Transcribe your podcast

Hello from the Lincoln Project and welcome back, I'm Ron Artest. This is our weekly roundup where we bring in a rotating panel of experts to discuss the truth. You need to know behind the most important stories of the week and how they shape the political landscape of this election. We have an incredible panel today with three of my fellow co-founders of the Lincoln Project, national political strategist Steve Schmidt, who has worked for President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.


And he sounds better than ever today with the new mike. Great to have you back, Steve. Good to be with your own veteran ad maker and author of The New York Times best selling book, Everything Trump Touches Dies. Rick Wilson, thanks for being on again, Rick. Hey, Ron, how are you? Great. And communication strategist and former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party, Jennifer Horn. Hi, Jennifer. Good morning, Ron.


Great to be here. So glad to have you all. So on today's episode, we're going to talk about the highly anticipated big news of Joe Biden's selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate. Why five thirty eight is saying it is too soon to count Trump out of the presidential race. And Trump's executive order pausing payroll taxes and what that might mean for Social Security and Medicare.


Let's start with Kamala Harris, because this is on everyone's mind right now. On Tuesday, Joe Biden's campaign announced California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the presidential election. Harris became the first black woman and the first Asian-American on a major party ticket. So I just want to pose this question to everybody and feel free to chime in. But, Steve, why don't we go to you first. How is Senator Harris being on the ticket going to impact the campaign and the election?


Well, we know who the ticket is now. We know what the team is that's going to take on Donald Trump and Mike Pence. The last variable in the election is now filled in. And so Kamala Harris is a very capable, very smart, very tough former attorney general, former prosecutor, US senator. And one need look no further than her evisceration of Attorney General Interior Minister Bob Barr from the diets of the Senate Judiciary Committee to understand her skills and how lethal she will be in the debate.


But, look, we we're in a we're in a moment of crisis that is as great as the greatest crises the country has ever faced. We are moving towards two hundred thousand dead Americans. We are the epicenter of the coronavirus. We have a shattered economy. We are on the edge of an eviction and a mortgage crisis in this country that will dwarf what happened during the Great Recession. I think most parents understand that if their kids are coming back to school, they'll be there for days, maybe a week before the schools will shut down if they open up at all.


There's no high school football under Friday Night Lights. Mostly the college football season is canceled and gone. It's with three and a half years. Donald Trump has fundamentally wrecked American life. And we have no chance as a country to get out of this disaster with Donald Trump in the White House. And so Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the two people who are at the head of a vast, broad growing coalition that spans from Bernie Sanders to disaffected Republicans, Americans and American movement that has fidelity to democracy, that is fidelity to the truth, that its fidelity to the Constitution coming together to restore decency and integrity to power in the West Wing of the White House and to send a signal to the world that this rancid and terrible leader is not the United States.


He does not reflect the character of the country. And I think one of the important things to understand is that this is going to be a tough campaign. But there are more of us than there are of them. There are more normal people, good people, decent people than queuing non conspiracy nuts, white supremacists and all the other vile appendages of the Trump and Trump is a movement that we see out there, Rick.


Same question to you from from your view.


First off, Vile Appendages is my favorite phrase of the day about it. Is it definitely going to be the name of my new horror themed heavy metal band?


Yes, I think you've got to take that one off.


We get to yes. Are metal band. That's it. That's it. While it is alive.


So, look, I think Steve is very much on point here about why Harris was a was a strong choice for Joe Biden and the contrast that is set between. In these two campaigns already yesterday, we saw, you know, Harris and Biden make an announcement where you saw two people who were mature, competent, and and, you know from their history that she's going to be a loyal and strong partner for him. But she's also going to speak out.


She's also going to call B.S. She's also going to, you know, bring her own ideas to the table. And that is something we know that Mike Pence won't do when Donald Trump says something outrageous. Mike Pence's response is always yes, sir. How many more buckets would you like? He is always there as the sort of bootlicker and TOTY and obsequious manservant to Donald Trump. And so I think that contrast is going to be quite powerful. I think that Trump himself psychologically has a lot of trouble with with a Harris because he sees her as many, many things.


He doesn't like a woman, someone who's smart, a person of mixed race. I mean, all these things are not in Donald Trump's personal wheelhouse. And he has a problem with people who are not who are not able to fit in with the Trump mode of of being either a fan or or or someone who is there to empower him. So I think Biden made a spectacular choice. I think you've already seen a big uptick in energy in the African-American community.


You've seen a big uptick in energy among among women voters. Just in the last twenty four hours, there has been a shift in the in the sort of tonal nature of how people are looking at this campaign. And I think that is a I think that is a sign that this is a choice that he he made the right call on this, not only in terms of of, you know, for himself as a campaigner, but for the country as well.


Jennifer, Rick and Steve both just really nicely outlined the contrast, is it all about contrast or do you have a different? In addition to that, how are you thinking about this pick and how is it going to change the the campaign?


This is a historic pick. This is a historic pick. We know that. And and we shouldn't shy away from it. We should not talk about the fact that having a woman, an African-American woman on the ticket, is it significant just for that alone? Donald Trump is afraid of smart women and he is feels weak and and impotent when confronted with strong women. And that's going to be Kamala Harris greatest value on this ticket as she's going to make Donald Trump feel afraid and scared and weak and threatened.


And so right out of the gate. I love her just for that alone. But we can't assume that the historic nature of the pick is going to push them across the finish line. Just look at 2016 and Hillary Clinton with her election night victory speech set up with the glass ceiling over her head. It didn't happen. So there it is about contrast. There has to be a constant barrage of messaging because Donald Trump and and the mega campaign are going to come out after Kamala Harris in the most despicable manner possible.


They're going to go after her gender. They're going to go after her race. They're going to go after her experience and her skill and her background. They are going to call her names that we would never say in front of our children. You know, when when she is at her best and her most powerful, they are going to call her angry. They're going to call her a bitch. They're going to call her aggressive and overly ambitious. And they're going to attack her in ways that you would that we would never attack people that we respect or care about.


And they're going to do that intentionally to trigger the anger and the emotion that makes up a very small part of Donald Trump's base. And it is going to be damaging. And our job, just as decent human beings and as Americans who care about equality and liberty and freedom and the future of our country is going to be to get out there and be a loud, clear voice of pushing back on that every minute of every day from now until Election Day.


Can I just say can I just say how crazy it is that the response and we're so numbed to Trump's desecrations of his office and the concept of decency. But just let's unpack something for a second. So what what is it that all the right wingers go out and say the extreme Trump is about Kamala Harris when she's picked? So so Mark Levin goes on his radio program and tells everybody that, well, she's not an African-American because her family came from Jamaica.


And you think about how crazy that is like this. Would anybody like to guess how the black people got to Jamaica? I mean, seriously, right? It's incredible.


And Mark Levin is going to be the barometer of blackness. Are you?


Because it is is it's just so bizarre. But then Trump goes and he says this happened. I mean, it happened this week. What he said is that Corey Booker, a black senator from New Jersey, is going to be in charge of destroying the suburbs. He'll be the one who builds all the low income housing in the suburbs, destroying the suburbs with Trump painting a picture of the housewives, or for me, like he has this dystopian view of America that's stuck in nineteen fifty.


It's like that The Stepford Wives are on an endless loop and is in his frontal lobe and his conception of what the country is and what it looks like. But the overt racial animus that that just seethes out of him, the contempt he has for a powerful black woman who's risen to the heights of political power and is going to be part of the team that removed him from power. It's just incredible to watch. But with the response, it's not it's not a dog whistle.


It's somebody pointed out I saw on Twitter a wolf whistle. It's a it's just a primal scream of racial animus. They poison a toxin into the country. And it is unbelievable to sit and watch it, particularly from the perspective of someone who was with John McCain on that day in 2008. When a woman comes up and says to him at a town hall that President Obama is a Muslim and he took the microphone back from her, he said, no, man.


He's a good man. We just have we have disagreements, and so, you know, we're going to see we're going to see a period of disgustingness that even for Trump, is next level down over the next over the next 80 days ago.


But even in this conversation, we have to be even more direct than that. When Donald Trump talks about Corey Booker being in charge of taking apart the suburbs and the that the housewives are, for me, what he's saying to, again, that small piece of his base, what he's saying is, watch out, the black people are coming for you. We have to be honest and we have to be direct. That's what he's saying. And it is our job to make sure that that does not win in this country.


Well, this is the I call that the Jim Crow tweet. I mean, he was basically saying, I will protect I will protect the white suburbs. And and the the idea first of all, I don't think he realized that someone must have told him later that that the suburbs, loosely defined, are about thirty five percent non-white these days. And it depends it depends on the state you're in, but it varies between Hispanic and African-American and other populations all over the country.


So the diversity of the suburbs is already an established fact. And what he's appealing to is an incredibly narrow group of people. But he knows that the only thing remaining for him that's a solid, reliable rock hard base are noncollege educated whites and exurban areas.


There's not even that subtle. It's it's not a dog whistle. Like Steve said. It's I think he lacks the subtlety required for a dog whistle.


It's like a Soviet era air raid siren mounted on a nuclear power plant screaming out at a jillion decibels.


Yeah, OK. I want to move on to to one other question again, to each of you, something that Reed actually brought up recently on a on a different recording, which is that at the Lincoln Project as as current and former Republicans and conservatives, and we're a somewhat diverse group. Some of us have policy disagreements with Senator Harris and and some have been critical of her in the past. And so what what would I think this is on a lot of our listeners minds as well.


So why are you, each of you, supportive of her now for vice president, setting aside policy differences because she's not Mike Pence?


Is that is that good enough? Because. Well, you know, when when you talk about Reid and policy differences, of course, we first of all, of course, we have policy differences with her. Right. But but more importantly, in every race and every election that has ever taken place in the United States of America, somebody becomes the nominee and and they're not for the majority of the people who voted, they weren't their first choice. They were the person that they supported in a in a primary.


So if you care about decency, if you care about the Constitution, if you care about leadership, if you care about the kind of America that our grandchildren are going to raise their families. And then, of course, you're going to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Yeah.


And, Rick, this is something that you've you've mentioned multiple times before about if we were actually talking about policy, that would be a luxury. But that's just not where we are, right?


This country this country does not have the the the the benefit of being able to fight about policy. Right now, we are in the middle of three existential crises. The smallest of those crises is that our economy is teetering on the edge of an enormous collapse in terms of of of job losses, in terms of business failures, in terms of evictions, in terms of foreclosures. So that's the smallest of the problems. The second problem is that we are still in the grip of a mismanaged pandemic that has killed one hundred and sixty six thousand four hundred Americans as of this reading.


And and we are not we have not resolved that problem. We have not had the leadership to face that problem. And the biggest crisis of all is that Donald Trump is at this moment doing everything in his power. And he is a it is a herd of DC elected enablers doing everything in his power to destroy the institutions of American governance and of American and of American leadership in the world and of American leadership at home to break the democratic, small, d democratic traditions of this republic and to break this election and to seek to empower himself in ways that our founders would have been appalled by.


They would have dragged him out of the room and beat him to death in the street. This is the behavior of Donald Trump, this this fantasy of authoritarian statism that is that that is motivating and driving. This administration is the most dangerous crisis this country has faced, arguably since the civil war.


And so those three crises, let's argue about climate change later, let's argue about gender pronouns later, let's argue about marginal tax rates later. Right now, we have to save the country from the cliff that Donald Trump is racing toward. We are we are in an illiberal moment with a president of the United States who has an autocratic personality and disposition, this very morning he went on FOX and he talked about overtly defunding the post office to stop mail in voting to suppress the vote so that he can win in a low turnout election.


This is an extraordinary moment and I'm going to say it again. The president of the United States of America. The man who took an oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Is trying to trash the tradition of America's free and fair elections. There has never, ever been a president who has tried to tamper with the integrity of an election the way that this man is doing right now. And let's be clear about something, and we don't talk about this enough.


There are things that Donald Trump. Wants to do things that he would do, things that he's tried to do but has been rebuked and can't do, but let's be clear, if Donald Trump could lock up his political opponents.


Do you think that he would lock them up because I do, yeah, if it happens. Do you think if Donald Trump could cancel this election and remain in power for life, do you think that he would do that? He would do that. Do you think that he would steal as much as Putin steals? If he could do that, he would do that. This man is an affront to the traditional liberal democratic values that have bound bind it together every presidency from the beginning of the country through all of our presidents, the good ones in the bad ones, the honest ones and the corrupt ones.


The tall ones in the short ones. The skinny ones in the fat ones.


We have never seen a moment like this where an American president is the agent trying to subvert an election, someone smarter than me needs to explain to me what the difference between him and the Belarussian president is on that on that front. So that is why if you believe in America, you believe in the American idea and ideal, you must support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris because both of them have fidelity to the ideas of the country into the Constitution of the United States.


And no policy argument, no policy argument about tax rates, about any issue. Is even in the same galaxy when it comes to the defense of American democracy, which is fundamentally at stake within two months time of the looting, of violence against constitutionally peacefully assembled Americans asserting their rights. So we're in a dangerous moment in this country, and that's why it's a necessity that Biden and Harris take the oath of office on January 20th. And that that idea that that he is right now on the record saying I am holding back this money from the Postal Service so that people can't vote yes.


I mean, I can't imagine there are not about a hundred groups. And frankly, we may break some news here. We should probably get involved in this, guys, because I have to say, you know, this is this is a fundamental First Amendment protection. This is a fundamental, fundamental question about whether or not we have a country worthy of the name as a democracy and as a as an elected constitutional republic. Otherwise, if the president can decide who gets to vote and, you know, this is the same thing as Stephen.


I've talked a lot about this. There was a decision made in the White House on March 13th. And it was a decision that was of almost unparalleled evil, where Jared Kushner and his people decided because blue states don't favor the president, that we didn't need a national testing program. And the outrage of these kind of things should not fade in our minds, the outrage of these things should not be be dismissed or let go because they are beyond the pale, because there are so many outrages that just keep piling up.


Yeah, Jennifer.


And let's just talk about that particular one for a second, because it goes to the heart of the gross, dangerous hypocrisy of the Republican Party that is supposed to be holding this president in check when he he's it. When Jared Kushner and Donald Trump decided that a Democrat Democratic led states don't need the life saving support of the federal government that we're thinking about giving to Republican states, where are all of my pro-life Republican friends who have spent decades screaming that we aren't pro-life enough, that we can't possibly consider looking to our leadership and the other party because they don't are not pro-life?


Because I am so disgusted with the hypocrisy of my pro-life friends, former friends in the Republican Party when it comes to this president. And that is a great example of it. There is nothing pro-life about how this president has handled the global pandemic or frankly, any other policy in his in his administration. And I know I say it every time, children in cages denying equal rights to the LGBT community, the way that allowing now over one hundred and sixty thousand Americans to die from something that he had the power to better control.


It's outrageous that it is one of the few things that gets me genuinely outraged, the point that Rick made to bring it back, because everything that Jennifer just said fits under the umbrella of it. And we we use words sometimes loosely and they they lose meaning, but evil. Yeah, there is evil. There are evil acts. And what are they? The philosopher and writer Hannah Arendt coined the phrase banality of evil, talking about the Nazis, talking about Adolf Eichmann.


And really, until the moment he was hung, Eichmann didn't understand what it is that he was guilty of. Eichmann thought that he was in the logistics business. He didn't understand at some deeply moral level. And what Iran's point was, is that evil takes place in the most painful of circumstances and places, it's in a meeting. Yeah, it's as Rick has pointed out, with the charts and the spreadsheets and. Yep, the death toll and the estimates and an affirmative decision was made.


There was a conversation, it took place and the decision was reached that we wouldn't have a national strategy like every other normal advanced country. And the reason we wouldn't have that national strategy is because in that moment, Korona was impacting blue states. And that the president could affix blame on the governors, explicate himself from political injury. And let the chips fall where they may now. This was a decision grounded in abject stupidity and flat earth understanding of science and how pandemics spread, because now we see that it spread to everywhere in the country.


But the decision was made with such malice. Such contempt and hatred towards your fellow countrymen. On the basis of politics, so Trump has stoked a cold civil war between us. And. You see now the impact of these decisions on human life in the mass death that's been caused of it, it's it's it's it's it's as as evil an act that was ever committed by an American president. It's certainly the most evil in a in the modern era. And it happened in the White House.


I want to go next really briefly to the just the state of the race. On Wednesday, pollster and founder of the website 538, Nate Silver, wrote about why his team says it's way too soon to count Trump out of the presidential race. Now, 538 election forecasts debuted Wednesday and found that Trump has a twenty nine percent chance of winning in the election in November, which is essentially the same odds their team predicted he had in their final forecast in 2016.


So, Steve, first to you. One of the major points Silver makes is about how much polls can change between August and November and what type of movement should we expect to see, because as we know, in 2016, 84 days out, which is where we are as of today, Clinton was up six point six percent, lost the popular vote, two thousand for eighty four days out. Kerry was up two point five, lost the popular vote, two thousand eighty four days out.


Bush was up 10 and lost the popular vote. And we can go through the list. But how how should we be thinking about this right now? And then, Rick, next, I want I want you to explain to our listeners how much and whether we should be paying attention to these national polls. You know, if at all that, Steve?


Well, if the race was tomorrow, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would win and would be elected president and Vice President Trump is losing, but this race will tighten as it gets closer. Nobody should be complacent because the stakes are so enormously high. But fundamentally, what the case was in 2016 was that whomever the race was about was the person who was losing. And for ninety nine percent of the race, the race was about Donald Trump, James Comey letter in the last week made it suddenly, jarringly, unfairly about Hillary Clinton and the rest is history.


By eighty seven thousand votes across three states, Trump narrowly pulls the inside straight and wins an Electoral College majority against and a popular vote minority total. And so the important thing I think to understand in the nature of this race is the race is about Trump. First issue in this race is about Trump. Second issue is about Trump. Third issue in the next fifty. After that, we have the most incompetent and inept leader in American history. The most morally deficient, the most intellectually deficient, the most mentally deficient, with the worst record of performance across the economy, across the issues that pertain to the security of the country, across the issues that pertain to the sustainment of our liberal Democratic Republic, across the issues that.


Pertain to simple moral decency across the issues that pertain to a sense of national purpose. And he must get the first rule of holes is when you find yourself in one stop digging and the country is in a giant crater constructed by Donald Trump's incompetence. We have to stop digging to get out of it. Yeah, so, Rick, you know, this is obviously not a normal election, and given the numbers that I mentioned for our listeners who who don't read polls and interpret them every day, how much attention to be paying to these state and national, please stop reading national polls.


National polls trick you all the time. National polls send people into into a mental frame where they become complacent because national polls include very large states like New York and California in their and their vote totals. And so those things are automatically skewed. This is not a game of the popular vote. It never has been. As long as the Constitution exists, it probably never will be. This is a game of the Electoral College. It is a calculus, not just a decision.


You've got to play out a whole variety of things on the map to roll up that 270 one. And you want to you want to get there no matter how win, no matter what it takes. So when people are looking at surveys and it's it's a dangerous temptation to look at a national poll. OK, well, he's 10 points up. It's done. That's not done because Michigan and Wisconsin and Ohio and Pennsylvania and Florida and Arizona are all much tighter than those national polls are showing.


And those states have a much greater degree of political volatility than a national poll is going to show. So this race is not over. It is not done. We have a ton of work to do between now and Election Day. That's why we're focusing on the key Electoral College map and not just trying to simply said, look, we're very good at helping to set the national political narrative. But that narrative doesn't make a bit of difference. If voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, Iowa, North Carolina or other key states are off looking at something else.


That's why we're fighting this two-level battle against Donald Trump. And it is vital that people keep their eye on the prize, and if you're going to look at polling, you're going to make decisions based on polling. They need to be likely voter surveys from reliable pollsters in swing states. They need to be drawn from the voter file. The sample is to come from the voter file in those states, not to get too in the weeds. Technically, you could probably have Mike Madrid on here.


He can get you guys deep into the into the esoterica of it.


But again, the national polls beware.


And you know what, Ron, you just said this is not a normal election. Yes, it is. It is a very normal election. People have to vote if they want their guy to win. That's what this is about. So to, you know, to Rick's point about making, just don't you don't make your decisions based on a poll. You make your decision based on your head and your heart. What you know is right. Get out and vote where you live.


I don't care what county you're in. I don't care what whether you're in a battleground state or not. I don't I do not care where you must vote, period.


As a matter of fact, read and I just did a whole hour on the the nuts and bolts of voting, whether it's by mail or absentee or early voting. And that's going to be coming to you early next week. Lots more on that point, Jennifer, for the folks listening who are now wondering what they can do to increase Joe Biden's chance at winning, what should they be doing if they're in a swing state and what should they be doing if they're in a solid Biden state to help?


Well, the most important thing anybody can do is vote in the second most important thing that they can do. And I say it again, no matter where you are. And the second most important thing they can do is put their voice on how important it is for every human being they know to vote for to vote for Joe Biden. And I don't mean go out there and get into a brawl at a barbecue in the backyard with your family members who disagree with you.


But if it is especially important for Republicans and right leaning independents in this race who know that Donald Trump is an existential threat to the future of the republic, for them to vote and put their voices on what they're doing, if they possibly can, the people who are closest to you, who work with you, who live with you, who love you, who raised you, who you have raised, are the people who respect what you think and what you feel for for whom your advocacy has meaning.


Even if they don't always agree with you about everything. It's so important that people put their own voice on what they're doing and why they're doing it. Get involved. Whether you want to get involved with your local Democratic committee, if you're a Democrat, get involved in the efforts that way. Get involved with the Lincoln Project. Lincoln Project got us. There's one hundred ways that people can help. The most important thing that people can do, and I got to say it a million times between now and November, you must vote.


And if you can possibly have the courage to do so, stand up and speak up and talk to the people close to you about who you're voting for and why.


And I want to move on from national polls because of Rick's point. Before we go to the next topic here, Lincoln Project, let us vote. We've just compiled a long list of resources for every state in the country. So if you're not sure exactly how you're going to vote, you can go there and and figure out how to make your plans. Let's talk now about the executive orders. So over the weekend, Trump signed four executive orders, at least nominally aimed at providing economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic after White House negotiations failed to reach an agreement with Democratic leaders and Republicans in Congress.


And among those policies were three hundred dollars per week for people on unemployment, down from the six hundred dollars per week enhanced unemployment benefits that ended in July. A memo directing the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC to consider a temporary halt in residential evictions only consider extending relief for student loan borrowers through the end of the year and a call to defer payroll tax collection for workers earning less than one hundred thousand dollars a year.


So, Jennifer, as it stands, the deferment and payroll tax collection would give people lucky enough to still be employed an increase in their paychecks through the end of the year. But that would only be temporary and workers would be expected to repay the taxes next year. So will this actually help people struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic?


It really it really will not. First of all, but secondly and more importantly, just recognize this for what it is. It's a campaign stunt. This is this is Donald Trump recognizing that one of the biggest influences that have pushed his approval rating down is his mismanagement of the coronavirus and the economic crisis that has come as a result of it. And he's trying to you know, it was like when it was like sending out relief checks with his signature on them from the US Treasury.


You know, it just it's a it is not going to work. It's going to create greater economic turmoil for our country, not just in the moment, but in the future. The impact that the potential impact that it has for for the future people who are unemployed. We'll see no relief for this at all. And we still have way too many millions of Americans who are who are unemployed. And really the most difficult part of this, too, is that once this calendar year is over and by the way, the election is passed, just to state the obvious and people have to pay this.


It's going to create an increased burden for people who are under an economic burden to begin with. It is the wrong way to do what it is, not what needs to be done now. And people just need to recognize it for what it is. This is Donald Trump trying to use his power as president to advance his political campaign.


So Steve Trump told reporters his goal, if he's re-elected, is to cut the payroll tax for good. And obviously, while Trump would need Congress to eliminate the payroll tax entirely, it could have a disastrous effect on Social Security and Medicare, which is funded through payroll taxes. Nancy Altman, who is president of Social Security Works, told CNBC that the Social Security reserves could run out as soon as 20 23 if the payroll tax is eliminated. So what are the long term implications of effectively eliminating Social Security?


Well, eliminating Social Security would lead to widespread poverty and devastation for America's senior citizens, period. Full stop. We've had a consensus in this country since the 1930s that knew that Social Security is an essential part of the safety net. That debate in this country has been over for a long time. And so, look, all of these things that Donald Trump is talking about are all nonsense. The executive orders were pieces of paper. They don't have any lawful bearing or authority attached to them.


He doesn't have the power to do what he's asserting he could do on any of this stuff. It's just all campaign gimmick. And we know a lot about Donald Trump from the question that Chris Wallace asked him. Know he gave them two tries. Hey, what do you want to do in the second term? And he talked four minutes about his grievances, about how people are mean to them and what a victim he is and this and that and the other side.


So there's no policy. There's no plan. There's no vision. It's just a complete and total disaster. So they're just throwing stuff up against the wall. You know, just this is pablum from, you know, the Republican policy playbook. Page one, you know, for a political party that's become devoid of ideas, utterly principalists, and really an organized conspiracy to maintain power for the purposes of self-interest of the elected officials and the donor community.


So, yeah, Rick, I think I think Steve may have just said this really well, but the payroll tax suspension has has little support outside the White House and it never gained momentum with Republican senators. So why why is this the avenue that Trump decided to take? He has a mental frame where he cannot escape his grievances. He cannot escape his the idea of the world as he imagines it to be. And so the guy fundamentally doesn't care about Americans.


He fundamentally doesn't think about Americans except as supporting cast members in the reality TV show that's up in his head. Yeah.


So let's turn now to the week ahead. Steve, I want to start with you. What stories are you watching?


Well, I paid attention to the overt racism and the malice of the attacks that Trump is making and the lack of condemnation about them. I'm paying really close attention. Good for Adam Kinzinger, who's a young moderate congressman from Illinois, a Republican fighter pilot who is stood up and denounced the Kuhnen conspiracy nonsense. And we have a Republican elected in Georgia who'll be coming to the Congress. He's a total racist nut bag of the highest dimensions. And so I'm watching to see if Republicans are going to become fully the party of the new conspiracy theory.


And I'm watching for the Democratic convention next week. I'm watching to see a vision to repair and heal this country. I'm watching to see a message of national unity and and to hear the contours of the vision and the plan, how to recover from this crisis. And we should all understand that Joe Biden will be taking the oath of office with a set of challenges there that are equal to. If not greater than what FDR was dealing with when he took the oath of office and he may be taking the oath of office in the most precarious moment for this country since Lincoln did in 1861.


And and so I'm looking I'm looking for a Democratic convention that speaks to the magnitude of the challenge and the issues that are facing the country.


Rick, what is letting up your radar screen? Look, I think I think we are in the middle of of a moment where we're going to see a postmodern convention. We're going to see how effectively the Biden campaign and the Harris roll out translates into a moment where where voters get a chance to look at the alternative to Donald Trump. And I think it's important for them in the coming week to keep ensuring that the stays as a referendum on Donald Trump.


This doesn't have to be a rollout of 700 policy plans and, you know, checklists. This has to be a prosecution of the case against Donald Trump and an argument for why the Biden Harris administration will focus on the things that really matter and will focus on the things that can heal this country in a time of of of almost unbelievable crisis.


We're also going to be looking very much at, you know, the the framing of of a lot of these big issues, the post office crisis and other things right now that the president is going to use as a distraction coming up next week.


Yeah, yeah. Jennifer, what do you got?


Well, it's the same. We're all watching the same thing. I've been particularly thinking about this woman in Georgia, Marjorie Green, who won the Republican primary in the congressional district down there and who she ran her campaign ad to. Steven talked about this just a second ago, but she ran her campaign on racism through her her campaign videos, her live uploaded, uploaded to YouTube. She attacked the African-American community. She attacked Muslims. She clearly stated her kuhnen allegiance, I guess, is the word.


She didn't sneak in by pretending to be something else. She was openly, brazenly bigoted in her campaign. So one. I guess I'm going to be watching the voters of Georgia and wondering if they're going to tolerate this because it is a district where a Republican should probably win. So what are the voters in Georgia going to do in this general election to make their voices heard? But to I'm going to be watching the leadership of the Republican Party and the leadership in Congress.


I would expect that under the circumstances, we would have heard a loud, clear message from Kevin McCarthy by now that says Marjorie Green does not represent the Republican Party. You guys in Georgia do whatever you want, but if you send her to Washington, she's not going to be on a committee and she will not get leadership and she will not have a voice in our caucus. It hasn't happened. But I'm watching. I'm hopeful. But and then the other thing really quickly is, you know, the last time you and I did this, Ron, we talked a little bit about the good news out there, the positive stories to life.


And like, we we got lots of feedback from our listeners after that last episode where you brought that and they really appreciated that. So and yeah.


And I got a lot of feedback, you know, directly as well. And and life is heavy right now for a lot of people. And we have to understand that we and everything that we're doing at the Lincoln Project is to try to move us away from that national heartache that we're all suffering. But there's a great story out there. USA Today and USA Today, the Today Show has a piece on their website that shows all good news if people are looking for uplift, uplifting stories.


And there's this amazing story about these two teenage girls who are friends, one of whom is named Alexis and was diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease and has become very ill. And her friend, her best friend, Triniti, has been by her side throughout the entire thing, sleeping with her in the hospital sometimes in this poor girl was hospitalized for six months. But Trinity came forward, started a nonprofit and has begun to write and illustrate children's books where the superheroes are disabled and trying to bring, you know, uplift and and joy and a smile to her, her sick friends face.


And in doing so, she has reached out and touched millions of other Americans. People should go to the to the Today Show website to check it out. And I just, you know, just like we said last time, just remind people the world is mostly full of really good, generous, kind people and we should not lose sight of that. That's beautiful.


I want to read up an alarming and continually developing story I brought up back in June when Anne Applebaum wrote an article in The Atlantic about the new CEO of the US Agency for Global Media, Michael PAC, attempting to really limit the independence from America's international broadcasters. PAC is an ally of Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, the executive chairman of Breitbart, Bannon told Alex Ward of Fox back in June. We are going hard on the charge PACs over there to clean house, and the USA is an independent agency funded by the US government to provide news content to people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.


And on Wednesday, Politico published an article that this new CEO has removed a number of senior executives, including the agency's chief financial officer and former interim CEO Grant Turner, and its general counsel, David Klingerman, a move the two of them says is retaliation for standing up to PAC in.


This comes after PAC pushed out the heads of Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, two of the agency's news organizations. And these are these are these are media agencies that the government has run since the Cold War to to to embody journalistic principles and advance the cause of democracy around the world. And they're now being taken over by by by Bannon allies. And we don't know what their end game is, but it's a story I'm watching really, really closely.


We do know what their endgame is. We do know what the end game as it is, a direct, aggressive attack on freedom. That's what the end game is.


Yeah. Thank you again to Rick, Jennifer and Steve for being on the show, and thanks to all of you for listening. You can find more information about our movement at Lincoln Project U.S. if you have any questions, comments or advice for us. You can reach us at a podcast at Lincoln Project US. And please know that even if we can't respond, we read everything we get and we appreciate hearing from you. If you haven't yet, it would really help us if you would subscribe rate and review the show wherever you get your podcasts, because this helps new voters find us and join our mission to beat Trump at the ballot box for the Lincoln Project.


I'm Ron Suslow. I'll see you in the next episode.