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Where the Democratic candidates stand in the race to 2020

NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield puts the week in politics into perspective -- from the lack of moderate or self-identified centrists in the Democratic presidential race so far, to what the blackface controversy in Virginia says about race relations in America. Also, one of the stories you might have missed--what the current farm economy may mean for President Trump.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    This past week in politics, we saw some big names added to the Democratic presidential field, and a still unfolding crisis for Democrats in Virginia. For some perspective, we turn now to Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield who joins us from Santa Barbara. Jeff, this is getting to be a crowded field and it's not even close to over.

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    Yes, this is true although the one aspect of the Democratic race we haven't yet seen is a self-identified centrist or moderate like a Bloomberg or perhaps a Joe Biden. Those candidates have entered so far, in one degree or another, reflect the increasingly leftward move of the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Is there any litmus test left? It seems that Donald Trump broke a lot of the rules on what it would take or what would stop someone from being president. So as we see all of these candidates get into the race ,what are the standards that they're going to be held to to become their party's candidate?

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    I think, once again, Donald Trump is just different. He's a one off. You would not have thought that the Republican Party would have nominated somebody who in the past had praised socialized medicine, endorsed abortion even late term, came out with a wealth tax higher than even the Democratic liberals were proposing. But I think, within the Democratic Party there clearly are some litmus tests — they're not going to nominate a pro-life or anti-abortion rights candidate. That's not going to happen. They're not even going to nominate somebody who had the view on say, same-sex marriage that bill that every Democrat had in 2008. That it was between a man and a woman. And you're not going to say the Democratic Party nominates somebody who is nearly as tough on undocumented immigrants as President Clinton and President Obama were in their State of the Unions. So yeah there are those are the minimal litmus tests whether or not for instance the nominee is going to have to endorse some kind of 'Medicare for All' policy, I think, got to wait and see how that plays out.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Let's talk a little bit about Virginia here. This is something we talked about last week and the message has gotten worse.

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    You know, my take on this is because the issue with the lieutenant governor is different. That's an accusation, it's outright sexual assault. But if you're talking about all the Virginia politicians who in one way or another have been involved with blackface, this is what I find so striking and depressing. If these images had come out of the 1930s, when the entire American culture and politics and society were just shot through with racism and discrimination, when virtually every Hollywood star appeared in blackface, when minstrel shows entertained the Washington elite, we might say all right well, that's these are coming out of a past that were beyond. But when you realize it's some of these images come out of the late 60s or the 1980s and the fact that we're learning that today, fraternities and sororities fairly frequently put on parties with their members dressed in blackface, what you're finding is that either out of some not so subtle animus or unbelievable cluelessness, this aspect of American life that some of us might have thought was in the past really isn't in the past at all.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And finally, you like to point out some stories had been overlooked this week?

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    It's the American farm situation. We know that throughout the Midwest there were record number of bankruptcies, they are up 50 percent, 60 percent, 100 percent. And just I think in the last 48 hours, the Agriculture Department says farm income, net farm income is going to hit a 15 year low. That's commodity prices, that's increase interest rates which put pressure on farmers that have to borrow money to plant their crops, and it's the result of the tariff slapped on American goods from trade wars. Now farmers only represent 2 percent of the American population but they were they were a critical part of the Trump constituency in states like Wisconsin that came down to a fraction of 1 percent. So if we're talking about an economic catastrophe in the Farm Belt next year that is very bad news for the Trump campaign.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    All right Jeff Greenfield joining us from Santa Barbara. Thanks so much.

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    Pleasure.

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