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Clinton Shifts The Battle Away From Sanders And Toward Republicans


The presidential voting on this day could mark an astonishing moment for both political parties. Republicans could move closer to nominating a candidate their party leaders oppose.


The spectacle of Donald Trump has overshadowed, somewhat, a Democratic campaign that is also distinct. Hillary Clinton will become the first woman to win a major party nomination if she can outlast Bernie Sanders, who wants to be the first Democratic socialist to do the same.

MONTAGNE: Clinton is leading, but she's faced a stronger challenge than many expected. The many Democrats thinking through the implications include Patti Solis Doyle. She was the manager of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and later advised President Obama. And she's here in our studio. Welcome.

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE: Thank you for having me.

MONTAGNE: Now, what does this campaign reveal, first of all, about the Democratic Party, your party?

DOYLE: Well, look. I think what came as a surprise to many of us, who are, you know, political pundits, political strategists, is just the level of frustration and anger in the electorate, both on - on both sides, on the Democratic side and on the Republican side. You know, the fact that a 74-year-old Democratic socialist gave and is giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money has been astonishing.

MONTAGNE: Well, why is the - may I say, 60-something - Hillary Clinton having trouble, so much trouble, especially with younger voters and women?

DOYLE: Well, look. I think the women that she's having trouble with are the younger women, the millennial women. I am a fellow at the Institute of Politics this quarter. And I speak to a lot of young women. And young women feel that of course there's going to be a woman elected president of the United States in their lifetime. That is a - that is not a question in their heart and in their minds. So they - for them, that's not the issue. For them, the issue is, who do I most connect with in terms of who I'm going to vote for.

MONTAGNE: Well, in a sense, why don't they connect to her? I know she's older than millennial women, but...

DOYLE: Well, because Bernie Sanders is preaching disruption while Hillary Clinton is preaching incremental change. And if you're a young person, disruption speaks much more to you than incremental change and pragmatism. But I do believe that once the primary is over and our party unites, whether it's going to be Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, I believe that the electorate, the Democratic electorate, will come together, particularly because of what's happening on the Republican side. There is so much bombast and rhetoric and - based in anger and hatred, that I think that the Democratic Party will unite against it.

MONTAGNE: Well, interesting, a late 2015 survey by Civis Analytics found that many Trump supporters are actually registered Democrats. What is turning them away from your party?

DOYLE: Well, again I think it's based on that frustration and anger with Washington, with politicians, with institutions of all kinds, whether it's the big banks, whether it's the media. I think that's where that is coming from. But I believe in my heart and in my mind that if it is a race in the general election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, not only will the Democratic electorate be enthusiastic and motivated to come out, but I think that many moderates and independents that sort of lean Republican will vote Democratic.

MONTAGNE: Well, should that come to be - and you're talking about the party coming together and the voters getting behind one of the candidates. Bernie Sanders is clearly a powerful political force. He's put pressure on Hillary Clinton to move to the left. How has she done that? And would that be appealing in a general election?

DOYLE: Bernie Sanders is an incredible political force. I mean, we saw reports this morning that he raised $41 million in the month of February alone. And that comes from donors, small donors - I mean not small donors, donors who are giving in small amounts. Twenty-seven dollars is the average. He has really resonated. And he has really hit an emotion with the electorate. However, the substance behind his policies, there's no real there, there yet. But so we give him a lot of credit for bringing a lot of enthusiasm and young people into the process that weren't there before. But, you know, the task in front of him going into Super Tuesday and going into the primaries after that is just - it's a tough path for him.

MONTAGNE: Well, so thank you very much for joining us. Of course, you're supporting Hillary Clinton. And...

DOYLE: ...Yes.

MONTAGNE: Yes, right. So today is a big day for her. Patti Solis Doyle was Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign manager. She also advised Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Thanks very much for joining us.

DOYLE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.