“America First”: A New Political Movement or Simply a Political Slogan?

EVENT TRANSCRIPT: “America First”: A New Political Movement or Simply a Political Slogan?

DATE: 1PM-2PM, 27 January 2020

VENUE: Grand Committee Room, House of Commons, Westminster, SW1A 0AA, United Kingdom

SPEAKER: US Senator Heidi Heitkamp

EVENT CHAIR: Baroness Pidding




Good afternoon everybody. First of all, I apologise for the delay in starting. Thank you so much for all joining us here this afternoon, even though we haven’t had lunch yet it is I believe afternoon. And thank you very much to the Henry Jackson Society for organising this event. For those of you that don’t know I’m Emma Pidding and I’m a member of the House of Lords and it’s my privilege to chair this meeting today. We’re incredibly fortunate to have former senator of the United States Heidi Heitkamp and thank you so much for joining us, a very busy schedule she has. Senator Heitkamp served as a democrat senator for North Dakota from 2013-19 and was its first female senator. having previously served as North Dakota’s attorney general and prior to that as the state’s tax commissioner. Senator Heidkamp now serves on various boards including the McCain Institute and the Howard Buffett Foundation. She’s the founder and chair of the ‘One Country Project’, an organisation focusing on addressing the needs and concerns of rural America. the topic of senator Heitkamp’s talk today is ‘” America first”: A New Political Movement or Simply a Political Slogan?’. For us here in the UK it’s never been more important as we move towards Brexit day on Friday and were starting to forge new relations both with our European friends and also with the wider world and particularly the united states. So with that said, senator Heitkamp, we are most interested to hear what you have to say today, so the floor is yours and then well open up to questions after that.


First off my great apologies for being late I thought I could scoot off the set of the BBC politics today, but they put me right next to the host, so it made an exit that much more difficult. I want to do maybe 10-15 minutes of comments and the if we could have a dialogue about the similarities that are happening in your country and my country, the collaboration between our countries both historic and that in the future, and what that relationship looks like post your Prime minister and post Donald Trump. We don’t know when that’s going to be but certainly, there will be a time when the countries will once again have to re-evaluate the relationship that doesn’t have a foundation based on personalities or based on flattery.

I’m going to start by saying thank you to the ladies and gentlemen of the Henry James Jackson Society I want to thank you so much for this very kind invitation to speak today. I’m going to tell you a bit more about myself, I grew up in a small town Mantador, North Dakota, and yes it is cold in North Dakota. It is a small town of 90 people; my family was 1/10th the population. My mother was a school cook and a janitor and my father was a seasonal construction worker. I could’ve never imagined, in my life growing up or even since then, that I would be given such an honour as to come here and speak to members of parliament. I know that my appearance today reflects the values of my country. I also know that my story is not so much different from the story of many members of parliament. stories of opportunities given no matter what the circumstances of our birth. today as we discuss the political challenges that both the UK and the United States face, we must begin in gratitude. As citizens of the UK and the United States, who live in the most inclusive, stable democracies that the world has ever seen. our greatest opportunities are realised because of our great freedom. We also must never forget those who have sacrificed for our freedom and we today know have paid the ultimate price. Today I pay tribute to those among you in your country who were killed in action securing freedom. I play tribute to all the veterans from my country because without their sacrifices we would not enjoy this freedom that we have today. I chose the topic of America first for my comments today because I think it is a significant moment in time in American relationships, not only in Europe but across the globe. While it’s important that we not overstate this significance it would be a serious error to ignore the changes in tone, in foreign policy since the election of Donald Trump no doubt if you look at American news what you hear relays how polarised and partisan the American congress has become, the American population has become. in spite of all appearances, the unites states political structure has been fairly stable. Democrats believe that government has a role in ensuring a social safety net. examples would be Social Security, Medicare Medicaid and most recently Obama care and the Affordable Care Act. Republicans believe that government intervention in the economy is not only unnecessary but dangerous to economic growth, Democrats are more socially liberal, believing in women’s reproductive freedom, minority and gay rights and immigration reform. republicans have built a brand in conservative parts of our country on the promise to eliminate abortion and to roll back same-sex marriage. the political parties differ on whether regulation is necessary for consumer protection, financial regulatory security and environmental and climate regulations. Democrats believe regulation is essential to protect citizen and Republicans are in the classic economic sense laissez-faire, particularly on the issue of regulation. these political alignments have been recognised and debated since the new deal, since the time of FDR. Where there are true differences in our party, historically there has been no difference between Democrats and Republicans since ww2 regarding the importance of America’s relationship with our greatest allies including Canada the UK and other NATO European countries. In the past it would have been politically unthinkable to question US participation in NATO or the commitment that the US would have to Article 5. both political parties recognise that America’s power is greatly strengthened by strong and respectful relationships with liberal democracies around the world which are allied in the mutual cause of shared commitment to a peaceful and just world. although in America there have been partisan political skirmishes around trade both political parties have approved in advance multilateral trade agreements. indeed the republican party of the past, prior to trump, included free trade, lowering tariffs and barriers to trade as an essential element to its capitalistic foundation. it would’ve been unthinkable to have imposed section 232 tariffs which in my country where the tariffs that we imposed on the steel industry in other locations based on a sense of national security, these tariffs were imposed on some of our greatest allies. it would’ve been unthinkable in a previous administration. (?8:45) all this change with the election of President Donald Trump. The change was signalled loudly from the first day he took office. in his inaugural address, President Trump outlined a list of American grievances against the rest of the world and promised a new brand of foreign policy founded on the principle of America first. for the purpose of this speech, I will ignore the 20th-century racial mystery surrounding the phrase America first and focus instead on the past three years of the Trump administration as they have implemented their America first policy. in response to the question, I pose in the teaser summary of these remarks American first is not just a political slogan. it is an idea that is here to say and here to continue to be debated. it represents the potential for a permanent direction change in American foreign policy. it seems important at this point to define the meaning of America first. as a united states senator, it was my constitutional duty to always act in Americas best interest. it was always an important question: how would engaging multilaterally benefit the people I serve. my father served in WW2 in the pacific theatre and 9 of my 10 uncles wore the uniform of my country. most of them who were deployed and sent overseas to represent my country and y family. they wore that uniform to bring peace to the world because they knew that there would be no securing freedom at home if we didn’t secure world peace. if allied countries did not come together to make sure we never once experienced a great war. in my work, I always put the interest of the American people first and believe that America first should never be America alone. almost every military leader I met in my 6 years reminded me and all of the senators that I was with that behind our amazing soldiers and sailors and airmen Americas next most significant asset in terms of securing our freedom was our allies. simply it was a given that America alone was less secure and less prosperous. I ask is Donald Trump’s America first, in fact, America alone? is that what the president intends? well, I would give you his other words, President Trump has famously said: “I alone can fix it”. those words are enlightening in our context today. president trump has a unique view of article 2 of our constitution. article 2 establishes the executive branch. in his view, the executive is the country. I will not go so far as to say he does not value allies, but the allies view must be neutral with his personal world view, contrary views frequently are irrelevant and dis-guarded. in short the relationship tends to be my way of the high way. its also important to understand that while Donald Trump is a unique and unusual political figure whose personality can insight great loyalty, his true political strength is that he always knows his audience. in every major way, his policies are a reflection of the desires of his base. he tests his policies to find the necessary approval, once approval is received little can be done to change policy. if you think about and if you’ve ever had a chance to look at the presidents rallies you will see this kind of call response that he does, and the bigger response he gets the more certain he is that this is the policy that should be pursued. and once he receives the affirmation for that policy it’s very difficult if not impossible to change his perspective. For the remaining one year of the presidential term, our allies can expect no change to this administrations’ America first policy. The US Senate, the majority of whom disagrees with the president’s behaviour as it relates to our allies, is reluctant to intervene. I would just mention here that John McCain was a dear friend of mine and I often wonder if senator McCain were still in the United States Senate, whether there would be more discussion about foreign policy as it relates to article 5 of NATO and as it relates to European allies and UK allies. efforts to amend the law to limit the presidents’ tariff or war power and provide more meaningful congressional oversight have failed to even be considered. the president’s political power has been too overwhelming for the senate republican majority even when they disagree with the president. nor should you expect any change in foreign policy over the second term. In fact, a second term will only bring a hardening of this foreign policy. president trump perhaps frightfully or perhaps rightfully believes he has a mandate for his domestic and foreign policies. What possibly could be a motivation to change? in the United States, we have learnt to never expect a reverse from president trump, in fact in the face of criticism the president’s reaction is most often to double down and go at it harder. I predict that this will be particularly true after the president survives impeachment and is elected to a second term. so the relevant question today: what will the policy be of America first into the future, after Donald Trump is no longer president, and will Donald trump’s presidency, in fact, change the nature of our foreign policy? I would tell you, of course, it will. it already has. our allies are less trustful of our motivations, less certain of our friendships and commitment to liberal democracies. where many in the united states see this as an aggregation of leadership, many are applauding because they believe the united states has been taken for granted and asked to shoulder more than our fair share of the burden of world peace. but it would be equally foolish to believe that America first is defined by America alone is permanent foreign policy. just as those of us took as faith that article 5 would remain a permanent and essential fixture of global security and American security we can in this context overstate what America first will do to the permanency of our policies. and I want to just close by telling you time is a funny thing. As a young child, I would cry on Christmas night because I would have to wait a whole year for the next Christmas. as a young mother, I would applaud each new step of my children thinking it would last forever, only to blink my eyes and 18 years later they’re waking out the door. as a young office holder, I would set policy for 5 years and think that I had done something sustainable and permanent. now I see 30 years, now I see 40 years and now I see 50 years. we must begin a different perspective and if you look at the challenges that we have had we brought these on ourselves. those of us who believe in global security that involves allied countries working together with both in a trade sense and in a military sense to promote the ideals that we know made our countries great and that we know could make the world great. the short cut we have taken is we have let this be an article of faith among leaders. and we have forgotten that we need to remind people for whom WW2 veterans were their great grandfathers, why we have NATO. why we have these relationships. why we need to build on these relationships. because when we expect permanency in policy top-down from the very highest level saying trust me, the public no longer trusts people in leadership in political and governmental leadership. they want to make an evaluation and a judgement on their own. and that is the hard work that needs to be done. and coming full circle to your society, this is the work of organisations like yours. to guarantee those collaborations. to guarantee that there is a body politic that will support you in that effort, that will help you build on those relationships. but also recognising that there is a need for people to feel connected to their nations state, not just global political order. when I was in office I would do one thing, to kind of help American children that I spoke to calibrate. I would hold up my hand and say if you remember nothing else from my conversation, remember the number 5. and they would look at me and I would say, the united states is less than 5% of the global population. if you are not engaging globally, especially economically. If you are discounting other people the world will move around you. the engagement is critical to national security and to maintaining our nations state. and that engagement has to be respectful of the boundaries as British leaders are finding now with Brexit. But it also has to have a population that understood as my father did and my mother did at the end of WW2, that we are less secure if we are not connected with our great and wonderful allies in places like Canada and the UK and Europe. Thank you so much I’d be glad to answer any questions.


Thank you very much, Senator, for a very thoughtful presentation. We’ve got about half an hour of questions what I plan to do is take them in groups of three so we can get as many questions in as possible. if I just ask you all to say who you are and what organisation you’re from before you ask your question. so first question. The gentleman over there.

Jonathan Djanogly MP:

Jonathan Djanogly, I’m a member of parliament for Huntington, welcome. Just to ask recently we had a UK general election it was generally considered a huge shift of the core labour vote towards the Conservative party. What would it take to do the same, away from the republican party?


We’re going to take a couple more questions, the lady here.

Conservative party specialist:

*inaudible*, conservative party specialist. My partner is a Liberal Democrat and we spend a lot of time in the states so thank you, senator, for your service on his behalf. so I would love to ask you to give advice on how we get a good UK-US trade deal.


and the third question, the gentleman here.

Douglas McNish:

Douglas McNish, an independent, not connected with any organisation. I was just wondering, in the area of defence, Donald Trump was perhaps the first public official to make the American public aware of the fact that there were only a couple members of NATO who were fulfilling their spending commitments other than the united states and he raised the question of is it a just cause for the American public to subsidise countries say like Germany if they didn’t take up their burden. It is in the interest that US defence contractors, serve late to see if the US takes more than its share of the burden. He raised the question is it in the interests of the public and id like you to comment on whether that fulls into your theory about america first policy.


when I started in politics I was very young I was 28, I’m very old now so I’ve had a long history. and in my political base were labourers, working-class people, those are the people I come from. they were elderly people, who felt a level of security and loyalty as a result of the new deal programmes. so if you think about the perspective of the voter who knew a time when there was no social security, there was no Medicare, there was no Medicaid, there was not a food security programme. we have embedded those programmes in our social safety net so now having won those battles there is very little space for people to think about logical and systemic differences between the two parties. we have to in the democratic party get back to a broader discussion about kitchen table issues and by that I mean if you want to understand the US economy don’t read anything other than FED reports. the fed in St Louis does amazing work on tabletop family and security issues. 40% of the people in my country could not survive a $400 hit to their budget. they would have to secure lending, they would have to borrow from a family member if they wanted to get a new tyre on their car. so there is that level of insecurity and growing insecurity on healthcare what the democratic party need to is to speak to those insecurities go back to the base of who they have always been, certainly since the new deal, and begin that process of dialogue and conversation. for too long again back to my point, we do not bring people along we simply say “i am the elite I know what’s good for you and this is what I’m going to do.” when you start to have those conversations you may not change the very negative brand that the democratic party has in states like mine. my state voted for Donald Trump by 36 points. I won by 1 point 4 years before that. huge changes in people looking for an answer and they saw an answer in president Trump. and the question is has he delivered to those people who have been least prosperous in our society and you can make an argument where although the macro numbers are very good for our economy not that much better than President Obama’s numbers but certainly enough to say we’re in a sustained period of growth, although much lower than what the president promised. we have to begin to take a look at how that is distributed, not in terms of always talking about wealth redistribution through tax schemes, but talking about economic growth and economic opportunity. I think its a hopeful message that going to win. right now if you go out on the real clear politics Donald trumps favourabilities in term s of managing the economy is 14-16 points. he’s still is at about a 45% favourability rating what the disconnect. its behaviour. had there not been any injection of behaviour I think he would be clearly sailing to reelection. so I would say that the Democratic party needs to re-calibrate its priorities and start worrying less about what a liberal is going to say about you on twitter, and more about what the guys down at the coffee shop, who are living hand to mouth, are going to say about you when you walk tot heir table shake their hand and do the campaigning that you need to do.

on the issue of trade, we’ve just had a long discussion on the BBC about this and you’re not going to like my answer. you’re going to have to lower trade barriers for introduction agricultural products in this country. and I know this is a big debate, about chicken I guess. I’m used to fighting the GMO debate but I’m not used to fighting the chicken debate because we don’t grow a lot of chickens in North Dakota. Donald trumps political base is rural and it is farmers and it is making sure that he has a deliverable. what is the first demand he made of the Chinese? it wasn’t making sure that Huawei quit embedding trojan horses. He made marginal progress in stopping them to steal intellectual product. the one thing he announced was billions of dollars of purchasing of farm products. to do a trade deal with the EU that discriminates as we would see it, against American agricultural products, would be very much against brand. it probably wouldn’t hurt our agricultural industry, but it would be very much against brand. our president is very protective of his brand. so I would say start figuring out what those standards are that everybody can live by. I don’t think you’re going to get a deal before the election, I don’t think the president needs a deal. I think you need a deal more than Trump needs a deal.

the last question was on NATO. I think there’s some NATO countries that would disagree that this was driven by Trump. there was already a commitment negotiated by President Obama to begin the process of amping us commitments. I’m not really a historian but sometimes I play one on television so ill give you my historic perspective. for years the British empire secured the shipping lanes secured a world that was building in prosperity, through colonisation and through military might. and as you took on more and more of that burden of policing the world, it became more and more difficult to continue to innovate and invest. the US fees a bit of that. which is whats our role in terms of securing world peace and utilising our resources. now it’s interesting you raised the defence industry. you mist be watching how the president deals with the Saudi Arabians: “we’ll sell you whatever you want if you want to buy it from us. so my caution to my citizens in the US that when you give up leadership, you give up leadership. so if you simply say you all have to be equal to us in terms of your commitment you may, in fact, be eroding your potential influence in other places. That goes back to what I’m saying about 5%. if you look at china, china is going to either this year or next year surpass us in terms of consumption. Total GDP for consumption. They have such a huge consumer base. the United States does not have such a huge consumer base. How we’ve been able to maintain dominance is by raising our standard of living and when we lose our middle class, we’re losing our standard of living. and that s why income disparity is so important. it’s hard to explain it but it is so important to the future of our country. I think that America is willing to accept any commitments that the Europeans have. I dont think that it is going to necessarily change the way Donald Trump views NATO or article 5. to me that is a convenience, as he complains bitterly about having to sit down and have meaningful dialogue with other world leaders.


Thank you. the young lady there.


I’m a journalist and human rights, activist. Keeping in mind that the united kingdom suspended all diplomatic relations with Iran in 1979 after the revolution, during this conflict how would you expect Britain as an ally to support the US.


Thank you. gentlemen there in the middle.

Dr Simon Anglim, War Studies:

Not entirely unrelated with the previous questions. Who in your opinion should the US be cultivating in the Middle East right now?


Thank you. and the gentleman here.


I wanted to ask you *inaudible* you cannot have missed the fact in Europe and in this country many people define themselves as progressive and almost as perfectly flawed, as anti or superior on a high level to an American, and sees American as the cause of all problems. I was wondering if you could talk about how that comes across to you.


I’m going to take this one first because it’s a quick easy answer. this is exactly what Donald Trump’s base was responding to when they elected Trump on an America first platform. let’s not simplify it this was something that was designed by Steven Bannon and Breitbart. This move towards nationalistic populism is not something that Donald Trump invented but something that he’s able to exploit because people feel like when they read that were being criticised and now everything that you write here whether its tweeted out or put in a major blog, all of that gets read and the more critical it is the more it gets circulated among the right-wing. so any criticism of a foreign actor about the united states will find its way into the conservative press and that is what drives people. we still have this sense of pride that we believe that we sacrificed a lot to save Europe and save the UK, that that’s not appreciated. we get this sense that our farm products are criticised as being unsafe. so anything that’s done in that community leads to a grievance list. that leads to further polarisation of our ability to connect countries and build alliances and so I spend a lot of my time explaining to people that I’m a Democrat but I don’t agree with AOC so I have the same problem on progressive politics in the US being a democrat so I think it had to be constant vigilance and communication. now in a sad news story, Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash Saturday or yesterday. when it went out on the internet people thought it was a hoax and so Americans are starting to be very cynical about what they read. we need to be more sceptical about what we read and make sure that it’s not reflective of majority opinions. and that’s why reunions, like the one we did in Normandy, are so important, where you see the outpouring of support among the french for the sacrifices of our American soldiers. so I would say yes it has an effect but it gets amplified because of social media.

Iran. you probably ask that questions know that I supported the Iranian JCPOA. I did that at the urging of every ambassador of every other country that was engaged in multilateral sanctions. unilateral sanctions will not work. so that is why it is so critically important that if we are going to use sanctions as a method of curtailing the aggressiveness of Iran we desperately need to be walking in lockstep. so our sanctions along with yours can only be secondary. we don’t do business, haven’t done business with Iran since the shah was deposed, since they took our people hostage. what I would say is that one of the concerns that we have with sanctions is that when over utilised and with digital currency now and with other ability to work around, if you don’t have a meeting of the minds, you don’t have a coalition that can be effective in sanctioning. it’s like saying were trying to control North Korea with sanctions. if china is not involved int hat regime sanctions can be ineffectual. there was a young man who was I think the smartest person I met when I was in Washington, he eventually became acting deputy of the treasury. he was single-handedly responsible for implementing the sanctions regime that led to the JCPOA. as you guys look at some local issues here, a local issue that is peculating in the united states is the traumatic brain injuries on 34 service members, understated as headaches as the president, but definitely raising the awareness that the attack was much more directed at American servicemen than what was thought in the past and I think just last night and again we saw bombing in Baghdad. I think that leaving the JCPOA unilaterally, was a colossal error, whether you disagree with it or not. I think engaging and staying with our allies, including in this case Russia and china, were absolutely critical in creating a secure regime.

on your question, we know that there are at least two proxy wars going on in the mid-east, one in Yemen and one in Syria. it is probably above my pay grade to understand how you sort all that out, but one thing I can say with certainty, the US will be on the side of Israel. there will be no distance between Israel’s policies and our policies. that’s the political reality. However, I will tell you that when you said “who is your greatest ally in the region”, it’s not even close. I think the trump administration is trying to build alliances with Saudi Arabia. recent reports say that they were selling them some pretty strategic information. I think that we need to be very careful. Bernie Sanders has led the way in Yemen, and that was something that the president knew that if he vetoed the resolution would probably get overridden. I think it’s complicated and I think that we’re making alliances without thinking about long term consequences of those alliances. if you asked me what the American public’s position on the Mid-East, its “get the hell out” with the exception of protecting Israel, that’s the only reason Americans would be supportive of staying in the region. now it’s being driven by something that we do in North Dakota called shell fracking. we no longer feel the need to be beholden, or find it necessary to import Saudi oil. so that’s a huge benefit that we have its one of the reasons why I led the effort to export American oil cause I believe that energy security is critical to making the right decisions in how we deal with the mid-east.


Thank you, I think we’ve got time for three more questions. so the gentleman there. the lady I saw indicate here earlier and this young man here.


I don’t know whether you are aware of how the British like to comfort themselves in believing that Britain has a special relationship with the US. as far as it does, to what extent to you feel such a relationship might be jeopardised if Britain goes ahead and purchases Huawei’s 5G technology.


and the lady here


Now I’ve got a US family, and when I’ve seen them recently, not in North Dakota, now I’m going to say two words for you and I want to see your reactions when I say, Donald Trump. the majority of the family go *inaudible* and the other half say “we support Trump” so what do think we should say to the Trump supporters or is it a lost cause.


and the young man here

Jackson Hughes: Jackson Hughes, thank you for your service for our country. Talking more broadly about party politics in our country right now, I believe, as I think many people do, another four years of President Trump is not in our bests interests. on the other side of the aisle, I’m not very hopeful with the democratic party right now. it seems like a very divided party at leas that the perception you get from the media, whether it’s about the tension between the primary candidates or the visibility of party fighting on social media. but it’s not every day I get the opportunity to ask a high ranking politician do you see that its a divided party? is it actually a divided party as perceived? could you just comment on the status on the democratic party right now?


Let’s start. I made this comment on the BBC: “you don’t see Donald Trump tweeting about it.” you see the secretary of state tweeting about it. I think that he is reserving his judgement on how much political capital he wants to spend. he knows this is a unique relationship he has with your prime minister he wants to preserve that relationship that is something that is different from different relationships that he has in other EU countries. so I think that you should be comforted a little bit by that fact. now I will tell you that American congress is deeply concerned about the Japanese system and whether there are trojan horses that are embedded in that system that may, in fact, compromise if your government uses them, our sharing of intel but I don’t think were anyway near that level. its interesting I make this point it was framed in sovereignty… that you’re giving up your sovereignty to china and I said sovereignty can be looked at in another way. are you giving your sovereignty to the US if you’re doing what the US asked you to do even though you think its not in your best interests? So this is a decision in the British law have to make I think secretary Pompeo if he’s not here already I think he will have higher-level talks. I find it unlikely that Britain will do what the Australians did but you guys know better than I do. but I would say there are legitimate reasons to be very concerned about Chinese technology. I’ll leave it at that.

Donald Trump. Just a little bit of an inside story I was invited to come to trump tower and have an interview for a cabinet position with the president. I declined that opportunity but I think that one of the mistakes people make about the president is that they do not see the consistency in a lot of his trajectory. he is always been anti-trade he won’t say it that way. trade, if it means he can put up building, is a good thing, right? trade if it means somebody else can put up a building, it may not be viewed the same way. I think that in order to defeat the president you have to understand his ability to motivate and connect with people. you have to figure out how you’re going to motivate and connect with people. so I wouldn’t say that if Donald Trump didn’t exist we wouldn’t be where we are right now, but he definitely is a product of a populist movement that has been organising for a lot of years in our country, that has definitely been there for a lot of years. if you look at what Bernie says and even Elizabeth, a lot of times it’s very similar to what Trump said. whether its attacking trade deals or whether it’s looking at ending never-ending wars. there are a lot of similarities and because of that, the president was able to peel off… The president will tell you that he is rabidly anti-wall street, and he will go and he will complain about wall street. but his policies just gave wall street $34 billion in tax relief for a year, so I think you have to not just look at the behaviour you have to look at the policies and a lot of that is for young people motivation on climate, motivation on safe drinking water, motivation on securing financial entities so that people aren’t taken advantage of. it’s taking a look at the bread and butter stuff, the stuff he’s doing on health care is very damaging, repealing the affordable care act with no replacement. so we are being very smart about how we are addressing the failures of this president. so to I don’t have a visceral reaction to the president one way or the other. the president is like a lot of politicians I’ve known, pretty self-interested but also very effective in moving his message. I don’t sit around and argue “i don’t want to go up against Lebron James, he’s a bad guy.” you figure out how you beat that guy and right now he is Lebron James of politics.

i think there are more and more people who are sharing your concern about the cohesiveness… it started out as kind of a snooze love fest because nobody would take anybody on. now it seems like everybody’s taking everybody on. it seems fairly impossible to move forward in a winning strategy. I think that there’s an interesting thing happening and that’s disruptors. what do I mean by that? Styers is a disruptor but I think Bloomberg is a much more effective disruptor and I think that Bloomberg will change the tone of this election. we will, a week from Tuesday, see what comes out of that and whose left standing and how do they reconnect. the formula is not just generating more support about the base. the formula has to be a broader more inclusive more positive message for the country and I think that is something we can definitely effectuate if we get it together.

Well, I want to thank you all, keep doing all the important work that you do. I will tell you that most Americans feel very close to the UK. most Americans feel very close to Canada even though we sanctioned them. I happen to like Canada quite a bit because I talk like one and everybody think that I’m Canadian, being from North Dakota. these relationships that will last well into the next 20 generations and I have no doubt about that because good people like you get together and discuss how we can maintaining communication and how we can maintain opportunity. so thank you all for letting me come and thank you for the opportunity to address you today.


Thank you so much for taking time out to be with us today. I think you’ve given us fascinating and very personal insight and we are very very grateful to you for that. thank you to all of you for coming today and I hope you have found it of great interest. unfortunately, as ever there is never enough time. we need to add a few more hours into each day. and a final thank you to the Henry Jackson Society for putting this on today and I hope we see you all back here again today. senator safe travel and enjoy the rest of your very brief stay in the United Kingdom. Thank you.


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