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I Voted Illegally; New Congresswoman on Freshman Week in D.C.; Lewinsky on the Clinton Affair; Would Lewinsky's Story Be Seen Differently Today?; Why Do Cities Give Big Companies Tax Breaks?; Will Hillary Clinton Run Again?. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired November 17, 2018 - 09:00   ET



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Finally, 11 days later, only a few seats remain undecided in the midterms and the blue wave did indeed wash over the House. The new freshman class has descended on D.C. for a congressional boot camp. I'll get the inside scoop from one of them about her first days on the Hill.

And many demonized her as the intern who led a president to impeachment. Now, she's speaking out in a new documentary. In the #MeToo era, will Monica Lewinsky finally get her moment of respect?

Plus, the Amazon headquarters sweepstakes are over and two cities are $2.8 billion poorer. So why do cities keep spending billions to cannibalize one another?

And really? Hillary running again in 2020? Well, that's what two former Clinton cohorts are saying in a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed. I'll ask one of them if he thinks anybody else agrees.

But first, next week is Thanksgiving. If you tune in that Saturday and I'm not here, I might be serving five years or paying a $10,000 fine. Apparently I violated Pennsylvania election law during the midterms by not voting twice. Now, as you evaluate my transgression please keep in mind that voting for me is sacrosanct. I've never missed an election for which I've been eligible to vote since turning 18 and I'm kind of itching for a fight because I want to shed light on and change my state's regressive voting laws and your state's too.

I've previously talked on this program about how restrictive Pennsylvania voting is. Inlike many other states where there's early and/or mail-in balloting, you can only vote on Election Day itself here. My state's absentee process is notoriously restrictive. You have to have provable cause, sickness, disability, religious observance or swear that you'll be physically absent from your town on Election Day. Even Philly's firefighters and EMTs can't vote absentee just because they're working round the clock in the same municipality in which they reside.

So let's get to my alleged crime. I ended up in violation of this warning on the absentee ballot application. Quote, "If you are able to vote in person on Election Day you must go to your polling place, void your absentee ballot and vote there." Well, this year I was scheduled to cover the midterms from Washington here on CNN. So I legitimately applied for an absentee ballot and truthfully filled it out. I received it, returned it on time. I then worked Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in Washington.

I was planning on staying in D.C. on election night. I even had a hotel room booked, but it turned out I was able to go back to Philadelphia that afternoon arriving before the polls closed at 8:00 P.M. and that's what made me a criminal because I did not visit my polling place to cancel my absentee ballot and vote again. In other words, to make my vote legal, I was expected to vote twice.

Variations on this theme, they cropped up in many states this election, like the rejection of ballots due to signatures not matching exactly. Instead of welcoming participation, we tend to stifle it with closed primaries, no early voting and making absentee voting difficult and I think it's deliberate to hold down the vote.

On election morning, from Washington, I watched live coverage of voters standing in line in the rain to vote in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the scene of a hotly contested congressional race, and when I tweeted that the long lines and weather were yet another reminder of why this state needs to change its rules I was pleased to receive a retweet from the state's Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale, who formerly served in the legislature. He said this, "I introduced it legislatively in 2009. Needs to happen." Amen. I might call him in my defense.

In the meantime, I've already found a lawyer to represent me. So bring it on.

Now, there was a legendary line at the end of that 1972 classic movie "The Candidate" starring Robert Redford. You remember? After his character, Bill McKay, wins an upset in the race for California senator, he corners his campaign manager and he asks what do we do now? McKay never gets an answer, but that is not the case with dozens of newly elected members of Congress. They've been busy this week having orientation.

The youngest member, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, sharing her new experiences on her Instagram feed showing her swag bag, the secured devices, the secret passageways, even Jefferson's copy of "Plato's Republic".

Well, joining me now is one of the members of the incoming class, Congresswoman Elect from Pennsylvania, Susan Wild. She won the seat vacated by CNN contributor Charlie Dent.

[09:05:02] Congresswoman Elect, thanks so much for being here. What's orientation like?

REP.-ELECT SUSAN WILD, D-PA: Michael, thank you for having me. Orientation has been fast and furious. They're teaching us a lot and it's everything from sessions on ethics, which are, of course, incredibly important, and the minutiae of how you can use your cell phone, what the budget is for your office, what kinds of staffing you might need. And I in week two of orientation, my understanding is we'll get into some of the more substantive areas.

SMERCONISH: All right. I don't see a pin on your lapel. Seems like everybody's got that pledge pin. Did you not get yours yet?

WILD: We don't -- we didn't -- we don't get pins until we actually are sworn in. I will be sworn in early because I won a special election as well as the general and as soon as you get sworn in, you get the special pin.

SMERCONISH: How are committee assignments handled and what committees are you particularly interested in?

WILD: Well, committee assignments are handled -- as I understand it, once you've made a determination of committees that you would like to be on, you express your interest in a variety of ways. I understand the first thing I should do is talk to the Dean of my delegation, in this case Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, as well as the ranking chairs of those committees that I'm interested in and eventually prepare a letter to be sent to whomever the new leader is expressing my interest.

And I've been told that we should have a series of possible committees that we're interested in because the chances, as freshmen, of getting our first choice is somewhat low.

SMERCONISH: You referenced the new leader. I don't know if you know this, Congresswoman Elect, but the President this morning, no surprise there, he tweeted on that subject. Put it up on the screen, Catherine, and we'll show everybody what President Trump said. "I can get Nancy Pelosi as many votes as she wants in order for her to be Speaker of the House. She deserves this victory. She has earned it, but there are those in her party who are trying to take it away. She will win."

What kind of pressure is being put on you as a newly elected member of the House relative to the leadership fight?

WILD: So I wouldn't call it pressure. There are -- it's like running for anything honestly. People have reached out by text, by e-mail, by phone calls letting us know, each of us in the freshman class, that they are interested in certain positions in leadership. I wouldn't call it pressure. Nobody's pressured me, but I'm well aware of each person who's running for the different positions and why they think they're the best for the job. To me, it's kind of like any campaign.

SMERCONISH: Do you have -- do you have -- do you have an office? Is that handled in seniority? And if I understand you to say that you may be sworn in just a few weeks ahead of your colleagues because of the special election, did that bump you up the ladder?

WILD: It actually did. Last night, I was fortunate enough, because the state of Pennsylvania certified my election to the House of Representatives yesterday, I was able to pick up my keys. They are actually the keys to the office formerly used by Charlie Dent. So as a result, because Charlie had considerable seniority, it's a rather grand office.

It will not be my permanent office. As I understand it, in January, I will need to relocate which is a little sad, but I will have seniority in terms of picking or going through the lottery process. Those of us who won special elections and have already been sworn in, we'll pick our offices one day ahead of the rest of the freshman class.

SMERCONISH: OK. Finally, give me the now that's cool moment. You ran hard, raised a lot of money, spent a lot of money, you're going to Congress. What has been the pinch me moment so far?

WILD: No question about it, getting the keys last night. It was after 6 o'clock and opening the door to the office and realizing that for the next -- for the next few weeks while we are in session I will be working out of that office and I will be a congresswoman, that is the pinch me moment. It really felt real at that moment in time.

SMERCONISH: Congrats and good luck.

WILD: Thank so much, Michael. Good to see you.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish. Go to my Facebook page. I shall read some responses throughout the course of the program. What do we have, Catherine? "Smerconish, as an Alabamian with closed primaries and one-day voting, I can't wait to see how this plays out. Thanks for taking on the fight for the franchise."

Kristin, no doubt about it, I want to draw attention to this issue because I don't see my state legislature doing anything about it. I am envious of the 37 states that have early balloting or mail-in balloting or both. Oregon, you're the gold standard as far as I'm concerned and I'm happy to be a test case. So we'll see what happens, if anything happens.

I want to know what you think. Go to my website at and answer this survey question about an issue we will get to later.

[09:10:02] Do you agree with this week's "Wall Street Journal" op-ed that Hillary will run in 2020? I'm not asking if you want her to run. I'm asking if you agree with the assessment by those co-authors that she's getting in. Vote. I'll give you the results at the end of the hour.

Up ahead, when news broke about her affair with President Bill Clinton, then intern Monica Lewinsky was demonized. Might her story play differently today? She's speaking out in a new documentary.


MONICA LEWINSKY, AMERICAN TELEVISION PERSONALITY: It's not as if it didn't register with me that he was the president. Obviously, it did, but I think in one way, the moment we were actually in the back office for the first time, the truth is is that I think it meant more to me that someone who other people desired desired me.


SMERCONISH: So for 20 years, she was a punch line and a punching bag and she mostly remained silent, but in the #MeToo era, America is starting to reassess the intern who had the affair with the president and now Monica Lewinsky is speaking out about the experience in a new six-part documentary, "The Clinton Affair", premiering Sunday night on "A&E". Here's an excerpt.


[09:15:00] LEWINSKY: He paid a lot of attention to me. He spent time sort of standing there and held my hand longer than he should have and gave what others have described as the full Bill Clinton. It feels as if you're the only person standing there. The next day, we had a surprise party for Bill on the South Lawn that the staff was having. I did this really silly thing. I ran home at lunchtime and I put back on the sage green suit I had been wearing the day before when he paid attention to me and I thought well, maybe he'll notice me again and notice me, he did.


SMERCONISH: Lewinsky revealed her motivation in coming forward in a piece that she wrote for "Vanity Fair", quote, "Filming the documentary forced me to acknowledge to myself past behavior that I still regret and feel ashamed of, but I hope that by participating, by telling the truth about a time in my life, a time in our history, I can help ensure that what happened to me never happens to another young person in our country again."

At the time, she was demonized by everyone from Bill Maher to Gloria Steinem, but if her story broke today, would things be different? Joining me now to discuss is Leon Neyfakh. He's a staff writer at "Slate" and the host of a terrific podcast called "Slow Burn" which devoted its second season to the Clinton scandal. And Anna North, a senior reporter at "" who wrote the piece, "Monica Lewinsky is Finally Having Her Moment."

Anna, three or four years ago, you might be interested to know that I made this announcement on my Sirius XM radio program and I said, "From this moment forward, I will call it the intern scandal, not the Lewinsky scandal," and I'm sorry that it took me so long. Your first words reference the way that we labeled it then. Why did it stick?

ANNA NORTH, SENIOR REPORTER, VOX: Yes. I mean, I think, at the time, there was a really outsized focus not on Bill Clinton, who was himself the president at the time, but on Monica Lewinsky, who was seen as the other woman, you know, and the president called her, "that woman." And there was --there was this sort of, you know, I think we now see it as quite unnecessary focus on her when really the focus should have been on the person who was the President of the United States having an affair with an intern, someone who was his subordinate.

SMERCONISH: Well, and I note that the "A&E" special is titled "The Clinton Affair" I'm sure quite deliberately. So Leon, you say that people's reactions 20 years ago are inexplicable, you know, viewed through the prism of two decades. Explain.

LEON NEYFAKH, JOURNALIST, SLATE: I mean, it's just very hard to identify with people who made fun of her as viciously as they did. You know, I think maybe we just have a better appreciation for what women go through when they are in relationships that have this power imbalance, maybe we have a more vivid understanding of how that suffering feels, but it's very hard to identify with the people who mocked her and ridiculed her.

SMERCONISH: Give me an example. What's top of mind?

NEYFAKH: Well, you mentioned Bill Maher. Bill Maher called her a homewrecker on his show. He said that if anyone owes the country an apology, it's her, which is just -- you know, it's an absurd point of view and it's hard to imagine anyone saying something like that today.

SMERCONISH: Anna, she herself has had a change of heart. Here's something that you wrote for a "Vox". We'll put it up on the screen. "In 2014, Lewinsky had written that her relationship with Clinton had been consensual and that any abuse came in the aftermath when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position, but by February 2018, in light of the #MeToo movement, she had begun to reconsider." Talk to me about that.

NORTH: Yes. I think -- I think what's made Monica Lewinsky really a pretty powerful spokesperson in this moment is that she thinks with a lot of nuance about what she went through at that time. You know, she has said in the past that what happened was consensual and she hasn't exactly said that it wasn't now, but she's really thinking through what were the power dynamics involved. And the power dynamics between, you know, the president of the country and a 22 year old intern, it was a pretty enormous gap.

And I think a strength of her as a voice in this moment is not only that she is able to speak for herself and tell her own story, but that she's really speaking for herself with this complexity and this compassion for everyone involved, really thinking through, you know, what went on and what was inappropriate about it.

SMERCONISH: Does she believe -- does she believe, Leon, that she had clean hands looking back? Does she go that far as to say it was all on him?

NEYFAKH: I mean, she makes a big point in her "Vanity Fair" piece that she spent, you know, a lot of energy apologizing to people and that she obviously regrets a lot of what happened. I would hope that, you know, she doesn't feel responsible, ultimately, for the way this all played out because there were so many other elements to the story.

[09:20:01] You know, in order for the -- for the -- for the situation to get to where it got with Ken Starr and the impeachment, I mean, a lot of different moving pieces had to go a certain way and it certainly was not her fault.

SMERCONISH: I thought, Leon, that the most sympathetic moment of your podcast relative to Monica Lewinsky was the very first episode in the hotel room. Can you give us the CliffsNote version of, you know, day one of when this all began?

NEYFAKH: So Monica Lewinsky was friends with a colleague, Linda Tripp, who had been recording her phone calls for months. And on that day that you're referencing, Linda Tripp led FBI agents to a meeting place where she was going to have lunch with Monica Lewinsky at the Pentagon City Mall.

And instead of having lunch, Monica Lewinsky found herself sort of being ambushed by these FBI agents who took her into a hotel room where she was questioned by prosecutors from Ken Starr's office and asked to cooperate with their investigation by wearing a wire, by basically, you know, obviously telling them everything that had happened and essentially serving as a -- as a cooperating witness. And she refused.

SMERCONISH: She's able -- she's able if she chooses -- she's able if she chooses and eventually when mom arrives, she does get some legal counsel. but she's discouraged from it. And correct me if I'm wrong, she spends 11 hours in that hotel room.

NEYFAKH: Yes, 11 harrowing hours.

SMERCONISH: Twenty-four years old.

NEYFAKH: Yes. It's very hard to picture keeping her cool in that situation which, you know, to be fair, she did not keep her cool. I think she suffered through that day and, you know, there were -- there were some times when there were moments of levity when they left the hotel room to kill some time while they were waiting for Monica Lewinsky's mother to get there. They went shopping, they went to dinner, but it was -- it was, I think, a day that she could only sort of process as almost a fantasy that was -- that was happening around her.

SMERCONISH: So Anna, let's sort of switch now gears and say what can Bill Clinton do at this moment in time to preserve his reputation? I want to show you -- you've seen it of course. We've all seen it. What he said as recently as June about this whole spectacle. Roll the tape and then we'll talk.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you didn't apologize to her.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have not talked to her. I thought it over (ph) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel like you owe her an apology?

CLINTON: No. I do -- I do not -- I have never talked to her, but I did say publicly, on more than one occasion, that I was sorry.


SMERCONISH: What do you think, Anna? Is there anything that former President Bill Clinton can do now to sort of stop the damage as people are, you both indicated, reassessing how they view this?

NORTH: Well, so something that Monica Lewinsky says in her recent pieces that she's not necessarily disappointed in Bill Clinton or by him for his refusal so far to apologize to her, but she's disappointed for him. She's disappointed that he can't be the better man in this situation and come forward and say he's sorry to her and she's disappointed for the country that we don't get to experience what that would be like.

And I think, you know, it could be useful for him to call her up or to offer a more pointed apology than he's really ever offered for this behavior. He really hasn't -- he doesn't appear that he's reassessed in the way that we all have and I think that would be crucial.

SMERCONISH: I agree with you. And Leon, finally, for you, you say one of the lessons here is you really don't know in the moment how history is going to treat something.

NEYFAKH: That's right. I think, you know, one of the fun things about doing my podcast in which we you sort of look back at these seismic events from history is seeing how clueless we are in the moment about how the events happening around us will settle in people's collective memory years down the line. And so it's certainly something I'm curious about of how we're going to look back on all this that's happening now 20 years from now.

SMERCONISH: Anna, Leon, nicely done. Thank you both.

NEYFAKH: Thank you.

NORTH: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: So what are the rest of you saying via my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages? Let's take a peek. "Smerconish, don't want to hear anything from Monica. Unlike majority of #MeToo victims, she was a willing participant." Karin, go back and listen to this podcast, the "Slow Burn" podcast. I wonder if it'll change your perspective. I mean the idea that at age 24 -- and I'm not excusing -- I'm not holding her harmless, but at age 24 makes the mistake and then the Feds step in -- she's going to a food court with Linda Tripp.

I mean, this is what really, I think, angered me as an attorney. And now gets headed off at the pass by some federal types from Ken Starr's office who usher her into a hotel room where she's held. Yes, she could have left, but she's there for 11 hours, cautioned against making a phone call to a lawyer and so on and so forth. It wasn't right.

And by the way, really for that -- for that underlying incident, the full weight of the federal government is going to come down on a 24- year-old intern. No.

[09:25:07] And frankly, too much on him. I always said that, you know, that was a -- that was a domestic issue best handled in his marriage. The proper response was for his clothing to be littered on the South Lawn of the White House from the second-floor window. Don't get me started on that.

Still to come, 238 cities entered the sweepstakes for the Amazon headquarters and the winners lost $2.8 billion. Isn't there something wrong with this picture?

And an article in "The Wall Street Journal" set everybody's hair on fire claiming that Hillary Clinton is definitely running in 2020 and will easily capture the nomination. Is that right? Go to right now, answer the survey question. Do you agree with this week's "Wall Street Journal" op-ed that she'll run in 2020?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats would do well to try a different approach than Clinton used in 2016, which, if you boil it down, amounted to this: I'm running against Donald Trump. You're certainly not going to vote for him, are you?




SMERCONISH: So why the hell are U.S. cities spending tens of billions of dollars to steal jobs from one another? That's what my next guest wonders. Fourteen months ago Amazon launched a nationwide competition for the retailer's second headquarters and 50,000 workers it would employ. After reviewing applications from 238 cities Amazon frustrated many by deciding to split the decision between New York City and Northern Virginia which cough up total incentives about 2.8 billion worth.

It's just the latest examples of billions that companies rake in via tax breaks and cash grants diverting much needed funds from infrastructure like schools and roads and police. Was Amazon's auction nothing more than a stunt to inflate the bids? And shouldn't the retailer have chosen to revitalize a Midwestern city instead?

Those are some of the questions raised by this excellent piece in "The Atlantic" Amazon's HQ2 spectacle isn't just shameful it should be illegal. Joining me now is the author Derek Thompson. He's a staff writer for "The Atlantic."

Derek, I thought "The New York Times" editorial page made a great point. That what Amazon most coveted in Queens were these millennial tech types that they need for a workforce and that had nothing to do with any of the incentives that were offered by New York City.

DEREK THOMPSON, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": Yes, it's a fantastic point. It doesn't seem like you should need 14 months and 238 city applications for a retail, media and advertising company to recognize that it should expand its footprint in the nation's capital of retail, media and advertising in New York City.

Furthermore we know that AWS, Amazon's cloud services division is looking to get Pentagon contracts. (INAUDIBLE) happens to be in the shadow of the Pentagon I think they might have made that decision whether or not they had gotten $600 million from northern Virginia.

So in many ways I think you're exactly right, "The New York Times" is exactly right. What we seem to have here is a company that was going to go the D.C. and New York City areas anyway but dramatized their uncertainty in order to stage a kind of Cinderella ball contest to see who could have the most glittering city application, who could hand in the most subsidies that raise the price of the bid and it won a nearly trillion dollar company several billion dollars in subsidies.

SMERCONISH: OK. In your essay you anticipate correctly the critique which is this, well, they're in business to make money. It's not their fault.

THOMPSON: That's right. You're right.

I had trouble -- it's hard in this case, in this sort of collection action problem to blame Amazon, because Amazon is just trying to make a profit. That, to an extent, is their fiduciary duty. And from the mayor and governor perspectives well, it doesn't make a lot of sense to say unilaterally disarm to essentially say, well, Nashville is bidding, and Los Angeles is bidding, and Chicago's bidding but I'm not going to bid anything.

That seems to lot of people like unilateral disarmament. So if this problem can't be solved at a city or state level I think it has to be solved at an interstate level. Unfortunately the U.S. constitution has an interstate commerce clause that gives the U.S. government the power to regulate interstate commerce which is why I suggest that maybe we should look into passing a law that bans states from stealing jobs from each other and just this way by offering billions of dollars of subsidies to companies that already make billions of dollars a year.

SMERCONISH: So I'm with you on your assessment of the issue. In fact let me -- let me just say something else. It's not just Amazon or I wouldn't have dedicated a segment to it today.

From your reporting -- quote -- "In the past 10 years, Boeing, Nike, Intel, Royal Dutch Shell, Tesla, Nissan, Ford, and General Motors have each received subsidy packages worth more than $1 billion to either move their corporate headquarters within the U.S. or, quite, often, to keep their headquarters right where they are."

Where I (ph) -- part company with you is on the what to do about it. Maybe I'm naive -- I would like to see elected officials who cut these deals held accountable. You know, if you think that they gave away the store to Nike -- Nike -- to Amazon in Queens then hold Bill de Blasio accountable.

THOMPSON: I have nothing against holding these mayors or governors accountable I just think that sometimes the news cycle moves so quickly that a scandal like this is going to be forced off of page one in like 12 hours. I mean, every few days we have some sort of international or national level scandal that seems to replace the previous week's big story.

So my fear is that we're going to see is we have this conversation right now about corporate subsidies it's going to just disappear.


We're going to stop talking about it. People are going to forget in a few years that de Blasio and Cuomo are behind this. People are going to forget in a few years that D.C. was behind this.

And we're just going to move on with our lives and focus in the presidential election. But if this is indeed problem that is an interstate problem it has to be solved at a larger level.

SMERCONISH: And finally you do acknowledge that if Congress were to do something about this, there would be a question as to constitutionality. I don't think I want all that regulation. Now you're all of a sudden going to owe taxes on whatever subsidy you were provided.

But there is, you would acknowledge, a constitutional issue here.

THOMPSON: Yes. This constitutional issue, you know, we ban in the Foreign Corruption Act we ban bribery of a foreign companies. What corporate subsidies are in a way, it's like bribery.

I mean -- so I don't have a huge problem with the federal government coming in and saying either we're going to find ways to ban this before it happens or we're going to find ways to tax these corporate subsidies on the back end.

I agree with you this is a difficult problem. I think lots of people can recognize it's a problem to be uncomfortable with national level solutions. But let's focus first on the fact that this is happening.

It costs the U.S. between $70 and $90 billion a year more than the Federal government spends on education or infrastructure. It is that scale of a problem and that scale off a problem might require a large scale national solution.

SMERCONISH: Derek, your piece is a great conversation starter. Thank you for writing it and for being here.

THOMPSON: My pleasure. Thank you.

SMERCONISH: I'm told there's a lot of reaction. I'm not surprised social media.

Tweets and Facebook comments, what do we have?

This is from Facebook. "I love Amazon, but after hearing this, I'm really conflicted."

But, Gina, you know, again Amazon is in business and Derek and I were just talking about this, to make money. So -- I mean, if you were an Amazon stock holder, you'd be saying that's exactly what I want them to do. If these cities, 238 of them, are all willing to compete against each other to cut the best deal Amazon would be foolish, so would say a different perspective, not to let have it.

You know, same sort of thing that you see in the competition for the conventions every four years. Although a little less so for 2020.

Still to come, two long time Democrats and Clinton pals wrote an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" saying she's running in 2020 and she will win the nomination. Do you agree?

Go to right now and answer today's survey question because I'm about to talk to one of the authors.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to run again?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a pause.

CLINTON: Well, I'd like to be president.





SMERCONISH: So we're two years out from the next presidential election yet Democrat Hillary Clinton remains a divisive icon. I was reminded of this this week when I saw the firestorm of reaction to this "Wall Street Journal" op-ed speculating "Hillary Will Run Again. Reinventing herself as a liberal firebrand, Mrs. Clinton will easily capture the 2020 nomination."

As you can imagine there was passionate reaction to this theory. The piece was co-written by Mark Penn. He served as a poster and adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton. And my next guest, Andrew Stein, former Democratic Manhattan borough president and president of the New York City council. Now however chair of Democrats for Trump.

Andrew, what was your motivation in writing this?

ANDREW STEIN, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATS FOR TRUMP: Well Mark Penn and I were having lunch, Michael, and we were just shooting the breeze and I think he's extreme smart, and we decided, you know, Hillary can get this nomination.

If you have 12 to 14 people in there, she's got a 75 percent positive approval with Democrats. She knows what she's doing. Most of the field really stumbled terribly in the Kavanaugh hearings and showed that they're sort of amateurs. And I think she has an excellent shot of being the Democratic candidate.

You know, Michael, if you look at Nixon not only lost to JFK in 1960 but he lost the governorship of California in 1964 and everyone said that was it. He was finished.

I think Hillary has that same determination to be president and she has the base in the party.

SMERCONISH: So when I read the piece -- here was my gut reaction when I got to the byline. I said, OK, so Penn wants to take another shot and Andrew Stein he wants Hillary to take another shot because now he's tied up with Trump and figures this is the one "D" that Trump can beat.

STEIN: Well, that is certainly been speculated about. I am for Donald Trump. I was head of Democrats for Trump during the last campaign and I think he's got a terrific record. I mean look at the economy, black unemployment, Hispanic unemployment, cancelling the Iraq treaty -- the Iran treaty which I thought was a real serious problem.

You don't hear about the caliphate like you did when Obama was there.


SMERCONISH: I know but respectfully to my question and you think she's the one he's best equipped to defeat? Acknowledge it.

STEIN: I think that he'll defeat any Democrat that runs. I think that's not true what you say because I think Hillary is tough. She's learned a lot from her defeat and I don't think she'd be the easiest candidate.

I think people like Kamala Harris and others are basically neophytes. If you haven't run nationally, it's like nothing that you could do. I mean, the pressure is unbelievable.

I don't think a lot of these Democrats would be able to stand up to the president and stand up to the media glare. Hillary is used to it.

SMERCONISH: Here's what you wrote. You say this version will be -- quote -- "Strong, partisan, left leaning and all Democrat, the one with guts, experience and steely-eyed determination to defeat Mr. Trump."

By the way, Andrew Stein --

STEIN: Yes, sir.

SMERCONISH: -- a buddy of mine reminds me nothing precludes you and Penn from going over to the U.K. and wager a little money on this if this is what you really think that she's going to capture that nomination. STEIN: Well, thanks for the tip, Michael. Maybe we will.

SMERCONISH: You also wrote this, "Joe Biden will never be able to take her on." Why do you say that?

STEIN: You know, I like Joe Biden and he has a lot of nice qualities as a person and he's got that working class background but I don't think -- he's never been able to run well in the Democratic primaries when he was by himself. He tried many, many times and lost.

I think Hillary's a much more formidable candidate with her experience.

SMERCONISH: Do you think that she was pleased or displeased to see what you published in the journal? I'm taking for granted that you didn't get her approval in advance? If I'm wrong tell me so but what do you think her reaction was in seeing what you had authored?

STEIN: Well, Penn and I have talked about that. I think she's got to be happy with it. You know, I know Hillary for a long time.

She because at my son's bar mitzvah. And, you know, I think she's probably happy because it got so much circulation and she's back in the ball game and back in the run and being speculated on as the Democratic candidate. So I think she's happy with the piece.

SMERCONISH: Andrew, thanks for being here. We're about to find out what this audience thinks in terms of whether you're on the right track but I appreciate your being here.

STEIN: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: OK, gang, it's your last chance to cast a ballot on this issue. When we come back I'm going to give you the result of the survey question. Go crash my Web site, "Do you agree with this week's Wall Street Journal op-ed that Hillary will run in 2020?"

Wherever, by the way, I'm not asking you do you want her to run, do you agree with Misters. Penn and Stein that she's going to get into this thing.

Go cast a ballot and we'll get your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments as well like this one.

"Smerconish, not only should HRC run she has a really good chance. Tell me a candidate in the field right now who can galvanize half of what she received in the general election. She's always been a polarizing figure but her base is always there."

Ariel, you might be right. You know, you can't beat someone with no one so I guess the answer to say, well, that's ridiculous what Andrew Stein and Mark Penn wrote is, OK. Who's got the better shot than the candidate who won the popular vote in the last go round?

Go vote.



SMERCONISH: This is going to be interesting. How did you respond to the survey question today at

"Do you agree with this week's Wall Street Journal op-ed that Hillary will run in 2020?"

Survey says, 10,964 votes, whoa, pretty decisive, 72 percent say she will not, 28 percent say, you know what, she's getting into this thing.

Here's something else of what you thought this week, what do we have in terms of social media reaction?

"Smerconish, why couldn't I vote twice on your Hillary poll if you could just vote twice in the election?"

No, John. No, John, you're misunderstanding. My violation of Pennsylvania law is that I didn't vote twice. Think about the stupidity of that.

If I'm in trouble with the law it's because I should have voted twice, me, a guy who takes the franchise so seriously that I've never missed an election since I turned 18. I've run afoul of the law because you should have voted two times. My state doesn't want to increase participation, and a lot of other states are just like it.

What's next? "Smerconish, lock him" --


SMERCONISH: Yes, OK. Next. There's not much I can say to that.


SMERCONISH: "You've been under the radar with the Trump administration @smerconish, your illegal voting makes you the reason for the blue wave. Thanks, pal."

Yes, I'm the fraud that I think they're talking about. I'm the guy who takes it so seriously that I'll undertake heroic measures just to make sure that I'm still voting.

One more if we've got time for it.

"Smerconish, Amazon should be ashamed of themselves. They don't need billions of dollars in tax breaks. This is not helping the Americans who need help the most."

Allison In Galveston, I get that.


But on the other hand what is Amazon's mission? We want them to have the best interests of the country at stake, but they're in business to make money by selling you stuff. And if they can get these municipalities to cannibalize one another by outbidding each other on tax breaks that they don't need, what do you expect they do?

I mean, they ignited that process. I guess you could say that they should be better than that. But the answer is this, hold accountable the elected officials that you think give away the store.

Remember you can catch up with us anytime on CNNgo and "On Demand." I'll be here, I think, next week the Saturday after Thanksgiving.