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A Political Bridge for 2008
Posted on May 1, 2007
Scheer: Your website says some good things about lobbyists. I’ll let people read that, and I also want to say to our listeners and readers, about being a delegate ... you don’t have to change your party to be a delegate of Unity08, right?
Kornacki: We are technically a third party in that, we’re going to be the, sort of the independent party in the 2008 election. But you don’t, there’s no registration, there’s no “you have to leave the Democratic Party.” In fact, if you’re, as I keep saying, if you’re a Barack Obama supporter, if you’re a Rudy Giuliani supporter now, whatever it is, go ahead. We say, go work your heart out for Barack, for Rudy, write them a check, go to New Hampshire and campaign for him. But if you want to sign off with Unity08 too, you’re welcome to, and if things don’t work out well with you, you’ve got a home with us.
Harris: So it’s more of a fallback. Is it a fallback or do you hope to influence a great number of people and get a president in office?
Kornacki: It could be. But I think part of what we’re driven by, we’re driven by both optimism and cynicism at the same time. Optimism in the sense that we think this can be accomplished and it should be accomplished. Cynicism in the sense that the opportunity is going to be there because past history suggests that both of these parties are going to nominate people that just don’t resonate with the broad electorate in this county. But if one of the parties, maybe it’s one of the candidates who’s out there now and maybe it’s a candidate who nobody’s seen or heard from too much at least, but if one or both of these parties goes and nominates somebody who really clicks with the American public and address the concerns that we’ve outline how politics is conducted in this country and the issue that are being ignored, and talks about embracing kindhearted people on the other side of the political aisle.
If one of those candidates emerges from one of the parties, then there’s also the situation where we’re content to hear from them, say, OK, declare a victory and go enjoy a baseball season and go and cheer for that candidate . Sadly though, we’re starting this now because, in our lifetime, not many of us can remember too many examples when that’s happened, and it seems more impossible now than ever that these parties are going to get it together.
Harris: You may end up taking votes from a party that’s trying to get their guy in office. If Democrats want a Democrat to win, say Obama, Republicans are rooting for Giuliani, and you take a crucial percentage, have you done a disservice?
Kornacki: The [Ralph] Nader question hangs heavy over any third party. I think my answer to that would be, there is the Nader example that’s out there. ...
Scheer: And [Ross] Perot, too.
Kornacki: ... I don’t believe that if you look back at the numbers from ‘92 Perot actually tilted it [the election], and I think ... the 20 percent that he got came from people who wanted change and I think it came from Clinton as much as from Democrats, and Democrat-leaning independents, than it did from Republicans, but I think the Perot example is very instructive because he could have won the race. If you remember the chronology ... [in] February of 1992 and by May or June he was polling at 35 percent to 40 percent in a three-way race with Clinton and [George H.W.] Bush and winning a majority in early projections of the electoral college and he had the money to run a campaign every bit as well financed as Clinton and Bush. And what happened with Perot, frankly, is he went a little crazy, and when he dropped out of the race in July 1992 all of it raised a whole series of questions about his temperament and about his fitness for office. And when he got back in, he was not seen as quite the same threat, and even at that, he was able to poll 20 percent . So we think if Perot, for all of his issues, could lead the race in the spring of 1992, if you can nominate somebody who has broad appeal, that’s the idea here.
We’re talking about appealing to the tens of millions of Americans who’ve been ignored by the political process. You nominate somebody who has broad appeal—there’s some question of whether Ralph Nader had broad appeal—and somebody who’s well financed, and if we can build the kind of grass-roots support we want to build, then we can make sure that person and that candidate is well financed, then there’s no reason our candidate can’t get to October and be at 20-25 percent in the polls. And if you’re 20-25 percent in the polls, then you get in the debates. And if you get in the debates, we’ll stack the ideas, the vision, the type of discussion that we’re calling for, we’ll stack that up against the candidates of the ... Democratic and Republican Party, and I think at that point we’d feel pretty good about our chances and it wouldn’t be about spoiling it. It would be about winning.
Scheer: And, you know, I want to say something about the Perot campaign. I liked Adm. [James] Stockdale, the vice presidential candidate, and I thought that he may not have done well at the vice presidential debates, but I really like him and he actually made me kind of sway toward Perot. ...
Harris: It was “you people.” Remember [Perot’s] “you people” comments?
Kornacki: Yeah, I remember both of those. I liked Stockdale. You know, I’m one of the 2 percent of the people after that debate that said he won it actually, the vice presidential—.
Scheer: Well, up against Dan Quayle and Al Gore, there’s not much competition but. ...
Kornacki: He came across as a natural. I mean that’s what you need in politics.
Harris: Hillary’s raised $26 million. Barack’s raised $25 million and we haven’t even talked about the Republican Mitt Romney… you guys don’t even have a candidate yet. So, are you just a madman to your friends? How does everyone receive you?
Kornacki: It takes ... some explanation at this point. I won’t lie to you ... the money can be formidable, but as I said, we believe that if we can build the grass-roots army that we believe we can build, and we can put up candidates who people could actually believe in and would actually want to vote for, then it wouldn’t be an unreasonable proposition to ask the grass-roots supporters to put up 20 bucks each, to put up 30 bucks, 10 bucks, whatever they can afford. And build a sustainable base of financial support for a fall campaign. At that point, if we have enough money to be competitive, it doesn’t mean we have to spend as much. I mean I can cite ... many examples in American politics where [the candidates] don’t have any ideas, they have no personality and they have no ability to inspire and all the money in the world’s not going to buy an election if that’s the case. I mean, go back to, some random examples. Phil [Gramm], running for president in 1995. How many millions did he raise? I don’t even think he made the New Hampshire primary. A classic example is John Connally from Texas. All these guys from Texas. He raised millions of dollars in 1980. I think he got one delegate at the convention. So, no, we don’t need to raise, and we’re not going to raise, I don’t think the hundreds of millions that Hillary might or Romney or whatever. But if we raise enough to get our message out there, at a certain point I think our message is worth a good chuck of change.
Harris: Well, Steve Kornacki, community outreach director for Unity08, you better drink lots of Gatorade, and keep your stamina up ‘cause you’ve got a lot of work ahead of yourself. ...
Kornacki: That’s good advice. Well, thanks for the time, guys.
Harris: No problem, and we look forward to hearing more from you over the coming year, and we’ll see how it plays out in the coming presidential election. For Steve Kornacki, for Josh Scheer, this is James Harris and this is Truthdig.
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