Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 18, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists Roundtable

  |   Video
  • Local reporters review the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Mary K. Reinhart - Arizona Guardian
  • Mike Sunnucks - Business Journal
  • Jim Small - Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," we'll take a closer look at the governor's debate held this week right here on "Horizon." Attorney general Terry Goddard's office will not represent the state in legal challenges against Arizona's new immigration law. And senator Russell Pearce is working on legislation that would deny automatic citizenship to children born in United States to illegal immigrants. That's next on "Horizon." Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight is Mary K. Reinhart of the "Arizona Guardian," Mike Sunnucks of the "Business Journal," and Jim Small of the "Arizona Capitol Times." "Horizon" this week hosted a clean elections debate involving Republican candidates for governor. Yours truly was the host and moderator, that means, Mary K. I just asked a few questions and got out of the way of some hay makers. It was a lively debate.

Mary K Reinhart:
They started going at it from the opening statements, I think. It was an enjoyable hour-long debate if you like that and it is mine, obviously. I think they all held their own. I think what needed to happen, since Governor Brewer clearly at least in the last polling clearly far ahead, they needed to throw some really big hay makers. I don't think any of them landed quite frankly in that debate. I think Matthew Jette did a good job raising issues that wouldn’t have otherwise been raised, he clearly separated himself from the pack, this sort of political newcomer. I don't think frankly that Governor Brewer got the, you know, got beat up I think which is frankly what these guys needed to do with her to make any headway in the polls.

Mike Sunnucks:
She was on the offensive. She went after Martin for the number of bills he introduced. She went after Buz Mills for not having a plan. She was on the offensive for most of time, where her challengers had to go after her

Ted Simons:
Did they need to land a knockout punch?

Jim Small:
I think they definitely needed to damage her. She's gotten a real surge in popularity among Republican voters. I mean, the prop 100 thing while not popular with the Republicans, it passed overwhelmingly and that strengthened her. SB 1070 has giant for her. SB 1070 has catapulted her into the national spotlight. We've seen folks around the country like what she's done with that bill. Arizona's Republicans certainly like it. I agree with Mary K. no one got a clean shot at her. Every time they tried to it was either there was a misleading shot like Dean Martin mentioned with the tax increase when she was Maricopa County Board supervisor or she was just able to counter it. I mean, Mills went after her on the economy like he's been doing it on taxes. She was able to come back and say, what have you done? You haven't presented any plan.

Mike Sunnucks:
They didn't talk about the economy much. They asked about it and Mills talked about it but they gave the answers they usually give. Kind of a laundry list of what conservatives like. They didn't offer much. I think that would have appealed to normal people who are worried about their mortgages, worried about jobs and job security, there really wasn't a lot about that. She very much looked like the frontrunner and the incumbent at the same time.

Mary K Reinhart:
She came in with some statistics. She did her homework. She knew how many votes Dean Martin had taken, how bills he’d introduced when he was a legislator so . She was well prepared. I think if there had been a little more talk about what about jobs, what about economic stimulus, that might have helped those challengers. It didn't go that way.

Mike Sunnucks:
If I'm a challenger, if I'm in the primary, I'm going to talk about the economy. How many jobs has she lost since being governor? What are you doing about underwater mortgages and foreclosures? None of them brought that up. It was very inside baseball type stuff. I don't think it resonated with the regular folk.

Ted Simons:
On not having a budget plan, I know Buz Mills went after the governor on that. The governor turned around and said, what did you do? He said that's not my job, that’s yours. How did that logic play?

Jim Small:
With people I talked to, not very well. A lot of people saw that as really kind of a big, big mistake on his part. With him saying, all I have to do is attack you. I don't have to come up with any solutions. I don't know that that's something that resonated. Especially when Brewer did a very good job I think of defending what she had done and what she had pushed for in the past 18 months.

Mary K Reinhart:
It's kind of a copout frankly. What she would say in response to Buz Mills' comment was, you don't know what you're talking about. We have federal mandates, voter protection funding. I've been in there, I’ve been in the trenches, I’ve produced a balance budget, I've cut 2 million dollars and she could go through line by line and say what she accomplished to make him look like a person on the outside looking in just throwing bombs.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think one line she said that may have hurt her in the primary is that government is not like business. A lot of Republicans want government to be more like business. They like that. Having efficiency and logical steps and things like that. But he didn't gain on that. When you don't have a plan, you can't really take advantage of something that might appeal to Republicans.

Jim Small:
I think that’s to her credit that she said something like that. Anybody that works in business then and sees the way government works realizes very quickly that government doesn’t work like business it has different restraints.

Mike Sunnucks:
Primary voters want it to work like that.

Jim Small:
They may but. She pointed out, we do have requirements. You can't do what you want. If you're an owner of a business, you can go out and do things. If you're a government, you have to go through red tape and you have regulations put on to you by the court, voters and the federal government.

Mary K Reinhart:
After she said that, or he said that to her, businesses grow. We don't want government to grow. That's the key difference. I think that was a pretty good comment.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think it was an opportunity to go after her. She's a career politician. That's what she does for a living. That doesn't appeal to people in Republican primaries always. He didn't take advantage of that. He didn't get into detail.

Ted Simons:
The attempts by Dean Martin to play gotcha, a couple of attempts there, obviously came in well prepared. Had the information in front of him and certainly went ahead and threw those particular punches. Why didn't they work?

Mary K Reinhart:
I just think he came off -- he's clearly -- knows his numbers. I think anybody who has been watching this race already knows that. He's the state treasurer. He's very good -- he's sort of the accountant. He's the kid, as he said during the debate, always thought that calculators were cheating in school. I don't think he made any larger points out of it. As Jim said, the point he made about her raising taxes as a supervisor was just, you know, not really accurate. What they did was put it on a ballot and voters raised their taxes to create the jail district. I don't think he scored any points because he didn't really follow through with the bigger picture of what he was talking about.

Ted Simons:
Go ahead, please.

Mike Sunnucks:
Dean knows his numbers. He's too inside baseball on some of these forms. It's too much inside baseball stuff. Folks like us even struggle to follow along, let alone your average voter. So when he makes his points, sometimes, he knows his stuff he just cannot translate it to mainstream.

Mary K Reinhart:
What does it all mean? I don't think he did a very good job.

Ted Simons:
What I’m hearing here is that Martin comes off as almost too professional, if we can use that as a pejorative. Maybe Buz Mills comes off as too folksy if we can use that as a negative. Matt Jette comes of as too much of a democrat if that is going to be a problem in the republican primary – How did the governor come off? And let’s not forget there were interesting statements and interesting uses of the language by way of the governor. How does that play?

Jim Small:
You know, I think she came off very well. One thing you can say about Brewer, when you let her speak extemporaneously, sometimes she'll trip over her words. She’ll make up new words, but she has a charm to her that I think resonates with voters. I had family that watched the debate who are not overly political people, they don't follow politics. But they left it and said she seemed like she knows what she's talking about, she got handed a raw deal. While everybody else is coming after her and trying to make her look bad. I think that's the key. She sat here, she distinguished herself in the white business suit, which really set her apart from the three gentlemen who were all wearing dark coats So when you showed a picture of it, you really saw her. She kind of stood out and I think she looked very professional and very authoritative.

Ted Simons:
Do people, we saw this with president George W. Bush. Sometimes a misstatement, sometimes adventures with the English language. People thought it was charming, people had no problem with it

Mike Sunnucks:
In a mix. I think the English language was not a winner in this debate. She's got to watch herself though. She's in contentious times. She's going up against the president. We're talking about Mexico and Hispanics. If she has a misstep like George Allen does, it could come back and hurt her. It can come across charming in certain circles and stuff and she does set herself a part. Something that goes on in Arizona politics a lot, if you're a woman, you have to appeal out there to moderates, independents and older women. It helped with Janet Napolitano, Jane Hull, Betty Bayliss. There's an appeal out there that she can take advantage of. She does come across as very pleasant and folksy mostly. She came across harsh going after Martin.

Mary K Reinhart:
She had little bit of shrillness in her voice I think a time or two, but I think in general she harkened back why I got into politics and going to the school board meetings as a parent. I said bringing that into the discussion, as Mike was saying, and sort of reminding people that she's a mom and she sort of had this grass-roots reason for getting into politics and it was education, I was reminded of George Bush, too. I think that was to some people very endearing, when he would trip over his words and use the wrong phrase. I’m not sure that that that hurt her, maybe some of us winced a time or two but I don't think –

Mike Sunnucks:
If it comes to how she's managed the state, how she's managing the economy and state budget, if it's a management issue, that hurt Bush, people questioning his competence because of the way he spoke.

Ted Simons:
How far does that charm go in these kinds of situations? How far does it go when people start saying, I'm not crazy about the way she's using the language? Does it reach that level? Has it reached that level?

Jim Small:
I don't think it has. The fact that everyone is declaring her the winner, even though she didn't speak as eloquently or use the language with proper grammar or syntax, the fact that people looked at the debate and still said she's the winner shows it's not now at least going to hurt her. Down the line, it depends. I think like Mike said, if you put your foot in your mouth in a bad way or embarrassing way, it could. As of now I don’t think it’ll be a problem.

Mike Sunnucks:
She didn't say anything false or inaccurate. If she gets her facts wrong and can't speak correctly, then it's a problem. If you flub a few words here in a live setting, that's a little different.

Ted Simons:
Did Democrats see anything in this debate that scares them? That makes them think we need to reassess, redirect, do something different? What do you think?

Mary K Reinhart:
I think they're waiting for her to do what Mike is talking about, to really flub something up. To really make an embarrassing gaffe, to mis-state facts in a big way, which happened with immigration, but we can talk about that later. I think that's what they're waiting for is a big mess up on her part. As these guys are saying, just saying "did" instead of "done" or messing up grammar a little bit isn't that kind of a mistake. I think they're waiting for a bigger one.

Ted Simons:
What about substance? Do the Democrats see anything in this debate that makes them scared?

Mike Sunnucks:
Immigration probably scares them still. Most of the state is in favor of the bill and in favor of her signing it. She's a flag bearer on this now, probably as much as Arpaio and Russell Pearce. That's still popular with the vast majority of people according to the polls. That's got to scare them if she can harken back to that.

Jim Small:
It clearly scared Terry Goddard. He did a two-step to show he was defending this law and throw his weight behind the office. He registered as an individual opposed to it. He told us back in April, my registering opposed to it means I'm not going to be able to defend this law because I don't want to be put in the position to defend this laws because I think it's a bad law. We all saw what he did. Polls came out, showed it really popular among voters. He put his fingers in the air, tested the winds. He came back acting like we're in favor of the lost thing on the books. Today he obviously kind of pulled out of that maneuver. You know, still I think that's an indication of really where the Democrats are on immigration.

Ted Simons:
Mary K., let's update this story this afternoon. Basically the attorney general's office saying they won't go ahead and represent the state in lawsuits against Arizona which is what the governor had been demanding. The attorney general's office saying this is our job. This is what we're supposed to do. Now the office and the attorney general is saying we're going to back off here. They're saying it's distracting, it will be costly. Just the fight for legal representation is not cooperative and so it hurts the state in general. How does that play?

Mary K Reinhart:
Well, I mean, again, we've talked about this before. He was in a very difficult situation politically having come out against the bill and now saying he was going to defend it. He signaled early on when this fight began that he wasn't going to push this thing all the way to the wall, even though he doesn't believe, as he says in his letter and she's been backed up, he was elected to do this. It's his job. He still believes it's his job. But at the time this began several weeks ago, he had said and his office had said this is a side issue, it’s a political stunt. We don't know whether we'll challenge this all the way through. In fact, he's not going to. I think it was a smart move on his part, frankly, because he signaled for weeks that's what he was going to do.

Ted Simons:
He wanted to avoid a costly and distractive fight. He said a cooperative defense would be impossible between the two groups. They said they were getting along before all of this. How does this play?

Mike Sunnucks:
Depends on how he handles it. He could come out strong with 1070 and say like the mayor I don't think this law -- it profiles people, et cetera. He could try to avoid it and continue to be lukewarm in his opposition to it. It depends on how he plays it. It's a tough issue for him either way.

Jim Small:
Seeing the way Terry Goddard's campaign is run so far, I think it's going to be lukewarm and trying to stay away from this issue. It's not a good issue for Democrats, period, across the country. There have been national stories about how Democrats now are adopting the Republican border first mantra as they're out campaigning for re-election. I would imagine if Terry is not going to do that, he'll probably leave the issue alone as best he can.

Ted Simons:
We should mention as well, the Department of Justice apparently will be suing Arizona over this particular law, and we all found that out by way of a TV report from Ecuador.

Mary K Reinhart:
That's right. A week-old TV report from Ecuador. It's been out there. No one heard about it until yesterday, including the governor's office. She sent out a very sternly worded letter saying she was outraged that, somehow, Ecuador found out before she did. Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state was doing an interview last week when she was in South America and did speak on the record in this interview and said that Senate Bill 1070, in response to a question, would be challenged by the justice department. The justice department isn't confirming that, but I think everybody expects that to happen eventually. Whether or not it's leaked through Hillary Clinton in Ecuador or whether or not there's an official word, it's certainly everyone expects to happen.

Ted Simons:
Was this a convenient opportunity for outrage?

Mike Sunnucks:
I think everybody in politics enjoys being outraged, sending a letter to somebody that they're outraged with this or that and somebody responds with their own outrage. The governor played with politics. She met with Obama, she got the face time, she got to be in front of the White House and she immediately called for him to come to the border. It wasn't good enough. It seemed to go well. You can't do that in politics now. She's outraged by Hillary Clinton making an obvious remark on Ecuadorean television, like this is a big surprise that the Obama administration would sue on this because there are people out there that think this is a federal responsibility. So I’m sure she’ll find some more reasons to be outraged over Obama going forward.

Mary K Reinhart:
It's free media. It's what she needs. She just lost $1.4 million thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court. So she's got to find media any way she can. In her position she's going to make hay out of about anything she can.

Mike Sunnucks:
It shows where she is on immigration right now. Hillary Clinton says something and there's a bunch of stories. The next set of stories is governor Jan Brewer about this happening. Not Arpaio, not J.D. Hayworth, not Russell Pearce.

Mary K Reinhart:

She used that opportunity, too, to remind everybody exactly two weeks from now and the president hasn't told us when the staff is coming. Today we have got the word they're having a meeting and June 28th that the staff of the White House will be here to meet with the governor.

Ted Simons:
So No outrage there.

Mary K Reinhart:
No. Not yet.


Ted Simons:
Senator Russell Pearce is back in action and apparently has got the 14th amendment in sights. Jim, let's talk about this. The effort, how far you think this is going to go in the next legislative session and what this is really all about.

Jim Small:
What this is about is continuing to go after illegal immigration and the effects and the ramifications of it and what the idea is to say that Arizona won't give birth certificates to children born here unless one or both of the parents can prove they're citizens of the United States. The idea being children won't be able to get birth certificates and can't become legal citizens. This is obviously trying to pick a fight with the federal government, trying to get something to the supreme court so they can reconsider the interpretations of the 14th amendment that have been on the books for well over 100 years. As to how far it will get in the legislative session, I don't know. This is something that's been around before. It will probably get further than it has in the past. Usually it might get a committee hearing. Usually not even that. It usually gets filed and put in a desk drawer. This year, depending on what happens with Russell Pearce's leadership campaign, if he gets in a position of leadership, he'll be in a position to push this bill at least through a committee and get it vetted publicly.

Mike Sunnucks:
It's about the 14th amendment. It says if you're born here, you're an American citizen. That was part of the abolition of slavery after the civil war. It meant to protect African-American children who were born here, that they were citizens. And so if you're born here, you're an American so you get a birth certificate. So it's about politics. I think it's actually about Russell's attrition campaign. He wants to make things so unfriendly here that undocumented illegal folks won't come here. A lot of these things down in Mexico with the undocumented community, they hear things, they hear a guest work program might happen and they come over here. They hear this law will happen in Arizona and they leave the state. They'll hear through the rumor mill that people won't get birth certificates and he hopes to discourage the undocumented folks and they'll leave.

Mary K Reinhart:
The other thing he mentioned was public school tuition to illegal immigrants. That requires the school to ask a question that there's a supreme court ruling on, you know, the right for every child to have a public education. That's another supreme court challenge that he's picking a fight with. But it does evidently have a little bit broader support, including Rich Crandell who was the education committee chairman. That bill will at least get a hearing.



Mike Sunnucks:
The thing about that, the atmosphere here, it's basically a repeal of the 14th amendment. If you took it to the ballot, it would pass with the same percentage as with all the anti-immigration measures out there, even with 60%. Even with the argument it will get tossed right away, I think the frustration is so high out there, anything to keep folks from coming in here would probably pass.

Ted Simons:
Is there a point in which the forward progress of senator Pearce slows, stops or reverses? He's on a roll right now.

Jim Small:
I think people look at the landscape in 2007 after employer sanctions got passed and asked, what is left for these guys to do? In your quivers of arrows that the state can use, they've pretty much all been fired. As you've seen, we have Senate bill 1070 and this effort's getting momentum behind it and certainly getting discussed. You know, I don't know where this ends. I think that every time -- every time something gets passed, I think we'll see something new and something that goes beyond it get thrown out there in the discussion and get people to push it. Until and unless the federal government does walk down and secure the border, I think you're going to have this attitude that we need to do whatever we can for the state.

Mike Sunnucks:
You have these anti-immigration groups, the ones that pushed 1070, Lou Dobbs has been talking about anchor babies for years. They want to get it in the courts and take their chances. We're a good test lab for that because the politics here lends itself to the anti-immigrant mentality.
We're going to have another debate on "Horizon" this week with the candidates for the democratic and Republican parties. I want to focus on the Republican party for the last couple of seconds because there will be Andrew Thomas and Tom Horne. And these folks don’t like each other and promises to have some liveliness as well. Who needs to win that debate? Who has to come out with a knockout punch or at least needs to win convincingly?

Mary K Reinhart:
Since there's no polling being done in the state anymore because there just isn't, it's really difficult to say I guess who is in the lead or who isn't. Andy Thomas has that, you know, the tea party kind of populous group of folks that are supporting them, the same way they support Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce. Maricopa County, obviously is a conservative county. Statewide, I don't know that's true. He's also got a lot more baggage than Tom Horne. That's really true. If Tom Horne lands a couple more good blows, I think, you know, he can really do some damage on Andy Thomas because of the history that Andy has had here as the County attorney with the myriad of lawsuits he's filed against everybody and their brother. I don't know right now whether to say one is ahead of the other. I think right now it's anybody's ballgame.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think the pressure is on Horne. Thomas has the immigration issue. Horne has to make the case this guy is under investigation by the state bar. Do we really want this guy as Attorney General in?

Ted Simons:
Quickly, pressure on Horne?

Jim Small:
I agree. I think people's opinions of Andy Thomas are polarized generally, at least in Maricopa. Tom Horne probably doesn't have that.

Ted Simons:
Very good. Thanks so much. Great show.

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