Former President Obama Speechwriter Gives His Take On Democrats
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
We're going to turn now to politics and Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for President Obama. He now hosts a podcast called "Keepin' It 1600" and joins us to talk about how he sees the week's events for the Democrats. He's in Los Angeles. Mr. Favreau, thanks so much for being with us.
JON FAVREAU: Thanks for having me, Scott.
SIMON: Let me begin with what's being called the tarmac summit. Bill Clinton, Attorney General Lynch happened to be at the Phoenix airport at the same time. And Bill Clinton arranged a private meeting, lasted about half an hour, with the attorney general. Your old colleague, David Axelrod, tweeted, quote, "I take Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton at their word that their convo in Phoenix didn't touch on probe. But foolish to create such optics." How helpful was it for Hillary Clinton, who's so widely seen as untrustworthy, to have her spouse meet with the attorney general while she's under investigation by the Justice Department?
FAVREAU: I can't imagine there's one person in America, including in the Clinton campaign, who thinks that was helpful (laughter). But I - look, I think if Bill Clinton had to do it over again he probably wouldn't have walked over to the plane, seeing all the follow-up from the last couple days.
SIMON: Does it raise a question about what you do with Bill Clinton during the campaign because he is, certainly on the one hand, often called the most talented politician of the modern era. On the other hand, you know, he's got a history of mischief.
FAVREAU: I don't think so - I mean, look, I think Bill Clinton has been a huge asset in this campaign, especially on the trail for Hillary Clinton. And, you know, he's also someone who has plenty of friends and connections over the many years in public service. And I'm sure, in his mind, he just thought, oh, there's Loretta Lynch. And he wasn't thinking about the investigation, and he figured I'll go over and say hi. And only afterwards, when he saw the headlines, did he probably kick himself for doing it.
SIMON: Senator Bernie Sanders denied this week that he, quote, "hated Hillary Clinton." Donald Trump has been saying that he did. On the other hand, it's hard not to notice that he also hasn't endorsed Hillary Clinton yet. What do you make of this?
FAVREAU: Right. Yeah, you know, I don't know why he hasn't endorsed her yet. I imagine that there are issues and policies he wants to see in the platform, the party's platform. And he said if he doesn't have the platform reflect what he wants, he's going to take it to the convention, which, you know, I mean, it's his prerogative. I don't think - I wouldn't do that (laughter). I think at some point he wants to - he's going to want to rally around the nominee as he's promised he would. But, look, I heard Joe Biden yesterday say that he's spoken to Bernie and Bernie - he said that Bernie told him he would endorse, so...
SIMON: He said that to our Rachel Martin on NPR, yes.
FAVREAU: Oh, that's right, he did, so you guys know.
SIMON: Of course, this week, we have to note Senator Tim Kaine, it was revealed - a senator from Virginia, who's often cited as a very potential running mate for Hillary Clinton - got named for accepting, I believe, over $100,000 worth of gifts. There may not be any legal consequences, but it does raise questions as to who really would be a good running mate for Hillary Clinton, doesn't it?
FAVREAU: You know, I don't know. I think, look, in the VP process, these kind of things come out as everyone gets vetted. You know, everyone's going to have pluses and minuses, every single potential pick.
SIMON: Forgive me, if you were going to recommend a running mate, who would it be?
FAVREAU: It's a tough question. Look, I - and we had him on our podcast early, the secretary of labor, Tom Perez, who I think is a fantastic campaigner and a great option who hasn't, you know, he hasn't been talked about as much. So I do like Tom Perez a lot. He's very progressive. I think picking a vice president based on how they can help you in the campaign is less important than picking a vice president based on how you think that person can help you govern. And, look, that's what Obama did. He met with many different candidates. At the end, he narrowed it down to three. And at the very end, he just - he had a connection with Biden that I don't think he knew he would have until he really sat down with him and got to talk to him. And, you know, something clicked there, and he thought, that's the guy. And I don't - you know, he hasn't regretted it for a single day.
SIMON: Jon Favreau from Los Angeles, thanks so much for being with us.
FAVREAU: Thanks, Scott. It was a pleasure.
SIMON: And you can hear Rachel Martin's interview with the vice president tomorrow on Weekend Edition Sunday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.