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Wake Up To Politics - November 14, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

67 Days Until Inauguration DayI'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!

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WUTP Newsmakers: Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean

  • Introducing WUTP Newsmakers: your chance to hear directly from influencers in American politics. Today's "Newsmakers" segment features an interview with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a 2004 presidential candidate and ex-chairman of the DNC now vying to lead the Democratic Party once again:
  • Howard Dean Vying To Lead Democrats Out of Disarray Once More
  • Just two weeks ago, the Democratic Party seemed a lock to keep the White House for four more years, win back the majority in the U.S. Senate, and possibly even gain enough ground in the U.S. House as well. Today, the party is in chaos, as Democrats grapple with the reality of four years as the opposition party in a Trump Administration, and at least two more years in the minority in Congress.
  • “I was shocked,” former Vermont governor Howard Dean said of Trump’s victory in an interview with . Unlike some Democrats, Dean is turning that surprise towards action. “The [Democrats] need organization and focus on the young. Need a fifty State strategy and tech rehab,” he tweeted on Thursday. “I am in for chairman again.”
  • Chaos in the Democratic Party has been simmering for months, visibly since Bernie Sanders’ challenge to Hillary Clinton in the presidential primaries earlier this year, and loudly since Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) was forced to resign as chair of the Democratic National Committee in July, after email leaks revealed her preference for Clinton. Since then, the party has been led by interim chair Donna Brazile – a temporary leader for a party in need of permanent solutions.
  • “I think the party needs to be rebuilt from the ground up,” Dean said in the interview. “I think it needs to vigorously go after young people, who were the one group that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton, and I think you need a full-time person to do that.”
  • Since Dean’s Twitter announcement, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) – who, in the primaries, was one of just ten members of Congress to endorse Sanders – has emerged as a potential candidate for the chairmanship. Ellison’s candidacy, expected to become official today, gained backing from progressives like Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as well as establishment figures like incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Other potential candidates for the chairmanship that have been mentioned include former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley; Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander; Labor Secretary Tom Perez; the chairmen of the South Carolina and New Hampshire Democratic Parties; and even Vice President Joe Biden
  • Dean, who has already served as DNC chairman from 2005 to 2009, after his tenure as Vermont governor from 1991 to 2003 and 2004 presidential campaign, focused his attention on Ellison in the interview, stressing that the Minnesotan's simultaneous service as a Congressman and Chairman would be detrimental to the party. “You cannot do this job if you're a sitting politician. It will not work,” he said. “This is at least an 80-hour a week job, and if you're doing your job in Congress, you cannot do your job here. We’ve seen a lot of people who tried, and most people have not succeeded. I don’t know of one that has.”
  • Dean also drew a comparison between the party’s current state and when he first entered the chairmanship, after George W. Bush’s re-election, telling Wake Up To Politics: “My track record from 2005 to 2009 was that I came in without the House, the Senate, or the Presidency, and I left when we had all three, so that has to be rebuilt, and I’m a good person to do it, because I’ve done it before.”
  • Indeed, during his DNC tenure, the Democratic Party regained the Presidency and congressional majorities. Since 2008, the number of Democratic senators has dropped by 10%; the party has lost 19% of its membership in the House, according to the Washington Post. At the state level, the party’s downfall is even more pronounced: the number of Democratic state legislators has dropped by 20% and the number of Democratic governors by 36%.
  • While Dean declined to “go through a big analysis” of Clinton’s defeat, he did offer a glimpse at how he would refocus the party if elected chairman: “There’s lots of things that went wrong…The country's changing rapidly and the future is people between the ages of 18 and 35 and they're overwhelming voting for Democrats, but they don’t always vote, so we've got to make sure that happens, and we've also got to start reaching out to the people who voted for Donald Trump, who are going to discover that what they just bought was not so good.”
  • As chairman again, Dean says he would re-implement the “50-State Strategy” that he crafted in the 2000’s. “That means we compete everywhere,” he explained. “We make sure that the parties have enough resources to do their job. We build a unified database and then we have to make a particular effort to [the young] generation. The reason for that is [they’re] going to be around for 50 years, so I sort of jokingly call this the 50-50 plan: 50 states and 50 years.”
  • At 67, does the former Vermont governor believe he can lead the charge for young voters, as he said would be a priority? “Let’s not forget, I was the first person to bring this generation which elected Barack Obama president and followed Bernie Sanders,” Dean responded. “I was the one that brought them into politics, so I have a pretty good feeling for this generation.” Dean’s 2004 campaign was considered groundbreaking in its grassroots use of the Internet, preceding Obama’s similar tactics four years later.
  • A number of now-prominent Democratic strategists cut their teeth working on Dean’s 2004 campaign, including Robby Mook, who served as campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid this year. Dean said he emailed Mook to inform him of his DNC candidacy, but has not spoken to the Clintons or anyone in their orbit and has “no idea” if they will back a candidate for the chairmanship.
  • “I agree,” he continued, addressing the age question, “it would be nice to have somebody younger, but you have to have a full-time chair,” Dean insisted, in another shot at Ellison’s inability to lead the party full-time while he is also a Congressman (a criticism frequently leveled at Debbie Wasserman Schultz).
  • The fault lines in the party have already emerged in the mere days since Hillary Clinton was defeated. The Huffington Post reported Thursday that in the first DNC staff meeting since the election, interim chair Donna Brazile was accosted by a staffer who demanded of her: “Why should we trust you as chair to lead us through this?...You are part of the problem. You and your friends will die of old age and I’m going to die from climate change. You and your friends let this happen, which is going to cut 40 years off my life expectancy.”
  • While Dean said the report was “a bit sensationalized,” stressing that it is “one incident involving one person,” but said a full-blown civil war in the party “needs to be pulled together” and a full-blown war is “to be resisted.” Asked about Schumer’s and Sanders’ endorsements for his opponent, Dean said that he “respect[s] all of them…and [has] a great relationship with them.”
  • “I campaigned door-to-door with Keith Ellison when he was first elected,” Dean elaborated later. “I like the guy a lot, but he cannot do this job without being full-time. That’s going to be a bad disservice to his constituents, but more importantly, it’s going to be a disservice to the Americans in the Democratic Party.”
  • Ellison may have star power from both ends of the Democratic spectrum on his side, but Dean said he believes his experience would be “enormously helpful” in leading the party. As he wages to win over support from the DNC members he led not long ago, that experience couldn’t hurt. “I've already picked up two state delegations in less than 24 hours,” Dean revealed.” He continued, confidently assessing his chances: “Look, this is not going to be a heavy lift, the question is what is it going to do to the party. I would much rather have a harmonious election where everybody sits down and agrees to what we're going to do, but you cannot have a chair that is not full-time,” he repeated for a final time, employing a talking point that will likely be repeated again and again in the days to come, as Democrats grapple with selecting someone to lead them through their difficult path forward.
  • Email WUTP with ideas for other potential WUTP Newsmakers and I will try to reach out to them or let me know if you have connections with anyone it might be interesting for the WUTP readership to hear from.
  • Now, to the news:

Transition Central

  • Trump Taps Priebus for Chief of Staff, with Bannon in Senior Role In the first signal of how he will stock his administration, President-elect Donald Trump announced Sunday that Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus will serve as his White House Chief of Staff, while campaign CEO and Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon will assume the role of Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President.
  • "Bannon and Priebus will continue the effective leadership team they formed during the campaign, working as equal partners to transform the federal government, making it much more efficient, effective and productive," read a statement from Trump's transition team. However, it is hard to imagine Priebus, the quintessential Washington insider and close friend and ally of fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan who led the Republican efforts to reach out to minority voters after the party's 2012 autopsy, working at all with Bannon, who prides himself on being a "virulently anti-establishment" outsider and called Ryan "the enemy" while opposing Ryan's re-election to Congress and the Speakership from his post at Breitbart, which Bannon himself called "the platform for the alt-right," a white nationalist ideology associated with white supremacism, Islamophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and nativism.
  • The twin appointments of Priebus and Bannon set up two competing power bases in the Trump White House, with both expected to have the ear of the President. "I guess the operative question is how power is actually divided," David Axelrod, who served as White House Senior Adviser under President Obama, tweeted. At least titularly, Sunday's announcement places Priebus ahead of Bannon: while Counselor to the President has traditionally been a top role in the Executive Office of the President (EOP), it is the Chief of Staff who oversees the EOP and the entire White House.
  • Every President sets up their own power structures, oftentimes in extensions of what existed in their campaign. When Obama entered the White House, he appointed Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff and instead of a Counselor, tapped three Senior Advisers: Axelrod, Pete Rouse, and Valerie Jarrett. Like in the Trump White House, Emanuel was a longtime Washington insider; Axelrod and Jarrett were operatives from Chicago, the President's closest and must trusted friends. Emanuel lasted less than two years as Chief of Staff; Jarrett remains in the same role she entered in: Emanuel and many aides exited the White House jealous of Jarrett's influence over Obama, perhaps similar to the influence Bannon is said to hold over Trump.
  • A similar dynamic was set up in the George W. Bush White House, with Chief of Staff Andrew Card in charge of the day-to-day operation while Senior Adviser Karl Rove, who was said to truly have the President's ear, led the "big picture" strategizing. In many Administrations, it is the Jarrett and Rove who remain longer, as the "Senior Adviser" or "Counselor" positions have vague portfolios that don't require them to get bogged down in the day-to-day headaches faced by the Chief of Staff, a title that carries a much more clear job description and "inherent authorities that advisers do not," as Axelord tweeted. On paper, the choice of Priebus above Bannon as Chief of Staff seems to be a sign that Trump will pursue more of a classic conservative as President; however, whoever Trump himself grants authority and influence will hold it in the end. It remains unknown who that individual will be.
  • On the Trump campaign, Bannon held a similar behind-the-scenes "big picture" role, while Priebus ran much of the operational aspects of the campaign as chairman of the RNC, where he gained Trump's trust by standing by him even as many Republicans didn't. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was largely responsible for communicating the campaign's message, and is expected to become White House Communications Director or Press Secretary. According to reports, like the campaign, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner will not hold a formal role but will have effective veto power over Bannon and Priebus.
  • On Twitter, a number of establishment Republicans praised Trump for his Chief of Staff pick. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) called Priebus an "excellent choice" who "is great to work with and knows how to get things done; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who voted for Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin last week, called Priebus an "outstanding choice" and said "this shows me [Trump] is serious about governing." House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tweeted that he is "very proud and excited" for his friend Priebus.
  • Leaders of many social conservative Christian groups also praised Priebus: Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannefelser said that the appointment "once again solidified [Trump's] commitment to the pro-life cause"; Family Research Council president Tony Perkins called the choice a "wise selection"; and Faith & Freedom Coalition executive director Timothy Head added that "President-elect Trump has shown great wisdom and acumen" in the selections. All three groups heavily focus on their relationship with Priebus and the RNC, devoting paragraphs in their statements to praising the chairman, while Bannon was mentioned not at all by Dannefelser, once by Head, and in a single line in Perkins' statement that was added in a visibly different font and size.
  • Meanwhile, many Trump critics focused just on the selection of Bannon. John Weaver, a Republican operative who served as Chief Strategist on John McCain's  2008 presidential campaign, Jon Huntsman's 2012 run, and John Kasich's presidential bid this year, called Bannon a "racist, anti-semite" in a tweet, and said: "The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsepts from the Oval Office. Be very vigilant America."
  • Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, in a statement from his spokesman Adam Jentleson, also ignored Priebus and piled on Bannon: "President-elect Trump's choice of Steve Bannon as his top aide signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump's White House," he said. "It is easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion when Trump appoints on one of the foremost peddlers of White Supremacist themes and rhetoric as his top aide." The statement also cites Bannon's ex-wife's charges of domestic abuse and her court statement that "he said he doesn't like Jews," as well as inflammatory Breitbart headlines from Bannon's tenure as head of the website which label conservative commentator and Trump critic Bill Kristol as a "renegade Jew," declare that "birth control makes women unattractive and crazy," and urge women to "just log off" social media as accusations of online harassment are "screwing up the Internt for men."
  • Trump also sat for his first interview as President-elect on Sunday, a wide-ranging discussion with CBS' Lesley Stahl which aired on "60 Minutes." Trump made a number of revealing comments in the interview, addressing his judicial picks ("the judges will be pro-life"), President Obama ("I found him to be terrific"), his ISIS strategy ("I'm not gonna say anything'), gay marriage ("I'm fine with that"), corruption in Washington ("We're putting on term limits"), his tax returns ("nobody cares"), hiring a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton ("I don't want to hurt them"), his supporters harassing minority individuals ("Stop it"), and other topics.
  • For the President-elect, much of the next two months will be spent announcing more appointments, and continuing to role out his choices for high-profile staff and Cabinet positions. On Friday, Trump announced the individuals who will assist him in those choices, unveiling the membership of a "new implementation phase" of his transition team. Trump announced that Vice President-elect Mike Pence would take over the transition team, replacing embattled Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), who is currently embrolied in the Bridgegate scandal, as chairman, a preview of the authority Pence will hold in the Administration.
  • Trump also announced that Dr. Ben Carson, Christie, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) - essentially a "who's who" of Trump's top campaign surrogates - will serve as Vice Chairs of the transition team. Other members of the team include Reps. Lou Barletta, Marsha Blackburn, Chris Collins, Tom Marino, and Devin Nunes; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Priebus and Bannon; as well as three of Trump's children and Trump's son-in-law, despite their taking over of managing Trump's business portfolio, a potential conflict of interest.
  • "Personnel is policy," the SBA List president said in her statement, an apt cliché. Choices like Pence as the head of the transition, and installing his family as members, are revealing of who will hold power in the Trump Administration. Just as Obama's 2009 appointment of Emanuel as Chief of Staff signaled his wish to reach out to Congress and pass health care and stimulus legislation, Trump's selection of Priebus is an olive branch to congressional Republicans (Ryan in particular) who were skeptical of his presidential bid - while his appointment of Bannon is a nod to the supporters who fueled Trump's candidacy.

White House Watch

  • The President's Schedule President Barack Obama has some business in Washington today before he departs for a weeklong foreign trip.
  • At 12:30pm, the President will have his weekly lunch with Vice President Joe Biden in the White House Private Dining Room.
  • At 3:15pm, he will hold a press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room, his first solo news conference since September 8, offering reporters their first opportunity to question the President since Donald Trump defeated his favored successor and since meeting with Trump at the White House. Obama's last time answering any questions was at a October 18 news conference with the Italian Prime Minister.
  • At 5pm Eastern Time, the President will speak to Democrats on a conference call organized by the Democratic National Committee.
  • Finally, at 6:05pm, Obama will depart the White House for Athens, Greece, the first stop on a weeklong trip to Greece, Germany, and Peru, were the President will meet with foreign leaders and attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Summit. President Obame will arrive in Greece on Tuesday, and although each day abroad has a specific goal, much of the trip is expected to be taken up by Obama answering questions about America's new President. This is Obama's 52nd, and probably final, foreign trip as President, according to CBS' Mark Knoller.

Capitol Hill News

  • Congressional Schedule Both houses of Congress have been in recess since September 28. Now that the elections are over, the House returns for its lame-duck session today, while the Senate will meet again on Tuesday.
  • The House meets at 2pm today; the chamber will not hold any votes until 6:30pm, when eight pieces of legislation are expected to be easily approved. The bills being passed today cover a range of actions:
  1. the creation of a national diabetes commission
  2. the development of a fourth Health Professional Shortage Area, expanding National Health Service Corps loan repayment to health care providers who work in maternity care (physicians working in the dental, mental health, and primary care providing sectors already receive such loans)
  3. the reauthorization of the Nursing Workforce Development programs, and the addition of clinical nurse specialists in the programs
  4. the authorization for "emergency medical service practitioners to administer controlled substances in the field under direction from a medical director"
  5. the establishment of a Concrete Masonry Products Board, to spread research, educational, and promotional programs relating to products made from concrete, such as cinder blocks.
  6. the creation of a Bureau of Economic Analysis study on the U.S. outdoor recreation economy
  7. the requirement of rural "providers of voice communication services to register with the FCC" and the requirement of the FCC to establish "service quality standards for those providers."
  8. and the expansion of the authority of the FCC to penalize and fine individuals that "use fake information about a caller’s identification to defraud or harm another."
  • Also today: orientation will begin for incoming members of the House who won elections in November; the three members who won special elections last week, Reps. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), James Comer (R-KY), and Dwight Evans (D-PA), will be sworn in; and both parties will choose their nominees for House Speaker and other posts ahead of the leadership elections Tuesday.

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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation", St. Louis Public Radio, the Political Junkie podcast, and on StoryCorps; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki"; and read about Gabe in Politico, the Washington Post, Independent Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Salon, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light.