In between threatening nuclear war with North Korea and musing about unspecified military action against Venezuela, President Trump last week took aim at a third, perhaps even more surprising, target in a barrage of tweets and intemperate golf-course press availabilities: the Senate majority leader of his own party.
Why would a president whose legislative agenda is so dependent on Senate Republicans bash Mitch McConnell in terms he usually reserves for more predictable enemies like the “fake news” media and Kim Jong Un? Can the Republican Party survive a president who came to office convinced that bashing his own team’s powerbrokers was just as much a reason for his victory as his attacks on the Democrats?
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For this week’s Global Politico, we convened eight prominent Republicans to answer the rapidly proliferating questions about a GOP that seems increasingly at war with itself—and heard two starkly different stories about a party that might have won the White House and both houses of Congress but sounds at times like it’s more on the verge of a nervous breakdown than a national takeover.
From five top Washington insiders like Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham, Republican Main Street Partnership chief Sarah Chamberlain, and former top advisers to 2016 candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, came increasingly pointed laments about Trump’s “lack of presidential leadership,” his bombastic party-bashing tweets, absence of a governing philosophy and political compass ruled by a “collection of impulses” rather than a coherent strategy.
“This is a party that doesn’t know where it wants to go, but also happens to have all the power,” National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru says. “You’d have to say the Republican Party is in about as bad of shape as you can be while holding the White House, the House, the Senate, most governorships and most state legislatures.”
“There is a real governing problem,” adds Alex Conant, a Republican consultant and former top Rubio campaign adviser. “Look, I don’t care what the issue is, you cannot pass massive pieces of legislation without presidential leadership. There is no example in American history of major legislation passing without the president of the United States dragging it across the finish line. We just haven’t seen that at all from President Trump yet.”
It is just such thinking that infuriates Trump himself and his diehard backers, as was abundantly clear when I later interviewed for The Global Politico a second group that included strategist Roger Stone, a Trump friend and adviser of decades; Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an anti-immigration activist now heading a controversial national electoral commission for Trump; and Kentucky-based commentator Scottie Nell Hughes. Not only were they not chagrined by Trump’s contentious first six months of his presidency, they urged him to get even more combative—against enemies within the GOP perhaps above all.
Stone, for one, says Trump should “throw Mitch McConnell and the boys over the sides so fast it would make your head spin” and fire his national security adviser H.R. McMaster for alleged ties to “globalists” like liberal Democratic donor George Soros. Stone even has unkind words for McConnell’s wife, Trump Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, came in for a warning after just two weeks on the job, with Stone saying the retired Marine general is already “on a very slippery slope” by trying to cut off Trump from hard-line supporters and the alt-right media.
“Will these quislings that he has appointed,” Stone asks of the president, “take him down?”
Hughes and Kobach, while less inflammatory in their recommendations, are equally supportive of Trump’s campaign against internal dissent and a party establishment that, Hughes insists, still hasn’t fully accepted last year’s election results. “They haven’t learned their lesson yet that President Trump won,” she says, attributing the backlash to a president who has exposed the hollowness of congressional Republicans’ repeated pledges to shake up a system they are in fact benefiting from.
The finger-pointing in both groups over the failure of efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with a GOP alternative in many ways summed up the state of a party that is less a united team these days than a circular firing squad. Some of those I interviewed blamed Trump, some accused other Republicans of “lying” about their willingness to repeal the health-care law, and still others thought McConnell and the rest of their party’s leadership should take the fall for a failed process.
Taken together, the comments of the Trump flame-throwers along with those of the Washington insiders they love to bash suggest one incontestable fact they can all agree on: “Trump’s nomination,” as Stone puts it, “was the hostile takeover of the Republican Party.”
A year ago, I met with these same two groups of Republicans on the eve of the GOP convention in Cleveland, and already it was clear that his candidacy constituted a major internal rupture. Would it lead, I asked then, to “ruin or renewal” for the Republican Party?
At the time, of course, few expected Trump to win in November. Indeed, some of the GOP establishment types I spoke with back then worried about whether their party was on the verge of a historic defeat, fearing it was poised to lose not only the White House but perhaps even both houses of Congress. Their mood was nothing less than despondent.
The pro-Trump outsiders were far more upbeat about the party’s prospects, seeing Trump not only as a potential winner but also someone who could expand the party’s base to white working-class Democrats, and use his celebrity appeal to shake up a bunch of Beltway bandits who preached policies the Republican base cheered but had no real intention of implementing.
Reading that second conversationa year later, I was struck by how politically prescient it was—and the extent to which it anticipated, correctly, Trump’s disdain for the party whose standard he would bear. We are now seeing what that means for the president, who came to power after what Stone called his “pox on both your houses” campaign feeling no loyalty at all to the Republican hierarchy he now has to work with.
“Trump in many ways is bigger than the Republican Party,” Stone said back then. “His ability to be at war with both the leadership of the Democratic and the Republican Parties allows him to continue to be the outsider against a two-party duopoly that many voters now feel is responsible for one set of policies.”
So are we surprised that Trump is already at war with Mitch McConnell? That Stone and the president’s other fervent allies are calling for a purge of disloyal Republicans and still more heads to roll in a White House already consumed by epic levels of infighting?
Or that on Capitol Hill, Republicans even a year after crowning Donald Trump their party’s nominee have yet to really come to terms with him?
For eight years they bashed Barack Obama and dreamed of recapturing the White House. Now that they have, they’ve found governing a messy sport indeed. “We’re struggling right now,” says Needham, “with what we’re supposed to do with power.”
Below is our edited transcript of the two conversations, a discussion I found to be thoughtful, surprising – and inevitably contentious – about not only our divisive new president but over even basic definitions of what Republicanism is today, and how to remake the party of Ronald Reagan for an anxious new America.
Susan Glasser:President Trump: “I’m very disappointed in Mitch.” “I said, ‘Mitch, get back to work. Let’s get it done.’ For a thing like to happen is a disgrace.”
That was the president of the United States last week – seemingly going to war with Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader of his own party. And it reflects one of the most important facts about politics in the Trump era – the Republican Party under President Trump is a party divided, one at war with itself. Torn between a leader who came to office vowing to drain the Washington swamp – and the swamp creatures in his own party who now run both houses of Congress. It’s the story of a self-proclaimed populist president and the elites he now needs to pass his agenda; between an outsider, a newcomer poorly versed in the details of how politics really works – and the insiders who sweat the details and are demanding presidential leadership they don’t think they’re getting. President Trump wants to blow up the system – but then how is he going to get anything done?
So I’m Susan Glasser and welcome back to The Global Politico, where this week we have a special report from inside the Republican war within. We’ve convened two groups of Republicans to explain it to us. A group of pro-Trump Republican bomb-throwers—who want a war with Mitch McConnell and then some. And a group of party insiders here in Washington, the ones Trump and Company are throwing the bombs at.
“I’d throw Mitch McConnell and the boys over the sides so fast your head would spin.” That was Roger Stone, Republican strategist and a Trump friend of decades. He’s part of our second group. But first, the insiders. We had breakfast not long ago at the Capitol Hill Club, a Republican hangout right on the House side of the Capitol. It was before Trump’s latest broadside against the Senate Majority Leader, I should note, and yet already it was clear a huge gap has opened up between the Trump White House – and the Hill Republicans who hold the fate of his agenda in their hands. I first met with this same bunch of five smart GOP operatives a year ago, right when Donald Trump had won his party’s nomination. Nobody knew then, of course, what an upset the November election would bring. But we could already understand that the Trump candidacy represented a true insurgency that was going to upend definitions of what the Republican Party was for a long time, and ultimately cause Democrats, as well as Republicans, to really rethink some of the fundamentals of American politics going forward.
So we were right about that part of it. As for the rest, well not so much… we’ll talk about that in the next few minutes. But first some introductions:
Alex Conant: Hey, Alex Conant. I’m a partner at Firehouse Strategies, but last year I was worked on Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign as his communications director.
Michael Steel: I’m Michael Steel. I’m a managing director at Hamilton Place Strategies. Last year I was a senior adviser to Governor Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign. And for many years before that, I worked on Capitol Hill, including as Speaker Boehner’s spokesman.
Sarah Chamberlain: I’m Sarah Chamberlain. I’m the CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership. We are one-third of the Republican Caucus consisting of 75 House and Senate members.
Ramesh Ponnuru: I’m Ramesh Ponnuru. I write for National Review and Bloomberg View, and I’m a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Michael Needham: I’m Michael Needham. I’m the chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America.
Glasser: What a great group. I’m really appreciative of everybody coming this morning. Love it or hate it, these are amazing times to be in Washington, in ways that are sometimes actually hard to communicate to people. We all understand we’re at this hinge moment, right?
00:03:01 So we might as well start with the same question we started with last year. It’s actually still relevant, which is what is the Republican Party, and how is it going to survive—last year we said the “Trump candidacy.” This year we’ll say the “Trump presidency.” Michael, last year, you said the Republican Party was a means to an end.
Needham: Yes. The Republican Party is a vessel through which people come together and try to pass policies that make people’s lives better. So I think the party is too slowly, but productively, struggling to find its identity. It’s a party that identified as the party of Reagan. Every year you do a primary process. It would start off with a debate at the Reagan Library. A whole bunch of people—most of whom, ironically, didn’t support Ronald Reagan in the 1980 primary—would talk about how they are the natural successor to Ronald Reagan.
I think President Trump correctly identified himself as the first post-Reagan candidate for the Republican nomination. Certainly, the first successful post-Reagan candidate for the Republican nomination. 00:04:33 I think the challenge for the party is to learn from the diagnosis of where our country is, that I think Donald Trump broadly got correctly, and now engage in the process of applying conservative principles to that diagnosis, and coming up with an agenda that can help people improve their lives, and feel meaning as citizens of the country.
Glasser: Is Donald Trump a Republican? Alex?
Conant: Well, sure. Not only is he a Republican, he’s a leader of the Republican Party right now, whether he likes it or not. Looking at some of his tweets in recent weeks, he sometimes talks about the Republican Party as if it’s a foreign body rather than the organization that he’s the head of for the foreseeable future. So, yeah. I mean, I think absolutely he’s a Republican.
Frankly, I think the entire rest of the country looks at the Republican Party through the prism of Donald Trump as its leader, which is why every Republican member of Congress gets asked every single day to respond to what Trump said. And every Democrat that’s running in the midterms next year is going to frame the election as a referendum on Trump’s presidency.
Glasser: Is that going to be successful for them? I mean, how much does an ideological agenda or policy agenda matter?
Steel: I actually think it’s going to be very unsuccessful for the Democrats. And I think they wasted a great deal of money in 2016 on down-ballot races trying to do precisely that. Particularly against candidates who were so manifestly not Trump. If you’re running against Mike Coffman in Colorado, who’s putting ads on the air talking about helping people from east Africa, et cetera, and claiming that he’s like Trump, that’s stupid. There’s too much cognitive dissonance there.
While Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party, he has a very separate and distinct brand, and in a way that I think is probably unprecedented. Just as it’s unprecedented for him to be the first commander-in-chief without either elected office or military experience, I think he may be the first leader of a political party to have such a distinct brand from it. There are a lot of things that Democrats can successfully run against Republicans on next year, particularly if there’s no further action on tax reform, or some other big-ticket items. But I think tying them to Donald Trump is not going to be a very smart or winning strategy.
Glasser: But you do agree, Sarah, that Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party at this point?
Glasser: I mean, it’s Trump’s party.
Chamberlain: Absolutely, it’s Donald Trump’s party. I think there’s kind of two factions in the Republican Party, and I think Donald Trump works very well with both of them to try to bring them together. We spend a lot of time in the White House with him from my side of the party.
Glasser: What are the two factions?
Chamberlain: There’s a more conservative wing, and then there’s the more—we don’t refer to ourselves as moderates—we are the governing wing of the party. We live in the districts that make us the majority; without the members of Main Street, Nancy Pelosi is the speaker of the House. That’s just the facts. Twenty-three of our members, Donald Trump did not win their districts. Hillary Clinton did.
Glasser: How well are you able to synthesize those two wings at this point in time? I mean, especially because of the unique personality of the president, and the controversies associated with it. I mean, Alex’s point is well taken here, that he often, himself, doesn’t seem to remember always that he’s a Republican leader.
Chamberlain: He is our Republican leader, and I think his philosophy, there’s some issues where he is more conservative, and then there’s some issues where he’s more of a governing. I certainly think on tax reform and transportation, you’re going see much more of a governing Republican. We’re already having meetings with him on those issues.
Glasser: So, Ramesh, take us a little bit into this question of sort of ideology, and how it shifts and transforms.
Ponnuru: Well, I think that the party’s identity is in flux right now, and it’s in a very unusual situation because Trump really overthrew the old order within the Republican Party; showed that the existing program was out of touch with actual voters. But at the same time, didn’t replace it with anything because he doesn’t have a political philosophy. He has a collection of impulses.
And under those circumstances, you’d expect a party to be in the wilderness trying to figure out what it stands for; what it believes; what it wants to. But this is a party that doesn’t know where it wants to go, but also happens to have all the power. It’s a disorienting situation. It’s one of the reasons why we can sit here and have this conversation about how the Republican Party is going to survive the Trump presidency, which is sort of an odd question, right?
I mean, I guess you’d have to say the Republican Party is in about as bad of shape as you can be while holding the White House, the House, the Senate, most governorships, and most state legislatures.
Glasser: Let’s drill into that. We’re all nodding our heads because we sort of know what that means intuitively. But it is sort of paradoxical, right? It is at the apex of power by almost any objective measures, and yet it feels like there are real questions around what the program is, and real difficulties, obviously, putting that through. Why is it in bad shape for a group of people who have managed to win every major branch of government?
Ponnuru: Well, I think that there are a number of reasons for that. I think one of them is that we have abruptly moved into a period of kind of congressional governance; where the Congress is trying to set the agenda in a way that Congresses just haven’t done for a very long time. The last time I think you’ve had a Republican Congress that was trying to set the agenda, instead of a Republican president who’s in the White House, I think you’d have to go back before the New Deal to find this.
And I think people don’t have the experience. They don’t know how to do it. And so you’ve reverted, I think, to an agenda that’s very much like the one you’d have had if Scott Walker, or some other more conventional Republican president had taken office; an agenda that doesn’t take account of what we have learned about the actual shape of the Republican coalition. I think that’s a big part of the reason why it’s stumbling.
Steel: I think Ramesh is probably right. I can’t think of an example after Andrew Johnson, really, where you had Congress in a Republican situation trying to dictate to a weakened president—or not weakened president but a president. I think we have two separate but related problems in terms of governing right now. One is the distractions associated with the various questionable activities, or potential scandals, et cetera. Russia, et cetera. And how that bears on the fact that the president, because of that, and because of lack of ideology, coherent policy-based world view, can’t provide some of the leadership that a Republican Congress traditionally looks to a Republican president for.
So the party in Congress is more ideologically unified than it’s been in quite a while. The differences are, by some measures, on the margins, but getting that last mile, and actually getting things done is very difficult to do without presidential leadership. And presidential leadership is very difficult to implykatie: check word? Apply? when you’re plagued and bedeviled by these constant questions about scandals and constant undisciplined tweets. And don’t have real substantive knowledge or opinions about the areas where they need guidance.
So I’m not sure that the party in Congress, though, is as unified around an agenda that’s relevant to the American people where they are today. When you look at the tag line of the Better Way agenda, it was a “confident America.” I think that if there’s anything that we’ve learned from Donald Trump and his diagnosis of where the country is, is that it’s not a confident America. It’s a deeply anxious America. It’s an America that’s anxious on the wage side of the ledger. It’s an America that’s anxious on the price side of the ledger; that’s struggling with family breakdown, with opioid crises, with all these issues.
Rather than kind of doing the hard work that Ramesh has been a leader in trying to push the party for over the last eight, nine years, of figuring out how do we be responsive to the feelings that people have about their anxiety; about the coming apart of this nation between its cultural elites and the rest of the nation; about a sense of pride and patriotism, rather than kind of the cosmopolitan world view that I think Barack Obama perfectly encapsulated. The party lied to itself and said, “There’s no disagreement within the party on the goal of repealing Obamacare. There’s just disagreements on tactics.”
Well, we’ve actually learned that there are very, very deeply seated disagreements about whether or not to repeal Obamacare. And so rather than doing that hard work of identifying where the nation is, and coming up with an agenda that unifies, we just kind of fell back on tax cuts; pretending like we’re unified on repealing Obamacare. That’s why I think we’re struggling right now to figure out what we’re supposed to do with power.
Glasser: So let’s talk about the Obamacare thing. What did we learn so far from the process in the House and Senate, and what the White House was doing or not doing on healthcare, that tells us about the state of the Republican Party today? I think that’s an excellent point.
Needham: So we learned that when Charlie Dent ran around the country saying that he supports repealing Obamacare, and that the only disagreements with him and his more conservative colleagues were disagreements over tactics, and kind of fiscal cliffs, that he was lying. And it’s perfectly fine for some members of the Republican Party not to want to repeal the regulatory architecture of Obamacare, but they should be honest about it. And then we should have a conversation as a party—after elections, and after primary voters and general election voters have had the right to know what they’re buying when they send somebody to Washington—to figure out how we come up with compromise legislation, and get that legislation passed.
But you can go through every single member of the Tuesday Group, or at least virtually every member of the Tuesday Group, and they campaigned on repealing Obamacare, and we learned in the House that that wasn’t an honest campaign promise.
Chamberlain: Okay. Well, I actually won’t agree with that since I represent all of those members. They want to repeal/replace. The issue is no one has come up with a really good plan that unites the Republican Party and how to do that.
Glasser: So you see it as a governing issue?
Chamberlain: I think it’s a governing issue. I mean, we live in districts—as I said earlier—Donald Trump didn’t win our districts. We are the majority makers. John Katko, you know, Hillary Clinton won his district by 24 points. His repeal/replace looks very different than an Alex Mooney that lives in a plus-24 Republican district. That’s the problem. We feel strongly about repeal/replace. We just disagree with how to get there. That’s what’s not happening. And they tried. They’re trying to do that.
Conant: I think if Donald Trump, during the election, had outlined, “This is what I want to replace Obamacare with,” and had gone on to win the election as he did, his agenda vis à vis healthcare reform would be in a far different place than it was otherwise, because he really cannot claim a mandate on the Ryan or the McConnell healthcare plans. The first time anyone saw them was a couple days before they were asked to vote on them.
There is a real governing problem. Look, I don’t care what the issue is, you cannot pass massive pieces of legislation without presidential leadership. There is no example in American history of major legislation passing without the president of the United States dragging it across the finish line. We just haven’t seen that at all from President Trump yet.
Ponnuru: So on Alex’s point about how you need presidential leadership, I think that the process here has been a problem on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. And I remember in 2013, 2014 talking to a lot of Republicans about the need for a Republican healthcare alternative to Obamacare. The response I got from very senior people on Capitol Hill was, “We’re going to leave that process of policy formation to the presidential candidate. We don’t want to foreclose the options.” I think that that turned out not to work very well.
And since then, we now also have a congressional model where you get everything done with these cliffs. And you sort of spring it on people. You say, “It’s either this or nothing.” You know, you don’t do the regular process of legislation. That, I think, is also not working. One of the reasons it’s not working is because you don’t have a sponsor of this legislation, who’s out there making the case, and dispelling the misinformation about it. It’s sort of amazing that they’ve gotten as far as they have given this very screwy system they’ve created for actually getting the legislation through.
Glasser: I guess my question is, if Donald Trump is the president who comes in and says, “Washington is broken,” but he doesn’t say, “I’m going to fix it,” that’s what you guys
Ponnuru: “Well, I alone fix it,” actually was the—
Glasser: But he wouldn’t tell us how he was going to fix it.
Ponnuru: He gave you this really grim picture. Even grimmer than Michael’s suggesting. But it’s also easier because the big problem in Washington—everything’s going to hell in this country…
Glasser: He never said he was going to make Congress great again.
Ponnuru: His explanation is everything is going to hell in this country because our elites don’t act in the national interest. “Elect me. I’ll start acting in the national interest. Everything’s fixed,” right? I mean, it’s actually a terrible—
Needham: But so he’s right on that central critique. And so I think the interesting and exciting opportunity you have is to take the critique that he made, and then cast a governing agenda on it. So I think he made four fundamental critiques. First, we talked earlier about the anxiety that people feel; about the economic anxiety and cultural anxiety that Trump clearly recognized and tapped into. Two, on the flipside, he realized that our nation’s ruling elites have become far more citizens of the world than citizens of this great nation.
When Barack Obama says that America thinks it’s exceptional, but so do the Greeks, and so do the British, that is reflecting a fundamentally different way of thinking than Bill Clinton, or Jimmy Carter, or Jack Kennedy, none of whom would have ever said that thought. Our nation’s leaders care more about buying mosquito nets for Africa than they do about solving Mountain Dew Mouth in Kentucky. I think Trump was very effective in pointing that out, and saying that he was against it.
Third, he recognized that this city is completely corrupt. His claim, “The city is corrupt. I am not corrupt. In fact, I’ve been part of the system, so I know how corrupt it is, and I’m uniquely capable of pushing back on some of those things.” And then finally, he pointed out that the left uses political correctness as a bludgeon to prevent us from talking about any of those three prior critiques. And so I think that a successful party that wants to govern and lead would look at those four critiques that he’s made, say, “He’s on to something,” with each of those, and then would craft a governing agenda out of that.
I think you’d find tremendous success. You’d have 55 percent of the country behind you, and we’d have a lot more unity as a party because we’d be struggling with a relevant series of diagnoses rather than diagnoses of the past.
Glasser: And so this gets at also the bigger-picture question, which is having assaulted basically all the institutions, at least the core institutions of Washington, and arguably that has been part of the Republican success on Capitol Hill anyways, even predating Donald Trump, is to attack the system. Now that you own the system, are you able to rebreathe life into structures and institutions that have been under systematic, ideological assault? Can you restore Congress as a leadership institution after saying it’s corrupt, and broken, and failed?
Steel: One, I think that Michael actually mischaracterized the description of the confident America in the House document last year. It was a prescription, not a diagnosis. It was a goal, not an analysis of the current situation. And as Ramesh said, the problem with Trumpism, or converting the Trump campaign into governing, is that it is a collection of impulses rather than a collection of policies.
And there’s some interesting questions about converting those impulses into policies. Some would probably be directly counterproductive on trade, economy, et cetera. Others would probably be very helpful on tax reform, infrastructure, et cetera. But while running against the corrupt institutions of Washington, there was very little thought or analysis given to what can be done to improve those institutions beyond the wrecking ball.
Glasser: “The wrecking ball.” That’s probably as good of a place as any to end the first part of our conversation this week on The Global Politico, our special report on the Republican Party’s war within. It’s a party divided – between Donald Trump, human wrecking ball; and those who spent their life working within the structures he’s now taking aim at. Part one looked at things from the insiders’ point of view – is it Trump’s fault, for bashing Congress instead of working with it? For not leading? For not having a coherent philosophy or policy agenda? For not really being a Republican at all – but just an opportunist who’s taken over the party? That’s what it sounded like in this conversation. But there’s a pretty different way of looking at Trump and the Republicans…
Glasser: … the way the bombthrowers see it. For part two of The Global Politico this week, we talked with several of the most pro-Trump activists we could find: Roger Stone, a Trump friend going back decades and Republican strategist; Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state now heading a controversial electoral commission for President Trump; and Scottie Nell Hughes, a commentator. You won’t be surprised to know our conversation the other day – a conference call because they were spread out all over the country – sounded pretty different from the one I had with the insiders on Capitol Hill.
The first time I talked with this group was during the 2016 election, right when Trump became his party’s nominee. At the time, needless to say, the politics looked a little bit different.
I asked them back then, is the GOP headed for ruin or renewal? Will the Republican Party survive the candidacy of Donald Trump — and if so, how?
Reflecting the party’s divisions, we had two conversations back then as well with the GOP establishment types, another with this same group of Trump supporters. I’ve gone back and reviewed the tape and it’s not even close. These guys nailed it, more or less, and the other guys did not. The Republicans in Washington saw a party in ruins, or potentially so, wracked by division and discord, with a nominee they couldn’t really embrace. Several of them worried the party was on the verge of an historic defeat, not only losing the White House, but potentially even both houses of Congress.
Needless to say, that was not what you three thought. Roger, back then you said “Trump is in many ways bigger than the Republican Party”; he’s an outsider, you thought, against a two-party duopoly. Kris, I was very struck by the extent to which you identified Trump’s potential cross-party appeal back then to white working-class voters. And Scottie, you also pointed that out, as well as the fact that some of Trump’s base would come from the very same people who were inspired and motivated by Barack Obama, and I think very few people at the time understood that, given what seemed to be, and in fact, is, the enormous ideological gulf between the two.
So, okay, take a bow; pat yourself on the back. A year in, I have some questions, since clearly you guys are better at seeing the crystal ball than I am. So, my first question is, what has surprised you the most, now that President Trump is president and not just candidate Trump anymore?
Kobach: This is Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State. A couple of things. One is that he’s holding his coalition together, it appears, in spite of, or maybe—I was going to say, in spite of the low support ratings in the polling, or maybe it’s again reflecting the inability of polling to track things.
And so, to where we are now, what I find interesting is that now President Trump is, his biggest base of support in some ways is the crossover voter, the blue-collar union member who in past cycles would always vote Democrat, or almost always vote Democrat, with exceptions like Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
Now, when President Trump has a rally to motivate the base he goes to West Virginia and rallies people who, many of whom probably were registered Democrats in the past. So I think it’s interesting that he’s holding his coalition together, and obviously making an effort to hold the electoral coalition together.
Hughes: This is Scottie Nell Hughes. I am the spokeswoman for the Committee to Defend the President, so I am professionally now defending this president. But what has been very shocking to me, I think, is that neither party has learned their lesson six months into President Trump’s administration, neither party.
The Democrats are still trying to search for a leader. Joe Biden is not winning over big donors on the Democrats’ side; they’re still trying to go for this older demographic in leadership that they’ve picked for the Democratic Party.
And Republicans are still continuing on—those that are even running for office in 2018, reelection, or in our other offices—are still trying to be on some form of an anti-Trump march, or very lukewarm to Trump, or the first chance they get to disavow Trump or say we don’t agree with it. They haven’t learned yet their lesson that President Trump won, that in November he won a thousand House and State Senate seats across this country, which was overwhelming; that he had numerous victories, more victories than I think that we’ve seen in Republican Parties starting all the way from the grassroots, all the way up to the White House.
And yet, those within his own party still feel like that they’re going to get somewhere if they continue to fight him, and that struggle. And they don’t realize that maybe you do need to give him credit for 209,000 jobs, more than a million since he came into office. Maybe you do need to give the president—you can still have some criticism, but you’re not going to be condemned to GOP hell if you give him some form of praise.
Glasser: Well, you know, Scottie, this is—I’m glad you brought this up, because my next question for all of you was, is Donald Trump a Republican at this point? Is it his party, even though he’s the president from this party?
Kobach: Well, I think he is. He is even more a Republican now than he was on Election Day—in other words, his own identification as a Republican president is even stronger now—and the reason I think so is because for the first time in his career he’s now a player on a political playing field in the legislative context. And so, he’s seeing the absolute blocking moves that the Democrats are throwing up against him.
He’s seeing that the platitudes from the other side of the party—across the aisle — are, work with us; we want to work with you. But then when he tries to make some overture and get some bipartisan support, he’s flatly denied. So, I think a little bit of time on this partisan playing field—and I highlight the word partisan—things are much more partisan than they were, say, 20 years ago. He’s realizing that the only allies he has so far, unless something changes in the way the Democrats approach legislation during the Trump presidency, the only allies he has are Republicans, and obviously—as was just pointed out, that Scottie said—he can’t even always count upon the full complement of Republican members of Congress supporting him.
So, I think he’s realizing which team he’s on. He always knew, but now, when you’re actually in the rough and tumble of the fight, he’s seeing that the only cover he’s getting is from Republicans. So I would guess that in his heart of hearts, he feels much more a Republican than he did on Election Day.
Hughes: I just wanted to say, the Republican Party—believe it or not—actually does have diverse, strong diversity in our ideology and where we stand. You do have conservatives versus moderates. It all goes back to ’76. Did you support Reagan, or did you support Ford? Barry Goldwater Republicans.
We do have different ideologies, even within our own party, and I think President Trump is trying to figure out where we overstep our means. And I think if anything, he started also to try to bring back the idea of the separation of branches—three separate but equal branches. Let the judicial branch; let the executive branch; let the legislative branch do their job and let the people hold them accountable for their jobs, instead of everybody trying to intermix and try to handle the responsibilities of the other, and take both the blame, as well as the praise when something does or does not get accomplished.
Glasser: Okay. So, accomplishments. That’s a good question. How much is President Trump accountable for what Congress can and can’t do? I mean, it’s owned by the Republican Party, and that seems to be the central tension now emerging within the party—right—is between the legislating — working within Washington by its own means to get things done — versus a guy who came in eager to blow up the system that included Republicans as well as Democrats. How do you see that playing out, Kris? Does Trump own it?
Kobach: Well, looking—I think with your question about how accountable he is, obviously, we’ve had the failure to date of the GOP to repeal or repeal and replace Obamacare, so that’s obviously a big legislative—I don’t want to say failure yet, because I think the jury’s still out; we don’t know whether it, at the end of this first two-year cycle it’s going to be done or not—but, one of the things I find interesting is that in many quarters, especially in many of the press quarters, President Trump is being blamed for the failure of members of Congress to get behind a single proposal to repeal Obamacare or repeal and replace it, when he has been—you know, he undoubtedly has been engaged. He’s been trying.
So, he’s definitely accountable to some degree, but I think some of the criticism is a bit unfair, because he’s actually really engaged in the process. It’s his first time around, but he’s definitely engaged.
Hughes: I do think—and Kris brought up a great point, talking about the Affordable Health Care Act. The one difference is I do believe that President Trump called Congress’s and the Republicans’ bluff, because since 2008 this is what they’ve run on. This is all that they’ve been focused on. How many of them got elected to office—we took over the majority in 2010 based on this single issue. They passed something in 2014.
So, what I think President Trump has done in the first six months is expose, call the bluff, going, “Guys, what have you been doing up here with taxpayer dollars when you say you passed this, and yet here you have the opportunity?” But I think it also shows that many Republicans in Congress were not expecting, did not believe, that President Trump could win in November, or else they probably would have spent a couple more study sessions accomplishing what they said they’ve been doing for the last eight years, which was putting together a bill that could work and could pass both houses of Congress.
And so I think that’s—so what President Trump has shown is that those in Congress might need to relook at their, reprioritize their, legislative agenda.
Glasser: I’d like to turn to Roger now, who’s just joined us. Roger, is Donald Trump more of a Republican today than he was a year ago? And, does he now own the Republican Party, or not?
A year ago, you were very critical of the party and its failure to sort of get Trumpism and Trump the candidate.
Stone: Well, every Republican president since Lincoln has remade the Republican Party in his own image. Lincoln, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, with his modern Republicanism. Obviously, not only Nixon, but also Reagan. Trump’s nomination was the hostile takeover of the Republican Party.
Interestingly, though, if you look at Trump’s approval ratings among Republican primary voters, and among all Republican registrants in general, he’s actually gained strength, as opposed to lost it. We have a phenomenon going on in Washington, in which Republican members of Congress have decided that the president won’t punish anybody and that he is toothless, and therefore they can flout his policies and oppose him with impunity.
That’s because it’s been a long time since Donald Trump has taken a scalp. I think he had the unique opportunity to do so in the Alabama special election on the 15th, and unfortunately, somebody talked him into endorsing the swamp candidate. Luther Strange, for example, opposes the change in Senate rules, and therefore supports the ability of Chuck Schumer to hold up the agenda under the current rules.
At the end of the day, the president can command the Republican Party, but he’ll probably need to enter some Republican primaries and defeat some establishment status quo Republicans before the rest of them—A—wet their pants, and—B—get in line.
Glasser: It seems like, Roger, you and everyone on this conversation are advocating that Trump really play to those who brought him and continue to talk and act tough with the more establishment part of the Republican Party. Is that what his criticism and those around him of Senator McConnell, for example, and others is about? Do you see more attacks on Republican leaders coming? And, what about his criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions? Is that a scalp he should take?
Stone: I think these are two different issues. Attacking the Republican leadership is not the answer. Demonstrating your ability to defeat Republican incumbents who won’t support your program is the way to get Republicans in line. And for example, going back to Alabama, had the president endorsed the only Trump supporter in that race, Dr. Randy Brinson, instead of being forced to choose between Mo Brooks, a never-Trumper, and Luther Strange, a creation of Mitch McConnell, I think that signal would have been sent.
In the question of Jeff Sessions, I think the president was trying to wake Mr. Sessions up. The FISA court handed down documents in November which demonstrate without dispute that the NSA under Obama illegally surveilled at least 30,000 people. That’s political espionage. That’s what they were engaged in. It’s illegal. It’s unconstitutional. Yet, Ms. Rice, Clapper, Brennan, Rogers, perhaps Jared, and yes, the president himself, because I’d like to know what he knew and when he knew it—there’s been no legal action against any of them.
Is Jeff Sessions sleeping? Maybe he’s asleep over there. Then you have the question of the Clinton Foundation, which was never a foundation or a charitable organization, is a slush fund for grifters. There are numerous violations of both the IRS code and the law there, yet Jeff Sessions appears to be asleep.
Instead, he’s out chasing and wanting to prosecute people who use medicinal marijuana in the states where it’s legal, a total waste of time.
Glasser: So, you don’t see that as part of the ideological fight within the Republican Party, as much as a specific criticism of his job at the Attorney General’s office.
Stone: I think it’s criticism of his job in the Attorney General’s. There’s no differences between Jeff Sessions and the president on the question of immigration, for example. I just think the president’s wondering what Sessions is doing over there. He just has not been very effective in terms of prosecuting those who are torturing the president, but whose own violations of law are far more serious than any of the allegations against the president and his associates, all of which are to date unproven and unfounded.
Glasser: Do you see President Trump as the chaos president? That’s what Jeb Bush—not a popular name, I know, in this group—but that’s what Jeb Bush said Trump would be. What are we to make of him turning on his own appointees like this? And, tell me a little bit, Kris, how you see and would characterize the infighting coming from the White House, and what it means for Republicans.
Kobach: I don’t think the White House is anywhere near as chaotic as some in the media and some across the party divide have portrayed it. Having worked with many people in the Trump administration and in the White House, I do think that there is a lot getting done; there isn’t a division on every issue. It is true that there are divides; there’s certainly multiple perspectives on a few issues where there may be some in the White House who advise the president to go one way and some who advise the president to go the other way, but that happens in every administration; that’s not a symptom of chaos, that’s just healthy debate.
That said, obviously, there’s been some turnover, and obviously, the president has chosen to put some new people in charge, because he wants to get results.
He’s very results-driven. He’s very business executive-like in the way he approaches issues. If he makes a decision, he wants the decision executed quickly and executed effectively. So, I think the turnover is certainly—there has certainly been an unusual amount of turnover, no question, but I don’t think it’s chaos. I think it’s perhaps frustration with things not getting done fast enough, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there continues to be turnover, just because President Trump is very demanding.
As far as some of his tweets and some of the, going to the Sessions issue and other issues, I think people sometimes assume that this is just the president just tweeting the first thing that comes into his head, and I think people should be cautious about making that assumption, that this is sort of an unplanned effort by the president to just say whatever’s on his mind.
If you look back at his tweets, and some of them, the ones that have received the most attention, you’ll see that they actually produced an effect, either in the media or among certain people that the president might have wanted to move. And so, I would say that a lot of those tweets are actually very well planned and they have a very specific purpose, and they often accomplish that purpose.
So the norm, the story that we see so much, that the White House is chaotic and that the tweets are out of control is exactly false. The White House has seen a lot of turnover, but it’s not chaotic, and the tweets are quite often planned with a very specific purpose that they achieve.
Glasser: Trump’s first chief of staff was Reince Priebus, the former chairman of the Republican Party. He now has a general who has not been, obviously, a Republican Party activist as his chief of staff.
Glasser: So, Scottie, it’s not Reince Priebus’s Republican Party anymore. Do you think it’s a chaos White House? And what does that do to the politics?
Hughes: Well, let me say this. As much as I respect Reince Priebus, I don’t think it was ever Reince Priebus’s Republican Party. And it definitely was not Reince Priebus’s Republican Party in November when we elected President Trump, because the majority of those Republican Party establishment folks did not want him in office, and obviously, the people showed that they had more power of the party and were definitely undervalued.
That being said, now you’ve got General Kelly in there, and I’m a little different in how I see how this is. I see the whole key to President Trump’s success is engagement. So, whether we’re talking about Twitter, whether we’re talking about changeover in staff, whether you’re talking about headlines and focuses, I think President Trump realizes that he can’t count on Congress right now to help advance his agenda. He can’t count on traditional things that in the past presidents have been able to use, tools they’ve been able to use.
The only thing he has in order to allow him to have any sort of success in pushing the key parts of his agenda is the people. And so, some people—having, and it’s how President Trump won, is by name recognition, by people—you see more people still engaged, whether they like or dislike him, him staying involved in what is going in in our news headlines.
I saw, there was a fitness gym that today said—it was in a rural county, I think in the Midwest—who said they would not allow any cable news network to be on their TVs because there was too much drama involved, and their people were getting too much caught up in the TV than their workout. I mean, that’s just incredible for me to think about, because I mean, people, normal people who would not know about politics or news are staying involved in what is going on with this president. That’s exactly what President Trump wants, is he wants the people to stay involved and be informed.
But, here is where I think the big issue, where President Trump, where he gets in trouble. I’ve always said, if you want to talk to Trump, you talk jobs and you talk national security, and when he de—when we go off into these other areas, I think that’s where he finds himself having more drama than he should.
And I think General Kelly coming in—you know, you don’t mess with a Marine, and President Trump was very upset at the distracting of the leaks, of everybody else acting out of line and those taking the headlines, and when good things did happen that he accomplished in jobs and national security, those would not get the headlines. Guess what? This week we’re focusing on national security, and last week we had jobs. It’s already working for him.
Glasser: So, Roger, can you explain a little bit for me what you see as the fault lines inside this administration? Is it the “globalists” versus the America-firsters? What are we not understanding about how the Trump White House is working?
Stone: Well, first of all let me say that the first six months of the Trump administration have not been nearly as chaotic as, say, the first six months of the Clinton administration. A million new jobs. The stock market hitting record highs. That doesn’t sound like chaos to me; that sounds like results, success.
I know we inside the Beltway get totally tied up in Priebus and Spicer and Kelly—go out on the street and ask the first three people you meet who Reince Priebus is, or was, and they have no idea. Nor do they care. They only want to know whether Trump is going to restore economic prosperity and whether he is going to defend the country abroad, and whether we are going to get nuked by the Iranians.
So, a lot of this I think is kind of political in-speak and stuff that we all revel in, but I’m not sure any of it matters to the voters. It remains to be seen whether the president’s decision to hire and appoint people who are antithetically opposed to his agenda will come back and bite him. There are people in this Cabinet who just don’t make any sense to me. They didn’t even vote for Donald Trump.
I think the president, who is not an experienced politician, didn’t have—
Glasser: Who do you mean by that?
Stone: Well, I mean, why would you appoint Elaine Chao to your Cabinet, for example? What’s the value of that? The longest-serving member—
F: Well, she’s the wife of Mitch McConnell.
M: Of the Bush Cabinet.
Stone: Right. And what has that gotten him? The cooperation of Mitch McConnell? No. So, why would you do that? By the way, Harold Ford would have taken that job, a black Democrat with real credentials when it comes to infrastructure and transportation, from his time in the House. But he was passed over for Elaine Chao.
I mean, I just don’t understand why you would appoint Dina Habib Powell, she’s a neocon. The president’s opposed to more foreign wars where the intrinsic interests of the United States are not present. Syria, for example.
So, I understand that these were probably done as unity moves. Perhaps the president thought that once nominated and elected, the Republicans would fall in line around him. I think what he doesn’t understand is the division in Washington today is not between Republicans and Democrats; it’s between the established elites of the two parties, who are neocons, and the outsiders, those who have not had any influence in government over the last 40 years.
And therefore, it was not safe to appoint people who just happen to be Republicans. Why the Bush administration would appoint anyone who was a veteran of the George W. Bush administration is a mystery to me. They have a different philosophy than we do. Donald Trump is a non-interventionist. Donald Trump prefers détente to war. Yeah, he’d like to try to negotiate with Putin before we move to the thermonuclear phase. No, he doesn’t think war over Syria, or a no-fly zone there, is a good idea. That’s very antithetical to the two-party orthodoxy, which has run both parties for the last 40 years.
Glasser: Do you think he should fire McMaster? I noticed that you’ve been tweeting some of that stuff as that’s erupted as a public controversy.
Stone: Yes. First of all, the president, when he put out his statement of support for McMaster, he was never informed that McMaster essentially said that the political espionage that Susan Rice engaged in was perfectly all right. The president was also not told that McMaster extended her national security clearance. I’m not sure the president is aware of Mr. McMaster’s, General McMaster’s long-standing relationship with George Soros and other internationalists, who are opposed to his agenda. Yes, I think McMaster should go.
Glasser: Scottie, do you agree?
Hughes: McMaster—I’ll be the first to admit—is not one of my, he’s not one of my favorites, at all. I think we’re dealing with the time right now that is so serious, we need to make sure that everybody is on board. I think there is a lot of questions.
But, I think, as Roger pointed out, President Trump was listening to the guidance of some and trying to reach out an olive branch, and we’re finding out those olive branches are what they’re using to beat President Trump over the head with.
And also, I think in the case of Attorney General Sessions, he’s also got to realize, as we’ve learned with Rosenstein and others, he can’t send good people into these departments by themselves and expect them to be successful. You have to also send with them a staff that supports your policies and your agenda as well. And unfortunately, we’re finding a lot of these departments—President Trump is holding over mainly because he can’t get people pushed through; he can’t get security clearances; his chief of staff for the last six months were not—we cannot get our people on Senate confirmations right now, which was one of the main tasks of the chief of staff.
We need to get actual Republicans—and more importantly, actual people who support President Trump and his agenda—confirmed and in these different departments to help solidify—we’re literally sending good people into departments that are still, that are filled with Obama holdovers, or never-Trumpers. And that’s where I think a lot of the controversies are coming.
And then, till President Trump eradicates all of the leftovers, you’re going to continue to see leaks; you’re going to continue to see basic sabotage from within his own administration of the good work he’s trying to pull off.
Glasser: So, I would say both of you are representatives of the let-Trump-be-Trump school of politics right now, and certainly that’s colored how you looked at the 2016 election.
So, I’ve got to ask this as our last question: Roger, will President Trump run again in 2020? And if so, will he win?
Stone: You know, in politics a week is a lifetime. We’re not even six months into—
Glasser: Especially this year.
Stone: —the president’s first term. I think today his intention would be to run again. I think he plans to run again. But we have no idea what the situation will be three-and-a-half years from now. He can certainly score in the midterm elections; he may just have to run against both parties to do it. That’s what I would recommend.
I’d throw Mitch McConnell and the boys over the sides so fast your head would spin. It’s the recalcitrant do-nothing Congress I’m running against. I put forward solutions, folks, but they don’t want to approve them. Turn them all out. I think that’s a better strategy than what we have today.
One thing I’d like to go back to, and that is the analysis of the situation around and vis à vis his chief of staff.
Stone: In the case of Reince Priebus, I think there was chaos, in the sense that anyone could stroll into the Oval Office at any time on any topic and monopolize the president’s time. It was like the stateroom scene from a Marx Brothers movie, and it was chaotic. Now, you have the other extreme, where General Kelly seeks to have a Bob Haldeman-like isolation of the president. Don’t let him see Breitbart. Don’t let him see Infowars. Don’t let him see DailyCaller. Don’t let him see anything but the mainstream media. That way he won’t get upset. Well, that’s why he doesn’t know a lot of things that are going on in Washington and even among his own appointees.
So total isolation is dangerous, too, as we saw in the case of President Nixon, where he became so isolated that Cabinet members could not get through to him. Cabinet members could not get an appointment or a phone call. So, I think General Kelly’s on a very slippery slope.
I’ve known the president for 40 years. The first time he learns something that he should have been told, but wasn’t, there’s going to be hell to pay.
Glasser: Are you finding it not possible to get through to him now?
Stone: I have no specific complaints, but I know others that do.
Glasser: Scottie, what do you think about the 2020 question and President Trump running again?
Hughes: If he wants to run again in 2020, then I think if he stays on the track record he is, he will still have the people behind him. He will have more, I think, of the establishment to fight, because at least he had the element of surprise, where the majority of them did not think he could win.
Now, they know he can win, and they can see what the power of the people are, because the truth is, to both parties—and I think the Democrats are going to see this—what 2016 told the establishment of both parties is that the people actually have a lot of power.
In the Republicans’ case, the people won. The Democrats, they almost won with Bernie Sanders. So, I think the establishments of both parties are going to try to figure out some way to squelch that power back into more of a submissive stance, a submissive voter, like they have been the past few years, where they just go along with whatever the party tells them they need to vote.
That’s been blown to pieces. So, you’re about to have a major power struggle between the establishment and the grassroots, or the voters on both sides of the party, over where the dominant control is going to be had; 2018’s going to show that, but definitely, 2020. So, if President Trump wants to be president again, he is definitely going to have to fight more within his own party than I think he had before.
Glasser: Well, wow. I’m going to stay tuned for those intra-party fireworks that you’re predicting.
So, last year, when we had this conversation we ended with a fill-in-the-blank on the Republican Party and what one word summed up its brand. You said, Roger, last year that it was “damaged.” Scottie, you said it was “evolving.” In many ways both of those things have proven to be true.
So, I’ll ask you the same question today. What is the Republican brand today; and, what is President Trump’s brand today?
Stone: I think the Republican brand needs to be economic growth and security, and I think that’s the Trump brand, as well. I’m not worried about the party; I’m not—this isn’t about the success of the party, it’s about the success of the country, and the president’s poll numbers among those who voted for him, and that is the key, remain very constant and very intense. Ironically, if you look at the Clinton voters, she’s had greater erosion; more of her voters say they would not vote for her in retrospect.
So, I still think he’s in a very strong position; the question is, will the quislings that he has appointed take him down? A perfect example: Why is Rod Rosenstein in a Trump Justice Department? He worked for the Clintons and the Bushes. He was recommended for his job by Elijah Cummings. Why would Mr. Priebus push his resume? There’s no place for him in the Trump administration; he doesn’t support Trump administration policy. I’d like to know how he got appointed. It’s a mystery.
Glasser: Scottie, what’s your fill-in-the-blank?
Hughes: The Republican Party is relevant. Or, let me—yeah—it has to do with perspective. If you are someone that is in Washington, D.C., and you’re sitting right now at a desk in one of the ivory towers on E Street or in the halls of Congress, you can say it was abysmal, things are horrible, you know, the president’s doing a horrible job. You can in your own bubble sell that story and feel that way.
But, if you’re out here in Main Street, consumer confidence is up, is at a 16-year high. You are seeing more people are working right now. More people have optimism. More people are buying homes, new construction. Out here in Main Street, people are actually feeling pretty good, outside of the fact that we might have, you know, a nuclear war starting with North Korea any minute.
But other than that, economically, people actually starting to feel their lives start to come back. The Affordable Healthcare Act is still hurting a lot. So, the key is that it all is about perspective, and the Republican Party in 2016 had won because they had a candidate at the top that had the perspective of Main Street, and if he continues to encourage growth on that, it doesn’t matter what’s happening within the halls of Congress and the negativity being spun on our national side, on the media side. It’s all about how people feel at home and when they go do work and when they come home, and how their family is doing.
I think that is where you’re going to see a successful Republican Party, if they continue to grow positively on Main Street, not necessarily on Capitol Hill.
Glasser: Okay, so we’ll be paying close attention to whether there’s a recession in the next couple of these years or not. So listen, I really want to thank both of you for taking the time to do this. I normally wouldn’t do something like this and actually reconvene a group from a year ago, but I just happened to go back and reread our conversation, and I was struck by the fact that you all had some very interesting insights that really helped me think a lot about the general election as it unfolded to its surprising conclusion.
So, I want to thank both of you for doing this, and thank of course, our listeners on The Global Politico. And, anyways, I appreciate the time you’ve taken, and Roger, especially, thank you to you. I know you had to join us a little bit late and from a hotel, no less.
Stone: Yeah, and it’s not just any hotel—it’s the Watergate Hotel.
Glasser: Do you stay there often?
Stone: Every chance I get. I don’t know, I just seem to have a sentimental attachment to this place. It’s great to be able to check in. One time, we had to break in. Just kidding.
Glasser: By the way, Roger, I have to tell you. Today we are having this conversation, for our listeners’ benefit, on the anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation from office, August 9, 1974, of course. Where were you that day? Not at the Watergate Hotel, I bet.
Stone: No, I was at the Young Republican National Conference in Reno, Nevada, and I was in tears. We lost a peacemaker, the guy who ended the Vietnam War, negotiated a arms control limitation agreement with the Soviets, opened the door to China, desegregated the public schools, gave us affirmative action, gave us the Environmental Protection Agency, desegregated the building trades unions, increased Department of Justice civil rights enforcement funding by 800 percent. These things look like real accomplishments when compared to more recent presidents.
Glasser: So there you are folks, Richard Nixon – and Donald Trump. And a Republican Party divided against itself. Can it stand? This is Susan Glasser and I want to thank all of our guests on this week’s special edition of The Global Politico, a special edition that reminds us that Washington these days is pretty much the biggest global story around. And of course I want to thank all of you listeners to The Global Politico, you can subscribe to us, rate us on iTunes or whatever is your favorite podcast platform. And reach me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org with thoughts, ideas, feedback whatever. Thanks again.