Mark, Howard and Blake discuss the presumptive nomination of Donald Trump, the Veepstakes, and the impact of a prolonged primary on the Democrats.

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Call Transcript:

Blake: Thank you very much, and welcome everybody again to a call in our long series of presidential election calls. I'm Blake Rutherford, and I'm joined by my colleagues Mark Alderman and Howard Schweitzer. Mark, Howard, great to be with you guys.
Howard: Thanks, Blake.
Blake: Dare I say it, but here we are. The age of Trump is officially upon us. Donald Trump, barring one interesting development, which I'll get to in just a minute, appears to be headed for the nomination of the Republican party. This is a candidate who began this race at 1%, dead last among 17 Republican candidates, and yet he has managed to, at this stage, beat them all. What's going on in the Republican party, Howard? Please explain to me what the growth of Donald Trump's candidacy means for the state of the GOP. That's where I want to begin.
Howard: Blake, looking back on the 2016 primaries, my view is that no one ... First of all, I think it was a weak field. It seemed like you have 17 people, some credential people, some strong conservatives, good talkers. It was, I think looking back, a weak field. I don't think that any other candidate, besides Trump, was able to tap into an undercurrent that I think is running through both sides, the electorate on both sides of the isle, which is what I'll call "economic anger". Clearly this wasn't the right time for traditional conservatism. Trump's messages, divisive though they may be on immigration and trade, I think hit a chord, struck a chord with this economic anger, and propelled him to the nomination.
Blake: Howard, I'm intrigued both by your comment that it was a weak field, because certainly with a number of traditionally accomplished republicans, candidates who at arguably any other time seemed like dream candidates for the GOP. Chris Christie at one point, Jeb Bush, certainly Marco Rubio, and even among conservatives, Ted Cruz, who according to an email from about 30 seconds ago, is down but not out. If he wins in Nebraska, he may restart his campaign. Barring that hail Mary, I am intrigued by the weak field comment, Mark, and I wanted to get your reactions to that, because we have made a lot, or Trump has made a lot of his success against this field and the fact that that success is demonstrative of general election strength. Howard, you would seem to say I think that not as strong of a field, in fact, a weak field. Mark, what do you think? Was it a weak GOP field?

Blake, I don't think it was a weak GOP field. Let me say it in the past tense. I sure did not think it was a weak GOP field when it began, nor did the rest of us establishment types. What Donald Trump did is absolutely unprecedented, absolutely phenomenal, whatever else anyone may think of him, and I think it's pretty clear what I think of him, he has to be respected for the genius of his self-promotion and marketing himself to this nomination.

However, let's be clear about the arithmetic of what he actually did. Donald Trump got half the votes in a primary process in which about a third of the Republican party participated, and the Republican party represents about a third of the country. I can't do the math in my head, but he's got a half of a third of a third. It's amazing that he's the guy who got it, but he has not yet been put to the test of a general election. May I just say before you ask your next question, so much has been made by him of all the millions of votes that he has more than Mitt Romney and all the people he's brought into the process, and no energy on the democratic side, Hillary Clinton has 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. I say let's just call the general election based on the primary result. She ran away with it

Blake: We'll get to the democrats. I want to come back, Howard, to how we got here. You talked about this message of economic anger. I've been toying around with a characterization of sort of authoritarian populism, this notion that we're going to go hard after illegal immigration, trade, and fighting Islamic terrorists. That's really Trump's candidacy. Look, winners get to continue in this game, and so he gets to continue. What are your thoughts about Trump's message? You've written a lot about Trump in the last week. You've commented a lot about Trump, in terms of what his message means for where his candidacy goes and who joins him. What do you think about this economic anger message? It worked in the primary, clearly. Is it a general election strategy? Does he need to re-think his core message? Is there ever going to be a Trump pivot, or are we just going to see Trump as Trump through November?
Howard: Trump is going to keep being Trump. Blake, I think you hit the nail on the head. There was a poll out this morning from Quinnipiac. It looked at various ... It polled Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania for obvious reasons. It was interesting. You'll probably talk about it later, in terms of the numbers on who would you vote for today, but even more interesting to me, given where we are in the campaign, it asks about who is better for the economy, Trump or Clinton? Who is better for terrorism, Trump or Clinton? Trump did much better on the economy and terrorism than Hillary. The general election electorate is much less ideological historically than the primary electorate. I think those are messages, his message on the economy, his message on terrorism, to the extent that you can call what he's saying messages, because I think that's questionable, but they've obviously resonated. Yeah, the deck is stacked against him, in terms of the traditional electoral college map, but I think he's going to run hard and strong on those two points.
Mark: Two points about those two points, if I may. As you, Howard, have told Blake and told me a number of times, Trump is, at core, unpredictable. I defy anybody to articulate what his consistent message on economy or on immigration has been. I'm not sure that it's as simple as he had the right message, since the message has been up, down, and sideways. What I find most-
Howard: Mark, I think you're ... Can I interrupt for a second? I think you're thinking too hard. The message on immigration/the economy is simple: keep out the immigrants. The message on the economy and jobs is simple: don't make bad trade deals where you give away the store. That's his message. People aren't paying attention.

Well, at that level, I agree. I agree. At that level, that's his message, but when he starts talking about the minimum wage, and he's against it, and he's for it, and then maybe let the states figure out if it's a good or bad idea. When he starts talking about taxes, I agree. At an elemental and elementary level, he has a very clear message of hate, in the case of immigration, and of negativity in the case of trade. Beyond that, it gets very confused.

What I wanted to just say about the Quinnipiac poll, which I find absolutely fascinating, because it is the confusion, it's what this guy has done to this year, it's so confusing. In that Quinnipiac poll, just as you said, Howard, more people said they trusted Donald Trump on terrorism and on the economy than Hillary Clinton. However, two thirds of the people in that poll said that Donald Trump did not have the temperament to be president. Half said that Hillary did. Two thirds of the people said he didn't have the temperament to be president, and yet they trust him on the economy and they trust him on terrorism.


It's interesting, guys, because I think this notion of temperament is hyper-relevant today. By today, I don't mean in a grander sense. I mean literally on Tuesday, because we have seen some very prominent republicans back away from Donald Trump. Both presidents Bush are not participating in this election. John McCain is kind of TBD. He's got his own re-election to think about, but he's made some very interesting comments about Trump's need to apologize to veterans, on top of comments where Trump's candidacy puts him, to quote Senator McCain, "In the race of his life." Mitt Romney's skipping the Republican Convention. Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush refusing to endorse, Mary Madeline, noted republican strategist joining the libertarian party. Mark Salter, who advised John McCain in 2008, organizing republicans for Hillary.

Temperament does seem to be a cause for concern today, Howard. Do you see it staying that way? Obviously I'm foreshadowing Trump's summit with Paul Ryan later this week. I thought you might talk a little bit about where you see the temperament factor going in light of the Quinnipiac poll, and the how that plays into this Paul Ryan meeting this week.


I definitely think it's going to continue to play a role, but I also believe that everybody has their own reason for, if you don't like Trump, for not liking Trump. I think for the Paul Ryans and the Lindsey Grahams ... Let me take that back. For the Paul Ryans of the world, he's not conservative enough. For Lindsey Graham, it may be that he's unpredictable and a loose cannon. For other people it may be that they feel like he's inflaming bigotry. I think that's all okay with Trump. His strategy, I think he's taking a divide and conquer approach, because there is no "Stop Trump" movement. There are lots of people for lots of different reasons that don't like him. The lack of cohesion among them is, I think, one of the reasons why he thinks he can eventually peel off some of those people and amass enough voters to help him win in the fall.

I think more fundamentally, he's not ... I do think temperament is an issue, and I think he's not prepared or preparing to be president. At some point, he has to start taking seriously the prospect of actually becoming president of the United States.

Blake: You ...
Howard: Yeah, go ahead.

Yeah, right. You published an oped on the Daily Caller really talking about that point, and I want to come to this notion of what the world looks like, once Trump has to start thinking about governing. First I want to talk about can he even get there? One of the things that has been particularly interesting to me is what the Trump Coalition really looks like. We've made a lot of noise about this notion of white working class voters being really the foundation of that Trump Coalition and what that looks like. It's a reasonable focal point, because white working class voters make up about 58% of the GOP. Trump has done incredibly well with that demographic.

Interestingly enough, though, white working class voters in 2015 only make up 46% of the overall electorate. Compare that to 1992 when they made up 63% of the electorate. Trump is upside down among women. 67%, Howard, of women view Trump negatively. 63% of white women view him negatively, and he trials Hillary Clinton among women by 12 points. He only gets 11% of the Latino vote today. Mind you when George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000, he got 40% of the Latino vote. Republicans have said since Mitt Romney lost that there's no way they can win the White House unless they improve upon their standing among Hispanics.

This Trump Coalition fascinates me in the context of the primary, but it's particularly intriguing when we talk about his prospects for a general election. Before we get to what governing looks like, Mark, can Trump really even get there?


Trump can get there, sure, yes. Anyone who thinks that he can't isn't paying attention to what has happened so far this year on both sides, because there is obviously on our side an analog to what Howard describes on the republican side. Anything can happen. If Steph Curry can score 17 points in overtime last night after coming back from a knee injury, even Donald Trump can be president, but you would rather not rely on Steph Curry scoring 17 points in overtime every game, and you would rather be her than him in looking at this electoral map, Blake. That is because of where the white voters are.

You have to remember that this isn't about the popular vote. Ask Al Gore what you get for winning the popular vote. This is about the electoral college. In the states that he is going to need to flip to have a chance here, the demographics are working against him. Florida, Florida is not a state where the white voter percentage, white male voter especially percentage of the past still pertains. Nevada is not a state where the white male voter percentage of the past still pertains. There are states where it does. Our state, Pennsylvania is one. If he can break through in Pennsylvania, then he can probably put the map together. He has to hold every state Mitt Romney won, and he has to find 66 more votes. Even if he wins Ohio, Virginia, and Florida, he's not there yet. It's a steep climb. By the way, footnote, he's not winning Virginia. Governor McAuliffe is not surrendering his state to Donald Trump.

Blake: Howard, counterpoint.
Blake: We've got this Quinnipiac poll that we've talked about. Trump's down a point. It's 43-42. We can argue the reliability of the poll and the virtue of talking about polling today, but for the purposes of discussion, let's talk about it. It's a statistical dead heat in Pennsylvania. He's up 4 in Ohio. It's a statistical dead heat in Florida. If you talk about where he has to begin, there's an argument today that this map isn't as grim as we, perhaps, would have speculated it would be, considering the tone of this campaign. Counterpoint to Mark, is there really a path that Trump might have to get to the presidency?
Howard: Yeah, the Northeast and the rust belt. I am not ready to break out the electoral map of the past in an election where the republican isn't a republican, and will run to the left of Hillary Clinton on issues like trade, Wall Street, and war. I'm not. We've been counting this guy out from day one, and we were wrong. Obviously, as they say on Wall Street, past performance is no indication of future results. I don't know that the electoral map matters right now. Why can't he win New York? Why can't he win Pennsylvania? I think he has an opportunity-
Mark: He can win one of those.
Howard: Can you say that again?
Mark: He can win one of those.
Howard: Okay, Pennsylvania, obviously, you think. I don't know. All bets are off. I think we haven't seen anything like this before. I agree that the demographics are stacked against him. There are 2 million more Latinos that will vote in 2016 than 2012, which very much goes to Mark's point and against the notion that he can do this, but I'm not ready to play electoral map math just yet. We've got to see how this thing takes shape.

Yeah, I agree that the map is much less relevant in 2016 than it was in 2012. In 2012 it was an incumbent president running on the same map that he won on four years before. All the rules are out the window, but just to kind of frame how I think this may play out, I think what we're going to see, and I think this is something that you're saying, Howard. We're going to see an election between identity and ideas. I recognize that it is really saying something to call Donald Trump's program "ideas", but the people who are for Trump, as you were saying a minute ago, like the very basic primal policies, let's build a wall and keep immigrants out, let's take our jobs back from China. Those are ideas, whether they're realistic ideas is another matter.

What Hillary Clinton is depending on, it seems to me, and certainly the way I have been talking about the election, is identity. It's where Latinos vote as Latinos because Trump has defamed them, where Muslims vote as Muslims because Trump has defamed them, where women vote as women because Trump has defamed them. If the American electorate goes to the polls and pulls the lever based on the identity of the voter, he is not going to get elected, because there are more people he's defamed than people he hasn't. If, on the other hand, people go in and buy what he's selling, the wall, and the Muslim ban, and auditing the fed, whatever that means which he says he'll do in his first hundred days, if people buy what he's selling sure. Sure, he can get elected president.

Blake: Howard, we've talked about temperament. I do want to talk about competency, because I think we're beginning to see the ramifications of Trump, even in his first weekend as the presumptive nominee. He comes out with a rather, to be frank, absurd debt plan that either is demonstrative of a significant misunderstanding of the financial system, or he just doesn't care and is happy to say whatever floats into his mind at that particular moment. Be that as it may, you have some experience with this. Certainly you have seen the American financial system at its arguably darkest moment, and you've seen the recovery that comes. What do we make of Trump's characterization on the debt? Is it worth our discussion today? Do we care about Trump's absurd policy prognostications at this point? Really, what do we do if he continues to demonstrate a lack, in my own words, not to put any words in yours, sophistication on some pretty central issues in American political life?

Yeah, I'd say it's utterly unhinged, as opposed to a lack of sophistication. That, I think, Blake, is to be stronger than what you said even, it's whatever floats into his mind, which is totally unacceptable for the president of the United States. Totally unacceptable for a presidential candidate. Of course he has had lot of experience with debt, because when you're in the real estate business, that's how you build your business. That's how you leverage yourself. When you're president of the United States and you go and say something like that, or even a candidate, people around the world scratch their heads, the US government becomes less credible. We're already suffering from a credibility problem as a result of him even being in the position that he's in, but it's totally inappropriate. The notion that we're not going to honor our financial commitments is absurd, and I think goes straight to the heart of fitness to be president.

It goes to the unpredictability. A president can't just say whatever comes out of his or her mouth. Every single word that the president, the secretary of the treasury, the chairman of the fed, etc, every single word they say matters. It moves markets. It moves armies. It moves everything. He's either got to fix that or I think he will be deemed to be unacceptable by the electorate, because it's unacceptable. That's not how you govern.


Howard, how do you govern? How does Trump govern? This is the central thesis, both I think, of our serious interest in the Paul Ryan meeting, and then looking ahead towards transition. Trump has said first he was putting his son in law in charge of transition. Now it's governor Chris Christie in charge, but only if he wins.

Mark: Only if he wins.
Blake: Only if he wins.

Right, no reason to start preparing to run the free world now.


Right. How does he govern? Again, I want to point everybody on the call to your, I thought, incredibly thoughtful and excellent oped. You can find it on the Daily Caller. How does Trump govern, considering everything we've been talking about on this call? If he gets there, how does this guy govern?

Howard: He's got to prepare to do that now. You start by preparation. Notwithstanding what I just said about his comments on the debt, I think if he actually begins to take seriously the need to prepare to be president, he'll organically appear to be more presidential and may just get himself to the point where he understand how to do the job. That's an insider's game. He has got to balance his campaigning as an outsider with his preparation with the insiders. Appointing your son-in-law, smart, decent guy, but appointing your son-in-law to get your transition ready is a joke. Politics and governance, even more importantly, is not a family business, unless your last name is Kennedy. It's absurd. He has got to come to some sort of accord with this Washington establishment crowd that he's run against, and yeah, he will continue to run against. He's got to come to some sort of accord, otherwise he's going to fail spectacularly if he manages to get elected.
Blake: Mark?
Mark: Yeah, I think, Howard, that that is exactly right. I think also that there's a dimension of this that I have not heard discussed anyway in the media. I think that the Paul Ryan, Donald Trump difficulty, and who knows where it ends up tomorrow, I think it is about some of the more inflammatory positions that Trump has taken. Ryan is on record as opposing the ban on Muslims, but I think it is also institutional. Think that Paul Ryan is enormously troubled by Donald Trump's complete disrespect for Congress. Donald Trump has not said once in all the speeches that he's given in all the elections so far that he was going to ask Congress to do something, that he was going to work with Congress to accomplish something. I think that he thinks it's the Trump Organization.

It is, by definition, authoritarianism. One comment, Mark, we got in, who has the leverage in that meeting? Who has the leverage between Trump and Paul Ryan walking into that room?

Mark: In terms of getting the other to do what you want?
Blake: Yeah, in terms of gaining concessions, in terms of-
Mark: Donald Trump has all the leverage in that meeting, because he doesn't care what Paul Ryan does. Paul Ryan cares very much what Donald Trump does. Donald Trump has already said he doesn't care what Paul Ryan does, that he is happy to run without the party, and that he doesn't understand why Paul Ryan wouldn't be for him, but if he's not, then he's not going to share his convention, and goodbye. Ryan cares a lot about what happens in that meeting. I don't think Trump does.

You don't think it matters that Trump ... We saw some evidence of this this week. There was a summit at the RNC to begin thinking about the campaign management of the general election, everything from field, to finance, to data, all the things that are required to actually run a campaign. You don't think having ... Trump's at least at some level recognizing that blowing up a relationship with Paul Ryan does practical disadvantages to him.


I suppose at some level he appreciates that it would be better to have him than not have him, but I don't think he ultimately cares enough to think that he should moderate or modulate one molecule what he says and thinks. Look at what he's done being who he is. Unimaginable to me. Unimaginable to me that Paul Ryan is going to get any meaningful concessions or changes out of Donald Trump. Imaginable to me that words will get said that allow Paul Ryan to share his party's convention. Unimaginable that anything meaningful happens.

Blake: Howard, any final thoughts on the Trump-Ryan summit?

I agree with Mark. I personally hold Paul Ryan in very high regard. I think a lot of people do.

Blake: I do.

If you look at the approval ratings of Congress, it's hard to think that the leverage is there.

Blake: Interesting to me, and this will sort of be the final thought until we pivot to the other side of this equation, but Chuck Todd at Meet the Press had-

I wasn't aware there is another side.


Yeah, right. Exactly. Right. We're just going to talk about Trump and hang up.

Mark: This is what Trump does.

Yeah. Chuck Todd on Meet the Press the other day he said, "Look, Trump really became the nominee the day that Paul Ryan took himself out of being," in his words, "the white knight when he made clear that he was not going to step into a contested convention environment and try to take this on the second or the third ballot." We've talked about some establishment discord. We talked about the demographic challenges. I wonder, it'll be very interesting to see what the outcome of that meeting is. I think that it's more complicated for both guys, simply because you do have a part that at some point is going to have to line up, if they're going to eventually go attack this general election, even in an era of Trump mania, with some semblance of seriousness and some semblance of a campaign that mechanically is built to win. You all have both seen presidential campaigns come alive. You've also seen them die. Trump is, I think, at a pretty interesting point. I this Ryan meeting has potentially grander consequences, but we'll wait and see. I think it's going to be fascinating.

I want to pivot now to what's going on on the democratic side. We have been inundated with Trump. We can't stop talking about Trump, but we still have a primary among the democrats. Mark, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by 3 million votes. She's ahead by 287 pledged delegates. 77% of the pledged delegates have been done. If we look at the polling, she is up by 28 points in New Jersey. She is up by 20 points in California, the two biggest delegate allocation states left. Why are we still dealing with a democratic primary?


Hillary Clinton won the democratic nomination weeks, maybe months ago. The outcome hasn't been in doubt for a long time, but we are dealing with a democratic primary because we are democrats. That's what we do. We run against each other, and we fight with each other, and we take it to the end. Then we come together, at least in 2008, the most relevant precedent year. It doesn't always happen. Certainly didn't happen in 1990, but what we are seeing is deja vu all over again. This is what Hillary did with then senator Obama in 2008. She actually was behind than less than Bernie, but there was still no credible path for her to win once the super delegates flipped, but she felt obligated to her supporters and to her program to take it right through the end. She did, and then she and the presumptive nominee made peace.

I actually think it's less hostile this time than in was in 2008. I was there in 2008. I remember being amazed and a little discouraged by the fury of the Clinton supporters that this skinny black guy from Chicago had taken away her birthright as the first woman president. We don't have that degree of personal animosity, I don't think, this time. We also don't have the race dimension. We don't have the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and that whole nightmare. I think it's okay. I think what's going on now is exactly right. Bernie, in fact, has recently been talking more about Trump than about Clinton. He's been talking more about the platform and influencing programs than actually winning the nomination. He knows that he's the nominee, and I think it's starting to come back together.

Blake: What does that look like? First off, I want to spend a little bit of time. You mentioned it. You saw this play out in '08. You had a front row seat to it. Watching it again at this stage, what's Hillary Clinton doing right? What's she doing wrong, Mark?

I think what she's doing right is paying more attention to Trump than to Sanders. I think she is paying more critical attention to Trump than to Sanders. She has stopped fighting with him fundamentally. That is absolutely right. What she's doing wrong is I don't think she has yet made the outreach to Sanders supporters that she need to. Now that's hard to do with him still in the race, because that's disrespectful to his candidacy to a degree, but she just has to keep turning in his direction with her positive message and turning the negative message on Trump. A lot of this will come out in the vice presidential selection.

Blake: That's really where I wanted to go. It seems to me that the real opportunity, and we've talked about it on these calls, Howard, I want to bring you into this, is on the democratic side. Unification strategy really, really being predicated on that vice presidential pick. Howard, I want to throw it back to you for A, any comments or reactions to what Mark said, but then also how do you see the vice presidential race shaping up? When do you think we'll really start hearing some credible names about possible VP picks?
Howard: I guess democrats fight with socialists, too, because he's not even a democrat.
Mark: Right. They'll fight with anyone
Howard: Yeah. She's the nominee. I don't understand why isn't she the presumptive nominee at this point?
Howard: That's because Mark hasn't declared her the presumptive nominee.
Mark: I'm working on it. I'll bet on that.
Howard: She's got the nomination. I'm a little befuddled why there's even still a race going on here, but I think things will come together. The progressive wing of the party is not going to abandon Hillary, come general election time, I think especially faced with Trump. I personally don't think that she would be wise to go for a progressive vice presidential candidate. She doesn't need Elizabeth Warren or somebody of that ilk to get the progressives excited. They're going to turn out. She needs somebody that's going to speak to the people in the middle. Just like every election, this is going to be decided by people in the middle, independent minded people and moderates on both sides of the isle. It's those people she needs to peel away from Trump. I think she'll go for a candidate is more likely to speak to those voters.

Mark, what are your thoughts?


I certainly agree that presidential elections get decided by 15 to 20% of the voters in 8 or 10 states. That's the reality. To the degree that her vice presidential pick is addressed to them, that makes sense what Howard is saying. However, I don't think I agree that it's going to be so easy to bring all the progressives and all of Bernie's people along. I think the person that she intends to speak to those people in the middle is her. I think that that is the Clinton constituency. I think that bringing in somebody to talk to those people instead of her or in addition to her is not necessary. That's where she is going to be in this election.

I personally, Howard, I know she's far from your favorite. I know why, and I don't disagree on that score, but I'm a big fan of a Clinton-Warren ticket. I just think a Clinton-Warren ticket doubles down on everything that is important about Hillary Clinton's candidacy, policy, programs, values, experience. I think it excites the party. I think it excites the Sanders supporters, and I just don't think people are really choosing between Clinton and Trump. Every election so far has been about persuasion and turnout. First you get people to decide to vote for you. Then you get them to come out and vote. This is a lot less about persuasion and a lot more about turnout. I think Elizabeth Warren is the turnout choice.


Let's pivot to what a general election might look like, because, Mark, you talked about this really at the very beginning of our call. Hillary Clinton not only has outperformed Bernie Sanders in the primary, if we're comparing raw vote to raw vote. She significantly outperformed Donald Trump, receiving millions more votes than he did. Our friends at the COP Political Report, after it was apparent Trump was going to be the presumptive nominee, published their electoral college map, and we've touched on the electoral college. I don't want to come back to that, but they have it at 304 for Hillary and 190 for Trump. That doesn't even include Ohio. It has Iowa, North Carolina, Nebraska, Arizona, Georgia all in play.

My question to both of you is what does this general election look like, in terms of how these two candidates both match up with each other and then what the voters can expect? I mean that with ... Let me shape my question this way. I heard it the other day, and I think it's appropriate. Hillary Clinton's great at hitting fast balls, but Donald Trump's going to throw a lot of Junk. Howard, I want to start with you. Frame for me in your own words and from your own perspective what you think the general election contrasts really are going to be between these two candidates.

Howard: Blake, we're 181 days from the general. I think it's 181 days of hand-to-hand combat. These two people are going to duke it out in a serious way. On some level, they're playing in Never Never Land. Hillary is running on a "never Trump" ticket. She's clearly, ever since he became the "presumptive nominee", she's come out of the gate strong on his temperament and his hotheadedness. I think they know the playbook they're running. For Trump, maybe it's a little ... Certainly there are a lot of people who are "never Hillary" people as well. I think maybe for him, he's a little more of his own person and on offense than she is. I think she's just going to beat him down at every turn on temperament and suitability for office.

I want to, Mark, before I throw it to you, certainly comments, questions, email us [email protected] I didn't get a chance to mention that before. Mark, your thoughts.


Two thoughts: what can we expect the ugliest election maybe since 1800 when Jefferson and Adams, two of the greatest men in American history, had their surrogates run an election entirely in the gutter. We may be down there again with this. I think we're likely to be, but secondly to your metaphor there, I agree. Hillary's strength is hitting fast balls. Trump is going to throw junk, and junk, and more junk. Two things about that: he's got to throw junk in the strike zone, and she's got to throw at strikes, not balls. If she is able to stand in the batter's box, and I think she will be, and not go chasing all of the junk that goes sailing over her head or comes right at her face, for that matter, I think she is going to prove to be the more stable and stronger candidate. If she starts swinging at the junk that he throws, she's in trouble.


It's going to be really, I think, a fascinating evolution over the course of the next several weeks as Hillary certainly winds down, I think, towards California and secures the majority of pledged delegates and begins her own transition to the general election. I think we got a comment in from somebody, and it's really the last thing that I want to touch on today, which is you have both said it is going to be a very nasty campaign. Civility seems to be on the back burner. We have seen that both in the democratic primary to a degree with protests and other things happening in that race, and certainly on the republican side as well. What I'm hearing from both of you is that it's not going to get any better any time soon. This is going to be a tough and difficult race.

The last question that I have before we wrap up is thinking down the ballot. Is it too early, Mark, to really begin thinking about the ramifications of Trump down the ballot? If not, what are you looking for?

Mark: I don't think it's too early at all. Certainly the down-ballot candidates are thinking about it. In your home state, Blake, of Arkansas, you have the democratic challenger already running an ad tying his opponent, the incumbent, to Trump's remarks on women.
Blake: He launched another one today.
Mark: It's a great ad, in my professional opinion. It's certainly not too early. It's already happening. What are the effects going to be? Look at Pennsylvania, for example. If Donald Trump can run within 2 or 3 points of Hillary Clinton, even if he doesn't win and he's down 2 or 3, Pat Toomey will get himself re-elected because he is a couple of points stronger than his challenger Katie McGinty. If Hillary Clinton beats Donald Trump by 5, 6, 7, 8 points, I think Pat Toomey's in a lot of trouble, because he's only 2 or 3 points better than Katie McGinty. That's going to play out all over the country.
Blake: Howard, what do you think? Is it too early to be thinking about down-ballot consequences? If not, what are you looking for?

Paul Ryan's clearly thinking about down-ballot consequences. I think anybody running for office is. They're war rooming this everyday. They're trying to figure out how to play it and how to move with the shifting political winds. Certainly as Mark has correctly pointed out in prior calls, the majority in the United States Senate has huge implications for things like who the next Supreme Court Justice will be. I guess my view is that a lot of what's happening here is the natural political order taking shape. I think as a country, we've been through an extraordinarily difficult time. I think to hearken back to my days at Treasury, no one's paid a political price yet for the agony that the country went through in 2008, 2009. What we're seeing now is that agony, that economic anger, as I said at the beginning, working itself out.

Look, the Senate may, I think likely will flip back to the democrats. The house probably won't, no matter what happens here, and Hillary Clinton's likely to be the next president. At the end of the day, I don't think that we're going to look back ... We're going to look back on the election as extraordinary because of the personality of the candidate on the republican side. I think we may well look back at this period as one where rather than bringing disorder to the political process, it ultimately brings back some order. It gives us an opportunity to do a reset, and the country moves on either way.

Blake: It's a great note to end on. I did want before we concluded our call, we're certainly grateful to everyone who has been able to listen in. Hopefully you continue to find these calls really insightful and rewarding. If not, you can blame me. We upload all of our content to the web, so you can find it at or at I did want to give a shout-out, Mark, to our good friend Adriana Klitch who has been listening, I think, to these calls since day one.
Mark: Seven for seven.
Blake: Seven for seven, so we're grateful. Thanks for listening. I didn't get to all your comments today, but I think my takeaway is I need to do better. I will do that. With that, guys, thanks Howard, thanks Mark, and thanks to everyone for listening.
Mark: Thanks to you, Blake.