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As the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump enters its second week, WBUR's Bob Oakes sat down with Democrat Michael Curry, former president of Boston's NAACP, and former Republican Gov. Jane Swift to discuss the many uncertainties in the Senate and in the presidential race.
On whether Republicans could break ranks in the Senate impeachment trial
Jane Swift: Well, I think it's critically important. ... [Sen.] Mitt Romney is stepping up and really taking his responsibility seriously. And I think all of those senators who are running for president, and therefore will be assumed to be acting in a political way, should take a step back and let the those whose motives will not be impugned upon speak up.
...[Sen.] Susan Collins [of Maine] has made some similar noises about wanting to hear witnesses. ... [Sen.] Lamar Alexander from Tennessee is not running for reelection and has always been an upstanding individual; [Sen.] Lisa Murkowski [of Maine]. There are some great Republicans who need to hear the evidence and need the space of this not being political to make a sound judgment.
Michael Curry: Yeah, I don't think anyone needs to twist their arms at this point. I think there is probably a solid three — or potentially, four or five — that may vote for witnesses. ...the critical point here is not being on the wrong side of history. We've had pieces come out from the Bolton book. We anticipate more will come out. You don't want to be that senator that did not decide to hear from a critical witness in this impeachment case.
On whether any of the senators running for president benefit from the trial
MC: Ultimately, they don't want to be sitting in that Senate chamber right now. They want to be in Iowa on the ground, meeting folks. Every vote matters at this point. Every rally, every forum, every living room you sit in. So it's not helping them; it's actually hurting them.
JS: Most of the headlines you're reading right now are the fact that Sanders has surged to the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire. What I think hasn't been noted as much ... Pete Buttigieg is now a solid second in both of those polls. And I wonder, with the anomalies and the craziness of Iowa voting, and everything that's going on with the clash between Sanders and Warren, how that plays out in Iowa a week from today.
On who is most likely to lose in Iowa
JS: I think Warren, only because she seems to be losing momentum in the media and your ground game is what overtakes a loss of momentum in the media.
MC: I think the second place, as the governor said, really is critical for Sen. Warren. I think, you know, she had traction ... and [now] she's dropped. ... If she can really get momentum in these last few days and come in second, I think she's still positioned to stay in the race, still positioned to potentially move on to ... Super Tuesday, and have a chance to win.
On the Wuhan coronavirus and its possible effect on the economy
JS: I think that [President Trump] has skated on how he's handled China and trade would be a huge challenge for [him]. But I also think it upends the Democratic primary because none of them have had a strong economic growth message.
MC: Yeah, I don't know if it hurts [Trump]. I think … his base and those who are already supporters of him will attribute this to factors beyond his control. Ultimately ... This is really about — wherever we are economically — whether Democrats and independents who are disgruntled and unsatisfied with his presidency actually show up to vote.
This segment aired on January 28, 2020.
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