Ep. 92 - Carl Hulse

Update: 2016-10-31


Carl Hulse, chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, reflects on how Congress has changed during his years covering the institution, discusses what Paul Ryan’s political future may hold, and provides some insight into how Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination might play out after the presidential election.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

the board for the acts files comes from rockin' mortgage my Quicken loans lift the burden of getting a home loan with rockin' mortgage and get a secure transparent home loan approval in minutes skip the bank of the waiting then go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash X Files This podcast is brought you by sixty DB listen to conversations that go beyond the headlines business sports politics today's news plus all of your favorite podcasts download the free sixty DB at today the The The The and now from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN The X Files with your host David Axelrod the the the oral Holtz is the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times' longtime congressional correspondent as knowledgeable about the process on Capitol Hill in the personalities on Capitol Hill as anyone in American journalism and in Illinois and by birth which makes him a special person to me but we had a great conversation about the election and what we can expect after the election from washing the the the the Caro of holes I have to tell you I had an eye exam this morning my eyes were dialated so I'm going without notes but I don't need notes to say why I admire you so much one is you're in Illinois guy true than the others you're up an honest to god newspaper man stained wretch exactly so but let's talk about grown up in Illinois are sitting here with your Cubs had on we'll talk about that in the second tell me about about growing up in Iowa right so I grew up in hot oil which is about ninety miles you guys would call it southwest of here we call it West it's not really down state is so small town about fifteen thousand my family's been there since the eighteen hundreds and you know real blue collar place where you rode your bike everywhere a lot of farmland great place to grow for us not what would you folks to my dad was a plumbing contractor after World War to my mom worked for maybe a week in the courthouse and that was that six kids at work yet now that was a lot especially with you as well actually quite a troublemaker and saying Oh that would be shot exactly and I was the first one in my family not to go to the Catholic high school because I had enough of the discipline at the Catholic grade school and then went to L A nicely that the nuns don't want you yes they actually did one and half ago so the guy went to Illinois State University and ended up one or more and yet that the debt which was the school paper there I am a charter member of the VAT Hall of Fame the way to write much and know that when your pin I should so the eye what got you interested in in journals was at something that you knew you wanted to do from the beginning we were huge readers in my family was a voracious reader I still read try and read a couple books a week honestly and in fact it's a Columbus High School I wrote a story about them tearing down a building and got a front page story in the sink along the Crest I think I was in third grade and never never looked back yeah that's big stuff yet and that the debt at ISU it was a big operation was five days a week probably twenty thousand copies a day cuz normal didn't have its own paper Bloomington pantagraph Steve's family paper so you know I learned alot there I immediately did you study the Journal of Speech Communications is what they didn't really have journalists who write I ask you that because I'm always you know I never took a journalism course smile showed actually yeah it's been pointed out before but I honestly don't think it's you know not to in any way denigrate journalism schools I don't think it's um that you can learn in a classroom I think it's something you have to learn by doing yeah I think it's the practical experience I had a job at the LaSalle Peru News Tribune the minute I graduated I worked there I worked at Kankakee Daily Journal so when you're in Kankakee let me stop you there was was George Ryan there yet Georgia governor and George were sadly convince the governor fact I wrote one of the first sort of negative stories about George Ryan there and caught him in some kind of legislative when famine use a state rep but that I think he was but he was moving up in the leadership and I took it to my boss who was cool with that they just hadn't had stories like that before Ian has provided so well with George now they were like Who is this guy but you know the thing about the Ryans Tom Ryan who is the mayor of Kankakee he was really the power they had was funny and units of democratic in lot of places people used to Kankakee County was this Republican stronghold and had this grilled Ryan machine and they were very effective and when I left after a few years I covered the city counts I caused all sorts of trouble there including getting the federal funds cutoff to the city they lost a federal lawsuit but that would irritate them yet now but they were kana like OK you know there was and so but when I announced I was leaving at the City Council meeting one night they passed a resolution of approval that I was I do still have that I do actually have a home it's one of my proud moment were you surprised years later when George Ryan Kut country knows as governor because there was a lot of stuff that was going on there I mean they hadn't been watch that closely I mean that was just sort of their way of doing politics not unlike Chicago politics anway just reverse of the party and did you see yourself from the beginning did you see your role as kind of ferrying out that stuff I always have sort of see myself as a government and politics reporter in some of that comes along but you know just trying to convey to people what's going on people say all you cover Congress you know it's it's really just a big city Council you know I I've had this actually had this not to drop names but had this chat with the president because we go travel the world and we meet with him we would meet with world leaders and saw an ordeal with people and you there are certain immutable principles of politics that translate everywhere everybody back scratcher and in and tip O'Neill's adage about all politics being local is true wherever you go yeah I mean some of the people are just a little smarter and in the rooms are little more ornate right it's the same thing you know I never had any aspirations to work the New York Times obviously went out to Florida for me I went to Florida and then just sorta ended up in Washington worked my way up that you no never never even occurred to me the Tribune would have been a huge accomplishment for me to work at the Tribune our love to have you as a college yet and it that Bill Keller So guys from small town Midwest eight schools are not prevalent at the New York yes Bill Keller the old executive editor used to come in affirmative action I but I you know I just in fact one of my siblings would call when I get a front page story in The Tribune from the new service right near Times News Service and say Hey you're in the Tribune today said well you know I work the New York Times front page of the trip that's the funny that's the Midwest yeah so did when you just just to win you down in Florida as you cover politics get in there Broward County politics South Florida politics and state legislature I think state legislatures are the best place to learn how to cover politics more than city councils yeah I mean because there's more each day and you get the rhythm of the Legislature to most city councils or another not constantly write write legislatures so um would you what what what were your observations of Florida politics when you're down there you know Florida is a funny state because they have some shady politics they also had the great open records laws so you can actually find out quite a bit what's going on I was actually there for the two thousand election that night that was my sign and you never seen anything like that and with was there for the next weekend and what Broward County it that in the seat of the right I actually have a home a voting machine from Broward County so I can hang my chance whenever I want we have one of those actually in the headquarters of the Institute of Politics year it's fun it does it is a kind of a reminder that votes voting actually matters yet know it you know I was actually covered the Senate race a great Senate race in Florida in nineteen eighty eight county Mac versus putting the cayenne if you remember that sure a body or liberal gas line from and that was sort of a precursor of the two thousand not because they had a big eye voting problem in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties that I think was sort of foreshadowed all this and so I wasn't exactly shocked when it really went bad in two thousand you came up to a Washington Wright was working for a newspaper chain for a while called Thomson newspapers and they were sort of still just entering the digital age we actually mailed some stories back two papers at that time and it sat on the envelope new squeeze rock I I I have this image to the post man running this at work I know I'm going to mark on my letters that I don't think it's I was there for awhile and then the times needed someone can sometimes use to own a lot of papers around the country mainly in the south and they needed somebody who knew something about Florida I ended up there and I've just been there in thirty years now and up talk about Washington as you found that in Washington as you see it today totally different place totally different you know to me he backed and there was a lot of partisanship obviously I don't want to paint some picture of this halcyon days where everybody got a lot now there's a lot of nasty partisanship I think the thing that was different then than it is now almost everyone who came up there was hoping to do something right there was they wanted to get something for their state or town or there was some motivation to to deliver and I think now you have guys that are there and you know that some of us had they just don't want anything to happen and mainly the Republicans obviously I mean that that that's just their view because they don't believe in God or government should be active right and so you know and we could talk about the elimination of the earmarks of thing I do want to talk about that because you know I when I came here to Chicago as a young student then as a young reporter I was very much on the side of the reform efforts Reform Party selection process reform governed and there's no doubt that there was need for some reform the question is have we reformed our way into an ass yes I know Jon bane or fees listening to this somewhere will be very unhappy that say that John Maine was one really want to get rid of earmarks I think you've taken away some of the incentives for doing business right you have to give guys a reason to vote for legislation or doused a Sprite editor of Yes exactly other when I say guys and guys and gals that's just me but the So if you eliminate that there why they can vote for these Appropriations bills which are all stock now earmarked got very corrupt it was a bad situation that was out in out fraud and crime going on now and Jack Abel off and we all know on that surreal obvious it seems to prison right there seems to be some motivation now to try and find a way to bring bring it back as the Appropriations process which is really the bedrock of the government of Congress are supposed to do is totally broke and so nothing you know everything that leads to everything being broken so I don't know how you do it but I think there's a case to be made for finding ways to do it also puts too much during the executive branch or sell it also puts too much power you're handing over all the power of the purse to the executive branch in a way they're making all the decisions on how the money is spent I know it's not in the interest in my view it's not in the interest of the executive branch to have a dysfunctional legislative branch if you're president you want leaders who can deliver and if the leaders can't deliver who you deal with right who do you negotiate which would set in some ways the problems with the grand bargain to me and I know what the White House the former speaker be in Reno at the White House there was some concern that he couldn't deliver the votes even if you made a deal so well you know talk about the leaders themselves that you've known and among them who impressed you as the most effective of them and why I mean they're all been kind of effective in their own way George Mitchell who was there actually are eight at the very beginning has covered he was majority leader and was very effective but he was he wouldn't deal with the press very much so that rendered him ineffective as far as I'm concerned but he got off one of the great lines of all time and I quote all the time when Democrats call me and you know doing what David Plouffe calls bed wetting I'm always reminded that George Ryan was the one who said the only people who believe Republican talking points are Democratic Senators Yet one of the great line I buy and sell that Tom Daschle all was good but he was sort of at the beginning succeeded Mitchell yet he was sort of at the beginning of the change it and I've spent the change of the climate in Washington and now it's when the filibuster of judges began that sort of thing but we just talk a little bit about you know some of the current people you know what Nancy Pelosi I'm also going to give props to Irene she is extremely iron fisted as a leader and can rally around probably know and less understood in public then in the broader public finance Tupelo see who's viewed by some as sort of this defeat California liberal she's the daughter of Italian pall she was shoes on this podcast and as to what you learn from her father who was the mayor of Baltimore brother was as well and she didn't skip a beat she said I learned how to count right yeah I know she is really good at holding her people together which the Republicans suffer for it and say what you want about Mitch McConnell have been Mitch McConnell is a very very effective leader and you know he's turned the place upside down a little bit over the past he is going to miss Harry Reid who's leaving this year I think you know he's done some amazing things and I think the nuclear option that he he called on that and the judges it out at took eliminating the filibuster right it took some nerve there's lot of people don't think that was a very good idea well I asked about that because there could be another turn of the exact page here on McConnell you did a story that I've quoted many many times you an ad in a Gurney really excellent story in January of two thousand and ten where you interview McConnell and he essentially said you know that it was the strategy of the Republicans not to be cooperative with the president because they didn't want to they knew if they joined hands with him they would probably reduce their chances of of winning back seats and still didn't work out that great because it took them six years right to get those seats back McConnell were taken back a little bit to that the day of the new Congress January third or whatever it was in two thousand and nine right after Obama was later Republicans were in shock I've talked to Republicans that they they thought they were dead forever Obama is hugely popular figure transformational had some good advise or somewhere I guess along the way the cat and it was all the vines yet but the they really thought that they were dead and so they were casting about how we do this and so McConnell organize his people and said the only way we're going to be aimless not this is to really hold together and just have united opposition and he was able to pull that off he convince those people against their own judgment some of them at the time to hang together against the president now Mitch McConnell would say we were just hanging together against him and the bad things if they worked with us on the stimulus and health care law of course we went along but you know the person that's right I mean the reality I mean I always the truth is I have mixed feelings about it because the country was in the midst of this epic economic crisis and so you'd like to think that partisanship would factor into these considerations but there are a lot of I would say the majority of folks you come into contact with Washington understand that the first imperative for a is to make sure that they come back right and McConnell's goal as a leader was to try and get the majority back and he was fifty nine forty at the time so you know I think there was only sixty there were exactly there was a moral imperative on the I think to cooperate and then have a strategic just a purely clinical strategic standpoint if they had cooperated how do they run against the president's major policies in the in the midterm election when you knew that he was going to be vulnerable yet you're thinking like a political strategist right I think that was to think Mitch McConnell has a way of an ability a lot of times to be against things so that he knows have to happen even though he voted for the bank bailout you know he allowed some of these things that he thought would be potentially bad for Republicans to occur but heres the interesting point I ran into a Republican strategist other day someone you would know I'm not going Amy was we're talking about this current Senate fight may say well what happens you're going to have a good number the Republicans going to have a strong number now be able to do things in the guide this Republican says to me but to what and no one wants to do anything anymore and we got to talking about that I said we know Congress isn't supposed to just be a full employment program for politicians who are smart enough to keep getting reelected right at some point you have to do some things and this was a Republican saying somebody has got to step up to the plate here eventually we're at we'll be we're going to a short break now and we'll be right back with Carl holes rocket mortgage by Quicken loans proudly supports the X Files when it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender it's important to work with someone you can trust leisure best interests in mind with rockin' mortgage you'll get a transparent online process that gives you the confidence you need to make an informed decision to give the bank of the waiting and go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash X Files equal Housing lender license in all fifty states and MLS consumer access dot org Number thirty thirty you know you raise an interesting dilemma for the Republicans they are not at this moment of coherent party they're divided right down the middle between between center right corporate oriented Republicans the sort of more traditional traditional now have a quote establishment and then they have this rabbit populist base of that is anti trade anti immigration anti them anti them yeah yeah an anti government of her and so it seems to me that the only way they co here's to to be against something that they can all be again so they could all be against Obama and it's easy the easiest vote in Congress is now write well and I think from trying to Yeah exactly in trying to develop an agenda can embrace is much harder of I want to talk a little bit about what you think happens now after November if this we have will have an election coming up in a by the time this is heard in a in a couple of days today and looking at my producers like but shortly so let's try a project pass that ship and assume Hillary Clinton wins the election and elections tightening anything can happen but that's a fairly good if you read the Analytics guys at the New York Times it's a pretty good bet and I know you would bet on the Alice guys at the New York Times so what is she going to confront after November a Yeah I mean I think also that the right now those same analysts would say the Democrats have an advantage in the center right so let's think about that so then you have Chuck Schumer as the new majority leader replacing Harry right so how is he different than Harry Reid I He is is more the classic politician you know he would Chuck Schumer and have talked about this recently I wrote a piece and ran this week I think we're just talking about the Chuck Schumer sees itself as a guy who's going to get in the room and make a deal with Paul Ryan Mitch McConnell and that he's going to be able to work these things out he knows how to cut deals and has cut some deals right but also a guy who will resist support among is he's very focused on what they need to do yet to get reelected and to hold the majority extremely focused in fact just to digress a little bit on that question so Chuck Schumer is going to have to start protecting centrist Democrats in the next round you know Democrats from Heidi had camp from North Dakota Joe Manchin from West Virginia Joe Donnelly bookstore even Claire McCaskill so you know that's going to have figured all this calculation so Paul Ryan is sort of the linchpin of all this right what's going to happen to Paul Ryan and I is he going to be able to be elected leader again will he make deals or will he just want to get set up for twenty eighteen maybe twenty twenty himself well let me explore that with you because I've been wondering at what point does Paul Ryan say you know what if I want to be present in the United States this is a crazy job for me to take particularly because it seems fairly obvious that the Wii only or in the main people who are vulnerable on his side in this election he'll probably lose ten to fifteen seats are more moderate Republicans here are his natural allies Conservative Caucus becomes more conservative right right so you know you have a couple of questions one Does he even want the job anymore a meeting if he doesn't wanna know who wants it his big advantage for me and that is that no one else really wants are probably couldn't get the support for it so he's got to get through an election among Republicans after the elections how they'll gather a couple weeks after November eighth in Washington they'll pick their candidate for Speaker Wright Mets come easy because he gets a majority vote of Republicans right but in than when the new Congress convenes on January thirty has got to get elected by two hundred and eighteen people on the floor the house to see have those votes are there twenty Republicans who won't vote for him and deny him so you know how that all plays out is is going to tell a lot of the story because then going forward does he try to he's going to have to make deals with Democrats just to do the basic functions of government has to the debt limit comes up in March you know how that how smoothly that always goes right and the spending bills suggest he's going to have to get Democratic Republican coalitions so van to the people on the right of him start complaining again like they did about painter and drive him out I mean it's super complicated and all that's also if you're advising him a the business of giving but if you you agree with me that if you want to be president that may be better not to be Speaker of the house yet maybe that's what's going to work out for maybe the best job we could have if you want to be present as minority leader of the house because then you just fight on everything and you look like the warrior against the Democrats may be structurally that seems impossible he unfortunately he's stuck with the big office if he wants to stay at the I think that here's another thing to watch in the house so you have this this segment of people who are already saying we're just going to investigate Hillary Clinton every day Jason Chaffetz is already nice so we've got two years of material just so that say Hillary Clinton has a fairly good election day are right she when she gets rolls up a nice electoral count wins the Senate and then faces you know just investigation after investigation that is not a great climate for political progress I said in my story the other day that people who are hoping this whole election triggers a Washington reset should brace for disappointment I'm probably sticking with that part of it is going to be what happens with Trump and the street who have supported him it seems the notion to me of Donald Trump going quietly into the night seems pretty remote he likes the spotlight he likes the attention he feels like he's leader of movement and now he's teamed up with Steve Bennett from Pride Park who detest Surya accounts so it seems as if they may set themselves up as a kind of rump group great going into missions both Clinton and Ryan and menacing who support compromise between between the Congress in the present bright and we've had we had that for a while especially Run two thousand ten two thousand and twelve more aimed at the Senate Republicans and McConnell you know by these groups that were attacking Republicans and they would sort of Tea Party but little bit beyond that and then when they were trying to knock off the Republicans in primaries McConnell was able to fight back and sort of steady the ship but now I think you can handle much more that which goes to kind of the Supreme Court only one to talk about that right so already you're hearing among Republican groups and conservatives don't don't approve any justice let's just leave that open no no Hillary Clinton nominee should be improved I mean that's a whole new Korean find it hard to understand how people who say they want fidelity to the Constitution could read the Constitution as allowing for that scenario evidently the Constitution doesn't say you must approve which is what they're pointing at hand but that to me it is extraordinary I think and Lindsey Graham last year who's who's always been involved in his judicial fights and sort of a middle ground figured said OK I'm with this on on Merrick Garland you know I don't like it we can hold it up but tell you what if Hillary Clinton send someone over here who's qualified I'm going to vote for them Susan Collins I'm sure would be the same way they have qualified candidate that not all Republicans are going to do that but even if there's some who want to do that it really is it something new now if the Democrats have the Senate you know they can eliminate they tell you you talked about the nuclear that Harry Reid had a limited nuclear option that he all judges in the Texas Supreme Court and the reason for that was there were Democrats who didn't think that was a good idea because they worry about Rove the way right I think Barbara Boxer was in that camp some of the other women they say what you do
In Channel

Ep. 192 - Donna Brazile


Ep. 191 - Tony Blair


Ep. 189 - Fred Hochberg


Ep. 188 - Susan E. Rice


Ep. 186 - Bakari Sellers


Ep. 185 - Karen Tumulty


Ep. 184 - David Miliband


Ep. 183 - Ta-Nehisi Coates


Ep. 181 - Rep. Nancy Pelosi


Ep. 180 - David Rubenstein


Ep. 179 - David Litt


Ep. 178 - Jason Kander


Ep. 177 - Jeff Roe


Ep. 176 - Jim Baker


Ep. 175 - Bill Bradley


Ep. 174 - Gayle King


Ep. 173 - Rep. Seth Moulton


Ep. 172 - Sen. Joe Donnelly


Ep. 171 - Gov. Jay Inslee


Ep. 170 - Sen. Patty Murray


Ep. 169 - Don Rose


Ep. 168 - Penny Pritzker


Ep. 167 - Rahm Emanuel


Ep. 165 - Gary Hart


Ep. 163 - Mitch Landrieu


Ep. 162 - Rep. John Lewis


Ep. 160 - Sen. Cory Booker


Ep. 159 - Dana Bash


Ep. 158 - Bill Daley


Ep. 157 - Steven Greenhouse


Ep. 156 - Bob Dold


Ep. 154 - Geoffrey Stone


Ep. 153 - Sen. Tom Cotton


Ep. 152 - Alfredo Corchado


Ep. 151 - Brian Deese


Ep. 150 - Grover Norquist


Ep. 148 - Tony Blinken


Ep. 147 - Gov. Jerry Brown


Ep. 146 - Chelsea Handler


Ep. 145 - Jennifer Granholm


Ep. 144 - Gov. John Kasich


Ep. 143 - Rep. Ro Khanna


Ep. 142 - Shailagh Murray


Ep. 141 - Dan Shapiro


Ep. 140 - Rep. Adam Schiff


Ep. 139 - Lisa Monaco


Ep. 138 - Jason Benetti


Ep. 137 - Jim Sciutto


Ep. 136 - Ben Smith


Ep. 135 - Sen. John McCain


Ep. 134 - Joe Maddon


Ep. 133 - Julián Castro


Ep. 132 - Wendy Sherman


Ep. 131 - Jackie Calmes


Ep. 130 - Michael Froman


Ep. 129 - Pete Buttigieg


Ep. 128 - Sen. Kamala Harris


Ep. 127 - Kasim Reed


Ep. 125 - Jeffrey Goldberg


Ep. 124 - Bill Kristol


Ep. 123 - Corey Lewandowski


Ep. 122 - Mike Leavitt


Ep. 121 - Nancy-Ann DeParle


Ep. 120 - J.D. Vance


Ep. 119 - Matt Bai


Ep. 118 - Carl Bernstein


Ep. 117 - Natalie Jaresko


Ep. 116 - Cody Keenan


Ep. 115 - Cecile Richards


Ep. 114 - Thomas Friedman


Ep. 113 - Theo Epstein


Ep. 112 - Chris Wallace


Ep. 111 - John Brennan


Ep. 110 - Sean Spicer


Ep. 109 - Mark Shriver


Ep. 107 - Eli Attie


Ep. 106 - Tammy Duckworth


Ep. 105 - Denis McDonough


Ep. 104 - Alex Castellanos


Ep. 103 - Sen. Harry Reid


Ep. 102 - Davis Guggenheim


Ep. 101 - Alex Wagner


Ep. 99 - Steve Kerr


Ep. 98 - Larry Summers


Ep. 97 - Douglas Alexander


Ep. 96 - Michael Morell


Ep. 95 - Van Jones


Ep. 94 - John Weaver


Download from Google Play
Download from App Store






Ep. 92 - Carl Hulse

The Axe Files with David Axelrod