The Race For South Carolina's Congressional Seat

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford will face Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a special election for South Carolina's first district congressional seat May 7. NPR's Ken Rudin, NPR's Kathy Lohr and Robert Oldendick, University of South Carolina, discuss the candidates, the debate and the district.

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JOHN DONVAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm John Donvan in Washington. Mass momentum for Markey, Sanford's ears and what they can't always hear, and Obama's sequester quest for an understanding with the GOP. It is Wednesday and time for a...

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Trapped in a Taylor Swift album...

DONVAN: Edition of the political junkie.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?

SENATOR BARRY GOLDWATER: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

SENATOR LLOYD BENTSEN: Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore.

SARAH PALIN: Lipstick.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Oops.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: But I'm the decider.

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAM)

DONVAN: Every Wednesday, political junkie Ken Rudin joins us to review the week in politics. Ed Markey bests Steve Lynch in the Democratic primary for the Massachusetts Senate seat. He will face Republican Gabriel Gomez. Elizabeth Colbert Busch spars with former Governor Mark Sanford in a fierce debate for South Carolina's special House election.

Renewed conversation about gun control puts New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte on the hot seat, and Washington mingled with Hollywood at last weekend's annual nerd prom, the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Later in the program, extroverts versus introverts. But we begin as usual with a trivia question. Political junkie Ken Rudin joins us. Welcome Ken.

KEN RUDIN, BYLINE: Hi John, welcome to the show. OK, well, the question is: Some Tea Party groups are talking about urging Sarah Palin to run next year for the Alaska Senate seat currently held by Democrat Mark Begich. So the question is: Who was the most recent vice presidential candidate who, while out of office, later ran for a Senate seat?

DONVAN: Are you talking about just running?

RUDIN: I'm just talking about just running, or strolling.

DONVAN: Strolling.

RUDIN: Strolling.

DONVAN: Victory or defeat is not the issue.

RUDIN: Just running, but it's the most recent vice presidential candidate, not the most recent person who's running for the Senate seat, the most recent vice presidential candidate.

DONVAN: All right.

RUDIN: Who later ran...

DONVAN: That's very specific, as it always is. If you think you know the answer, and you have not won in the last six months, give us a call. Our number is 800-989-8255. Our email address is talk@npr.org. The winner gets that fabulous no-prize T-shirt in exchange for a promise to send us a digital image for our wall of shame.

RUDIN: You also get a button. They also get the no-prize button, don't forget that, either.

DONVAN: To put on the shirt. Ken, let's start with some actual votes this week: Massachusetts.

RUDIN: Well, that was the big news yesterday in Massachusetts. Ed Markey, who's been in Congress 36 years, nobody in the history of this country served in the House for that long a time then went on to win the Senate, but anyway Ed Markey easily beat Stephen Lynch, a fellow congressman, 57-43. Some people, like Lynch in fact, tried to make the Boston bombing and security a key issue.

DONVAN: How?

RUDIN: Well, there was a commission, a commission that Markey opposed, and basically this was the kind of commission that tracked down the bombers, and Lynch said he was soft on security by opposing it. Markey said that, well, I'm against it because it would have involved U.S. troops, and I'm against having U.S. troops coming into, you know, this kind of action.

But ultimately I think it really became the fact that Lynch voted against Obamacare. He's pro-life. You know, he's anti-abortion rights and the most conservative Democrat in the Massachusetts delegation, and that was not the majority viewpoint on the Democratic side. So Markey, who's 66 years old, is the Democratic nominee.

Now the Republican nomination went to Gabriel Gomez, who has a great story behind him. He's a former Navy SEAL. He's son of Colombian immigrants. He went to Harvard Business School. But again this is Massachusetts, and very rarely does a miracle like a Scott Brown come along. Obviously, you had to have everything, all the stars lined up for a Scott Brown victory. Much is different this time. The Democrats are not going to be caught sleeping.

DONVAN: Let's go back to the trivia question. Remind us.

(LAUGHTER)

RUDIN: Well, that's kind of - let's see if I understand it. OK, the most recent vice presidential candidate who, while out of office, later ran for a Senate seat.

DONVAN: We have John(ph) in Des Moines Iowa, believes he has the answer. Hi John, you're on TALK OF THE NATION.

JOHN: Hi, thank you, my guess is Walter Mondale.

DONVAN: Walter Mondale.

RUDIN: Well, Walter Mondale did run for the Senate. He - of course he's a former vice president. He ran for vice president in 1976 and 1980. But he is not the most recent vice presidential candidate to do that.

DONVAN: All right, sorry, John, thanks for the try. Let's move on to the fact that the president has - he's not the most news conferencing kind of guy, but he had a news conference this week. What prompted that, do you think?

RUDIN: Well ultimately it was - I mean, it was yesterday, and of course it was celebrating, and this is - seems like the most bizarre thing to celebrate, the 100 days of the second term. Usually when we think about a president's 100 days, we think about the first term. But anyway, this was to celebrate the second term, the 100 days, so a very strange kind of marker.

But anyway, it was a news conference without much news. He had nothing really to announce. But the fact is, I mean, he talked about Guantanamo, he wants to get rid of it, and he talked about gun legislation. He wants to try it again. And he praised Jason Collins for coming out, the NBA star - no I'm sorry, not the NBA star - the guy who happens to play once in a while for the NBA.

But I mean mostly he spent the conference blaming Republican Congress, and he almost seemed like to say that everybody else is at fault. It just seemed kind of odd that he was - showed less leadership and more saying, well, I can't do anything because I don't work in Congress.

DONVAN: And he also said this interesting thing.

OBAMA: I think it's a little, as Mark Twain said, rumors of my demise may be a little exaggerated at this point.

DONVAN: Remind you of anything?

RUDIN: Well, it certainly does. First of all, this is in an answer to a question can you get your agenda through, and he said, well, look, rumors of my demise is exaggerated. And of course Bill Clinton said a very similar thing in an April 1995 news conference.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED AUDIO)

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: The Constitution gives me relevance. The power of our ideas gives me relevance. The record we have built up over the last two years and the things we're trying to do to implement it give it relevance. The president is relevant here, especially an activist president.

RUDIN: Now of course the difference, of course, is that this was Bill Clinton in his first time, Barack Obama is in his second term. But interestingly enough is that 12 hours after Bill Clinton had that famous I-am-still-relevant press conference was the Oklahoma City bombing, and that showed how relevant Bill Clinton was. And basically he was unstoppable then for a second term.

But just 12 hours before the attacks, he was wondering. He was musing out loud whether he was still relevant.

DONVAN: Amanda(ph) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, you're on TALK OF THE NATION. Do you have a guess in the trivia contest?

AMANDA: Yes, Senator Joe Lieberman.

DONVAN: Joe Lieberman.

RUDIN: Joe Lieberman is correct - no, no, no. Let me put it this way. He is somebody who ran for vice president and did run for the Senate, but in the actual question, the question said who while out of office later ran for the Senate, and of course Joe Lieberman was still a senator when he ran for the Senate in 2006.

DONVAN: All right, sorry Amanda. Let's try Cathy(ph) in Hingham, Massachusetts. Hi Cathy, you're on TALK OF THE NATION.

CATHY: Well...

DONVAN: Cathy hi, what's your guess, or your answer?

CATHY: Dan Quayle.

(LAUGHTER)

RUDIN: I don't why she's giggling after Dan Quayle, but the point is Dan Quayle was vice president, but he never ran for the Senate afterwards.

CATHY: Oh, too bad.

DONVAN: All right, sorry, thanks anyway.

RUDIN: She's still giggling.

(LAUGHTER)

DONVAN: She likes that answer. Let's try Sonya(ph) in Boulder, Colorado. Hi, Sonya, you're on TALK OF THE NATION.

SONYA: Hi, first I have to say to Ken, I'm so sad I'm not going to get to hear you every Wednesday. I have one - I was the first woman to ever win the no-prize T-shirt, and I'm calling back in because I've got to win that button.

RUDIN: The button is cool, but thank you for your kind comment.

SONYA: And I'm going to miss you. So I know I'm right. It's got to be Geraldine Ferraro.

RUDIN: Well, Geraldine Ferraro not because you're very nice to me, Sonya, but Geraldine Ferraro is the correct answer.

SONYA: Yay.

RUDIN: She was the vice presidential candidate, of course, in 1984, and then she later ran from the Senate from New York in both 1992 and 1998. Geraldine Ferraro, the correct answer.

DONVAN: So the circle is closed, Sonya.

SONYA: It is. I'm glad to win, and I'm happy to say I got the button, and I'm sad to see you leave, Ken. So thanks so much for this. Are we going to get to catch you on anything else later?

RUDIN: Well, we hope so. And if you do catch me, I think penicillin might help.

(LAUGHTER)

RUDIN: But no, but hopefully there will be good news coming.

SONYA: Well, I'm a pharmacist. I can probably arrange that for you.

RUDIN: Oh, I always wanted to know a pharmacist when I was younger. Sonya, thank you so much.

SONYA: All right.

DONVAN: All right, Sonya. Because I'm only an occasional visitor here, I'm supposed to be able to put you on hold and realized I can't, I don't know how to do it, so that we can get your information. So - oh actually you have been put on hold by the wizards and the genies. Congratulations to you, Sonya.

Ken, let's go back to the week in politics. Let's talk a little bit about North Carolina, Anthony Foxx...

RUDIN: Oh, oh, I see. Well yes, actually President Obama had two announcements this week. Anthony Foxx, who is the mayor of Charlotte, who is African-American, he was announced yesterday by President Obama that he will be the new transportation secretary, nominee at least, to replace Ray LaHood. Anthony Foxx is 42 years old, he's an up-and-coming politician.

He has been a champion of public transit. So he has been offered - nominated for that position. There's also another nominee and also another African-American politician from North Carolina, from Charlotte, North Carolina, Congressman Mel Watt, who has been in Congress for almost 20 years, he was nominated today to be the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

That's the group that oversees the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But there's some talk that the Republicans may block that nomination. So while Mel Watt may be nominated, there's a question about whether he can pass the Senate confirmation.

DONVAN: I want to let you know also we have an email winner for your trivia contest, and that goes to Ryan Barone(ph). Congratulations, Ryan Barone, also Geraldine Ferraro.

RUDIN: And also a pharmacist.

DONVAN: There you go. So it was the - what's called the nerd prom this week, otherwise known as the White House Correspondents' Dinner. For those who have no idea what we're talking about, Ken, sum up the correspondent's dinner in one sentence.

RUDIN: Well, it - in one sentence. It used to be a thing where most of the folks were journalists and White House correspondents...

DONVAN: Comma.

RUDIN: Right, and they would invite some celebrities now and then. But now this has become a complete Hollywood gazing, you know, just a thing with all stars coming in, overshadowing what all the politicians have to say. Like you couldn't decide who were the real politicians and the fake politicians because there were so many actors and actresses...

DONVAN: Actors who play politicians.

RUDIN: Who play politicians like Michael Douglas, things like that. I think it's gotten a little bit out of hand, but maybe the reason I'm so critical is because I wasn't invited this year, and I've had good times when I have done it.

DONVAN: What do you mean by out of hand?

RUDIN: Well, it's just that it's no longer - it just seems like it's just all the - it's about Hollywood and stargazing and glitter, and it's - once upon a time it used to be about the journalists who make politics interesting and government reporting interesting, and now it has nothing to do with journalism, and it's just who could invite a crazier star.

DONVAN: It's actually also a fundraiser. I mean, scholarships are raised by the whole dinner, and there are scholarship award winners who come up and get them. So there's still that left.

RUDIN: Well, there is that, but I wasn't invited, so who cares?

DONVAN: We're talking with political junkie Ken Rudin. He is coming up next again, back with us, right after the break, for this week's sparring match between Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the Palmetto State. Yes, she went there. We'll talk about it next. I'm John Donvan. This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DONVAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm John Donvan. It is Wednesday, political junkie day. Ken Rudin is here, as always. Ken, did you get a ScuttleButton winner last week?

RUDIN: It just so happens, John, we did. First of all, it was a very interesting puzzle. The first button, there was a four-button set, the first one was Louise Day Hicks, she was an anti-busing leader in Boston. It said Louise Day Hicks for Halloween with a picture of a witch on a broomstick. You had a button that says Rocky or nobody, they wanted Nelson Rockefeller or nobody. There was an Evelyn Gandy for governor of Mississippi. And there was an I love N-Y.

So when add the witch, nobody, Gandy, NY, it's which nobody can deny, which follows last week's for he's a jolly good fellow puzzle. And the winner, the randomly selected winner, was Dale Smith(ph) of Franklin, Tennessee. So he gets a T-shirt.

DONVAN: I just find it brilliant. I find the construction of these puzzles brilliant and the solution factor terrifying, that people actually have brains that can do that.

RUDIN: Do you realize that you and Sonya are my best friends ever? BFF?

(LAUGHTER)

DONVAN: You can find Ken's latest ScuttleButton and the Political Junkie column online, that's at npr.org/junkie. Now on to South Carolina and the race between the former governor of the state, who once told the public that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, and his opponent, a sister of comedian Stephen Colbert.

Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert - as pronounced - Busch debated this week, and neither of them held back. Kathy Lohr is a national desk correspondent for NPR, and she joins us from Charleston, South Carolina, where she is covering the 1st Congressional District race. Kathy, welcome to the program.

KATHY LOHR, BYLINE: Hey, glad to be here.

DONVAN: So you were there Monday at the debate. Tell us about it. What was Colbert Busch's approach?

LOHR: You know, she was a little bit nervous at first, but, you know, the approach was just I think to hit back at whatever Sanford would say or whatever attacks were made at her. Originally four debates were planned, and Colbert Busch declined all but this one. So this was the one big shot.

So of course she alluded to Sanford's 2009 affair when he was governor. You mentioned he said he was hiking the Appalachian Trial, which followers of South Carolina politics would know this story well. But actually he had left the country and was visiting his mistress in Argentina. Ultimately it came out, and during the debate, Colbert Busch did question Sanford about using state money to make some of these trips to Argentina and other places.

DONVAN: Let's listen to what she had to say.

ELIZABETH COLBERT BUSCH: It doesn't mean you take that money we saved and leave the country for a personal purpose.

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF BOOING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: She went there, Governor Sanford.

MARK SANFORD: I couldn't hear what she said.

(LAUGHTER)

DONVAN: Kathy, were you surprised that she went there, or was that totally expected?

LOHR: I think that we - everybody thought she had to go there, even though she hasn't been running ads until the last couple of days that even talk about the personal side of this. But interestingly enough, you heard Sanford say I couldn't hear what she said. He never even responded to the remark.

DONVAN: Ken?

RUDIN: Kathy, obviously Elizabeth Colbert Busch is talking about creating jobs and improving the economy and things like this, but really this has nothing to do with her, does it?

LOHR: No, it's - this whole race is really about whether people like Mark Sanford or whether they don't. I mean really - and the other issue that's played into the race, which we might hear more about later, is the outside money that's coming in from national Democrats to support her.

RUDIN: You know, Sanford of course has been walking around with a cardboard cutout of Nancy Pelosi, but it almost hurts - I would think it almost hurts Mark Sanford attacking Nancy Pelosi, running against Elizabeth Colbert Busch, while at the same time all the voters are thinking of is another woman, Jenny Sanford. And it just seems like his problems is a lot with women.

LOHR: Well, and, you know, they multiplied even a couple of weeks ago. We found out that there were some court documents where Sanford's ex-wife Jenny accused him of trespassing at her home several times. And that's played into the election. And then the national Republicans said they would not back Sanford anymore. He has to appear in court two days after the election is over.

So that's played into it, although that's died down a little bit, but what happened is that's brought the affair up again and this issue of, you know, is he really electable, and why is he the candidate, actually.

RUDIN: And we should point out the election is next Tuesday.

LOHR: It is next Tuesday, May 7.

DONVAN: Ken, Kathy, let's bring in Robert Oldendick. He is a political science professor at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and joins us from his office there. Welcome to the program.

ROBERT OLDENDICK: Glad to join you.

DONVAN: Robert, I want to - let's take a listen to something Kathy alluded to, which is what Governor Sanford's line of attack was at the debate.

SANFORD: It's not believable to me that somebody gives you a million dollars and expects nothing in return. It's just not believable to me.

(APPLAUSE)

SANFORD: And in this instance, you know, I would have to say, I mean, I don't think Nancy Pelosi gives $370,000 expecting her not to vote for speaker.

DONVAN: So Robert, who was he talking about there? What was he talking about?

OLDENDICK: He was talking about the outside money that's been coming in in support of Colbert Busch. It was mentioned previously that he is carrying around this cardboard cutout of Nancy Pelosi that he actually debated, and he's trying to make the point that Colbert Busch will vote in a liberal direction, that she will support Pelosi, support Obamacare. He's trying to tie her to all the kind of big-government, liberal issues.

And really the whole strategy is if it is on the issues, then Sanford wins because he's - really his views are consonant very much with those in the district in terms of, you know, less government, low taxes, so that if it's focused on issues, he'll win the election. If it's focused on personality and who do you trust, then it's a very close contest.

RUDIN: Robert, a lot has to do with money, too. We also - we alluded to the fact that the Democratic-leaning groups and PACs have poured in about a million dollars to help Colbert Busch. And the NRCC, the Republican financial wing of the Republican Party, has withdrawn its support of Mark Sanford.

But I see - I notice that first of all tonight, Governor Nikki Haley is hosting a fundraiser for Mark Sanford. Both Ron Paul and Rand Paul have endorsed him. Are the Republicans starting to come back and saying we still - with all the blemishes, we'd still rather have Mark Sanford?

OLDENDICK: Well, there are certainly those people that are more closely associated with the Tea Party wing of the party that support him and just the people that you mentioned that are - feel that he has the right values. If you saw Rand Paul's statement when he endorsed him, it's kind of the less government, we really need people in Washington who will not - who will vote to limit the size of government so that I think there is some division in the Republican Party., not everybody's coming back. But the people that are the more conservative, smaller government wing, are - certainly would like to see him win it and are coming out here in the final days of the campaign in terms of raising money and helping to push him over the top in that regard.

DONVAN: Kathy Lohr, I'm curious. Given that this is a special election, does that affect who will actually come out to vote, and does that fact - does that factor actually play into the prospects for each of the candidates?

LOHR: Well very much so. I mean, even in a regular election, it's, you know, low turnout. But in this election, you know, they're saying that a lot of people are just tired of hearing about it. There are a lot of, you know, dyed-in-the-wool Republicans that are very unhappy with Sanford as a candidate, and so they're not - they may just stay home.

I think that Democrats are hoping to get women voters out because they vote at a higher rate and may - could be the key. And more ads have been released that are targeting to women and to bringing up Sanford's affair.

RUDIN: Robert, this is kind of a strange question because I don't even know the answer to this myself, but what could Mark - what could Mark Sanford possibly do that could change minds between now and next Tuesday?

OLDENDICK: It's not really a matter of changing minds. It really is can he get people thinking about the issues when they step into the ballot booth. The - his image, what people know about him, can he kind of be reformed, no, people in that district pretty much know who Mark Sanford is. But it is a highly Republican district.

In terms of the issues, when he represented that district from '95 to 2000, he was very consistent with what the people in that district want. And I think that also during his two terms as governor, he really reflected the values of the 1st District. So - and he survived a primary with 16 candidates, a lot by name recognition, but those candidates in the primary really tried to out-Sanford Sanford in terms of the issues, in terms of we really are - have this, you know, smaller government. So that when it comes down to next Tuesday, do they go into the ballot booth thinking about the issues or the personality?

And the other part that was mentioned about turnout, you know, this is, in our minds, a pretty high-profile race. We're paying a lot of attention to it. We're talking about. But there's - the turnout may be, in terms of dollars spent per vote, is maybe very low because a lot of Republicans are not going to vote for Sanford just because of the problems with the ethical issues.

And Colbert Busch's campaign really has not done a lot to excite the base, particularly trying to find out what is it that she's - her appeal to the African-American community, which is, you know, central to the Democratic vote in that district. So...

LOHR: And I - yeah. I was at an NAACP forum last night. where all the candidates spoke, and, you know, none of it - nobody seemed very excited. I will have to say, though, that some of the NAACP chapter members said they would be out this weekend holding signs for Colbert Busch. And they didn't - they said they were trying to get people to the polls. So it will be very interesting. I also heard from a couple of different people that there are Republicans who may not say they will vote for Colbert Busch out in public, but on Election Day, they would vote for her, or perhaps not vote at all.

RUDIN: Kathy, I noticed that during the debate, or, at least, you know, in the last few days of the campaign, Colbert Busch has talked about that she supports same-sex marriage. She supports abortion rights. I wonder if those kind of positions might help Mark Sanford in the campaign.

LOHR: It's not really clear, because most - what I'm understanding and - you know, I'd like to get some more opinions on this from what - but what I'm understanding is that a lot of people are - they're fiscally conservative, and they don't really care that much about social issues here. And that's how they voted in the past. So it will be interesting to see if that makes a difference. Now, I think that's her - that is Colbert Busch, you know, playing to her Democratic followers.

DONVAN: Robert, how does Sanford possibly explain to voters why the national party, the national Republican Party will not support him? How does he present that fact?

OLDENDICK: Well, the way he's tried to spin it is to say, you know, that they weren't responsible for his elections back in - from '94 to 2000, and they weren't responsible for his election for governor. So we have won without them before. We'll win without them now. It's kind of taking it and appealing to the people. I mean, you can't deny the fact that it's a, you know, it really is the people of South Carolina who are going to determine this, not the National Republican Committee. So he's trying to, again, turn it and focus it on the state and the district.

RUDIN: Of course, when he ran for the House and when he ran for governor, he may not have had the organizational Republican support, but he did have the long support of Jenny Sanford, and I suspect he doesn't have that this time.

OLDENDICK: No, he definitely does not have that.

DONVAN: All right. I want to thank Robert Oldendick, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, who spoke to us from his office there, and Kathy Lohr, a national desk correspondent for NPR, who spoke with us from Charleston, South Carolina. Thanks from both of us for joining us on the program. Ken, I want to just tell you first - and our audience - that you are listening to TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News. OK, let's go back to the week just passed. We touched a little bit on the correspondents' meeting and how your feeling is that the nerd prom is a little bit short on nerds these days.

(LAUGHTER)

DONVAN: But we were also, before the program, discussing the whole issue of gun legislation and developments this week.

RUDIN: Well, the big news, I guess - I mean, there's no new to the week. Of course, both Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, the Republican senator from Pennsylvania, both very pro-gun, who tried to have this universal gun registration background checks bill passed, and, of course, it failed. They say they are going to try again. They're going to try to tinker with the language, but we've seen - this week, at least - that the emotions are still very raw.

We saw a town hall meeting held by Kelly Ayotte in - the Republican in New Hampshire. Now, she's not up for re-election again until 2016, but she's the only senator in the whole Northeast, I think, the only senator in the East north of Virginia that voted against the background checks. And she's been bombarded. Her office has been bombarded with phone calls and telegrams of angry responses. And she got a lot of heat at a town hall meeting this week.

DONVAN: What's your take on the fact that we had serious problems with air traffic controllers due to the sequester layoffs, and suddenly, it was solved coincidently around the same time that a lot of congressmen needed to go fly on airplanes?

RUDIN: Well, you know something, I think people are justifiably calling this a defeat for President Obama, and I kind of agree with it, saying here it is. The president saying that the sequester is bad. Congress is responsible. We can't allow this to happen. And then - and, of course, you know, there are kids who are being thrown off Head Start, and there are cutbacks in Indian reservations, and all those things. But because there are flight delays - and, of course, we never had flight delays before the sequestration. But because of these flight delays and a lot of members of Congress are having difficulty leaving on vacation, suddenly, this is a national calamity, and they immediately - the Senate and the House - rush to legislation. They passed it overwhelmingly, and the president signs it, saying that we're going to put money back for the air traffic controllers, and everything will be fine.

DONVAN: Surely, it was a coincidence that they needed to use planes themselves.

RUDIN: But isn't it something? All the other things that people have been crying out for, how the sequestration is affecting people, that was not a dire emergency. But the fact that some people were inconvenienced by long lines at airports, that was unacceptable.

DONVAN: You have been noodling on the prospects of Hillary Clinton 2016.

(LAUGHTER)

RUDIN: Well, other people have, as well, and, of course, there's a new poll - and God forbid we could talk about politics without talking about 2016, because it's only, you know, a million years away from now. But WMUR and University of New Hampshire has a new poll out that shows that Hillary Clinton, if the New Hampshire poll - if the New Hampshire primary were held today and, of course, if it were, then we'd be talking about something else, but Hillary Clinton would have 61 percent, and Joe Biden will only have 7 percent among the Democrats.

And on the Republican side, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul would be tied at 15 percent each. I mean, of course, these are nonsensical numbers, but the point is, as of now, May 2013, Hillary Clinton remains - again, I know this is ridiculous to say - but a prohibitive favorite for...

DONVAN: Yeah. But when you say it's ridiculous to say, why are those - why discuss those numbers at all right now? What relevance actually do they have?

RUDIN: Well, none. I guess, you know...

DONVAN: Oh, too bad.

RUDIN: No. I mean, it really has none. Look, the day of the New Hampshire primary in 2008, a lot of people predicted Barack Obama - who had won the Iowa caucuses - who was going to win the New Hampshire, and Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire. So if on the day of the primary we can't - you know, the polling doesn't show it to be accurate. The fact that we're talking about it two-and-a-half years later is just mind-boggling to me - three-and-a-half years later, two-and-a-half years later. It's mind-boggling. But what it does say is that, at least as of now, the Republican race is wide, wide open. And, of course, you know, it's very rare for a vice president to be denied the nomination if he or she would want it. And, of course, Joe Biden has a tough battle if Hillary Clinton runs.

DONVAN: Ken Rudin is the Political Junkie, and joins us each week here on Studio 42. Thanks again, Ken, for talking with us.

RUDIN: Thank you, John.

DONVAN: And when we come back, who does better work in a workplace: introverts or extroverts? It's TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

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