Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Conversation with Conlin

A Conversation with Conlin

Following last night's event in Iowa City, I had a short one on one interview with Roxanne Conlin. Full disclosure: I'm a solid Conlin supporter and yesterday posted a formal endorsement. She was well aware of this and quite happy about it.

So this is a fairly casual meta-chat about the state of the campaign as of primary eve.

What's the biggest difference campaigning 28 years apart? What's changed the most since `82?

Well, I think that one of the things that's changed dramatically is the number of women in public life doing extraordinary jobs, starting of course with Hillary, Supreme Court justices and other high level women who are very visible and who make it less bizarre for women to seek public office.

You were kind of cutting edge in 1982.

Oh, yeah. The only women who'd been governor at the time I ran were women who'd succeeded their husbands, except for Dixy Lee Ray in Washington and Ella Grasso (CT).

How about the mechanics of campaigning? We've been talking social media, blogs, this that. How's that made things different than it was when you on a daily newspaper news cycle?

The existence of the new media is very important to progressives because it's so democratizing. It's free. You can reach out to people when ever you want through the new media, through Facebook and Twitter and blogging and the like. And I think that's going to be our salvation in this effort, because we're going to be outspent. The attacks are going to be coming, and we're going to be able to counteract them quickly and decisively through the social media. We have 61,000 people signed up on our web site. Sixty one thousand.

You were saying - I love the line - that you've 'probably sued every one of the fortune 500' - and with the Citizens United ruling how is that going to flow into this race?

Well, nobody knows for sure and Congress is trying to put whatever kind of control would be possible under the ruling of the Supreme Court with transparency. But with the kind of money we're talking about, the Chamber of Commerce is saying they're going to spend $127 million. And they don't like me.

So transparency's not the answer, public finance is?

That's what I think. In it could alreadly be paid for by stopping excess profits like the pharmaceuticals.

So how do we get around the constitutional issues with public finance?

I don't know. First of all, I think the decision is horribly wrong on a constitutional basis.

So does the President.

It's almost unbelievable what they did. So I think with the potential at least of changing the Court might result in a change in the decision. I just don't think that you can have freedom of speech if you don't have a mouth. And the potential for absolutely distorting our democracy is frightening.

Speaking of changes on the court, your likely opponent is going to be dealing with a Supreme Court nomination over the next few months. How do you see the Kagan nomination playing into this Senate race?

I don't know whether it will or not. I don't know what he's going to do, he hasn't announced it.

You're eight points down, you say you've been moving the needle... how do you move it the last eight notches?

Well, we've been on TV, on Tuesday it'll be two weeks. And he came up right after us.

Earlier than I've seen him up in a long time.

I think maybe ever. In any event, we're just going to keep doing what we've been doing only more. It's worked so well for us. You've got your blog, regular people have their contact list on their email, if they send out an email about my efforts, the people they have can send out an email to their list, it's been really effective.

Any sense you're getting onto the national radar screen yet?

Well, we've not been anxious to do that because of our hope that perhaps we wouldn't draw out the long knives so soon. We wanted to keep working at our grassroots organization. But I think clearly in all the punditry the race has moved from Sure Republican to Leaning Republican. And the next step is Toss Up and we'll get there pretty soon.

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