Road to the Oval Office: Live at the DNC – Day Two/July 26

Live from Philadelphia, Mark Alderman, Blake Rutherford and Howard Schweitzer recap Michelle Obama's speech and provide an update on developments they foresee unfolding on day two of the Democratic National Convention (July 26).

Howard: Mark, it's day 2 of the convention. That means, 1 down, 3 to go. Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman coming to live from Philadelphia and 1 down, 3 to go. Yesterday was an interesting day.

Mark: Yesterday began really differently than it ended.

Howard: It really did.

Mark: It was a 180 from morning to night. It was a mess.

Howard: I mean, the city was crazy yesterday with the protests, far more than you and I saw in Cleveland.

Mark: Far more. It was crazy. It wasn't violent.

Howard: No.

Mark: It was very peaceful, but it was loud and it was edgy.

Howard: Everywhere.

Mark: Everywhere, everyone was on edge. There was Debbie. There was Bernie. There was Hillary and everyone was on edge until Michelle Obama started speaking.

Howard: Right. I think she gave an amazing speech. She gave an amazing speech. Cory Booker gave an amazing speech. There were a bunch of them.

Mark: Well, there were a bunch of them, but I believe that Michelle's speech was one for the ages.

Howard: Yeah.

Mark: First and foremost, the speech was just soaring and inspirational, talking about her daughters and living in a house built by slaves. It was an extraordinary, but what it accomplished in that building was also absolutely amazing. That building was edgy. Bernie and his people were trying to figure out which way to go with it. She came out, everyone, everyone, sat down. Everyone listened. Everyone respected and admired. I think it's not an exaggeration to say that she picked up the convention and moved it out of harm's way and then Bernie gave a lot different speech than Ted Cruz.

Howard: Well, he had to. We had to.

Mark: I think with a little luck, we're on our way.

Howard: Look, she said some things. People have said all the things that she said before, including her, but in that context, they were powerful and the thing that she said about no one has to make America great again. America is already great. That's an undercurrent, to me, running through, not just the democratic side of the aisle through the Republic, through my side of the aisle, through the center. People are sick and tired, yeah, the hardcore Trump supporters think America needs to be made great again. They like wearing their hats. You know I'm not on the Trump train, but people love this country. Not to sound hokey on our little podcast here, but somebody needs to say that.

Mark: It's not hokey.

Howard: Somebody needs to say that.

Mark: It's patriotic and it's how most Americans feel.

Howard: I think it is.

Mark: Not withstanding our challenges. I think that the contrast, and I'm going to do my usual stipulation, of course I'm artisan, but trying to walk down the middle of the road, just contrast the speeches. The Democratic bench when it comes to making speeches is the major leagues. The Republicans are in the Cape Cod league or single A ball. Look at who spoke and look at who spoke here and I would very, very proud to be a Democrat last night. Cory Booker and Senator Warren, even feeling the burn a little and the first lady, and that was Monday night.

Howard: Right. My point is, it was a night to be proud to be an American.

Mark: Right. Agreed. Agreed.

Howard: I think that's different and that's not what we heard in Cleveland, which was all about a guy. I think a lot of people wanted to say what she said last night in Cleveland, but they couldn't say it.

Mark: Right.

Howard: It was inconsistent with what it says on the hat.

Mark: Again, forget for a moment who you're for or who you're against. The strategy of the Trump campaign is unarguably to sell fear and to sell worry and to sell anxiety. He needs to make his people afraid and then he needs to close the sale by, I am your voice and he's going to fix everything. That is not the message of the Democratic party and way beyond that, and I'm going directly to your point, that I don't think that's how most Americans feel when they walk out the door in the morning. That's not the country that most people live in.

Howard: Yeah, neither though is the country that Bernie Sanders tried to portray this country as during the course of his campaign and gosh, he's been neutered. He had to do what he did last night. He had to. There's no way he could get up there and leave Hillary dangling. He cannot have electing Donald Trump on his hands.

Mark: I'm going to disagree with you. He could have done a Ted Cruz. Now, I didn't think he would. I didn't think his legacy would be electing Donald Trump. I never thought he wanted to be Ralph Nader. I thought that in addition to doing what he had to do if he didn't want to be Ralph Nader, I thought he gave a great speech. I thought his endorsement of her was exceptionally well done because, let's be frank about what he did do and he didn't do. He didn't say, "This is the most wonderful person you're ever going to meet." What he said is, "She believes this and so do we. She believes that and so do we." He tied her to his issues and I thought it was a victory speech. He declared victory for the insurgent Sanders' campaign because the nominee is standed by the positions that he and his people worked so hard for and it felt persuasive.

Howard: Yeah. I guess the other observation I would make, just after day 1 is, gosh, there are a lot of people that don't like her and there are a lot of people running around Philadelphia right now that don't like her. She's going to be the next President. We have a choice of 2 people and she's more qualified to be President in my humble opinion, but you can't have a conversation with most people running around Philadelphia right now without hearing, "I really don't like her, but what choice do we have?"

Mark: The numbers speak for themselves. She is upside down in her popularity and even, the highly part is in Democrat isn't going to deny that. I do think that it could get a little better by Thursday night. She's going to have President Clinton, the first President Clinton, talking about her and her entire career of helping children and women. She's going to have Michelle's husband speaking tomorrow night. She's going to have the Vice President speaking tomorrow night, and then it's her turn. No, she isn't going to turn her numbers right side up and no, she isn't going to all the sudden become a beloved and trusted figure, but I do think she can get them going in the right direction if she can rise to the occasion. Her speech is going to matter and the interesting dynamic is, the bar is being set really high for her.

Howard: I think it's tough. I think it's going to be anticlimactic on some level. Obama, President Clinton and here comes Hillary.

Mark: Maybe.

Howard: It's a much easier ticket, by the way, just for those people who are listening and who aren't here. I think Thursday is going to be a much easier ticket to get then today or tomorrow.

Mark: Wednesday, we have, of course, the President and the Vice President and for those of you who weren't following this at home, Martin O'Malley will be speaking at 7 pm and ...

Howard: Awesome.

Mark: I hope everybody gets home from work early and can tune in.

Howard: Yeah, that's terrific.

Mark: I've been walking around. I have it right here. I've been walking around with my O'Malley badge and when people start complaining about Hillary, Howard, as you correctly observed, a lot of people are, just show them my O'Malley badge and say, "I tried to tell you people there is a better way to do this." 7 pm, O'Malley and then the President and the Vice President and yeah, Thursday night, she needs Thursday night not to be a dud. That's on her and I have some optimism about her speech.

Howard: Look, it's a likability thing. It's not a competence question. Nobody questions her intelligence or competence. It's a likability problem. Maybe you can change that in the speech.

Mark: I think we have to step back from the personality, which, we all know is imperfect and we got to recognize that history is being made. It is a historic moment when she accepts that nomination and I think if she can tap into the energy of the history that she is making, I think there could be some real enthusiasm.

Howard: I agree with you on the history, but I think that her problem is not personality. Her problem is her own history and how she got to this point. I agree with you, it's historic. I think you're right. There is that opportunity to tap into the energy of being the first woman nominated to be President of the United States by a major party. It's amazing, but it's years and years of baggage and I don't know that you overcome that in a speech.

Mark: It's tough to re-introduce yourself to the American people if you're Hillary Clinton.

Howard: Right.

Mark: She has been introduced for decades on both sides of the aisle and it's going to be hard for her to change too much of that, but I do think if she taps into the energy of the history, it can be a good night and I do want to point out, as we wind up here, look who we're not talking about. So far, I'm going to violate what I'm about to say. We could have gone the entire call without saying the word, "Email," but I just said it because we're not talking about Debbie Wasserman Schultz. We're not talking about DNC emails. I think it is a real testament to the unity and the resiliency of this party that we got past that in a day.

Howard: Look. The key, forget about the convention. I think the key to this campaign, the key for Hillary to win in November, they got to have a battle plan, which they do, and they've got to execute it every day and they can't get thrown off by the distractions. The Debbie Wasserman Schultz DNC fiasco was a huge distraction. I think they stayed disciplined. They didn't go crazy and get sidetracked and get off message and lose focus. They have a battle plan. There are going to be moments ... Saturday is 100 days from November 8th. There are going to be moments in the next 104 days, or whatever it is, where it's going to look like he could be elected President of the United States.

Mark: Today is one of those moments, by the way.

Howard: She has got to be disciplined. The campaign has got to be disciplined. If they do that, she is going to win. There are going to be days where that's going to be very tested. I think yesterday was one of those days.

Mark: Yep.

Howard: We'll see what the next 3 days brings, but ...

Mark: She's passed the test twice now. She passed the test after the New Hampshire primary where Bernie just cleaned her clock and it would have been easy to hit the panic button like she did in 08 and rip apart her campaign. She stayed together, went to Nevada and won and just marched to the nomination and she held it together yesterday. It would have been easy yesterday for the wheels to come off.

Howard: Yeah, exactly.

Mark: They stayed together. They were decisive and you're right. There are going to be many days, as many as a hundred days, where it looks like either of them could win this thing.

Howard: I know we've got to close, but it was the hopefulness in that hall last night versus the doom and gloom and everything is bad that you could feel last week in Cleveland. I think that's a winning formula.

Mark: Right.

Howard: Morning in America. I think that's a winning formula. That's their formula and by the way, they've got some pretty good messengers as you were saying earlier; Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton. It's going to be tough to beat them if they continue that and I think we'll see more of that tonight.

Mark: I'll look forward to it. Okay. That's a wrap.


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Mark L. Alderman


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