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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

The Next Congress

John Fortier, Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center
Washington, DC
November 8, 2016


MODERATOR: All right, welcome back. Thank you for joining us again. Very pleased to have with us John Fortier from the Bipartisan Policy Center. He’s going to speak with us about the next Congress. As before, he will make an opening statement, we’ll do Q&A, then he will moderate himself. And as before, I’d like to remind you that his opinions are his own and not those of the U.S. Government. Thank you very much for joining us and welcome back.

MR FORTIER: Thank you. I appreciate coming here. I see some familiar faces; I have been here, I’m trying to figure out how many elections, but I’m really pleased to be able to speak to journalists from around the world about our election. This one maybe is particularly interesting. I am going to talk about the Congress, but I guess I’m going to talk a little bit about the election and the election of Congress and then what some of that means. I would also love to have your questions, so I’ll try to leave time for that. And in earlier discussion, I know we were also talking a little bit about the election process. That’s not really the topic of my talk today, but if – I do a lot of work on how we vote, which is very different in America than in any other country in the world, I think, so would be happy to discuss those things as well.

So I guess I want to just step back and think a little bit what’s different about this election. And maybe one obvious answer is Donald Trump, and I could just leave the room, and you could write your stories and that’s true; but thinking about even before Donald Trump, just some background. Now, parties in America over the last 40 or 50 years have become much more polarized, left and right. They were for many years actually much more overlapping; the Democratic Party had kind of a conservative wing in the south and a progressive wing in other places, and Republicans had their own wings and used to be a lot easier to find bipartisan cooperation. If you thought of everybody on a football field, a lot of people would be in the middle, Republicans playing on the Democratic side, vice versa, and sometimes strange coalitions.

Political science is my profession – at the time, really didn’t like that system. They thought it wasn’t very accountable that Democratic presidents would not get their way with their own party, so we should really have a system, they thought, of one party over here, one party over there. I think we’ve moved to that. Over 40 or 50 years, our parties have become much more left and right. And I think that has consequences, it has consequences for the next Congress where if – especially if we have divided government, which we may. That means the differences are big and getting something done is difficult. So put that on the table as one thing in the background before we even get to this election. We are a polarized place and we’ve moved in that direction over the last several decades.

Two, there has been some conversation in America, especially among the parties, about the demographics and the future of the two parties. And the simple story is this: There’s some nuance we could get into, but that the Republican Party, after the 2012 election, looked at the results and said, look, we’re doing okay with some groups, but those groups are shrinking, and we’re not doing so well with other groups. Democrats are doing better with other groups, so that group is growing, and that maybe the Republicans need to rethink a little bit and to reach out to some new groups. And in particular that is that Democrats are doing very well with the Hispanic vote, which is growing – their immigrant vote. They are doing very well with young voters, which are becoming a larger part of the population as that group moves more into the electorate. And Republicans have been doing well; they did not always do it this way, with the over-65 vote and with the white working class.

And that’s – there are different definitions for these things, but that autopsy, as they call it, which maybe isn’t a good term, it means the party is dead, but the autopsy, thinking about what to do after the 2012 election was, well, Republicans have to find a way to reach out to especially Hispanic and younger voters. And to give you some numbers, I think just traditionally, we would have thought that the Republican Party would get about a third of the Hispanic vote. George Bush – George W. Bush, with his advisor, Karl Rove, really made a push to expand the party into the Hispanic vote.

One, he had been a Texas governor; they won 40 percent of the vote in 2004, that was very helpful for Republicans to win re-election in 2004. But there are big differences in the party about immigration especially. There are different wings of the party and some of those differences came out, and our debates over election reform show that, immigration reform show that. And so you saw it – Mitt Romney getting about 26, 27 percent of that vote and we’ll see, it may be that Donald Trump does even less well today.

Just by comparison, African Americans, vote about 90 percent Democratic to 10 percent Republican. And under the two elections with Obama, it’s actually been about 95 to 5, so it is an even stronger group. And that group is growing a little bit, but not in the same way the others are. So how – what happens to a party that after 2012 says we want to reach out, we want to have a broader coalition? Well, in our system, the out party, the party that doesn’t have the White House, the Republicans in this case, they don’t have a leader. There’s no leader of the Republican Party for many years in the presidential term. In 2013, ’14, ’15, there was really no voice of the Republican Party. And our system is to allow the people on both sides to speak and elect people, elect the nominee of the party.

And in electing Donald Trump, the Republican voters spoke. They elected someone and Donald Trump essentially has – does not have this view of how to win elections. He arguably has a different view, an opposite view, which is his style of Republicanism is to appeal to more white working class voters; to really double down on these votes that Republicans have been doing much better with white voters. Mitt Romney won nearly 60 percent of them, but maybe Donald Trump can appeal even more to this group. And while they are shrinking groups, there still are votes to be had, and I think this election will be a test to that; certainly, the presidential election and also, to some extent, the congressional elections.

The obvious issue that I think that Donald Trump uses – well, I’ll leave aside all the personality traits, but was immigration. Immigration for him was a very clear message. He was strongly worried about immigration, he could say it very simply that we were going to build a wall, Mexico was going to pay for it. This was a strong statement that he made, this sort of appeal to white working class voters. I think you saw it a little bit less in the primaries, but you’ve certainly seen more of it as the election has gone on. His appeal on trade issues – he is much more skeptical of free trade than any other Republican nominee we’ve had in recent history. And if you think again about these white, working-class voters, Republicans had been winning them in part because the South has transformed to a Republican region. It’s a conservative place, but also they used religious or other cultural issues like gun issues to peel away white, working-class voters from the Democratic Party. You might think of a – someone – we used to call them Reagan Democrats, a steel worker in – car or auto worker in Michigan, who might have belonged to a union, might have felt some affinity to the Democratic Party, but on issues like gun ownership or abortion or other religious conservative family issues might have felt the pull of the Republican Party. And so the Republican Party was getting more of those voters, getting more voters in the South that were not rich, that were white, working-class votes.

Donald Trump is making, I think, an additional play for those voters by saying if you didn’t want to come with us for religious or cultural reasons, maybe also on the trade and immigration issues, you will come with us. And so we will see. I think in many ways, the map will be similar; there’ll be a lot of people voting the same way. But Donald Trump will try to grab some parts of the country where these white, working-class voters are stronger, and I think inevitably, he will also lose part of his coalition, whether they’re women or upscale suburban voters. And does that coalition look – is the adding of these voters and the subtracting of these voters make a plus or is it actually not much different? So I think we’ll be watching this election at different places.

And just quickly on the presidential level, and then I’ll jump to the Congress and what might happen, look, I think the key states we’re going to be watching this early election night are Florida and North Carolina. The simple math is that before Donald Trump, you would have thought if you won Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and any one other little state, Republicans could have won the election. But you look at a state like Virginia, Virginia has been moving – moving to be more Democratic, more – Barack Obama appealed to the educated white voters of northern Virginia as well as a strong African American vote. That combination was pretty strong in Virginia. It’s looking strong in North Carolina, not quite the same. And maybe as Virginia was 10 years ago, North Carolina has some of these characteristics. But today, I think Virginia is a very difficult state for the Republican Party and especially Donald Trump to win. There are white, working-class voters but there are a lot more of these educated white voters and minorities that are part of the Obama coalition and will be part of the Clinton coalition.

So Florida, North Carolina – I can’t tell you what’s going to happen in those states, but I would watch them. Donald Trump has to have them. If he wins them, then he’s going to have to go out in other parts of the country and get a few more states. One interesting place to look – I mean, Ohio, of course, is also very important, but is a state that Donald Trump probably is a better candidate for than the average Republican. This is a state with white, working-class voters, with industrial Rust Belt economy, where issues of trade and immigration are palatable and will help him get votes. And of the states that are close or swing votes, it’s – he looks better in Ohio, also in Iowa in the Plains states, a state with not big cities, a very white state, but also with a low-education white state of not lots of college-educated kind of Obama voters.

Where else? Well, there’s Nevada. Nevada is an interesting state, which I think we should watch, where you have both a Hispanic vote that’s very strong that might help the Democrats, but you also have this strong white, working-class vote, so I think I would look there if I were Donald Trump. Donald Trump is making a play there. I think it’s a little bit challenging for him, but it’s a place that he might be able to win.

There are places like – small places like New Hampshire, which are kind of on the bubble. But it might be that he really needs to go get another big state and a big – if he can get – assuming he’s won all these other ones, he’s going to need maybe a Wisconsin or a – or getting one of these educated places like Virginia and Colorado. A state like Michigan is very interesting. It’s been very Democratic – 10 percent for Barack Obama, a win. I think those margins will be closer. I’m not sure he can make them up. But that’s what I’ll be watching tonight – both where the pieces fall. For Donald Trump to be able to win, he’s got to win this sort of slightly different coalition of states.

But even if he doesn’t win some states, watching to see is a state like Michigan, which is strongly Democratic – is it a lot closer for Donald Trump? Or states like Virginia and Colorado – are they actually much more Democratic because they’re not like the Donald Trump part of the Republican Party?

And after the election, we’ll – we can talk about that in the Congress a bit – the Republicans, if they lose, will have to have this debate. They’re not – they’ll have two wings of the party, one which is Donald Trump-like and worries about the white, working class and another that might say we need to reach out more to these growing groups. And trying to do both things will be very difficult, but I think watching this election, you will see this experiment that Donald Trump has put forward. Can we win by having a kind of much greater turnout of these white, working-class voters, which we’ve already been doing well on, even though they are not the growing part of the population?

So let me – there’s more to be said about that, but let me move to the Congress and then maybe what it means for governing Congress afterwards. I mean, the Senate, I think, is where the action really is. As you know, only a third of the Senate is up each time, and the number of seats up are many more in the Republican hands. And the number of close states – many more of them are held by Republicans. Republicans now have a 54-46 majority, so if Democrats were to gain four seats and the presidency – 50/50 with a vice president breaking the tie – there would be a Democratic majority.

Now there are a couple states which are pretty safe. They are states – Illinois, which is a very strong Democratic state, where Senator Mark Kirk, the Republican, is running and has a very tough challenge to win in that state. I think it’s very likely he will not win in that state. The other seat is also, I think, challenging in Wisconsin. There it’s a rematch between Ron Johnson, who is now the senator, and Russ Feingold, who was the senator, and Ron Johnson had beaten him. I think a month ago, we would have thought this race was absolutely certain that the Democrats would take and Russ Feingold would take that seat.

I think it’s still going to happen, but the margins are closer, and Wisconsin, again, is one of these states that you might watch. If Donald Trump does a lot better than we think – he’s really appealing to white, working-class voters. Wisconsin is a state that has those. And perhaps he would affect some Senate races if he does a lot better. If he does a lot worse, again, it may go more in the Democratic direction.

After those two states, which I think probably are going to go to the Democrats, so they’ll – they would need two more – there are six states we are watching, and they are all but one held by Democrats – I’m sorry, all but one held by Republicans. And so for Democrats to win, they have to – they have to win three of the six to get to the 50/50 margin. They have to keep their seat, essentially, and then get two more.

So where would we look? Well, the states of New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, again, are states where you have very, very close races. I think if there’s a slight tip, it might be to the Democrats in Pennsylvania. And New Hampshire, I think, actually may be the closest of the races and one that I would watch the most. It may come down to New Hampshire, where the incumbent is Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire and then Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania are good incumbents, but those are states the Democrats have won, but perhaps a Trump wave in one direction or a Hillary wave in the other direction would swing those seats. But they’re very close, I think with a slight edge to the Democrats in Pennsylvania.

The state of Indiana is actually one you can watch very soon. We have different polling time closes – closings in America and the state of Indiana is the earliest. They close their polls at 6 o’clock, or at least most of the state. There are a few parts of it that stay open till seven, so you may actually see that race called earlier. And that is a case where Evan Bayh, the senator from Indiana, is trying to come back into the Senate from a number of years ago when he had served. He is a popular figure but he’s been out of politics a long time, and I think that actually – race may be favoring the Republican at this point, Todd Young.

You can look to Nevada. We mentioned Nevada as a key place which has both strong Hispanic turnout and also some white working class turnout. I think there Democrats are probably favored a bit, but again, it’s a close race and may pick that up.

And then I looked at two other states which are the typically Republican-oriented states. They are North Carolina – although this time I think North Carolina is very close with Richard Burr – and Missouri, which I think Donald Trump will win, but we’re not sure whether the incumbent, Roy Blunt, will win or not. If I had to tell you where I think they’re going to go, I think they’re probably slightly lean Republican. They’re Republican-oriented states generally.

But my final bottom line is, look, we could – we’re going to see a close Senate, closer than it is today. Could be 51-49 one party or the other. I guess I think a 50-50 Senate is not a bad guess at all, and if Hillary Clinton is the more likely winner of the presidency, that would mean a very narrow, narrow win for the – narrow majority for the Democratic Party. That would have some implications I’ll talk about soon about divided government, but a good chance that that will be very close and a slightly better than 50-50 chance that it will flip to the Democratic Party.

The House of Representatives I think is very safe for Republicans. There was a time when we believed that Donald Trump might be really falling off the map. There were some rocky times and comments that came on the eve of the second debate, and his poll numbers were going down and perhaps he was going to lose by a lot. He has come back from that, but it would take a very, very large win at the top of the ticket for Hillary Clinton – for the Democrats to take the house. Democrats need to take 30 seats. The mix of where they are and being able to win with all the candidates, with a wave across the country, would take something very large. I don’t think that’s going to happen, so I think Democrats will gain seats. I think it’s probably in the 10 to 15-seat range, and maybe I actually today would say it’d be closer to 10 than 15 given the closeness of the election.

And so there are a lot of individual places to watch, but one thing, again, I’m watching are some of these states with these characteristics. There’s a state seat in Illinois which is in the city of Chicago. A Republican holds it – or at least part of it’s in Chicago – and it’s a very upscale, educated district. I think that’s going to be a very tough place for the incumbent, Bob Dold, to hold, because those are the characteristics that are really moving towards Hillary Clinton, towards the Democratic Party. But then you see some other places where, even though I think Republicans will lose, Republicans may do better in some of these very rural or working class type districts like in northeast Michigan, where Rick Nolan is the Democrat. He might lose because that’s a – maybe a Democratic place, but it’s a Trump place. And similarly in Iowa with Rod Blum in eastern Iowa, and maybe in the northern part of Maine, where you have a kind of a very big divide in Maine between the southern part which is much more cosmopolitan and the northern part which is much more logging and working class-oriented. Those are the types of places I’ll watch, because if we see that lots of these seats are moving in the working class direction – a lot of those seats are in play – that might mean Donald Trump’s doing quite well. Otherwise, in the other direction, we might see that Hillary Clinton is doing quite well.

So I think the simple point is we’re – if Hillary Clinton is elected president, we are almost certainly going to see divided government. It has happened before many times in our history, but I will note that for a Democrat, it is not – a Democrat has never – the last time a Democrat came into the White House for the first term and did not have the Congress was in the 1880s, so Hillary Clinton, if that happens to her, will be like Grover Cleveland of our earlier century, where she will not be like Barack Obama coming in with two years to really do what she wants to do in terms of her legislative program. Barack Obama – yes, there were challenges to get things through the Senate and through the House, but he had majorities. He had the ability to get a health care bill through. He had the ability to do things that were on his list of programs, not a compromise with the other party.

What we’ve seen most of our time, certainly in the last six years as the pendulum swung back in the midterm election to Republicans, is that now the White House is in the Democratic hands and part of the Senate or part of the Congress – or in this case all of the Congress – is in Republican hands. Divided government is very difficult. The parties, I mentioned, are far apart. Used to be they were close together. It wasn’t so hard to do things in divided government. Today the ideas are different, the priorities are different, and for a president to pass legislation means compromising with a group that is very different ideologically than what the – than what her agenda may be. So I think what are we – I work for the Bipartisan Policy Center now, so I want to be optimistic, and I think there are some things we can do. But I will tell you I think it is a challenge in many regards.

So – well, let me say a few positive things. I think there are some opportunities for compromise on issues like corporate tax, maybe on some issues like infrastructure. These are issues that are – well, infrastructure traditionally a little less political. I think it’s harder today. Tax, I think there’s some ways in which you can cut a deal. But I expect that what gets done in this way in the Congress is going to be smaller and a few things that the parties can agree on. Hopefully, I think Paul Ryan and others will look to forestall a shutdown of the government and passing a budget each year, but I wouldn’t expect there to be a big program that goes through. There’ll be a lot of disagreement. It will look a lot like the last six years, and that will mean that Hillary Clinton will sometimes turn her attention if she’s president to executive orders, what she can do with just the powers of the presidency, or maybe to foreign policy where she can do more. And I think actually in foreign policy she has some Republican allies in Congress, at least on some issues that they might find her to be more – easier to work with and more in agreement with them than President Obama. But I think it is – it will look a lot like the last six years.

Some of the other difficult dynamics I think are that the Republican majority in the House of Representatives is not perfectly cohesive. It has a wing, Freedom Caucus – other factions too – that are sometimes not exactly thrilled by cutting deals with a president of the other party. John Boehner had a very difficult time keeping his troops together. I think Paul Ryan will face some of that. It is not going to be easy for him to persuade all Republicans to cut a deal with the Democratic president, even though I think he by nature is a good dealmaker. So I think that’s difficult. He may also be thinking about running for president in four years. That makes his ability to – or he may not want to do a lot of things down in the Clinton agenda. He may want to be more of the loyal opposition rather than someone who is cutting deals with the president. So I think there are a lot of things that are difficult. I want to highlight one or two last issues. One is trade. I mentioned this. Donald Trump is the most clearly protectionist Republican nominee for a long time. Democratic presidents have been generally free trade as well. That’s not to say that – Barack Obama and George Bush, to some extent, had some elements of protectionism in their campaign messages, but basically they were on the side of free trade. Donald Trump has been pretty strong he’s not, and Hillary Clinton has been pushed, I think, to her left by Bernie Sanders and others to be more against trade.

And so even though there are major trade deals perhaps on the horizon and TPP and TTIP down the road, we – there are difficulties to doing this. And I think – some think that maybe in the lame duck session of Congress, with Barack Obama and the Congress going out, we could do something. I think that’s going to be very hard. I think it’s something that – public opinion in America has not really changed about trade, but both parties’ bases have some concerns about it, and this election has inflamed them. And so Hillary Clinton may, at the end of the day, be someone who wants to do a trade deal, but I think she’s locked herself in, at least that it’s going to be hard to do for a while.

The last issue which I’ll raise, which is – again, I hate to bring up all the contentious issues, but I think will be arguably the most contentious of all, and that is the Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court right now – as you know, there’s a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia passed away earlier in the year and Republicans made the decision not to take up the President’s nominee in that vacancy. So the court is at eight members instead of nine. And it’s a little bit of an oversimplification, but basically the court has been more or less a five-to-four court, with the five being more on the conservative side – one swing vote but – and four on the more left side. A change in the court would be a very large change in a lot of areas of the law, whether it’s civil rights law or affirmative action and things that – powers of the president, being able to regulate, that have often held the president in I think may be more open to working with Hillary Clinton.

So there are a number of things that will change. And so there will be opposition. And one option, one possibility, is that Democrats have the Senate and there is a – still a filibuster, ability of the opposite party to stop something as long as they have 40 percent of the votes. But we’ve gotten rid of those rules for other judges, for other nominees. And I think Democrats, if Republicans were using that tactic, would eventually get rid of that tactic, and it would be very controversial, and we would argue about it, and it’ll be a very consequential thing.

The other possibility is that Republicans actually retain the majority – they have 51 senators and Democrats have 49 – in which case they might just vote down. They might vote against nominations that come forward and keep that seat vacant. I think there will be a lot of pressure to – after a certain amount of time, not to do that. But I think the sides are very far apart on this. And a Supreme Court nomination is always one of our most controversial things. In this case, it is heightened even more because the majority could change, because the vacancy has been therefore a while, because we’re likely to see the same sort of divided government that we’ve seen before.

So I will stop there. I wish I had lots more positive news about a really productive Congress. But I think there are some opportunities, but we should be realistic and expect that lots will look like the last six years in terms of the dynamic between Congress and the presidency, unless we see a dramatic change in this election.

So I’ll start here and I’ll work my way back. Yes.

QUESTION: I’m Julian Basile from Valor Economico, Brazilian financial newspaper. What chances do you think Hillary Clinton will have if she is elected to approve things in the House without majority?

MR FORTIER: Do you have any mind – any types of things? Yeah --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) talk about trade and --

MR FORTIER: Sure. Well, I think it’s – well – yeah. I mean, in theory, I think it’s going to be very difficult. Interesting, on trade, there has been in the past a dynamic that Democratic presidents have been more generally free trade – and Republicans too – but the Congress, the Democratic Congress, has been more protectionist. And so you saw with Bill Clinton in NAFTA and other trade deals of President Obama that often a deal is cut where the Democrat president getting more Republican votes for trade deals and then a few Democratic votes.

That is possible, in theory. But I think it is much harder today than it has been in a few years, partly because there’s been some growing opposition in Congress to President Obama’s trade deals. Part of that I think is just they don’t like his deals and they’re Republicans. Some of it is this pressure that the white working class voters that are more Republican are putting on Republican Party. And so I think that’s difficult.

And then again I think on the – on her side – back in 2008, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were running in Ohio, they said a lot of things about NAFTA. We were going to renegotiate NAFTA; it was a horrible thing. And people didn’t really believe that either one of them was going to follow through on it. And they didn’t. And Barack Obama ultimately I think was a president in favor of free trade. But – and even in the case of NAFTA itself with Bill Clinton, he didn’t feel like he could come in and simply say, “Yes, that deal is great.” He felt like he needed to have some additional concessions, some side agreements that protected labor, that did things that made his Democratic base happy.

I think Hillary Clinton, in theory, could follow that path, but it’s harder because she has come out against TPP, with Bernie Sanders pushing her to do that. And for her to just walk in in January and say, “Oh, never mind. I changed my mind,” I think she is going to have to take some time. I think there’s going to have to be some sort of way in which she feels concessions. And she would have to get some Republican votes. All those have been done in the past, but I just think it’s a more difficult atmosphere for that.

So in theory, trade would be a good thing. In fact, I think two years ago when I was here, if any of you were here, I thought trade – and it turns out that there was some movement in trade – was not a bad issue for a Democratic president, Barack Obama, and a Republican Congress to work on. Or maybe it was four years ago when I said this. That generally has been true. But with the rise of Donald Trump and then with Hillary Clinton pushed further against trade, I think it’s just a harder sell than it was four years ago.

Sure. Right here. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Hi. Julian Borger from The Guardian. Did the 1880s date you gave – that’s since the last Democratic president to come in with both the houses against. So if --

MR FORTIER: No. No, with either house against.

QUESTION: With either house.


QUESTION: So if --

MR FORTIER: Republicans have come in and had the Congress half against them. But Democrats have always come in and at least had two years where their party was in control in the Congress in --

QUESTION: In both houses?

MR FORTIER: In both houses.

QUESTION: So if Hillary Clinton wins and Democrats win the Senate or it’s 50-50 and then so they win, and the House is against them, that would be the first time --

MR FORTIER: First time in over 100 years. Yes.


MR FORTIER: One hundred and twenty years.

QUESTION: Can I also ask, what are the chances of the Republican Party splitting, with Trump going outside and creating something else outside?

MR FORTIER: Right. It’s a good question. I don't think we absolutely know the answer to that. I mean, I guess, I think the safer answer is that it probably will not happen. There are a couple of – we tend to have a very hard time forming third-party movements here. To the extent that they form, the two parties tend to kind of take over their issues a bit and they fade away. We don’t know what he’s going to do. I mean, there’s the theory that he’s going to form the new Fox News, maybe he – I know he’s on the older side, but maybe he says he wants another run at it. That would be a difficult thing for the party. I think what he has done, even though there’s been a lot of back-and-forth between the party, has actually sort of transformed the people within the party more than created an outside movement.

A couple of caveats to that, I mean, the establishment is much more divided about Donald Trump than the average voter. So I think that’s a difficulty he has. But I guess some of you are from Europe, and I might put it this way: The Republican Party has a challenge, and this sounds almost impossible, but I don’t think it’s impossible. But if you imagine a lot of European countries where you have a right-wing Populist Party worried about immigration doing pretty well, and you also have a center-right party, and in different countries they’ve had to have different arrangements. Sometimes they’re actually coalition; sometimes they’re kind of kept at arms’ length; sometimes the center-right party adopts more of the anti-immigration policies of the far right. Now put them both in one party – one big party – and try to see if you can make that work.

I tried to set this up as – I don’t think the Republicans are going to be able to go back and say pretend Donald Trump never happened and we’re going to go and reach out to Hispanic voters, and create this new, educated coalition. On the other hand, if they lose, they’re going to have a hard time saying, well, maybe the demographics are still not so great with this group. They’ve got to reach some sort of accommodation, and I think the next leader doesn’t have to be exactly Donald Trump – certainly personality-wise – or even exactly issue-wise, but it probably is somebody who is going to have to recognize some of those concerns. And so issues like trade and immigration might be more salient for the Republican Party and difficult to work out, but we were kind of hiding those issues in the Republican Party. They were there, but they were not the issues that we often talked about. We talked about religious conservatives and small government conservatives and the foreign policy conservatives, but we kind of knew that those issues were there. I think it will be more front and center.

So I guess I’d – I think he probably will not. It’s possible he’ll make another shot within the party. He may be a king maker, but we – predicting exactly what Donald Trump will do is not the best – always the best course of action so.

All right, I will go – I’m going to go here and then I’ll go to the back. Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Tamarat Gebremariam and I (inaudible) for a business weekly (inaudible). Looking at the Hillary Clinton, she’s more of the status quo person, which for all likelihood will continue with the foreign policy of President Obama. Trump is more of a novice into all this stuff when it comes to foreign policy. What surprises will you be expecting in the case that any of them get elected?

MR FORTIER: Right. Just quickly on Hillary Clinton. I didn’t say as much about her. I mean, I think she is a more traditional candidate, obviously, than Donald Trump. But I think in a way she’s a unique figure in the Democratic Party in that she has one foot in the older Democratic Party, especially of her husband Bill Clinton, and one foot in the more progressive Democratic Party of today, and maybe even one foot sliding a little bit to make sure that on her left flank Bernie Sanders and other progressives don’t take more of those issues.

So she bridges the party pretty well. I think that’s – in some ways some people don’t like her for that. They think she’s too establishment. She’s been around too much. She’s taken too many positions on things. But you remember Bill Clinton came in to save the Democratic Party by moving it to the center on making it more pro-business, making it more – on some social issues more to the middle, and Hillary Clinton was part of that project. But she, I think, today is very much more like Barack Obama who’s been able to win with a more progressive coalition. The demographics have changed. And yet, there’s probably a still an even more progressive wing of the party led by Elizabeth Warren – Bernie Sanders is part of that – that is there.

If we thought – if Hillary Clinton did not run, what might have happened? I think arguably we would have had a more – we probably wouldn't have had Bernie Sanders, but we would have had a more progressive nominee. The argument would have been with people are newer and didn’t have the background on this.

You’ve mentioned foreign policy. I mean, I think some of that is that progressives distrust her, think she’s a little more hawkish, but I think there are some other issues too. She’s too establishment, too business oriented, not concerned about some of these progressive issues.

So that being said, so on foreign policy I think she will actually have some allies in Republicans. I mean, certainly John McCains and Lindsey Grahams of the world, I think, think better of her than the President. I think the parties are still different, so there won’t be all agreement, but you could imagine her working with Republicans more. But just again, on this issue of the progressives, she may find that she actually has some pushback within her own party where there’s been talk Elizabeth Warren and other progressives in the Senate might use their powers to pressure President Clinton to appoint people who are more progressive. Whether that’s foreign policy or probably more likely in the kind of business, regulatory, and financial worlds, we’ll see. But she has a difficult task too. So I think some of the surprises might come from the fact that she’s – yes, she’s a figure that straddles a lot of the Democratic Party, but she may be pushed in a way by the left.

Donald Trump, you’re absolutely right, he is an outsider. Because he’s the most outside person we’ve ever had be a nominee for the major party. And look, in many ways he’s an outsider, but I would say in foreign policy probably the most. And if you look at some of his advisors and some of his positions on taxes and other things, they have become a little more like the traditional Republican Party positions. He has tax advisors whom we know; whereas foreign policy, really, they are much more unknown and his views are, I think, much less settled. So I think he would be a surprise. He certainly, I think, would emphasize the worries about trade issues. How much he would do about it, we’d have to see. He would push issues of immigration. I know certainly there are people who worry about his comments related to commitments to our traditional alliances or like the trade deals, that he would cut a better deal, and get a better deal for America. It’s hard to know what to do with that. He often has a one statement that’s worrisome, and then another statement says, well, of course, but we’d do lots of free trade, because I would cut good deals or I would rearrange a better deal with NATO and we’d be pro-NATO. So I think it’s a little hard to say, but certainly he is not as experienced. His advisors are less well known. He will have to adopt some of the traditional, I think, people in his administration. So I don’t think it will be a free-for-all, but I do think it’s something that’s certainly less well known.

I think I’ll go way to the back, and then I’ll come back here, because I didn’t – I don’t know who was – I’ll come to you next.

QUESTION: My name is Haykaram Nahapetyan. I’m a journalist from Armenia. One question is you mentioned that if Trump wins North Carolina and I believe Florida, then he has to go after some more states, and he will have possible path to the victory. If no, if Trump fails to win in these two states, then does it mean that there is no more way that he can win the election and take over the White House? And my second question: If Donald Trump fails, do you think that will bring to the end these tactics of – for the Republican Party to work more actively with the white people and sort of highlight them – vis-a-vis minorities or ethnic or other groups – and the party may go back to 2004 tactics of George W. Bush when they tried to work more active with Hispanic? Thank you.

MR FORTIER: Yeah, I think – my position on the first question is I think he really has to win both North Carolina and Florida. And of course, that’s not enough; there are other states he needs too. If he loses one of them, you could craft a set of states that would come to him to make up for that, but I think it would be very, very difficult. It would have to mean somehow that he lost one of those states and, yet, there’s a huge wave of white working class support in states like Michigan and others that we’re not expecting going his way. So I think he has to win Florida and North Carolina, and I could see good case why he would win Iowa and Ohio, and then he’s getting close. I think he’s nine electoral votes away from a tie then. And there are some scenarios where you could get him with a couple small states or one other state. It’s a little harder to see and I also just – I read a book about the Electoral College and I sometimes don’t like the kind of thing that I’m doing right now, thinking about just the states. It’s going to have to get closer in the popular vote for these things to happen too. It’s not going to happen that Donald Trump’s going to lose the popular vote by 3 or 4 percentage points and win enough states. It really has to – he’s going to be a lot closer to the popular vote and bring some of those states along. So I think it’s very hard to imagine him winning, unless he wins both Florida and North Carolina.

On the second part of your question, look, I think I said earlier, it’s going to be a bit of a debate and a negotiation, because on the one hand I think Donald Trump will win in some places and show that there is a – some ways in which white working class voters are more attracted to the Republican Party, some of his message. And you could argue look Mitt Romney didn’t do that well either. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a margin that was similar to the Mitt Romney election, but we’ll see. And the –for the new nominee to just pretend Donald Trump didn’t happen and say well, we’re going to throw all of those people overboard even though on many – on the issue of immigration I think – that probably a majority of the party – I think that’s hard. So some people would say it was an impossible task; you have to have one or the other, but maybe a more polished Donald Trump-like figure or a – someone who found other ways to straddle this. I mean, interestingly Marco Rubio, who you could say would have been somebody who reached out to more Hispanic voters, didn’t – after his early days wasn’t so pro-immigration, maybe there’s a way in which he actually has some appeal. I mean, there – it’s hard to see exactly now in advance, but I don’t think it’s something that just one wing or the other is going to win out. I think they’re going to have to find a way to do a little bit of both, because they are – the demographics aren’t so great, but they have some appeal in some areas. So I’ll go here, I promise.

QUESTION: Konrad Kramar. I’m from the Austria National Daily Kurier. Is there a chance if Clinton takes over the Senate, in a way to outmaneuver the House of Representatives by cooperating – a cooperation between the White House and the democratic Senate to get things through?

MR FORTIER: I don’t see it that – I guess, there is of course – and this is a dangerous game for all the parties to play – trying to negotiate to get what you want by using the budget shutdowns, government shutdowns, or debt ceilings, to get leverage for what you want. And I think some people think well, maybe Republicans get blamed for that more and maybe Democrats could push some things and force Republicans to take a few things they didn’t want just to keep that from happening. I’m not a huge believer in that theory, so I think it’s very hard.

I mean, I do think – look, Hillary Clinton I think arguably has better skills with Congress than Barack Obama. She was in Congress. She knows people. I think those help a little bit. I don’t think they are everything. I don’t think just being nice and getting along and having regular meetings is all that it takes, but I think it’s a good thing. So I think there may be some particular issues she could find a coalition on, but I don’t think she’s got leverage to really force something down the Republicans’ throats that they don’t have. And they’re divided too, and so, I mean, the – maybe your theory also is some part of the Republican Party in the House goes with the Democrats on some issues to work with her. It is possible, but it also probably is very – well, very bad for the career of the leaders who lead those people in that direction. I think a Paul Ryan, to do that, might feel – and maybe he’d want to do that on an issue, but I think that would be very hard for him to succeed or stay as leader in the party or to go run for president later.

And I actually I didn’t mention this, but there is a possibility that Paul Ryan – I don’t think it’s going to happen – faces a real leadership challenge. In theory, a group of people, it doesn’t take – to be speaker, all it takes is a group that denies you a majority that says we don’t want you. When Newt Gingrich in 1998 had lost some seats in the House and he had a very small majority – I think six seats or so – a group of ten or so Republicans said we’re not ever going to vote for you, Newt Gingrich, and he knew he had to step aside. So some parts of that Freedom Caucus are thinking they could do the same thing to Paul Ryan. I don’t think it will work. I actually think the numbers that Paul Ryan will have will be less, but they’ll probably be more in the 10 to 12 seat loss. If they were in the 20 to 25 seat loss – if it was very close – it would be more dangerous for him. So I don’t – I don’t think that’s the likely scenario, but there will be some rumblings about this, and there already have been, and there might be a possibility if it were to go more – worse than you thought. So – yeah, want to go here? One more? Sure. Okay.

QUESTION: Jehan Farouk Al Husaini from Al Hayat Newspaper. Do you think there is a big, huge – between either Trump or Clinton toward the Middle East issues?

MR FORTIER: Well, look, I’ve – on Middle East issues was the question. Look, I don’t think Donald Trump has – I mean, the more positive way of saying for Donald Trump is that he is going to develop some of these issues more and he’s going to get more advisors and he’s going to have a more set of positions on this. I don’t think he has a set of positions on this – I mean, I think he has some broad principles. I mean, some of them have been helpful politically I think for him to say, I am not like the Republican wing of the party, George W. Bush or neo conservatives. I was more skeptical of the war in Iraq, yet I’m also skeptical of Barack Obama getting out of the Middle East and sort of leaving – or getting out of Iraq and leaving kind of a vacuum and maybe he would focus his efforts on terrorism. He’s a friend of Israel I think. But those are kind of very broad things, and I don’t think that he has a detailed plan or a detailed set of things. I mean, Hillary Clinton just – again, not trying to be – favor one side or the other, is an extremely experienced person in foreign policy. That doesn’t mean she has the answers to these things, but it certainly means she has thought about them a lot and she has a lot of advisors. And I think she’s said and hinted in a way that she would have done some – things slightly differently in Syria and she might do things now, whether those are successful or not, I don’t know. But I think this is not a case of just different ideas, it’s a case of very different experience. And so, I think it would be different, but partly for different policies, but partly also because Hillary Clinton is a very experienced figure and Donald Trump is not, so.

MODERATOR: Okay, with that, let me thank Dr. Fortier for his time and attention. For people who have signed up for one-on-ones, I invite you to go out the back and make a right. We’ll take him into the conference room before our next briefing at 5:30. So thank you, again, Dr. Fortier. We know you’re busy and we very much appreciate it.

MR FORTIER: Thank you.