Hi. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics. I’m Lisa Lerer, your host.
Corey Lewandowski: fired Trump campaign manager, pugilistic politico, lobbyist.
Future U.S. senator?
Mr. Lewandowski is reportedly considering a campaign in New Hampshire to challenge the Democratic incumbent, Senator Jeanne Shaheen. And ahead of a rally there tonight, President Trump all but endorsed him, telling a local radio station: “If he ran, I think he’d be number one. I think he’d be hard to beat in New Hampshire.”
That kind of talk is prompting an outbreak of agita among Republicans in the Granite State. “There’s zero added value to have somebody like Cory on the ticket,” said Dave Carney, a longtime G.O.P. strategist in the state.
Should he run, Mr. Lewandowski would be a high-octane test case for an emerging campaign dynamic: former Trump associates running for office.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders is reportedly mulling a run for governor of Arkansas in 2022. Speculation about a possible presidential bid continues to surround Nikki Haley, Mr. Trump’s former U.N. ambassador, who’s been taking small steps to distance herself from the president. And some Republicans are trying to push Secretary of State Mike Pompeo into the Senate race in Kansas.
Of course, running for office as a political hack isn’t quite the same as having served as a cabinet member or a White House aide. But in such a polarized political environment, the question is whether administration experience plays differently than it has in the past.
Trump supporters in New Hampshire argue that a loyalist could nationalize the profile of a second-tier Senate race and give their base the boost of enthusiasm it needs in a state the president lost by just 2,736 votes in 2016.
But some Republicans in the state are fiercely opposed to Mr. Lewandowski’s candidacy, leaving them in rare open revolt to the White House. Many are concerned with the baggage he would bring to the race: He was accused of grabbing a female reporter when he worked for the campaign, and he has drawn scrutiny over his “advisory” business, which let him represent clients while remaining close to the White House.
Former Senator Judd Gregg called Mr. Lewandowski a “thug.” The Union Leader, a conservative bulwark in the state, published a signed editorial against his candidacy. And Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, is signaling to allies that he’d rather Mr. Lewandowski sit out the race.
Their argument: Mr. Lewandowski could win the primary, but he’d cost Republicans the state in the general election. They also say he would do little to expand on Mr. Trump’s base in the fiercely independent state.
Tom Rath, a former attorney general and longtime Republican hand in the state, offered a play on the 1980 campaign slogan for Warren Rudman, “A Senator we can call our own.”
“The idea that you’re going to run for the Senate with the slogan, ‘A Senator Trump can call his own,’ that’s a leap of faith,” Mr. Rath said.
Democrats, meanwhile, think it’s a great idea. They used the attention around Mr. Lewandowski’s possible bid to issue a call of their own: a congressional subpoena.
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For the next installment of our new interview series, Candidates on Rides in Iowa, we have the senior senator from Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar.
We’re handing the ride pass over to Reid J. Epstein, our colleague on the Politics desk, who took a trip on the Sky Glider with Ms. Klobuchar. While she didn’t rock the seat the way Senator Cory Booker did, she did threaten to throw the reporter off the ride. (This is dangerous work here, readers. Pay for your paper!)
Here’s their conversation:
Reid Epstein: Hi Senator. Can you say three nice things about the Iowa State Fair, relative to the Minnesota State Fair?
Amy Klobuchar: Oh, more than that.
First of all, they have more trees than we do, but it’s a bigger space, and not maybe bigger space, but there’s more room for people. Secondly, they have fine art in their cow. Now, I personally love our butter princess, but they are in different categories. Our is a phenomenon, and theirs is a beautiful work of art, a butter sculpture. And the third thing is that I have never had corn-dog-flavored beer. They’re being very creative, and I’m going to try that. So there you go.
You’ve talked about looking forward to being in the debates when there are fewer people on the stage.
Yeah. Yeah. Kind of a “Hunger Games” situation.
Is the field …
Klobuchar: In fourth grade, I had a teacher named Ms. Kalionen, with bright red hair, and she would conduct the flutophone concert by having everyone in the group. And then — it was so mean — one by one they would go away, until at the end it was only me playing “All My Loving” by the Beatles with my flutophone. I guess each song there’d be a few less people playing. [Note: This is a flutophone.]
Is there footage of that?
No. It was fourth grade. We didn’t even have footage back then. Yeah, so that’s what this reminds me of.
But do you think the field is too big still?
I think that — of course, when you’re in it, you want it narrowed down. But it’s going to narrow down. I’m not as hyper about that as some people. And I think it’s hard for the voters to discern, and that’s where the debates can seem very messy to them. But I think once you get down to 12 people, something like that, it’s just going to be a little better.
You make veiled references to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, about people having big plans that haven’t implemented them. Do you think they’re electable in a general election?
That’s going to be up to the voters. I would argue that the people of this country have had a lot of promises made by one Donald Trump, and that having someone that looks them in the eye and tells them the truth is going to be meaningful over time. And I would also add to that, I’m actually someone that has passed numerous bills, over 100 bills where I’m the lead Democrat, and that’s got to mean something.
Well, does everyone in the field count as someone who would get things done?
No. I don’t think so. I think people are going to have to evaluate the records to see what they passed, how they’ve worked together, what they’ve done. And it’s not just, especially for rural policy out here, putting together words on paper.
You’ve struggled to break into the top five candidates in this race. What do you make of the current state of things?
I don’t want to talk about the polls because if I just thought everything was polls right now, I don’t think that’s fair to our supporters —
(A person on the ground shouts: “Can I get a selfie? Are you O.K. with a selfie?”)
— It’s not fair to those people that want to take a selfie on a Sky Glider to me. And I think it’s way too early to evaluate this. I get doing it in November, December.
Look, no one thought Jimmy Carter was going to be the candidate. And a lot of people didn’t think Bill Clinton was going to be the candidate at this point. And a lot of people didn’t think Barack Obama was going to be the candidate. And while we have a big field, to be in the top tier of that field, the top 10, I think anything’s possible. And our supporters think that, and my staff thinks that, and that’s how we’re running this race, so.
Is it frustrating to see newcomers like Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg getting all this attention from cable news and having viral moments, when you’ve been elected three times?
It is what it is. I think you have to be able to make your case, and maybe I’ll be wrong, but I think, in the end, experience matters. And also, how you have used your power matters. And so that’s just the case I’m going to keep making. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. But we’re not giving up, and we’re going to keep doing it.
What does an Amy Klobuchar viral moment in this campaign look like?
Jumping off the Sky Glider and hanging down and then creating the momentum so you fall off.
That would not be good.
Yeah, that would be a good one. I think something like that. So anyway, we’ll see. I just think you can’t — you just wait for that moment and you respond.
Is this the most humiliating thing you’ve done as a presidential candidate?
Oh, this is nothing. I did an interview with our local Fox on a giant slide.