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Clinton, Walker, Trump And The Accelerating Ride To 2016


And let's take a look now at political happenings here in the U.S. For that, we're joined, as we are most Mondays, by NPR's Cokie Roberts. Good morning.


MONTAGNE: Today, Hillary Clinton starts what she's calling the public phase of her campaign. She's been rather low-key these last weeks. In New York City, she gives a speech on economic policy, where she'll speak in particular about middle-income workers and also women. Isn't that a noticeable shift in emphasis from her 2008 campaign?

ROBERTS: Yes. She was then trying to sort of downplay the appeal to women, showing that she was tough enough to be president. And she thought women would just naturally head in her direction. This time, she's being a lot more direct in her appeal. So she'll be talking about how women's participation in the labor force was on a steady incline and then leveled off. So she's advocating for child care and paid leave, more family-friendly workplaces. And that could help shore up her support among white women, who have been a problem for Democrats in recent years.

It also helps, Renee, that she is a lady of a certain age and she's been through these fights herself. And she's been talking about being a grandmother. She said in her CNN interview that voters will learn that she is someone who will be there when they need them. And of course, that's what a grandmother does. It's a way of turning her age into something of an advantage. Lots of other proposals here for middle-income workers, saying Republicans talk about growing the whole economic pie but not who gets what slices. And she says she wants to make sure that the big guys, who she would tax, don't take it all.

MONTAGNE: Let's turn to the Republican side for one more candidate who is slated to make a formal announcement today. To no one's surprise I think, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will be running for president. What does he bring to this very crowded Republican field?

ROBERTS: Very crowded field. Well, he's popular with a lot of people in the party because of his taking on the public employee unions. And ever since he made a very well-received speech at one of the Iowa (unintelligible) he's continued to do well there, topping most polls of Iowa Republicans. And since no one's broken out of the very large field of candidates, each one thinks he - or in one case, she - has a real shot at it already.

They're on this fundraising circuit. Jeb Bush has raised an eye-popping amount of more than a hundred-million dollars. But still, the candidate everybody is talking about and who's getting all the coverage is Donald Trump, who drew enormous crowds in Arizona this weekend, where he doubled down on his anti-immigration message, appeared on stage with the highly controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, causing nightmares for Republican establishment.

MONTAGNE: The Republican National Committee called Trump and asked him to tone it down, the chairman did. But that wasn't exactly typical, was it?

ROBERTS: No, the Republicans have been cautious here - not all. Now, Lindsey Graham said yesterday that we have to reject this demagoguery. If we don't, we will lose, and we will deserve to lose. But others have been more measured. And I was a bit surprised when both Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Corker and Majority Leader McConnell refused to take on Trump when they were asked about his remarks.

Look, the Republicans know that, yes, they need the Hispanic vote, but they've also done well in congressional elections with anti-immigrant language. And so they're being careful. And they're also fearful of Trump. He could launch a third-party run. And he's doing well enough now to be on the stage in the debates, which start, Renee, in a few weeks.

MONTAGNE: Cokie, thanks. That's Cokie Roberts, who joins us most Mondays. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.