Some Clinton Supporters Complain Only Wealthy Backers Have Candidate's Ear With 76 days to go before the election, Hillary Clinton is busy doing closed-door fundraisers. David Greene talks to Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, about whether Clinton needs more contact with voters.
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Some Clinton Supporters Complain Only Wealthy Backers Have Candidate's Ear

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Some Clinton Supporters Complain Only Wealthy Backers Have Candidate's Ear

Some Clinton Supporters Complain Only Wealthy Backers Have Candidate's Ear

Some Clinton Supporters Complain Only Wealthy Backers Have Candidate's Ear

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491024832/491024833" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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With 76 days to go before the election, Hillary Clinton is busy doing closed-door fundraisers. David Greene talks to Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, about whether Clinton needs more contact with voters.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's look at Hillary Clinton's schedule this week - could always change last minute, of course. But from last Saturday to this Saturday, there is one public appearance planned in Reno, Nev., one TV appearance. That was last night with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. Clinton made light of conspiracy theories about her health.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!")

JIMMY KIMMEL: Usually, you have to die to get that.

(LAUGHTER)

HILLARY CLINTON: Yes, that's true. Well, you know, I'm on the brink.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: But every other Clinton event this week involves fundraising. She's attending multiple closed-door donor events each day. And this seems to play into Donald Trump's narrative that Hillary Clinton has sold out to big money. Here's a new ad released by the Republican National Committee mocking Clinton's summer plans.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL AD, "HILLARY CLINTON'S LIBERAL ELITE SUMMER TOUR")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Welcome aboard Hillary Clinton's Liberal Elite Summer Tour, with frequent stops in Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Cape Cod. Please use caution in opening the overhead bins, as Hillary's baggage may have shifted during flight.

GREENE: OK, joining me now from Columbus, Ohio - Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, who is a surrogate for the Clinton campaign. Senator, good morning, and welcome back to the program.

SHERROD BROWN: Good. Good to be back. Thank you, David.

GREENE: So I just look at the schedule this week for Hillary Clinton. I mean, she's mingling with Cher, Magic Johnson, Justin Timberlake - $27,000-a-plate dinners. I mean, then you listen to that RNC ad saying she's making these stops in Beverly Hills, Hollywood. I mean, doesn't this make her politically vulnerable?

BROWN: Well, everything makes everybody politically vulnerable...

GREENE: Does it (laughter)?

BROWN: In this 24-hour news cycle. But, I mean, look at what we're looking at. The Koch brothers - there's an incredible book out by Jane Mayer called "Dark Money" just talking about the far-right and the John Birch Society and the Koch brothers and the billionaires who are after Hillary Clinton and after progressive Democrats generally.

GREENE: OK.

BROWN: And Citizens United - the Supreme Court - the conservatives on the Supreme Court...

GREENE: But I'm not talking about big money on the right.

BROWN: But we know all that. We know that the only way to fight back against the 900 million - the Koch brothers promised $900 million into this election.

GREENE: OK.

BROWN: The only way to fight back against the oil interests and the NRA and the tobacco companies and the billionaires in Milwaukee and New York and California and Texas...

GREENE: Is to do these kinds of events, you say?

BROWN: ...Are to raise money. I mean, you can't just unilaterally disarm. You know that. You've watched the kind of money that the far-right - it used to be Birchers - John Birch Society - the far-right. Now they're just the political far-right, the Tea Party crowd, funded...

GREENE: OK. OK, so let's...

BROWN: Of course Hillary has to raise money to push back - of course.

GREENE: So she needs to raise money, you're saying. And she needs to hold a lot of events like this. But what about public events? I mean, I have watched...

BROWN: She's going to do plenty of public events. The public pays a little less attention around the time of the Olympics. I was just - Hillary was just 10 miles from my house in Cleveland, Ohio, last week at John Marshall High School, talking to - meeting with students, meeting with others.

GREENE: OK.

BROWN: She's doing public events - maybe not enough for NPR. But she's doing public events.

GREENE: Well, it doesn't matter to us how many events she does. We're just covering the ones she does do.

BROWN: Well, apparently, it does. But that's OK.

GREENE: (Laughter) No, it matters to some voters, I would imagine. I mean, don't...

BROWN: Well, she's going to be doing plenty of public events. And she's been out for the last two years doing lots of public events. She'll continue to do public events. This is one-week snapshot in time that Donald Trump has talked about.

The NRC - the RNC - because they have so little to talk about. And the media wants to cover that. And I don't blame...

GREENE: You can say unequivocally that, I mean, during the Olympics, this was a low period. She's focusing on fundraising. We're going to be seeing a lot more of Hillary Clinton - a lot more public events coming soon.

BROWN: No question - there's - I was in Connecticut one day last in 2012. And somebody said, you know, we're sick and tired - every four years, there's a race for president in Ohio. I mean, she's going to be in Ohio a lot. She'll be in Florida a lot. She'll be all over the country a lot.

GREENE: Can you see why some people might see this - at least a snapshot like this as a bit undemocratic if you have a candidate who's not actually interacting all that much with voters?

BROWN: What I see is how hard it is to see the retreats that the Koch brothers do, where they sit around and outbid each other for who's going to write bigger checks to the Republican Party and to Donald Trump and his crowd. And those are behind closed doors. Granted, Hillary's raising money everywhere.

But you've got to fight back. And when they're - the difference here is Hillary Clinton wants to see Citizens United overturned, which is the court case that unleashed the billionaires. And Donald Trump wants to protect Citizens United. That's fundamentally the difference.

GREENE: Senator, I want to just ask you - I mean, it's - last night in Akron, Ohio, Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton is taking care of donors instead of the American people. I just want to play a little clip of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: Pay the Clinton Foundation huge sums of money, and throw in some big speaking fees for Bill Clinton. And you got to play. You got to do what you wanted to do.

GREENE: This is in your state. I mean, wouldn't it help to have her out there now, I mean, fighting back against Donald Trump's message?

BROWN: Of course, I would like no money to have to be raised in political campaigns. We all would. And she's out there. But - and she is going to talk about this. She has a very specific trade policy on what to do to fix NAFTA and PNTR with China.

You know, all these years, when I was out helping to lead the charge against NAFTA, against PNTR, against the Bush trade policy - trade policies under presidents of both parties - CAFTA, South Korea trade policy - I never heard Donald Trump. I never saw Donald Trump.

I'm sitting in my office in Columbus. The suit I'm wearing is made by union workers 10 miles from my house in Cleveland. Yet Donald Trump outsources his suits to Mexico, his ties to China.

GREENE: OK.

BROWN: He could buy his glassware in Toledo, his furniture in Archbold, Ohio, instead of buying it...

GREENE: (Laughter) Senator, we'll have to stop there with your list. I apologize. We're out of time. Senator Sherrod Brown, Democratic senator from Ohio. Thanks for joining us, sir.

BROWN: Thanks, David. All right.

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