WASHINGTON WATCH ROUNDTABLE: School Vouchers, Is President Obama Too Cool For The GOP, Does POTUS Have A Young Voter Problem? (VIDEO)

Roland Martin and the Washington Watch discuss school vouchers, is President Barack Obama too cool and does POTUS have a young voter problem?

This week’s roundtable features Angela Rye, general counsel for the Congressional Black Caucus; Pulitzer Prize-winning “Chicago Tribune” columnist Clarence Page; Cynthia Gordy, senior political correspondent for TheRoot.com and Dr. Chris Metzler, political scientist at Georgetown University.

MR. MARTIN:   All right, folks.  Welcome back to “Washington Watch.”

I want to go back to the whole conversation of vouchers, and – and you talk about – talk about school choice.  I think part of the problem the conversation hasn’t moved is because Republicans are scared of Black folks.  And I do believe when – if they’re able to change their messaging and begin to have a real discussion to say, “Why are we allowing, and being satisfied with, kids going to sorry schools?”

And people say, “Well, I can’t, Roland, believe” – “believe you have that position.”

I say, “Look, I went to public schools my whole life,” but when you’re seeing low-performing schools with a failure rate of 80, 90 percent, and people keep saying, “Well, hey, let’s just give it another try” – I’m sorry.  If I’m a parent, I don’t want my kid in that kind of school.  I don’t want it.  And so I think parents also have to force these Black Democrats to say, “You need to make a decision.  You can’t stay you want our kids to learn, but then you keep supporting folks who are in support of the same broken system.”

MR. PAGE:  How soon is that going to happen, Roland?  I mean – [chuckles] – like I say, since the ’80s, we’ve been –

MR. MARTIN:  I – I –

MR. PAGE:  — we’ve been saying the same thing –

MR. MARTIN:  — I think it –

MR. PAGE:  — over – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — has to happen when folks like –

MR. PAGE:  — we keep –

MR. MARTIN:  — us talk about it.

MR. PAGE:  — we keep reelecting – well – well, yeah.  You know, talking about it is a beginning, but we said that eight- — 30 years ago.

The problem is that Republicans don’t – aren’t scared of Black folks.  They just don’t want to spend any money.  And even – even for the – to back up their own program, like vouchers.  Vouchers aren’t free, you know.  We’re talking –

MR. MARTIN:  That’s right.

MR. PAGE:  — about spending some money

MR. MARTIN:  Absolutely.

MR. PAGE:  — and – and that’s the problem.

My good friend Pat Buchanan, of – with whom I agree on nothing – [chuckles] –

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

MR. PAGE:  — was very candid about it when he said that – that – why are White parents going to pay for a program that predominantly is benefiting Blacks and Hispanics?  They – they don’t see White – poor Whites as sharing in the problem.


MR. PAGE:  And until they buy into the problem, so to speak, you’re not going to see White support, which means you’re not going to see Republicans support.

MR. MARTIN:  Which is one of the reasons why I’ve always said the President – finally, he went to the University of North Carolina.  He went to college campuses.  But if you want to have a substantive conversation about how do we change America, the President needs to go to a place where you[’ve] got some broke White folks and look them in the eye and say, “You’re in the exact, same position as parents on the South Side of Chicago, as parents in” –

MR. PAGE:  He’s doing the –

MR. MARTIN:  — “Detroit.”

MR. PAGE:  — exact opposite.  Back four years ago, he didn’t even campaign in West Virginia.  He had, like – like, three visits –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. PAGE:  – to Hillary Clinton’s 30 visits –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. PAGE:  — you know?  I mean he’s not even trying to reach that group, ’cause he’s going to spend his energies where he can really – you know, where – where the pickin’ is good, so to speak.

MR. MARTIN:  Now, this whole notion of who’s cool, or whatever – Carl Rove put together this ad that – that they put online.  Or, maybe they put it on television.  I – I think it’s a pretty stupid ad, but here’s a little bit of it.


MR. MARTIN:  Okay.  Here’s why the – to me, the ad is stupid.  The first 30 seconds?  Dumb, because it didn’t work last time, but when you look at that last part, when – when they’re targeting young voters, there’s only a seven-point gap between Pres. Obama and Mitt Romney when it comes to millennials.  The people who were ecstatic about then Sen. Obama don’t feel the same way today.

DR. METZLER:  Yeah.  I mean thi- — this ad is an absolute waste of time and resources.  I mean it makes absolutely no sense.  It’s – from my perspective, if I’m looking at this ad, it seems to me that that’s an ad that’s very supportive of – of the President, you know, unless I go all the way to the end.  And so, I think, for Republicans to focus on something like this is just absolutely silly.

MR. MARTIN:  And ju- — I – it’s very interesting.  I – I speak on college campuses all across the country, and the reaction to the President is totally different today than it was in ’08, in ’09, and it really began to change in 2010.  And I do think they have a young voter problem.  They need to have a much larger gap between Romney and – and Pres. Obama for him to win when it comes to young voters, and they[’ve] got to figure out the messaging.  I think it goes beyond just going on “Jimmy Kimmel.”

MS. RYE:  Well, I think that over time, you’ll see the President we- — get into more of a campaign mode.  They officially announced the kickoff of the campaign, and I don’t think that’ll be much of a problem.  I think the reality of it is, as like the one you just showed, demonstrate[s] that he has a likeability factor that young people can relate to.  I don’t think that’s all the way negative, although I do think there were some strong racial undertones to –

MR. MARTIN:  But if I’m –

MS. RYE:  — the ad.

MR. MARTIN:  — a young – but I – but I’m a young voter, though, and I can’t get a job, and I have student loan debt.

MS. RYE:  Well – [crosstalk] –


MR. MARTIN:  I might li- — I might like you, but I still need to say, “Hey, I’m not necessarily feelin’ your policies.”

MS. RYE:  — [crosstalk] –

MS. GORDY:  I think it’s –

MS. RYE:  — gone on to college campuses to speak out against this issue, and he’s even promised to veto a House bill that would, again, d- — just dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which is something that college students –

MR. MARTIN:  I gotcha.

MS. RYE:  — benefit from.

MS. GORDY:  Right.  [Crosstalk] –

MS. RYE:  When you look at policies over time –

MS. GORDY:  — the message is not –

MS. RYE:  — he’s definitely done a –

MS. GORDY:  — ju- —

MS. RYE:  — lot for young people.

MS. GORDY:  — the message is not just about going on Jimmy Fallon’s show and slow-jamming the news.  I mean he has a policy message for young people that the White House and the Obama campaign have been really pushing out there.  It’s – it’s the policy that he has proposed for young people – not proposed, but actually passed – the Affordable Care Act, for example.

MR. MARTIN:  Yeah, but they’re – but they’re pushing it now, and I’ll tell you.  When they passed the changes to the Pell Grant bill, it was as if they didn’t even exist, and I was talking to the White House, going, “I’m just curious.  Ya gonna bring it up?”  I mean it’s – because – I mean, again, I get you’re in campaign mode.  I get you want to now appeal to  young voters, but I think when you haven’t really done that significantly over the last three years –

MR. PAGE:  Don’t look at the enthusiasm they had on Election Day four years ago.  Look at four years ago this month, springtime, early summer.  The college kids weren’t yet really tuned in to Obama.  It was betw- — ov- — over that summer, then after Labor Day, when people really got engaged, that you saw young voters really – even my kid got off the couch and went out and – [chuckles] – volunteered –

MR. MARTIN:  I gotcha.

MR. PAGE:  — to w- — to work –

MR. MARTIN:  — no, but – but – right.  [Crosstalk] –

MR. PAGE:  — for Obama.

MR. MARTIN:  Right, but that was ’08, and wha- — what I’m saying is –


MR. MARTIN:  — what I’m saying is when you look at a policies – when you look at policies, and when you look at were they consistently involved, there has been a lot of frustration with this Administration from young voters.  And –

MR. PAGE:  Of course.

MR. MARTIN:  — I’m – and – and so what I’m saying is the President going on a comedy show – that’s one thing.  I get popping on two – two or three college campuses.  That’s another thing.  But I still believe they go- — they have a significant messaging problem when you’re –

MR. PAGE:  I dis- –

MR. MARTIN:  — trying –

MR. PAGE:  — I disagree.

MR. MARTIN:  — when you’re trying to talk to these folks, because –

MR. PAGE:  I – I –

MR. MARTIN:  — they predicted –

MR. PAGE:  – disagree, and I’ll –

MR. MARTIN:  — a drop-off –

MR. PAGE:  — tell you why.

MR. MARTIN:  — but you’re going to need that number to still be around 20, 22 percent.

MR. PAGE:  Of course.

MS. RYE:  I –

MR. MARTIN:  You can’t afford

MR. PAGE:  Of course.

MR. MARTIN:  — to be at 15, 17 –

MR. PAGE:  But you know –

MR. MARTIN:  — percent.

MR. PAGE:  — why?

MS. RYE:  Don’t –

MR. PAGE:  You’ve –

MR. MARTIN:  Angela.

MR. PAGE:  — got to get young voters, Roland.  You[’ve] got to go beyond TV talk shows.  I’m sorry.

MR. MARTIN:  I gotcha!

MR. PAGE:  But – but we don’t appeal to young people.  They – they watch shows like –

MR. MARTIN:  A- — a- —

MR. PAGE:  — “Jimmy Kimmel,” “Jimmy Fallon,” et cetera –

MR. MARTIN:  — actually –

MR. PAGE:  — et cetera.

MR. MARTIN:  — actually –

MR. PAGE:  So, that’s why – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — actually, I[’ve] got 14- and 18-year-olds who watch –

MR. PAGE:  Well – well –

MR. MARTIN:  — my show.


MR. PAGE:  — that’s because – that – that’s because you’re so hip and with-it, Roland –

MR. MARTIN:  That’s right!

MR. PAGE:  — unlike most talk show – [chuckles] – hosts.

MR. MARTIN:  Right, they –

MR. PAGE:  Young people, they’re watching Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, “The Daily Show,” which my kid –

MR. MARTIN:  I gotcha!

MR. PAGE:  — turned me on to, you know.

MR. MARTIN:  Angela.

MR. PAGE:  And so – so – so, Obama’s got to work across the board with all of these programs.

MR. MARTIN:  Gotcha.  Angela.

MS. RYE:  I agree.  I do think, however, that we are over generalizing young people and their social activism.  For example, most recently with Trayvon Martin – things like that, that are crises in our community, are the very things that are needed to get young people en- —

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. RYE:  — engaged.  And I think just – not only the “stand your ground” laws, but the other things, like voter suppression, voter I.D. – I think the young people will be engaged.  It’ll be a different type of engagement, but they absolutely will be engaged –

MR. MARTIN:  I’m making –

MS. RYE:  — this election.

MR. MARTIN:  — the point [that] you look at the 2010 elections – the midterm elections – in Virginia, it went from 22 to 10 percent in terms of young voters.  All I’m saying is this –

MS. RYE:  There was –

MR. MARTIN:  — here.

MS. RYE:  — a substantial drop, period.

MR. MARTIN:  No, no, no.  No, no.  I get “substantial drop, period,” but I’m making the point when you have a tough economy, and you’re trying to get reelected, the last thing you can afford is there to be only a seven-point gap between you and Mitt Romney.

MR. PAGE:  It’s back to –

MR. MARTIN:  It has to –

MR. PAGE:  — 17 now.  [Crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — be – has to be –

MR. PAGE:  — [crosstalk].

MS. RYE:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — has to be much – has to be much larger.

And, again, turnout is still going to be the key.  You can say – percentage is one thing, but how many of them are going to be that engaged and willing to come out?  That’s –

MR. PAGE:  Always the key.

MR. MARTIN:  — that – right.  It’s going to be the key.  But if you want to win –

MS. GORDY:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — you[’d] better figure that out.

MR. PAGE:  And – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  All right, folks.

MR. PAGE:  — be after Labor Day is when you’re going to see that –

MR. MARTIN:  All right.

MR. PAGE:  — engagement happen.

MR. MARTIN:  W- — we shall see.

MR. PAGE:  Yeah.  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  All right.  We certainly appreciate it.  Angela, Clarence, Cynthia, Chris, thanks a bunch.