tv Washington Journal Lauren Wright Discusses the Role of Presidential Spouses CSPAN February 20, 2017 9:05am-9:39am EST
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president".he thank you for being with us on it.an, we appreciate guest: thank you. host: what was your approach in writing this? guest: i started with academic research. the first thing i became was counting speeches made by the first lady and i found they speak more than vice blic presidents. fascinated with why this public activity has been increasing, why first ladies are so heavily relied upon to communicate the president's message and different attributes they have that other surrogates don't. host: you write the following "presidential spouses have made remarks than vice presidents in last three administrations, vice presidents compared to presidential spouses because hey lack institutional power, except in the senate, yet play highly visible role as mates," andl running can you elaborate on that point? guest: yes. erred adies have should
more of the communications clinton, bush and obama administration than those counter parts al have, the best comparison we institutionally. and, you know, i think this is for a variety of reasons. first ladies are more the public by higher name recognition, pretty invariably. their evaluations of them are not based on partisanship in the same way that presidents and vice presidents are sort of viewed as they're outsiders, people view first ladies differently than officials, see them in a more nonpartisan way and ladies have more media flexibility, they can go on on ity t.v., they can go cooking shows or morning shows, so they are really special surrogates, special representatives. host: and a lot of attention on he role of melania trump who
remains live nothing new york until their 10-year-old son is school.d he's in the fourth grade, before live nothing washington in talked the president about his wife last thursday, here is what he said. resident trump: i think melania will be outstanding. the visitor'sd up center, touring the white house. she like others she's working strongly about women's issues, women's difficulties, very strongly. she's a very, very strong advocate. great she's a representative for this country and a funny thing happens unfairly -- gets so the things they say, i've known er for a long time, she's a very successful person, very successful model, she did really would go home at night and didn't each want to go out was a very she private person. she was always the highest
you'll ever find. and the things they say and i've nown her for a long time, the things they say are so unfair apologized to by various media. i think she will be a fantastic first lady, a tremendous representative of women and of people and helping her and ivanka, who er her will be is a fabulous person and a fabulous woman. they're not doing this for money pay, they are doing this because they feel it, both of them. melania goes back and forth and school, ron finishes it's hard to take a child out of school with a few months left, will move over to the white house. host: lauren wright, the president last thursday. your reaction? guest: i was thinking, steve, hese are free points when it comes to the first family. i'm surprised the trump tried to tion has not
get even more exposure with the family because when the media addresses the first family, when they address the they address en first daughters, first sons, they are a little bit more more friendlyttle by nature, these aren't people policy questions thrown at them. for melania and ivanka, the more better, the more eople talk about president trump other than president trump is going to be a benefit to the administration right now, i believe. feature michelle obama on the cover of your book, here is what she said during the 2016 campaign. michelle obama: at that moment, realize our time in the white house would form the foundation for who they would become and we manage this experience to truly make or break them. what barack obama and i think about everyday as we try o guide and protect our girls
through the challenges of this spotlight.fe in the how we urge them to ignore those father's on their how we hip or faith hateful language they hear from public figureos t.v. does not represent the true of this country, how we explain that when someone is bully, you ts like a don't stoop to their level, no, our motto is, when they go low, go high. with every word we utter, every we take, we know our kids parents ing us, we as are their most important role odels and let me tell you,
barack obama and i take that ame approach to our job as president and first lady because we know our words and actions atter, not just to our children, but children across the country. host: that speech she delivered national ocratic convention, she never mentioned name, able to talking about le er role as first lady and she called herself first mom and some of the charges donald trump levelled against her husband, barack obama. guest: yes, that speech for a variety of reasons was a real point, very important ublic statements and actually it garnered most tweets per minute than any speech either the presidents, both nominees, this is really just an powerful it is when first ladies speak, but not is a talented y communicator, not every
olitician can communicate emotion in the way mrs. obama can, it is combination of these tributes, the spouse brings that i just talked about, that recognition, me fascinating, perceived genuine remarks and the personal attributes. both, helle obama has she's a very talented orator, and i think she was very helpful the campaign when they needed a turning eeded point. host: lauren wright, graduate of forest, earned doctorate from georgetown university. her book, "on behalf of the president," i want to ask you you have as arole board member for the white house transition project. educators looking at role of transitions, what works and doesn't. the u look back at transition between the 44th and 45th president, how did it go outgoing administration and the incoming administration? transitionbush/obama
is held as gold standard for ransition, three previous transitions were not as smooth. i think it is a common party eption within transitions are smoother than out party transitions and that actually not the case. a lot of people in party assume job might be keeping their in the bureaucracy and might be asking for resignation as far as political appointees go. gold standard. the obamas tried to emulate that ecause that is the experience they had coming in. and so, you know, president a number of pieces of legislation in place to ensure a transition and to ensure it started very early and really group for the is first time was to write a piece historian about the history of the first lady's
of best d sort practices based on the data analysis i did in my book and scholars have t done in the past. host: our guest joining us from yearornia and later in the will be moving to east coast eaching at princeton university. harold from westwood, new jersey, republican line. good morning. caller: good morning. seriously, we now have a where melania trump declared the lord's prayer. i should recite it, but i won't, was uproar over there. on country was based harvard startedn rutgers minary, when started, it was a seminary. r country was based on allegiance to god and the 10
is most nts, that important. obviously the next most mportant thing, love your neighbor, as yourself. so difficult about -- ot only that, love your enemy as yourself. ow that is very -- i am a 94-year-old veteran. 've served in the -- guest: thank you. aller: we must learn to love the muslims, all those who loved by slam must be shouldhard to believe we that terrorists change, but even if they don't, we still have to love them. now that is hard to do, but we it. do host: harold, thank you for the call. you're 94 years old? yes.r: host: you sound more like you are 64. thank you very much for the
call. for your service. 9000 r: by the way, we had casualties in our division. we served also with the second british army and we served next to a polish division and the polish soldiers hated the had to take ch, we them out of the line because they would not take any to oners, all they wanted do, kill, kill, kill, what they taught in our american army, or be killed. we don't want to do that thisre, love and be loved, for let's cal in -- say for the sake of the future who ations, those people are unborn, let's give a houtout to the future enerations and by the way, i talk just a minute, nancy pelosi
scapegoat is. a and nancy pelosi were the scapegoats for the $20 the ion debt put on us by last administration. host: harold, i will stop you there, thank you very much for call. keep phoning in. back to his earlier point, he to melania eference trump reading the lord's prayer at speech in melbourne on saturday. lauren wright, your reaction? guest: i think there were a of le surprising moments really good optics, really favorable optics for president that rally. one i would say, was allowing or trump to g mrs. introduce him, i think that is always an opportunity for people to approach a speech by a president in a different way, as i said, maybe less partisan way. he followed it up with very divisive partisan comments, but allowing her to speak was a very
decision on their part and i would say when president trump rought a supporter up on stage who appeared to be just a encouraged the secret service to let him on stage, i think that was a moment of and accessibility for him. wives, first tial ladies. glen, good morning. i was pleased to see that clip on michelle obama's speech. the convention. i wasn't at the convention, but see the -- see it on television. by the ess i was struck tone of it and as an independent i was launching all the broad did these of how points and issues were expressed by both candidates.
host: thank you, glen. a response. guest: about michelle obama's me how you you tell characterize it so i know which talking about? the line, wanton your sense about her approach to the speech. guest: oh, sure, this was a very well accepted speech, that is an understatement. her convention speeches have been fairly historic in this manner, i'll just refer back to her 2012 d.n.c. speech as an the speech. guest: oh, sure, this was example. watched a's speech was online more than a million than president clinton's speech, more there president obama's speech. appears, elle obama there are very high expectations, high expectations 2016.er in there were so many people watching and the fact she remarks in a way that resulted in memorable moments that the clinton
then used on the campaign trail, i think is pretty commendable. host: former first lady laura bush sat down with us and talked role as a teacher, a librarian and the start of the national book festival, which we cover every fall here on c-span2. here is part of that interview. bush: started texas book festival when george was governor. haveught it was natural to a national book festival on the national maul. where it is and still goes on and draws lots of people popular. hugely o that was that weekend, the weekend before the tuesday morning of september 11th. that morning, i was on my way to capitol hill to brief senate education committee on early childhood education, i summit on early
summer.d education that host: lauren wright, your commentos laura bush and her role as the -- really instigator behind the national book festival which continues today. guest: i think laura bush, like many first ladies was severely underestimated when she came into office and she is still underappreciated. was highly strategic first lady, really a team player, eally wanted to help the president, wanted to help the administration and what the did and host: lauren wright, your commentos laura bush and her role as the -- really instigator behind the national book what mh had atives that she expertise in, yes, she was very comfortable speaking about a very n, but that was effective frame for the act.hild-left-behind i test those frame necessary my book and numerically, people are supportive of that act after seeing appeal from mrs. bush versus the same exact one a vice president or president bush. broke new o really
ground with afghan women's initiative. effect, a similar people perceived the war on differently after they heard mrs. bush talk about afghan women's issues, after she framed those efforts terms, and human tarrian rather than military terms. she helped in a variety of ways can find k you similarities in the obama michelle obama really sought to imitate mrs. in that manner and do the same with her projects. prescott, a in arizona, good morning. caller: good morning. a lovely lady.s i think it isn't difficult to whatever was going on between them has been over a seems very o, she controlled, i would say. here, what r optics
do you think after the "america first," the honeymoon of trump off, that a lovely lady slovania, an immigrant with no history in the united states, going to ow are you pull the optics to have that fly for four years? should we get in trouble? what frame of reference will she to correlate to make us feel comfortable? is a g against her, this tough deal. thank you. host: thank you, linda.cally did was chose guest: well, if i can take this question, i think the important starting point is the trump administration has not had a honeymoon phase as most they come do when into office. he's below 40% favorability in polls, i've seen, i think bout the worst we've seen so far for him. mrs. trump, i believe, could be
laying very important role right now. both from a perspective of the her action and enhancing husband's public image. appears on trump television, people are interested. she's kept her powder dry, we much about her, she hasn't made many appearances, so appearances will be high impact when she does make them. administration, again, interviews in which she's usually not asked a tough question. what i'll say is staying in new york is so different from linda. guest: what by the way, but it does not help the over arching 's communication strategy, if you ould identify one, which is really the president as someone who is slashing budgets, and the ing government high cost of keeping mrs. trump in new york and the high cost of trump's travel over the last few weeks is not consistent with
that. i think there are many things she could be doing, of course, parents, most parents can is te to wanting to do what children.our i think there are untapped opportunities when it comes to mrs. trump. i think if we saw her more often in public, it is possible her favorables could go up and we'd have a better idea of who this her relationship with the president, which is what americans are really in.rested host: 202-748-8001 for republicans. 202-748-8000 for democrats. our guest is lauren wright, another excerpt from your book on presidential spouses. you write the following: the number of speechs that have been liticized through covert rather than overt mention of increased. greatly white house communication operations may have stofred a new way to exercise the public of presidential spouses. political advocacy in a
context. can you explain? guest: that is correct. i mentioned laura bush's ready to read, ready to learn sxrkt ow important that was as frame for no child left behind and her involvement in that and afghan women's initiatives and the effect those had on perception of the war on terror at a time president needed it. similar thread can be found in administration. mrs. obama chose childhood number one, first issue, she's the first lady to have professionally staffed initiative by initiative with specific people assigned to specific project. that was effective frame for the act n. le care any nication strategy of kind, consistency is key. you want to send a simple and consistent message. it was so important that mrs.
obama's policy agenda, if you will, was linkd and very understandably so to the president's. thing with the same the president's announcement to iraq and roops from afghanistan, she launchd and pursued joining forces, her veteran's d initiative for military families at that point. it is important to understand comes to first ladies, hese are key strategic players and they can help shape the public image of the president, yes. also, of the president's policy agenda. people that are bystanders, not people who are for granted by the administration, these are key many ways ey're in the m.v.p. of the white house. in : dr. lauren wright, phd government from georgetown university. from lexington, massachusetts. republican line. good morning. caller: hi. thank you for taking my call.
trump is king melania much more immature than michelle obama saying she's having -- going back with the 10-year-old in school and i feel as though that is kind of showing she values her family more than she does the white house, mean, her husband is the president of the united states. so -- host: get a response, thank you, calvin. guest: i'm hesitant to characterize anything as immature without seeing data. we don't know how the public eels specifically about mrs. trump's decision to stay in new whitend not move into the house. so in the absence of that, i ould point to her favorables, which are low, about 51% consult poll of people want to see her play active role as first lady. was about 47% favorability lower thannd that is past first ladies.
so, if there is a connection and paying attention closely to what mrs. trump is doing and i suspect they are for part, then she is not as favored as past first ladies have been. host: judy joining from baltimore, democrat's line. good morning. caller: good morning. melania trump h saying the lord's prayer is ecause the lord's prayer was taken out of school. if you take the lord's prayer children lost nd certain values during that time and then people -- i think a lot of people can't get past seeing her nude. i see that. daughter, what you do as a young woman will woman you as an old because you don't know what you're going to do in life. is why she's going to have a lot of problems being a first michelle aura bush, obama, very classy women. mrs. kennedy, classy women,
get past that image. have a good day. judy, thank you. what about the pictures, lauren wright? were able ink people past this. mrs. trump was not apologetic shoot, she ude photo said, i'm proud of my body, this art and as a work of very differently from previous dministrations and what we would expect from political campaigns, she did not try to appease conservative she did not say that she regretted this decision. way she tackled this ead on, i think, is something that's both different and perhaps from a communications standpoint, a step forward, even if americans don't agree with behavior specifically, she was very direct about that and regard to st with
this particular issue. host: let me ask you about another modern first lady. hillary clinton and starting her husband's tenure in she focused on before re, testified congress. hillary clinton: american consist no longer wait for healthcare reform. s we sit here today, literally hundreds and hundreds of will lose their healthcare insurance. hundreds and hundreds of families will make a decision to postpone getting that primary or preventative healthcare because they cannot afford it. thousands more will show up at roomsors of our emergency to seek help because it is the will lose their ble to healthcare them. business owners, both large and small, will be struggling with premium increases and to figure out how to keep
doing the right thing for their employees. the task confronting us is complex. but it is urgent. the american people rightly are watching all of us, they are impatient, but also hopeful. they want change, they expect change, they deserve change. they want to see the government t the highest levels, work for them. they want to know that we have stories.ir last week the president outlined that will s a plan provide healthcare for every can can, healthcare that never be taken away. s the president said and as he believes, this is not a partisan ideological not an attle, it is a problem to be solved that affects all of us. beyond ll of us put it
politics, as usual, open ourselves up to look at whatever evidence comes our way to crutinize that and analyze it, we will respond to the need the american public has. host: in 1993, hillary clinton then first lady testifying on that care interestingly issue continued in the campaign twe 2016. your that you hads as you look back at that sound bite? hillary is issue with clinton and health security act and declared dead in congress in 1994, has been dissected and studied by political scientists historians and a few conclusions have come out of it. a couple reason why that strategy she adopted failed. speaking is despite about how this is a nonpartisan isue, testifying on the hill partisan iticized,
policy making move for her. when first ladies have pursued policy explicitly, it's them to downplay the policy making role or the even though one, they their employees. the task confronting us is complex. often do shape emphasize this status they have. that is one of the most valuable qualities first ladies bring to messaging strategy, they go outside washington, they travel around the united states, they are often received in a much and favorable manner actually once hillary clinton this, when she pursued foster care legislation for example, she was much better received. i think there are a lot of learned from that, evidenced by the fact mrs. bush and mrs. obama did not try to an explicit policymaking role, they provided
scenes, they the were important in that regard wanted their comments incorporated, but delegated them o trusted aides and sort of strayed away from these -- the policymaking, even though mrs. bush did testify on really the hill. mexico next, linda on the hurley, ent line, mexico. caller: my comment, when i watch reminds me sort of dignified, , better want to know what your guest thought? this, obvious rd similarities, mrs. kennedy and mrs. trump obviously have similar fashion taste and mrs. trump was said to have channeled that during the inauguration right on with this quiet perception of
someone who is very private, that is exactly right. ut i think that overall, this is a little bit oversimplified because really mrs. kennedy, you suchto think about it, was a strategist, no matter what was oing on in her marriage or happening in the kennedy administration, she knew the value of her public appearances, knew people wanted to see her and she absolutely delivered media to he allowed interview her, she was not fond want to e didn't even be called the first lady by eople within the white house, but she did these things anyway. i think that is a little bit diverges, i ump think there are other first might perhaps who resemble her more as far as actions, but you're right with and the fashion sense. host: lauren wright in remaining the e with you, what about role of lady bird johnson during her husband's administration?
to talk about lady bird johnson, she was the first spouse to campaign independently campaign band on the trail. n. was really such a force 1960 and 1964, president johnson was hesitant to go to the south civil rights act was assed and so he sent his most trusted delegate, his wife down there, she had southern roots, people in the south, she felt she could communicate better than perhaps could.e she made great strides in the way of campaigning, in particular. host: on behalf of the resident, presidential spouses and white house communication strategy today, the book by our guest, lauren wright. in san francisco, thank you for being with us, please come back again. you.: thank host: turn our attention to a tweet getting a fair amount of last attention over the couple days. donald trump,