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Hi, this is Bertie Condon, a home birth midwife in the Hudson Valley of New York, my colleagues and I are waiting for a bunch of babies known as the Coroneos to arrive in January will be expecting a bumper crop of babies known as Quarantine's.
This podcast was recorded at its 216 Eastern on Sunday, August 16th. Hopefully we'll have welcomed some new New Yorkers by the time you hear this. Here's the show.
That's just what Trump wants in time for the election. New New Yorkers. Hey there. It's the NPR Politics podcast. I'm Scott Detro. I cover the presidential campaign. I'm Asma Khalid.
I also cover the campaign. And I'm Domenico Montanaro, senior political editor and correspondent.
So we're together on a Sunday because tomorrow the Democratic National Convention gets underway and we all plan to be in Milwaukee right now.
Actually, we plan to be in Milwaukee a month ago.
Then we plan to be in Milwaukee right now. Then fewer of us plan to be in Milwaukee right now than nobody planned to be in Milwaukee because this has shrunk and shrunk and shrunk because of the coronavirus.
So before we talk about that and what the Democrats are trying to accomplish here, can you guys just remind everybody what this is supposed to look like?
I mean, think back just to to four years ago, Scott. Right, we were high in the rafters in this massive arena full of people, whether talking about the Democrats or the Republicans.
You had the balloons. You had people wearing like crazy costumes. They felt like just a huge, big party.
And to me, we were like, what if miles in the air that was right. They were just so many people there. And I feel like to me as a radio reporter, one of the strangest things about covering this campaign lately has been how silent everything feels. Right. There's like no applause when you go out to a Joe Biden event because there's no crowd. There's just no audience there.
Yeah. And everything's everything's basically a TV show now. And, you know, maybe it's suitable or fitting the fact that, you know, everything has moved so much online that we're going to wind up with the first all online conventions.
For the most part, we're not there, which is really weird because you usually get to be on the floor.
You get a sense of the room, you get a feeling for the vibe, like, what are the delegates really thinking? And that's just not going to happen this time.
And instead, we're going to have this huge TV production, especially with the Democrats who are going to be in, you know, multiple, multiple live and remote locations.
And, of course. Millions of people watched this on TV, no matter what the year is, they're still going to be high profile speakers. Kamala Harris, now that we know she's the vice presidential nominee, she'll be highlighting Wednesday night. Joe Biden will, of course, accept the nomination. Thursday, we can finally stop saying presumptive nominee. We can just call him the nominee. Who else are the big speakers and what are we expecting to hear from them?
So on Monday night, they'll be kind of an eclectic mix of people. You're going to have John Kasich, former Republican governor of Ohio, and you'll might remember him because he actually ran to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2016. He lost to Donald Trump. But you'll also have people like Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama. And to me, this is a really interesting mix of people that shows you just how wide the the so-called Biden coalition is. It really is this hodgepodge group of people who are united singularly by one thing, which is to defeat Donald Trump.
Yeah, I think the campaign really wants to contrast what leadership looks like, saying that Trump has messed up on the three big crises of the year, the coronavirus crisis, the economy, which is related to the coronavirus and racial inequity. That's what the campaign is saying. You know, they're saying that Trump has failed to address any of those. Biden is someone who's going to build back the country better, which is, of course, their slogan this year and why you have some of these speakers on these different nights, Tuesday nights going to be leadership matters.
Wednesday, a more perfect union and talking about some of the issues that have been complicating climate change, health care, immigration reform, reasons why Biden got in. And you can have President Obama that night and on Thursday, quote unquote, America's promise where they are looking toward, you know, what the vision is for for Biden and Harris and what they want America to be coming after Donald Trump.
We got some questions from our Facebook group that we have for the podcast. And one that that came up was typically you have this thing called the convention bump. Right? Like a campaign has four nights to kind of give their unfiltered message, make their pitch in long forums and and voters usually respond.
And that candidate gets a little bit of a bump. First of all, these are virtual conventions. Second of all, they're coming later in the year. And third and most importantly, Dominico, our latest poll really emphasized this. Again, this has been such a static race, the dynamics haven't shifted much at all. Do we expect any sort of bump one way or the another after the Democrats are after both of them?
Well, there's a lot of discussion among Democratic strategists as whether or not Biden is already at something of a ceiling. I mean, in polling, you know, he's at fifty fifty one. Fifty two, fifty three. Our polling, he was at fifty two.
You know, that's where he's been at 50 percent, which is very significant because it means he's already over the majority of what's needed. And we're in such a hotly polarized country that people feel like negative partisanship is really the thing that's going to weigh out. Who do people hate less and wind up going to the polls and vote for, you know? So can Biden get higher than that?
How much of a bump can he get now?
The campaign kind of expects that there's a possibility that they will at least have more unity coming out of this convention. They'll lock in their voters, maybe appeal to some new voters, and maybe that'll mean they get a little bit of a bump.
So my question, though, about all of this is that, you know, earlier you were saying that this is in some ways in many ways, it's it's a large TV show. Right.
This is a week of just TV and radio and broadcasting it every night. True. True. But it is all, you know, produced for broadcast media. And you look at the fact that President Trump will be counterprogramming the entire week, going out to hold his own rallies and he is the king of reality shows. So I do have this question of, you know, when you talk about a post convention bump, it is true that Democrats have been organizing this TV show for a while.
So it's very well likely, I should say, to be very well produced. But my question is, you know, how much of that is really going to be felt when you've got counter broadcast programming going on by President Trump? And there just won't be the sense of, you know, balloons and excitement and partisan kind of excitement that you might have at the RNC or the DNC typically.
Yeah, I mean, look, you always want to be second as far as, you know, delivering a message because you can combat what the prior people were messaging and talking about.
And that's what this is such an important piece of. This is one of their only opportunities in the general election to speak to a vast, broad audience and guess what? Everyone's home. So I expect the viewership is going to be pretty high. The production of this is certainly complicated.
The Democrats have an entire control room in Milwaukee because even though nobody's going to be there, they've already been setting this up for so long.
They have an executive producer who's been doing this kind of work since at. 1992 for the Democrats, they've got people in 20, 30, 40 different locations, a lot of people with their own sort of audio and lighting equipment that's been sent to them. So there's a high bar for some of this stuff to actually go off.
Well, now the Democrats have a little bit of an advantage on this, because as soon as coronavirus started to look like it was a serious threat, they've been planning this convention to be virtual. You know, the Republicans have are a little bit on their back foot with this because, you know, they move the convention from Charlotte to Jacksonville. Then they decided to go all virtual ones. Florida started to spike in cases.
So now at the same time, Republicans do have an infrastructure of, you know, speaking to their base through non mainstream media television outlets that they've created.
So I expect, like you said, Ozma, that the president and his team will have it figured out. I'm waiting for my clock to stop because this shouldn't turn that off.
And actually, we're going to talk about that and whether some of these changes might be permanent after a quick break.
Domenico, thanks so much. All right. Bye, guys. Asma, you and I will be back with Don Gonyea to talk about that future in a moment.
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Don't miss the national conversation. With me, Jen White every weekday on NPR's one at. News, views and insight for the relentlessly curious, a space for those willing to share what they know and ready to hear the other side of the story, subscribe to one A now and leave a review. And we are back and Ossman are now joined by Don Gonyea. Hey, Don. Hey, guys. So, Don, you did a great radio story this week about political conventions, looking back at key moments, looking forward to what things could be like in the future.
And I guess the best compliment is that it made me deeply sad listening to those iconic convention moments and just thinking through the lack of the lack of them this year. It was it was just like a really good thing that took you back to conventions over the decades. Yeah.
And I talked about it with my editor.
It was almost like we were doing an obituary for conventions because we we likely won't see the old school kind of convention again. Things are going to be different from here on out. Yeah.
And even let's set aside the conventions where you didn't know the nominee or where there was major drama because, you know, the nominee hasn't been decided at the convention since the 1950s, really. And it hasn't been since the 1980 Democratic convention that there was real tension about what the outcome could be.
But even since then, the important thing about conventions is that they have created iconic moments that that that register with voters and that really launched careers in one direction or another.
That's right. The wrap on conventions in the modern era, in the televised era has been that they're these tightly scripted, prepackaged nightly infomercials that are on television. And over the years, I mean, the audience has gone up and down from from cycle to cycle. But generally the trend line has been down in terms of people watching them.
But even though they're scripted, even though the parties tried to convey this tightly controlled message, there are still genuinely newsworthy events.
And one of the key things that they do is they introduce rising political stars in every party has them.
And the convention is generally the place where they get their first national stage. And there's no better modern example of that than 2004, when Barack Obama was a young state senator from Illinois and people still didn't even know how to say his name.
And he delivered the keynote speech that year for the nominee, John Kerry, the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him two and then four years later, another big political star, now one whose political career fizzled pretty quickly.
But Sarah Palin, this, you know, unknown Alaska governor had been kind of plucked from obscurity to be John McCain's running mate.
And we went from I was riding the Obama campaign bus back then. We went from trying to figure out how to say her name.
All the reporters on that bus is that Palin?
Is it Palin is is what to do to this amazing moment on stage at the convention just days later.
I love those hockey moms. You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull lipstick and.
It wasn't as much of an iconic moment, obviously, as Barack Obama.
But I still remember standing next to you and Tam on the incredibly crowded convention floor in Philadelphia watching his Erkan give that speech.
We were talking about that earlier, just that moment where he the the father of a son who'd kill, who'd been killed in Iraq, denounced President Trump for that Muslim ban.
In just a moment where you could see the Constitution right from his jacket pocket.
Have you even read the United States Constitution? And I think those are the moments that really stick with you as as a reporter.
And I would say they probably stick with a lot of people who who are tuning in to watch these conventions because they're they're the moments that I think you don't expect. Right. A lot of people will know and expect to hear a big speech from the presumptive nominee. But it's those moments, I mean, to me that his Erkan moment was so powerful because I don't think that anyone in the room or even watching on TV a really knew much about who his Erkan was or what he was going to do.
And and I guess my question, though, to you, Don, is like, do you feel like because everything is going to be so highly produced, everything is going to be virtual this year, that that we won't have those moments for, say, breakout stars or anything that's going to really feel lasting when we look back on this convention? It will be different.
It will be harder for something to break through. But they had already been trying to redesign these conventions even before they knew they were going to be virtual. They were trying to redesign them to focus on those viral moments rather than, you know, what we used to consider a big TV moment.
But the other thing is one of the key things that these convention. And do any party operative will tell you this is they do get those activists who come to the convention, maybe they're serving as delegates or maybe they're there as a volunteer, but they really get them fired up and it kind of puts a marker down, you know, both for them and for the general public. It's like, OK, folks, it's for real. Now, we got less than three months and it energizes people to make that final push.
They still need to figure out how to do that.
Well, we will find out tomorrow and every night this week after the convention wraps up, we will have a podcast for you on what just happened, what matters, so you can tune into the NPR Politics podcast feed all week to hear about this uncharted waters convention that we're about to head into. I'm Scott Detro.
I cover the presidential campaign and less McCallie. They also cover the campaign.
And I'm Don Gonyea. I cover national politics. Thank you for listening to the NPR Politics podcast.