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Jennifer Palmieri on the New Hampshire Primaries and 2024

Jennifer Palmieri on the New Hampshire Primaries and 2024

Jennifer Palmieri joins the show to talk about the New Hampshire primaries, the state of the 2024 race, and the issues that will matter on the campaign trail.

Part of a Series

Jennifer Palmieri joins the show to talk about the New Hampshire primaries, the state of the 2024 race, and the issues that will matter on the campaign trail. Daniella and Colin also discuss former President Donald Trump and the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

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, I know you have been going through tissues, sucking down the NyQuil and the DayQuil, doing all the things to make yourself feel better because cold season—cold saison—is upon us. And I’m not just talking about the weather.

Gibbs Léger: For real. I feel like I’ve had some variation of a cold since December. And really, I’m kind of done.

Seeberger: I think that’s fair.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, exactly. Now, I know it’s going to get weirdly warm here again, because it is D.C. in January so of course the weather is going to be weird. But then people are saying that we might have record snows in February. I reject that. I don’t want to hear that.

Seeberger: Well, I will enjoy a heat wave while it’s upon us. We take them in January when we can get them. But yeah, hopefully that will help relieve some of the sickness that’s in the air because it has been nonstop.

Gibbs Léger: It’s been “hashtag a lot.” And I am glad to be back because we have a great episode this week. I talked to Jen Palmieri, my friend, former colleague, and all-around campaign pro, about the New Hampshire primaries, the state of the presidential race, and the impact issues like abortion and the economy will have on the elections this fall.

Seeberger: Super, super important topics, especially because November’s going to be sneaking up on us sooner than I’d really like to think. But before we dive into that, we’ve got to get to some news.

Gibbs Léger: We do, and we’ve got to talk about the elephant in the room, former President Trump, because, in case you haven’t heard, he won the New Hampshire Republican primary Tuesday night.

Seeberger: Whoever could have seen this coming, Daniella?

Gibbs Léger: I know, Colin. How weird! Who didn’t see it coming? But I have to get a couple of things off my chest. One, this Republican primary has been a joke. It’s worse than Aaron Rodgers’ short tenure as a starting quarterback for the New York Jets.

Seeberger: And that’s saying something.

Gibbs Léger: It sure is. And to be clear, I am no Aaron Rodgers fan, or Donald Trump fan for that matter. Not a single one of Trump’s challengers has driven home the threat that he poses to our democracy, to the rule of law, or to the freedoms we enjoy. And that’s not to mention his phony populism. But all of that changes now as the general election cycle effectively begins.

So, I want to be crystal clear with our listeners about something really important. And it’s something you’ve heard me say before, but it bears repeating. American voters have rejected MAGA extremism cycle after cycle, and the Republican Party refuses to learn this lesson, to their own detriment. Just look at the 2018 midterms, the 2020 elections, the 2022 midterms, or even last year’s elections as proof they are becoming the party of losers. And like clockwork, we see the writing on the wall this cycle. Recent polling out of Iowa showed that 43 percent of Nikki Haley supporters would back President Biden over former President Trump. And exit polls out of New Hampshire showed a whopping 88 percent of Nikki Haley voters would be dissatisfied if Trump were the Republican nominee. Other polls have shown President Biden up with independents over Trump by double digits. And while the election will unquestionably be close, polls have actually shown President Biden gaining steam in a potential head-to-head matchup with his former and likely future opponent. And that’s before many voters have really started digesting that Trump is the likely Republican nominee.

Seeberger: Like you said, Daniella, the writing is pretty much on the wall at this point. So, as we head into the third general election cycle with Trump at the top of the Republican ticket, I have a couple of observations for our friends in the media in the hopes that they don’t repeat some of the same mistakes covering Trump that were made in previous cycles. In a nutshell, press, my friends, your role heading into this election has never been more important. So far, Trump has navigated the primaries without having to answer pretty much any hard questions about his own personal conduct, or about the critical issues affecting the American people. He’s promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something great, something grand, but nine years later, where’s the plan, Donald? He’s promised to address the cost of living, but how’s he going to do that given that his proposals, like reigniting a tariff and trade war with China, would very likely cause cost to skyrocket? Trump says he can negotiate his way to the conclusion of any war—how would he do that in the Middle East between the Israelis and Hamas? Where’s the peace plan? I’m sure Jared’s on it. And isn’t it the definition of corruption that his businesses made $8 million—I repeat, $8 million—from foreign governments during his administration, most of which was from China? What’s his plan to ensure his administration is operating in the public interest next term if he’s elected? Yet again, we don’t know. And that’s why it’s incumbent upon the press to ask the hard questions the American people need answered about Donald Trump’s agenda should he win another term in the White House.

You may have seen this the other day: NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard really did a great job when he asked Trump surrogate [and] New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R) whether she believes E. Jean Carroll, the woman whom a New York jury found Trump liable of sexually assaulting and defaming. In a truly just disgusting move, the Trump campaign cut off Vaughn’s access to the former president in New Hampshire, ignoring his important obligation to the public as the pool reporter for the major networks. This is exactly the kind of behavior you see in dictatorships, in places like Venezuela, not democracies like America is supposed to be.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, it’s really alarming, Colin. And while we’re on the subject, I also have a suggestion for our reporter friends covering the presidential race. Yes, President Biden is old.

Seeberger: Breaking news, breaking news!

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, hello, breaking news. But if you’ve turned on your TV or picked up a newspaper in recent weeks, you’d have no idea that Donald Trump is just three-and-a-half years younger than Joe Biden.

Seeberger: Huh.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I know. Fancy that. And because of the media’s laser focus on President Biden, you also probably haven’t heard about all the gaffes—if we can call them that—that Trump’s been making on the campaign trail. In the past few months, Trump has forgotten what city he is in. He regularly mixes up Nikki Haley and [former Rep.] Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on the campaign trail. He often confuses President Biden and former President [Barack] Obama, and has repeatedly said he’s beaten former President Obama in a past election when, of course, he’s never run against him. Trump has said President Biden could start World War II, a war that was already fought over 80 years ago. He often mixes up the leaders of foreign countries, like when he recently called the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, the leader of Turkey. He said Turkey borders Russia and Ukraine when any map will show you that it does not. And in very recent weeks, he’s also praised terrorist groups like Hezbollah, calling them quote, “very smart.” If the media is going to report on candidates’ ages, fine. But they have got to fix this stark difference in their coverage of Trump and Biden.

Seeberger: They sure do. And speaking of things I’d love the press to focus on, can I just say, Vice President [Kamala] Harris has been on fire lately.

Gibbs Léger: Yes, she sure has, and you love to see it.

Seeberger: I do indeed. The vice president was in Virginia on Tuesday at a rally with President Biden commemorating the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The date has become a sober reminder that Americans today are growing up with fewer reproductive rights and freedoms than their parents or their grandparents because MAGA Republicans and their lackeys on the Supreme Court ripped away those rights when they overturned Roe v. Wade just two years ago. Since then, 21 states have eliminated abortion care or restricted access for those who need it. These cruel, cruel bans not only block people from making decisions about their own bodies and families, but they also interfere with their ability to access medical care, sometimes even forcing them to carry nonviable pregnancies to term or even near death. And we’re already seeing the repercussions play out as the stories of people affected by these bans come to light. Their experiences are just horrifying to read about, but they show clearly the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision and what will happen if MAGA Republicans continue to get their way and enact a national abortion ban.

Gibbs Léger: They do, Colin. Take, for example, what happened in Texas to 31-year-old Kate Cox, a mother of two who had to file a lawsuit to try and end a pregnancy her doctor said was threatening her life. The Texas Supreme Court ruled against her, and she had to flee the state in order to get the lifesaving care that she needed.

Meanwhile, in Florida, Deborah [Dorbert] was told when she was 24 weeks pregnant that her fetus had no kidneys and would either be stillborn or die shortly after birth. But because of the state that she lives in, her doctors avoided providing abortion care because they were scared of facing legal consequences. As a result, Deborah had to carry the pregnancy to term, and her baby, who was born alive, passed away an hour and a half later. She is understandably traumatized from the experience and isn’t sure she’ll ever try to get pregnant again despite wanting her son to have a sibling.

And back in Texas, a woman named Yennifer Glick, who had a high-risk pregnancy due to preexisting conditions, died two weeks after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Despite five separate emergency room visits as her breathing and blood pressure worsened, none of her doctors discussed whether an abortion might be necessary to save her life. Yennifer was found dead, and the autopsy says her pregnancy was a contributing factor. Instead of throwing Yennifer the baby shower they’d been planning, her family had to plan her funeral.

Seeberger: These are just horrific stories that unfortunately have to be told because the right to proper reproductive care has been stripped away by MAGA Republicans. I actually just saw earlier this week that President Biden and Vice President Harris are actually inviting Kate Cox to sit with the first lady during the president’s upcoming State of the Union address. I can’t think of a better platform for the American people to get acquainted with what MAGA Republicans have wrought, as well as what kind of trauma these extremists in our courts are inflicting on women who are facing this personal devastation. Pregnant people are being forced to experience severe complications in trying to access care, or having to flee to other states to get health care they need and being criminally prosecuted for miscarrying—no joke, this literally happened in Ohio—and are even dying because their doctors are too scared to provide them the health care they need. And the most sickening part of it is that MAGA Republicans, they don’t have a problem with it. In fact, it’s their goal. They continue to sacrifice the lives and well-being of their constituents to pursue an out-of-touch, dangerous agenda, despite overwhelming evidence showing the harms abortion bans cause. And as we’ve heard Vice President Harris say over and over again, how dare they. This is just some of what’s at stake this year. Our freedoms and our rights are literally on the line.

Well, on that somber note, that’s 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.

Gibbs Léger: And stick around for my interview with Jen Palmieri in just a beat.

[Musical transition]

Gibbs Léger: Jennifer Palmieri is a renowned communications expert and political strategist. She served as a communications director for President Obama and was head of communications for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. She also served as senior vice president for communications and advocacy at the Center for American Progress. She currently hosts the MSNBC podcast “How to Win 2024,” co-hosted the Showtime series “The Circus,” and is the author of The New York Times bestseller, Dear Madam President.

Jennifer Palmieri, thanks so much for joining us on “The Tent.”

Jennifer Palmieri: Oh my god, Daniella, it’s such a pleasure.

Gibbs Léger: [Laughter].

Palmieri: Exactly. We must greet each other and giggle.

Gibbs Léger: I know. All right, we’ll get serious. Here we go. So, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the New Hampshire primaries were Tuesday night. Can you break down the headlines and what your key takeaways are?

Palmieri: So, I think that the whole Republican primary has been fantasy football. It’s this, like—right, we’re two big football fans, we can relate—and it blows my mind because normally—I’m a Democrat, but I can’t understand what Republican candidates are thinking. And I really—other than the rapture coming, as Rachel Maddow has said—I really just don’t understand. I just don’t get the whole strategy of what [Gov. Ron] DeSantis (R-FL) and Haley and the rest of the sort of tier-two folks were ever thinking.

So, he’s going to be the nominee, but I think that the two contests we’ve seen thus far with Iowa and New Hampshire are interesting, in as much as they relate, what they tell us about the general election, right? So, in New Hampshire—and I was on MSNBC until very late in the night and had a lot of time to talk with David Plouffe behind the scenes, which is always the best part of MSNBC election eight coverage for me, because he’s wicked smart, about, we were just sort of remarking on how, in this last two weeks, we’ve seen a pretty big pool of voters—whether they’re former Republicans, Republicans, independents—that have expressed that they were not willing to either vote for Trump in the general or won’t vote for him if he is convicted. And that seems like a bigger, like that pool of voters might actually be bigger than it was in 2020. You know, that’s a big deal. And to only—Joe Biden got 67 percent, I think, of the vote in his write-in campaign last night. By the way, that was a super hard thing to do. Can you imagine if you were in charge of that campaign?

Gibbs Léger: Yes, awful. Just no.

Palmieri: “Hi, I know we have destroyed your state’s heritage and economy by pulling the New Hampshire primary out, but we’re going to need you to run a write-in campaign for us, for the guy who dissed your state.” But if Biden—Trump’s basically the incumbent. He’s coming in around 50. That’s not great. It’s not strong. If you look at the results from Iowa and New Hampshire, there’s reason to believe that moderates—particularly well-educated moderates—have a lot of concerns about him, maybe even more so than ‘20. Those are really important pockets of voters for ’24. So, that’s what I find notable. That, and then it’s just like, the rest of it is all super cringy. She’ll [Haley] probably come out—I don’t know what she’ll do. I don’t know if she’ll come in and endorse him the same day as DeSantis—the same day as she drops out, as DeSantis did. But they just reinforce Trump’s message when they run against him and then days later stand up onstage with him. Right?

Gibbs Léger: Yeah.

Palmieri: It’s just reinforcing, like, “It’s all a game. This is all rigged. No one says what they mean. Everybody lies. Everyone’s in on the joke.” And I feel like that’s just really corrosive.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I think I get twitchy whenever I hear MSNBC’s election music.

Palmieri: Oh my god, totally.

Gibbs Léger: It triggers something in me. I’m like, oh my gosh. But here we are. Basically, the general election has started, so I want to talk about what you think the Biden folks need to do if they want to be successful during this cycle. Now, understanding that this is very different than 2012, but are there any comparisons that we can draw to that period the last time a Democratic president successfully ran for four more years?

Palmieri: No.

Gibbs Léger: [Laughter]. OK.

Palmieri: Right? Politics clearly has changed dramatically from when we were running against [Sen.] Mitt Romney (R-UT). It just blows my mind. But some of the metrics remain the same. Like, you got your battleground states, you got your persuadable voters within the battleground states, and then you have—as we had in 2000, from ’08 to ’12, from ’20 to ’24—where you’ve had drop-off. I mean, the thing that is helpful for Biden, which was not quite what we faced in ’12, is Biden’s drop-off—why he’s not doing as well in the polls as Trump in some states—is people who voted for Biden in ’20 not supporting him now. So, that’s sort of discouraging, but also, I think it’s a lot easier to get people back that you had before than it is to persuade people who have never been for you, particularly when it’s this polarized and the stakes are so high.

I mean, the charge that President Obama had in ’12 was that he had to prove to people that the economic recovery was underway. You remember all the debates about, can we say we’ve turned a corner? Can we say—do we see the corner? The corner is, like, coming into view. Now you can say you’ve turned the corner. But the point being, the president took a lot of tough steps to get the economy back on track, and it is getting better, and you should continue to support him because in the second term, he’ll be able to build on that. Like that dynamic is the same for Biden. So, I think he has the same charge to prove.

And even if it’s not that people think that their own lives have already gotten better, but when you’re the team that’s fighting for democracy, I think you really have to prove, “I have a credible plan. Government can work. We can solve, we can actually come together and solve problems. We’ve done that. We’ve built a new foundation and have faith that he’s got a plan and it’s working.” And then you have—I think that’s what you need to do on the sort of get-out-the-vote side to try to win back voters that were with you in ’20.

And then you have the contrast where I think probably most of the bulk of what we see happening in the campaign will probably be the contrast with Trump. But I think that the work that the campaign is actually going to be doing and most of what the staff is going to be focused on, and what the digital campaigns are going to be about, it’s going to be about telling Black voters, young voters, Hispanic voters—and I’ve seen they started, some of this is stealthy or I don’t know if it’s meant to be secret, but it’s just not getting as much pickup. But when the president went to South Carolina, for example, there’s a lot of amplification about what your vote—if you voted for Joe Biden—what it delivered. And the vice president does this really well. Like, here’s, you voted and because you did, this is what’s changed. And to make the connection to people that this isn’t just a vote against Trump, that things have actually, we delivered for you and your vote matters. And they’ve started that [at] the end of last year. I’ve seen that happening in January, I think the campaign, the Biden team, is acting like the general election started on January 5, the day he did that January 6 speech in Valley Forge. And they’re not waiting for, “Oh, who’s going to be the Republican nominee?”

Gibbs Léger: Right, no, that writing has definitely been on the wall. I want to touch on, you talked about coalitions, and sort of the folks who are, like—the Republicans—who are weary of Trump. And is there, is it worth, what should this campaign be doing to bring in the anti-MAGA coalition, if you will? Like, what kind of work should be put in there?

Palmieri: So, the thing that’s good—I mean, a fractured ecosystem, media ecosystem, is so hard to deal with. But I think the thing that’s helpful is, you don’t have to worry about presenting an inconsistent message to the public. It’s like, no one’s going to say, “Oh, I don’t understand what their priority is because on the evening news last night I saw them talking about border security, but then I also saw them talking about climate change.” So, you can communicate—and there’s a ton of data out there—so, you can be very targeted in your communications with people on issues that you know that they care about.

I think this piece, trying to convince the anti-MAGA coalition or anti-MAGA types to be part of this coalition is probably going to need, a lot of it will be the president himself. They signaled that that was the big concern because that was the first speech that he did. I think we just—D, like, we haven’t been able to process what the trials are going to mean. Like the January 6 committee hearings in the summer of ’22, we’ll recall, those were a big deal and they had a big impact on people’s—and then you saw in the fall, that plus Roe, I think, had a big impact in how the midterms turned out. So, it’s not as if the president’s going to be weighing in on President Trump’s trials. But it will be, you know, the zeitgeists will be all around that. And when you’re giving speeches on the threats to people’s rights, and the threats to the republic, that is going to tie up with—particularly because the January 6 case, presumably, will be first. I think that a lot of his actual—which isn’t to say that the president is ignoring, going to ignore the other voting demographics that they need to reach out to, but because his trials are going to be so much in the news and because Trump himself is going to make that a centerpiece, I think that that part of the campaign will be very loud, and independent voters will be hearing that probably all the time. And it’s like the more underground, hard work of persuading voters that he had in ’20 that he delivered for them and there is a reason to turn out in ’24 beyond Trump being the president, that’s the long, hard slog that perhaps, unless you’re one of the people being targeted, you’re not even going to see.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah. There’s an old adage in politics that I know you know well: It’s the economy, stupid. So, on paper, the economy is definitely starting to do better. But people are still feeling malaise about their finances and the trajectory of our economic recovery. So, how do you talk about recent economic wins and all the good stuff that’s happening without telling people that what they’re feeling isn’t true?

Palmieri: I know, I know. This is one thing I think they can do better. And I have a suggestion. I’m not just going to complain about it like some people do. So, it’s interesting. Apparently, from what I’ve heard from economists is that it kind of takes—I mean, the fundamental problem is that prices continue to be higher now than they were when Donald Trump was president.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah.

Palmieri: OK, that’s just that, and the Fed [Federal Reserve]. When interest rates go up, we know that the Fed is independent, and they’re not checking in with Joe Biden on what they do. Nobody else knows that, right?

Gibbs Léger: Right.

Palmieri: When interest rates go up, they think that’s Joe Biden’s economic policy. And then, of course, gas prices. But what economists say is that normally, in other times when we’ve had bouts of inflation, it’s taken two years for people to sort of reset their expectations on what things cost. And we should be hitting two years in terms of goods being at a higher cost around the fall of ’24. So, hopefully, people are kind of reset around that. Just like even in the last week, just, wow, it seems to be taking hold about, like, the stock market’s doing better, and consumer sentiment is better. And it may take hold.

The thing that I think the White House—that I don’t really see them doing—that I think could help is, Donald Trump reflects everything that’s terrible in people’s lives, and the president should reflect everything that’s going well in people’s lives. So, Reagan didn’t say it’s morning in the Reagan White House, he said it was morning in America. Like, let America take a victory lap, pat them on the back. Like, only in this country, could we come back from the hit that COVID delivered stronger than any other economy, stronger than all of our counterparts in Europe, because of your hard work, and you got your family through this. And because you did your hard work, and we were able to come together and get a whole new foundation to our economy put in place. And there’s going to be jobs and development coming out of that for decades. And we’re going to have the semiconductor plants. We’re going to have cleaner energy, we’re going to have all these things.

But make it a—I think people just are so unnerved by all that has happened, both economically and in our politics in the last six years. They need a little reassuring. And don’t make it a Biden win, make it an America win: You did this. And I feel like that gives people, that might, that’s going to boost people’s own confidence, make them feel better, and make people feel like they’re a part of something. Trump is good at building a good community that feels like—that people really want to be a part of and feel valued in. And I think that Biden could do the inverse of that [make America a better community].

Gibbs Léger: I think that is really excellent advice that should be shared. So, as we know, you worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. And she, of course, was the first female candidate of a major political party for president. So, we like to end these interviews on a more positive note when we can, and I am curious for your take on Vice President Harris and the role that you anticipate that she’ll play in the campaign this year.

Palmieri: I think this sounds bonkers given, sort of in the political media ecosystem, how she’s viewed, but I think you’ll agree with it. She is poised to be the most important running mate that we’ve had in modern political history. Because the voters that Biden has to win back are the voters that Kamala Harris does particularly well with and the issues that she’s focused on: abortion rights, voting rights, student loans. These are the issues that the voters that they’re so concerned about—young people, Black voters, Hispanic voters—that they care about. And she is able to—and I’ve been to, you never see them, of course, but I’ve been on the road with her when she does these college tours. And there is—I’m sorry, were there cheering crowds greeting Mike Pence when he was vice president? On the tarmac? I don’t believe there were! When he walked into a room, did 600 people, like, stand up in a rousing standing ovation with women crying because someone had come to Iowa to tell them it was really crappy that there’s now a six-week abortion ban, which I saw her do? No.

I think about, as you know, I think and write about women leaders all the time and talk to their team a lot about the incoming that she gets. My friend Errin Haines is writing a book about this, Twice As Hard, because she’s a woman and she’s Black. And so, how we absorb information about [Harris] and all that, she is battling terrible headwinds. But I think that, personally, her level of confidence and comfort—and when you see her and you’re around her and you’re at these events—I also went to London with her when she did the Bletchley Park AI [artificial intelligence] conference and she was phenomenal. Like, the headlines were about how she took Rishi Sunak, the U.K. prime minister, to school and everything was like, oh, she’s got to tone it down a little bit because she’s embarrassing all the other leaders because she was so commanding. Very commanding in a press conference where she had to deal with some tough questions about Gaza—which remains a huge, huge, huge problem for the Biden-Harris team, electorally, particularly with young voters—but parried that really, really well.

And so, I think at some point, the press will probably recognize this. I thought that last summer too. She was really crushing it after—remember when she went to Florida when DeSantis had this crazy book ban? She went to Jacksonville, and she was killing it. And then she did, I went with her to Des Moines, she had a great event there about abortion rights. And then like, boom! [The] New York Times comes in out of nowhere with another crappy story that just kind of took the air out of, the wind out of her sails for a while. But I feel like she’s back. And I think at some point, the press on that will turn. I know the White House, the Biden team, they all understand the value that she could have to this, to the reelect. And man, in the long arc of history, even 10 years from now, the first woman vice president and the first Black vice president. She’s going to be such an important historic figure and doing a great job. It’s never easy. That job was never easy.

Gibbs Léger: No, no, it’s not. And I agree she has been crushing it recently. And I am—I don’t know if excited is the right word whenever we’re talking about the 2024 general election, but yeah, but I am excited to see how she continues to do in this role. And we’ll be, you and I will be sitting there watching. It’s going to be an interesting couple of months.

Palmieri: Better than being—Daniella, it was 20 years ago that we were in the firehouse together in Columbus, Ohio.

Gibbs Léger: Oh my god.

Palmieri: Yes. That was 20 years ago.

Gibbs Léger: 20 years? Oh my God, excuse me. I’m going to go pass away now.

Palmieri: It was the 2004 campaign.

Gibbs Léger: It sure was.

Palmieri: Yes, friends, that’s not the first time we worked together, but it’s where our friendship was truly forged.

Gibbs Léger: It truly blossomed. Well, Jen, I want to thank you so much for joining us on “The Tent.”

Palmieri: Oh, my gosh, all of the pleasure.

Gibbs Léger: All right. And I’m sure we’ll talk soon.

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Gibbs Léger: As always, thanks for listening. Be sure to go back and check out previous episodes. Colin, we got a lot to talk about before we go. Let’s start with football and what a great weekend of games and all of America understanding why I and many others love Jason Kelce.

Seeberger: Yeah, you have to. I mean, you know me. I detest the Eagles. And the man has played on the Eagles for a number of years. But he is just such a doll and hilarious. And I loved, I saw the clip of him picking up the friend so she could—or sorry, the young girl—so she could meet Taylor. He’s just so sweet and charming.

Gibbs Léger: Such a girl dad.

Seeberger: Honestly, seems like he would be so much fun to hang out with.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I totally agree. And honestly, the one person who could take attention away from Taylor Swift is a shirtless Jason Kelce who no doubt had been pounding back the beers. I love that man. Unfortunately for the Bills, the outcome of that game wasn’t so great for them.

Seeberger: It certainly was not. I mean, just a few things on this. One, of course the Bills season was going to end this way. It’s the Bills, one. Two, Josh Allen, I feel like, was getting so much heat for the Bills’ loss and I think it was really unfair. His arm is ridiculous. I can’t believe some of the passes that he was making 70, 80 yards down the field. And some of them were right in the hands of the receivers and they just dropped the ball. I don’t think that the heat that he was getting was totally fair, and I hope that they make another run next year and hopefully can bounce back from what certainly was a tough loss, especially at home.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, as a Giants fan who has beaten the Bills, like, twice in the Super Bowl, I don’t really care too much about them. But I do feel bad for their long-suffering fans. I mean, you and I come from Super Bowl-winning traditions in the teams that we support, so I do feel for them that they have not tasted that sweet, sweet victory yet. But it seems like they’ve got almost all the components there. So, maybe next year will be their year. But for this year, who we got?

Seeberger: Justice for the two seeds, Daniella. Justice for the two seeds.

Gibbs Léger: I think I want the Chiefs to go to the Super Bowl because I want more Taylor and Travis content.

Seeberger: We need the “Tayvis” content.

Gibbs Léger: I don’t think they’re beating Baltimore. Baltimore seems just incredible. They’re playing their best football at the best possible time. And I think they’re going to run into a buzzsaw with that defense. So, my bet is that it’s going to be Baltimore and man, I want it to be the Lions so bad, please. I think all of America wants it to be the Lions. We’ll see, we’ll see.

Seeberger: Hear, hear. The Lions, I am putting all of my hopes and dreams and everything in your hands, please do not screw it up. And I totally agree. We have to keep the Tayvis content coming so, Mahomes, Travis, don’t fail us now. Hey, I saw Mahomes played his first playoff road game this past weekend against the Bills, which is shocking because the guy has played, like, 16 playoff games before, but hey, you know what? He’s one on one on the road in the playoffs.

Gibbs Léger: Exactly.

Seeberger: So, let’s go two for two. Let’s double down.

Gibbs Léger: He is undefeated. Speaking of undefeated, let’s see if I can make this a transition. My love for Joey is undefeated, for “The Bachelor.”

Seeberger: Joey from “The Bachelor,” of course, yes.

Gibbs Léger: Yes, there we go. That was rough, but I made it work. Ooh, I’m so excited for this.

Seeberger: I knew where you were going.

Gibbs Léger: Thank you. What did you think of the first episode?

Seeberger: I thought, one, he is spectacular. He had, I think, some really amazing women, and then I think he had his fair share of what seemed to be producer plants and kind of gimmicks. Like, they have a pair of sisters that are competing as contestants secretly. Like, come on, y’all. Really? I thought that was a little much.

Gibbs Léger: It’s a lot much, like ick! 

Seeberger: OK, fair. It is a lot much. I thought the girl who—I think her name is Autumn—who like, jumped out of the limo throwing leaves around.

Gibbs Léger: It was stupid.

Seeberger: Right? I mean, I was like, who are you, Mother Nature? It was a lot. But I think he’s going to find somebody good, and I think the season is going to be a success. We may have another “Bachelor” wedding coming.

Gibbs Léger: I certainly hope so. He just seems so grounded and like a nice person. And like you said, I think a lot of those girls were clearly there for the right reasons. Then you had the stunts, like the sisters. Which, by the way, I have a sister. The thought of me and her dating the same person literally makes me want to throw up in my mouth. But I’m excited for the season. OK, last thing is Oscar nominations were just announced this week. Bit of a controversy here in that Greta Gerwig did not get nominated for best director for “Barbie” and Margot Robbie did not get nominated for best actress. I have lots of feelings about this. But my biggest feeling is for Greta Gerwig not getting nominated. The director’s category has typically been the toughest nut to crack when it comes to not being white men. So, I was not surprised. But given what a juggernaut, and critically acclaimed “Barbie” was and to be nominated for best picture, but you’re not going to do the director? The math isn’t mathing for me.

Seeberger: Yeah, I thought it was kind of ridiculous. I will say, both of them, I think—but especially Greta Gerwig—should have been nominated. But I will say, some people are dumping on Ryan Gosling. I’m sorry, I think he deserved, he deserved it. I thought his performance truly was exceptional and he very much earned the nomination he received.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, 100 percent, people need to leave him alone because his character was written so well and he acted the hell out of it, and I will not stand for any Ryan Gosling slander around me. Will not stand for it. But I am excited to watch. I don’t know if we know who the host is yet. Anyway, I don’t watch for the host. I watch for the awards and the outfits and I’m very excited about all of that.

Seeberger: The fashion.

Gibbs Léger: The fashion, yes. Alright, that’s going to do for us this week. As we said, it’s still cold season out there. So, take care of yourselves and we will talk to you next week.

[Musical transition]

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.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Daniella Gibbs Léger

Executive Vice President, Communications and Strategy


Colin Seeberger

Senior Adviser, Communications

Erin Phillips

Broadcast Media Manager

Kelly McCoy

Senior Director of Broadcast Communications

Mishka Espey

Senior Manager, Media Relations

Jennifer M. Palmieri

Executive Vice President, Communications and Advocacy



Explore The Series

Politics. Policy. Progress. All under one big tent. Produced by CAP Action, “The Tent” is a news and politics podcast hosted by Daniella Gibbs Léger and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Listen each Thursday for episodes exploring topics that progressives are focused on.


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