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Politics In The News


And this was not a good weekend for Hillary Clinton. On Friday night at a fundraiser in Manhattan, she said that half of Donald Trump's supporters could be put into what she called the basket of deplorables. She went on to call them racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic. Republicans pounced. Here's Donald Trump's vice presidential pick, Mike Pence, speaking to the Value Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., yesterday.


MIKE PENCE: Hillary Clinton's low opinion of the people that support this campaign should be denounced in the strongest possible terms. The truth of the matter is that the men and women who support Donald Trump's campaign are hardworking Americans - farmers, coal miners, teachers, veterans.

GREENE: And yesterday, Hillary Clinton abruptly left a ceremony commemorating the 9/11 attacks and appeared to fall as she was being escorted into a van. Representative Joseph Crowley, a Democrat from New York, was standing close to Hillary Clinton. He spoke to WABC afterwards.


JOSEPH CROWLEY: Very stifling heat - it was very, very, very, very hot. I'd sweated through my entire suit. And I know she was also, you know, wearing a suit as well. So it was a hot moment. I think she'd be the most disappointed knowing the focus is on her and not on the lost souls of that day or their families - 'cause I know how much that meant to her.

GREENE: Hours later, Hillary Clinton's doctor said she was being treated for pneumonia. And we're hearing much more about that elsewhere in the show. Joining us now, as she does most Mondays, is commentator and columnist Cokie Roberts. Cokie, good morning.


GREENE: And with me in the studio this morning is Mollie Hemingway. She's a senior editor with the conservative news site The Federalist. Mollie, welcome to the program.


GREENE: Cokie, let me start with you. The medical event that we saw from Hillary Clinton, how is - how are Democrats responding to this right now?

ROBERTS: Well, people are angry at the lack of transparency. It was hours before the pneumonia diagnosis was revealed, after seeing this incredibly damaging video of her being helped and stumbling into a van. And, look, there's a reason why the campaign's not transparent. Obviously, it gives Trump ammunition. And he's been setting her up for this for months.

I mean, back in January, he started saying that she didn't have the strength and stamina to be president. And he knew at some point in the campaign schedule that she, like all candidates, would get exhausted. But the fact that it comes now, when the polls are tightening and Democrats were already saying that Hillary was the only candidate who could not beat Trump - and it's taking her off of the campaign trail, canceling her trip to California today...

GREENE: Yeah, today. Yeah.

ROBERTS: Right. It has them very nervously beginning to whisper about find - having her step aside and finding another candidate.

GREENE: That is no small thing to say.

ROBERTS: No, exactly.

GREENE: I mean, is that a real thing? Or is this just some nerves after a weekend of...

ROBERTS: No, I don't think - I think it's unlikely to be a real thing. And I'm sure it's an overreaction of an already skittish party. But, you know, they have looked at what happens in that circumstance. And the Democratic National Committee chair convenes the committee, and they vote. Now, ironically, the candidate that everybody looks at is Joe Biden, who, of course, is older than Hillary Clinton. But then again, so is Donald Trump. And, by the way, we know nothing about his health.

GREENE: But I guess important to say, though, there is no indication - I mean, the Clinton campaign has said that she is fine and, I mean, is going to resume her schedule and, I mean...

ROBERTS: Absolutely.


ROBERTS: And that is happening, we assume. But there is enough unhappiness that this kind of soto voce stuff is going on.

GREENE: Mollie, let me turn to you. I mean, this health, you know, has been long the talk on right-leaning talk shows on Fox News. I mean, are people on the right seeing this as a significant problem for Hillary Clinton?

HEMINGWAY: Well, I think it certainly shows that concerns about Hillary Clinton's health were legitimate and should have been treated as such by the mainstream media. Many people had treated any and all questions about her health as conspiracy theories, as - you know, some people did develop some conspiracy theories about her health. But any questions about her health were treated that way.

You had major media openly dismissing it. CNN said that Hillary Clinton's health was fine. And last week, The Washington Post ran a piece saying, can we please stop talking about Hillary Clinton's health? That downplaying and protection of her ultimately, I think, was less helpful to her.

GREENE: But what do we - what are they downplaying? I mean, this was a bout of pneumonia that the doctor says, you know, she's still fit. I mean, it's - there's no sign that there is anything significant.

HEMINGWAY: Right, there are many - very many different versions of events of what's going on with Hillary. At first, it was allergies - well, first it was nothing. Then it was allergies. Then she just was overheated yesterday. Then she came out and said she was fine. Now we're told that it's pneumonia.

I think it's incumbent upon journalists to really dig into that and make sure that that fully explains the troubling collapse that we all witnessed on video yesterday.

GREENE: Worth also to dig into the Donald Trump's campaign, right? I mean, it...

ROBERTS: Mollie's also right, though, that they keep doing this. They don't - you know, if they just told the truth the first time, it would be a whole lot easier for them.

GREENE: Fair, what Cokie said, Mollie, that we don't know much about Donald Trump's health either?

HEMINGWAY: Oh, absolutely. I don't think we've ever known so little about either candidate. And I think that both really do need to stop releasing statements from doctors who are not credible and let us know exactly what we're dealing with so voters can make better decisions.

GREENE: Let me ask you about the, quote, "basket of deplorables." This was Hillary Clinton describing, at first, half of Trump's supporters. She's backed away and said that it's not half, that that was an exaggeration. Donald Trump tweeted that Clinton's comment was insulting, Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, calling for an apology. I mean, how is the right seeing that?

HEMINGWAY: Well, Clinton herself issued a statement expressing at least partial regret. So I think she knows that she did mess up. It is usually not considered smart politics to speak so disparagingly about voters who you will have to govern should you be elected president. I think there are questions about what exactly gets you placed in the basket of deplorables. Is it just disagreeing with her politically, having different views on traditional religions, sexual ethics, the Constitution? What exactly gets you this hateful treatment from Hillary Clinton?

What I found much more alarming, and that a lot of people haven't focused on, is that she said that there's a segment of the Trump voting population that are irredeemable. That is really extreme rhetoric. And I think Hillary Clinton's campaign really is based on this idea that she's not the one to use such extreme and hateful rhetoric - kind of undermines one of her important talking points.

ROBERTS: And I think we're going to see ads coming out on this subject today. And one of the reasons that Trump was so silent yesterday about Hillary's health was because he doesn't want to take away attention from this deplorables comment.

GREENE: Cokie, there are a lot of people who suggest that this is as big a deal as the Mitt Romney 47 percent line, which...

ROBERTS: It's a very similar sort of thing, you know, in fact, even going to percentages. And candidates, at some point, have to learn that they should not talk this way. I mean, Barack Obama also, about the bitter people with guns and all of that - I mean, at some point, they have to figure that out.

But look, the bigger problem for Hillary Clinton right now is that the polls are tightening up. And her voters, in an ABC poll this weekend, said they were less likely to get to the polls than Trump voters. And that's her big issue now. She's got to get those voters to the polls if she wants to win.

GREENE: OK, commentator and columnist Cokie Roberts and Mollie Hemingway, a senior editor at The Federalist. Thank you both very much.

HEMINGWAY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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