Podcasters and former Obama staffers offer confidence for Dems

by Dalton Valette

Given the state of the country in the midst of one of the most contentious, hectic, and overall exhausting presidential elections in recent memory, people seem to have two reactions; laugh or cry. For hosts of the podcast Keepin’ it 1600 Jon Favreau and Daniel Pfeiffer, they’re taking the latter approach.

“So, what’s going on in this election?” Political Science Professor Phil Mundo and moderator for Favreau and Pfeiffer’s Drew Forum lecture circuit event asked sarcastically.

“Eh, nothing much,” Favreau joked.

“What could possibly happen (in the last weeks of the election),” Pfeiffer said.

The two speakers, both former staffers for President Barack Obama, with Favreau serving as Obama’s speech writer and Pfeiffer serving as the Director for Communications, the two outspoken democrats looked at this election with optimism that’s not often shared with other democrats. Both men were friendly and full of energy and enthusiasm as they talked quickly and with booming brevity. They were relaxed and cool, nixing traditional neck ties, and claiming the seats they sat in as their own, while eagerly talking about any subject politics related.

 “The weird thing about being on the West coast now,” Favreau said “Is that now when I go to parties I have to talk about other things that just politics” (unlike what he had to do on a daily basis while living in DC for ten years).   

During a question and answers segment of the forum event, questions abounded about the current democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton’s, likability and the enthusiasm (or lack thereof) that she draws from her supporters. There were even early signs of “bedwetting” from democrats as recent polls have shown the republican nominee, Donald Trump, gaining and tightening with Clinton.

This should cause little concern from democrats though, Favreau and Pfeiffer assured.

“Who’s anxious about this election?” Favreau asked the packed Concert Hall. Nearly everyone raised their hands. “Well I still think she’s going to win!” Favreau said which brought an enthusiastic round of applause.

“So confident still!” Pfeiffer said. “But, I agree.”

Both looked at the scattered polling that Obama faced in 2008 against Senator John McCain and in 2012 against Governor Mitt Romney showing a tight race, or one that could possibly be won by the republican challengers. This didn’t turn out to be the case and polls, in particular Nevada were extremely off and Obama carried with overall ease.

Indeed their shared confidence extended to her not simply winning because she happens to be running against another candidate with record high disapproval numbers, but also because she is a persistent and good politician.

“We barely, barely beat her in 2008,” Favreau said when discussing the primary campaign in 2008 between Obama and Clinton. “And Obama won because he had unbelievable enthusiasm behind him, he was new, exciting, it was momentous in many ways.”

“I would argue,” Pfeiffer added, “that in my most un-biased opinion possible, Barack Obama is the best campaigner in my lifetime and possibly in American history….And Hillary Clinton is keenly aware that she isn’t Barack Obama, but it’s telling that in the days before Obama was elected, people were excited about the notion of electing the first black president, and the excitement for electing the first woman president just isn’t there.”

“This does, in large part, have to do simply with sexism,” Favreau said.

But in any other given scenario, Clinton would have a harder time clinching the election, they both speculated. They still feel she will win come Election Day, November 8, but it may not be the landslide the Clinton camp was hoping for.

“And if Trump wins…who represents literally the opposite of everything you want or need in a President…I can assure you, if Donald Trump becomes president, you’ll never see either of us again,” Pfeiffer laughed.

“Yeah we’ll start doing our podcasts from Guantanamo Bay,” Favreau joked.

Even in the face of such uncertainty and diametrically opposed viewpoints from the presidential candidates and with a republican party seemingly in disarray and many speculating a Civil War type split (which both Favreau and Pfeiffer thought would likely not happen) they had steady hands and assured a worried audience with laughter and political insight.   

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