tv Newsmakers J.B. Poersch Senate Majority PAC CSPAN May 27, 2018 6:00pm-6:33pm EDT
our values, as awkward as it might be, as long as you have a champion for keeping integrated. >> watch afterwards, tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2's book tv. steve: joining us on "newsmakers," j.b. poersch , the president of the senate majority pac. anding us is david welgel, alexi mccammond, political reporter for axios.com. let me begin with the state you must win, florida. it will reportedly be not if the most expensive of the most , expensive senate races ever. are you prepared to put up the money necessary to keep bill nelson and the senate and how , much money are we talking about? mr. poersch: if it is the most expensive, it is because governor scott is going to be writing a lot of checks. they expect the race to be
competitive. i expect we will win there. i think frankly senator nelson's long-time service in the senate for florida makes him the favorite to start this race and that is where we are. it will probably take money to topple him in this environment but we have a better candidate. steve: he has considerably outspent even the past couple of months. mr. poersch: early on, governor scott spent $5.5 million in the past couple of weeks. he is notorious of spending $14 million in the last week last time he ran. we will have the resources we need to communicate and get the senator's message across. steve: with 26 democrats on the ballot this year, are you worried resources to florida would be taken
away from other states that are must wins? steve: -- mr. poersch: if you look at it, and our candidates for the most part, the exception being nelson, have raised more money than senate republican challengers. the the party committees, the dncc has more money than the rnc. it is a big map and you have to make decisions on this map but collectively i think we will have the resources we need . alexi: looking at wisconsin and tammy baldwin's race, outside conservative groups spent millions against her and attack ads pretty early on. what does that suggest to you about the race? mr. poersch: the republicans talked about wanting to beat tammy baldwin. i don't think they expected to see her in the senate six years ago and that
was certainly a big win then. she has been one of the big highlights for us this spring. she has a healthy lead right now. republicans going after her pretty rigorously and aggressively for four or five months. things have quieted down and it feels by virtue of yet another primary on their side, the focus seems to be going toward the republican primary and less about that race. tammy is in a good position to win. david: another question about money. generally, what was the reaction you heard among donors after $30 million was given to the republican's main house super pac? mr. poersch: there is no question money in the system is one reason you are seeing a backlash in congress.
people think this is the regular way of doing business. particular on the house side, the numbers that they are raising to paul ryan, $70 million for a super pac, $114 million for c4, those are astounding numbers. it says something about the system. david: have any donors been woken up by that? have you gone to them with that pitch because one thing i see with a lot of democratic donors, they have their own projects they prefer to fund. there has been a flowering the groups on the left that are asking for it. eric holder is asking for it. have donors come to you since the $30 million check, with a new attitude? mr. poersch: i represent a super pac with a significant foot print in democratic races in the senate. for us we have been out , raising in an apples to apples comparison our counterpart,
senator mcconnell's own super pac by a decent margin this whole time. a lot of it is the environment. yes, we are not just big donors. we have to get collectively from national donors all over the country, but what is also true is that the environment has a lot to do with our fundraising efforts right now and it feels like, as i have said, we will have
the resources we need. alexi: david mentioned tom stier. a billionaire democratic activist from california. we have primaries coming up on june 5. there is a pretty contentious race between senator dianne feinstein and kevin daly on. -- deleon. do you plan on getting involved in that primary fight? mr. poersch: our primary goal is to worry about the general election and the number of seats in the united states senate. i do not expect to play a role.
i do think you will see dianne feinstein get another term in the senate. david: let me ask you about hillary clinton after losing the 2016 election and the me too movement, will they be helpful to campaign for senate democrats this fall? mr. poersch: the clintons have always played a role in the campaigns and i will not be surprised then and now. that is usually a decision
that happens with campaigns and state efforts and i won't be surprised to see the clintons out there? steve: but do you think they will be helpful? mr. poersch: absolutely, and i still think starting with , president clinton and there being a record, there certainly continues to be a strong level of support for hillary clinton. i expect to see them out there and i think the clintons will always be helpful. david: i think one reason the
question is asked is because republicans have already been running ads digitally and on tv against hillary clinton, who is not running for anything. -- has your response to run against hillary and her comments. there is an effort by republicans every time the clintons say something off script. mr. poersch: it is a common and probably tired campaign tool, but things change and the irony is that republicans have been challenged by unpopular leaders in their own party and in these primaries. it won't surprise me to some extent in the general, it is popular republicans getting more talked about whether mitch mcconnell or paul , ryan. david: on that, how much do you want to run against mitch mcconnell? we saw in alabama last year a lot of unique factors, but the exit poll coming out of that was that republican voters were not fond of mitch mcconnell. is there any way to make the
election a leadership choice between democrats and mitch mcconnell? even in states where the president might be popular? mr. poersch: i think that question has two answers. one, he has shown himself to be so unpopular nationally because he is unpopular with both democrats and republicans, which is unusual. as a result, his leadership has been weakened and his ability to impact republican primaries have been undercut. as far as a national issue, it isn't so much mitch mcconnell as the leadership in washington and the leadership in congress. i think people are more and more telling us that this is a change election and they think the congress is broken and mitch mcconnell is very much part of that. alexi: how do you get trump supporters to vote for democrats? the way the map has
shown itself is we have 24 incumbent senators, 10 of them in states that trump ran, and i think it is actually a misnomer that our challenge is to win over trump supporters. quite distinctly our challenge , is to keep the trump supporters a democrat incumbents have. most democrat incumbents are leading their races. most of them have huge support from voters who voted for trump. we as a party in the senate are performing better with trump supporters than in 2016. we still have several months to go, but it is a good indicator this early. david: would you like to see former president obama taking a role raising money for democrats in between his meetings with netflix because we
, are talking about people who can raise money. a very long record of raising money. have you reached out to him? mr. poersch: i think traditionally the presidents have played a role where even when he was president, his fund-raising imprint came later rather than sooner. i am expecting the president will be helpful. steve: what state keeps you up at night? what worries you the most? mr. poersch: i think that i have to give this map its due that we have five incumbents in "deep red states" where donald trump won by more than an average of 27 points. i am both pleased and maybe a little surprised at how well we are performing this early, and i think part of it is because republicans have struggled not
only to get their base going, but also in recruiting quality candidates. those five states will be challenging. i also wouldn't be surprised to sweep all five of them. steve: the president's poll numbers are inching upwards, does that upset you? mr. poersch: inching is the right word. given how low his numbers have been we haven't seen significant ,improvement on the president's job approval. more to the point, the question of measuring the generic ballot. who are people most likely to vote for, democrat or republican that has , been a pretty consistent line where democrats have a comfortable lead. that is important going into a challenging map. steve: a number of polls show the majority of americans feel the country is financially economically moving , in the right direction. mr. poersch: there is still just
, as there was before the last election, a strong number of working families around the country that are trying their best to get ahead and looking for things to shake up. there is no level of holding back on the unhappiness about washington in general and there is a sense people want to see change in congress to david: some -- david: some republicans have talked about the supreme court this year, some wishful thinking kennedy will retire. in 2016, that was powerful motivating issue for republican voters. how do you think it would play out if there is a vacancy in the court this year? is there a way that would not hurt democrats? mr. poersch: honestly, that is hard to measure to the extent the court matters with voters. if there is a vacancy, i think
it will be part of the conversation. president trump at times has suggested he will fill as many as five supreme court seats. that hasn't happened, but we will take it day by day. alexi: senate republicans, whether the senate leadership fund for the candidates themselves are using trump is the best messaging strategy. they are either trying to be the most like trump or bring him up in their assets. it was the best messaging strategy for democrats in the cycle? mr. poersch: even in the states i talked about earlier were trump is popular and he won by large margins, there is very much a sense that this is a check and balance year and that people are looking for strong leaders that are willing to work with the president to show willingness to work on his agenda where it makes sense, but
at the same time, act as a voice for their individual states. what sensors like mention and tester and others do quite well. what i expect is, you will see republican -- democrats, and independent voters across the board looking for someone who is willing to stand up to the president when it means that we are putting voters interests first rather than partisan. alexi: when the president gets involved in these races like he did with senator tester, calling for him to resign, what did that mean for you and the senate majority pac? does that fire donors up, change your strategy? i was asked if senate democrats when we come out to dry after that situation? how does that change your job? mr. poersch: i think the specific has a very
challenge that we have had a set of special elections across the country. house races, the senate race in alabama, the virginia governor's race, several tests across the country and republicans have struggled over and over again to be able to show that their base is going to turn out in a significant way. that remains their challenge going into the election. there are two things that are true. you are seeing a democratic base that is more motivated. that gets a lot of attention. it gets less attention that despite all those strategic rallies three days before an election, that the president has been able to show much impact. he is clearly not on the ballot and hasn't proven himself able to improve turnout. steve: let me ask you about tennessee. it is an open seat, senate bob corker was asked about his support for marsha blackburn, saying he would vote for the republican nominee but
not campaign against the former democratic governor. how do you read that? mr. poersch: internally the , primary has demonstrated that situation where there is clearly some unrest and conflict between corker and their candidate marsha blackburn. we are lucky to have the former governor running. he is an established name in tennessee and a longtime successful governor. our own internal polling shows a lead to start, which is remarkable in a state that traditionally voted top to bottom -- >> how much of a lead? mr. poersch: a small lead in public polling's even more encouraging than that. david: when you talk about the small lead in polling, how would you -- how possible is it the democrats could take the senate this year and has that inched up or down in six months? mr. poersch: for me, what i want
out of this map and this election is for the environment and our opportunity to improve month-to-month. i think that has happened. we started the top of the cycle looking very much in the teeth of those -- for those 10 income -- incumbent races where we were in states where trump ran. by virtue of what you hear from senator mcconnell himself, several of those races seem to be treated by the republicans as hereto. whether that is wisconsin, ohio, michigan, pennsylvania, and minnesota. four of those fires have not seen significant or any resources on television yet from republicans. it is not early anymore in these races. for the fact that the republicans are acknowledging that we are going to fight for the majority over places like nevada and arizona and tennessee that is a , encouraging sign of where the
environment is and i hope it keeps heading that direction. alexi: did you have a follow-up? david: going back to the president. he has said he would like to showdown on spending in september over funding for the border wall. how would that play out if there is -- even a government shutdown that would be over the issue of immigration on this map? mr. poersch: the border wall remains unpopular nationally. david: nationally, but in these senate races? mr. poersch: in many senate races the wall is in , -- is particularly unpopular and even in red states. when you cut to the chase, most voters don't necessarily view the wall as coherent immigration policy. they are looking for something that is more comprehensive. this struggle that is happening with the republicans in congress right now in the senate, and particularly in the house gets
to the point. are we going to have a deep-seated comprehensive approach, or are we going to continue to rest on sloganeering to tackle the challenges of immigration? alexi: what have been effective strategies in past cycles that senate democrats need to break to be successful this year? mr. poersch: the truth is that while last cycle we picked up two seats, we wanted to me more successful in the senate. we wanted to be more successful at super majority pac and we have seen already in this cycle that we need to be a comprehensive approach to impact it. i think both at the presidential and senate level, our resources were behind communicating where the republicans are. in this cycle, we have made -- put our foot forward in terms of showing a real field effort.
in alabama, a state that is not normally a democratic stronghold we had a chance to be a part of an effort that knocked on 502,000 2000 doors -- doors and went to 1600 african-american businesses. having that kind of a field effort in red states is important. we are going to show up. alexi: of the 10 red state democratic senators, who is most vulnerable and who would be the least? mr. poersch: i think it is early enough to say this is still a math equation and those five states where the margins for the president last time were the biggest are where the focus is. i don't think it is about one or the other. it may break that way as we go and like i said earlier, i still wouldn't be surprised if all of the incumbents in those states won. steve: one of those is west virginia. are you encouraging don blankenship to run as a third-party candidate? we have had a fair
level of success from west virginia. not paying too much attention to blankenship and i felt a little sorry for mitch mcconnell and senate republicans because while all of their energy went into trying to push back in the primary and not allow don blankenship to win, they had another problem on their hands and that was the candidate that got nominated in attorney general moore's seat, a sessy a , former lobbyist who represented pharmaceuticals companies and opioid wholesalers in a state that is trying to get their hands around a growing problem. this is in the right candidate to put forward and it is likely manchin will remain senator. steve: i can already hear the ads based on that. mr. poersch: i think you'll see the advertising will match the message, yes. david: would you consider intervening in any of the primaries coming up?
i keep thinking of arizona, one where there is a moderate seeming candidate who has been running to the right where there are two , conservative challengers. there has been some success in the past of pacs trying to boost or lower somebody. mr. poersch: i don't know and i don't think we will intervene in republican primaries. that said, we won't necessarily sit around for a coronation, either. in these states where republicans are telling us who they are likely to nominate, we won't necessarily wait. in the case of wisconsin and arizona, we are looking at primaries in the end of august, right before labor day. if the way these break there is one candidate who shows it self, we may not wait to find who the candidates really are. alexi: what are senate republicans or candidates or groups doing really well this cycle? mr. poersch: they are personalizing and after the
last election, it is alarming to many democrats around the country not to be seen as they have been traditionally as a champion for working americans. i think our senate incumbents and candidates as a whole have been working very succinctly to tell their stories. whether it is tammy baldwin, who told them brave story of her mother's longtime fight with drug abuse. of several of our other candidates being able to go back and say, look, this is why this fight is important. this is why i am going to work for you. steve: this past in the oval thursday office, there is a picture of senator heidi heitkamp with the president as he sighed the dodd frank reform bill. part of her strategy was to say i support donald trump?
mr. poersch: i think senate incumbents and candidates as a whole are willing to say they are voters who recognize the expectation there are times they need to work with the president and want to work at the president. at the same time, they will stand up for their interest. that might look like having fights with the president about health care costs that are rising quickly and are out of control, it is about stagnant wages that haven't gotten better despite the president's promises. those kind of fights and arguments, we will have those. alexi: thinking in that same line, how much of a headache is this for you and what you are doing this cycle when impeachment comes up? the opposite of showing willingness to work with the president. tom stier is getting involved in primaries, endorsing
kevin deleon in california what does that do to the work you are doing? mr. poersch: really and truly greasy with the voters has a at is much more of a higher level , of concern about protecting this federal investigation that is happening and prosecutor moeller's ability to see this through. this is about standing up for the rule of law. this is not a conversation about impeachment. this is about allowing for a legal process that our constitution ensures and some on the republican side are trying to undermine. alexi: should democrats even talk about impeachment? mr. poersch: i think the focus has to be in seeing through this process. steve: final question on this memorial day weekend, what will the numbers look like after the election in november for senate democrats and senate republicans? mr. poersch: i think we very much have the opportunity for improvement.
i certainly think our chances have improved in the last five months. i believe that democratic enthusiasm you have seen and read about so much is real and we are optimistic. steve: no number check? mr. poersch: no numbers yet. steve: the president of the senate majority pac, thanks for joining us on "newsmakers." mr. poersch: thank you. steve: we continue our conversation with two political reporters, david welgel and alexi mccammond . u.s. about democratic bad habits, why? alexi: i'm curious to know what lessons they've learned from past cycles to adjust their strategy. i thought it was interesting that he mentioned digital. that is what i hear from democrats across the board when i asked, what are republicans better than democrats at doing? they all say in always say in
addition to raising money, digital strategy and digital advertising and targeting. now we have seen a whole host of democratic groups popping up , really try to help campaigns focus on digital advertising in a unique way. especially in 2016, but what is different from past senate cycles. i thought that was curious. the answer about the field game seemed a little basic, if i am being honest. he said we have been getting better at our field strategy and engaging more with african-american small business owners to that is a step in the right direction but it is surprising that was considered a bad habit they needed to break still. steve: we talked about money and politics, florida in particular a race that could be upwards , of $200 million. i thought it was interesting he didn't rule out obama getting involved in raising more money, but i kept pushing for examples of democratic donors getting scared straight and putting them with headlines like the rick scott spending or maybe he
doesn't want to give all his game away, but i didn't hear a lot about the new excitement they had in these races. he didn't rule out intervening and some of these primaries and that has been a cheaper way historically k candidates. you mentioned wisconsin that democrats could learn a lot from. if you can bring these guys at the last minute, early money matters a lot. i was struck that he didn't have a lot to say about new money coming in. steve: you have been focus on california dianne feinstein will , the 85 results after the june 5 primary. what is she facing out there? david: she is facing a challenge from kevin deleon that is not come together in a fearsome way yet but the plan , of that state has always been to get into a runoff and has five months to spend money. the problem is this map was flipped, there are only a couple of democratic
seats at risk, there might be more national money coming in. one thing he did not talk about because democrats don't have to contend much with is a democratic backlash to income of two of alienated their liberal base. in feinstein's case, she has moved to the left. that is a statement democrats are confident they hold the governors race and if the senator passes away, they will not proceed away with an appointment. from a pure risk analysis it , makes sense for him to not care about the state. alexi: it's interesting because of something i hear often. people saying it is the year of , the woman. of course they are not aren't going to get rid of dianne feinstein this year. whether tammy baldwin and the outside conservative groups attacking her and the way he responded to that or kevin daly -- deleon on challenging dianne feinstein. it will be interesting to see how women are faring and if his
group does anything unique with them. steve: what one state will be a bellwether for the democrats this year? i know there are a few given what one are you paying close attention to? alexi: i am still watching don blankenship is not successful, i have heard from some democrats following that race. they consider morsi to be the biggest threat. someonere mccaskill is who is vulnerable. she was a vulnerable backend 2012. -- back in 2012. >> i heard somebody else you said was for genia -- west they were worried -- i him, morsi -- morsi's
would consider watching him. the reality tv president can make every race about supporting me or not supporting me. a third of that electorate voted for romney. one, it's a mediocre republican candidate is competitive for winning that race. it's about hardening of the party brats. questionsou for your and insights. we appreciate it. >>, spent speeches all this week in primetime monday at that p.m.
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