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In 2016, is it ‘who are you voting for,’ or ‘who are you voting against?’

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And now to politics and the battle for the Democratic Party nomination.

    Senator Bernie Sanders is pushing hard in California, the state with the most Democratic delegates up for grabs.

    At a rally today in Los Angeles, he slammed both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for their big donors.

  • SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, Democratic Presidential Candidate:

    Secretary Clinton has several super PACs, and one of her largest super PACs have received many millions of dollars from Wall Street.

    (BOOING)

  • SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

    Now, there is — with regards to Trump, this is really hysterically funny.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

    Trump is a multibillionaire, or so he tells us. We don’t know if it’s true or not.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

    You know, he lies every day, so probably he’s broke. I don’t know.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Hillary Clinton addressed the labor base of the party, speaking at the Service Employees International Union Convention in Detroit today. She also made a nod to campaign finance and pivoted to Trump.

  • HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate:

    We are coming to the end of the Democratic primaries. I applaud Senator Sanders and his supporters for challenging us. We are going to get unaccountable money out of politics. We are going to take on the crisis of income inequality. And we are going to unify the Democratic Party and stop Donald Trump.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And that brings us to Politics Monday with Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    And welcome to you both this Monday.

    So, Tamara, this contest — we just heard Hillary Clinton talking about Trump, but Bernie Sanders is still talking about her. Where does this race stand? Over the weekend, he said to the effect, I need to be in this race because we don’t want people voting against — voting for the lesser of two evils, which didn’t sound like the greatest endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

  • TAMARA KEITH, NPR:

    Well, he is definitely not ready to endorse Hillary Clinton at this point.

    And his supporters are very much still interested in seeing this play out. They don’t want a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton if they can avoid it. Mathematically, we should say, it’s almost certain, unless something dramatic happens, that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee.

    That’s why she moving on. She has hired staff in like — something like nearly a dozen swing states. I talked to one Sanders’ supporter, though, this — who was in Albuquerque at a rally. He said, if he had to choose between Donald Trump and Satan himself, he wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Oh.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Which is to say that he will vote for Hillary Clinton, but he won’t be happy about it. And I heard a lot of that from Sanders supporters.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    That also doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but it is a move in her direction.

  • AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report:

    But that’s what we’re seeing in the polls sort of overall, which is the reason that we have seen the polls tightening is the last time we were here talking about this, I said the number that I was paying much more attention to than how many endorsements Donald Trump was getting from Republican elites and officeholders was whether or not he was getting support from voters on the ground, right, the real people who show up and vote.

    And right now, we’re seeing the polls tightening because voters are starting to come home. Republican voters who earlier in April or in March were saying, I don’t know if I can vote for Donald Trump, now are saying they can vote for him.

    The expectation is, we will see the same thing on the Democratic side. But the other thing we’re seeing is that a majority of voters right now both on the Democratic side and the Republican side say they’re voting for their candidate not because they like that candidate. It’s because they dislike the other one so much more. It’s a vote against, rather than a vote for.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now, and you’re talking about the numbers coming together for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Right.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Are these numbers — numbers like that, Tamara, at this stage in a campaign, are these enduring numbers? Are they likely to stay?

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    It’s a moment in time. And at this moment in time, Hillary Clinton is fighting on two fronts. Donald Trump is beginning to consolidate.

    Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s unfavorables among Bernie Sanders supporters are actually rising. And so you have this time where people who are polled are going to say, I don’t support Hillary Clinton.

    Now, I spoke to pollster Peter Hart earlier today. He has a new poll out, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. He said only about 10 percent of Sanders supporters said they would eventually support a Republican or consider supporting a Republican, which means once — this will shake out some.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And that’s my question, Amy. Again, we’re at May in the campaign. We have got six months to go.

    With high — we call them high unfavorables at this point, so high for Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump, are these numbers, are they likely to give as people…

  • AMY WALTER:

    That’s the real question, because we have never had in the history of these polls — Peter Hart has been doing the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll for a along time.

    He’s never seen — the Wall Street Journal the polls has never seen this. The ABC/Washington Post poll has never seen two candidates for president of the United States as unpopular as these two candidates. So we’re in uncharted territory.

    We normally say, if you’re a really well-known candidate and you have very high unfavorables, it’s not likely that people are going to change their perception of you between now and the election.

    But you have two really, highly disliked people who are eventually going to be the nominees, and you are going to have to pick one of them. So how voters get to that place is going to be interesting to watch for the next six months.

    A lot of people have sort of resigned themselves to who they’re voting for. Like Tamara pointed out, some of them are saying, well, it’s the lesser of two evils, but maybe they get there or maybe they stay home. That’s the thing that is going to be harder to track.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Yes. I saw where someone working for Trump was saying what Hillary Clinton is going to have to do because of her high unfavorables is — quote — “to destroy Donald Trump.”

    But it seems to me that may have to be Donald Trump’s strategy as well.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Yes, there might be some mutual destruction that goes on. And you have to wonder who is going to show up and vote.

    And it may be that this is an election where the negativity is what motivates people, rather than the joy of pulling the lever.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    How do we — let’s come back to the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders situation, Amy, because you heard Hillary today. We heard the comments she made about Donald Trump, but she was fairly positive about Bernie Sanders.

    She said, I applaud Senator Sanders for challenging us. We’re going to get, she said, an accountable — we’re going to get unaccountable money out of politics. We’re going to take on the crisis of income inequality.

    So, she is talking about his issues. He, meanwhile, is still criticizing her.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Right.

    She is, as Tamara pointed out, fighting this two-front war. She can’t go on the attack for Bernie Sanders. You’re going to see, she barely mentions him. It’s all Trump all the time.

    The super PACs that Bernie Sanders talks about supporting her, they’re not going after Bernie Sanders. They’re going after Donald Trump as well. And so the real question is going to be post this primary process in June, not only what does Bernie Sanders do, but will the biggest spokesperson for the Democratic Party, President Obama, come out and start to try to make that unification?

    That, I think, is something you’re likely to see.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And we should point out that Sanders himself and the people around him have begun to say that his main priority is defeating Donald Trump in the fall, so if he’s not the nominee.

    But we did learn today, Tamara, that they have named the members of the platform committee at the convention. This is where they will be talking about what the Democratic Party believes in. And there are a number of Bernie Sanders supporters on that committee.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Yes. And I think this is a really important thing.

    Sanders’ campaign put out a statement saying they were happy that this had happened. The Clinton campaign put a statement saying, this is great. What is happening here is Bernie Sanders in a way is figuring out how to land the plane. And he is going to — he clearly wants to make an impact on this party platform and to be able to use that to say, look, look at what this movement has accomplished.

    The other thing he did in the last 48 hours is, he endorsed Tim Canova, who is a candidate for Congress running against Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chairman.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The chairman.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    And he did a fund-raising e-mail. It was a money bomb for Canova.

    And Sanders, we believe, is going to start doing this for other down-ballot candidates, which is part of making this about more than just nominating Bernie Sanders.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But that may not earned the friendship forever of the chair of the…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • AMY WALTER:

    No, of the chair of the DNC.

    And the offer to — just imagine what this — for both sides what these conventions are going to look like. You have Paul Ryan, who chairs the Republican Convention, who has not yet endorsed Donald Trump, who may have to preside over a convention that he’s not supporting the front-runner.

    And you have the DNC chairwoman in a fight with the person who’s not the nominee, but will certainly a role to play in this process, which goes to show again that this has been a roiling of the two parties. It’s obviously much more significant on the Republican side, but I think, at the end of the day, this is just the beginning of what we’re seeing as either major or minor breaks in the two parties and their makeups.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And it may be true to say that the likes of which we have never seen before, and that will continue to be case.

  • AMY WALTER:

    That’s very true, because, every week, we’re going to say that, every week.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Right.

    Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    You’re welcome.

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