Special: The Donald vs. The Eagle, Debate Expectations, Millennial Voters and Rahm's Woes

Dec. 11, 2015 AT 9:27 p.m. EST

Donald Trump may not be TIME's Person of the Year, but behind the scenes video from his photo shoot shows a feisty eagle taking on the GOP frontrunner. Despite some ruffled feathers and Trump's ruffled hair, Trump's campaign loved the shoot and even said of any upcoming photo shoots, "Can we get an elephant?" Meanwhile, the Republican candidates are preparing for their next debate. Questions looming include: Can Ben Carson regain momentum? And will Ted Cruz take on Trump? And a look at millennial voters shows real support for outsider and anti-establishment candidates. Plus, how Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to restore faith in his administration and the Chicago Police Department.

SEE ALSO: 16 Things to Know About...Donald Trump

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ANNOUNCER: This is the Washington Week Webcast Extra .

MS. IFILL: Hello, I’m Gwen Ifill. I’m joined around the table by Janet Hook of The Wall Street Journal , Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post , Alexis Simendinger of RealClearPolitics, and Michael Scherer of TIME Magazine.

First up, we continue the conversation that we barely touched on, Donald Trump. If he’s so much larger than life, why isn’t he TIME ’s Person of the Year? Explain yourself, Michael. (Laughter.)

MR. SCHERER: We have never in our very long history of picking many, many Persons of the Year chosen a candidate to be Person of the Year. The criteria for Person of the Year is the person or persons who has had the biggest impact on news and events, for good or ill, with the potential to do it in the following year.

Trump has clearly changed the American political conversation.

MS. IFILL: For now.

MR. SCHERER: For now. But in terms of influence, he doesn’t really have power. I mean, he has power, I guess, over our broadcasts and our – and our news columns, but he doesn’t actually have the power. If you compare him to someone like Angela Merkel, who became the Person of the Year, who, you know, stopped three – or basically directed the response to three major crises in Europe this year – the refugee crisis, the Greek debt crisis, and the – Putin’s adventures in Ukraine – there’s not really much of a comparison.

MS. IFILL: There’s not a comparison.

OK, now we have to play a little bit of the video that surfaced from a TIME Magazine shoot earlier this year. You had lots of long conversations with him. It was Donald Trump and he’s posing with an eagle. You might remember this cover of TIME . And it apparently didn’t, Michael, go very well. How did this – what happened here?

MR. SCHERER: It’s a wild animal. (Laughter.) It’s a – it’s a bald eagle with a handler who takes the eagle to appear in shoots. And, yeah, he – (laughter) – he’s going for – (laughter) –

MS. IFILL: He was like, “Aaah!”

MR. SCHERER: I mean, to be fair to Trump, he was a good sport through it all. And I was told that – I wasn’t actually there when that shoot happened, but Hope, his press aide, immediately after the shoot took the eagle and the eagle was totally calm. It was only with Trump – (laughter) – that it was bouncing around like that.

MS. IFILL: I think a lot of people have that response, I suspect.

MR. SCHERER: But he – I mean, he was – this tells you something about Trump. When the photographer came up with the idea to bring in an eagle to shoot with Trump, we gave the idea to Trump. He loved the idea. There was no hesitation. He thought it was a fantastic idea. And even when we were talking about doing another story, they were saying, well, could we get an elephant? (Laughter.) You know, like, what can – what can we do for the next –

MS. IFILL: Oh, God, what to look forward to!

MR. SCHERER: But it tells you something about Trump’s sort of antenna for the press. I mean, that video –

MS. IFILL: Well, and his antenna for a circus-like environment.

MR. SCHERER: A circus-like environment. But, you know, the photograph of that – when that story ran got far more eyeballs than the story I wrote. The photograph of Trump next to an eagle got far more eyeballs. And he’s just – he’s an excellent promoter.

MS. IFILL: So you’re saying you were used?

MR. SCHERER: I was – well, yeah, I’ll take it. I’ll take –

MS. IFILL: Aren’t we – hey, all of us. (Laughs.)

MR. SCHERER: Come for the birds, stay for the story. That’s what I say. (Laughter.)

MS. IFILL: OK, Ed, let’s review the next Republican debate, which is next up, what we’re waiting to see happen this week.

MR. O’KEEFE: Las Vegas, Tuesday night, one night only, undercard and a main card again. And we may see some significant shifts in who exactly is on which stage, because the way CNN is doing their polling criterion is they’re including results from Iowa and New Hampshire in addition to the national polls, which is what most of the broadcasters have done up until this point.

MS. IFILL: And who does that help or hurt?

MR. O’KEEFE: It hurts Rand Paul, most especially. It looks like he probably will slip to the early event because he’s not doing as well in Iowa and New Hampshire. You may see guys like Kasich, Christie and Fiorina also on the bubble, but they’re more likely to sustain their sort of prime-time position.

Feuds to watch, if you will: certainly the Ted Cruz-Marco Rubio dynamic; Donald Trump versus everyone; and as we talked about in the main broadcast, whether or not Ted Cruz would ever try to publicly take on Donald Trump and Ben Carson. And does Carson have an opportunity to come back and remind people that he’s in this race and that, beyond foreign policy, he’s someone to watch?

MS. IFILL: You know, just those last little two pieces, first of all, I will put actual money on the table that Cruz is not going to take on Trump in this setting, even though Trump might take on Cruz. And Ben Carson using this opportunity to regain his momentum, I find it hard to imagine because I’m not sure that he has the advice to know how to do that.

MR. O’KEEFE: Well, that’s a very interesting way of putting it, and I think it’s one that a lot of people acknowledge – that, despite being so popular, he’s struggling to actually sustain himself.

MR. SCHERER: Yeah, after the –

MS. HOOK: And also the debate has never been his calling card.



MS. HOOK: I mean, he didn’t do very well in the previous debates. His popularity was in spite of the fact that he did badly.

MS. IFILL: He did just well enough, yeah.

MR. SCHERER: Yeah, but it’s also true that his popularity started rising after the first and second debate. So there’s a connection he has there that I think a lot of reporters don’t see. I definitely don’t see it –

MS. IFILL: I definitely don’t see it, but it’s – he could definitely do something with it if this would be the moment.

I want to ask you about a poll that the Harvard Institute of Politics came out this week, which is about Millennials and how – I think the age is 18 to 49 – 29?

MS. HOOK: No, 18 to 29.

MS. IFILL: Twenty-nine – 29 are voting. And actually, they are supporting on the Democratic side Bernie Sanders, on the Republican side Donald Trump.

MS. HOOK: Right, which shows that the Millennials have a taste for, I would say, outsider candidates, anti-establishment candidates. You do have to realize, though, that that poll showed, you know, the favoring Sanders among those who said they were going to be Democratic voters, and there are a lot more Democratic voters than there are Republican voters.

MS. IFILL: Among college – or people in that age group.

MS. HOOK: Among the people in this age group. I mean, the really bad news for the Republicans in this poll, who have been struggling to, you know, get any kind of foothold among Millennials, is that the – when asked would you prefer to have a Democrat or a Republican, just generically, in the White House, the skew in favor of the Democrat had increased from six months ago. So they sat and watched the last six months of campaigning and said, well, maybe – and actually all of the movement was – it wasn’t that more people said Democrat than six months ago, but fewer said Republican. And the whole drop was because of independents. So –

MS. IFILL: Oh, interesting. So that’s what Hillary is counting on.

MS. HOOK: That’s what Hillary’s counting on.

MS. IFILL: Or hoping to exploit.

Now for something completely different. Alexis, let’s talk about our old White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, current mayor of Chicago, who has been having a rough couple of weeks in part because there are open questions about what he knew and when he knew it involving a video of the shooting of a young black man, Laquan McDonald, in Chicago. He came out this week and apologized, a Rahm none of us have ever seen before, possibly because he’s trying to save his career.

MS. SIMENDINGER: Definitely because he’s trying to save his career. In some ways this has been a political story, but in some ways it’s a very heartbreaking story about Chicago, the city itself, right, and what’s happened in a city that has been ridden by crime and has many decades of complaints about policing and justice in the city. And some of the complaints about the mayor is that he ignored those complaints, and the features of his city that his community, his citizens wanted fixed. And the complaints about him are, should he resign? He said no. He has apologized to the city, hoping that that will be enough. He initially –

MS. IFILL: For the whole problem, not for this particular case, for his role in it.

MS. SIMENDINGER: For the whole problem, and that he let them down, right. You know, but he’s not saying that he’s in any way guilty of anything.

MS. IFILL: And where does that put the president, his old boss and friend?

MS. SIMENDINGER: It brought Rahm Emanuel right back into the White House Briefing Room again this week, which is so interesting because Rahm Emanuel was chief of staff to Barack Obama, but he was also chief of staff to Bill Clinton. So he has ties to two – you know, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And the president’s spokesman was asked to defend, in some ways, the mayor of Chicago, and said it’s up to Chicago to figure out. But then he also said that Rahm was trying to put in place reforms in his city that would take a long time to realize.

MS. IFILL: It’s going to be one of the most interesting non-2016 political stories to watch this year.


MS. IFILL: Thank you, everybody.

If you, like me, are still getting your holiday shopping done, or any of it done – (laughter) – here’s a tip: check out our holiday reading list, the best 2015 suggestions from Washington’s best panelists. You can find it at PBS.org/WashingtonWeek. And we’ll see you the next time on the Washington Week Webcast Extra .

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