrast between themselves and the Trump wing of the GOP.
To discuss all that and more, it's a good time to check in with our Politics Monday team. That's Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report With Amy Walter and Annie Linskey of The Washington Post. She's sitting in tonight for Tamara Keith.
Hello to both of you. So good to see you on this Monday. Time to talk about politics.
Well, Amy, let's start with what we just heard Amna talking to Nick Confessore about, this three-part mega-report on Tucker Carlson. Clarify for us, what is Tucker Carlson's role in the Republican Party, in American politics?
Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report:
I mean, I think that Nick Confessore put it really well when he said that he's filling the void that had been left by Donald Trump's voice being off of social media. And he's not in the White House, obviously. So he's not they're every minute every day in the way that he used to.
He's also being talked about as a potential 2024 candidate for president. And that's not idle discussion. I think his name will be very seriously floated, and we may see more to come of a Tucker Carlson trial balloon in 2024.
I wonder if former President Trump is aware of that.
Well, I'm sure…
We suspect that he is.
Annie Linskey, what about — I mean, how do you see this Tucker Carlson phenomenon right now?
Annie Linskey, The Washington Post:
Well, I think one of the parts of nick's reporting that resonated the most with me is this idea that Carlson is really sort of at the nexus of both media and influence, but also kind of a quieter influence with candidates in particular.
And he has been a promoter of a J.D. Vance in Ohio, which I know we will talk about later. But it — and I find that to be a particular role of — he's using both his voice as a — his platform to sort of put out new ideas, but also just to bolster candidates.
And so he kind of in almost — you don't want to say kingmaker role, but his influence is extreme — is out there.
Significant. Thank you.
Is it — I mean, Amy, is it a matter of saying, if you don't get Tucker Carlson's blessing, then it's a problem for you as a Republican?
Well, we will see.
I mean, he's gone after, much like Donald Trump has, people who he sees are out of step or out of line with his overall philosophy or have done things that have gone against whatever Tucker doesn't like. Many of them were still successful.
One person he's been really consistently against, at least recently, has been Kevin McCarthy. I don't think anyone expects to see, if Republicans take the House, that he's not going to be the speaker. But his influence, the conversation about it is important.
And, Annie, what — the darker side of this, which we heard in that conversation, about race…
… and about the role of the threat that many white Americans feel, what does that say about our politics right now?
I think that was one of the most stunning takeaways, for me at least, from the New York Times reporting, which was just so incredible, is just the extent to which they really documented the ways in which Carlson is normalizing discussions of race that I think would not be considered — are not considered appropriate in many parts of the country.
But Carlson's show is moving through the window to where they're becoming more appropriate. And I think that's what many groups on the left worry about. And I think that is what The Times is reporting is kind of showing us, really the danger that Tucker Carlson and his show presents, is making it more OK to have those kinds of grievances voiced out loud.
And that to me is what the worry is.
And you bring — and that brings us to Ohio, we want to talk about, because we had John Yang's report, Amy.
And there you have Donald Trump's enormous influence in a race where the candidate who he has blessed seems to be doing very well.
Or seems to have some — certainly some momentum right there.
Some momentum, yes.
I mean, when I was reporting on this race earlier, I was watching all the ads that the candidates were putting up on air. And it was basically a noun, a verb and Donald Trump, right?
Everything had to involve Donald Trump. What's more remarkable, I think, is what John alluded to, was the really diminished role of the senator who's leaving. Rob Portman, senator who has been there since 2010, has also endorsed a candidate. But his candidate has gotten absolutely no traction.
And it's also really remarkable to think that it wasn't that long ago, in 2016, that John Kasich easily won the primary in Ohio over Donald Trump, that somebody like a Rob Portman could win — and, in fact, he went he ran seven points ahead of Donald Trump in 2016 in the general election.
Those folks, they no longer exist in Ohio.
So we will see what happens in Ohio, Annie.
But, of course, people are saying, so is this going to happen in every Republican primary?
No way to know that right now.
But it may not be the case.
But Donald Trump is still a factor.
I mean, J.D. Vance was sort of lagging behind in this campaign until Donald Trump went in and endorsed him. And you saw a FOX News poll that came out shortly after the endorsement. His support was, I think, double. I mean, it was just an incredible jump.
So I do think, ultimately, none of us have a crystal ball. We don't know what's going to happen. The polling has kind of been difficult to follow. But you definitely saw that Trump had an impact and really pushed J.D. Vance, at least into a pole position where he could win.
Yes. And there so many other states.
We're watching these primaries, Pennsylvania and others, where you have the…
Georgia and others.
I do quickly want to turn both of you to a story in Politico today, inside reporting that the White House is looking at structuring their midterm strategy around going against, who else, Donald Trump and his wing of the Republican Party. What does that say to you?
It says they do not want — Democrats do not want this election to be what midterms traditionally are, which is a referendum on the sitting president and the party in charge, not when the president is underwater in terms of his job approval rating, people feeling anxious about the state of the economy.
They want to turn it to, let's make it a choice. Now, this isn't unique. This isn't new. Republicans tried the same thing in 2018. They ran more ads, Republicans did, about Nancy Pelosi than Democrats ran about Donald Trump.
We remember that.
You remember that?
She was the centerpiece.
Republicans still lost 40 seats in the House that year. So it's very difficult to change the trajectory away from a referendum. But what Democrats are really hoping is, in these individual races, whether it's Pennsylvania, Arizona, those candidates who have the Trump support, have embraced Trump, have embraced many of his policies, that's going to be a bigger liability than the big picture conversation.
And in just a few seconds, Annie, we don't know that they're going to do this, but it wouldn't be shocking, I think.
We should also mention that Democrats just tried to do this in Virginia, and tried to make Glenn Youngkin into Donald Trump. And that was not a winning strategy. So Joe Biden had tacked away from that strategy and had to — and had presented himself as more of a unifier in the State of the Union.
But now we're talking again to being a little bit more Democrats vs. Republicans. So the White House is clearly scrambling around for a message that they think could work.
It is already May. We are in primary season.
We have lots of primaries.
Lots of primaries to watch.
Amy Walter, Annie Linskey, thank you both, Politics Monday. Thank you.
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