What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

The one word Democrats hoped to avoid at convention — ‘emails’ — is back

The Democratic convention opened with a bang and once more the word at the center of a scandal is “emails.” Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff speak with Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks about the DNC hacking scandal, whether Bernie Sanders can get his supporters to stop booing and the “relentlessly normal” Tim Kaine.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Gwen Ifill:

    With that, we turn to syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report for a special convention edition of Politics Monday.

    And since you’re usually in the Politics Monday chair, Amy, I guess I will start with you.

    We sat here a week ago in Cleveland and talked about the chaos on the floor of the Republican Convention the first day. And it seems like we have the Democratic version of that.

  • Amy Walter,

    The Cook Political Report: Don’t we?

    That unity was the theme that we were going to see from the moment this convention started. Not surprisingly, they are starting off the very first day with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders to try to quell or at least satisfy this crowd here. But it’s clear that there is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. You know what I’m — for Bernie Sanders.

    What I’m struck by was, in Cleveland, it was the establishment that stayed home and wasn’t there, but the floor was pretty united. There were some dissidents. Here, the establishment is completely united for Hillary Clinton, but the delegates are the ones who are not unified.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Mark Shields, as somebody who’s watched a lot of Democratic Conventions, what do you make of all this?

  • Mark Shields:

    Well, I think Amy put her finger on it. This is a convention that one didn’t expect to begin with a political headline that involved the term e-mails, which is one the Democrats would like to avoid from now until November, especially with Russia in the second paragraph.

    So I think that in itself is a little disturbing and unsettling. And the Bernie followers, not surprisingly, don’t follow. They are committed. And his endorsement, we will find out if he can deliver and he and Elizabeth Warren together are enough to make the case that it’s time to get in line and support Hillary Clinton.

  • Gwen Ifill:

    David Brooks, what does it tell you that the Bernie Sanders supporters, followers don’t follow and that he can say to his people — they sent out a text this afternoon saying, please don’t lead a protest on the floor. And that clearly has continued on. What does it tell us about that movement?

  • David Brooks:

    Yes.

    Well, on the one hand, revolutions always devour their own. The French revolutionaries learned this the hard way. And so, in some sense, it’s historical. But I do think something new is happening here, which is that social media is replacing political organizations, and that people who are whipped up by social media and who have a spontaneous, organic grassroots organization, that has its own momentum, its own rules, its own rhetorical etiquette, and it supersedes the stuff we’re normally used to setting here, where people are involved campaign to campaign and their ultimate loyalty to the party.

    The people in the Sanders — are passionate, and their ultimate loyal is to the cause and the ideas, and not to the party.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Amy, how does Hillary Clinton put all this together? We haven’t even begun the first tight in terms of the big speakers. What’s the formula for her?

  • Amy Walter:

    One part is to get the people who — folks in this hall do they believe speak for them, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, to come out right out of the bat.

    And I also want to go to David’s points, because I think that is very important. The reality, the sort of interesting — I don’t know if it’s ironic, if I’m using that properly — about the DNC and the e-mails is that all this is coming at a time, we say this is so controversial that the DNC was sort of putting a finger on the scale, or more than a finger, an actual hand on the scale, for Hillary Clinton.

    And yet the party apparatus is really pretty worthless. Bernie Sanders was able to raise money without the party. He didn’t need access to their donors. He didn’t need them to give access to the media. He didn’t need them to get access to voter files.

    He was able to do that all on his own. So, Reince Priebus from the RNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz from the DNC both finding out that the party in and of itself, as an apparatus, is really — if it’s not — I’m not going to say that it’s dead, but it certainly has not as much life in it that it once did.

  • Gwen Ifill:

    Since last we have been around the table, we now have a vice presidential pick from Hillary Clinton, Mark Shields, so what can you tell us about Tim Kaine? And will his — his presence actually on the ticket seems to have upset some Bernie supporters as well.

  • Mark Shields:

    The hardest assignment over the weekend for any journalist directed by an editor was to find a Republican to say something negative about Tim Kaine.

    When you have got Lamar Alexander, from Bill Bolling, the former lieutenant governor of Virginia, to John McCain, to Jeff Flake saying he’s a great friend, Pat Toomey, who hasn’t endorsed — these are people who haven’t endorsed Donald Trump — basically saying what a wonderful person Tim Kaine is, I have never seen Hillary Clinton look as comfortable in any public setting as she did on Saturday, when she announced Tim Kaine.

    She has a partner in Tim Kaine with which she can be comfortable. He’s dependable. He’s unflamboyant, and he’s got her back. And he is not going to embarrass her. And I just think, in that sense, it’s a choice for the long run. It’s a not choice for the short run. It’s not just to win an election. It’s not a — I could see them as a partner if, in fact, she does win in November.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, David Brooks, how does Tim Kaine change anything in this very explosive contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

  • David Brooks:

    Yes, I think he might be a key to some sort of actual electoral majority, or at least a step in that direction.

    Listen, since we last met, we have seen some of the polls out of the Republican Convention. The polls are obviously volatile at this time of the year, but nonetheless there was a bump and there was a significant bump. And so it should send a little source of concern, not panic, in Democratic ranks, but there should definitely be concern, because there was a much bigger bounce than I certainly expected.

  • Gwen Ifill:

    Well, there was one poll that said there was a bounce. Another poll said…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • David Brooks:

    Right. I think there are now a couple showing some sort of bounce.

  • Gwen Ifill:

    Yes.

  • David Brooks:

    And so, anyway, something seems to be working.

    And the one thing I think the place this election is going to be settled is in suburban service worker office parks, people who are part of the global economy, people who are not upset by necessarily trade or immigration, things like that. And if your party comes out and looking like you’re hostile to the global economy, I think you’re going to have trouble with those people.

    And Tim Kaine is very acceptable to your basic moderate independent who might be put off by Trumpianism and Sandersism.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Gwen Ifill:

    With the isms.

    Tim Kaine also managed somehow to change his mind about the Trans-Pacific trade policy just in time to get this nomination or to get this selection.

    Can he be expected to be that bridge, Amy?

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, there are a lot of anti-TPP signs being waved on the floor.

  • Gwen Ifill:

    Right.

  • Amy Walter:

    And I think the challenge, at this exact moment, is that Tim Kaine doesn’t excite the base as much as he placates a lot of Republicans and those suburban voters. And so I think Tim Kaine is a longer-run pick.

    We talked about why Mike Pence picked by Donald Trump. That was a short-term pick to fix his convention problem and his Republican problem. Hillary Clinton has a longer-term look, which is, I need to go get those suburban women, those college-educated white voters who right now are very skeptical about Donald Trump. Who’s going to win those over? I think Tim Kaine is the reason.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Mark?

  • Mark Shields:

    Well, in a year, quite frankly, where it’s been bizarre, whether in fact you have two candidates with negative favorable/unfavorable ratings, you have Bernie Sanders, you have Ted Cruz, you have all the Republicans, Tim Kaine, more than anything, in the phrase of Warren Harding, is a return to normalcy.

    He is just so relentlessly normal. I just think there was a sense of relief in the country.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right.

    Well, we can’t wait to spend more time talking to you all tonight and for the rest of this week. Mark Shields, David Brooks, Amy Walter, thank you all.

    And we ask you again tune in tonight starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for our special NPR/”PBS NewsHour” coverage of the Democratic National Convention here in Philadelphia.

Listen to this Segment

Latest News