Democrats urge unity after Clinton clinches nomination

President's endorsement seeks to fire up party


This is a rush transcript from "Journal: Editorial Report," June 11, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST:  This week on the "Journal: Editorial Report," Hillary Clinton made history as she clinches the Democratic presidential nomination.  

And Donald Trump's efforts to unite the GOP hit a roadblock after his controversial comments about a federal judge. Can Republican leaders change the subject as they lay out their own policy agenda?

Plus, with rising premiums and shrinking options, Americans are feeling the Obamacare pinch.  We'll have an update after these headlines.


GIGOT:  Welcome to the "Journal: Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

Hillary Clinton clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, making history as the first woman to top the ticket of a major political party.  President Obama officially endorsed his former secretary of state in a video released on Thursday, saying he is fired up and ready to hit the campaign trail, with their first joint appearance scheduled for Wednesday in Wisconsin.  

Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; editorial board member, Dorothy Rabinowitz; Washington columnist, Kim Strassel; and "Best of the Web" columnist, James Taranto.  

So, Dorothy, you saw the rollout on Tuesday, the victory.  What did you think about that presentation?  

DOROTHY RABINOWITZ, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER:  I thought it was traditional and terribly professional and very heartwarming to her fans.  And it must have come as a great surprise to all of the people, all of the public that has heard about this tired, worn out hag, who says he's a great revolutionary who is going to run roughshod over her.


RABIN:  And then, guess what, a huge kind of defeat for him, from everyone unexpectedly, including.  

GIGOT:  This is for Bernie Sanders.  

RABIN:  Yes, yes.  The Independents came out for her, everyone else.

GIGOT:  California.  

RABIN:  That's right.  And there's nothing like a little taste of victory to make the candidate look even more glowing.  

GIGOT:  James, and you saw I think the big news this week, the degree to which the Democratic Party is uniting behind Hillary Clinton.  And it was choreographed quite well.  First, you had Elizabeth Warren come out, and then Barack Obama come out, and Joe Biden come out.  And then President Obama meets with Bernie Sanders in the Oval, gives him the photo op as they walk out, and then he takes the poison and says, "I'm dropping out of the race."  

JAMES TARANTO, "BEST OF THE WEB" COLUMNIST:  And let's not include the mainstream media, which have treated this essentially as the coronation of a queen as opposed to a victory of a Democratic politician.  

It's true, the Democrats are very united now, at least the Democrats in Washington.  

GIGOT:  Right.

TARANTO:  Mrs. Clinton clearly won decisively.  Even though she won much -- I mean, it was much harder for her than it was supposed to be.  Nobody thought Bernie Sanders would get as far as he did.  We were talking about this a year ago.  I don't know Bernie Sander's name would have even come up.  So I think there are -- she does have to win over some of those Sanders supporters, who might otherwise be inclined to stay home or vote for the Green party?  

GIGOT:  What have we learned about the way she's going to run against Donald Trump, Dan?  

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR:  I don't think we have quite learned how she's going to run against --.

GIGOT:  Really?

HENNINGER:  Yes, I don't.  Because --

GIGOT:  I think I got an indication.  I don't think it's going to be morning in America.  

HENNINGER:  It's not going to be morning in America.

GIGOT:  I think it's going to be nightmare in America --


-- if Donald Trump --


HENNINGER:  She's going to run against Donald Trump, saying he's not temperamentally fit.  I think that's risky because Donald Trump will escalate and start attacking her personally.  

GIGOT:  Sure.

HENNINGER:  And I -- he'll put her on her heels for the entire campaign, if that's the course she takes.  

The bigger question is, whose politics is she going to run.  Is she going to run on the politics of Bernie Sanders or Bill Clinton?  I say that because I think Hillary still believes that the winning politics at the presidential level in America are somewhere in the center.  She always had one foot in the center during those debates, but now, after Bernie Sanders and all this negotiation with Bernie, the question is will she run more clearly as a progressive?  

GIGOT:  And, Dorothy, Bernie Sanders pulled her to the left during the primaries.  She going to move back to the middle or not?  

RABIN:  Yes, I think she is.  I think, if you look at her, the absolutely intractable force she ran and the stubbornness.  If run this way, if you've been looking for this role for most of your adult life, you are not going to allow yourself to be anyone but your own self, ultimately.  It may not show up until she -- if she ascends to the presidency.  But I don't think she is going to allow herself to be seen as entrapped by devotion to Bernie Sanders or Barack Obama.  

GIGOT:  That's an interesting point, Kim, because one of the things we saw this week with the president, Obama's choreography and enthusiastic endorsement, was the degree with which he wants her to win.  He views a Hillary Clinton victory as an extension of his legacy and, in some ways, it's going to be his job to mobilize the Obama coalition that isn't all that thrilled about her, I'm talking about young people, in particular, and minorities, but he wants her to win.  

KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST:  Yeah.  That's why I slightly disagree with Dan and Dorothy.  I think she is going to run far more to the left because she certainly positioned herself that way during the primary and she still does have to win over those Bernie supporters, who are part of that coalition that you were describing.  

Now, this is interesting because I think these are -- this is Trump's real two openings, in that what you're getting here, and he's going to give an address on this next week, is the Clintons in all their 1990s unethical glory, still out there doing the same things.  He's going to hit on that. But you're not getting the 1990s Bill Clinton center-right economic policies.  I think she is going to run to the left and that Trump is going to hit her hard on this.  

GIGOT:  Respond to Kim.  

HENNINGER:  I think she's taking some risk if she does that.  Bill Clinton was nominated in 1992 as a centrist southern Democratic because the old San Francisco Democrats, who got wiped out in 1992 with George McGovern, could not win.  The question is, has the Democratic Party changed.  Yes, it has.  
It's now the party of the left.  How much has the country changed?  Is the country so far to the left now that Hillary could successfully run a campaign like that?  

GIGOT:  I -- James, go ahead.

TARANTO:  But complicating all of this ideological analysis is the fact that Trump is not a traditional conservative and is, in some ways, takes some positions that we would have considered left wing before this year.  

GIGOT:  That's why it's going to be a temperamental personal attack I think she's going to use on Trump to disqualify him, or try to.  

We have to take one more break.  When we come back, Donald Trump hits a roadblock in his effort to reunite the GOP as fellow Republicans criticize his attacks on a federal judge.  So can congressional leaders move past the controversy as they lay out a policy agenda of their own?  



DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  -- given me the honor to lead the Republican Party to victory this fall.  


TRUMP:  I understand the responsibility of carrying the mantle and I will never, ever let you down.  


TRUMP:  I will make you proud of your party and our movement.  


GIGOT:  Donald Trump Tuesday night striking a more presidential tone as he tries to repair the damage caused by comments he made about the Mexican heritage of a federal judge.  Trump said this week that he was, quote, "disappointed and surprised" by the criticism he received from Republican leaders.  Those leaders, in the meantime, are trying to change the subject as they roll out their own domestic and national security agenda.  

We're back with Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel and James Taranto.  And Wall Street Journal editorial board member, Joe Rago, also joins the panel.

So, Kim, the Donald Trump comments were almost universally denounced among Republican leaders.  How much damage has this done to his campaign to unify the GOP?  

STRASSEL:  Well, I think you know that even he realized the damage because he did, in the end, come out with a statement that was meant to try to put the issue behind them.

GIGOT:  Right.

STRASSEL:  And that came because you suddenly had rumblings again out there among delegates that are going to the convention, saying, whoa, maybe this is not the right course.  You had Republican leaders who had to call Trump and stage some interventions, and say, look, you're losing your people out there, you still have not united the party and, by the way, you are missing all these opportunities to go after the person you really need to win against in November, and that is not a federal judge, it's Hillary Clinton.  

GIGOT:  Yeah, and I think, Joe, the big fear here among a lot of Republicans is, look, this is going to happen again.  We may put this fire out, but this is Trump.  I think they fear it will happen through November.  

JOE RAGO, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER:  This is who he is.  He said I'm not going to change, this is what you get.  And I think one really worrying thing about this is he seems to be elevating his personal brand, the Trump Organization, over his own best interests in the White House.  

GIGOT:  Because this -- because the federal judge is presiding over a Trump University lawsuit.  

RAGO:  That's right.  

GIGOT:  Yeah.

James, can they repair the breach here, the Republican Party, or is this going to be something that's going to continue right through November?  

TARANTO:  Well, I don't know.  I suspect that it will continue in various forms.  It will erupt in different ways between now and then.  It's a problem because Donald Trump is an amateur as a politician.  And professional politicians can deal with this sort of issue, when it's a professional politician.  Democrats didn't have a problem back in the '90s when the Clintons and their surrogates were poisoning the well against Ken Starr in order to discredit his investigation, which is sort of what Trump is doing here.  He's doing going it in a very --

GIGOT:  Ham-handed way.

TARANTO:  -- ham-handed way.  And I don't think the professionals know how to deal with it.  

GIGOT:  Paul Ryan is in a position where he says, look, he condemned the remarks, like everybody else, in very forceful terms and, yet, he said I'll still vote for Donald Trump.  That's where Mitch McConnell is.  That's where most of the professionals that James describes are.  They get criticized for doing that because they're saying, well, wait a minute, you don't have the courage of your convictions if he's going to say something racist, how can you support him?  It puts them in a very tough spot.

HENNINGER:  They have to find a way to stop talking about things Judge Curiel and whether Trump's a racist.  They need something else to talk about.  And I think Paul Ryan -- there is an opportunity here.  Ryan is releasing the House Republican's agenda and I think there are parts of that that Ryan and Trump ought to be able to get together on.  There will be an attack policy that's going to be very close to Donald Trump's.  On energy, they're very close together.  And I would even say even on poverty.  Trump, if he does say he's going to be able to campaign in black areas, he could align himself with that.  Start talking about some of the things that Ryan is pushing and there would be a commonality there that other Republicans, as well, could hook on to.  

GIGOT:  Do you think, Joe, it's unfair for some critics to suggest that Ryan should repudiate Trump as the nominee of the party?  

RAGO:  No.  Look, Democrats are going to run a party of Trump campaign.  I think it's incumbent on Donald Trump to behave in a more responsible way or he's going to have these problems all the way through.  

GIGOT:  Right.  But if you're the speaker of the House, can you really say, you know what, I'm going run against the -- repudiate the nominee of the party that all these Republicans have voted for.  

RAGO:  Paul Ryan is an institutional leader.  He's got an institutional responsibility to think about the larger Republican Party.  If that means protecting the House, if Donald Trump goes down in a landslide, he's got to do things like that.  

GIGOT:  So, he needs to be able to criticize, but you don't criticize Ryan for saying he'll vote for Trump.  

RAGO:  No, I don't think so.  He's a Republican.  He's made the conclusion that Trump is better than Hillary, and I think he's making the best of a lousy situation.  

GIGOT:  James?

TARANTO:  I would criticize Ryan for allowing himself to be baited into using the word "racist" in respect to Trump.  He should have been more circumspect in his choice of words.  That was an unfortunate error.

GIGOT:  But you don't want him -- Do you think he should he repudiate Trump?  

TARANTO:  No, of course, not.  You can't repudiate the nominee of your party.  As Joe as says, he has institutional responsibilities.

GIGOT:  All right.

Kim, what about this issue, you wrote a column this week saying, in some sense, there really isn't a Trump national campaign.  That's he's not raising the money he needs to.  He doesn't have any real organization to speak of.  Does he really -- and he's saying I don't need that.  Is that true?

STRASSEL:  He clearly does.  


He clearly does.  

Here's the thing.  I think Trump thinks, look, he broke all the normal political rules during the primary.  He didn't do it the way anyone had done it before.  I think his belief is, OK, I'm going to just wing it as well on the way to the presidency.  But look at the last couple of weeks. It's been a disaster.  He doesn't have a team and he needs one.  

GIGOT:  OK, Kim, thanks very much.  

Thanks to all of you.  

Coming up next, sticker shock is coming for millions of Americans shopping for a health care plan under the Affordable Care Act.  It's an Obamacare update you can't afford to miss.  


GIGOT:  Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell conceded this week that transforming the U.S. health insurance market, quote, "hasn't been easy," an understatement, and something Americans are finding out the hard way as they encounter soaring premiums and shrinking options.  The nation's largest insurer, United Health Care, announced this spring that it would pull out of most of the Obamacare exchanges.  Other insurers have proposed double-digit rate hikes for the upcoming enrollment season.  This as Ohio's health care co-op prepares to close its door, making it the 13th co-op to fail out of the 23 that were created under the Affordable Care Act.  

So, Joe, what are we seeing across the country on this bill?  

RAGO:  Right now, insurers are submitting their premium increases for 2017. We are seeing an average, across the country, somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 percent.  

GIGOT:  An average?  

RAGO:  Average.  

GIGOT:  Wow.

RAGO:  And then if you look at certain insurers, not fly-by-night insurers, but Blue Cross plans, for example, in Texas, New York, North Carolina, some of them are going 30 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent, 60 percent.  

GIGOT:  Why is this happening?  

RAGO:  You have much lower enrollment than anybody expected.  The people signing up are older, and more expensive and --

GIGOT:  And sicker.

RAGO:  And sicker.  They are consuming a lot more health care than anybody expected.  And then you have all kinds of structural problems with the law. Gaming.  People waiting until they need a lot of high-cost care to sign up and then dropping coverage.  So these are structural problems with the law, how it was designed, and people are --


GIGOT:  The incentive.  If you offer somebody the right to buy insurance, wait to buy it until they're sick, which many people do -- I mean, they have to pay a small fine, but some people are paying that fine, and saying I'm going to wait until I get sick and then you get the plan, that means you are really not providing the traditional risk pool that you do with insurance.  

RAGO:  The problem is there's no incentive for people to keep continuous coverage over time.  This is really not sustainable.  You have the big commercial insurers saying, look, I want to participate, but we can't have our shareholders losing all this money on these Obamacare --


GIGOT:  As they pull out of the exchanges that means there are fewer options for consumers who do seek insurance.  

HENNINGER:  You know, Paul, the Kaiser Family Foundation tracks satisfaction with how the program is going.  In 2014, dissatisfaction with enrollees was about 32 percent.  This year, it's up to 43 percent.  That's a pretty big jump.  And the main reason is the premium increases.  

GIGOT:  The price increases, yeah.

HENNINGER:  It's just getting too expensive.  That means people will either decide to drop out all together or not take -- sign up for coverage if you haven't signed up already.  

GIGOT:  Meanwhile, many millions of the people who are enrolling in Obamacare are doing it in Medicaid, which is fully on the taxpayer dime.  

RAGO:  Oh, sure.  It's causing problems with state fiscal plans as they are doing --


GIGOT:  What share of customers are on Medicaid?  Do we know?  It's a big chunk.  

RAGO:  It's a lot.  Most of the coverage gains from the Affordable Care Act have come through Medicaid expansion, not through the private insurance exchange.  

GIGOT:  Kim, in the politics of this, how will this play in the general election?  

STRASSEL:  Well, it's interesting listening to Democrats because somebody clearly put out a memo and they have all got their new talking points. This is what you will hear from them going into the fall, because they are worried about this.  Their new argument is going to be, look, this was a victory.  This was a great victory because look at the way the whole system has changed.  We now have fewer people who are uninsured.  You can no longer discriminate against sick people.  Younger Americans can stay on their parents' plan.  And that's all great.  We cannot go back.  Yes, there's an affordability problem and we will fix that going forward.  

GIGOT:  Well, by we'll fix it, by adding price controls on drugs, by further expanding Medicare down to include people who are 55, who don't want to pay the Obamacare premiums and get free government health insurance.  

RAGO:  Right.  Expand the subsidies.  And what we always see in health care is that when one problem is created by government, it's solved by another government --

HENNINGER:  And the idea that they will fix it plays into Trump's argument, they're incompetent.  

GIGOT:  All right.  We have to take one more break.  When we come back, "Hits and Misses" of the week.  


GIGOT:  Time now for our "Hits and Misses" of the week -- James?  

TARANTO:  Paul, this is a miss to the prestigious American Journal of Political Science, which published a paper claiming that, and I quote, "People who hold conservative political beliefs are more likely to exhibit traits associated with psychoticism."  Well, it turned out the researchers got everything backwards and the liberals are actually the psychotic ones, according to their definition.  The journal ran a correction.  I think maybe they should think about just taking the word "science" out of their name.  


GIGOT:  All right, James.


RABINOWITZ:  Yes, Paul, this is a hit to two heroes who intervened when a young woman who they saw was being sexually molested while lying unconscious.  And this is the case of the infamous act of the judge giving the perpetrator only a few months.  However, the two Swedish students who got off their bikes, chased down the attacker, were the key witnesses against him, stand out like the light in the darkness of this case.  

GIGOT:  That is the case in California, Stanford University.  


DAN HENNINGER:  I'm going to give a big miss to the group called New York City Shutdown.  They set on fire and burned an American flag this past week protesting in the city over the police handling of an investigation involving a teenager who died during a gang confrontation.  Well, burning an American flag is your constitutionally protected right as of 1989 --


GIGOT:  Thanks to Justice Antonin Scalia.  

HENNINGER:  That's right.  But it is also my constitutionally protected right to say the desecration of the American flag is reprehensible and repellant no matter when you do it.  

GIGOT:  All right.  But they do have that constitutional right.  

HENNINGER:  They do.

GIGOT:  All right.  And remember, if you have your own hit or miss, be sure to tweet it to us at JERonFNC.

That's it for this week's show.  Thanks to my panel.  Thanks to all of you for watching.  I'm Paul Gigot.  Hope to see you right here next week.  


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