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That's zip recruiter dotcom slash crooked. Welcome to Save America, I'm John Pfeiffer. I'm Dan Pfeiffer. Later in the pod, Dan talks to Renee Montgomery oh, WNBA player who's taken this season off to focus on activism and social justice. Before that, we'll talk about how Donald Trump may have obliterated whatever bounce he got from his convention and what Joe Biden's big fundraising numbers could mean for the final stretch of the race.
Sixty one days, I think we're 61 days.
Then they get 60 to 62.
And we're going to do the thing where we never know what the right day is because we can't decide if we're going to Election Day. OK, probably quick housekeeping note.
Check out this week's pod, Save the World with Tommy on vacation. Ben is joined by Karen Attia of The Washington Post to talk about her former colleague, the late Jamal Khashoggi, Jared Kushner's coddling of dictators and the global legacy of actor Chadwick Boseman.
We also have a brand new episode of Campaign Experts React and tell us who was on this week.
I talked to Alex O'Keefe is the creative director at the Centrist Movement and the person behind the viral sensation, the Green New Deal Maker ad about Ed Markey.
As I as I said in that episode, in the short and storied history of this YouTube series, no ad has ever been as requested as that one. So instead of just talking about the ad we had, the guy who actually made the ad on Alex is an incredibly smart, incredibly talented ad maker who really will make you feel more optimistic about the future of Democratic politics, knowing there are people like Alex in there. It's a fascinating conversation. I even was forced to nerd out on video and film techniques because Alija made me there's a lot of fun and I think he's right.
It might be my favorite episode we have done. Alex.
Great. I have a little beef with Eliza that he thought that one scene was supposed to be a take on the new pope when it was obviously supposed to reference the departed because it's a fucking Boston ad man.
It is pretty great in there that Alija out there did himself with that one.
But the bit like one of the great anecdotes from that interview that Alex told me is that they watched The Departed with Ed Markey before making that ad to get him an appropriately bastard mentality.
Wow, that is great. That is so funny.
One of my one of my favorite movies ever, you were required to say that you don't care with the Red Sox cap on. Also, thank you to the more than twenty one thousand of you who have signed up to be poll workers this week. You absolutely crushed our goal. In the first day it was 10000. You blew right by it because you did more polling places will be open, which means more people will have the chance to vote. And if you still want to sign up to be a poll worker, you can we encourage you to go to vote, save America dotcom, every last vote.
All right, let's get to the news. So last week, Republicans packaged a bunch of lies, racial grievances and Hatch Act violations into a carefully scripted convention that ended with their nominee. Reading a teleprompter speech with almost no ad libs.
This week, Donald Trump compared a police officer killing unarmed black men to missing a putt, repeatedly denied that he suffered a series of mini strokes, even though no one said he had urged his supporters to commit voter fraud by casting their ballot twice. And sat down with Laura Ingram for an interview on Fox, where he said this.
And Biden, while Biden is I don't even like to mention Biden because he's not controlling anything. Who do you think is pulling Biden strings?
Is it former Obama people that you've never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows, people that are.
What does that mean? That sounds like conspiracy theory. A dark shadow is people that you haven't heard of.
There are people that are on the streets. There are people that are controlling the streets. We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend. And in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that. They're there on a plane. Where is the worst? I'll tell you sometime. But it's under investigation right now. But they came from a certain city and this person was coming to the Republican National Convention and they were like seven people on the plane, like this person.
And then a lot of people are on the plane to do big damage. They were coming planning for Washington. Yeah, this was all this is all happening.
So so Trump made this story, his campaign message the next day as well when he said this to reporters, that person was on a plane.
Said that there were about six people like that person, more or less, and what happened is the entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, the rioters, people that obviously were looking for trouble and the person felt very uncomfortable in the plane. This would be a person, you know, so I will see whether or not I can get that person. I'll let them know and I'll see whether or not I can get that person to speak to you.
But this was a firsthand account of a plane going from Washington to wherever. And I'll see if I can get that information for you. Maybe they'll speak to you.
Maybe they will be all right. So I want to talk about all the crazy shit he's done over the last few days. But I do want to start with what our good friend Cody Keenan is calling Aatif.
What what was he trying to do here?
Where did where did this come from? What is going on?
Well, it does actually have I mean, like to all trump things. It is a crazy thing that some crazy person told him that he took completely and totally seriously. This has been a conspiracy theory, that it's been going around primarily on Facebook for a long time. So much so that some local police officials have actually been forced to put out statements to say it's not true. David Nunez, who is a canary in the coal mine of Crazy, you know, talks about this on a radio interview last week, I think.
And so it it's just like what the first like last thing in the ear is first thing out of the mouth. And so Trump kept pushing this and you can feel him doubling down on all of his. Oh, I might be caught lying crutches saying he's under investigation, directly related to his I'm under audit, which is why I can't release my taxes crutch. Then the other one that he likes to do is someone famous told me this, but I can't violate their confidence because as you know, what plane you fly on is very private.
Remember the his friend in Paris who told him about the the no go zones, I think was a classic one of a few years ago that was a classic classic of the genre.
I just think it's like, first of all, do you have any guesses on who the prominent person is originally?
I have just presumed it was Rudy Giuliani who is usually the person who tells him insane things.
It is it is said that it's just, you know, one of those things that he probably found on Facebook, which means that the president and 40 percent of the public believe this story.
That was my that was my darker thought about the thing. But I also it's very indicative of why he continues to blow opportunities to drive a message, which is an understatement, because Laura Ingram, even at the beginning there, tries to throw him a lifeline, which she does through the whole interview, should watch it.
It's like embarrassing for her. But she continues to try to throw him these lifelines, like. So who's pulling Biden strings? Former Obama officials. Right. Like maybe, you know, like a bunch of liberals, bunch of leftists trying to control Biden, pulling him to the left.
He's going to have more liberal policies than you want. Right? A potential message that may be effective. No decides to avoid all of that and just go right to people in the dark shadows dressed in black who jumped on a fucking plane.
Those people controlling Joe Biden. It's unbelievable. I mean, do you think this is like to me, this is starting to seem like the caravan of 20/20.
Not just the plane thing, but the general, there's an TIFA in the streets and your city and all that bullshit.
Yeah, I think that's right. I think the other thing just about Laura Ingram, I think is so notable. It's not like she's trying to give him a different message. She's trying to bring him back to his own message. The message in his at his convention speech is like, no, that is not where I'm going. I'm going right to my Facebook conspiracy's, which I think and this was noted in a piece in Vox, is the dark, shadowy people pulling the strings.
The Feenan financier's is all a piece of kuhnen, right? It is this idea that there is this global cabal of elites that are in charge of fighting and everything else. And so, like, there's allusions to that. To answer your question, Donald Trump has been unable to find a way to vilify Joe Biden. So he's looking for anything and everything he possibly can to scare people. And so he's just like running through a menu of things and he's been unable to do it.
Just like with the caravan. It is very hard to make people care about something that is not real and is certainly secondary to the very real concerns they have about very real threats and very real dangers.
And you can see in some of the polling that we're going to talk about later that some of this works on the margins in that in one poll, people were saying that they do believe there's been an increase in crime in some cities, but not where they live, not in their own city. So by creating this sort of imaginary threat, as he did with the caravan, as he's now doing with Antifa, he is able to get his base and some people to think that somewhere in the country there may be a problem.
But his challenge is that most people's reality is not that they live in a crime ridden place. It is that they are living in the middle of a pandemic where they probably can't leave their house that much. And the economy is in really bad shape. That's the reality that most people are facing.
I also just want to play this was not a clip of something that happened this week, but someone recirculated. It was from a meeting that he had with police officers in July. And it's just one of my favorite clips of all time.
And then they have cans of soup, soup, and they throw the cans of soup. That's better than a brick because you can't throw a brick. It's too heavy, but a can of soup, you can really put some power into that. Right. And then when they get caught, they say, no, this is soup for my family. They're so innocent. This is soup for my family. It's incredible. And you have people coming over with bags of soup, big bags of soup, and they lay it on the ground and the attic is taken and they start throwing it at our cops and our police and it it hits you.
That's worse than a brick because it's got force. It's a perfect size. It's like made perfect. And when they get caught, they say, no, this is just soup for my family. And then the media says, this is just soup.
These people are very, very innocent. They're innocent people. These are just protesters. Isn't it wonderful to allow protesting soup for my family?
It's just soup for my family. Why did I come back? I don't know.
A bunch of people started circulating because I think I mean, it is part of this sort of another completely imaginary story. Someone probably told them that someone got hit with a soup can once like that. There's always like a kernel of truth to these, right? Like some probably get hit with the soup can. And now there's just like Antifa members just running around with big bags of soup. And then when they get caught, it's it's soup for my family.
Soup for my family. On a more serious note, Trump also signed a memo yesterday not saying that he'll be restricting federal money from cities that he's calling anarchist jurisdictions otherwise known as Seattle, Portland, New York City, Washington, DC. And basically, according to the memo, whatever other cities Bill Barr chooses.
A former federal budget official told The Washington Post that the memo is nothing more than a campaign document. The courts would almost certainly strike down.
Is this another weak attempt to appear strong?
Yeah, it's it's just to your message box point. You're now you're now famous message box. Yes, it is. Yeah. Once again, Trump is like he, as our friend David Axelrod say. He rolls out the big cannon and outcomes a little flag that says Powell because he's done this a thousand times now. He says, I'm going to cut off funding for sanctuary cities. I'm going to cut off fire fighting, funding for California and everything else.
And he never does it because when he is a weak coward, afraid of confrontation and to he almost never has the legal authority to actually do it. And so people hand him out. He signs it with great fanfare. Some of the press cover it. But I think most of the press is pretty skeptical of these things now and then. Nothing happens afterwards. But when you make a declaration and then you don't follow up on it, it is you are proving your weakness to voters.
And look. I understand some of these threats he makes are legitimately scary if he could carry them out.
We went through this with his threat to end birthright citizenship before the midterms in 2018, and it was fairly obvious at first that it was completely unconstitutional.
He could do that. It was against the law, that kind of stuff. But people are rightly afraid because he has stacked the courts. He has a Supreme Court that's favorable to him. Right. But there are some things that he tries to do that are just obviously a court will still strike it down, even a pretty friendly court.
And some of it just this is one of those things that just appears to be some kind of a campaign document. Everyone sort of laughed at it like, well, could he find some right wing judges to uphold it? Maybe. But does it get through all of the courts? Probably not. Yeah.
And do they even actually do it right?
That's the question. Right. Right. Yeah, that's the other thing. Sometimes the threat comes, the memo comes, and then there's just no follow up because all they want is the news cycle for that day.
So we should also talk about the mini strokes.
New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt has a new book where he writes that when Trump took an unannounced visit to Walter Reed in twenty nineteen, Mike Pence was told, quote, to be on standby to take over the powers of the presidency temporarily. If Trump had to undergo a procedure that would have required him to be anesthetized.
The president responded by tweeting, quote, It never ends. Now they're trying to say that your favorite president, me, went to Walter Reed Medical Center, having suffered a series of mini strokes, never happened to this candidate. Fake news. Trump then repeated the same denial, unprompted, multiple times throughout the day until the White House physician put out a statement also denying that Trump suffered a series of mini strokes, an assertion that wasn't made in Schmidt's book or reported by any reputable news outlets.
Where do you think this came from? Like what the hell is going on with him? Why volunteer the mini strokes?
I mean, he he's Clint like to go to, like, put some context as as you mentioned, in November of last year, which was approximately 10000 years ago, Trump made this mysterious, unannounced visit to Walter Reed. It happened somewhat suddenly. There have been rumors spreading about what it meant for a very long time.
And that's a pretty significant thing for the president to seek medical treatment outside of his normal physical outside of the White House, because you can do almost everything short of surgery. And I think like X-rays at the White House because there's a full medical operation there. And so you have to go to Walter Reed. It suggests something potentially serious. It is like the most Trump thing, which is to be like, hey, do you hear this damaging thing that only a few people know?
I am going to deny it from the rooftops to ensure that everyone knows. And the most offensive definitely doth protest too much sort of way to make sure that everyone possibly knows it. And it you know, let me make sure it's a very good reporter.
And the idea that Pence would have been instructed to take to be prepared to take command of the government, which would be alarming on for many, many things, including the impending release of the live action.
Mullen movie is like a very real thing. But it's once again, like everything else here, it's Trump heading to what was supposed to be a very important day for his campaign, just stomping all over his own message out of moronic defensiveness. Yeah, I mean, to say the least, and not to keep going here, but I think it's also important to note that the president may have committed a felony yesterday when he encouraged his supporters to break the law by voting twice after we got past mini strokes and IRTPA, we got this from North Carolina.
Here's a clip.
600000 people could vote by absentee in this state. I don't want you call you confident in that. Well, I'll go out and they'll vote and they're going to have to go and check their vote by going to the ball and voting that way, because if it if it tabulates and they won't be able to do that. So let them send it in and let them go vote and have their systems as good as they say it is, then obviously they won't be able to vote.
If it isn't tabulated, they'll be able to vote. So that's the way it is and that's what they should do. I don't like the idea of these unsolicited votes. I never did. It leads to a lot of problems. It's got they've got 11 problems already on very small contests, so I'm not happy about it. At the same time, we're in court, but a lot of it we're going to see if it can be stopped. But send in your ballots, send them in strong, whether it's solicited or unsolicited.
The absentees are fine. We have to work to get them, you know, something and you send them in, but you go to vote. And if they haven't counted it, you can vote. So that's the way I view it.
You see, he wants people to attempt voter fraud in order to prove that voter fraud can happen. Doesn't doesn't that make sense to you?
I mean, just to step back for a second, his message of the entire week and for the bulk of this campaign is law and order. And so for Law and Order Week, his first move was to encourage people to commit crimes. It's like, what are we doing here? Like the North Carolina elections board had to put out a statement today telling people not to listen to their president who just encouraged them to commit crime.
I mean. So it's all all of this is like very chaotic and horrific, but from a purely political standpoint, you know, I do have to say that the unhinged meltdown all week was far more damaging to him, I think, than what came out of the Republican convention. Like, is it isn't this Trump's single biggest weakness in this campaign? He needs the race to be about Joe Biden, but he is incapable of making anything about something other than himself.
Yeah, that's right, and it's I will say that not to divulge private communications between us, but you the week of the convention, you were deeply concerned about Trump's lack of tweeting.
Yes, I was. No, I also I thought he well, I started the convention week feeling good because remember, on Monday, he decided to drop in after he got officially nominated unannounced and give like a 50 minute rambling speech. And I thought, oh, whatever they have planned, we're going to get this all week.
Random Trump appearances where he gives crazy speeches is going to tweet crazy shit. And after Monday, he didn't. He gave them four days basically of scripted convention messaging. He stayed on the prompter, gave this very boring low energy speech, but it was on their message, barely ad libbed. And to the extent that they had any success out of their convention at all, it's because it wasn't actually focused that much on Trump. They were able to focus.
Basically, their message was Democrats and Joe Biden are horrible and here's why. And you're not that racist if you support Donald Trump because there are other Americans of color who are supporting him. That was basically the message that there wasn't much humanizing of Donald Trump in that convention. There wasn't much about Donald Trump in that convention.
And so, yeah, I was a little I was very concerned about that. But then I did think to myself, like, twenty four hours after those things over, he's coming back.
Yeah. I thought you were gleefully texting as soon as those tweets started firing off Saturday morning.
I mean, it like it is interesting. And it wasn't like we talked a lot about how scripted Trump that convention was and how scripted Trump was when we talked about the convention last week. But what I think is more apparent now and hindsight is and this is like ironic to say the least, but the even though Trump made an appearance in some way, shape or form Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, that four days of the convention was the least, we've actually seen Trump in six years.
Right. He wasn't tweeting. He was doing interviews. He was participating that his speech was relatively scripted for Trump. He was doing since we saw him there was in these pretty low energy, definitely illegal interactions at a naturalization ceremony or pardons. But he wasn't being crazy, Trump, and he wasn't sort of dictating the news cycle in the way he normally does it.
Like this is the inverse of what has benefited Trump throughout his time in politics, which is, you know, we get fresh about this all the time, which is at the exact moment when we were about to be able to convince the public to care about a crime or a controversy or a policy, something more and more outrageous happens and knocks it out of the news cycle. And so we're just on this constant conveyor belt of crazy. But that is also what is preventing him from driving a message about Joe Biden, because every time he could possibly make any progress, he gets in his own way and brings the focus back to himself.
And like so the thing that has preserved him to whatever extent he's been preserved for the last many years is now his undoing. And it comes to this campaign. Yeah, I mean, look, we'll talk about all the polling in a second, I, I'm sure there are many Republican consultants, some of them who work for the Trump campaign, many of them who could make a more effective argument against Joe Biden, even on issues of crime and policing and looting then Trump is doing right now.
I could I could make a better case. Don't don't you, that I'm not going to say in here. I've thought about it in my mind, but I'm not going to say it here. But we could most people working on politics could make a more effective case.
Trump is incapable of doing so because he has no discipline.
And it's sort of reminded me of at the beginning of the pandemic, when we got a lot, we got a whole round of new tone stories because Trump, at the very beginning of the pandemic, seemed a little more serious.
He seemed a touch more disciplined.
I'm not talking for long time, like the first week maybe.
And he did those press conferences, and that's when the press conferences were like very heavy on Foushee and Berk's. And a lot of the experts and Trump sort of stayed back. And it lasted like a week right before he was like telling everyone to go inject bleach and all that good stuff. But that in his poll numbers, there was a rally around the president effect.
His poll numbers improved.
And then once again, he ruined it because he can't make anything about something other than himself. It had to be about Trump and his ratings and his successes, imaginary and all that kind of stuff. Like it's just and I think that's going to be a problem for him in these last two months is he really needs to make the race about Joe Biden, but can't seem to do it.
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So let's talk about how Joe Biden is responding.
A week after George Packer and a number of anxious Democrats urged Biden to go to Kenosha in order to avoid more political damage. He's there today on the heels of a new Fox News poll that shows him leading Donald Trump in the state of Wisconsin by fifty to forty two percent and preferred on the issue of criminal justice and policing by forty seven to forty two percent. This was just one poll of about a million on Wednesday that show Biden maintaining his lead over Trump.
The five thirty eight average has him up seven point three percent as of this recording, which is just about one percent lower than at the start of both conventions. In addition to Fox polls in Arizona that had Biden up nine in North Carolina, that had him up ten. There was a Monmouth poll of Pennsylvania that had Biden thirteen point lead in July shrink to a four point lead now. So that was the one sort of tighter poll from yesterday's batch.
So everyone's been a little anxious since the convention. Including the two of us, certainly me, I'll admit it, even, you know, even normally calm and rational observers like you and I every once in a while, you know, usually very chill about everything.
Now that you've seen all these polls, how do you feel overall?
I guess if the question was, do I feel better, worse or the same? I think I feel the same. Which which is. Biden is in a good position, but we have a long way to go, and he is playing in a very tilted playing field because Electoral College spots Trump four to five points. And so, like, I think you should like his Democrats, we should feel good that the like. There are some big moments in the last month that Biden had to get over announcing your VP successfully.
That's an important decision. That's one of the five moments that matter. He did that. Well, I think the Democratic Convention did well. The Republican Convention was an opportunity for Trump to potentially have some impact on the race in that he did not that did not happen. So, you know, we've passed some key moments. And every time you pass a key moment and Biden is still leading, I think that is good.
But the you know, we say there are five moments that matter, but the debates matter so much more than anything else, just as a point of perspective. You know, like twenty five to 30 million people will watch watched the biggest nights of the convention and eighty four million people watched the first debate in 2016. That number could be much higher this time, given the fact that large swaths of the country are not allowed to leave their homes on the night of the debate.
So that, like, there was a lot a lot of a lot of road to travel here. I made my reasons, I'm feeling good reasons, I'm worried list, just be really honest. OK, so reasons I feel good. It's an incredibly steady race with very little movement in the polling averages. I mean, one of the steadier presidential races that we have seen. Right, like the margin has moved between like six and nine points for the first several months, almost since the beginning of the pandemic.
Impressions of Donald Trump have changed very little since the beginning of his presidency.
And now he is an unpopular incumbent president with a disapproval rating over 50 percent with two months to go.
Not a great place for an incumbent president to be in it. All months of trying to define Joe Biden have not worked yet. His Joe Biden's net approval is about even, which means he is way better liked than Hillary Clinton ever was in 2016.
That's just according to every single poll. And he's also seen as trustworthy and honest. She was not throughout the 2016 race, not saying whose fault that was. That's just the impressions that were that existed in that race. He's hovering around 50 percent with fewer undecided and third party voters, which is ultimately what sank Hillary. A lot of undecideds in that race right up until the end, a lot of third party voters. And then he has clear leads in five out of six battleground states that Trump won.
And he's maintained a bigger lead among college educated white voters, seniors, independents and suburban voters than Hillary.
That's all in the good column. Now, you and I were talking about this, I think the worry for me comes in a lot, and you've been talking with us from the beginning, these battleground states, because now the battleground states, his leads are about getting to like three to four to five points, which means that they're like one average normal polling error away from losing that state.
Like I mean, you and I were talking about this yesterday, but like, the thing that keeps me up at night is even in twenty eighteen in the midterms, Democrats won the national popular vote, which is not really a thing in the midterms, but the national vote was eight points.
And that translated into some swing states, into enough for Democrats to win by a couple of points. Arizona would be one of them. But, you know, Tony Ivar's won the Wisconsin governor's race by one point against Scott Walker, even though the national vote was eight points for Democrats.
And Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson, two very different candidates in Florida lost by just under a point, even though Democrats won by eight points nationally that. So should I be worried about that?
Look like, you know, my belief I mean, I should be worried about everything, but I worry about everything. And like, Biden is in a very, very good place. He's probably in a better place than we thought he would be on a whole host of ways of which you would look at the campaign. Right. So we should feel good about that. But we should worry about everything. Like, I don't want to scare the shit out of people like it.
Like that is not what I want to do, but like, we should all be worried and we should, like, embrace that fear and channel it into action. Right. Becoming a poll worker, what's an American upset? All of those things is, you know. I just like I want to be careful, like you look at the polls, that Pennsylvania poll came out, which had it narrowed to form like, oh shit, here it comes like this.
And then all these other polls come out, make you feel better, like you don't have to. Don't worry about feeling better right now. Right. Worry about feeling better when Donald Trump has lost. Right. Like that. Like, I don't want to unskewed any polls. I don't tell anyone not to wet the bed. I won't tell anyone. Don't worry. I don't want to give you like I think we're trying very hard to present an accurate picture of the race.
So we're not like trying to make people more scared than they should be or give people a an incorrect impression of what's happening.
I'm sure people ask, like, why are you talking about the polls at all? Like we talk about the polls, not because they should be a barometer necessarily for whether you should feel good or bad, that they are a decently accurate snapshot of the race at the moment. They should not think about them as predictive, but they are good. They tell you where the race is now, and I think they can give you guidance about what voters are important to talk to, what messages work, the issue, environment like.
I think there's a lot we can learn from hearing from people in polls and focus groups. I always have.
And I do think, like, for example, the tightening in the race, even though it's basically been a point not much at all, has come from non college educated white voters coming back to Trump just a little bit. Now, it's not enough to really narrow the race significantly, but we know that one, they are overrepresented in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. And two, Biden can't afford too much erosion. He certainly can't afford to be as low as Hillary was with those or lower than Hillary was with that cohort of voters.
And so, like non college educated white voters are something to think about in the last couple of months. The other thing to think about is he is running behind Hillary slightly among black voters, according to the polls, and a little bit more among Latino voters.
And so and that's not turnout in these polls. That's margin. That means slightly more black voters in the polls are say they're voting for Donald Trump than they did in 16. And more Latino voters are saying that as well. And so as the Biden campaign thinks about the next couple of months, as we all are talking to voters and trying to get out the vote, those are two groups of voters that we should be thinking about, both non college whites and black and Latino voters.
Does that seem right to you? Yeah, that's exactly right. Like, there is something that makes me very nervous about the fact that right now Biden's victory depends on voters who are not traditional Democrats because he's over performing with independents and Republicans and underperforming with traditional Democratic base voters. And so, like, that's concerning because the voters who would be first to leave would be the ones who have a longer history of voting for Republicans in their life.
But the other thing I think is a sort of interesting in these polls, which I think is a positive actually, which is one of the big problems we had in 2016 was complacency. Most voters in both parties thought Hillary Clinton was going to win. And I think that actually had some impact in the result because it caused some people to stay home, because why would you go if you were sure Hillary was going to win? And it gave some other people who were didn't love Hillary but did not like Trump a permission structure to vote for Gary Johnson.
Right. Who was not a compelling individual who should have gotten 100000 votes in swing states. It's just that people wanted to not vote for Trump. But it was like a people felt like they could give a protest vote. But now people still in most polling overwhelmingly think Trump is still going to win. I think that's positive. And I don't want to do anything to change that because I think we like we like we we should be worried up until the moment we don't have to be worried anymore.
Yeah, look, the other thing, people that should get you working and participating in this election is that as much as demographics and demographic groups can tell us about who has what support and where the election is going to go. Demographics aren't destiny. I just mentioned how Tony Evers won by a point in Wisconsin in twenty eighteen in that same election. Tammy Baldwin, a progressive Medicare for all supporting lesbian senator, won by 11 points, which means that in Wisconsin in twenty eighteen, there was a significant cohort of voters who voted for Tammy Baldwin and Scott Walker.
Right like that is there are people like voters are weird, they are complicated. They think different things. Same thing Pennsylvania, which, you know, seems closer in the polling now. Bob Casey and Tom Wolf, senator and governor of Pennsylvania, Democratic candidates won by double digits in twenty eighteen, but Donald Trump won it in twenty sixteen. And now it's, you know, for about average of four points right now in the polls. So there are voters who can be persuaded.
It is not all turnout.
And it's important to realize that people have complicated views on politics. And you can be a Baldwin Walker voter, which is fucking nuts, but it happens.
And so it is very important to work to persuade every single voter that you can because so many of these states are up for grabs.
So you mentioned the debates. We have moderators now. They were announced yesterday, Chris Wallace on September 29th. Susan Page from USA Today does the VP debate on October 7th. Steve Scully from C-SPAN does the October 15th debate. And NBC's Kristen Welker moderates the final debate on October 22nd. And then Election Day is November 3rd.
What do you think of the moderators and how important are these debates in comparison with all the other big moments? Obviously, like so many more people, watch them, as you mentioned, like in a race like this, how much can they shift the race, do you think?
I mean, the the moderators seemed good.
You know, it's like it's very hard being a good reporter or a good anchor, even a very good interviewer does not necessarily mean you're going to be very good debate moderator. Right. Like they're very, very different skills. And so, yeah, these are all people who are good at various different parts of their jobs. Like Chris Wallace obviously is a someone who has proven himself to be a very aggressive interviewer with Trump and with others. Chris and Walker is someone we know quite well from the White House because you covered President Obama, you know, was very, very good.
Reporter Steve Scully has been working at C-SPAN for a very long time. Susan Page has covered politics as much sophistication and savvy as anyone. So there's reason to believe they'll be good, but we obviously we've seen good reporters be terrible debate moderators and vice versa. So it will be interesting to see and the question will ultimately be, can are they willing to challenge the candidates when they make factual misstatements, which is something that does not happen often enough in debates.
In fact, you can almost counted on one finger, Benghazi. Candy Crowley, Romney. Because the only time that happened in history, I mean, but the debates are incredibly important like this.
Like we just went through this whole polling thing with a national polling average of what you say was seven point three, seven point thirty seven point three.
Well, seven point three polling is three points away from a time when we should be very worried that Joe Biden will win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College. So it's like these things can move pretty quickly.
And conventions usually are almost entirely watched by partisans who are watching either in admiration or hatred. And the debates are watched by a lot of people who have not yet decided who to vote like. Eighty four million people has half the overall electorate of 2016. And so that's a lot of people.
And look, there are there are not as many undecideds this time as there were in 2016, but that's like the whole race.
So and like you said, if they're if they haven't been tuning in undecideds, tune in late. Like you said, they don't watch conventions. They don't watch a lot of ads. They don't pay a lot of attention to the news.
But if they are tuning into these debates, it may be they're sort of the one thing that helps them decide in those final weeks. So they are pretty important. One problem Joe Biden does not have is money. On Wednesday, his campaign announced that Biden and the DNC raised three hundred and sixty four point five million dollars just in August, the most raised by a presidential candidate in a single month ever. Why do you think Biden raised this much?
How surprised were you by that number? I was blown away.
I think it's primarily because we are two time co-hosts of Joe Biden fundraisers. I think you're going to say that because comedian swing left joined together to give a million dollars, a million of that was was our unifier defined, right?
Yeah, I think that the difference between that one million dollars is what put him over the top. So, yes, that's what I'm saying. Yeah, exactly.
No, I mean, do you think it is and do you think it's a measure of enthusiasm?
Oh, for sure. I mean, it's a different measure of enthusiasm than volunteer numbers. You know, crowds. These are all relative measures, but it is more than twice what Hillary Clinton raised in the same period in 2016. It is a giant deal. And it and it's just if you go back to like four months, we were deeply concerned that Trump would be outspending Biden five to one down the stretch.
I was involved with a bunch of different calls with a bunch of different people on the outside trying to figure out what you could do to help narrow that gap organically.
Like what can we do to try to get people involved to make up, you know, in terms of social media or content creation or whatever, that we're trying to narrow the gap that Biden is going to face. And now he is currently scheduled to outspend Trump combined television and digital by fifteen million dollars between now and Election Day. And that is a huge deal.
Yeah, I mean, they're up in Minnesota earlier than they thought they would be in Georgia and Texas, so they're playing some defense, but a lot of offense. They're mostly in Trump states. Just today, there's a 60 second ad they're running and all the battlegrounds about Biden's covid plan that is just taken right from his convention speech, which is interesting. And then a 30 second ad about how Trump's plan is stupid. Payroll tax plan would leave the Social Security trust fund depleted.
So Trump cutting Social Security. It did. I was tweeting about this like it reminded me a little bit of twenty eighteen when the media coverage and Trump are focused on the caravan. But Democrats were like just running ads about health care all the time.
And I do wonder if in these final two months you'll start seeing a lot more Biden ads about policy issues, about his economic plan, about his health care plan hitting Trump on health care and the economy, because they're probably seeing in polls what we've seen in public polls and in private polling, which is, you know, Trump is still sort of you know, he's still even or slightly ahead of Biden on who can best handle the economy and that sort of like the last his last defense.
And and if Biden whittles away at that, then he probably wins this thing.
I you know how good I feel when people to do the things that I think they should do. So I feel great about this because, you know, like we talked about this many times, but you have to think about the speeches you give, the press events you have as a piece of content that you then find means by which to put it in front of the voters who do not watch news coverage on a regular basis. So we saw this with the convention speech.
We saw this with Biden's speech in Pittsburgh about Trump's weakness and and how Trump has fanned the flames of violence is that the Biden campaign is taking the things he's doing, which are, you know, they're getting good press coverage by the measure of press coverage, but they know that the undecided swing voters we talk about are not consuming that coverage and they're paying to put it in front of them with television digital ads because they have the resources to do it.
And I think it's very good. The thing that is interesting about your health care caravanned parallel is the challenge for House Democrats in 2008 was all of the news coverage was on the caravan and whatever insane Trump was doing.
And there was no possible way to get press coverage on health care because it was an issue that had sort of you tell him what had happened in the past and what might happen in the future. And it was not something is happening right now. The combination of Biden's paid advertising on covid and the the 24/7 news coverage about covid together is a very dominating thing. And it allows him to flood the zone and make sure the focus stays on. The most important issue to the American people.
Well, is that, you know, the one part we left out of our polling discussion is probably the most useful part of all this polling, which is it gives you a picture of not just the horserace, but the issue environment.
And, you know, in the in the latest Navigator poll, 61 percent of Americans say the pandemic is the most important issue to focus on. 48 percent said jobs in economy. Race relations is at. Twenty three percent. Violent crime, bottom of the list with just 18 percent. So, again, after this whole discussion about sort of crime and law and order and all this bullshit, you know, there was a drop in support for Black Lives Matter and for protests in general, mainly among whites and especially Republican whites.
But they are still popular overall. And no one trusts Trump on any of these issues, whether it's race relations, obviously policing crime like Joe Biden is still leading on this YouGov. Ask the question, do you think violence will get at these protests will get worse or better if each candidate wins? Fifty six percent of Americans say violence happening at protests will get worse if Trump wins, including 54 percent of independents. And only twenty three percent say that about Biden.
At the Quinnipiac poll, 50 percent of people say Trump makes them feel less safe. Only thirty five percent say for. 42 percent say Biden makes them feel more safe, 40 percent less safe.
So it does seem like they have the Trump campaign and many pundits in the media have sort of misjudged the effect of these protests on the on this specific presidential race between these two specific men.
Well, I mean, it is the fatal flaw of a strategy that relies on convincing Americans they won't be safe in Joe Biden's America when a thousand Americans are dying every single day. And Donald Trump's America. And I thought NBC News and their first free newsletter put it right is they went through some of these polling results, which is law and order is a better issue for Trump than covid, but it's also not a winning issue.
Right, yeah, that's that's true, and that's and that's his problem, and it's also a relentless focus on that on those issues when people still care so much and are so concerned about covid is ultimately going to cost you.
And again, it's not like Trump's message on crime is an effective, subtle, powerful message. It is fuckin Tifa.
So one last question for you, because I noticed this news this morning. Facebook said that they banning all political ads the week before the election.
How do you feel about that?
I I have heard from some people who work in the digital advertising space for political organizations who are deeply concerned about this. My understanding is it's just new ads, which and I think the goal is to ensure that these false or dangerous ads don't go up for long periods of time right before the election, because, as you know, Facebook's official policy is to let bad stuff go up, be yelled at about it for a long time, deny it's bad, and then eventually, after it doesn't matter anymore, take it down.
And so you need more than seven days to do that process.
I think that there is a what none of this gets at is just silly.
Gigantic problem is that. Facebook's bigger challenge for American democracy has nothing to do with paid advertising, like should they be fact checking ads? Yes, the problem is, is that Facebook's algorithm is perverting American politics by promoting dangerous, inflammatory content. Just get on Kevin Russa's Twitter account, Facebook top 10, where he goes through the top 10 most engaged pages every day. And I think that this could ultimately, as I understand it, Facebook's decision could be problematic and a lot of ways, because it's something that is happening in a vacuum without addressing the larger problem.
And it's actually tying the hands of Democrats more than it is preventing the same right wing pages in organizations that engage in misinformation on the platform for years now. Yeah, and it probably means that all of us need to do more to share positive content or negative content about Trump on Facebook, because if we can't do paid advertising in that last week, we still have to combat the misinformation that's coming from right wing media figures and media groups that will be all over Facebook if it's not paid advertising.
Yeah, I think my there are people who are much more about this to me, but my recommendation would be two things. One is over index on positive Biden content. Right, that there's enough negative content out there. The second thing is what is really valuable is information on registration deadlines, vote by mail deadlines, all of those things to get that information out there, to ensure people see that in all of your platforms. Right. Not just Facebook, Twitter, text your friends votes, save America, dotcom, go there.
That's where one stop shop for you guys. All right. When we come back, Dan talks to WNBA player Renee Montgomery.
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Renee Montgomery is a WNBA champion player and activist and part of more than a vote. Renee, welcome to parts of America.
Oh, thank you. Thank you for having me.
We're very excited to have you here. We've been very much looking forward to this conversation. You you made a very bold and brave decision to take the season off to focus on racial justice. How is that going? What what made you come to that decision? Well, you know, they still haven't arrested the cops that killed Brianna Taylor, so to give perspective a while opted out. That's why, you know, it's that there needs to be some answers.
There needs to be justice. And I was trying to figure out a way that I could help. You know, I don't know how to solve police brutality or to solve everything, but I just wanted to see if there was something I can do during this time period that the WNBA season is going on, that I could figure out a way to help. And just those string of tragedies. Brianna Taylor, George Floyd Amont Aubrey, along with talking to my parents about things that they went through, I just felt a strong desire to to be a part of this.
How have you been spending your time during that during this period? Oh, man.
A lot of a lot of calls. A lot of conversations. I didn't know what I wanted to do it first, so I had to start educating myself. Basically, there's prison reform, there's health care reform, there's education reform. There's so many different areas that you could go into that that you can make a change. So I decided to go into education reform. And I've been planning out my initiative, been talking to my my mom, who is a college professor for 30 years, and just kind of figuring out like, what's something practical that I can do now?
You know, like a lot of the solutions are going to be with a lot of time, you know, it's going to take time to figure out the police system. You know, we're not going to get an answer to things right now, but I think that we can have a positive impact right now. And that's what I've been doing, just figuring out my different initiatives.
What was the reaction from the fans? Did you feel supported or were they upset about it? How did how did that go?
Man, it was I was so nervous. I was so nervous about that, really? Because I don't know if you guys recall, but Kaveri had a call with all the NBA players before the season started. And I was on that call, you know, and I was just listening. And I was hearing the the argument of why we should play don't opt out of the bubble because we need to do this. So I was listening and I was hearing that.
And then, as you know, the call leaked and then the media got a hold of the idea and they weren't too happy with players thinking about opting out. So this was all going on before I opted out. And I'm like, oh, gosh, how should I say that? I'm opting out for the reason I'm opting out or should just be like for personal reasons, you know, like as an athlete, we can say for personal reasons.
But as you guys know, I decided to just tell the truth. And I had an overwhelmingly positive response, which I was relieved, to say the least.
You know, last week, both the WNBA players in the NBA players went on strike in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake. What did you feel like that was a successful effort? And does it say anything about the growing activism among athletes?
Oh, yeah, it was a success. It was what everyone was talking about. You could not talk about Jacob Blake because there was no there was no sports leagues for NBA, WNBA, MLB in my life. And then tennis came into the chat. It was like it was successful because the point is to bring awareness. We're not we're not the government. So we can't make people arrest someone. We can't make someone do something, but we can't bring light to it.
So one person it was a success and the players, I think, needed it. They needed that mental time more than anything because they've been playing a lot of games in a short amount of time while dealing with what's going on in America.
You know, throughout all of this, whether it's the call with the Kyrie had that you were on or the discussion about how the leagues we're going to respond to this, it is interesting that society expects athletes to engage in activism in ways that they don't expect others. Right. You're not the same way they're saying, you know, should these players opt out, should they not do this? In response to George Florida, Jacob Blakers, we're going to tell you anything else no one is asking, or at least not the same volume, asking musicians, actors, business leaders to do the same thing.
Well, what do you why do you think it is that that the public expects that of athletes, but not necessarily other prominent people in society?
Yeah, that's a great question. And no one's asked me that before. And I say that because I've done a lot of interviews. I think the reason is because athletes, as you noticed, we get pushed into the role model face like, you know, it's not athlete. We don't say, all right, I'm going to UConn. So I declare that I will be your role model. Like, we don't announce that to people. We don't say that we want to be your kid's role model.
But yet people look at athletes to be role models. And I think the reason they do that is because of the skill set and the traits, the characteristics that athletes have. You know, to be a successful athlete, you have to have a certain level of discipline. You have to have a certain level of unselfishness to work with the team and to figure out those. So people will look at those things and they see, all right, these people should be people that my kids should look up to.
And so in turn, when you have things like this happen, I think that people look to us because they understand that we have these certain traits that they put in role models. They want their role models to have, I should say. You know, it's I think it is one of the things it was interesting has been a lot of polling in recent weeks and some of it looked at the response to the athletes going on strike and it was overwhelmingly supported by the public, including by bipartisan.
You know, this is not simply a partisan thing.
Do you see that as a positive sign of progress in the four years? It's been four years since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee. And it's sort of how the response to that has changed.
Yeah. So let's even Rwanda. So Colin Kaepernick took a knee in twenty sixteen during the NFL season. Twenty sixteen before that and the WNBA season, my team with the Minnesota Lynx, we were shirts that said change starts with us. We had Black Lives Matter on there. We also had a police shield on the back just so the cops and everyone can understand that it's not about America. We're not protesting America. We're not protesting the cops. We're not protesting anyone.
We're protesting how minorities are treated in America. We even had a press conference to tell people that and it did not go well. You know, the Minnesota Police Department walked out on us and people couldn't even understand what we meant by, like, this is important. Now, you fast forward to twenty twenty and you have whole leagues. They have Black Lives Matter on their shirts. They there's there's such an understanding of what what the struggle is now.
So for me that's that you can't not have optimism when people are starting to see what what before was talked about like a myth almost. You know, people were like police brutality. Oh, my goodness. And people will say this is an old problem. This know, people really didn't see that this is still a problem today. So I'm very optimistic that now everyone understands they're the problem. So now we can go about fixing it.
You have started a couple of initiatives on your own. Movement equals momentum and GenZE and me. What are you trying to accomplish with this?
Yeah, so moments like momentum, the whole point of doing it is when I opted out, I opted out via tweet, social media.
That's how we do these things these days. That's how we doing.
So I it out on Twitter and I said that moments ago, momentum and let's keep it going like that was what my whole point of opting out was, that right now there's a lot of momentum around the movement that we're not even call a movement anymore. As LeBron James said, this is the new normal. This is a lifestyle. But I also I wanted people to see that I had no idea what I was going to do. You know, you can go back and look at my interviews the day I opted out, the day after I opted out.
And everybody's like, what are you going to do? And I was like, no clue. But the whole point was you don't have to have a plan to to do something. And I think everybody waits for a specific moment, a specific plan. This is the time to do it. I just opted out like I didn't have to opt out till June. Twenty fifth opted out on June 18th just because I'm like, yeah, I'm opting out.
This is what I want to do. So what I'm trying to accomplish is that people understand that your platform, which you feel, do it moments in the moment, momentum. This moment is is can turn into a whole movement and momentum and then what? GenZE and me, I think this younger generation people, we always talk about the young kids and how crazy they are. And there's social media obsessed. But I've been talking to I was talking to kids before just to pick their brains.
And I'm like you. I got to start recording this because they know a lot that's going on. And we assume these 13 year olds, 14 year olds, that they are almost oblivious. They know what's going on. They have opinions and they know what's going on. So I talk to them about it.
The Atlanta dream is named after Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech. One of the owners of Atlanta dream is Kelly Loffler, who is a senator from Georgia and is actively campaigning against Black Lives Matter.
There's been a lot of frustration within the WNBA, among the players and the fan base about an owner who stands directly opposed to what the majority of the players have been pushing for.
What is your reaction to that? And what do you think the appropriate measures are to deal with an owner like that?
Yeah, you know, it's it's it was an interesting dynamic because I knew I had had interactions with with Kelly before she became Senator Loffler. So whenever I first heard about the letter, that's why I penned a letter to her, because I didn't I didn't understand what was the problem like. And I know that she's opposing the Black Lives Matter organization, but everyone has already came out and said that that's not what we're supporting. We're just talking about the civil rights movement, that before there were hashtags, my parents, my mom was involved in a walkout.
They didn't have a hashtag Black Lives Matter, but they were walking out because black lives matter. So we've already made that clear what we're talking about. So I didn't understand what's the point to keep campaigning against something that no one's even we're not even talking about that. So then, you know, I understand I understand how politics work and I get it. But for me, that was a dynamic that I didn't really I didn't really get. And so I penned the letter just asking, like, you know, you do understand that if this was in the women's suffrage time and we were all trying to get the right to vote me.
You would be like these because we'd be like, yeah, these guys don't want to let the women vote and we would have been a team, but now we all just find ways to separate ourselves and not I'm not a fan of it, but I just because everybody knows I'm like positive. Patty. So I think that the world right now, we're all dividing and I think we should be going the opposite. Right. You've talked about how your mother's activism inspired a lot of what you're doing.
You talk a little about her in your personal history with politics and activism.
Yeah. So, you know, for whatever reason, neither one of my parents had told me about things they dealt with growing up. And that's that's a parent's plight in a sense. Maybe they don't tell because they don't want to break my innocence. Maybe they tell me because they don't think that it'll do anything positive for me. But whenever the the protests were going on here in Atlanta, I was looking out of my window and I was like, oh, my goodness.
Like, should I evacuate? Like, what should I do? I'm talking to my parents. And they're like, oh, no, don't worry. Like, this is not a harmful thing. They're just trying to have their voices heard. And I was like, well, that's interesting. You know, I didn't really understand the whole process. And so they said, my mom told me about how, first of all, she was in Detroit during the Detroit riots.
She was really young then. But she also when she was living in West Virginia in high school, there was a daughter of a preacher and she was at a talent show at school. And the kid, the student. And it was a black student. She was singing Baptist. So you guys can imagine she was singing a lot of passion and soul. And the white students at the high school didn't like it and they started throwing pennies at her.
So the black students started standing up, looking around for the staff, the principal, someone to be like, yo, what's going on? Like, why aren't you guys stopping this?
And long story short, they didn't stop it. So my mom, as well as all the black students and some white students, they did a walkout to show the school that they're not going to accept that type of behavior towards towards students of color. And so just here and there and I'm like, wait, you talk about the high school down the street and so just different things like just hear that I like man like my mom. My mom has been about this.
I've been trying to advance this. So I just felt like it was it was my turn.
In addition to your own initiatives, you're also part of more than a vote. You talk a little bit about how you got involved with that and what what you guys are trying to accomplish.
And more than a vote was huge for me. You know, when I opted out again, I didn't know how people were going to take it. And then I didn't know where I was going to go in about three or four days, really shortly after I opted out more than a vote team hit me up and asked me if I wanted to be a part. And I'm like, what?
Of course, are you kidding me? Like, yes, I'm in there. And the reason I say that they help me out so much is because they kind of showed me different ways to go about things, how they're going about their their voting campaign and they're trying to fight voter suppression. And maybe in Atlanta, we're a repeat offender here, as everyone knows. So I, like, count me in. I'm trying to do some stuff in Atlanta.
So they gave me this sense of pride about, OK, I can see how we can make a change. And then, as everyone knows, State Farm Arena ended up getting opened up. And and that was that was huge for me because I really felt like, wow, I'm like a part of something that's really changing things, because I know that the lines were nine plus hours. Some places to vote. People can't people can't spend a whole day trying to vote.
Like that's not even realistic to ask people to not go to work, to not pick up their kids. And when I say this, you have to think of the single moms that that that's they're the only ones that can do that. So nine hours to vote. Unacceptable. And I was just I was excited that someone like LeBron James first wanted me to be a part of his group. And then the things he's doing on the level, he's the one, of course, I want to be a part.
Before I let you go, I wanted to ask you a question of personal privilege as a Georgetown alumni. But legendary Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson passed away this week. You tweeted you called out, you called him a legend in a tweet. And he is in many ways a reminder that activism in on issues of racial justice and sports is is is not something that just began in recent years.
What did what do you see as the legacy of John Thompson, what he meant to you?
So when I tweeted that, I tweeted about him being a legend in a lot of nonstudents actually told me I started tweeting me stories like one guy said, oh, I saw him walking through campus and I was telling him that I'm a fan. And he asked me, how am I doing in school? So I say that to say that, like, people saw him as not just the coach, but like this this father figure there, you know, he's talking to the students he's taught.
And Allen Iverson said he saved his life. So speaking of the student, I mean, of the athletes, the athletes feel like he saved their lives. Not not that he made them a better player. Not that he helped them understand the game of basketball they're talking about. He saved their lives. So when you start to hear statements like that, that's a strong statement. You know, and and we all believe it. You know, it's not like we all were like, what?
He saved your life. Now we are like, yeah, I can see that because he brought in players that maybe their background, other schools might want to leave him alone. They might be known as a troubled kid. And he was like just taking these players and treating them a certain way. And then in turn, they treated him a certain way back. And and I don't know, like those kind of coaches are the ones that you hear about quite often where they.
They do take it personal, they don't just check in and check out like that's their job, they take their job personal, they care about the person and the player. So he's a legend for the way that he goes, but he's also a legend for how he moved off the court. Renee, thank you so much for joining us on Puzzle America. Thank you for everything you're doing. With more than a vote and all of your organizations, I think you are.
Even if you as you say, you didn't volunteer for it, you were a very powerful role model to a lot of people in this country. Thank you.
Thank you for having me. Dan. Thanks to Renee Montgomery for joining us today and everyone have a great weekend. We'll see you next week by everyone.
God Save America is a crooked media production, the executive producer is Michael Martinez, our associate producer is Jordan Waller. It's mixed and edited by Andrew Chadwick.
Kyle Soglin is our sound engineer, thanks to Tanya Nominator, K.D. Lang, Roman Papadimitriou, Caroline Reston and Elisa Gutierrez for production support into our digital team, Elijah Konar Melkonian, Yael Friede and Milo Kim, who film and upload these episodes as videos every week.