By Kyle Drennen | February 18, 2020
On Tuesday afternoon, MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing decided to check in with one of her favorite Democratic activist groups as she looked ahead to the 2020 general election. Having promoted the group Swing Left leading up to the 2018 midterms, Jansing touted how the organization was already working to “build a war chest and a volunteer infrastructure” to defeat President Trump in November.
“In the midst of the volatility of the Democratic 2020 race, there’s a huge group of activists who aren’t the least bit confused about what they want,” the host gushed during the 1:00 p.m. ET hour, referring to liberal activists who were preparing a political field operation for “whomever the Democratic nominee is.”
Jansing marveled over “Democrats who are organizing in far greater numbers than we’ve ever seen before there’s a nominee.” Volunteer Amy Gustincic declared: “Any one of the people who are currently vying to be the Democratic nominee is a better potential president than Donald Trump.” Another woman eloquently proclaimed: “We’re just telling them to vote for a tree stump if it’s the Democratic nominee.”
While Jansing claims to be a journalist, she sounded more like a DNC strategist throughout the fawning segment, even cheering the “12 ‘Super States,’ where volunteers can have maxim impact by working not just the presidential, but Senate and state legislative races, too.”
Talking to Swing Left organizer Michelle Finocchi, Jansing wondered: “You honestly believe you can win it all?” Finocchi assured her: “We can win all the houses, so to speak, it’s actually statistically doable this year.” Jansing followed up: “And president?” Finocchi insisted: “We can do it, yup.”
Discussing her report with former Hillary Clinton campaign aide Adrienne Elrod, Jansing asserted: “It’s not that they don’t have favorites, it’s not that they don’t have even Democrats who they would prefer not get the nomination, they are just determined to beat Donald Trump.” She asked: “How significant could this be?”
Elrod predictably hailed the group: “Well, it’s so significant….I think we saw this play out, to an extent, in the 2018 midterms….And that is why it is so important what Swing Left is doing and I’m so glad that you’re highlighting their good work today.”
Whenever a member of the liberal media is being thanked by a Democrat for their biased coverage, that reporter knows they’ve done their job for the resistance.
Here is a full transcript of the February 18 segment:
1:40 PM ET
CHRIS JANSING: Welcome back. In the midst of the volatility of the Democratic 2020 race, there’s a huge group of activists who aren’t the least bit confused about what they want. Even before the first votes were cast in Iowa and New Hampshire, volunteers have been organizing, essentially leapfrogging ahead of the primaries and starting now to build a war chest and a volunteer infrastructure that will essentially just be handed over to whomever the Democratic nominee is. As they put it, starting now, to set up a nominee for success. I traveled west to get an up close look at this unprecedented kind of activism, starting in Los Angeles.
PEGGY GORELICK [SWING LEFT ORGANIZER]: I’ve got “boundaries.” [Laughter]
JANSING: Peggy Gorelick used to be a standup comic. Now she’s in front of a different crowd.
GORELICK: You guys, welcome. Woo!
JANSING: After Donald Trump got elected, Peggy became a full time activist.
GORELICK: At the end of the day, it felt crazy to be entertaining people when I really wanted to move people to action.
JANSING: So she’s hosting some of the dozens of Democrats who are organizing in far greater numbers than we’ve ever seen before there’s a nominee.
AMY GUSTINCIC [SWING LEFT VOLUNTEER]: Any one of the people who are currently vying to be the Democratic nominee is a better potential president than Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We’re just telling them to vote for a tree stump if it’s the Democratic nominee.
JANSING: These volunteers are organized by Swing Left, which successfully mobilized hundreds of thousands of people for Democrats in the 2018 midterms, with simple online sign-ups.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: We can’t wait until after the primaries to start working on the general elections and to be doing the types of activities that we know have impact early in a presidential cycle. Fundraising, volunteering from home, traveling.
JANSING: More than a million people have signed up.
GORELICK: Who is committed to traveling at least once to Arizona this year?
JANSING: That same weekend, eight Californians were already in Arizona. So you’ve come here from California on your own dime.
GROUP [SWING LEFT VOLUNTEERS]: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There’s a lot at stake in Arizona.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN C: I am spending all of 2020 and as much of my meager savings as I need to, to –
JANSING: Wait a minute, seriously, all of 2020?
WOMAN C: Oh, yes.
JUDITH BROWN [SWING LEFT VOLUNTEER]: We feel this is a crucial moment and the future of democracy in the U.S. depends on it.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN D: Do you want to get that door first?
JANSING: So they’re registering voters.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN B: Okay, Mary, what was the address again?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN E: I love canvassing.
JANSING: And canvassing neighborhoods. And they stay motivated meeting swing voters, like Gene Servan, a born again Christian.
GENE SERVAN: I was a centrist until Trump got into office. The damage he is doing is more hurtful than good. He’s not bringing good.
JANSING: She’s the kind of volunteer Swing Left is counting on in their 12 “Super States,” where volunteers can have maxim impact by working not just the presidential, but Senate and state legislative races, too.
You honestly believe you can win it all?
MICHELLE FINOCCHI [SWING LEFT ORGANIZER]: We can win all the houses, so to speak, it’s actually statistically doable this year.
JANSING: And president?
FINOCCHI: We can do it, yup.
JANSING: Joining me now to talk about the impact of this, Adrienne Elrod, former director of strategic communications at Hillary for America. Eugene Scott is a political reporter for The Washington Post. So Adrienne, back when I was covering your campaign, there were Clinton supporters said, “I don’t know if I can vote for Bernie Sanders.” There were plenty of Bernie Sanders supporters who said, “I don’t think I’ll vote for Hillary Clinton.” This sort of throws that favoritism on its head. It’s not that they don’t have favorites, it’s not that they don’t have even Democrats who they would prefer not get the nomination, they are just determined to beat Donald Trump. How significant could this be?
ADRIENNE ELROD: Well, it’s so significant, Ali – I’m sorry, Chris – it’s so significant and I think we saw this play out, to an extent, in the 2018 midterms…
ELROD: …when of course Trump wasn’t on the ballot, but there was a huge protest vote against Trump. A lot of people took their vote for granted in 2016, of course not only do you see some of the Bernie Sanders supporters not support Hillary Clinton, but you also saw people throw away their vote on a third party candidate like Jill Stein.
So that’s what’s so impactful about what Swing Left and other outside organizations are doing right now, is because not only are they organizing for the general, but they are also saying to people in deep blue states oftentimes who are kind of sitting around, they don’t have a lot of doors to knock on, because they are going to make sure that, that state is obviously going to vote for the Democratic nominee, like California, they’re saying let’s go into some of these purplish areas where your impact, your support can actually change the outcome.
And you know, look, I worked on a number of campaigns, Chris, where we just have not had enough volunteers, because we’re in areas that there are so many competitive races that you have volunteers stretched too thin. If you take people in California, which is deep blue, and you put them in places like Arizona, you put them in places like Nevada to an extent, you can change the race. And that is why it is so important what Swing Left is doing and I’m so glad that you’re highlighting their good work today.
JANSING: Yeah, they’re going to take people from New York and put them in Pennsylvania.
JANSING: And the other thing about this, Eugene, I think, is that there has been so much talk about Democratic angst, right? People are so concerned. I hear it all the time when I’m out there and doing stories about, “Are we going to blow this?,” meaning are we, these folks as a Democratic Party, they’re so nervous about the unpredictable power of Trump. So there’s two ways to handle that, right? You can either let them stay at home and talk to their friends and go on Facebook, but seems like Swing Left and some of these other organizations, as Adrienne said, are saying there’s another way here for you to channel that.
EUGENE SCOTT: Absolutely. I think when I speak with Democratic voters, they’re very mindful of what happened with Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and there’s an awareness that the outcome could have been different if actions would have been different. And there’s also an awareness that Donald Trump’s campaign is operating with an amount of money this time around that they did not have in 2016, that could be incredibly effective at turning out conservative voters and independent voters who gave him the election. And so, you certainly are seeing people mobilize, trying to encourage people who are on the left to vote regardless of what happens and not to be so, you know, disenchanted with the process that they disengage.
And we’ve already seen great diversity among the Democratic field ideologically. And we have some people I have spoken with who said, you know, if their candidate does not win, they don’t know if they’re going to vote for another candidate because they see the world so differently than, you know, maybe a Buttigieg or a Sanders. And so, what we see Swing Left doing is saying ultimately any of these candidates see the world differently than Donald Trump, and if you want to see a vision move forward in America that isn’t Trumpian, you have to get out and vote against him.
JANSING: Adrienne Elrod, Eugene Scott, thank you so much for coming on.
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