Will the Obama economy be a winning issue come November?

This is a rush transcript from "Journal: Editorial Report," June 4, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST:  Welcome to this special edition of the "Journal: Editorial Report" as we count down to the final primaries of the 2016 campaign season.  I'm Paul Gigot.

And all eyes are on California this weekend where Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are locked in a tight race with just two points separating them in the latest Wall Street Journal poll.  Clinton canceled campaign events in New Jersey this week to head to the Golden State, something her opponent made note of in a rally in Palo Alto.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I read the newspapers, The New York Times and the other papers, and they said the campaign is over.  I then suddenly saw Hillary Clinton racing to California, Bill Clinton racing to California.


SANDERS:  Maybe they think this campaign is not quite over.



GIGOT:  Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; columnist, Jason Riley; associate editorial page editor, James Freeman; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.

So, Kim, the race is close.  Why is Hillary Clinton having such a hard time closing the deal?

KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST:  I would say three things, Paul.  One, she has a cloud hanging over her head, given this ethics issue and server problems, the inspector general report that came out.  Two, she has an enthusiasm problem.  People are flocking to Bernie Sanders and you see them running into the race.  And finally, she has a trust problem.  Voters don't think they can believe what she has to say.  All of those things are combing to give him a real boost at the end of the race.

GIGOT:  Here's a fascinating thing, Kim.  1.5 million new voters have registered in California alone since January.  Something like 600,000 of those in the last 45 days.  Most of them are Democrats.  Are those Sanders voters?

STRASSEL:  Yes, and they are looking at those they are Sanders voters. Many of them are young and a lot of them in demographics that Hillary Clinton had won in California before, like, for instance, Hispanics.  But when they have been doing polls, it's suggests he is polling much better with some of her traditional audiences.  She is keeping the older voters, people who were with Hillary Clinton in 2008.  But all of the new young blood is with Bernie Sanders.

GIGOT:  Jason, this is interesting because California is a state where the Democratic Party has as a huge minority proportion, not just Hispanic- Americans but Asian-Americans.  They have traditionally this primary season gone with Hillary Clinton.  Why not maybe this time?

JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST:  I think for the reasons Kim laid out, I agree, particularly, the enthusiasm issue there.  He is hurting her.  She has an insurmountable delegate lead so he is not going to win the nomination, even if he wins California.  But he is --


GIGOT:  -- putting a damper on the Bernie brigade.

RILEY:  -- he is forcing Hillary Clinton to spend time and money in California, a very expensive state to campaign in, time she would rather be spending on Donald Trump.  She can't because she has Bernie biting at her ankles.  And she has to be careful about how she treats his supporters. Some of which may not only stay at home but move to Donald Trump.  The anti-establishment types that are very enthusiastic about Bernie, she needs their enthusiasm in November.

GIGOT:  I want to get to that argument about enthusiasm.

But the delegates that Jason mentioned -- that's right, even if she loses California because of the way delegates are allocated, she will be leading. And she's going to say after Tuesday, I guarantee you, that I'm the presumptive nominee.  What is Sanders's argument going to be in reply to that?

JAMES FREEMAN, ASSOCIATE EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR:  I think, partly, you've got all these super delegates, which she's been counting on, maybe at some point they start to say we need an alternative.

GIGOT:  But what's the argument?

FREEMAN:  Well --


GIGOT:  What's the argument that Bernie says I am the alternative?  He has to make that case.

FREEMAN:  The argument is Democrats don't want her to be their nominee.

GIGOT:  Why?

FREEMAN:  A striking finding in the field poll that came out Thursday. Even among self-identified Clinton voters, her voters, most are not enthusiastic.  They are grudgingly going along.  Whereas, you see the enthusiasm on the Sanders side.  Also just --


GIGOT:  She will have the delegates.  She will, as Jason suggests, almost certainly be the nominee.  What does Sanders do to tear off the super delegates?

FREEMAN:  Obviously, an indictment would help.


FREEMAN:  We talked about the e-mail issue.  If the indictment doesn't come, maybe he's plying for a role shaping policy, shaping the platform. It seems --


GIGOT:  I know that's what he's playing for --


GIGOT:  -- but what is the argument -- what is the argument that Sanders is--


DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR:  He can win.  She is going to lose.

GIGOT:  OK.  So he is the better general election --


HENNINGER:  He is 10 points ahead of Trump in the head to head.  She is even.  If he -- if she falls five points behind him by July, Bernie is going to look at the super delegates and say, she is going to lose the election for you, I can win it for you.

GIGOT:  But every prominent Democrat will come out, including some progressives, like Elizabeth Warren, will say, Bernie, time to leave, mate, time to get out.  The force of the Democratic Party is going to say, let's unify, you've had your moment in the sun, several months, get out.  How does Bernie with stand that pressure?

HENNINGER:  Bernie being Bernie will simply stand up against them.  But, look, she has got a tremendous --

GIGOT:  He'll ignore them, in other words.

HENNINGER:  She has raised a lot of money.  She has a huge fundraising mechanism all over the country.  She has hundreds of people on the ground already in states like Florida and Ohio.  It will be hard for Bernie to duplicate that.  The Democratic Party regulars understand that.

GIGOT:  Kim, do you agree that all the Democratic bigs will surrounds -- will come out after California, win or lose for Clinton, and say, Bernie, time to get out?

STRASSEL:  United, but they will have to be careful, Paul, because those Bernie supporters are behind Bernie, and they cannot risk offending him. There was an interesting poll out this week that showed about half of Hillary Clinton supporters said they would enthusiastically support Bernie Sanders were he the nominee, only about a quarter of Bernie supporters said they could support Hillary Clinton.  You have to treat these people gently.

GIGOT:  Why would Bernie Sanders want to stay in -- to the convention? What is he looking for?

STRASSEL:  Again, there's what he will say publicly and what he won't say. What he won't say is that he will stay in case something happens with an indictment and Hillary Clinton gets drummed out of the race.  His argument is going to be, look, none of this is over until the delegates have voted, and I'm going to be there and influence who the vice presidential candidate is going to be --

GIGOT:  Right.

STRASSEL:  -- and I'm going to influence what the party platform is in the end.  And he feels he can only do that if he is there and still a threat to her at the convention.

GIGOT:  All right, Kim, thank you.

Still ahead, with her poll numbers dropping and her legal headaches mounting, could Hillary Clinton actually lose her party's nomination?  One Democratic pollster says it's more likely now than ever.


GIGOT:  With her poll numbers dropping and her legal woes mounting, by guest this week says there is now more than a theoretical chance that Hillary Clinton will not be the Democratic presidential nominee.

Doug Schoen served as a political advisor and pollsters for President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2000.

Doug Schoen, welcome back to the program.


GIGOT: So your argument, which you made in our newspaper this week, has an enormous response, I assume a lot from Bernie Sanders' supporters.


SCHOEN:  I suspect so, yes.

GIGOT:  But it runs against all the conventional wisdom.  Make your case.

SCHOEN:  The case is the secretary of state can lose California.  She certainly has the serious problem of the FBI and Justice Department investigation potentially finding culpability somewhere.  And then Bernie Sanders could well go the convention and try to change the rules on the super delegates to bind them to the state's results that they are representing.  All of that could well lead to the secretary of state not being the nominee.

GIGOT:  But how so?  She is not going to stop and withdraw.  And what you're talking -- she is going to fight every step of the way.  Even if she loses California, she will say I'm still ahead in the delegate count --

SCHOEN:  Right.

GIGOT:  -- the super delegates are still in my camp.

SCHOEN:  Sure.

GIGOT:  And, Bernie, it's time to get out.  And the pressure of the party bigs, as you know, will be on Sanders to get out.

SCHOEN:  It will be, and I don't see any evidence that he will heed those wishes.  That's number one.  Number two, I think there's been some indication that the Justice Department will act before the convention in Philadelphia begins.

GIGOT:  Speculation.  We don't know.  Maybe.

SCHOEN:  Bernie Sanders' wife has said that's a reason for him to stay in. And from Bernie Sanders's point of view, doesn't it make sense for him to go to the convention, fight the good fight, as Teddy Kennedy did in 1980 at the convention in New York against Jimmy Carter?  And see what happens.  
All of which suggests to me this process has a long way to go.

GIGOT:  Do you think Bernie Sanders wins California?

SCHOEN:  I think they -- I think he'll win narrowly with all the new registrants.  I think, since the beginning of the year, a couple of million, last 45 days, 600,000 to 700,000 --

GIGOT:  It's amazing.

SCHOEN:  -- new Democrats.  These are more likely to not be Sanders voters. The idiosyncratic evidence I have from out there says the enthusiasm of the Sanders people is much greater than the Clinton people.

GIGOT:  OK, but short of an indictment, even with all the things you say, he wins California and the enthusiasm gap, short of an indictment, does he have a chance to turn super delegates?

SCHOEN:  First, it depends on how her poll numbers hold up, vis a vis Donald Trump.  It was a better week for her this week than for Donald Trump.  So far, the polls have shown a pretty even race.  That's one problem.


GIGOT:  Whereas, Sanders is ahead by 10.

SCHOEN:  Yeah.  And --


GIGOT:  Head to head.

SCHOEN:  Exactly.  And that's Sanders' argument.  And then I don't think there has to be a show of culpability by the secretary herself, thought there is certainly an argument that she did arguably violate statutes.  If two or three of her top aids are judge to have committed illegal acts, then we have a different set of questions.

GIGOT:  Does that -- that would be -- obviously, throw everything up in the air going to the convention.

SCHOEN:  Sure.

GIGOT:  Let's say that happens.  It's just all speculation, but let's say that happens.  The party super delegates, a lot of elites would like to say, oh, we are not going to give the nomination to Sanders, we'll bring in a Biden -- you even mentioned this in your piece--

SCHOEN:  Right.

GIGOT:  -- or John Kerry or even Elizabeth Warren --

SCHOEN:  Right.

GIGOT:  -- and nominate one of them.  But the Sanders supporters, they are not going to like them.

SCHOEN:  No, they're --

GIGOT:  How do they deny the nomination to a guy who will have won more than 20 primaries?

SCHOEN:  And I think that's the problem.  Sanders is going to stay in for that potential situation.  I think what Biden would try to do is to run with Elizabeth Warren to placate the left and do what Hubert Humphrey did again in 1968 with Lyndon Johnson's support.

GIGOT:  Is Sanders, in your view, a stronger general election candidate against Trump than Mrs. Clinton is?

SCHOEN:  Obviously, at this point, yes, because of the anger in the electorate, potentially, more so than those who have dismissed him.  And the other point I'd make is the secretary of state is a weak general election candidate, benefiting only by the fact that she's running against somebody who is arguably weaker in Donald Trump.

GIGOT:  You have argued for years that there is an opening in this election for a third party.

SCHOEN:  Yeah.

GIGOT:  This year with the two nominees having the highest unfavorables in modern memory, is this the third-party year?

SCHOEN:  It is the year.  I think that the polling I have seen and I have done and others have done shows 55 to 60 percent of the American people want a third party on the ticket.  20 to 25 percent said they would vote for unnamed person.  But we don't have a candidate, Paul.

GIGOT:  What about the Libertarian Party?  They nominated former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.  Could this be the year where they do better than 1 percent?

SCHOEN:  I think it's possible if they are getting at least in a Fox poll 10 to 11 percent.  I don't think they will do that well.  But they will probably do a lot better than the 1 percent --


GIGOT:  Could they still a state?

SCHOEN:  I don't think he could.  But you know what?  We are in such an unpredictable year, that I hate to make definitive statements.

GIGOT:  All right, Doug Schoen, thank you for all the statements.

SCHOEN:  Paul, thank you.

GIGOT:  Appreciate it.

Still ahead, she may not be the Democratic nominee, but Hillary Clinton is certainly acting like it, taking on Donald Trump this week over foreign policy.  So was her attack effective?



DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  That was a phony speech.  That was a Donald Trump hit job.



HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Americans are not just electing a president in November.  We are choosing our next commander-in-chief, the person we count on to decide questions of war and peace, life and death.  And like many across our country and around the world, I believe the person the Republicans have nominated for president cannot do the job.



GIGOT:  That was Hillary Clinton in San Diego this week in what her campaign billed as a major foreign policy address.  But rather than laying out her vision, she unleashed a blistering attack on Donald Trump claiming the Republican nominee is temperamentally unfit to be commander-in-chief and calling his foreign policy ideas dangerously incoherent.

We are back with Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel and James Freeman.  And Wall Street Journal columnist, Mary Anastasia O'Grady also joins us.

So, Kim, she is clearly trying to disqualify Donald Trump as commander-in- chief, saying he's too risky and can't do the jobs.  Smart strategy?

STRASSEL:  I have to say this was a pretty effective speech for a couple of reasons.  One, to the extent she criticized Donald Trump, she did it using his own words.  He said a lot of this stuff.  Two, he had no answer after she leveled the criticism.  The best he could do was to criticize her performance.  Finally, it deflected attentions from her own record out there, and that's good for her in the long run.

GIGOT:  Who was her audience, Kim?  Was she talking to Democrats in California ahead of the primary or was she talking to Republicans or Independents who might be on the fence about Trump and trying to reinforce doubts about him?

STRASSEL:  She is talking to all the general election voters.  That's Donald Trump's problem.  He's been given a path, by and large, in foreign policy because he was talking to a Republican electorate, and they didn't mind that he blustered along in this area, the way he does in many things. The voters he will need out there are moderates, they are Independents. While they may not necessarily be going to vote primarily on foreign policy, they need to see a level of comfort with the candidate they vote for.

GIGOT:  This is interesting.  Mary, she is turning Donald Trump strategy on Donald Trump.  Right?  You don't have a policy debate with Trump.  He goes after people, their personality and character.  That's what she did to Trump.  There was not much policy debate in this.  We favor our allies. Who doesn't favor our allies?


MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, COLUMNIST:  Right.  I think Kim is right in that her tone was better than when she was on the campaign trail and she sounds a little bit shrill.  And she also was just able to use his words and his style and the way he tweets and sounds like Don Rickles half the time. That is devastating when you lay it out there.

But on the other hand, I think that she ran into trouble when she tried to list her list of accomplishments because they sounded -- you know, she went through and she checked them off.  She had China, Russia, Israel.

GIGOT:  What was that China accomplishment?


O'GRADY:  That was the Copenhagen Climate Agreement, which has no teeth.

GIGOT:  Oh, right.


O'GRADY:  She talked about reduction of nuclear missiles with Russia. Russia is walking all over us.  So she really didn't -- she is not able to articulate her own successes because she doesn't have any.  That's where her vulnerabilities are.

GIGOT:  Dan, is that the big problem here, that the vulnerabilities Clinton has as her record being associated with the Obama administration on foreign policy?

HENNINGER:  Yeah, I think so.  She has to separate herself somehow from Obama, though she said she was an enabler for the Iran nuclear deal and she's attached herself to it.

I think we have to understand, Paul, the election is not just a big national referendum.  You're going state by state.  You have to win more voters than the other person.  It will be a battle for the Independents in the middle.  That's what she was aiming this speech at, discomforted Independents.  But I'm not so sure there a lot of Independents who are trending towards Donald Trump.  Even if he stands out there saying Benghazi, Yemen, radical Islam, she won't say radical Islam, and there are a lot of Independents who will say, yeah, he is right.  I think he's got off his game but I'm not so sure about she's winning on that.

GIGOT:  Kim made the point, James, he didn't have a response.  The campaign had no response.  He tweeted a couple of things about her presentation, but nobody mentioned Benghazi, there was no list of Hillary Clinton's foreign policy record.  I mean, I know this campaign defies convention, but if you are going to make a case against somebody, shouldn't you at least mention the case?


FREEMAN:  Yeah, there were interesting "Made for Twitter" counterpunches available for him that he didn't take, starting with, "You found time to tell Chelsea what a tough day you had while your people were dying in Benghazi, even though you weren't talking to the people who run our military."  There was a lot he could go with there.  But I kind of wonder what the audience was for this speech because, aside from --


GIGOT:  Kim says the Independents.

FREEMAN:  But basically, in a lot of ways, it sounded like a critique of the administration she just served.  She talked about a strong confident America that leads.  Barack Obama explicitly did not want us leading.  He wanted us stepping back from that leadership role.  She talked about clear strategies to defeat ISIS.  Where has that been?  You go down the list, the Iran nuclear agreement.  So if you were tempted as a right of center voter to go with her military strategy, I think you look at the record and it isn't there.

GIGOT:  Kim, what's the explanation for why Trump didn't respond beyond a couple of performance insults?

STRASSEL:  It's mind-boggling.  I think Trump does know that foreign policy is not his biggest strength.  And he has struggled with it since he started.  But it's something that -- look, there is a lot of opportunity for him here if he were to respond.  It is not just tying Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama's legacy, which could be deadly on its own, but also the fact that the agenda, which was quite different from Barack Obama, was most of a center left less type of Democratic foreign policy that preceded Barack Obama, but it was one that was never very popular in the country anyway, and was a bit disqualifying to Democrats for a long time.  He could narrow in on that.  Not to mention, by the way, the national security issues having to do with her server.

GIGOT:  Is this national security an edge for Trump or Clinton, very briefly?

O'GRADY:  It's an edge for Trump, but he has to recognize it and begin to become serious and presidential about answering her commentary.

GIGOT:  All right, thank you all.

Much more to come on this special edition of the "Journal: Editorial Report." Still ahead, President Obama weighs in to the 2016 campaign touting his economic record and accusing Republicans of distorting his accomplishments. But on the heels of the dismal jobs report, is the issue really a good one for Democrats?



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Let me be as straight as I can be about the choice of economic policies that you are going to face. And I am going to start with a story that not every Republican, but most Republicans candidates up and down the ticket are telling.  Their basic story is America's working class, America's middle class, families like yours have been victimized by a big, bloated federal government run by a bunch of left wing elitists like me.


GIGOT:  Welcome back to this special edition of the "Journal: Editorial Report."  I'm Paul Gigot.

That was President Obama in Elkhart, Indiana, this week touting his economic record and attacking what he calls the myths being peddled by the conservative media and GOP.  It's a preview of the role he'll play as a general election surrogate for Democrats.  But with the release Friday of a dismal jobs report, will the Obama economy be a winning issue come November?

We're back with Dan Henninger, Jason Riley, James Freeman and Mary Anastasia O'Grady.

So, Mary, I guess I would argue that what we are seeing here is that the jobs market caught up or down to the dismal growth jobs -- the figures we've had with the overall economy in the last eight months or so.


GIGOT:  Is this a trend for a new lower level or just a blip?

O'GRADY:  Well, it's the longest recovery since -- in the post-war period.  
So we're in --

GIGOT:  Seven years, as of this month.

O'GRADY:  Exactly.  So if we are running out of steam, it wouldn't be surprising.  And we now have a record 94.7 million Americans not working -- sorry -- yeah, 94.7 million Americans not working.  One of the main problems we see here is just as President Obama described it, very heavy regulation is dampening the interest that investors have, entrepreneurs have in capital spending.  And that is a long-term thing that eventually eats into the ability of the economy to grow.  This last week, we had a piece by -- Bernie Marcus came out and said -- he was one of the founders of Home Depot -- and he said, "I could not have started this business right now because the regulatory environment is so oppressive that I couldn't get a small business going like that."

GIGOT:  Yeah, that's pretty depressing, James, when you think about it. And what I worry about is the business investment is so slow.  And that's the driver of new jobs and the driver of productivity, and it's a driver of growth.

JAMES FREEMAN, ASSOCIATE EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR:  That's right.  These business people are on the sidelines, they are thinking the same thing Bernie Marcus is thinking.  What's the argument now?  And really the president went to great lengths to avoid talking about the weight that Washington has put on this economy --


GIGOT:  He doesn't think it's a weight.  He thinks it's a benefit.

FREEMAN:  Right.  Right.  He thinks all these regulations are beneficial. He called it a myth that he is over-regulating.  The United States is now paying $1.9 trillion a year to comply with regulations.  That's basically bigger than the entire economy in Canada.

GIGOT:  Yeah, Jason?

JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST:  In May, 38,000 jobs were created.  That's the worst month since 2010, Paul.  That is not the result of the conservative media spinning his economic record.  People can see that with their own two eyes.  You can look at the low unemployment rates, but we all know that that is a function of fewer people bothering to even look for work --


GIGOT:  What he would say, Jason is, look, we've had more than two million jobs created each year.  This is an aberration.  It's a blip.  We are going to be move back to moving up.  Let's relax, don't overreact.

RILEY:  Well, the marginal figures were revised down.

GIGOT:  By 59,000, combined.

RILEY:  You look at the labor participation rate, you look at the stagnant wages.  He can try and spin this any way he wants, but the fact of the matter is -- and hope that -- this is not the time to switch teams and things are moving in the right direction --


GIGOT:  Look at what the Republicans did for us in the crisis and so on --


RILEY:  But people are paying attention to what they see in these numbers.

GIGOT:  What do you think about the -- Trump is up about, what, 10 points in the polling versus Hillary Clinton on the economy.  Is this an advantage for Trump?

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR:  It is a huge.  It is the advantage, Paul.  Look, in every primary we have had so far, in every exit poll on the Democratic and the Republican side, number-one issue, Democrat and Republican, economic anxiety, including Democrats.  He is trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  People are upset about the economy. If you listen to that speech, he is making the argument that Hillary is going to make in the campaign, which is, it's all the Republicans' fault. I tried to do so many good things, like raise the minimum wage, and they blocked me.  This is the do-nothing Republican Congress, they are responsible for the economy?

FREEMAN:  This should be bigger than a 10-point advantage for Trump if he takes the issues.  You look at Hillary, she is saying basically more regulation and more taxes.  Trump has a tax cutting plan but sometimes he seems a little fuzzy on whether he's really for it or not.  He's talked about the need to reduce regulation but there's not a plan yet.

GIGOT:  He didn't even respond to the jobs numbers.


GIGOT:  I think he had one or two tweets.


FREEMAN:  He's not conventional.  He's not conventional.


O'GRADY:  I think -- can we go back to business investment?  I think it's very important.  If you look at those numbers, what you see is that businesses are spending on cost cutting.  When they do spend, they spend on cost cutting.  They don't go on expansion.  The reason for that is that the animal spirits are not there for people who want to expand.

GIGOT:  I couldn't agree more.  Everybody is holding back.  There is uncertainty.

Before you know it, Jason, the president and Hillary Clinton will be blaming Trump for the uncertainty.


GIGOT:  If he doesn't speak up and make an affirmative case for what the problem is, they will win that argument.

RILEY:  You are right.  You are absolutely right.  What Obama has been able to do for the past seven years is divorce his personal likeability from the popularity of his policies.  Two out of three Americans say the economy is moving in the wrong direction, yet the president's approval rating is about
50 percent and has been ticking up.

GIGOT:  So explain that paradigm.

RILEY:  It is remarkable.  It is remarkable.


RILEY:  Your policies can be as unpopular as they are, yet he remains personably likeable.  And it's why Hillary Clinton will, I think, have advantage with him being able to be out there campaigning with her.

GIGOT:  Anybody else --


RILEY:  And that makes him more even popular among the Democrats.

GIGOT:  All right, I have to go.


We're going to follow this.  This is going to be interesting.  The economy will be very interesting.

Still ahead, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, two candidates with record- high negatives.  In a political year where anything can happen, could a third-party candidate still breakthrough?


GIGOT:  Could a third-party candidate still breakthrough in 2016? Libertarian presidential nominee, Gary Johnson, says his strategy will consist of tapping into the historically high unfavorable ratings of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico, was nominated at the party's convention in Orlando last week.  His running mate is another former Republican governor, William Weld, of Massachusetts.

So, Dan, usually a third party has a chance to score well enough, reasonably well when the two party nominees are not popular or you have a period of upset in the electorate, people want a change.  We have both of those factors now.  Can Johnson or somebody else breakthrough?

HENNINGER:  I don't think they can breakthrough, Paul, but I think this is the moment for a third-party candidacy.  You said unpopular, that is an understatement.  We never had an election like that, where half of Republicans and half of Democrats say they are voting for their candidate because they hate the other candidate.


Both Hillary and Trump are up near 60 percent disapproval rating.  Just anecdotal, we all know people are so upset at the choice and so upset at the party that I think this is a chance for a third party to emerge and maybe go forward after the election.

GIGOT:  Mary, show some love for your fellow Libertarians.


Is the year Johnson breaks through that little less than 1 percent four years ago, but try it again?

O'GRADY:  I think he will have a hard time.  Although, I agree with Dan that -- I meet so many people who say they are disgusted with both of the mainstream candidates.  The problem is Johnson will have trouble pulling from Republicans.  Because even though they like his limited government, you know, he said that he was willing to pardon Edward Snowden, and I think that's --


O'GRADY:  -- going to be hard on Independents who are serious about the war on terror.  And for Democrats, yeah, they loved his position on liberal issues, but, he believes


GIGOT:  Social issues, in particular, yeah.

O'GRADY:  Yeah.  He believes that a viable fetus should have the right to life.  He is also has very strict fiscal responsibility ideas that Democrats will not like.  I think he has trouble appealing to both sides.

GIGOT:  What about another third party?  I heard some chatter in the Beltway that maybe somebody else could come in, an establishment Republican.  People have asked Mitt Romney to do it, Ben Sasse, the Nebraska Senator.  So far, no takers.  Is that going anywhere?

FREEMAN:  No.  And there are no takers because this is a grassroots movement of literally dozens of --


New York and Washington, they come together to try and get their agenda out there and find a mainstream candidate to carry it, so.

GIGOT:  In our circle, that's a populist movement, James.


GIGOT:  So that's not going anywhere.

But, Jason, here's what the thing is.  If you do get a really ugly candidate on both sides, you could see maybe Gary Johnson or a Libertarian or a third-party candidate coming out and maybe doing better than 3 or 4 percent.  And in some states that could make a difference because what you would be seeing is maybe stealing some votes in a state like New Hampshire if the election is close.  Some Democrats who are for Clinton can't abide Trump, but they say, you know, I'll vote for Johnson.

RILEY:  You could see that.  And right now, in a couple of national polls, you have Gary Johnson polling at 10 percent, which is very --


GIGOT:  All you need is 15 to get into the debate, right?

RILEY:  And I think that is a function, the fact that the primary voters have elected the two most-despised politicians in America to represent the major parties, so general interest voters or general campaign voters could be looking for alternatives.  The big dream of whether you are talking about your Beltway grassroots movement or  some others is that these third- party candidates prevent either major party candidates from getting to --


RILEY:  -- to throw the race into the House of Representatives.  That's a real long shot though.


FREEMAN:  I don't think the Libertarians are serious.  That is not serious either.  William Weld, he was not considered a Libertarian until last weekend.



RILEY:  Trump wasn't a Republican until last year.


HENNINGER:  In the year 2000, Ralph Nader got 2.7 percent of the national vote.  It is widely believed he denied Florida to Al Gore.

GIGOT:  I believe that.  I think that's true.

HENNINGER:  If that's the margin in some of these states, Libertarians just might pull enough votes from one of these candidates to pitch the vote to the other one.


O'GRADY:  That's a good point, but I think what is different this year than in a long time, both Republicans and Democrats understand that the court is in play.

GIGOT:  The Supreme Court.

O'GRADY:  The Supreme Court is in play.  And in some years, you might be willing to say, oh, I will give my vote for Libertarians, but this year you may feel I don't want Hillary picking those judges.

GIGOT:  It could be a spoiler role in some state, but not winning a state will get into --

RILEY:  It's not marginal issues.  Gary Johnson has promised to cut military spending by 20 percent.

GIGOT:  Lots of Democrats like that.

RILEY:  The world is on fire, and the next president will have to deal with it.  And China and Russia, two adversaries, are building their militaries. So these Libertarian candidates aren't taken seriously --


O'GRADY:  Those are for people who like Bernie.

FREEMAN:  The high-water mark for the third party was Ross Perot.  He succeeded in getting Bill Clinton elected president.  If Libertarians thrive this year, they will succeed in making Hillary president.

GIGOT:  All right, last word, James.

Still ahead, a bloody Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, adding to concerns about a spike in violent crime in some major American cities.  What's behind the rise and what can be done, when we come back.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR:  Something is happening in America.  A whole lot more people are dying in some places this year than last year, and more last year than the year before.



GIGOT:  A staggering 69 people were shot in the city of Chicago over Memorial Day weekend, adding to the concern about a spike in violent crime across the country.  Murders are up in roughly 30 cities so far in 2016, continuing a troubling trend that began last year.

FBI Director James Comey recently reignited a contentious debate over the cause, saying that a so-called viral-video effect could be at the heart of the increase.

So, Dan, let's start with Chicago.  New York and L.A. have both succeeded over the last two decades in reducing murders and crime in general.  What's going wrong in Chicago?

HENNINGER:  What's going wrong in Chicago is they can't get control of the gangs.  Eddie Johnson, the police superintendent there, said that of the 69, about 80 percent were on a watch list of violent gang members, basically, gangs shooting at each other.  And --

GIGOT:  Sometimes innocent bystanders along the way.

HENNINGER:  They say let's throw more cops in there.  No, they can't afford to hire more cops.  Mayor Emanuel has been putting them on overtime, whereas, in New York, they have the financial resources to target these gangs, as they did two months ago, recall, when they arrested 100 gang members in the Bronx.  Chicago simply doesn't have the ability.

GIGOT:  And the reason for that is because so many of the resources are going into pensions and benefits for city employee.

HENNINGER:  Don't let your city go bankrupt.

RILEY:  I think Dan is absolutely right.  Proactive policing works.  We've seen it work.  The problem today is that you have a war on proactive policing and it's being led by the Black Lives Matter movement, and it's -- and they're being indulged by the mainstream media, by and large.  Everyone is out there pretending that the cops and cop behavior is the root of this problem, when it is not.  And the effect of this, if you are going to make the men in blue the devil here, it's going to affect the behavior of the men in blue.  And I think what Comey was getting at in that clip is cops are responding, as anyone would, to this narrative that paints them as the villain.  They're less willing, they're a little quicker -- they're less willing to get out of their car.  They're not so quit to respond to calls. It's affecting -- the perspective being put out there that they're the problem here, it is affecting their behavior and, therefore policing in these communities that need proactive policing the most.

GIGOT: But isn't this ultimately a question of political leadership in the cities?

O'GRADY:  Yeah.  I mean, going to Dan's point about the financing and funding they have for the police, it's more than just hiring more police. As we know, back in the '80s, you know, we started in New York with the "Broken Window" idea, that when you let petty crime go, it gets worse and worse.  There was a --


GIGOT:  You create a climate --


O'GRADY:  Right.  There was a whole sort of science applied to policing. There was a lot of training.  Police officers -- it's not -- yes, it's about whether they're reluctant to get out of their car.  But I think they need a general retraining in the ways that New York learned about in the '80s and '90s and in the last 10 years.

GIGOT:  We've had the police chiefs in New York City in to see us and they talk about using social media to see where gangs are going, to throw police resources at the problems, preemptively sometimes.  And it's worked.  I don't understand why they can't translate that into Chicago.

FREEMAN:  Well, a lot of that, this is a failure of political leadership right from the top.  We see when FBI Director Comey says we have a problem here, murders are spiking in our big cities, when he says there are a Ferguson affect, people are more hostile to police, and crime is going up, we get the pushback from White House.  We get the political leadership of this country basically criticizing him for what is now established in fact. The year after the Ferguson, the Michael Brown shooting, homicides went up in black cities, in predominately black cities.  So Black Lives Matter, and that's why they need the police in inner cities.

GIGOT:  But there's an enormous movement, Jason, as you've said, that basically, is saying there has been unfair treatment of minorities, particularly in the issue of "Broken Windows," where Stop and Frisk was used unfairly, particularly against African-American men.  And that that's something we need to stop, and that has happened in New York City and it's happening elsewhere.

RILEY:  The police are in these neighborhoods, as the police commissioners will explain to you, because that's where the 911 calls come from.  This whole notion that black have tense relationships with police depends on which blacks you are talking about.  I want the criminals in the black neighborhoods to have a tense relationship with police.  So do most of the law-abiding residents living there.  But black people call the police more than anybody else in America, Paul.  That's a funny way of showing you have a bad relationship with cops.

GIGOT:  Mary?

O'GRADY:  But I still think there's a difference between the training a cop gets in Chicago and the training a cop gets in New York.  That's where the gap is.  It's not about whether, you know, they are in the neighborhoods, but how are they responding, how do they handle criminals, how do they handle petty crime.  That training was very important to the turn-around in New York.  It hasn't happened in Chicago.

GIGOT:  All right, thank you all.

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 -- Dan?

HENNINGER:  I'm giving a hit to the CBS TV station in Los Angeles who discovered the one story nobody's talking about in the California primaries, dead voters.


They looked at records and found out there are hundreds of voters in California who have been voting year after year, going back eight years. This is being called the California Zombie Vote.


Personally, I think that the dead voters should be added to the exit polls.


GIGOT:  All right.


O'GRADY:  Paul, this is a hit for chief executive of SpaceX, Elon Musk, who announced this week he'll send a human mission to Mars by 2024.  Now, he didn't give a lot of detail and he's going to talk more about it in September.  But he did say that the flight will leave in 2024 and arrive at Mars in 2025.  When they come back, I don't know, but depending on when they come back, I have some candidates I would like to go on the mission.

GIGOT:  Any volunteers?


We should -- please send your nominations to Mary.



FREEMAN:  This is a hit, Paul.  One person we should not send off the planet is Susan Sarandon.  A big hit to her, not for "Bull Durham," not for the selfies with Selma Hayek.


You recall Bernie Sanders was not willing to raise the e-mail issue with Hillary Clinton.  But his surrogate, Ms. Sarandon, is raising it with gusto, talking about the problem, the trustworthiness problem.  This week, she said Hillary Clinton will definitely be indicted, so.

GIGOT:  Does she have better sources than we do or the Justice Department?

FREEMAN:  Let's hope so.

GIGOT:  All right.


RILEY:  Paul, this is a big hit for boxing great, Muhammad Ali, who died Friday at age 74.  He is probably the most charismatic sports figure of the 20th century.  And his fame transcended boxing and sports in general.  He was a political and social activist who spoke out for black civil rights in ways that rubbed people of all political stripes the wrong way sometimes.  
But that didn't stop him from becoming an international icon and, ultimately, a national treasure.  I say rest in peace.

GIGOT:  And people don't recall what a big deal heavy weight boxing was in the time when he was in his prime.  He was such a dominant cultural figure.

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 and to all of you for watching.  I'm Paul Gigot.  Hope to see you right here next week.


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