Who is the Best Democrat to Beat Trump? Dolores Huerta Debates Ex-Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson

March 23, 2016


Dolores Huerta

civil rights activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez. She is president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation for community organizing. Huerta has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

Rocky Anderson

former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s a former Democrat who once endorsed Mitt Romney for governor of Massachusetts. In 2012, he ran for president on the Justice Party ticket. He is supporting Bernie Sanders for president.

On Tuesday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won the Democratic caucuses in Utah and Idaho by a wide margin with about 80 percent support in each state. But Hillary Clinton expanded her delegate lead with a victory in the Arizona primary. Meanwhile, in the Republican race, Texas Senator Ted Cruz won the Utah Republican caucus, while front-runner Donald Trump took Arizona. We host a debate on the two Democratic candidates with Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, and Rocky Anderson, former Democratic mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, who has endorsed Bernie Sanders.


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

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, we turn now to the race for the White House. On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders won the Democratic caucuses in Utah and Idaho by a wide margin with about 80 percent support in each state. But Hillary Clinton expanded her delegate lead with a victory in the Arizona primary. Meanwhile, in the Republican race, Ted Cruz won the Utah Republican caucus, while Donald Trump took Arizona.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by two guests. Dolores Huerta, legendary civil rights activist, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez, she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. And Rocky Anderson, the former Democratic mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, who has endorsed Bernie Sanders, in 2012 he ran for president on the Justice Party ticket.

Welcome, both, to Democracy Now! So, last night, Hillary Clinton had a big win in Arizona, and Bernie Sanders had big wins both in Utah and in Idaho. So let’s start in Salt Lake City, in Utah. The significance of the win in Utah, though he certainly still remains behind, hundreds of delegates behind Hillary Clinton, Rocky Anderson?

ROCKY ANDERSON: Yes, Bernie Sanders won about 79 percent of the vote. And the reason we see these enormous wins—it was about the same in Idaho—is because the Democratic parties in Utah and Idaho allowed the independents to also vote in the caucuses, whereas in Arizona it was closed. It was far less democratic and far less reflective of what’s going to happen in the general election, because the independents overwhelmingly will support Bernie Sanders if he is the candidate. And that’s just simply not true if Hillary Clinton is the candidate. Amazingly enough, Amy, in Utah—and it’s the most Republican state in the country; George Bush won by the widest margin in the country in both of his elections in Utah—the polls now show that if Bernie Sanders is the Democratic candidate, he will beat Trump by 48 to 37 percent, 11 percent margin, whereas Hillary Clinton is barely shown as prevailing over Trump. He is far more electable, Bernie Sanders, against Trump than Hillary Clinton. And I think that what we are seeing now is the independents, who don’t trust Hillary Clinton. Her honesty and trustworthiness numbers are in the toilet among independents, and her favorability ratings, the same. We’ve got to get the message out that Bernie Sanders is the candidate who can beat Trump, if he is the Republican nominee.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Rocky Anderson, why do you think there is such a mistrust on the part of independents for Hillary Clinton?

ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, actually, there’s a huge mistrust among all voters, but it’s much greater among independents. And I think it’s because, first of all, she voted for the Iraq War, and she helped George Bush make his phony claims in support of the Iraq War. She supported that vote when she ran against Obama last time around, and now she’s saying, "Oh, it was a mistake." She supports fracking. She’s trying to back off that a little bit. She said the Trans-Pacific Partnership was the gold standard, until she had to face Bernie Sanders and she saw her base of voters disagreed with her on that. She opposed marriage equality until the polls changed. There’s no reason to trust this woman. And that’s showing in all of the polls.

So, I hope that those in the states that are going to be voting will recognize that a vote for Bernie Sanders is going to help the Democrats prevail against Trump, whereas Hillary Clinton is not doing well. And what we’re seeing in Utah, by the way, all these Republicans saying they would support Bernie Sanders over Trump, 48 to 37 percent. And most of the people—well, some 16 percent—are saying they won’t even vote if it’s Hillary Clinton versus Trump. We’re seeing the same thing nationally: huge leads for Bernie Sanders and a 1 percent lead by Hillary. And the trajectory is certainly against Hillary, because her numbers keep getting worse and worse in terms of her favorability ratings and voters’ perception of her honesty and trustworthiness.

AMY GOODMAN: Though the—though Bernie Sanders won in Utah and Idaho, I mean, the lines in Idaho—I think they said they were like a mile long to get into the caucuses.

ROCKY ANDERSON: They were last night. Yeah, I waited two-and-a-half hours, Amy, and it was cold. People were wondering, like, is this—

AMY GOODMAN: But Hillary Clinton swept in the primary in Arizona. Dolores Huerta, you’re a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton, a surrogate. You’re traveling the country supporting her. Why?

DOLORES HUERTA: Well, first of all, because I do believe that she is the best candidate. I think she’s competent, she’s intelligent. She’s got incredible amounts of experience. She’s got the skills, the knowledge, everything that we need to have a president of the United States that can get things done. And I think that’s very, very important to really focus on that. Hillary is a doer. She will make things happen.

And I know I just heard the gentleman speaking about how Republicans love Hillary. Well, I know that the Republican Party is doing a lot to make sure that Bernie, you know, gets their support, and they’re spending tons of money supporting Bernie Sanders, because they know that when it comes to November in the general elections, that they know that Bernie Sanders will be a lot easier to beat in the general election than Hillary. And so, I can understand their motivation and their support for Hillary, but I do believe that Hillary is the best candidate.

And it’s interesting when you talk about Arizona, because here you had Raúl Grijalva, who’s a very progressive Latino, and people really loved Raúl Grijalva, but even with Raúl Grijalva’s support and with all the—Bernie had a very strong base in Arizona. I was in Arizona. They did a lot of door-to-door work. They did a lot of mail work, a lot of stuff on the media. And Hillary still won very, very handily in the state of Arizona.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Dolores, what about these criticisms of the flip-flops in Hillary Clinton’s position on a variety of issues, like marriage equality and also about—and also in terms of the TPP?

DOLORES HUERTA: Well, I think that we want a president that can be—can evolve in their thinking—I mean, the same thing that we said about Bernie Sanders with his support of the gun lobby, you know? And Bernie has also in the past made some mistakes, as we know. And I think in our last interview, I mentioned his big mistake that he made on immigration reform when he came out against the Ted Kennedy bill in 2007, when we thought we were very, very close to be able to get immigration reform because we had the support of all of the public at that case, after all the immigration rights marches that we had in 2006. So, yes, I think we want a president that is going to evolve in their thinking, and we don’t want anybody that’s stuck in the past. So I have great confidence that Hillary Clinton will be there, and she will react to what the public needs. And she’s always had a lot of compassion.

And I think—the one thing I do want to say, I think, at the end of the day, the person that we want to beat is Donald Trump. And I know that many of the values that Bernie Sanders has and that Hillary has are the same. The big difference between the two candidates is that Hillary is a person that can make things happen. She made things happen even before she was in office, when she was the first lady. She had the first convening—the first convening of a healthcare convention for Latino youth and children. You know, she was able to get—working with Republicans and Democrats, to pass a healthcare bill for children, that we got 8 million children covered under healthcare, even before we had the Affordable Care Act. And then she went forward with that one and passed the CHIP bill, so that we could get even migrant farmworker children and immigrant children covered under healthcare. And so—

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to an interesting poll. Compared to front-runners in previous presidential primary races, Trump and Clinton’s unfavorable ratings, 57 percent and 52 percent, respectively—that’s 57 percent unfavorable for Trump, 52 percent for Clinton—are the highest in CBS News/New York Times polls going back to 1984, when CBS first asked the question—both of their unfavorabilities. But I want to ask Mayor Rocky Anderson, former Mayor Anderson of Salt Lake City, the point that Dolores Huerta makes that you want a politician and a leader who’s evolving, who’s willing to change her mind?

ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, yeah, she does it right when she’s running for election. Bernie Sanders has been there his entire career to help promote the interests of the public. He’s against fracking. Hillary Clinton is not. Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state, leaned toward approving the XL pipeline. And the corruption issues—we know that her brother received hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a pardon for a couple of his clients. You know, this whole Clinton dynasty dynamic is so anathema to most people, and certainly among independents. And by the way, independents are going to control the outcome of this election. And they don’t trust Hillary Clinton. Her unfavorability ratings are horrible among them. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate running for president right now that has a positive net favorability rating. That’s just amazing to me that people don’t realize this. And when you say we want somebody who can beat Trump, the only person, according to the polls, that has a good lead over Trump in poll after poll after poll is Bernie Sanders. And Hillary Clinton could easily lose this race, especially given the trajectory that we’re seeing in terms of people’s lack of trust for her. And it’s on so many issues.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to ask—

ROCKY ANDERSON: She was on Wall Street, pocketing $400,000—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Rocky Anderson, if I could just interrupt for a second—

ROCKY ANDERSON: —speaking to Goldman Sachs.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —because we only have about a minute left. I wanted to ask Dolores Huerta—Dolores, you’ve been associated with Democratic Socialists of America. Bernie Sanders is a democratic socialist. Your response to the fact that an independent and avowed socialist is running for president and racking up so many votes, but you’re supporting his opponent?

DOLORES HUERTA: Well, first, I want to respond to the issue that the gentleman just mentioned. I want to say this. I think when you assign to Hillary Clinton what her brother did, that is so sexist. And it’s so typical of that always to blame women for something that somebody else did. You know, women have to clean up the mess the way Obama had to clean up George Bush’s mess.


DOLORES HUERTA: And so, I just want—I just want to—I just want to point that out.

ROCKY ANDERSON: It was her brother getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for Bill Clinton to grant a pardon to his clients. This is—you know, it’s like Chelsea Clinton.

DOLORES HUERTA: Bill Clinton—wait a minute. I want to stick by what I said.

ROCKY ANDERSON: She gets a fake job with NBC, $600,000 a year.

DOLORES HUERTA: I want to stick by what I said.

AMY GOODMAN: Unfortunately, we have 10 seconds to go, Dolores.

DOLORES HUERTA: Well, again, I think Bernie has a strong message. I think that Hillary can get it—can make it happen. When it comes to being able to have affordable college for students, I think Hillary can make it happen. To improve the Affordable Care Act, Hillary can make it happen. That is the big difference between the two candidates.

AMY GOODMAN: And we’ll have to leave it there. I thank you both for being with us, Dolores Huerta, civil rights activist, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, and former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.

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