Weekly Wrap: 2020 Politics And More, Live From Des Moines, Iowa : It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders For this special live edition of the show, Sam is joined by NPR national correspondent Sarah McCammon and Iowa Public Radio host and reporter Clay Masters. To Sam, it seems the Democratic Party is running two different primaries: one for their progressive base and another for hypothetical moderate general election voters. Plus how are Iowans feeling about 2020?

Weekly Wrap: 2020 Politics And More, Live From Des Moines, Iowa

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AUNT BETTY: Hey, y'all. This is Sam's Aunt Betty. This week on the show, live from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, NPR national desk correspondent Sarah McCammon and Iowa Public Radio Morning Edition host Clay Masters. All right, let's start the show.



Wow, wow, wow. Y'all clean up nice.

CLAY MASTERS, BYLINE: Thank you. You do, too.


SANDERS: Thank you.

MASTERS: That's a very nice suit.

MCCAMMON: But you're still...

SANDERS: I feel like a dog wearing shoes. You know what I mean?

MCCAMMON: You're not wearing shoes...

SANDERS: I'm not wearing shoes now.

MCCAMMON: ...As of this moment.

MASTERS: He took his shoes off.



MCCAMMON: Which, if anybody knows Sam Sanders, is par for the course.

SANDERS: That's how I do. That's how I do. Hey, y'all. From NPR, I'm Sam Sanders. IT'S BEEN A MINUTE, live at the Sheslow Auditorium at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.


SANDERS: Many, many thanks to our friends at Iowa Public Radio for bringing us to lovely Des Moines. Welcome once more to my lovely guests, NPR national correspondent Sarah McCammon and Iowa Public Radio's Morning Edition host and lead political reporter Clay Masters.


SANDERS: As you can hear, I am playing the song "Soul Man" by Sam & Dave.


SAM AND DAVE: (Singing) I'm a soul man. Oh, lord, I'm a soul man. Play it, Steve. I'm a soul man.

SANDERS: And I played it not because it was a big hit in 1967, but because there is a campaign story behind this song. Who remembers Bob Dole's run for president in 1996?


SANDERS: Applause for Bob Dole's run for president.


SANDERS: Yeah, OK. Who remembers one of Bob Dole's short-lived campaign songs? It was a take on "Soul Man" called "I'm A Dole Man."


SANDERS: When Bob Dole was running for president, he had one of the singers of the song - Sam, of Sam & Dave - rewrite some of the lyrics to read I'm a Dole man. I'm a Dole man. I'm a Dole man. As soon as he started using the song at campaign events, the writers of the song threatened to sue for, like, 100 grand at least. And then they had to take it off. But also, when he would play it at rallies, no one would hear I'm a Dole man. They would hear I'm a dull man.


SANDERS: Or they would hear I'm an old man.


SAM AND DAVE: (Singing) Soul man. I'm a soul man. Soul man...

SANDERS: What is y'alls least favorite campaign song of a run for president ever?

MCCAMMON: I mean, anybody who's covered a campaign gets sick of the songs you hear over and over again. And I never need to hear "You Can't Always Get What You Want" ever again, as long as I live.

MASTERS: Brooks & Dunn, "Only In America."

SANDERS: Oh, that's a good song, though.

MASTERS: It's a good song. But I'm - it's tired.

SANDERS: I had to cover Hillary a bit in 2016. And I came to hate the Rachel Platten song "Fight Song." So I would hate-tweet about my hatred of this song. I am one of very few people in the world who is blocked by Rachel Platten.


MCCAMMON: What did you do?

SANDERS: I don't - I just said I hate that song over and...


SANDERS: ...Over and over again. Yeah, yeah.

Any who, we're going to talk about politics. But I got to just say I'm so happy to be back in Iowa and on stage with two Iowans. You all hear Clay every morning. And you know that he lives here. But fun fact, Sarah McCammon lived here for - what? - four years.

MCCAMMON: Four years.


MCCAMMON: I'm a - many of you know - a native Kansas City-an (ph). But I made a little Iowan while I was here.


MASTERS: There's somebody from Kansas City up there.

MCCAMMON: So, you know, all right.

SANDERS: We're going to start the show as we always do. I'm going to have my guests and myself describe our week of news in only three words. A note to listeners here and on the pod waves and radio waves, we're taping this Thursday evening. So by the time some of you hear this, a lot will have changed. Deal with it.


SANDERS: But in the spirit of my guests and the location of this event tonight, we're going to make all of our three words be focused on campaign 2020, even in 2019. Fun, fun. You ready?

MCCAMMON: It's here.

SANDERS: So, Clay, you're already covering this election. You have three words about it, huh?

MASTERS: They're always here.


MASTERS: You can't escape them. I mean, they're always here. And, like, you know, we have a good robust staff of reporters at Iowa Public Radio.


MASTERS: But we can't go to all these events. But they're always here.

SANDERS: We got to explain for our listeners who aren't in Iowa. We should explain why the candidates are always here.

MASTERS: So Iowa goes first with the Iowa caucuses, first presidential nominating process in the country. And Iowa's meant to winnow the field. They don't always pick the president, but they get rid of some of those people that are running.

MCCAMMON: You know, it's funny you say they're always here because I remember - so I covered the 2012 cycle. And, you know, there's always this talk about, like, the national media not always being in touch with what's really happening in the middle of the country. And I definitely felt that a lot of times. And I lived in Iowa. And I remember getting a call right after the caucuses from one of the editors at NPR, whom I respect and love very much. I do.

MASTERS: She's listening.

SANDERS: She's actually here tonight. Come on down.


MCCAMMON: She's not. But, you know, they wanted a story about, like, is everybody in Iowa so sad now that the caucuses are over...


MCCAMMON: ...And the buses are rolling out of town, and there's no more attention on Iowa? And so I said, OK, I'll go find out. So I went to, you know, a couple of the coffee shops here in town and over in East Village, talked to a few people. And I called my editor back. And I was like, I am so sorry, but I could not find a single person...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

MCCAMMON: ...To bemoan the end of the Iowa caucuses.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

MCCAMMON: Every single person was like, good riddance. I'm so sick of these ads. And so I did - you know, I did that story. And to the credit of the editors, they listened to the reporter on the ground and said, that's the story. Do that story.

SANDERS: Love it.

MCCAMMON: So we did.

SANDERS: Love it.

MCCAMMON: But they are always here.

SANDERS: Always here. So in that spirit of you thinking about these candidates always being here, I feel like, as someone who does not live in Iowa, that y'all must be living a different reality - at least politically - than the rest of us are because I get to just not care about the election when I get tired of it. But y'all can't. Is the political reality for Iowans on the ground right now, thinking about 2020, drastically different than the rest of us?

MASTERS: I don't know that it really is that different because, I mean, a lot of people have jobs.


MASTERS: You know, like, they can't go see - somebody's clapping for jobs, yeah.


SANDERS: Go jobs.

MCCAMMON: Almost a record number in Iowa, right?

MASTERS: Yeah, record number of Iowa - jobs. No, but, I mean, like, for a lot of people, they're busy. They've got things going on. And, like, I remember I was talking with a friend who was, like, driving down a street in Des Moines and realized that there were a lot of cars slowing down. And then, like, he looked up and, like - oh, there's Beto O'Rourke standing on something in a yard. Like, I mean, they're just...

SANDERS: He's already, like - he's already 8 feet tall. Why is he standing on something?

MASTERS: (Laughter) Exactly.


MASTERS: I think he stopped standing on as much.


MASTERS: But no, I mean, certainly for the people that are really politically engaged - like I said, you see people at these rallies that you've seen before. You know, like, what - who's in your top seven now?


MASTERS: You can ask when see them at the next event. But, I mean, like, yeah, it is - I mean, the ads are slowly starting to trickle in. But, I mean, come summer, fall, it's really going to get obnoxious, right? That's about the timeline. There's a lot of nodding heads, yes.

SANDERS: Do y'all like it?

MASTERS: Audience participation.


MASTERS: No (laughter).


SANDERS: OK, I feel like if I lived here, I'd be at everything. I'd just go to heckle.


SANDERS: Just to heckle. My next question for you, do people here - do Iowans tell you that this one feels different? I mean, when I think about what 2020 is going to be, I fully expect it to be the nastiest election of our lifetime. Like, I feel it in my gut.

MASTERS: The general election? That's what you're talking about?

SANDERS: All of it.

MASTERS: OK, cool.

SANDERS: All of it - and the general. But, like, does this cycle feel different?

MASTERS: It - yes, it does...

SANDERS: (Laughter) OK.

MASTERS: ...Feel different, Sam, next question. No, the biggest difference I think - I've done a couple stories already, focusing on paying attention to rural Iowa. There wasn't as much focus on rural Iowa from the Democratic side back in 2016. And, granted, there were two of them that - three - sorry, Martin O'Malley. There were, like, three of them.

But, I mean, like - right, it's also pretty - like, you're hearing from people more often, they're coming here more early. I mean, like, the cycle is - it just feels like it's going to be so much longer. Like, it's like an endurance test.


MASTERS: And right now everybody's kind of - when you talk to voters, they want to talk about issues. They want to talk about, you know - you've had some episodes where you've talked about this on IT'S BEEN A MINUTE, where they're there wanting to talk about the issues. They don't want to talk about electability. They don't want to talk about - but, I mean, like, I think that's going to start fading...


MASTERS: ...Down the road. Don't y'all? I don't know.

SANDERS: Yeah, Sarah, can - oh, go ahead.

MCCAMMON: Yeah, I mean, in my conversations - I've been to a - just to two campaign events in Iowa this week...

SANDERS: Look at you.

MCCAMMON: ...So I'm an expert.

SANDERS: Oh, yeah.

MCCAMMON: No, I'm not an expert. But, yeah, I'm hearing a mix of concerns, right? And I'm hearing both issues. And, of course, you go to campaign events, and people that go to them are engaged and want to talk about health care and education and climate change and all these other issues.

But also, I think everybody - from what I've heard from other NPR reporters who are traveling more than I am in the early primary states - a lot of concern about electability. I mean, who can beat Trump from the Democrats? And I think...


MCCAMMON: ...That's going to be a pressing concern for a lot of those voters, of course.

SANDERS: It's also a question no one can answer. What does electability mean when Donald Trump wins?

MASTERS: Well, in 2016 that's what everybody was saying all the time.


MASTERS: It was like, oh, he's not going to be the nominee.


MASTERS: Just hang out. He's going to say this, and he's going to say that. And I mean, like, in the caucuses in 2016, like, one of the biggest news cycles coming out of it was that Marco Rubio finished third.

SANDERS: I remember that.

MASTERS: You remember that?


MASTERS: Little bitty news cycle, yeah.

SANDERS: Little one.

MCCAMMON: To that point, you know...


MCCAMMON: I remember the first - not to go too far down this rabbit hole, but the first Trump event I ever covered was in South Carolina in July 2015. And I always refer back to that story when I want to sort of - when people sort of ask, like, what was that experience like? And, you know, what was it like going into that primary cycle? Because at that event, it was - there was just this massive crowd. There were protesters. People were talking about immigration. People were talking about not feeling safe.

And then I talked to a pundit who - you know, this story was all about, like, all this tension and all this emotion in this big crowd. And then at the end, you know, I talked to a pundit who was like, and Trump will fade, and Republicans will change their minds. And that never happened. And so...


MCCAMMON: ...That maybe brings me to my three words.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah, it does bring us to your three words, which are?

MCCAMMON: It's still early.



MCCAMMON: And it's really early. And this is the thing I was thinking about. I mean, four years ago at this time, Trump had not even entered the race. I mean, we were...

MASTERS: I was covering Scott Walker a lot, the...


MASTERS: ...Former - Scott Walker.



MASTERS: Scott Walker.

SANDERS: I'm sorry, who?

MASTERS: The former Wisconsin governor.

MCCAMMON: I mean, four year - yeah, it was a different world four years ago.


MCCAMMON: And - I don't know. And I wonder if this is going to keep - if it's going to continue to be like this. Like, in four more years are we going to start, like, in, you know, January...


MCCAMMON: ...Of 2021, on the next cycle?

SANDERS: I predict, at some point in the future, we have candidates for the next cycle announced before the one that just won gets inaugurated.


SANDERS: I'm serious. What is different for the GOP this cycle? I feel like a lot of the problems the GOP faced last time, Democrats faced this time in that there were too many candidates in disarray. And no one was in charge. All of those problems have shifted to Democrats. But what problems are the GOP facing this cycle?

MCCAMMON: Right. Well, they have an incumbent. Donald Trump is president.

SANDERS: They do. Yeah.

MCCAMMON: (Laughter) And the thing that's really - that was really sort of strange and different and unusual about the 2016 cycle was the fact that if you look back at the polls, from very early on, Trump was always doing pretty well. And he - you know, there were - you know, Ben Carson had a moment. And a few others had moments. But Trump was always at or near the top of the polls and - you know, nationwide. And he was doing pretty well in Iowa. And yet, he was not regarded really as a front-runner.

It'll be interesting to see if the Democrats are able to coalesce behind a front-runner. You know, if they do that sooner, there are, you know, strategic sort of pros and cons to that. That aside, in terms of Trump himself...


MCCAMMON: ...This time...

SANDERS: He's the guy.

MCCAMMON: He's the incumbent. He has the energy of the party behind him. He has the support of the party behind him. He has a much more robust infrastructure. I was talking...

SANDERS: We should - yeah. And just to point out the extent to which the infrastructure for him will be game-changing - both you and I followed Trump for a bit. And following Trump's campaign and seeing his campaign operation in action, the campaign operation itself was just not...

MCCAMMON: It was chaotic. And anyone...


MCCAMMON: And everyone will acknowledge that. I mean...

SANDERS: Yes, it was...

MCCAMMON: ...People close...

SANDERS: They didn't know how to run for president.

MCCAMMON: It was...

SANDERS: And he won in spite of it.

MCCAMMON: He won in spite of it. Somebody - a close observer of the campaign in 2016 recently described it to me as Donald Trump on a plane, ordering KFC and essentially doing, like, the political version of a '70s rock reunion tour. And...


MCCAMMON: He still won.


MCCAMMON: This time, he's - I mean, he's still Donald Trump. He's still sort of shoot from the hip, says whatever he wants to say. But he's got all of this money and data. And that's the other thing that I think is important to really watch. Trump's been having, you know, rallies for four years - five years now, basically - four years. And everybody who comes to those rallies, they know their name. They - you know, that's data that is going to be used in this next cycle to sort of, you know, try to push him as quickly ahead of...


MCCAMMON: ...His Democratic rival as they can.

SANDERS: And you were telling me there's a lot of specificity in the data that they collect at these rallies. They know when you showed up. They know how long you waited, and they know if you got in. Like, they can ID the true believers even, right?

MCCAMMON: Yeah, I mean, the data operations - we've done a lot of reporting on this over the years. They're getting better and better. And when you combine data from the Trump campaign with the Republican National Committee, from what I'm told, it's going to be a very robust operation. I'm sure the Democrats are doing it, too, but it's diluted between, you know, 20-plus candidates.


MCCAMMON: Trump doesn't have to do that. He is - you know, he's...


MCCAMMON: ...Ready to go. And they can be much more strategic about where they put people and where they put money.

SANDERS: Yeah. You are sourced up in the Trump campaign and in the GOP. What do they tell you - what do they really tell you about what candidates they're afraid of?

MCCAMMON: It depends on who you talk to.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

MCCAMMON: Some people say they're not afraid of anyone, and they think that...


MCCAMMON: ...Trump is in a very strong position and that, you know, he's clearly running on - they want him to run on a message of a strong economy, of keep America great as opposed to make America great again. So we're going to hear a lot of that. You know, privately, if I hear anybody mentioned, it's Biden. I also hear - I think Republicans would really like to make this campaign about capitalism versus socialism. And some see - some Republicans see it as easier to do if a more progressive Democrat is the nominee.

SANDERS: All right, time for a quick break. When we come back, we'll finish up our three words. And later, listeners will share the best thing that happened to them all week. I'm Sam Sanders. You're listening to a special live edition of IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. BRB.


SANDERS: We are back. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Sam Sanders, here this week with two guests - NPR correspondent Sarah McCammon and Iowa Public Radio reporter and host Clay Masters - in front of a live audience at the Sheslow Auditorium at Drake University in Des Moines.


SANDERS: Every week, we start the show by describing our week of news in only three words. And because we're here in Iowa, we are focusing on 2020 and the race for the presidency, which brings me to my three words.

MCCAMMON: What are they?


SANDERS: My three words are two Democratic primaries.

MASTERS: The crowd just want ooh.



SANDERS: Have a great night, folks. Thank you.


MASTERS: They laughed at mine. They laughed at mine. They went ooh at yours.

SANDERS: Uh-huh, I know, I know. Insightful.


SANDERS: I say this because I have this feeling - when I look at the Democratic field and the candidates and the debates happening on that side of the aisle, it feels like Democrats are waging two primaries right now - one for their progressive base and the other for this, like, hypothetical moderate general election voter. And all of these candidates - 20 - 11,000 of them...


SANDERS: ...Are trying to figure out which primary deserves the most of their time and attention. You have, you know, some candidates totally tacking to that base that is very progressive, like Warren. And you have other candidates who came out of the gate and said, my whole thing is to be here for that moderate voter next year. And no one has figured out which primary is more important and which primary is worth winning and whether one person can win both of these primaries. But what it's left Democratic voters with is, like, this angst.

We were at this Beto event yesterday in Mason City. And I just sit in the back, and I watch. And I'm looking at these Democrats - voters - who are watching Beto. And at the end, I'm just, like, trying to see what happens. And this guy, who had been standing next to me, he just looks at me right in the face, gets way too close...


SANDERS: And he's like, I don't know, man. I like what Beto was saying, but, you know, do you think he can actually win? Can he take on Trump?


SANDERS: And then I look at him. And I say, I don't know either.


SANDERS: And then we stood there. And he looks at me, and I look at him. And I said to myself, these are all the Democrats. This is all the Democrats.


SANDERS: How many Democrats in the room feel that way?


SANDERS: I'm sorry about it. Isn't it crazy though?

MASTERS: Well, when I'm talking to voters after events, like, it's almost like - so it's like, what'd you think? And it's like, well - like, they sigh talk. They're like...


MASTERS: Yeah, they said some good stuff. Oh, are you going to vote for this person? Well, I've got it down to about four. And I'm still trying to think. And it's, like, passive stress, like...

SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah.

MCCAMMON: I saw that guy. And I wasn't sure if I should, you know...

SANDERS: I did not know him.

MCCAMMON: ...Try to...


MCCAMMON: ...Try to, you know, hey, Sam, I need - but I just...

SANDERS: You should've saved me...

MCCAMMON: ...Walked away.

SANDERS: ...Sarah.


MCCAMMON: I just walked away.


MCCAMMON: Yeah. But I think the thing is that, you know, there's a typical, like, what's the future? What's the sort of ideological future of our party? But it's also just sort of a practical question...


MCCAMMON: ...That we definitely hear voters sorting through as we talk to them.

SANDERS: Well, there's also this, like, weird semantics game that Democrats are playing right now, which I just love to sit back and watch - the likability game and the fuss over that word and what it means. And what I've realized is when people say that a candidate that they don't like is or isn't likeable, what they're really just saying is, I don't like them.


SANDERS: When do you think things will begin to shake out and we'll have a kind of clearer picture of who is actually doing well in this crowded Democratic field?

MASTERS: Well...

SANDERS: Probably at the first debate or what?

MASTERS: Yeah, I think there's some of that, too. I mean, like, going back to Sarah's three words - that it's still early - some of these candidate - like, the South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Like, he was here. I covered him in February. And he was in a suburb of Des Moines. It was in a living room. There were, like, 12 people. And then a couple - like, a month ago, he was at this huge rally. And there are, like, 1,600 people there.

And, I mean, it's still early. And we have candidates that can't, like, hit this really high point now. And, I mean, because you're not - how are you going to maintain that kind of level of enthusiasm for the...


MASTERS: ...Next - what? - eight and a half months? And so what I'm watching for is, like, where are these rises and falls, you know?


MASTERS: Who's going to stand out? And then, like, when we get closer to the Iowa State Fair, when there's a lot of...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

MASTERS: ...Politics - that's a happy laugh.


MASTERS: Yeah. Like, I think that...

MCCAMMON: It's really fun to watch politicians eat food.



SANDERS: Is it fun, Sarah? Is it fun?


SANDERS: Do you enjoy that?

MCCAMMON: I kind of enjoyed it...


MCCAMMON: ...I have to say.


MASTERS: First debate - but there's going to be, like, that many people on the stage.

SANDERS: There's going to be, like, three debates, right?

MASTERS: Right, yeah.

SANDERS: Separate ones, anyways.

MASTERS: The kid table and the toddler table.

SANDERS: Who knows? Yeah.


SANDERS: So we had all this conversation to tell you that we don't know what the hell's going to happen.


SANDERS: You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR, the show where we catch up on the week that was. I'm Sam Sanders here with a special edition of the show, coming to you live from the Sheslow Auditorium at Drake University in Des Moines.


SANDERS: So if I haven't said it yet, we're in Iowa, which means that we're taking this whole episode, pretty much, to talk about the 2020 election and the special role that Iowa plays in that process. In that spirit, we asked Iowa Public Radio listeners to send us, in advance of this event, their questions about politics and 2020. Our first listener with a question is Paul Dayton (ph). You're going to come up here and ask it, huh?

Hi, Paul. Where are you from, Paul?

PAUL DAYTON: Des Moines - love the socks. Are those...

SANDERS: Thank you.

DAYTON: ...Nagrani or...

SANDERS: UNIQLO's finest - $5.

DAYTON: That's nice.


DAYTON: So my name is Paul Dayton. My question is, as you've spent time in Iowa and other states, what is the biggest change you've seen in primary voter attitudes or focus since 2016? And I should admit I meant Democratic voters.

MASTERS: I'm here all the time, so I can't...


MASTERS: This is yours.

SANDERS: For me, it's just like I was saying earlier, they're sad.


SANDERS: They're not happy about this, and they're just - their stomachs are tied in knots.

MCCAMMON: Yeah. I mean, I didn't spend a ton of time with Democrats last time. And it's a completely - it's so hard to compare. I mean, at the stage that I was even popping into primary coverage, I don't think anybody took Trump all that seriously. So - and now it's just sort of this earnest race to figure out who can...


MCCAMMON: ...Who can beat Trump when you talk to Democrats.


MCCAMMON: That's, like, what it's all about.

SANDERS: You know what they feel like - you know when, like - when you're dating someone, but you're nervous if it's going to work out or if mom's going to like them, so you, like, refuse to, like, act excited about it.


SANDERS: You know you love them. You want to move in. But you can't say, I love you.


SANDERS: And, like, when you go to certain bars or certain parties, you don't want to hold their hand.


SANDERS: That's every Democratic voter right now.


MCCAMMON: Taking it slow.



SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah. All right, now we're going to hear from Deborah Svec-Carstens. Did I get it right?


SANDERS: All right.


SANDERS: Hi, Deborah.

SVEC-CARSTENS: My name is Deborah Svec-Carstens. And my question has to do with media coverage of the women candidates. What do you see as a reason for the lack of coverage for the women seeking the Democratic nomination?


MCCAMMON: Sexism - so, you know...


MCCAMMON: I mean, it's hard not to think that is part of the story. I don't think it's the whole story. I think part of it is for the press, it's always a challenge to figure out, at this stage and especially in a big primary - and all I can really refer to is 2016 or 2012 - but it's always a challenge to figure out where to put your energy because you - the media have the ability, obviously, to shape a narrative. And by paying attention to somebody, sometimes that gives them a boost.

But then do you - you know, do you cover somebody who has 1% in the polls when there are people who have 20% in the polls or even 10%? And so these are tough, like, editorial questions that newsrooms debate a lot and reporters think about a lot. And obviously, you know, the two people who are at the top of the polls are a couple of guys. And - Biden and Sanders, right? We've heard of them before.


MCCAMMON: And I think, you know, some of the women - like Elizabeth Warren has - you know, she has a long track record and a long history but never the prominence of someone like vice - former Vice President Joe Biden nor the prominence, really, of somebody like Bernie Sanders, who waged that insurgent, you know, primary campaign last time. So I think some of it is just down to things like name recognition, which drives a lot of these early polls.

MASTERS: Yeah, and I can speak specifically to Iowa Public Radio's coverage. I mean, with...

SANDERS: Which has been stellar.

MASTERS: Oh, thank you.

SANDERS: Yeah (laughter).


MASTERS: No. But, I mean, when the candidates first come to Iowa, we go cover their events because they've announced, they're coming. And we want to, you know, give the audience a chance to meet them. But like we were alluding to earlier, you go to too many rallies, too many events, you're just putting all kinds of - you know, the same stump speech on the air. And is that really a service to the audience?


MASTERS: And so one of the things that I've been doing as I've been going to these events is talking with voters, talking about the issues that are important to them, talking about what kind of traits they think are important in a Democratic presidential candidate. And that's guiding some of our reporting right now.

We're launching a podcast in the summer in July called "Caucus Land" that my colleague, Kate Payne, and I are working on. And it's going to be taking a deeper look at what's going on in Iowa. And so we're wanting to, you know, focus on issues, hear what candidates are actually saying about those issues. And that way we're hoping can get us out of covering the horse race as much.

MCCAMMON: I think where I find it a little more perplexing is when you get down to sort of the second tier. I mean, it's obvious why Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders get a lot of coverage.


MCCAMMON: But when you get down to, you know, like, why is Buttigieg getting, you know, so much more coverage than someone like Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren? I mean, obviously Buttigieg had a big bump in the polls.

SANDERS: Because of the coverage.

MCCAMMON: But how much of that was because of the coverage?

SANDERS: (Laughter).

MCCAMMON: You know, I mean, I...


MCCAMMON: To me, that's where the - where it's much more...


MCCAMMON: ...Complicated.

SANDERS: I'm going to tell you my theory of this. And I think it is a journalist's problem exclusively. I've read everything about Mayor Pete. And some of the things that we talk about with Mayor Pete we would never talk about with a woman. So for instance, everyone knows that Mayor Pete speaks Norwegian, right? How many of you know that Kirsten Gillibrand speaks fluent Mandarin?


SANDERS: It's not discussed, right? Yeah, you knew. You knew.


SANDERS: Also, how many of you knew when Mayor Pete famously answered that question in Norwegian, what he actually was saying, when it was translated, was, I actually don't speak Norwegian that well.


SANDERS: That's what he was saying, right? And so I think the central issue with the way that we cover these candidates is that we approach profiles in reporting on new and flashy male candidates by writing a piece all about the positives. And every time that journalists profile or cover a woman, they start out just covering all the negatives, and they don't even know it.


SANDERS: I, like...


SANDERS: I don't even think we realize it. But think about every story you've read about Warren in the last three or four months. Even the ones that talk about things that are kind of attributes are negative. Like, there's been all these stories about how she focuses on policy too much.


SANDERS: What is that? And I think that, like, newsrooms and journalists have to really look at themselves and, like, just count up the tally of what pieces they're writing and whether or not they're just giving, writ large, male candidates more positive pieces day after day, which I think is what's happening.


SANDERS: That's my theory. Also, no shade on Mayor Pete. He's just the example I chose. I'm sure he's fine.


SANDERS: I do feel like there's a future though. Like, in three months, we forget how to say his last name. Like, it's hard. Anyway, next question...


SANDERS: ...Steven Chappell.

MCCAMMON: Oh, he's wearing an I-love-journalism...

SANDERS: Your shirt says...

MCCAMMON: ...Shirt.

SANDERS: ...I love journalism.

MCCAMMON: Yeah. Thank you.


SANDERS: Wait, you were tweeting before you came out here. Was that you?

STEVEN CHAPPELL: I'm sorry I didn't bring you any catfish.

SANDERS: Yeah, I saw you - the pictures you posted. You had catfish and collard greens and cornbread and - where were you?

CHAPPELL: Fat Tuesday.

SANDERS: OK. You should've brought some.

CHAPPELL: I'm sorry.


SANDERS: It's all right.

CHAPPELL: I am a instructor of journalism at Northwest Missouri State University.


CHAPPELL: And next year, I'm going to be bringing about a dozen students here to cover the caucuses for a couple of weeks leading up to caucus day.


CHAPPELL: They will have never covered a political campaign before, and none of them will have ever even voted in a presidential election before. What advice do you have for them? And what advice do you have for me to guide them through that and to not die in those...


CHAPPELL: ...Two weeks?

MASTERS: Are they legal drinking age?


CHAPPELL: Most of them will not be.

MASTERS: Oh, geez.

SANDERS: All right. All right.

MCCAMMON: Yeah. I'm going to say something that I would normally never say to a college student, but you don't matter, which is to say how you feel about this candidate, what you think, doesn't matter. And a thing I always try to do is to go into a room and look around and see what people are not just thinking but feeling. How does this candidate affect them?

And then the other thing I would say really quickly, if I may, about journalism is while there is, certainly, a base of Trump supporters that are at odds with the press, and the president has said many things that, I think, many journalists find to be troubling about the press, I'm always heartened when I talk to Republicans who appreciate good journalism. And I know that there are many people on both sides of the aisle who still want to hear the facts dispassionately as possible. And maybe, I guess, my point of, like, you don't matter, right? You...

SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah.

MCCAMMON: You are there to absorb everything. And, yes, you use your brain and your life experiences and all of that to try to understand the world. But you're ultimately there to pass that on to your audience, and so I try to set aside me as much as I can.

CHAPPELL: Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you.


SANDERS: Also, advice for any journalists who might end up on the trail covering the election - find your therapist before you start traveling.


SANDERS: And make sure that they're willing to Skype for your visits.


SANDERS: It's a game-changer.

MCCAMMON: And drink a lot of water. And for the women, pack a lot of wash-and-wear dresses and tights. But that's it.

SANDERS: OK, there we go. Yeah.


SANDERS: We have one more question from Drinda Williams. How are you?

DRINDA WILLIAMS: I'm well. How are you?


WILLIAMS: You look good.


WILLIAMS: You look good. My name is Drinda Williams. And my question is, do you ever see a candidate do something off mic or off camera, and you either think, oh, no way...


WILLIAMS: ...Or you think, oh, very cool? But then either way, it's something you can't talk about on the air. What do you do with that?

MCCAMMON: I generally found candidates to be pretty on-message all the time when reporters were around. You know, when you get on the bus, and you spend day after day with them, you sometimes get a little bit better feel for what they're really like. But they're - I mean, they're there for a reason. And they're conscious of - I mean, the good ones are conscious of reporters all the time. I also was in the position of hopping around from candidate to candidate. And I suspect some of these, like, 23-year-old embedded reporters with the networks who were there for every campaign stop and every late night - I'm sure they've seen some stuff.

MASTERS: So there was, in the last cycle - so there was this guy named Jeb Bush. You remember him?



MCCAMMON: Please clap.

SANDERS: Jeb who?

MASTERS: Yeah, please clap.



MASTERS: Jeb Bush. I interviewed him at a campaign headquarters in west Des Moines. After the interview was done, the - my colleague that was with me was going to get a picture of the two of us. And he was sitting kind of over there, and I kind of leaned over to get a picture with him. And he leans over to me. He says, hey, watch your manspread (ph).


MASTERS: I kind of looked at him like - and he goes, do you know what that means? And I was like, yes, and so do you. It was just like...


MASTERS: ...Jeb Bush looking out for my manspread. Like, I just...


SANDERS: He cares.

MASTERS: That - what's that?

SANDERS: He cares.

MASTERS: He cares.

MCCAMMON: Yeah. Well...


SANDERS: He cares.

MASTERS: That's my story.

MCCAMMON: You're a tall guy.

MASTERS: I am a tall guy.

MCCAMMON: Yeah, there's a lot of manspread there.

SANDERS: At the end of Bernie, there was this day or two where, like, everything came together. And I - and, like, my worldview of who he was and what he wanted kind of just shifted. So when he began to run for president, he was drafted to run. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party wanted Warren to run, actually, and she said no. So then they went to Bernie and kind of just said please run, please run. You're the most progressive, et cetera. He did.

But the whole vibe of his campaign the whole way through was, like, he doesn't want to do this. He's just serving the people. He doesn't like this, but he's doing it because he believes in it, et cetera. But there were these two days before the California primaries, which he ended up losing. But he ditched his schedule for events and would just drive around LA and stop where stuff looked cool. We were in the bus behind him, and we're just, like, on this ride with Bernie.


SANDERS: So in one day, he hit up the downtown LA farmer's market. He was on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake. He stopped into a drag brunch in WeHo.


SANDERS: We ended up at a Mexican mall south of LA. And he tried to interrupt their music festival. He was tangoing in the back. Like, he was everywhere. And I realized, like, after that whirlwind day with Bernie, like, oh, actually he likes it. Like, he likes it, you know? And, like, this is the universal truth of everyone that runs for president. They really want to. That's all I got. Yeah. Thank you.


SANDERS: All right. Thanks for all of our questions. Thanks again to Paul (ph), Deborah, Steven, and Drinda. With that, it's time for a break. Coming up, we're going to play a very special live edition of my favorite game, Who Said That. You're listening to a very special edition of IT'S BEEN A MINUTE. I'm Sam Sanders. We'll be right back.


SANDERS: All right. It is time for a live edition of my favorite game, Who Said That.


KANDI BURRUSS: Who had been saying that?

PORSHA WILLIAMS: Who said that?

SANDERS: So the audio that we use every week for the show is actually this iconic scene from "The Real Housewives Of Atlanta."


SANDERS: I'm obsessed with this show.


SANDERS: It is, like, Shakespearean tragedy levels of plot.


SANDERS: But - snaps for it, yes.


SANDERS: But there was this moment in an episode of the show where someone says some gossip that was some foolishness. And everyone else at the table says who said that for, like, two minutes.


SANDERS: Hence the name of our game, Who Said That. Anyways, y'all know how this game works. I share a quote from the week. You have to guess who said that or at least get the story I'm talking about or get close. Of course, the winner gets nothing but bragging rights.

But whenever we do the show live, I like to take a little chance to play the game myself. And to do that, we have to have someone guest host Who Said That for the live show. We have a very special guest host. Please welcome to the stage the host of Talk Of Iowa on Iowa Public Radio and also the host of "Iowa Ingredient" on Iowa Public Television, Charity Nebbe.



SANDERS: How are you?

NEBBE: Great.

SANDERS: Thank you so much for being here. I - you have an impressive resume. You host two shows...


SANDERS: ...All the time on TV and radio.

NEBBE: Yes. That's true.

SANDERS: How many of y'all just, like, hear her voice all the time?

NEBBE: (Laughter).


SANDERS: I love it. I love it.

MCCAMMON: I can attest. Charity is a legend in Iowa.


SANDERS: Yes. Yes.

MCCAMMON: And deservedly so.


NEBBE: When my 13-year-old gives me a really hard time, I say, you can't treat me that way. I'm an Iowa treasure.


SANDERS: Yes. Yes. The floor is yours now. Host this game.


SANDERS: Yeah. Thank you...

NEBBE: All right.

SANDERS: ...For being here and doing this.

NEBBE: Are you ready?


NEBBE: So the first quote is, how any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension.


MCCAMMON: Oh, I know this one.

SANDERS: I don't.

MCCAMMON: I tweeted about this. And now I'm blanking. Oh, yes. It's Prince Harry. It's Prince Harry.


NEBBE: Yeah. You got it.


NEBBE: Prince Harry, of course, who became a father this week. And he said that after Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, gave birth to their baby boy. And then we had...

SANDERS: And they showed him off.

NEBBE: Yeah.

SANDERS: We saw a picture of him.

NEBBE: Yeah. And then we had to wait a couple of days to find out what his name is. And it is Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.




NEBBE: But they didn't give him a title. They could have called him the Earl of Dumbarton. But they chose not to give him a title.

MCCAMMON: He's going to have to earn it.

MASTERS: My parents...

NEBBE: Right.

MASTERS: ...Didn't give me a title either.


NEBBE: Would you have...

MASTERS: It's rough.

NEBBE: ...Given him a title, Clay?

MASTERS: No. I would not.



NEBBE: (Laughter).

MCCAMMON: Wait. There's nothing they call you besides Clay?

MASTERS: (Laughter) No.

SANDERS: Did y'all see this really weird CNN headline, like, about the baby this week?


SANDERS: So as we all know, Meghan Markle is black. And there was a CNN headline this week. The headline literally was, "How Black Will The Royal Baby Be?"


SANDERS: It's an actual headline on the actual internet in 2019. And immediately - I saw it on my screen. And I said, black enough.


SANDERS: Anyway, it's funny.


NEBBE: What do you think about Archie, though?

SANDERS: I love it.

NEBBE: Do you?


MCCAMMON: It's cute. I mean...

NEBBE: It's...

MCCAMMON: ...All the old-school names are coming back. So why not?

NEBBE: But it sounds like a nickname to me. Like, it should be...


MASTERS: Well, there's all those other names. They can just choose one of those if they get sick of it.



NEBBE: (Laughter) OK. You guys ready for your second quote?

MASTERS: Clearly I was ready for the first one.


NEBBE: All right. Sarah has a commanding lead here.

MCCAMMON: All right.

NEBBE: All right. Here we go - if you had told me that breakfast pizza was good, I may...


NEBBE: "Not..."

MASTERS: Beto O'Rourke.


MASTERS: Beto O'Rourke. Beto...

SANDERS: I said it first.



NEBBE: Oh, Sam got it first.


MASTERS: I'm losing.

MCCAMMON: Although...

NEBBE: I may not have believed you - of course, that was Beto O'Rourke.

MASTERS: I emailed you that.

MCCAMMON: Yeah. Clay flacked that for us this morning.

SANDERS: You did. Clay actually shared this story with us earlier this week.


SANDERS: So thanks, buddy.

MASTERS: You're welcome.

SANDERS: Yeah. If I have this right, Beto O'Rourke was campaigning somewhere in Iowa. And he ended up at some iconic Iowa pizza place that serves breakfast...

MASTERS: It's not even a...


MASTERS: ...Pizza place.


MASTERS: It's a...

NEBBE: It's not...

MASTERS: ...Gas station.

MCCAMMON: Oh, my gosh.

NEBBE: ...An Iowa pizza place. So...

MCCAMMON: Sam, do not run...

SANDERS: It's pizza, right?

MCCAMMON: Sam, you can't run for office in Iowa now.

NEBBE: It's a Casey's General Store.


SANDERS: But it's a pizza place.


NEBBE: It's a gas station (laughter).

SANDERS: Even better.


SANDERS: All right. So...

NEBBE: This is gas station pizza. But it's really good gas station pizza.

SANDERS: So a candidate for president walks into a gas station. So the joke begins.

MASTERS: But it was like - I don't know if it was, like, his Insta story or his Snap thing. But...

SANDERS: There's a photo of him eating pizza.

MASTERS: It was him. He's like - and he was, like, really, like, quiet. He's like, I'm really looking forward to eating this pizza.


MASTERS: This Casey's breakfast pizza. And then the Internet's like, no. It's not breakfast pizza. It's regular pizza because it has marinara, because the breakfast pizza has, like, a smear cheese and, like, egg and sausage.

SANDERS: But do we think his misstatement about the quality and nature of the pizza was nefariously intended?

MASTERS: I don't know because you can eat pizza any time of the day. You're an adult, right? So it could be breakfast pizza.


SANDERS: I just, like - I really don't think Beto set out to, like, punk us on pizza.


MCCAMMON: No, no. The point, though - and for those who are not in this room in Iowa, the joke is, like, if you have a stoplight and a Casey's in Iowa, you have a town.


MCCAMMON: And, like, Casey's, you know...

SANDERS: Oh, it's - there's more than one of these places?

MCCAMMON: Oh, my gosh.


SANDERS: I don't know. I don't know. I'm sorry. I don't - that came out the wrong way. I'm sure it's great.


SANDERS: I just didn't know there was a chain. I'm sorry.

MCCAMMON: All right. Thank you all for being with us tonight.


MCCAMMON: Yeah, no. It's a chain of convenience stores. It's sort of an Iowa icon. And, yeah, the pizza is good. And you know, there's some places in rural Iowa where, like, if you want pizza, that's where you go because...


MCCAMMON: ...It's - there isn't like a whole assortment of, like, Fong's or whatever.


MCCAMMON: That's a really good Des Moines place.


MCCAMMON: And so the problem was not, like, the time of day he was eating it. It was, like, this, I think, perception of, like, trying to be authentically Iowa.


MCCAMMON: Yay, Casey's breakfast pizza, which I guess is a thing, which honestly I didn't know that even after having lived here. But it's a thing. And - but he's eating the wrong pizza.

SANDERS: You know what this is actually about? Some staffer, some intern just told him the wrong thing. And somebody got fired.


SANDERS: That's what it was. That's what it was.

NEBBE: OK. You want your final quote?


NEBBE: You guys ready?

SANDERS: Game is tied.

NEBBE: (Laughter).

SANDERS: Me and Sarah.


SANDERS: Bring it. Bring it.

NEBBE: All right - Iowa. That's a lit [expletive] city.


SANDERS: Say it again.


NEBBE: (Laughter) Iowa. That's a lit [expletive] city.




SANDERS: Was it Cardi B? Ahh.

MASTERS: Sam won.

SANDERS: I knew that she had been talking about coming to Iowa...

MASTERS: That's right.

SANDERS: ...For a while. Did she show up?

NEBBE: Yeah, no. She was performing in Des Moines - sold-out show, Wells Fargo Arena.

SANDERS: Wait. She was just in Des Moines?

NEBBE: Yeah.


NEBBE: Last weekend, last - was it Saturday or Friday?

SANDERS: Shut up. I could've come early.


SANDERS: Oh, my God. All right. So she said Iowa's a lit [expletive] city?


NEBBE: Iowa. That's a lit [expletive] city.

SANDERS: Aww, sweetie.

NEBBE: Yeah. So of course...


NEBBE: ...A lot of people have been pointing out the fact that Iowa is not a city.


NEBBE: There's been a lot of that. But I think that's totally ignoring the fact that we are clearly lit [expletive].


NEBBE: And of course our local T-shirt place, RAYGUN, they already have a T-shirt.

SANDERS: That says that?

NEBBE: Yeah. Iowa. That's a lit-a** city.

SANDERS: Oh, man.

NEBBE: And I was going to buy you one.


NEBBE: But it's sold out.


SANDERS: Oh, my God. Everything Cardi B touches turns to gold.


SANDERS: She's never let me down.


SANDERS: She won me this game. I won.


NEBBE: You creamed them.


SANDERS: Oh, man. Charity, thank you so much. You're the real winner. Appreciate you.


SANDERS: Thanks again to Iowa legend Charity Nebbe of Iowa Public Radio. Oh, man. Feels...

MCCAMMON: We all knew the Beto one, though. We all knew it.

SANDERS: ...Good to be a winner. Gosh, just love it - winning - so much. You'll get - I'll get tired of winning, so much winning.

MASTERS: I'm - yeah, tired of it already.


SANDERS: OK. OK. On that note, it is now time to end the show as we do every week. We ask our listeners to share with us the best things that happened to them all week. We encourage folks to brag. We get a ton of submissions. We pick some really fun ones. And we play them at the end of the show. We're going to play some for you all right now.

JOAN #1: Hi, Sam. This is Joan (ph) from Minneapolis. The best thing that happened to me this week was when I went to the dentist. I found out, at age 58, that I still don't have any cavities. It's all about flossing.


JULIE: Hi, Sam. This is Julie (ph). The best thing about my week is that I got to spend the entire week with my mom in Paris.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: I turned in my first paper for my second time going back for grad school.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: I finally landed my first job as an aerospace engineer out of college.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: My girlfriend of two years moved in with me. And we're both really happy and excited.

LAURA: Hi, Sam. This is Laura (ph) from Grand Rapids, Mich. The best part of my week was getting an insulin pump for my 14-month-old baby Luke (ph), which should help him feel a little better.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: The best part of my week was getting together for a fishing trip with a bunch of my fraternity brothers, some of whom I haven't seen since 1986.

JOAN #2: Hi, Sam. It's me, Joan (ph) from Iowa. The best thing that happened to me this week was getting to see my daughter in her first roller derby in Iowa City.

ELLIE: Hey, Sam. This is Ellie (ph) from Wisconsin. And the best thing that happened to me this week is that my AP government and politics students took their exam on Monday. It was a new course for me. And it was a lot of late nights and long weekends. But it turned out to be a course that I was proud of and that my students said they learned a lot. Regardless of their scores, I feel like I've helped produce some varsity-level citizens that are going to go out and change the world. Thanks, Sam.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Have a great weekend.

LAURA: My husband and I love your show and think we should all be friends.

JOAN #1: Bye.



SANDERS: Well, that's beautiful. Also, you know, we heard from some teachers in those voices right there. I want to shout out that this past week was Teacher Appreciation Week - so shout-out to teachers.


SANDERS: Y'all are great. All right. We listen to all of these that come in. Thank you all for sharing them. What's the best part of y'all's week? Don't say this show tonight. Don't say that.

MCCAMMON: I can't say that. I - because it honestly has been amazing to be back in Iowa with - and I'm not just saying that. Like, I had this little moment this afternoon, Sam. We're driving around Des Moines. And I just start - I was totally cool. I start talking about, like, memories and stuff. And then I, like - I'm, like - I start reminiscing about my kids being little here. And I start crying. And...

SANDERS: She starts crying. And I'm driving this car. And I'm just like, all right.


SANDERS: Rolling with it.

MCCAMMON: But Sam was - he was such a sweetheart. But it has been great to be - to get to hang out with my buddy from the campaign trail because we don't live in the same place right now and to get to see my old buddy, Clay, who I go back, like, a dozen-plus years with. We've worked in multiple places together. So it's just, like, a lot of warm feelings and a lot of love and a lot of friends. And it makes me happy.


MASTERS: The best part of my week was, after I got done hosting Morning Edition one day this week, I went in to do our news budget meeting where we have - where we meet every day to talk about what everybody's going to be working on. And there weren't enough chairs...


MCCAMMON: That was the best part of your week?

MASTERS: ...Which means that we have a full staff of reporters in our Des Moines office, which is awesome.


MASTERS: I sat on the floor, Sam. I sat on the floor.

SANDERS: I love it. So I was lucky enough to be in Mason City yesterday at a Beto event. And afterwards, I ended up somewhere. And I had my first tater tot casserole.


SANDERS: It was so great. So Iowa, thank you for bringing me back. All right. Listeners, send us more of your best things at any point throughout any week. Just email me the sound of your voice to samsanders@npr.org - samsanders@npr.org. That's the show. We're going to go out the same way we came in, with the sultry sounds of Sam & Dave singing "Soul Man." And that allows us to point out once more than Bob Dole, when he ran for president, had a version of this song called "I'm A Dole Man." That's crazy. That's hilarious.

Anyways, thanks to our guests tonight, NPR national correspondent Sarah McCammon and Clay Masters, host and reporter at Iowa Public Radio. Many thanks to Joanna Pawlowska for producing the live event tonight. Anjuli Sastry and Brent Baughman produce the show every week. Our editors are Jordana Hochman and Alex McCall. Our director of programming is Steve Nelson. Special thanks to our engineers tonight, John Pemble and Sean McClain. And many, many, many thanks to Amy O'Shaughnessy, Madeleine King, Andrea Hansen and everyone at Iowa Public Radio for making this show possible.


SANDERS: Also, thanks to the fine folks at Drake University for letting us hang out on their campus tonight.


SANDERS: Listeners, we're back in your feed on Tuesday. Until then, I'm Sam Sanders - talk soon.


SAM AND DAVE: (Singing) ...On a side street, yes, ma'am. I learned how to love before I could eat. I was educated at Woodstock.


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