Daniella Gibbs Léger: Hey everyone, welcome back to “The Tent,” your place for politics, policy, and progress. I’m Daniella Gibbs Léger.
Colin Seeberger: And I’m Colin Seeberger. Daniella, it is almost Christmas.
Gibbs Léger: I know. And I’m still not ready. I don’t have any more shopping to do, but I’m going away. I need to pack, and I need to make sure that the gifts that I’m bringing for my child are packed in a way that he won’t see them, and because I have the nosiest child known to mankind, this is going to be a bit of a challenge. But yeah, I guess I’m up for it.
Seeberger: As a former nosy child myself, I understand your struggles. So, I do get it and wish you well with all your packing. I’ve got to do our packing, too, because we are headed to Texas to go visit some family, which I’m super stoked about. But we’ve also got one more interview for our listeners this year before we take a break next week for the holidays. I heard you spoke with someone about the recent attacks we’re seeing on abortion rights.
Gibbs Léger: That’s right. I chatted with Christina Reynolds from EMILYs list about the state of abortion rights post-Roe and what it all means for the 2024 elections.
Seeberger: It sounds like a really important conversation to round out 2023 and couldn’t be more timely as we’re seeing individuals like Kate Cox and others grapple with these extreme abortion bans. But before we get to that, I want to do something special this week and look back at some of our favorite interviews from the pod this year.
Gibbs Léger: Yes, let’s do it. One that’s really top of mind for me right now is our conversation with “Strict Scrutiny” host Leah Litman in October. She talked about the dangers posed by the far-right MAGA Supreme Court and what we might see play out in their recent term. Here she is.
Leah Litman, in a previous interview on “The Tent”: It’s not just that the court is a kind of minoritarian institution that’s insulated from politics. It’s that this court has views that are pretty far to the right of where the median American voter is.
Seeberger: She’s so right. I mean, this Supreme Court is dominated by a MAGA majority that’s really—let’s call it what it is—engaging in judicial activism. They’re handing down rulings that shape policy in a way most Americans fundamentally disagree with. And it’s something we’re continuing to see play out now with the arguments that the court heard this fall and the decisions that it’s likely to hand down this spring. Just a few weeks ago, the justices questioned whether it was necessary to stop domestic abusers from accessing firearms. That case, United States v. Rahimi, could have profound implications for public safety with the rate of gun violence already unacceptably high in this country. Case in point, there’s a reason why at least 87 percent of Americans say background checks and other commonsense gun laws have their full-throated support.
And just recently, the court agreed to take up a case that could restrict access to mifepristone, one of the most commonly used medication abortion drugs. And given these are the same justices that overturned Roe v. Wade, I’m pretty worried about what the court might do here, both for the ability of women to receive abortion care, but also how this ruling could give a green light to conspiracy theorist and extremists to further politicize medicine in the United States.
And bringing you some really big, really breaking news here, the Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday disqualified Donald Trump from its state ballot, citing the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says that anyone who engaged in an insurrection can’t be elected to serve in government. The Trump campaign has already announced plans to challenge the ruling, and most expect this is going to quickly wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Knowing who sits on the bench, though, I won’t hold my breath waiting for them to reach the right decision.
Gibbs Léger: So true, Colin. Let’s be clear, MAGA Republicans stacked this court with far-right justices and are using them to ram through an agenda they could not pass through Congress. And these positions are so out of touch with what the American people want. Speaking of MAGA Republicans, we saw a lot of chaos in the House of Representatives this year. Their growing extremism caused us to careen from one near catastrophe to the next. They dragged their feet electing [Rep.] Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker of the House before quickly giving him the boot when he didn’t fall in line with their radical demands. Twice they’ve abused their power to hold the government hostage this year, pushing us to the brink of a default crisis and then a government shutdown. We spoke with the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young, about their tactics back in August. Here she is.
Director Shalanda Young, in a previous interview on “The Tent”: So in order to lift the debt ceiling, Republicans insisted on a deal on funding the government. And we came to the table, knowing how bad default would be, entered into good faith negotiations, and came up with what would have been effectively a freeze for most government programs—defense would have gone up. And so it should be easy. We have the top lines to fund the government at Republicans’ insistence. And guess what? Some people don’t like the deal. They think the deal spends too much money, and they want to renege on that deal.
Seeberger: It’s even more infuriating to hear this timeline from someone who worked on that deal to make sure that we didn’t default on our debts, while also trying to protect the programs Americans rely on from Republican attacks. And this government shutdown fight, unfortunately it’s not over. It’s following us into 2024. Speaker of the House MAGA Mike Johnson (R-LA) apparently doesn’t care about the deal House Republicans previously struck with President Biden. He’s continuing to punt on passing a funding bill in order to enact even steeper cuts than what the House already agreed to. This will all come to a head early next year when their latest plan to keep the government open is going to come to an end.
Gibbs Léger: It’s truly outrageous, especially at a time when the American people just want economic relief. And it’s in stark contrast to what the Biden administration is doing on that front by prioritizing lowering costs and growing the middle class. In March, we caught up with White House Economic Adviser Gene Sperling on the president’s economic progress and vision.
Gene Sperling, in a previous episode of “The Tent”: So I think we have to understand that there’s a real reason why a lot of people have felt a little frustrated. But it’s important for people to understand that because of what President Biden did, we’ve been able to at least make sure that virtually every American who wants to work is working, that many people have been able to get raises, have been able to find jobs that are stronger. And that’s extremely important for our economy, for people’s lives, for their opportunities.
Gibbs Léger: Gene does such a great job communicating why Americans still feel economic pressure, but also why the president’s landmark economic bills like the Inflation Reduction Act are making a difference. And I’m hopeful that in 2024, people will continue to feel more of the impact of his legislative accomplishments as inflation cools and prices overall continue to come back down.
Seeberger: That’s absolutely right. And it’s something we’re going to be really focused on as we head into next year. It’s clear that the president is planning new ways to lower cost for Americans even more, whether that’s cracking down on junk fees or continuing to go after special interests like Big Pharma.
Gibbs Léger: Yes, I am also predicting 2024 is going to be another big year for our economy. Well, that is all the time we have for today. If there’s anything else you’d like us to cover on the pod, hit us up on Twitter @TheTentPod, that’s @TheTentPod. And stick around for my interview with Christina Reynolds in just a beat.
Gibbs Léger: Christina Reynolds is a senior vice president of communications and content at EMILYs List. She previously served as deputy communications director at Hillary for America. Before that, she was the White House director of media affairs and special assistant to President Obama, and director of rapid response at Obama for America. She’s also held senior research roles at the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and the DNC [Democratic National Committee].
Christina, thanks so much for joining us on “The Tent.”
Christina Reynolds: So excited to be here and so excited to talk about this critical topic for this election.
Gibbs Léger: Yes, so let’s get right into it. Abortion is back in the headlines in a very big way. Kate Cox in Texas, women in states like Kentucky are suing for abortion access, and other states like Missouri are trying to criminalize the procedure. So, from your perspective, and in light of these recent headlines, what does the post-Roe abortion landscape look like right now, particularly in red states that have tried to restrict access?
Reynolds: What we’ve seen around the country and the impact of this has been immediate. For people who need abortion care and can’t access it, it has gotten significantly harder, and in some cases impossible. And what we’ve seen politically is that Republicans want to end abortion, overturning Roe was their goal. They got that and now they’re going to go even further. And we’re seeing that in cases like the Kate Cox case in Texas, like the Brittany Watts case in [Ohio]. These are all situations where Republicans are trying to take away our decisions in terms of when or if to start or add to your family, in terms of your bodily autonomy, in terms of your health care. All of those decisions they want to give to people in the government, they want to give to Ken Paxton (R)—the Texas attorney general—or to the police in Brittany Watts’ case, who has been charged effectively with having a miscarriage. This is the Republican goal, and they’re going to keep fighting until they take away that right for everyone. And we, as Democrats, are going to keep fighting until we protect that right and make sure that the decisions are where they belong, which is with us.
Gibbs Léger: So, in the wake of the Dobbs decision, many states have put the issue of abortion on the ballot. And every single time, even in ruby red states, voters have opted to protect abortion rights. So, what is the salience of this issue a year and a half out from Dobbs?
Reynolds: It turns out, people don’t like it when you take away their rights, and they notice if they have not come back. I get a lot of questions, I will talk to reporters or talk to sometimes pundits, and they’ll say, “Well, yeah, but will this issue still matter?” And election after election shows us that it still matters. But it’s really quite simple. If you are in a situation where you would like to have a certain right—i.e., your own bodily autonomy, i.e., your abortion rights—if you want reproductive freedom, you are aware right now of whether or not you have it. And in many, many states in the country, you don’t have it, and in every state in the country, it’s at risk. And so, yes, it still matters. I don’t know how many—you mentioned state after state, in ruby red states—we’re seven for seven in terms of states putting it on the ballot, and voters voting for it. And that’s not a shock to those of us who have been paying attention to polling for literally decades. But it is still somehow baffling to a certain conventional wisdom that says that abortion doesn’t matter. It absolutely matters. And it will continue to matter in 2024 and until we can make sure that this right is protected.
Gibbs Léger: Yeah, so let’s talk about 2024 because it’s literally here, and it’s clear that this issue could have serious impacts on next year’s elections up and down the ballot. So for people who care about abortion and reproductive health care, what should they be watching for next year? How should folks be communicating about these issues with the public?
Reynolds: Yeah, so first of all, the unfortunate news for you is that you have to watch for it in every race. Because as we’ve seen, we have mayors trying to ban abortion from their cities. We have governors and state legislatures trying to say you can’t leave the state to have an abortion. We have the Senate obviously votes for the Supreme Court, we have a Supreme Court that might overturn a very safe medication that is critical to medication abortions. It is happening up and down the ballot. And so you need to pay attention to where your elected officials and where your candidates are in terms of what they think about abortion rights. But I have to say the good news, such as it is, is that this is an incredibly motivating issue for some people who we as Democrats need to come out. So, when it comes to young people of both genders, they overwhelmingly support—I mean, by the way, as does all of America. The majority of Americans are pro-choice, and they believe that you should have this right to decide for yourself. But in addition to that, we should know that it is a motivating, like gets people out to vote, for younger voters. It is a motivating factor for many women, including independent women and some Republican women, where they will come out based on who’s going to protect their rights.
Gibbs Léger: So, let’s talk about that mobilization. In your work at EMILYs list, you obviously interface with a lot of female candidates. Have you seen an uptick in women running for office in the wake of Dobbs?
Reynolds: Well I’ll tell you, we get this question a lot. And the answer is no. But part of that is because in the wake of Trump, the number exploded so much, and women just haven’t stopped. I think some of it was women seeing what Trump could do. Those of us who worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign will probably never stop thinking about the times when we said that Donald Trump could overturn Roe. And certain, often male, pundits said we were being hyperbolic. Turns out, we were not hyperbolic. But a lot of women around the country believed us. They believed that he could jeopardize your health care. They believed that he would divide the country and could put democracy in danger. And so, they’ve been coming out for a while now. And we’re seeing that—what I would say—what Dobbs did is ensured that that continued. There’s a little bit of fatigue right now, I think, amongst progressives, that this has been hard. This has been a tough seven years, right? It just doesn’t stop, the assaults on democracy, the assaults on our rights, the assaults on progressive values. And so, there’s always the worry that at some point, people are going to slow down, they’re not going to be willing to run and put their name on the ballot or to volunteer for people. And the good news is, I think that progressives looked at Dobbs and said, “Nope, not today. Today, I’m going to keep going. Today, I’m going to keep putting my name on the ballot.” And we’re certainly seeing that with women. And the great news is I don’t think we’re in a space where we think of women candidates and candidates. If you close your eyes and think of a candidate—if I said, “Close your eyes and think of a candidate”—you might be just as likely to think of a Vice President Harris, or a [Sen.] Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), or an [Rep.] Emilia Sykes (D-OH) as you would to think of a dude. So, we’re thrilled with that. And I think things like Dobbs have made sure that that’s the case.
Gibbs Léger: You mentioned medication abortion, and I want to talk quickly about mifepristone, which is one of the drugs used in medication abortion. And we learned that the Supreme Court could hear a case about this. If the justices decide to limit access to mifepristone next spring, how do you see that impacting the elections?
Reynolds: I think it’s yet another reminder that we have to keep fighting this fight until the right is protected once again, because so much is at risk. If the Supreme Court rules against mifepristone, which is a very, very safe—and has been for decades—part of medication abortions, one, they are jeopardizing abortion care, not just in red states but across the country. And I think that’s the conservative goal is to make it harder for you to get abortion care. It’s just another reminder—and like I said, I’m not sure how many more reminders we need—but I do think—I mean, they’re beating us over the head with it right now—but I do think that it’s yet another thing that keeps this issue in the press, that keeps this issue in front of people, and that reminds everyone, Donald Trump said he was going to do this, and he did this. All those senators knew that he was going to name justices who would overturn Roe and fight to end abortion. And that’s exactly what he did and what they voted for. And we’re going to keep reminding them of it. Sorry, I get on my soapbox. And I just get …
Gibbs Léger: No, listen, it’s an important soapbox to be on because this election is going to be one of the most important ones of our lifetimes. Like you said, there are groups of extremist candidates that want to take us backwards and strip away our rights and take away our health care and tell us who we can love and much more, beyond just Donald Trump. You’ve worked in presidential campaigns before joining EMILYs List. So, how do we better crystallize the choice here for voters, especially people who are tired and tired of listening to what’s happening in D.C.? How do we make sure those voters know what’s at stake?
Reynolds: Well, let me just say, there’s two things. So, you know, I am an old opposition researcher, and I’ve done rapid response. And so, there’s a world in which I would start with, you got to hit the other side, you got to keep them honest. And that’s important. But let’s start with the most important thing, which is that we have to talk about the positive work that we’re doing. Disinformation experts will tell you it is one of the most important things out there. And it’s particularly true when you’re talking about candidates that are women and women of color. Because they get hit with so much crap—I will stay G-rated for your podcast, Daniella—and they get hit with so much crap that what they’re actually doing—their accomplishments, their work, their agenda—gets blotted out in the mind of voters. And so, it is incredibly important. Before we skip to the outrage of the other side—and it is a lot of outrage, I get it, I have to remind myself of this all the time—that we are sharing with our friends, sharing on social media the great stuff that is happening. For example, Vice President Harris just announced she’s doing a reproductive rights tour around the country. Let’s highlight that. Let’s make sure that we are showing that. When the administration does good stuff, we need to make sure that we’re lifting it up because the positive doesn’t get in the mainstream very much. And we have to make sure that we’re doing it and reminding people of what’s at stake.
The flip side is the Republicans can read a poll, it turns out. And they can read the literally hundreds of polls that tell them—and they can read election results which have not been on their side since Dobbs—and so, they have decided, as your friend and mine, Jennifer Palmieri, would say, “They think they have a comms problem, what they have is a problem problem.” What they have is an agenda problem. And they’re trying to fix it by rebranding. So, you’ve got them out there saying, “I don’t know if I’ll sign a federal abortion ban.” Spoiler alert: Yes, they will. No one is saying, “No, I oppose a federal abortion ban.” They are hemming and hawing in the hopes that you won’t notice, at the same time that they are, for example, if you’re Donald Trump, running ads in Iowa taking credit for overturning Roe. We can’t let them get away with that. We need to make sure that they can’t paper over their agenda and what they’ve done. The good news is voters see through it mostly. They did in Virginia, for example. But so, we have to do both, is the reality. We have to lift up the positive and then we have to hit back when they try—they’re going to lie to us. They are. And so, we have to make sure that we keep them honest.
Gibbs Léger: Well, Christina, I think that is a great place to end our interview, I want to thank you for joining us on “The Tent.” And get some rest. It’s going to be a busy 2024.
Reynolds: Thank you so much for having me.
Gibbs Léger: As always, thanks for listening. Be sure to go back and check out previous episodes. A note that there will not be a new episode next week as we are taking some time off. So, Colin, before we go, should we talk a little predictions for 2024?
Seeberger: You know, I’ve got some really radical ones here, Daniella. So, I would be happy to share with you and our listeners that I think that the University of Texas (UT) may pull out the national championship here. I just feel like the stars are aligning. We’re going to defy the naysayers. We’ve got a good, I think as good of a matchup as you can hope for our bowl game going up against Washington. So, I think that we can do this. And I think I’m going to be staying up way too late the night before we return to the offices on January 2, and will be cheering very, very loudly for my UT Longhorns. And we’re going to bring it home.
Gibbs Léger: Alright, good luck, I guess. I too have a sports-related prediction. That is that the Olympics are happening next year. That’s not the prediction. I’m very excited about them. My prediction is that Simone Biles is going to come back stronger and more awesome than ever and just continue her amazing comeback streak. And I am here for all of it. I am here for all the wonderful stories about the athletes, the way they always try to make you cry at least twice a day with these heartwarming stories of these folks and their journeys to the Olympics. And it’s going to be in Paris, so I guess I’ll get my Paris fix via the television next summer. But I’m excited about that.
Seeberger: I love Simone Biles and I love gay old Paris. So, you can count me in. I also have a pop culture prediction, too. And that is: I think Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce may get married. I’m just throwing it out there.
Gibbs Léger: Married? Married?
Gibbs Léger: Okay, I mean, can they move in together first? Can they get engaged? You think they’re going to get married?
Seeberger: They are already sharing holidays together and enjoying each other’s families and rooting each other on professionally. And I think it may just happen. Taylor is going to turn 35 next year. And that means she is going to be eligible to run for president if she wants to.
Gibbs Léger: Oh my God.
Seeberger: And hey, political parties will have competitive primaries going into 2028.
Gibbs Léger: Colin!
Seeberger: So, she needs a first spouse, and I think Travis would be a hoot. So, I look forward to seeing him on the campaign trail going into 2028.
Gibbs Léger: There’s so much to much to unpack there. Okay, well, listen, if they were to get married or even engaged next year, I don’t know, the internet just might melt. Like, it just might melt away. It will not be able to handle it.
Okay, I have to do a little quick rant. I know you didn’t watch this season of “Bachelor in Paradise,” and let me tell you, you don’t need to go back and watch it. You saved your time. Spoiler alert: Every couple has broken up from this season. The producers, they are booking the wrong people. These are folks who aren’t looking for love. They are not there for the right reasons. They are there to build their Instagram profiles and to get deals and stuff and for publicity. They are not folks who are ready to actually get engaged at the end of the show. So, it was garbage. And again, the fact that every single couple has broken up within two weeks of the show airing tells me it was ridiculous. Now, is redemption coming? I hope so because in January, we get the bachelor we all wanted, Colin. Joey.
Seeberger: It’s time for Joey.
Gibbs Léger: Oh, it’s his time to shine, and I am here for it.
Seeberger: I am super excited. I mean, Daniella, I could have told you that the contestants on “Bachelor in Paradise,” they were not ready for primetime and there for the right reasons. So I can’t quite say I’m too shocked. Honestly, having watched many seasons of “Bachelor in Paradise” before, I uniquely thought that this season’s cast was particularly …
Gibbs Léger: Yeah, bad. And like casting people who are on their seasons for an episode. Nobody cares about them. Nobody knows who they are. So the audience already isn’t invested. What a mess. Anyway, Joey, Joey, Joey—I’m so excited.
Seeberger: Joey has gotten his hair all done up. He is looking great and fabulous. He was also just such a mensch during his season with Charity. I look forward to seeing the women and how they build relationships with him, how he takes to not introducing Charity to his family but how he interacts with the women’s families, too. So, it’s going to be a lot of fun, I’m sure. And if not, then we’ll need more golden bachelors and will happily have to go searching for new Gerry’s.
Gibbs Léger: This is true. And let’s not forget the golden wedding is happening on January 4. I will be tuning in—cannot wait for that. Before we go, we want to say thank you and goodbye—but not really goodbye—to Sam Signorelli, our digital producer. She is leaving the podcast team.
Gibbs Léger: I know, boo. She is staying within the Center for American Progress Action Fund family, so yay! But we will miss her presence every week with us as we plan what we’re going to talk about and just her insights and her humor and her wrong takes on many, many things. But you know, Kelly’s still here, so we got that.
Seeberger: We can’t all be perfect, Daniella. Yes, Sam will be dearly, dearly missed and has brought so much fun vision for our team. And I am excited for her and her next steps, though. So, we’ll miss you on “The Tent,” but I know you’re going to knock it out of the park.
Gibbs Léger: Exactly. And Colin, I just want to say happy holidays and happy new year to you. It’s been great doing this with you over the past year, and I cannot wait for next year.
Seeberger: I’m grateful for you and for this entire team, and of course, our listeners, who I know are going to stick with us in 2024 when we’ve got one heck of a year ahead.
Gibbs Léger: We sure do, guys. So, get your rest over the break and we will talk to you in the new year.
Seeberger: Take care. Happy holidays.
Gibbs Léger: “The Tent” is a podcast from the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It’s hosted by me, Daniella Gibbs Léger, and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Erin Phillips is our lead producer. Kelly McCoy is our supervising producer. Em Espey is our booking producer. You can find us on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.