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POLITICO's Off Message


POLITICO takes you behind the scenes with Washington's power players to uncover what's really driving politics and policy in the nation’s capital. Hosted by Isaac Dovere.

POLITICO takes you behind the scenes with Washington's power players to uncover what's really driving politics and policy in the nation’s capital. Hosted by Isaac Dovere.
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POLITICO takes you behind the scenes with Washington's power players to uncover what's really driving politics and policy in the nation’s capital. Hosted by Isaac Dovere.






How it feels to win (and lose) a House majority

For our post-midterms edition of Off Message, we talked to Corry Bliss and Charlie Kelly, the two men who led the largest House campaign organizations in 2018. This election, Bliss led the Republican-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund, and Kelly led its Democratic counterpart, the House Majority PAC. They talk about what went on behind the scenes, their biggest regrets of 2018, and where things go from here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


David Axelrod: Voters don't want a ‘Democratic version of Trump’

The strategist behind Obama's presidential campaigns gives his midterms predictions, shares his lightning-round thoughts on 2020 candidates and tells Tim whether he thinks any politician can recapture the Obama magic. David Axelrod doesn’t like the path the country—or the Democratic Party—is on. The chief strategist who steered Barack Obama’s winning White House campaigns worries that President Trump has laid a trap—and that his party is walking right into it. “Escalation breeds...


Meet the next Ted Cruz

When Chip Roy was a top staffer for Ted Cruz, he was an architect of the Texas senator’s strategy to shut down the government over Obamacare. Now, in all likelihood, he’s heading for Congress with a House seat of his own, and top Republicans worry he’s going to make Cruz look like a squishy moderate. Roy is ready to play hardball with GOP leaders in Congress. He has pledged to support House Freedom Caucus founding chairman Jim Jordan for speaker, and is expected to quickly establish...


Steve Scalise thinks he knows who'll be the next House Speaker

Steve Scalise was nearly killed last summer when a gunman opened fire at the Republican congressional baseball team’s practice. Last September, after months of surgeries and intensive rehabilitation, the Louisiana congressman was met with a thunderous ovation when he returned to work at the Capitol. The emotional scene—cathartic for Scalise and so many colleagues who were on the baseball field with him—might have obscured just how far he has to go. He’s still undergoing regular physical...


John Kerry on 2020, Trump and why we need to ask ourselves "what did you do?"

Isaac's last episode: The former secretary of state has led a Forrest Gump-like life, from his high-school days playing hockey with Bob Mueller to introducing John Lennon at a Vietnam protest to running for president and almost winning. Some people think he should run again in 2020. He probably isn’t, but says he wants to be part of the future of the Democratic Party, and the country, no matter what. He’s sticking to his insistence that any White House talk distracts from 2018. But there’s...


Elijah Cummings is ready to investigate Trump

If Democrats retake the House, Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings will likely become the new chair of the Oversight committee. Here, a preview of what to expect from their coming investigations of the Trump administration. Cummings says President Donald Trump “is a person [who] calls a lie ‘the truth’ and the truth ‘a lie.’” He thinks the president violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause daily, and sees an abnormal tolerance for corruption and misconduct emanating straight out of...


Ken Starr: If I was Trump's lawyer, ‘I would be very concerned’

The Clinton-era independent counsel weighs in on Brett Kavanaugh, why Trump has an obligation to answer Mueller's questions and whether he plans to support Trump in 2020. Ken Starr would love to hear from Donald Trump. He thinks he could help. The former independent counsel whose investigation into President Bill Clinton led to Clinton’s impeachment says President Trump has enough to be worried about that he’ll need good lawyers around him as he decides whether to sit down with special...


Mazie Hirono: Brett Kavanaugh is fudging the truth

Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono gets candid about why she believes Kavanaugh's accuser, what it's like being the only immigrant in the U.S. Senate, and shares her own #MeToo story. Mazie Hirono thinks Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is not telling the truth about the sexual assault he allegedly committed as a teenager. She thinks he wasn’t telling the truth to the Judiciary Committee when he claimed not to remember any sexual misconduct by a judge he clerked for who was forced to resign last...


Ben Jealous: ‘Americans are suffering under the weight of half-measures’

Ben Jealous is a venture capitalist. Opponents call him a socialist. He says that’s the cost of wanting “people to be treated in a way that’s just.” Ben Jealous campaigned all over the country for Bernie Sanders, but he has a platinum American Express card in his wallet. He got his first campaign experience as a 14-year-old volunteer for Jesse Jackson in 1988, but the presidential candidate from that year he has since reconsidered is Steve Forbes, whose ideas about transforming schools into...


Seth Meyers: Trump wanted me to apologize for making fun of him (REPRISE)

A reprise episode: It wasn’t all porn star hush money: Michael Cohen once tried to negotiate an appearance by Donald Trump on Seth Meyers’ show, for what the “Late Night” host pitched as a fun way of coming together after torching Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. Meyers had invited Trump after running into him at the “Saturday Night Live” 40th anniversary special in February 2015, a few months before the real estate developer’s presidential campaign launched. Trump,...


Tony Perkins: Trump gets ‘a mulligan’ on Stormy Daniels and other past indiscretions (REPRISE)

A reprise episode: Donald Trump is still the answer to many conservative evangelical leaders’ prayers. Or at least to their continuing grievances. They embrace Trump the policymaker, despite being uneasy about Trump as a man, says Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a prominent evangelical activist group. Perkins knows about Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who claimed, in a 2011 interview, that in 2006 she had sex with Trump four months after his wife, Melania, gave...


Why Michael Hayden says Trump is helping Russia (Reprise)

Michael Hayden doesn’t know whether Donald Trump colluded with the Russian attack on the 2016 election—but he’s sure the president helped the Kremlin and is continuing to do so every day. Hayden, a retired general who led the NSA and the CIA under President George W. Bush, is sure, too, of what he calls a “convergence” of interests between Trump and Russia. And he thinks it risks destroying America. POLITICO's Off Message podcast is hosted by Isaac Dovere and is part of the Panoply...


Randi Weingarten: For unions, this is a ‘which side are you on’ moment

The president of the American Federation of Teachers says that union members haven’t just cooled on Trump—they’ve turned on him. Union leaders and members now “know who the bad guys are,” says Weingarten, the longtime head of the American Federation of Teachers—President Donald Trump and the five justices who signed on to the court’s Janus decision in June. Early on, Trump’s support among organized labor was at astronomical levels for a modern-day Republican, with November 2016 exit polls...


Shannon Watts: How to create an ‘army of angry moms and women’ from your own kitchen

The founder of Moms Demand Action talks about how she created one of the most successful gun control groups in the country—and where they go from here. Shannon Watts has a bodyguard who travels with her. He doesn’t carry a gun—his job is to scope out the local hospitals and know which one to rush her to if she gets shot. That’s been life for the mother of five since late 2012, when she founded Moms Demand Action, an organization that advocates for stricter regulation of guns. Watts says the...


John Dean: Nixon ‘might have survived if there'd been a Fox News’ — Reprise

This week, an encore presentation of an interview we first brought you earlier this year. John Dean was the star witness of the Watergate investigation — the counsel to President Richard Nixon who famously flipped and became the prosecution’s star witness in the process that helped take down the president. The Russia scandal is far from over, said Dean, but Trump has advantages that Nixon didn’t. “There’s social media, there’s the internet; the news cycles are faster. I think Watergate...


Marty Walsh: Working-class Trump voters ‘forgot where they came from’

Marty Walsh is a college drop-out and recovering alcoholic who grew up in a union household and worked his way up through organized labor and local politics. In many ways, he fits the profile of the kind of white working-class man who put Donald Trump in the White House. He also happens to be the Democratic mayor of Boston, and he has a bracing assessment of the blue-collar white voters backing Trump: They “forgot where they came from.” Walsh says it bothers him how many of the people he...


Francis Suarez: Miami's almost-millennial, Latino mayor doesn't like labels

Francis Suarez believes he may be the first Miami-born mayor of Miami. He also has a front-row seat to his swing state's senate and gubernatorial races. He didn't vote for Trump, but Mar-a-Lago isn't far. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


Kate Andersen Brower: Making sense of the Trump-Pence relationship

How does Mike Pence keep his boss happy? By staying out of the spotlight, for starters, says journalist Kate Andersen Brower, whose new book looks at the relationships between presidents and their vice presidents. She describes the Trump-Pence dynamic, and sizes up how Pence compares to his predecessor in the job, Joe Biden. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


Tom Arnold: 'Donald Trump is a D-list president, and his enemies are D-list, like Tom Arnold'

Tom Arnold talks about his hunt for Trump tapes, his selfie with Michael Cohen, and the mad coincidences that have injected him into a handful of political scandals. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


Seth Moulton: ‘We have a commander in chief that we fundamentally can’t trust.’

Congressman Seth Moulton is amassing an army of service-oriented Democratic candidates. His goal isn’t simply to defeat Trump; it’s to change politics — and maybe form his own national campaign in the process. He joins us to talk about military service, Donald Trump, 2020, and how he's hoping the Democratic Party will change. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices