West Block Transcript: Season 6 Episode 9


Host: Tom Clark

Guest Interviews: Emily Goodin, Luiza Savage, Chris Sands, Dr. Howard Lusane

Location: Washington, DC


On this Sunday, two days until the U.S. election and polls are tightening. Winning or losing now depends on who gets out to vote.


Then, what happens after the election to the Republican Party? And how will the U.S.-Canada relationship change under a president Clinton or a president Trump.


And black turnout for early voting is down. The Obama’s have been dispatched to the south to get them out to vote for Hillary Clinton, but will it work?

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It is a glorious but very windy day on Sunday, November the 6th here in Washington, DC.  I’m Tom Clark, and you are in The West Block, which is not far from the West Wing.


Well, with two days to go until Election Day, candidates are crisscrossing the country and making their final pleas to get out to vote. The polls show that this race has tightened a lot. The momentum this past week has favoured Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. However, Clinton still maintains about a 1 or 2 point lead.


So, over the weekend, both Clinton and Trump were hitting the battleground states.


Hillary Clinton: Right? I don’t think I need to tell you all of the wrong things about Donald Trump. But here’s what I want you to remember: I want to be the president for everybody.


Donald Trump: She wants to go home and go to sleep. So, she’s got Biden. He challenged me. He challenged me. Aw, I’d like to take him—I’d like to take him behind the gym. Aw. Aw. I dream of that. I dream.


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Tom Clark: Well last night there was a brief scare for Donald Trump. Campaigning in Reno, Nevada, he paused his speech when he spotted a protester. There was some scuffling when someone yelled “He’s got a gun.” And as you can see, the secret service immediately surrounded Trump and hustled him off the stage. No gun was found and the protester was released without any charges.


Joining me now is Emily Goodin. She is the managing editor of Real Clear Politics. That’s a poll aggregator and probably one of the most referenced sources here in Washington. And Luiza Savage of Politico, an old friend of the show. Welcome to you both.


Emily, I want to start with you. It is Sunday morning, we are two days away. What are the latest numbers that you are seeing and where do you think this race is going?


Emily Goodin: Well in our Real Clear Politics polling average, Clinton is ahead by 1.4 per cent and she’s actually been leading on our average every day since the conventions. And historically, polls have told us who’s ever leading on Election Day tends to be the winner. But as we know, this has not been your normal traditional election. So, she’s looking strong in the state polls too and she had several paths to the 270 electoral votes she needs to win the White House. So she has a lot of options and her campaign is feeling strong.


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Tom Clark: So Luiza, is the Jell-O beginning to set now? Because Clinton, as Emily just said, has maintained a lead, small though it may be in the polls for many, many days now. Is this cementing in?


Luiza Savage: It certainly looks that way and in part because voting has already been underway for quite a bit of time in many states so we’re seeing results of early voting and their very promising for Clinton. In places like Nevada, the local press are already saying she may already have it locked up just given the early vote results in certain counties. Likewise in Florida, our reports at Politico in Florida are saying that very promising lead for Clinton so far in the early voting there. But if we take a step back and think about what are looking for on Election Day, it’s really all about the Electoral College vote. It’s getting to 270. And the path for Trump is very difficult. It’s not impossible, but it’s not impossible because first, he has to win all the states that Mitt Romney did and that only gets him to 205, I believe out of 270. So on top of that, he has to win some really big states that are in play for him. Ohio, he has a good chance there, right? The polls are really good.


Emily Goodin: Yeah, chance in Ohio.


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Tom Clark: Pennsylvania.


Luiza Savage: Well, Florida.


Tom Clark: Florida.


Luiza Savage: And then, he still needs more and that’s when you get into Pennsylvania. And that’s where it looks really dicey for him. Clinton’s been doing well in Pennsylvania and there are a couple of other tied states with very few electoral votes that if he lost Pennsylvania, he could kind of cobble together enough votes, maybe.


Tom Clark: But from what we’ve seen, Emily, if Clinton can win Florida, does that knock Donald Trump out? So on election night, if we see Florida turning blue, democratic blue because in Canada it would be red but in the United States, blue.


Luiza Savage: That’s why we wore purple, we’re non-partisan.


Tom Clark: But if she wins Florida, is that the tennis match right there?


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Emily Goodin: That could be the tennis match as you’re saying because really it’s North Carolina and Florida are two of the big states we’re watching and Clinton can lose one of those. Trump can’t lose either. As Luiza was saying, his path is very narrow. And just to show you how important Democrats think Florida are, they’ve sent President Obama there. They had Bon Jovi doing a concert there, Tim Cain the vice-presidential nominee is there. Clinton’s making another trip there. You can always tell what states they’re worried about, about their schedule.


Tom Clark: Well and also by who they put on the platform. By sending the Obama’s down, they’re trying to ignite the African-American vote. Jon Bon Jovi, Well he’s maybe a little over the hill, but they’re trying to get the youth vote which has been elusive.


Luiza Savage: You have white men too.


Emily Goodin: White men.


Tom Clark: Yeah, exactly. I want to ask you both about another really sort of curious thing about this very unusual election and that is the lack of enthusiasm because wherever you go in this country, what people tell me is they say you know, I don’t want to vote for Donald Trump but I just can’t vote for Hillary Clinton, or vice versa. We’ve got two candidates who have got high unfavourable ratings in this. How does that play into the psyche of the American voter?


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Emily Goodin: That’s the question we’re all going to be looking at when this election is over because there’s a lot of exit polls done on election night and that’s when a voter comes out of the polls. They’re asked several questions about who they voted for and why. And going into this election, as you mentioned, the high unfavourability ratings, it’s unprecedented in modern polling. We have never ever seen candidates with negative ratings like this. Usually a presidential candidate is a negative one or a plus one; it’s basically a neutral wash. But Clinton is at like a negative 13 and Trump is at a negative 20. We’ve literally never seen this before in an election.


Luiza Savage: Absolutely, and I think there’s just a general sense here of tension. People are on edge. We saw it the other night, last night, Trump at a rally. A guy holds up ‘Republicans against Trump’, people leap on him. Everyone is so on edge and people just cannot wait for this election to be over. I think there’s been nothing positive for people to rally around, it’s all been who can you least stand or not stand the last, I guess. But you have Hillary Clinton who we’ve known for decades. Many people have vilified her on the right. She’s an anathema to so many Republican voters and she’s a known quantity. She can’t stand up and say I stand for change. Donald Trump can do that. He says I want to change this establishment. There’s so much wrong with the system, I want to change it all. But at the same time, he’s such a negative and surly figure who’s said such negative things about so many communities in this country whether it’s women or blacks or Hispanics, Mexican-Americans that so many people feel that they’re being attacked by him. So the whole feeling of this election—you know I covered 2008 and just was so the opposite of that uplifting ‘hope and changey’ conversation in the country. It’s incredible that this is where we are now.


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Tom Clark: I have a feeling that all three of us, after we get over trying to predict what’s going to happen on Tuesday, once the people tell us what’s going to happen on Tuesday by actually voting. We’re all going to be fascinated with November 9th, the day after the election and what follows. What happens to the Republic Party? What happens to Congress? What happens to the whole mood of politics in this country? I mean are we are the point, and I don’t want to pre-judge what’s going to happen necessary, but if you take a look at the polls, the likely outcome right now is that it favours Hillary Clinton. Behind us is Congress, but it looks as if the Republicans are going to hang on to the House. They may even hold onto the Senate now with some of the numbers that I’ve been seeing on Real Clear Politics. If that happens, are we just into this never ending battle between the president and Congress? Even if it’s Donald Trump in the White House, Congress is sort of the door stop. Does everything just freeze here for the next four years?


Luiza Savage: Well if it’s Donald Trump, I don’t think it freezes. If it’s Donald Trump, I think what happens is—well first of all, regardless of who wins, I would expect the Congress to be much more Conservative coming up because you’ll have those members who are more moderate, who are in swing districts. They’re the ones who are most likely to lose. The people in the reddest districts are most likely to keep their seats. So you’ll have a smaller majority, a more Conservative majority. Now what comes up for a vote in the Congress, it’s what the Speaker will allow. And the Speaker is answerable to his caucus. So now you have a more Conservative right wing caucus, you have a Speaker who can only bring things up where he thinks his party is behind him, so what is he going to bring up? They’re going to be Conservatives measures. So if it’s Donald Trump, you would expect him to rubber stamp those things and sign those bills. If it’s Hillary Clinton, she’ll veto, there’ll be a fight. But I think the outcomes are actually very different if it’s Trump or Clinton.


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Tom Clark: Twenty seconds left, but yeah, do you see it the same way?


Emily Goodin: We do and we’ve already seen Republicans vowing to investigate Hillary Clinton for two years if she’s elected president, so this has actually already begun.


Tom Clark: Okay, well you know next Tuesday is going to be fascinating. Next Wednesday could be even more fascinating than Tuesday. Emily Goodin of Real Clear Politics and Luiza Savage, an old friend of ours, thanks very much for being here. I appreciate your time.


Well, still to come, early voting turnout for the black community is down which may impact must win states for Hillary Clinton. We’ll talk about that.


But first, what would a Clinton or Trump presidency mean for Canada? We’ll look at that right after this.


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Tom Clark: Well welcome back to a windy Washington. There is a long list of well-established Republicans, including former presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney who have come out against Donald Trump for his part, Trump, has walked away from traditional Republican positions, especially freer trade. So, what happens to the Republicans after this election? Well joining me now is Chris Sands, a long time watcher of Canada-U.S. relations and a professor at Johns Hopkins University. Chris, good to have you back here.




Chris Sands: Nice to see you.


Tom Clark: Walk me through first of all from a Canada-U.S. perspective—walk me through what a president Trump administration would do to that relationship.


Chris Sands: I think it would be very difficult, although Trump hasn’t focused on Canada as a particular problem. Mostly because Canadian wage rates are comparable and his base worries about trade, not because of trade itself but because of being undercut by low wage workers abroad and governments that rig the rules. Canada’s been good on that, but if the U.S. is turning away from trade, talking about scraping NAFTA, not pursuing the TPP, not pursuing other trade agreements, that uncertainty is going to be terrible for Canada. It’s going to create that churn that will lead a lot of investors to worry that they need to move their plants to the U.S. side of the border just to avoid a potential trade shock.


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Tom Clark: But on that front, Chris even Hillary Clinton has expressed doubts about NAFTA, says maybe we have to rewrite it. And she has said, at least last time I checked, she was against TPP. She used to be for it. Now she appears to be against it. So on that front, is there a coming together of Democrat and Republican?


Chris Sands: Sort of, but I think the Hillary position is more constructive. She has recognized there are a lot of people in the country who have a backlash against trade because they feel it’s not working for them. So she wants to make sure these agreements have a bit more protection for people. She recognizes that the trade consensus is fraying. So I think what she’s looking to do is at the margins, make these agreements work a bit better. She won’t scrap NAFTA. But remember President Obama said that he didn’t like NAFTA and he came up with the Beyond the Border Regulatory Cooperation Council and even in the TPP, some amendments to North American arrangements. So you can do these things in the margins and it’s not a huge earthquake. And I think she’s smart to recognize that people are upset, where Trump is on the other side, talking about scraping things. It’s a big bargaining position. He wants more dramatic change and he may find enough voters want the dramatic change too.


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Tom Clark: And the funny thing is, in the past, the Canadian heart was always with the Democrats but the Canadian head was always with the Republicans simply because the Republicans were the party of trade. The Democrats were the party anti-trade more or less and now the positions almost seem to have flipped.


Chris Sands: Well it’s interesting because I think one of the big impacts of a Trump residency on the Canadians is the through the economy. We’ve spent most of the last 50 years trying to convince Americans that we need balanced budgets and we should try to control government spending. And there was something of a consensus on that. Donald Trump has said we don’t have to reform social security, just put more money into it. And we don’t have to perform Medicare, put more money into it. And we can scrap Obamacare and when you look at the cost projections, this is going to blow up the budget, make Washington more dysfunctional than ever and our debt to GDP ratio right now is 120 per cent. It’s really not a very good position to be taking on more debt, spending more money. Plus, he wants to cut taxes. I’m all for tax cuts, but at the same time he wants to cut them fairly dramatically while he’s increasing spending. So, from a Canadian point of view, those signals on the economy are going to be quite worrisome if he were to be the president.


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Tom Clark: I want to talk to you a minute about the future of Conservative political action in this country. Presuming, and if the polls are right, it favours Hillary Clinton to win this thing on Tuesday. Not impossible that Trump could win. But let’s assume a Clinton victory. What happens—what’s left of the Republican Party after Donald Trump?


Chris Sands: Well it’s been very interesting to see figures that were formerly thought of as the future of the party like Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House who really stumbled trying to figure out how to manage or react to Trump. Some days he seems to be for Trump, some days he’s putting some distance between himself. And now we’re hearing rumours in Washington that he may decide not to be Speaker after the election if Trumps wins. Or even if Hillary Clinton he says no blank cheque for Hillary Clinton.


Tom Clark: And he’s the obvious next leader of the movement.


Chris Sands: Partly because he’s a generation younger and what’s interesting is he took on the House because the previous Speaker, John Boehner struggled to control the more radical members of the Republican Party, even though they had a majority of the House and they ultimately ousted him. And Boehner came in after a similar attempt to oust his predecessor, Dennis Hastert. So Republicans are becoming very ungovernable in the Congress and Hillary Clinton will probably have to deal with a Republican majority in the House. May have a very close Senate where Republicans need to be disciplined in order to pass legislation, not to mention confirming 6,500 of her political appointees to get the administration managed. It could be very difficult to work with this dysfunctional Congress.


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Tom Clark: So here is the other thing though, if Trump fails on Tuesday, he nevertheless has tens of millions of Americans who have voted for him. He has this great political movement. Anybody who wants power is going to want that group of people. To get that group of people, you’d have to out trump, Trump. So does the Republican Party while they’re struggling with people like Paul Ryan on the moderate side, say well actually the future is going to be even more radical than Donald Trump because of what he has produced.


Chris Sands: The great thing about the American system, and the worst thing about the American system, is without party discipline, everyone’s an entrepreneur. So you’ll see congressmen, senators, governors, others trying to position themselves to capture the Trump voter while holding onto their original base. And it’ll be very interesting to watch, although probably will look very chaotic for the first few months. I think it’s going to be a very tough time for the U.S. And in a way, it would almost be easier if Trump won because if Trump wins he has govern and his ideas are put on display and he has to make them work. If he loses, well then he sits back and says the election was rigged. My ideas are perfect, if only you’d tried me. And poor Hillary Clinton is going to actually have to govern while he sits on the sidelines already a billionaire, comfortable, throwing brick bats at everything they try to do in Washington which hasn’t been working very well lately.


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Tom Clark: Well, interesting times ahead no matter who wins on this one.


Chris Sands: Absolutely.


Tom Clark: Chris Sands thanks very much for joining us.


Chris Sands: Thank you, Tom.


Tom Clark: I appreciate your time.


Coming up next, why are African-Americans so apathetic this election campaign and what impact could that have on Tuesday’s results?


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Tom Clark: Welcome back to a very windy Washington, DC. Well early voting is gaining in popularity in the United States, but turnout among the African-American community so far is down in the critical battleground states. Now, traditionally this voting block has voted for the Democrats and naturally this has the Democratic campaign a little bit worried.


Dr. Clarence Lusane of Howard University has been looking at this and he joins me now. Dr. Lusane thanks very much for being here.


Dr. Clarence Lusane: Thank you.


Tom Clark: Simple question, when you take a look at the early voting in the critical states of Florida and North Carolina, the African-American community is not showing up with the same numbers that they did say for Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008. Why do you think that is?


Dr. Clarence Lusane: Well, I think it’s probably a temporary lull because the polling that we’ve done at Howard University, for example, we found that the percentage of black registered voters who said that they would come out to vote was basically the same as in 2008 and 2012. I think one of the major factors in North Carolina in particular is there have been changes in the voting access. And so as a result, there are fewer voting places. There’s less opportunity for people to vote in early voting as it was in 2012, so I think that’s had an impact. But I expect by the end, the numbers will be pretty close to the overall turnout for black voters, so it’ll be pretty close to the last election.


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Tom Clark: You mentioned something here though that’s interesting and that is the idea of voter suppression, especially in the African-American districts. Just give me one example because you would think that by 2016 this would be a problem that would have already been solved, but evidently not.


Dr. Clarence Lusane: Certainly it would be. For example, North Carolina was basically told by a judge that they had to open up the polls that they had to make sure that people were not being purged, that they had to make sure that polls are open in a timely manner. Similar in Florida, there was an effort by the governor of Florida to stop early voting because of the hurricane that came through and was forced by again, the courts to open up so that people would have an opportunity. And we’re seeing this around the country that Republican legislators have done all that they could to make it more difficult, particularly for a black community, younger voters that have access to the polls.


Tom Clark: Would it be safe to say though that while, and the study that you’ve done at Howard University would back this up, that the vast, vast majority of African-American voters in this country would vote democratic when they go into the booth? And yet there seems to be a certain lack of enthusiasm for the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. For people that watch politics for a long time they say well how could that be because her husband, Bill, was the first so-called black president of the United States. Why the lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton?


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Dr. Clarence Lusane: Well it varies, depending upon age. For the older black voters, they certainly have a favourable view of Hillary Clinton and that’s what a lot of poll data show. For the millennials who did not grow up under Bill Clinton, they see him as a historic figure and in fact on some issues like crime, for example, his crime bill in 1994, they see as problematic. But overall, the black millennials have moved towards Hillary Clinton in the last week or so from the data that we’ve see.


Tom Clark: And, I guess too for the younger voters, they might remember Bill Clinton particularly, and Hillary Clinton, attacking Barack Obama in 2008 during that primary contest.


Dr. Clarence Lusane: True, down in South Carolina. So there’s a sense of that but again, a lot of these voters, the young voters, particularly ones from 18 into their early 20s were very young when Barack Obama first ran. That was eight years ago, so they don’t quite remember that particular incident. But they do feel that Bernie Sanders in many ways represented them more appropriately than Hillary Clinton. But because Bernie Sanders has been out on the campaign for Hillary Clinton and as they begin to realize the dangers of a Trump presidency, we’re seeing a lot of the young black millennials moving towards Hillary Clinton.


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Tom Clark: You know there’s been a huge sort of cultural and political divide opened up in this election campaign, the division between the Trump supporters and the Clinton supporters. Give me some idea of what you see happening after Election Day on the 9th and beyond to this country. Are we going to see a much more divided, much more racially divided America after this?


Dr. Clarence Lusane: Yeah, I think so. The country is not going to change just because of this election on Tuesday. We have a very serious problem where there are many in the country—I think many whites who feel tense about the demographic changes that are happening. The country is becoming more ‘brown’ or it’s becoming more diverse and for many that’s a scary prospect. And then we have elected officials and populous who are exploiting some of those anxieties and fears. The next president will have to address that. It means addressing the immigration issue in particular because immigration really is about race and ethnicity. It’s not about immigrants from Canada or immigrants from England. It’s really about a fear about immigrants coming from Latin America, from Africa and from Asia.


Tom Clark: Dr. Clarence Lusane, thank you very much for dropping by today. I appreciate your time.


Dr. Clarence Lusane: My pleasure.


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Tom Clark: Thank you.


Dr. Clarence Lusane: Thank you.


Tom Clark: Well that’s our show this week from Washington, DC. Tuesday night is going to be fascinating, not only here in the United States but right around the world. And we’ve got you covered for that historic night. has got livestreaming all night with the results. Watch Global National starting Monday from Washington right through Tuesday night, right into the late hours, if it’s needed, to figure out who the next president of the United States is going to be. And we’re back in Ottawa next week to pick up the pieces. Until then, enjoy your week. I’m Tom Clark.


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