2019年5月30日 星期四

On Politics With Lisa Lerer: The Split-Screen Primary

Presidential candidates are perfecting the art of talking to the media about impeachment, and of talking to voters about issues.
May 30, 2019
Evening Edition
Lisa Lerer Hi. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics. I’m Lisa Lerer, your host.
From The New York Public Library
In Washington, impeachment fever was spreading — fast. Within hours of Robert S. Mueller III’s statement on Wednesday, 10 Democratic presidential candidates had endorsed impeaching President Trump. More than 40 House Democrats said they supported opening an impeachment inquiry. The ground, pundits confidently declared, had officially shifted.
But about 500 miles south, Democratic primary voters hadn’t quite caught the bug.
As Senator Kamala Harris of California campaigned across South Carolina’s upstate, a local reverend asked her about expanding affordable housing. An education policy specialist, Cathy Stevens, questioned how Ms. Harris would ensure continued federal support for local after-school programs. And Sarah McHenry asked a question for her daughter, Molly, a high school sophomore in the midst of finals, who wanted to know what students could do to change the country’s gun policies.
Welcome to the split-screen primary.
In Washington, on cable news and in the bowels of Twitter, reporters and politicians deliberate the politics of impeachment. Everywhere else, Democratic voters seem far more interested in issues like health care, jobs and climate change.
That doesn’t mean Democratic primary voters don’t want to see Mr. Trump impeached — surveys show a vast majority of them support impeachment hearings. But for most Democrats who are interested enough in politics that they’re already engaged in the primary, the idea that the president did something wrong is almost a given. In a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, only 11 percent said the findings of the Mueller report would be their most important factor in deciding their vote for president.
And while the poll found that voters were split on how quickly Democrats should pursue impeachment, that divide won’t matter much come Election Day: Seventy percent of Democrats said they would definitely vote for a congressional candidate who wants to move to impeach Mr. Trump.
Even the questions voters asked Ms. Harris that touched on impeachment were less about whether to prosecute Mr. Trump and more about how to expand support for doing so.
Sheila Jackson, a Democratic activist from Greenville, S.C., explained to Ms. Harris how she sits outside Senator Lindsey Graham’s office every week, protesting the South Carolina Republican’s support of Mr. Trump.
Those efforts seem to have little impact, she said.
“How do you break through that?” she asked, her voice rising in frustration. “We’re there every Tuesday, 12 to 1. We want to make a big difference. Can we fight that?”
From The New York Public Library
Ms. Harris explained her support for impeachment, before pivoting back to the election at hand.
“What we have right now is a failure of leadership, and this is about, then, our ability to fight for democracy,” she said. “As you are putting your talents and your energy into fighting for our democracy, think about a reality, which is that elections matter.”
“And we’ve got a big election coming up in 2020,” she added.
Campaign aides say they’ve developed a strategy to deal with the bifurcated nature of the race: Deliver the candidate before the cameras to make a statement or two about the latest Trump-related drama, then focus events and local media coverage on the issues Democratic voters seem more interested in.
That’s exactly what Ms. Harris did on Wednesday afternoon.
As social media exploded with talk of impeachment, Ms. Harris promised to use executive actions to implement gun control measures. As talking heads on cable news wondered whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi could keep her restive caucus patient, Ms. Harris touted her plan to increase teacher pay. And as commentary declared impeachment “the song of the summer,” Ms. Harris described how she’d use the Department of Justice to block abortion restrictions that don’t comply with Roe v. Wade.
As she walked out of a morning meet-and-greet in Anderson, S.C., a woman shouted out a question about her views on impeachment. Ms. Harris didn’t stop to answer.
That would be saved for the cable news cameras waiting outside her next stop.
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Send us your predictions!
On Monday we asked readers to send us their predictions for what will happen with the 2020 field this summer. We still want to hear from you: email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com, include your name and home state, and we may feature your prediction in the newsletter next week.
The real stars of Beto’s Senate run
Our colleague Isabella Grullón Paz watched the new HBO documentary on Beto O’Rourke and sent us this mini review:
HBO’s documentary, “Running With Beto,” came out this week. It follows Beto O’Rourke’s Texas Senate campaign, and the reason I kept watching it wasn’t for Mr. O’Rourke at all — who came off as arrogant and annoyed in most of the scenes where he wasn’t in front of a crowd, and eventually apologized to his staff — but for the volunteers and people around him.
In the way the documentary was framed, their unparalleled hope felt greater than Mr. O’Rourke’s desire to win. It was their desire for change that carried his campaign.
The documentary was more about how a localized political movement is driven than about a rising-star candidate; more about filling a need than the person who fills it. It made the argument that the centerpiece of Mr. O’Rourke’s campaign in Texas was what he represented — a change from the current leadership.
And it made it hard to imagine how that campaign’s energy could translate to a national stage when you’re up against 22 people with a similar message.
What to read tonight
Would I have my children have surgery here?” Secret audio recordings, obtained by The Times, provide an unfiltered look inside a children’s hospital where doctors warned that patients seemed to fare poorly after heart surgery.
A review of Galaxy’s Edge, Disneyland’s “Star Wars” expansion — the biggest in the park’s history.
In The New Yorker, a food critic explores what happens when the chefs behind “North America’s most hedonistic restaurant” get sober.
… Seriously
Maybe bipartisanship isn’t dead?
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