Welcome to Playbook Deep Dive, the stories behind the power. From Congress and the White House to bar stools and back rooms, POLITICO Playbook’s Ryan Lizza brings you interviews with the most compelling and important figures who explain what’s really going on in Washington.
How the UAW strike swallowed Biden, Trump, and the 2024 campaign
The center of presidential politics this week was the swing state of Michigan. Trump won the longtime Democratic stronghold in 2016, and Biden won it back in 2020. It will be pivotal again in 2024. And that’s why both candidates flew to metro Detroit on consecutive days this week to insert themselves into the United Auto Workers’ strike against the so-called “Detroit Three” — General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, the company that owns Chrysler.
On this episode of Playbook Deep Dive, host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza joins Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), the House’s key player when it comes to the UAW strike, for a conversation about the strike’s political consequences, why she thinks that Democrats may be in danger of losing Michigan in 2024, and why the strike’s biggest sticking point is something you might not even have heard about.
Katherine Clark names the Democrats’ price to save Kevin McCarthy
After losing a series of votes this week to avoid a government shutdown, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has effectively lost his majority. On this episode of Playbook Deep Dive, host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza asks the number two Democratic leader in the House, Minority Whip Katherine Clark, what price McCarthy will have to pay for Democrats to lend their votes to passing a CR and fending-off a potential challenge to his speakership.
Who’s really in charge? McCarthy, moderates, or the Freedom Caucus?
It would be easy to look at the House of Representatives and assume that the members of the Freedom Caucus — and not Speaker Kevin McCarthy — are the ones who are actually in charge. But is that actually true?
On this week’s episode of Playbook Deep Dive, host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza talks with one of the top House moderates, Ohio Congressman Dave Joyce. Joyce is the Chairman of the Republican Governance Group, the pre-eminent faction for GOP centrists; and he’s also a senior appropriator, which means he’s one of the people who has to figure out how to avoid the possible government shutdown lurking at the end of the month.
Ryan caught-up with Joyce in his Washington office to learn how the Republicans you don’t see quoted on Breitbart are approaching the tumultuous issues gripping the lower chamber.
They talked at length about the rationale behind McCarthy’s new impeachment gambit; if and how the Speaker can claw together the votes to avoid a government shutdown; the odds that McCarthy will face a vote to remove him as Speaker; and what it’s really like in private between Joyce and members of the Freedom Caucus he battles in public.
Revelations about Biden’s White House from the first inside account
What makes President Joe Biden?
We’re all pretty familiar with Vice President Biden and Senator Biden. But in his latest iteration as commander-in-chief, it hasn’t been as easy to see inside his mind.
Cracking into Biden’s brain and inside the White House has been a challenge for the media.
He’s surrounded by a tight “clan” of family and advisors who have achieved Biden lifer status — and they don’t often leak. It consists of his sister Valerie, and the five advisers known as the Quint: Steve Ricchetti, Mike Donilon, Anita Dunn, Bruce Reed, and now former chief of staff Ron Klain.
It’s been a notoriously tough circle to penetrate.
But now one person has done it: Franklin Foer, who spent the last few years inside the heads of Biden and his team and has written the definitive account of President Biden’s first two years in office called “The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden's White House and the Struggle for America's Future.”
The book was originally supposed to be about the first one hundred days. But the story was too interesting to stop. Next, he planned to wrap up after the passage of Build Back Better. The book ended up growing into a two-year project that ends tidily with the midterms.
But where the book really shines when it grapples with the core of who Biden is — both psychologically and ideologically. Whether you love Biden or hate him, Frank’s book just might change your mind about how you understand him.
On this episode of Playbook Deep Dive, host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza sits down with Frank Foer to dig into the revelations that fill the pages of his new book, like how pivotal Biden’s inner circle is to his decision making; his relationship with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy; the low point of the presidency so far; and what’s in store for Biden as he prepares for another run as the oldest sitting president in history.
Behind the scenes at the GOP debate with Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier
On Wednesday night, eight Republican presidential candidates gathered in Milwaukee for the first GOP primary debate.
There was a lot on the line for each of them. But there was also an enormous amount at stake for the news organization that hosted the debate: Fox News.
Consider the cross currents that the two Fox moderators, Martha McCallum and Bret Baier, had to deal with:
First there was Trump, who refused to participate and lashed out at Fox and its talent, including Baier, on social media.
Then there was Tucker Carlson, McCallum and Baier’s former star colleague who is in messy litigation with the network, and who nabbed Trump for himself and counter-programmed the evening with an interview that aired simultaneously with the Fox debate.
Then there was Rupert Murdoch hovering in the background. In the days before the debate there were new reports that the man who runs Fox, MacCallum and Baier’s boss, has his own strong feelings about who the GOP nominee should be.
If that isn’t enough, on the eve of the debate, several candidates who didn’t qualify to be on stage threatened to sue.
Add to that the challenges of being the ones asking the uncomfortable questions in that arena on Wednesday. The candidates are primed to pounce on you if it serves their political interests. The boisterous crowd of partisans could turn on you at any moment.
So what was it like behind the scenes at the Fox News debate? How did the hosts prepare, including for a possible last-minute appearance by Trump? What did they think of the highly caffeinated Mike Pence interrupting them at every turn? What was the deal with DeSantis and Christie during that one hand-raising moment? And whose idea was that UFO question, anyway?
On this episode of Playbook Deep Dive, host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza asks Martha and Bret those questions and a lot more as they bring us inside what is perhaps the most important event of the GOP primary so far.
How Doug Burgum plans to disrupt the GOP debate & scale his campaign
This coming Wednesday, something big is happening in Milwaukee: the first Republican presidential debate.
On this week’s episode of Playbook Deep Dive, host & Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza talks with North Dakota Governor & GOP presidential candidate Doug Burgum about how he hatched one of the most innovative schemes in memory to qualify for Wednesday's GOP debate; how he’s preparing to compete on the stage with big leaguers like Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump – if Trump shows up; how his background as a conservative in the tech world informs his worldview; and why one photograph of him cleaning a chimney in a tuxedo changed his life.
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