Live from music row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Leahy was joined on the newsmakers line by longtime friend and Iowan Attorney, Jim Larew to discuss the current climate on the Democratic Presidential field in Iowa.
Nearing the end of the segment, Larew and Leahy deliberated Pete Butitigieg’s sudden rise in position and whether or not that would translate with non-white voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. Larew analyzed his campaign by stating, ‘He’s doing good advertising on TV. It’s a moderate approach, they’re attractive and articulate. And it’s a generational thing, right? Each of these people has a certain segment of the electorate that they’re particularly strong with. And his is generational with an attractive appeal.’
Leahy: Welcome Jim, good morning!
Larew: Well that was a penetrating interview and she zeroed in on the right questions. (Leahy laughs) Who of the two of us were cleaning the room and you confessed that neither of us was.
Leahy: It wasn’t me.
Larew: Honored I thought.
Leahy: No. So you and I are going to be broadcasting live. You’re going to be hosting my little trip up there this Friday I will be broadcasting from the storied studios of WHO radio where Ronald Reagan got his start. You’ll be joining me there from 6 am to 8 am.
Then we’re going to go to a little restaurant nearby. You are going to sort of ‘hold court’ shall we say with your Democratic and local friends. And I’m going to learn a lot. And then that night, what’s that dinner and big event they call it?
Larew: Liberty and Justice.
Leahy: Used to be Jefferson Jackson. But now it’s Liberty and Justice. There’s what 18, 19 democratic presidential candidates there?
Larew: Yeah. It’s unclear to me whether all of them will appear. But probably not because there is a certain internal party threshold because they have to buy voter lists to help finance the party. Not a great burden but some of them haven’t ponied up. So I don’t think they’ll all be appearing on the stage. But enough of them will be there to make us feel we’ve had our money’s worth I think.
Leahy: I think Donna Brazile was very insightful into our college-era habits of house cleaning. They weren’t very good at all. As I recall this would have been again, a long time ago. 44 years ago Jim. How did you get that old? I didn’t, I know you have but I haven’t. (Leahy laughs)
Larew: I’m still 39.
Leahy: It was the summer of 1975. You and I were undergraduates at Harvard. And you were working that summer for Senator John Culver. The late Senator John Culver in Washington. And I think you’re the one that got this little house that we rented in I think it was Arlington, Virginia.
And there were two other guys who were there. One of the other guys was John Masteller who’s dad had a John Deere dealership in the Des Moines area and went onto great success in law and now is general counsel for a Catholic college in California. Do you remember our landlady? She was a very tough ex-military person.
Larew: She was. And she really got us into shape. I have to give her credit. She didn’t take any abuse order. She came in for regular unannounced inspections. And we were frightened of her. (Leahy chuckles)
Leahy: One time she came in and she did an inspection and she kind of brought us all in and said, ‘Now, I looked at the beds and one of them didn’t have any sheets.’ And I think it was me. But I blamed our other roommate, John Masteller the guy who’s now at a Catholic college in California. I blamed Jim. I’m sticking with that story.
Larew: We can blame John because he’s not here to defend himself. (Leahy laughs) But a great person and we enjoyed spending the summer with him.
Leahy: Yeah, exactly. Now all of 44 years later, you and I are going to reunite on Thursday night when I fly in. I’m covering not only for the Tennessee Star but for Breitbart. I’ve got my credentials for the Liberty and Justice event that evening and will be reporting for Breitbart from Des Moines.
But I’m going to fly in and we’ll have dinner on Thursday night in Des Moines. And you’re going to lay out the land for me and be the ambassador for this now conservative from Tennessee to the Democratic world of Iowa. You’re a brave man Jim.
Larew: Well, you’ll enjoy the spectacle. It really has come to that. This ends up being an important springboard for some candidacies. And others reveal the fact that they aren’t very strong. They’re all in the same room and outside the convention hall, they build up these demonstrations of support with signs and yelling and whatever. And they all take it seriously. The campaigns do anyway. It’s raucous.
Leahy: Jim, over the weekend big news. The American forces mounted a military operation that led to the death of the ISIS leader, Al Baghdadi. Now some of the Democratic contenders for President and Nancy Pelosi were not 100% complimentary of the President (Chuckles) in their public remarks. how is it playing out over the weekend up there in Iowa? How do Iowans respond to that news?
Larew: Well, I doubt it’s going to have a large impact on the election of the political process. It’s an odd moment. One the public wasn’t as aware of Al Baghdadi as they have been of other notorious terrorists as we would view them. Adversaries. So I’m not sure that the plus is there.
Two, I would say that President Trump appears at least to Democrats not to be very gracious either in defeat or victory. And the way that he presented this was interpreted as partisan and adversarial. That to me seems like a missed opportunity.
If you’re a Trump supporter you would hope those moments like this as bringing the country together and building coalitions and broadening support. My own view is that in his remarks is that he missed that opportunity and so made it into a partisan going back and forth.
Leahy: So Jim, is that your view? Or is that something also that you see echoed in the Democratic operatives. Or rank and file Democrats that you speak within Iowa. I don’t know. It just happened over the weekend so you may not have had a lot of interaction.
Larew: Exactly. It happened during a lull in the news cycle and we haven’t had much fresh material here. My guess is that most Democrats will express support for the military effort which seemed to be a very deft use of force and technology and surveillance and that kind of thing.
It may throw into question again President Trump’s rather precipitous decision to remove troops from Syria and whether these kinds of operations had that been done a year ago as President Trump had hoped for, that you could pull off the same operation. But I think that most American elections, and I specifically think this one, are not determined on foreign policy.
Leahy: Yeah. I think you’re right about that. I miss the partisan element of the President’s statement. But I was busy. I just got the highlights. What did he say that you struck you and other Iowan’s perhaps as partisan in his comments?
Larew: I didn’t see the live press conference so I’m taking clips. So it probably depends on what news source you’re watching.
Leahy: Exactly. That’s a very good point, Jim.
Larew: The second or third bounce which is where these things either grow into something beneficial or not as pointed that he informed foreign adversaries such as the Russians but didn’t inform intelligence committee members of the Congress who were Democrats. That’s a break of tradition. I don’t know if it’s law, but it’s a least a norm. His view that they could not be trusted.
Leahy: Yeah. Did he highlight that in his press conference or is that how the spin came out into the media? I didn’t catch it. I guess that’s neither here nor there. Let’s go on to the issue of Pete Buttigieg rising. You’re the first one that pointed that out, Jim. And now everybody else is pointing that out. You heard it here at the Tennessee Star Report first.
Larew: You can feel on the ground here. And I think that he’s going to rise or I think he’ll be the surprise if there is one, a dark horse coming out. Because there are some ingredients that might make it go. One of which is commented upon frequently and one not.
The one you hear people talking about is that he’s appealing to the Joe Biden moderates of the party who may be having second thoughts on whether Joe Biden would be the strongest contender on the ticket. But another one that I think is interesting are the younger and student votes.
I think there’s some potential here where right at the moment of the calendar. And there’s a little bump here that happens. The students re about to go home for Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks. I think these three weeks might be Buttigieg’s most important as he goes to campuses. Because they all go home and they talk to family members.
And a lot of enthusiasm from people, he gets them in concentrated numbers in 100’s and 1000’s at campus meetings and then they go home for Thanksgiving and talk about it at the dinner table at family gatherings. You can get a bump out of this caucus cycle just out of this Thanksgiving into the Christmas period. So I think that’s really a potential bump for him.
He’s doing good advertising on TV. It’s a moderate approach, they’re attractive and articulate. And it’s a generational thing, right? Each of these people has a certain segment of the electorate that they’re particularly strong with. And his is generational with an attractive appeal.
The downside to it is and why I say he won’t go anywhere particularly after Iowa, is that both Iowa and New Hampshire are so, shall we say, white if you’re talking demographically of the Democratic party. And he hasn’t shown the same kind of yet, compelling appeal to non-white voters. And then you’re talking the rest of the national groups which to appease which are say 20% are black.
It can happen. Obama didn’t really take off until this time around when he won Iowa and then he catapulted in South Carolina which to that point hadn’t been that attracted to him. So showing viability in Iowa or New Hampshire really has been critical in the Democratic party. Clinton is the only one in 1992 who didn’t win either Iowa or New Hampshire or both and still get the nomination.
That was an unusual year because each of those states had favorites. Tom Harkin an Iowa Senator was running in Iowa and he won that. I think people were deferential to him. And Paul Tsongas Massachusetts was also favored. But other than that year every Democrat party candidate has won either Iowa or New Hampshire or both. That remains to be seen whether that pattern will be kept or not.
Listen to the full second hour:
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