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Politics In The News: GOP Convention Is 2 Weeks Away

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Republican convention begins two weeks from today, meaning even though this is a holiday weekend, the presidential campaign is in full force. On Saturday, though, Hillary Clinton took a few hours off from campaigning to meet with the FBI for a voluntary interview. It focused on the investigation into her use of a private email server while secretary of state. After the interview, Clinton told MSNBC that she was eager to do it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY CLINTON: I've been answering questions now for over a year. I've relieved more than 55,000 pages of my emails for the public to read for themselves. I will continue to, you know, be as forthcoming as I can, and my answers that I first gave more than a year ago I stand by.

MONTAGNE: Candidate Hillary Clinton. And candidate Donald Trump responded quickly with a tweet labeling Hillary Clinton, quote, "the most corrupt candidate ever." Underneath the text was a Star of David and a pile of $100 bills. So working with that information, we turn now to NPR commentator and columnist Cokie Roberts and Tucker Carlson, editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller. Welcome to you both.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.

TUCKER CARLSON: Good morning.

ROBERTS: Happy Fourth. Hi, Tucker.

CARLSON: Hey, Cokie.

MONTAGNE: So, Cokie, let's start with you. Does Hillary Clinton's interview with the FBI suggest the investigation could be drawing to a close?

ROBERTS: Yes, it probably is coming to a close, and she, as she said, was eager to get this done finally. And according to many sources, the lawyers are saying there'll probably be no charges brought. But that's not going to quiet anybody down, particularly after the Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with President Bill Clinton.

The Republicans will say that this is - the fix is in. And her real problem is that the voters just don't trust her. Her numbers on trustworthiness are so bad that she's got to overcome this somehow.

MONTAGNE: And, Tucker, Trump has gotten a lot of mileage out of the crooked Hillary theme, hasn't he?

CARLSON: Well, I suppose. I mean, another way to look at it would be even people who believe that she's untrustworthy plan to vote for her many of them. And so perhaps it's not such an effective attack. I mean, it may be baked into the cake. It may be that nobody is voting for Hillary Clinton because they think she is straightforward. They are voting for her for other reasons. So I actually think that's sort of to be determined.

MONTAGNE: Well, let me ask you about that other part of what came up this weekend. What do you make of the Trump tweet and what looked like a Star of David? I mean, it certainly gave the Clinton campaign fodder, especially because that Star of David, that Jewish symbol, was sitting on a bunch of money.

CARLSON: Right.

MONTAGNE: And Trump did something he rarely does. He deleted that tweet.

CARLSON: Well, it's certainly odd. I mean, it's hard to know if it's anti-semitic. She is, of course, Methodist. And so, you know, it's - I think it...

MONTAGNE: And his daughter is, of course - has converted to Judaism...

CARLSON: Well, that's right, and he's an assertive supporter of Israel. What it was was sloppy, I think, and it diverted attention from the fact that on that very day she was interviewed by the FBI. And, you know, kind of a big deal, could've been a good story. He stepped on it as he has again and again through inattentiveness or sloppiness or the fact that he's the one...

ROBERTS: But...

CARLSON: ...Actually writing his own tweets.

ROBERTS: But the truth is it was retweeted from a white supremacist website, and he does this over and over again. And the people who are vigilant on these issues like the Southern Poverty Law Center say that his winks and nods towards white supremacists are, quote, "unprecedented." I mean, keep in mind he also retweeted a quotation from Mussolini. So this is not, you know, behavior that is just totally out of the blue.

CARLSON: Well, we don't actually know where it came from. That's conjecture at this point. But we do know that, sure, I mean, he's probably getting the votes of a lot of extremists. Does he need to tweet out the Star of David to get more or to shore up that base? No. I mean, this is in no sense helpful to him. He doesn't need to send out dog whistles like this. It hurts him only. And that kind of tells you a lot about the lack of discipline in his campaign.

MONTAGNE: Well, let's turn to a slightly different subject. We are learning more about the possible vice presidential picks people were hearing that the candidates are vetting. And, Cokie - start with you - Elizabeth Warren campaigned with Hillary Clinton last week. It seemed like a big success. They got a lot of publicity. Is it really possible that there would be two women on the ticket?

ROBERTS: Well, of course, there's a lot of women in politics who keep saying there have been two men on the ticket forever. But I think it's very unlikely. Look, there's a lot of social science research now about implicit bias that's being used by businesses and government in the military. And I think you're seeing it in this campaign.

When you ask questions about Hillary Clinton on the issues, she does very well. When you get to the question of leadership, she does poorly. And I think that has a lot to do with the fact that she's female. And adding another women to the ticket would just double-down on that, and it could be a real problem for her.

The other thing is that the whole idea of Elizabeth Warren is that it would shore up Bernie Sanders supporters, but in our last ABC Washington Post poll, Hillary Clinton was getting 88 percent of the Democratic vote which is just about exactly what Obama got in 2008.

MONTAGNE: Well, let me turn to you again, Tucker, for the final word. Clinton appears to be dominating Trump when it comes to advertising and fundraising. Should he be worried?

CARLSON: You know, it's probably a concern that they haven't gotten their act together to raise more money. I mean, the problem with Elizabeth Warren for Hillary Clinton is not just that she's a woman, but that she would shut off the spigot of Wall Street money that provides the basis of Hillary's fundraising. Elizabeth Warren's hated by Wall Street, and that would just end their contributions to her campaign. So I agree with Cokie. I think it's very unlikely.

ROBERTS: But also, Renee, on that money question, keep in mind, yes, she has a ton more money at the moment, but Jeb Bush had a ton more money and spent it and look where he is. Bernie Sanders outspent Hillary Clinton. Look where he is.

MONTAGNE: All right. Well, thank both of you. That's NPR commentator and columnist Cokie Roberts and Tucker Carlson, editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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