What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Will Rand Paul’s surveillance stance pay off with Republican voters?

Gwen Ifill talks to Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR about the 2016 campaign launches of former Gov. Martin O’Malley and Sen. Lindsey Graham, why Sen. Rand Paul took a stand on the Patriot Act, and remembering Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, who died over the weekend at the age of 46.

Read the Full Transcript

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Just today, the number of candidates running for president reached an even dozen. Nine Republicans and three Democrats have formally launched campaigns, with two announcements just since Friday. But that’s not the only story unfolding this Politics Monday.

    And we’re joined, as always, by Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    Welcome back, women.

    Martin O’Malley, let’s start with him, Tamara. What is — who is he appealing to? He gave a very big — let’s listen to a bit of it, big economic speech, message.

  • FORMER GOV. MARTIN O’MALLEY, Democratic Presidential Candidate:

    A stronger middle class is not the consequence of economic growth. A stronger middle class is the cause of economic growth.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • MARTIN O’MALLEY:

    And, together, as one people, we must build an American economy that works again for all of us.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Remind people who Martin O’Malley is.

  • TAMARA KEITH, NPR:

    Yes. He was the governor of Maryland until very recently.

    He is pitching himself as a progressive with executive experience with his time as governor. He’s also pitching himself as a new generation of leader, drawing a contrast with Hillary Clinton, without putting too fine a point on it.

    He’s 52 years old. He plays guitar. He did some campaign announcement on Snapchat. So, he’s trying be the young guy. Interestingly, another candidate, Bernie Sanders, who’s also in that race, has captured a lot of that young hip vibe, even though he’s 20 years older.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Who was getting big crowds this weekend in Minnesota.

    But what does — how does Martin O’Malley breaking through, especially with that kind of excitement coming from Bernie Sanders?

  • AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report:

    Right.

    Well, that’s really the question. And some of it is, he is thinking he is going to break through, as exactly Tamara pointed out, by a generational difference, that he’s the next generation to come up. These two have been there for a long time. We need a new face.

    But the real question is, does he decide to go after — more critically go after Hillary Clinton. And from his speech, it sure didn’t seem like that. He took sort of a sideswipe against her. He said we already have a candidate that Goldman Sachs likes. Goldman Sachs likes a Bush. Goldman Sachs likes a Clinton. We have already — we don’t live in a society where we pass a crown from one to the other.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    He supported her, didn’t he, in 2008?

  • AMY WALTER:

    Very much so. And they’re very — the Clintons are very close with O’Malley.

    But, of course, the Clintons are very close with everybody on the Democratic side. So there’s not much new about that. But to me it’s really the question of, does he decide that he’s going after her really aggressively, make his case very pointedly, which could backfire? But it could also help him break through.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    That was Saturday in Maryland.

    Today in South Carolina, we saw Lindsey Graham, who decided — who’s a longtime senator, U.S. senator, who decided he’s going to run for president and he’s going to do it by saying I have more national security experience than the rest of you. Let’s listen.

  • SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, Republican Presidential Candidate:

    I have got one simple message. I have more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

    That includes you, Hillary.

    I know the players. I know our friends and I know our enemies alike, but, most importantly, ladies and gentlemen, they know me.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    I’m always curious about people who get into a race with 10 other Republicans who go after Hillary first and foremost.

    But is there room in the field as we see it now, Tamara, for a national security message?

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    He sure thinks so.

    In part, he’s there to be the anti-Rand Paul, to be the anti-Ted Cruz. He wants to get in and deliver this strong national security message. He’s pitching himself as ready to be a commander in chief. He has just retired as a reserve officer in the Air Force, served in the Air Force for a very long time.

    He says he’s been to the Middle East more times than he can remember. And I think that that’s his pitch. He really wants to move the conversation in this Republican primary away from isolationism and talk about defeating ISIS.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Yes. And it’s a great time to be doing it, when Republican primary voters are saying national security is their number one issue, ahead of even the economy.

    Here’s his problem, is that the other side of Lindsey Graham is that he’s known as sort of, I don’t know, a moderate, an accommodationist. He’s certainly to the left of a lot of the field on issues like immigration.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • AMY WALTER:

    Yes, on — he supported President Obama’s Supreme Court nominations. He is to the left on issues like climate change.

    So he’s already starting in some ways at a deficit with Republican primary voters. In fact, if you look at the new poll that came out this weekend, the Iowa poll from The Des Moines Register, his disapproval ratings are already very, very high, and in part because that’s what a lot of activists remember him for, is being sort of too liberal for them.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    He has the nickname Lindsey Grahamnesty, because of his position on…

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Grahamnesty?

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Grahamnesty, as in amnesty, because of his positions on immigration.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • GWEN IFILL:

    I had to say it carefully, but I got it, I got it, I got it.

    OK. Well, let’s talk about the person — you said he’s the anti-Rand Paul. Let’s talk about the person who stirred the pot this weekend on Capitol Hill and is continuing to do it tonight, Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky, who, last we checked, is also running for president, and seized the opportunity this weekend on this NSA surveillance issue to make his point.

    Let’s listen.

  • SEN. RAND PAUL, Republican Presidential Candidate:

    This is what we fought the revolution over. Are we going to blithely give up our freedom? Are we going to blithely go along and just say take it? Well, I’m not going to take it anymore. I don’t think the American people are going to take it anymore.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Let me say, a Senate speech is a different way to run for president, is it not?

  • AMY WALTER:

    Yes, a little bit, although this is where sort of — this has been his issue, right, from the very beginning. Of course, he’s hoping that the Senate speech is going to go viral, and certainly helps with fund-raising.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • GWEN IFILL:

    … put it on social media to make sure that happens.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Absolutely, that everybody was going to go and see this happening.

    Here’s his big gamble, is that this issue is going to help him expand base, both of donors and voters, in a Republican primary. The problem for him is that, among Republican primary voters, this issue, NSA security, very popular. It’s not unpopular. Where it’s popular, his position is popular, is among voters under the age of 35. Unfortunately for him, not many of those people show up and vote in Republican primaries.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Does he run at any risk at all by, how do we say this nicely, ticking off the other Republicans in the Senate, including his own seatmate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell?

    (LAUGHTER)

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    I think you can safely say that they are ticked off right now. He did not make any friends in the Senate. And I don’t know what consequence…

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Maybe it doesn’t matter.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Yes, I don’t know what consequence that has with Republican primary voters.

    There’s a well-worn path running against Washington. He is definitely running against the body from which he works.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Does the NSA issue, is it really a political issue at its root, or is there something here that is more — that is really rooted in — you mentioned the public opinion, not only among Republicans, but this understanding — discomfort with government?

  • AMY WALTER:

    There is, I think.

    At its core, there’s a discomfort with government and big politics in general. Again, this is where I think Bernie Sanders has that nice sweet spot, because he’s anything but corporate. Look at him, look at his campaign.

    At the same time, we’re now at a very different place when it comes to security issues, the concern about ISIS, videos of beheadings, et cetera, that I think voters are in a different place today than they were back when Rand Paul first talked about running, and his positions I think were considered a little more popular.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And before we end tonight, I want to say a word or two about Beau Biden, who was the former attorney of Maryland — Delaware, obviously Vice President Biden’s eldest son, and certainly a rising star in the Democratic field, and turned — stepped away from the ambition.

    At a time when we see a dozen people running for president, he chose not to run for Senate a couple of years ago, when he was attorney general, because he was prosecuting a big case. He was kind of unique in that respect.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Yes.

    And it’s just — for Vice President Joe Biden, this is the second child that he’s having to say goodbye to, and also I think a piece of his political legacy, because Beau Biden was absolutely the politician that his father was, and maybe more so.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And, as we see, it’s obviously some — one of these things where there’s been this incredible outpouring in Washington and around the country.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Well, it’s one of these rare instances where there’s a bipartisan grieving. And you saw it yesterday on Twitter, where every elected official, everybody who has ever been involved in politics coming out and grieving for this man who has lost so much.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    OK.

    Amy Walter, Cook Political Report, Tamara Keith of NPR, thank you both.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Thank you.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    You’re welcome.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    See you next Monday.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest