What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Tamara Keith and Carrie Budoff Brown on Trump targeting Kamala Harris

NPR’s Tamara Keith and Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown join Yamiche Alcindor to discuss the latest political news, including post-debate poll numbers for 2020 Democrats, whether former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead will be “durable,” why racist attacks on Sen. Kamala Harris could mean she's a threat to Trump, Pete Buttigieg’s fundraising milestone and Trump’s upcoming Fourth of July celebration.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And that brings us to Politics Monday.

    I'm joined by Tamara Keith of NPR. She also co-hosts the "NPR Politics" podcast. And Carrie Budoff Brown of Politico.

    Thanks, ladies, for being here.

    I want to first show you a new CNN poll. It's looking at support the 2020 Democrats have and comparing it to that of a month ago. Joe Biden is down 10 percent. Senator Harris is up 9 percent. Senator Warren is also up 9 percent.

    I should mention that black voters still strongly support Joe Biden in this poll at 36 percent.

    Tamara, what do you think of these numbers?

  • Tamara Keith:

    I checked in with a bunch of Democrats who've I have interviewed over the last several months after the debate.

    I said, what did you guys make of it? Did it change the way you're thinking about the candidates? Well, it's pretty well reflected in that poll, the responses that I got from the voters I have been talking to.

    And one big question has been for a very long time, will Joe Biden's lead be durable? And part of the case that his campaign has been making and that voters have sort of bought into is this idea that he's electable, he's inevitable.

    And a number of Democratic consultants I have talked to said, as soon as that inevitability seems less real, he could see a hit in his numbers. We are now seeing a hit in his numbers after that debate.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And, Carrie, this is one of the first polls we're seeing since after the debates last week, again, comparing from a month ago. What do you think of these numbers?

  • Carrie Budoff Brown:

    I think it shows two things.

    One, the race is wide open. As Tamara said, Biden has a — he's firmly at the top, but it is tenuous. At the same time, we're seeing a solidification of the top tier. It's about five candidates, Joe Biden Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren firmly in that grouping.

    And, then, of course, Buttigieg with his huge fund-raising numbers solidify him in that position of sort of the top tier. And so both it's wide open, but we're seeing the solidification around the top tier. And among those, I think it's anybody's game.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And I want to now talk about Senator Harris and these issues with her race.

    I have been talking to civil rights leaders and Democratic voters who are really saying these attacks and questioning whether or not she's black enough are simply racist. They're talking about, this is birtherism 2.0.

    Really, the distinction that they're trying to make is people that, of course, were kidnapped from the continent of Africa and wondering, when you got through the Middle Passage, did your boat land in Jamaica or land in the United States?

    It's very offensive to a lot of people in this country.

    That said, Tamara, what do you make of the fact that Donald Trump Jr. is engaging in these attacks, and we're seeing campaign aides having this conversation? What do you make of that?

  • Tamara Keith:

    Right.

    It wasn't just Donald Trump Jr. who did ultimately delete the tweet and then insisted, oh, I was just asking a question, if whether it was true. But it's also Katrina Pierson, who is a spokesperson for the campaign, who said that Kamala Harris isn't a real African-American in one of her tweets.

    And this is part of a pattern of trying to, in a way, depress African-American support for someone who is potentially a very strong rival to President Trump. In the lead-up to 2016, the Trump campaign, at the same time they said they were trying to win over African-American voters, were also taking actions that seemed to have depressed the African-American vote and turnout.

    And so they don't quite know how to deal with Kamala Harris yet. One aide I talked to said that she hadn't been polling that well. And so she wasn't like — she doesn't have a nickname yet.

    And so, as they are trying to deal with that, and figuring out how to deal with her, now these tweets.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Tamara is talking about the Trump campaign really trying to figure out how to deal with Senator Harris. I'm also hearing that in my own reporting.

    Carrie, what does this tell you about President Trump's broader approach to how these he might deal with Senator Harris if she becomes someone that is higher and higher in the polls?

  • Carrie Budoff Brown:

    I think it's an open question right now, as Tamara said, that she doesn't have a nickname yet. And, as we know, that is a big part of when we know people strike sort of a note in Trump's world.

    At the same time, it reflects an uncertainty about how to address her and to deal with her. But I think what we saw over the weekend, and the reaction from the field, it is very much an echo of 2016. The strategy is very similar. If there is a candidate who can bring out the Obama coalition that was so successful for two terms in electing President Obama, Kamala Harris is seen as somebody who could possibly do that, right?

    And so that poses a very deep threat to the president, because Hillary Clinton wasn't able to do that. So if you get some independents who are no longer on board with Trump, combined with the Obama coalition, that is a real concern for the Trump — for Trump world.

    And you see it reflected in conversations with my reporters at Politico, elsewhere. The tweet is sort of one signal of that. And you see the reaction from the field, because whether it's Kamala or it's somebody else, they are remembering what happened in 2016.

    And by suppressing the turnout, that of African-American voters or minority voters in general, that that is very problematic for the Democratic Party.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And, Carrie, sticking with you, you mentioned the idea of the Obama coalition. A lot of that was about energy.

    Pete Buttigieg rolled out some fund-raising numbers that made a lot of people talk in this town and across the country. He raised $24.8 million in the second fund-raising quarter, which ended in — June 30.

    What does those numbers tell you about how the race is shaping up?

  • Carrie Budoff Brown:

    So it's hard to really tell until we see the other numbers, but, by any standard, that is a lot of money.

    We're hearing, at this point, sort of background, that this is going to be a large number for the field. But, again, we don't know. I would remind people that Pete Buttigieg came out the first quarter with a large number, $7 million. Kamala Harris came out a few days later, raised more.

    But Pete Buttigieg has been very good about working the media. He got the headlines as the big fund-raiser of the first quarter, when, in fact, others surpassed him.

    So I would say huge number, particularly for the mayor of South Bend, who's 30-something years old, but let's see who — how the rest of the field does. And then we could stack it up then.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And, Tamara, what do these numbers tell you about the energy in the Democratic field?

  • Tamara Keith:

    Yes.

    OK, well, ActBlue, which is the fund-raising platform for Democrats, said that they had a record day yesterday. So, Pete Buttigieg has big numbers. We're expecting other numbers to come out that will also be big.

    And, simply, the numbers that ActBlue is talking about means that there are there are a lot of Democrats willing to spend a lot of money on politics, or a lot of Democrats willing to spend little bits of money on several candidates.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Now, I should say you're talking about candidates spending a lot of money.

    There's also going to be a candidate possibly talking about his campaign on the lawn, and thinking of President Trump and July 4, and the Lincoln Memorial. My week is already feeling long. What are you looking at when you look at your week, Carrie?

  • Carrie Budoff Brown:

    Well, I am, like you, Yamiche, wondering how the Fourth of July is going to play out here in Washington, with it moving from a very nonpartisan event to Trump putting his stamp on it in a very personal way, and what that does to the field.

    I'm going to be to — or the day. I'm going to be looking at it closely.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And, Tamara, you're at the White House with me.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Yes.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Are you also looking at President Trump?

  • Tamara Keith:

    Oh, yes, I am. I am watching the Fourth of July.

    He announced just a short time ago that there will be tanks, though they are likely to be stationary tanks. The real question is, he frequently give speeches in nonpolitical settings that turn into political speeches.

    The campaign — or not the campaign — the White House promises, this is not a political speech. But can he resist? He didn't resist at the Boy Scouts. He didn't resist at another Fourth of July event in 2017. So does he keep it nonpolitical?

  • Carrie Budoff Brown:

    And will be able to capture the attention, right? Like, these are days where we think people aren't paying attention to the media. But this is such a new thing. Think about the attention he's going to get for just stepping out and doing this, even if it's nonpolitical.

    He's getting this amazing platform on the Fourth of July, and wrapping himself in this. And that's sort of the — as I saw over the weekend, ever the showman. Ever the showman.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Ever the showman is a good way to end Politics Monday.

  • Carrie Budoff Brown:

    Yes.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thank you so much, Tamara Keith of NPR and Carrie Budoff Brown of Politico.

  • Tamara Keith:

    You're welcome.

  • Carrie Budoff Brown:

    Thank you. Thanks, Yamiche.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest