5 Questions Ahead Of The Democratic National Convention
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / August 17, 2020
The Democratic convention, which begins Monday, will be a more widespread TV production than past years. How will that affect the Democrats' message against President Trump?
Speaker 1: 00:00 A convention like no other, we've seen variations of that headline everywhere as the democratic national convention kicks off this evening, not from a big crowded arena in Milwaukee, but mostly with remote speeches due to the pandemic, joining me to discuss how it figures to go down and what it means. Our Carl Luna political science professor at Mesa college and will Rodriguez Kennedy chair of the San Diego County democratic party. Welcome to your both.
Speaker 2: 00:25 Thank you for having me. Good to be here, Carl.
Speaker 1: 00:27 Really a convention like no other sure. There's not going to be the big crowd in the arena and the reporters with headphones wandering about, but political conventions have been all TV affairs for a long time. Right?
Speaker 2: 00:38 That's true a Mark, but this is a different sort because it's going to be a social media event. It's going to be virtual and it's oddity might actually help it to attract viewers to it. Plus the intensity of this campaign. Otherwise it would be another whole hum regular let's get out the troop sort of event. And what do you expect?
Speaker 1: 00:55 I think it will look like when you tune in tonight or anybody tunes in
Speaker 2: 01:00 The, what the Democrats don't want it to look like is something you'd get at three o'clock in the morning as an infomercial, they're trying to figure out a way to make it kind of a lively event with lots of videos and then a powerhouse speakers coming in, uh, to try to attract people. It could well be that in a summer where there hasn't been a lot of new programming. This might be interesting enough to get audience participation up
Speaker 1: 01:20 And, uh, Carla Biden, Harris tickets head by double digits over Trump Pence and the Washington post poll today. CNN has got a poll of polls out there up nine points. That's a Biden and Harris can we expect to post-convention bump on either side this year, given the circumstance
Speaker 2: 01:37 You typically do see a post-convention bump of a couple of points, which will put them in the, the Biden Harris ticket. The farthest I head at this point in the campaign that we've ever seen, but do remember Michael Dukakis in 88 was close to this level of being ahead any bad fall did him in and
Speaker 1: 01:54 Well, tell us a about the lineup now, who are we expected to hear from?
Speaker 2: 01:58 You're going to expect to hear from my lot of very common names, you're going to see some of the leaders of the party, some of the, uh, ponens, uh, of the in, during the primary who are going to be speaking. Uh, obviously, uh, the big event is the, the, the presidential nominee and the vice presidential nominee. So Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. Uh, but you'll hear from, uh, the AOC is of the world as well as the Elizabeth Warren's, uh, and the Andrew Yang's. Um, so it's going to be a wide, a wide spectrum of the party. What you'll also hear surprisingly is a number of Republicans. So John Casick for, uh, from Ohio, for example, is speaking at a democratic national convention, which is sort of controversial for the, for the, on the democratic side. But my, but does show that the party is looking to broaden the amount of people who would, who would be interested in our ticket.
Speaker 1: 02:50 So Keisha of course, former a Republican governor of Ohio, as you mentioned from Ohio, um, is that gonna maybe anger some of the, that wing of the party because, uh, uh, Alexandra Ocasio Cortez gets all of one minute, uh, in the schedule I looked at.
Speaker 2: 03:06 Yeah, it was not, it would not be a decision I would have made, um, but I'm from California. So I'm trying to see, I'm trying to be, uh, understanding that we live in, in a, in a state that is very progressive. Um, and so the, the, the audience is not necessarily California. The audience is places like Ohio, and that is a name that would be recognizable to an Ohio voter, whether or not it will be, uh, it will split or be divisive among our party. That's definitely something that we've seen. I'm not particularly happy about it, but the audience is the American people who are voting in places like Ohio, Florida, et cetera,
Speaker 1: 03:43 And a well Biden's scheduled to accept the party nomination Thursday night, the last night of the convention, what's the democrats' message going to be. Besides four more years of Trump would be disastrous?
Speaker 2: 03:54 Well, it seems like the, the messages that, uh, that we want to build back better, I believe is what, uh, they've been saying from the Biden campaign. And so what you will likely see is, uh, Joe Biden, who comes from, uh, you know, Pennsylvania sort of working class background, that's the voter. I think that they're trying to target, they're trying to target the people who, uh, switched to Trump from Obama in the 2016 election. Uh, we're talking about working places, class places like Ohio and Pennsylvania, but people who have been left behind by this economy and who are still left behind by the economy that has been built by Trump, uh, which is made worse by the COVID-19 crisis and his failure to manage that properly.
Speaker 1: 04:38 And Carl, we've got president Trump's going to campaign this week through various battleground States, trying to take away as much as they'll have the limelight and the news cycle as he can, as the Democrats have their convention. But, uh, what are the Democrats have to do to get that message across? I mean, maybe one advantage of doing this all remotely is you're not going to have any disruptions on the floor. As we saw in 2016 with the Bernie bros, not really keen on Hillary Clinton's nomination
Speaker 2: 05:06 Over that. You're not going to have the protests outside the convention hall. I think the democratic nightmare would have been a repeat of Chicago 1968 because the Trump campaign is running on it. This was the most socialist left wing candidacy ever. And they're going to be the Republicans, the party of law and order. What the Democrats have to do is grab the narrative. They have to show why there's the case for getting rid of Donald Trump. They're going to spend a lot of time on that tonight. Kamilah Harris is basically going to be their prosecutor and cheap, but more importantly, they have to show you to be a party. Uh, and that's the issue like you're going to bring on a John Casey, you've got to reach out to anybody who wants to see a change in America. The democratic party has to present itself as the home of the never Trumpers. The Republicans to the Bernie Sanders, progressive is on the left. And that's a difficult group to get into the same room. If any of those groups show up on election day for the Democrats, Biden has a chance of losing. So they need party unity. They need a strong message and they have to introduce the candidates. And hopefully I have no coupons.
Speaker 1: 06:06 And meanwhile, how speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to call the house back into session this week, which is extraordinary, given that not only is it summer hiatus, but they've got their own convention going on, but the concern is over president Trump's plans to overhaul the postal service potential impact on the election. Uh, I'll, I'll throw this out as a jump off question, Carl first, uh, is that going to be a big focus at the convention?
Speaker 2: 06:30 The Democrats should jump on that because the narrative the Republicans are gonna create is in their head on election night, before Malin ballots are counted, and then they lose it in the mail in battle pallets and solve fraud. The present solution is oddly enough is to people in the post office, which I'm comparing the burning down a bank to stop a robbery from occurring there, Democrats have an opportunity to hold the administration accountable and put the Republicans on the defensive going into the convention. So probably president Trump will just ignore it and keep on trying to grab the headlines. The reality is, is that president Trump has taken an unusual attempt to, or the unusual strategy of undermining our democratic institutions and also undermining things like the post office, which millions of Americans, particularly older Americans depend on for all sorts of things. From getting checks to social security, to correspondence with their families, him defunding the U S P S is, is, uh, to, I don't know, uh, make it harder for people to vote by mail is a threat to the Republic. And frankly, the fact that he's doing that should be concerning for any Republican who think, who values American democracy. So that is something we should be talking about. We should absolutely hold the president accountable. Uh, but I mean, I don't want to get hyperbolic, but that is a treasonous act to like undermine the Democrat, the democracy of this country.
Speaker 1: 07:52 Okay. Briefly at the end here, I wanted to ask you both and we'll start with will on this one. Uh, what are you looking for specifically during the convention this week, as you watch,
Speaker 2: 08:01 I am looking to see some inspiration come out of this ticket. Um, I am of the faction of the party who supported Senator Bernie Sanders. I'm a pledged delegate for Senator Sanders in going into this convention. So I'm looking for something to, to invigorate this ticket that is more than the anti-Trump ticket. We, we, we have to, as a party, communicate to our voters that it's not just a vote against Trump, although that should be, that should be enough considering that he is threatening the future of our Republic, but also why it is better to vote for the democratic party, how our policies will help lift the middle class, the working class and the middle class and how we will hold accountable, uh, the wealthy and well-connected who have run this country into a debt. So that's what I'm looking for. I'm hopeful to get it. Um, and I go in with some cautious optimism, uh, but I also go into this, knowing that last time I went into a convention, we were pretty confident that we were going to win the election. And this time I'm not so confident, we will have to fight to make sure that Trump is not reelected in 2020.
Speaker 3: 09:05 And Carl, what are you looking for specifically this week? I'm looking for, uh, from a democratic perspective, uh, that just, just what will was saying, what's the big message that they will take into the fall campaign. Remember the old adage, you run on three things, you're lucky to get two done. So what's going to be the centerpiece when you cut through the platform beyond just anti-Trump and also the big, the morning in America message, uh, how Democrats want to restore America. Uh, we're better than this. That's sort of a message. Can they deliver on that? Meanwhile, from a Republican perspective, you've gotta be looking to see what full pause thing, but did he create, what is that moment that you can grab on and run endlessly on ads between now and November, if neither of those happen, it'll just be another normal little convention. And then we see what the Republicans come up with next week. I've been speaking with Carl Luna political science professor at Mesa college and will Rodriguez Kennedy chair of the San Diego County democratic party. Thanks very much. Thank you. Thank you, KPBS. We'll bring, you NPRs live special coverage of the democratic national convention that starts tonight. 6:00 PM here on KPBS.