MyDD Interview with Chris Dodd, 2.0

On Saturday afternoon, August 4, I had the opportunity to sit down once again to speak with Chris Dodd about issues related to his campaign for the presidency. (You can listen to my earlier interview with Dodd here.)

During our few minute long conversation, Dodd and I spoke mostly about the campaign, campaign finance and the Yearly Kos debate earlier in the day. Dodd makes some pretty direct hits on some of his fellow candidates. You can read the transcript below or also listen to it through the player below.

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Jonathan Singer: Talking about today, it looked like you were having a good time up there.

Chris Dodd: Yeah.

Singer: You got to take a little umbrage, though, also. Chris Dodd - not a latecomer to publicly financed elections. What was your reaction (to Barack Obama approving of your support for public financing, and Obama and John Edwards not accepting donations from lobbyists)?

Dodd: I found the argument almost insulting to the audience. I'm not a Washington lobbyist? Please. So you're getting money from trial lawyers, and you're getting money from Chicago, Los Angeles... People, this "Washington lobbyists" is a nice bumper sticker, but don't insult the intelligence of people out here. Tell me how you're voting and what you're doing. The fact that you took a contribution from someone is interesting. Or maybe not interesting. But when you vote for the Bankruptcy Act, you may not have taken a contribution from a banker, but the fact is you voted wrong on something that's critical and setting back an awful lot of people in this country.

As someone who has been an advocate for a long time of public financing, people sort of competing with each other as to how many lobbyist checks they won't receive in all of this misses the point, it seems to me, in many ways. And, again, it's to some degree because saying "Washington lobbyist", as if a lobbyist from every other place around the country is okay and they're the only ones who are wrong is trite and superficial.

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MyDD Interview with Tom Allen

As a part of my interview series on this site, yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to speak with Democratic Congressman Tom Maine Allen about his Senate candidacy in the state of Maine, where he is challenging two term incumbent Susan Collins. This race is viewed by many to be one of the Democrats' best pick-up opportunities; for instance, The Rothenberg Political Report places ME-Sen in its "narrow advantage for incumbent party" category and The Cook Political Report (.pdf) similarly calls this race "leans Republican", it's closest category outside of tossups.

Over the course of the interview, which you can listen to or read below, Allen and I covered a whole range of issues relating to the election, including Iraq, the economy, healthcare and just what his campaign will look like.

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Jonathan Singer: With Susan Collins being such a moderate and being right down the middle and being so popular, how do you have the audacity to go up against her?

Tom Allen: Well, because it isn't true. The story just isn't true. I explain to people up in Maine that Susan and Olympia have had very soft press coverage for the last decade. I just run through my differences with her, with Susan. Basically she's been for the President's policy in Iraq from the beginning. She voted for the war. I voted against it. I've been a steady critic trying to change the policy for four and a half years. She voted for every single one of the President's tax cuts for the rich, including the '03 tax cut, which Olympia did not vote for. She voted for the energy bill, which moved $14 billion to oil companies. [She voted] for the Medicare Part D, which moved tens of billions in excess profits to pharma. She voted for the military commissions bill, the torture bill and Sam Alito. Doesn't sound like someone who's independent or moderate or down the middle to me.

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MyDD Interview with Donna Edwards

As I noted a couple of days ago, we're trying to do an end of the second quarter push over at the MyDD/Daily Kos/Swing State Project Blue Majority Act Blue fundraising page. As a part of this effort, I wanted to pass an interview I conducted yesterday with one of the two candidates currently on the list: Donna Edwards.

If you take the chance to look through the transcript of the interview or listen to the audio (you can download it as a large .mp3 here), I think you will get an idea of what the Edwards campaign is about and why it's important to many folks in the Netroots and elsewhere.

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Jonathan Singer: You're running in a primary in Maryland's fourth congressional district against an incumbent, Al Wynn. And you also ran last time and came very close. What's going to be the difference this year versus last year in terms of the results, you getting across the finish line?

Donna Edwards: I think the difference is time and money. Last time I got into the race I think I took a leave of absence on June 1st and our primary was September 12th and I think I came within a couple of thousand votes. And we knocked on a lot of doors and made a lot of phone calls, and I think it's totally the right strategy in this district, going out and actually talking to voters, not listening to the political apparatus that says you can't do this. And I think that's what's going to put us over the top. The primary is February 12th, so we've got a lot of time.

Singer: But at the same time, we're not a year and a half out here. It is getting closer. How does that dynamic, the February primary change the dynamic of the race from having one that was less than two months out from election day?

Edwards: The reality is in Maryland, frankly, we've always been used to having these primaries during presidential election years at different times. The date has been changed to February 12th, but it was early March. So it's not that much different that what we've always experienced. And I think it just means that we've got to get a good ground game going after people get settled from the summer and school has started and folks are ready to focus on a campaign. And so we're going to use the fall really productively, use the summer to build up our infrastructure. We've got a really nice, strong volunteer network and have as much visibility as possible. And actually take the case to the voters. And I think that that makes the difference.

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MyDD Interview with Louise Slaughter, House Rules Committee Chair

As youmay have noticed, I'm someone who is fairly interested in the rules by which the House of Representatives goes about its business. This interest stems at least in part from Republican claims, which have been picked up by some in the media, that the Democrats are not following through with their promise to run a more open House -- even though the Democrats are clearly running a more open House than the Republicans did in recent Congresses. For this reason, I jumped at the opportunity last week to talk about rules with the source on the subject, House Rules Committee chair Louise Slaughter.

On the afternoon of Monday, June 18, 2007, I had the opportunity to sit down with the New York Democrat to talk rules, touching on a number of the most pressing issues facing the House today, including the war in Iraq. You can listen to the interview in the player below, download the audio as a very large .mp3 here or read the rush transcript below.

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Jonathan Singer: Let's talk about rules. I like talking about rules.

Louise Slaughter: Most people don't.

Singer: I actually find it interesting. I'm one of the few. So in 1910 there was the rebellion that separated the Speaker from the Rules Committee.

Slaughter: Right.

Singer: And there really was more separation. Do you think today that revolution is still ongoing?

Slaughter: Absolutely.

Singer: Do you feel that you have the power, if you strongly disagree with the Speaker, to go against her on a rule?

Slaughter: Not without talking with her, but absolutely. There have been a couple of instances where, one I think we were doing the rules on the floor last year and Nancy was coming down and I said, "We've got to do away with these corporate jets. We can't carry that. We've got to cut out flights on corporate jets." She says, "It's gone."

She's probably the best politician I've seen in my entire life. We were elected about the same time. She came in about six or eight months after I did. Of course she fulfilled Sala Burton's term.

But, no, Nancy's not only very approachable, but she's in control of the House. There's no question about that. But I think she respects me enough - I know she does. She's put me on the leadership committee and so I'm in on every discussion that they have.

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MyDD Interview with Nancy Pelosi

Bumped -- Jonathan

Yesterday morning, Wednesday June 20, I had the opportunity to sit down for a few minutes with the Speaker of the United States House, Nancy Pelosi.

During the interview, which immediately followed Speaker Pelosi's speech at the Take Back America conference, we covered some of the questions you raised as well as some that had been in my mind for some time, touching on issues ranging from Iraq to global warming to immigration reform. You can listen to the audio of the conversation below, download it as a very large .mp3 here, or read the rush transcript below:

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Jonathan Singer: You talked about the real need to have 60 votes in the Senate and perhaps even 67 and 290 in the House to override the President and get things done. Even understanding that, given the fact that the standing of Congress has declined since Iraq has really been on the table in Congress, do you feel like something else should have been done? You could have taken different steps? Or what does it tell you about moving forward?

Nancy Pelosi: I believe that we're right on course. We had the votes to say that there are timelines and the President had to honor them. The President vetoed the bill. There isn't much more you can do after that.

But we have changed the debate in our country. Going into the spring, nobody thought we would ever be able to put a bill on the President's desk. So we did that. He had the veto and we didn't win. So we have at it now, our next appropriations bill, which will be in the fall. But we'll have an array of initiatives in addition to appropriations.

But the fact is I didn't vote for the supplemental. I thought it was very weak. But it did have Republican thresholds that the President is either going to have to respond to or he is going to have to waive. And I think he has a considerable risk in either case.

But, no, I'm very proud of what we've done in the Congress. I know outside people are dissatisfied. And I am too. I would have liked him to sign the bill and bring the troops home. But that's not where he is. And he's not respecting the wish of the American people in that regard.

But we're right on schedule. Nobody thought we would get a bill on the President's desk and we did. And now we're on our path to--

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