HH: I’m so pleased to welcome now to the Hugh Hewitt Show Chuck Todd, host, of course, of Meet The Press on a day of enormous breaking political news, politically. Even though it occurs in the United Kingdom, it has great consequences for us in the United States with Boris Johnson dropping out of the leadership race unexpectedly. His partner and now competitor and now bypassing him, Michael Gove, the Justice Minister, throwing his hat in the race along with Home Secretary Theresa May, believed to be the two frontrunners with Liam Fox, the former Defense Secretary, in third place. Chuck Todd, I’m going back to your Hotline days. You used to cover American politics, and you still do, deep, deep silos. Do you have the same affection for British politics that I do?
CT: Oh, I do, only because there’s so many people you and I both know who end up going to work for, a lot of American consultants end up working over there, so you end up learning a lot about it, so absolutely. I have to say Boris Johnson tells me he doesn’t want to touch this. It tells me he’s afraid of it. He’s afraid to be the person to have to navigate through this, which is, you know, it’s a leadership moment, and he’s ducking it. I think he’s going to regret it someday.
HH: So do I. I don’t think you can walk away from something you lead and expect, I don’t even know if he’ll be in the cabinet, but Michael Gove obviously…
CT: Why would anybody invite him back?
CT: I think this, he sends a message that I’m not, I mean, you know, this was a tough thing to do. Lead it. You’re the guy that did it. You’re the guy, you gave the face. You, you know, I am, it says to me he doesn’t want to be the face of this anymore, and that he fears it. And maybe he regrets it. I don’t know.
HH: Now Chuck Todd, I don’t know who your equivalent is in the United Kingdom. There are some presenters there, as they call them, journalists on television, who hold big audiences. But I’m curious whether or not Meet The Press will try and get interviews with Theresa May and Liam Fox and Michael Gove, because it does matter to the United States so much. At least at very minimum, the war on terror, Theresa May’s been the Home Secretary, you know, MI5 overseer for six years.
CT: Well, remember who my boss is. One of my bosses, my boss, Deborah Turness, used to run ITV over there.
HH: I had forgotten that, yeah.
CT: We, you know, she certainly has an extra interest in this. Look, we tried to, I’ve been trying to get Boris Johnson on the show for the last couple of weeks. And by the way, I’m still interested in interviewing him, considering, trying to find out why he’s walking away from this. So we’re pursuing it. I agree with you. I mean, you know, it’s, look, this whole thing is interconnected, and it’s sort of been driving me crazy, because I feel as if we’re almost, we’re not doing, I mean, from the crisis in Syria that is tied to the migrant crisis, which is tied to, which of course had an impact on Brexit, which could fracture Europe, I mean, you know, all of this is not just matters, it’s all interconnected.
HH: It is, and this morning, strong evidence the bombers came from Raqqa. There was a Russian, an Uzbekistan and a Kyrgyzstan. One of the people killed at Istanbul Airport was a Tunisian doctor going to get his son out of ISIS. All of this is one story, Chuck Todd. You just made a point which I don’t think we can get away from. And in our election, I discussed this with David Drucker, I think it’s become a meta election, meaning that it doesn’t much matter what the candidates do or say. Events are in the saddle.
CT: Well, they sure are. I think part of that is because we have one of the nominees that’s such an event driven candidate. I mean, Trump really is. So yes, events are driving it, but he is somebody that wants events to drive it.
CT: I mean, he sort of embraces the idea that events should drive his message, his campaign. He’s, you know, that’s why he enjoys the unscripted nature of his rallies and things like that. So, but I agree, I mean, we really are, I mean, you can’t, I mean, it really is two different worldviews about America’s role in the world, right? I mean, Donald Trump has one, and Hillary Clinton has another. And it is two dramatically different worldviews about sort of America, you know, is it supposed to be the leader of the free world to the point of, hey, you know, we’ve got to put more alliances together, we’ve got to keep alliances together, where Trump is more of a, a little more insular and saying no. You know, we’ve got to fix us and our role in the world is going to be how people deal with us rather than how we deal with them, essentially. And you know…
HH: Yeah, that’s the meta.
CT: There’s an appeal.
HH: Yeah, that’s the meta. Let me play for you President Obama, I’m calling him President Jayvees now, in Canada yesterday talking just off the cuff, says this, cut number seven, folks.
BO: Yeah, I want to say one last thing, though, because it’s been a running thread and a bunch of questions. And that’s this whole issue of populism. And maybe someone can pull up in a dictionary quickly the phrase populism, but I’m not prepared to concede the notion that some of the rhetoric that’s been popping up is populist. When I ran in 2008, and the reason I ran again, and the reason even after I leave this office, I will continue to work in some capacity in public service, is because I care about people, and I want to make sure every kid in America has the same opportunities that I have.
HH: Chuck Todd, I believe he uses the word I eight or nine times in that minute. But it’s a meta moment, because it’s going to help both the turnout of the Democratic base and the Republican base. That moment is viewed as an Energizer Bunny for both sides.
CT: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting, look, people that are not called populists, politicians that are not called populists that feel like they’re losing an argument to somebody that is being called a populist, I’ve heard that complaint before. I mean, look, in some ways, what did I have? I had David Miliband on last week, and he used the line about populism that I’ve heard others use before, which is that populism is popular until they attempt to govern.
HH: (laughing) I missed that.
CT: Yeah, you know, and I’ve heard a version of that before, which look, it’s true, right? Populism is an effective campaign rhetoric, but when populists get elected, they realize how hard it is, you know, and realize that it’s not as easy to live by your words to govern by the promises and the fiery words that you have. But you know, there is always this extra sensitivity electeds have. You know, why, how come I’m not considered a populist? You know, it’s one of those things that everybody wants to be, and everybody believes the person that’s called it isn’t.
HH: I’ve got to tell you, I am surprised that the British SAS did not break into the Meet The Press studios and grab David Miliband and take him back to Great Britain to put him on the front bench of the opposition after…
CT: I asked him, I asked him about it, and you know, he gave a non-denial denial. He didn’t fully rule it out.
HH: He’s their savior, man. He’s their hope.
CT: He did remind people, he did remind people he’s got to be a member of Parliament. I think that’s the problem. He doesn’t want to go back to people protesting.
HH: He’s got, there’s a bi-election coming up somewhere. Let me play you a news report out of Phoenix, Chuck Todd, because this is going to be a huge story on the right. I don’t know if it’s going to spread, but it’s going to be a huge story on the right from Phoenix yesterday.
ABC-15: Very interesting meeting on the tarmac at Sky Harbor International Airport as ABC-15 has confirmed former President Bill Clinton was in town, and met up with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch as she was arriving in Phoenix. Now this meeting took place just hours before the release of the Benghazi report, so we asked her about it.
HH: All right, so Chuck, she said nothing. It was about grandkids, etc. It’s already being called the fix in Phoenix on the conservative side, and a Department of Justice lawyer called up today and said they are astonished at the appearance of impropriety here given the FBI investigation.
HH: Had you heard about this, yet?
CT: I’ve heard about this percolating, and I’ve heard about this meeting, but yeah, I think it’s, you know, look, I agree. I think that if you, if you’re inclined not to believe anything about her, and inclined not to believe the Obama Justice Department is going to be fair, you know, you’re going to view this ultra-suspiciously. I agree in this hyper-sensitive time, she should have been more careful about this.
HH: It’s just…
CT: You know, appearances matter. Perception, you know, this is the problem, right? I mean, it’s a problem when we deal with the issue of media bias. It’s the problem when we deal with the issue of political bias. It’s the problem we deal with in the issue of polarization, which is you know, perception is trumping reality for a lot of people. We just all have to deal with that. And you know what? You have to be aware of perception, and you have to always be thinking about it. It may not be fair, and you may think I’m, you’re an honest person, and you know, what have I done to be subject to extra scrutiny? And I’m referring to Loretta Lynch here. But you know, this is the job you chose. You chose to accept it, and when you do, you know, you’ve got to go out of your way to make sure perception is…
HH: A little Hyman Roth there. This is the business we’ve chosen.
CT: Yeah, that’s right.
HH: We’ve got a minute left, Chuck. Who’s on Meet The Press this Sunday?
CT: Well, so far, I’ve got Tom Perez. I’m doing right down the VP candidate on that side. Still working, still working on the Republican side of things, thought I had somebody, and now can’t quite confirm it, yet. It is Thursday. You always get me on Thursday. Thursdays are my, this is my finalization day when it comes to guests.
HH: Don’t forget Congressman Tim Ryan when you’re doing Democratic vice presidential nominees.
CT: Look at you. You are pro-Ohio no matter which side of the aisle.
HH: Well, he’s going to be, he would deliver Ohio to Hillary Clinton. He would take away the Trump votes in Mahoning and Trumbull County. I’m just calling it like I see it. Chuck Todd, great to talk to you. The Indians have won 12. I hope that leads Meet The Press if we’ve got 14 in the bag by Sunday. If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet The Press. Chuck Todd, don’t miss it.
End of interview.