MyDD Interview with Mark Udall

Update (Jonathan): Don't think this race is a tossup? Think again. A new Rasmussen Reports poll has this race as a statistical dead heat. Now it seems to me that Rasmussen didn't push undecideds nearly enough, and that the SurveyUSA poll showing Udall up 6 points passes the gut check a bit better. That said, this is going to be a close race, so don't forget about it, and make sure to get involved.

On Thursday evening I had the opportunity to speak with Congressman Mark Udall, the presumptive Democratic Senate nominee in the open seat race in Colorado. This campaign is getting dirty fast, with a conservative 527 already slinging mud at Udall, who they fear has a good shot at continuing the Democrats' trend of success in Colorado (the party has picked up a Senate seat, the Governorship, two House seats and both chambers of the state legislature in the past two cycles). But Udall is ready for it, with more than $3.1 million in the bank as of the end of September and a small, but noticeable lead in head-to-head polling against the presumptive GOP nominee, former Congressman Bob Schaffer. But if you want to give Udall a boost, as well, head over to Act Blue and make a contribution to his effort today.

You can download the audio of the interview here as a large .mp3 file or listen to it through the player below. I have also included a rush transcript of the interview, which covers a lot of ground, from campaign tactics to specific issues like energy independence.


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Jonathan Singer: At the beginning of the cycle this looked like it was going to be the top race, the easiest race for the Democrats in the Senate. Now there are so many open races people maybe aren't paying as much attention anymore to Colorado. Why should be people around the country - we'll get to Coloradans in a second - but why should people around the country be homing in on this race?

Mark Udall: It still is a crucial race to generate a 56- or 57-vote majority in the Senate so that we can really grab the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where the Senate is not a place where you play defense and protect the rights of minorities - racial, political, whatever it may be. Historically that's the role the Senate has played, in some cases not in ways that make us particularly proud. For example segregationists held sway in the Senate for decades, that's why the civil rights that were promised weren't forthcoming for way too many years. But in order to really move this new agenda you have to have 56 or 57 votes.

I welcome all these additional competitive races. It excites me. In the summer I was saying to groups, "I intend to be the seat we hold so we hold the majority. I know Tim Johnson will win. I have every belief that Mary Landrieu will win. But this is the seat that will ensure that we have the majority." And I paused and said, "But wait a minute. By the time we get out to counting the votes in Colorado, I could be the 56th or 57th seat." Think of Maine. That has real potential. Right now, of course, it is what it is. But Tom Allen will go the extra mile to make that race. New Hampshire. Minnesota was in the mix at that point. And then, of course, Virginia came on the radar screen. Now New Mexico. There are a couple of other interesting states, Kentucky and Alaska. So we need all of these races to be successfully concluded, including mine.

So I welcome this. Think of the people who are standing up to run. Jean Shaheen, Tom Allen, Mark Warner. In Minnesota you have two very competent potential candidates, there, two very different candidates in Mike Ciresi and Al Franken. And now the race that I'm waging and the race that Tom [Udall] will wage in New Mexico.

What I will add, too, is this is a tossup. Colorado is not a blue state. You know this. It's purple right now. It's purple because there are some trends that have emerged in the Rocky Mountain West that are best symbolized by Governor Schweitzer's success, Senator Tester's success, Governor Freudenthal in Wyoming - people forget Wyoming has a Democratic Governor. And you come down that long blue bridge from the Canadian border to the Mexican border of Governorships, and it's connected now, what happened in Colorado, with Governor Ritter. There isn't one playbook or one formula for a Democrat to have success in the West. But there are some key elements I know we can talk more about.

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MyDD Interview with Tom Udall

Bumped -- Jonathan... This is a really important race, and I just wanted to bump up this interview so that folks could make sure to be able to hear it and see it. And if you want to get involved, you can still head to DraftUdall.com and the Netroots for Tom Udall Act Blue page. Also, Tuesday morning I'll be posting my interview with Congressman Mark Udall from Colorado, who's also running for the Senate, so stay tuned.

On Thursday, as a part of what became known in some circles as "More and Better Udalls in the Senate Day" because of the official announcement by Congressman Tom Udall that he would run for the Senate in New Mexico and the San Francisco fundraiser for Congressman Mark Udall (who's running for the Senate in Colorado), I had the opportunity to speak with both cousins about their campaigns. Tomorrow I'll be posting the audio and transcript of my interview with Mark, but first my interview with Tom, who agreed to be drafted to run this cycle.

You can download the interview as a large .mp3 file here, or listen to it through the player below. I have also included a rush transcript. And if you want to help out Tom's campaign, head over to the Netroots for Tom Udall page on Act Blue today.


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Jonathan Singer: Can you tell me how much a role the outgrowth of support you saw - in the Draft Udall, and also just people speaking out saying, "Run, Tom, Run" - how much that grassroots support played a role in your decision to reconsider and in fact run for the United States Senate?

Tom Udall: It played a major role in my decision to run for the United States Senate. There was within New Mexico and I think across the nation a very sincere Draft Udall movement. The blogosphere played an important part in that and I think got people involved and engaged and stirred up, and the result was that every time I was home in New Mexico people would come up to me very excited and say, "You've got to make this race."

I was at the central committee meeting, which had 200-300 Democratic activists. They had been involved and engaged and blogging. And they held up signs, "Run, Tom, Run!" Incredible enthusiasm. The way I would describe it, Jonathan, is that it played a major part in my decision.

The other significant part was about New Mexico and the nation and the role I could play in the United States Senate. This is what many of my constituents talk to me about. They say, "Tom, you've stood up on the issues, you've been a man of principle, you speak to us from the heart, we love you, and we want you to run so that you can make a difference in the Senate. We look at the Senate" - many of them told me this - "we look at the Senate as a place where legislation goes to die." And, as you know, the House has passed some pretty significant legislation on issues like the War in Iraq and ending it; healthcare for children, the SCHIP program; trying to do everything we can to get education in our schools for all of our children and improve the levels of schools just across the board; and energy, renewable energy. All of these things get out of the House and in some way seem to die in the Senate.

So that was another big part of my decision, which many of my constituents weighed in on, telling me, "You can make a difference for us, you can help empower us to fulfill our dreams, the things we want to see done in New Mexico and for the nation." And I think those were big, big factors for me in making the decision to make this race.  It was truly gratifying to see such a sincere effort out there.

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MyDD Exclusive: Barack Obama on the Social Security "Crisis"

Yesterday afternoon following Barack Obama's speech and dialogue at Google I had the opportunity to speak with him for a moment about what he has had to say recently about Social Security. As you might remember, I took great umbrage last week over his use of the word "crisis" with regard to the program's outlook.

My iPod apparently didn't record my question, so I'll paraphrase it to give you an idea of what Obama is responding to in his answer below (which you can listen to through the provided player, download as an .mp3, or read in the provided rush transcript). I asked Obama why he would use the word "crisis", particularly given the fact that the Social Security trust fund will not run out until 2042 or 2052 (depending on who is doing the analysis), and that even then the program will provide greater benefits than it does today, even accounting for inflation.


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Barack Obama: I think the point your making is why talk about it right now. Is that right?

Jonathan Singer: Yeah. And why use the term "crisis"?

Obama: It is a long-term problem. I know that people, including you, are very sensitive to the concern that we repeat anything that sounds like George Bush. But I have been very clear in fighting privatization. I have been adamant about the fact that I am opposed to it. What I believe is that it is a long-term problem that we should deal with now. And the sooner the deal with it then the better off it's going to be.

So the notion that somehow because George Bush was trying to drum up fear in order to execute [his] agenda means that Democrats shouldn't talk about it at all I think is a mistake. This is part of what I meant when I said we're constantly reacting to the other side instead of setting our own terms for the debate, but also making sure we are honest and straight forward about the issues that we're concerned about.

[THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.]

Obama stopped short of renunciating the term "crisis." However he did instead speak of "a long-term problem" facing Social Security, which I have less of a problem with (at least the term itself rather than its use to connote an urgency to act NOW, an urgency that is in fact lacking). What's more, he also made clear his "adamant" opposition to privatizing Social Security, which again certainly isn't bad.

In all it's not everything that I wanted to hear. But perhaps more importantly, Obama had the opportunity to hear that folks don't want him talking about a non-existent "crisis" in Social Security. And hopefully, he will pay heed to that sentiment.

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Edwards Evening News: An Election, Not an Auction Edition

This is going to be an election, Tim, it's not going to be an auction.

- John Edwards on Meet the Press today

We start off tonight with a memorable quote from this morning's Meet the Press.  John Edwards doesn't think the election can be bought.  What about you?  Do we still live in the United States of America? We'll have that story and more in tonight's Edwards Evening News. I'm sirius/be inspired, filling in for your regular Sunday night host Tom P.

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Edwards Great on Situation Room Updated W/Video Link

This is a short diary.  I watched, with an open mind, John Edwards speak to Wolf Blitzer live from Kentucky.  He outlined clear differences between himself and Hillary.  Among the highlights:  He asserted that Hillary's willingness to leave combat troops to "fight Al-Qaeda" was similar to Bush's plan, and he closed the interview by saying that if he were the nominee he would campaign in Kentucky and places like that all over the country if he were the nominee.  As soon as it updates, transcript should be found here:  http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/s Video link here:   As I intended, you can watch the video.  I must say I was struck by the authenticity of John when seaking about his stances, something I have increasingly questioned about the others.  I am still searching for my candidate, waiting on Al Gore, and once again, open to Edwards. Check it out.

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Diaries

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