Hickenlooper drops out

Today, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper officially announced that he is dropping out of the race for President. If you’ve listened to this show for the past week, that should be no surprise. Hickenlooper was, like many candidates in this field, up against a looming August 28th deadline to reach both fundraising and polling goals that were hard or maybe impossible for him to obtain in order to get into those next DNC debates.

Now, here’s the minor surprise. In his announcement, Hickenlooper did NOT immediately announce a run for Senate in Colorado. While many, myself included, suspect that he will eventually run there against Republican Senator Cory Gardner, Hickenlooper doesn’t seem convinced. And that makes sense—he may be in a mode where he needs to really think about whether he’s cut out for the Senate, given that he told us all earlier this year, that literally, he doesn’t feel he is cut out for the Senate.

Senate terms are six years long, and Hickenlooper is currently 67 years old. Also, to be totally clear, although Hickenlooper is polling great against Gardner in Colorado, it’s likely that there are other local Democrats who could win that race too. If I were in Hickenlooper’s position, I’d be asking myself whether this might be a nice time to retire, hang out at my brewpub, enjoy my multiple millions of dollars, and just kinda put my feet up—or whether I’m ready to jump back in for another year of campaigning and then another 6 years of service. Hickenlooper is clearly thinking it over, so we will see what happens.

So, like Swalwell and Gravel before him, let’s take a look back at notable moments in Hickenlooper’s campaign. He announced on March 4th of this year, meaning he spent 164 days in the race. Prior to the first debate, Hickenlooper was openly booed at a Democratic Party meeting in California when he suggested that socialism isn’t the answer. Here’s that classic clip:


And in the first two debates, here’s what Hickenlooper had to say about the same topic:


And here’s one more notable debate moment. Listen in:


With Hickenlooper’s departure, the list of major candidates now drops to 23, and I expect that number to decline further in the coming weeks.

The Steve King stuff in Iowa

Next up, let’s talk about the race in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district. Last week I covered the announcement by Democrat J.D. Scholten, who is challenging incumbent Republican Steve King for his seat in Congress. Well, Representative King is now in the news for some remarks he made yesterday. I came across this first clip from CNN that gives us the most controversial stuff, then Wolf Blitzer asking Senator Kamala Harris to react to it. If you can’t quite make out what King is saying at the beginning, don’t worry, we’ll get further into it afterward. Listen in:


Yeah, so points to Harris for calling it like she sees it. So, here’s the context.

King was at a campaign event in Urbandale, Iowa yesterday, held by the Westside Conservative Club. While in Congress, King had sponsored legislation related to abortion but did not include exemptions for rape and incest. He was pressured by Republican leadership to add those exemptions, but King refused as a matter of religious principle. So at that event yesterday, he gave a speech talking about all kinds of stuff—agriculture subsidies, biofuels, immigration, his history in state and national politics, I mean it was a whole hour-long speech, and this 20-second clip is what blew up.

So my question was, basically, what was the broader context around that clip? Like, what would lead to someone musing on the societal value of rape and incest as things that maintain population levels? You know what I mean? So I sat through about 40 minutes of the speech to find you this, which is the full context for that little snippet that’s been all over the news. I have also cleaned up the noise in this audio a little bit so it should be easier to make out, though I’m working with a pretty rough recording to start with. Okay, listen in:


Yeah. Well, he was not misquoted, and indeed, he did bring up this idea on his own, because he thought it was an interesting hypothetical. He really is saying that rape and incest are historical drivers of population growth and heck, maybe he himself is a product of them, and so what’s the big deal? I mean, yikes. I should also point out, you can hear in there that he DOES touch on the idea that you shouldn’t blame the child for the sins of its parents. But that’s a better place to stop talking if you’re trying to make this argument. By musing on the virtues of sexual violence, King is revealing a side of himself that is gonna get him defeated in the election. Nobody wants to vote for this.

So, I play you this not because I’m going to bring you details on every gross thing Steve King manages to say. But I do think this is a key example of WHY so many mainstream politicians and even presidential candidates jumped on the announcement by Scholten that he is running for that seat. It’s also probably part of how Scholten got Kevin freakin’ Costner to narrate his announcement video. And yes, both Republicans and Democrats have called for King to resign over this. I doubt that will happen.

Now, King himself faces a primary challenge on the Republican side, so he might not even make it to the general election for that House seat. But if he does, this is a really straightforward example of what gets Democrats so riled up, and so excited for the Congressional side of the 2020 election. Now let’s all have a drink of water and try to clear our minds and move on.

O’Rourke rules out a Senate run

In a speech this morning in El Paso, former Representative Beto O’Rourke resumed his campaign for president, and announced that he would not run for Senate, as some Democrats had suggested he should. He also said he wouldn’t focus on things like the Iowa State Fair. Although he didn’t say it in these words, he essentially said that was trivial and immaterial to the real issues we face. I think he has a solid point there.

The 20-minute speech was streamed live, but it was SUPER choppy, and I was unable to get much usable audio out of it. Here is one little segment that did work, though, so listen in:


Okay, so in the remainder of the speech, O’Rourke told much of the story he told in audio we’ve previously covered on this show. He recounted his experience after the El Paso shooting. But he also announced a gun buyback program and talked about it in the speech. Here’s a clip of that part:


On Twitter, CNN reporter Eric Bradner posted a written response that O’Rourke gave him about the new proposal. Bradner wrote, in part, “I asked [Beto O'Rourke] about his call for a mandatory gun buyback. Interesting answer — including him copping to not pushing it before because "it's not politically easy."” So let me read that full statement now. This is a direct quote of O’Rourke responding to Bradner, and O’Rourke did retweet this, by the way:

“Yes, I’m talking about a mandatory buyback of assault weapons and weapons of war in this country. The owners paid a fair price for what they own. But I’ve got to tell you—visiting with one of the survivors who was shot in both legs, going into her husband’s hospital room, where he has not yet gained consciousness following the attack on August 3[rd], is fighting for his life: They own an AK-47. And she told me, ‘Listen, I’m a gun owner, I’ve used the very same gun that was used against me in that Walmart. And not only would I go through a background check; not only would I be willing to be licensed to own it. I would be willing to give that gun away if it means that we would be safer as a country.’
I know that this is not politically easy. It’s frankly why far too few people have proposed it; it’s frankly why I have not proposed it in the past. I’ve said, ‘This is something we should consider, I want to think about it, I want to talk to people about it.’ I’ve thought about it. I’ve talked to people. I’ve listened to that survivor. And now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, regardless of what it does to our prospects going forward, you’ve got to speak the truth and be clear about where the solutions are.
320 million Americans, 390 million guns, including assault weapons that can be used to kill people very effectively, very efficiently—and to keep this country in a state of constant anxiety, and for some, even kids, terror. So yes, that’s what we’ve got to do. And I know we as Americans can find a way to do this that’s fair to all concerned, but at the end of the day saves more lives than we’re saving now.”

Well, that is it for one more episode of the Election Ride Home. I have been your host, Chris Higgins. You can always find me on Twitter @chrishiggins. Well, it’s raining in Portland so…I didn’t buy a drill. That’s my excuse, I’m sticking to it. You know, we’re in an interesting season right now. It’s that middle of summer period where either everything is happening or, more often, absolutely nothing is happening. Today was kind of busy, and I’ve got a bunch of stories on deck for tomorrow, including a few listener questions. But meanwhile, I ‘vegotta run to pick up some film negatives from good ol’ Citizens Photo in Portland. They get that mention for free. Good place to get your film developed if you, somehow, need film developed in 2019. As always, thanks for listening, and I will talk to y’all tomorrow.