Monday, October 10, 2016

OPINION - Shields and Gerson 10/7/2016

"Shields and Gerson on the 2005 Trump tape, Russian hacking and the upcoming debate" PBS NewsHour 10/7/2016


SUMMARY:  With the only vice-presidential debate over and the second presidential one just ahead, it's the home stretch of the election -- and it's full of surprises.  Judy Woodruff talks to syndicated columnist Mark Shields and The Washington Post's Michael Gerson about the 'enthusiasm gap,' whether the new video of Trump threatens his support among evangelicals, Russian hacking, Sunday's debate and more.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  It's also the moment we turn to the analysis of Shields and Gerson.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson.  David Brooks is away.

Gentlemen, welcome.

So, there was a lot of news that we learned about late this afternoon that has to do with this campaign.

But, Mark, I do want to start quickly with a question about Georgia.  The very fact — and you heard to some of the voters we talked to — the very fact that a state that Mitt Romney won by eight points four years ago, where it's close — I mean, it's still uphill for Hillary Clinton, but it's close because of what we talked about.

MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist:  Yes.

No, it is.  Defined — the interviews defined the enthusiasm gap.  It isn't just on one side.  It's on both sides.  There's minimal excitement.  And, for Hillary Clinton, I think what came through in your piece is, it's not a question of the percentage of the African-American vote, in addition trying to get 30 percent of the white vote, but it's numbers.

She could get high percentages, but if you don't get numbers in the turnout — but the hope, obviously, is that Georgia can move eventually, if not this time, into the category of Virginia, North Carolina, states that have changed; Colorado, and Nevada.


MICHAEL GERSON, The Washington Post:  Yes.

I think that the Republican fear is exactly the Virginia example.  When Barack Obama won it in his first term, it was the first time Virginia had gone Democratic since 1964.

MARK SHIELDS:  That's right.

MICHAEL GERSON:  And now it's not even close.  It's because — Hillary Clinton is ahead by about eight points in Virginia.

The state has gotten more diverse; more Hispanics and Asians, more college-educated people.  It's gone in a certain direction that I think Republicans fear for a couple of these states that region.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, as we said at the outset, there’s been a blizzard of news late this afternoon, Mark, starting with the Obama administration naming Russia, saying high officials in Russia were behind these hacks against the Democratic Party and other Democratic figures.

Then you had WikiLeaks coming out soon after with information about John Podesta, who is Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, and some e-mailed exchanges over nuclear energy, and then the Washington Post story, which I think I want to start with that, essentially releasing the audiotape — and you heard it in John Yang’s report — showing — videotape showing Donald Trump’s lewd remarks about women about 10 years ago.

MARK SHIELDS:  Judy, let’s get one thing straight. This is not locker room talk. This is not a preteen, adolescent finding dirty words.

This is a 60-year-old man being obscene, obscene toward — in discussing women, boasting, bragging in the worst and most offensive way.

And I just think the political implications are profound.  Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican in New Hampshire, has said she would vote for Donald Trump, but will not endorse him.  In a debate this past week, she was asked, do you consider Donald Trump to be an appropriate role model for the children of New Hampshire?  “Absolutely” was the end of her answer, was immediately pounced on.  She apologized.  Cut a spot.

Every Republican candidate in the country who is in a competitive race is going to be asked in the next week, whether in a debate or where else, by opponents or by the press, do you consider Donald Trump to be an appropriate role model for the children of our state?

And it just — as far as the women’s vote you just reported on in Georgia, it makes it so, not simply difficult.  It makes it almost impossible for somebody with self-respect, who has a mother or sister or a daughter, you know, somebody like this in Abraham Lincoln’s chair.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Michael, how do you assess this?

MICHAEL GERSON: Well, I think the problem here is not just bad language, but predatory language, abusive language


MICHAEL GERSON:demeaning language.

That indicates something about someone’s character that is disturbing, frankly, disturbing in a case like this.  And I think evangelicals have a particular problem right now.  I mean, they are the people who argued, many of whom, leaders, argued that character counts during the Bill Clinton years.

And now character apparently doesn’t count at all.  So, I think there’s a deep tension here.

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