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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.

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.


United States


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.






Rahm Emanuel weighs in on 2020

Rahm Emanuel — former Chicago mayor and former chief of staff to President Barack Obama — talks to POLITICO founding editor John Harris about his new book, "The Nation City: Why Mayors Are Now Running the World," his "toy phone" in Bill Clinton's White House and his thoughts on the 2020 field.


A new tone from some in GOP on climate change -- but mostly behind closed doors

We're bringing you an episode of POLITICO's Global Translations, a show about big global problems that will take a certain amount of creativity to solve. Driven by a public clamoring for action and pressure from corporate CEOs, lawmakers are noting an evolution in attitudes toward climate action among some of their Republican colleagues – a subtle but significant shift in tone that could pave the way for modest legislation this year. Guests include:Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)Rep. Francis...


Which 2020 Democrat should Donald Trump most be afraid of?

To get the inside view from the only people in the world who know what it’s like to run in a primary field so large -- and do so in the shadow of Donald Trump -- we invited the strategists for four of the top GOP primary campaigns of 2016 into a Washington cigar bar, a literal smoke-filled room, to talk shop. Which Democratic candidate has the most raw political talent? What weaknesses of Donald Trump's would they exploit in 2020? And why is everybody still so ticked off about the Virginia...


This is what Kirsten Gillibrand hates about running for president

Kirsten Gillibrand is a U.S. Senator with a soaring national profile, but her presidential campaign has yet to take flight. She’s even at risk of failing to have enough donors to make the debate stage under DNC rules, leading her to ask people for just a dollar, to boost her numbers. But that’s not what bothers her most about running for president.


Is John Hickenlooper too normal to be president?

In a crowded field of Democratic presidential contenders, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper makes an impression on voters as a genuine candidate, even if he's a bit quirky. He colors outside the lines of the political conventions -- a geologist by training, a brewer and restauranteur by profession, and a politician only later in life. In this episode, he talks about his temper as a child, his pragmatic approach to politics, and how he's managed to succeed in a people-driven business...


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.


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 escalation,”...


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 himself...


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 the...


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 network....


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 would...