- Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players20 hrs ago
With just days to go before midterm elections, Obama’s former 2012 battleground states director Mitch Stewart says he believes Democrats have a 50-50 shot at holding onto control of the Senate.
“I tend to be an optimist under these circumstances,” Stewart, the co-founder of 270 Strategies consulting group, told “Top Line.” “I know the models that Nate Silver and others have that … lay out a 63 to 64 percent chance that Republicans will get a majority in the Senate. I think the rosiest scenario is you’re looking at a 50-50 proposition.”
While the polls favor Republicans’ odds for victory in Tuesday’s elections, Stewart expressed confidence that the Democrats still have the edge when it comes to field strategy – and are capable of reproducing some of the ground game magic that helped propel Obama to presidential victory in two elections.
For one, Stewart said Democrats have made the necessary investment in field organizers.
“They have this project that they invested I think $40 million to try to get 4,000 field staff, and you're seeing some of the fruits of that labor right now,” he said.
The weekend Watergate unraveled: Bob Woodward and John Dean on Ben Bradlee and the still-missing tapeJonathan Karl, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players1 day ago
While Bob Woodward was bringing the details of the Watergate scandal to light for the Washington Post 41 years ago, then-White House Counsel John Dean was the self-declared “linchpin” of President Richard Nixon’s cover-up of the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.
But in a rare interview, the two men -- who essentially played opposite roles in the scandal -- sat down with “Politics Confidential” to offer new details about the Watergate cover-up and remember the late Ben Bradlee.
Bradlee, the legendary former Washington Post executive editor whose funeral is Wednesday, presided over the paper during its historic coverage of the Watergate scandal.
“What was powerful about him he was fact driven, what are the facts,” Woodward said of Bradlee. “He used to say, ‘I don't give an ass who the president is, let's find out what's going on.’ And he was always suspicious that the official version wasn't correct, and so it was a curiosity-driven enterprise.”
- Martha Raddatz, Richard Coolidge & Jordyn Phelps at Power Players3 days ago
On the Radar
On the frontlines of ugly war crimes and destruction, they are often some of the first to the scene–dispatched to document human rights abuses and report violations of the laws of war.
Meet the E-Team.
They are part of a special unit within Human Rights Watch, dubbed the "Emergencies Team," and are specially trained to respond in emergency situations to the scene of suspected human rights violations soon after they occur to get the full story.
A new documentary now on Netflix, “E-Team,” tells their story.
Ross Kauffman, one of the film’s co-directors, and Fred Abrahams, an E-Team member featured in the film, recently sat down with “On the Radar” to discuss the documentary and life as a human rights investigator at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
- Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge, Jordyn Phelps, and Ali Dukakis at Power Players6 days ago
The Fine Print
Music legend James Brown is remembered in history as the “Godfather of Soul” for his many contributions to music during his six-decades-long career. But the musician's influence didn’t end there. It extended to civil rights and black empowerment.
“Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown" is a new HBO documentary premiering Oct. 27th by Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney -- and producer Mick Jagger -- that is dedicated to telling the lesser-known aspects of the music legend’s life story, from his rise to fame from poverty to his role in the Civil Rights Movement.
“He help[ed] to change the culture,” Gibney told “The Fine Print” in an interview at Poste Moderne Brasserie in Washington, D.C. “Both in terms of civil rights but also in terms of music -- everything we now know about funk and hip-hop, it really comes from this dynamic character, James Brown.”
During the Civil Rights Movement, Brown’s music served as message of black empowerment and a tool to help keep the peace at certain times of tumult. Following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Brown offered a free citywide concert in Boston with hopes of avoiding racially-charged riots.
- Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge, Jordyn Phelps, and Ali Dukakis at Power Players7 days ago
The Fine Print
What if, instead of duking it out on the floors of the House and Senate in contentious debates and late-night filibusters, the historically divided United States Congress was forced to work together to fulfill certain basic, primal needs – say, gathering food and resources to share on a deserted island?
On a new show, two senators from opposite sides of the aisle are forced to do just that for one week.
The new reality show “Rival Survivor” takes Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., from C-SPAN to The Discovery Channel to prove it’s possible for the two divided parties to work together, albeit in the confines of a deserted tropical island.
In a recent interview with “The Fine Print,” Flake said he and Heinrich first came up with the idea during a late-night budget vote, each swapping their own stories of survival and spearfishing.
“We started talking jokingly at first about going away and proving that a Democrat and Republican could work together on an island, and it just got a little more serious after that,” Flake said.
- Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players8 days ago
Retired Army Lt. Col. John Nagl literally helped to write the book on counterinsurgency field strategy for the Army and Marine Corps during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But for all the lessons that the U.S. military has learned through the wars of the 21 st Century, Nagl said President Obama’s strategy to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria without any ground forces won’t work.
“It clearly isn't working,” Nagl told “Top Line” in an interview. “We do have about 1,600 American troops on the ground, but they're staying well back from the front lines. That's a big part of the reason why the Iraqi forces are not able to take on and really defeat the ISIS forces.”
Though Nagl said he understands President Obama’s reluctance to commit combat troops at a time when the American people are war weary, he said the mission of defeating ISIS can’t be accomplished without 15,000 to 20,000 U.S. ground forces.
Pumping for change: 'The Oracle of Oil' T. Boone Pickens on low gas prices and keeping them that wayRebecca Jarvis, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players10 days ago
In spite of a U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS in the Middle East, oil prices have dropped below $3 a gallon across much of the country in recent months. It’s an uncommon confluence of events that billionaire oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens said wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago.
“If this had been 10 years ago … you would've had oil up $50 a barrel,” Pickens, who has been dubbed “The Oracle of Oil” for his uncanny knack for predicting oil prices, told “Power Players” in a recent interview conducted at theConcordia Summitin New York City.
It’s quite a shift from just a few years ago in 2008, when gas prices across the country spiked to as much as $4 and $5 a gallon. And the reason for the change, Pickens said, has to do with a growth in U.S. oil production.
Senator Batman: Patrick Leahy on his caped crusader cameos and capturing history with his own cameraJeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge and Arlette Saenz at Power Players13 days ago
The Fine Print
Over the course of a nearly 40-year career in the Senate, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has toured the world, dined with presidents and brokered legislative deals – all while snapping photographs every step of the way.
Born blind in one eye, Leahy has used his front row seat to history to capture some of the most unique photographs of politicians and world leaders. Leahy gave “The Fine Print” a tour of some of his photos on display at Georgetown University Law Center at an exhibit curated by the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.
Leahy, who also is president pro tempore of the Senate, a position third in the line of succession to the presidency, captured a rare photograph of then-Sen. Barack Obama as he spoke in a private room to his Democratic colleagues shortly after he was sworn into office.
“I was the only camera in the room,” Leahy told “The Fine Print” as he reflected on the photograph.
During President Ronald Reagan’s second presidential inauguration, Leahy captured what turned out to be one of Reagan’s favorite photographs.
- Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players15 days ago
President Obama made a famous fumble earlier this year when he compared ISIS to a JV team. But he is hardly the first politician to learn the power and perils that come with using analogies.
Analogies have been used to both sell and plunder ideas through the ages, as former presidential speechwriter John Pollack details in his new book, “Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas.”
“It's easy to throw off a quick analogy and not think it through and people are so busy that one comes to mind, you say it, and then the horse has left the barn, so to speak,” Pollack told “Top Line” during a recent interview.
In his book, Pollack preaches about how to properly use analogies and advises analogy users to beware.
An analogy that fails to set the proper tone can do more harm than good, as was the case with President Obama’s “JV Team ISIS” analogy.
- Jim Avila, Richard Coolidge and Ali Dukakis at Power Players16 days ago
While party lines run deep on immigration reform, perhaps one point not up for debate is that America’s current system is broken – just ask Judge Dana Leigh Marks, who works in immigration courts on the front lines.
“The result of ignoring the immigration courts for so long and not giving us sufficient resources has resulted in massive dysfunction,” Marks, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told “Power Players.”
“We call ourselves 'the legal Cinderellas’ in the Department of Justice, because we feel that we have been ignored resource-wise,” Marks said.
“Last year $18 billion was spent on immigration law enforcement and only 1.7 perfect of that went to the courts,” she later added, noting that a majority of that funding goes to border patrol and the technology used to police fences.
Marks cited non-functioning equipment and understaffed offices as key culprits in the “massive dysfunction” that immigration judges are currently facing. “It’s those kinds of everyday problems that make the system far less efficient, effective and accurate,” she said.