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Tamara Keith and Amy Walter on Jan 6. riot intel, VA Gov. race, U.N. climate summit – PBS NewsHour

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NPR’s Tamara Keith and Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter join Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest political news, including new reports about intelligence that preceded the Jab. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the stakes in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, and President Joe Biden’s role at the U.N. climate summit.
Judy Woodruff:
It’s a busy week in politics with elections, the global climate meetings, and more.
Here to talk about it all, our Politics Monday duo. That’s Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report With Amy Walter, and Tamara Keith of NPR.
Hello to both of you on this Monday, as we said, another big Monday.
So, Tam, just thinking back for a minute to what Phil Rucker with The Washington Post was saying, there’s been an enormous amount now of detailed reporting on what happened at the Capitol on January 6, but there’s still an enormous amount of disbelief out there about it.
In fact, the poll that we do with NPR and with Marist, one of the questions we asked was whether people think refusing to concede an election harms democracy; 86 percent of Democrats agree with that, only 56 percent of Republicans, pointing directly back to what President — former President Trump has been saying.
Tamara Keith, National Public Radio:
So conceding an election when you lose is a fundamental part of how American elections work. It’s a fundamental part of our democracy.
Sometimes, our elections are close. Sometimes, they’re messy. But when the loser concedes, it’s over. And in the case of this last presidential election, the loser still hasn’t conceded it. At a rally, he proudly just very recently said: I have never conceded.
The challenge for The Washington Post, the challenge for all of us going forward is that there is no longer a shared set of facts. There wasn’t an independent commission that any — all Americans could rally behind. It’s not clear that there would ever be an independent commission that at this point in our divided state all Americans would be able to rally behind.
But the institution of the press, broadly speaking, has been so degraded in the eyes of the public that they aren’t turning — people aren’t turning to The Washington Post to solve whether this happened or not. And, as Phil said, we all saw it with our eyes on live TV. And yet there has been a rewriting of history that has happened so rapidly.
Judy Woodruff:
We have almost never seen anything like this.
Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report:
No.
And this is the challenge, I think, of our time, at least in the foreseeable future, because we are so deeply divided, as we know. We talk about a lot the blue and red America getting our information sources from two very different places.
And we know for the foreseeable future that elections are going to be very close. We’re going to have a lot of elections that look like 2016 and 2020, where it could come down to 10,000 votes here, 5,000 votes there.
And so the fact that you have a significant portion of one party saying, if that happens, and we’re on the losing side, we just aren’t going to accept it, that is very, very problematic, because, again, the idea that we’re going to get into landslide territory, where it’s really clear, right, one side just cleaned the other side’s clock, that’s just not happening, at least, as I said, for the foreseeable future.
Judy Woodruff:
In this very divided time in our country’s history, which, of course, brings us to the elections that are taking place tomorrow.
People have already been voting in Virginia and New Jersey, Tam, governor’s races, but it is expected — especially in Virginia, this could be a close contest. I’m not going to ask the two of you who you think is going to win, but I would love to know, what are you going to be looking for tomorrow?
Tamara Keith:
One thing I’m looking for is what you just mentioned, which is that Virginia has changed its voting laws to make it easier to vote early, to vote absentee.
And so more than a million people have already voted absentee in the state. Now, traditionally, Republicans have been really good at the early voting machine. But it’s turned on its head. And Democrats are now emphasizing early voting, and Republicans are emphasizing same-day voting, which is why you have former President Donald Trump holding a tele-rally tonight for Glenn Youngkin, trying to get Republicans to show up.
I have to say, the former president, I think, by my count, has sent out four statements so far today about Glenn Youngkin telling people to get out and vote, also raising the Specter Of fraud in the election, which there is no specter of fraud in the election.
And Glenn Youngkin has said that he will accept the result. But I think that this transformation where Republicans are really counting on same-day voting more than ever is leading to sort of an interesting dynamic.
The only other thing I will say I’m watching for is whether these contentious school board races that we heard about earlier, this focus on schools…
Judy Woodruff:
Lisa’s report.
Tamara Keith:
… whether, in areas that have had the most contentious issues around schools, whether their turnout is higher and whether Youngkin does — is able to get into what has been Democratic territory.
Amy Walter:
Yes, that’s a good point, because a lot of these are in the suburban areas, where Democrats, at least in the last five or six years, have really done exceedingly well.
And so we’re going to get a chance to see if that movement in the suburbs especially, like those women that Lisa was talking to, whether that was a Trump-centric movement or whether it’s more longstanding than that.
Turnout is going to be critical, just in terms of the enthusiasm gap. The thing is, Donald Trump doesn’t need to call in to get people to turn out and vote on the Republican side. It’s Democrats who have much more of a turnout situation right now, the enthusiasm really lagging there.
So the bigger challenge, I think, depending on what the margin is, right, it’s not simply if Terry McAuliffe wins or if Glenn Youngkin wins, but how close this race is, because, if Virginia, a blue state, if Virginia gets a cold, a Democratic state gets a cold, then those swing states get a fever.
And it suggests that if you are a Democrat sitting in a much more purple or red-leaning state, this is going to be a very challenging time, if the environment looks like it is today at this time next year.
Judy Woodruff:
A lot of close races next year.
Amy Walter:
Yes.
Judy Woodruff:
And we will talk about New Jersey another time. They’re also voting for governor tomorrow.
Amy Walter:
Yes. Yes.
Judy Woodruff:
Very quickly, a question, Tam, on what William Brangham was reporting on earlier, that global climate summit. We know there’s a lot at stake for the planet, for all humankind, but what about at stake for President Biden, who’s gone there at a time of lack of movement here in Washington?
Tamara Keith:
Yes, he wants to say that America is back. He wants to say and he’s saying that America is leading. And, at the G20, everybody wanted to talk to him, and they wanted to know what America is doing.
But this country has had a one-term president and now another one-term president. There’s been a 180 on policy in terms of climate change. Congress is somewhere else. And so President…
Judy Woodruff:
One term so far.
Tamara Keith:
Well, right.
And it can certainly — certainly, President Biden could get all of his Build Back Better agenda in the next three weeks, and we will all say, oh, there it is. But it’s not as ambitious on climate as President Biden had wanted it to be, at least in the current form.
Amy Walter:
And the two sides — to your point, the two sides see the climate in entirely different ways.
So, if you are a foreign leader, you see the United States come to the table, you know, if this is a Democratic administration, they’re going to put climate on the top of the agenda. If it’s a Republican administration, it’s not going to be on the agenda.
You see that not just from the presidents, but from voters. I mean, this was back in January, but Pew asked the question about, what are your priorities? What do you think Congress, the president should do? Democrats by more than I think 40 points said climate vs…
Judy Woodruff:
Vs…
Amy Walter:
… vs. Republicans.
So, yes, if you’re a world leader, you have to be thinking, I don’t know. How much should I trust that this thing is going to happen? The president, of course, even apologizing for his predecessor pulling out of the Paris agreements. There may be more talk like that in the next coming years.
Judy Woodruff:
I keep thinking back to that scene a moment ago, Greta Thunberg, the young teenage phenom, scolding world leaders.
Amy Walter:
Right. Right.
Judy Woodruff:
What a spectacle. What a scene that is.
Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both.
Amy Walter:
You’re welcome.
Tamara Keith:
You’re welcome.
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