Return to Transcripts main page
Trump's Grand New Party; Can Clinton's Veep Pick Boost Her Chances? Roger Ailes Resigns as CEO of FOX News; The "Law & Order" Election; Interview with Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Aired 9- 10a ET
Aired July 23, 2016 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:06] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish. Thrilled to be home in Philadelphia. And ready to welcome the DNC to the city of brotherly love. The GOP unconventional convention was constant entertainment. But did Donald Trump leave Cleveland with any bump?
Plus, Hillary Clinton's choice for a running mate Tim Kaine, can a nice guy from Virginia, make her more warm and inviting?
And Roger Ailes ousted from FOX News amidst sexual harassment charges, but he gets millions in severance and may become a full-time adviser to Donald Trump.
But first, I'm just back from Cleveland and pondering, what did I witness? For more than a year on both Sirius XM radio and here at CNN, I've been very critical of Donald Trump's bid for the White House. And my takedown of his candidacy have not gone unnoticed by the candidate himself. But now I am playing devil's advocate. And I'm asking myself, is he what I've been waiting for? I abhor talking points thinking. I believe that rigid ideological thoughts contradicts the ability of solving big problems.
I don't believe the compromise is the new C-word. And I've been waiting for a candidate who is not tethered to either run of the political spectrum. Thursday night in Cleveland, Donald Trump checked many of my boxes in front of 5,000 delegates he thanked evangelicals while saying that he wasn't sure he deserved their endorsement. He was self-deprecating about knowing the system. He accepted the Republican nomination without once referring to Ronald Reagan or saying the word abortion. He thanked the audience for applauding after he defended LGBTQ rights. He broke with traditional Republican views of trade agreements, he supported law enforcement and he said that it was time for our alleged allies to carry their own weight.
There's a lot for me to like in those ideas. Of course, I worry that none of it is backed up by deep thinking or delineated policy. Still I have to admire that he barnstormed the Q center while Ted Cruz was speaking and he slayed the dragon of orthodoxy. If only it was that simple. Unfortunately, he got this far by invoking vitriol and playing to sorted nativist instincts, Mexican rapists, blood coming of her wherever and mocking disabled have been a few of his rallying cries. Which raises the Trump conundrum.
No matter how great the appeal of his non-ideological thinking, it comes with so much baggage making it difficult to accept that when he says, I am your voice, that he's speaking for me.
Joining me now, Carl Bernstein, half of the most famous reporting team in American history, Woodward and Bernstein, they broke of course the Watergate story. And Jeff Greenfield, the veteran reporter, multi-time Amy Award winner who has covered so many of these conventions.
Jeff Greenfield, any response to what I had to say?
JEFF GREENFIELD, VETERAN POLITICAL REPORTER: I think you missed the essential.
SMERCONISH: Tell me.
GREENFIELD: It's the character and temperament issue, not what he says about policies which can change by the minute. For me, this line that most underlines Trump is, I alone can fix this. That is Caesarism. But you like no reference to Reagan. No reference to anybody in that speech. No one else existed. Not the founding fathers, not Lincoln, not Reagan, no one. And for anybody to look at this process that we have and say I alone can fix it, it's not just narcissism or egomania. It is so fundamental a break with how the United States is supposed to work. That I find the most important and consequential law and it renders much of what you said, not inadequate but irrelevant.
SMERCONISH: I came of age, you know, admiring and still do Ronald Reagan. What I admire about Trump if that is the right word is that he didn't feel the obligation to say Ronald Reagan was my hero, Carl.
CARL BERNSTEIN, HILLARY CLINTON BIOGRAPHER: It doesn't matter. Above all else, he's a capital deep demagogue. He's a demagogue in a way that we have never had a candidate who has received the nomination of one of the major parties for president of the United States. What we saw at this convention was a very successful convention and speech by Donald Trump based totally on non-existing mythology, meaning this portrait of America is not what he gave in that speech. We're not under siege from terrorists every day in our cities.
We don't have hundreds of murders going on every day. It doesn't exist. It's an attempt to scare people, to say I'm the demagogue, I am the maximum leader who can undo all of this, which of course he has no ability to do, unless he's going to be as he seems to be a Caesar, a Juan Peron (ph), on top of which he presented himself and his family as the master builder, when in fact what we know from his real existing non-mythological business career is fraud, lawsuits, businesses that cheat people. Trump University. So now we especially in the press at a very late time need to start looking at the real Donald Trump, the mythology of the country that he's presented, just as we need to look at the real Hillary Clinton and her real likelihood. [09:05:24] SMERCONISH: But I saw inside that hall, Jeff, that the
negatives, they don't matter, at least in the Q center. He's a guy who is no BS and he can get it done. That's what he was selling.
GREENFIELD: No. And I think that has to be emphasized in two ways. One, as is true of any leader like this, you don't succeed without real grievances below at the core. There are real grievances about the system, about what has happened to large Trump's, particularly white working white class. The second thing, this is a political matter. Donald Trump has crossed an enormously significant bar, that is he's now seen as a plausible alternative.
Being the nominee of the party means he's one of the two people who is going to be president. And unlike him, a Governor Goldwater (ph) who came out of that convention to my surprise, to some extent, having mad the institutional ruling by the Republican Party by and large, all right, he's our nominee. And just by doing that, he has taken a huge step forward.
SMERCONISH: Carl, where are we? Where are we post-RNC, we are in Philly, the DNC is about to get underway. In the big picture sense, where does this thing stand?
BERNSTEIN: We have the two most unpopular and disdained candidates of the two major parties running against each other. Never had a situation like this in our history. And there is a reason for the disapproval, the distrust, the disdain factor. Hillary Clinton has been baked partly by Comey, the director of the FBI, in this perception of her as dishonest.
SMERCONISH: Extreme carelessness.
BERNSTEIN: Untruthful. And, in fact, the server situation is indefensible. And she carries that baggage into this election and has to overcome it somehow. How does she do that? By showing who the real Donald Trump is. That's what the Democrats have to do.
SMERCONISH: Does Tim Kaine help her? Does he make her more warm and fuzzy? By all accounts, some say boring, some say vanilla, but nice guy, competent guy, executive is also what you hear.
GREENFIELD: Two things, I have a piece out in Politico now about defending boring.
SMERCONISH: Read it.
GREENFIELD: Think at the last vice presidential picks, you know? Geraldine Ferraro, Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin, maybe not the way to go. More fundamentally, this is a four-day story. And unless something happens, he's at best, as all vice presidential runs, marginal. It is her signal to the country that, look, I am the stable, safe, cautious one. This other guy is a five-alarm fire.
SMERCONISH: Your name is synonymous with investigative journalism. You said something interesting to me in Cleveland and I hope you'll repeat it now. Have these candidates been vetted? BERNSTEIN: I'm going to go further. I think that these two
candidates represent the most egregious failure by the press in the history of modern --
SMERCONISH: How can that be?
BERNSTEIN: Let me finish the thought. In modern political reporting. They're the two greatest celebrities in our culture today worldwide. And yet no major network, no cable network, no major of the three old networks has done a single investigative biography of either of the candidates up to this point. Not even a documentary about their real existing lives. Only recently have "The New York Times" and Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal started to do really great reporting, which they are doing, finally on Trump especially.
And a little bit on Hillary Clinton. These two candidates, the most famous people in the world, are unvetted by the press. Look, I've written what is the standard biography on Hillary Clinton. "A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton." And yet even with the biographies of these people that go deep, the press has been focused on the 24/7 debate, on the, you know, talking heads, which all of us are, great analysis, what about their real existing lives and records?
SMERCONISH: Do you agree with this?
GREENFIELD: November 1979 Roger Mudd was a one-hour CBS report special on Ted Kennedy. By the end of that one hour, Ted Kennedy's prospects are substantially diminished, partly by his own inadequacies and partly by what Roger Mudd reported. I think Carl is exactly right. I think there have been plenty of really good stories about both of them, but the idea of the major broadcast networks simply not doing it, maybe they thought the ratings were tight, maybe Kim Kardashian has a new selfie out, I don't know what it is but it's been a failure.
BERNSTEIN: Let's look at the specifics. Why haven't we had hour-long specials on Trump's businesses? On Hillary Clinton's foundations. These two candidates are unvetted by the press. It is astonishing. It is an egregious, egregious failure.
SMERCONISH: I felt compelled and not just to carry water for CNN but because I believe it.
BERNSTEIN: All of the networks.
[09:10:13] SMERCONISH: But I want to say this, I think in those debates and the questioning from my colleagues, I thought was extraordinarily well done.
BERNSTEIN: They have done a great job on debates and analysis but that's different than reporting sending out reporters to look at the real record going into these books. Look, the best reporting on Hillary Clinton to some extent in the foundation has been done by political enemies. That doesn't make it irrelevant. SMERCONISH: I agree. "The Broken Clock" was --
GREENFIELD: OK. And the most serious question about this is, if it were done with large chunks of the American electorate saying, we don't believe you.
GREENFIELD: You're his enemies, I don't care what you tell me. Two plus two is five, if he says so, and that's all I want to know.
SMERCONISH: It's a great point.
GREENFIELD: That is a potential --
BERNSTEIN: But that's fine. We would have done our job. We have not even done our job. Yes. Great analysis. Great debates.
SMERCONISH: When CNN said, I would be the first to host from Philly to welcome the DNC. I said Bernstein and Greenfield, please. Thank you, guys. I really appreciate you being here.
GREENFIELD: Nice to be here.
BERNSTEIN: Good to be here.
SMERCONISH: Thank you for saying that.
So, coming up. Hillary Clinton picks a VP. Does Tim Kaine bring added value or mine his selection alienate Bernie Sanders supporters? What do you think? Tweet me @Smerconish.
I'll read some later in the program. Here's one that came in early, Jarso, let's see, @Smerconish, where's the Wikileaks coverage regarding DNC, et cetera et cetera? Jarso, I am going there next. Stick around.
[09:15:46] SMERCONISH: There it is, the steps that everybody knows, everybody knows those steps from "Rocky" having climbed them. I'm here to tell you there's some great art behind those doors as well. We are back in Philadelphia. It's the site of this week's DNC. And now that Hillary's VP choice has been made, what does she have to do to overcome the inevitable convention bump of the Trump/Pence ticket as well as her steadily rising negative poll numbers? And what of this Wikileaks document drop pertaining to the DNC?
Joining me now, columnist Sally Kohn, Sally Kohn supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries but now is on team Hillary and is working for the DNC as a speaking coach. And one of the speakers at this week's convention, former South Carolina State Representative Bakari Sellers. Sally, I know you can verse it on the story. The DNC Wikileaks drop which suggest that folks who are on the payroll of the DNC were angling for Hillary and not for Bernie, wanted him to be questioned about his religion among other things, what do you make of it?
SALLY KOHN, COACH FOR DNC CONVENTION SPEAKERS: I mean, OK. That particular piece, right as a Jewish American, as a Jew, that is messed up. I could use stronger language but I won't, but we always know there's lots of, you know, ugliness in opposition research on some of the candidates. The more disturbing part here is it feeds into, look, as a senator supporter, I would like to see the Democratic Party process reforms. But it did work. He did lose fair and square. And the problem is this feeds into this perception that he didn't lose fair and square. That the system was rigged. That the party was rigged against him. And that is how it felt and now to see these leaks, it's bad timing.
SMERCONISH: And then Bakari, on top of it, and I know that you've been with Secretary Clinton, but on top of it, you know, the Sanders folks are smarting a bit this morning with the selection of Tim Kaine because they wanted someone more progressive than he.
BAKARI SELLERS, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, there are a few things that I want to comment on. I think questioning anybody about their religion is outside of the bounds of political discourse. I mean, I've never done that in my political career. I don't think that should be something that you delve into. But it doesn't replace the fact that the Secretary won based on the number of ballots that were cast fair and square and it doesn't replace the fact that we have made so much progress in terms of having the most progressive platform that this party has ever seen. It doesn't replace any of those things.
And unless you live inside of a bubble, Tim Kaine is a liberal. Tim Kaine has a very strong record, especially he has 100 percent voting record when it comes to Planned Parenthood. He challenged the NRA in his own state, he stood up to them. His record as a mayor of Richmond, as a United States senator, I think is strong. There are going to be questions, you know, why don't you chose Elizabeth Warren? Why don't you chose Thomas Perez or why don't you chose toward Corey Booker? But I think that Tim Kaine is going to be an exciting choice. And I think that Wednesday night people are going to look forward to seeing him kind of blossom. It's a big stage for him. It's the most important --
SMERCONISH: Are you OK with this? I saw you wince a bit.
KOHN: I winced, yes. Look, first of all, yes, Tim Kaine is 100 percent pro-choice voting record in the Senate. But he has also in other offices he supported a ban on late-term abortions, parental notification laws, et cetera.
SMERCONISH: License plates -- maybe that's not a biggie.
KOHN: That I care less about than actual restrictions on access to abortion. And, you know, he supported very recently said he still supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade deal. So, he has a lot of -- he has a lot of things that make progressives very, very weary. But the larger issue here is though isn't just -- you want to make a symbolic pick, although I think that's important. I think Hillary Clinton missed an opportunity here. Because while she has this I must steady hand case to make to the American people, she also has to be aware of the populist economic yearnings in this country, not only in the Democratic base, but frankly Donald Trump for all his xenophobia and hate mongering, he is also speaking to that.
SMERCONISH: Well, but he's tapped into something.
KOHN: Hate doesn't help her. He hurts her in that regard. That's my concern.
SELLERS: But the team, I think you have to look at this as a team. Because when you have the messengers that we have, there's a message that Elizabeth Warren can go out and make a compelling message. There's a message that Bernie Sanders can go out and make. There's a message that Michelle and Barack Obama can make. And I think that Tim Kaine not only that he speaks to various aspects, but I think Tim Kaine is going to be a very strong advocate to the African-American community.
I think it's going to be a very strong advocate based on his position on immigration reform. And he's the only person to ever deliver a speech on immigration reform from the well of the United States Senate influencing Spanish. So, I think that this is going to be important. And I think that he meshes with the team very well.
[09:20:20] SMERCONISH: You're speaking, what are you going to say?
SELLERS: Well, I'm still working through those things. Right now I'm just --
SMERCONISH: Maybe Sally will coach you.
SELLERS: So, my nerves calm down. But I speak early in the Thursday program. It's exciting because the person coming on the stage later will be Hillary Clinton accepting the nomination. So my goal right now is to make my mom and dad proud.
SMERCONISH: I want to show both of you, and Sally, I want you to react. Peter Thiel spoke at the RNC said some interesting things. Roll that tape, please.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER THIEL, ENTREPRENEUR: When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union, and we won. Now we are told, now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP) SMERCONISH: You care? Who cares? Gay guy getting applauded
at the RNC.
KOHN: Yes, because he, you know, slayed every gay sacred cow in the states. I mean, look, I guess I agree with this. Peter Thiel, we have other some important things we could be focusing on I supposed. So, hey, Republicans, let us focus on that. Don't have a party platform that wants to roll back our advances in gay rights and on civil rights and on choice. I would for instance also love it if we would stop focusing on abortion rights in this country. Settled law can be a separate issue. But the Republican Congress, the first five bills they introduced when they took Congress were anti-choice bills. So I am more than happy to stop the culture war. They have to stop starting it.
SMERCONISH: But Bakari, in Donald Trump, does the LGBTQ community, I was that Trump put in Q --
-- not have a friend in Donald Trump? Seriously?
SELLERS: No, I mean, listen, look, the first speaker that was chosen that day was Jerry Falwell. And Donald Trump in his speech, he gave a speech and he said, we're going to protect the LGBT community from terror.
SELLERS: And so I cannot give Donald Trump credit for saying that now we should stand up against the slaughter of the homosexual community. When Donald Trump stands and he stands against his platform of conversion therapy, stands against his platform of the ban on same sex marriage --
SMERCONISH: You don't think he believes any of that, come on.
SELLERS: He didn't say it. But let me also say this because about Peter Thiel because we're not giving him enough credit. Because Peter Thiel, he and Ted Cruz showed the most fortitude of any two speakers last week. I thought Ted Cruz whether or not you appreciated what he said or not, was very courageous. And Peter Thiel went up there and was very courageous and I would admit that kind of reading the speech beforehand, I thought he was going to get booed at that point. And he didn't. So, it's a very low bar. So, credit is where credit is due. But you have to put some context to it.
SMERCONISH: Guys, welcome to Philly. Good luck with your speech.
SELLERS: Thanks. That means a lot.
SMERCONISH: That's really cool.
SELLERS: Smerconish, you're honest. Your son is helping me write it.
(LAUGHTER) SMERCONISH: You could do a heck of a lot worse, I'll tell you
Up next, what does the resignation of FOX News Chief Roger Ailes mean for both the network and for the campaign of Donald Trump for whom Ailes has already been consulting?
Here's another of your tweets. Guys, check this out with me together. Let's see what he says.
Steve Redmond, @Smerconish, Tim Kaine seems like a decent guy. Decency isn't a word we've heard much in this election. That alone makes unique this year.
It sounds like I'm carrying water for the GOP but people say that Mike Pence is a decent guy too. There you go. Come on!
[09:27:52] SMERCONISH: Hey, welcome back to Philadelphia. How hot is it? That guy's showering in the fountain at Logan Circle. He's not buck naked, is he? My God, man, we have company coming to town. The DNC is here. Meanwhile, Roger Ailes is out at the FOX and that is big news. Not only the network but also for the GOP given that FOX is often the primary oracle for the Republican Party.
Here to discuss someone who worked at FOX for seven years, has known Ailes for 35 years Bob Beckel. Hey, Bob, is his next job counseling Donald Trump and playing a role for Trump that he's played for Nixon, that he played for Reagan, I speak of Ailes?
BOB BECKEL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I know. By the way, I have taken showers and -- like that in my old age when I was drinking. But the answer to it is, look, Roger Ailes advises every Republican presidential candidate. So this is not a big surprise to me. If we went on and became campaign manager, that would be a big surprise. But I'm not at all surprised that he's going to try to help Trump. You have to understand, this is a guy who really, really doesn't like Hillary Clinton.
SMERCONISH: Did you ever, in your association with FOX, did you ever, I mean, look, you're not a politically correct guy. Did you ever see any evidence, any sign, any symptom of anything going on?
BECKEL: No. I not only didn't, but I have had Roger say on occasions to me, Bob, you have to be a little more politically correct. Now, I'm a liberal and I can get away with it. But I never once saw this. You know other thing surprise to me was that in both Gretchen's case and also Megyn, I'm surprised it took of this long to come out. I've talked to Gretchen several times during the course of her career there, and she never once mentioned anything about it. She would have to me, I think. So I'm a little surprised about it. Go ahead.
SMERCONISH: Don't you think in the end whatever it is that Megyn Kelly said behind closed doors is what called this shot? I mean, she right now is the marquee talent. And don't you think that that's how it would have ended based on what she said?
BECKEL: Beginning and end. Look, if this thing was a close call, because it was Gretchen who said, what, he said, she said.
[09:30:02] But when Megyn Kelly said it, you're right. She's got a lot of weight there. She's a former lawyer. And I think that was the beginning of the end of Roger.
SMERCONISH: So what is the future of FOX News as a conservative oracle? All I know is what I read, but I read of this split between Murdoch and the kids. What do you see happening?
BECKEL: I don't think they are going to try to change it dramatically even though the kids want to. Look, having worked there as a liberal, which is an unusual situation. But that company, the FOX News Channel, sent a billion, a billion dollars to the bottom line of Murdoch's company. They're not going to want to mess with that.
When the old man says Murdoch is going to run the place as CEO, he's not. My guess is Bill Shine, who is number two to Ailes, will do that. But it's very dangerous to bring somebody in for example to run that network because so much of it was built in Ailes', you know, his personality. And the idea of disrupting it, and particularly now in the middle of this campaign, would be a terrible mistake.
SMERCONISH: Do you see any prospect that some of the talent over there, some of those who came out in support of Ailes, they get together and they all go to a different network?
BECKEL: Well, the question is, which network will they go to? There are rumors that Roger will take his $20 million, $30 million, $40 million severance pay to start his own. I doubt that, he's too old for that. But I know first of all --
SMERCONISH: Yes, I think he has a non-compete.
BECKEL: That's right. And Sean Hannity said to me several times over the course of years I was there that if Roger was out he's not going to stay around.
Now, Sean is a marquee talent. It's very important. Is that the case? And if Bill Shine takes over, I think Sean may stay. If somebody is brought in from England, I don't think he would.
So there may be a drain there. But more importantly, the idea of a day at that network without Roger Ailes is just unthinkable to me.
SMERCONISH: Bob Beckel, that fellow says there's room in the shower if you need it when you get to town.
BECKEL: Would you ask him to give me the left-hand side of that? Because it has better flow, OK? I'll see you up there, man.
SMERCONISH: Still to come -- look forward to having you, thank you.
BECKEL: Thanks. SMERCONISH: Still to come, Trump defined this as an election about law and order. Well, the former Police Chief Charles Ramsey who said the nation is, quote, "a powder keg over cop shootings and assassinations," he's speaking at the DNC this week. But first, he will speak here.
And here's another tweet. Carlos Nino, "Since you're obviously a Hillary Clinton supporter, why don't you have a DNC speaking slot?" It's so funny, I get criticized from the left. I get criticized from the right. That means it's a good day.
[09:37:06] SMERCONISH: Welcome back to Philadelphia, site of this week's Democratic National Convention.
Last week at the RNC, GOP nominee Donald Trump hit hard of the points of law and order, and shootings of police officers. My next guest will deliver a speech this week at the DNC on the topic of fun violence. Former Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey, who was also the police commissioner of Washington, D.C., and is the co-chair of President Obama's task force on 21st century policing.
Great to have you here.
CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPT. CHIEF: Good to be here.
SMERCONISH: Are you as excited that the nation is now here in Philly and all eyes are on our town?
RAMSEY: I am. I am excited ever since it was announced that Philly would host the Democratic National Convention.
SMERCONISH: Cleveland went well for the law enforcement standpoint. I watched it up close. I hope Philly goes well. What concerns do you have?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, you always have some concerns. But to be honest, I admit I'm biased, nobody handles large scale events better than the Philadelphia police department. So I'm not that concerned. I was concerned about the RNC simply because of the protests we have had before, but I do think the assassinations of the officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge may have brought the temperature down a bit.
SMERCONISH: You know, there's a criticism of the DNC and of Secretary Clinton in particular for welcoming into the debate lineup in addition to Charles Ramsey. Some of the family members of victims of police shootings. What are your thoughts on that?
RAMSEY: Well, their voices need to be heard as well. I think there's two sides to everything. And I think that it's nothing wrong with having those voices heard. But we also need to think about the families of our police officers that have been injured and killed in the line of duty as well. There needs to be balance. SMERCONISH: I don't know your party affiliation and you need not tell
me, but how big of a decision was it for Charles Ramsey to accept the invitation? I don't think of you as a political guy. I think of you as a consummate law enforcement professional. But you are going to be on the stage and making an address.
Talk to me about that calculus.
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, I'm not a real political guy.
RAMSEY: And had it not been for Dallas and Baton Rouge, I probably would have turned down the invitation to speak at the DNC, only because I don't really consider myself to be that political. But I think our environment is such where my voice can maybe add something to the discussion. And that is why I chose to participate.
SMERCONISH: What will you be seeing?
RAMSEY: Well, it's about gun violence. That's going to be the topic. And I'm going to talk about the impact it has on the community and also the men and women of law enforcement that have to deal with the constant and relentless violence that takes place in many of our neighborhoods.
SMERCONISH: Will you be making an endorsement? Will you be speaking favorably of Hillary Clinton in particular?
RAMSEY: Well, I'll be honest with you, I do support Secretary Clinton. That's no surprise. I mean, I guess I'm speaking at the DNC. And I'm not afraid to make that announcement.
But I also think that in this time we have to be very careful about our choices. I personally feel she's best suited at this point in history.
SMERCONISH: Donald Trump stood there last week in Cleveland and said, I am the law and order candidate.
[09:40:02] RAMSEY: Well, I don't know what that means. Law and order means different things to different people. If it means more police, aggressive policing in some of our neighborhoods, that can add to the problem that we already have.
We need to sit down and we need to discuss the best way forward. Whether it's Mr. Trump or whether it's Secretary Clinton, someone has to address the issue of crime and violence in our communities in the best ways to be able to deal with it.
SMERCONISH: As a civilian, my head spins on the crime stats. It reminds me of liars figure, figures lie. You can read into the data. I'm thinking of Donald Trump's speech where he said it and many said, here's the justification, and then came the fact checkers who said, well, that's not entirely correct.
Speak to me on that general subject.
RAMSEY: Well, crime over the last 20 years has been declining in the last decade and we have seen the lowest crime rate since the 1950s and 1960s. So, if you have a slight uptick percentage wise, it will jump out at you as you compare yourself to incredibly lower years. But when you really look at the trends over time, crime is really moving out.
SMERCONISH: How about killing of police officers?
RAMSEY: Well, it kind of fluctuates year to year. You just had five in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge. That will skew your numbers a bit. One is too many. But I don't know if by the end of the year, there will be that big of a dramatic increase.
SMERCONISH: Chief, good luck in your speech this week. I'm glad you continue to get that national prominence. You deserve it.
RAMSEY: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Chief Charles Ramsey.
Up next, there hasn't been a president since 1960 who hasn't two of the three crucial battleground states. I will talk to two of those states' Democratic chairs and Democratic Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey who hails from Scranton, Pennsylvania. He's got that in common with Hillary Clinton.
Another tweet I see. Chris says, "Don't agree with Smerconish with everything. But he's from Philly and anyone from Philly is a winner in my book. #brotherlylove."
That's awfully nice.
[09:46:14] SMERCONISH: The city of Philadelphia looking beautiful on a hot day as we are psyched to welcome the Democrats to town, the Democratic National Convention. Of course, Pennsylvania is one of the swing states that hangs in the balance in this election. Recent polls show that its 20 electoral votes which were leaning Democratic now could go either way.
Joining me, Senator Bob Casey, who not only represents the state and is speaker at this week's festivities. He also hails from the same hometown as Hillary Clinton has roots.
Senator, good to see you.
SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Thanks, Michael.
SMERCONISH: So, her choice: a white senator from a swing state, Catholic, a reputation for not being flashy but well-liked and a nice guy. Is it Bob Casey? No, it's Tim Kaine. You have a lot of common in him.
CASEY: Well, I had the opportunity in the Senate not just to get to know him, but also to sit with him every Tuesday.
Look, this is a choice that Hillary made. And I had a sense she would make this kind of a choice, meaning a governing choice, not necessarily a campaign choice. I think he's both competent and compassionate. But I also think he's the kind of tough leader we're going to need in tough times.
SMERCONISH: He has something else in common with Bob Casey, that is in a very public way. I mean, in 2008, you were for Barack Obama. He was for Barack Obama. And yet, everybody seems to be coming back to the fold in that regard.
CASEY: Well, Hillary's candidacy has done that. She's been a unifying force and she said often, she likes to build bridges rather than walls and I think Tim Kaine reflects that. But I think it's a great choice.
SMERCONISH: My parents are coal crackers from Hazelton. I know the northeastern part of the state like you do -- white guys, working class, lot of appeal for Donald Trump. He won 67 counties in the Republican primary. Never been done before.
Does he have you on the run in your backyard?
CASEY: I think it's going to be a close race in northeastern Pennsylvania. But I also think that's true statewide. Michael, you know the numbers, Pennsylvania has been blue for six straight presidentials. But always close, always contested.
I think Hillary is probably ahead but we're going to fight hard until the last minute. This is a state she has to win, especially because of the economic message focused on lifting wages and focused on the middle class.
SMERCONISH: Give me the 60-second version of what Bob Casey will say from the podium at the DNC this week.
CASEY: I'm going to talk about Hillary's economic plan. In a very specific way, how it applies to Pennsylvania, focusing on manufacturing jobs, moving our state forward with the partner, I think she's going to be the kind of president who will work with us to either strengthen or rebuild parts of our economy, especially when it comes to the jobs of the future in manufacturing.
SMERCONISH: Donald Trump says your constituents are suffering because she buys into all the trade deals he sees through.
CASEY: Look, I think Hillary is going to be one of the toughest presidents when it comes to judging trade deals. She's already said any trade deal is going to have to meet a three-part test that creates jobs, has to raise wages and has to enhance our security. That tough test in addition to her opposition to TPP will be very important in the election.
SMERCONISH: Good luck at the convention.
CASEY: Thanks, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Nice to have you here. Appreciate it.
With the general election, you know it's all about Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania. As a matter of fact, you have to win two of the three since 1960 or you don't get elected to the White House.
Joining me now, two state chairmen, David Pepper of Ohio, Marcel Groen of Pennsylvania.
Marcel, you tell me what happens in the Philadelphia suburbs, I tell you who is going to win this race.
MARCEL GROEN, CHAIRMAN, PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: We're going to win.
SMERCONISH: Of course you're going to say that. But how?
GROEN: Seriously, going forward looking at the numbers from the past 20 years, every year we have been doing better. The moderate Republicans in the suburbs have been voting Democratic or frequently become Democratic. I'm going to tell you right now, we need to win the Philadelphia suburbs by 600,000 to 700,000 votes and we will.
[09:50:03] SMERCONISH: But Donald Trump knocked out even John Kasich in your backyard and my back yard. I would have never predicted that. He won, as I said to Senator Casey, he won all 67 counties.
GROEN: Sure. That was a Republican primary where you have half the vote you have in the general vote, okay, and the same thing with our primary, half the vote that we're going to have in the general, you're going to find out there's going to be a huge turnover.
I have never seen so many Republicans in my entire life coming to me, person after person saying we're voting for Hillary. And it's constant and it's continuing. And we're going to win those suburbs by the numbers I told you.
SMERCONISH: David, let me ask you about Ohio.
I was in Ohio doing my radio show from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. John Kasich had an event at the Rock Hall, but he never crossed town and went to the RNC. Are you trying to take advantage of that? Are you trying to use that as a cudgel on Hillary's behalf in the state of Ohio?
DAVID PEPPER, CHAIRMAN, OHIO DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, let me just say. I mean, Donald Trump actually lost Ohio very badly just a few months ago. John Kasich did very well. And the fact that Donald Trump declared war on Kasich all four days of that convention doesn't help Donald Trump at all. And, obviously, Kasich is still on the sidelines there.
So, that is a big deal given that Trump already struggled in Ohio to have the guy who won the primary and now the governor of the state not be comfortable with him. It's a big deal and will play out I think a lot in the next couple of months.
SMERCONISH: Right. Donald Trump lost the state, but you have a home town favorite who was running against him. And as I was making the point to Senator Casey, that working class white constituency, those Reagan Democrats, your state has them, Marcel state has them as well. That's a natural Trump constituency. How are you going to crack into that?
PEPPER: Well, you know, we'll just talk about what Donald Trump said for years and how he conducted business for year. This is a guy who said that he thinks wages are too high. This is a guy that when he made his shirts and ties, he did it in China and Bangladesh. Not in Ohio like he could have.
So, he's talking a big game recently, but actually when you peel it back a little bit. Donald Trump has nothing in common with those workers. And we're going to work with our working folks and our labor friends to make that point. People like Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland can make that point, that Donald Trump's business practices took advantage of low wages in other countries. And he himself has said again and again and very publicly, he thinks wages are too high.
So, he'll run -- he'll certainly go to those places and look for votes. When we're done, a lot of those workers are going to see that Donald Trump has nothing in common with their values or their needs.
SMERCONISH: Marcel, what's it like to be the state party chair of a state that is hosting a convention? I got to believe you're the king this week and that because of the importance and the responsibility on your shoulder that Hillary reaches out and that party leaders at all levels want your time?
GROEN: It's a scary thing. But having said that, it's also once in a lifetime opportunity. As you might know, I was a little boy who didn't speak English until he was ten years old. For me to be here in this position is remarkable.
I'm lucky my mother is 94. She was a Holocaust survivor. She's going to be watching it on television, it's wonderful. We have to work hard. We have to take one step at a time. We have to make sure things run smoothly.
And I look back at the end of the week and make sure that it worked right.
SMERCONISH: David, you hear from individuals like myself and media, we all talk about Ohio. We all talk about Florida. We all talk about Pennsylvania.
What are you doing differently in this cycle that you haven't done previously?
PEPPER: I'd say that we got our act together much earlier than normal. Ohio will be close, like Pennsylvania. But as Barack Obama showed, the campaign that is most organized on the ground in Ohio wins, '08 and '12 that worked. But this year, actually last year, we put a field team in place in October before we even knew who'd win the presidential primary.
So, we'd had a field team in place since October. It's been building up through the primary. Now, it's merged into the coordinated. We have a large staff here, larger than Donald Trump's entire national staff we have here in Ohio. In the end, that's what wins elections in Ohio. It's having enough people to knock on doors, to make the phone calls, to get the vote out.
And while we're building this, Donald Trump doesn't seem to understand or care about field operations at all. I think he has one state director, no field team whatsoever. In a close election --
SMERCONISH: I have to say --
PEPPER: We've gotten organized earlier than that.
SMERCONISH: I have to say -- he doesn't have a field operation, he hasn't spent money. She is so far outspending him in all the battleground states. And yet, he's within the margin of error.
It's going to be interesting.
David, thank you. Marcel, good look this week with the convention. We've got company in town, right? Nice to see you both and have Senator Casey.
In a moment, more of your tweets like this one.
[09:55:02] Let's check it out. "Smerconish, Pats or Geno's?" Funny thing is we -- how about Tony Luke's? I mean, we've got so many other great places in town, and yet, they get all the attention.
SMERCONISH: I always say you can follow me on Twitter if you can spell Smerconish. Here are some of what has just come in. Check this out.
"Love how Smerconish tries to pretend he is not on the left. What a quack." Who sent that to me? Jonathan.
Hey, Jonathan, were you not here at the outset of the program when I did a three-minute monologue and said there was a lot to be admired in Donald Trump's presentation in Cleveland insofar it was a non- ideological point of view? Come on, man. Watch the repeat of the program.
"Smerconish, how are you not passing out in the heat? You've got a full suit and tie on. Are you wearing shorts?" No. I am wearing khakis. I have a fan. It's the crew you should worry about because it's nearly 100 degrees.
Have a great week in Philly, Democrats. I'll see you back here next week.