Weekly Roundup: Thursday, September 1 Donald Trump flies South. Hillary Clinton flies below the radar. This episode: host/campaign reporter Sam Sanders, campaign reporter Asma Khalid, political editor Domenico Montanaro, and campaign reporter Scott Detrow, with guest and NPR correspondent Eyder Peralta. More coverage at nprpolitics.org. Email the show at nprpolitics@npr.org.
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Weekly Roundup: Thursday, September 1

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Weekly Roundup: Thursday, September 1

Weekly Roundup: Thursday, September 1

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SAM SANDERS, HOST:

Hey there. If you are new to the show, a great way to follow our reporting when the podcast ends is NPR One. It's got hand-curated podcasts and audio stories ready whenever you are, wherever you are, from NPR POLITICS and beyond. Find it on your App Store now - NPR O-N-E. All right. Here's the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: Hey, y'all. It's the NPR POLITICS PODCAST here with our wrap of the week's political news starting with Donald Trump and immigration.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: There certainly can be a softening. I've had people say it's a hardening, actually.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: There's really quite a bit of softening.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: There will be no amnesty.

SANDERS: Donald Trump returned to form the same day as a trip to Mexico. Hillary Clinton spent another week below all the radars, though still more State Department emails may come out soon. Plus we'll answer a few of your questions and end the show with Can't Let It Go when we all share something we cannot stop thinking about this week. I'm Sam Sanders, campaign reporter.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: I'm Asma Khalid, also a campaign reporter.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: And I'm Domenico Montanaro, political editor.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: And out in Arizona, where I'm staring at some cactuses (ph) or I guess it's cacti, I'm Scott Detrow. I'm covering Donald Trump this week.

MONTANARO: Are you really looking at cactuses?

KHALID: Hey, Scott.

DETROW: I actually really am.

MONTANARO: Wow.

SANDERS: The gods have been telling me that today is your birthday.

KHALID: Happy birthday.

MONTANARO: Happy birthday, Scott.

DETROW: Thank you. That is true.

KHALID: Did you think that we had forgotten? We would never forget.

DETROW: I was going to see if it came up.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: I think we have some birthday music for you.

MONTANARO: It's a Vocalness moment. You can sing it.

SANDERS: (Singing) Happy birthday, Scotty (ph), happy birthday, Scotty. Nope - nobody joined me on that.

MONTANARO: Scotty D.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: OK. Moving on. So, Scott, you actually have some news to give us. You are in - you're in Arizona because Donald Trump was there yesterday, too. In this election full of very confusing days, yesterday might have been one of the most whiplashy (ph), careening days of news in politics. We knew that Trump had this big speech planned on immigration policy in Arizona, but then we find out that he's going to Mexico. So in one day, he met with the Mexican president and also gave a speech on immigration in Arizona. What was that about, Scott?

DETROW: (Laughter) Where to even start - that's right. This was a pretty big day. I think it was definitely the biggest day for Trump's campaign since he accepted the nomination in Cleveland.

SANDERS: Wow.

DETROW: And I think what was really clear today, you know, we've talked for a while about how there's often two Trumps on the campaign trail. And often he's one way during an event during the day and much different when he gets in front of a big crowd at night. And I think that was more stark on Wednesday than any other day. He's in Mexico City meeting with President Enrique Pena Nieto, looking like the typical two statesmen photo op. And then a couple hours later, he's in front of a big crowd in Phoenix giving a very hard-line immigration speech - could not be any more different.

SANDERS: Yeah. Just to pause really quick here - we have a special guest today who's been following the story, my friend and colleague Eyder Peralta from NPR's digital news desk. You've been covering the reaction in Mexico yesterday to this visit. Hi. Welcome. First time...

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Thank you for inviting me to the party.

SANDERS: Longtime listener, first-time guest.

PERALTA: Yeah.

SANDERS: Yeah. So how are folks reacting to all that happened yesterday. You've been following it, no?

PERALTA: Yeah, those headlines have been really great.

SANDERS: Do tell.

KHALID: What's a favorite one?

PERALTA: The favorite one has to be the Univision headline from today, which is...

SANDERS: This is a Spanish-language news organization.

PERALTA: Yeah, Spanish-language news org - and they say in Spanish it's Trump (speaking Spanish).

SANDERS: What does that mean?

PERALTA: So Trump leaves behind the sheep's clothing in Mexico and shows his teeth in Arizona.

SANDERS: Oh, my lord.

PERALTA: Yeah.

MONTANARO: That's very subtle.

PERALTA: Subtle, yeah.

SANDERS: Real subtle, real subtle, real subtle.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: So before we actually play Trump's remarks, let's hear Trump talking about Mexico months ago. This was the day he announced that he was going to run for president. And he said some stuff about Mexicans.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: When do we beat Mexico at the border? They're laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they're beating us economically. They are not our friend. Believe me. But they're killing us economically.

They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people.

SANDERS: And so then you contrast that with Trump-goes-to-Mexico Trump. And this week, he's saying this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: The bond between our two countries is deep and sincere, and both our nations benefit from a close and honest relationship between our two governments. A strong, prosperous and vibrant Mexico is in the best interests of the United States and will keep, and help keep for a long, long period of time, America together.

SANDERS: And then, like, he also goes on to say that, like, he knows Mexican people and they're stand-up, respectable people.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: The United States' first, second and third-generation Mexicans are just beyond reproach, spectacular, spectacular, hard-working people.

SANDERS: Beyond reproach - it was a total switch, right? So this was Trump trying to sound like a diplomat. He did OK, I think folks could agree. Now, to be fair, he's being graded on a pretty steep curve, right?

MONTANARO: Well - but I would say, frankly because of what Enrique Pena Nieto did or didn't do or didn't say, I should say, at this event, it was pretty shocking and surprising given Trump's past comments. I mean, he accused Mexico, the state, of sending...

SANDERS: Sending the worst.

MONTANARO: ...These people to the United States, right? He's not talking about just people kind of smuggling their way through the country and whatever. He's literally blaming the state. And a lot of the reaction in Mexico before he even went down there for this discussion was what is he doing? What is Pena Nieto doing? Because it's - it didn't really make sense. I mean, Pena Nieto is somebody who has got rock-bottom approval rating.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MONTANARO: Twenty-three percent was the latest one in August in his country. So a lot of people expected, well, if he's going to do this, he must...

SANDERS: He's going to ream them out.

MONTANARO: He must say something.

SANDERS: Yes, but he didn't.

MONTANARO: He didn't do it.

SANDERS: Then that happens. Trump gets to Arizona for this big speech, which you were at, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: That's a lot of people, Phoenix. That's a lot of people. Thank you very much.

SANDERS: And there we got a very, very different version of the Donald.

DETROW: Yeah. Yeah, the tone was so different. It was hardline, focusing on criminals, focusing on the fact that he thinks that immigrants in the country illegally hurt the American economy, hurt American workers.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Our message to the world will be this - you cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country.

DETROW: There had been a lot of questions about where Trump stood on one particular issue when it comes to immigration policy and that's what to do with the estimated 11 million people who are already in the country. For most of his campaign, Trump had talked about deporting all of them, talking about a deportation force that would basically round people up.

And then over the last few weeks, he started to indicate he may soften that position. That's some of those clips we heard at the beginning of the show. There was this one moment on Fox News where he talked about maybe allowing them to pay taxes and live in the country legally. That is not what Trump laid out.

But first of all, he dismissed the idea altogether, saying the issue of what to do with 11 million people is not a central issue. It's something that he doesn't really care about, that only the media focuses on. And then he kind of punted on that issue.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Importantly, in several years, when we have accomplished all of our enforcement and deportation goals and truly ended illegal immigration for good, including the construction of a great wall, which we will have built in record time and at a reasonable cost, which you never hear from the government and the establishment of our new lawful immigration system, then and only then will we be in a position to consider the appropriate disposition of those individuals who remain.

DETROW: Look, so the door's open there a teeny, teeny crack, right? But...

SANDERS: How so?

DETROW: Saying, like, well, once I get all the stuff I want done, then we can talk about people in the country who are here illegally but basically pushing that off. So basically never, right, because a great wall is probably never going to be built, and truly ending illegal immigration for good, that's just never going to happen. So Trump is essentially saying he is in favor of either self-deportation, mass deportation.

Look at it however you want. He's saying there's going to be a deportation task force within this speech as well to say they're going to get rid of, first of all, criminals who are in the country illegally and, you know, get out as many people as you possibly can. People have overstayed their visas - estimates as much as 6 million people who could wind up being deported from the country.

SANDERS: So my question for you, Asma - this type of rhetoric in that speech did very well in the room, which was full of Trump's base. But does this do anything to help him with Latino voters, with white GOP voters who might be on the fence? Like, this was not going to expand anything for him, right?

KHALID: No. I mean, it plays precisely to his base. It sounded like a speech that you would deliver - that he delivered - during the GOP primary. And, you know, that has its limitations because, at this point, Donald Trump has not been able to prove that he can muster up enough votes to get to, you know, 50 percent in a lot of battleground states.

PERALTA: Or even 40 percent in a lot of battleground states.

KHALID: Totally.

SANDERS: Eyder.

PERALTA: One of the things that struck me is that - and he hadn't done this since the debates. He brought up Operation Wetback again.

KHALID: And this is President Eisenhower's...

PERALTA: So Operation Wetback was basically a military-style operation by President Eisenhower to remove maybe around 1 million Hispanics from the country. And this was done in a matter of months, right? But the sort of, like, historical record of it is that it was terrible. You know, many brown people were put on ships and trains and buses, and they were dropped off in the middle of Mexico; in some cases, in the middle of the desert without food or water. People died. And many U.S. citizens were rounded up, right?

KHALID: Mistakenly identified.

PERALTA: In some cases - I mean, in some sort of - historians disagree as to the number, but we know it was thousands of American citizens.

SANDERS: And you're saying that Trump's speech last night referenced that a bit.

PERALTA: He referenced it, I mean, directly, not only that but sort of the darkest part of that.

MONTANARO: Sending them as far away as possible, right?

PERALTA: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are removed out of our country and back to the country from which they came.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: And they'll be brought great distances. We're not dropping them right across. They learned that. President Eisenhower - they drop them across, right across, and they'd come back and across. Then when they flew them to a long distance, all of a sudden that was the end. We will take them great distances, but we will take them to the country where they came from, OK?

MONTANARO: It's almost like that country where they came from was the afterthought that he had to throw in there.

SANDERS: That...

KHALID: But what's so interesting about this is this throwback to President Eisenhower is we live in such a different America today. Polling consistently shows that a majority of Americans, sometimes upwards of two-thirds of Americans...

SANDERS: Of all races.

KHALID: ...Of all races, do believe in some sort of immigration reform that would allow for some sort of legalization, if not permanent citizenship, for folks who are in the country who are not committing crimes. Like, the country has shifted.

MONTANARO: Yeah. I mean, Asma's right. The debate has been had over the past decade, and where Donald Trump's hard-line position is is not where the American public is. I mean, when Asma's talking about two-thirds of Americans, it's even higher when you talk about people who think that people should be able to have some form of legal status. The two-thirds is just for citizenship. Remember, 68 U.S. senators voted for comprehensive immigration reform in 2013.

SANDERS: Scott.

DETROW: And the speech was just so nationalistic from top to bottom, that the one thing that Trump said that jumped out to me was that he doesn't just want to clamp down on illegal immigration. He wants to clamp down on legal immigration, too. He talked about putting...

KHALID: That's a good point, yeah.

DETROW: ...A tougher cap on immigration in talking about weighing applications based on people's skills and ability and, how he framed it, their ability to assimilate into American culture.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate. Sometimes it's just not going to work out. It's our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish and love us.

(APPLAUSE)

PERALTA: And guess who else was watching that speech last night.

SANDERS: Who?

PERALTA: Enrique Pena Nieto...

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Oh, he hadn't had his fill of Donald Trump yet?

PERALTA: ...Who treated him like a statesman, right, during that press conference. But then he went on TV right after the Arizona speech and gave an interview. And he took a tough line against Donald Trump...

SANDERS: Once he's gone.

PERALTA: ...Since he wasn't - right, he wasn't on stage with him.

KHALID: What did he say?

PERALTA: I mean, he basically said - he said I heard what he said in Arizona and I thought he had changed his tone, and I appreciated his change in tone, but obviously nothing has changed.

SANDERS: And a thing that they had talked about earlier came up in the Arizona speech. Trump said again that Mexico would pay for this great wall.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: And Mexico will pay for the wall.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: They don't know it yet, but they're going to pay for the wall.

SANDERS: They don't know it yet. This is interesting because Trump, earlier in the day, was asked in Mexico at that press conference whether he and the Mexican president had discussed the wall.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: We did discuss the wall. We didn't discuss payment of the wall. That'll be for a later date. This was a very preliminary meeting.

SANDERS: So then, like, that's already strange enough. But then the Mexican government starts to tweet after the press conference and says, actually, we said we're not going to pay for the wall. What is up with this?

PERALTA: He said actually - Pena Nieto directly addressed this in the interview, and he said I was clear. I told him there is no way in hell I am paying for this wall.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: OK, this is my thing. So...

MONTANARO: Oh, wait, it's the definition of discuss, OK, because Donald Trump can say with some measure of, you know, certainty that, well, we didn't discuss it. Pena Nieto could still be right and say it, but they didn't talk about it.

PERALTA: But, look, I thought this moment was just, like, the most awesome moment of the press conference because it was, like, you know, when you talk smack about somebody and then somebody...

SANDERS: Then they show up.

PERALTA: And then they show up, and somebody else brings up all the smack you were talking.

DETROW: But a lot of people thought that Pena Nieto was going to use this moment to, like, have that scene - remember, like, that scene from "Love Actually" where, like, the prime minister yells at the president.

(LAUGHTER)

DETROW: Like, like, confront him right there, but he didn't.

KHALID: I love that you brought up "Love Actually."

DETROW: He waited to tweet it afterwards. But it's like, remember a couple months ago when Pena Nieto and Obama and Trudeau were all kind of bro-ing (ph) out together.

SANDERS: The three amigos.

DETROW: I feel like the way that Pena Nieto set this up for Trump and gave him that big moment, I wonder if those two liberals are going to revoke his bro (ph) card from there.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: It's, like, out of the club, you're saying.

DETROW: Yeah, like, sorry man.

MONTANARO: I think Donald Trump knew exactly how to handle Pena Nieto. I think the problem was on the other foot because Pena Nieto was trying to look statesman-like and say, you know, we have to maintain this relationship with the United States regardless of what happens. But you've got Donald Trump who went in there with a specific message that he wanted to send to the viewing audience, to the reporters who were in the audience there, to - and he had a much sharper line to say I told him directly X, Y and Z were problems for the United States. And Pena Nieto tried to be - speak in diplospeak (ph) and say, well, maybe we disagree with certain things but certainly not in the toughness of tone that even Donald Trump did.

SANDERS: So, Eyder, final thoughts on the crazy whirlwind of a Mexico tour.

PERALTA: I think the - I think I agree with Domenico that I think the biggest loser of this whole event is Pena Nieto. If you look at Proceso, the biggest political magazine in Mexico, their headline is "We Mexicans Are Alone" because they thought their president was punked (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: OK. You have to go, Eyder. You have a day job that is not this. Thank you for being here.

PERALTA: It was fun. Thank you.

SANDERS: It was real fun.

DETROW: Bye, Eyder.

KHALID: Thank you.

PERALTA: Don't have too much fun without me.

SANDERS: Never would - all right so we've been hearing that this is really about Trump trying to appear more presidential, which some would argue that one key part of that is attracting college-educated voters, especially white ones. Mitt Romney won that group by 14 percentage points over President Obama. Trump would need to win them by even more. Asma, you've been covering this for a while, and you have some thoughts about where they're leaning this time.

KHALID: Yeah. I mean, this is a group that historically has leaned Republican pretty much as far back as we can go in exit polls. White, college-educated voters have voted for the Republican presidential candidate.

MONTANARO: Democrats have never won them...

KHALID: Yes.

MONTANARO: ...Since 1976.

KHALID: So this should be a natural constituency for a Republican. But all the polls that we're seeing now show Hillary Clinton with a lead in this group. Some have even shown her with a double-digit lead in this group. And I think part of it is partly because we see more millennials, younger people who are getting college educations.

So some of this education divide is actually an age divide. But I think part of it is there are Republicans and Independents who are so just sort of caught off guard by Donald Trump's message. I met this couple out in Colorado, where I was the other week, specifically trying to understand how college-educated voters feel because Colorado is actually the state with the largest share of white, college-educated...

DETROW: Really?

KHALID: ...Voters in the country.

DETROW: Didn't know that.

KHALID: Exactly - little fun fact. So I met this couple. They're Mormon. They told me that they're conservative. They were big Mitt Romney fans. And I want you to take a listen to sort of what they both had to say. Amanda's (ph) the wife, and she just told me she just has a lot of trouble with his tone.

AMANDA: The things that he says are inexcusable, and they have no place in the public sphere. It hurts my feelings. Like, I don't know how to say it any other way, but it's so - he is so offensive that...

SANDERS: Wow.

AMANDA: ...I would - I could never vote for him, ever.

SANDERS: Never.

KHALID: Never. And then her husband is kind of a - took a little bit more of a pragmatic approach. He's a lawyer, went to Columbia Law School, tells me he's a fiscal conservative.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think the downside risk of a Hillary Clinton presidency is low, whereas there's a complete unknown in volatility with a Trump presidency that I just am not interested in finding out about.

SANDERS: Wow.

KHALID: And he told me that he's a Republican, so I said, well, what are you going to do this election cycle?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If I had to decide today, I think I would vote for - this is very difficult to say this - but I think I would vote for Hillary Clinton.

KHALID: And that's a problem.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KHALID: This is a guy who leans Republican, who was a huge fan of Mitt Romney's, who told me that if Paul Ryan was going to run in 2020, he would go and help and work to get Paul Ryan elected. And yet, he says come this November, he's not sure he can do that.

DETROW: That's what stuck out to me when I first heard that story. Two things - one, just how personally affronted the woman sounded like she was with Donald Trump's campaign. But the fact that he felt the need to have to, like, justify himself and add and, like - and I have to say that if Paul Ryan ran in four years, I'd be all about that.

It was almost like he was, like, embarrassed to say that he's probably going to vote for Hillary Clinton.

SANDERS: OK, time for our first break. Hillary Clinton will be on the flip side.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: Before we get back to the show, in any given year, more than 100,000 new albums get released. It is impossible to keep up with that much music. So NPR's All Songs Considered podcast has you covered. Each week, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton find the best new songs for you to fall in love with. They will not let you down, promise. And you'll always be on top of the latest and greatest music.

Subscribe to All Songs Considered now at npr.org/podcast. All right, back to the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: All right, so Hillary Clinton. This is now several weeks in a row that we have had a lot to talk about with Donald Trump and then we get to Hillary Clinton and it's like, where have you been? Like, Hillary Sandiego - no one laughed at that.

KHALID: Did you really make that joke? Carmen Sandiego, I got it.

SANDERS: Like Carmen Sandiego, thank you. So there's been some more email news, which we will get to, but she's not making a big statement about that. Clinton's had, like, two public events in two weeks. What is she doing or not doing?

MONTANARO: She's fundraising. But she's, you know, Hillary Clinton has a deliberate strategy here where she sees Donald Trump cratering in the polls and has decided that she doesn't need to be out there. It's a little bit of, you know, back in Dean Smith days when he coached at North Carolina, the four corners offense of holding the ball out, you know? She's, you know, Ron Elving called it rope-a-dope.

It's a similar kind of thing, and it's deliberate. You know, why put yourself out there if the polls show you winning? Now, I think that doesn't work, necessarily. I think she needs an affirmative message to run on.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MONTANARO: She has plenty of policy proposals. Just look at her website on it. She rolled out a white paper this week on a long policy proposal on mental health. So, you know, she has all of these policies, she has all these things, but it's hard for her to kind of put together a crystallized vision of what a Hillary Clinton future would look like for the country.

KHALID: But that being said, she does have surrogates on the campaign trail for her - Joe Biden in Ohio, Tim Kaine's in New Hampshire today.

DETROW: And all that money that she's raking in, I mean, she's outspending Trump by still about a 10 to 1 margin on ads. I mean, that's money that she can use to continually blast away at him with these really powerful negative ads that the campaign has been blanketing the airwaves with while Trump has been airing relatively minimal TV ads in key states over the last few months.

SANDERS: OK, so, Asma, you went to North Carolina recently to report on the black vote in that state, which is a critical bloc for anyone wanting to win that state, right?

KHALID: That's right, and one of the things, Domenico, you were just talking about is not-Trump as a sufficient campaign strategy. And I talked to a number of folks who were actively involved during the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012. And North Carolina's a place where black voter turnout's going to be key. The Clinton campaign is banking on almost 1 out of every 2 voters that will make up their winning coalition in North Carolina would be African-American.

And so I talked to this one woman, Laurie Tyson (ph). She's kind of a super volunteer, you could say. She said that during the Obama campaign, she would do absolutely anything that was necessary to ensure that he would win.

LAURIE TYSON: I'm not in love with her like I was - I used to say Obama's like my Michael Jackson when I was growing up.

SANDERS: Oh, my.

DETROW: (Laughter).

TYSON: (Unintelligible) I'm not crazy like that so (laughter) with posters on my wall sitting there staring at him.

KHALID: And so she said that she wants Hillary Clinton to win and she will vote for her.

TYSON: I don't want to see all the things that the Obama administration has achieved be dismantled. I definitely don't want to see Donald Trump in the White House ever for any reason, not even to have lunch.

KHALID: So you get this sense that stop Trump and maintaining Obama's legacy are very key reasons why a lot of African-Americans would potentially vote for Hillary Clinton. But to me, what's interesting is a lot of what I kept hearing for voters were indirect reasons. You know, we don't want Trump in the White House some folks would tell me. Or they're very scared of the way he's talking about voters.

And the other reason I consistently heard from people is a very local reason related to North Carolina politics. I'm sure we've heard a lot in the news recently around North Carolina voter I.D. issues.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KHALID: So really quick, in a nutshell, North Carolina the past few years has had a series of conservative changes that were brought about by the Republican State Legislature. And one of these was to institute a voter I.D. law. A lot of critics said this would really hurt African-Americans at the polls. Basically, in a nutshell, this has been deemed unconstitutional. But there are still, you know, a lot of concerns about how early voting or restrictions could hurt African-Americans.

And so the NAACP has been actively, actively getting folks organized in the black community for a number of years, you know, in the interim during the Obama presidency because this has been an issue...

SANDERS: For a while.

KHALID: ...On the ground in North Carolina. And so one of the things folks told me is, you know, you usually think of a presidential candidate coming in like Obama. And he would have this trickle-down effect...

SANDERS: Big organization, yeah.

KHALID: Exactly, and he would be able to help all the local lawmakers. They said right now in North Carolina because you've had the NAACP and all these black groups organizing so actively, you get the sense that in some ways, Hillary Clinton might benefit from a trickle-up idea - right? - that folks are going to show up at the polls because they are so scared.

I mean, one guy told me that it feels like they are returning to a Jim Crow era. Things that they thought were never possible anymore in North Carolina they feel threatened by.

MONTANARO: And you'll likely see a lot of Clinton on-the-ground movement in the final couple weeks. But it is different than the Obama campaign for sure because the Obama campaign understood, they knew that this was a key group and that they could maybe win a state like North Carolina. You know, Hillary Clinton's campaign sees North Carolina as a firewall state, where really if they win North Carolina, there's almost no path for Donald Trump.

So it's an important place. They're trying hard. It's interesting - or that they probably will try harder, I should say. But, you know, she really is running for Obama's third term. I mean, she's running on this legacy campaign. And it's funny, Obama's slogan in 2012 was forward. And I almost think if he didn't use that, she could have...

SANDERS: She would have used it.

MONTANARO: ...Used it for this campaign.

SANDERS: Yeah. So there was also some news this week again about Hillary Clinton's emails. The emails, y'all. They never end. The FBI reportedly recovered 30 new emails that may be related to Benghazi - 30 emails that were not included in the 55,000 pages of emails previously provided by Clinton. And now the State Department says they'll need until the end of September to review those emails and redact potentially classified information. What is our take on this? I know my take is, like, how many more emails are there? Scott.

DETROW: I think the key thing on this is that, you know, you said at the end of September. This means that we're possibly talking about emails being released in the weeks before the Election Day, which is crazy because this story has lasted so long. There have been so many twists and turns, and it seems like every few weeks or months when Hillary Clinton's, you know, trustworthy numbers have ticked up a little bit, her favorability numbers have ticked up a little bit, you'll see another batch of emails that come out that have an anecdote, like we got last week with these conversations between Clinton Foundation officials and State Department officials about setting up meetings that hurt her in a very vulnerable area again. So the fact that they could be dealing with this in mid-October is probably mind-blowing for the campaign.

KHALID: So quick question - I don't understand why we are getting emails sort of released on a small batch, small batch, small batch. They're sort of being sprinkled out. Why is that (unintelligible)...

MONTANARO: Well, this is...

KHALID: I don't understand.

MONTANARO: This is slightly different. So initially when the original batch of emails was being trickled out month by month, that was done because of sheer manpower, that the State Department didn't have enough people and time and money to be able to go through 30,000 - 30,000 - emails. Think about that if we were to just throw 30,000 things we had to review with our team in the things that we have to do day to day. So they worked out basically, like, a payment plan with the court where they could, you know, put it out there every month to hand it over.

This latest batch is not from that old batch of the ones that Hillary Clinton had released. This is from remember when the FBI said that they found some data of things that had been deleted. They didn't say purposefully deleted but things that had been deleted that they were able to patch back together again. And 30 of those emails happened to deal with Benghazi. The State Department said that they needed a month to get them out. Well, a month will be the end of September.

KHALID: Got it.

SANDERS: If I were Hillary Clinton, I would never email again. I would delete my email account. I just, like - it's not good for you.

MONTANARO: Delete your account.

SANDERS: Yes. Delete your account.

KHALID: But think of it, Domenico. That was perhaps the most concise explanation I've actually heard of the trickle out emails.

MONTANARO: That's why I'm here.

SANDERS: All right. One more quick break. We will be right back with listener mail and Can't Let To Go.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: All right, couple of quick letters today, a reminder to send us your questions, written or recorded, to nprpolitics@npr.org. We have an email from Casroy (ph) who wrote (reading) Hello, NPR POLITICS. I'm a longtime listener living in Toronto, Canada.

Shout out to the six, hey. He says...

KHALID: What does that mean? I don't know what that means.

SANDERS: That's what Drake calls Toronto, and I don't even like Drake.

MONTANARO: The six?

SANDERS: Yeah.

MONTANARO: Is that, like, a hockey team?

SANDERS: Y'all need to follow the culture.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: I can't do it by myself. I cannot do it alone. He says (reading) can you touch on the current state of the tea party? As I recall, they were supposed to be the future of the Republican Party. Is the Trump movement a spin-off of this group?

MONTANARO: Well, I would posit that the tea party is not the future of the Republican Party. It's the present.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

MONTANARO: I mean, I think that a lot of what you saw in, you know, people talking about the chicken or the egg effect, is it did Trump come first or did Trumpism (ph) come first, as Mara Liasson might say? Well, I think it's pretty clear that the kindling was there below the surface waiting for him, I mean, all the way back to Pat Buchanan in the '90s, Sarah Palin in 2008 and how people were ripping off the McCain part of their bumper sticker and just driving around with Palin in 2008. That gave birth to the tea party in 2010.

Donald Trump jumped on the birther bandwagon in 2011, questioning whether or not the president was born in the United States, and he was born in Hawaii, so we say every time. And then he was able to kind of bring on board a lot of that kind of energy and enthusiasm of the tea party. Now, they're not monolithic. It's not every single person, but a lot of that energy sure feels and looks the same.

SANDERS: Yeah.

DETROW: Domenico, that was like a we didn't start the fire of tea partiers right there.

(LAUGHTER)

DETROW: Sorry, sorry.

KHALID: But we should acknowledge that there are some folks - we should acknowledge that there are some tea partiers who are really troubled by Donald Trump's message, and these are some of the tea partiers we saw align themselves with Ted Cruz during the primary. I met some women who kind of fall into that group in Ohio.

SANDERS: All right. We have a question now from a listener in New England.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LULU: Hey, guys. I'm Lulu. I'm 17, and I'm from Connecticut. I'm a huge fan of the show, and I was wondering, what can we expect from the first presidential debate? And what do you think the main strategy is for both Clinton's campaign and Trump's campaign going into the first debate?

SANDERS: Scott.

DETROW: Well, I think one thing that we saw that's kind of a good preview is the way that Trump's trip to Mexico was perceived and covered. Because the way he's run his campaign, because of the riffing and the insulting and the kind of unexpected twists at every turn of his presidential campaign, the fact that he showed up and stood there at kind of a joint appearance got him great headlines. So you have to wonder if Donald Trump just showing up at a debate and giving straightforward answers would kind of be a big boost for him. But I think the thing that we're all thinking about is how over and over again, not just in the campaign but over the course of his adult life, you know, every time somebody has challenged Trump, has insulted Trump, has pushed Trump, Trump has swung back and pushed back hard. That's a thing he talks about in "Art Of The Deal," that you have to push back and attack back.

MONTANARO: Right, and, you know, the optics of debates are really interesting, especially - think about the two Trumps we've been seeing. You saw Pena Nieto Trump and then you saw Trump in Arizona. Which one of those guys shows up? The Clinton campaign, behind the scenes, is trying to figure out how they get under his skin, how they can bring out the Donald Trump that they think is the real Trump.

SANDERS: All right. That's the mail. Please keep your questions coming. We are planning an all-listener mail episode soon actually. Now, it's time for Can't Let It Go when we all share one thing we just cannot stop thinking about this week, politics or otherwise - Asma.

KHALID: Yeah. So one thing that I have been thinking about for the past few days is a story that was a final sendoff from NPR's Egypt correspondent Leila Fadel. And I think we have some tape of it, but in a nutshell, I was just struck by her describing the political situation in Egypt over the last few years. And she talked about in August of 2013 the day she realized the Egyptian political system was broken.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: August 2013 - it was the first seemingly free and fair election in Egypt after Mubarak's ouster. And his supporters were angry that he'd been ousted by the military, and they staged sit-ins in two parts of Cairo. And what I watched in August 2013 were the security forces basically conducting a massacre.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

KHALID: You know, she has this audio of gunshots, and it's the moment when the security forces decided they wanted to cramp down on the democratically elected Islamist leader at that time.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

FADEL: Just listening back to it brings back the memories of running through this alleyway under gunfire, seeing a man drop. The carnage shocked me. It's the middle of Cairo in the middle of a cosmopolitan city, but what shocked ,e more was the reaction to it, that people were ready to excuse it and say it was necessary because they were very worried about an Islamist government, because they were very worried about stability, about Egypt's place in the region, about uncertainty. And that's when I feel like Egypt changed, something broke and society really divided.

KHALID: And it was really interesting to hear, in a matter of perspective, because I can't tell you the amount of times I have felt this election season like our political system is broken, and what is going on, and how did we end up at this point where people are just shouting past one another? And it was really helpful to have that perspective of what it means for a political system to be broken.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KHALID: And how different our political system is even if at times, you know, there are testing times for us.

SANDERS: Yeah. OK. So there's another thing that I'm going to share with you guys after the credits that we cannot let go. Stick around for that. But right now, I want to talk about Colin Kaepernick. He's an NFL player with the San Francisco 49ers. At a game recently, he refused to stand for the national anthem.

He said he was doing it because he has some real problems with the way police treat black people in this country. He's gotten a lot of blowback from a lot of sports fans, a lot of folks on social media. And also, he's gotten lots of folks that are saying, you know, this is his right to be able to protest. He is basically saying that for him, life in America as a black man and seeing current events as a black man has affected him. And he wants to make the point, you know, that America in some ways is not so great. And we have to remember that as much as people are questioning Colin Kaepernick for suggesting that America is not so great, we have a man running for president who has built his case around saying that America is not so great.

This is a thing you get to do in America. What's made us is the ability and the right and the freedom to protest regardless of who you are. Just because he's rich doesn't mean you can tell him yes or no to that. Just because he's an athlete doesn't mean you can tell him yes or no to that. One thing lots of people don't know is what it's like to be a black man in America.

And I know from experience one of the things that I think about as a black man all the time is how to be American and how I'm doing that and what it means to me. So I have to trust that Colin Kaepernick doesn't take that choice lightly. So to all the folks that are, you know, saying that he can't do this, can't do that, we don't own athletes' bodies. We don't own their freedom. He gets to protest.

MONTANARO: So the flag and protest has always been kind of a political hot-button issue. I mean, this has been something that you've seen for a long time. And you kind of - you obviously see people with strong, passionate views on either side of this. Politically, during the Vietnam War, I mean, you saw people burning flags in the streets. And that started this kind of cultural divide in the country. And it's - again, we've talked about bubbles that people live in and not walking in someone else's shoes. And I think that's a lot of what happens here because you wind up with a lot of people who feel very strongly that the flag is sacrosanct and the anthem and patriotism, whether you agree or disagree with how things are going in the country - that there are different ways to protest. Now, that's just one view of it, and certainly Colin Kaepernick has a different one.

KHALID: But it is interesting, though, you were talking about, Sam, your place in America because I will say no matter where I am at any campaign event, particularly if it is a Republican campaign event, which often, you know, very loudly introduces the pledge and - as well as the anthem, I stand even if I've got a laptop in my hand, and I put my hand up just to ensure that I make everyone in the crowd feel comfortable with me. So, I mean, I do think that there is, like, a privilege also...

SANDERS: Yes.

KHALID: ...To being able to sit down and say, like, that's - you know, that this is an opportunity that you want to protest - in no way to knock that, but it was kind of akin to what Keith Woods, one of our colleagues, wrote about his dad and the pride he took in standing up for the...

SANDERS: As a black man.

KHALID: As a black man because he said, you know, his dad had fought so hard for the right to feel like an equal-status American.

SANDERS: Yeah.

KHALID: And I think, like, it is very personal. And long story short, Keith's take was that I'm not going to knock Colin because, you know, to each his own of why they feel like they have this right. But I think it kind of goes back to what you're talking about, you know, what it's like to be an American...

SANDERS: Yeah.

KHALID: ...And who gets to feel like they are an American.

SANDERS: Yeah. Scott, you're next.

DETROW: So, Sam, I'm going to apologize to you here because I am about to once again talk about your least favorite word, and that word is pivot.

SANDERS: (Groans).

DETROW: But I'm going to talk about an actual Donald Trump, you know, unqualified pivot. I've been traveling a lot lately, which means I've been in a lot of airports, which means I've been walking through a lot of airport bookstores and just killing time staring at books there. Most of the time the selection is not great, but I noticed a pivot, and that is Donald Trump's official campaign book. You know, actually one of our first podcast episodes was all about campaign books and how...

SANDERS: I remember that.

DETROW: ...Lame they usually are.

SANDERS: Yeah.

DETROW: Trump's book was initially called "Crippled America."

MONTANARO: Speaking of...

DETROW: And...

MONTANARO: ...Not thinking the country's great.

DETROW: Yeah, "Crippled America" - and the cover was a close-up look at his face. And he either looked really angry or he looked like he was squinting to read a sign across the street. You know, either one of those. It has now been republished with the title "Great Again."

MONTANARO: Wow.

DETROW: And the picture is Trump standing in front of a flag kind of smiling and looking presidential. So there you go, a little bit more of an optimistic spin on the Donald Trump official campaign book.

SANDERS: A true pivot.

MONTANARO: That is an interesting find.

DETROW: A pivot.

SANDERS: All right, pivoting, Domenico, what can you not let go?

MONTANARO: Pivoting into the gutter - or pirouetting, pirouetting perhaps is what we're doing now...

SANDERS: Do tell.

MONTANARO: ...Because I'm obsessed with the fact that Ryan Lochte - yes, that Ryan Lochte, Rick Perry, among others...

SANDERS: Former governor of Texas.

MONTANARO: Former governor of Texas, who ran for president and lost again. He - the two of them are going to be on "Dancing With The Stars."

DETROW: Oh, no.

MONTANARO: Yeah.

KHALID: Why are you making that face...

SANDERS: Can we just...

KHALID: ...Or that sound?

SANDERS: Let's send Ryan Lochte away. Just - he needs to go.

MONTANARO: Ryan Lochte said now that Rio is over, I have some downtime, finally, where I can do stuff outside the pool.

SANDERS: Because he has no job. He lost all of his endorsements. He's not doing nothing.

MONTANARO: I think he did plenty of stuff outside the pool...

SANDERS: Yeah, he did.

MONTANARO: ...After he stopped swimming in Rio. So I will just put out this warning sign for Rick Perry - and he was an athlete in college. And a lot of athletes, you know, who go on the show - pro athletes...

SANDERS: They do well.

MONTANARO: ...Do well.

SANDERS: Emmitt Smith...

MONTANARO: And you know what?

SANDERS: ...Jerry Rice...

MONTANARO: Like, we should also mention Laurie Hernandez, you know, the Olympic...

KHALID: Oh, yeah, yeah...

MONTANARO: ...Medalist she's going to be on this...

KHALID: ...Final five.

MONTANARO: She's going to be on this version of "Dancing With The Stars" as well.

SANDERS: Yeah.

MONTANARO: But she's, like, a professional athlete.

SANDERS: Yes.

MONTANARO: Like, a very good, high-level professional athlete. The last politician who went on the show was Tom DeLay - remember him?

MONTANARO: Yeah.

KHALID: I do remember him.

MONTANARO: The former congressman from Texas, minority leader, you know, who had some...

SANDERS: He went to jail.

MONTANARO: ...Legal issues. He wound up having to quit the show after three weeks because of bone spurs in his feet.

SANDERS: Oh, poor Tom.

MONTANARO: So I will just say Rick Perry, get some good shoes.

(LAUGHTER, SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KHALID: Blue suede shoes.

MONTANARO: I don't think the cowboy boots are going to fit.

KHALID: Put on your dancing shoes.

SANDERS: Asma with the dad jokes this week, coming hard.

KHALID: Tim Kaine has inspired me.

KHALID: All right, that is a wrap for this week. I hope you all keep dancing no matter what.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: We'll be back next week. Don't forget to send us your questions to nprpolitics@npr.org. Also, leave us an iTunes review if you like the show. That helps us out in more ways than you know. And follow our coverage on your local public radio station and on the NPR One app. I'm Sam Sanders, campaign reporter.

KHALID: I'm Asma Khalid. I cover demographics in the campaign.

MONTANARO: I'm Domenico Montanaro, political editor.

DETROW: And I'm Scott Detrow, campaign reporter.

MONTANARO: I want a selfie with a cactus, Scott.

SANDERS: That's dangerous.

DETROW: I will...

SANDERS: That's dangerous.

KHALID: Don't stand too close.

DETROW: I feel like there's rattlesnakes by the cactus, so...

SANDERS: Don't do that.

DETROW: ...I don't know if I can make that happen.

MONTANARO: So? Close-up.

SANDERS: Anyways, thank you all for listening to the NPR POLITICS PODCAST. And now something special, a listener and professional singer named Matthew Billman from San Diego noticed that we enjoy singing on the show. Shout out to our imaginary R&B supergroup vocalness (ph). Anyways, Matthew wanted to get in on the fun. Thank you Matt for this. You guys, enjoy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MATT BILLMAN: (Scatting, singing) America.

JASON KING, BYLINE: Hey, listeners. I'm Jason King with NPR Music. In "Noteworthy," my new video-short documentary series, I get to spend an entire day with incredible musicians like Alicia Keys, Miguel, Banks and Maxwell. And I ask them questions about their creative process and the real hard behind-the-scenes work that goes into them crafting their most memorable songs and recordings. Check out this clip.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY SERIES, "NOTEWORTHY")

ALICIA KEYS: You try to control things too much and you miss the magic. So that has been an evolution and process. But I had to control that in the beginning, I feel, because I wouldn't even have been given a chance. And I don't think I would have made the music that I'm still proud today to play.

(Singing) There's a hole in my heart I've been hiding.

KING: To see the full videos, head over to npr.org/noteworthy. We'll post new videos all the time, so come back often.

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