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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

CNN’s Peter Hamby On The Start Of The 2016 Race

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CNN’s Peter Hamby joined me on the show today to talk about the launch of Senator Ted Cruz campaign yesterday and 2016 as well:




HH: Joined now by Peter Hamby, CNN national political reporter. You ought to be following him on Twitter, @PeterHambyCNN. Peter, you were sick last week, a little suspicious, I thought, given the NCAA Tournament was on.

PH: Well, actually, I’ve made a practice, Hugh, since high school of taking off the first Thursday or Friday of the tournament, depending on what day Georgetown is playing if they’re in the tournament. However, I got sick the previous week, so I blew my cover. So I couldn’t take the following week off. But I was actually sick.

HH: All right, now I have taken the liberty of reviewing your Twitter feed, by the way, and I note a number of them that go like this.

Beaker: Meep-meep-meep-meep-meep-meep-meep.

HH: Last time a call went Georgetown’s way, 2007. Phony SMU goaltending.

PH: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

HH: Do they have a course in whining at Georgetown? Is that what they teach there?

PH: No. We are hardened basketball fans at Georgetown. We never, never whine. We are not Duke fans. Come on.

HH: Oh, come on, I’m just saying, I’m sending people to @PeterHambyCNN and let them decide for themselves. Where are the Hambycasts? Now this is what I wanted to talk about, is what’s the schedule for Hambycast 2016, and why isn’t there one on the Ted Cruz rollout last night?

PH: Well, you’ve got to, if you’re paying attention to CNN Digital, we are investing in a lot of different video products. So we just launched one with my colleague, Chris Moody, called Being Moody, where he has sort of his irreverent take on politics, too. So we’re sort of doing Hambycasts by season. We’re taking a break just to kind of like focus on building up some other folks in the meantime. But the other thing with Hambycast that’s great, Hugh, is that you know, we kind of like to go off the beaten path a little bit. And the entire political press corps was down at Liberty, so even if we wanted to do it, we might have strayed, tried to stay away a little bit from the pack.

HH: So where do you go off of the, everything in on the course, now, every one of these people. You had Hillary last night at the Dan Balz dinner, you’ve got everybody, is there an off the beaten path path anywhere in America?

PH: In terms of political coverage?

HH: Yeah.

PH: I mean, I still think that there are, you know, statehouses are criminally undercovered still. I mean, there are still great capital press corps in Florida, for example, and Texas, but look at California. Look at Iowa. I mean, these places have great reporters, but like they just don’t have a lot of them. So I think that’s sort of like the happy hunting ground for reporters.

HH: But for 2016…

PH: And I know you’ve got Dave Weigel on the show today, too. I mean, he’s one of the best at just getting away from the pack and sort of telling stories that other people aren’t.

HH: True, but for 2016, which is your wheelhouse, there is a set series of stories that you’ve got to cover, right?

PH: Yeah, I mean, that’s true. You sort of like, if you are a sort of conventional political reporter, you have to cover the announcement, you have to cover the cattle call, you have to cover the straw polls. Straw poll season is starting now. You know, the different county conventions in South Carolina, for example, but yeah, you do have to cover the basics, as the thing gets up and running. But as these people, as they start to go out into the country and into the states, you know, that’s when you go out there and start to pay attention to things that don’t necessarily get…I find again and again and again, Hugh, there’s like this impulse in the media where you kind of think everything is saturated and everything is over-covered, and then you just pick up the phone and make some phone calls, or you go somewhere and hang out with people, and you always learn something. There’s always something happening out there.

HH: Oh, there’s something new.

PH: And that’s just a sense, there’s a thought, this group think, that there’s too many political reporters. I mean, yeah, a lot of us are covering the same stuff at times, but if you just sort of peek around the corner a little bit, there’s a lot going on.

HH: Absolutely not. There’s endless number of pipes that can be plumbed. I want to ask you from your opinion of running Hambycast, they all know they’ve got to be sort of on your radar. Who’s got the best Coms Department out of the up and running presidential campaigns, even those that aren’t official, yet?

PH: I mean, I think this sort of follows who is sort of perceived frontrunners at the moment. But I mean, look, Jeb’s hire of Tim Miller was a huge deal, and I’ll tell you why. Jeb sort of was suffering a little bit from what Hillary will, which is you’re surrounded by you know, not just an orbit of people who have been around you, but generations of people advising you, whispering in your ear, and frankly, a lot of people who are using old playbooks. Tim, who is Jeb Bush’s communications director, I think he’s about my age, 32, 33, really is just native to the digital space, understands how Twitter can affect elite opinion, but also has the perspective to realize what matters and what doesn’t. He’s very good at that. And he’s got great relationships just in the media, mainstream reporters, conservative reporters. So I just think Jeb is well-served by trusting him, delegating to him the kind of work with this up and coming younger generation of political reporters who really have megaphones. I think that was a smart hire. And the other thing is Scott Walker is putting together a good team, too. Kirsten Kukowski, who came over from the RNC, I mean, we’re getting press releases from her every day now, which is just the basic stuff that matters. I mean, like most regular people don’t care about this stuff, but it’s like hey, Scott Walker is going here.

HH: Yeah.

PH: This is his schedule.

HH: Now the two names you just gave, great names, I agree with it. That’s why we talk to Hamby. Peter Hamby, CNN national political reporter, follow him on Twitter if you want to be informed on what’s going on out there, @PeterHambyCNN.

End of interview.


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