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No clear lead among Democratic candidates in Iowa

As Donald Trump this week became the third American president in history to be impeached, seven 2020 Democratic candidates took to the stage for the latest presidential debate. Chris Buskirk, editor and publisher of American Greatness, and Karine Jean Pierre, chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.org, join Yamiche Alcindor to discuss both the impeachment proceedings and the 2020 race.

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  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    One day after the U.S. House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment, Democrats hoping to take on President Trump next November, were onstage debating. And on that same night at a campaign rally in Michigan, the president spoke for more than two hours. He angrily blasted Democrats and attacked the impeachment process.

    Joining me now to discuss all of this are Chris Buskirk, editor and publisher of American Greatness was in Phoenix, Arizona, and Karine Jean Pierre, chief public affairs officer at MoveOn.org in Washington, D.C. She's also the author of 'Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work and the Promise of America.' Thanks to both of you for joining me today.

    Karine, I mean to start with you. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now indicating she may delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Who benefits from that potential strategy?

  • Karine Jean Pierre:

    You know what Yamiche, right now, we're in a constitutional game of chicken. I don't think that our founding fathers ever thought that we would be in a situation where you have one body, the Senate, who seems to be wanting to collude with the executive branch. That is Mitch McConnell, who has basically said he's going to work hand in hand with the Trump administration.

    And with all of the the guidance that we've received in the Constitution, we're kind of in a gray area. And what I think is happening, what it seems to be happening, is that Speaker Pelosi is essentially saying she wants a fair trial in the Senate and is using her leverage at this moment to make sure that happens.

    So right now, this is just where we are. We're in the holiday season, we won't know exactly what's going to be happening until after January 6, when the House and the Senate comes back from the holiday.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is saying she might withhold those articles of impeachment from the Senate. What do you make of that? Karine says we're in a game of chicken here.

  • Chris Buskirk:

    Yeah, I mean, I've got to tell you,Yamiche, this has got to be one of my favorite stories of the entire year. It just sort of tickles me because it demonstrates what a broken institution Congress in general is. And that's not really so much a hit on Democrats or Republicans.

    It just as you know, here we are, we're talking about the impeachment of the president of the United States. Democrats been talking about it, you know, basically since the beginning of 2017. They finally passed the articles, but they don't listen to the Senate. And so, you know, what I think about this, I think, you know, this is just sort of degenerated to the point where Congress has become like an artist collective, performing for the relative constituencies and their patrons.

    We all know how this ends up. This eventually goes to the Senate, there is going to be a trial, Donald Trump's going to be acquitted, and then we're going to have to talk about the election. And so to the extent that this delay is talking about the actual election that's happening in November, whether anybody likes it or not, I just don't see this how this helps Democrats.

    So I would think that Nancy Pelosi would want to get this over to Mitch McConnell and to the Republicans sooner rather than later.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And Chris, sticking with you, Christianity Today, an Evangelical magazine came out in support of removing President Trump from office. The editor wrote that President Trump is an example of someone who's morally lost and confused. What do you make of that and how are Republicans talking about that magazine coming out with that stance?

  • Chris Buskirk:

    Yes. So I thought this was a totally interesting story and that you actually keyed in on the language that I thought was most interesting in the whole editorial by by Mark Galli, who's the departing editor of Christianity Today.

    And so he says, yes, Donald Trump should be removed from office, but he uses it as a predicate for that –he calls them morally lost. And the thing that jumped out to me about that language is that lost, you know, in a Christian context, that's a very freighted term. Right? Christians talk about the saved and the lost. And so what?

    So it just struck me that what Galli is doing here is he's setting up sort of this dichotomy where you have to say, you have to think he's either saying on the one hand, while he's morally lost, meaning Donald Trump isn't a Christian and therefore ought not to be in office. So is he saying that Christians ought not to be president? I hope not.

    Or on the other hand, what he's trying to do is wrap his political opinions and Christian vocabulary in order to try and basically trick the readers of Christianity Today into believing him. Either way, I think that's super cynical.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Turning now to the Democratic debate.

    Karine, what do you make of how, if at all, that this Democratic debate might impact the Iowa caucuses, they're just around the corner? And if you want to, you can talk a little bit about what Chris just said. But I also really want to get to this Iowa caucus and this Democratic debate.

  • Karine Jean Pierr:

    Well, first of all, congratulations to everyone at PBS. You guys did a fantastic job. It was a very, very good moderated debate. So congratulations to you Yamiche as well.

    Look, I think it was, all in all, it was a good debate last week. Nobody nobody did great and nobody did terrible. I think that having less people on the debate stage really allowed a real conversation about vision, about what people's plans are. Someone like Klobuchar really was able to make take advantage of having less people on on stage. Biden did well. Warren, and others like Bernie Sanders, I think it was a fine debate.

    As far as Iowa, we're less than 50 days to Iowa. We're in the holiday season. I think everything is kind of frozen into place. We're not going to see much movement in the polls until after January when we get closer to clearly the caucus. And honestly, I mean, the polls have been the polls, the top three, the top four, that tier one has basically been what we see.

    I think, when you think about Iowa caucus and history of it, and how it goes in the Democratic primary, usually it's someone that's that's kind of that breaks late that wins the Iowa caucus. So I actually think Iowa is wide open. Anyone can take it. And so it's going to be, it's gonna be a wild ride come January. So buckle up.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And Chris, I spoke to Deval Patrick and Julian Castro are both still running for the Democratic nomination, but neither one of them got on stage. What do you think they might need to do about this? And also, Michael Bloomberg, he's actually showing support going up, even though he's not gonna be able to make the debate stage. He is pouring millions of dollars of ads into TV.

  • Chris Buskirk:

    Yeah, I mean, Patrick and Castro. I mean, look, what they, I think, are probably best suited to do is align with one of the other candidates. I don't, I just don't see an opportunity for them to sort of break out and all of a sudden win Iowa, or New Hampshire, or something.

    Mike Bloomberg is sort of a different and in a way more interesting story, because he has, he just has the ability to blanket the airwaves, to hire staff in every state and basically to suck up a ton of oxygen just by virtue of the fact that he can self-fund to the extent–I mean, he can literally spend more money than every other candidate combined. And that means something. I'm not sure what it means, but it means he can buy a lot of staff and he can by some measure of support. And yet, it seems, it still seems like he's just not that interesting or charismatic of a candidate.

    You know, I watched the debates the other night and I kept thinking, you know, everybody except Bernie Sanders sort of represents some flavor of the neoliberal consensus. Bernie Sanders I found totally fascinating because he is who he always has been. And as a result, I thought, again, this is just me as a conservative looking at him, and saying this is actually somebody who I found pretty interesting and really differentiating himself from the others.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thank you so much, Chris Buskirk and Karine Jean Pierre.

  • Karine Jean Pierre:

    Thank you Yamiche.

  • Chris Buskirk:

    Thanks. Yamiche.

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