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2010-05-19

In "Mini-Super Tuesday" Primaries, Defeats for Party Establishments on Both Sides of the Aisle

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For Democrats, thirty-year Senate veteran Arlen Specter lost his bid for reelection in Pennsylvania, while Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln now faces a runoff vote against Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter. In Kentucky, Tea Party candidate Rand Paul easily beat Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the state’s Republican race. We hear from Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation magazine, the Reverend Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Alexis Simendinger of the National Journal, and Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: In the biggest day of voting so far in the 2010 election cycle, the party establishments on both sides of the aisle suffered defeats. In Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary, thirty-year Senate veteran Arlen Specter loses his bid for reelection to Congress member Joe Sestak. In Kentucky, Tea Party candidate Rand Paul easily beat Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the state’s Republican race. And in Arkansas, Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln heads into a runoff vote against Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter.

Much of the focus last night was on Pennsylvania, where eighty-year-old Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter lost his bid for a sixth Senate seat term despite the backing of President Obama, organized labor and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. With nearly all the votes counted, Specter had 46 percent to Joe Sestak’s 54 percent. Specter delivered a brief concession speech last night.

    SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: I have just called Congressman Sestak to congratulate him and to tell him that I think it is vital that we keep this seat with the Democratic Party and that I will support him in the election.

AMY GOODMAN: Joe Sestak, a two-term Congress member, is a retired three-star Navy admiral, the highest-ranking former military officer ever elected to Congress. He pointed to his military career in his victory speech last night.

    REP. JOE SESTAK: It’s no surprise to anyone that people want a change. When I went to Congress just a few years ago, after thirty-one years in the wonderful United States Navy, I found too many career politicians are a bit too concerned about keeping their jobs rather than serving the public, rather than helping people. In the Navy, we’re held accountable for our actions. And we should expect no less — no less — from our politicians in Washington, DC.

AMY GOODMAN: Sestak will face Republican Pat Toomey in November.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary, Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist and the son of Texas Congress member Ron Paul, won 59 percent of the vote, storming past Secretary of State Trey Grayson by a 24-point margin. Rand Paul has the backing of the Tea Party movement and made it clear he’s their candidate in his victory speech last night.

    RAND PAUL: I have a message, a message from the Tea Party, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: we have come to take our government back. We have come to take our government back from the special interests who think that the federal government is their own personal ATM, from the politicians who bring us oversized fake checks emblazoned with their signature as if it was their money to give. Washington is horribly broken. I think we stand on a precipice. We are encountering a day of reckoning, and this movement, this Tea Party movement, is a message to Washington that we’re unhappy and that we want things done differently.

    We now have a president, though, who apologizes for America’s greatness. We have a president who went to Copenhagen and appeared with Robert Mugabe, Hugo Chávez and others, Evo Morales, to apologize for the Industrial Revolution. They say — these dictators, these petty dictators say — that to stop climate change, it’s about ending capitalism. They are explicit. And the President, by attending Copenhagen, gives credibility and credence to these folks, and he should not go.

AMY GOODMAN: In November, Rand Paul will face Jack Conway, the Kentucky Attorney General, who won the Democratic nomination.

And in Arkansas, Democratic incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln is headed into a runoff election on June 8th against Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter. With about 92 percent of the precincts, Lincoln led Halter by 44-to-42 percent. A third candidate, D.C. Morrison, won enough votes to prevent either Lincoln or Halter from crossing the 50 percent threshold.

For more on the results of Mini-Super Tuesday, we’re joined by a panel of guests here in New York. Katrina vanden Heuvel is with us, editor and publisher of The Nation magazine. The Reverend Jesse Jackson also joins us, the founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. Joining us from Washington, DC is Alexis Simendinger, a reporter at the National Journal. Joining us on the phone from Philadelphia is Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News and author of the blog Attytood.

Will, let’s start with you in Philadelphia. Major upset for the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania. Thirty-year Senate veteran Arlen Specter, once Republican, turned Democrat, has been defeated by a three-star admiral, the two-term Congress member Joe Sestak. Talk about what happened.

WILL BUNCH: Yeah, hi, Amy.

Well, you know, Sestak’s win was a surprise, but in a way, it wasn’t a surprise. I mean, one thing about Pennsylvania is that we have a closed primary system, so only Democrats are going to the poll. And, you know, Arlen Specter is a dying breed. I mean, he was a moderate Republican for forty-five years, and he was a centrist. And it’s just very hard to play to the center. He tried to do that by switching parties twice in his career, once in the beginning of his career, when he switched from Democrat to Republican, and then once at the end here, where he tried switching back to the Democratic Party. And the people who vote in the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania are the most — tend to be the most liberal voters in the state.

And we always knew that Specter was vulnerable for an attack, because the people who vote in that primary don’t like George Bush, they don’t like Sarah Palin. And Sestak ran a brilliant campaign. He waited 'til two or three weeks before the election, and he aired this devastating ad that, you know, showed George Bush, in all his Bushian glory, praising Specter and closed with a shot of him on stage with Sarah Palin and said that Specter changed parties to save one job: his own. And in a year where there's so much anti-incumbency fervor, you know, the idea that Specter was kind of out for himself, which this ad certainly left that impression, was just devastating, and he really was never able to recover.

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama did not actually come into the state for Arlen Specter, though he supported him.

WILL BUNCH: Absolutely. I mean, he did do robocalls. You know, Specter countered with his commercial that showed Obama on the stage addressing him. You know, it was kind of weird. In fact, I think Talking Points Memo did a mashup of these two commercials that were running at the same time with — that looked very similar, except one was Obama endorsing Specter and the other was Bush endorsing Specter. And I think for voters, you know, I don’t think the Obama ad helped, because it just kind of reinforced the idea of this flip-flop that Democratic primary voters didn’t like at all.

AMY GOODMAN: Now talk about a very significant race that took place in Pennsylvania, which was the one that Jack Murtha’s aide actually won. This was the race where Mark Critz won the special election vacated by the congressman, many-term congressman, who died.

WILL BUNCH: Yeah, I mean, it’s a fascinating race, and I think it does give a little bit of hope to the Democrats. It’s a very strange district. I actually used to live in that district many, many years ago for a short time, and it’s kind of the heart of what you call the Reagan Democrats, which are these, you know, pro-union, blue-collar, white, very socially conservative voters. And Critz was a great — you know, the people in that district loved Jack Murtha, the congressman, longtime congressman, who died this year. And Critz really kind of carried on the Murtha tradition. I mean, he’s very socially conservative himself. He’s pro-gun. He’s pro-life on the abortion issue. And it’s hard to know what to make of that district. You know, it’s the only district in the country that voted for John Kerry in 2004 and then flipped and voted for John McCain in 2008. So it’s a very unusual electorate out there. But what he did, Critz, was he really localized the race, and he kept the focus, I think, off of Obama and off of national politics and was able to win. And I think that could be instructive for other Democrats running in other races around the country.

AMY GOODMAN: Katrina vanden Heuvel, you were looking at that race. You were looking at the Critz race.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I thought it was an interesting race, as, just as Will describes that district, it’s a sort of conserva-Dem district. But I think it was a victory for labor. Rich Trumka, I believe, has a connection to that district. He may have —-

AMY GOODMAN: Head of the AFL-CIO.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Head of the AFL-CIO. Labor went all out to get out the vote: 16,000 calls, knocking on doors, 75,000 flyers to sixty work sites. So I think, you know, in his message to that district, AFL president Rich Trumka spoke about the need for jobs at the top of an agenda and spoke -— talked a populist message, which I think really resonated in a district which is hurting. And as Will says, it’s hard to nationalize that race, but it’s a message to Democrats what kind of message they should go out into the country with in this election season.

AMY GOODMAN: Because, of course, I mean, Mark Critz being the aide to Murtha, you couldn’t have more establishment than that. I can’t even remember how many terms Murtha served.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I mean, there’s a little bit of an Alice in Wonderland quality this morning, because it is a loss for the — it’s a defeat for the bipartisan establishment. But within each race, there are nuances, because Critz was part of the establishment, Murtha’s longtime aide.

And, you know, Specter, it was expediency. Sestak is interesting. He is probably a better candidate against Pat Toomey in the general. But again, on Afghanistan —-

AMY GOODMAN: Both Congress members.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: On Afghanistan, an issue that hasn’t really come up in this election, though we mark a grim marker of a thousand dead this week in Afghanistan, American soldiers, you know, Sestak is very much on the Obama administration’s surge pro-policy -— policy side, whereas Spector raised some tough questions, so —-

AMY GOODMAN: And yet, it was Specter, who was the Republican candidate for so long, Reverend Jackson, in Pennsylvania. I mean, I think -— this is the first time that all these Democrats in Pennsylvania would have had to flip and vote for the man they voted against for so many years.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: You use the right language: he was seen as flip-flopping. A, eighty years old — a younger, stronger, more decisive man with a point of view. Democrats could not trust him, they felt. Republicans did not have confidence in him.

What strikes me about the race also, you have a kind of an urban crisis in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and it was about "me," not about poverty and unemployment. It was not running on "If I’m elected, I will address what’s hurting you." Also, Appalachia is in Pennsylvania, and for the life of me, how can you run in Pennsylvania and never once mention the word Appalachia, given what just happened with the coal miners’ crisis in West Virginia, never mention Appalachia and never mention the state of emergency that urban Detroit — urban Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are in? Like, "vote for me." That was not quite enough.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion. We’ll also be talking about Arkansas and, of course, Kentucky. Reverend Jesse Jackson with us, as well as Katrina vanden Heuvel. Thanks very much to Will Bunch, who is speaking to us from Philadelphia, writes for the Philadelphia Daily News and does that blog "Attytude."

This is Democracy Now!. Back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We’re looking at what’s called Mini-Super Tuesday. Around the country, the incumbents are in big trouble. We’ve just talked about Pennsylvania. I want to turn to Arkansas right now. Our guests in studio are Katrina vanden Huevel — she’s editor of The Nation magazine — and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Alexis Simendinger is with us in Washington, DC, a reporter at the National Journal.

Alexis, you’ve been following Arkansas.

ALEXIS SIMENDINGER: Exactly. I spent some time earlier this month tracking Senator Lincoln and her challenger in the Democratic primary, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, around Arkansas. And it was a very, very interesting race that Senator Lincoln knew she was in trouble with, because of the big money coming from organized labor and MoveOn.org and others in her state to support, actually to recruit and support, a challenger in the Democratic primary in a state that is increasingly conservative, went overwhelmingly for John McCain in the presidential election. And Senator Lincoln has tried, some would say very awkwardly, to be a centrist in her state with a centrist voting record, and she was clobbered over her, what they called, flip-flopping record on healthcare, voting in separate votes in the end of 2009 and early 2010 in different ways. So she was condemned for abandoning a public option, insurance option. She originally was supportive of the Employee Free Choice Act, the card-check initiative that organized labor was very supportive of, and then she went against it.

So Bill Halter swooped in and gave her a run for her money and is now forcing her into the June 8th runoff, which she had been hoping to avoid. So, she looks weakened. She had to spend an enormous sum of money to try to combat the outside money that he was raising and spending. And, of course, in a conservative state, it doesn’t look that terrific for her in November.

AMY GOODMAN: Why was she known as Wal-Mart senator? Why was Blanche Lincoln seen in that way in Arkansas, Alexis?

ALEXIS SIMENDINGER: She has a record of being very supportive of the Wal-Mart owners, the corporate entity that supports Wal-Mart, Sam Walton, and she’s very — she’s been very reluctant to weigh in more decisively to be supportive of the employees of a, you know, enormous business enterprise in her state. She’s been much more allied with the corporate ownership and their interests against the employees and their interests in organizing.

AMY GOODMAN: Katrina vanden Heuvel, your take on Arkansas right now and what this means, having to — she’s forced into a runoff now?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I think it’s a very important test for progressives to organize in a conservative state and try, in a primary, to change the balance of forces. Even if Bill Halter, who’s no lefty insurgent but does pose a challenge to Blanche Lincoln and her corporate, conservative Democratic policies — I think it’s a test. I do think what happened is that Blanche Lincoln became a kind of reborn populist fighting for tougher derivatives to curb these speculative instruments. So I think there’s a value in that. And I think, you know, we need primaries across this country to change the constellation of forces inside the Democratic Party.

I don’t think this is necessarily a left-right issue. I think it’s about working people versus Wall Street, the banks, corporate interests, the Wal-Marts of the world. And in that sense, this becomes a kind of interesting petri dish, Arkansas, and a state which needs better representation for its working people.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting you mentioned the derivatives, because earlier in headlines, saying Senate Banking Committee chair Christopher Dodd is proposing to weaken the provision —-

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —- on derivatives trading in the financial regulation bill he unveiled. Under the current proposal, Wall Street firms will be banned from acting as brokers for most forms of derivatives trades, but Dodd is calling for suspending the ban for two years and allowing the US Treasury to cancel it altogether. And this race was really putting her in a box, forcing her to back —-

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: To be tougher.

AMY GOODMAN: Yes.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: To be tougher and to show a little bit of populist backbone. I will say, people in Washington expected Dodd Tuesday night, sort of in the dead of the primary night, to skewer the possibility of tougher reform. I don’t know how that plays going forward, but it may well help Bill Halter in a runoff, because she’ll be in a box as to what to say about the establishment Democratic Party’s move.

AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Jackson?

REV. JESSE JACKSON: There’s a larger Democratic identity crisis.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Yeah.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Roosevelt had a point of view: these banks are too big, and we should separate them, stop trading from lending, put America back to work, a chicken in every pot, a foreclosure moratorium. It’s like, "If I win, you win." Now, "I may win, and you may not win." There’s a disconnect. And even though all the Wall Street maneuvering, what is so bad about this, that we have bailed out Wall Street, but disconnected from lending or for reinvestment. And it seemed that Dodd is making another fateful step backwards, giving Wall Street more and giving 25 million people unemployed less. It seemed again that Blanche was also caught and seen as kind of flip-flopping in kind of an unprincipled position. Arkansas is too poor to be forced to vote rich. If you run an Arkansas campaign on Arkansas’ interest, you may prevail and deserve to win.

AMY GOODMAN: I just want to go back to Alexis for a minute, because I know you’re going to have to leave. This runoff, what’s different? I mean, you have D.C. Morrison, who won’t be in the runoff. Where will his votes go? Because this is so tight.

ALEXIS SIMENDINGER: You know, when I was in Arkansas, it was interesting. The voters that I talked to -— Arkansas has early voting, and they started to vote on May 3rd. So when I was there, I actually could talk to voters who were walking into polling places very early. And what they were telling me is that D.C. Morrison, a very conservative businessman with very little funding, very little understanding about what he stood for, was the spoiler, the protest vote. The voters that I talked to were saying that they were trying to send a message to both Senator Lincoln and to Lieutenant Governor Halter, saying that they were in some ways very disenchanted with both of them and very upset about their negative advertising, bashing each other over a variety of things that some voters told me they just found to be kind of hyperbole on both sides. So, a pox on both of them. So I would imagine that either those voters stand down now, going into June, or — without D.C. Morrison there, or that they will make a decision one way or the other. I actually talked to some voters who said that they hoped that Blanche would get a message. That was the phrase that I heard. "I’m sending Blanche a message."

I also wanted to add something about this derivatives, which is very interesting. As you know, the Senate, with Senator Dodd, held back from moving ahead on the portion of the legislation that Blanche Lincoln had allied herself with on the derivatives. Now, as you pointed out, Senator Dodd is about to move ahead and weaken it. So this has turned out to not be very helpful, as you point out, to her for this primary, since she now has to extend herself into June. But the one thing I want to point out is, when I was talking to voters, they were not focused on this. She had hoped that her chairmanship of the Senate Ag Committee would really help her make a case in the state to show that she was a populist. The voters that I spoke with were much, much more focused on her record on healthcare, and I did not hear anyone talking to me about the banks.

AMY GOODMAN: Here’s a sampling of what’s been on the airwaves in Arkansas in recent weeks.

    NANCY SHAW: My daughter Kacey has special needs. She faces a lot of health problems, so I worry about health insurance. That’s why I’m so upset that Senator Blanche Lincoln voted to allow health insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. I guess Blanche Lincoln sided with the big insurance companies because they could afford big campaign contributions. We need a senator that’s going to truly stand up for what the working people need.

    SEIU-COPE AD: SEIU-COPE is responsible for the content of this advertising.

    SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN: I’m Blanche Lincoln, and I approve this message.

    BLANCHE LINCOLN AD: If you listen to Bill Halter in his TV ad, you’ll notice he never denies outsourcing American jobs to India, just like he won’t tell us what he promised the AFL-CIO or how he would have voted on the public option or on the Wall Street bailout. And when asked about his company being sued for cheating investors, he responds with lawyer language.

    LT. GOV. BILL HALTER: The lawsuit was settled. The company never admitted to those allegations.

AMY GOODMAN: There you have it, the ads on both sides. Reverend Jackson?

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Well, you know, we ended up supporting the healthcare bill that surfaced, but not the one that we fought for. The result is that today the insurance companies, there is the check and balance on. Insurance companies are still going out the roof — $2,000 a night for hotel beds. You can buy medicine in Canada for $200 and on the Michigan side for $1,400. Public option really didn’t matter to a lot of people. And then, there’s another case where the health bill was a bold step in the right direction, but giving up public option was a lot. And again, in Arkansas you have a case of a lot of working poor people who now watch Wall Street rejoicing, because it’s been bailed out in historic ways, but they’re still facing home foreclosures and church foreclosures, student loan defaults, there among the working poor. And Democrats should have some identity on these issues.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: But I thought what Alexis said was interesting, that the voters she spoke to didn’t really connect the derivatives reform to a populist message. Part of that is Wall Street winning, that this financial reform bill has become complex in ways ordinary people have a hard time understanding. But it’s very clear. It links to the health issue. It’s which side are you on? On the side of big insurance companies, Big Pharma, big money, Wall Street, big oil? And I think that will emerge more clearly perhaps in the runoff. But the healthcare issue is going to be an interesting one to track, and it may well serve the Democrats better than the Republicans have been spinning with all of this talk of nullification.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: It’ll be interesting to see —- be interesting to see if President Obama goes to Arkansas and what impact it’ll have in this campaign.

AMY GOODMAN: Because he held off this time.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: It’s a real test of just how deep is a message of healthcare reform working, bottom up.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I would suspect, after the Sestak victory in Pennsylvania, he may not want to put his political capital, which he doesn’t put in many places as is, on the line in Arkansas. But you know what? Never say never. I don’t -—

REV. JESSE JACKSON: I’m not sure you can avoid either choosing an ally or not. There is no [inaudible] present you kind of fall against. And if so, what will the impact of his presence be?

AMY GOODMAN: Alexis Simendinger, what about that? What would the impact? And why didn’t Bill Clinton go for Blanche Lincoln this time?

ALEXIS SIMENDINGER: Oh, well, President Clinton and President Obama both cut radio ads supporting Blanche Lincoln, Senator Lincoln. And, of course, President Obama, feeling very compelled to support incumbent senators, Democratic senators, has said that he was very supportive of Senator Lincoln.

The thing that’s very challenging for her, as you can imagine, in Arkansas, which has an undertow of race issues, a long history of that, is that she was trying to position herself in the center, thinking ahead to November. And here she found herself up against Bill Halter and felt that she had to tack slightly through lip service and positioning to the left. Now she’s in a primary. She tried to embrace President Obama more closely. I mean, her ads suggested that she was trying to go against Washington, and yet she was very eager, down when she needed him, to get President Obama to help her. Then, after the primary is over, she is going to have to go to the right again, if she wants to try to survive in November. So I think it is a very challenging thing for her as an incumbent, eighteen years in Congress, to figure out how she can hug the President of United States, a Democrat, considered in her state not necessarily the most popular figure, and then still survive in November. It’s challenging.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you, Alexis Simendinger, for being with us.

And I want to go back now in Kentucky to Rand Paul, to just play a clip we played earlier. I don’t know how many people really got to hear his victory speech last night at a country club in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

    RAND PAUL: We have come to take our government back. We have come to take our government back from the special interests who think that the federal government is their own personal ATM, from the politicians who bring us oversized fake checks emblazoned with their signature as if it was their money to give. Washington is horribly broken. I think we stand on a precipice. We are encountering a day of reckoning, and this movement, this Tea Party movement, is a message to Washington that we’re unhappy and that we want things done differently.

    We now have a president, though, who apologizes for America’s greatness. We have a president who went to Copenhagen and appeared with Robert Mugabe, Hugo Chávez and others, Evo Morales, to apologize for the Industrial Revolution. They say — these dictators, these petty dictators say — that to stop climate change, it’s about ending capitalism. They are explicit. And the President, by attending Copenhagen, gives credibility and credence to these folks, and he should not go.

AMY GOODMAN: Katrina vanden Heuvel?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: It’s nice to know that the Tea Party headquarters in Kentucky is at a Bowling Green country club. You know, Rand Paul says he wants to take back the government. I mean, he wants to take back the government, as do so many of the Tea Partiers, in a way that uber-strategist Grover Norquist once spoke of: take back the government and strangle it, slowly, in a bathtub. He wants to abolish the Fed. He wants to abolish the Department of Education. You know, Rand Paul —- it’s delicious to see Cheney down two-zero. He supported Hutchison in Texas and Rand Paul’s opponent in Kentucky.

AMY GOODMAN: Trey Grayson.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: But this man is a demagogue for forces larger than himself. You know, one can speak of his anti-interventionist foreign policy, but he didn’t bring that up in this race. And what he said about -—

AMY GOODMAN: And I actually saw him talking about Afghanistan.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: And he didn’t —- he didn’t want to talk about it.

AMY GOODMAN: He did not sound like he was opposed.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I think that for the voters of Kentucky, Mugabe, who we don’t think was in Copenhagen, Evo Morales and Chávez, what do those people have to do with the jobs and the healthcare a poor state like Kentucky needs?

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Demagoguery. He is -—

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: It’s a demagogue —-

REV. JESSE JACKSON: President Obama is not an ally of Mugabe.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: No.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Or not an ally of Chávez.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Yeah.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: It’s amazing to see how a medical doctor can wilfully distorted truth in ways to appeal to people’s fears. I mean, where were these people when Bush came in and we were in a surplus discussing how will we spend the peace dividend? We’ve now gone from surplus to deficit to debt. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Where were they then, when we were hemorrhaging at the bottom of our economy? But there’s a kind of implicit message here. Again, Kentucky, another state with large slices of Appalacia and poverty -— they never mention poverty or the plight of the working poor people.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Rand Paul is — you know, he speaks about a broken system, as do the Tea Partiers, and I think we agree. We have a broken system. But how they want to repair a broken system —-

REV. JESSE JACKSON: And who broke it?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: —- is to break it even more. And who broke it?

REV. JESSE JACKSON: And who broke it?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: There are ways to channel the anger that is real in this country. But the channeling you hear from a Rand Paul is a channeling into a destructive counterforce.

But I think, you know, moving forward, it’s worth noting, in the week before, Amy, the Tea Partiers didn’t do that well. I mean, you had a set of primaries which went sort of under the radar in Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina. You know, they took out Bennett. But otherwise, the record is not as clear —-

AMY GOODMAN: In Utah.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Or Senator Bennett, a longtime incumbent in Utah. But the record’s not that clear. And I think it’s incumbent upon more, you know, affirmative forces in this country in this next period to channel this volatility, this anger, in a way so we don’t -— so we have an economy that works for working people and that isn’t kind of ignoring the poverty, the pain, because that can, as we know through history — in other countries, in our country — move in a direction we are seeing, as we listen to a Rand Paul, who speaks lunacy about President Obama wanting to destroy capitalism? I mean, Roosevelt, Obama, these people were, you know, leaders in ways, but they wanted to save capitalism from its excesses.

AMY GOODMAN: But what people see is President Obama, who talked about economic change, certainly —-

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Right

AMY GOODMAN: —- and jobs for working people, allying himself with the biggest banks, and people who are destitute, who are losing their homes, who are losing their jobs, seeing these huge bonuses and incredible profits going to these very banks that —-

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Bad economic policy and suicidal politics. And I think we need to address that.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: But they have the same alliances. I met with some people from Kentucky and West Virginia during a Tea Party rally the day of the healthcare debate. And a guy, as he got through some of his fears and anger, and he’s fighting for liberty -— and, Amy, he had on an oxygen mask, trying to breathe — in one pocket, a Medicare card; the other, a Social Security card — fighting against big government. So what was he —-

AMY GOODMAN: And he was criticizing you talking about healthcare, public option.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Criticizing big government. I mean, is Paul against the grants that go to the University of Kentucky or Louisville? Is he against interstate highway? And is he against the government research to deal with black lung disease? A coal miner dies from black lung disease every six hours, most of whom come to the hospital there in Kentucky, for example.

I just think that the kind of attacks on President Obama had a kind of a mixed message of "I’m against him." What are you for? What is his plan to deal with poverty and jobs and healthcare and education? I hear no forward thinking.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: And the man who won in the Democratic primary, Jack Conway, beat a man, Dan Mongiardo, who ran against Bunning. Mongiardo was redbaited in an ugly way by Bunning in the Senate election. But some people think Conway has a real chance. I mean, it’s not clear Rand Paul is going to run away with it. The numbers were pretty big last night, but he ran against an establishment Republican candidate.

AMY GOODMAN: I don’t know if this is true. I’m looking at a publication called The Moderate Voice. For people who are wondering about his name, Rand Paul, it says he was born Randall Paul. He informally changed his name to Rand during that campaign as a homage to the author Ayn Rand, according to a Ron Paul aide at the time.

Well, this is Democracy Now!. Katrina vanden Heuvel, thanks very much for being with us.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: That’s a democratic act right there, changing your name.

AMY GOODMAN: —- editor and publisher of The Nation. She blogs at thenation.com. Reverend Jackson is going to stay with us as we move to Detroit and also talk about some anniversaries, like Brown v. Board of Education

. Stay with us.

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